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« April 2012 | Main | June 2012 »

May 31, 2012

Dear Governor: Veto This Bill!

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) on Thursday called on Gov. Pat Quinn to veto Senate Bill 3722, which would create a wide loophole in the state's campaign contribution limits system. [Ed. note: links added]

"Gov. Quinn can and should veto this bill and protect the campaign finance system reforms he helped enact in 2009," said Brian Gladstein, Executive Director of ICPR. "The Governor signed the limits bill just a few years ago as part of what he called his 'year of reform.' If he signs this bill, a lot of the work he did during that year will be for naught."

Senate Bill 3722 would remove campaign contribution limits on all contributions to candidates running in an election where spending by an independent committee (super PAC) or individual reaches a threshold amount of $250,000 in a statewide race or $100,000 in all other election contests.

"Citizens throughout Illinois were angered by Rod Blagojevich's corrupt actions and the state's history of corrupt agreements involving political contributions, and voters demanded reform of Illinois' loose campaign finance regulations, which allowed unlimited contributions to all candidates," Gladstein said. "This bill would be a step backwards and open the door to more corruption in the future."

The state's contribution limits law was passed in 2009, but since then, federal court decisions have prevented enforcement of state laws prohibiting limits on contributions to political action committees that spend money to influence the outcome of elections but do not coordinate with any candidates.

Advocates of SB 3722 contend that the court decisions allowing super PACs to collect money without limits and spend it to influence the outcome of an election put candidates at a disadvantage and argue candidates in those elections should be able to solicit and accept contributions of all sizes.

ICPR counters that contribution limits are a key weapon in the fight against corruption notes and other states have found better ways to address the potential of involvement of independent expenditures in elections.

For example, Illinois should enact a definition of independent expenditures that would exclude PACs intertwined with candidates and improve disclosure so the public is provided with information about super PAC supporters in all election communications.

"Instead of rushing a loophole into the new law, Illinois should pause and study how best to fit super PACs into the campaign finance system," Gladstein said. "We are calling on Gov. Quinn to stop the vandalization of the limits system. Give the Illinois Campaign Reform Task Force time to study responses in other states and recommend the next steps for Illinois before making hasty changes to Illinois' corruption-fighting contribution limits system. Refine the limits law. Don't blow a hole in it."


Dear Governor Quinn:

On Dec. 9, 2009, we were proud to stand with you as you signed what you correctly described as groundbreaking campaign finance reform legislation, the state's first contribution limits on all candidates, parties and political action committees.

Today, there is a serious threat to that comprehensive system of limits.

Senate Bill 3722, which passed both chambers of the General Assembly in the final hours of this spring session, would create a major loophole in the limits system - one that quite likely would remove limits all together in the 2014 gubernatorial election, the first statewide election since limits took effect.

It now is up to you to take the needed steps to preserve the limits system in Illinois, just as it fell to you in the summer of 2009 to veto a badly flawed limits bill and bring legislative leaders and reform proponents back to the table to resume negotiations on the details of a comprehensive limits system.

We urge you to veto SB 3722 or to use your amendatory veto power to improve the bill by removing language opening the door to unlimited contributions.

If SB 3722 becomes law, there is no doubt it will legalize unlimited contributions to candidates running in the most hotly contested elections, including the 2014 race for governor.

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case after you signed the state's limits law, and we acknowledge it has changed the way national campaigns are waged. But it should not be used as an excuse to undermine the limits system you signed into law.

Changes in the limits law may be necessary, but those changes should be determined after careful study and consultation with national experts. That study should be conducted by the 11-member Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Task Force, which was created by the 2009 limits law and whose members were chosen by you and each of the four legislative leaders.

Rather than rush a loophole into the limits law, you can use your veto or amendatory veto to encourage the General Assembly to consider changes based on facts, to involve reform advocates in the discussion, and to attempt to reach a bipartisan consensus.


Peter Bensinger

Deborah Harrington

George Ranney

Co-chairs, CHANGE Illinois!


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 PM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: My Mind is Like a Rhododendron

My Mind is Like a Rhododendron

Let me be candid:
I like beer and I
love the ladies!

That's the thing of it.

My mind is like a rhododendron:
everywhere it leaps, it eats.
This is the thing of it,

the rhododendron in the room.

It is not God.
It is the mind.

Sometimes my mind is myself,
a coterie of burgundy petals lost
in a Roman wilderness

of pain, waiting
for the summer rain.

Beer, ladies, gaeity. Jesus!
Of course!

Anything but the dreariness
of the me-mind-God thing.

This is America and I want to be free.
I wish to enjoy life.

So the elephant, wait,
the rhododendron in the room
is like my mind.

Bacon fat and buttermilk,
beeswax and bird's eggs,
bear cubs and bridles,

comfort, joy.

Like an azalea that contains America!
This is a simile, which is the thing of it.
And, like the mind, it is like the mind.

It is not God.

Mind: like a lavender
West Virginia rhododendron.
I really do

love the ladies,
each a peculiar bloom!

Mind: like a sienna Saturn Five, the
biggest, baddest motherfucker known to man.
I did mean to be candid.

I do wish to enjoy life
in America.

I want to be free.


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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:47 PM | Permalink

End Zones And Bibles

1. "USA Network's national Show Us Your End Zone Dance Competition is coming to Chicago on Tuesday, June 5. The competition was created to celebrate the second season premiere of the hit series Necessary Roughness airing on USA Network, Wednesday, June 6th at 9pm CST."

Never heard of it. Let's take a look-see.

Hey, that's not bad. So what are they doing holding an end zone dance competition? I mean, please.

"USA will transform a section of Pioneer Court [you know, where the Marilyn Monroe used to be] into an urban football oasis - complete with an authentic turf end zone - where the public can 'audition' their best End Zone Dance for a chance to win $25,000 and have their dance featured on USA Network."

Twenty-five grand? Beachwood Field Trip?

"For one day only, USA will transform a section of Pioneer Court into an urban football oasis - complete with an authentic turf end zone - where football fans and dancing enthusiasts can strut their stuff while a DJ spins the latest hits. A Jumbotron and bleacher seating will enable participants and passersby to check out the competition and watch a sneak peek of the upcoming season of Necessary Roughness. This stadium paradise will also offer giveaways and branded goodies, including custom jerseys for every end zone dancer, mini footballs, custom foam fingers and an Instaprint photo station (#NREZD), sure to create a Twitter frenzy."

Okay, A) not worth it, and B) if this monstrosity causes anything even approaching a Twitter frenzy I will personally fly to San Francisco and punch Dick Costolo in the face.

2. "This is just a reminder that GSN (Game Show Network) is coming to Chicago this Saturday, June 2nd to cast Chicago's best and brightest contestants for our upcoming series, The American Bible Challenge, a new game show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy."

You know you might be a Bible banger if . . . (too easy?)

Um, no thank you. (Now, if Bill Maher were hosting, then we'd have something.)

Unless . . . Beachwood Field Trip?

If you must, casting is 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Glen Ellyn-Lombard, which isn't in Chicago. But it's close enough for Bible-work.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 PM | Permalink

Kelly Hogan's Moment

The new record from Chicago staple Kelly Hogan - I Like To Keep Myself in Pain - is scheduled for release by Anti- Records on June 5th and she's already had quite a run in lead-up publicity. Here are a few links to early reviews as well as interviews she's given, followed by videos for songs on the new album as well as some recent performance video.


"The album makes it clear that the alt-country label is obsolete as a description of Hogan's music, a beautiful blend of classic soul, pop, jazz, and country," Robert Loerzel writes for The A.V. Club. "Hogan's trusted collaborator Scott Ligon, a whiz on guitar and keyboards who also plays in NRBQ, joined her in the studio. So did legendary keyboardist Booker T. Jones, veteran session drummer James Gadson, and bassist Gabriel Roth, a.k.a. Bosco Mann, the band leader for Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings."


A.V. Club: It's been 11 years since your last album. What took so long?

Hogan: People ask me that question. I'm like, "Dude, I was too busy!" I mean, I did that thing for 'XRT, a cover song a week for a year. I still have all that stuff in the can.


"She's been singing in bands since her teens, and her knowledge of soul, country and pop history is encyclopedic," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune. "Her passion connected with Andy Kaulkin, who runs the California-based Anti label, home to artists such as Case, Staples, Tom Waits and Nick Cave."


Kot: How did producer Hogan tell the legendary Jones that what he's playing didn't exactly match what she had in mind?

Hogan: Very meekly. Booker and the other guys would say things to me, too, about what could make a song better. It was always about the song. Booker is like a method actor who wants to know everything about a song so he can give his best performance, lyrics included. He'd say stuff like, "This song is like water. Somebody has got to be the tide, somebody has got to be the sunlight on top of the water, and you can be the fish."

(Kot gives the record 4 out of 4 stars here.)


"[I]'s great top to bottom," Peter Margasak writes for the Reader. "Hogan is a meticulous artist who pays little heed to the conventions of the music industry. She follows her own instincts and, obviously, her own timetable - but as much of a cliche as this is, the wait was worth it."


Anti- Promo.


"We Can't Have Nice Things." Written by Andrew Bird and Jack Pendarvis.


"Plant White Roses." Written by the Magnetic Fields.


"Golden." A Kelly Hogan original about Neko Case.


"Haunted," same show. Written by Jon Langford.


"Dusty Groove." Written by Catherine Irwin.


"I Like To Keep Myself In Pain." Written by Robyn Hitchcock.


"Whenever You're Out Of Sight." Written by Robbie Fulks.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:03 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Touting what would be downtown Chicago's largest new real estate development since the 2008 financial crisis, representatives of the Kennedy family and three financial partners on Tuesday provided the first glimpse of a proposed three-tower office and apartment complex on a historic but long-underutilized site along the Chicago River," the Tribune reports.

"The project, whose cost is pegged at more than $1 billion, calls for a slope-roofed office building of more than 900 feet, which would be Chicago's eighth-tallest structure. A second office building and an apartment high-rise would bring the project's combined square footage to nearly 3 million square feet, more than the biggest skyscraper of the boom years, the 2.6 million-square-foot Trump International Hotel & Tower.

"The plans for the triangular Wolf Point parcel southwest of the Merchandise Mart were made public at a community meeting called by Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, that was attended by more than 300 people. The Kennedys sold the Merchandise Mart in 1998, but still control Wolf Point, once home to pioneer taverns, a hotel and trading posts."

Can we go back to that instead? Seriously. A little Wild West village that's operational. We don't need more office towers and it could employ the river. An old-time Chicago trading post! Seriously.


"When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced May 16 that Chicago would kick in $29 million toward another Hines development along the riverfront - the 45-story River Point office tower in the West Loop - he said it would be the largest new real estate project to break ground in the city since the 2008 economic downturn.

"But the Wolf Point project, whose developers are not requesting a public subsidy, would dwarf River Point."

I believe the term is "little people."

But I digress. Could we at least require the Kennedys to pick up that $29 million in exchange for allowing their project to dwarf this one?

Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse than the last time we said it was just when we thought it couldn't get any worse than the last time we though it couldn't get any worse . . .


Soliciting artwork for Mayor Meter, Our New(ish) Overlord.


I wonder what kind of ink was used to write the meter lease, because it seems like new provisions reveal themselves every week.


FLASHBACK: Aldermen Approve Parking Meter Lease. Featuring this gem:

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who backs the deal, said 72 hours was enough time to review it.

"How many of us read the stuff we do get, OK?," Mell said. "I try to. I try to. I try to. But being realistic, being realistic, it's like getting your insurance policy. It's small print, OK?"

Meet Judge Carl Boyd
He'll soon be administering justice to many of his peers.

Ghost President
"When the University of Illinois trustees gather for their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday morning, one notable person plans to be absent: President Michael Hogan," Jodi S. Cohen reports for the Tribune.

"And it won't be the first time Hogan has been a no-show at key events since he stepped down under pressure in March, with a resignation date of July 1. He skipped graduation ceremonies and a state budget hearing, and a review of his calendar shows an overall sparse schedule, even though he is still the institution's top official.

"By extending his resignation date until July 1 - his two-year anniversary at U. of I. - Hogan will receive an additional year of his retention bonus, or $37,500. He also will continue to be paid at his annual rate of $651,000 until July. Then he will begin a paid one-year sabbatical at his new faculty salary of $285,100."

When he comes back I may enroll in one of his classes just to heckle him.


If students aren't throwing eggs at his house right now, it's only because they can't afford them.

No Relation
Kelly Hogan's Moment.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Momentous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 AM | Permalink

May 30, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"More than two dozen gay and lesbian couples in Illinois plan to file lawsuits Wednesday arguing that it's unconstitutional for the state to deny them the right to marry, a move advocates hope will lead to legalized same-sex marriage in Illinois," AP reports.

That puts them in opposition to President Barack Obama, who announced recently that he thought states did have the right to ban gay marriage. The stagecraft made it seem otherwise, but that's what he said.

And yet, AP (like many news organizations) simply includes in its report that "President Barack Obama said earlier this month that he endorsed gay marriage."

This is how it worked in 2008 and this is how it's (largely) working now.

It might have been different had the Obamas not been allowed to pick their own reporter to do the "groundbreaking" interview, Robin Roberts of ABC. Roberts is a family friend.


The Tribune's report likewise noted that "President Barack Obama formally endorsed same-sex marriage earlier this month," and in a place in the story that made it seem like Obama supported the legal challenge - which is the opposite of his position.


The Sun-Times story doesn't mention Obama.

Eerie HQ
"GE Transportation,a manufacturer of equipment for the rail, mining and marine industries, will relocate its global headquarters to Chicago from Erie, Pa.," the Tribune reports.

"There were no financial incentives provided by the city or state, according to the mayor's office."

But company representatives were required to appear at a press conference with Rahm Emanuel or the move was off.


How will Rahm feel if the job loss in Erie is the tipping point that puts Pennsylvania in Mitt Romney's column and gives him the presidency?


"About 50 employees will relocate from Erie later this year after the company selects an office location here. The employees primarily work in support and service functions."

How do 50 people in support and service functions make a global headquarters?

Very carefully!


Most of the paperwork will be based here.


"The company, Erie County's top employer with about 5,500 employees, said the impact on the local workforce will be minor, with about 50 people being relocated to Chicago by 2014."

That's what they said in Erie, anyway. Minor.


"In an interview this morning, [CEO Lorenzo] Simonelli stressed that the company remains fully committed to Erie.

"'I understand that there is a lot of emotion and a lot of history with regard to GE being in Erie,' he said.

"But the move, which the company hopes will improve access to its customers, will affect less than 1 percent of the company's Erie-based employees, Simonelli said."


"Hewlett Packard Co. outlined a plan [last month] to lay off roughly 27,000 employees or about 8 percent of its workforce to jumpstart growth," Reuters reports.

"An HP spokesperson reached Wednesday afternoon said that while the company has 'not yet announced specific plans with regards to specific locations, (it does) expect the workforce reduction to impact just about every business and region.' It has offices in has offices in Bloomington, Downers Grove and Chicago."

City Hall will not be holding a press conference.

Rock Lobster
"The owner of the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue is in danger of 'imminent default' on a $69.5 million loan that comes due in two months, facing few appealing refinancing options in today's more conservative lending market," Crain's reports.

Maybe go with a debtors prison theme to turn things around.

Treaty Treatise
Crain's: "Illinois Sets Trade Records With NAFTA Partners."

First, it's not just Illinois.

Second: "Changes in income distribution would suggest that if there were any benefits accrued from increased exports in recent years, they were enjoyed by the wealthiest individuals in the State of Illinois," the Center for Urban Economic Development at UIC has found.

"The present study demonstrates that increased exports do not lead to employment growth in the exporting industries. Thus, NAFTA (and by implication, GATT) cannot be justified in terms of employment or income benefits to the average citizen."

Off- And On-Message
"After a violent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago that left 10 dead amid 42 shootings, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was asked Tuesday if the NATO summit a week earlier might have left fewer officers on the street," the Tribune reports.

"McCarthy said he was looking into that, while acknowledging that holidays have created manpower issues in the past, most recently on St. Patrick's Day.

"'Police officers, just like everybody else, they want to go to barbecues and spend time with their families,' McCarthy said at a morning news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to discuss crime-fighting initiatives. 'So we have to ensure that we're managing our resources properly. And quite frankly, in the past, we haven't done that sometimes, and ultimately I'm accountable for making that happen.'

"With that, Emanuel ended the news conference. Moments later, McCarthy told reporters there was no shortage of officers over the Memorial Day weekend, and a police spokeswoman later said staffing was 'consistent' with other holiday weekends."

When sometimes resources haven't been managed properly, according to the police chief. So the spokeswoman actually didn't lie even though it seemed like she did and that was probably her intent.

Mad As Hell At Madigan
But still taking it.

Reduction Ad Absurdum
Red tape in reverse.

Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy
Getting the biographers they deserve.

You Might Be The Cubs If . . .
You can be so easily subjected to a Jeff Foxworthy comedic device.

Zoro At Vic's Drum Shop
Time and technique.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Unsweetened.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Zoro At Vic's Drum Shop

Time and technique.


See also:
* Vic's Drum Shop
* Zoro


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

State Rep. Mike Bost Is Mad As Hell And Doesn't Want To Take Mike Madigan Anymore

Occupy Springfield.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

You Might Be The Cubs If . . .

* Winning two in a row seems like an accident.

* You go to closer-by-subcommittee.

* You have Blake Lalli and Koyie Hill on the same roster.

* Memorial Day is for reflecting on a season already lost.

* Your best pitcher has a 2.14 ERA and is winless in eight starts.

* Joe Mather is your No. 3 hitter.

* Alfonso Soriano is your highest-paid player.

* Your owner has a rich, bigoted daddy whose money bought the team.

* Rafael Dolis was your closer until he got demoted - to AAA.

* Your manager's nickname is Nuts.

* Your best rookie is 29 years old.

* He platoons with Jeff Baker.

* Your third baseman's batting average is less than his weight.

* You just held a tear-filled retirement ceremony for a pitcher whose lifetime record is 86-75.

* That's more games than the entire team will win this year.

* You're in the first year of rebuilding 104 years after your last World Series win.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

The Chambers Report: Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy

Steve Jobs revolutionized six industries - personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing (as well as reinventing the store's role in defining a brand) - yet he was utterly incapable of purchasing furniture worthy of coexisting with an Eames or Nakashima chair in his Silicon Valley mansion.

A follower of Zen Buddhism all his life, Jobs was nevertheless the opposite of the calm contemplative; he was, instead, almost always incessantly uptight and on edge, never fully comfortable either with other people or in his own skin. The greatest business leader of his era, he was at the same time a petulant bully who frequently cried when he failed to get his way.

In the end, though, Jobs usually did get his way, and even his bitterest enemies came to accept that as a good thing, despite his near nonstop abuse of them.

Nor was modesty Jobs' strong suit, as shown by his relentless hounding of all-star biographer Walter Isaacson into penning this great biography of the Cupertino Bad Boy.

The author of monumental tomes about Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson was the easy choice of the colossally narcissistic creator/borrower/thief (Jobs often stole the ideas of others and frequently quoted Picasso's notorious dictum that "good artists copy, great artists steal" in justification) who saw himself as very much a major leaguer.

After completing this 600-page miracle of clarity and organization, the admiring biographer fully agreed, having arrived at the conclusion that history would, in fact, place Jobs "in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford" . . . the one business executive of our Age "most certain to be remembered a century from now."

But how did all this come about in a career span of only three-and-a-half decades? Not because Jobs was necessarily brighter (in the conventional sense) than everyone else. Rather than just being "exceptionally smart," he was, argues Isaacson, a "genius" . . . a man "whose imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times magical." He was a man whose remarkable "insights," in the words of one admirer, "come out of the blue and require intuition more than mere mental processing power."

Ironically, this seemingly complex genius was, at bottom, a surprisingly uncomplicated thinker, one for whom everything was either white (his favorite color) or black, either right or wrong . . . or, to use language more typical of Jobs himself, either "insanely great" or "shit."

Jobs never saw himself as just an engineer or computer geek, but rather as an artist/designer intent on altering the planet by bridging the gap between the liberal arts and technology. His heroes were Picasso, Michelangelo, and Bob Dylan (there were 21 Dylan albums on Jobs' personal iPod), not Bill Gates, the other wunderkind born in 1955, whom the Apple King viewed as "uncreative" and far more interested in money than in the marvels of technology.

Jobs' relentless goal was the pursuit of beauty and its distillation in devices that redefined our Age precisely because of their perfection. The path to the Perfect in everything, Jobs believed, was through constant refinement and insistence on simplification. This ceaseless drive made him an intolerant monster much of the time, but it also brought magic to all that he and his "A-Team" colleagues created for a world that, by the time of Jobs' death from pancreatic cancer in October 2011, simply could not get enough of Apple's beautiful, increasingly flawless products.

Each public introduction of a new device was carefully orchestrated by Jobs himself, who in the process also became the most sensational salesman of his era. These celebrated "shows" - from the famous 1984 Macintosh Super Bowl commercial called the best of all time to his iPad2 introduction six months before his death - drew increasingly manic and enthusiastic crowds of Apple fanatics, hoards of whom lined up many hours before their hero strolled alone across a nearly bare stage to dazzle them.

By the end, Steve Jobs had become a bigger rock star than his idol Dylan, his friend Bono, or even his admirers Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Rupert Murdoch. He knew everyone, and they were all continually awed by him.

If there was one essential ingredient of Jobs' achievements, it was his astonishing intensity - his seemingly super-human ability to focus on the matter at hand, to the point of demanding multitudinous tweaks to each product before its introduction and sealing each up so ingeniously that users find it impossible to take an iPhone or iPod apart in order "to fiddle with" its internal workings.

This intensity - he taught himself to stare down and intimidate absolutely anyone without blinking - could not be resisted and enabled Jobs totally to control the production of each Apple product seamlessly.

The opposite of Bill Gates in virtually every way - whose "open-ended" philosophy at Microsoft made him the world's richest man but also the object of withering contempt to his nemesis at Apple - Jobs, the ultimate control-freak (despite his protestations to the contrary), insisted that his devices be "closed," that is, entirely integrated from conception and development through production and introduction, without any invasion at all of unwelcome "shit" made by other, less creative and decidedly inferior firms.

Apple's absolute control of everything from hardware and software to content and packaging resulted in a steady stream of elegant, "tasteful" products that left everyone else's awash in the Company's beautiful wake. (One unexpected result of Isaacson's book has been to make this writer deeply contemptuous of his own pedestrian Dell computer and decidedly homely HP printer.)

Jobs' masterful, if tyrannical, leadership enabled his great Company to stand atop the technological world at the very height of the computer revolution. By the time of his death at age 56, Apple had grown in thirty years from a mere table in his parents' garage - where with Steve Wozniak he founded the firm - into the most valuable and powerful business on Earth.

His unflagging search for elegance and beauty defined even Jobs' daily "uniform" of black turtleneck (ironic, given his love of white), beltless jeans, and sneakers, but it also precluded his ever finding a sofa worthy of joining the gorgeous chairs in his house or the sleek Mercedes or Porsches in his garage.

As reported by his wife Lorene Powell, perhaps the only person capable of living intimately with her tempestuous spouse, "We spoke about furniture for eight years . . . asking, for example, what is the purpose of a sofa? . . . Every night for weeks, we argued about which washing machine to purchase." (They ultimately opted for a German product that used dramatically less water and left clothes fresher than did the more wasteful American counterparts for which Jobs had utter contempt.)

While such intense concentration on seemingly mundane matters may appear absurd to most people, it was all part of Jobs' relentless pursuit of perfection. In the end, he was worth it, argues Isaacson.

The Steve Jobs who could be an exhausting bully, who refused to allow license plates on his flashy cars and parked in handicapped parking spaces, and who constantly berated his colleagues, friends, and family was also the Steve Jobs who dramatically remade our world and left us immeasurably better off after he departed it. And he certainly chose the right biographer to present this paragon-demon to the rest of us.


This is a difficult review to pen because my attitudes about the book kept oscillating as I read through its often-maddening pages.

For at least half the volume I was very put off by its "sound bite" language. It reads just the way Chris Matthews talks on his TV show - non-stop, loud, lickety-split, higgly-piggly, some of this, some of that . . . essentially a tossed-together mélange of ideas and opinions tumbling out of Matthews' teeming mind.

And then there is the hero-worship that slathers over every page . . . so much so, in fact, that the reader (this reader, at any rate) runs the risk of actually admiring JFK less as he reads, rather than more, hardly the author's intention. Matthews' lack of objectivity and constant pandering to Kennedy's "greatness" threaten to cost him readers (I almost quit well before the end; a rarity for me. I read even bad books all the way through).

Yet, after a time, that same reader - if he keeps on slogging - eventually settles in and goes along for the ride, sound-bites and all. And a bumpy ride it is.

Sloppily written and sloppily edited, the book is filled with clichés, sentence fragments, hyperbole, omissions - one shocking one being no mention at all of Marilyn Monroe (who apparently slept with both Jack and his brother Bobby on the same night), and very little of Teddy Kennedy.

Of JFK's rampant dalliances - of which Jackie was always quite aware - Matthews has relatively little to say, in effect excusing them as simply forgivable minor aspects of the glowing life of the All-American Golden Boy.

After all, what would we/should we expect - spectacularly attractive, to men as well as to women (all women) - JFK was the true son of his father (though Matthews tries to deny this on many pages), also a major-league philanderer whose wife just looked the other way.

On the upside, the Kennedy story is a glorious one - the glamorous tale of a handsome, rich, extraordinarily privileged boy who went to Choate and Harvard, became a genuine war hero, sailed into politics, married the most beautiful girl in the world (by everyone's admission), charmed every person he ever met, and, as Matthews has it, saved the world just months prior to having his fame and youthful vigor embalmed forever at age 43 by an assassin's bullet in Dallas.

Chris Matthews, another handsome, famous Catholic boy, simply cannot get enough of his hero, whose myth-like saga he wants everyone to hear . . . again and again.

On the penultimate page of his gushy paean he even hints that JFK's rightful place in history should be to be hewn right up there on Mount Rushmore with Teddy, George, Abe, and Long Tom. Not everyone would agree.


Comments welcome.


Introducing Bob: Born in North Carolina, educated at Duke (BA), Yale (BD), and Brown (Ph.D). Was an English/American Studies prof at Yale and Dean in Davenport College (home of both Bushes, I regret to say), Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bucknell, President of Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) near Baltimore for 16 years, and Provost/Dean at Trinity College of the University of Melbourne in Australia for a year-and-a-half (my favorite job).

For five years I was a senior consultant with Marts & Lundy, Inc, perhaps the premier firm helping colleges, universities, and prep schools raise money (that's what led to my job at Trinity). Speaking of money, what little I have had has been mostly spent on travel and living abroad . . . 66 countries so far, with residence in the UK (Cambridge, the world's best college town), Ireland, and Japan (in Kyoto, the world's best city), as well as Oz.

Next up, the month of August in Peru (the Amazon, Lima, Machu Picchu, Cuzco) and Ecuador (Quito, the Galapagos). Divorced, two kids . . . a daughter living in Manhattan where she is managing editor of TV Guide and a son living in the woods near Santa Cruz, head of a rock band, of course. I now live in Gainesville, Florida, half the year, and in the Coachella Valley in California the other half.


1. From James Strong:

On both Jobs and Kennedy reviews, guilty of excellence. Need more Isaacsons and far less Matthews.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

Reduction Ad Absurdum: New Disclosure Rules for Political Ads Could Take Months

After years of consideration, the Federal Communications Commission finally voted last month to require broadcasters to post online political ad data currently kept only on paper at the stations. Yet it's unclear when the data - which will provide a detailed picture of campaign and super PAC ad spending - will actually begin to be posted.

The National Association of Broadcasters sued to stop the rule last week, asking a federal appeals court in Washington to declare the measure unlawful. But even if the lawsuit fails, the earliest broadcasters will have to begin submitting data to a new FCC website is July, three months after the FCC's vote. And it could be delayed until later in the summer, into the fall, or beyond.

The reason for the slow rollout? A law called the Paperwork Reduction Act.

In effect, the delay in implementation means information on who is buying political ads, where, and for how much, will remain trapped in filing cabinets at TV stations through several crucial months of the presidential campaign (not to mention state and local campaigns).

While presidential campaigns traditionally take off after Labor Day, this year campaigns and their supporters are already spending big. This month the Obama campaign and the anti-Obama Crossroads GPS each announced $25 million ad buys.

As ProPublica reported, the FCC approved the rule April 27 in the face of intense opposition from the broadcast industry. The commission promised to create a website on which the affiliates of four major networks in the top 50 markets in the country would begin posting detailed information about political ad purchases. All stations will have to come into compliance with the rule in July 2014.

Here's how the process works from here on out:

When the FCC approved the rule in April, it dictated that the measure would go into effect 30 days after approval by the Office of Management and Budget. OMB's role is to determine whether the rule abides by the Paperwork Reduction Act, which first passed in 1980 and is intended to, yes, minimize paperwork, and improve the quality of information collected by the government.

OMB assesses whether the information that an agency is proposing to collect from the public is necessary, practically useful, and so on.

Before OMB begins to review a rule, it has to be listed in the Federal Register along with a request for comment by the FCC. That happened May 11, two weeks after the vote, triggering a 30-day period for public comment. After the end of the public comment period, the OMB has up to another 30 days to complete its review of the rule.

So if OMB takes the full 60 days after publication in the Federal Register to approve the rule, the political ad data would start appearing on an FCC website in another 30 days - August.

But the process can be delayed further if OMB raises concerns with the FCC about the rule, at which point the commission would then have to take time to formulate a response.

It's rare for OMB to object to new rules on the grounds of the Paperwork Reduction Act, according to Sean Moulton, director of federal information policy at OMB Watch.

But back in March, the National Association of Broadcasters argued in one paragraph of a lengthy letter to the FCC that the proposed rule would run afoul of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The industry, which vigorously lobbied against the rule, could use the current public comment period before OMB to object to the rule on the basis of the law.


* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:56 AM | Permalink

May 29, 2012

SportsMondayTuesday: Go South, Young Ones

How are we going to convince the good-time sports fans in this town to put a little more discretion in their discretionary spending?

Because something must be done. When the competitive and scorching hot White Sox draw all of 21-, 27- and 22,000 fans Friday through Sunday for big games against their division-leading rival and then the Flubs return home having capped off a 12-game losing streak with a remarkable run of ineptitude in Pittsburgh to find 38,000 waiting for them for a matinee with the stinky Padres on Memorial Day, well, that is just unacceptable.

I have said before that I believe there are some number of 10s off thousands of true blue Cubs fans in the Chicago area, myself included. Most of us became fans thanks to a familial connection or, in my case, geography, and are stuck. Then there are a few fewer 10s of thousands of White Sox fans.

And then there are at least, what, 100,000 party people, i.e. the folks who are just looking for a good time? And they can't seem to get out of the rut of wasting their money on the mess that is the current Cubs.

And oh, what a mess. Let's examine the idea that this is a rebuilding year and that it doesn't really matter if the Cubs are winning or losing because they are in transition.

Even if one accepts the premise that the roster must be turned over completely and that that takes considerable time, when the team is this bad it is problematic in a variety of ways.

Don't worry about it, a Cubs apologist might say, they've brought in some young players who are gaining valuable experience. And what kind of experience are they gaining? Let's just focus on Starlin Castro and the fact that he entered the weekend having drawn all of four walks in his first 200 plate appearance this season. Four walks!

In other words, at the plate Castro was not fulfilling ever larger portions of potential during the first two months of the season. He was regressing.

Well, the top of the rotation is in decent shape, what with Ryan Dempster still mowing 'em down and Matt Garza at least getting the job done at home. But there was Garza sucking it up again over the weekend on the road, losing to the terrible-hitting Pirates and adding more fuel to the fiery argument that Garza isn't really an elite starting pitcher. Most would probably say the Cubs would be better off dumping Garza for youngsters but his trade value ain't so hot at this point, to say the least.

The bullpen is now closer-by-Shawn-Camp-and-committee and Cubs' new No. 3 hitter is Joe Mather.

Attend that? Never!

So how are we going to convince a larger portion of the post-frat boy crowd to hop on the Red Line and head south instead of north?

Let me provide some persuasive details and hope that somehow the pertinent information will get through to a few of the folks and some momentum will start to build.

Even if you spend 90 percent of your baseball-watching time on the Cubs, you must know that after a White Sox hitter launches a home run at the Cell, the team sets off fireworks.

The problem is that when slugger Adam Dunn seems like he is striking out two out of every three times up, posting personal-worst home run numbers (like he did last year) and dragging the team down in the process (like he did last year), well, the powder in the pyrotechnics stays inert.

This year Dunn (a league runner-up 16 home runs after a two-run blast provided all the offense during a 2-1 win at Tampa on Monday) has led a White Sox power brigade that launched an awesome 11 home runs in the final four games of the home stand that ended Sunday with a 12-6 victory over the Indians that capped off the sweep and pulled the Sox to within a half-game of the Central Division lead.

In other words, there were fireworks galore on the South Side. And you know you love fireworks.

Meanwhile, Paul Konerko is flirting with .400 and Chris Sale just struck out 15 Tampa Bay Rays.

Also, you probably know that the food is much better at the Cell than Wrigley. But did you know the Sox are offering craft beers (including selections from Cleveland's awesome Great Lakes brewery) this summer at reasonable prices? I know it is tough to put down that Old Style that just cost you eight bucks, but dude, come on.

Please share this important information far and wide. Think of it as a public service in a town that has to do everything it can to fill up the many hours that still stand between us and the opening of Bears training camp later this summer.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"What seems like a good idea at the start can quickly go sour, as anyone who's ever offered to pick up the tab in a crowded bar can attest," Crain's says in an editorial. "Still mildly hung over from the NATO experience, we now await a full accounting of the weekend's total cost.

"Our guess is that the Blues Brothers-scale army of security personnel so visible throughout the NATO conference will be pricey, though presumably the feds will chip in something to defray that particular expense. Just how much we won't know for a while.

"The city's restaurants, retailers, cabbies and museums - idled as Chicagoans avoided the Loop the way a preschooler avoids a salad bar - won't be so lucky. Could these businesses apply for federal disaster relief?"

Quibble: Who even thought it was a good idea at the start?


"Their short-term pain would be eased somewhat if we could believe that Chicago stands to reap a longer-term gain in the form of increased tourism and trading opportunities following the city's star turn. We still have our doubts. And as the motorcades, the protesters, the banners and the columns of uniformed police fade from our screens, only one thing is truly clear to us: Until the very end, City Hall oversold the benefits and undersold the traffic and business disruption that the NATO weekend likely would bring."

To be fair, the NATO summit was originally paired with the G8 meeting. Which made it a doubly dumb idea - though it created a huge opportunity for the Occupy movement that was dramatically deflated when the G8 summit was moved to Camp David.


"NATO boosters say one upside was that Chicago proved it could pull off an event of this magnitude with a relative minimum of fuss and disorder. We agree, but who, aside from Chicagoans with a severe case of Second City Syndrome, believed this point really needed to be reiterated? We thought Chicago successfully had erased the memory of 1968 by hosting a drama-free Democratic National Convention in 1996."

Here's an idea: Memories cannot be erased. Nor should they. Al Capone and the '68 convention are part of our history. No one is going to forget. Nor should they. Own 'em.


"And oddly, in its zeal to train the locals to duck and cover, Chicago may have inadvertently reinforced the cow-town image we seem so eager to shake: Out-of-town media reports, while highlighting the city's charms, also noted the overwhelming police presence and the almost otherworldly emptiness of the downtown area."

Meanwhile, the city has fallen all over itself to congratulate our police force for not embarrassing us, which apparently is the new standard for excellence. Way to fight off those 20 unarmed dead-enders trying to symbolically push through a six-deep militarized force backed by horses, street sweepers, tear gas, a sound cannon, helicopters and the Secret Service!


"At a moment when it could have shrugged and gotten on with life as big cities do - think New York when the United Nations General Assembly is in session or Washington almost anytime of the year - Chicago instead appeared to gasp and clutch its pearls."


"Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs," AP reports.

Bragging Rights
"Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s," the Dow Jones & Co.'s MarketWatch reports. "Even hapless Herbert Hoover managed to increase spending more than Obama has."


And yet:


So funny that the Democrats always market themselves to the American people as the party that acts just like Republicans. "Democrats: The stupid, heartless bastards you can feel good about!"

Yuppie Transit
"The [new Morgan] station's spectral stair towers and glass-sheathed transfer bridge rise airily above the hard-edged warehouses and cold meat lockers of the West Loop, also home to trendy restaurants and galleries," Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin writes. "The area, it's been said, is in transition from slaughterhouses to art houses. The Oprah show may be gone, but the station is a new jewel in the West Loop's crown.

Indeed, it's so handsome that it's bound to spark debate about whether the money spent on it would have been put to better use fixing the CTA's creaking rails and maddening "slow zones." The construction was paid for by state and federal grants, as well tax increment financing funds meant to spur investment on the Near West Side. Yet as Tribune transportation writer Jon Hilkevitch noted in Friday's paper, the station followed, rather than fostered, the area's resurgence."

This whole city is so backwards they ought to run the trains in reverse.


In the Tribune's version of the story, they linked to a bio of Hilkevitch but not his article. I fixed that.

The System Works
"Cook County Judge Tom Carroll's decision to drop out of a Southwest Side Democratic primary earlier this year helped clear a politically connected rival's path to the bench," the Sun-Times reports.

"Now - just four months after his withdrawal allowed the son of a top aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley to run for judge unopposed - Carroll has landed on his feet, too."

Wait for it.

"The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Carroll to fill a countywide seat."


"Carroll, a former private attorney and defense attorney, was one of four candidates who in January dropped out of the race to fill a judicial vacancy he had already been temporarily appointed to fill.

"The withdrawals left Dan Degnan, the son of former mayoral adviser Tim Degnan, to run uncontested in a March primary, even though Dan Degnan had been rated 'not qualified' or 'not recommended' by more than a dozen bar associations."

The only bar associations that matter, though, are the Cook County Democratic Party and the Illinois Democratic Party. And they thought Degnan was exceptionally qualified.

Carroll? Well, he earned it the old-fashioned way: He shut up and took his medicine.

And now they are administering justice.


"House Speaker Michael Madigan in January refused to answer questions about whether he played any role in the decision of Carroll and the other candidates to drop out of the race. Reached Sunday, his spokesman Steve Brown again declined to comment, saying 'I don't know what this has to do with Mr. Madigan.'"

Justice Delayed . . .
"A high-ranking city official is finally facing the music six years after testifying under oath that he helped rig city hiring and promotions to benefit the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers," the Sun-Times reports.

"Hugh Donlan, the $77,280-a-year personnel chief for the Transportation Department's Bureau of Electricity, has been slapped with a 90-day suspension and started serving his time earlier this month."

He rigged hiring and his punishment is a summer vacation.


"Transportation Department spokesman Peter Scales said the disciplinary process was actually initiated in 2008 when aides to then-Mayor Richard M. Daley informed Donlan of the city's intention to suspend him for 90 days.

"'The disciplinary process was put on hold, and the suspension was not served due to his ongoing role as a witness in two criminal cases. Those two cases extended over a period of several years,' Scales said, referring to the trials of Daley's former patronage chief Robert Sorich and ex-Streets and Sanitation commissioner Al Sanchez.

"'When the new commissioner of CDOT became aware that the 2008 disciplinary process had not yet concluded, we re-initiated the disciplinary process again, serving Donlan with charges and again seeking a 90-day suspension.'"


"Under questioning, Scales acknowledged that it was Inspector General Joe Ferguson who kept the heat on Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein to punish Donlan."


"Sources said the inspector general also is pressuring Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take action against 'a couple dozen' other city employees who have yet to pay any price for roles they admittedly played in the hiring scandal."

To be fair, though, Rahm has been awfully busy giving speeches about accountability.

Oh, and those illegal HDO armies helped get him elected to Congress, so . . . awkward!


"City officials also have come under pressure to punish other city officials from Noelle Brennan, who was appointed by a federal judge to monitor city hiring shortly after the hiring scandal in the Daley administration erupted in 2005. Brennan has asked the city to investigate and possibly discipline more than 20 officials who were identified as participants in the hiring fraud during the Sorich and Sanchez trials, court records show."

Two parking tickets and you get the boot in Chicago. Just sayin'.


"Weeks before Daley left office last year, and over the objections of city lawyers, Brennan won the right to investigate and recommend discipline against administration officials who were involved in the hiring scam that fueled Daley's political machine.

"'Since the Sorich trial, city employees have frequently called the monitor's office to voice frustration and incredulity that employees who were directly implicated in the unlawful patronage practices were never reprimanded by the city,' Brennan wrote in court filings. 'Some of the complainants continue to be supervised by the same supervisors who passed them over for promotions in favor of politically clouted and less qualified candidates.'"

Some of them may even become judges!


"Six years ago, Donlan testified under oath that he rigged city hiring to make certain that job openings in the Department of Streets and Sanitation went only to clout-heavy candidates whose names Donlan received from Jack Drumgould, then personnel director for the department.

"His testimony came during the federal corruption trial that culminated in the convictions of Sorich, who came from the Daley family's 11th Ward power base, and three other city officials.

"Testifying under a grant of immunity, Donlan acknowledged that the names passed on by Drumgould originated in the mayor's office."

And that's how you get to Harvard.


"In fact, when jobs for general foreman were filled in 2004, Donlan said he made certain the highest ratings went to six people whose names originated in the mayor's office, even though three of them were not qualified and one had been suspended twice for disciplinary problems.

"Three years later, Donlan was back on the stand offering similar testimony - this time during the first trial of Sanchez, the Streets and San boss who also was a longtime leader of HDO's branch on the Southeast Side.

"Donlan said bright-eyed applicants who thought they stood a chance of getting hired by the Bureau of Electricity - which at the time was in the Streets and Sanitation Department ­- had false hope.

"Interviewers were told not to even bother filling out rating forms, he said. If a rating form was filled out by mistake, 'I'd put it in the garbage,' Donlan said then."

Code Toads
"A new study today from Manpower Inc. confirms what tech startups in Chicago know too well: Top-notch tech talent is really hard to find," Crain's reports.

Let me tell you something, folks: Even bottom-notch tech talent is really hard to find.

Memorial Day Special
How We Treat Our Troops.

The Cub Factor
It's getting drafty in here.

The White Sox Report
Bonus baby bingo.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
We have the video.


The Beachwood Tip Line: How now?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2012

It's Getting Drafty In Here

As this season progresses, Cub fans just have no choice but to look at the future. I mean, you could watch this team now and hope they turn it around. But you'd be kind of insane to do so. Nope. As it's been written and talked about all year, the 2012 season is all about the 2014-and-beyond season. Read that again, this is just weird.

With this being the given, what is there left to say about the worst team in baseball in 2012? Why, it's what we'll get out of being so horrendous! It'll be the number one pick in the 2013 draft. The baseball draft. We're not even talking about the NFL draft. We're talking about the baseball draft. It's like talking about practice. It's the draft. In baseball. The baseball draft.

For all the lore about lovable losers, have Cub fans ever wanted the team to come in last before? For a draft pick? Sure, we've wanted the team to be horrible in the past so guys like Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry would get fired and bring about some fundamental change, but now that the change has happened, it's all about . . . the draft. The baseball draft. Not the NFL. Not even the 2012 draft. The 2013 draft. In baseball.

So, to the interwebs I went to see who is projected to be the man to go first in the draft in 2013. There seem to be a few guys that could be drafted numero uno in 2013 - according to this site that I've never been on before. The cool thing is that there is a clip of one of the top pitchers and one of the top hitters against each other. Take a look. Did you see that? Seriously, go watch the clip and come back.

So if I had to pick one of these two guys I'd take Austin Wilson based on the one clip I've seen. And how interesting that this clip was from a game at Wrigley? And how further interesting that even with no one in the stands the ghosts of Wrigley threw the home run ball back on to the field. Which has to mean that Austin Wilson will never be a Cub. So there you go.

Week in Review: The Cubs brought the lumber out on Memorial Day and beat the Padres 11-7. It was their first win in two weeks. And it keeps their streak of winning games when they score eight or more runs intact. Really, eight runs is the key, you heard it here.

The Week in Preview: The Cub stay home for two more with the Padres and then travel west for four with the Giants. I'd complain about the weird four-game trip to San Fran - and then the Cubs come back to the Midwest - but really, is a weird road trip worth complaining about at this point?

The Second Basemen Report: Seven games this week (and a day) and Darwin Barney started six of them. Adrian Cardenas got the lone other start. It's too bad Cardenas isn't very good because Barney is proving to be who he is. Which is a guy who should never be starting on a major league roster. But that's just how the ghost of Jim Hendry would have drawn it up.

In former second basemen news, Charles Roscoe Barnes last played second base for the Chicago White Stockings of the National League in 1877. Some people consider this team the first incarnation of the Cubs. Charles had one good year 1876, when he led the league in triples (14) and he is certainly missed.

Crazy Corners: Changes are afoot at third base with Super Joe Mather getting a few more looks and batting third in Dizzy Dale's new lineup. Cardenas got a start at third too, but Ian Stewart went and had himself a nice Memorial Day (2-for-4, 3 RBIs, 1 HR). Brian LaHR had a rough week but might have hit his way out of it on Monday as well with three hits, three runs and one RBI. He still has a OBP over .400.

Weekly Bunting Report: I think they count bunts to the pitcher as a "comebacker" so it's not hard to imagine that a guy that tries to bunt pretty much every time he come to the plate would lead the league in "comebacks." Congrats, Campy!

The Zam Bomb: Just when you thought he had it all figured out, Big Z made the ball go boom - for opposing hitters. This has Big Z Getting Angry. But he's had more of a solid year than most thought he was capable of thus far.



Endorsement No-Brainer: Rahm Emanuel for the opposite of Wrigley Field renovations.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Schlage locking systems traded higher this week as there is a run on closers on the North Side of Chicago.

Sink or Sveum: 46% Analytical, 54% Emotional. Sveum drops another eight points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to batting a guy like Super Joe Mather third on a consistent basis. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy (Charles Manson), Not All There (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is getting some sweet ink this week.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale was in charge of moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. It was kind of pointless.

Over/Under: Wins this week: +/- 1.5. Also, it doesn't really matter.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Looks like Micah Hoffpauir has a .448 on-base percentage. But I'm really not sure, what a hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that last week was tough to watch.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Dual Diagnosis.

Swings Both Ways: Cheap Sweep.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 PM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Crystal Fighters at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.


2. Fist To The Sky at the House of Blues on Friday night.


3. Buck 65 at Reggie's on Saturday night.


4. Farewell Milwaukee at Schubas on Saturday night.


5. The Kynd at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.


6. DJ Quik at the Double Door on Friday night.


7. Waco Brothers at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.


8. Dry The River at the Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 PM | Permalink

Bonus Baby Bingo

He was two months short of his 17th birthday when he left his California home and headed to Chicago for what Jim Derrington says was a "dream come true."

Thanks to the Bonus Rule and his electric left arm, Derrington spent the final two weeks of the 1956 season - and the entire 1957 season - as a member of the White Sox. On the final day of the '56 campaign, a year when the Sox went 85-69 and finished third in the American League, manager Marty Marion named Derrington to start against the Kansas City A's. "I was the youngest pitcher to ever start a major league game," Derrington, now 72, recalled in a phone conversation last week.

Derrington lasted six innings in that historic, but long forgotten, game in Kansas City and was tagged with a 7-6 loss.

None of this would have occurred if wealthy, greedy teams like the Yankees hadn't begun to sign and stockpile hot prospects right after World War II, outbidding the competition any time they thought a guy had the potential to become a big leaguer.

Enacted in 1947, the Bonus Rule stipulated that any team signing a player for $4,000 or more would be obligated to keep the player on their 40-man roster for two years. No bonus baby - as they came to be called - could be farmed out to the minor leagues to be schooled in the finer points of the game as they developed their skills. In essence, they had nowhere to go except on the bench of the club that signed them.

Derrington, who graduated a year early from high school, received a $75,000 bonus (about half a million 2012 dollars) and went straight to Comiskey Park.

"The figure I signed for was pretty big," said Derrington. "Mine was the second highest [bonus] at that time if I'm not mistaken. Paul Pettit got something like $100,000 from Pittsburgh."

The youngest player ever to appear in a major league game was Cincinnati pitcher Joe Nuxhall, who was just 15 in 1944, but his was one brief relief appearance. Nuxhall, who was not a bonus baby, didn't return to the majors until he was 23. He went on to win 135 games before becoming a fixture in the Reds' broadcast booth for many years.

So how did the teenaged Derrington react to that game 56 years ago when he stood on the mound in Kansas City, a couple of thousand miles from home, facing major league hitters?

"It was exciting, but intimidation wasn't there," said Derrington. "My uncle [Herm Reich, who played with three different teams in 1949 and was a 16-year minor-leaguer] had been a major league player. My dad played professionally with the Cleveland organization. I started playing semipro ball with my dad when I was 13 so I was comfortable. To say I wasn't excited would be a lie. But I was okay."

There were well over 100 bonus babies during the 18 years of the rule, many of whom had short big league careers. However, four - Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Al Kaline, and Harmon Killebrew - made the Hall of Fame. Of those, only Killebrew ever appeared in a minor league game.

I can remember Derrington from the 1957 season. Maybe I should re-state that. I can remember him being on the team, but I can't recall seeing him pitch. He did get into 20 contests - five as a starter - for a total of 37 innings. You might think that because of his hefty bonus - "some of those guys [on the Sox] didn't make $75,000 in ten years," said Jim - and taking up a place on the 25-man roster that teammates resented Derrington. But that wasn't the case.

"Overall I was treated very well," he said. "I got along with the players real well and it really wasn't complicated at all. It was a good bunch of fellas. [There was] Nellie Fox, and Minnie Miñoso was really a great guy. He was just a prince. I spent a lot of time with Jim Landis because he was from California, and he was more my age in his early 20s. Sherm Lollar was a wonderful guy, and Walt Dropo and Earl Battey. It was quite an experience for me."

On the road Derrington roomed with veteran pitcher Dick Donovan, who was a reliable starting pitcher for the Sox from 1955 to 1960. "He probably helped me as much as any player," Derrington said.

When the team was home, Jim shared a Hyde Park apartment with another veteran pitcher, Jerry Staley, who is most remembered for throwing the game-ending double play ball in Cleveland the night of September 22, 1959, when the Sox clinched the pennant.

The memory of manager Al Lopez contributed a different perspective. "I didn't have that much communication with him," said Derrington. "In fact, he didn't talk a whole lot with the players period. I can't say that anybody that I knew of was very close to him as far as players were concerned. I spent a lot of time with [pitching coach] Ray Berres. He was a good guy."

Lopez, however, tried his damndest to get Derrington a victory the summer of 1957. On August 10, Derrington was the starting pitcher at Comiskey against Detroit, and he was superb. For seven innings, the Tigers were hitless. But in the eighth Reno Bertoia, another bonus baby, reached Jim for a two-run homer.

At that point Lopez summoned the team's best pitcher, Billy Pierce, whose likeness graces the left-centerfield wall at the Cell today. Pierce started 34 games that year and won 20, but he also relieved on three occasions. Lopez must have figured that Billy gave the Sox the best chance to preserve Derrington's victory. All he had to do was hold the Tigers in check.

It didn't happen. As effective as Pierce was that season - among other accomplishments, he recorded 16 complete games - he yielded four runs to the Tigers, and the Sox lost 6-4. That was as close as Derrington ever got to winning a major league game.

Once the two years were up, Derrington went to the minor leagues where he won 10 games both in 1958 and 1959. But like the story unfolds for many hard-throwing kids, he soon hurt his arm and never reached the potential the Sox envisioned. Furthermore, Tommy John was still four years away from his big league debut, let alone the surgery which bears his name.

"I pulled all the ligament and tendons [in his elbow]," related Derrington. "I was with San Diego, which was the White Sox Triple-A team in spring training in '60. I played that year as an outfielder-first baseman. Then I went to Charleston and played first base. I could always hit real well, but I found out I couldn't hit like [a major leaguer], though. The next year I tried to pitch again, and I could throw, but the doctors told me, 'We'll get you where you can throw again, but you'll never throw like you did before.' They were right."

By the tender age of 22, Jim Derrington was out of baseball.

The Bonus Rule came to an end in 1965 with the advent of the annual amateur draft, which will be conducted once again next week. The Sox pick 13th.

While Derrington's story is buried in White Sox lore, every organization continues to seek young pitchers like the 16-year-old kid out of South Gate, California, who can throw 95 with a sharp breaking ball. In the mock drafts I've seen, Kenny Williams has his eye on Mississippi State lefthander Chris Stratton or righthander Lance McCullers, a high school pitcher from Tampa.

Whoever the Sox select won't find himself immediately at U.S. Cellular among the current crew of Sox. Events will be starkly different.

But looking back, Derrington reflected, "It was irreplaceable. Quite an experience."


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2012

How We Treat Our Troops

We rounded up some of the best accountability journalism for U.S. soldiers in our recent wars. Check them out while you're basking on a boat this weekend, and remember the reason for this federal holiday.

Armored Humvees are in Short Supply, October 2003, News Observer: When the insurgency in Iraq started, the U.S. Army didn't have enough armored Humvees to protect its troops. As soldiers died in vehicles not built to withstand combat, the Army boosted their orders. But that takes time. While waiting for requests to be filled, soldiers rigged their own with sandbags.

Barrage of Bullets Drowned Out Cries of Comrades, The Washington Post, 2004, Part 1 and Part 2: After NFL-star-turned-soldier Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, the Army took weeks to admit friendly fire had killed him. More than a year later, records emerged indicating they'd also withheld details of his death by fratricide, and the case spun into a saga of an investigation. When we asked national security expert Andrew Exum for a seminal piece on the case, he replied:

@ProPublica Pretty sure that article is still waiting to be written. I would start research with the 2007 IG report: - Andrew Exum (@abumuqawama) May 24, 2012

Contributed by @BradsNews

Behind The Walls of Ward 54, Salon, February 2005: Soldiers at Walter Reed said that the facility's psychiatric care was outdated and inadequate - heavily medicating soldiers in "lockdown wards," offering group therapy that often didn't address wartime experiences, and in some cases, hesitating to diagnose PTSD at all.

Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration, at Army's Top Medical Facility, The Washington Post, February, 2007: The first article in a Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigation of neglect and bureaucratic failures at Walter Reed. While the surgical hospital was held up as a paragon of care, hundreds of soldiers went unnoticed in decrepit outpatient wards with few services or oversight. Soldiers described the experience as living in a chapter from Catch-22.

Arlington National Cemetery, Salon, 2009: Mismarked graves. Botched documentation. Unknown remains. Trashed personal mementos. In a yearlong investigation, Salon discovered grave errors at Arlington National Cemetery that pushed some families to extremes to make sure their loved ones were buried correctly - and that it was really them.

The Battle of Wanat, The Washington Post, October 2009: On July 13, 2008, nine U.S. soldiers were killed and 27 wounded in one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghan war. The attack provided a window into what went wrong in Afghanistan and prompted the Army to reassess its strategy. (Be sure to check out the on-the-ground videos in the timeline; they provide a very real peek into what it was like at this base.)

Restrepo, 2010: This Oscar-nominated documentary chronicles the year journalists Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington (who was killed last year in Libya) spent embedded with a U.S. Army platoon in Afghanistan, from deployment to battle and back home.

How Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money, Mother Jones, October 2011: As for-profit colleges swooped in to take advantage of the GI Bill's generous education benefits, they often employed deceptive marketing techniques - in this case, websites that looked like official guides on how vets could maximize their education funds but were actually run by marketing firms for the schools.

Aftershock: The Blast That Shook Psycho Platoon, ProPublica and NPR, March 2012: More than 115,000 soldiers have suffered mild traumatic brain injuries since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began. But our investigation with NPR found the military has failed to provide its returning soldiers with the care they need.

John Huston Film About WWII Soldiers That Army Suppressed Is Restored, The Washington Post, May 2012: A post-WWII documentary on the psychological effects of war has been hiding for nearly 60 years. The Army says it was because they wanted to protect the privacy of the soldiers; others say they wanted to preserve soldiers' "warrior" image. Either way, the film has been restored, and as the Post notes, is "striking for its potential relevance for a new generation of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Black Hawk Down, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 1997: This brutal, 15-hour battle in Somalia killed 18 elite U.S. soldiers, wounded 73, and changed the way America approached foreign intervention. Before it was a movie, or a book, Mark Bowden chronicled the soldiers' ordeal in this brilliant account in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 PM | Permalink

May 26, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report


Please see How We Treat Our Troops.


See also: How To Host A Safe Summer Cookout


Song of the Day:


From The Vault: My Front Page Memorial Day Story In The Chicago Tribune.


This week's White Sox Report: Bonus Baby Bingo.


Now back to our original Memorial Day weekend programming.

Biden Time
It's Memorial Day weekend! The perfect time for Joe Biden to sort of miss the point.

Sinisterly named educational testing firm Scantron agreed this week to remove a pro-charter school reading passage from standardized tests administered in Chicago. After all, who needs fictional brainwashing when you have a real-world example right in your back yard?

Come on. The rest of the Class of '62 is just jealous because no one read their manifestos.

Well, at least the London Whale is feeling better. But isn't this the type of thing you just paper over with pretend money anyway?

Mitt Romney bucked conventional wisdom this week when he defended expanding class sizes. Unless, of course, it's the upper class.

So which in the long run is worse? Being milkshaked or Bud Lighted?

Finally, we know it's just a movie, but we totally would've aimed for Bieber.


The Weekend Desk Tip LIne: Lime-lighted.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg go Disco. Tune in to hear their thoughts on Donna Summer, Robin Gibb and why this oft-dissed genre deserves more respect. Plus, reviews of new releases from Beach House and Killer Mike."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.


Social Responsibility & National Security: Towards A New NATO


On May 17, 2012, NATO opponents debated NATO experts at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago. The debate was sponsored by the National Strategy Forum.

Watch Online

Saturday, May 26 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


March & Rally Against The NATO Summit


Protestors gather for a rally at Chicago's Grant Park followed by a march to McCormick Place in opposition of the NATO Summit being held there.

Watch online

Sunday, May 27 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Protest the Global 1%


National Nurses United and other organizations protest in Chicago ahead of the NATO summit, calling for a "Robin Hood" tax on banks and other financial institutions and a stop in cuts to social services.

Watch Online

Sunday, May 27 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Vision and Campaigning for the Future


Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence joined other activists in this session from the anti-NATO summit discussing their plans for future efforts.

Watch online

Sunday, May 27 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 10 min


Laying the Foundations: NATO, Economic Globalization & Economic Justice


Chicago Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) participated in a plenary session from the Counter-Summit for Peace & Economic Justice.

Sunday, May 27 at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 45 min



Perspectivas Latinas: National Latino Education Institute


NLEI Executive Director Elba Aranda-Suh highlights its efforts to provide job training to the Latino community in a wide range of areas, from computer technology to health.

Sunday, May 27 at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


United African Organization Summit - Rahm Emanuel Keynote


Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers the keynote address at the United African Organization's summit on African immigrants and refugees.

Sunday, May 27 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min


Protest Against Johnson & Johnson Supplier


Protestors from the Coalition Against Segregation of Temporary Employees protest a local company for alleged discrimination in their hiring practices.

Watch Online

Sunday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:47 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2012

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Adicts at the Metro on Thursday night.


2. Bad Veins at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.


3. We Were Promised Jetpacks at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.


4. The Beach Boys at the Chicago Theatre on Monday night.


5. The Pinker Tones at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


5. Ane Brun at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.


6. Pillars & Tongues at the Hideout on Tuesday night.


7. M Ward at the Vic on Tuesday night.


8. Lee "Scratch" Perry at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.


9. Tomorrow The Moon at Martyr's on Tuesday night.


10. Hoots & Hellmouth at Schubas on Sunday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:52 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Hundreds of thousands of poor Illinoisans would lose health coverage, prescription drug discounts for seniors would be dropped and dental care for adults would be greatly curtailed as part of $1.6 billion in budget cuts lawmakers approved Thursday," the Tribune reports.

Those frickin' Republicans! Oh, wait.

Pension Perverts
"A year after Emil Jones Jr. retired from the Illinois Senate in 2008, his annual pension jumped by more than 50 percent to $122,334 - far more than he ever earned as Senate president," the Tribune reports.

"Jones' good fortune comes courtesy of legislation he sponsored in 1989. Under that law, members of the General Assembly who worked long enough to hit their limit on pension benefits - a generous 85 percent of their final salary after just 20 years - would get an extra reward.

"For every additional year they stayed on, 3 percent of their initial pension would be added to their retirement checks. For Jones, working an extra 16 years netted him a $41,000 pension boost in 2009; he drew $126,004 last year.

"The 3 percent deal, available to no one in state government outside of the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS, is another in a long line of pension provisions written by lawmakers for lawmakers, a Tribune investigation found. It also stands as a glaring example of how the legislature repeatedly passed benefit increases with little or no concern for the costs.

"Jones was a direct sponsor of many of these questionable deals. In addition to helping long-serving state lawmakers, the former senator sponsored legislation that allowed Chicago aldermen to receive the most lucrative pensions in city government and gave labor leaders public pensions based on their private salaries."

Emil Jones was one of the hackiest pols in Illinois history. Guess who never said a thing?

See also: Obama's Political 'Godfather' In Illinois.

Though I think the media has conflated Obama's own descriptions of his relationships with Jones and Tony Rezko. My understanding is that he called Jones his political mentor and Rezko his political godfather, though that wouldn't explain Jones's ringtone. How about just The Three Amigos?


"House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton played roles in many of the pension perks now on the books but are quick to point out that most of the loopholes that allowed lawmakers to spike their pensions have been closed. The 3 percent perk ended in 2003.

"But anyone who was in office before those changes took effect can still benefit. And as lawmakers consider reforms, many of them say it would be unconstitutional to eliminate even the most outrageous pension perks once they've been bestowed.

"Take Madigan's case. If he retired this year after roughly 40 years in office, the 1989 law would boost his annual pension from about $81,000 to $131,000 according to current figures from GARS. That's 137 percent of his current salary. Cullerton's pension would go up by roughly $31,000 to $112,000 a year, or 117 percent of what he now earns. Both lawmakers helped advance, and eventually voted for, the legislation that created the perk for longtime lawmakers."

Madigan - who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party - refused to comment. Cullerton issued a statement. Jones blamed Republican governors.

Replacing Fitzgerald
"Politics is an inherent part of the selection process," Rick Pearson and Steve Mills write in the Tribune.


Saying politics is an "inherent' part of the process argues that politics are inevitable; that they are built-in, like the laws of physics.

Did we forget the lesson of Patrick Fitzgerald 24 hours after he announced his resignation? Sheesh.

Choosing that tone makes the following passage seem an acceptable way of doing business, instead of a cycle that's been broken:

"Former Mayor Richard Daley and the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul Simon once clashed over the 1993 appointment of Jim Burns as the top federal prosecutor. Daley had backed Dick Devine, but Simon feared that Devine, once a top aide when Daley was Cook County state's attorney, was too close to Daley. Devine later was elected state's attorney himself."

Robert Blago More Like Brother Than We Knew
Now that the so-called Good Brother is on a media tour trashing Patrick Fitzgerald, it's good to remember the inconvenient case against him laid out here.


And for all the trial baloney about the reconciliation of the Blago brothers when it was a nice (and strategic) narrative to propagate, Robert admits he hasn't spoken to Rod since the trial. Imagine.

Meeks MIA
"As of last week, [state Senator James Meeks] had managed to join his colleagues in Springfield for only eight out of 39 session days, according to attendance roll calls provided to us under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act," the Tribune editorial page reports.

"He made it to only three out of 12 Senate Education Committee meetings. He's the chairman. He gets $10,327 on top of his $67,836 Senate salary for chairing the committee."

Moats and Goats
The Kennedy Curse vs. The Cubs Curse.

'AT&T Violating Illinois Law'
Waiting for Madigan.

Prisoner To Poet
A question of freedom.

Brand Stand
Cook County Naming Rights A Bad Idea.

Color Jam!
Largest Public Artwork in Chicago History.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Chock full.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Chocky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

The Kennedy Curse vs. The Cubs Curse

First the Kennedy Curse struck again. Then the Cubs Curse struck again. Which got us to thinking.

Kennedy Curse: Evil family patriarch named Joe.
Cubs Curse: Evil family patriarch named Joe.

Kennedy Curse: Family got rich bootlegging alcohol.
Cubs Curse: Family hopes to get richer slinging overpriced alcohol.

Kennedy Curse: Family members have history of depression.
Cubs Curse: Team is always depressing.

Kennedy Curse: Alcoholism run amok.
Cubs Curse: Alcoholism run amok in the bleachers.

Kennedy Curse: Family tainted by a suspicious drowning.
Cubs Curse: Team tainted by continual choking.

Kennedy Curse: Family's top prospects never live up to the hype.
Cubs Curse: Team's top prospects never live up to the hype.

Kennedy Curse: Rich family believes in giving back to the poor.
Cubs Curse: Rich family believes in giving back to themselves.

Kennedy Curse: They had Jack.
Cubs Curse: They had Wood.

Kennedy Curse: JFK secretly on a steroid regimen.
Cubs Curse: Sammy Sosa secretly on a steroid regimen.

Kennedy Curse: Screw-ups always forgiven by self-deluded masses.
Cubs Curse: Screw-ups always forgiven by self-deluded masses.

Kennedy Curse: Curse? Or self-perpetuating culture?
Cubs Curse: Curse? Or self-perpetuating culture?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

A Question of Freedom

WIth an assist from the Beachwood 3-D News Desk.

Poetry magazine presents an evening of poetry featuring the work of memoirist, poet, and activist Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of the memoir A Question of Freedom and the poetry collection Shahid Reads His Own Palm.

A national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. In April 2012, President Barack Obama appointed him as a member of the White House's Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency.

Betts has been awarded fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, the Open Society Institute, Bread Loaf Writers' Workshop, and Warren Wilson College. He will read from his work followed by a brief Q&A. Guests will receive complimentary copies of the June issue of Poetry.

When: Friday, June 8, 6:00 PM.
Where: Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Admission: Free admission on a first come, first-served basis.

"For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers" appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry.


See also:
* USA Today: A Mind Unconfined By Jail
* Washington Post: From Inmate To Mentor
* Q&A with the New Yorker
* Excerpt of A Question of Freedom


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

'AT&T Violating Illinois Law'

"Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson expresses his dissatisfaction with AT&T's treatment of community PEG channels."


From the minutes of April's Elk Grove Village board meeting:

"Trustee Lissner stated that Mayor Johnson has been sending several letters to various government agencies throughout the past year regarding the failures of AT&T and the way they handle PEG (public) viewing channels. Several agencies have responded to those letters. One of the letters recently received from the Board Chair of the Chicago Access Corporation listed a website, Trustee Lissner viewed the website and there was a YouTube video posted on the site that shows some of the issues transpiring with AT&T. A presentation of the YouTube video was shown. The video demonstrated the problems with AT&T public viewing. Trustee Lissner stated in addition to the problems demonstrated, the picture on AT&T is distorted and grainy.

"Mayor Johnson stated that AT&T is required by State law and Federal law to provide the same quality of service that is offered by Comcast. Right now the Village has Channel 6. Channel 6 is a highly marketable commercial number that many stations would like to have. Comcast provides Channel 6 under the guidelines of State and Federal laws. AT&T has basically been violating the law. The Village has been in contact with the Attorney General and Congressman Roskam's office to look into the matter.

"Recently, other organizations, including the Northwest Municipal Conference, who represents fifty communities, have stepped up to push and make sure that AT&T provides the same quality of service that other providers supply and do what they are required to do by law. Right now, residents are paying money to AT&T for services they are not providing. AT&T gets money out of the fees that they collect for cable, to provide this service and they are not using the money to provide the service at the level they are required to provide.

"The Attorney General's office is thankful for the information the Village has provided and for the other organizations that have stepped forward. Hopefully AT&T will now be forced to do what they are supposed to do by law. Mayor Johnson thanked Trustee Lissner and Trustee Franke for their efforts in making sure that AT&T users get the service they deserve."

That video:


Of course, Lisa Madigan first opened her "probe" into these practices back in 2009.

Ars Technica also reported then that the FCC had been asked to act:

"The issue affects U-Verse installations around the country, but it has flared hottest in Illinois, where AT&T has a duty to carry PEG channels under a statewide video franchising law in 2009. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan agreed to investigate the issue in January after cities claimed that AT&T wasn't living up to its responsibility to deliver PEG channels on actual 'channels.'

"A set of community media groups and municipalities has now asked the FCC to act. PEG channels are not enshrined in federal law; they are something that can be required by franchise agreements but are not mandatory. But the media groups contend that AT&T's treatment of the channels still falls afoul of various FCC policies, the Communications Act, and the Cable Act."


See also: What The Law Says vs. What AT&T Says


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

Color Jam: The Largest Public Artwork In Chicago History

With an assist from the Beachwood 3-D News Desk.

Color Jam is the largest public artwork in Chicago's history and the largest contiguous vinyl project in the United States. It is composed of more than 76,000 square feet of colored vinyl - enough material to make 50,000 vinyl records, wrap more than 130 city buses or cover one-and-a-half football fields. Printing Color Jam on a standard HP home printer would require 2,100 ink cartridges and 180 hours of continuous printing.


Color Jam is the third installment in Chicago Loop Alliance's annual Art Loop public art initiative, following Tony Tasset's three-story EYE sculpture in 2010, and last year's five-story mural by Kay Rosen encouraging viewers to GO DO GOOD.

A video feed of the Color Jam installation site at State and Adams Streets is streaming live at now through June 5. Color Jam will cover the intersection of State and Adams Streets from June 5 through September 30, 2012.

WHO: Chicago-based, internationally renowned multimedia artist Jessica Stockholder, joined by a team of workers, including several on ten-story boom lifts.

WHAT: Installation of Stockholder's three-dimensional vinyl artwork containing flashes of color and geometric shapes that spill from building facades onto the sidewalk and streets, commissioned by Chicago Loop Alliance.

WHEN: Ongoing each evening May 29 to June 4 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

WHERE: Surrounding buildings, sidewalks and streets at the intersection of State and Adams Streets in the Chicago Loop.

WHY: In preparation for the official "opening" of Color Jam on Tuesday, June 5 at 10 a.m.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

Cook County Naming Rights Are A Bad Idea

"Cash-strapped Cook County government and the more financially sound Forest Preserve District are looking to bring in corporate cash by selling naming rights, sponsorships and concessions," the Tribune reports.

Is this really a good idea? Cook County isn't exactly a brand anyone would want to be associated with. Besides, the best ideas aren't likely to make money. For example:

* The Todd Stroger Memorial Department of Human Resources. I mean, I'm not sure all of that would fit on his locker at the East Bank Club.

* The Forrest Claypool Memorial Preserve District. I mean, who would want that?

* The Toni Preckwinkle Ethics Task Force Chaired By Political Ally And Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios Brought To You By JPMorgan Chase. I mean, it's just a mouthful.

* The Cook County Auditor's Office of Joe Berrios. Wait, that exists.

* The George Dunne Office of Intergovernmental Relations.

* The John Stroger Medical Examiner's Office. It makes more sense than a hospital.

Who would want the right to buy these names? The NATO host committee?

Okay, I get it. Corporations would put their names on county property.

Still a bad idea. Look at what might happen.

* The Apple Commission on Human Rights.

* The Facebook Department of Revenue Projection.

Too easy?

* The Bob Forrest District Preserve. Party at the Moon Tower!

Besides, don't the taxpayers already sponsor Cook County?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2012

Leinie's Introduces Big Eddy Imperial IPA

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is rolling out Big Eddy Imperial India Pale Ale, a bold interpretation of the classic style, featuring earthy hop bitterness. Big Eddy Imperial IPA is the second in a series of new Big Eddy brews debuting in 2012.

Big Eddy IIPA fills the senses with five distinctive Pacific Northwest hops, which are added at each stage of the brewing process. Hops include Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Citra, and the extremely rare Amarillo. The beer boasts grapefruit, mandarin orange and mango notes, balanced by a hint of pine and a strong caramel, toffee sweetness, giving it a complex, multifaceted character.

IIPABottleGlass.164607.jpgOriginally crafted to sustain the journey from Britain to India in the mid-1700s by an English brewer, India Pale Ales are known for their hoppy, bitter variation on a traditional ale. Imperial IPAs are typically bigger than traditional IPAs in both hop level and alcohol level. Big Eddy IIPA comes in at 9 percent ABV and 78 IBUs (International Bitterness Units).

"This is a very special beer that is truly a treat for all senses," said Jake Leinenkugel, fifth generation brewer and president of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. "Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Imperial Pale Ale pairs extremely well with a wide variety of summer meals, such as grilled pork or grilled steak."

Inspired by the Big Eddy Spring, the lifeline of the Leinenkugel's brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wis. since 1867, the Big Eddy series offers big beer fans complex, yet balanced flavors beyond the mainstream. Like its predecessors - Russian Imperial Stout and Wee Heavy Scotch Ale - Big Eddy Imperial India Pale Ale ages and travels well.

Leinenkugel's Big Eddy IIPA features a stained glass orange hue highlighted by a caramel malt presence and topped with an ivory colored foam, which settles to a tight cap. An assured bitterness punch captures the intensity of an extreme IPA, while the clean finish won't overpower the senses.
Big Eddy Imperial India Pale Ale will be available in limited release beginning in June 2012 in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Kansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas and Arizona. The beer will be available in four-pack bottles and on draft. Big Eddy Wee Heavy Scotch Ale will also be available in these markets through June of 2012.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

Mosaic Tile Installation At The Green Hills Public Library

The Green Hills Public Library in Palos Hills hired Chicago artist Francine Gourguechon to install a mosaic this month. Here's the video.


From the SouthtownStar in 2010:

When the Green Hills Public Library in Palos Hills completed its expansion in 2008, patrons were impressed but had one more request. They believed the north facade of the building, which faces 103rd Street, needed a face-lift.

"People started complaining immediately that it was ugly," library director Annette Armstrong said.

Library officials agreed and decided to come up with an environmentally friendly design that would make patrons happy. The library's 12,000-square-foot, 5.5 million, expansion project came in under budget, so the decision was made to spend $300,000 on the north facade, Armstrong said.

Library officials on Friday unveiled the library's new look during a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by local dignitaries and elected officials. The north facade of the library, 8611 W. 103rd St., was redesigned over the past year and features a large mural - one of seven in the library - rain garden, vegetable garden, children's outdoor reading area and new pavers. The murals include small designs created by members of the community, Armstrong said.

"Every mural had a workshop to include members of the community," she said.

The rain garden will harvest much of the water needed to irrigate the library grounds, Armstrong said.

Friday's ceremony was attended by Secretary of State Jesse White, who also serves as the state librarian, and state Sen. Ed Maloney (D-Chicago). Maloney credited library officials for considering an environmentally friendly building when they designed the expansion.

"The place keeps looking better and better," Maloney said. "Certainly you have a great facility here. This is a model for new facilities to be better. This is the responsible thing to do for all of us."

White said the library expansion does an excellent job of responding to patrons' changing needs. "When I look around, I see a beautiful facility here," White said.

Armstrong said several patrons enjoy the library's new atmosphere because the building does not look like a typical library. "It's an environment that dignifies the human spirit," she said.

See also:
* Gourguechon Mosaics
* The Green Hills Public Library YouTube channel
* More art at the Green Hill Library


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Man Who Invented The Remote Control Has Died

"The inventor of the television remote control has died at the age of 96, his former employer has said," the BBC reports.

"Zenith Electronics said Eugene Polley passed away of natural causes on Sunday at a Chicago hospital.

"His 1955 invention, Flash-Matic, pointed a beam of light at photo cells on each corner of the TV, turning it off and on and changing the channels."


"Eugene Theodore Polley was born in Chicago on Nov. 29, 1915. (He disliked the name Theodore and adopted his confirmation name, Joseph, as his middle name.) His father, a bootlegger, abandoned the family when Gene was about 10," the New York Times reports.

"The young Mr. Polley studied at the City Colleges of Chicago and the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology), but lacked the money to complete a degree. At 20 he joined the Zenith Radio Company, as it was then known, as a stock boy earning 40 cents an hour."


"Polley also worked on the push-button radio for automobiles and on the development of the video disk, predecessor of today's DVD," according to a Zenith press release.


"This is the greatest thing since the wheel," Polley once told the Tribune.

"According to his son, a grave marker at Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton will read, 'Gene Polley, Inventor of the TV Remote Control,'" the paper reports.


A final salute.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Public Pianos, Bad Ass Country, Metropian Invasion

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Keys to the City Piano Festival got under way this week and here's something we wish they would have promoted more and would do for just one day, which happened to be yesterday: Pianos in Public Spaces.

Steinway & Sons placed pianos at a few locations around the city (well, mostly inside museums) for anyone to play. What a wonderful idea.

Here's one performance captured on video. According to the CSO, the players are Mike Hudson (black hair, glasses) from Schaumburg and Steve Solomon (hat, striped shirt) from Chicago. They are at the Art Institute.


2. Bloodshot is promoting its Scott H. Biram/Lydia Loveless show at the Hideout on June 7th, and why shouldn't they?

Bloodshot reminds us that SPIN called Loveless "one of the most badass country or Americana songwriters working today" while Metromix said "The perfect bluesman for the 21st century, Biram filters classic American roots music through metal, hardcore and plenty of whiskey."

Here's new Loveless video:


3. Also in over the transom:

"Metropia, an exclusive event experience that merges regional artists and musicians in one exciting space, will make its debut in Chicago at the Atrium Events space (4325 N. Ravenswood) on Thursday, June 7 - Friday, June 8, 2012.

"Event attendees, aka Metropians, will enjoy new sounds and visually-stimulating art installations that are unique to Chicago. Metropia Chicago will not only encompass art, music, and technology, but will also be cause driven. Social and charitable causes play a vital role in Metropia, with a sizable portion of the event's proceeds benefiting the Chicago-based anti-bullying organization, The Bully Squad and WLUW-FM 88.7 - Chicago Sound Alliance, which broadcasts from the campus of Loyola University Chicago."

Click here for more information.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

The Ryder Cup vs. NATO

"Chicago's next turn in the global spotlight promises just as much of an economic jolt as the NATO summit - with a fraction of the headaches," Crain's reports.

The 2012 Ryder Cup rolls into the Windy City on Sept. 25 - 30 with expectations of $135 million in economic impact - on par with the $128 million the city expected from the summit, according to the DuPage County Convention and Tourism Bureau.

As protester-in-chief Andy Thayer might say, we'll have some of what they're smoking.

There are similarities, however, between the two events. Let's take a look.

NATO: International elites who like to golf meet for summit.
Ryder Cup: Elitist golfers who like to compete meet for international summit.


NATO: An anachronistic institution whose best days are behind her.
Ryder Cup: An anachronistic institution whose best days are behind her.


NATO: Still dominated by white males.
Ryder Cup: Still dominated by white males.


NATO: Totally boring to watch.
Ryder Cup: Totally boring to watch.


NATO: Accompanied by marching up and down the street.
Ryder Cup: Accompanied by marching up and down the fairway.


NATO: There's America and then there's everyone else.
Ryder Cup: There's Team America and Team Europe.


NATO: The military arm of the global economic elite.
Ryder Cup: The golfing arm of the global economic elite.


NATO: Expanding drone warfare.
Ryder Cup: Expanding droney broadcasts.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

NATO Notebook IV

A continuing look at the nonsense that surrounded NATO.

1. Eric Zorn says it so I don't have to. Lou Raizin, you are Today's Most Ridiculous Person In Chicago.


Raizin, and just about everybody else it seems, apparently has also forgotten that it was the G8 conference that was expected to draw loads of protesters. NATO was almost an afterthought.


And don't forget, it was that hippie organization called Crain's Chicago Business that blamed Rahm Emanuel himself for a summit plan that "reinforces the very stereotypes that Chicago is trying to shed" and creating a crisis atmosphere.

2. "Now that moment, which once seemed so fortuitous, has been marginalized," I wrote in March.

"The Occupy movement may still hold its Chicago Spring, but it won't be the same. The fact that the world's leaders must hold a meeting in isolation far away from the people they govern - and whose lives they their economic power rules over - is poignant to say the least. I would have preferred it otherwise at this particular moment in time, so a moment could have been had. A moment that might have lasted a month, and whose impact might have lasted far beyond that.

"Instead we get NATO, still a target as the military arm of the G8's agenda, but not the G8. If only they had taken NATO from us instead. But they knew better."

3. I mean, the Beachwood regulars could have kept the (relative) peace with the kind of machinery that was brought in.

4. "[T]he hundreds of downtown companies - particularly retailers - that lost days of warm-weather business deserve more than Mayor Rahm Emanuel's thanks," Greg Hinz writes. "They deserve compensation."

From who, taxpayers? The downtown business community not only got behind Rahm's summit, they ponied up nearly $40 million to help pay for it. Is that really proper? Who will compensate employees, customers and shareholders? It's not like that money is coming out of the pockets of executives.

Finally, when it comes to compensation, what about these folks? Among others.

5. "Top Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers went to Chicago this week to take notes on how that city's force handled large protests at the NATO summit. CMPD Deputy Chief Harold Medlock expects demonstrations of similar size and tone during the Democratic National Convention in September," WFAE public radio in Charlotte reports.

"CMPD will have expanded abilities to search protesters and prohibit potentially dangerous items because of the city's new 'extraordinary event' ordinance. Medlock says the police response he witnessed in Chicago this week demonstrated the need for that kind of an ordinance."

In other words, we'll protect your rights when you don't need them, but when you do it's an extraordinary event and you lose them. Which means you never really had them at all.

6. "The White House has ruled out an apology to Islamabad for the NATO air strike in November in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed," the Indo-Asian News Service reports.

7. "Yesterday May 23, 2012, Moscow staged the first successful test-launch of a new ICBM designed to pierce the missile shield defence system now being deployed by NATO. The launch came just two days after the NATO summit in Chicago that widely focused on the European missile shield," Avionews reports.

8. "[E]ven though [Sebastian] Senakiewicz boasted about how he could hide explosives in a hollowed-out Harry Potter book and had a car full of explosives and weapons, none were found in the Chicago home where he was staying," the Sun-Times reports.

"After Senakiewicz appeared before Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. on Wednesday, the 24-year-old man's lawyers suggested he might have made the statements while he was intoxicated and possibly goaded by undercover officers.

"'We don't want people who maybe had a little bit too much to drink in the city of Chicago to be arrested for something that may be said and, maybe people say stupid things when they're drunk, but that is not a basis to arrest,' Melinda Power told reporters."

9. The NATO-Industrial Complex.

10. NATO Watch.

11. "A day after the end of the NATO summit in Chicago, Rick Bayless and several other Chicago restaurant owners said the event brought no economic lift to their businesses," Crain's reports.

In fact, NATO killed their business. Examples:

* Xoco, Topolobampo and Frontera Grill were down 15 to 20 percent.

* The Slurping Turtle restaurant in River North was down 65 percent.

* "We had a grand total of nine people join us for lunch, about 5 percent of what we normally do at Trattoria No. 10," said Dan Rosenthal.

And so on.

We're a long way from $128 million. Good job, Deloitte Consulting!

12. "I can't tell you how many times world leaders mentioned how kind the people of the city of Chicago are, how beautiful the city was and how clean our city was," Rahm said Monday.

No, seriously, he can't tell us.


By "our city" world leaders meant O'Hare, McCormick Place and their hotel.

13. "Riot control refers to the measures used by police, military, or other security forces to control, disperse, and arrest civilians who are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest."

Because a demonstration protest is the same thing as a riot. And because we wouldn't want people expressing their political beliefs in a democracy. Some things never change.


* NATO Notebook I
* NATO Notebook II
* NATO Notebook III


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:45 AM | Permalink

May 23, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"Politicians were dancing and singing all along the Chicago Way on Wednesday, after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced he would step down," John Kass writes for the Tribune.

"'I can hear the champagne corks popping all the way over here, and I'm in Virginia," said banker and Illinois' former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (no relation), the Republican who sacrificed his political career by recommending Pat Fitzgerald."

Among those leading the roundup to chase Peter Fitzgerald out of the U.S. Senate because non-partisan approach to corruption: Ray LaHood. Who is now Barack Obama's Transportation Secretary.

Fitzgerald was the reform U.S. senator from Illinois that Obama never even came close to being. In fact, Fitzgerald was the reform state senator that Obama never was.

If you loved Patrick Fitzgerald, please understand how he got there - and how he would never have been appointed had it been up to Barack Obama instead of Peter Fitzgerald.


Some of Patrick Fitzgerald's targets - most famously governors Ryan and Blagojevich - complained that he criminalized politics by not differentiating between political fraud and fraud. That's backwards. The truth is that criminal justice has long been politicized in this town.

"When I ran for the Senate, Chicago politicians only cared about one thing: Who would I recommend to the president for the post of U.S. attorney?" Peter Fitzgerald told Kass. "Prominent attorneys, people I'd never talked to, called asking to be on the selection committee."

Combine Republicans from Springfield and Democrats at Richard Daley's City Hall and all their lickspittles insisted that Fitzgerald must choose a local lawyer.

Then U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert's office began lobbying Karl Rove, the GOP Rasputin in the Bush White House, who was also a friend of Combine handmaiden Robert Kjellander, of Illinois.

Hastert, also of Illinois, insisted it was his choice to make. Kjellander, a national GOP leader, would later make millions in bond deals with Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Kjellander was mentioned in federal court papers and dealt with a Blagojevich insider, the convicted Tony Rezko, but was never charged.

He did run political errands for Illinois Republican boss Big Bill Cellini, who is now awaiting a sentence on a Blagojevich-related corruption conviction. Pat Fitzgerald should stay until the sentencing in June. Cellini is represented by former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, who is part of former Gov. Big Jim Thompson's clique.

What do they call that? Six degrees of Combine separation?

"They got to Rove, who said I had to appoint someone from Illinois," Fitzgerald said. "And still some journalists think there's no Combine in Illinois?

Here's my 2002 profile of Patrick Fitzgerald.

I also profiled Peter Fitzgerald in 2001 - it was called Party Pooper - but that piece doesn't appear to be online.


Patrick Fitzgerald: I Won't Ever Run For Elective Office.

"Fitzgerald said complaints that elected officials can't know what's legal and what's not are off-base.

"As much as we hear how there's no notice of what an offense is, it seems like lots of people are shredding stuff, deep-sixing computers, burning zip drives in barbecue grills, that somehow they've figured out that what they were doing was wrong," Fitzgerald said.

Ah yes, the Barbecue of the Documents.


"[Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick] Collins would not comment Wednesday on his interest in the position," the Sun-Times reports. "However, when he left the U.S. attorney's office in 2006, Collins' going-away gift was a jacket embroidered with the words 'Assistant U.S. Attorney.] Even then, Collins put his finger over the word 'Assistant,' then smiled wide."

It's almost a no-brainer.

As opposed to appointing Anita Alvarez, which would just indicate no brains.


Memo to Robert Blagojevich: STFU.

Tyson Beef
So Illinois Democrats have picked their fake Democrat to run against the indicted Democrat they supported over the fake Democrat.

And he lives outside the district. Perfect.


"All three candidates were asked how much of their own resources they were willing to commit to the effort. Tyson pledged $20,000 while the other two pledged $10,000 each."

And that's how you get to the statehouse.

Lesson Plan
"Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former Cleveland public schools CEO, was hired Wednesday to advise Chicago school officials while they do a national search for a chief education officer," the Sun-Times reports.

"Byrd-Bennett will act as 'chief education advisor' to Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard to temporarily fill the gap left by the April 27 resignation of Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso.

"She'll be paid $21,500 a month. If she works the entire 13 months allowed under a School Board report, Byrd-Bennett would earn $281,000 as an 'advisor.' That's more than the $195,000 annual salary Donoso received as chief education officer - and more than Brizard's $250,000 annual salary."

Life Lesson From The M&A Front
Synergies never work and the acquired company always loses out. People lose their jobs, too. But the talk at the outset is always sunny.

But for now I'll just stick with this comment from Van Lingle Mungo:

"Sun-Times owner buys Chicago Reader"

What a sucker, I've always got this paper free.

America Is Drowning
"Almost 667,000 homes with a mortgage in the seven-county Chicago area were underwater on their mortgages in March - and 13 percent of those homeowners were also delinquent on their mortgage payments by three months or more," the Tribune reports.

"The paper losses total almost $58 billion in lost equity in Cook, Kane, Lake, Will, DuPage, Kendall and McHenry counties, according to real estate site Zillow's negative equity report scheduled to be released Thursday.

"The number of underwater homeowners varies by county, as do the paper losses. In Cook County, 44.5 percent of homes with a mortgage are underwater, accounting for $37 billion in lost equity, according to Zillow's data."

In Cook County, 44.5 percent of homes with a mortgage are underwater.

Just let that sink in. No pun intended.

NATO Notebook IV
The nonsense never ends.

A Chicago Man Invented The Remote Control
And now he's dead.

Local Music Notebook
Lydia Loveless, Public Pianos, and Metropia.

Palos Hills Mosaic
At the arty Green Hills Library.

Compare and Contrast
The Ryder Cup vs. NATO.

New IPA for Leinie's
Big Eddy Imperial.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Post-imperial.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:06 PM | Permalink

Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Ad Data

The National Association of Broadcasters is asking a federal appeals court to block a rule passed by the Federal Communications Commission last month requiring TV stations to post political ad data on the Internet.

In a petition for review filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., the broadcast industry group argues that the rule is "arbitrary, capricious, in excess of the Commission's statutory authority inconsistent with the First Amendment, and otherwise not in accordance with law."

The association represents, among others, the parent companies of NBC, CBS, Fox and the broadcasting arm of the Washington Post.

TV stations have long been required to keep detailed information about who buys political ads, how much they paid, and when spots run. But the information is currently kept only on paper at stations. The FCC's new rule, which has not yet gone into effect, would require stations to post the information to a new government website.

In its two-page filing Monday, the broadcast association "requests that this Court hold unlawful, vacate, and set aside the FCC Order and grant such other relief as may be necessary and proper under the circumstances."

As we detailed earlier this year, major media companies had lobbied hard against the rule. They made two primary arguments: first, that posting the information online would be burdensome; and, second, that making ad rate information more accessible would hurt stations' ability to negotiation with non-political advertisers. By law, stations must extend the lowest ad rates to candidates.

If the broadcasters' legal appeal fails, the rule could go into effect as early as July.

Reacting to the broadcasters' filing, an FCC spokesperson said, "The public file rules are a common-sense update by the FCC to move from paper to online access to public information in the digital age. The rules are consistent with Congress's directive to ensure public availability while providing cost-savings for broadcasters."


* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Dual Diagnosis

If you somehow haven't heard, it has been a bad year for closers - you probably have at least one active RP on the DL and another with five blown saves. One way to deal the mess is by filling that RP slot with pitchers that have dual SP/RP eligibility.

There are solid SP/RP choices every year, though it is usually difficult to know at the beginning of the season who the best ones will be, since it is an eligibility designation often earned by relievers who are asked to start to fill a hole in the rotation and end up have unexpected success. For example, Ryan Vogelsong, now merely a starter for San Francisco, was arguably last season's best SP/RP pick-up, winning 13 games with a 2.71 ERA.

We did enter this season with at least one great SP/RP candidate, Matt Moore, who earned the final spot in the Rays' rotation and was so highly touted after he came up to the majors in late 2011 that I listed him as my No. 1 pre-season RP this year. However, Moore has disappointed, going just 1-4 so far, with a 5.20 ERA.

As with most years, the most effective SP/RP thus far have been surprises, and a few of them are still available in many fantasy leagues:

Lance Lynn, STL: This year's Vogelsong started 6-0, with 49 strikeouts in 50 innings and has a 2.31 ERA, though he's only available in 10% of Yahoo! leagues.

Jason Hammel, BAL: He's riding the Orioles' early season dominance, with five wins and a 3.12 ERA. Available in 29% of Yahoo! leagues.

Jeff Samardzija, CUBS: We've mentioned him before, and though the Cubs seem headed for 100 losses, he has been consistently effective, with a 3.00 ERA and 53 strikeouts. Available in 31% of Yahoo! leagues.

Anthony Bass, SD: Two wins against four losses, but he's had several quality starts, leading to a 2.89 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53 innings. Available in 71% of Yahoo! leagues.

Ross Detwiler, WAS: Three wins and a 3.65 ERA sound more pedestrian than some, but like Hammel, he's pitching for a first-place team. Available in 66% of Yahoo! leagues.

Felix Dubront, BOS: A 4.09 ERA for a struggling team isn't terribly attractive, but he's managed four wins, more than each of the previous three names on this list, and has 44 strikeouts in 44 innings. Aa\vailable in 78% of Yahoo! leagues.

Chris Sale, WHITE SOX: Another local option we've mentioned, though tread carefully. He was a closer for two minutes before arguing his way back to being a starter, but elbow problems have been lingering. Available in 29% of Yahoo! leagues.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report lists some buy-low/sell-high candidates, according to sabermetrics calculations.

* looks at the lousy season of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who many fantasy owners drafted way too high on the strength of a strong half season in 2011. (Can you tell I was one of them?)

* Hardball Times eyes some fantasy prospects, including Anthony Rizzo, who plays for some team in Iowa.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Scene Report, Drum Clinic, Tuba Man

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. "In just the last few years, a Chicago scene that has long been segregated and known for its 'hater' reputation has made great strides in shedding that stigma and becoming more unified," according to gowherehiphop.

Or, as one of the interviewees says here, "Gettin' it in in the city of wind."


2. Drummer Keith Carlock has played with Sting, John Mayer, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, The Blues Brothers Band, David Johansen and the Harry Smiths, Harry Belafonte, Clay Aiken, Rascal Flatts, Paula Abdul, and Grover Washington, Jr., according to his Wikipedia entry.

Sure, a few of those artists absolutely suck, but the man's got talent. Here's clip from his recent appearance at the Chicago Music Exchange.


See also: Video from last weekend's Chicago Drum Show


3. Tuba player seeks Polish polka band - no payment required.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The U.S. Postal Service says Chicago ranks high among cities for dog attacks on mail carriers," AP reports.

"There were 30 dog attacks on postal workers last year in Chicago. That put Chicago at No. 11, tied with Philadelphia."

Could we train dogs to bite aldermen instead?

Clown Bloq
Democrats choosing a third-party candidate to run against incumbent, um, Democrat Derrick Smith for the statehouse have narrowed down their list of finalists to three. Smith is starting to look better.

1. Lance Tyson, a municipal bond lawyer who worked in Richard M. Daley's intergovernmental (lobbying, patronage, bullying) affairs office and then served as chief of staff to Todd Stroger (for $162K a year). Trifecta!

2. Melissa Conyears, whose claim to political fame is that she's the girlfriend of 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin - a detail Ervin, who is on the selection committee, forgot to mention until reminded.

3. Eddie Winters, a Chicago police officer and perennial candidate for a variety of offices, including a run for this seat in 2008 that may or may not have been backed by Rod Blagojevich, depending on which of various reports to believe. Yay!


"Ervin did not return calls requesting comment about his relationship with Conyears, who also volunteers for Ervin's 28th Ward Democratic Organization," the Tribune reports. "Conyears refused to say if she was in a relationship with Ervin, saying she didn't want anything to 'discount her credentials.'"

She wants to be seen as a weasel in her own right.

"As far as transparency, I did provide all of the information that was requested of me," Conyears said.

Dumbing transparency down - hey, that's Rahm's job!

"I do not think that anyone or anything should diminish all the hard work that I have done to get where I am."

Which is competing against Lance Tyson and Eddie Winters for the right to run against a dumb indicted pol. Congrats on your journey!

See also: Ald. Jason Ervin's Candidate For State Rep Draws Scrutiny. Send out the hounds!

Mmm . . .
"Dunkin' Donuts has announced that it will honor National Donut Day on June 1 by offering guests a free donut of their choice (while supplies last) with the purchase of any beverage," reports.

"National Donut Day, celebrated on the first Friday of June each year, was originally established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to honor women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I."

I did not know that.

Donut Day USA.

Local Music Notebook
Scene Report, Drum Clinic, Tuba Man.

America's Broadcasters Hate You
What are they trying to hide?

Fantasy Fix
Fixing your bullpen.

Programming Note
The Papers will be back tomorrow with a more comprehensive roundup of this week's news developments. Thanks for your patience!


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dual diagnosis.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2012

Always A Game In Town

Fans south or north of Madison,
April swagger through September woes,
  Ascend the passageway slope,
  Emerge with undying hope,
Breathe the vast green expanse - repose.

A century both sides of Madison,
A city sprouts among these two lot,
  Grainy black-and-white clips,
  The scorecard page flips,
A 'W' hoisted? Sometimes - most times not.

Born north or south of Madison,
For generations, the die has been cast,
  Chance cross-town diffusion,
  Causes familial confusion,
Dissenters are often harassed.

The major leagues swirl about Madison,
Clubs prove fickle mates for their towns,
  Trading coast for a coast,
  Accepting any new host,
Yet for decades, these two stayed around.

Few champions paraded down Madison,
Ticker tape reigns in the east,
  Nay, the sum of our pennants,
  Counting team years as tenants,
Sadly computes as the least.

Staid north, wild south, styles grace Madison,
Wool, flannel, and synthetic frockings,
  To a theme, North stayed true,
  'Cross town donned black, red, and blue,
The only constant, the color of stockings.

Many stars played on both sides of Madison,
Home town heroes and guests drew attention,
  Mordecai, Gabby, Big Ed
  Ernie, Hack, Luke, and Red,
My pardon, there's too many to mention.

So it goes, straddling old Madison,
One lone curse left for correction,
  Black stains now washed clean,
  A mere goat stands between,
World peace, perhaps celestial perfection.


Composed on a four-hour flight from San Diego to Chicago.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

Timely Reminder: Chicago 10

When Walter Cronkite declared Chicago a police state.


From Participant Media:

Written and directed by Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture), Chicago 10 presents contemporary history with a forced perspective, mixing bold and original animation with extraordinary archival footage that explores the build-up to and unraveling of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Set to the music of revolution, then and now, Chicago 10 is a parable of hope, courage and ultimate victory, the story of young Americans speaking out and taking a stand in the face of an oppressive and armed government.


* On IMDB.
* On Wikipedia.
* On PBS's Independent Lens.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

The Whole World Was Watching

And this is (some of) what they saw.

1. Al Jazeera (English).


2. Press TV Global News (Iran).


3. Reuters.


4. Russia Today.


5. ARY Daily - Pakistan.


6. AP.


7. And from inside the actual summit?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit

Livewire from the Chicago Drum Show at the Kane County Fairgrounds last weekend.

1. Rolling in the Deep.


Their first rehearsal of this song. They practice every Sunday.


2. Seven Nation Army.


Same song performed at the Yorkville Moose Lodge.


3. Smells Like Teen Spirit.


4. Bonus: At the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora in March.


5. Livewire is Alexandra, 9, on bass; her brother Danny, 7, on guitar; Cohen, 9, on drums; and frontman Nikko, 7. For more information including upcoming shows, see P.S.: They are working on "D'yer Mak'er."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

Yeah, I'm gonna skip today's NATO Notebook and just go right into the Papers. But there is more NATO coverage to come.

1. Dude. Really?

2. "Less than two months after the resignation of a Chicago Public Schools official accused of accepting improper gifts from the district's two largest food vendors, the district on Monday said it intends to renew contracts for those vendors, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality and Preferred Meal Systems," the Tribune reports.

"CPS spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said there wasn't enough time to put the contracts out for a competitive bid."

There was enough time - and money - to force a longer day on schools without any notion of how that time would be spent, though.

You know what they say: Where there's a political will, there's a way.

3. Alternate headline: Chicago Protesters Get High Marks.

After all, the vast majority were peaceful just like the police. And just like the police, a small cadre engaged in violence.

More troublesome, though, is the idea that the city should be commended for containing free speech. It would have been a whole lot cooler - in all senses of the word - had the city created a whole week's worth of (accessible) programs around NATO and foreign policy issues instead of trying to highlight our elite chefs.

4. And remember, death is not an option: Facebook vs. Groupon.

5. NATO summit ends; back to our regularly scheduled police beatings.

6. And what do the Chicago police do now with all their fancy new (and expensive) riot gear?

They use it!

7. Too easy.

8. "After years of bad publicity over cronyism and clout, the Illinois Legislature has voted to end a longstanding program that allowed each lawmaker to hand out taxpayer-funded college tuition waivers to students," AP reports.

"For decades, though, waivers were shown to sometimes go to the politically connected rather than those most deserving. In the past year alone, a half-dozen lawmakers gave waivers to the relatives of lobbyists or friends, or violated the rules by awarding them to people who live outside their legislative districts. Some recipients have strangely listed addresses linked to their benefactors."

For decades. Reminds me of this tweet from over the weekend:


See also: West Side Legislator Kept Handing Out Scholarships Even After Being Indicted.

(I know what I'm getting Derrick Smith for his birthday!)

9. I would have done this study for at least a penny less than these guys got paid.


And I wouldn't have forgotten to include roosters.

10. Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit.

11. The Whole World Was Watching.

12. Timely Reminder: Chicago 10.

13. Always A Game In Town.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Town payment.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:34 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Crosstown Crapper

Just when I thought being a Cubs fan couldn't possibly get any worse . . .

I mean, how much did that suck on Saturday and Sunday? Cubs players, these games matter a little more, right? It isn't exactly complicated. At least you competed on Friday. The rest of the weekend was a monstrosity as the White Sox polished off a sweep at Wrigley.

I took in the final seven-and-a-half innings on Saturday evening from a stool at the beer garden behind Justin's, which has been at the corner of Roscoe and Southport for just about forever.

The White Sox built what appeared to be an insurmountable 4-0 lead before I even had a chance to settle in. Fortunately one of the bartenders is an old friend of mine and so it wasn't too tough to distract myself for long stretches.

The bar food rates with bar food anywhere (I highly recommend the steak wrap with spicy guacamole), and they have devoted a few tap handles to the good stuff (I chose Dogfish Head's 60-minute IPA) and it added up to a couple hours well spent. Except for the fact that the Cubs never made a real run and the guy running the broadcast for Fox developed an unhealthy obsession with one Cubs fan-Sox fan couple in particular.

They must have shown us this Sox fan guy and Cub fan girl 20 times during the game. Early on, of course, the guy was cheering and the girl was sitting there quietly. In the ninth, when Joe Mather and Alfonso Soriano hit meaningless two-run homers, the girl had the chance to stand and cheer. She had attempted to do her part by adjusting her hat but when you looked at it, you realized it wasn't a rally cap, it was a rally visor. It is hard to believe in the power of a rally visor and sure enough the Cubs came up well short - a 7-4 loss.

As for Sunday, well, talk about a man against boys: Jake Peavy versus the scrubby Cubbiess just wasn't fair. As one of my Sox fan friends described it, Peavy could just pitch around the dangerous bat or two in the lineup and then strike out whoever needed striking out, oftentimes using pitches in the dirt to accomplish the task.

The wind was blowing out at near gale force but the Cubs never managed to loft even one power fly ball into the jet stream. The final score was 6-0 and it wasn't that close. A week-and-a-half ago, the Cubs were on the verge of improving their record to something better than what the White Sox had at the time. Now the Sox are back at .500 and I'm thinking I may spend the rest of the summer checking the minor league baseball results before the Cubs'.


Relive The Horror

Game One:


Game Two:


Game Three:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

At least we now know what Chicago would look like if martial law were ever declared. For more NATO noddities, see today's NATO Notebook.

Now on to the rest of the news.

The Ghost Of Richie Daley I
"Eight months before leaving office, Mayor Richard M. Daley hired a friend, Patricia C. Bobb, as inspector general of the Public Building Commission of Chicago, which builds schools, police stations and other government buildings," the Sun-Times reports.

"It was a power play by Daley, a move to block his nemesis, City Hall Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who wanted to examine the multimillion-dollar construction deals approved by the commission and expose bogus minority subcontractors."

So a politically strategic obstruction of justice.

"On the job for 17 months, Bobb has little to show for her work . . . Bobb hasn't filed any reports with the commission, whose 11 members include the mayor and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

"Nor has Bobb spent much time on the job. She put in a total of 100 hours in her first 11 months as the commission's part-time inspector general, according to eight bills that she's submitted for payment. So far, she's been paid $29,155 - at a rate of $290 an hour, plus expenses."

So a veritable ghost-payrolling politically strategic obstruction of justice.

And it gets worse.

"Even as she worked as the commission's part-time inspector general, Bobb began representing Shelley Davis and her husband Omar Roberts, in a lawsuit against City Hall. Davis and Roberts were injured five years ago when a 50-pound chunk of concrete fell from a viaduct downtown and landed inside their car. Bobb argued that City Hall knew concrete had been falling from the viaduct, but 'they just didn't do anything' to fix it. The city settled the case in April by paying Bobb's clients $450,000."

So a veritable double-dipping, ghost-payrolling, politically strategic obstruction of justice. Jackpot!

"Bobb and her ex-husband, Robert J. Bobb, are longtime friends and supporters of Daley. Robert Bobb is a co-founder and operator of Cardinal Growth, a venture capital firm that invested in two companies that landed lucrative city contracts under Daley while his son, Patrick Daley, was working in Cardinal's offices. Patrick Daley has made more than $1.2 million on his deals with Bobb."

And the inevitable:

"Bobb didn't return calls seeking comment."

Patti Bobb, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

The Ghost of Richie Daley II
"Hoping to recover $24.1 million in taxpayers' money that was invested with a troubled venture capital firm involving former Mayor Richard M. Daley's son, federal authorities have given 34 private investors a choice: Pay up, or end up in court," the Sun-Times reports.

"Cardinal Growth - founded and operated by Chicago businessmen Robert J. Bobb and Joseph McInerney - raised money from private investors and obtained another $24.1 million in SBA loans to buy up businesses.

"One of the companies it invested in - Municipal Sewer Services - got multimillion-dollar, no-bid contract extensions from City Hall during a period in which Daley's son, Patrick Daley, held a secret ownership stake in the company. MSS is out of business. Anthony Duffy - who ran MSS - has pleaded guilty in federal court to minority-contracting fraud.

"In all, Patrick Daley made more than $1.2 million on his deals with Cardinal Growth, including $708,999 from a City Hall deal to install wireless Internet service at O'Hare and Midway airports."

Why They Occupy
"Pay Packages Keep Rising For Chicago-Area CEOs."

Media Mogul's Message
Michael Ferro, the new owner of Sun-Times Media, refused to speak to Crain's about suspicious side-deals involving a health care IT company he bought a few years ago. I wonder what he would tell his reporters to do in a similar situation.


Every CEO a Sun-Times reporter attempts to interview: Hey, why should I talk to the press when your own boss won't?

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

Crosstown Coverage
* SportsMonday: Crosstown Crapper.

* The White Sox Report: Samardzija's Head.

* The Cub Factor: Kerry Wood's Weird Retirement Party.

* SwingsBothWays: Don't Got Wood.



The Beachwood Tip Line: Hari hari.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:43 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Gentleman Jesse at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


2. Absolutely Not at the Burlington on Saturday night.


3. Tom Morello at the Metro on Saturday night.


4. Marc Cohn at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


5. Nasum at Reggie's on Friday night.


6. Bonnie Raitt at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


7. White Mystery at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


8. Teledrome at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


9. Polarizer at the Metro on Friday night.


10. The Mark Lanegan Band at the Metro on Thursday night.


11. Atomic Shop at Silvie's on Saturday night.


12. The Kickback at the Horseshoe on Saturday afternoon.


13. The Sonnets at Quenchers on Friday night.


14. Parasytic at Reggie's on Friday night.


15. Eunuchs at Reggie's on Friday night.


16. Sick/Tired at Reggie's on Friday night.


17. General Election Engines at Quenchers on Friday night.


18. The Ex-Bombers at Quenchers on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:51 AM | Permalink

Samardzija's Head

Turn back the clock a few years and it might have been the newly-retired Kerry Wood, not Jeff Samardzija, whose errant splitter last Friday made Paul Konerko look more like former middleweight champ Carmen Basilio than the walking monument of the South Side.

Back in 2002-03, when a healthy Wood was about the same age as Samardzija and just learning how to pitch, he led the National League in hitting batters. Did he hit any of those 37 guys on purpose? It's not out of the question, but intent isn't necessarily the issue.

Let's assume for now that Samardzija absolutely made a mistake, just as we might assume that he made one earlier when Konerko slammed a two-run homer in the first inning. If this was simply human error, then why was it necessary for Philip Humber to unleash a 91-mile-an-hour fastball that wound up going behind Bryan LaHair an inning later?

(An interesting side note: Samardzija led off the bottom of the third. Needless to say, he was directly responsible for knocking Paulie out of the game and the remainder of the series. Yet, Humber didn't throw at him, which genuinely pissed off former National Leaguer and teammate Jake Peavy. Humber waited for LaHair in the bottom of the fourth. Egads! Are we led to believe Bryan LaHair is the equivalent of Konerko? Should Humber have waited even longer for Starlin Castro to come to the plate? Oh, where have you gone, Aramis Ramirez?)

Getting back to Kerry Wood, we have a detailed description of one of baseball's mind games from Buzz Bissinger's Three Nights in August, which chronicled a three-game Cardinal-Cub series in August of 2003.

" . . . [Wood] is on a pace to hit more batters than any National League pitcher since 1907," writes Bissinger. "His blazing high-and-tight fastball, which keeps hitters uneasy, may well be his most effective weapon."

Hmmm. Maybe Samardzija has read this book. Or, more likely, picked Wood's brain over the past couple of seasons.

Cardinal manager Tony La Russa not only retired after last season as No. 3 on the all-time wins list, but he also was famous for his eye-for-an-eye approach when it came to "protecting" his batters. Maybe Tony didn't invent "The Code," but I suspect he spent some sleepless nights wrestling with how to enforce it.

More from Bissinger:

"'There are so many conflicting emotions,' [La Russa] says, when your batter gets hit. Because how do you sort it out. How do you know for sure that the pitcher acted intentionally? Because pitchers do pitch inside, batters inevitably are going to get hit, and therein lay La Russa's dilemma. Was it simply a pitch that had gotten away? Was the pitcher trying to intimidate by going inside? Or was the pitcher taking a cheap shot and deliberately plunking someone?

"Other variables had to be considered as well: the pitcher's own reputation as a cheap-shot artist, and the club he was pitching for (some teams hit batters often enough to suggest that they'd made a policy of it)."

In Samardzija's case, Friday wasn't the first time this season his intent, or lack thereof, was questioned. Back on May 7, in a 5-1 win over the Braves at Wrigley, Jayson Heyward took him deep in the second inning for a short-lived 1-0 Atlanta lead. Heyward came up again two innings later with two outs and a man on first, and he grounded out. When the Braves' right fielder strolled to the plate again in the seventh inning with one out and the bases empty, Samardzija's first pitch drilled him.

In the bottom of the inning, Braves reliever Eric O'Flaherty retired the first two hitters and then hit David DeJesus. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez wound up getting thrown out of the game, while at the same time gaining the respect of his players.

The problem on Friday was where Konerko got hit. Had the 2-2 pitch hit him in the ribs or legs, he would have trotted down to first, and my guess is that few eyebrows would have been raised.

"Thrown baseballs had ended careers; one had killed a major league player [Ray Chapman in 1920]," writes Bissinger. "In meetings with pitchers during spring training, [La Russa] issued clear guidelines: Any kind of message had to be aimed at the ribs or below, and nothing above the shoulder would be tolerated."

So mistake or not, Humber needed to respond. As did Robin Ventura if he cared at all about his team's respect. In his post-game interview, Robin predictably denied that Humber threw at LaHair. The reporter who inquired might be the same guy who asked police chief Garry McCarthy if his department was prepared for NATO weekend.

One guy who progressively became more agitated was Sox play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson. When he learned about the Samardzija-Heyward incident a few innings after Paulie was injured, his tone changed. When Samardzija was removed in the eighth inning in favor of Wood, Hawk instructed the Cubs starter to "grab some bench." I thought that dictum was solely reserved for opponents who struck out.

One of Harrelson's consistent edicts is that successful pitchers in the big leagues must learn to pitch inside, but hitting a guy in the face is another story. If a hitter knows that he's not going to be brushed back or jammed, he'll be much more confident about hitting pitches from the middle out.

Hawk's former broadcasting partner (1982-85), Hall of Famer Don Drysdale, was famous for dusting off hitters as one of the most intimidating pitchers during his 14 years (1956-69) with the Dodgers. Drysdale, who stood 6-foot-5 and had a motion whereby right-handed hitters saw the ball as coming from third base, ranks 18th all-time in hitting batters.

"The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid," Drysdale, who died of a heart attack in 1993, once said, "and if he is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid." Drysdale was being kind. He may as well have substituted "fearful" ("petrified" might be too strong) for "timid."

Of course, The Code was prominent 50 years ago, probably more so than today. "My own little rule was two for one," Drysdale said. "If one of my teammates got knocked down, then I'd knock down two on the other team."

Now that's the kind of guy you want to play behind. Conversely, a fierce foe of Drysdale's in those days was another Hall of Famer, Orlando Cepeda, who once said, "The trick against Drysdale is to hit him before he hits you."

Now my guess is that Jeff Samardzija won't be reading this column, and that's probably a good thing. It might give him some ideas, although he apparently already has a bit of Don Drysdale in him.

If the kid wants to truly play with fire, he'll check out John Grisham's Calico Joe, a little book about a fictional Cub, Joe Castle, of 40 years ago. Joe is a phenom to beat all phenoms. He makes Bryce Harper look like Eduardo Escobar. After being called up to the Cubs, in his first 31 games, he's hitting .521 with 18 homers and 25 stolen bases.

Fiction, of course, but Grisham has thrown in real names like Santo, Williams, Cardenal, and Monday, which is amusing and fun. Until a journeyman Mets pitcher takes matters into his hands with his own interpretation of The Code.

There's a three-in-five chance that the Sox will see Samardzija again when the Cubs visit the Cell next month. How effective can Samardzija be if he were to abandon pitching inside because of what happened on Friday? Not very. But if he makes another "mistake," the Crosstown Classic will once again become very interesting.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

Kerry Wood's Weird Retirement Party

The biggest news last week wasn't just that Kerry Wood finally hung them up it was the way he did it. Since when do players announce their retirement and then go out there one more time? Were the Cubs then obligated to put him in a game regardless of situation? Like, no matter what? Kerry Wood may have been Tom Ricketts' fantasy pick, but the games are still real! And not all present a chance for, say, an intentional walk.

True, he got a strikeout when called upon. But what if he got shelled?

Putting Wood on this season's roster probably cost the Cubs five games. Hopefully Ricketts will stay out of Theo and Jed's way from now on.

Week in Review: The Cubs beat the series opener against the Cardinals and then lost six in a row - including getting swept by the White Sox- for a 1-6 week. How did the scuffling Cubs even win that one game? Let's just say that Cardinal pitching was so bad - how bad was it? - it was so bad Darwin Barney walked twice. He now has nine BBs on the year.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Houston and Pittsburgh this week. A lot of people thought both of those teams would be even worse than the Cubs this year. But as with most things, a lot of people are wrong.

The Second Basemen Report: Barney got six starts this week and new contestant Adrian Cardenas got the other. And it's just like Barney to pull out of a slump - 12 hits in the last 10 games - when someone else is there looking to get his job. Which is just like the ghost of Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, guess who is a Phillie? Why it's Mike Fontenot. And he's batting .667 in limited play. And he is, of course, missed.

Crazy Corners: Ian Stewart isn't quite hitting (.201) his weight (215), though he is over the Mendoza line. And say what you want about Mario Mendoza, but the guy was listed at 170 lbs. and batted .215 for his career. Bryan LaHR* is starting to see the league catch up with him - let's see if the (old) kid can make some adjustments. Which is really the whole point of this season. *Thanks, Kevin!

Weekly Bunting Report: The Cubs bunt a lot. They even bunt when they probably aren't supposed to. Like when your No. 3 hitter is up with two on and no outs. But hey, who's to say it wasn't a good call, Reality? What does Reality know anyway.

The Zam Bomb: Don't look now. And I mean, really don't look if you don't want to throw up, because Big Z is dealing in Miami. This makes Big Z



Endorsement No-Brainer: The Cubs for Viagra, because they no longer have Wood.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Fake Nostalgia traded on higher volume this week with the retirement of Kerry Wood as the firm's crisis management plan went into effect.

Sink or Sveum: 54% Analytical, 46% Emotional. Sveum drops 20 points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to getting kicked out of a game before he could hand Kerry Wood his last ball; his bunting call debacle; and calling sabermetrics "cybermetrics." Maybe this guy really is Nuts.

On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy (Charles Manson), Not All There (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale might be actually Bat Sh#t Crazy.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your level-headed uncle, Dale doesn't want you to know he actually has a few screws loose. But you know that you don't ask Uncle Dale what is in the back of his closet. Back behind his old suits and under Aunt Gertrude's afghan. Don't even mention it.

Over/Under: The number of people who thought Kerry Wood was going to be much more than he turned out to be: +/- Everyone except Steve Stone.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir is still a Ham Fighter and he's got his average up to .381 in limited duty. Limited duty? C'mon, Ham Fighters! He's breaking out, stop the playing time hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that I've gone back to thinking this team is intergalactically bad.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: WHIP It Good.

Swings Both Ways: Don't Got Wood.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:42 AM | Permalink

NATO Notebook III

It's certainly not the weekend - or month, really - we would have seen had the G8 come here too, but there have been some moments of note. Let's take a look.

1. "Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned their service medals to visiting NATO representatives Sunday to express their opposition to America's role in these conflicts, and to demand better care for returning forces," the Huffington Post reports.

"Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War organized a day-long protest, including a musical performance at the Petrillo Music Shell, a march and rally through the city and a ceremony at Michigan and Cermak where participants hoped to return their medals to visiting NATO generals.

"While Rev. Jesse Jackson and other political leaders spoke to demonstrators before they began a massive march through downtown Chicago, the group was unable to bring visiting NATO generals to accept their medals, so the 45 participating veterans hurled them at McCormick Place, where NATO meetings were taking place, according to ABC."


2. Tom Morello tears it up with Bruce Springsteen on "The Ghost of Tom Joad" last month in L.A.


Morello's reprise at the Metro on Saturday night.


Joined by With Holly Near, The Klezmatics, Toshi Reagon, Son del Viento, Jon Langford, Bucky Halker, Kevin Coval and B.S. Brass at the Metro on Saturday night.


3. Good times at Filter in Wicker Park.



4. A nice, small roundup of NATO protest video.


5. Twitter highlights.





6. World leaders put on a play.


7. NATO Agrees To Change Definition Of The Word 'Victory' By 2014.


* NATO Notebook I
* NATO Notebook II


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2012

Chicagoetry: Re*ac*tor


My skull became a nuclear reactor,
where my mind

burned white.
Overwhelmed by a tsunami

of grievous

but universally human

making mince-meat of my
laughable surge walls,
core meltdown was suddenly

imminent. Like: minding my own
self-centered goddamn business
I stumbled upon leering death,

forced into a sense of compassion
for my own humanity

and that of others.

Thaaat's just great.

My flimsy back-up generators
signally failed.
My arrogance had designed them
as merely an ornamental flourish

to automated genius.
Genus: Narcissus.

Suddenly, my very being depended
upon my crew:
neglected, rejected, taken for granted,
invalidated, rendered virtually obsolete,

they saved my sorry-ass skull,
stringing together car batteries
to sustain life-support;
critically, a safety valve through which

to blow off bilge, bile and steam.
Elementary, but overlooked
in the arrogance
of conception.

I presumed my genius
would find an automatic groove,
that mere endurance rendered
my core invincible

until life had some other
fascinating ideas.

Finally my crew held me down,
shaved my head
and drilled a valve through
my Tungsten skull--
barnacled with pride--

to acknowledge and channel
ordinary human blues.

This explains the jaunty beret.

I thought life would level out
into a kind of automatic groove
but this does not happen this

Turns out, venting grief
and stoking joy

is a job for life.
I call it a plum

it tastes good
to me it tastes good

to me.

It's a job
I know I'll keep it sure was

hard to find.


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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on a mission of national import. She will return next week.

Sunday edition.

From The NATO Madness Desk
You can't watch 'em on local TV but you can watch 'em on the Internet.





Whose Firebombs?




The Kerry Wood Watch



The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Rickettsy.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "We're got James Mercer of The Shins in rare, solo acoustic mode. And Jim and Greg review the new Norah Jones/Danger Mouse project."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Words = Change: Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking


Experts from local organizations shed light on sexual violence and the sex trade, including personal stories from survivors and advocates.

Sunday, May 20 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


2012 UIC Urban Health Program: Health Professions Student Conference


Middle and high school students interested in health professions learn about lesser-known career opportunities and preparing academically for college and beyond.

Sunday, May 20 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Cultural Catalysts: Chicago's Movers & Shakers - Chicago's First Cultural Plan


Michael Dorf speaks about his cultural experiences in Chicago during the 1980s and recounts his experience directing the creation of Chicago's first Cultural Plan.

Sunday, May 20 at noon on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Tweet of the Day:


Previously: Kerry Wood Far Too Relevant, Dude


Conspiracy theory: Wood announces retirement to draw attention away from Joe Ricketts!


New slogan: We Had Wood, Now We've Got Ricketts.


Vote for your favorite Beachwood tweet!






NATO Notebook II
Pesky poll positions.

Chicago Austerity
Rahm's world.

Programming Note
Stay tuned throughout the weekend here and on Twitter and Facebook for NATO Notebooks, Crosstown Classic Capsules and Ricketts Ramifications.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Cowboy kids.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

NATO Notebook II

Another day, another Tribune poll mishandled by its own writers. (See The [Thursday] Papers.)

This time, it's a story whose headline "Global Policy A Hit At Home" is contradicted by the poll's actual findings.

For example, on the question touted as one of the poll's keys, just 33 percent of those polled approve of President Barack Obama's plan to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014. Forty-two percent chose another option: Withdraw troops immediately. Which is just what this weekend's protestors are calling for.

In another question more than two-thirds of those polled - both Chicago and suburban voters - said the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan had been at least "somewhat successful."

Somewhat successful is not exactly a warm endorsement - especially given the options of choosing "not too successful" or "not successful at all" (chosen by a combined 27 percent).

The larger problem is that the question doesn't address the specific policy of the current president, who sent 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan in 2009.

I wonder if what the results would be if folks were asked now whether they think that was a good idea.

In fact, in March a CBS News/New York Times poll found that "Support For War In Afghanistan Hits All-Time Low."

That poll also found that "just 27 percent of Americans think the war there has been mostly a success for the U.S., while 59 percent say it has not been."

Are the results in a local poll reflective of more administration support in the president's hometown? The Tribune seems to think so.

"Public opinion in the Chicago metropolitan region - where Democrats significantly outnumber Republicans - does not reflect opinion nationwide," the paper notes.

But as we've seen, that's not necessarily the case. And given that it's Republicans - not Democrats - who are more likely to support the president's war policy, it's hard to fathom that somehow hometown pride is making up the difference among the 1,180 voters throughout the six-county area who were polled.


On what the Tribune calls the "second major foreign policy issue facing the administration - Iran and it's nuclear program," slight more than 40 percent of those polled thought Obama's approach was "about right."

So fewer than half. The remaining split - too much, too little - was basically partisan.

That's consistent with national polls.

"Americans are split on President Obama's handling of the situation in Iran: 42 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove," the CBS/New York Times poll found. "Nineteen percent say they don't know. Sixty-five percent of Republicans disapprove, and 63 percent of Democrats approve. Independents are divided, with 42 percent approving and 36 percent disapproving."

You Shouldn't Need Permission
"The entire United States of America should be a designated protest zone," John Kass writes for the Tribune.

What Do They Want?
"It's easy to dismiss the protesters as opportunists - anarchists looking for a stage," the Sun-Times editorial page says. "But that would be a mistake."


When you cut through the noise, key themes emerge, themes that should counterbalance the official message world leaders will transmit from the NATO Summit this weekend. These more thoughtful protesters, sometimes overzealous, sometimes too quick to link NATO to every global problem, must be part of the conversation.

And the louder and more focused they are, the more likely they are to make an impact.

Here are some of the more credible themes:

* Out of Afghanistan: NATO is committed to staying in Afghanistan through 2014, with a largely noncombat presence through 2024. Many protesters want an expedited, complete withdrawal (as do some European countries). "Seventy percent of Americans want an end to the war in Afghanistan," Michael Lynn of Chicago Area Peace Action told us. "We represent them."

* Spend military dollars at home: A related theme is a call to redirect military spending for domestic priorities. "Instead of funding death and destruction on the other side of the globe, our tax dollars should support services in our community," said Jackie Spreadbury, of Occupy Chicago. "Our actions will raise to the international stage local battles around housing, education, and health care. We will resist NATO, the military arm of the 1 percent."

* Several groups, including the American Friends Service Committee, are hosting a counter-summit this weekend "to try to envision a "NATO-free world," Lynn said. The group paints NATO as an overly militarized, empire-building enterprise that has outlived its useful purpose.

* End drone attacks: As the U.S. increasingly relies on remote-controlled drones to kill suspected terrorists, questions have been raised about the practice. There are calls to end it or, at the very least, to release the legal memos authorizing such strikes.

* "Robin Hood tax": On Friday, a rally led by National Nurses United will promote a "Robin Hood tax," a small surcharge on each trade of stocks, derivatives or other financial instruments to generate revenue for things such as affordable health care and schools. RoseAnn DeMoro, director of the group, explained the rationale in a recent op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times: "The big banks, investment firms and other financial institutions, which ruined the economy with trillion-dollar trades on people's homes and pensions and similar reckless gambling, should pay for the recovery."

Discussing the basic existence of NATO and its core mission is hardly radical - and spans the political spectrum.

Sun-Times columnist Steve Huntley writes that "perhaps the fundamental question is this: Will NATO continue to be a big deal for much longer?"

Good question.

On the summit agenda is Obama's goal of securing commitments from U.S. allies in NATO and elsewhere, like Japan, to help pay the estimated $4 billion a year to fund the Afghan army after the coalition troop withdrawal," Huntley writes. "But with Europe in the throes of the euro crisis and trying to figure out how to save the economies of Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and maybe others, there's not likely to be much left to pay for soldiers in a far-away land where success is elusive. Don't be surprised if U.S. taxpayers aren't stuck with the lion's share of the bill.

That question flows to the next issue, the modernization and future of NATO.

Last year's long campaign to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi in Libya exposed Europe to be essentially a paper tiger. Though European nations took the lead in initiating the fight and its planes flew most missions after the opening weeks, it quickly became apparent that our allies couldn't muster the equipment, munitions, intelligence and support necessary for success without the United States doing the heavy lifting. America funds up to one-quarter of the NATO budget, but that doesn't include operations like Libya or the Afghan war.

That imbalance reflects another reality. The NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan is called the International Security Assistance Force. Not to slight the casualties of other nations, but Americans have so shouldered the combat burden that some U.S. military officers caustically said ISAF stands for "I saw Americans fighting."


Translation, Please
So Higgins is saying what, exactly?


* NATO Notebook I


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. La Sera at Township on Tuesday night.


2. Black Anvil at Mojoe's in Joliet on Wednesday night.


3. Ezurate at Mojoe's in Joliet on Wednesday night.


4. The Cranberries at the Riv on Wednesday night.


5. The Polyphonice Spree at the Park West on Wednesday night.


6. Steve Winwood at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.


7. Meshuggah at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


8. Baroness at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


9. Seal of Saturn at Mojoe's in Joliet on Wednesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:09 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"More than 6 in 10 polled said that regardless of whether they agreed with the protesters' varied messages, they had a right to protest," the Tribune reports.

So more than 30 percent polled don't? That sounds like bigger news to me than the converse.

But did the Tribune really ask if there was a right to protest - in other words, if they support the First Amendment?

In the poll graphics provided on the Trib website, no such question exists. This one does though: "Do you think NATO protesters should be protesting?"

The result: Yes, by a margin of 61-28. Eleven percent had no opinion.

That also seems far more significant a finding than highlighting the notion that the summit will give Chicago "a global boost" - a questionable narrative pounded by the Emanuel administration.

Meanwhile, Fox Chicago News found that a majority of those polled approve hosting the summit even though they have no idea what it is.

For more NATO madness, see my NATO Notebook.

Office Politics
"On the day after he took office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued an edict: Every department head at City Hall had to cut senior management payroll costs by 10 percent," the Sun-Times reports.

"But that hasn't happened inside Emanuel's own office, city payroll records show.

"Instead, the number of mayoral staffers - and the total wages they're paid - have increased since Emanuel replaced Mayor Richard M. Daley a year ago, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis finds."

Photo Finished
"When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that city licensing procedures would be streamlined in an attempt to aid small businesses, he chose to do it at Logan Square Kitchen," the Tribune reports.

"The 3-year-old business, which rents hourly kitchen space to budding food entrepreneurs, was presented as a perfect example of a novel Chicago venture that nurtures other small businesses and could use some nurturing from the city.

"But less than a month after Emanuel's announcement, Logan Square Kitchen owner Zina Murray reported she will soon close her facility, citing continued red tape from the city."

Bizarro Democrat
"The city will kick in $29 million toward a downtown high rise project on a prime piece of riverfront property, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday," the Tribune reports.


"Chicago Public Schools plans to create 60 more charter schools over five years, which would increase the share of privately run charters to about a quarter of all schools in the district," the Tribune reports.

Rahm Emanuel is privatizing public education and socializing the private sector.

Cubs No Longer Cute
The Ricketts Plan To Defeat Barack Hussein Obama.

Same Sun-Times
So it turns out the vice president of PR for the new company that owns the Sun-Times has also been writing stories for the paper.

And those stories have included a tagline declaring the paper's endorsement of whatever cause or charity that vice president, Alisa Monnier Alexander, is highlighting.

And that includes an enthusiastic interview with Jenny McCarthy, noted debunked autism conspiracy theorist.

Jim Romenesko has that story.

Other examples:

* The Sun-Times proudly supports Steppenwolf.

* The Sun-Times proudly supports Cubs.

And so on.

Not sure it's any worse than all those travel junkets Lori Rackl took in return for good press that nobody but me seemed to care about, but clearly a boo-boo.

And who is Alisa Alexander? A storyteller!

"Central to Alisa's craft is the art of the story," she says herself. "With a strong background in blending the worlds of business, technology and advertising, Alisa has a penchant for developing large, multi-channeled communications initiatives that cross both consumer and advertising business media, while directly supporting company business strategies and growth initiatives."


"Through her ability to mainstream advertising storylines, Alisa has developed strong relationships with producers and editors at CNBC, the Today Show, NBC's Live Digital, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and all major advertising trades."

She mainstreams advertising storylines.

Also: Yay America!

Paint This Mural
Addison and Avondale.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Yay!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

NATO Notebook I

Madness abounds. Let's take a look.

Today's Al Capone Alert: "We ought to be known for something more than the old stockyards, smog or Al Capone, but we aren't," Richard Longworth, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, told AP.

Stakes And Shakes: "If you live or work in Chicago, you may be shocked to learn that the NATO Summit this weekend is about more than protesters and traffic headaches," the Sun-Times editorial page says.

Only if the Sun-Times was your only source of news.

Lazy Sunday: "If they were going to hold the summit somewhere, Chicago was as good a location as any," Mark Brown writes in the Sun-Times, discounting the possibility that holding the summit in a major metropolitan area - originally in conjunction with the G8 meeting - might have been the worst possible idea around.


"I think any discussion of violence [that focuses on] what happens here in Chicago totally misses the boat," protest organizer Andy Thayer tells Brown.

"If there is violence in Chicago, that will be the boat," Brown writes, totally missing the boat.

Vets Against War: "[A] number of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will be marching, in military formation, to McCormick Place in Chicago to hand their service medals back," Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.

"Aaron Hughes left the University of Illinois in 2003 to join the military, and was deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. He served in the Illinois National Guard from 2000 to 2006. Since leaving active duty, Hughes has become a field organizer with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). He explained why he is returning his medals:

"'Because every day in this country, 18 veterans are committing suicide. Seventeen percent of the individuals that are in combat in Afghanistan, my brothers and sisters, are on psychotropic medication. Twenty to 50 percent of the individuals that are getting deployed to Afghanistan are already diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or a traumatic brain injury. Currently one-third of the women in the military are sexually assaulted.'

"IVAW's Operation Recovery seeks increased support for veterans, and to stop the redeployment of traumatized troops. Hughes elaborated: 'The only type of help that [veterans] can get is some type of medication like trazodone, Seroquel, Klonopin, medication that's practically paralyzing, medication that doesn't allow them to conduct themselves in any type of regular way. And that's the standard operating procedures. Those are the same medications that service members are getting redeployed with and conducting military operations on.'"

Was MLK A Professional Protester? "I am bleary-eyed from reading the outraged press releases from the professional protesters," Laura Washington writes in the Sun-Times

And then she has another Kevin Smith moment.

On February 23, 2010, I wrote this when Washington betrayed any knowledge of noted film director Kevin Smith:

"Cultural literacy is important in a journalist, but if you come across a celebrity whose work is unknown to you, do a little research instead of assuming everyone else is equally as ignorant."

Now comes Washington to spew this:

"The National Nurses United group is coming to town - with an attention-deprived rocker in tow. After learning the nurses' group added a concert by Tom Morello, guitarist for the aptly named Rage Against the Machine, to a rally on May 18 at Daley Center Plaza, the city threatened to revoke their permit and move them to Grant Park."

Yes, Tom Morello is attention-deprived. He was only just named the 26th best guitarist of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine after more than 20 years in the spotlight - including not only in music but in film, TV, politics and collecting a few Grammy's. And he's from Libertyville, for God's sakes.


"Regular Chicagoans are caught in the middle. They just want to get to work, play or get out of town, in droves."

Funny how "regular" people - in the eyes of pundits - never seem to care about anything but getting to work (or getting their garbage collected). As if that's a good thing!

Regular people are the ones who fight our wars, so maybe the pundits ought to connect that up to events like the NATO summit to see how they're relevant to everyone.

Outside In: Barack Obama got a lot of political mileage in his presidential campaign for speaking at an anti-war rally in 2002, so why are those with the same message speaking today so vilified? Would the Obama the still-aspiring politician join those outside of McCormick Place - or even the Occupy movement? Think carefully about your answer because the ramifications are significant.

Neil Steinberg's Problem: His take on NATO protesters' bill of sale: "This is your basic Everything America Does is Wrong brand of Marxism - it's all about oil! - insight from the same people who rolled like puppies at the feet of Stalin until the moment he threw in with Hitler."

Where to start? How about just skipping ahead.

"In fact, I would wager that the general impression of NATO is positive: It's one of the few institutions that actually functions," Steinberg writes.


"It is an irony of history that it should be a departing U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, who should break a long taboo and pronounce NATO faces a 'dim, if not dismal future,' as he did on Friday while delivering a valedictory address," the Guardian wrote a year ago.

"The U.S. has made no secret in the last few years of its frustrations with some of its European partners in the transatlantic mutual defense pact, not least over Afghanistan. But to make this bleak assessment as the organization is involved in two wars signals a highly significant moment for an organization three-quarters of whose funding comes from the U.S. Indeed, as Gates pointed out, only five of the 28 members - the U.S., Britain, France, Greece and Albania - spend the 2% of GDP on defense as required by the organization.

"In venting American anger, Gates has articulated the existential questions that have been hanging over NATO since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when its primary purpose evaporated: what is NATO for and can it actually deliver?"

See also: NATO's Secrecy Stance by C.J. Chivers in the New York Times. Steinberg can't dismiss a former Marine and Army Ranger so easily.

Big Omaha: "NATO is coming, for better or worse," Greg Hinz whined in March. "I hope it's the former but, either way, we don't get a choice. Our only options now are to make Chicago look good to the world - something we all should want - or to pout, throw stones or flee to the beach. Are we a world-class city, or are we just a bigger Omaha or St. Paul?"

Oh, did you say something? I'm at the beach, it's hard to hear over the crashing waves.

"[T]he griping and grumbling has continued. I confess to adding to it a bit myself. For instance, I have to object to a call from the Grassroots Collaborative to shift $65 million being raised for NATO from corporations into neighborhood public works.
Are we a world-class city, or just a bigger Omaha?"

Right. The more we ignore our neighborhoods to please global elites, the classier we get!

Little Omaha: "[A]t Keefer's on Kinzie, closer to expected protests and demonstrations, what seems crazy is the LACK of reservations, not even ONE, yet, for NATO's final day, Monday, May 21st," Fox Chicago News reports.

"Glenn Keefer told us he's especially disappointed because a celebrated chef from Madrid, Spain, will work Keefer's kitchen for the NATO weekend. It's part of a promotion in which seven renowned chefs from around the world will prepare special dishes during the summit at seven Chicago restaurants."

Sneedling:: "Don't mess with Rahm," Sneed warns. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel is no Joker.

"Translation: Emanuel was portrayed as a Joker (in the vain of the latest Batman flick) on a May Day protester's lapel button Tuesday beneath the shadows of Loop federal buildings.

"Memo to the 1,000-plus demonstrators protesting everything from deportation policies to wealth disparity: Mayor Emanuel intends to have the last laugh if things turn violent during the upcoming NATO summit."

First, I love the fact that Sneed has to translate her own writing. Second, what the hell does that mean? If Rahm cracks skulls, the last laugh will be on him. So I don't get it, and neither does anyone else.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Paint This Mural!

Local residents and organizations of the Avondale neighborhood will come together on Thursday, June 21, for a Community Paint Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help complete the colorful and vibrant mural created by Rafael Lopez an internationally recognized artist.

Working with local artists and neighborhood children, Lopez will create a 100-foot mural, which he has designed based on the professed values of community members including: diversity, energy, growth, vitality, friendship, sense of community, family, green space and intersections. The mural, which is to cover the South wall of the viaduct will beautify the neighborhood and provide color and style to the well-tred intersection of Addison and Avondale, just under the Metra tracks.

Avondale is not the first neighborhood that Rafael Lopez's work has helped to transform. Lopez has also created vibrant murals in San Diego and Ft. Collins, Colorado. In particular, Rafael was able to transform several San Diego neighborhoods during the Urban Art Trail project. Avondale residents hope this mural will spark future projects in the neighborhood and have a deep impact.


"I am hopeful that this large colorful mural will serve as a catalyst for future neighborhood beautification projects," says Joanie Friedman, a resident of the Avondale neighborhood and the mother of two young kids, who set this project into motion when she found herself pushing her stroller through the viaduct several times a week on her way to Athletic Field Park playground.

"We as a neighborhood are incredibly lucky to host artist Rafael Lopez to Avondale. The National Museum of Mexican Fine Art is thrilled to assist in this project because it reinforces our mission of bringing artists of Mexican descent to our Chicago-community," explains Cesareo Moreno, Senior Curator at the Museum.


The Story of the Creation of the Mural


Explanation of the design by artist Rafael Lopez


The Athletic Field Advisory Council will serve as the fiscal agent and will partner with the National Museum of Mexican Fine Art to fly the artist to Chicago from San Diego. Skilled artists will work with Rafael Lopez to create the mural between June 14-20.

On Thursday, June 21, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., join us for Community Paint Day where the entire community (ages 5 and up) are invited to help paint the mural. To sign up for a 1.5-hour slot on Community Paint Day, please e-mail Kelsey Krzyston.

For more information, please see the Facebook page "Mural at Addison and Avondale." If you want to volunteer or get involved, please click here!


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2012

Fantasy Fix: WHIP It Good

Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP) has quickly become a standard stat category in many fantasy baseball leagues, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of fantasy team owners felt it wasn't worth paying attention to, the thinking being that any highly-ranked pitcher will have a great WHIP.

That certainly can be the case, and it's no surprise that last year's two Cy Young winner have sub-1.00 WHIPs this year, but the rest of the names on the list of WHIP leaders might surprise you, and if WHIP is a stat category you lose on a regular basis, one or more of these guys might be worth seeking out.

Lowest WHIP, minimum 12 IP:

Alexi Ogando, SP/RP, TEX: 18.2 IP, 0.54 WHIP

Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN: 18.1 IP, 0.60 WHIP

Koji Uehara, RP, TEX: 12.1 IP, 0.65 WHIP

Jared Burton, RP, MIN: 13.1 IP, 0.68 WHIP

Ryan Cook, RP, OAK: 17.2 IP, 0.68 WHIP

Wilton Lopez, RP, HOU: 21.2 IP 0.69 WHIP

Scott Diamond, SP, MIN: 14 IP, 0.71 WHIP

Matt Cain, SP, SF: 51.2 IP, 0.74 WHIP

Cliff Lee, SP, PHI: 29.2 IP, 0.76 WHIP

Duane Below, RP, DET: 17 IP, 0.76 WHIP

What can we learn from this list? For one thing, in a year when it is so hard to find a good closer, you could consider forgoing the saves and instead focusing on set-up men like Ogando, Chapman and Lopez who could at least chip away at your WHIP. Some of these guys only pitch two innings per week, but every little bit helps.

The other thing is that the most effective starter for WHIP by a large margin is Cain, a guy with a 2-2 record (Diamond has only started two games thus far, and Lee has just returned from the DL). With poor run support, Cain will struggle for wins, but his WHIP could make him worth obtaining in a trade, particularly if you can afford to part with another starter with a higher number of wins to capture your trade partner's attention.

Expert Wire
* Full Spectrum Baseball recommends picking up Carlos Zambrano. Predictably, he has been not only tantrum-free but also effective since being traded from the Cubs.

* says it's about time for Mark Teixeira to rebound from his annual early season doldrums.

* Fox Sports has ideas for replacing super-stud Matt Kemp while he's on the DL, not that you could really ever replace him. The Padres' Yonder Alonso is my favorite candidate if only for his name.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"City officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted Monday that taxpayers will not be on the hook for a single dime of the $55 million cost of the [NATO] summit," the Sun-Times reported in April.

"Taxpayers will not pay anything for the summit," Emanuel said then.

At the time, I wrote this:

"First, federal money is taxpayer money too! Second, taxpayers have already been on the hook unless those private funds are flowing into budget lines at City Hall and the police department for the day-to-day activities consuming staff. There's also the lost opportunity cost of where the city's time and energy could have otherwise been spent instead of preparing for and hosting the summit."

Now comes police chief Garry McCarthy in today's Tribune:

"McCarthy said the department would stay fully staffed by moving from three eight-hour shifts to two 12-hour shifts, allowing the department to fully cover whole days with a third fewer officers. That third of the force will be shifted downtown for summit duty.

"'It's going to cost us a little bit of money, but at the end of the day, we anticipate that we're going to be able to maintain our enforcement efforts in the neighborhood while maintaining safety downtown,' McCarthy said."

Of course it's going to cost us a "little" bit of money. And you know what? I don't even care that much about the local incidental costs. It's a NATO summit. It's a big deal.

Just like the focus on traffic or workday disruptions kind of drives me crazy. Issues of life and death - war and peace - are on the table at NATO summits. You're worried about a weekend of alternate transit plans?

What does bother me - about the money - is the rank dishonesty from Emanuel administration about the costs, coupled with bogus claims of the economic benefits that will fall from the sky like lollipops; claims that were more plausible - but still fuzzy - when the G8 was heading here too but now are beyond silly.

And what bothers me is the sense that Emanuel brought the summit here to further his own political ambitions - easily dismissible pledges notwithstanding. (A pledge worth the price of the paper it was printed on.)

At the same time, the real argument for some sort of economic benefit has been lost a bit; it was first based more around the G8, and it's not so much about immediate impact and tourists but connections with global elites.

Take, for example, Joe Cahill's column in Crain's this week. (Warning: There must be a prize awaiting the millionth Chicago journalist to trot out the same tired, stupid Al Capone reference because they just can't resist, can they?):

Quick: What city hosted the last summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?

If your answer was "I don't know," you're like most people. I didn't know the answer until I looked it up for this column. (For those of you keeping score, it was Lisbon, Portugal.)

But I'll bet you know that the last city to host the Summer Olympics was Beijing.

The purpose of this pop quiz is to reveal the fallacy of one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's main rationales for subjecting Chicagoans to the cost and inconvenience of hosting the gathering of heads of state from North America and Europe next week: enhancing Chicago's image as a world-class, 21st-century city and helping erase lingering associations with Al Capone in the minds of people around the world.

That doesn't quite get it right. First, it was the G8 meeting that Rahm really wanted. The NATO summit was just an add-on because foreign dignitaries would have already been in town.

Second, it's not that G8 and NATO summits have historically been events that draw tourists or showcase cities in economically beneficial ways. They haven't. But Rahm saw an opportunity to make them so - that was his idea.

And the basis of that idea had nothing to do with tourists or regular, everyday folk, but in positioning Chicago as a future host of international meetings (probably not likely given basic geography but who knows) and exposing the city at least a little bit to the world's economic and trade ministers. The PR from visiting journalists would be a nice bonus, though most visiting journalists write about global economics and national security, not for their Travel sections.

Perhaps even more than that, though, it was about Rahm Emanuel forging connections and relationships - whether for the good of the city, himself or both is impossible to discern.

I'm not a fan of the whole thing, but I think it's important to understand in order to properly critique. Then you don't have to invoke Al Capone.

Command Decisions
"Chicago will also get some help from Illinois State Police, Cook County sheriff's police and several downstate departments, as well as members of the Milwaukee and Philadelphia police departments, and officers from Charlotte, N.C., which is tuning up to host the Democratic National Convention this summer," the Tribune notes. "These officers will be under Chicago command and typically will be used in secondary roles protecting venues and helping with transportation issues."

My understanding is that some departments asked to supply manpower to help out CPD asked for indemnification from lawsuits. I don't believe they got it. But the question remains: If an officer from another department is included in or targeted in a future lawsuit, whose department/city would be held responsible for a payout?

Now, my understanding is also that supplemental forces will be kept at the periphery, but still.


The Tribune quotes an expert who says that Chicago has an advantage over the disastrous way Seattle police handled the 1999 WTO meeting, because "having a large police department helps avoid chaos on the street because authorities don't have to use officers from other cities - who may have different methods and training - in primary crowd-control roles."

How will out-of-town police be used, then? Traffic control? I don't mean that in a smart-ass way, I'm actually asking!


And has the CPD learned from its own mistakes? The Tribune notes "A 2003 anti-Iraq war march ended badly when police cornered protesters and wouldn't let them leave for hours. Court rulings resulting from that episode led the city to agree to a costly settlement of some $10 million."


Layers of irony alert:

"In recent years, NATO has become a force projection arm of liberal Western states that share common values. For all the differences that exist between the 28 NATO allies, they share common views about the importance of democracy, the sanctity of the individual and the need to subsume military to civilian rule," Rachel Bronson, a vice president at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, writes in the Tribune today.


Here's another view from Achy Obejas on her WBEZ blog.

CPS Rat Bastard?
"Chicago Teachers Union officials are calling Marc Wigler 'a spy,' a 'stool pigeon' and a 'rat'' following his April 24 ouster for life from the union for allegedly feeding a top Chicago Public Schools labor official information about an internal union meeting," the Sun-Times reports.

"Wigler was accused of sending CPS labor relations chief Rachel Resnick a 50-bullet-point e-mail at 11:51 p.m., Aug. 24, detailing what CTU officials told union delegates during a special meeting the evening before, CTU officials say."

Yeah, that wasn't such a great thing to do.

"The e-mail allegedly began, 'Here are my notes from yesterday's [House of Delegates] meeting. If you have any questions, please ask. Wigler.'

"Wigler, who earned $85,000 last year as a resource teacher working in multiple schools, declined to comment Tuesday when reached in the CPS PreK for All office."


In April 2009, Substance reported that Wigler voluntarily testified on CPS management's behalf when the board of education tried to fire four tenured teachers.

"The astonishing and unprecedented fact of this hearing is that a union official - Marc Wigler - testified under oath for the Board of Education of the City of Chicago. Sources close to the matter told Substance that Wigler spoke voluntarily and without subpoena.

"Marc Wigler, who has been identified as 'Fresh Start Program Manager,' is paid a full salary by union dues. According to the CTU Web site ( Wigler is the 'Assistant Coordinator, Fresh Start Program' at the Quest Center. According to informed sources, Wigler did not directly testify for terminating Harriet Walczak, but he did not protect her from the Board's position that she was an unsatisfactory teacher. Mr. Wigler did admit under oath that his present position was as a union official not a Board of Education employee.

"Mr. Wigler went against his own union member in supporting a process that is illegal and works to terminate a fellow union member. In speaking with union activists and long-time members of the Chicago Teachers Union, specifically for this report, this action is unprecedented: that a paid union official would voluntarily testify to support the termination of another union member.

"It should be noted here that Mr. Wigler was contacted on numerous occasions by phone and e-mail to comment on his participation in the termination of Ms. Walczak. Mr. Wigler never responded."


And last week, Substance reported:

"Less than one month after he was convicted in a union court of spying for the boss, former Chicago Teachers Union member Marc Wigler attempted to enter the union's May 9, 2012 House of Delegates meeting at the Operating Engineers Union hall and had to be escorted out of the building by building security."


Back to today's Sun-Times:

"The e-mail provided a 'detailed listing' of union discussions about strategy, as well as CTU officials' comments about Mayor Emanuel, Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and CPS negotiators, [CTU vice president Jesse] Sharkey said . . .

"Wigler's e-mail was uncovered accidentally, Sharkey said, after the CTU received 15,000 e-mails from CPS in response to a subpoena involving a court case."


"According to a website for Ithaca College, Wigler's alma mater, he is scheduled to speak at a June 25 Chicago event called 'Roundtables in Media Innovation.' Although Wigler hasn't worked for the CTU for two years, Sharkey noted that the website calls Wigler a 'partnership initiative coordinator with the Chicago Teachers Union' and says he will speak on 'new models for collaboration between employees and management.'"

(Link mine.)

Poll Position
"Rahm Emanuel's push to extend the school day is overwhelmingly backed by Chicago voters, but far more of them side with the teachers union than the mayor on overall efforts to improve education, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows.

"The survey results could serve as a warning sign to the mayor not to engage in a full-throated contract battle with the Chicago Teachers Union, which has already begun polling its members and galvanizing its allies in preparation for a possible strike next fall."

Frankly this result surprises me. I didn't think the CTU had as much public support as it appears to.

"If teachers are going to teach longer hours, they should be paid more for it, the poll found. Sizable majorities of Chicago residents as a whole (86 percent) and public school parents (92 percent) agreed with that concept."

And get this:

"On the question of who voters sided with in the more comprehensive debate over improving the city's public school system, the union scored a better than 2-1 ratio over the mayor, who has had a testy relationship with the union's leadership.

"Among all respondents, 40 percent sided with the union, compared to 17 percent who backed Emanuel."

Rip Van Zorn
He just figured it out?

My God. And you know what? What we've learned since Richard M. Daley has been out of office doesn't begin to compare to what we knew when he was in.

That's Bill!
"I've never seen a CEO or a politician to be so out front in front of a crisis, take blame, say that they are going to change," Bill Daley told CNBC on Tuesday about the way his good friend Jamie Dimon has handled a $2 billion trading snafu.

Never? Ever?

"It's not often that Jamie Dimon publicly says he is dead wrong," the Wall Street Journal reports. But that is exactly what he did this morning on Meet The Press.

"Last month J.P. Morgan's first quarter earnings call, Dimon had called the London Whale's massive CDS bet a 'tempest in a teapot.' When David Gregory asked him about that comment Sunday morning in light of J.P. Morgan's $2 billion loss, Dimon responded:

"'I was dead wrong when I said that. I obviously didn't know because I would never have said that. And one of the reasons it became public was because we wanted to say, 'You know what, we told you something that was completely wrong a mere four weeks ago.'"


Daley: "And you have to remember, this was not customer's money. This was not client's money. This was the bank's money."

Um, I'm not a banker but . . . where does the bank get its money from? Customers? Clients?

I mean, I understand Daley is saying that the money gambled away didn't come directly from customer or client accounts, but ultimately money is fungible. Funny, also, that he didn't mention shareholders.

The Death of American Community?
A blow to the census solar plexus.

Make Beer, Not War
Tastes great, less dangerous.

Former Cubs Reporter Now Works For Outfit
Jordana Spiro is back.

Punkfork Takes Humboldt
Imperial Riot Fest.

WHIP It Good
Set-up men can help.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Whip smart.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:55 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2012

The Beer Thinker: Make Beer, Not War

Chicago Craft Beer Week, which is not really a week at all but 10 days (not that we're complaining), begins Thursday and has either the good fortune or misfortune of overlapping with the NATO summit.

If traffic is too jammed up by protests and NATO-forced road closures to travel, where would you rather be but a bar, where you are able to sample some of the newest and rarest that the craft beer community has to offer?

On the other hand, how easy is it going to be to get to your favorite watering hole in the first place if Chicago becomes fully Occupied?

I don't follow any political causes ardently enough to actually get off the couch, let alone march down the street and possibly break stuff in their honor, but if there ever would be one I could really get behind it would probably be something like "World Peace Through Inebriation." Local craft brewers certainly seem prepared to do their part, as CCBW comes at a time when several of them are making big news in their efforts to produce even more of their beer, and make it even easier for us to get it.

While we ecently wrote about the plans of the California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company's plans to open a behemoth brewing facility on the South Side, local beer newshound Josh Noel has been reporting on expansion plans from some of our homegrown brewers:

* North Center's own Half Acre Beer Company will soon open a tap room at its Lincoln Avenue storefront, where it already hosts huge lines every time it launches a new brew.

* Contract brewer 5 Rabbit Brewery is planning its own production facility in the Southwest suburbs.

* Three Floyds of Munster, Indiana, is hinting that it wants to open a tap room in Chicago, the better to tap into the local scene (Munster isn't far away, but if you have ever tried to find Three Floyd's, it's not as easy as it would appear - or maybe I just keep confusing Munster with Muncie).

In addition to all this news, we had known previously that Revolution Brewing was expanding beyond its brewpub roots to open a new production facility on North Kedzie Avenue. The grand opening of that facility happens to be one of the biggest events for the latter half of CCBW, as Revolution is hosting a May 25 party at its new digs.

While you're giving your CCBW lanyard a workout at all the tastings and parties over the next several days, you might also want to consider the breweries we might be talking about and sampling as future CCBWs roll around. Red Eye recently shared a list of 12 new Chicago breweries currently in the works.

That list includes Panic Brewing, which is in the early stages of being started by Lincoln Square resident Gary Gulley. I recently interviewed Gulley for a new local craft beer journal called Mash Tun, which will be dropping its first issue this week at the CCBW Beer Under Glass event at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

Mash Tun was started by Bridgeport's own Ed Marszewski, publishing entrepreneur, arts aficionado and proprietor of Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar in Bridgeport. If you're not classy enough to attend Beer Under Glass (or you just weren't quick enough to get a ticket before it sold out), you will also have a chance to get a copy of Mash Tun at the Mash Tun Fest this Saturday afternoon at the Bridgeport Art Center. You can also find Mash Tun at Maria's and at Quimby's.

CCBW events probably will provide the setting for many late-night conversations between craft beer fans who get the idea in their heads that they should start their own brewery. Gulley's blog at the Panic Brewing website is like a how-to guide for anyone dreaming of or daring to start their own craft brewery. After reading a few posts, you will either be convinced you can do it, too, or just convinced that you would never want to try. We hope it's the former.


Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything


Dan O'Shea is The Beer Thinker. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 PM | Permalink

Former Cubs Reporter Jordana Spiro Now Works For The Outfit

She's baaaack!

Not that Spiro herself was so much the problem with one of our all-time favorite whipping boys. But a mob doctor?

The early descriptions are not promising - but wait 'til you see the trailer.

"Hour centers on a young female surgeon who juggles her career and her lifelong debt to the South Chicago mob," Variety reports.

As opposed to the Irish and Nigerian mobs that Jennifer Beals had to contend with on Chicago Code.


Deadline describes the new show this way:

"The medical drama centers on Grace Delvin (Spiro), one of Chicago's top young cardiothoracic surgeons who, to save her gambling-indebted brother, is forced to moonlight as a 'mob doctor.'"


From TVWise:

"During the day, Grace must deal with the emotionally compelling cases at Roosevelt Medical - a toddler in need of a heart transplant, an elderly man desperate to donate a lung to his sick wife, the mass chaos in the wake of a two-train collision on the 'L.'

"But in her other vastly different world, she must juggle an onslaught of mob-related demands, including operating in mob-sanctioned locations, removing bullets from dead bodies to hide incriminating evidence, saving a juiced-up race horse and covertly helping an aging mobster with his erectile dysfunction.

"All the while, Grace must keep her dual life a secret from everyone. The only one who knows the true scope of Grace's activities is the man to whom Grace owes her debt: the charming and diabolical Southside mob boss Constantine Alexander (William Forsythe), an oddly compassionate killer whose relationship with Grace is more than it seems."


Wait. This actually looks good.


The series continues shooting in Chicago this summer.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:22 PM | Permalink

The Death Of American Community?

Is it the end of American community as we know it?

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to kill the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that collects demographic and economic information from over three million households every year.

The goal of the ACS is to continually provide information about ourselves that has been deemed crucial for policy makers, planners, academics, and businesses. The ACS replaced the long-form of the decennial census that used to collect the same information.

House Republicans, however, argued that the ACS was an unnecessary intrusion into our privacy by the federal government - if not a device used to push a liberal agenda by overestimating (and overemphasizing) the presence of racial/ethnic minorities in the country as well as the impoverished.

Despite its utilization by market research firms, polling organizations, and local governments and their agencies, the ACS somehow became expendable to those searching for budget cuts in a hyperpartisan, anti-government environment.

* * *

In the strictest sense of a Constitutional mandate, Section 1, Article 2 does not call for conducting such surveys beyond the decennial census used for redistricting. And historically, it was never the perfect tool to do even that. In our nation's first census in 1790, mostly the white men who owned properties were counted because they were the only ones who could vote. Even today, we can only provide educated guesses for the number of homeless and undocumented immigrants in our midst.

The importance and utility of census data simply increased over time for a variety of constituencies. The fact that all the information gathered with tax dollars is freely available - just as long as each respondent's confidentiality is ensured - has seemingly gone unnoticed outside of demography courses at universities.

While some people may balk at the cost of conducting a census ($2.4 billion for the last one), for many businesses and academics, the value of census data is often immeasurable. Also, the federal government easily disseminates nearly 35 times the cost of the census in funding based on its results.

Despite such an important role, the level of distrust by the public toward government undoubtedly further raises the cost for the census as increasing number of Americans refuse to participate. This cynicism is, of course, about much more than our contentious relationship with the government. Vast swathes of Americans also believe that data and statistical analysis can be - and is - simply a tool manipulated to represent a pre-existing viewpoint.

This may be true insofar as, for example, poorly conducted public opinion polls go; such polls as well as some forms of market research have ruined it for true scientists and researchers. But rejecting wholesale scientific endeavors is not the remedy.

Maybe American society has just become too cynical, too polarized, and too individualistic to collect information using traditional methods that rely on a sense of duty and communal curiosity. Such cynicism and distrust of government is reflected in ever-decreasing rate of participation in political elections, decennial censuses, and virtually any type of governmental actions that require citizens' participation.

Census data these days seems most popular when used by individuals to research their own genealogy. Perhaps society has become too self-absorbed to be concerned about who we are as a whole. In many ways, it is this dwindling public interest that makes the elimination of this governmental function most significant.

* * *

There are two large issues that will follow upon the elimination of the ACS: First, the path of reducing the government's role in census-taking will eventually lead to a discussion of privatizing the census as a whole, just as we've seen in other areas of large governmental functions that once represented civic participation and service (schools, Social Security, the post office). "[T]he Senate is unlikely to vote similarly to cut off the ACS, but House approval of the elimination plan could help to further a Republican-led goal of changing the ACS into a voluntary survey," Nate Berg notes on the Atlantic Cities blog.

Second, it will be a crushing blow for those who rely tremendously on census data and the result will be more ignorance and less self-knowledge as a nation.

Given the existing institutional demand for this type of information, economic principle suggests that private entities will step up to fill the void by continuing to generate some form of this data.

But if government steps aside from this massive task of collecting information about its residents, this shift would likely come with limited access and a heavy price tag that few could afford. Census data would no longer by unifying, but divisive.

A private entity would also be drive to collect better information at a lower cost. In the process, there will be financial incentives for the public instead of a civic incentive. Many of those yelping now about their privacy will be bought by, say, a $5 bill slipped into a privatized questionnaire. For $10, they will allow twice as much of their privacy to be violated. Better information by one measure; less reliable by another.

* * *

If the comments on news reports about this sad development are any indication, our intellectual polarity is even more severe than commonly reputed. There are many here among us who just can't get enough data in our quest of knowledge about our country, while many more seem to believe that gathering such information does not advance society in any way. How can that be?

Perhaps those who concern themselves with civic engagement have been so focused on increasing the level of participation by making it easier - the click of a button to sign a petition and or make a donation - that they've forgotten about making civic engagement better.

Civic engagement has to be taught, just like anything else. Are our schools doing that? Is there a focus on civic participation among our political and civic leaders - beyond asking for a vote or campaign contribution?

In some ways, the effort to eliminate the ACS places American society at a crossroad: A quick, short-term solution would be to privatize one more governmental function for the sake of efficiency and cost effectiveness and still manage to fulfill the constitutional mandate.

A lasting, long-term solution would be to educate the public about what makes the American version of democracy uniquely challenging, and raise the level of conversation by constantly revisiting the data to learn how it reflects upon us.


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 Who We Are archives.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 PM | Permalink

Punkfork: Riot Fest Takes Humboldt Park

"As reported here Monday, the eighth annual Riot Fest will take place in Humboldt Park from Sept. 14 to 16, as well as its usual venue, the decaying Congress Theatre," Jim DeRogatis writes on his Pop N Stuff WBEZ blog. "Now it's tapped some of the biggest names yet for its raucous stages.

"Included in the first round of acts announced by promoters: Rise Against, Iggy and the Stooges, Elvis Costello, the Offspring, A Day to Remember, Coheed and Cambria, the Descendents, Gogol Bordello, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Dropkick Murphys, NOFX, the Gaslight Anthem, the Alkaline Trio, AWOLNATION, the Promise Ring, Gwar, August Burns Red, Frank Turner, Built to Spill, Less Than Jake, Reverend Horton Heat, Fishbone, NOBUNY, A Wilhelm Scream, Screaming Females, Teenage Bottlerocket, Off With Their Heads, Deals Gone Bad, White Mystery, Larry and His Flask, The Story So Far, Japanther, and reunions from Chiodos and Slapstick."


DeRo's report picks up this from the Humboldt Park Advisory Council's blog:

"This is a big development for the park, since it hasn't hosted any music festivals of this scale in recent memory."


Here's the ticket information from Riot Fest's website.


"Riot Fest surreptitiously dropped a bomb with last night's announcement that its 2012 incarnation would be its most ambitious yet," Tankboy writes at Chicagoist.

"[T]o those who have been complaining that our concert festival season has stopped yielding surprises as the institutions have grown we offer this as proof that you can still switch it up and catch everyone pleasantly offguard."


Here's the gig poster:



Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

The biggest inconvenience of the NATO summit this weekend to me personally is that I'm too tied up this week to properly digest the coverage along with the rest of the news; it may be a light week here depending on productivity gains in other pressing areas. Unfortunately, the news doesn't wait for me.

1. Democrats Form Third Party To Challenge Derrick Smith.

It's called the Not Indicted Wing Of The Democratic Party.


"People interested in the new 10th District Unity Party can go to according to David Druker, spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White. Forty-seven questions are asked, ranging from whether a person has committed a crime to what potential candidates' legislative priorities would be."

Including: Have you now or have you ever been shown the money?

2. "Police officers from Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C. will assist the Chicago Police Department in handling thousands of protesters expected to descend on Chicago for this weekend's NATO summit," the Sun-Times reports.

Good. Spread the cost of the inevitable brutality lawsuits around.

3. "Cook County commissioners agreed Monday to pay $600,000 to settle the county's portion of a lawsuit brought by a freed prison inmate whose allegations of police torture have shined a spotlight on former Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reports.

"By voting to settle, commissioners removed county government as a defendant in the case brought by Michael Tillman, who alleges that detectives working for then-Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge tortured a confession out of him in a 1986 rape and murder case."

Good for Tillman, bad for us. Why?

"According to Tillman's lawsuit, former Assistant State's Attorney Timothy Frenzer was in a South Side police station during most of Tillman's interrogation and knew Tillman was 'being subjected to torture and abuse,' the lawsuit alleged.

"The settlement removed Frenzer as a defendant."

Now we will never know; Frenzer won't be deposed - if he hasn't yet - and will never have to testify. Silence has been bought in reverse.

4. Rahm Emanuel Most Popular Among Rich White Men.


Other true Tribune poll findings:

* 140 of 700 Chicago voters asked had no opinion of Rahm's job performance.

* Only 16 percent of those polled thought the city was better off under Rahm's reign; 17 percent thought the city wasn't.



"After taking office, Emanuel pledged that he wouldn't 'nickel-and-dime' taxpayers for budget fixes. But Emanuel has raised water and sewer rates, city vehicle stickers and instituted other fine increases.

"The poll found that 44 percent of city voters said Emanuel has not lived up to his pledge versus 38 percent who said he has."

5. Matt Spiegel singing on The Score this morning: Tony, Tony Campana/The fastest Cub north of Urbana.

6. NATO's endless wars.

7. Courage Watch.

8. Bush vs. Obama: A National Security Quiz.

9. The White Sox are the least shifting team in the majors.

10. A faithful Beachwood reader notes:

Dear Annie: For the past 20 years, I have sent my nieces and nephews birthday cards with $50 checks - until they graduated college.I have also sent high school and college graduation, shower, wedding and baby gifts.

My kids are in their early teens. This practice is no longer reciprocated by one sister-in-law. The kids will say, "Auntie forgot my birthday again." I tell them it's nice to get a gift, but they shouldn't expect one. But it makes me furious that this particular sister-in-law has stopped sending gifts. Money is not an issue for her. She is just rude and thoughtless.

If it were my own sister, I would say something, but I don't feel it is my place to address my husband's sister. How do I get over feeling slighted and hurt for my kids? - Nicer Aunt


Dear Margo: I have been sending my nieces and nephews birthday gifts for the past 20 years. They are now in their 20s and early 30s. I sent the gifts until they graduated college, and now I just send a card. The problem is that my children are young teens, and this practice is not reciprocated by one s-i-l. Money is not an issue for her. My children say, "Auntie forgot my birthday again," and I tell them they should not expect people to send gifts, but it is nice when they do.

I am ticked and feel slighted for my children. I have sent the offending aunt's kids presents for birthdays, high school and college graduations, showers, weddings, and new babies. I feel she is rude and thoughtless. Am I wrong to feel this way? I find myself upset and obsessing about this. Should she be confronted in some way? - Feeling Slighted

11. Catching up with Quentin Young joining activists opposing Rahm's closing of six city mental health clinics.

12. NATO Tours.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Boxed and briefed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

May 14, 2012


My first ballgame was in 1950 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati. Our family didn't move to the Chicago area until the following summer, and my dad grew up a Reds fan. The team was god-awful in those days, and no doubt Pop didn't want to suffer in solitude. So he loaded my brother and me into the car for a trip to the ballpark to watch the likes of Ted Kluszewski, Ewell Blackwell, Bob Usher, and Connie Ryan.

Most recently I watched Gavin Floyd tame the Royals last Friday evening at the Cell. Let's just say that between that first game 62 years ago and Friday's 5-0 Sox victory, I've seen my share of baseball games.

Therefore, I think I know when to cheer, when to feel elated, when to keep my mouth shut, and when to head for the exit in the seventh inning, which I did a few weeks ago on a frigid evening with the Sox trailing Boston 10-3.

So when the speakers at the Cell blare, "Everybody clap your hands," or that idiotic chart appears on the Jumbotron purportedly measuring the decibel level from the slightly less than 20,000 in attendance, I become mildly annoyed.

Maybe my age is a factor, although I'm pretty good at keeping it together in rush hour traffic. I'm learning not to seethe when I miss a short putt. I can handle finding the fridge empty when I reach for another beer.

Friday night I instinctively stood and cheered when Adam Dunn smacked one into the seats for a 1-0 first-inning lead. I came to life again in the third inning when Alejandro De Aza - looks like we have a splendid leadoff man - singled, stole second, and scored on Gordon Beckham's base hit. And I was absolutely ecstatic when Alex Rios lined a two-out triple to right center, scoring two runs and giving the hometown boys a 4-0 lead.

Conversely, I mumbled an oath directed at Robin Ventura in the fifth inning of a tight game when Eduardo Escobar didn't bunt with no outs and Dayan Viciedo on first base. The rookie Sox manager didn't fare much better with me when he left the gassed Floyd in the game in the eighth to face the dangerous Billy Butler with the bases loaded. (In the interest of full disclosure, Gavin struck out Butler, and then Ventura removed him.)

Since the directives to cheer occur at the oddest moments, I have to think that Sox management believes that nothing is happening any time the ball isn't in play. They assume that the average fan doesn't see that third basemen are playing on the infield grass when De Aza comes to the plate. They must think that we aren't looking for Alejandro to slap one into left field to cross up the defense.

Dunn went to the plate four times on Friday, and in each situation had two strikes on him before belting a homer, double and walking twice. I'm confident I wasn't the only one who noticed that the Royals failed to strike him out, and I suspect there were more than a few fans who were guessing whether Adam would see another fastball or a changeup.

While my focus is primarily on the field, I understand the appeal of the extracurricular gimmicks. Most of the crowd goes absolutely bonkers - I think it's the fifth inning - when the bouncy, pert Chevy Pride Crew circles the perimeter of the field throwing free T-shirts to the squealing throngs. You'd think they had winning lottery tickets in their satchels. Chevrolet pays for the promotion, which is good business for the Sox even though I do my best to ignore the proceedings.

Then there's the contest an inning or two later where three "contestants" dance for maybe ten seconds apiece atop the visitors' dugout, each looking sillier than the other. Earlier in the game, we have a nine- or ten-year-old kid hitting a wiffle ball off a tee where he's told that a "home run" makes him a winner. Friday night the kid's longest effort was maybe two feet, yet still he was declared a winner. No sense, I suppose, in having him return home minus his self-esteem.

And we have Fan Cams, and Kiss Cams, and now the Mustache Cam where the Sox's love affair with the Blackhawks continues, using a poor excuse of Joel Quenneville's mustache which the Jumbotron operator tries to match up with a variety of unsuspecting fans. Sorry, but this one really does not work.

Of course, the Sox's staff has sold each and every stunt to a willing sponsor, and most elicit a positive response from the crowd. It's all part of Harry Caray's mantra, "You can't beat fun at the old ballpark."

I've tuned out most of these antics, as I'm sure you've already noticed. The between-inning pauses have become redundant. Most were conceived a few seasons ago. I'm beginning to think that innovation and creativity are foreign concepts in the team's promotional department.

For a number of decades the concept of any kind of promotion, other than the game itself, didn't exist at the nation's ballparks. Finally, around 1934, someone got the idea of singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch. Surprisingly, this standard was written in 1908 by two guys who had never even seen a ball game. Imagine the excitement of having a few thousand people rise to their feet and break out into song. What a novel idea!

Please keep in mind that a fan's connection to the game in those days was via newspapers and radio. If you wanted to see a game, you went to the ballpark. The game was the promotion, and alternative choices - you couldn't even stay home to watch TV - were limited.

Former Sox owner Bill Veeck changed all that while incurring the wrath of baseball's establishment. Paul Dickson has written a rather complete biography of Bill, Bill Veeck, Baseball's Greatest Maverick, which chronicles the life and times of the game's most important and prolific innovator.

"The worst thing we've done is sell the idea that you have to have a winning team," Veeck is quoted as saying. "That dooms 20 of our 24 clubs [obviously today the numbers have changed] to failure before the season even starts. What we have to create is an atmosphere of enjoyment."

Bill always made things enjoyable but never more so than 1959 when the Sox won the pennant and later in 1977 with the South Side Hit Men. These were exciting and successful teams, one of which used speed, defense, and pitching and the other which bashed the ball out of the park. Neither Veeck nor anyone else had to tell us when to cheer.

And, of course, cues weren't necessary in 2005 when the Sox reached the pinnacle of success in that most memorable of seasons. I'm not counting on another experience like that in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean I'll stay away from the ballpark because I truly enjoy the game, and I like it even better when the Sox play well.

I just wish management would stop insulting me by telling me when to cheer.


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


1. From Jim Klein:

Well done, professor. My first game was at Swayne Field - Toledo Mud Hens, 1953, proud member of Junior Knothole Club. George Selkirk was our manager. Braves were the mother team.

I don't like the gimmicks - since I live in a Class A city (Charlotte, S.C.) there are gimmicks galore. I still cheer but only for selected plays and it could be for a visiting player.

I long for the radio broadcasts. When the game is on TV and radio, I turn off the sound on the tube.

2. From Jerry Pritikin, aka The Bleacher Preacher:

Roger, I felt every word of your story . . . it's like reading a scorecard, my own! Your closer has always bothered me. If a fan does not know when to cheer, they don't belong at the ballpark.

About Harry's mantra, I've added "providing you can afford it." I've been priced out of the ballpark at the face value of a ticket. And chances are, once Memorial Day gets here, finding a ticket on the day of the game, at the price printed on it is harder to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! There are no more cheap seats. The Friendly Confines didn't earn that moniker with fans wearing Rolex watches, talking on a cell phone and discussing Dow Jones averages instead of earned run averages.

I always appreciated that Chicago had teams in both leagues. I managed to see many future Hall of Famers and baseball greats. I think of Wrigley like the Grand Canyon - except the Grand Canyon does not have advertisements.

[Bill Veeck] boycotted all but two games in 1985 because the Cubs were selling bleacher tickets in February.

Last year I only went to one game, and I left in the third inning. There were two complete "WAVES" around the park in the first two innings. My 8th Cub-fan-mandment is: THOU SHALL NOT START OR PARTICIPATE IN THE WAVE IN THE FRIENDLY CONFINES, OR YOU WILL BE EX-CUB-MUNICATED!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 PM | Permalink

NATO Tours

Dear Journalist,

We are excited that you'll be visiting Chicago and reporting on the NATO summit. Grassroots Collaborative has organized tours visiting four Chicago neighborhoods on May 17 and 18, so that you have the chance to see working class neighborhoods in the city, meet with local residents who are fighting for improvements, and report on the connections between Chicago struggles and your city.

Watch this teaser for the tour on May 17th:


Teaser -Tour on May 18th:



Thursday, May 17th
8:15 a.m.: Pick-up from downtown location TBA
8:30 a.m.: Depart
9:00 a.m.: Tour of Little Village neighborhood, one of the largest Latino neighborhoods in Chicago
9:45 a.m.: Tour of recently closed down mental health clinics in the Back of the Yards community
10:50 a.m.: Return to downtown location

Friday, May 18th
8:15 a.m.: Pick-up from downtown location TBA
8:30 a.m.: Depart
9:00 a.m.: Tour of Englewood, highlighting public safety and foreclosure blight
10 a.m.: Tour of Brighton Park, highlighting public schools and safety
10:50 a.m.: Return to downtown location

Locally, Chicago shows its misplaced priorities through the hosting of NATO. Chicago corporations will spend $14 million alone for NATO parties, while Mayor Emanuel shuts down half of the city's mental health clinics, closes schools, and squeezes the city's working class.

Nationally, the U.S. accounts for 75% of all NATO defense spending. At the same time, millions of U.S. families have lost their housing through foreclosures, the number of families in extreme poverty escalates, and unemployment continues to devastate communities across the country.

Internationally, NATO promotes the misplaced idea that militarism promotes peace. NATO members account for 70% of the world's military spending. Meanwhile, the global poor continue to grow and fall deeper into poverty.


Follow @GrassrootsChi


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:27 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Facing administrative turnover and a growing number of vacancies in recent years, the UI has increasingly turned to outside search firms to find new leaders," the Champaign News-Gazette reports.

"The price tag? Almost $6 million over the last nine years, paid to nearly two dozen different consulting firms. In one of the most recent instances, the UI paid $90,000 to one firm for three weeks of work to recruit men's basketball coach John Groce."

What hyena says.

Compare and Contrast
Mitt Romney as alleged high school bully of innocent peers vs. Barack Obama as adult president killer of innocent civilians.

Watch As Chicago's Best Restaurant Makes An Insane, 86-Part Lamb Dish.

Canadian Bacon
Illinois Is Alberta's Single Largest Export Market.

AT&T's Chicago Problem
Slow pokes.

Speech Impediment
"The forthcoming summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, set for May 20 and 21 in Chicago, could be the first public test of H.R. 347, the recently passed law that expanded the ability of the Secret Service to suppress protests in or around certain restricted zones near individuals under its protection," the ACLU says.

"What will be particularly interesting (read: alarming) is if the Secret Service starts to use the law to get at protests that are physically removed from the event. For instance, if a lawful protest that is within earshot of the summit gets rowdy enough that it 'disrupts' the 'orderly conduct of Government business or official functions,' does that trigger the statute? We just don't know. The Secret Service certainly has the ability and obligation to secure the individuals it protects, but it also must permit lawful protest to be seen and heard. It cannot use H.R. 347 to 'sanitize' the summit."

Amnesty Now!
For Carlos Boozer.

Botanic Railroad
Landmarks of America.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

Let's not and say we did.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Slow and swift.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Amnesty Now!

A few thoughts on the Bulls' demise as the guys head back to the Berto Center in the next few days to collect their things and head out into an odious off-season.

Hey Jerry Reinsdorf, you and your partners have been raking in the profits on the Bulls for what, a quarter century now? I know the team wasn't a money-maker when you all took over and you are of course entitled to any and all profits that result from what was obviously a very astute investment way back when.

And I know you took on significant additional financial liability when you partnered with the Wirtzes to build the United Center with all private money (wait, why do the Ricketts' need a public subsidy to spend less money to update Wrigley than Reinsdorf and the Wirtz's spent on the UC?).

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that Bulls fans would very much appreciate it if you would go ahead and use some of those profits to take the big financial hit that would accompany releasing Carlos Boozer with the amnesty clause negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement hashed out at the end of last year. Amnestying Boozer would mean the Bulls would still be on the hook for his compensation for the rest of his contract but that said monies would not count against the salary cap.

The Bulls still wouldn't have a ton of financial flexibility and there aren't any terribly exciting free agents who will be out there in the coming off-season. But dumping Boozer would free up the starting power forward spot for Taj Gibson, whose toughness and defensive intensity were just about the only bright spots in the abysmal playoff failure against the Sixers. And there will be plenty of veteran free-agent forwards available on the cheap before next season starts.

Boozer's game stands in such stark contrast to Gibson's and Joakim Noah's. It is just infuriating to watch time and time again as four Bull defenders work their asses off to stymie foes for 20 seconds of a given shot clock and then a lax Boozer blows it, allowing his man to find space to score or failing to make the basic rotations that make the best NBA team defense work.

His offense would be missed a bit, especially with Derrick Rose out for a while at the start of next season, but dumping Boozer would send such a glorious message that these Bulls are first and foremost and forever about team basketball with an emphasis on defensive determination.

Moving right along . . . In 2008, the Bulls signed Luol Deng to a $71 million contract that will still be in effect next season. On Sunday it was estimated that Deng will be paid over $160,000 per game next year. Stories breaking down pro athletes' financial compensation are a bit cliche at this point but in this case it is important to have a real good idea of exactly how much money we are talking about.

Because those numbers make it crystal clear why it will be unacceptable if Deng decides to forego needed wrist surgery to play for the British Olympic team this summer and then misses games next year because the wrist is not healed.

Come on Luol. It doesn't matter how much you've dreamed of representing the country that took your family in after the Dengs became refugees of war-torn Sudan about 20 years ago. It couldn't be more obvious that your first loyalty absolutely must be to the Bulls.

And finally, how much will it cost to bring Nikola Mirotic over from Spain in the off-season? The power forward whose rights were acquired by the Bulls in a slick draft-day trade last year is still very young (21) but he is clearly very talented. The slick-shooting 6-10 force who also has plenty of moves down low could probably use another season or two of seasoning.

But he earned a second straight Euroleague Rising Star award in April and, especially if they dump Boozer, he is needed in Chicago sooner rather than later. Get on that Jerry!


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America

"The Model Railroad Garden delights visitors of all ages with the sights and sounds of garden-scale trains traversing bridges and trestles, past miniature scenes of America's best-loved landmarks and beautiful gardens planted to scale. The 7,500-square-foot exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (weather permitting). On Wednesdays, June 2 - August 29, the Model Railroad Garden hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (weather permitting). Visit for more information.


From a satisfied customer:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. A Living Portrait at Reggie's on Saturday night.


2. Chickenfoot at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


3. The Doobie Brothers in Rosemont on Friday night.


4. Above and Beyond at the Congress on Saturday night.


5. Andrew Bird at the Auditorium on Saturday night.


6. The Future Laureates at Subterranean on Saturday night.


7. Go Radio at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


8. This Providence at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


9. Cosmic Gate at the Congress on Saturday night.


10. St. Vincent at the Vic on Friday night.


11. Tyler Carter at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.


12. Justin Townes Earle at the Park West on Thursday night.


13. Dax Riggs at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


12. Father John Misty at Schubas on Saturday night.


13. Fake Palindromes at the Auditorium on Saturday night.


14. Grouplove at the Metro on Saturday night.


15. Pearl and the Beard at Schubas on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Too bad we won't have the extra three seconds in time to run the fuck out of here next week.

Market Update
Depending which analysis you believe, JPMorgan's profits either evolved or took a haircut. Either way, Truth seems to be the biggest loser of the week.

Put A Mitt In It
Incidentally, just in time for Sunday's festivities, Mitt Romney took time this week to announce to the world that he is, in fact, your mother-in-law.

Global Citizens
Just remember, Eduardo, you're just another economic refugee until you use your vast resources to wholesale buy your third country.

Skilling It
Finally this week, you better watch your back, affable Chicago weatherman. This guy not only has your chops, he's got not one but two dirtbag brothers.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Band of brothers.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Music Report: "Let's give it up for Mom! Tune in for Jim and Greg's Mother's Day soundtrack. If this doesn't make you call more often, we don't know what will. Plus, Jim and Greg remember Adam 'MCA' Yauch."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

A Safe Haven


Local halfway house and shelter A Safe Haven served 4,000 homeless individuals in 2010-11; 59% of whom were "new" homeless victims of the poor economy.

This compelling documentary was created by students at the Illinois Center for Broadcasting.

Saturday, May 12 at 10 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Stage Left Theatre's Leapfest 9


Playwright Vance Smith discusses how Stage Left Theatre's Leapfest exposes audiences to new, developing plays in order to help improve them.

Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Childhood Immunization Roundtable


Leading experts discuss how immunization can protect infants from 14 different contagious diseases, many of which can be fatal.

Sunday, May 13 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Town Hall Meeting: Coalition Against NATO/G8 War & Poverty


Residents and representatives of the Trinity Episcopal Church participate in a town hall discussing the church's decision to allow protestors to sleep in tents in the church's yard during the NATO summit.

Sunday, May 13 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Women and Girls Inspiring Change


This international showcase honors individuals and organizations for empowering the voices of others and impacting their communities.

Sunday, May 13 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min


Occupy Chicago: NATO Week of Actions


Spokespeople for protests and other actions planned around Chicago's upcoming NATO summit offer a preview of their plans and identify resources for journalists.

Watch Online

Sunday, May 13 at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
45 min


UIC Urban Health Program: Student Recognition


The UIC Urban Health Program recognizes the achievements of students at all levels and celebrates the Graduating Class of 2012.

Sunday, May 13 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 30 min


Chicago Rally at IDECO: "Stop Selling Coal in the Classroom"


Activists protest educational materials funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity they say are designed to target schoolchildren and do not teach them about coal's impact on the environment.

Sunday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:10 AM | Permalink

May 11, 2012

Bring Us The Heads Of C.J. Watson, Omer Asik And Carlos Boozer










Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

Fifty Shades of Grey Chicago

E L James of Fifty Shades fame was in town this week and that got us to thinking: What if James had been from Chicago?

For the uninitiated, this comment on Amazon is just about all you need to know about James's hackneyed literary style.

UPDATE*: Thanks to the many other perturbed readers who have shared their own choices of the most annoyingly overused phrases in this masterpiece. Following up on their suggestions with my ever-useful Kindle search function, I have discovered that Ana says "Jeez" 81 times and "oh my" 72 times. She "blushes" or "flushes" 125 times, including 13 that are "scarlet," 6 that are "crimson," and one that is "stars and stripes red." (I can't even imagine.) Ana "peeks up" at Christian 13 times, and there are 9 references to Christian's "hooded eyes" and 7 to his "long index finger." Characters "murmur" a whopping 199 times (doesn't anyone just talk?), "clamber" on/in/out of things 21 times, and "smirk" 34 times. Finally, in a remarkable bit of symmetry, our hero and heroine exchange 124 "grins" and 124 "frowns"... which, by the way, seems an awful lot of frowning for a woman who experiences "intense," "body-shattering," "delicious," "violent," "all-consuming," "turbulent," "agonizing" and "exhausting" orgasms on just about every page."

Now adapt along with us, in Twitter-size bites.


She peeked up at him over by dere. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


His long index finger claimed dibs. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


His clout entered me. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


His pinstripe patronage was just dirty enough to thrill me. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


I wasn't ready for his reform. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


I didn't want nobody nobody sent. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


He was totally up for re-election. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


I shivered when he knocked me off the ballot. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


I wanted him to dominate me. I wanted a boss. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


He challenged my petitions. I wanted him to. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


His was strictly transactional: What was in it for him? #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


He never forgot a favor. Especially one he was owed. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


We never said it out loud. It was just understood. #FiftyShadesOfGreyChicago


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Spring Standards at Schubas on Monday night.


2. Schoolboy Q & Ab Soul at Reggie's on Tuesday night.


3. Childish Gambino at the Riv on Wednesday night.


4. Jenny Owen Youngs at the Beat Kitchen on Tuesday night.


5. La Dispute at the Metro on Sunday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Let's catch up with the week's news. Some of these items will receive expanded coverage in the days to come; some will not.

1. Bring Us The Heads Of C.J. Watson, Omer Asik And Carlos Boozer.

2. Obama's Gay Marriage Gambit.

3. Company that lies about its circulation reportedly buying the Reader.

4. Rahm willing to interfere in law enforcement investigations for any of his constituents.

5. State attorney general represents state representative who owes taxes on her state office.

6. Rahm: Pension contracts can be broken but parking meter lease can't.

7. "Groupon Grassroots, the social-giving branch of the online deal site, has raised $163,000 for 79 local organizations across the country since its relaunch April 16."

So $2,063 per organization, on average. They'd be better off just saving some money on expenses by using some Groupons.

8. "There are no Everlasting Gobstoppers, and there's no chocolate river," Chicago's very own Billy McWonka announces.

9. "Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, spelled out in detail [Sunday] what Washington expects from its NATO allies at the upcoming summit in Chicago: a long-term financial commitment to Afghanistan. Crocker also bluntly dismissed the idea of issuing an apology to Pakistan over last November's errant NATO strikes."

10. Fifty Shades of Grey Chicago.

11. The Week in Chicago Rock.

12. How will they know the difference?

13. State rep caught accepting bribe from fake company defends himself by alleging company was fake.

14. Governor's mansion available 325 nights a year.

15. Jamie Dimon loses $2 billion bet, will not be foreclosed upon.

16. Chicago officially wants someone to die in a traffic accident in the year 2020.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Book it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

I'm working on a post about President Obama's declaration of support for gay marriage, so be patient on that one.

Meanwhile . . .

"NATO summit protesters will get a chance to debate officials representing the military alliance in the week leading up to the May 20-21 gathering of world leaders in Chicago," the Tribune reports.

"Protest organizer Andy Thayer says he and anti-NATO blogger Rick Rozoff will debate the merits of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on May 17 with a NATO spokesman, James Appathurai, and Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO."



First Rahm came for the teachers . . . then Rahm came for the nurses . . . then Rahm came for Tom Morello!


Afghanistan Will Dominate NATO Summit.


Kerry Lays Out Three Challenges In Afghanistan Ahead Of NATO Summit.


Merkel Warns Allies To Stick To Euro Crisis, Afghan Deals.


And you're worried about traffic tie-ups? Please.

What's Cullerton's Catch?
"Publicly traded corporations whose profits are subject to Illinois income taxes would be required to divulge specific figures from their annual tax bills under legislation advanced by Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

That sounds like such a good idea I can't believe Cullerton is serious about it.

"The proposal, approved 9-5 by the Senate executive committee, drew strong opposition from business quarters. And Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, of Lemont, questioned whether Cullerton was serious or just firing a shot over the bow in the long-standing partisan battle over the temporary corporate and personal income tax hikes that took effect in 2011 and stay in place for four years."

Unfortunately, from my reading of the story, Cullerton doesn't actually intend to see his proposal through.

"For a healthy debate on how to reform the corporate tax structure, this could be a good first step," he said.

No, for a healthy debate you should really mean it.

City Lies Again
"A Chicago bishop said his words were taken out of context in a Department of Public Health press release claiming his support of the city's mental health services plan," according to Medill Reports.

"Bishop Tavis L. Grant, national field director of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said he supported the city's attempt at dialogue with the community, not the city's mental health agenda. The closing of six of the city's 12 mental health clinics has inspired fierce opposition from mental health advocates, community members and patients.

"The April 29 press release stated, 'Members of Chicago's faith-based community joined Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair in support of the City's efforts to expand mental health services across the city.'"

Beyond that, the city isn't expanding services but cutting them. So the city misquoted Reality too.


Irony Alert Callback

See also: Rahm Appreciates Teachers!


Graphic Journalism
Thank you, Chicago Tribune.

Higher Education
"The underfunded College Illinois savings program was plagued by weak financial controls and conflicts of interest between top administrators and companies hired to invest millions from the pre-paid tuition fund, according to a report issued Wednesday from the state Auditor General's Office," the Tribune reports.

"The Auditor General's report singled out former ISAC executive director Andrew Davis and portfolio manager George Egan for failing to disclose possible conflicts of interest or awarded contracts in violation of state procurement policies."

Davis said that was just "silly," and added:

"The state of Illinois has enough rules that if someone goes looking, they will find something wrong," Davis said. "On substantive issues, you will find the investments were not only sound, but in some cases brilliant."


"Despite losing all of a nearly $13 million investment in now-defunct ShoreBank in 2010, the former administrators of the College Illinois prepaid tuition plan just a few months later decided to plow $14 million into a startup luxury hybrid automaker that recently suffered a blistering review from Consumer Reports," Crain's reports.

Programming Note
Stop the news, I need to catch up. Doing my best. You know the topics I haven't gotten to yet. Trying. Send money, a maid, a personal assistant and food.

Kerry Wood Is Far Too Relevant, Dude
Mascot meme catches on.

Shark Tank Casting Call In Chicago
But they don't validate parking.


If you click through, you'll also see a brief summary of Chicagoans who have already appeared on the show.

Get Your Train On
National Train Day events in Chicago this Saturday.


The Beachwood Tip Line: There goes Tokyo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Obama's Gay Marriage Gambit

Not everyone is impressed by Barack Obama's sudden conversion to the cause of gay marriage. Progress? Undoubtedly. But pay closer attention, please. The man just endorsed North Carolina's right to do what it just did.

You have to hand it to Obama: He runs mean game.


"I'm evolving," Carol Marin wrote for the Sun-Times on Tuesday.

"Just like President Obama. Except my evolution is from mild irritation to outright disbelief when it comes to Obama's declarations - or lack thereof - on gay marriage."

Marin, unfortunately, has been overtaken by events. But her point explains why so many of us who have always supported gay marriage find it hard to join Obamaphiles returning to their Kool-Aid: It's hard to be inspired by a liar.

"I don't for a moment believe that Barack Obama . . . is still struggling with his view on the rightness or the fairness of men marrying the men they love or women marrying women who are their soul mates," Marin wrote.

If he was ever struggling at all. The fact that we don't know colors any evaluation of the man's character.

And to those who say it doesn't matter how he got to his current position, consider that he has finally come around to Dick Cheney's thinking circa 2004 - in other words, the status quo.


Given the fact that Obama has now merely stated a shift in his personal opinion without proposing a change in the law, the only story is . . . Obama's personal view. It's all about him, as usual.

But is any view Obama puts forth on gay marriage believable at this juncture?

His history of disingenuous squishiness on the issue is well-known by now - that's why hidden among the stories glorifying The Leader, as ace analyst Glenn Greenwald often puts it, are stories such as David Plotz's in Slate asking in its headline "Do You Believe Obama Actually Changed His Mind On Gay Marriage?"

Plotz doesn't. But it depends on where you start the clock.

Only 15 years after the fact, for example, did Obama claim that "someone else" filled out the 1996 survey when he was running for the state senate that enthusiastically endorsed gay marriage.

Does anyone really believe that?

"President Obama is no more hypocritical than the next politician - especially if the next one is Mitt Romney - but he certainly is a hypocrite," Plotz writes. "So while I'm thrilled to celebrate his support for gay marriage, as little as it means legally, I'm irked by his all-too-eloquent conversion story."

I'd say he's far more of a hypocrite because the central rationale for his presidency was that . . . he wasn't a hypocrite like the rest of them.

And if nobody's really buying his conversion story, don't we have a serial liar on our hands - someone toying with a civil rights issue out of rank political opportunism?


Obama's position is creationism, not evolution. He waited for the right time to create a rationale for a declaration he always knew he would make.


Or we could look at his conversion as genuine. After all, for years he declared that his opposition to gay marriage was based on his religious beliefs - something the media gave him a free pass on.

After all, his church endorsed gay marriage long ago.

"Presidential hopeful Barack Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, one of the country's most racially diverse and liberal Protestant denominations - the first to ordain an openly gay minister and to call for equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of gender," the Sun-Times wrote in 2007.

What, then, did Obama find in the scripture that his church did not?


To recap: When Obama ran for state senate from Hyde Park, then, he was all for gay marriage. When he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he was against it. What religious beliefs did he discover between the first and the second?


"I'm a Christian," Obama said during that 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. "And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."


Also during that 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama's campaign made the Cheney comparison itself.

"Barack Obama is opposed to gay marriage but believes in civil unions as a policy, and secondly, our position on a Constitutional amendment is exactly the same position as Vice President Dick Cheney's in that it's unnecessary," spokesman Robert Gibbs told the Tribune.

Neat. Notice how he's really saying Obama's position on a Constitutional amendment was the same as Cheney's, while making it sound like their positions on gay marriage were too. They weren't. Cheney was in favor.

In any case, the Cheney reference as a signal to independent conservatives and Downstate voters. Meanwhile, the campaign placed ads in gay publications voicing its support of their agenda. It was the ol' okey-dokey.


In The Audacity of Hope, published two years after Cheney's declaration of support for gay marriage, Obama wrote that "the heightened focus on [gay] marriage was a distraction from other, attainable measures to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians."

And then left himself an out:

"I was reminded that it is my obligation, not only as an elected official in a pluralistic society but also as a Christian, to remain open to the possibility that my unwillingness to support gay marriage is misguided, just as I cannot claim infallibility in my support of abortion rights."

I just may evolve!

"I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God; that Jesus' call to love one another might demand a different conclusion; and that in the years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history. I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian. I believe they make me human, limited in my understandings of God's purpose and therefore prone to sin. When I read the Bible, I do so with the belief that it is not a static text but the Living Word and that I must be continually open to new revelations - whether they come form a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion."

How clever. He could be wrong about abortion, too!

The first question for Obama today, then, should perhaps be what new revelation he found in the Bible. Just which passages are you referring to, Mr. President?


Obama's gay games were so extraordinarily calculated that when acolyte Eric Zorn urged him to run for president in 2008 before he could establish a fuller, more problematic record, one of his examples was Obama's "playing both sides of the gay marriage issue while more courageous Democrats in the Senate come out in support."


In 2007, during the presidential campaign, Obama dodged and weaved.

"As Obama left a firefighters convention last week, a Newsday reporter asked him whether he thought homosexuality was immoral," the Tribune reported.

"Obama's first answer was: 'I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow.'

"Asked a second time, he said: 'I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country.'

"When asked a third time, the senator ignored the question, signed an autograph, posed for a photo and then jumped into a Lincoln Town Car."

Then things got funky.

On a fundraising committee conference call that day, former state Sen. Bill Marovitz asked how the campaign planned to address the matter because he had continued to hear complaints. "I said it needs to be something that is dealt with directly," he said.

But Marovitz, who is married to Playboy Enterprises CEO Christie Hefner, disputes that Obama was trying to dodge the initial question. He said he believes Obama was just trying to get into a car without launching into a full-blown discussion of gay and lesbian issues.

"He has repeatedly in speeches . . . made his position clear on the importance of equality for everyone," Marovitz said. "I don't think anyone in the gay or lesbian community should have any doubt where Barack stands on this issue."

With the matter lingering Monday, Obama sought to make his views clear on national television.

"I don't think that homosexuals are immoral any more than I think heterosexuals are immoral," he told Larry King on CNN. "I think that people are people and to categorize one group of folks based on their sexual orientation that way I think is wrong."



When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill in February that would have permitted same-sex marriage in his state, he said he thought the issue was one that voters should decide in a referendum.

Liberals savagely attacked Christie, ignoring the fact that Christie's position was a step ahead of Obama's. Now Obama has caught up and their positions are identical: Gay marriage is neither a federal matter nor a matter for lawmakers to decide, but a matter for voters in each state to decide. Over and over again, if they wish.


Administration officials demanding - and getting - anonymity for reasons unknown are telling any reporter who will listen that Obama "changed his mind" about gay marriage a few months ago and planned to announced just that sometime before the Democratic National Convention.

If true, that doesn't say much for Obama: He was just going to keep it to himself for the better part of a year until it was politically convenient?

What the administration doesn't want anyone to think is that A) he was going to play it safe by waiting until after the election to tell anyone, or that B) his hand was forced by Joe Biden's statement, reported as gaffe by some and as part of the president's political strategy by others, that he supported gay marriage.

It's hard to believe Obama would announce such a change in position right before the convention. Way to overshadow your coronation!

It would also be a risky campaign ploy; we already know he was calculating the politics of when he announced his new view, so we have to assume he would have done the same this summer.

See why he's not to be believed?

In fact, the administration began floating trial balloons like this one in the Washington Post in March.


The narrative coming out of the White House is that "Obama's family influenced his gay marriage shift."

It's a nice, heartwarming tale, but wholly unbelievable.

First, the administration denied last summer that Michelle Obama supported gay marriage.

Second, there's no reason he couldn't tell his kids the same thing he's told a nation: He thinks marriage is between a man and woman. Based on his religious beliefs.

Third, really? After all the thinking, reading, debating talking and evolving he's done over the years it took some recent conversations with his family to bring his wrongheadedness to light?

"There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we're talking about their friends and their parents, and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently," Obama told ABC's Robin Roberts. "It doesn't make sense to them and frankly, that's the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective."

That might be true if Obama was living in a cave up to now, but otherwise is the sort of thing a reporter might press the president on.

That's why Roberts got the assignment.

"This was obviously a hastily arranged interview - we're told that ABC News' Robin Roberts, who is close to Michelle Obama, was only tapped in the last 48 hours by the White House to come down - designed to clean up the mess left by Biden's pro-gay marriage comments in as advantageous way as possible," John Cook reports in his Gawker post.

(And if you're going to use your daughters as political props, you're going to have to make them available for interviews. Describe those conversations you had with your daddy, girls.)

Other reports have Obama citing the experience of being around gay staffers who have enlightened him. Please. He's been around gay people for a long, long time. His church was particularly gay-friendly. He's just now come to see what their lives are like?


Just a few hours after conducting the interview, Barack Obama sent out a fundraising e-mail that made it sound like he simply answered a question honestly - which would the first time for this particular question, as we've shown - instead of the truth about how he drafted Roberts for the task of delivering a politically calculated message:

Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer:

I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

I hope you'll take a moment to watch the conversation, consider it, and weigh in yourself on behalf of marriage equality:

I've always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.

But over the course of several years I've talked to friends and family about this. I've thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together. Through our efforts to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, I've gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction.

What I've come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens.

Even at my own dinner table, when I look at Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, I know it wouldn't dawn on them that their friends' parents should be treated differently.

So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.

Cleverly, Obama left out a sentence that would complete his current position.

"Where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them. And where states enact bans on same-sex marriage, no federal act should stand in their way."


Miraculously, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also seen the light.


And then this, from the campaign's finance director:

Steve --

I am just so happy.

If you're proud of our president, this is a great time to make a donation to the campaign:

- Rufus

Rufus Gifford
National Finance Director
Obama for America

I'd be happy if I were you, too. It was just reported that the campaign raised a million bucks in 90 minutes after the president's announcement.


One in six Obama bundlers is gay.


One thing's for sure, judging by the reaction I've seen so far: The base is fired up again in a way I haven't seen since those heady days of 2008. Mission accomplished.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Kerry Wood Is Far Too Relevant, Dude

Even more ridiculous than throwing his glove 20 rows into the stands after sucking yet again was Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood's response at his locker to a question about it from the Tribune's Paul Sullivan.

Dude! Wrong.


In no time, Kerry Wood was trending in Chicago.

The mascot meme stuck.

"Mascots don't get to have bad nights," Score host Dan Bernstein wrote in "Be Careful, Kerry Wood."


"This squirmy situation is on Ricketts, not on Wood, whose meteoric ascent to stardom in 1998, when he went 13-6, will conclude with a stunningly-low 80 or so career wins and 1,600-some career strikeouts," the Score's Dan McNeil writes in the Tribune. Ricketts hired Epstein and Hoyer to put a World Series-caliber product on the field.

"That doesn't include mascots. Especially when they're in uniform and make $3 million a year, while precluding young arms from cutting their major league teeth."


Recall that Wood was one of the Cubs who helped chased out Steve Stone, who had the gall to call the game the way he saw it. If only Wood had paid attention to Stone's warnings instead of being so flip about someone he could have learned from.


The new Mr. Cub? Please. Kerry Wood's legacy is hot tubs, towel drills and the disabled list; his talent squandered to a fat, arrogant and stubborn youth. He's been manufactured into a hero in the era of the gentrified Cubs fan - one of whom now owns the team. Now he's going out in a blaze of gory.


Comments welcome.


1. From Jerry Pritikin, aka The Bleacher Preacher:

One year, he received 13 million bucks just to be on the D.L. This year he should have played for a buck, if he had a conscience. His charitable causes are nice, but if I got paid not to perform, I would've done the same thing. With each passing year, the Cubs keep giving contracts to "has beens" and "never was" players, and what do the fans get in return? Higher ticket prices, lot' of electronic signage and an overpriced beer garden where a beautiful ballpark once stood. In fact, I am reminded of a Frank Sinatra song . . . "There used to be a ballpark right over here," except that song was about the Brooklyn Dodgers, but I think of the "Friendly Confines" instead!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

Shark Tank Is Holding A Casting Call In Chicago But Does Not Validate Parking

"The producers of the ABC reality series Shark Tank are on a nationwide search to discover the next successful (and possibly wealthy) entrepreneurs, inventors, businesspersons, creators and innovators," ABC says on its Shark Tank website. "In each episode, budding entrepreneurs are given the unprecedented chance to make their business grow immediately."

Go on.

"Whether you just have a fantastic idea, are a start up or already operating successfully and looking to expand, if you feel you have a lucrative business or product and could use financial backing, then Shark Tank is just the show for you. Casting is looking for entrepreneurs who can pitch their breakthrough business concepts, products, properties and services to moguls in hopes of landing investment funds. If selected, five self-made, brilliant but tough investors (the Sharks) could be willing to part with their own hard-earned cash to give you the funding you need to jumpstart your venture. But the Sharks aren't just out to invest; they too have a goal - to own a piece.

"Your business or product should be top-notch and something the Sharks will really want to sink their teeth into. It might even spark a bidding war between them. Who knows? You could be the fortunate entrepreneur who gets the Sharks to reveal their true level of interest and to bid up the price of your investment!

"Apply now for your chance to enter the Shark Tank and see if your idea is good enough for a Shark investment."

When: Friday, May 11
Where: Embassy Suites - Chicago Lakefront
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Parking Validated: No.


Among previous Chicago contestants:

Who: Patrick McCarthy (St. Charles, actually)
Product/Company: Liquid Money
Deal or No Deal: No deal.


Who: Mike Szymczak (Sauganash)
Product/Company: OrigAudio
Deal or No Deal: Deal.


Who: Kim Preis (Lakeview)
Product/Company: Samson Martin
Deal or No Deal: No deal.


Who: Brian Duggan (Chicago/NU biz grad)
Product/Company: JumpForward
Deal or No Deal: Deal.


Who: Jonathan Miller (Chicago/NU biz grad)
Product/Company: Element Bars
Deal or No Deal: Deal.


Who: Steve Gadlin (Chicago)
Product/Company: I Want To Draw A Cat For You
Deal or No Deal: Deal.


Who: Scott Jordan (Idaho via Chicago)
Product/Company: Technology Enabled Clothing
Deal or No Deal: No deal.


Who: Nicole Jones (Bronzeville)
Product/Company: Sensual Steps Shoe Salon/Pillars of Slippers
Deal or No Deal: No deal.


Who: Michele Kapustka, Melisa Moroko (Jefferson Park)
Product/Company: SendABall
Deal or No Deal: No deal.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:34 AM | Permalink

May 9, 2012

Rage Against Rahm

Upon learning of the addition of Libertyville native and activist guitar hero Tom Morello to the bill, the city has moved a nurses union's anti-NATO rally from Daley Plaza to the Petrillo bandshell - against the union's wishes. We looked through YouTube for samples of Morello's performances in Chicago to see what Rahm was so afraid of, and this is what we came up with.

1. May Day 2008.


2. As The Nightwatchman on Northerly Island last August.


3. With Rage Against The Machine at the Vic in April 1993.


4. As part of the Street Sweeper Social Club at the Bottom Lounge in September 2010.


5. Non-musical, non-Chicago bonus: On Real Time with Bill Maher last September.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Our man in fantasyland Dan O'Shea delivers his usual weekly installment of excellence in Fantasy Fix: The LaHair Conundrum, but the rest of the Beachwood is off today and will return tomorrow.

The [Tuesday] Papers
Another day, another spin through the news.

1. "A family favorite, the Chicago Kids & Kites Festival moves to a later date this year taking place on Saturday, May 19, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park (Lake Shore Drive and Montrose)," the city announced last month. "As this year's festival is scheduled to coincide with the arrival of representatives of the NATO countries, why not take inspiration from their visit? NATO will provide pictures of flags and fun facts about the countries they represent, and will also be providing this year's free kite kits."

In the shape of drones.

2. County Watchdog Slams Hospital for Doc's Double-Dipping Ways.

3. "Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Monday declared his opposition to key elements of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to help the Cubs wring $150 million more in advertising and sponsorship revenues out of Wrigley Field and surrounding streets to minimize any taxpayer contribution toward renovating the 98-year-old stadium," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

Note how Spielman accepts - and promotes - the notion that the mayor's plan will "minimize" taxpayer subsidies to an enormously wealthy family and their private business.

Of course, really minimizing any taxpayer "contribution" would mean to not give the Ricketts family a taxpayer handout in the first place.


"Tunney then referred to the Cubs' revised plan to build a long-stalled triangle building adjacent to Wrigley promised, but never delivered to residents in exchange for a bleacher expansion."

Just be patient; the triangle building expansion is still in AAA and Cubs management doesn't want to rush it.


"Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, responded to the alderman's opposition.

"'We're trying to work with Ald. Tunney, but the Cubs just want the same flexibility to save Wrigley Field as the Red Sox had with Boston,' Culloton said. 'The Red Sox owners saved Fenway through outfield signage and creating Yawkey Way and, in so doing, created great economic value for the community and won two World Series. The Cubs - which create $650 million in economic impact to the city, county and state each year - would like the same treatment that Boston afforded the Red Sox.'"

Yeah, Boston can't really afford the treatment it gave the Red Sox; don't ask us to do the same.

4. "When President Obama addressed the American Society of News Editors convention last month, the real news was what didn't happen," Edward Wasserman writes in the Miami Herald.

"The watchdogs didn't bark. No discouraging word from the gathering of 1,000 of the country's top news people, facing a president whose administration has led a vigorous attack on journalism's most indispensable asset - its sources.

"Obama took office pledging tolerance and even support for whistleblowers, but instead is prosecuting them with a zeal that's historically unprecedented. His Justice Department has conducted six prosecutions over leaks of classified information to reporters. Five involve the Espionage Act, a powerful law that had previously been used only four times since it was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies.

"Some spies."

5. "Asking budding entrepreneurs where they'd like to build their next startup often elicits the same three-word response: New York City," Alex Fitzpatrick writes for Mashable.

"Over the past four years, there's been a 40% spike in startup financing in 'Silicon Alley' - a bigger increase than anywhere else in the U.S.

"Cities around the world are increasingly looking at New York, rather than San Francisco or Silicon Valley, as a model for nurturing startup growth through policymaking and urban planning."

Chicago is not cited in the article - and rightly so.

6. "Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, has argued for years that much of Illinois' Medicaid problem could be solved by rooting out waste and abuse," AP reports. "He says experts believe 10 percent of Medicaid money is spent improperly, which would amount to nearly $1.5 billion in Illinois.

"Unfortunately, there's little evidence to support that claim."

There never is - unless you put a dollar figure on how often Republicans make inflated claims of the amount of waste and abuse in programs such as Medicaid.

7. "When it comes to rail traffic, Chicago is America's speed bump," John Schwartz writes in the New York Times.

"Shippers complain that a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours to travel across the city. A recent trainload of sulfur took some 27 hours to pass through Chicago - an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour, or about a quarter the pace of many electric wheelchairs."

8. "I've long felt that it's close to obscene to play the most intimate, raw sounds of shock and pain experienced by those experiencing the effects of crime, given how little news value [911] recordings have," Eric Zorn writes for the Tribune.

"And the fact that we can - that 911 recordings are part of the public record - doesn't mean we should."


9. First they came for Derrick Smith, then they came for Rita Crundwell . . .

10. "Downtown workers may experience casual Friday and casual Monday later this month when the NATO summit arrives," Ryan Ori reports for Crain's.

"Workers at some Chicago office towers are being encouraged to dress down to avoid being targeted by protesters during the meeting of world leaders May 20 and 21. Safety procedures in some high-rises include the recommendation that employees set aside suits, ties and anything with corporate logos.

"Tenants in the office building at 1 E. Wacker Drive received a memo encouraging them to stay away from wearing suits, urging workers to 'look like a protester.'"

Like this woman.

11. 11 More Things About Rahm's Bank.

12. Replacing Marilyn.

13. Boxing Report: Two Chicagoans Win National Gold Gloves.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Both upper and lower cuts.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:59 AM | Permalink

Get Your Train On!

"National Train Day is this weekend, May 12 and there are 4 'Major Market' Events being held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia," according to TrainTalkTV. "These events are well covered by Amtrak, so I'd like to shine a light on some of the over 130 National Train Day Events being held at other locations around the U.S."


Heading To Chicago?
"Amtrak's eastbound Southwest Chief as it makes its way through Canyoncito, NM," SWChief34 reports. "This train has just departed from Lamy, NM and is currently running 1 hour and 35 minutes late. Attached behind the locomotives is Amtrak's Ocean View Dome Car, and attached to the rear are two additional Private cars. The first is a Boston & Maine, Salisbury Beach and the second is a Pullman Mid America, City of Angles.

"The Dome car and the Boston & Maine car have been on this train since Los Angeles, CA. The Mid America car joined the train in Albuquerque, NM. I believe that these cars are making their way to Chicago, IL to be showcased in the National Train Day display at Union Station. There are two locomotives powering today's eastbound Chief, both are P42s: #82 leading with #15 trailing. This video was recorded on May 7, 2012."


Union Station Preview
A preview of things to come by sethamtrak.


Coming To Chicago
"Amtrak's 'Southwest Chief', train #4, glides through La Grange, Illinois at the La Grange Road Metra station on BNSF's 'Racetrack,'" Nachtwolf1 reports. "P42s #21 and 163 lead the usual consist, with the Milwaukee Road Skytop Lounge car, 'Cedar Rapids', restored and owned by the Friends of the 261 foundation, on its way to Chicago to join other Milwaukee Road cars that will be on display there for National Train Day. Why this car came in on the Southwest Chief as opposed to the Empire Builder from the Twin Cities is beyond me."


See also: National Train Day Chicago


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:19 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The LaHair Conundrum

New and previously-overlooked star Bryan LaHair is officially the fantasy baseball sleeper success story of the year thus far (sorry, Adam Dunn). A 1.279 OPS going into Tuesday ranked second league-wide only to Matt Kemp, which is maybe the same as saying LaHair was first in OPS among mere mortals. His .388 average, eight home runs, 15 walks and 17 RBI weren't too shabby either.

Of course, this all begs the question: When should you trade him? I mean, that's what we do with fantasy baseball surprises, right? Because surprises have a way of fizzling once the initial thrill is over. LaHair probably wasn't drafted in many fantasy leagues, but has been getting added like crazy from the waiver wire over the last 10 days or so. If you don't have him on your fantasy team already, someone else in your league does.

Many fantasy owners probably see him either as a player whose success they can ride in the short term, or who they can turn into instant rewards by flipping him in a trade. If you want to trade him right now, his value certainly has never been higher, and it is hard to see how it could go any higher. At least that average will have to fall back toward Earth at some point.

This is all assuming you want to trade him. Is there an argument for keeping him? There certainly is, and it goes like this: Logic and history suggest that as more teams start realizing LaHair's potential, they will pitch him differently or pitch around him. However, LaHair has already demonstrated some prowess for hitting to the opposite field - and not just poking singles between third and shortstop, but actually driving the ball for opposite field home runs and doubles. Those home runs and doubles, plus the increasing number of walks he could draw from pitchers pitching way around him, should contain to fuel that epic OPS.

A couple weeks ago, I thought LaHair wasn't much more than an interesting bench option to use a day or two a week, but I'm starting to think differently the more I see him play. That's another point worth highlighting - LaHair is now playing every day, and has delivered the stats mentioned above in about 30 fewer at-bats than other 1Bs. I wouldn't blame you if you still think LaHair is a flash in the pan. He very well could be, or he could at least slow down enough that he's no longer among the top fantasy performers at 1B, as he is right now. But, I should warn you that discounting LaHair puts you in the same company as Jim Hendry.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report has its unfortunately frequent feature on all the new closers. Welcome Chicago's very own Chris Sale, Rafael Dolis and James Russell to the club . . . until further notice.

*'s fantasy roundtable considers what to do about Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard after he comes off the DL. Maybe you can bench him if you keep LaHair.

* The Faster Times reports on the wave of injuries among third basemen. If you loaded your fantasy roster with 3Bs and closers, you probably aren't doing great right now.

* Bleacher Report examines the Derek Jeter conundrum: Trade him or keep him? He didn't make my top 10 shortstops this season, but if I had the guy leading MLB in hits right now, I'd keep him. Reaching 3,000 hits has done wonders for him.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:36 AM | Permalink

May 8, 2012

Replacing Marilyn

Marilyn Monroe is leaving Michigan Avenue and taking her big skirt with her. What's next for Pioneer Court? We have some ideas.

* A stack of Richard M. Daley's pension checks. So fat they should just about reach Marilyn's height.

* Rahm Emanuel in a dress. Billowing like Marilyn from all the sunshine the city council is blowing up his ass.

* A giant parking meter lease. So we can all finally see the fine print for ourselves.

* Rahm's infrastructure trust. We can't describe what that would look like because no one knows.

* A big cow. It worked in the '90s!

* Randy Michaels. Peering up under a woman's skirt.

* Sam Zell. Artist's depiction.

* This giant T-shirt.

* Sarah Palin. Something respectful. Watch the reaction of (so-called) liberals for a fascinating sociological study.

* Harold Washington. For real.

* David Koschman. For real.

* A soldier. And a list of every soldier from Illinois who has died in Afghanistan and Iraq.

* A giant replica of the Freedom of Information Act. Facing City Hall.

* The return of the American Gothic pitchfork. Couple not needed.


Comments welcome.


1. From Beachwood Mark:

* A statue of the Ricketts family. With the poor siblings' empty pockets turned inside-out and their palms extended.

* A BodyWorlds-style model of a Chicago alderman.. Clearly showing the lack of a spine.

* A talking Ozzie Guillen statue. One dollar gets you one profane, semi-coherent phrase; helps fill the void of idiocy since the real Guillen left, pays for itself as tourists and locals alike reach for their wallets, and is only slightly more offensive than the Marilyn statue it replaces.

* A pair of suit pants that doubles as an eternal flame. A nice representation of our local political establishment.

* A replica of Mary Schmich's Pulitzer Prize. Will allow Mary to write a week's worth of columns detailing how it looks when the sun hits it just so.

* Tribute to Mayor Daley. A statue of a man with jumper cables attached to his testicles sticking his credit card into a parking pay box.

* A blow-up of Derrick Rose's MRI. Placeholder for the Larry O'Brien trophy for at least one more season.

* A statue of Michael Jordan dunking on Al Capone with a slice of deep-dish pizza. A perfect Chicago photo-op for the NATO folks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:14 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Another day, another spin through the news.

1. "A family favorite, the Chicago Kids & Kites Festival moves to a later date this year taking place on Saturday, May 19, 2012, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park (Lake Shore Drive and Montrose)," the city announced last month. "As this year's festival is scheduled to coincide with the arrival of representatives of the NATO countries, why not take inspiration from their visit? NATO will provide pictures of flags and fun facts about the countries they represent, and will also be providing this year's free kite kits."

In the shape of drones.

2. County Watchdog Slams Hospital for Doc's Double-Dipping Ways.

3. "Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Monday declared his opposition to key elements of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to help the Cubs wring $150 million more in advertising and sponsorship revenues out of Wrigley Field and surrounding streets to minimize any taxpayer contribution toward renovating the 98-year-old stadium," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

Note how Spielman accepts - and promotes - the notion that the mayor's plan will "minimize" taxpayer subsidies to an enormously wealthy family and their private business.

Of course, really minimizing any taxpayer "contribution" would mean to not give the Ricketts family a taxpayer handout in the first place.


"Tunney then referred to the Cubs' revised plan to build a long-stalled triangle building adjacent to Wrigley promised, but never delivered to residents in exchange for a bleacher expansion."

Just be patient; the triangle building expansion is still in AAA and Cubs management doesn't want to rush it.


"Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, responded to the alderman's opposition.

"'We're trying to work with Ald. Tunney, but the Cubs just want the same flexibility to save Wrigley Field as the Red Sox had with Boston,' Culloton said. 'The Red Sox owners saved Fenway through outfield signage and creating Yawkey Way and, in so doing, created great economic value for the community and won two World Series. The Cubs - which create $650 million in economic impact to the city, county and state each year - would like the same treatment that Boston afforded the Red Sox.'"

Yeah, Boston can't really afford the treatment it gave the Red Sox; don't ask us to do the same.

4. "When President Obama addressed the American Society of News Editors convention last month, the real news was what didn't happen," Edward Wasserman writes in the Miami Herald.

"The watchdogs didn't bark. No discouraging word from the gathering of 1,000 of the country's top news people, facing a president whose administration has led a vigorous attack on journalism's most indispensable asset - its sources.

"Obama took office pledging tolerance and even support for whistleblowers, but instead is prosecuting them with a zeal that's historically unprecedented. His Justice Department has conducted six prosecutions over leaks of classified information to reporters. Five involve the Espionage Act, a powerful law that had previously been used only four times since it was enacted in 1917 to prosecute spies.

"Some spies."

5. "Asking budding entrepreneurs where they'd like to build their next startup often elicits the same three-word response: New York City," Alex Fitzpatrick writes for Mashable.

"Over the past four years, there's been a 40% spike in startup financing in 'Silicon Alley' - a bigger increase than anywhere else in the U.S.

"Cities around the world are increasingly looking at New York, rather than San Francisco or Silicon Valley, as a model for nurturing startup growth through policymaking and urban planning."

Chicago is not cited in the article - and rightly so.

6. "Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, has argued for years that much of Illinois' Medicaid problem could be solved by rooting out waste and abuse," AP reports. "He says experts believe 10 percent of Medicaid money is spent improperly, which would amount to nearly $1.5 billion in Illinois.

"Unfortunately, there's little evidence to support that claim."

There never is - unless you put a dollar figure on how often Republicans make inflated claims of the amount of waste and abuse in programs such as Medicaid.

7. "When it comes to rail traffic, Chicago is America's speed bump," John Schwartz writes in the New York Times.

"Shippers complain that a load of freight can make its way from Los Angeles to Chicago in 48 hours, then take 30 hours to travel across the city. A recent trainload of sulfur took some 27 hours to pass through Chicago - an average speed of 1.13 miles per hour, or about a quarter the pace of many electric wheelchairs."

8. "I've long felt that it's close to obscene to play the most intimate, raw sounds of shock and pain experienced by those experiencing the effects of crime, given how little news value [911] recordings have," Eric Zorn writes for the Tribune.

"And the fact that we can - that 911 recordings are part of the public record - doesn't mean we should."


9. First they came for Derrick Smith, then they came for Rita Crundwell . . .

10. "Downtown workers may experience casual Friday and casual Monday later this month when the NATO summit arrives," Ryan Ori reports for Crain's.

"Workers at some Chicago office towers are being encouraged to dress down to avoid being targeted by protesters during the meeting of world leaders May 20 and 21. Safety procedures in some high-rises include the recommendation that employees set aside suits, ties and anything with corporate logos.

"Tenants in the office building at 1 E. Wacker Drive received a memo encouraging them to stay away from wearing suits, urging workers to 'look like a protester.'"

Like this woman.

11. 11 More Things About Rahm's Bank.

12. Replacing Marilyn.

13. Boxing Report: Two Chicagoans Win National Gold Gloves.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Both upper and lower cuts.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 AM | Permalink

Boxing Report: Two Chicagoans Win National Golden Gloves Titles

Chicago boxers Alex Martin and Shawn Simpson have won National Golden Gloves titles.

Martin defeated David Grayton of the Washington DC franchise in Saturday's 152-pound final at the CasaBlanca Resort in Mesquite, NV. Simpson defeated Hector Colon of the Florida franchise to win the 114-pound championship.

Having enjoyed an outstanding amateur career as the most highly decorated amateur boxer in Chicago for the last several years, Martin now plans to turn professional later this year. Martin is trained by Mark Chears of Team Chears Boxing/Boxing For Boxers.

Martin defeated Montrel Wade of California, Tony Losey of the Kansas-Oklahoma franchise and Wesley Tucker of Toledo, OH to advance to the championship.

Martin, 21, was the 2011 National Golden Gloves 152-pound runner-up, the 2011 & 2012 Chicago Golden Gloves 152-pound Champion and received the 2011 Chicago Golden Gloves "Best Boxer Award." He was the USA Boxing Welterweight Silver Medalist in 2010 and 2012, and in 2009 won the National Police Athletic League 152 pound National Championship.

Martin has international experience having represented the U.S. in dual competitions versus Mexico in April 2011, China in October 2010 (in New York) and Italy in March (in Assisi and Rome, Italy) & September 2010.

Simpson defeated Hector Valdez of Texas, Jesus Cerda of Wisconsin and Ja'rico O'quinn of Detroit to advance to the final. Simpson is trained by 1996 Olympic Heavyweight Bronze Medalist Nate Jones, who is part of pound-for-pound champion and former Olympic teammate Floyd Mayweather's training team.

Simpson, 18, a senior at Chicago Vocational High School, is the reigning National Police Athletic League 114-pound National Champion and won the Chicago Golden Gloves 114-pound championship in 2011 & 2012. Simpson was named the Chicago Golden Gloves "Best Boxer" in 2012 and in 2009 was the Junior Olympic National Flyweight Champion.

The Joliet Jackhammer
Joliet boxer Albert Mensah has moved into the top ten in the world in the latest ESPN Lightweight rankings.

Mensah, 29 received this ranking as a result of his thrilling upset of former Australian Olympian and two-time Lightweight World Champion Michael Katsidis at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas on Friday, April 13. The bout was televised nationally on espn2's Friday Night Fights series and positions Mensah for even bigger bouts later in 2012.

"Now that I have won a big fight on national television I am ready for an even bigger challenge. I want to perform at the highest level of the sport, continue to be on television, and do big events to the Chicago area so that sports fans in Joliet and Chicago can see big-time boxing," commented Mensah.

ESPN's Dan Rafael wrote that Mensah " . . . did a superb job countering Katsidis and firing back . . . dominated the last couple of rounds" against Katsidis, whom Rafael described as . . . "one of the true warriors in boxing for years and one of the most crowd-pleasing fighters in modern history."

Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote that Mensah " . . . effectively countered off the ropes . . . was the stronger fighter, and Katsidis had a hard time hurting him."

Former Ring Magazine editor-in-chief Nigel Collins tweeted on the Friday Night Fights feed that Mensah's victory was a "Great fight!" and declared "No question about it: Best show so far this season on Friday Night Fights."

With the victory, Mensah moves to 25 career wins against only three defeats and one draw. This was only Mensah's second fight in the United States after relocating to Joliet from Ghana. He also retains his IBF International Championship title with the win.

Mensah is trained by Joseph Awinongya of the Will County Boxing Gym. "This was a fight that nobody thought Albert would win. But I know that he can beat anybody in the world at 140 pounds," said Awinongya.

Awinongya also trains Middleweight World Title contender Osumanu Adamu. Mensah and Adamu are managed by Wasfi Tolaymat of the Chicago Fight Club.


* Meet Wheaton's Golden Glove

* Friday Night Fights At The El Rey Ballroom

* A Tribute To The World's Greatest Cornerman

* Chicago Golden Glove Wins Silver At Nationals


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

11 More Things About Rahm's Bank

Here's an idea for a new Chicago motto: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me over and over and over again and we'll make you king.

So while the mayor takes a victory lap over passage of his infrastructure bank proposal, let us jump once more unto the breach of lies, obfuscation and spin, my friends, where we will also find astonishingly simple questions still lying in wait.

1. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel talked up his Infrastructure Trust proposal during a Marketplace Morning Report radio interview that aired on WBEZ three weeks ago today," Deanna Isaacs writes for the Reader.

When asked how the Trust would differ from Mayor Daley's infamous parking meter deal, he responded with a specific example:

"The Cultural Center, it's 100 years old - when we're done, we're going to save about $30,000 a year in energy costs. But we still own the Cultural Center. We're not privatizing it, we're just literally using private money to build out the energy efficiency.

After that broadcast I tried to find out exactly what work is planned for the Cultural Center. Here's the response from the Mayor's Office and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events:

"There are no specifics, nothing has been approved . . . the mayor was merely using the building as an example."

Paging Mike Daisey!

There isn't a single rational listener in the world who would have taken Rahm's example as anything other than established fact. It turns out, however, that he was just fibbing. He made it up. Or there's a secret plan whose existence he's already denied.

Either way, add it to the list of Rahm's lies. (See item Rahm's Pants Still Aflame.)


But let us suppose the city does save $30,000 retrofitting the cultural center. How much of that must then be returned to investors to give them an adequate return? Not much left over, is there?

"There's about $1 million worth of energy savings work to be done that will pay out $100,000 a year in savings of energy costs," Rahm said in the interview.

So once investors get their cut of that $100,000 in annual savings, well, there's not much left over for the city, is there?

And is the city really incapable of retrofitting its buildings for energy efficiency itself? At least we'll know whose responsible for the inevitable boondoggles and cost overruns. Sure, the risk (supposedly) lies with the investors; they just don't get their money back. But what if the city is stuck with a damaged building or an environmental hazard or a half-finished project? Who will pay the legal bills?


Now let's look further at that Marketplace interview.

Jeremy Hobson: What does $7 billion buy these days? Well, Rahm Emanuel - the former White House chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago - hopes it'll buy a total makeover for his city. That includes a new runway at O'Hare Airport, upgrades to rail and bus service, and a rebuilding of the city's water and sewer system. Some of the $7 billion will come from new fees, some from cost savings, and some from a new public-private infrastructure bank.

Specifically, $1.7 billion will come from the infrastructure bank. So the city has the wherewithal to fund $5.3 billion of infrastructure the old-fashioned way?

Emanuel: It's 30,000 jobs in the next three years. And as I like to say, whether it's from the street lights above or to the sewage lines below, and everything in between, we're literally going to build a new Chicago. All paid for - but none of it includes a sales tax increase or a property tax increase.

No, you're not literally going to build a new Chicago. And fixing the street lights and sewage lines is an ongoing process - much of Rahm's "rebuild" plan was in the pipeline before he even took office.

And you're being disingenuous about taxes. First, you doubled water and sewer fees. Second, you already raised property taxes.


Emanuel: You learn a lot from all different types of mayors who are doing different things. Literally some of the retro fit we're doing is an idea that your mayor in L.A. gave me, and the mayor of Vancouver gave me. All of us learn from each other.

Maybe so, but the projects in L.A. and Vancouver are very different from what Rahm is proposing here.

"The City of Los Angeles has been allocated $37 million from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, with the first $14 million to fund this program," the Los Angeles Sentinel reported last year.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also wheeled out Bill Clinton and Mike Bloomberg just as Rahm did here to announce it was retrofitting commercial buildings through funding from the federal recovery act as well.


"One of Villaraigosa's policy centerpieces has been Measure R, a voter-approved tax that will raise $40 billion over 30 years to fund transportation infrastructure," ThinkProgress reports. "Almost half of the money will go to mass transit."


Vancouver's program is a three-year pilot that retrofits furnaces, windows and water tanks in people's homes. Further, the city is putting up $500,000 in taxpayer money to back bad loans (and also has $1 million in foundation funding).

2. Ald. Joe Moore said during the city council meeting on Tuesday that it was time to separate fact from fiction - instructing his colleagues and constituents that they shouldn't believe what every editorial and good government association says.


I'm sure if Moore would like to ask Crain's, the Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Better Government Association for corrections they'd be happy to listen to his arguments.

But so far City Hall has proven to be the entity among all those that is the least faithful to the facts.

Moore pulled the same stunt during debate over the mayor's Sit Down and Shut Up ordinance.

3. The six-day delay on the infrastructure proposal was used more for mayoral arm-twisting than improving the ordinance, which passed just as it was. (Ald. Joe Moreno slammed dissident aldermen who actually used the time to come up with a new and improved ordinance, which was sort of the point of delaying the vote.)

According to Chicago Tonight's report on Tuesday, Ald. Brendan Reilly had a "very heated meeting with the mayor." He voted No. (That's right: Reilly voted No and Moore voted Yes.)

Ald. Michele Smith, who co-authored with nine other aldermen a letter to the mayor with 32 (!) questions about the trust, laughed and looked away and then tried to compose herself when asked about her meeting with the boss in a way that indicated she was about to give us a very polite version of how things went.

"We had full and robust discussions," she finally allowed.

Smith voted in favor of hearing the alternative bill but after that was tabled she voted Yes on the mayor's plan.

4. Can anyone truthfully argue that the alternative plan put forth isn't a better plan than the one that passed? And that we truly didn't have time to consider it?

5. Rahm says that street and traffic lights will be included in the retrofit plan. That's new to me; I thought it was only about buildings. Further, I thought Rahm kept telling us the new bank would only be used for new infrastructure. Don't see why that has to be, though it probably has to do with assuring people that new (private) revenue streams won't be attached to existing public assets.

Then again, I guess the light bulbs will technically be new.

6. Ald. Brendan Reilly considers himself one mayor's strongest supporters in the council, but explained to his constituents in his e-mail newsletter on Monday why he voted against the trust:

"First, I thought it important to codify the commitment the Mayor expressed in his Executive Order requiring a detailed independent financial analysis be conducted for every project that includes a risk assessment, cost analysis and determination of economic benefit to the City of Chicago or its coordinating units of government. I believe that the Mayor's commitment, made via Executive Order, should have been integrated into the text of the Infrastructure Trust Ordinance.

"Second, I agree with the Better Government Association and others that Trust obligations should not confer any obligation to the City or the City's sister agencies (CTA, CHA, CPS and Park District) not expressly stated in a grant agreement. It is important that all obligations be fully disclosed in grant agreements before the Trust approves the funding for these large projects.

"My third and greatest concern about the Trust proposal focused on accountability to Chicago taxpayers. I believe it is critical for the City Council to review each project proposed to be funded by the Trust - whether it is a City of Chicago initiative or a project benefitting one of our sister agencies.

"By requiring the City Council to review and approve each Trust project, the Trust's Board would be expected to package the deal and present it before the City Council for a simple 'Yea' or 'Nay' vote to ratify the project - with no opportunity for Council amendments or other changes to the original proposal.

"I acknowledge the fact that the City Council has no appropriation authority over sister agencies like the Public Schools, CTA or Park District. However, I believe the Council, by voting to create the Trust and its related governance structure would be essentially endorsing the creation of a relatively untested new financial vehicle - the bulk of which would be used to fund projects approved by appointed boards at sister agencies, not by elected officials who are directly accountable to voting Chicago taxpayers. This was a very serious problem for me."

7. "Ald. Joe Moore's theory is that the Infrastructure Trust could fund the modernization of the CTA's Red and Purple lines and the extension of the Red Line to 130th Street," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"Moore, who represents the lakefront's 49th Ward, is someone who for most of his career could have been counted upon to cast a skeptical eye on such a proposal. But he was the leadoff cheerleader for the mayor's plan, offering such a detailed rebuttal to the critics you might have thought he was trying to curry favor with someone. 'As with any new and untried approach, there are risks and no guarantee of success, but the only thing worse than trying this new approach is to try nothing at all,' he said."

Were those really the only options? Trust or bust?

Of course not.

And does Moore sincerely believe Rahm's ordinance was superior to the amended ordinance offered by the dissenting aldermen? I'd say the answer is No because I don't think Moore sincerely believes anything anymore.

"Moore said the Infrastructure Trust is needed because city government is drowning in debt and can't expect either Washington or Springfield to provide the funding for its infrastructure needs - such as the billions of dollars needed to rebuild the CTA lines, which he called the 'lifeblood' of his ward."

First, the line about Washington and Springfield is straight from Rahm's talking points, which were probably market-tested before being handed out to compliant aldermen.

Second, well, let's let Brown handle the second point.

I asked Moore after the vote how he expected the Trust might pay back such an investment if private funding were used to fund CTA improvements.

At first, he demurred, saying he "just threw that out" as an example his constituents could understand, but when I pressed, he offered: 'Potentially, you could pay for it through the fare box.'

Meaning a fare increase?

"Possibly," Moore said.

That would take an awfully big increase in fares to pay back investors, but hey, privatizing public assets separates the wheat from the wretched chaff.

8. Let's take a closer look at Joe Moore's statement in support of the trust - in particular, the section he calls "Separating Fact From Fiction."


Moore's Fact No. 1 is that the city council retains the right to approve the expenditure of any city funds but notes that the council does not have authority over sister agencies, so therefore isn't giving up any authority.

Of course, it's giving up the authority to have legally-binding access to the work of the trust, which would ordinarily exist within the council, among other things. But even more so, Moore is disingenuous to the hilt when he says this:

"Some of our City Council colleagues have proposed amendments to the proposed Infrastructure Trust Ordinance that would give us final approval authority over the projects of the sister agencies. Others purport to extend the authority of the City of Chicago's Inspector General over those agencies. My friends, let's be honest with our constituents and tell them the truth. We can't do what the law clearly prevents us from doing."

Not quite. Reilly, for example, noted to his constituents that the infrastructure trust ordinance could require that the city invest a nominal amount of dollars into any sister agency project, therefore giving the council authority. Problem solved.

Moore's Fact No. 2: "The Trust is not about the privatization of city assets. This is not another parking meter deal. In fact, it's the antithesis of the parking meter deal."

Another Rahm talking point. Another lie.

The central part of the trust's equation is that private investors will profit handsomely from an ongoing revenue derived from a public asset. That is exactly the nature of the parking meter deal. The fact that the parking meters are leased and, say, a CTA line extension would not be leased but increased fares would go into private hands is hardly the antithesis; it's frighteningly similar.

Moore's Fact No. 3: "Municipal bonds do not always provide the best value for taxpayers."

You can never say always, just as you can never say never. But historically, Moore is simply wrong.

Finally, Moore is flat out wrong in his characterization of city lawyer Steve Patton's responses to his queries about ethics and transparency issues.

9. Similarly, Ald. James Cappleman is fuzzy on the concept.

"We must find a way to fund and repair our decaying infrastructure while lowering our risk for tax increases," he wrote to his constituents.

I repeat: The trust isn't designed to be a piggy bank to repair our decaying infrastructure. It's intended to be used for limited, innovative projects which can provide a revenue stream for investors. The vast majority of Chicago's infrastructure will have to be repaired the old-fashioned way.

But if Cappleman wants to sit around waiting for a five-person board to field offers to fix the sewers in his ward, he's welcome to do it. Maybe Morgan Stanley will charge per flush.

11. "Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) wrapped up the cheerleading for Emanuel's plan with his own take on trusting the Trust," the Sun-Times reported.

"I think what we're really being asked today is to trust Chicago's people."

To keep electing you despite treating us like chumps?


"We have a tool here that takes some of the pressure off taxpayers," Emanuel said. "That's what we're doing here. Use somebody else's money for a change, rather than theirs."

It's not free money!

"We've been asked over and over again to trust and we've been let down and now, we're fearful," Ald. Toni Foulkes said. "What terrifies people is the investment. Nobody invests money who doesn't get returns - and they expect big returns."


* No free toasters.

* Aldermen behaving dumbly.

* The Infrastructure Bank Has A New Villain

* The [Infrastructure Bank] Papers


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

May 7, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

"A witness in the David Koschman case was visited last month by a private investigator he says claimed to be working for Koschman's mother," the Sun-Times reports.

"The man actually was working on behalf of Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley who's under renewed investigation in Koschman's 2004 death."

Stay classy, Daley family!

That's Bobby!
"Responding to one woman who asked whether he thought Mr. Obama had campaigned in 2008 with a strategy 'to make America fail,' [Illinois congressman Bobby Schilling] said of the slow economic recovery, 'A lot of people think this is being done on purpose,'" the New York Times reports.

A) And I will do nothing to dissuade that notion because I want those people voting for me!

B) Because tanking the economy on purpose is the surest way to get re-elected and seal a legacy!

C) I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'!


"[Mrs. Schilling] has had several coffee meetings with local women to deconstruct the fight over access to contraception. 'Calling it a woman's issue turns women into sex objects,' she said."

That's one way to look at it.

Tax Man
Pat Quinn did his own taxes!

But a couple questions:

1. Why is the space for a spouse's name blacked out? Did he secretly get married?

2. Why is his home address blacked out? We all know where the governor's mansion is!

Gaming The System
"New Casino Helps Halt Dip In Ill. Gambling Profits."


More Gambling Losers Good News For State, Private Investors.

Beale Squeal
"Secretary of State Jesse White has asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan to collect more than $16,000 from a Chicago alderman's wife who allegedly faked time sheets and misused a state car while employed by White," the Sun-Times reports.

"An investigation by White's inspector general cited Dana Beale, wife of Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), for 'official misconduct' and for falsifying time sheets and mileage on a state vehicle she kept at home.

"The alderman's wife, who until last week doubled as a legislative aide to state Rep. Robert Rita, had worked for White as a $76,897-a-year securities auditor from 2000 until last May when she tendered her resignation.

"Dana Beale could not be reached for comment and, in an interview, her husband would not make her available to answer questions from the Chicago Sun-Times. But he vouched for his wife's work."


"After getting tipped by Dana Beale's supervisor, Burns surveyed 69 firms that she purported to have visited between January 2010 and February 2011 and found that 'on 11 occasions, Beale reported that she was at an audit for two full days when, in fact, she was only there one day for three to six hours,' according to an investigative report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

"'Beale also logged that she worked a full day for many audits when, in fact, each firm reported that she was at their location for only half a day,' the report said.

"All told, Beale's unaccounted working hours in 2010 totaled more than 44 days or close to nine weeks, which represented $13,181 in overpayments to her, the probe found.

"She also allegedly could not account for 6,118 miles she put on secretary of state pool cars during 2010, representing a loss to the state of $3,120."

Well, it's hard dodging work. You have to drive around a lot.

"In an interview with the Sun-Times, Burns said his office took the 'ghost-payrolling' allegations and unaccounted mileage to the FBI in early 2011, but federal investigators took a pass on the case."

Why? Small potatoes?

"In January, the Sun-Times and Better Government Association reported that Rita awarded the daughter of the alderman and Dana Beale a legislative tuition waiver worth $37,000 to attend the University of Illinois."

Here's to you, Beales! Working the system one lever at a time.

Daley's Grift
The parking meter deal is even worse than the last time we thought it was even worse than we thought.

It's A Bear Market
Season arrives early.

What's The Deal With Chris Sale?
A mystery wrapped inside a tender arm.

Wrigley Rooftop Ruckus
Different rules apply.

Wiener's Circle Jerk
Reality vs. actuality.

The Free Comic Book Day That Was
Top 10 Things.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
We have the video.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Cock-a-doodle-doo.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:57 AM | Permalink

Top 10 Things About Free Comic Book Day!

Another one in the books.


See also: The Fortknighthood YouTube channel.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

Rooftop Drinking

Every Monday (or close to) we here at The Cub Factor try to figure out what we learned from the previous week. A lot of times we learn nothing; we can even forget things on occasion. But this week I want to discuss something that made me more confused than anything. I'd like to discuss rooftops.

I was fortunate enough to get on a rooftop for the Cubs-Dodgers game on Saturday night. And even though I've been on a rooftop in the past - one other time - some new questions arose this time.

As you know, the rooftop buildings are across the street from the park - but as you might not know, they follow some rules that are in play inside Wrigley. And this is where the weirdness comes in. You are essentially at someone's house, yet you couldn't get a beer until 30 minutes before game time. Which is a rule not even enforced in the park.

Then, your admittance to the rooftop facility gives you all you can eat and drink. Which is certainly different from the park, but then they start serving different types of food whenever they felt like it - which is different from the park. So it's kind of like watching a game at a strict friend's house except that when they did the National Anthem, everyone stood up and removed their hats. Which is something no one ever does at home. That I am aware of.

You are also encouraged to tip the people giving you the food and drinks, so it's kind of like a bar in that vein, yet they stop serving alcohol after the 7th inning. And there isn't a bar in the world that would do that.

So, I couldn't tell if I was at the park, at someone's house, or at a bar. Because the rules were just all weird. And maybe all this shouldn't matter. I mean, there are worse places to be sequestered for three-plus hours, though when the Cubs are down 5-0 for most of the game, it's cold out, and the all-you-can-drink beer is wasted on you as you have to drive in a few hours, your mind begins to wonder - where am I? I guess the answer is, the only place in Major League Baseball where you can watch a game that is completely undefinable.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 3-3 for the week, losing the last game of a four-game set with the Phillies on Monday, splitting two against the Reds, including a rainout, and then taking two of three from the Dodgers. It feels like the Cubs played better than 3-3 for the week, but that's probably because they are kind of not that good, and just going .500 is really good for them.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for three against the Braves and the Chipper Jones Farewell Tour, and then head up north to Milwaukee for three with the Brew Crew.

The Second Basemen Report: Six games this week with Darwin Barney starting four and Blake DeWitt getting the other two starts. We are finally getting some solid action in The Second Basemen Report. Unfortunately neither guy hit much at all this week and the Cubs don't even seem to care if they lose Blake to another team as they designated him for assignment to make room for Travis Wood on the roster. But hey, that's the point of The Second Basemen Report. If the Cubs really had one, it wouldn't exist. Which is just like The Ghost of Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, DJ LeMahieu is currently playing for the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the Rockies organization. David John is batting .302 with one homer and 14 RBI. He is missed.

Crazy Corners: Ian Stewart continues to unimpress at third base and a spot start by Super Joe Mather at third this week may be a signal of what's to come. Plus, it also helps anytime your manager calls you "super" and you hit a pinch-hit homer to win a game. Bryan LaHair is proving how little the old Cubs regime knew about their own players.

Weekly Bunting Report: Jeff Samardzija may need a haircut, but he doesn't need bunting practice with a sweet sacrifice bunt this week trying to help his own cause. Because really, who else's cause do you really want to help?

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is still 0-2 for the season but did have a good outing, scattering 5 hits and 3 walks over 7 scoreless innings against the Giants for a no decision. Could a change in scenery really have made a difference? He's having a decent year. This makes Big Z Apologetic.



Endorsement No-Brainer: Travis Wood for the flu. He's gotta make it to the big leagues somehow.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Nyquil prepare to open higher this week due to a huge run on the drug on the North Side of Chicago.

Sink or Sveum: 74% Analytical, 26% Emotional. Sveum drops a staggering 10 points on the Dale-O-Meter this week due to actually getting kicked out of a game. Who knew he had it in him? On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is edging into Not All There territory.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your level-headed uncle, Dale can lose it on occasion. The family doesn't mention that time when Dale got charged full price at the Woolworths when the sign clearly said 20% off on all men's socks. Dale likes a deal.

Over/Under: The % of baseball fans who think the walk-off walk is easily the lamest way to win in your last at bat: +/- 83% (even the walk-off hit-by-pitch is cooler).

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir is still a Ham Fighter and I think he's batting .231. Seems like someone is hassling him.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Bryan LaHair is no Hee Sop Choi, and that is a good thing.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Stars out of alignment.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: It's A Bear Market

The Sixers played poorly on Sunday and still defeated the Bulls 89-82 for a 3-1 lead in the teams' first-round playoff series. In case Derrick Rose's injury wasn't enough, Joakim Noah suffered a brutal sprained ankle in the previous game and was forced to sit out. I would say the local basketball season is on its last legs except the Bulls at this point don't even have a leading leg to stand on.

And while the Cubs have played better these past two weeks, all it has amounted to is that they are now only a game behind Pittsburgh for second-to-last in the NL Central. Their season was over before it began. As for the other team in town, well, I don't wish the White Sox ill but I ain't a fan.

So what's a local sports supporter in my position to do? I'll do what all Chicago fans do when there is a lull in spring and summer seasons. I'll obsess about the Bears.

The draft the weekend before last was promising but the latest bit of aftermath? Not so much. In particular, coach Lovie Smith made it known over the weekend that he couldn't care less about No. 1 pick Shea McClellin's versatility.

I understand that pass rush off the edge is critical and the Bears want McClellin to focus on that for now. Clearly he will be rushing the passer at least 90 percent of the time (when the opposing team isn't rushing the football that is). But there is no reason not to use McClellin to introduce a few wrinkles, i.e., to help diversify the Bear defense.

For one thing, how about a lineup where he stands up and moves just a little further out on the edge to make room for defensive end Israel Idonije (with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher manning the other linebacking spots of course). He could drop back in coverage (very, very rarely) or how about this, how about Idonije drops back in coverage and McClellin essentially blitzes. Or they both come charging in from the outside.

Imagine a Bear lining up at linebacker who is actually an effective blitzer (Urlacher and Briggs have numerous exceptional skills - blitzing has never been among them).

Of course an observer has to factor in the possibility of misinformation. Hopefully Lovie is putting a simple spin out there and the Bears will have far more in store for opponents than simply lining McClellin up in the same place and having him do the same thing time after time. Hopefully.

The problem is one of Lovie's primary defensive tenets has forever been KISS (the first 'S' stands for simple and I just know you'll remember or figure out the rest). He runs the good old Tampa 2 about 99 percent of the time and if the team has good enough players in key spots, it prospers.

Chris Conte was a critical component of that philosophy last year and the defense was making significant strides with him in the classic deep zone safety role - effectively patrolling a sizable chunk of downfield and limiting opposing passing game options. Then he got hurt and the D suffered. With Conte back and with Major Wright either proving he can get the job done at the other safety spot or perhaps third-round pick Brandon Hardin of Oregon State stepping in, perhaps the Bears have finally taken care of that position for at least a few seasons going forward.

Another element of the Bears' draft that became clear with their final few picks in particular was that the team was following a smart new trend seen across the NFL. With so many teams committing themselves first and foremost and seemingly forever to the passing game, teams cannot have enough good, speedy defensive backs.

So the Bears skipped drafting linemen (they picked up a couple promising O linemen by signing them as rookie free agents and they may be looking to fortify their D line with a veteran free agent later this week) and focused on speedsters in the sixth and seventh rounds. If Isaiah Frey (Nevada) and Greg McCoy (Texas Christian) can actually use their impressive speed numbers to eventually cover NFL receivers, the Bears might have something.

Finally, the drafting of a receiving tight end/fullback was also a good sign. Everyone loves to bash former offensive coordinator Mike Martz despite his leading his offense to the conference final two years ago and a 7-3 record last year before Jay Cutler got hurt. But while Martz has a system that works for him, he absolutely refuses to do certain things that work way too well for way too many other teams in the NFL. Two of those things are lining up the quarterback in the shotgun formation and employing a receiver-first tight end to primarily work slot seams down the field.

If there was one thing an observer could point to as a factor for all successful NFL offenses last year, it was spectacular receiving tight ends. Heck, the Patriots had two of them in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and they were a huge factor in New England winning the AFC. Now the Bears perhaps have one of their own in fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez.

What's that, you say? Perhaps my analysis is skewing slightly more positive than warranted? That's the way I roll in the offseason, people. Reality comes later.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man for all seasons. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

The Chris Sale Saga Is Just Starting

"Chris is gonna be fine."

The words rolled out of pitching coach Don Cooper's mouth as though he was saying, "Looks like we're in for a stretch of good weather," just as the temperature was dropping last week and hail stones began to fall.

Any time I hear that someone is going to be "fine," I cringe. Check that. On occasion I get tremors. The implication is that the person in question isn't "fine" in the present. Ahh, but don't worry about the future because things are going to be "fine."

In this case, we're talking about Chris Sale. He's not fine? Even with a 3-1 record, a 2.81 ERA in 32 innings having allowed just 24 hits while striking out 29 and walking a mere five batters? Opponents are hitting .205 against him. He's reduced entire lineups to nine Brent Morels. But he's not fine?

Sale burst on the Sox scene not unlike Jack McDowell and Alex Fernandez - albeit they were righties while Sale is a lefthander - in the early '90s. Fernandez was just 20 years old when he threw his first pitch for the Sox, while McDowell and Sale were 21. In the division-winning season of 1993, McDowell won 22 games and Fernandez 18. I'm not alone thinking that Chris Sale has that kind of upside.

So the decision to yank Sale out of the rotation last week and install him as the new closer - "We're not making this decision based on what's best for the team," said Cooper - indicates that the kid is fragile and quite possibly hurt. He admitted as much when he disclosed that his arm is "tender, sore." Then he added, "Once I get going, it's just fine." There it is again, the f-word.

Let's take a look back. Sale was the Sox's 2010 first-round draft choice out of Florida Gulf Coast University, where he had just finished his junior season. He was 11-0 that spring and pitched 103 innings. You won't find FGCU listed among collegiate powerhouses, but Sale made his mark against elite college competition the summer of 2009 in the Cape Cod League. As a starting pitcher, he was voted the league's best with a 4-2 mark and a 1.47 ERA in 55 innings.

So impressive was Sale after the Sox signed him that he pitched just 10-plus minor-league innings before being promoted to the big squad on Aug. 6, 2010. After 79 relief appearances in 2010-11, Sale was named a starter in Robin Ventura's rotation this spring.

I can understand the Sox's concern about Sale's well-being. Why else would they be making this change to the bullpen?

What I wonder about - and I readily admit this is hindsight - is the correlation, if any, between young pitchers' arm problems and the amount of time spent in the minor leagues. The most prominent recent example is the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg, the top draft choice in 2009 out of San Diego State. Strasburg had a short 55-inning minor league introduction before his first big league start on June 8, 2010. He did great. Struck out 14 and beat the Pirates. However, by the end of August, he was being prepped for Tommy John surgery. Strasburg was inactive for a year but has been outstanding in six games so far this season.

I've heard people compare Chris Sale to a young Randy Johnson. Maybe Johnson has more meat on his bones, but both guys are tall lefthanders, and Sale's fastball and sharp breaking pitches remind some observers of Johnson. The future Hall of Famer - winner of 303 games - broke in with the Montreal Expos in 1988 at age 24 and pitched until 2009. But Johnson had ample preparation, pitching 400 innings in the minors before making his big league debut.

Another lefthander, still pitching today, is CC Sabathia. He was just 20 when he first appeared in a Cleveland uniform, but CC had already spent three seasons in the minors, compiling 226 innings. As far as I can tell, he's never been on the disabled list.

Another young pitcher in Chicago who is turning a few heads is the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija. Now 27, he is solidifying a spot in the team's rotation after appearing in 75 games last season, all in relief. He pitched splendidly in 2011, recording a strikeout an inning with a very favorable hits (64) to innings (88) ratio.

Like Sale, Samardzija came to spring training with the idea of converting to a starter. Unlike Sale, Samardzija had spent parts of five seasons in the minors, appearing in 112 games, 86 as a starter.

Pitchers such as Sale and Strasburg are clearly special. They have unique talent. The sky's the limit. They engender excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, there is no way to judge their ability to remain healthy at the professional level. Short of giving Sale a couple weeks' rest on the disabled list, the Sox must think they have an answer since Cooper said that pitching in relief is "the best way to keep [Sale] healthy and strong."

I'm not convinced. Is it more dangerous for a young arm to throw 100 pitches every five days or up to 20 pitches two to four times a week, usually in a pressure situation? A closer also throws a lot of pitches in the bullpen, some even on days when he doesn't enter the game. Allegedly Sale will throw more fastballs and sliders and fewer changeups coming in from the bullpen, but I'm not sure where it says that that repertoire is friendlier on the arm.

My hunch is that Kenny Williams and his aides will take a different approach with the top pitching prospect in the Sox system, Nestor Molina. The 23-year-old Venezuelan came over from Toronto in the Sergio Santos trade and is pitching at double-A Birmingham. In five seasons in the Blue Jays system, Molina compiled a sparkling 27-7 mark, but all of it was at low classifications.

Molina has pitched well so far this season. I suspect that the Sox will move slowly with him as Molina learns more about his craft, displays the ability to pitch 200 or more innings, and gains confidence. The way things are going, his presence probably won't make a difference for the 2012 White Sox, but he could be a factor beginning in 2013.

Just please, please, please don't tell me he's going to be fine.

Minnie Movie
What is just fine is the documentary Baseball Has Been Very, Very Good to Me that my friend Tom Weinberg is creating on Sox great Minnie Miñoso. In my mind, Miñoso was the most exciting player ever to wear a Sox uniform. He looked good even when striking out.

My hope is that Tom's documentary will come to fruition so that people who never saw Miñoso play can come to appreciate the contributions he made both on and off the field.

Being the first black player in Sox history - and one of the first in the American League, having signed with Cleveland in 1949 - Minnie endured the ugliness of prejudice and racism that regularly reared their heads in his day.

Well into his 80s - there is a bit of confusion about his age - Miñoso remains an ambassador of the game while retaining the gratitude he feels to have had the opportunity to play in the big leagues. There truly has never been another player quite like him.

Tom is a lifelong friend, and I was interviewed about my memories of Minnie. Since Weinberg is an independent producer, the documentary won't be seen unless Tom can raise the cash to produce what would be an hour-long TV show.

Tom has been working on the project for more than a year and has gathered lots of footage and wonderful interviews. He is using Kickstarter to raise $20,000 in order to advance into the post-production stage.

The deadline is Saturday, and so far Tom has raised two-thirds of the goal. If nothing else, check out the preview sample of what the show would look like. You will find it absolutely entertaining, fun, and moving. Making a donation also would be "just fine."


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Autopsy at Reggie's on Saturday night.


2. Emily Wells at Schubas on Friday night.


3. M83 at the Riv on Friday night.


4. Rhett Miller at the Cubby Bear on Saturday night.


5. Never Shout Never at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


6. Rusko at the Congress on Saturday night.


7. The Dewtons at Ultra Lounge on Saturday night.


8. Rammstein in Rosemont on Friday night.


9. Run and Punch at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


10. Geoff Tate at Mayne Stage on Saturday night.


11. Cianide at Reggie's on Saturday night.


12. Bones at Reggie's on Saturday night.


13. Reign Inferno at Reggie's on Saturday night.


14. Cardiac Arrest at Reggie's on Saturday night.


15. The Hairlips at Ultra Lounge on Saturday night.


16. Linen at Cole's on Saturday night.


17. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at Berlin on Thursday night.


18. Yann Tiersen at the Metro on Friday night.


19. Spiritualized at the Metro on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

May 5, 2012

Circle Jerk

The Wiener's Circle on TV:


The Wiener's Circle in Reality:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Special Kentucky Derby Edition
Hey, remember last year when we were all so excited about that female jockey? Yeah, well, this year it seems even the horses' names are hopelessly masculine.

Bet The Alpha Male
We'd ordinarily say this one is a lock, but these days no one really seems to know exactly which horse we're talking about.

Dangerous Liaison
As far as we can tell, this horse hasn't really hooked up anyone.

Daddy Nose Best?
No, Guilia, it looks like he doesn't.

Take Charge Indy
We'd make a joke about this one needing a little Luck, but then we'd have to retire in shame.

No Rose To Run
Don't even think about betting this one. The really smart money says he isn't even going to make it through the first turn.

Hair Of The Horse . . .
Well, it is Cinco De Mayo. Your best bet may simply be giving up and going with the flow.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Cinco de Bourbon.


Free Comic Book Day: At a comic book store near you!


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Check out that bowl.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Music Report: "Sharon Van Etten bares all in our studio. And Santigold is back with a new album and a new bag of tricks."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Discrimination Against Former Prisoners


Two former prisoners discuss how fear on the part of employers is the hardest to overcome without assistance and is probably a key factor in why some ex-convicts return to crime.

Saturday, May 5 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr


The Gondoliers


The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Co. and the University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra perform this classic opera. Tune in and sing along!

Saturday, May 5 at 5:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
2 hr 15 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Casa Central


William Santos of Casa Central describes how its network of social services propels a diverse population of all ages toward self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.

Saturday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Come Sail Away: Chicago Rock in the 1970s


Author Stu Shea revisits the music emerging from Chicago's rock and roll scene during the "Me Decade" of the '70s, including a deeper look at bands like Styx and Chicago, and live performances of the top hits.

Sunday, May 6 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Legislative Hearing: Prison Overcrowding & Meritorious Good Time


The Illinois House Judiciary Committee hears testimony on legislation that would reinstate Meritorious Good Time, a program that addressed prison overcrowding by reducing inmates' prison stays for good behavior.

Sunday, May 6 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min


The Indispensable Man: Life & Times of FDR


The New Deal era comes to life through this celebration of the music and history of the epoch, including the world premiere of a music and narrative piece on the life and times of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Sunday, May 6 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 40 min


May Day: Haymarket Lives


The Illinois Labor History Society commemorates the death of striking workers, activists, and police as a result of the "Haymarket Affair" in 1886.

Watch Online

Sunday, May 6 at 3 p.m. on CAN TV21
15 min


May Day March for the 99%


Demonstrators march to Union Park in Chicago as part of May Day protests.

Sunday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:02 AM | Permalink

May 4, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Trying to keep up with the madness.

1. Chicago Has A New Tourism Anthem, And it's Beyond Awful.

2. Vikings To Give Tryout To Son Of Linebackers Coach Mike Singletary.

3. "A new wrinkle in Illinois' budget crisis unfolded Wednesday when Gov. Pat Quinn's administration said it has begun to delay payments to more than 40,000 child-care providers," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

"The move could threaten the fragile budgets of many providers and the family finances of more than 85,000 low-income parents who receive state-subsidized child-care services."

Once again, the wrong people are getting screwed.


Here's an idea: Instead of this, let's survey 650 leading social service providers about the state's child-rearing environment.

4. "The private investors who run Chicago's parking meters are doing better than expected, and now they're demanding an additional $14 million they say they're owed under obscure provisions of the wildly unpopular 2008 deal that privatized metered parking and caused rates to soar, records show," the Sun-Times reports.

Maybe they should take it out of Daley's pension.

5. ABC7 Chicago stands by stenographically reporting a lie.

Rich Miller also says ABC7 reported was "a big lie" and "not true."

6. The War on Women continues right here in Bridgeport.

7. "For more than four decades, Illinois' Firearm Owners Identification card has been viewed as a first line of defense for protecting the public by trying to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous in society," the Tribune reports.

"But a first-ever state audit of the program has found the safety net weakened by bureaucratic loopholes and erroneous and incomplete data that could allow the seriously mental ill and others to keep or get a FOID card to buy firearms and ammunition.

"'How are people going to explain away the fact that a horrific event occurred, and it turns out this person had diagnosed mental health issues and their card was not (taken away or) the information was never forwarded to the state police, so they never had the ability to take the card away?' asked Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart."

Blame Sarah Palin?

8. Change your passwords.

9. "The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that disputes mainstream climate science, is adopting an aggressive PR strategy by launching Chicago-area billboards that associate belief in global warming with the Unabomber and Charles Manson," The Hill reports.

"Other billboards feature Charles Manson and Fidel Castro, the group said on its website, adding that 'other global warming alarmists' who may appear in the future include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee, who took hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in 2010 and was slain by police."

Doesn't that just make the Heartland even crazier than our most deranged murderers? Even Manson and bin Laden couldn't dismiss the science!

10. The Week in Chicago Rock.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Both helter and skelter.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Foxy Shazam at Subterranean on Wednesday night.


2. Lightfoils at Subterranean on Wednesday night.


3. Indigo Sun at Cafe 207 on Wednesday night.


4. Great Lake Swimmers at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.


5. UK at the Vic on Tuesday night.


6. Hoodie Allen at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.


7. Robbie Fulks and Audrey Auld at the Hideout on Monday night.


8. Empyreus at the Ultra Lounge on Sunday night.


9. Saul Hernandez at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.


10. The Wombats at the Park West on Monday night.


11. DIIV at Township on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

May 3, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Hey, that Ellery Queen episode is on again!


We're working on it.

In the meantime, let's take a look at our world today.

1. "Larry Taylor never became the basketball star he hoped to be in the United States," AP reports. "He never thrived at a top university, never made it to the NBA.

"In a few months, though, the point guard likely will be playing where only the best can play the Olympics in London. Instead of donning the stars and stripes of the United States, he will wear the green and yellow colors of the Brazilian national team."

Why am I telling you this? Just out of local interest:

"The 6-foot-1 Taylor was born in Chicago and went to Rich Central High School in nearby Olympia Fields. He went to South Suburban College, a junior college near Chicago, for two years before moving to Missouri Western State College. He joined the Chicago Soldiers in the American Basketball Association in 2004, but stayed with the team briefly before accepting an offer to play in Mexico, where he stayed about two years before going to Venezuela."

2. Gunshots To Google.

3. Chicago has 435,089 cable-TV subscribers.

4. Are you proud, Berkeley?

5. "Greyhound Express, a new premium bus service, rolled out Wednesday for routes that link Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and other California cities," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The brand that turns 100 next year has tricked out Express buses with free Wi-Fi, power outlets, leather seats, three-point seat belts and extra legroom. Express customers get one more nice perk too: reserved seats."

Why am I telling you this? Just out of local interest:

"The service was launched 15 months ago in Chicago."

6. Does Joe Cowley (and a couple other Sun-Times sportswriters) really live in Minnesota?

See also: Fire Joe Cowley.

7. The deposition of Richard M. Daley in a civil suit against Jon Burge has been scheduled for July 13.

That gives him two months to practice saying "I don't recall."

8. Kanye West Hops On Chief Keef.

9. Scientists Around The World Peer Into Chicago Microscope At Same Time.

10. How Has Prison Changed Conrad Black?

11. CIA director David Petraeus will be the grand marshal for Chicago's Memorial Day Parade.

The resemblance is frightening, no?

12. 114 of 177 Unopposed In IL General Assembly.

13. Whatever Happened To Emily Haddad?

14. Illinois Fossil Forest Freak Show!

15. Swings Both Ways: April Not The Cruelest Month.

16. "The recently released estimate by Chicago's host committee on the economic impact of the NATO summit here this month - $128 million - is as far away from reality as Brussels (NATO headquarters) is from Chicago," economists Robert Baade and Allen Sanderson write in the Tribune.

"A 2008 study by one of us (Baade) found that no Republican or Democratic National Convention had an impact on employment or personal income in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States for the period 1970 through 2005. Why would one expect the NATO summit to be different?"

Because Rahm says so?


"On the cost side of the ledger, to cover security commitments, Chicago has received a $19 million federal grant, and the host committee has raised an additional $37 million in private donations from the corporate community. But in economic jargon, these monies entail an opportunity cost. It is inconceivable to think that Mayor Rahm Emanuel could not have twisted the arms of these business leaders with equal success for the support of after-school programs, a down payment on his ambitious infrastructure agenda or some seed funding for a revamped Navy Pier."

Told you so.

"And as Chicagoans have come to expect, initial low-ball estimates and cost overruns will likely produce actual outlays well in excess of the projected figure. However, one feature of these off-the-shelf impact models is that any spending, however wasteful, contributes positively to the economic worth. Thus, under the same spend-more-get-more logic, Chicago should be increasing its Taste of Chicago food festival from the traditional 10 days to 20 or 30 days. After all, suburban families and residents of Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana allegedly come in droves to empty their wallets on the Chicago economy. But the city's bean (and cheesecake) counters concluded that for financial reasons we cannot afford it, and thus scaled the Taste back to five days this summer.

"The same is true of the July 3 fireworks in Grant Park, which the city no longer sponsors. Ditto for Venetian Night and various other lakefront festivals that the Park District has also canceled. Do these activities generate spending? Yes. But the bottom line is that they cost far more to operate than they bring in, and for the most part they only redistribute expenditures within the larger Chicagoland area."

Rahm made $18 million in 36 months as an investment banker. He would be laughed out of the executive washroom for trying to present a study like this to his bosses or clients. His constituents? That's different.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Forest, trees.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

Whatever Happened To Emily Haddad?

"Emily Haddad made her debut on the jazz scene in 1987 at age five," according to the TheMotionDevotion, which has been uploading videos of the former prodigy to its YouTube channel recently. "At that time her performance at the Gold Star Sardine Bar was heavily covered by the local media."

The news coverage:


The performance:


"Five years later she performed at Chicago's legendary Green Mill, the subject of this video clip from the local WGN TV news."


"Shortly after her splash debut as a 5-year-old, Emily was doing the European summer jazz festival circuit and crossed paths with Dizzy Gillespie who immediately noticed the nature of her gift and became a friend and mentor to both Emily and her father. Dizzy appeared as guest soloist at some of Emily's jazz festival concerts, had her as guest vocalist with his big band and readily agreed to be on her debut CD release."


From her debut CD:


On Geraldo Rivera's old show:


The news clips on Haddad run out in 1992.


UPDATE 2/26/2013: See item No. 2.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:32 AM | Permalink

Fossil Forest Freak Show!

"In the clammy depths of a southern Illinois coal mine lies the largest fossil forest ever discovered, at least 50 times as extensive as the previous contender," the New York Times reported in its Science section this week.

"Scientists are exploring dripping passages by the light of headlamps, mapping out an ecosystem from 307 million years ago, just before the world's first great forests were wiped out by global warming. This vast prehistoric landscape may shed new light on climate change today."

Yada, yada, yada. But what a freak show this - fossil forest - is!

"Pushed downward over the ages by the crushing weight of rock layers higher up, the Springfield forest lies at varying depths, 250 to 800 feet underground. The researchers have only sampled it so far, in the vicinity of Galatia, Illinois, but they think it extends more than 100 miles in one direction; its width has not been ascertained."


"It was a Dr. Seuss world," [Kirk Johnson, a paleobotanist at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science] said of the scale-tree forests: sun-washed quagmires studded with giant green stalks like asparagus spears, hundreds of feet tall. (Scale trees did not unfurl spreading crowns until the very end of their life cycle.) [Dr. William DiMichele of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History] has followed a fallen scale tree for 100 feet, before it disappeared behind coal not yet mined away. Six feet wide at the base, it was hardly any narrower at that great height.

"Scale trees had reptilian-looking, photosynthetic bark that coal miners sometimes mistake for dinosaur remains. Tube-shaped with spongy pulp inside, the trees snapped in two when storms ravaged the swamp. Immense, cylindrical roots kept stumps firmly upright, as seen in the mines."


"There were no birds in the Pennsylvanian period, so insects flourished in the oxygen-rich air. Hiking through the Springfield forest would have meant dodging millipedes six feet long and dragonflies the size of crows."

Holy freakin' cow!


The Times article isn't clear but the discovery actually dates back to at least 2005. From the Smithsonian:

"Smithsonian paleontologist Bill DiMichele and colleagues Howard Falcon-Lang (University of Bristol), John Nelson and Scott Elrick (Illinois State Geological Survey), and Phil Ames (Peabody Coal Company) discovered the remains of one of the world's oldest tropical rainforests, preserved in the ceiling of a coal mine 250 feet below the surface. Their discovery was recently published in the journal Geology entitled 'Ecological Gradients Within a Pennsylvanian Mire Forest.'

"The rainforest extends over more than four square miles as the roof of two adjacent underground coal mines in eastern Illinois. This may be the largest single-time-period fossil forest found in the fossil record."


That journal article was published in 2006.


From the Illinois State Geological Survey (with photos!):

"The location of this fossil forest is just to the south and west of Danville, Illinois, about 30 miles to the east of the ISGS in Champaign, Illinois (see picture to the right). This 300 million year old fossil forest was found directly on top of the Herrin coal seam in the Riola and Vermillion Grove coal mines, and represents the last stages of the peat mire forest responsible for forming the Herrin coal."

How was it discovered?

"One of the responsibilities of the ISGS is to try to understand the geology of the state of Illinois. For the Coal Section at the ISGS, that means trying to visit the coal mines in the state on a regular basis. When the Riola mine opened in 1996, geologists from the ISGS visited and noted the presence of fossil plants in the roof of the mine. Plant fossils are not uncommon in Illinois coal mines, so while notes were made, nothing exceptional was thought of the discovery. As time went on, more coal was mined, more of the mine roof was uncovered and the plant fossils didn't stop! Fossils were numerous and showed excellent preservation.

"Adding visits to the Vermillion Grove mine, Survey geologists soon realized that a very interesting story was waiting to be told about the fossil plants, and in 2004, contacted Bill DiMichele from the Smithsonian and Howard Falcon-Lang of the University of Bristol, both experts in paleobotany. With the assistance of Phil Ames of Peabody Energy, a large study was then undertaken to try to understand the mosaic of preserved plant fossils presented just over our heads in the gray shale of the mine roof."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:29 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

Hey, look who's back in the news! Why it's our old friend, Richard M. Daley. And it's not even about him once again "agreeing" to submit to a deposition in a Jon Burge lawsuit that he's been dodging since Jim Hendry was still generally managing the Cubs.

This time, it's personal.

Or at least more personal than what he did or didn't know about systematic torture that was brought to the attention of his office when he was the Cook County State's Attorney but which he failed to investigate.

This is about his pocketbook.

You know, through all the Daley scandals - too numerous to mention here but just pick your favorite one and savor it for a moment - conventional wisdom had it that while his friends made off with boatloads, the mayor himself never personally benefited. Like his father. Who wanted power, not money. As if power isn't a benefit and the man didn't get rich anyway.

Just like Rod Blagojevich never personally benefited from his various schemes. Just his campaign fund.

And like George Ryan never personally benefited from his various schemes. He just miraculously never had to use an ATM during his time in office - even while vacationing in Jamaica with his pal Harry Klein.

They all did it for us, out of the goodness of their hearts. And they let their friends have a little chew. And their family. Who could blame them?

"This mayor is very similar to his father - personally honest, not taking any money himself," an anonymous state legislator once told Chicago magazine for its examination of Daley's legacy of corruption.

That type of analysis, though, ignores basic cold hard realities. While in office a mayor, a governor, even some aldermen, are treated like kings. Everything is done for you. You don't have to be rich to live rich. They key is how you set yourself up for your post-public career - what Hawkeye Pierce once described in M*A*S*H as preparing a doggie bag for after the war.

After all, Daley is now a wealthy consultant, public speaker (!) and visiting fellow at Harvard.

He's also taking in a taxpayer-funded $183,778 yearly pension, which is about $50,000 more than he would be receiving if he hadn't gamed the system way back in 1991 when he was also began gaming the system for key supporters in the midst of his bid to win his first full term, according to a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.

He also managed to save himself about $400,000 in contributions, so that's quite a haul.

And this time he can't claim ignorance. He personally engineered it.

"Daley, a former state senator, made it happen by briefly rejoining the legislative pension plan in 1991," the Tribune found. "He stayed there just one month before returning to Chicago's municipal pension fund, but the switches made him eligible for benefits worth 85 percent of his mayoral salary - a better rate than all other city employees receive."

That's the kind of derring-do that gets you to Harvard.


"Daley declined to be interviewed for this story."

I always hate to see the word "declined" used when "petulantly refused" is more apt, but in this case he might have had a good excuse: He was too busy answering questions from ABC7 Chicago's Ben Bradley for his hard-hitting two-part exclusive "A More Reflective Daley Looks Back On His Two Loves."

He's not referring to money and power.

Or Jackie Heard, though he must love her dearly. She's still performing her talking seal role as Daley's press secretary even in his afterlife.

WGN's Mark Suppelsa said on the broadcast version of the Tribune report last night that he spent weeks trying to get an interview with the former mayor. For some reason Bradley was granted an audience but not Suppelsa.

"He's still going strong, energized by new experiences and new roles," Bradley reports. Maybe there wasn't time to mention "and a groovy pension."

Bradley: Chicagoans don't get to hear from you a lot. What do you want to say to them?

Daley: I miss you.

Awww. We miss our money.


"His spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Heard, wrote in an e-mail: 'I can only assume that his pension was handled in the same manner that anyone's would be, given the length of service - nearly 40 years - in government.'"

Yes: Badly.

But actually, Jackie, you needn't only assume. The Tribune would be happy to fill you in!


"The Tribune and WGN-TV already have detailed how Daley used the city's pension funds for political purposes. In 1991, the same year he secured his much larger pension, Daley's administration helped aldermen land a dramatic pension increase, providing them with benefits far exceeding those of the average city worker."

That would be in this report:

"When Chicago aldermen floated a proposal in 1987 to boost their city pensions dramatically, Mayor Harold Washington's administration dismissed it as an arrogant ploy that lacked even a cursory cost analysis.

"Three years later, the proposal still didn't have a price tag. But records show that the new mayor, Richard M. Daley, helped push it through the state Legislature anyway."

What a difference a mayor makes.


"An analysis of pension fund documents for 21 aldermen who retired under the plan shows they are in line to receive nearly $58 million during their expected lifetimes, though contributions and assumed investment returns are predicted to cover just $19 million, or a third of that sum.

"The pension deal was inked more than two decades ago, but the costs began to kick in recently. Most of the 21 aldermen in the Tribune/WGN-TV analysis have retired within the past five years, and there are 53 more in the pipeline."

Sorry to do this to you over breakfast.


"Like many sweetheart pension deals, the origin of the aldermanic pension perk is murky. It's impossible to determine from public records who drafted it, for example. But new records unearthed by the Tribune and WGN-TV show who blessed it: the Daley administration.

"Without any public vetting, legislation creating the plan was slipped into a larger bill before it was signed into state law in January 1991."


Today's report reminds us:

"The same legislation, rushed through the General Assembly on the last day of the session, also gave private labor leaders public pensions based on their much higher union salaries. Under Daley's watch, former Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon was given a one-day city job that allowed him to collect a public pension based on his $200,000 private union salary."

Link mine.

"In 1995, when Daley wanted to fund his school reform package, his administration pushed legislation that allowed it to divert $1.5 billion from the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund over a 15-year period."

Which in some circles is called theft, as we shall see.

"All the while, Daley blessed benefit increases for city workers without ensuring that payments into the funds would cover the costs, a problem worsened by the economic downturn. Today, the combined unfunded liabilities of Chicago's four pension funds have grown to nearly $20 billion, which doesn't include the $6.8 billion shortfall at the teachers fund."


And so on. I encourage you to read the investigation and its related stories in full and then consider this development: Rahm wants you to look the other way.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel [Tuesday] called a Tribune article on aldermen's pensions that were inflated during the early reign of his predecessor 'worthy of reading' but said the issues it highlighted should not distract from the urgent overall goal of reforming state and city pensions," the Tribune reports.

"While that is a problem," Emanuel said, "what I don't want to see is that we . . . take our eye off the big change that is required. We need to fundamentally fix our pension system so employees have the retirement security they were promised, and taxpayers have the certainty they're not left with something that they're going to have to pay."

In other words, Rahm doesn't want you to get the idea that problem with pensions resides with officeholders and other public leaders gaming the system; the real issue is greedy teachers and their public service sector comrades. (Rahm took a different tack when the exposed connivers were union leaders.)

And yet, last week the hard-headed president of the pension-averse Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago admitted on Chicago Tonight that public workers facing pension cuts were not to blame for their predicament; they made their lawful contributions but state officials did not. He called those actions criminal, and as a former state attorney general, he's in a position to know.

"Well, if this happened in the private sector," Fahner said, "there would be prosecutions going."


Rahm has a point in that the pension liabilities of all public employees far outweigh the graft - I'm guessing, I haven't done the math - of the select few pols gaming the system.

At the same time, each and every one of those public employees, as far as we know, has dealt honestly with the system. Governors, legislative leaders and our political con men have not.

And yet, who is called upon to sacrifice for the greater good? Who must clean up the mess once again, paying the price in real consequences to their families while the Daleys and Degnans (and Vaneckos) lap up their lives of luxury?

Here's an idea: Make them go first. Go get back some of their dough in a show of good faith before asking everyone else to give back. I bet that would make negotiations at the bargaining table far, far easier - and it would set a true template of fairness for the future.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Instagrammatic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Stars Out Of Alignment

It happens every season: A handful of traditionally reliable fantasy baseball stars begin the season as utter failures. In the first couple weeks of April you are not too worried about them, but if they are still mired in misery by the first week of May, you start getting nervous.

Should you bench them until further notice or keep playing them in hopes they will turn things around any day now? Should you trade them? Should you dump them? Well, you probably shouldn't just dump them.

Here's a few bona fide stars off to terrible starts this year, and what you should consider doing about it:

Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA: Obviously the biggest disappointment of the young season, with zero home runs and a .217 average. My advice: Play him. I say this after benching him on one of my fantasy teams last week, but I think a couple doubles in recent games suggest he's about to catch fire.

Heath Bell, RP, MIA: MIA is right. Bell has been simply awful, even giving up a run in a game the Marlins already were losing the other day. My advice: Bench him. I think we haven't seen the last of the slow-starting Marlins this season nor of Bell as an effective closer. However, I may change my mind if he blows two more saves.

Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, TOR: Totals like 3 HRs and 10 RBIs don't sound like a bad opening month for some players, but Bautista used to do that in one week, plus his .181 average is a sharp turnaround from a power hitter who seemed to figure out how to hit for average last season. My advice: Bench him. He is still drawing walks - 16 last month - but 3B and OF positions are loaded with power hitters. Put someone else in until Joey Bats gets his groove back.

Jose Reyes, SS, MIA: He is only hitting .220 with just 4 SBs. My advice: Bench him, although you may want to give him a longer leash if you are in a league that counts triples as part of the stat line. Reyes only had two of them in April, but that still has him tied for the lead at that position. The big problem is that his chief value is from SBs, and he's not getting many chances with that average.

Tim Lincecum, SP, SF: A record of 2-2 doesn't sound bad, but a 5.74 ERA and fairly stratospheric 1.58 WHIP makes for a pretty bad start. He actually had an 8.20 ERA going into his last start, but was able to shut down the lowly Padres. My advice: Play him. I would say trade him, though you are probably a couple good starts away from getting decent value for him.

Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY: A .267 average is underachieving for this guy, and he had just 1 HR and 4 RBI in April. My advice: Play him. His eight doubles last month were tied for the most at his position, and he actually has been hitting more consistently the last 10 days or so.

Yovani Gallardo, SP, MIL: His ERA climbed to 6.08 when he got shelled by the Cardinals last week, and has given up 33 hits in 26 innings. My advice: Play him, unless he is pitching against the Cardinals, against whom he has yielded 14 earned runs in 5.2 innings this year. Definitely don't start him against the Cardinals.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report takes the contrarian view on Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, saying he may not be ready for consistent fantasy contributions.

* SportingNews Fantasy Source shines a light on Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, the next hitter you've never heard of.

* Fantasy CPR identifies White Sox reliever Matt Thornton as a sleeper pick-up candidate. Perhaps not a bad idea the way Hector Santiago is giving up home runs.

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes former Twin Jason Kubel (now a Diamondback) for his line-drive frequency.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:08 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The NATO summit coming to Chicago later this month will give a $128 million short-term boost to the city's economy, according to a projection released by the head of the host committee Monday," the Sun-Times reports.

"That does not count any long-term benefits of raising Chicago's profile."

It also doesn't count any facts that reside here on Earth.

"Oh what a joke! I wish I was smoking what they're smoking," Andy Thayer of the Coalition Against NATO/G8 told the paper. "You look at the history of these summits and cities usually end up paying out millions of dollars because of the excesses of city officials on protestors."

Even without police brutality settlements, the estimate is wildly inflated. The Tribune figured out just one of the ways Deloitte Consulting, on behalf of World Business Chicago, juked the numbers. They included the cost to stage the event.

What's wrong with that? Isn't that money going to vendors and workers? Yes, but it's money simply being shifted from corporate and government treasuries. The cost equals the output. Does the money contribute to some overall economic gain? Only as much - or less - than that money might otherwise had it been used for something else. As the Tribune notes, trade shows never include their own cost when estimating economic impact. It's folly.

"University of Chicago economist Allen Sanderson said the study's conclusion is a gross overestimate," the Tribune reports. "As an example, it likely underestimates the loss of other tourism and business travel that weekend, he said.

"'Economic impact studies largely are public relations documents,' Sanderson said."

They're almost never to be taken seriously - and it's one of the first things new reporters learn if they're paying attention. It pains me to have to write this same item over and over again. When will they ever learn? Learn, dammit!


Usually one of the tricks is the way the multiplier effect of how much each visitor will spend and how that money will roll through the local economy is deployed, but in this case WBC has some other tricks up its soiled sleeve.

"Healey said the study did take into account possible damage from demonstrations and potential business disruption, but she did not give a dollar figure and none was included in the study."

So it was taken into account and yet not.


If someone tried to turn a study like this in to their boss in Corporate America.


"Sanderson says the actual economic benefits often turn out to be about 10 percent of what the boosters predict," CBS2 Chicago reports - after first calling him jaundiced so you don't take him seriously.

"Look, anytime an organization conducts an economic impact study, there is a weak link quality to it; you're going to produce a report that's very favorable to whatever activity you want to do," Sanderson said.


Hook, line, sinker.


The study predicts 21,000 people will come to Chicago for the summit.

"That includes 7,500 delegates; 5,000 foreign ministers, support staff, security details and spouses; 2,300 members of the media and 6,400 other staff and attendees," the Sun-Times reports.

"That will translate into 49,300 hotel stays and 2,200 temporary jobs, said Lori Healey, executive director of the Chicago NATO Host Committee. Most delegates are expected to stay four nights but some will stay as long as 15 nights, the report said.

"Healey called the estimates by the Deloitte consulting firm 'so conservative,' not counting the amount of undisclosed money federal officials are spending in Chicago for safety precautions."

So the more money the feds have to spend preventing riots the better!


"Liz Jellema, research director for World Business Chicago, said security costs 'are confidential,' but they are part of the overall $128 million estimate."

It's the figure in the estimate under "Confidential."


Actually there are few figures in the report. Deloitte doesn't show its math.


And how many times have we heard this before?

"Taxpayers will not pay anything for the summit - that's why we raised private money and I secured the federal money," Emanuel said.

First, federal money is taxpayer money too! Second, taxpayers have already been on the hook unless those private funds are flowing into budget lines at City Hall and the police department for the day-to-day activities consuming staff. There's also the lost opportunity cost of where the city's time and energy could have otherwise been spent instead of preparing for and hosting the summit.


Healey spoke at the City Club of Chicago but didn't answer every question put to her. My favorite example, from the Sun-Times:

"I want to know why Ms. Healey and the city of Chicago is promoting NATO, the most efficient killing machine the world has ever known," Purdue University sociology professor Steven "Kim" Scipes shouted from the back of the room at Maggiano's as a moderator threatened to have him escorted out.

C'mon, Scipes! NATO is coming to affirm its commitment to democracy - like the freedom to ask questions of your leaders!

"Why are you bringing war criminals like Madeline Albright and Condoleezza Rice to Chicago? Why are we losing our human rights?"

The moderator ignored the question, and gave Healey a commemorative City Club mug as Scipes shouted, "Why don't you let her answer?"

I wonder if Deloitte included the cost of that mug in its estimate.


"Healey downplayed miscommunication between her office and the federal government after her office was surprised to find them creating a 'red zone' around federal buildings in the city. 'I think it was overblown in the press,' she said."

Can someone get her another coffee mug?

Accretive Got TIF Funds
"The hugely profitable Chicago health-care debt collection company under fire for its (allegedly) unsavory practices - led by a devotee of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman - has also been a recipient of generous taxpayer subsidies including millions of dollars in TIF funds," the Beachwood Reporter found.

Fire Joe Cowley
Douchebag of the Year?


The Beachwood Tip Line: Economically impactful.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

Joe Cowley Hates Women, Can't Write And Is A Lousy Reporter But Keeps Job

Hey, Jim Kirk, here's your first crisis: What do you do with a sportswriter who wonders if he should be worried because the plane he's on his piloted by a woman and who advises one of his female Twitter followers to "hottie up" her pic?

Apparently you delete his Twitter account but you keep him on the job. Backwards!

Instead, you should fire Cowley and hire this guy to replace him. He deserves it.

Disclosure: Ricky O'Donnell is a former Beachwood Reporter contributor. And you know what? He's a fantastic talent.

He's also now the editor of SB Nation Chicago, so he may not be available. Your loss.


There are many reasons to fire Joe Cowley. The Ricky O'Donnell firing is one - and send Chris DeLuca packing with him. Here are some more.

1. Clearly Cowley thinks he's some kind of character. Clearly he's not.

"He once called Canada a third world country, and refused to stand for the Canadian National Anthem at a Blue Jays game in Toronto," Deadspin noted in 2010. "He's also been suspended from the BBWAA for his 'embarrassing' MVP votes on multiple occasions."

Clearly Cowley thinks he's funny. He's not.

"Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley is a homer in a city of media homers," Deadspin wrote in that same post. "But his Twitterrhea explosion last night against the Twins and their fans was something else. Stereotypes about being ugly? Calling players jag-offs? Mocking the dead? Check, check and double-check."

2. Chicago Sun-Times Rides A Plane, Degrades Women Everywhere.

3. Joe Cowley: Best Sexist Around, Nothing's Gonna Ever Keep Him Down.

4. Did we mention this?

5. His utter failure to understand satire (while accusing others of just that) and imagining that a villain isn't really channeling his real thoughts. See, it's us taking Twitter too seriously; he thought we'd all figured out what his account was about by now.

6. His bromance with Ozzie Guillen. How this was allowed to go on is beyond me. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper and general manager Kenny Williams out-and-out called Cowley a liar. If you edit the Sun-Times, you make them prove it or fight back. The paper, as far as I can tell, did neither. You can't leave fans wondering - and the benefit of the doubt isn't with your guy.

Time to act, Sun-Times. You aren't Randy Michaels' Tribune. (Hey Joe: Landing place!) Are you going to tolerate this?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 AM | Permalink

Accretive Got TIF Funds

The hugely profitable Chicago health-care debt collection company under fire for its (allegedly) unsavory practices - led by a devotee of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman - has also been a recipient of generous taxpayer subsidies including millions of dollars in TIF funds.

"The City of Chicago has approved a $6 million subsidy to a company promising to create 650 jobs over the next 10 years," Fox Chicago News reported in 2010.

"The money will be going to the Accretive Health Company, which manages the collection of medical bills. The money will provide the company with tax breaks and other incentives to expand the offices it already has on Michigan Avenue."

Last year the company reported $29 million in profits.


The state has also been generous toward Accretive.

"Governor Pat Quinn today announced that the state is providing a more than $1.4 million business investment package to assist Accretive Health, Inc. in opening a new facility in Chicago, as opposed to Florida or Tennessee," his office announced in November 2010."

That was a big year for Tolan; among other things, she was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year in the services category.

But the attorney general of Minnesota isn't very impressed.


Here in Chicago, Accretive has juice. Accretive was one of 12 corporations whom World Business Chicago recommended for subsidies between 2005 to 2010, according to city inspector general Joe Ferguson.

WBC, now the economic development arm of the Emanuel's increasingly privatized administration, calls Accretive one of its success stories.

"Chicago-based Accretive Health Inc. is growing exponentially by doing something that seems very simple: making it easier for healthcare facilities do what they're meant to do - provide healthcare," WBC says on its website. "Accretive helps simplify the management of hospital's and doctor's accounting and billing operations.

"Because this is what Accretive workers are specifically trained to do, that bookkeeping can be done more efficiently than a healthcare facility may be able to execute internally. Increased efficiency means cost savings and, thanks to a creative payment structure, it is through these savings that Accretive is paid. The hospital or doctor's office pays Accretive half of its total savings - it's a true win-win."

For such a Rand devotee, CEO Mary Tolan sure likes government. Not only does she accept subsidies by the millions, but she likes it to train its workers.

"To get the workforce that the company needs, Accretive has partnered with Chicago Career Tech (CCT) to train the skilled customer service representatives required to handle medical billing and insurance questions that clients may have," WBC also notes.

"CCT is the brainchild of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and was developed and incubated by World Business Chicago in late 2009. It is the first program of its kind in the country and provides an intense six-month, six-day-a-week program in technology-based job retraining designed exclusively for low- and middle-income, unemployed Chicago residents. The integrated program features classroom training plus hands-on employer- and service-based learning with a business or nonprofit organization.

"For the past year, Accretive has been one of those employer-based learning partners and has hired a large number of these newly re-trained workers. It's another win-win that WBC was happy to facilitate: find a way for Chicagoans looking for work to partner with a fast-growing Chicago company looking to hire qualified employees. In fact, the company expects to hire more than 650 people over the next several years."

CCT is funded in part by the city and state. Accretive "has become the largest career partner that CCT has and currently employs 25 CCT grads," WBC says. "These positions are a far cry from entry level - the average staring salary is $35,506. In CCT's current class Accretive Health is helping to train 49 of the participants."


Accretive filed a motion on Monday to dismiss the case against it in Minnesota and issued a statement, but otherwise, as the Tribune notes, as been silent; company executives have refused to comment even as one of its now-former clients has apologized to patients.

(Crain's reports that it conducted "a brief interview" with Tolan last Thursday, which seems to have amounted to just this quote: "I think that our growth going forward is going to continue to be a function of the good work that we're doing with our customers, who are really very supportive of us. That is what's going to carry the day, not this current media blitz.")

The company is also getting heat from at least a couple of federal lawmakers, including Al Franken.


In another interesting development:

"Two Fairview [hospital] executives who helped forge a partnership with a debt collection company under fire for its aggressive tactics have sons who work for the firm, the Star Tribune has learned.

"One of the Fairview officials, Dr. Dave Moen, also owned stock in the collection firm, Accretive Health Inc. His son, 24-year-old Sam Moen, works for Accretive and helped implement the high-pressure strategies that Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson blasted this week, documents show. Fairview's CEO, Mark Eustis, also has a son who works for Accretive."


Another unsavory connection.


How Accretive allegedly operates.


The University of Chicago is proud.


See also the item "Bedside Manners".


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

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