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« May 2009 | Main | July 2009 »

June 30, 2009

The [Tuesday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

No column today - many other things to attend to - but that doesn't mean I won't take comments on Stella Foster's column today. I think you know what I'm looking for.

And please note Nos. 13 and 14 added late yesterday to The [Monday] Papers.

The [Monday] Papers
1. The moonwalk.

2. Billy Mays' best work was for ESPN.

-

3. Honduras military coup.

-

4. All goals.

-

5. How did word get out that Lou Piniella called Milton Bradley "a piece of shit" in their locker room showdown on Friday night?

Some reports have pointed to a leak from a White Sox clubbie. Others vehemently deny that.

"In the Cubs' defense, the 'leak' conspiracy was being pushed by a Chicago Tribune reporter smarting over getting beat," the Sun-Times's Chris DeLuca writes today.

DeLuca also reports that Ozzie Guillen "took the Trib reporter to task for spreading rumors."

Mark Gonzales of the Tribune reports today that "The Cubs were told by a reporter the leak did not come from their organization, and the Sox issued a statement absolving themselves of snitching."

*

Reporters shouldn't be in the business of telling anyone where leaks didn't come from any more than telling anyone where leaks did come from. All that does is help narrow the field and, in some cases, out the source. Bad form.

6. "Now, perhaps my view of the Cubs' condition is not as fully-formed as most people's," writes our very own Andrew Reilly. "Perhaps there are things I don't know. Perhaps in the National League, a leadoff hitter with a .300 on-base percentage is a good thing. Perhaps Kosuke Fukudome's .260 average really is a major improvement over last year. Perhaps Ted Lilly was actually a great pitcher all along, even while he more closely resembled a terrible pitcher all those years.

"But it's hard not to look at the Cubs and ask how anybody in their right mind ever saw this year's team as having a shot (this writer included)."

7. "During the TV broadcast of the Sox/Cubs game on Sunday the Hawkeroo made a comment to Steve Stone about how Hawk admires the fire-e-ness (or something like that) of Big Z," our very own Marty Gangler writes. "To which Stoney said something like, 'You're an idiot.' Actually Steve Stone said something close to 'Well, if you want to average just 14 wins a season with the best stuff in the league, then by all means you can like his attitude.' I miss Steve Stone and his 'you have no idea what you are talking about' tone of voice. Put it on the board . . . no."

8. "The typical Chicago public school loses more than half of all its teachers within five years - and about two-thirds of its new ones, a study released today by the University of Chicago indicates," the Sun-Times reports.

"Teacher churning is especially severe in high-poverty, heavily African-American schools - about a hundred total - where half of all teachers disappear after only three years, the study found."

*

"Schools with the highest turnover tend to be among the worst performers, creating a vicious cycle that continues to hurt the school, the study shows," the Tribune reports. "Teachers leave because of a poor school climate and poor performance; in turn, both climate and performance suffer when turnover is a high."

9.

I crave release
from the heft
of dreams, from the cruel
realities of
desire

- Carnivale

10. "Lawmakers return once again to the capitol in Springfield today in yet another attempt to piece together a budget that is sure to result in still more posturing, phony outrage, slick manuevers, influence-peddling and favor-trading.

"Business as usual in Illinois is back in session."

11. The Olympic Village Gamble.

12. Ed Burke's Client Conflict.

13. "[I]n the middle of the day on a big summer baseball weekend (featuring Cubs versus Sox at the same time for goodness sake), the crowd at an average sports bar was captivated by a soccer game."

- Jim Coffman, SportsMonday

14. "Next in line is real-estate guy John Beck, who almost certainly has a program (and beware of anyone who says you're buying a 'program') to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams - as long as those dreams are considerably more complicated than buying the entire far southern suburbs by doing anything more than just walking into the Ford Heights village clerk's office and announcing, "Look, I'll take the whole mess off your hands for five hundred bucks."

- Scott Buckner, What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Release.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2009

What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon

By Scott Buckner

Jesus H. Christ! First Michael Jackson croaks out of the blue, and now incredibly popular TV pitchman Billy Mays! Which rightly begs the question about whether having infomercial medical insurance is prudent, even if the federal government does happen to come up with its own plan, like, next week.

Either way, celebrity Armegeddon is certainly upon us. So even if you're only remotely notable, I wouldn't even bother getting out of bed for the next two weeks because the shit is really hitting the fan. This means you, Wilford Brimley.

*

Originally, I intended to write an endearing yet engaging commentary of Monday morning's 1:30 a.m. airing of Love, American Style on MeTV (UHF 26.2). Back in the day, my parents were huge fans of this show, which was basically a lot of fireworks and The Love Boat without the boat.

I'm going to guess that there were critics back then who didn't get Love, American Style because, in some respects, it wasn't what you'd call hallmark TV. But it was about as risque for the time as Laugh-In, and my parents - who were probably 10 years ahead of their time - got it, and I got it too back in the sort of groundbreaking days when my dad was installing an FM converter under the dash of our brand-new 1968 Ford Galaxie back when there was, like, only one FM station in all of Chicago - and that one station played polka music most of the time.

So what? Visionaries like those are how we ended up with the Lincoln Highway, the light bulb, and the Chevrolet Vega. Well, two out of three ain't bad, even though I was always partial to my uncle Dave's bitchin' pizza-delverin' Chervrolet Vega, especially since it was the only one in the United States that didn't rust out standing still or blow the aluminum engine. Hey, I had a 1972 Pinto in my news-reportin' days. We Buckners yam what we yam, and that's all that we yam.

Still, I've basically come to the conclusion today - with the help of WCIU's Me-TV and MeToo networks - that pretty much every TV show I thought I loved as a kid during the early 1960s through early 1970s was total crap. Sure, my parents and I and my two younger sisters shared our Sunday nights glued to Quinn-Martin/Irwin Allen TV juggernauts like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, and The FBI; none of us knew then what we know now. We were a family, and we were all together every night over round steak and mashed potatoes and peas.

My dad, who used to laugh his ass off watching these shows for some reason or another (and the reason still escaped me during Monday morning's episode of Love, American Style), died in 1976. The fact that he thought the show was kick-ass funny even back when we were still watching it on a black-and-white TV set still makes the show more endearing to me because there really isn't much I have left to posthumously share about those days with a guy who who died almost 30 years ago.

Damn, I miss that man these days like I never knew I could 30 years ago.

*

Which really has nothing to do with what really pisses me off - which is the fact that, as usual, Love, American Style always happens to be followed by at least seven hours of infomercials on every single free-TV station in this city. I realize infomercials pay the bills that give cheap-asses like me free TV, but they also make people like me realize that the only thing everyone on the face of the planet wants to do is make you part with your hard-earned and hard-saved cash. Worse, it's an exercise which extends far beyond basic creature comforts like a box of cereal, a new washer or dryer, a bottle of beer or hair shampoo, acne makeup, a home gym, something to deal with that raging case of erectile dysfunction, or a new car.

Which in turn makes me appreciate every single public-TV station between Chicago and Northwest Indiana all the more. Even on pledge nights.

Truly, I'm not pissed off by the fine folks at General Mills or Kellogg's trying to convince me to spend five bucks on a stinkin' box of Lucky Charms cooked and packaged K-E-double-L, O-double-good, Kellogg's-best-to-you each mornin' by the fine, hardworking Americans of fine, hardworking American communities like Battle Creek, Michigan. No, it's the payday loan outfits. It's the bankruptcy lawyers. It's whoever's out of skim a huge percentage of your insurance annuity or workman's comp claim so you can just piss all your money away today. It's the the mortgage-loan renegotiators. It's the timeshare resellers. It's the car dealers that'll let you drive off with a car for $500 cash if you can get someone to give you the same paycheck stub that'll also legally (sort of) let you buy a gun for them in more neighborhoods than any cop might want to to think of. It's the bottom-feeder car insurance companies that'll be there just in case you don't need anyone to fix your car when it gets wrecked. It's the bottom-feeders.

Forty-five years ago, the worst thing any Chicago TV consumer had to be pissed off about was if they went to Ben's Auto Sales on Ashland Avenue and found out that Channel 26 TV wrestling promoter Bob Luce lied and nobody on the lot would Ben over backward to give you good deal. Or if you went into Burt Weinman Ford and found out that Linn Burton really wasn't for certain.

Now - and correct me if I'm wrong - I get the overwhelming feeling that if it's a commercial that pops up on a Chicago TV (and more so if it's on free TV during Cheaters, Maury Povich, or one of the plethora of TV-judge shows), it's a total fucking racket. How do I know this? Because I tried - for the hell of it - to play like I was a consumer (often more than once), only to get baited into buying expensive ancillary products like monthly newsletter subscriptions, website services, and maybe even my daughters sold into white slavery if I wasn't watching close enough. Sure, maybe you can get the latest government-freebie info through a hugely expensive newsletter subscription, but who are you going to trust more with your $500+ a year: Kevin Trudeau or Warren Buffett . . . or, on the very outside if you're not all hinky about him, Ross Perot?

*

The worst infomercial sucker-bets are - duh! - real-estate people like Dean Graziosi and John Beck, who swear they can show you how to buy pretty much all of the South Side - the Field Museum including the U-505 submarine, Millennium Park even without The Bean, the South Shore Railroad, and every strip joint and all the crack whores who come with them - for fifty bucks. Or, if you've listened to a certain Saturday morning AM-radio local-investor personality, you might know that renovating apartment buildings and renting them out to Section 8'ers is the way to make a bloody fortune in these trying times. Hey, maybe it is. And maybe I've seen enough on the Web to dissuade me from the infomercial to join SMC in favor of an outfit like Mail Order Associates in Montvale, New Jersey, if selling other peoples' shit is your thing.

However, I have a lifelong friend whose investing syndicate basically owned or rented an impressive chunk of Hegewisch, saw the crash coming months before it happened, and dumped absolutely everything. Smart motherfuckers, and they're not complaining - or buying - a bit. Sure, they're back to relying on good, old-fashioned hard work to make their neighborhood businesses provide the kind of living many of us would die to have. As if there's something wrong with that; I'll take getting rich the old-fashioned way over getting rich by leeching off others. Which is probably why I'll never be rich. Or famous. But that's OK. I can live with that.

*

The second-worse heap of the UHF infomercial dreck is Kevin Trudeau, the self-proclaimed public servant ("I'm not making a single dime off my books not available in bookstores I'm selling you right now!!! I'm doing this for you!!!!"). I became very aware of Kevin Trudeau when he was selling vitamin products for a multi-level marketing company before he discovered infomercials in the early 1990s, when I was working for an MLM guy's home-entrepreneur magazine in Tinley Park. Over the past 10 years or so, Trudeau's been making a living selling people tons of shit nobody wants anyone to know! Apparently, he's been entrusted with all kinds of shit the government doesn't want us to know about The Masons, whether UFOs are real, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, whether swingers really have more fun, the answer to the Lincoln/Kennedy-Kennedy/Lincoln secretary conundrum, and whether Tiger Woods really could sail to Antarctica on a raft made of all the money he owns.

Wait, come to think of it, there was a time not too long ago when Kevin Trudeau was infomercial'ing a book about everything vitamin companies don't want you to know about, either. Hopefully you got your copy before you, like, dropped dead.

Next in line is real-estate guy John Beck, who almost certainly has a program (and beware of anyone who says you're buying a "program") to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams - as long as those dreams are considerably more complicated than buying the entire far southern suburbs by doing anything more than just walking into the Ford Heights village clerk's office and announcing, "Look, I'll take the whole mess off your hands for five hundred bucks."

Simply put, there isn't a single person on the face of the planet short of Mother Teresa doing anything (and really, even she's not doing much of anything these days) out of the goodness of their heart - especially if they're putting out a fucking infomercial that cost a boatload of cash to produce and buy airtime for. So how are public guardians like Kevin Trudeau and John Beck making huge amounts of cash if they're just charging your credit card a stinkin' pittance for these awesome secrets that can make Superman impervious to Kyrptonite and President Obama impervious to the constitutional amendment preventing him from serving a 30th term? They're making it by their telemarketer/phone answering people pushing - and pushing hard - subscription services which will cost you more in two months than most honest and decent mothers without a WIC card will spend on groceries in a year, that's how.

How do I know this? In the first place, I know this because I made the mistake of ordering Kevin Trudeau's book (which he says has sold millions!!! of copies, but now is only available available when you order his second book on free government money) about credit card secrets that even God doesn't want you to know about for my mother, who happens to be into this sort of shit. At the time, I ended up spending a good half-hour trying to convince a very nice woman on the other end of the line that NO!!!!!!!! I DON'T WANT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE STUPID FUCKING BOOK I CALLED TO ORDER IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! So just take my goddamn order, willya????

After about two weeks, I got the book and thumbed through it just lightly enough to make it seem to my mother like it was brand new. She hasn't been repossessed or anything so far, so I'm guessing the book helped somehow. If she delivers me a wheelbarrow full of cash, I'll know Kevin Trudeau is a living, breathing god who with the ability to incinerate Mayor Daley with laser beams of death that shoot out from his eyes. In the meantime though, look away from your TV sets just to on the safe side.

Even worse was when, just for yuks and identifying myself from the beginning as a member of media, I thought I'd see what sort of flaming hoops I'd have to jump through to order John Beck's real estate course for the phenomenally-low price of what it cost my great-great-parents to buy a loaf of bread in 1862. Jesus fucking Christ - before this, I never thought I'd ever envision a time when an American consumer with a job and a valid Discover card with a cushy credit limit would actually have to beg a phone operator to relieve him of $39.95 just to so I could stop listening to a pitch asking me if I wanted to buy something to cover every individual grain of sand on the fucking beach. In an economy this fucked up, most smart order-takers would just take the money and run. Not so for this order-taker, who was apparently on a mission to piss the living fuck out of me to the point where, if I recall right, I told her to just screw the entire $transaction if that's the way she was going to be about it.

By the end of my experience (and I'd be happy to dredge up the transcript of the 2 a.m. call with the hapless John Beck telemarketer that I think is floating around my hard drive somewhere), I kept thinking people in Russia and China aren't just laughing at us - they're digging up Stalin and yanking Lenin off his dead-guy platform and pointing their crunchy 100-year-old fingers at us and making untoward comments about Red Dawn.

Too bad Lenin and Stalin can't come back and purge our infomercial shysters. For all I don't know about Russia, Siberia may actually be a halfway-decent place for them to spend the summer months at least.

-

Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:49 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday

By Jim Coffman

In the middle of my son's baseball game at Welles Park on Sunday, the coaches and spectators' attention was drawn by a burst of noise emanating from a nearby bar. We initially surmised that something big had to be going on at the Cell. But then one of the dads voiced his belief that it was actually a reaction to the U.S. soccer team's Confederations Cup championship game against Brazil. He wondered aloud if "the U.S. scored again?!" A minute later he confirmed that it had. The U.S. led Brazil 2-0 midway through the first half (on its way to a thrilling but ultimately disappointing 3-2 loss).

Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • Could we have imagined that scenario even 10 years ago? I think not. First of all, this was the first time the U.S. team had ever advanced to a FIFA final (and it completed an unbelievable journey to do so - more on that later). Second was the fact that in the middle of the day on a big summer baseball weekend (featuring Cubs versus Sox at the same time for goodness sake), the crowd at an average sports bar was captivated by a soccer game.

    And don't think this was one of those world sports specialty pubs either. This was a plain, relatively new establishment with lots of big TVs (which is really all it takes to make a sports bar at this point isn't it - as long as they are tuned to the right events?).

    Oh, and another thing. Did we mention that this was a live broadcast from Johannesburg, South Africa? Where everyone was dressed in soccer scarves not to profess their love for their favorite team but to simply try to stay warm (it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere)?

    Back to that second point: it used to feel like a fan had to introduce his or herself as either a red-blooded American sports follower or as a soccer fan. And oh the fun to be had by the average American sports columnist or sports talker who identified himself (it was always a "he") as the former and therefore felt it was part of his job to take potshots at the sport the rest of the world loves.

    A friend of mine (and former high school soccer team teammate) works for USA Soccer and he still finds himself in too many conversations in which he feels the need to defend the beautiful game. We talked about it recently and my feeling was it is time to stop having that conversation. If someone isn't a soccer fan, move on. You'll run into someone who is soon enough.

    Because the tide has clearly turned - part of this is the fact that so many young American adults played soccer when they were a kid. But playing soccer doesn't directly translate into being a fan. All you have to do is check the attendance figures. For a while there it looked like the Chicago Fire was ready to overtake the Blackhawks as the fifth team in town but that possibility was pushed way back by this past highly successful local hockey season.

    And while it was nice when the Fire opened a stadium of its own a couple years ago (it sucked going to Soldier Field for a game surrounded by acres of empty seats), the location (west-southwest suburban Bridgeview) was unfortunate. In this town if you are a true Major League sport, you play in the city. Period.

    So professional soccer clearly isn't overtaking anything around here anytime soon. What I'm saying is that it doesn't have to, especially of course when the national team doesn't suck. There is a great deal of fun to be had being a fan of soccer and baseball (the quintessential American sport along with football of course) . . . especially when the local hardball squads have struggled as much as ours have so far this season.

    * * *

    I had a chance to watch the re-broadcast of the Confederations Cup final late Sunday on ESPN 2 (they did the same with the U.S.'s tremendous 2-0 victory over Spain a few days prior in the tournament's semifinal round) and while it was too bad the U.S. couldn't hold on, it was an amazing 90-plus minutes of soccer. It was especially so because in two weeks the national team went from embarrassment (on the heels of some shaky World Cup qualifying play, particularly a bad loss at tiny Costa Rica - the U.S. opened the Cup with a tough loss to Italy and an abysmal one to Brazil) to treasure.

    At that point, the U.S. needed a double miracle to advance to the semifinals of the tournament held in South Africa as a precursor to next year's World Cup. They needed to defeat a tough Egypt team that had upset Italy by at least three goals and Italy had to lose to Brazil by at least three (due to a goal-differential tiebreaker if Egypt, the U.S. and Italy all finished 1-2 in their pool). The U.S. played brilliantly against the African champs and indeed pulled out a 3-0 win despite a non-call on an obvious handball on the goal line that would have resulted in a penalty shot. Then Italy, which hadn't lost by three goals in a major international competition in just about forever, lost by three goals (3-0). Then the U.S. doubled down on that two-fer by beating the world's No. 1 ranked team, the reigning Euro Cup champs (the second-best soccer tournament in the world) from Spain. Whew. Who do the Cubs play this week?

    -

    Jim Coffman rounds up the sports weekend in this space every Monday. He welcomes your comments.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. The moonwalk.

    2. Billy Mays' best work was for ESPN.

    -

    3. Honduras military coup.

    -

    4. All goals.

    -

    5. How did word get out that Lou Piniella called Milton Bradley "a piece of shit" in their locker room showdown on Friday night?

    Some reports have pointed to a leak from a White Sox clubbie. Others vehemently deny that.

    "In the Cubs' defense, the 'leak' conspiracy was being pushed by a Chicago Tribune reporter smarting over getting beat," the Sun-Times's Chris DeLuca writes today.

    DeLuca also reports that Ozzie Guillen "took the Trib reporter to task for spreading rumors."

    Mark Gonzales of the Tribune reports today that "The Cubs were told by a reporter the leak did not come from their organization, and the Sox issued a statement absolving themselves of snitching."

    *

    Reporters shouldn't be in the business of telling anyone where leaks didn't come from any more than telling anyone where leaks did come from. All that does is help narrow the field and, in some cases, out the source. Bad form.

    6. "Now, perhaps my view of the Cubs' condition is not as fully-formed as most people's," writes our very own Andrew Reilly. "Perhaps there are things I don't know. Perhaps in the National League, a leadoff hitter with a .300 on-base percentage is a good thing. Perhaps Kosuke Fukudome's .260 average really is a major improvement over last year. Perhaps Ted Lilly was actually a great pitcher all along, even while he more closely resembled a terrible pitcher all those years.

    "But it's hard not to look at the Cubs and ask how anybody in their right mind ever saw this year's team as having a shot (this writer included)."

    7. "During the TV broadcast of the Sox/Cubs game on Sunday the Hawkeroo made a comment to Steve Stone about how Hawk admires the fire-e-ness (or something like that) of Big Z," our very own Marty Gangler writes. "To which Stoney said something like, 'You're an idiot.' Actually Steve Stone said something close to 'Well, if you want to average just 14 wins a season with the best stuff in the league, then by all means you can like his attitude.' I miss Steve Stone and his 'you have no idea what you are talking about' tone of voice. Put it on the board . . . no."

    8. "The typical Chicago public school loses more than half of all its teachers within five years - and about two-thirds of its new ones, a study released today by the University of Chicago indicates," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Teacher churning is especially severe in high-poverty, heavily African-American schools - about a hundred total - where half of all teachers disappear after only three years, the study found."

    *

    "Schools with the highest turnover tend to be among the worst performers, creating a vicious cycle that continues to hurt the school, the study shows," the Tribune reports. "Teachers leave because of a poor school climate and poor performance; in turn, both climate and performance suffer when turnover is a high."

    9.

    I crave release
    from the heft
    of dreams, from the cruel
    realities of
    desire

    - Carnivale

    10. "Lawmakers return once again to the capitol in Springfield today in yet another attempt to piece together a budget that is sure to result in still more posturing, phony outrage, slick manuevers, influence-peddling and favor-trading.

    "Business as usual in Illinois is back in session."

    11. The Olympic Village Gamble.

    12. Ed Burke's Client Conflict.

    13. "[I]n the middle of the day on a big summer baseball weekend (featuring Cubs versus Sox at the same time for goodness sake), the crowd at an average sports bar was captivated by a soccer game."

    - Jim Coffman, SportsMonday

    14. "Next in line is real-estate guy John Beck, who almost certainly has a program (and beware of anyone who says you're buying a 'program') to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams - as long as those dreams are considerably more complicated than buying the entire far southern suburbs by doing anything more than just walking into the Ford Heights village clerk's office and announcing, "Look, I'll take the whole mess off your hands for five hundred bucks."

    - Scott Buckner, What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Release.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

    The Moonwalk

    By The Beachwood Freaky Dance Step Affairs Desk

    The moonwalk or backslide is a dance technique that presents the illusion that the dancer is stepping forward while actually moving backward.

    - Wikipedia

    -

    "The moonwalk was recorded as early as 1955 in a performance by tap dancer Bill Bailey," according to Wikipedia. "The French mime, Marcel Marceau, used it throughout his career (from the 1940s through the 1980s), as part of the drama of his mime routines, such as in trying to chase a balloon, etc. James Brown used the move in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. Jeffrey Daniel performed a self-made variation of the moonwalk in a performance of Shalamar's 'A Night To Remember' on Top of the Pops in 1982."

    -

    "Marceau, who died aged 84 in 2007 and was extremely popular with US audiences, 'would often recount how Michael Jackson used to go see him perform when he was around 13 or 14," AFP notes. "'He told him once backstage that the inspiration behind the moonwalk was Marceau's Walking against the Wind'."

    -

    The physics of the moonwalk. The key is friction.

    -

    London Flash Mob Tribute to the Moonwalk

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:35 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Editor's Note: On the occasion of this summer's final Crosstown Classic series, The Cub Factor's Marty Gangler and The White Sox Report's Andrew Reilly switched places.

    By Andrew Reilly

    Once upon a time, the Chicago Cubs were supposed to run away with the National League Central and across Chicagoland we all just kind of assumed that would happen. Ten game leads and twelve-ounce heroics! Superstar trades and ticker tape parades!

    Remember those days, Cubs fans? Weren't they neat? Weren't they magical?

    So you can imagine the outsider's view when the Small Bears, this time even armed with a bonus bat, stroll into historic Cellphone Stadium only to head back to Lakeview with nothing to show for their efforts beyond a lone token win against a crummy Sox team that pretty much everybody notches a win against. This mega-bankrolled non-juggernaut shows up, gets in a fight with itself, and its self-appointed Cy Young winner of an ace extracts his revenge on the world by taking a shot at quite possibly the worst outfielder in the history of baseball.

    This is what a contender looks like?

    Now, perhaps my view of the Cubs' condition is not as fully-formed as most people's. Perhaps there are things I don't know. Perhaps in the National League, a leadoff hitter with a .300 on-base percentage is a good thing. Perhaps Kosuke Fukudome's .260 average really is a major improvement over last year. Perhaps Ted Lilly was actually a great pitcher all along, even while he more closely resembled a terrible pitcher all those years.

    But it's hard not to look at the Cubs and ask how anybody in their right mind ever saw this year's team as having a shot (this writer included). Logic suggested they had a powerhouse carrying over from last year that didn't get that much worse, but reality has countered with the idea they were looking for some combination of fluke seasons and career high points to channel all that Wrigley Field magic and repeat themselves.

    On the streets of Chicago, you can actually see quite a few of the Cubbie faithful out there, all wondering aloud about their team's fate, but to those wondering souls I say wonder no more, for I have it on good authority the Cubs will finish out this season the way they finished the one before it and the one before that: on a low note as another year goes on the books with nothing to show for it. This weekend, if you think about it, wasn't just another series; this weekend was your beloved franchise in a nutshell.

    But hey, don't ask me. I'm just a White Sox fan.

    Week In Review: The Small Bears continue their woeful ways handing Atlanta a retroactive win, laying down for a trouncing at the hands of Tigers, and dropping two of three to the Sox to round out a 1-6 week. Today, fourth place and perpetual failure; tomorrow, the world!

    Week In Preview: Three in Pittsburgh followed by four at home against the Brewers. Seven winless days are not out of the question.

    The Second Basemen Report: Andres Blanco currently ranks 18th in batting average among NL second basemen, a neat fact considering only 16 teams play in the NL. It's as though the Cubs are, in some respects, worse than clubs that don't even exist.

    In former second basemen news, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg took a righteous stand against teammate Sammy Sosa's future chances at immortality in the wake of his formal outing as a juicer. The Cub Factor invites Sosa to share his performance-enhancing drugs with current second baseman Andres Blanco.

    Zam Bomb: Everyone knows that was an intentional shot at Dewayne Wise and, in the name of every bobbled fly ball turned into a standing double, every strikeout with runners in scoring position and every weak grounder to short, the White Sox faithful say "Thank you, Zam Bomb, for going off in such hilarious fashion."

    Seriously, if Zambrano being Zambrano means an epic shelling, tantrums directed at entirely insignificant and widely derided bench players, and an eventual White Sox winner, we might have to actually start rooting for the guy.
    zam_Boom.jpg

    -

    Lost In Translation: Aramis-san Ramirez is Japanese for "Your team is still going nowhere, but at least they'll hit more home runs."

    Endorsement No-Brainer: The U.S. Cellular Field visitors' clubhouse for Depends adult diapers: look at all the **** this thing holds!

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: Boggle, as in what the mind does when contemplating the Cubs ever acquiring that man.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 30% sweet and 70% sour. The Lou Piniella I know would have ripped Milton Bradley's heart out of his chest and held it up as a trophy in the post-game press conference for all the world to see. Have age and experience mellowed Sweet Lou - or have road trips with Geovany Soto mellowed Sweet Lou?

    Don't Hassle the Hoff: Jose Contreras held Micah Hoffpauir to an 0-for-4 Friday. And that's a wonderful hassle, indeed.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined closed-door sobfests are still a pretty weak manner of coping with a rough day at work.

    Over/Under: Number of people on hand for Tuesday's game: +/- 15,000. The only thing worse than going to Pittsburgh is going to Pittsburgh to watch a battle for the basement.

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

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    Fantasy Fix: Are you ready for some football?

    Mount Lou: Mount Lou moves to orange. Hitting batters? Smashing coolers? Relentless losing? Mount Lou has seen these things before and demands fresh sacrifice, lest the village below meet to its fiery end.

    mtlou_orange.gif

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    Contact The Cub Factor!

    -

    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:15 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    Editor's Note: On the occasion of this summer's final Crosstown Classic series, The Cub Factor's Marty Gangler and The White Sox Report's Andrew Reilly switched places.

    By Marty Gangler

    I would put myself on the side of "whatever" when it comes to the Crosstown "Classic," as most times it never proves anything. And people who put stock in it need to re-evaluate their priorities. And it proves out in the overall record, which is like 36-35 or something like that. So no team has truly been better than the other. So this week as I watched really fun bad baseball being played I thought to myself, Why did I ever get wrapped up in the crosstown series? When did it ever matter? And then it dawned on me. My level of "caring" was directly proportional with the number of Sox fans I worked with.

    And it's not all about the number, per se. All it takes is one guy. The last time I cared about a Sox/Cubs tilt was at a job I had three years ago. There was that one frothy rabid Sox fan who made my skin crawl. I mean, he used to tuck in his Sox jerseys and had numerous made with his own name on the back. Yeah, this guy was the table saw in a room full of tools.

    For the record, those have to be two of the top five jersey fouls ever - tucking it in and getting your own name on the back. Rounding out the top five would be: Getting number 69, wearing a jersey at a sporting event when that team isn't playing, and getting a name on a jersey when the players didn't put names on their jerseys when they played.

    So because of this guy, I wanted the Cubs to win more against the Sox than, say, the Expos. But I haven't worked with many rabid Sox fans at all since leaving that job. So it hasn't really bothered me win or lose. I'm sure this theory applies for the Sox fan too. You guys have probably always worked with a ton of floppy hat-wearing Cub fan goofs - and there are a ton of them. So it's just because of math that you guys care a bit more. The more I've thought about it the more I'm convinced that I'm just a Sox fan moving into the cube next to me away from getting all jacked up about the series again. I guess I have the economy to thank for not brining anyone new to the workforce of my employer. But is that a good thing? I'm not sure. I may really embrace the next time I care about the series.

    Week in Review: The Sox won two of three this week from both the best team in baseball, the Dodgers, and supposedly the best team in the Chicago, the Cubs.

    Week in Preview: The Sox jump on the road and head east to face the Mark DeRosa-less Cleveland Indians. Then they head to KC to face the also Mark DeRosa-less Royals. He is missed.

    The Q Factor: Carlos Quentin was seen doing agility drills before the games this weekend at the Cell. They were super atomic agility drills from hell.

    That's Ozzie!: Gotta love Ozzie coming right out and saying "it" about Carlos Zambrano. Guillen said after the contest on Sunday something to the effect of - Get in his head and you'll beat him. Yup, that about nails it.

    The Guillen Meter: After winning the past two big series', the Guillen meter reads a complacent 8 for "It's about the best we can do."

    Underclassmen Update: That Gordon Beckham kid, you know, he's the one who looks like he should be in a movie about the big man on campus quarterback at an Ivy League college who figures out there's more to life than good looks and winning football games, yeah he had a big hit this week.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox outfielder Sammy Sosa apparently cheated.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: During the TV broadcast of the Sox/Cubs game on Sunday the Hawkeroo made a comment to Steve Stone about how Hawk admires the fire-e-ness (or something like that) of Big Z. To which Stoney said something like, "You're an idiot." Actually Steve Stone said something close to "Well, if you want to average just 14 wins a season with the best stuff in the league, then by all means you can like his attitude." I miss Steve Stone and his "you have no idea what you are talking about" tone of voice. Put it on the board . . . no.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Scott Podsednik for the new Friday the 13th movie because I thought he was dead like a long time ago.

    Cubs Snub: They pay Milton Bradley 10 mil a year to do that.
    .
    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.

    -

    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Carnivale

    CARNIVALE

    I hate my hurt
    I hate my lies
    I crave light wait
    I crave lightness

    I crave release
    from the heft
    of dreams, from the cruel
    realities of
    desire

    the death of me
    sets me free
    the death of you
    that's news

    the breath of you
    that's truth
    I am bereaved
    by the theft
    of you

    cleaved
    by the less
    of you

    the press of yearning
    I hate this weight
    but it is life, but is time
    I crave the bright
    I crave the best
    of you

    I ache
    to fly

    alone above the skyscrapers
    temples and tombs
    light released unleashed
    from grief
    it's true

    I have my hurt
    I have my lies

    honed by hurt
    hammered by lies
    light like a dragonfly's
    wing

    stung by light
    stunned by incessant unfathomable
    longing
    I dream of no dreams
    free light no

    news no
    wings

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    June 27, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    Just think how much more time we'll have to follow the news now that we don't have to nip off to Argentina to help save a friend's marriage anymore.

    Change Watch
    It turns out Change will cost more money and destroy American jobs. Fortunately for those holding stock in the troubled start-up, it turns out Status Quo does the exact same thing.

    School Lies
    Education officials in Illinois are facing staunch criticism this week, accused of misappropriating public funding in order to enrich personal goals. Oh wait, sorry, that was in Detroit.

    Council Wars
    Members of Iran's Guardian Council maintain their stranglehold on power despite growing evidence of shocking corruption and widespread public dissatisfaction. Oh wait, sorry, Detroit again.

    Human Resources
    In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, the government agency charged with protecting the citizenry instead stands accused of callously disregarding their well-being in order to smooth their own... wait... oops, once again, that was Detroit.

    Mayor Malfunction
    Finally in Detroit this week, the city's mayor drew ire for his baffling reluctance to clarify the public burden of a major sports and entertainment investment. Oh wait, sorry, that was actually Chicago.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    June 26, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "As the music world begins to assess the complicated legacy of the man who crowned himself the King of Pop, there is no denying that Michael Jackson's climb from humble beginnings amid the belching smokestacks of Gary, Ind., to the top of the charts and worldwide superstardom will rank beside those of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and the Beatles as one of the most extraordinary rags-to-riches stories ever," Jim DeRogatis writes.

    *

    My least favorite Michael Jackson song is "Thriller." Can't stand the hokey video, either.

    But I always thought - and assumed others thought - that Thriller was Jackson's best record.

    Not being the total Jackson aficianado, it appears I've made an amateur mistake.

    "Released on Nov. 30, 1982, the singer's sixth solo studio album Thriller became one of the bestselling discs of all time, with sales estimated as falling anywhere between 40 and 100 million copies worldwide," DeRogatis writes. "But despite the much-vaunted impact of its genre-blurring sounds on radio and the pop charts - it spawned six Top 10 singles, including the back-to-back No. 1 hits "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" - and the fact that its big-budget videos broke the unofficial color barrier at MTV, real fans never thought it his finest work.

    "That honor belongs to Off the Wall, the 1979 album that actually pioneered the mix of funk, disco, pop, soul, jazz and rock polished for mainstream consumption on Thriller. With songs such as "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You," and collaborations with superstars such as Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney, who clearly viewed the then 20-year-old star as a peer, Off the Wall is the album hardcore fans reach for, including celebrated acolytes such as Justin Timberlake and Usher."

    Come to think of it, I'm not that fond of "Beat It." Again, hokey.

    But "Billie Jean"!

    And "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "PYT" and "Human Nature" . . .

    But I yield to the experts on this one.

    "The album title that suited him best was Off the Wall, his brilliant 1979 release, and that is not intended as a slight," Kot writes." With Off the Wall and large portions of the more calculated but still thrilling Thriller (1982), Jackson took artistic risks that paid off handsomely in commercial success. His music felt daring, provocative and exuberant, crossing lines of gender and genre."

    *

    Kot also had this to say:

    "Under the guiding hand of producer Quincy Jones, Jackson poured his personality quirks into music that bridged hard rock and disco, funk and pop, fantasy and reality. He made the personal, no matter how eccentric, seem endearing and universal."

    *

    And I'm glad DeRo mentioned this; Jackson's performance on this song is impossibly mature.

    "For that matter, more moving than anything on Thriller is the 1972 ballad "Ben," another No. 1 hit and a song that Jackson, right at the start of his solo career, invested with so much emotion that it instantly transcended its origins as a love song to a killer rat from a B-grade horror film."

    *

    From Wikipedia:

    "Thriller's lyrics deal with generally darker themes, including paranoia and the supernatural.

    "With a production budget of $750,000, recording sessions took place between April and November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California. Assisted by producer Quincy Jones, Jackson wrote four of Thriller's nine tracks. Following the release of the album's first single 'The Girl Is Mine,' some observers assumed Thriller would only be a minor hit record. With the release of the second single 'Billie Jean,' the album topped the charts in many countries. At its peak, the album was selling a million copies a week worldwide. In just over a year, Thriller became - and currently remains - the best-selling album of all time."

    *

    And:

    "In 1973, Jackson's father began a secret affair with a woman 20 years younger than him; the couple had a child in secret. In 1980, Joseph Jackson told his family of the affair and child. Jackson, already angry with his father over his childhood abuse, felt so betrayed that he fell out with Joseph Jackson for many years. The period saw the singer become deeply unhappy; Jackson explained, "Even at home, I'm lonely. I sit in my room sometimes and cry. It's so hard to make friends . . . I sometimes walk around the neighborhood at night, just hoping to find someone to talk to. But I just end up coming home."

    Bloodshot Briefing
    "Marshall, Michigan. In a little honky tonk place in the middle of nowhere with our friends, Whitey Morgan and the 78's. They are an outlaw country band, straight up the real deal."

    Matt Harness reporting.

    What I Watched Last Night
    "I actually liked Celebrity because someone found a way to combine the best elements of Survivor and The Surreal House."

    Scott Buckner reporting.

    TrackNotes
    "The insides of a horseplayer are torn apart in the conflict between racing and wagering and Arlington's Churchill Downs Inc. parent's seeming passion to rival Wrigley Field as the world's largest outdoor, Generation-Alphabet beer bash."

    Thomas Chambers reporting.

    Chicago Blog Review
    "Well, he talks about things like weenie wavers. It's a blog about crime: there are bound to be NSFW topics popping up now and then (unless, of course, you're a cop. Or a journalist. Then everything is SFW). But he doesn't post explicit photos or anything."

    Katie Buitrago reporting.

    The City That Suspends Black Students
    Um, that would be us.

    Clout Went To Law School Too
    University of Illinois scandal widens.

    Tuition Tales
    The University of Illinois is increasing its tuition. We've got some ideas about how they might spend the extra revenue.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Wanna be to starting something.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    Tuition Tales

    By The Beachwood Tuition Oversight Affairs Desk

    The University of Illinois is increasing its tuition. Here are some ways they might spend the extra revenue.

    * Upgrade clout list software

    * Put finishing touches on new clout major

    * Refinance hush fund

    * Emergency expansion of legal department

    * Extra sticker thingies for football helmets

    * Complete conversion to online-only diploma mill

    * Pay off back-dated recruiting bonuses for Deon Thomas

    * Give Chief Illiniwek money to start casino

    * Buy 2.42 thousand metric tons of Ramen noodles for student body

    * Send President B. Joseph White to ethics training

    - Eric Emery, Steve Rhodes

    COMMENTS:

    1. From Beachwood reader Mark:

    More black markers for the crew down in FOIA - keep up the good work, kids.

    - Suggest your own!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

    Chicago Blog Review: Arresting Tales

    By Katie Buitrago

    The Tribune has introduced its new beta platform for local blogs. Here at the Beachwood's Chicago Blog Review Desk, we'll be taking a look at some of the new - and familiar - faces you can find there.

    *

    Blog: Arresting Tales

    Description: Stories from Joe the Cop

    Substance: Joe the Cop, a 20-year veteran of a suburban police department, posts reflections on criminal activity, analyses of cop-related news, first-person accounts of policing and its attendant madness, helpful hints, and answers to civilian questions (hopefully this last feature will happen more often). I admit: before I stumbled across this blog, I went in with some assumptions. "Oh, a cop blog," I thought. "Another furious blog with a defensive cop ranting about 'cop haters' every time someone protests police brutality or a police DUI." Not so, my friends, and I am duly chastened. Joe the Cop is both thoughtful and thought-provoking and by no means supports police no matter what godawful thing they do. He, combined with Whet Moser, changed my mind a bit about the sentencing of Anthony Abbate.

    At the very least, his post added important nuance and questions to a case where emotions run extremely high. And his personal tales of police work are entertaining and enlightening. I just hope he answers my question about The Wire. Every college-educated White Person hails it as "gritty" and "realistic," but - come on. I'd wager that none of these vino-swilling bobos have set foot inside a police station since a fifth-grade field trip. Is it actually realistic, Joe the Cop?? Pray tell.

    Style: Joe is funny and pithy. He builds his stories and arguments deftly. I don't quite get the evidently ironic helpful tips series. Are they references to news stories? People he's dealt with at the station? It's unclear whether they're based in reality or not - if they are, I guess they're funny. If not, they just seem non sequitur-y.

    Tl;dr Score: Low. Joe's writing keeps the pacing feeling fast, even if the posts have high word counts.

    Commenter Involvement: His posts don't garner a ton of comments, but his readers are usually smart. Useful conversations between Joe and his readers often develop. Definitely click through after reading a post - the comments actually add value.

    Linkage: High. Joe consistently links to funny crime stories or further context on his arguments. He clearly does his research and it adds value to stories you find in the news.

    Screen Shot:

    arrestingtales.jpg

    Visual Appeal: Same old default ChicagoNow template. You know my thoughts on this by now. I quite like the banner, though the photograph could benefit from some higher-quality photography. The comic font (not Comic Sans, thank ye gods) plus the I'm-watching-you eyes shot lets you know from the get-go that Joe the Cop does not fuck around.

    NSFW?: Well, he talks about things like weenie wavers. It's a blog about crime: there are bound to be NSFW topics popping up now and then (unless, of course, you're a cop. Or a journalist. Then everything is SFW). But he doesn't post explicit photos or anything.

    Start Here: Hal Turner's history of hate and intimidation.

    Bottom Line: Joe the Cop runs a measured, thoughtful blog about policing and crime - a rare gem for the ChicagoNow network. It's not so focused on the inner workings of police politics, like Second City Cop, and that makes it less of a gripefest. It's like The Wire, except with links.

    -

    What other blogs are we reading? See the Chicago Blog Review archive.

    -

    Comments and submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:04 AM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night: Bungle In The Jungle

    By Scott Buckner

    At first, I thought NBC's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here was going to be the same sort of VH-1 resurrection of D-list celebrities shoved into in the same confined space long enough to kill each other for our amusement. Sure, I started out watching Celebrity to see how quickly Patti Blagojevich would end up as roadkill. For the first week or so, the campground kept reminding me that this is how Jonestown must have had started out, and like most everyone else, I pegged Patti to become dead meat within a week. But she wasn't, so I kept watching.

    I'm not entirely convinced she deserved the very special, five-minute (seemed way longer) retrospective of her time in the jungle after she got booted earlier this week, but I found myself surprised to discover that I really liked her. I'll leave the media vultures to debate whether she deserves whatever chamber of horrors the U.S. Attorney's Office might have in store for her and her husband, but I really liked her.

    The other thing that occurred to me over the show's three-week run is that jungles and rainforests are horrible, sweaty, steamy, critter-infested places that tourists have no business being in. The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace can have the place and every creepy-crawly thing in it. Give me a beach where I can have a stiff drink, a good maduro cigar, and something that looks pretty good in a bikini.

    Cash Combo
    I actually liked Celebrity because someone found a way to combine the best elements of Survivor and The Surreal House. That is, until Wednesday night's lame and totally unnecessary hour-long retrospective of the 24 days leading up to the announcement of who was going to be crowned head honcho of the Costa Rican jungle, net their charity a whole boatload of cash, and get - at least if the media can be believed - $48,000 in their own pocket for their time, trouble, and misery.

    I've been at the mercy of lawyers myself. That's why I know it would piss me off to no end if I was Patti Blagojevich and knew I just spent 23 of the most godforsaken days of my life half-starved on a diet of beans and rice and tarantulas just so I can hand 50 grand to a bunch of suits the second I stepped off the plane.

    Meanwhile at home, some of us spent the past three weeks (more or less) being in the jungle too, so we didn't need a cast reunion and recap of the whole damn show. NBC could've spared everyone an hour of our lives we'll never get back Wednesday night by just taking an extra minute at the end of Tuesday night's show to tell everyone - count to five reeeeeaaaaalllllllyyyyyyy slooooooooowwwwww to build the stupid, dramatic tension - who . . . the . . . hell . . . won.

    So who the hell won? Lou Diamond Phillips, who demonstrated that anyone can dispose of 30 pounds of lard and magically grow a six-pack by subsisting on beans and rice instead of going down to Walgreens and spending $40 a month on Metabocrack, that's who! My second favorite - ex-wrestler and most awesome tits-and-ass showcase Tori Wilson - was runner-up.

    Other than that, neither of the Baldwin brothers (who I didn't think much of before the show, but I like now) hung around nearly long enough. And I saw enough of Janice Dickinson's modeling-agency show on cable to know from the beginning that she's the bitch-spawn of Satan who would've eaten monkey-boy Sanjaya if she got hungry enough. She kept referring to herself as a supermodel, so I was seriously disappointed that neither of the Baldwins took the snarkotunity to remark, "A supermodel? Here? Fuckin'-A! Let us know when she shows up!"

    It wasn't just me. My 10-year-old son Ian reacted like he got smacked in the forehead with a bag of concrete the first time we tuned into Celebrity and laid eyes on Dickinson. To be fair, I afforded her every shred of respect that she otherwise threatens to beat out of everyone she encounters by informing Ian that she was once an awesome supermodel.

    His reply was - I kid you not: "When? Eighty years ago?"

    America's Talent
    NBC's America's Got Talent has been on the air for three or four years without me even noticing. Back then, I had satellite TV, so it's not surprising I didn't notice. But now, I don't even have air conditioning, so I noticed the two-night premiere of Talent Tuesday and Wednesday.

    If nothing else, the three-judge panel (including David Hasselhoff and Sharon Osborne) have an easier life than the American Idol judges because spending days on end watching a never-ending parade of horrendously untalented people setting themselves on fire is astronomically more amusing than having to listen to a never-ending parade of horrendously untalented karaoke singers. Plus, Talent host Nick Cannon is everything Ryan Seacrest isn't. Thank. Fucking. God.

    My early predictions of talent to last into the final few rounds, at least: The dude with the flying Frisbee dog, the rock 'n' roll Barack Obama guy, the three kids who sang "God Bless America" (their version choked me up huge time, I'm not ashamed to say), the yodeling dominatrix, and the three fiddle-playing babes in white. Honorable mention to the guy who stuck a huge meat hook and a boat anchor through his nose and then power-drilled his nostril. If nothing else, I see a profitable future for him playing Las Vegas with The Amazing Johnathan.

    Welcome to the land of opportunity, brother. Swim in it.

    Conan's World
    It's not a question of whether Conan O'Brien is a funnier Tonight Showhost than Jay Leno. It's a question of how many of us alive during the 1980s are sitting there every night having Conan make us wonder whatever happened to Max Headroom.

    Cricket Chirps
    The funniest commercial still floating around on TV: The Samsung Jack. So easy, even a zombie can do it.

    On the other hand, the "Respect" commercials for Cricket that someone insists on airing every two seconds during the overnight hours on every UHF channel in this city have convinced me to spend $20 a month more than I apparently need to for cell phone service if it'll just make those commercials go away.

    -

    Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:12 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: Racing's Wrigley Field

    By Thomas Chambers

    Why do they call it Arlington Heights?

    A quick check of elevations of Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows and Palatine put AH at the bottom of the list, so maybe it's like a subdivision name. But the bedroom community does have one thing that soars above surrounding suburbia and that is the majestic grandstand of Arlington Park, the jewel of Chicago Thoroughbred racing and one of the finest facilities in the racing world.

    You'd think it's merely a trip to the races, out in the country, well beyond O'Hare, for a pastoral diversion. But there's so much going on out there that TrackNotes will require two installments to give you a feel for the place. That this is necessary has sparked megabytes of debate over what Arlington is, or has become. The insides of a horseplayer are torn apart in the conflict between racing and wagering and Arlington's Churchill Downs Inc. parent's seeming passion to rival Wrigley Field as the world's largest outdoor, Generation-Alphabet beer bash.

    The yuppie posing and the strollers and the carnival that's offered to keep you interested if you don't care about the races and the blaring bands. Why, that's not what racing is or should be about! But yet, is not Arlington successful at this marketing approach? Get people in and hope the racing bug bites them? Convert them from free-program wannabes to true Daily Racing Form handicappers? This much is true: the two worlds, racing, and the marketing of all things to the right demographic, are colliding. Be careful out there in the Heights.

    This week, it's more about the gracious approach to a Saturday at beautiful Arlington Park. Mum was in town from her Palm Springs paradise and it's pretty cool that going to the races has always been high on her list of leisure activities. So to take the most comfortable route, we booked a table in The Million Room.

    On the fourth level on the finish line, it's a white-tablecloth restaurant ($5 over the $7 general admission just to walk in, reservations suggested) done in high tiers so as to get the best view of the track. I thought to myself, "This is their equivalent of the Gold Cup Room at Hawthorne!" But more nicely appointed, for sure.

    It was Prairie State Festival Day, meaning a series of stakes races featuring Illinois-bred horses. More on that later.

    I'm not a regular Arlington-goer, but I figured at least some of the people had to be players in the Illinois breeding and ownership game. It was great people-watching as there is a dress code (basically, no denim, no t-shirts, no shorts, and no wild displays of flesh by the ladies either) and people abided by it. They were there to enjoy - and bet - the races. It was the kind of focus I like.

    The menu looked decent and we had an appetizer order of deviled eggs with caviar (don't go nuts on me, it was literally just two microscopic black eggs on top) that were very good. But once ensconced post-appetizer, the room's true colors began to emerge.

    The biggest problem was that there was not enough waitstaff. If I saw a second person, and I'm not sure I did, that means they had about 1.5 people to cover the whole room. Visions of corporate bean counters danced in my head. Seems Churchill Downs itself had a similar problem last Friday night. The guy waiting on us had a suitably chipper style, but he was hard to find most of the time. The fallout from this was that the burgers we ordered surely sat on the wait table for at least 20 minutes before being delivered and what might have been a decent sandwich was not. The beer selection also gave me visions of Churchill Inc. and the beer distributors going toe-to-toe on the deal with both of them ending up in a bloody mess and we customers suffering as innocent bystanders. Nobody won that battle. Awful selection, not good.

    Wagering was easy. Up a couple of steps to a couple of human tellers and several machines. Nice, responsive and accurate machines. Winning? Not so easy.

    As I suspected upon learning of the day's schedule, while each race had nice-sized fields, all of the horses in each race seemed the same. None of them popped off the Past Performances sheets to me, and I never got a handle on things. I really do not like Arlington's Polytrack, and with all the rain last week, all the turf races were taken off the grass. I really rarely play Arlington.

    Each race seemed as if all the runners rounded the track in one bunch. Like when the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show all left WJM in a giant group hug. No horse seemed to be able to establish himself as the fastest in a race and closers were hard to find. There were a couple of very minor come-from-behind wins. Good turns of foot are often not rewarded and early speed means little. Do they plan it this way? Maybe it will be better on my next visit. Yeah, right.

    Calvin Borel rode Arlington that day, so cynical me had the Churchill marketing wonks forking up an appearance fee to get him here. But he didn't do much: a third in the Purple Violet and second in the Black Tie Affair. The highlight of the day - and it was from a pure racing standpoint as I didn't bet him - was the exciting victory in the Black Tie Affair by the grand grey, Fort Prado. The 8-year-old won the race in old-warrior fashion for the fourth time; he was not to be denied. He has now won on dirt, turf, and artificial surface. He's a horse as honest as the day is long.

    We both pretty much had "blinkers on" as it was simply up the elevator to the Million Room lobby (and a tasting by a young lady hawking wine), a day at the races, and then down the elevator afterwards and home. Our vantage point was superb and it was easy to watch the horses all the way around instead of depending on the video. We didn't really explore the grounds. The cuttingest part of the day was while I lost my stake, Mom made a profit. I didn't hear the end of it in the stagecoach ride all the way back downtown.

    Next time: Mingling with the masses. Or, "Unless It's a Tipster with a Hot Horse, Get Off That Phone!"

    Rachel's Road
    Interesting development: Owner Jess Jackson has declared that his fantastic filly Rachel Alexandra will not run in any race in this fall's Breeders Cup. While Rachel runs Saturday in Belmont's Grade I Mother Goose (it figures to be nearly a walkover, but this is racing), there's lots of buzz as to how her 2009 schedule will develop.

    Jackson is still seething over what he sees as a dubious racing surface costing his wonder horse Curlin the exclamation point of winning the Breeders Cup Classic at Santa Anita last October. In it's typical idiocy, Thoroughbred racing will again hold the festival at Santa Anita this year. While there's a lot of speculation as to Jackson's motives, I don't blame him on face value. Why compromise Rachel's achievements by sending her into an ambush by the Europeans, who handled the Cup track much better last year? I don't think it's wrong to stand against synthetic surfaces, but it's a shame it has to happen. Once again, the fans lose. The day the racing industry unites and carefully ponders knee-jerk decisions such as rushing to synthetic surfaces is the same day Chicago's city council stands up to The Wizard.

    The fallout is that the chances of Rachel Alexandra meeting super older filly Zenyatta remain slim and dimming, as Zenyatta's connections have made it clear they have no desire and see no reason to take Zenyatta out of California's synthetic cocoon. She runs Saturday in the Grade I Vanity Handicap at Hollywood.

    Speaking of Rachel's achievements this year, her campaign tantalizes as it could mean she'll run in any combination of the Whitney Handicap, Jim Dandy, Coaching Club American Oaks or even the Travers Stakes. She figures to take on the boys again, as long as Jackson feels the Preakness win against males was not enough; and remember, these three-year-old males are really maturing at this time of year. So maybe the Preakness should be her last race against the males.

    With Jackson, you never know, and it's hard to figure how his ego will keep him away from the Breeders Cup with a horse the caliber of Rachel Alexandra.

    Fireworks Fiasco
    It's a tradition, but why do they have fireworks at Arlington Park every July 3rd? I realize you can put a lot of people there, but it has got to scare the hell out of the horses. And aren't the horses the point? This year, they're going to charge everyone to get in, run the races late, then have the fireworks. Previously, they would have a regular card and then clear the place then let people in for free for the fireworks.

    So now, many of these horses will be worked up from having just run and the artillery will begin. Wanna bet on a run on horse tranquilizers? I don't believe it's humane. At all.

    But I put on the same level people's fascination with fireworks as that of the Chicago Fire Department personnel who light off bombs and rockets in front of the station house next to my place every July 4. Mrs. O'Leary's barn is within walking distance. Senseless.

    -

    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you Track Notes every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:53 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: Sounds Like Beer

    By Matt Harness

    Second of a two-part preview.

    Five Bloodshot bands will take to the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage on Saturday for Bloodshot Records Day at the Taste of Chicago. One of them will be the Deadstring Brothers, playing their own brand of red-blooded rock and roll.

    Beachwood Music caught up with guitarist and singer Kurt Marschke, a Detroit native, and asked about the band's date in the Windy City and, as usual, touched on a few other topics, including the Motor City's meltdown.

    *

    Beachwood Music: Where's the warm-up for Taste going down?

    Kurt Marschke: Marshall, Michigan. In a little honky tonk place in the middle of nowhere with our friends, Whitey Morgan and the 78's. They are an outlaw country band, straight up the real deal. We do a lot of gigs with them. They are our brother band in Michigan.

    Beachwood Music: Bloodshot's Web site calls your music "pure rock and roll." Others compare Deadstring Brothers to the Rolling Stones during the band's Exile on Main Street years.

    Kurt Marschke: I am trying to write country, classic rock tunes, the late 60s country, drawing from The Band, Dylan's Nashville Skyline. The American South at that time, with Muscle Shoals.

    Beachwood Music: The bio also writes you're a "studio magician." You pulling rabbits out of hats? Swallowing swords?

    Kurt Marschke: I don't know about that. We are performance-based music. Just put mics in front of us. There's no magic going on, no trickery. We go for vintage.

    Beachwood Music: You are one of the newer bands on the label's catalog. Signed in 2006. Your last release was 2007's Silver Mountain. Working on anything new?

    Kurt Marschke: Our next one is done. We're trying to line up a release date with Bloodshot. It looks like we will go to Europe and tour and after the first of the year it will be released in America. It's just sitting there.

    Beachwood Music: The new album is like a loaded gun you want to fire. That would bug me.

    Kurt Marschke: We learned a harsh lesson with the last one, releasing it too soon. Kind of backfired. Everything wasn't lined up properly. We want to do this one right. We basically will tour all through next year off this record. I don't mind. I am a touring musician, not really an artist. The only way for me to make a living is by touring. If I could play gigs every night, I would. The plan is to stay on the road and create that life.

    Beachwood Music: What's the mode of transport?

    Kurt Marschke: Conversion van and trailer. Home sweet home. It's nice. There's TV, video games. I am usually driving.

    Beachwood Music: In case you didn't know ,Taste of Chicago is the world's largest food festival. How do you feel about competing with gluttony?

    Kurt Marschke: It'll be sweet.

    Beachwood Music: OK. Pair Deadstring Brothers with a food.

    Kurt Marschke: Beer.

    Beachwood Music: Is that a food?

    Kurt Marschke: We are a beer band. How about whiskey? I don't know BBQ. Eat as much as you can for all the liquor and beer you will be drinking.

    Beachwood Music: Now that everybody's stuffed and drunk. Let's head over the jukebox. Give me your playlist.

    Kurt Marschke: Oh, man. You just sent me into a complete tailspin. That's like going to a candy store and trying to pick my favorite pieces. How about some "Tumbling Dice" by the Rolling Stones, "Whiskey River" by Willie Nelson, "Lonesome, Ornery and Mean" by Waylon Jennings. It's like asking me to pick from the stars.

    *

    Deadstring Brothers plays the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage at 1:45 p.m. On Saturday evening, the band will share the stage at FitzGerald's with label-mate Andre Williams. Here's a little taste.

    *

    See also Bloodshot co-founders Rob Miller and Nan Warshaw previewing their day at the Taste.

    *

    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:23 AM | Permalink

    June 25, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    My favorite quote about the secret briefings Pat Ryan and other mayoral cronies are having with aldermen about the Olympic bid comes from Daley spokescreature Jackie Heard:

    "Nothing is out of the ordinary here."

    Indeed.

    - via the Trib

    *

    My favorite Olympic fiasco headline:

    "Pat Ryan Scheduled To Insult Our Intelligence Today."

    - via Whet Moser

    *

    Did the mayor's mouth write a check that his butt can't cash?

    "Ryan had sought to put off meetings for 45 to 60 days, saying it made no sense to discuss details when the bid team doesn't have the insurance policy arranged."

    That would be the insurance policy that is supposed to (sort of) protect taxpayers.

    *

    "Burris Financial Disclosure Incomplete."

    Will file amended version.

    No kidding.

    *

    "Police Reunion To Be Met With Rally: Protesters, officers still defend actions of 1968 Democratic convention."

    Isn't this how Civil War re-enactments got started?

    *

    "B. Joseph White, president of the University of Illinois, has refused to release records relating to the resignations of coaches at the University of Illinois at Springfield."

    White also refusing to release class schedules; says students have no right to violate university's privacy.

    *

    Also denies reports that clout plays a role in dorm roommate assignments.

    *

    Won't release names of dorms.

    *

    For security purposes.

    *

    Tuition going up, though.

    *

    White won't say by how much; accounts will just be secretly accessed.

    *

    To protect students' privacy.

    *

    "Nikki Finke, the sharp-tongued Hollywood blogger, is having her payday. Her Web site, Deadline Hollywood Daily, has been acquired by the Mail.com Media Corporation for an undisclosed amount."

    Apparently Finke didn't get the memo that nobody is making money on the Internet.

    *

    "Meanwhile, on its Chicago edition, launched in August last year, the site has tied up with ESPN, where HuffPo will provide headlines and blog posts to ESPNChicago.com local sports site, while it will get sports content for its own site."

    Apparently HuffPo and ESPN didn't get the memo that nobody is making money on the Internet.

    *

    "Vertical ad network Good Health Advertising has finally closed its $1 million first round of funding, and named former A&E exec Bill Jennings as its new CEO. The N.Y.-based company, which runs health-centric search and display ads, had been in the process of raising the round since its inception in 2007."

    Apparently Good Health Advertising didn't get the memo that online advertising is dead.

    *

    "There's been some surprising good news about display-ad spending this past month - and Yahoo is betting that more is on the way . . . On Monday, the company will release My Display Ads, a self-serve ad system that it will use to court small and mid-size businesses. The introduction of this product suggests that Yahoo feels ready to go head-to-head with Google and AOL, as well as social networks Facebook and MySpace, which have had been aiming self-serve ads at smaller advertisers for several months."

    Apparently Yahoo didn't get the memo . . .

    *

    "quarter mad Today at 11:02 AM FLAG COMMENT There are meters in front of my house now! When they first came they were active until 6pm only -- now they are until 11pm. I can't even park in front of my house!!"

    *

    From our very own Marilyn Ferdinand:

    [Seraphine] is criminally underexposed and will end its run at the Music Box on Thursday.

    *

    "One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama . . . "

    Tell me about it.

    *

    "Static content won't cut it in the future."

    *

    Memo to Steve Ballmer: Neither will crappy products, though I'm sure you can look forward to a federal bailout in about 25 years.

    *

    I mean, isn't Microsoft the General Motors of our time?

    *

    But I love the phrase "static content."

    *

    I was describing to a friend recently how a certain portion of the problems faced by newspapers like the Tribune right now resulted from overextending debt on the assumption that revenues would increase forever. "Sort of like subprime mortgages," she said.

    Sort of. And also sort of like AIG:

    Will Credit Default Swaps Do Gannett In?

    A lengthy article in The Deal says it's too late for Gannett (NYSE: GCI) to get itself out of the debt trap it now finds itself in. According to several unidentified "distressed debt experts," the view is that Gannett could have saved capital by cutting its dividend much earlier than last February, when the newspaper publisher sliced payments to 4 cents from 40 cents for a $325 million savings. But more than that, Gannett should have staggered its debt obligations so that it would have had 10 years to pay off creditors, instead of the current three. The article concludes that by June 2011 Gannett will resemble a very different company."

    *

    "For Closer MacDougal, The Fastball Is Just Fine.

    White Sox washout revives career.

    (Thanks, Jackson.)

    *

    The Chicago Latino List.

    Minus the usual suspects.

    *

    Cushy board seat created for former Trib CEO Dennis FitzSimons.

    "Oh good, I was worried about how he might do in these tough times," one commenter says.

    *

    The Burkes: such lovely people.

    *

    Richard Roeper is bummed out about America because Lauren Conrad's new book is No.1 on Amazon's fiction chart.

    Roeper recently took some time off from his newspaper column to write up his new book about gambling for 30 days straight.

    So from one literary lion to another . . .

    *

    I'm not sure why Roeper couldn't still keep up his column. I play a game with myself every time I read it: I set an Over/Under line for how long it took him to write it. I've never set the line at more than 15 minutes.

    *

    "I don't usually read Richard Roeper - it's that or take better care of my cuticles."

    - Whet Moser

    *

    "Everyone's too busy looking at their shoes or combing crumbs out of their ironic, Civil War re-enactor facial hair to bother."

    - Rob Miller in the first of our two-part preview of Bloodshot Records Day at the Taste

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Self-serve.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: Playing The Lottery

    By Matt Harness

    First of a two-part preview.

    Five Bloodshot bands will take to the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage on Saturday for Bloodshot Records Day at the Taste of Chicago. We asked label co-founders Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller for some insight. We'll have more on Friday.

    *

    Beachwood Music: How did you get involved with the Taste of Chicago? How did you manage to get your own stage?

    Rob Miller: Beats me.

    Nan Warshaw: We've often had one or two bands play at Taste of Chicago, but this year the festival manager at the Mayor's Office of Special Events contacted us early on to discuss ideas. The good folks at the Chicago Music Commission helped initiate these discussions.

    The city wanted to step up the caliber of the Taste stage and keep it local. They embraced the idea of giving five local labels a day each on the Taste stage. With Bloodshot celebrating our 15th anniversary this year we were able to make this one of our big anniversary kick-off shows. We also like that the Taste is free and open to all.

    Beachwood Music: Where does this festival rank for the Bloodshot bands in terms of overall exposure? Most of the walking garbage disposals at Taste probably never heard of Andre Williams. This must be thrilling for the label to be able to reach such an audience?

    Rob Miller: One hopes, but who knows how many go there to open their minds to new music and how many are just there to cram an endless supply of elephant ears and rib tips in their faces. Of course, it is an honor that most of my brain can't comprehend that we get our own day at such a huge event alongside other great Chicago labels.

    Beachwood Music: Is there going to be any other Bloodshot presence at the festival? Perhaps a Jon Langford dunk tank?

    Rob Miller: I will be doing my twirly dance, if that counts. That's a presence, right? Maybe we will whip up some Bloodshot brand parking meters, a sure money generator!

    Beachwood Music: As the label's gurus, give us a rundown on each of the bands performing, Nan.

    Andre Williams: He may be in his 70s, but he still struts out on stage in a sharp suit and hat, ready to entertain with bawdy lyrics, R&B-infused garage-y rock, and his sexy growl.

    Deadstring Brothers: Exile-era Rolling Stones meet the Burrito Brothers. This is organ and pedal steel big rock with harmonies.

    Dollar Store: Finest Midwest roots rock. Grew up through metal and punk. Working class imagery.

    Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: Energetic champer pop for emo to art-punk fans, with dark, personal themes.

    Waco Brothers: They are my favorite drug. They incite fun (without kitsch) and world change while masquerading as a bar band.

    Beachwood Music: Rob?

    Andre Williams: It's Andre Freaking Williams! Who wouldn't like to see a smutty R&B legend in front of a huge crowd of unsuspecting, sandal-wearing suburbanite fair-goers. It could be explosive. The kids will love it.

    Deadstring Brothers: They just rock. If radio would play them, we wouldn't need "classic rock." Should go over well with the segment of the fans sneaking one-hitters into the park.

    Dollar Store: Again, rock, pure and simple. Yet, mysteriously, no one seems able to do it anymore. Everyone's too busy looking at their shoes or combing crumbs out of their ironic, Civil War re-enactor facial hair to bother. Reminds me of a rootsier Soul Asylum in their prime.

    Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: New CD coming up. No one makes mental torpor and anguish so danceable. The gloom of Morrissey with the confrontational chutzpah of great punk bands. And a wicked fiddle player.

    Waco Brothers: If, after several lukewarm beers in plastic cups and walking around all day, you do not find pleasure in the Waco Brothers, you do not deserve to have ears. Or to have fun.

    Beachwood Music: One final question. Being the Taste of Chicago and all. Pair a food with each band.

    Nan Warshaw: From my vegetarian perspective.

    Andre Williams: A spicy black bean soup with a dollop of rich sour cream.

    Deadstring Brothers: Creamy vegetable pot pie.

    Dollar Store: Fresh corn on the cob slathered with butter.

    Scotland Yard Gospel Choir: Vegetable tempura.

    Waco Brothers: Garden grown tomatoes and cilantro salsa, fresh corn chips, a cold beer with a shot of whiskey. Alcohol is required with Waco food.

    *

    Here's the lineup:

    Noon-1:15 p.m. - Andre Williams
    1:45-3 p.m. - Deadstring Brothers
    3:30-4:45 p.m. - Dollar Store
    5:15-6:30 p.m. - Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
    7-8:30 p.m. - Waco Brothers

    -

    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. And sometimes on Thursdays, too. Matt welcomes your comments.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

    June 24, 2009

    Fantasy Fix: Shadow Drafting And Starting Pitching

    By Dan O'Shea

    It's about 92 degrees in the shade right now, so I figured what better time to start talking about fantasy football. Actually, I don't plan of formulating my draft night game plan for the football season for hopefully another month, but I noticed a lot of fantasy football publications hitting the newsstands and mock drafts popping up across the Internet, so I figured I would at least update the first round recommendations I put together at the end of last season.

    Here's what I'm thinking now:

    1) Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota - No changes here, and you won't find a mock draft anywhere without him at No. 1.

    2) Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta - I've seen draft guides listing him as late as sixth. Atlanta does have more weapons, but to me that means longer ball control and more chances.

    3) Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville - Any of my No. 2, 3, and 4 picks are basically interchangeable. Jacksonville may lean on him more this year.

    4) DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina - I love this guy, but dropped him a spot just because MJD has more proven consistency.

    5) Steve Slaton, RB, Houston - I wasn't buying the hype before, but I am now.

    6) Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco - No one's buying the hype but me. Ranked higher here than you'll see elsewhere, but the strong overall offense rule (see Turner) applies here, too.

    7) Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona - He's got his passing machine (Kurt Warner) back, as well as his perfect foil (Anquan Boldin), so he'll repeat as top receiver.

    8) Matt Forte, RB, Chicago - I slid him down the ranks because the Bears are suddenly a passing team, but he'll get his yards and maybe a few passes from Jay Cutler.

    9) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans - He came this/close to breaking the single-season passing yardage record, and may not get any better, but is good enough to go here.

    10) Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis - Very frustrated by this guy last year. His huge games are too far and few in between, yet he'd never make it beyond here if skipped.

    11) Brian Westbrook, RB, Philadelphia - Similar story. Always an injury concern, but still manages a handful of huge games. Too good to let pass at the end of Rd. 1.

    12) Andre Johnson, WR, Houston - Yardage monster even when he isn't getting TDs. Probably will benefit from clearer QB picture in Houston.

    And a quick stop to check out the nascent fantasy football chatter on the expert wire:

    * Roto Arcade's Spin Doctors weigh Jackson vs. Gore.

    * Sports Illustrated asks whether it's prudent to take a No. 3 WR on a hot passing team over a No. 1 receiver on another squad.

    Fantasy Baseball Round-Up
    And now, back to baseball: Injuries to top-drawer player continue to make news. A few weeks back, we mentioned the position players who were hurting. Now, some of the top starting pitchers are laid up. Brandon Webb, Jake Peavy, Roy Halladay, Ervin Santana, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Scott Kazmir and Edinson Volquez are the names in the list of top 25 pre-season SPs that now have a "DL" next to them. Webb's season could truly be in danger, as he has had a couple of setbacks since April and soon there will be little reason for him to return to a losing club. CC Sabathia also left a game early a few days ago with tightness in his bicep, though he supposedly will make his next start.

    The rash of injuries has allowed some surprising names to float to the top of the SP ranks. Javier Vazquez may get no love from White Sox fans, but he leads the National League in strikeouts. He still has a losing record at 5-6, but the Atlanta Braves could be an interesting team to follow in the second half. Josh Johnson leads the National League in innings pitched, with just over 105. He has a great record (7-1) on a losing team, and probably will continue to be asked to pitch deep into games. Edwin Jackson has been slightly over-shadowed by Detroit teammate Justin Verlander, but Jackson is among the American League ERA leaders, and were it not for Detroit's sometimes lackluster offense, he would have 10 wins by now instead of 6. Matt Cain has a better record (9-1) and ERA (2.39) than superstar rotation mate Tim Lincecum and is finally getting run support that evaded him for, literally, the last several years. Finally, the surprise that shouldn't be is the unhittable Chris Carpenter, 5-1 with a 1.53 ERA.

    This doesn't count the 2009 successes that already have been noted, such as Zack Greinke and Dan Haren. Needless to say, if you are aiming high as you look to trade for starting pitchers, these are the names you should be going after. The ones who are hurting may still deliver value, but watch your step. Among the injured, Webb and Peavy definitely should be passed up; Halladay and Kazmir should be back very soon; Santana, Matsuzaka and Volquez could be more moderate risks because their pains are nagging ones.

    This week's expert wire:

    * MLB Skinny has a look at the leaders across several stat categories, and how the leadership translates into broader impact and value. You probably knew this, but all those Carl Crawford steals also reflect well on batting average and runs scored.

    * The Cincinnati Enquirer has a piece on 1B Joey Votto's battle with depression. Votto, hitting near .360 before he went on the DL with a "stress-related" condition, has all the physical gifts and started out well this year in several hitting categories. Fantasy owners should definitely have him in the lineup, but watch this situation closely and make sure you keep the 1B back-up you had subbed for Votto earlier. Both interesting and troubling, Votto is the latest player to admit an anxiety-related illness, after Zack Greinke and Dontrelle Willis. These problems, certainly not to be scoffed at, should raise as much of a red flag for the fantasy owner as chronic physical injuries do.

    * Want to see a photo of Manny Ramirez in an Albuquerque Isotopes uniform? Yahoo! has the AP story on Manny's minor league debut as he begins his climb back into the MLB. Alex Rodriguez came back strong after a season-opening injury that coincided with his steroids revelation, but has since fallen on hard times and actually was benched last week. How will Manny come back from his own drug scandal? Watching the first-place Dodgers eat up the White Sox Tuesday night, I still think Manny will have easy RBIs and run-scoring opportunities awaiting him upon his return.

    * Sports Illustrated investigates the prolific drop-off of B.J. Upton, who certainly was a first-round pick in many leagues this year. Even if Upton starts hitting more regularly, it will take him some time to surpass .250. Still, he had 24 stolen bases as of last week, and should easily break 50, which is about the point where a pure base-stealer with nothing else to offer becomes valuable enough to keep in play. The thing is that while Upton still only has 3 HRs, he will certainly deliver more homers in the long-run this season than pure speedsters like Michael Bourn and Juan Pierre. Those players' batting averages are much higher, but I can guarantee you, we haven't heard the last of Upton or Tampa Bay this year. I see August-September surges for both player and team.

    -

    Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Dan welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    At Your Service: First Dates And Foot Massages

    The last week was pretty uneventful. I only got yelled at twice on the phone by complete strangers, I didn't drop anything on anybody, and only had two people leave gum on their plate. The kitchen didn't even crash and burn. How did I possibly make it through the week, then, without the drama that fuels me? I don't think I could have without the kind, thoughtful words of co-workers.

    I work with my future brother-in-law. He is my rock at the restaurant. He has kept me from quitting or getting fired more times than I could possibly count. He switches stations with me if I'm scheduled to work an area that gets larger groups of people (there are only so many idiots I want to deal with at once) and listens to me bitch about his brother. He provides entertainment for his fellow employees, he plays pranks on the managers, mimics the unstable cooks, scares customers, and offers constant pearls of wisdom.

    For example:

    "I wish I had 15 hands to face-push the world."

    Makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    And after I complained one day that a table of mine requested my services as a photographer while my hands were full, he said, "We're not just servers here. We're part actors, part therapists, part photographers and part babysitters. We're servers last to these people."

    I have taken this to heart. Occasionally, it makes me hate my job just a little less.

    Until I get a table of six that wants to split one small pizza because they only want "an appetizer." Garlic bread is an appetizer. Buffalo wings are an appetizer. Deep dish pizza that takes 45 minutes is . . . not an appetizer.

    One thing customers do that really delights me is have their first date here. The first 20 minutes or so, you hear them discussing all the normal things: careers, hobbies, families. Then . . . the fun begins. They don't have much to say and want to save whatever else they have in their arsenal for the obligatory after-dinner conversation. The girl is playing with her hair and the guy is twisting his napkin. They look at each other and nervously smile, darting their eyes at me each time I walk in the room. They are hoping and praying it is their pizza I am holding so they don't have to pretend to be clever anymore. I feel sorry for them until I remember they chose to go to a restaurant that warns them their food takes almost an hour to make.

    As much as I gripe about the customers, we tend to give them as much grief as they give us. It's not an accident we walk over and ask how everything is going while your mouth is full, then stand around until you answer. It's our only (legal) way of getting back at you. That's not real ginger ale you're drinking: it's clear soda with a splash of diet. You have servers who have nothing to do with you bothering your children or flirting with your husband. (Or, in the case of one Monday night, giving him a lap dance while I secretly take pictures with my camera phone. Blackmail anyone?)

    But would you rather have the unattractive, desperate-for-attention female server bothering your husband, or the aging, balding male server by his side, offering to massage his feet? He's not just being nice: it's a fetish. If any male at your table is older, overweight, and hairy, watch out. "Chad" is always on the prowl. It doesn't matter whose section the target is sitting in; but the victim is most likely to receive the attention if he is seated on the outside patio. Away from managers' prying eyes. After all, he has almost lost his job several times. Apparently, people don't like to watch their server massaging a stranger's feet.

    Chad does keep us amused, though. From witty one-liners to blatantly racist comments, you never know what's going to come out of that man's mouth next. By the end of the shift, though, he will most likely have said one of two things: "I need to get out of this place," or, "Oooh, look at that wolfy guy."

    I am a little sad that soon I won't catch all these precious moments. I have moved up in the food chain: I have started bartender training. Things are sure to get interesting: I am the just the second female bartender to ever work at the restaurant. I enjoy the freedom so far of working behind the bar, but I have yet to work a busy shift. I can't say I'm looking forward to working with one of the senior bartenders, who wants to screw anyone with estrogen who is alive. The same bartender who told a server he thought one of the new girls is attractive, but would look even better sucking his . . . well, you get the idea. Even though we are confined by a very narrow workspace, I hope he learns quickly that there are plenty of things I can stab him with if he gets too close.

    All in all, I think it's going to be a great summer.

    -

    The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments. And please see the Life At Work archive, including the original series as well as Barista!.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    FInal Update: My aborted column yesterday was going to argue that the story of Juan Johnson was underplayed by the newspapers in particular and the media as a whole. This argument becomes even stronger, I think, when compared to the treatment given today to a judge's decision to sentence infamous bartender beater Anthony Abbate to probation instead of sending him to jail.

    Both papers not only put the story on their front pages, but did so in an inciteful, outrage-exploiting manner. But Abbate's sentence is wholly reasonable, as Whet Moser shows.

    The notion that Abbate should be held to a higher standard because he's a police officer is misguided. In a court of law, no one should be held to any standard higher or lower than the law. To do otherwise is plainly unconstitutional. Everyone is equal under the law.

    The higher standard Abbate should be held to as a police officer involves standards of behavior and disciplinary action for violating those standards that are higher for police officers than run-of-the-mill office workers. That's reasonable.

    For example, Abbate's job ought to be in danger - though without knowing more about the man, his record and whatever issues he may be trying to work out, I'm in no position to say what the outcome of that discussion ought to be.

    Guys like Abbate aren't really the problem when it comes to police officers. Abbate's case was always overhyped, as if news directors had never seen somebody beat the shit out of someone else before. (And I'm wholly sensitive to the fact that a large male was beating up a tiny female.)

    Abbate was a drunken lout who did a terrible thing while he was off-duty. I've yet to see anything about his on-duty actions to indicate a pattern of behavior. The problem with the police department rests with systemic abuse and corruption. Where were the papers, for example, when John Conroy was detailing torture in the pages of the Reader? For years they were absent.

    And so on. This is a department, after all, that had a renown chief of detectives running a nationwide jewelry theft ring and which had a police chief not too long ago who lost his job in part because of his friendship with a convicted felon and murder suspect with reputed mob ties.

    In contrast to the bartender with whom I have fully sympathy, Juan Johnson spent 11 years in prison for a murder he apparently didn't commit. Even given Johnson's alleged Spanish Cobra background, that's a far larger injustice. More importantly, it may be the result not just of a loutish officer, but one whom Rob Warden, executive editor of Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions, says may be connected to 40 other wrongful prosecutions.

    The story of Johnson's jury award - the largest in Chicago history - was on the Trib and S-T's seventh and eighth pages. (That's a taxpayer payout, by the way).

    Finally, chances are that Abbate won't even lose his job because the police board inexplicably has denied for years requests from Chicago police chiefs that bad actors be tossed from the force. That will be the outrage, not what the judge did yesterday.

    *

    And with all sympathy to Karolina Obrycka, the bartender on the other end of Abbate's blows - and let me emphasize, with true sympathy to her - I'm not too keen on the Tribune's front page headline "He Gets Probation - She Fears Police," or the swallowing whole of her claimed fears resulting from the Abbate beating.

    I'm not saying she's lying. For all I know, she's suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and may suffer so for years to come. Again, all sympathy to her.

    But as a reporter, you don't just willy-nilly report such claims, especially when a civil lawsuit is pending. Just tone it down, please.

    *

    Similarly, what's with the Sun-Times "Wife Was Conned Too" that exonerates Gina Hernandez based solely on the statements of her lawyer?

    We'll see, but just because your mother's lawyer says she loves you doesn't make it true.

    Comments welcome.

    Noon Update: Please enjoy these fine offerings!

    * "As much as I gripe about the customers, we tend to give them as much grief as they give us," our very own Patty Hunter writes in the latest installment of At Your Service. "It's not an accident we walk over and ask how everything is going while your mouth is full, then stand around until you answer. It's our only (legal) way of getting back at you. That's not real ginger ale you're drinking: it's clear soda with a splash of diet. You have servers who have nothing to do with you bothering your children or flirting with your husband. (Or, in the case of one Monday night, giving him a lap dance while I secretly take pictures with my camera phone. Blackmail anyone?)"

    * "The rash of injuries has allowed some surprising names to float to the top of the SP ranks. Javier Vazquez may get no love from White Sox fans, but he leads the National League in strikeouts," our very own Dan O'Shea writes in Fantasy Fix. "He still has a losing record at 5-6, but the Atlanta Braves could be an interesting team to follow in the second half."

    * "An unlikely collection of holiday-themed songs, The Jethro Tull Christmas Album was released in 2003." Find equally fun facts about Neil Diamond, Lenny Kravitz, Q-Tip, Neil Young and Hank Williams in Trivial Pursuit!

    * Ignorant Abbate Outrage. Few people go to jail for beating someone up in a bar.

    * City Privatizes Streets, Too. Worst contract ever.

    * Holding Reform Hostage. State senate president John Cullerton does a dirty deed.

    -

    The universe has really been conspiring against me this week.

    On Tuesday I went to the Mercury Cafe to work in an attempt to break out of Beachwood HQ. People often ask me if I work out of coffee shops and such, and the answer is No. At Beachwood HQ - my Wicker Park apartment - I have stacks of everything I need, from newspaper clippings to books to blueprints for armored car heists, as well as news and diversion on the TV, radio, and stereo. My apartment is my office, and everything is just where I want it, more or less. For example, I wish my dirty laundry was down in the washer right now instead of skulking around the place taunting me, but still.True enough, I don't have air conditioning. But I haven't lived with air conditioning since my college dorm. I have a nice air tunnel through a window facing the park (that would be the park named Wicker), caused in part, I theorize, by a metal or aluminum awning thing, and a cross-breeze. I also employ a tripartate fan system on the worst of days.

    But I decided to try to get out this week. So on Tuesday I went over to the Mercury Cafe on Chicago Avenue, where they have free Wi-Fi, milkshakes, and a mix tape that includes both old Dylan and old Replacements. So, sort of heavenly.

    Problem: I forgot my power cord. It only took a couple hours for the battery to run down on my iBook G4.

    Fortunately, a friend called and then stopped by with her power cord for me to borrow.

    Problem: Though she too has a Mac laptop, the cord's prongs were not a fit for my, um, receptacle.

    And then, suddenly, my laptop went to sleep and could not be awakened. Could not even be re-started. It fell beyond sleep and into a coma.

    I packed up all the things that I had brought - including reams of materials for a variety of work, as well as bills and such - and sullenly walked to my car to drive home. The one thing that worked in my favor was that I parked on a neighborhood street gambling that the risk of getting tagged for (ridiculous) permit parking was less than the risk of getting tagged for (ridiculous) meter parking right in front of the Mercury. What, I'm supposed to plug the meter every hour leaving my livelihood unattended? What a royal pain in the ass. And what would I do, set an alarm? I mean, really, who pays attention?

    And then, acting upon a nagging feeling, I ruffled through my stuff just to make sure I hadn't forgotten my friend's power cord; she had beseeched me to keep it safe. Sure enough, I had. I trudged back to the Mercury and there it was, so crisis averted. But I could feel my serotonin levels dropping.

    Upon my return home I was finally able to get my laptop up and running, but by then I had lost time and energy. Other duties were pending.

    This morning I posted my work for NBCChicago.com and got to the Mercury even earlier, determined to make this work. Once again I ordered a milkshake and a chocolate croissant, got myself set up, re-creating my desk at home (though this time the table with the tall-backed cushy king chair was already taken), and eagerly tried to set in on the day's work.

    Problem: The Mercury's Wi-Fi network was nowhere to be found. I eventually learned that their router was down.

    It's times like these that you re-evaluate every decision in your life. How did I get to this place? Why me? Why is life so hard?

    I packed up my things again and headed home.

    Which is a long way of telling you that today's Beachwood will be late. I have a few things to post in our other sections, then I'll post a column. Unless by then I've been utterly defeated yet again.

    Any glitch by ComEd or Speakeasy at this point could do me in.

    The [Tuesday] Papers
    Programming Update 2 p.m.: Due to a laptop snafu that just cost me about two hours, there won't be a Papers column today. I have other things that now must be tended to. However, here are a couple of additional items along with those already posted.

    * Walgreens: Beer Is Back! "Woo-hoo!," says Homer Simpson of Springfield.

    * DePaul Law School Saga Aboil. Jonathan Turley weighs in.

    -

    Today's Beachwood comes to you live from the Mercury Cafe, where the milk shakes and the tunes are equally scrumptious.

    The Papers is on the way. Here's what else we've got so far:

    * Our Olympic Day! Our celebration is a little different than the one Chicago 2016 has in store.

    * Stop the Violence. Twenty-four hours of programming.

    * Legal Fiction. Are judges getting carried away with literary pretensions?

    * The ghost ships of Sammy Sosa and the off-season Bulls. In SportsTuesday.

    And on NBCChicago.com:

    * Springfield's Special Session. Square dancing!

    The Papers will appear shortly.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    June 23, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Programming Update 2 p.m.: Due to a laptop snafu that just cost me about two hours, there won't be a Papers column today. I have other things that now must be tended to. However, here are a couple of additional items along with those already posted.

    * Walgreens: Beer Is Back! "Woo-hoo!," says Homer Simpson of Springfield.

    * DePaul Law School Saga Aboil. Jonathan Turley weighs in.

    -

    Today's Beachwood comes to you live from the Mercury Cafe, where the milk shakes and the tunes are equally scrumptious.

    The Papers is on the way. Here's what else we've got so far:

    * Our Olympic Day! Our celebration is a little different than the one Chicago 2016 has in store.

    * Stop the Violence. Twenty-four hours of programming.

    * Legal Fiction. Are judges getting carried away with literary pretensions?

    * The ghost ships of Sammy Sosa and the off-season Bulls. In SportsTuesday.

    And on NBCChicago.com:

    * Springfield's Special Session. Square dancing!

    The Papers will appear shortly.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    Celebrating Olympic Day

    By The Beachwood Hokey Celebrations Affairs Desk

    Today is "Olympic Day," and Chicago 2016 officials have a fun-filled day in store for you. So do we.

    * Buy something you can't afford on your credit card

    * Tell your spouse not to worry about your checking account because you're going to buy an insurance policy as a buffer.

    * Put some skin in the game. Tell Vito on Grand Avenue that the Beachwood sent you.

    * Use today as a teaching lesson for your kids about how and why adults lie.

    * Petition the Sun-Times for a new poll: Which has hotter fans, badminton or pole-vaulting?

    * Use your more recent property tax bill to help ignite an Olympic flame.

    * Go to your alderman's office, bend over, say thank you, and ask for another.

    * Spray paint a parking meter with the Olympic colors.

    * Refer all questions to your spokesman.

    * Take out a huge mortgage on someone else's house.

    * Displace a poor person, just for practice.

    * Invite some strangers over to trash your house.

    * Create a TIF fund out of your kids' allowance.

    * Act like true Chicagoans: Just let Daley decide for you.

    - Marty Gangler, Ivana Susic, Steve Yaccino, Rick Kaempfer, Tim Willette, Andrew Reilly, Steve Rhodes

    -

    Your contributions welcome.

    -

    Reader Submissions:

    1. From Beachwood reader Mark:

    Be a part of the excitement - bulldoze a few giant Xs into your own alley.

    2. From Mike Knezovich:

    Build a temporary scale-model Olympic stadium out of Legos.

    3. From Beachwood reader Chris:

    Ride the CTA at rush hour. Earn a 3-minute penalty every time the train waits for signals up ahead.

    4. From Beachwood reader Jim:

    Pay three times the amount shown on the initial price tag for everything you buy.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:15 AM | Permalink

    Legal Fiction

    By Sam Singer

    As a law student you're taught that legal writing is technical writing. You're taught to distrust the fine phrase and the elegant word. Strong legal writing, you're told, resounds less in art than in science. This is only partly true, of course, and it's not until you leave law school that you discover that the most celebrated legal writers are often the most artful ones. Like the best artists, exemplary legal writers have mastered their medium, but they're also inclined to transcend it from time to time. So we nod approvingly when Justice Scalia, in the course of a caustic dissent in a high-profile anti-discrimination case, finds room for a Kurt Vonnegut reference; we're charmed by Justice Rehnquist's use of "bare minimum" to describe an Indiana law governing appropriate attire at strip clubs; and we marvel when a prominent federal judge wraps up a forcefully argued intellectual property opinion by advising the parties "to chill."

    In this permissive setting, it's hard to fault Judge Scott Stucky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces for channeling his inner crime novelist in an opinion he handed down last week. The opening sequence of U.S. v Weston may as well have been lifted from a Raymond Chandler novel. "There was something odd about the electric razor in the bathroom," Stucky wrote.

    Here, in relevant part, is how he went on to describe the victim: "[She] typically changed clothes in the bathroom and for the past year had felt that she was being watched, a feeling that she attributed to paranoia. But this time the circumstances were simply too odd and her suspicions too strong."

    And the crescendo: "Her attempt to open the razor's casing ended at Sears with a 'Torque' T7 screwdriver. Inside the razor she found a camera."

    Particularly noteworthy about the Stucky opinion is its proximity in time to a widely read Supreme Court dissent in which Chief Justice John Roberts toyed with a similar, if more dramatic, hard-boiled style:

    "North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three-dollar steak."

    That makes two film noir-inspired opinions in less than a year - more than enough to set off a colorful debate in the legal blogs about creativity and the bench. Having poked around these sites for a day or two, I'm still in the dark as to what, beyond mere self-amusement, would motivate a judge to make literature of a real, live judicial record. On a hunch, I scrolled through the legal writing curriculum at Harvard, where both Roberts and Stucky received their law degrees, but found no mention of judicial fiction. I also perused the faculty page - no Tom Clancy.

    Writers inside the legal community have mixed but measured feelings, neither thrilled nor particularly outraged by the practice. To be sure, there is plenty of sympathy out there for the litigants involved, who were dragged through a taxing legal dispute only to have it culminate in a whimsical recounting of the record. It is at their expense, after all, that Roberts and Stucky get to explore their literary sides. Still, few will go as far as to denounce the practice, and the most common reactions take the written form of a shrug and a smile.

    Some have hinted that Roberts and Stucky are merely discharging their judicial duties to educate the public. By animating their decisions with forays into outside genres, Stucky and Roberts make the law more accessible for the lay reader. This, I believe, is to confuse accessibility with visibility. If it's the latter they're after, I see no reason why a judge's creative license should be limited to pulp fiction and the occasional quip. Along with new genres, why not let judges explore variations in rhythm and sound? Justice Stevens, for instance, might find that his lyrical style is uniquely suited for blank verse. As for Justice Kennedy, what better way to capture his equivocal approach to case law than a Choose Your Own Adventure book?

    But if their intention is to bridge the literacy gap between lay readers and lawyers, judges would do better to emphasize clarity before comedy. This may involve dressing down some of their language, or, for matters of particular import, issuing one opinion for the legal community and a second, distilled opinion for the public. Whatever they do, I'm certain judges can find ways to broaden the public appeal of their decisions without reducing them to spectacles.

    -

    Sam Singer is the Beachwood's legal correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

    -

    Previously by Sam Singer:
    * Is TARP legal? Court to decide on laugh test.

    * Taking Government Out Of The Marriage Business. Separating church and state.

    * Chicago's Disorderly Conduct. Dissent allowed even in Daleyland

    * Why Google Will Win. Newspapers are on the wrong side of the digital revolution.

    * Is Blago A Flight Risk? We asked; a judge said yes.

    * Obama's Torture Test. Politically calculating.

    * Replacing Souter. Signs point to Kagan.

    * Going to Pot. The states vs. the feds.

    * The Sotomayor Show. A guide for viewers.

    * Chicago's Still Valid Gun Ban. Chicago vs. D.C.

    * The Gay Rights Gamble. What happened in California may no longer stay there.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    SportsTuesday

    By Jim Coffman

    Contrition isn't going to work for Sammy Sosa. And he knows it. The time for admitting mistakes and saying sorry passed him by a long time ago, probably around the same time he was caught using a corked bat and offering up the ridiculous explanation that he had done so without realizing it. And he didn't stop there. He and the Cubs had the rest of his bats x-rayed (there were more than 70 of them if I recall correctly) and then claimed that because they were still in pristine condition, he had clearly made nothing but an innocent mistake after corking a bat to use "just during batting practice." No guys, we wanted to scream at the time, the fact that all the other bats were clean made it impossible to believe that Sammy had just happened to grab the one bat with cork. There was no way in hell he had just so happened to grab the one that weighed significantly less than his other bats, the one that had obviously been tampered with, before he went up to the plate.

    The fact that contrition - or anything else for that matter - will fail to help is why this is Day 6 or so of no official comment from Sosa in the aftermath of the New York Times story asserting he was one of the players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs during a preliminary test in 2003. At this point I feel as though a person commenting on this situation has to "declare." At some point radio man Mike Murphy established a policy on his show on The Score that a person commenting on the Cubs or Sox had to declare their allegiance because of course that colors everything she'll have to say. So just be aware that I am indeed a cursed Cubs fan. Have been all my life. And I reveled in Sammy's accomplishments up until the final few years of his career.

    The guy has to make a statement at some point doesn't he? But clearly he is absolutely trapped. And he won't be able to benefit from America's love for contrition like Miguel Tejada has this year or Jason Giambi did the season before. Giambi and Tejada didn't even admit using steroids but they said they were sorry for lying and got a little weepy and that apparently was enough for their fan bases. Sosa and old buddy Mark McGwire (who actually had a much better shot at putting contrition to work when he appeared before Congress to testify on steroids several years ago but then choked it away as he insisted that "he wasn't there to talk about the past") find themselves together again, captaining the same ghost ship with Rafael Palmiero as their first mate. I've seen several prominent baseball writers recently wringing their hands over the Hall of Fame voting dilemma they say they now face. They argue that they need a new set of standards to decide who should qualify from the Steroid Era.

    Rather than wasting time trying to figure out a way to admit some steroid cheats, perhaps Hall voters should try to figure out which members should be dropped from inclusion because their stats were inflated while they played against inferior (i.e. all-white) competition in the 20s, 30s and 40s.

    Bulls Bit
    Hard to imagine a scenario where the Bulls' Thursday draft matters much. They have the 16th and 28th picks. There's a chance the guys they select will help well down the line, but rookies and second-year guys won't get it done for this team in the next few years. In fact, instead of covering the Bulls' draft, local sports news outlets would do better to track down individual off-season action. Because regardless of whether Ben Gordon returns to the Bulls as a free agent, the future of this team hinges on its forwards and young center.

    So let's go and find Joakim Noah and see, first, if he is laying off the cognac (he was arrested for slurping it down in public in Gainesville, Fla. last off-season), and second, is he performing a gut rehab on his jump shot. Bulls fans might question the very existence of a Joakim jumper after a season in which he was afraid to take it throughout, but it does exist.

    Heading into last season there was a big article in Sports Illustrated about LeBron James and in it, James spoke of re-working his jumper in the off-season. Maybe someone might mention to Noah that if James was willing to make some fundamental changes, it would be more than a little pathetic if Noah didn't do the same.

    Of course, Noah should have never left high school with his terrible shooting form. And Billy Donovan may be a heck of a recruiter at the University of Florida but he had three years to teach Noah how to shoot before Joakim departed Gatorland and didn't get it done. Not good

    Next up we need to travel to Louisiana to see what Tyrus Thomas is up to. Tyrus is reportedly still best of friends with the Celtics' Glen "Big Baby" Davis, a former teammate at LSU, and maybe the large infant could fill Thomas in on just a few of the things Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett has taught him during his last few seasons (some of those lessons are harsh - Garnett reduced Davis to tears in at least one game last year with a dressing down) about how to excel in the NBA.

    Thomas' tantalizing talent was on display for longer and longer stretches last regular season but his minutes dwindled in the playoffs as he struggled to take his game, and especially his defense, up a notch. If Thomas is going to be a big-time player in the NBA, next season is the time to show it.

    Finally there is Luol Deng, still owed more than $50 million on the contract John Paxson signed him to last off-season. Will Deng find a way to toughen up and avoid sitting out large swaths of yet another season next year with injuries that some of the doctors who have examined him have dismissed as minor?

    Deng is apparently more interested in playing for England (the country that welcomed his family when it fled Sudan when Deng was a child) this summer in world championship qualification competition than he is in focusing completely on best preparing himself for actually playing for the Bulls for a complete season next year.

    Of course, I suppose we should watch the draft just to try to figure out what it could possibly be about Gar Forman that justified his promotion to general manager of the Bulls earlier this off-season. Paxson still will make the final call on personnel moves but Forman, who has never been so much as a ball boy with any other NBA organization, is now the official GM.

    Some would say a flagship NBA franchise like the Bulls probably should have at least looked around at other clubs to get a feel for what other sort of candidates might have been available.

    In fact many can't help but suspect the Bulls could have tracked someone down with successful previous general managing experience in the NBA.

    Of course, someone like that probably would have been just a wee bit more expensive than Forman.

    Whoops, I think I just fouled out.

    I get called for one every time I violate one of my off-season optimism laws (they all say basically the same thing - don't be overly pessimistic about one of your favorite teams in the off-season). That's all for now.

    -

    Jim Coffman brings you SportsMonday every, um, Monday, except when it appears on Tuesday. Jim welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:54 AM | Permalink

    Stop The Violence

    By CAN TV

    Responding to the recent escalating violence aimed at youth in Chicago's neighborhoods, Chicago's public access station, CAN TV19, will devote an entire day to programming produced by residents whose communities have been affected by violence.

    "I kept hearing more and more stories from residents submitting their programs about people close to them getting hurt or killed because of the violence," said Omari Nyamweya of CAN TV, coordinator of the programming day. Stop the Violence includes first person accounts of parents, like 2009 Father of the Year Ron Holt, who've lost children to violence. Other programs were created by youth trying to make sense of the violence, a dance group offering an alternative to gang life, and community residents active in anti-violence work.

    Documentary producer Ernest Hayes said, "We are coming together as a community to say this needs to stop because we send a stronger message by taking a stand together."

    Hayes' documentary, A Killer Name Streets, airing on June 27 at 5:00 p.m., features interviews with gang members and street hustlers warning youth about the dangers of life on the streets.

    Stop the Violence will be cablecast from 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 on cable channel CAN TV19. The day begins with a live one-hour panel and call-in show featuring community leaders from the Chicago Public Schools, the 6th Ward and Bronzeville.

    Here's the complete schedule:

    10:30 a.m.: Stop the Violence Or Else . . .

    Chicago community leaders join with victims of violence for a live panel discussion and call-in show about violence in Chicago.

    Panelists include: Alderman Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward), Alderman Sandi Jackson (7th Ward), Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Ron Holt (parent of child lost to gun violence), Phil Jackson (Black Star Project), James Deanes (Chicago Public Schools Attendance and Truancy), and Marcus Jones (survivor of gun violence).

    Noon: A Parent's Plea

    2009 Father of the Year Ron Holt, who lost his son to gunfire on the CTA in 2007, joins other parents to talk about the emotional toll of losing a loved one to violence.

    1:30 p.m.: Youth Voices Against Violence

    Youth activists discuss their work educating other youth between the ages of 9 and 18 years old on the causes and consequences of violence.

    2:00 p.m.: A Closer Look

    Dr. Tyrone Powers, director of the Criminal Justice Institute, discusses youth violence and crime intervention.

    3:00 p.m.: Hard Cover

    Students from the Chicago area perform skits about stopping the violence.

    4:00 p.m.: Purpose over Pain

    Dr. Clarice Mason interviews Pamela Bosley and Willie Williams about their involvement with Purpose over Pain - a parents' support group for those who have lost their children to gun violence.

    4:30 p.m.: Stop Tha Violence

    Residents of Chicago inner city neighborhoods combat violence through dance.

    5:00 p.m.: Killer Named Streets

    Former gang members and street hustlers appeal to young viewers to avoid the temptations of the streets in this documentary examining life on the inner city streets.

    7:30 p.m.: Youth Violence

    Phil Jackson, president of the Black Star Project, and Marcus Jones, a survivor of gun violence, discuss what parents, students and the community can do to combat violence.

    8:00 p.m.: Hoops High

    Students reflect on the violence in their community through skits and video clips.

    10:00 p.m.: Ghetto Revolution

    An exploration of the social factors and causes of violence in the community.

    10:30 p.m.: Underground Railroad

    Community activist and businessman, Harold Davis Jr., talks about the need for youth and their parents to discuss the consequences of violent behavior.

    -

    Disclosure: Beachwood Reporter proprietor Steve Rhodes rents an apartment in a building owned by Barbara Popovic, the executive director of CAN TV.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

    June 22, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. "The United Neighborhood Organization, the city's largest Latino community group, is poised to become the biggest charter school manager in Illinois after scoring a $98 million state grant to build eight more schools," the Tribune reports.

    "How UNO landed all that cash - believed to be the largest-ever taxpayer windfall in the U.S. for a community-run charter group to build schools - at a time of massive government budget deficits is a classic Chicago story of awakening immigrant clout and lobbying muscle."

    2. Rick Morrissey is wrong, as usual. Players like Mark DeRosa provide the glue and backbone of championship-caliber teams. Players like Milton Bradley destroy teams from within. Think the first-place Texas Rangers - or any of his former teams - are missing Bradley right now?

    DeRosa, by the way, notched his 50th RBI over the weekend.

    3. That said, there are some things DeRosa didn't manage to accomplish during his homecoming. The Cub Factor has the list.

    4. "It seems to be the concern of some in town that he could go off at any second," Morrissey wrote in January. "Let's say he does. What's the downside? That he gets suspended? That somebody gets hurt? Hey, pro wrestling has made millions off that formula. Somebody hand the man a steel folding chair.

    "The upside is Bradley won't crumble at the first sign of the Cubs' futility in the playoffs. The upside is his teammates might see him react to postseason challenges with something beside catatonia, the normal Cubs reaction. Perhaps they will respond to him."

    *

    Our very own Jim Coffman had a very different view:

    "Hey people, can we get something straight about Milt Bradley right now? Just because he's edgy doesn't mean he's effective. I'm officially fed up with reading misguided missives about how the free agent right fielder who actually played much more designated hitter than anything else last year will make a difference for this Cub team because he'll light a fire under more laconic teammates. What exactly has he won that leads people to this conclusion?

    "It isn't just that Bradley hasn't won. He's barely played even half the time during his plain, old, undistinguished career. As for his temperament, well, when he has lost it, Bradley hasn't lost it because he was pissed off about losing. He's lost it because he is still too immature to control himself in situations most pro athletes figure out how to shrug off in their first couple of years in the Bigs."

    5. State Sen. Chris Lauzen is wrong even if given the benefit of the doubt. Constituent service may indeed mean navigating bureaucracies at times, but only when bureaucracies are unjustly treating constituents. Checking up on the status of a college application hardly fits that definition. And no inquiry by a pol - or anyone with influence - can be deemed merely an objective inquiry. Even if well-intentioned, such inquiries will likely be taken as messages We know how the world works. Lauzen's constituents should wait for the letter like everyone else.

    6. Likewise, I do not understand commentators like Kristen McQueary and Rich Miller who think the U of I clout scandal is overblown.

    "Every parent with a kid turned away from the University of Illinois is irked at the possibility admissions counselors sent a rejection letter to their household while penning a congratulatory note to an underachieving but well-connected kid from House Speaker Michael Madigan's 13th Ward. It's personal. No parent wants to see their high schooler lose out, especially after four years of advanced placement classes, high class rank and ACT preparation," McQueary writes.

    But then she adds this:

    "But guess what? That's life. College admission never has been based solely on numerics."

    First, every scandal or injustice could be brushed off by saying "That's life." But then, why even try? Why even establish admissions standards? Why even try to regulate anything for fairness? Lost your columnist's job because the publisher wanted to give his kid a try? That's life!

    Second, college admission isn't based solely on numerics, and shouldn't be. But should clout be one of the factors? I mean, the non-numeric factors that do exist are meant to ensure a diverse, creative and interesting student body. How does admitting the kids of Mike Madigan's political buddis help accomplish that goal?

    Beyond that, we're not just talking about legislator's influencing the system. We're talking about lobbyists influencing the system, and in such an exchange other issues before the legislature might also be impacted.

    Finally, we're talking about trustees influencing the system. Trustees!

    You know what? Students plagiarize. That's life. What's the big deal?

    *

    By the way, I'm a big Kristen McQueary fan. I don't always agree with her, but I have a great deal of respect and admiration for her work.

    *

    Similarly, Rich Miller has called the Tribune series "overblown nonsense."

    This state's moral compass is so broken it's not even right twice a day.

    7. Trustees even tried to bust into the med school.

    8. Clout leases.

    Oh well. That's life.

    9. Meters to Multiply.

    10. My favorite parts of Christopher Borelli's interview with Lauren Conrad, once you get past the god-awful cutesy intro:

    "I wanted to write a book - I met with Harper Collins but I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about."

    "I started a year ago. We outlined all three books. I started developing characters - very roughly. I did that during a trip to Italy."

    "What am I reading? I am reading - actually, I just started re-reading my own book, which is a little weird. I am between books at the moment."

    11. Last week David Axelrod responded to reports that the White House was backing Lisa Madigan for the U.S. Senate by saying, in part, "It's not up to the president to decide who the candidate should be."

    Today, Laura Washington writes that "Impeccable sources tell me that in that White House meeting, Obama made it clear that he wants her to run for the Senate."

    12. SportsMonday will appear on Tuesday this week.

    13. Our Salad Bar Series continues today with Sultan's Market.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: In the running.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    By Andrew Reilly

    Paul Konerko passed the 1,000 career RBI mark this weekend, forever etching his name alongside the likes of Jeff Conine, Cecil Fielder, Travis Fryman, Todd Zeile and Stuffy McInnis. Two-hundred sixty-two men have driven in such a number, yet raise the bar to 1,250 and the headcount drops to 115. Keep climbing to 1,500 and suddenly we're talking about 50 players.

    At 1,750, the crowd shrinks to 18. At 2,000, we're down to three. A thousand batted in is a huge number, yes, but at the same time the exclusivity of even those nominally larger sums suggests a thousand isn't quite as big as it seems. None of which should imply that Konerko's milestone stands as anything less than awesome, but for all intents and purposes 1,000 runs batted in might be the most Konerkonian achievement of them all.

    Paulie, by most definitions, is a pretty good ballplayer, although you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody who'd call him "great." Plenty of thunder in his bat, plenty of tallies in all the right power-hitter columns, plenty of montage-worthy career highlights. And yet, when they talk about elite ballplayers it stands to reason Konerko's name never comes up. Other hitters deliver more hits. Other fielders throw a slicker glove. Other team captains have more to say.

    Yet, throughout his tenure on the South Side, there has been maybe no more steady presence in the White Sox uniform than Paul Konerko. Certainly more consistent names have come and gone (and we could all probably do without so much streaky hitting out of our first baseman), but with Konerko we always know in advance the sum of what we will have seen come October. Some big home runs. Some runs driven in. A lot of double plays grounded into. A surprisingly low number of intentional walks.

    And the thing is, all of this will have been done in the most unspectacular fashion possible. No controversy. No scandal. No feuds. The between-pitches ritual (rest bat between the knees, tighten batting gloves, spit into palms, rub dry, make chopping motion with bat while walking towards the batter's box, tap outside front corner of the plate, tap inside front corner of the plate, bat to shoulder and close with a lean back) might be a little quirky, but again that seems about right for Paulie. He has a pattern at the plate, but not a psychotic one, something normally picked apart and mocked by a mob of angry fans and press types instead executed in a quiet, steadfast, generally unnoticed fashion befitting the kind of guy who drives in about 1,000 runs.

    Someday, a father and son will walk past a mural on the concourse of Comiskey Park III. The son will see a picture of a goateed workhorse branded as number 14. Reading through the list of achievements below it, the son will casually ask the father "Dad, was Paul Konerko the best?"

    The father will pause for a moment to contemplate the question before shaking his head. "No," he'll say. "He wasn't the best."

    "But make no mistake about it," he'll add. "He was still pretty darn good."

    Week in Review: Stationary. The Sox won some games, but so did the Tigers. And the Twins. And pretty much the entire American League.

    Week in Preview: A 1959 World Series rematch followed by another set against some team from Lakeview. Expect great things, intermingled with some lousy things, all against a remarkable backdrop of frayed cargo shorts and bro-tastic dudes named Lance.

    The Q Factor: Carlos Quentin has not been seen on a baseball field for some time, most likely due to his powers of invisibility.

    That's Ozzie!: "Mr. Clinton was outstanding. I see why people love him."

    The Guillen Meter: With the mightiest team in the National League arriving Tuesday and the Small Bears arriving Friday, the Guillen Meter reads a cool 3 for "calmly awaiting a good old-fashioned showdown."

    Underclassmen Update: Baseball Spice and Chris Getz' have as many combined career home runs (two) as Albert Pujols had yesterday.

    Alumni News You Can Use: The San Francisco Giants' strange fascination with former Sox players continues with new minor league addition Shingo Takatsu. According to a report from Japanese sports site Sponichi, "3rd American sphere boundary transfer history upper beginning," and "after acquiring the work visa, it re-visits America, confluence to 3A [hurezuno] is powerful." This can only improve their chances in the National League West, especially with Takatsu being the so-called "listed the Japanese-American total 313 saving, last year the Takatsu retainer."

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: With the Dodgers in town, expect broadcasts to be peppered with references to that one time Casey Blake did something awesome, what a great addition 1959 Sox CF Jim Landis would be to this year's squad, and how Joe Torre is a genius for winning so many World Series'. Also, listen closely Tuesday evening for a sermon on why hot-hitting backup Dodger outfielder Kal Daniels is probably one of the three best players in the game today, an interesting proposition considering Daniels actually retired in 1992.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Saturday night wrecking crew Scott Podsednik and Alexei Ramirez for 2007's iteration of the iMac. You can't be too thin. Or too powerful.

    Cubs Snub: Kerry Wood blew a pair of saves over the weekend at Wrigley. Once a Cub, always a Cub!

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.

    -

    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

    -

    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    By Marty Gangler

    Now that Mark DeRosa's homecoming weekend is over, we here at The Cub Factor would like to note some of the things The Greatest Ex-Cub In History failed to accomplish in his return to Chicago.

    Mark DeRosa did not:

    * Buy that guy behind you a round of Old Styles last inning.

    * Get you out of that lame Fourth of July barbecue you've been roped into.

    * Help your brother in-law's friend move.

    * Develop a swine flu vaccine.

    * Stand up to Iran.

    * Select the perfect wine to go with your pork chops.

    * Resolve our state's budget crisis.

    * Reach 51 RBIs for the season.

    Week In Review: The Cubs went 4-1, splitting a two-game set with the White Sox and sweeping three from the worst team in the American League, the Cleveland Indians. Kevin Gregg looked better than Kerry Wood, though Mark DeRosa looked better on the bench than Milton Bradley did in the field.

    Week In Preview: The Cubs play a make-up game in Atlanta on Monday,head to Detroit for three during the week, and finish with three against the White Sox on the South Side. Mark DeRosa doesn't play for any of those teams, so the week will kind of be a let-down.

    The Second Basemen Report: Five games and four starts from Andy White (Andres Blanco) at the keystone sack. Yes, Andres Blanco is the regular second baseman these days. Andres Blanco. The Cubs payroll is like a billion dollars and Andres Blanco is the starting second baseman. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second baseman news, Mark DeRosa has 50 RBIs. He is missed. Ronnie Cedeno is not.

    Zam Bomb: Big Z remains furious despite the rousing reception he still gets from his Wrigleyville enablers and his new role as first pinch-hitter off the bench.
    zam_furious.jpg

    -

    Lost In Translation: Jake-san Fox is Japanese for E6.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Kerry Wood for Strike Anywhere Matches, when you want to start a fire.

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: Pass the Bomb.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 50% Sweet, 50% Sour. Lou is up five points on the Sweet-O-Meter as well as his EKG. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows you and he are heavy favorites in the family baggo tourney against cousin Lewis and Auntie Trudy, but Lou likes to win and doesn't care if it might make them cry.

    Don't Hassle the Hoff: All he does is hit. Okay, pinch hit. And that's a hassle.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs still don't have a legitimate third baseman.

    Over/Under: Churros sold at the Cell this weekend: +/- quite a few. (Note: Try the churros, people. They good.)

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

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    Fantasy Fix: Interleague Impact.

    Mount Lou: - A change in weather pattern philosophy may have paid short term dividends to villagers near Mount Lou. That doesn't mean an eruption will occur, but probably not this week.

    mtlou_green.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

    The Salad Bar Series: Sultan's Market

    By Marilyn Ferdinand

    Restaurant: Sultan's Market

    Location: 2057 W. North Ave.

    Description: This small, self-serve eatery features a large salad bar and grill items served by a crew that spoons, slices, and dishes everything from gyros to falafel to soups and rice dishes. The salad bar is charged by weight ($5.99 per pound). Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

    Sneeze Guard: Each section is covered on all sides but the front by a glass box. Adequate guard for sneezes, but pretty wide opening would allow things to fall in. Unwrapped plastic tableware could make germaphobes uneasy.

    Estimated Length: 14 feet, two rows of items, with a small service station in the middle piled with carry-out containers of plastic and aluminum that make taking some salad to go easy.

    Reachability: No problem. Each container has its own tongs.

    Best Ingredients: Tender calamari rings and mini mozzarella balls.

    Unusual Ingredients: Just about everything. Fava beans in a parsley vinegarette, dolmas, lemon chicken, two types of buckwheat-stuffed squash, grilled brussels sprouts and cauliflower, plus a lot of great mixed-green salad fixings and sides, including capers, anchovies, kalamata olives, beets, feta cheese, herring in wine sauce - 30 items in all.

    Dressings: Oil/vinegar, fat-free ranch, yogurt/tahini, miso ginger, roasted garlic. Only the miso ginger delivered exceptional flavor.

    Comment: Commenters on other sites say the falafel is the best in the city; I wasn't in the mood, but I'll take their word for it. Despite its great variety, the salad bar was disappointing. Marinated grilled mushrooms could have been better if the slightly hot marinade had not been too vinegary. The fava beans and brussels sprouts were hard, and the green beans were watery. Likewise, the squash filling was overcooked and sticky. Based on the preferences of the steady Sunday lunch crowd that came in while I sat at a table writing this, it doesn't appear that many people come here for the salad bar. I can understand why.

    Also, don't come here looking for ambiance. The Arabian-decor booths are made of unpadded wood and look not kitschy, but kind of ugly. An exposed exhaust system mars the back-lit Arabian carvings on the ceiling. Everything seems fairly clean and not as loud as it could be with a working grill in the same room. The drink cooler below a very cluttered cash register is hard to reach.

    If you're in the neighborhood and craving a reasonably-priced Middle Eastern meal, stick with the grill at Sultan's Market. The salad bar just isn't that great.

    -

    Previously in The Salad Bar Series:
    * La Villa. Fake shutters, red vinyl, adequate sneeze guard.
    * Chuck E. Cheese's. An adult sneeze guard for pint-size sneezes. Plus, beer.
    * The Cafe. Attention, Streeterville wage slaves!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:36 AM | Permalink

    June 20, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    Oh, you'll get your news. We guarantee it.

    Change Watch
    Analysts at the Weekend Desk are unsure how to cope with the unprecedented number of cheap and easy jokes flooding the Change market. As a result, trading has been suspended for the week.

    Servicing the Depp
    Local Chicago newspapers have been all over the story of a major motion picture filmed in the city a year ago. Apparently, the film generated 75 hats, $47 million in revenue and 5.4 billion pointless stories and blog posts.

    Public Depp
    Mayor Daley is said to be thrilled at the bounty brought by Johnny Depp's latest feature, reportedly calling it, " almost one-tenth of an Olympic achievement for the city of Chicago."

    Cub of Activity
    After months of sluggish negotiations with the Ricketts family, the Tribune Company appears ready to reopen bidding on the Chicago Cubs. Sources close to TribCo president Sam Zell say he's not sure Tom Ricketts can raise some $450 million to seal the deal. "After all," one source said, "it's not like you can pull that kind of money right out of your ass or something."

    Might of the Right
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in for a lengthy recovery after breaking her right elbow this week. Observers note this may be a blessing in disguise as she'd been leaning heavily to that side anyway.

    Winning Formula
    Finally this week, encouraging signs of a recovery in global economics. At least one industry has seen production of arrogance and profligacy rise to 2007 levels.

    -

    A Message From The Fresh Air Fund

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:38 AM | Permalink

    June 19, 2009

    The Five Dumbest Ideas Of The Week

    This week we salute the recession's contribution to dumb ideas, born out of desperation and way too much free time.

    1. British Airways apparently missed the memo that, by definition, work is not something you do for free. The top brass wants its workforce of 40,000 to kick in up to a month's pay to put the company in the black.

    The only consolation is that the company's CEO waived his bonus last year, which leaves him with a measly base salary of approximately $1.2 million.

    2. Headhunter Joe Sales was out of a job when he came up with the idea for the iTie - a men's tie with an itty bitty pocket in the back for your IPod, ID card, business cards or M&Ms. His initial investment was $25,000. We think it's an improvement over this, but not by much.


    -

    3. You're 18, you need money for tuition, and Denny's isn't hiring.

    4. Then there's do-it-yourself dentistry, which not surprisingly has been popular in the UK for some time. The use of power tools and oven cleaner is not recommended.

    5. Organ donation is so passe.

    -

    The Five Dumbest Ideas Of The Week appears in this space every Friday. Stephanie welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Of all the cities in America to be infested by naive reporters, you'd think Chicago would rank low on the list.

    But no.

    The maxim for the vast majority of media in this town seems to be, "If the mayor says your mother loves you, it must be true."

    I mean, what gives?

    Did nobody do their homework way back when when the Olympic bid process first got started? Hasn't every reporter in town been reading Ben Joravsky?

    There are books that should have been required reading for anyone on the bid beat.

    Instead, we had hype. And hometown rah-rah. And delusions of grandeur. And access to Pat Ryan! Oooooh!

    Now the chickens come home to roost, but as I keep saying, it's too late. Daley pulled it off. He strung everyone along as long as he needed too.

    Now it's in the hands of the IOC, and they could care less about you and your tax money.

    It's maddening.

    Last night, for example, Ben Bradley of ABC7 dutifully reported last night that officials insist they will "not spend a drop of taxpayer money" on the 2016 Olympics should Chicago win the bid.

    "They already have!" I yelled at the TV.

    How hard is this, really, to understand?

    Then again, Bradley's blog is called "Going For The Games."

    "A one billion loss on a budget whose expenses are projected at $3.3 billion? That would be tough to do," Bradley writes in one of his latest posts.

    Of course, that's assuming the projected expenses are realistic, something the IOC has already called into question. And it's presuming those costs won't rise. And it's presuming we don't live in Chicago.

    Bradley might also want to stop in London, Beijing, and Athens on his way home.

    "That's what London's organizers said before they spent four times their original budget," the Tribune's David Greising writes today. "Beijing's organizers exceeded their original budget by a factor of 10. The Athens Games' runaway $17.6 billion in spending helped boost the entire nation's budget deficit to 6 percent of Greece's gross domestic product."

    Greising, whose column is a must-read, also makes clear that Daley just "committed Chicago's every last dollar to staging an Olympics no matter what the cost."

    (Bravo also to Fox Chicago News, whose report I didn't see but whose promo went like this: "First the mayor says no tax dollars. Now he says you have to foot the bill if we get the Olympics. Why didn't he tell us before? Tonight at 9.")

    And when Pat Ryan says he's got a new insurance policy to offer, check it out.

    "This insurance, that they've been talking about for a year now, always seemed pretty mysterious to me," DePaul political science professor Larry Bennett tells the Tribune.

    If the insurance policy exists, nobody seems to have seen it.

    No matter.

    Whatever Ryan says.

    Our only hope is Rio, folks. (And things are looking up!)

    There's no way the city council is going to derail this train, no matter how tough some of them talk.

    And if we get the bid, the mayor and his pals will be hogs in heaven.

    We'll be reading stories just like this for years to come.

    Olympic Debate Theater
    Three aldermen appeared on Chicago Tonight last night and one of them was a real tool. Find out which.

    Pols Play Musical Chairs
    After all, it's no fun being the state treasurer or county recorder of deeds.

    Onion or Tribune?
    "iPhone Stolen From Gym Locker."

    *

    Tribune.

    Red Alert
    "What kind of consulting was he going to do? How to get Mike North away from a fire?!"

    Hey, John J., I'll tell the jokes around here!

    McRib Is Always Back
    Somewhere.

    (Thanks, Rachelle!)

    What Display Meltdown?
    "Spending forecasts for display ads have been particularly grim - but new ad sales data from Nielsen actually shows that some of the biggest brands actually spent 27 percent more on display ads in Q109 vs. Q108. And one of their primary spending targets was YouTube, as display ad impression volume on the site jumped by nearly 580 percent year-over-year," paidContent notes.

    Showing Us The Money
    It's happening, people.

    Congress Plaza Politics
    Waiting for Obama to return.

    Sounds Like Ribs
    Dollar Store and Dean Schlabowske's Chicago life.

    Unkillable
    The house plant that never dies.

    Storm Watch

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Sounds like McRib.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    Olympic Smackdown Theater

    By Steve Rhodes

    Three aldermen appeared on Chicago Tonight last night to discuss the mayor's announced commitment this week of a blanket guarantee by the city to cover with taxpayer money any financial losses that might be suffered if the 2016 Olympics are held here. Memo to George Cardenas: If you don't know which of you sitting at the table is the tool, it's you.

    Edited for clarity. Quote accuracy estimated at 97 percent. Rhodes commentary did not appear on-air, but could be heard within shouting distance of Beachwood HQ.

    *

    CARDENAS: It was not a surprise to me . . . When you take a flight you buy insurance. Not because the plane's gonna crash, but just in case.

    RHODES: I wish someone would have asked Cardenas if he's ever bought flight insurance, because I don't know anyone who has.

    JOE MOORE: This was certainly a surprise to members of the city council. Perhaps George is an exception . . . First we were not told no tax money would be spent, then that we had to put some skin in the game, then we were told that was it. Now we're told that the mayor is about to sign an agreement that will make the city and taxpayers responsible for all of the Olympics.

    MANNY FLORES: introducing an ordinance . . . to insure that we are not putting the City of Chicago in any further liability . . . enough is enough. We've been told time and again that the City of Chicago will not be responsible for paying . .. that line has moved time and again . . . to make a statement that the City of Chicago pledges to sign a contract when we haven't had an opportunity to vet that contract . . . I myself have been a supporter of the Olympic Games on the premise that it was going to help the City of Chicago . . .

    RHODES: I wonder where he got that idea.

    FLORES: . . . without liability to the city.

    RHODES: In that case, I have some parking meters I'd like to sell to you. Er, I mean, buy from you.

    FLORES: It's almost like bait and switch.

    RHODES: Without the bait.

    MOORE: It's time for an independent authority to actually look at this, look at the experience of other cities, tell us just what the risks to the taxpayer are . . .

    RHODES: It's time for that if it's 2007.

    CARDENAS: We have deficits up to 2012. In times of recession, what you do is reinvest and retool . . .

    RHODES: By firing city workers and delaying spending until 2016!

    CARDENAS: . . . So this is preparation for what a city must do in order to compete nationally . . .

    RHODES: For what, first in line in bankruptcy court?

    EDDIE ARRUZA: Wasn't it disingenuous of the mayor not to run this past you? [City officials and Chicago 2016 officials] had to know [this was coming].

    CARDENAS: They knew they'd have to come up with a financial scheme.

    RHODES: That didn't border on mail fraud.

    FLORES: This is a very sophisticated team.

    RHODES: Unlike George.

    FLORES: They were very aware that they were going to have a variety of options. The least they could have done is share those options with us.

    RHODES: So we could have pretended to deliberate before giving them carte blanche.

    FLORES: And in response to making an investment, all economic indicators show we are not on an upsurge. The city is running a structural deficit. Why should we gamble? It's inconceivable.

    ARRUZA: There's been criticism that you have not done your due diligence. That's the same criticism you received over the parking meter debacle.

    MOORE: The city council doesn't have the staff to be able to do this . . .

    RHODES: Or the brains.

    MOORE: We rely on outside experts.

    RHODES: Then why do we elect you?

    FLORES: The city council will exercise its authority . . .

    ARRUZA: Aren't you acting on this after the fact?

    FLORES: There's no signature yet on a contract.

    CARDENAS: We signed a $500 million guarantee . . . the language in the ordinance clearly indicates that the mayor has the perogative to engage in other negotiations . . . we gave him that power.

    ARRUZA: You have given the mayor all of the power . . .

    FLORES: Maybe Alderman Cardenas is willing to cede that power . . .

    ARRUZA: London has already gone way over budget . . . about triple its cost. They had to dip into their contingency funds when private sector money dried up.

    CARDENAS: It's apples and oranges. London basically had to redevelop a whole section of their city. This is different.

    MOORE: London's experience is a cautionary note to the City of Chicago and the taxpayers that despite all the assurances - I'm sure London officials said there wouldn't be a deficit . . .

    RHODES: Didn't Pat Ryan run their bid too?

    ARRUZA: Does the council have the werewithal [to engage this]?

    FLORES: Absolutely. I'm introducing legislation . . .

    RHODES: Officially giving us our balls back. It's called the Cojones Reinvestment Act.

    MOORE: We should have learned something from the parking meter debacle.

    CARDENAS: I hope next time we debate, my colleagues do their homework so they know what they are voting for.

    RHODES: That would take a different ordinance, but even if it passed, there wouldn't be enough votes to override a mayoral veto.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:01 AM | Permalink

    24 Hours With Retroplex

    By The Beachwood Retro Affairs Desk

    For ordering information, press info.

    *

    3:10 a.m.: Salvador

    5:15 a.m.: Louis Armstrong/Chicago Style

    6:30 a.m.: The Story of Medgar Evers

    8 a.m.: Man of La Mancha

    10:15 a.m.: Fast Forward

    Noon: M*A*S*H

    2:10 p.m.: Return to Macon County

    3:45 p.m.: Ghoulies II

    5:20 p.m.: Never on Sunday

    7 p.m.: M*A*S*H

    9 p.m.: The World According to Garp

    11:20 p.m.: Dirty Little Billy

    1 a.m.: To Be Announced

    2:35 a.m.: M*A*S*H

    -

    Previously:
    * 24 Hours With QVC
    * 24 Hours With Tru TV
    * 24 Hours With Current TV
    * 24 Hours With The Military Channel
    * 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: Tasting The Dollar

    By Matt Harness

    In a little more than a week, five Bloodshot bands invade Grant Park and take over their own stage at the Taste of Chicago. We here at Beachwood Music decided to lick our lips early and asked Chicago treasure Dean Schlabowske to offer up a menu of his insights. The Logan Square resident plays guitar and sings in both Dollar Store and Waco Brothers, two of the bands that will shower suburbanites with their sweet sounds.

    *

    Beachwood Music: "Schlabowske" sounds like one of SNL's Super Fans. Where are you from?

    Dean Schlabowske: Milwaukee, but I've lived in Chicago for 20 years. I've lived in the Logan Square/Humboldt Park area for four years. The whole other time I kicked around Bucktown, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village. I lived in way too many apartments to remember. When I finally got around to buying a place, I had to move a little west.

    The truly starving artists got pushed out of there, but I still own a business, the Cellar Rat, in Wicker Park. I'm still pleased with the nice mix of people. People talk like it's another Lincoln Park. It's not that quite homogenous yet.

    Beachwood Music: What is the Cellar Rat? Sounds like something you call 311 about.

    Dean Schlabowske: It's a wine shop. I opened the store about two years ago, but I've been selling wine going on 20 years.

    Beachwood Music: Seen Sideways? Just kidding. But hard-rockers like yourself don't seem like oenophiles. How did this happen?

    Dean Schlabowske: Like most people, I fell into it by accident. In the band prior to Waco, I was on the road a lot and needed a job where I could come and go. I had a friend who worked for a company that sold old and rare wines, and they needed part-time help. I got regular hours when I was in town, and then I could leave for two months.

    It's what I've always done in Chicago.

    Beachwood Music: I read a Wall Street Journal story that reported nearly every big-box retailer is exiting Detroit. The only national retailer making any money are the dollar stores. Same for Dollar Store?

    Dean Schlabowske: If my recent royalty statement from Bloodshot is any indication, these aren't going to be boom times for Dollar Store. The health of the music industry is tough right now. It's hard to sell things when people get it for free.

    Beachwood Music: As a longtime Chicago guy, what's your go-to record store?

    Dean Schlabowske: Reckless Records. But I buy stuff online, too. But I want to keep supporting those indie places as well.

    Beachwood Music: Where do you enjoy playing music here in town?

    Dean Schlabowske: All this time in Chicago, I've come to a point where I really enjoy seeing shows and playing shows at Schubas and FitzGeralds. Both have a vibe that they are nice, family-run businesses. They are not these wall-painted-black rock clubs that I played in an awfully lot through the years. These places, the owners care about making it a great experience.

    And of course, the Hideout. Those are the big three.

    Beachwood Music: With your upcoming appearance at the Taste, I have to steer the ship toward those waters. What do you imagine the experience will be like?

    Dean Schlabowske: We laugh about the fact Dollar Store gets on bills with these Bloodshot bands, and we are a pretty loud and raucous rock and roll band that often doesn't appeal to the sensibilities of the twang crowd. I think the suburbanites might be more receptive to what we do. They still listen to rock and roll.

    Beachwood Music: Pair a food with Dollar Store.

    Dean Schlabowske: Ribs. Messy and greasy. You'll need plenty of napkins.

    Beachwood Music: How about Waco Brothers?

    Dean Schlabowske: Sausage fans. I mean that in every possible way.

    Beachwood Music: Jon Langford told me Waco Brothers are working on some new material. How about Dollar Store?

    Dean Schlabowske: I've been writing some stuff, hoping to record some stuff with the guys. With the Dollar Store, though, we've decided to keep everything on a scale that makes sense to everybody. We don't want to twist Bloodshot's arm to release an album every year. When it makes sense and comes together, we'll do something.

    Beachwood Music: It's become a tradition of Beachwood Music to ask about jukeboxes. Give me five songs worth your coins.

    Dean Schlabowske: Well, I like them to be beer-drinking songs. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," Hank Williams; "Smokestack Lightning," Howlin' Wolf; "You Got Me Runnin'," Jimmy Reed; "Bartender's Blues," George Jones; "My Lover's Prayers," Otis Redding.

    *

    Dollar Store occupies the middle slot on the Illinois Lottery Taste Stage on June 27, while the Waco Brothers headline. Check back next week for another preview. And in the meantime, here's a taste:

    -

    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    June 18, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "Whoa!" the Tribune editorial board exclaims today. "What did Mayor Richard Daley just do?"

    That depends on who and how you read.

    "Mayor Daley on Wednesday removed the biggest hurdle to Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics - financial guarantees - but created a political headache in the process," the Sun-Times reports.

    Forgive me if I think this sounds a bit congratulatory toward the mayor - and dismissive of what the rest of the world thinks he just did, which is to have completed squaring the circle of lies he's been telling about taxpayers not being on the hook for the two-week soiree he and his pals want to throw.

    (Even the headline to the online version of this story says "Daley To Put Taxpayers On Hook For Olympic Financial Losses," which is a tad more than just a "political headache." But hey, great job removing the biggest hurdle - no pun intended, I'm sure! Because that would be way too obvious and lame!)

    "Daley said he will sign a host city contract with the International Olympic Committee giving a blanket guarantee that the city will cover any financial losses if Chicago wins the Summer 2016 Games - even as some aldermen grumbled Daley is exceeding his authority."

    A blanket guarantee!

    One might have opened this story questioning the mayor's credibility, or comparing this development to previous statements by the mayor that mark him as a lair, or simply: "Ben Joravsky was right."

    But no. Instead, we're treated to the patronizing description of aldermen grumbling.

    "Mayoral press secretary Jacqueline Heard stressed that Chicago 2016 has come up with a series of guarantees and private funding formulas for the proposed $4.8 million Olympic plan, so taxpayers won't wind up footing the bill," we are then assured.

    Well, as long as that's what Jackie Heard is stressing.

    But didn't I just read that Daley is "giving a blanket guarantee that the city will cover any financial losses"?

    That was just two paragraphs ago!

    "It's all a part of a $2.5 billion safety net of private and public money that already includes a $400 million rainy-day fund . . . "

    "Safety net" is such a nice way of putting it. But what does that mean? The bills are going to get paid no matter what. And if the safety net already includes public money, then who is being protected and where's the net?

    And did the Sun-Times just confirm that the city's $400 million rainy-day fund is being kept in reserve to protect against potential Olympic losses seven years from now, instead of using it today when we're actually facing the worst economic crisis in decades?

    A couple of grumbling aldermen are tacked onto the end of the story in the classic way that reporters marginalize dissent. "Oh, and here are a couple of people on 'the other side'."

    Journalists from traditional media often kvetch about saving "objective" journalism and the truth is I couldn't agree more. I just happen to find it in different places than they do.

    For example, is the report I just cited objective "reporting" or objective stenography? And is it really more objective than the Sun-Times editorial which states that "It's bad enough that the mayor reneged on a promise to taxpayers. What's more stunning is that Daley agreed to sign a financial guarantee of such magnitude without any sort of hearings before the City Council"?

    It wouldn't take much to tweak that into a news report that went something like this:

    "Reneging on a promise repeatedly made to taxpayers, Mayor Richard Daley on Wednesday agreed to a blanket guarantee of public money to cover any losses should the Olympics come here in 2016 - and he did so without the approval of the city council, which is a branch of government equally charged with the executive branch with deciding how taxpayer money gets spent."

    Is there anything there that isn't objectively true?

    Meanwhile, just because Jackie Heard says something doesn't mean you have to publish it without questioning her premise.

    Again, I have to turn to an editorial for enlightment, in this case back to the one in the Tribune.

    "Well, hold on a minute," the paper says in response to Heard's claim. "If the Olympics lose money, the IOC wants somebody to pick up the cost. So if the Games are a bust and the losses blow through the public and private guaranteees, the Chicago 2016 committee will pay the rest of the tab?

    "How? By taking up a collection among its members?"

    We could only hope.

    But the city is signing the guarantee, not Chicago 2016.

    On the Tribune's front page, we're told in the opening that "Mayor Daley made an about face Wednesday and said the City of Chicago would sign a contract agreeing to take full financial responsibility for the Games."

    That means us.

    "[T]he agreement could leave taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars or even more, a scenario Chicago's bid team acknowledges but insists is far-fetched."

    As far-fetched as a mayor bulldozing an airport in the middle of the night or being in the dark about his nephew's multi-million dollar deal with the city's pension funds?

    Or only as far-fetched as an Olympics that loses money like just about every one has?

    And about that "about face" . . . um, it's only an about face if you haven't been paying attention.

    The Trib describes Daley's move as a "change of heart" that "jeopardizes his long-standing pledge to limit potential taxpayer exposure."

    First, the pledge wasn't to "limit" exposure, it was to put no public money on the table at all. Check your own archives.

    Second, he broke that pledge long ago - as we can all see a mere five paragraphs later:

    "[A]lready there is some public-sector participation planned. The Chicago Park District would kick in $15 million toward an aquatics center, tax-increment financing would help pay for the infrastructure around the Olympic Village, and a projected $60 million in ticket taxes would help pay for city services."

    And that's just for starters.

    So the pledge isn't just in jeopardy. It's broken.

    Later in the Trib story, Heard makes the extraordinary claim that Daley's move won't put taxpayers further at risk!

    "The mayor would not even think about going back to the taxpayers to finance the Olympics," Heard said.

    You've got a long line of corrections to ask for, then, Jackie. I even smell a libel suit!

    Unless "going back to" means asking taxpayers for their approval. She'd be right, then, because the mayor would never think about doing that.

    But the facts clearly show the mayor has already stuck his hands in our pockets.

    "Any shortcomings will fall on the shoulders of taxpayers, and that's the end of the story," Olympic historian Kevin Wamsley told the Tribune.

    You would think. But this is Chicago.

    Time Warp
    "I've been a backer of the Chicago 2016 Olympics bid. But it's getting hard to remain one. It's time for Mr. Daley to disclose everything, answer all the questions, and for the City Council to do its job," Greg Hinz writes in a post titled "Time For Daley To Come Clean On 2016 Tab."

    Isn't the time for that long past?

    Similarly, the Sun-Times's editorial is titled "No Olympic-Size Gamble Without Full Public Debate."

    And while we're at it, let's debate Millennium Park and Soldier Field!

    Apparently there's a grace period. No debate until it will no longer be useful.

    That's why I was only angry to read Rick Telander's rant that excited so many Olympic critics. Where have you been, Rick? Just figure it out?

    Ben's been awfully lonely without y'all.

    *

    Fool them once, shame on you. Fool them over and over and over again and they probably work for a Chicago newspaper.

    And don't even get me started about the TV stations.

    Lies And Damn Lies
    "Tax money isn't paying for it," Mayor Daley said back in February.

    Maybe he meant "Yet."

    *

    Even that's not true, though. We've been paying all along.

    Learning To Hate Chicago
    Inside the pain of Leanita McClain, the Tribune's first African-American editorial writer.

    The Madigan Mystery
    Why is the White House pushing her to run for the Senate?

    Tangled Webio
    A tale that includes Mike North, Tom Shaer, and the man the mayor once hired to protect us from terrorists.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Fully guaranteed.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

    McClain's Pain

    Chicago famously taught the late Tribune editorial writer Leanita McClain, the first African American to serve in that function at the paper, to hate white people, as she told the nation in the pages of the Washington Post in 1983.

    McClain, who had suffered from depression through much of her life, committed suicide a year later.

    The 25th anniversary of her death just passed us on May 30th. Here are a few links and comments that appeared around town, followed by excerpts from Gary Rivlin's indispensable Fire On The Prairie about McClain's frustrations inside (and out of) the Trib newsroom.

    *

    - "Twenty five years ago today, I discovered that Leanita McClain, my friend and colleague, was dead," writes former Trib colleague Monroe Anderson. "It was a suicide that came as no surprise to me. For more hours than I care to remember, I sat in her office at the Chicago Tribune joking, cajoling and questioning her repeated proclamation that she was going to kill herself.

    "During these discussions, I'd asked why. 'There are black women who'd give their right arm to be where you are,' I'd argue.

    "'But, I'm not happy,' she'd counter."

    - "This prolific columnist struggled with racism in the newsroom, and it's an issue that resonated with WBEZ's South Side reporter Natalie Moore."

    - See also Moore's "Who Was Leanita McClain? Why An Old Chicago Story of Race, Reporting And Suicide Remain Important Today" at The Root.

    - And from Rivlin . . .

    In the days before McClain took her life, [Lois] Wille, one of McClain's white colleagues on the Tribune editorial board, says she saw her friend working late in her office with the lights off. She asked if there was anything she could do.

    "Don't worry about me. I'm fine," McClain replied, her hands cupping her face.

    Then McClain didn't come to work.

    *

    On Palm Sunday, [Harold] Washington was scheduled to attend services at a northwest side church. He arrived to find a mob of around two hundred whites, their faces flushed with anger, blocking the church's entrance. The words NIGGER DIE were freshly painted across a set of church doors. The crowd taunted and jeered Washington, successfully turning him away. Chicago, the Tribune's Leanita McClain wrote, was becoming "positively antebellum."

    *

    Leanita McClain walked into the Tribune the morning after Washington's primary victory expecting a noisy newsroom alive with talk. She looked forward to teasing the colleagues with whom she had been jousting for weeks - colleagues who couldn't believe Washington might actually win. If nothing else, McClain, the first black to sit on the paper's editorial board, expected congratulations. The one thing she didn't figure on was the silence that would begin the seven most agonizing weeks of her life.

    *

    For weeks no one could talk about anything else. The cliche about Chicago was true: its citizen follow local politics with the same fervor they do the Cubs and Bears. Despite the great upset the city had witnessed the night before, the newsroom that morning was quite and sullen, as if someone had just died. "Like attending a wake," said Tribune reporter Monroe Anderson. No white, McClain said, could look her in the eye. "There was that forced quality, an awkwardness, an end to spontaneity, even fear," she said. She overheard cracks about declining property values and white flight, jokes she found "unforgivably insensitive." Even "the more open-minded of my fellow journalists" failed me, McClain wrote.

    McClain dressed in silk blouses and vacationed in Europe with black and white friends. She was raised in the Ida B. Wells projects, named for a crusading black journalist, but she now lived in a lakefront high rise in a trendy north side neighborhood. She had survived the inner city and made it in the white world, yet she was constantly hustled by old acquaintances from her childhood. Occasionally she bumped into an aunt who worked as a cleaning lady for a white couple who lived nearby. A girl she had shared her dolls with was trapped on welfare with five children; a boy she had been sweet on way back when was in prison for murder. Black militants occasionally accused her of forgetting her roots. "A foot in each world," McClain once described it in an essay appearing in Newsweek magazine. "I am a member of the black middle class who has had it with being patted on the head by white hands and slapped in the face by black hands for my success."

    McClain shook her head at liberal acquaintances who sought her out as a friend, as if she were some sort of personal affirmative action statistic. She mocked those who believed the world was racially enlightened "because they were the first on their block to discuss crabgrass with the new black family." Yet she wasn't the sort to get into a white person's face. By nature she resided safely in the middle between conflicting points of view. One of her Tribune confidants, Monroe Anderson, invariably gave the same feedback whenever McClain asked for it on one of her columns. "You're equivocating, Lee," he would tell her. "Choose one side or the other." But it was as if her unique perspective as someone who understood both sides of urban life prevented her from slighting one world for the other.

    She viewed herself as a bridge between disparate worlds. "Whites must stop thinking that every black teenager . . . is a thug," McClain had written during the primary, "and blacks might accept that more than a few whites genuinely understand and sympathize with them. Whites might think deeper about historic an socioeconomic reasons - not excuses - for black shortcomings and not brush aside a race of people as hopeless and hopelessly all the same, with the exception of a few mutant achievers."

    The primary had been difficult for McClain. She laughed bitterly over the Tribune's Daley endorsement - and endorsement for which McClain, as one of seven sitting on the Tribune's editorial board, was in part responsible, though she had pushed for Washington. "When death finally took the mayor's office away from one Richard Daley in 1976 after twenty-one years," the Tribune editorial began, "It was impossible to imagine a set of circumstances under which this newspaper would recommend that the people give it back to a second Richard Daley." "Same old Trib," she would say.

    Her paper's coverage of Ed Vrdolyak's "it's a racial thing" speech was another sore point. Incredibly, the Democratic party chairman's declaration that the election represented a battle between the races was buried on page eighteen, in the last three paragraphs in an article the Daley campaign. ("This account ranks as the scoop of the election," wrote journalism professor Ralph Whitehead, Jr., in the Columbia Journalism Review, "and there is no reference to it in the headline.") McClain used humor as a shield, those who knew her said, but in February 1983 her armaments were wearing thin.

    "My transformation began the morning after Washington's primary victory," McClain would write. Suddenly, Chicago seemed a "sick, twisted" place, oppressive and harsh. She was especially angry at herself for only now realizing how far she had strayed. "I'd be a liar if I did not admit to my own hellish confusion. How has a purebred moderate like me - the first black editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune - turned into a hate-filled spewer of invective in such little time?"

    *

    McClain renamed the man-in-the-street interviews that reporters conducted to get a feel for the electorate "bigot-in-the-street interviews," for these exchanges revealed the preeminence of race on the minds of many white voters. ("That is what is wrong with this town," McClain wrote. "Being a racist is as respectable and expected as going to church.")

    *

    Something was up for Leanita - even acquaintances could see the change. Everyone knew she was a woman with a dark side, but she seemed suddenly aloof and distant. And what about that time she and the rest of the Tribune editorial board were watching the television news on the day Jane Byrne announced her write-in candidacy? McClain spat out a curse and abruptly left the room. That wasn't the Leanita McClain people had come to know.

    They could understand how hard it must be for a black woman to listen to this election garbage; they didn't broach the subject that was so unpleasant, and besides, the wall that she had erected around herself made it nearly impossible. But some colleagues felt resentful. She avoiding eating lunch with them, avoided chats in the corridors. It was as if she was blaming them.

    McClain's colleagues would wonder no longer after a piece appeared under her byline in the Washington Post. The headline seemed to say it all: How Chicago Taught Me To Hate Whites.

    Yeah, something was definitely up with Leanita.

    *

    The force of the Post piece was its intimacy. She wrote of the bouts of sullenness the election provoked. She would stare at her word processor pretending to write as she silently cried. Maybe it was anger, maybe frustration; probably it was both. What do these white people want from us? she felt like screaming. She commiserated with Monroe Anderson, the only black Tribune reporter covering the campaign. Anderson was the buoyant sort, McClain explained to her Post readers, a devil-may-care type whose sense of humor rarely failed him. Yet Anderson would return from the grim realities of the outside world, slouch in a chair in McClain's office, and just stare at the floor. McClain wrote of another black colleague and the anxiety she felt when she realized she could not bring herself to eat lunch with a white colleague with whom she was close. If the campaign had become a race war, their relationship was one of its casualties.

    The reaction of those around her brought about an epiphany in McClain. I'm threatening, she told herself in disbelief. Jesse Jackson, Renault Robinson, Lu Palmer - and also Leanita McClain, moderate but also ecstatic about Harold Washington's victory. And that makes me threatening. She wrote of white co-workers cutting off their conversation when a black reporter happened by. "I'm not racist, but . . . " If she heard that one more time, she thought she would explode. She confessed that she suddenly detested the "antiseptic suburban worlds" enjoyed by her editorial board colleagues, narrow and privileged, ignorant and naive, yet considering themselves informed and progressive on matters of race. There was the white colleague who stopped by to tell her why he could not vote for Washington, as if her office was a confessional.

    Worse still were those who equated the white backlash against Washington with black pride. Under different circumstances she might have pointed out the innumerable times blacks supported a white candidate over a serious black challenger, and how rare it was fo rthe opposite to occur. But she didn't feel like playing the mediator who patiently bridges the gaps of racial misunderstanding.

    She could not pretend that everything was okay. She wondered why in the past she had been so quick to offer a strained smile and play along with those who she suspected had cultivated her friendship to prove that blacks and whites could get along. Everyone but the bigots confused her. "I distanced myself from everyone white, watching, listening, for hints of latent prejudice," she wrote. She contemplated each long and hard before inviting a person back into her life - or banishing him or her forever.

    There was "Kay" - bouncy, smiling Kay who, McClain wrote, "had used me all these years, like a black pet, to prove her liberalism." She wrote that she would explain to Kay "that having one black person - me - on her Christmas card list did not make her socially aware." And "Clark" - she concluded that Clark was disingenuous. Clark she would bar form her office for no other reason than his white skin. Maybe then he would know a taste of what it was like.

    "Nan" - McClain contemplated Nan only a moment before concluding that Nan was sincere. Nan gave of herself to help the poor, and the two always spoke intimately about race. Most whites at work avoided even mentioning race, as if avoiding the topic altogether was somehow progressive minded. "Lydia" also passed, but "Ken" - sensitive, cultured, cerebral Ken . . . she could not make up her mind.

    The election, she wrote, left "me torn as never before." The election turned her upside down, leaving her to wonder who she really was. The "double consciousness," W.E.B. DuBois called it, born of being both African and American. How far can an Afro-American venture into the heart of white society, DuBois asked without losing him or herself? After the election McClain moved to Hyde Park, closer to her south side roots. It was her silent protest against the hypocrisy of her north side neighbors. She dreamed black nationalist thoughts, contemplating the advantages of a "black homeland where we would never nave to see a white face again." The election left her confused, she wrote, but clear on one important fact: "I now know that I can hate."

    *

    Both Epton and Washington were blamed by the newspapers for ignoring the issues, though it was Epton who could talk about little else but Washington's misdeeds. It was as if objectivity meant nothing more than condemning both sides equally. Worse still was a Tribune editorial that declared, "Regardless of the outcome, there will be no cause for celebration . . . What has made this election such a sorry spectacle is that . . . two candidats [were] so unprepared to handle it." How much better it would have been, the Tribune opined, "if the first black . . . had been a widely known and respected community leader."

    In conversations with McClain and also in print, colleagues complained that Washington wasn't doing enough to allay white fears. Why wasn't Washington appearing in the white community more? they asked. The columnists hammered at Washington and yet didn't chide Epton for ignoring the black community. Washington made countless more appearances on the northwest and southwest sides than Epton made in the black community. "He hasn't been invited," explained Epton's press secretary.

    The local reporters were preoccupied with the national media's characterization of Chicago as the capital of hate and racism. Several columnists blasted these "suitcase journalists" whose views were - as one wrote - "skewed, flawed and more inciting than insightful." In her Post piece McClain parodied the jingoism of these Chicago boosters. "Curses on any outsider who would dare say Chicago has a race problem," she wrote. "What race problem?" The Sun-Times ran an election wrap-up piece under the headline HOW WHITE VOTE SPELLED VICTORY, and an op-ed column proclaiming that those white ethnics voting for Washington were the "unsung story" of the election. The powers-that-be were already busy trying to appear over the stain left by Chicago's election.

    Not that McClain believed the national media worthy of praise. Time magazine in particular infuriated her. Time dismissed Washington as "an undistinguished congressman," despite his leadership role in the anti-Reagan fight. "And because there is otherwise so little to choose between the two lackluster candidates," the newsweekly continued, "the outcome will surely be . . . a litmus test on color." How little Time understood.

    McClain also suffered the disappointment of Mike Royko. She loved reading Royko. "It would be wonderful," Royko wrote during the primary, "if Chicagoans put their prejudices aside and simply voted for the candidate who appeared to be the most intelligent, thoughtful, and forthright and who presented the best programs. If that ever happened, Washington probably could start planning his victory party." The day after Washington won the primary, Royko wrote, "Washington's credentials for this office exceed those of Byrne, Bilandic, Richard J. Daley . . . and most of the men who have held the office of mayor." He described him as a "smart, witty, politically savvy old pro . . . far more understanding of the fears and fantasies of Chicago whites than we are of the frustrations of Chicago's blacks." Of Epton, Royko wrote, "And, boy, if Epton is anything, he is the perfect example of 'any white candidate'."

    Yet, incredibly, Royko led his April 12, election day, column this way: "If a pollster asked me how I was going to vote today, I'd have to tell him to list me in the undecided column." He lamented the choice between a "kook" and a "crook." The cranky and sardonic persona that McClain had always enjoyed suddenly struck her as callous, cold, and crude. In her mind she crossed a line through Royko's name.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Kenan Heise 3/2013:

    I was a reporter (actually the Action Line column editor) during Leanita McClain's tenure at the Chicago Tribune.

    Even though my seniority with the Tribune in 1983 was already 20 years, she had an enormous impact on my career and the paper itself.

    In 1981, she gave my career an extraordinary boost by publishing on her first day as editor of the Perspective section a full page-and-a-half group interview by myself with 15 poor people in Uptown. The paper's editor was so pleased that he gave me a column that afforded me the chance for two-and-a-half years to write a weekly column of interviewing groups of Chicagoans of my choice.

    These eventually included women and men in Cook County Jail, mothers in the inner city Fifth City neighborhood, teenagers who sold drugs on the street, people in a soup kitchen line, garbage collectors, etc. A subsequent column included beggars on the bridges of Chicago. If she had not done what she did with that first interview, none of this could have happened.

    I was told when the column ended that it had changed the newspaper. I was named the chief obituary writer of the paper in 1983 and, in this position, earned recognition for throughly integrating the obit page racially, economically, politically and gender-wise.

    My recently published The Book Of The Book contains part of the interview column Leanita published and a number of the interview columns I wrote. My soon-to-be published He Writes About Us's title comes from an African-American novelist's comment about my writing obits about blacks.

    Leanita was a friend but what she did through me was one of the many successful efforts she made in opening up the Chicago Tribune and Chicago journalism to people of color and women.

    I am grateful to her and proud to have served beside her. I wished I had spelled this out for more clearly when she was alive.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:34 AM | Permalink

    June 17, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Sometimes people make mistakes. And they deserve second-chances.

    Even lifelong criminals can be rehabilitated.

    But for the most part, I've concluded, people are who they are. Their essential character doesn't change.

    Richard M. Daley isn't going to change, and neither is Todd Stroger.

    Therefore, they must be contained.

    People are what they do, not what they say.

    That was my point about Obama, which is proving out nicely.

    And that's what today's papers teach us.

    Take Sammy Sosa. Forget the performance-enhancing drugs, does anyone really believe that Sammy Sosa only used a corked bat that one time? I wonder if corked bats had more to do with his home runs than drugs.

    Sammy Sosa was a cheater. We knew it then, and we know it now.

    Richard M. Daley runs a Friends & Family administration. Whether "he knew" about any given arrangement isn't even the right question anymore.

    Todd Stroger will never learn how to be a competent administrator. it's not a part of his skill set.

    And don't get me started about Obama.

    But those guys certainly aren't the only ones I've been thinking about this morning. It's these guys, too.

    * "For many employees, the SEC lawsuit revealed details about Hernandez that they never knew. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to embezzling more than $600,000 from families that had deposited savings at the former Columbia National Bank on the Northwest Side, where he had served as a vice president," the Tribune reports in "Web Sports Site Backer Vanishes."

    "The SEC complaint also said that Hernandez and his wife had filed for bankruptcy in 2004, 2005 and 2006, which court records confirm, and that he lied about having degrees from the University of Wisconsin and John Marshall Law School in Chicago."

    Doesn't it always turn out that these folks have a history?

    * "A foreign director of a Chicago-based hedge fund forced into receivership by government regulators faces federal fraud charges for allegedly using false information to solicit more than $300 million from investors worldwide," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Philip J. Baker, who controlled Lake Shore Asset Management Ltd., which purportedly traded clients' funds in several commodity futures pools, was charged in a 27-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in February and unsealed Monday, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office."

    I don't know much yet about Baker's background yet, but just wait.

    * "A defunct Chicago escrow company violated state consumer fraud laws when it failed to pay property taxes for customers and went out of business in March without making refunds, Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan alleged in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

    "The action is one of two steps state officials took Tuesday to pursue restitution from American Escrow LLC and its owners, Derek Lurie and his father, Steven Lurie. The privately held company failed to reimburse about $1 million to consumers nationwide, including $154,000 to 69 Illinois homeowners who had outstanding balances, the suit said."

    Ditto.

    * Even the mentoring powers of Todd Stroger couldn't change Tony Cole, who is and always has been a troublemaker. Both of their characters are on display in this fiasco.

    * Do you really believe that Jeremiah Wright had never before uttered a statement about "the Jews"?

    * Of course, it runs in families, too. Like the Degnans.

    * And the Vaneckos.

    "Royko was talking about the hiring of Robert Vanecko's grandfather, Dr. Michael Vanecko, whose son married the late mayor's daughter," Carol Marin writes (and for now I'll forget her misguided assessment of Fran Spielman's latest work). "Shortly before the wedding, that Vanecko went to work for the Chicago Board of Health. And later, his son, Dr. Robert Vanecko, was hired as the physician for the city's municipal pension fund. And now today we have the third generation, as his son, another Robert Vanecko, lands a $68 million deal with - what else - city pension funds. He severed all business ties with the deal only after the feds began subpoenaing records."

    * And, of course, Roland Burris, who has always been a chump (and whom - no kidding - I just learned insisted on being called General Burris when he was state attorney general).

    * Even Chicago cops haven't learned their lesson.

    "The only thing that stood between Marxist street thugs and public order was a thin blue line of dedicated, tough Chicago police officers," a website about a reunion of copswho beat the shit out of protesters at the 1968 Democratic convention here says. "Chicago police officers who participated in the riots continue to endure unending criticism - all of which is unwarranted, inaccurate and wrong."

    "Former Police Supt. Philip Cline is scheduled to be a keynote speaker," the Tribune reports .

    It's kind of like how Karl Rove was reportedly played dirty politics as far back as high school.

    People's patterns rarely change. Those who are late to your first meeting are likely to be late to every meeting. Those who never fulfill their first promise will likely never fulfill any promise. People who suck will always suck.

    And so on.

    People are who they are; we just need to protect ourselves from those whose patterns are dangerous to the rest of us.

    Olymp Icks
    * The way I read it, this means Chicago taxpayers are now on an open-ended hook for the 2016 Games, should we get them. Nothing Daley said ever mattered; what he did was everything. And now he's suckered us beyond the point of no return.

    * Guess what? It was never in doubt. "Chicago 2016 Chairman Patrick Ryan says his team received a letter from the IOC stating that all host cities must sign the standard contract," the Tribune reports, "which requires them to take full financial responsibility for the Games."

    Like no one knew what the standard contract was going in.

    * "President Obama bolstered Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid, creating a new White House office of Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport on Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

    Valerie Jarrett has already been given the Olympic portfolio in the White House. She will coordinate with Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Desiree Rogers, Susan Sher, Ray LaHood, Pat Ryan and the Daleys as necessary.

    * The anticipation of Olympic corruption already has one Chicago lawyer/pundit calling for an inspector general "with broad investigative powers" to monitor the shenanigans.

    The Daley administration is perhaps unique in the annals of American history in simultaneously placing its citizens under the control of both a police state and an organized criminal enterprise.

    Trib Fights Illini
    It doesn't take a Ph.D to see what's happening here.

    Interleague Impact
    Strange parks and platoons.

    At Your Service
    More tales from the front lines of a Chicago pizzeria.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Same as it ever was.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Interleague Impact

    By Dan O'Shea

    Interleague play can send the fantasy baseball manager mixed signals. Everyone talks about how the lack of play for designated hitters screws with their offensive game plan, but there are also a number of other performances during the interleague period that are kind of anomalies and can't be trusted.

    Will Johan Santana continue to get shelled the way he did in Yankee Stadium last weekend? Not likely. Will Pablo Sandoval keep pace with the .460 batting average, three home runs and six RBIs he generated against Oakland and the L.A. Angels in two recent games? Nope, though maybe he's starting to reveal a bit more of the power than his owners expected. Mark DeRosa, of Cleveland, is an American League player who has been eating up National League pitching, but from a former Cub, that's probably no surprise.

    The novelty of interleague play has begun to wear off in recent years, and unless you have a lineup loaded with position-eligible players who actually more often serve as DHs, or a platooned NL player who could be assigned the DH role in AL. parks, you don't really have to worry about making any big changes.

    Some of the expert wire scuttlebutt this week has interleague play in mind:

    * Fantasy Source has the skinny on some of those designated hitters and platoon players who are likely to lose at-bats as interleague series' play out. Jim Thome, Jack Cust, Jason Kubel (or teammate Delmon Young) are likely to be a few of the AL players sitting in games at NL parks. Another notable DH, David Ortiz, has been terrible this year but is starting to improve, and maybe resting a game or two will help further.

    * Closing Time catches us up on the Matt Wieters Watch, sort of. Actually, there isn't much to say about Wieters, who is hitting in the .230s, but he may have helped starting pitcher Brad Bergesen to a string of solid performances that bring to mind Zach Duke - which this year is actually a comparison someone would want. Bergesen has won two games in a row, and has lasted at least seven innings in his last four outings. He was only 6 percent owned earlier this week, though in part because you can't count on him for more than a couple strikeouts per game.

    * 60 Feet, 6 Inches tries to rank the top starting pitchers in the majors, while noting the challenge of where to rank injured stars Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, Edinson Volquez and Scott Kazmir, among others. It's not a great surprise to see Tim Lincecum leading the list, though I'm surprised Justin Verlander isn't ranked higher than seventh.

    * Creative Sports highlights a couple of guys who never seem to get much respect in fantasy starting rotations: Tim Wakefield and Kevin Millwood. The stalwart knuckleballer Wakefield doesn't collect many strikeouts, and his ERA tends to be high, but lo and behold, he has nine wins, making him second in the AL in that category. Millwood likewise has been known for an ugly ERA playing in a pinball machine down in Texas, but he has a much lower ERA this year at 2.72, and he eats innings, having pitched a couple of complete games this year. Both pitchers benefit from being on first-place teams with great offenses that can keep them in the win column even when they are off a bit.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:23 AM | Permalink

    At Your Service: Tales From The Front

    From the trenches of a Chicago pizzeria:

    For as busy and understaffed as we were last night at work, and as sick, it went pretty well. No one made any major mistakes, there were no fights, we ran out of most of our appetizers and a majority of our light beers. But there is no night, ever, that does not provide an anecdote. My favorite from yesterday? There was a woman in her mid 20s with her mother and grandmother that provided a great reason why we should not always listen to our parents. I will provide the dialogue.

    Me to the daughter: "What may I get you to drink?"

    Polite daughter to me: "Can I have . . . "

    Mother interrupting her polite daughter: "Don't ask her, you TELL her what you want."

    Daughter to mother: "Fine."

    Daughter to me: "I want..."

    [Mother smiles and nods to herself]

    So . . . now we teach our children how to not have manners?

    *

    I had a very pleasant older couple one afternoon. I walked by to see if they needed refills on their soda and I noticed a red spot on the man's shirt near his stomach. It is not uncommon for our customers to spill food on themselves. The dialogue:

    Me: "Oh, did you spill some pizza sauce on your shirt?" [I have already moved one foot closer to the soda fountain to grab club soda to help him clean his shirt]

    Nice older gentleman: "No, that's blood."

    Me: . . .

    Gentleman: "Oh, I'm fine."

    Me: "Salt and cold water usually works well for blood or red wine stains. Let me know if you need more napkins."

    What else can I possibly say or do? He was casual about it, his female companion was still eating. This is where the acting comes in. But it was pretty disturbing.

    *

    A woman asked me if we had "hot bacon dressing." Huh?

    *

    When we're busy, customers who have to wait for a table often get a drink at the bar, so sometimes they are a bit tipsy by the time they are seated. I think that's what happened here. A party of five was seated in my section. I rambled through my usual introduction, finishing with, "Would you folks like any appetizers?" One of the women reached over the table, grabbed my left hand, and proceeded to gnaw on it.

    After a couple of seconds of this woman whom I have never seen before gnashing her teeth against the back of my hand, she leaned back. Her companions seemed just as confused as I. My supreme acting abilities kicked in.

    "You're lucky I put nice-smelling lotion on this morning," I said. "May I get you anything else to snack on before the pizza comes out?"

    Seeing that I was not going to scream and kick them out, her companions relaxed. We exchanged a few more jokes and I rushed to the kitchen to share my story.

    *

    The restaurant is very small. As is, the room where the bar is located has a narrow path between the actual bar and the tables in the room. So when we get crowded, it is often a shoving match to get through. We have learned the easiest way to get through the mob is to yell, "I've got a hot pizza coming through!" Sometimes I indulge in just elbowing people out of my way. As I broke free the other day and had almost reached the kitchen, some faceless gentleman quietly said to me, "This isn't worth it for you, is it?"

    It didn't sink in right away so it would have been pointless to turn around and try to connect a face to the voice. It may have been anti-climatic anyways. It is that phantom voice, speaking what my conscience whispers to me constantly, that made me realize not everyone that steps through our doors is a complete douchebag.

    *

    Every summer, we hire several new people. Very rarely for the kitchen, but always for the hosts and servers.

    We keep re-hiring hosts who were not good the first time. They go away for school and come back even worse than before. Maybe if they were attractive, or nice, or halfway intelligent, it would make sense. As it stands . . . I don't get it.

    The managers have done a slightly better job hiring servers this year. There are a few that all the older staff (three years under their belt or more, which is the majority of servers) don't actually hate. Only one has gotten fired, for four write-ups in a month. Her excuse for everything? "I have kids at home."

    I do miss the entertainment last year's hires brought. There was the small, thin guy who was either really hyped up from all the coke he was doing or really mopey from coming down off the coke. He liked to talk about all his gunshot wounds. Then there was the guy who was fired after he pulled a butcher knife on a cook who wouldn't check on his pizza. After he was fired, he hung around outside, in uniform, asking employees if they were sure they wanted to go inside. He eventually just stopped coming by.

    These are the people who serve you your food.

    I'lI have more co-worker stories next week. Maybe I'll even share the one the male server who has a foot fetish . . . especially the feet of of large, hairy men.

    Bon appetit!

    -

    The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 AM | Permalink

    June 16, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    First, a correction to my NBCChicago.com post yesterday about the mayor skipping town for Switzerland on Sunday night. Obviously that wasn't the case, seeing as how he greeted President Obama at the airport on Monday and then met with union leaders to discuss layoffs.

    How did such a mistake happen? Well, you can't believe everything you read on the Internet when it comes from a blogger in their basement mainstream news source like ABC7, which reported that "Mayor Daley was on his way to Switzerland Sunday night, along with the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid team."

    Not to bust their balls, because we all make mistakes. Just sayin'.

    But the curious thing is that the ABC7 report came with photographic evidence; there's someone who appears to be the mayor at a location that seems to be an airport! And there's even a timestamp: 10:18.

    swissd.jpg

    Maybe Daley was just seeing the Chicago 2016 entourage off.

    Or maybe they just used a file photo.

    Or maybe Daley sent a stunt double to that union meeting.

    (I did check other articles, btw; none specified a departure date and the Sun-Times report sounded like Daley was en route.)

    Anyway, I regret the error.

    Family Affair
    My aunt and uncle from Minnesota drove through town yesterday and stopped to have lunch with me. My uncle used to be in the Minnesota legislature, and I kept thinking, gee, if I partnered up with a pal of his and got a piece of state pension business including a guarantee of $8 million in management fees, would I keep it to myself or tell him all about it?

    In other words, I tried to imagine myself as Robert Vanecko and my uncle as Richard M. Daley.

    Now, I only see my Minnesota relatives once a year at best. Daley and Vanecko are reportedly part of a tight-knit clan.

    See what I mean?

    Anyway, Fran Spielman turns herself around today and pretty much calls the mayor a liar. Apparently her previous reports on an anguished mayor who tried to do the right thing are no longer operational.

    Patti Cake
    Patti Blagojevich has done a good job making sure she makes all of her talking points on camera during I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, which I nonetheless find irresistible.

    Last night she was "overheard" on camera saying "[Prosecutors] squeeze people to say things that aren't true. It's a terrible thing. They get people that have done things wrong and they tell them, 'Would you be comfortable saying this?'"

    Saying that cooperating witnesses are lying to save their own skin is one of the oldest defenses in the game, and it rarely works. It didn't work for George Ryan, and it certainly won't work for Rod Blagojevich, particularly given corroborative evidence that includes wiretaps.

    And I'm not sure where this comes from, but apparently Patti said she could get seven to 10 years in prison herself. Either she was just offering up a ballpark estimate she already knows from talks with the G what exactly what she'll eventually be indicted for.

    She also acknowledged being very aware that in about a year, the feds will come to her and ask her to flip on her husband. I used to think that was possible, but unless she's the next Meryl Streep, she seems to be all in with Rod.

    Doubting Thomases
    I know the Sun-Times endorsed Todd Stroger but I almost did a spit-take this morning when I saw an S-T editorial titled "Cole Scandal Raises Doubts About Stroger."

    To be fair, it could have just been poor word choice. Maybe "Fuels" doubts is what they meant; or better yet, "Confirms" doubts.

    But it doesn't read that way.

    "The more we learn about the Tony Cole scandal, the more we're forced to question the credibility of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger," the editorial said.

    They're also starting to wonder if those WMDs will ever be found.

    *

    "Cole said that when he worked for the county, Stroger often invited him to play baskeball at the East Bank Club, political events and for chats 'about life and serving and helping the people'."

    And that was just during the workday. At night when they were off-the-clock they really kicked it.

    Playground Politics
    "House Speaker Michael Madigan was among those invited to go on the Turkey trip, but an aide now says he will skip the trip if necessary," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Madigan spokesman Steve Brown refused to identify the sponsor of the trip, telling the Sun-Times to ask the governor's office.

    "'I'd call whoever told you about it and ask those questions because I don't have that information,' Brown said. 'I'm told Quinn was telling people that story. I'd call them back and get the rest of the details.'

    "Told of Brown's statement, [Quinn spokesman Bob] Reed said, 'I don't have any comment. It's not like the governor to talk about things like that'."

    In a better universe, Madigan, Brown, Quinn and Reed would have then been sent to bed without dinner.

    Rare Opportunity
    See a live Chicago Republican.

    Obama's Smoking Spin
    I don't give a shit if you smoke, just tell the friggin' truth! Sheesh.

    Durbin's Stock Schlock
    He talked to Chuck.

    Classic Advice
    How to properly fly the Cubs "W" flag.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Fly your freak flag.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

    June 15, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Note: Whether you made it to the Chicago Media Future Conference on Saturday or not, there's some goodies to avail yourself of over on their website, including audio of the panels, a live-blog of the proceedings, and a Twitter stream. I haven't had time to write up my thoughts on the conference, but hope at some point this week.

    Twinkie Town
    I was on the Jackson Blue Line platform early Saturday evening and it was mobbed with Twins fans in town for the weekend series against the Cubs. A busker started playing an old Replacements song and I had a bit of a moment.

    Our very own Jim Coffman wasn't so lucky with the Twins fans he ran into.

    "I know that visiting Cub fans can be annoying elsewhere in the country, especially up at Miller Park," Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "But then they leave and you have the place to yourselves again, don't you Brewers fans? At Wrigley at this time of year in particular, it seems like every time we North Siders turn around we're running into packs of opposing fans. Interleague play in particular brings out the visiting hordes, giving them the still relatively rare opportunity to see their squads at the finest ballpark in the land. And of course we always have the delightful White Sox and their gracious manager in for a series in the middle of it all."

    Can O' Corn
    "Every year, without fail, Hawk tells one story in particular on-air during the Sox' visit to Wrigley Field, in which some young player signs with the Cubs hoping to win a World Series, falls a little too deeply in love with the bright lights and taverns of Rush Street, struggles on the field, then hears from an elder statesman of baseball how the Cubs will never win a World Series until they stack their team with married men who never go out," our very own Andrew Reilly writes in The White Sox Report. "He updates the names to reflect recent Cub roster moves, which seems odd by itself, but even more perplexing considering Rush Street, by most estimates, hasn't been much fun for anyone outside of Schaumburg in a good 30 years."

    Crosstown Classic
    Is it possible for the Cubs and Sox to both lose two out of three to each other this week?

    Sweet and Sour Lou
    "Lou is down three points on the Sweet-O-Meter because he had to fire Gerald Perry due to bats colder than his Falstaff," our very own Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor. "And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows it wasn't Aunt Edith's fault that your goofy cousin fell into that abandoned mine and almost died. But the cops have to blame someone so she is going to take the fall. Someone had to go down."

    Academic Inquiry
    From a Tribune editorial on Sunday titled "U. of I., Still Hiding":

    "In countless other instances, information is blacked out or pages are missing, with no explanation or clue as to what is being withheld. Asked to justify those redactions, the university flatly refused. 'Your request would mean that the Illinois FOIA requires us, in response to any inquiry by a requesting party, to go line by line, word by word and explain why each redaction was made,' general counsel Thomas Bearrows wrote.

    "Actually, that is what the law requires."

    *

    Do the right thing, U of I. Haven't you seen those Liberty Mutual commercials?

    Daley Heads For The Hills
    His trip to Switzerland has obviously long been scheduled, but that doesn't mean it didn't fit into his media strategy to escape questions about his nephew.

    Echo Chamber
    "The mayor confirmed a report this week in the Chicago Sun-Times that his nephew Robert Vanecko had ignored Daley's advice to end his involvement with DV Urban Realty Partners, a real estate investment company Vanecko co-founded," the Sun-Times reported last week.

    Yes, the mayor confirmed a report leaked by people close to the mayor.

    Isn't this sort of like Cheney and Rumsfeld leaking reports about WMDs and then going on TV and saying, "See, it's right here in the New York Times!"?

    Cole Miner
    Just forward his Cook County checks to the jail.

    Rape Rage
    Would this be the case if men were predominantly the victims or if police chiefs were predominantly women?

    The Gay Rights Gamble
    "It is a virtual certainty that the Supreme Court will split 5-4 over [gay] marriage equality," Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer writes. "As to which side will attract the five-vote majority, analysts are uncertain."

    Cab #2564
    "At one point I thought he was shooting me nervous glances, but he was really just checking all his mirrors."

    A Brief Guide To The Baldwins
    The brothers and the band.

    X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes
    "There are few film buffs who don't have some affection for Roger Corman, the shlockmeister from American International Pictures who produced careers for budding filmmakers almost as fast as he did movies," our very own Marilyn Ferdinand writes at Ferdy on Films.. "No one would confuse an AIP film with great art, but Corman's sense of the bizarre and sensational, his ability to make decent B pictures for so little money, and his knack for attracting some pretty decent talent has earned our respect. X is one film from his vast oeuvre I hadn't caught up with until our local revival house showed an outstanding print of it last night. It is a surprisingly compelling, even moving picture. It might even be the best Corman ever made."

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: See-through vision.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:12 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Poison Darts And Duct Tape

    By Jim Coffman

    That's it, I thought about halfway through Sunday's crisp interleague contest at Wrigley; these guys are not invited back next year. Any fan of baseball can find stuff to appreciate during a typical Twins game. Manager Ron Gardenhire's boys almost always do the little things better than their Chicago foes and Sunday was no exception - the first run scored when Carlos Gomez, who had bashed a two-out double, took advantage of Ted Lilly and his defense's indifference (or should we say incompetence) and stole third without a throw. Lilly and his mates could plead that a runner advancing to third doesn't matter so much with two outs but then sure enough it did. Gomez (who would later complete the fastest home-run trot in Wrigley history after launching a solo shot to left-center - he thought the wind was going to blow it back) came in to score on Nick Punto's perfect bunt between first base and the pitcher. Punto might have been safe anyway but Lilly's tardiness covering the bag certainly didn't help. Thankfully the Cubs finally (finally!) had a decisive little-ball answer in the ninth but we'll save that for later. My problem Sunday was that I found myself seated right in front of a loud, repetitious (but not profane - I will at least give her that) Twinkie fan. And therefore I took some pleasure in the realization that the Twins won't return to Wrigley any time soon.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • I know that visiting Cub fans can be annoying elsewhere in the country, especially up at Miller Park. But then they leave and you have the place to yourselves again, don't you Brewers fans? At Wrigley at this time of year in particular, it seems like every time we North Siders turn around we're running into packs of opposing fans. Interleague play in particular brings out the visiting hordes, giving them the still relatively rare opportunity to see their squads at the finest ballpark in the land. And of course we always have the delightful White Sox and their gracious manager in for a series in the middle of it all.

    (On that topic, hey Ozzie Guillen, I just want to apologize again for the fact that Wrigley isn't equipped with the latest luxury appointments for visiting teams. Clearly you demand the finer things in life, and the fact that you and your team have to change into your uniforms in slightly cramped surroundings is an outrage that must not go unchallenged. I'm sure someday, thanks to your never-ending cries about how terribly unfair it all is for your pampered ballclub, this injustice will finally be rectified. Viva La Revolution!)

    For a long time I have believed the only way to deal with one of the visiting fans we so often have the opportunity to interact with at Wrigley is to ignore them. Whatever you do, do not engage, especially as more and more beer is consumed. But I may have to try to come up with another strategy - poison darts perhaps? I love my regular spot in upper-deck reserved (a half-dozen of us share a nights and weekends package), but it seems like an increasing number of the seats around me are controlled by ticket brokers, making it more and more likely that visiting fans will negatively impact my baseball viewing experience.

    So it was on Sunday. And although it wasn't nearly as special as drunken Cardinal fans bellowing their typical inanities (you know, like their assertion that their team is so much better than ours - just because they've won 10 World Series since we last won one), it was still irritating.

    I think on Sunday the fan in question averaged about 20 loud cries per inning, ranging from "You're the best player in league Joey Baseball!" to "Justin Morneau, you are so due!" to "Have you learned to count today, Milt Bradley?!"

    "Joey Baseball" is catcher Joe Mauer and he truly is an amazing hitter. His three perfect line-drive singles in his first three at-bats made you believe he really could hit .400 this year (even if no one else has done it in 60 years).

    But if I had to listen to this fan any longer, I'd have to root against Mauer (who finished the day at .414 but is still a little ways away from having enough at-bats to officially be listed among the league leaders after missing significant time early in the season due to injury) breaking .200.

    And I loved the idea that Morneau was "due" (despite his 54 RBI this season). If I had turned to say something (and I never did - just call me Mr. Self Discipline), it probably would have been something along the lines of "You have no clue what 'due' is." Milt Bradley hitting .220 with 15 RBI - that's 'due.'

    There was finally a little justice at the end. She was apparently a big Jesse Crain fan and was particularly excited when her favorite reliever came into the game. The problem was, Crain stinks this year (despite his ability to bring high-90s heat) and in the process of blowing the game in the ninth, he upped his ERA from the 7s to the 8s.

    In the end, the Cubs' win (thank you Derrek Lee for that dashing bit of base-running at the end) made it all better.

    But I'm still thinking about a new course of action for the next time a loud-mouth backer of the visiting team settles in near me. Psychological warfare? Duct tape? Hmmm.

    -

    Coach Coffman welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    By Marty Gangler

    The Cubs anemic offense - which has now cost hitting coach Gerald Perry his job - has also seemed to take the life out of Lou. "I don't want to talk about it," the Cubs skipper told the media after his squad was shut out on Saturday. We here at The Cub Factor think the next question should have been: Well then Lou, what would you like to talk about? We've got a few ideas.

    * The best temperature for enjoying your Falstaff.

    * The best place for late-night burgers in Chicago.

    * Obama's health-care proposals.

    * How to save GM.

    * Frozen margarita recipes.

    * Mike Fontenot's height.

    * War stories from anger management classes.

    * His pregnancy.

    * The best place to get late-night burgers in Cincinnati.

    * North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

    * How pinstripes make him feel slimmer.

    * Gerald Perry bus stories.

    * The best place for late night burgers in Tampa.

    * His favorite Baldwin.

    * The status of his retirement fund.

    Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to both the Astros and the Twins despite brilliant pitching performances, causing Lou to name Carlos Zambrano as his first pinch-hitter off the bench. If this isn't rock bottom, I don't know what is. But we'll have to do something stupid - like keep watching - to find out.

    Week in Preview: The Crosstown Classic opens at Wrigley. So bone up on your misguided fan stereotypes and pretend this series means something. Is it possible for the Cubs and Sox to each lose two of three?

    After the Sox, Mark DeRosa, currently the most popular ex-Cub in Cub history, comes to town. He'll also have Wood, who is not so good.

    The Second Basemen Report: The Cub Factor would like to welcome Aaron Miles back to second base as he was activated from the DL this week and started four of the six games at Uncle Lou's favorite double-switch location. Andres Blanco (Andy White) started the other two. The bigger news was that Alfonso Soriano dusted off his second baseman's glove and got in some action at the keystone sack on Friday. And to think we were worried about viability of The Second Basemen Report this year! So far five Cubs have played second. We are rolling, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa knocked the crap out of the ball in Cleveland this week. He is missed in about as huge a way as possible. And he will be at Wrigley this weekend, where he will be missed even closer.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z may never not be furious again. So he remains furious.
    zam_furious.jpg

    -

    Lost in Translation: Citi o twinsy selectioning Jio Mauer-san over Markio Prior-san is Japanese for Best. Move. Ever.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Gerald Perry for DARE. Even with Perry instructing you on how to smoke dope, you won't get a hit.

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: Memory. We also advise Milton to see The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 50% sweet, 50% sour. Lou is down three points on the Sweet-O-Meter because he had to fire Gerald Perry due to bats colder than his Falstaff. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows it wasn't Aunt Edith's fault that your goofy cousin fell into that abandoned mine and almost died. But the cops have to blame someone so she is going to take the fall. Someone had to go down.

    Don't Hassle the Hoff: Sitting on the bench is a hassle. You can't hit from there. And all the Hoff does is hit. So stop hassling him.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this as ill-fitting as George Costanza's tuxedo.

    Over/Under: Crosstown Classic arrests: +/- 6.

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

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    Fantasy Fix: The Strasburg Factor.

    Mount Lou: Frustrated seismologists have issued an Orange alert just out of spite. They see Green, but they do not believe Green.

    mtlou_orange.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    The Gay Rights Gamble

    By Sam Singer

    What strikes me as extraordinary about the gay rights movement, particularly its subsidiary cause in the campaign for marriage equality, is the discipline with which its scattered membership marches in lockstep. Everyone seems to appreciate the thrust of the operation, which is at bottom a state-by-state voter drive. On the less common occasion when the movement spills into the courtroom, litigants are advised to scrub their complaints of anything that could be mistaken for a federal claim. In this way, the movement localizes the effect of unfavorable court decisions. What happens in California stays in California, and so forth. At least that was the idea.

    It turns out the movement hadn't spent enough time surveying its own backyard. Late last month, hours after California's high court dismissed a last-ditch challenge to Proposition 8, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) announced it would challenge the constitutional amendment in federal court. This normally wouldn't be cause for alarm. Most litigants proceeding without the support of the major stakeholders would not have pockets deep enough to make much noise. But AFER isn't your garden variety litigant. AFER cropped up solely for the purpose of bringing this challenge. Comprising its board is a group of Hollywood's most well-heeled and outspoken gay rights advocates. And if there was any question as to the organization's resolve, the board dispelled it when it retained Ted Olson and David Boies as co-counsel. Apparently, AFER wasn't content with just one of the nation's top constitutional lawyers.

    In a press statement opposing the suit, the director of the ACLU's LGBT project encapsulated the concerns of leading LGBT groups when he cautioned that "successful change involves building blocks." His point is well taken. As a moral leader, the Supreme Court resembles the pear-shaped kid in gym class in its tendency to trail the pack. The Court often lags behind state legislatures in the march toward social change, as it did with school segregation as well as with laws prohibiting mixed-race marriages. Likewise, by 1986, the year the Supreme Court voted to uphold a Georgia law that criminalized same-sex sodomy, the majority of states had either repealed similar laws or discontinued their enforcement. That case, Bowers v. Hardwick, goes a long way toward explaining the gay rights movement's profound aversion to federal litigation. Seventeen years would pass before the Supreme Court reversed Bowers.

    For their part, Olson and Boies haven't offered much in the way of reassurance. Asked to address concerns that the suit was premature, Olson offered a short sermon about the costs of delaying justice, keeping details about litigation strategy close to the vest. "We know what we're doing," he insisted.

    In the same statement, Olson tried preempt accusations that he joined the cause with intentions of undermining it. "I hope the people don't suspect my motives," he said.

    It is plausible, though unlikely, that by "we know what we're doing," Olson means to say his legal team will tread carefully, that they will tiptoe through the appeals process and drop the case before the Supreme Court has to get involved. I say unlikely because all signs point to ambitions of a higher order. Recall that this lawsuit is, in a very literal sense, a Hollywood production. The hired guns, the swanky L.A. interest group, the carefully timed press conferences - it's a Sean Penn film in the making. Also, why pay upwards of $1,000 per hour for two prominent Supreme Court advocates if you don't foresee the suit going to Washington?

    It is a virtual certainty that the Supreme Court will split 5-4 over marriage equality. As to which side will attract the five-vote majority, analysts are uncertain. The Court's conservative wing wrote off the idea of expanding equal protection rights to cover sexual preference back in the 1980s. Since then its members have voted accordingly, rejecting even the most modest of the Court's concessions to the gay community. As for the liberal bloc, scholars presume Judge Sotomayor will replace Justice Souter as a reliable fourth vote supporting marriage equality. The ninth and deciding vote belongs to Justice Kennedy, the Court's resident swing vote. If Boies and Olson believe their lawsuit has legs, it's because they think Kennedy is on their side.

    Kennedy's position on same-sex marriage is a subject of enduring speculation in the legal community. To the frustration of conservatives, Justice Kennedy has found more common ground on gay equality with the Court's left wing than with its right. In three recent discrimination cases, Kennedy twice upheld the constitutional claims of gay plaintiffs, writing on both occasions with full flourish about the law's commitment to neutrality.

    Yet same-sex marriage advocates aren't convinced he's an ally. Many look at Kennedy and see a Reagan appointee with a soft side for civil liberties - hardly a servant to the cause. Kennedy has also developed a certain swagger as the pivot vote on a divided court, and some observers are put off by the liberties he takes with case law when he's called upon to cast a deciding vote. Never content merely to break a tie, Kennedy is infamous for muddying already convoluted precedent with stand-alone concurring opinions.

    This skepticism helps explain why Kennedy's opinions supporting same-sex equality often receive a subdued reception. It's a natural reaction from a community with such a rocky relationship with the federal judiciary. But underlying AFER's suit is a wager that the gay rights movement has been hiding from an adversary in the Supreme Court that no longer exists. If the group is right, the payout will be enormous. If it's wrong, the movement gets set back a decade or two. In either event, Justice Kennedy will have the last word.

    -

    Sam Singer is the Beachwood's legal correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

    -

    Previously by Sam Singer:
    * Is TARP legal? Court to decide on laugh test.

    * Taking Government Out Of The Marriage Business. Separating church and state.

    * Chicago's Disorderly Conduct. Dissent allowed even in Daleyland

    * Why Google Will Win. Newspapers are on the wrong side of the digital revolution.

    * Is Blago A Flight Risk? We asked; a judge said yes.

    * Obama's Torture Test. Politically calculating.

    * Replacing Souter. Signs point to Kagan.

    * Going to Pot. The states vs. the feds.

    * The Sotomayor Show. A guide for viewers.

    * Chicago's Still Valid Gun Ban. Chicago vs. D.C.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    A Guide To The Baldwins

    By Steve Rhodes

    I know I was confused when Daniel Baldwin walked into the jungle to join brother Stephen in a big surprise on I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, and I'm guessing others were too. Which brother was Daniel? The same one who bolted Celebrity Rehab? Wasn't that one of the others? Aren't there, like, 12 of them?

    Let's take a look.

    -

    Alec: We all know who he is. The mother Baldwin. Let's move on.

    Daniel: Indeed, he was the royal ass on Celebrity Rehab. My favorite Baldwin moment on that show was his faux earnest proclamation after he was caught being a douche that the show was "no longer conducive to my sobriety. Period!"

    Still, it was unfair that he was voted off the show when arch-nemesis Janice Dickinson was caught on camera stealing a granola bar and urinating in camp and denying both. I guess America wanted to watch the train wreck instead of reward the meritorious.

    Billy: Starred as Robert Chambers in the made-for-TV movie The Preppie Murder. Married to Chynna Phillips. Has his own website.

    Stephen: Fantastic in The Usual Suspects. His next role was in Bio-Dome. Not a smart man.

    The Baldwin Brothers: A Chicago-based electronica duo.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

    Cab #2564

    Date: 6/11/09
    From: Wicker Park
    To: South Loop

    The Cab: Well-maintained but the slight odor of cleanser mixed with something else, possibly vomit. Let me check Texts From Last Night to see if this cab shows up anywhere.

    The Driver: A rarity these days in that he had the radio on. Maybe he doesn't have any cabbie friends to talk to.

    ANNOUNCER: "Go to Joliet.com! The fun, the friends, the excitement!"

    Driver #2564 is mostly a calm, hands at the ten-and-two kind of guy. He has a sparkling gothic cross in his right ear. He drank from a green can that was probably Sprite.

    "And the walls, come tumbling down . . . "

    It's The Drive. This ride will be narrated by Classic Rock.

    The Driving: I was going to take the El downtown, but I had an appointment to make and you just can't count on the CTA when it's important. When you have to absolutely, positively be there, take a cab or drive yourself.

    Friggin' CTA.

    So I had to stop for cash. The first two ATMs at Milwaukee and Damen were both out of service, forcing me to go where I swore I never would: the Bank of America in the Coyote Building of what has become a godforsaken intersection. Three-dollar service fee because they aren't my bank. BoA is evil, and probably backed by the Chinese.

    On to the hailing.

    A lot of folks must have read that cab-share article. I've never been asked to share a cab before, but two folks before me did, and I was asked to but couldn't because of the timing and the route.

    I got in my cab and thought to myself, "Now let's get stuck on North Avenue."

    *

    Driver #2564 turned out to be a very smooth rainy day driver. At one point I thought he was shooting me nervous glances, but he was really just checking all his mirrors. Also, a very good lane-changer. But I wondered: will he be there when the deal goes down?

    *

    For the most part, he was. The freeway was surprisingly smooth and he passed his big test: get off at Congress or Roosevelt? He chose Congress, to my inner skepticism, and the long line of stoppage I expected failed to materialize.

    Driver #2564 also deftly handled the defrost before I even noticed the vehicle needed defrosting.

    "What a wonderful night for a moondance . . . "

    God I hate that song.

    *

    At this point I dubbed Driver #2564 Silent Cal because he didn't speak a word.

    "Lord take me downtown, I'm just looking for some tush . . . "

    *

    Once we got onto the downtown streets, though, Driver #2564 lost a bit of his cool, notching one panic brake and one surging start. For the first time I remembered my cab nausea.

    But by then the ride was over.

    Overall rating: 3.5 extended arms

    - Steve Rhodes

    *

    There are more than 6,000 cabs in the city of Chicago. We intend to review every one of them.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 AM | Permalink

    June 14, 2009

    The White Sox Report

    By Andrew Reilly

    It's sad, in a way, that the White Sox won the series against the Brewers. Wholly awesome, but still sad in that wins over the Brewers, in the scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing.

    Yes, the Sox move to within a supposedly decent 4.5 games of the Tigers, and yes, Kansas City and Cleveland are still pretty lousy teams, but those two things were both true this time last week, when the Sox were 4.5 games out and the Royals and Indians had long since established their respective stinkfests.

    Still, there will come a lot of misguided optimism about this. Folks will say things to the effect of "If the Sox can beat a first-place team, they can beat anyone." And this would normally be true except the Sox have proven, time and again, that they actually can't beat anyone - especially not first-place teams, i.e., the Tigers who whooped on the Sox before the Good Guys went off to school the soon-to-be-dismissed class of the NL Central.

    And this, as with last year and the ten years before it, reveals the true flaw in interleague play: in a perfect world, squaring off in June with a division leader should be a chance for someone to prove their mettle, not an excuse for trading blowouts and watching said division leader trot out a starting pitcher with a 7.52 ERA. Beating a first-place team should give reason for optimism about our team, not skepticism about theirs; we should know more about the Sox, not less. Are they going to win anything? Probably not, unless there's a Sox-Brewers World Series. Which there won't be. But there could be, because the Brewers are in first place! And the Sox beat them!

    Instead the whole thing just serves to remind us that Milwaukee is still nothing more than a great road trip to a wonderful city to see a terrible baseball team.

    Or, in this case, two terrible baseball teams.

    Week in Review: With four wins and four losses to show for it, this week was actually the Good Guys' best seven-day run since going 5-1 May 25 through 31. Things might not look that great now, but this pattern suggests July 2011 is going to be one for the ages.

    Week in Preview: The Sox, lacking obstructed sightlines and pungent urine stench in their own park, head to historic (ha!) Wrigley for the first half of the Crosstown Classic. This year, the civil war begins on a Tuesday rather than a Sunday, a move whose motives some will surely question, and those folks can probably rest assured the decision was based out of pure evil. Considering how Cubs-Sox could sell out a midnight start in December, the league most likely figured it would be wiser to move a lesser series to a weekend and let the calendar do the selling, and in the process let the Sox help the Small Bears pack 'em in for an otherwise non-spectacular mid-week slate. That said, here's looking forward to Guillen and Co. scorching the ivy on their march through the North Side.

    The Q Factor: In a bunker deep beneath the Sierra Blanca, Carlos Quentin and his team of research assistants remain hard at work on a highly experimental hitting method called "Bat Fusion" in which a conventional Louisville Slugger, swung at a certain angle and speed combination known as the "Flux Vector Cut," can hit a baseball upwards of 700 feet. While officially prohibited by unspecified government agencies from actively commenting on the status of this project, Quentin indirectly assures us this method will be combat-ready sometime around the All-Star break.

    That's Ozzie!: "We're supposed to be in last place, and we're close to that. Hopefully, we don't make people happy about it."

    The Guillen Meter: His hatred of Wrigley Field widely advertised, his Cy Young-winning blogger teammate on the defensive and his club forced to play without its much-needed designated hitter, the Guillen Meter reads 9 for "claustrophobic paranoid."

    Underclassmen Update: Thanks to Milwaukee pitching, Gordon "Best Shortstop Ever" Beckham has more runs batted in than I do. Finally.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Major League Baseball handed former White Sox utility man and bench speedster Pablo Ozuna a 50-game suspension for violating league rules around the use of performance-enhancing drugs; one can only wonder how bad Ozuna would have been without the juice. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Aaron Rowand leads off while Juan Uribe bats third, and the whole world has seemingly fallen on its head.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: Every year, without fail, Hawk tells one story in particular on-air during the Sox' visit to Wrigley Field, in which some young player signs with the Cubs hoping to win a World Series, falls a little too deeply in love with the bright lights and taverns of Rush Street, struggles on the field, then hears from an elder statesman of baseball how the Cubs will never win a World Series until they stack their team with married men who never go out. He updates the names to reflect recent Cub roster moves, which seems odd by itself, but even more perplexing considering Rush Street, by most estimates, hasn't been much fun for anyone outside of Schaumburg in a good 30 years.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Paul Konerko's once-again functional digit for Pearl Jam's 2002 Riot Act album. Thumbing his way back to run-producing heaven.

    Cubs Snub: Yesterday's special at the Comet Cafe in Milwaukee was the Milton Bradley Fail. Two . . . no three . . . no two pancakes with three . . . no, two . . . no, three eggs and a side of hash browns. The secret ingredient? Spitefulness mixed with an expectedly lousy Cubs outfielder. Oh how I love that city.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.

    -

    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

    -

    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    June 13, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    The world ended last night, but we're still here covering the key stories.

    Change Watch
    Recovery took a bearish turn this week when analysts revealed nothing ever changes.

    Single Ladies
    Mercurial Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has taken a temperamental turn during his first official visit to Italy. Analysts say he is disappointed that his request to meet "Italy's finest ladies" has been so grossly misinterpreted.

    Triumvirate Rumblings
    It's been an active week amongst the three greatest threats to Western civilization. Any hopes that Paris Hilton may be ready to change her dissolute ways have been soundly crushed for the moment. Meanwhile, Britney Spears has announced she is ready, willing and able to make another push at proliferation. Not to be outdone, Lindsay Lohan has handled her recent troubles with a marathon round of retail therapy.

    Modest Proposal
    Skeptics have been quick to criticize President Obama's ambitious healthcare savings plan, but we at the Weekend Desk are more bullish. After all, there seems to be plenty of spare cash floating around all over the place.

    Everyone's a Critic
    House Republicans expressed outrage this week, comparing President Obama to Russia's controversial Vladimir Putin. "It's like he has to have an opinion on everything," seethed Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor. "He keeps going on and on about how bad The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is and he hasn't even seen the movie!"

    Quite Pride
    Finally this week, duh.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    June 12, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. You can win free tickets to Ha Ha Tonka's record-release show at Schubas this Monday. How? You'll have to read to the bottom of this story to find out!

    2. Here's the way I wrote it up for NBCChicago.com:

    "Mayor Richard M. Daley emerged from hiding on Thursday to insist he knew nothing about the partnership his nephew formed with one of the city's leading developers to win the right to invest $68 million in city pension funds with a guarantee of $8 million in management fees to the duo until he read about it in the paper like everyone else."

    And instead of "one of the city's leading developers" I should have said "noted political ally."

    See, that's the problem with Fran Spielman's stenography today: if the family is as close-knit as she wrings her hands over, how could this deal have gone down without the mayor knowing about it?

    Add in Daley's microscopic knowledge of city business and it's just plain unfathomable.

    Of course, the mayor could have cleared all that up but he refused to take questions on the matter.

    Nobody else is talking either.

    Consider:

    "For Daley to have been unaware of the deal until that point required aides he appointed to the pension fund boards not to have told him that they considered and voted for the DV Urban deal," Dan Mihalopoulos reports in the Tribune this morning.

    "Daley said 'no' when asked Thursday if he had any conversations about his nephew's firm with those appointees.

    "When the police pension trustees voted 7-1 in April 2006 to approve a $15 million infusion for DV Urban, three high-ranking city officials at the time were present and supported the investment. Those officials were Lux, then-Treasurer Judith Rice and Daley's then-chief financial officer Dana Levenson.

    "Rice also voted for the laborers' and municipal employees' pension funds to put their money in DV Urban, and Lux supported the municipal employees' investment in the firm.

    "Rice and Levenson have since left the city for jobs in the private sector. Rice declined to comment through a spokeswoman for her current employer, Harris Bank. Levenson did not return calls.

    "Lux, who is still the city's comptroller and remains a pension fund trustee, did not return calls."

    They could all do Daley - and Vanecko - a big favor by telling us all just how clean this deal was. Unless it wasn't.

    "Lux made a motion at a police fund board meeting last year to destroy recordings 'older than 18 months relating to investment committee meetings and executive sessions.' The motion was approved 6-0 at the Oct. 21, 2008 meeting."

    3. Trib Creditors Dig For Colonel's Cash. Looking at Cantigny, McCormick Foundation.

    *

    How soon can they get there?

    4. "Unless either Don Shula or Chuck Noll wants to weigh in, let's wait at least a day before hearing from another Super Bowl-winning head coach interested in questioning Jay Cutler's character publicly, OK?" David Haugh wrote in the Tribune on Thursday.

    And he's absolutely right.

    "With due respect to Mike Ditka and Tony Dungy, has anybody around the league considered the Broncos' role in Cutler's clumsy exit out of Denver and whether Cutler still would be a Bronco if Mike Shanahan were in charge?

    "Or that increasingly out-of-touch owner Pat Bowlen and newbie coach Josh McDaniels might have been as impulsive trading their franchise quarterback as Cutler is accused of being immature?"

    5. Don't forget the Chicago Media Future Conference on Saturday.

    6. "It's amusing that the university continues to withhold the information, even as President B. Joseph White appeared Monday on WTTW's Chicago Tonight alongside reporter Jodi S. Cohen, whose work he praised," the Tribune said in an editorial on Thursday. 'She has shone a light on an area that needs to be examined,' he said. Really.

    "At the same time, White took umbrage at this page's characterization of the university as 'Rezko U,' calling it 'a tremendous insult to one of the world's great universities and its hundreds of thousands of alumni.'

    "'And by the way, it's not true, he added.

    "Not true? As Cohen and her colleagues reported, a relative of Antoin 'Tony" Rezko - convicted influence peddler for ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich - was admitted after White sent an e-mail to the university chancellor. White's message advised that Blagojevich 'has expressed his support and would like to see [Rezko's relative] admitted'."

    *

    From the show:

    WHITE: I'm extremely concerned about the assertions that have been made in the stories . . .

    CAROL MARIN: Assertions or facts?

    WHITE: They are assertions. The Tribune editorial page has asserted that I clouted a relative of [Tony] Rezko into the Univeristy of Illinois. And it's not true, period.

    *

    He just wanted admissions officers to know that the governor had "expressed his support and would like to see [Rezko's relative] admitted."

    But make the decision on merit.

    *

    This story was a bit odd though in that it didn't acknowledge that the reporter who wrote it - Cohen - appeared on the panel she was writing about.

    7. "It was a weird Belmont Stakes Day, from a horseplaying point of view as InterTrack Partners announced to patrons that it is closing the Jackson Street OTB, effective after this weekend," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes in TrackNotes. "I called it a few weeks ago, what with the declining level of service and all. I passed on the $35 buffet for Derby Day. Believe me, it's never worth $35, and that's a steep price these days."

    8. The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week.

    9. The Rod & Patti Show.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Transparent.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas Of The Week

    1. This week we learned that the most efficient way to reach a state or orgasmic zen does not involve slipping a rope around your genitals.

    Grasshopper, as you peer down from the cosmos and reckon the grief that attended your death, not to mention the invasion of your poor ex-wife's privacy and all the lame jokes that will commemorate your passing, don't you regret not just using Craigslist?

    2. Simon Cowell announced he plans to remake Saturday Night Fever, with Zac Efron as Tony Manero. Which will only work if Lindsay Lohan is cast as the love interest and Sam Ronson as the DJ.

    3. Because there just aren't enough product liability lawsuits to keep lawyers busy, this week the FDA approved a mini-laser for at-home nips and tucks.

    Examiner.com's Martha Kepner notes that she's "positively tingling" over the news, which leads us to believe that David Carradine's life could have been saved if the FDA's bureaucracy didn't move so slowly.

    4. If lasers don't do it for you, how about an itty bitty microwave oven that comes with a USB plug so you can power it via computer.

    Manufacturer Heinz has dubbed it the Beanzawave because it's perfect for warming a can of beans at your desk. Also marketable to the growing homeless demographic.

    5. Bret Michaels compounded the embarrassing denouement of his performance at the Tony Awards by complaining that he didn't merit the same level of concern from show producers as Liza Minelli, Dolly Parton or Elton John would have if they had been conked on the head in a prop mishap.

    Wait a minute - who thought inviting Bret Michaels to perform at the Tony's was a good idea in the first place?

    -

    The Five Dumbest Ideas Of The Week appears in this space very Friday. Stephanie welcomes your comments, tips and suggestions.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:04 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: The Backstretch Blues

    By Thomas Chambers

    As anticipated, Belmont Stakes Day from Elmont, New York, lived up to its potential and turned into a great day of racing capped off by an exciting main event.

    Summer Bird, he of the same Birdstone/Grindstone sire side as rival Mine That Bird, turned on an electric finish to clear by nearly three lengths in front of the gallant Dunkirk, who led the race much of the way. Mine That Bird finished third. Charitable Man made an effort to sprint home, but was only good enough for fourth. In the aftermath, it was announced Dunkirk suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right rear leg, but he is expected to be back racing this year.

    As I had hoped, Kent Desormeaux saved a great amount of ground and tucked in Summer Bird ($25.80, 9.30, 4.70) fifth or sixth on the rail much of the way in a race eerily reminiscent of his sire's victory in 2004, when Birdstone snatched the Triple Crown from Smarty Jones.

    The moves Calvin Borel made with Mine That Bird and the early backstretch move Stewart Elliott made with Smarty Jones will continue to catch criticism for years to come. As Elliott lost his patience and gunned Smarty on the backstretch - and then made another quickness move at the eighth pole - so did Borel disobey two commandments of Belmont. He took Mine That Bird very wide into the first turn and then sent him too early to the lead at the eighth pole, a move that actually started before that. Desormeaux and Summer Bird calmly held to the rail as Mine That Bird made his patented rush, blowing by him at the quarter pole. But it was the difference in the race.

    Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley said he thought Borel moved too early and that once Mine' sees the leader, it's tough to keep him from taking off. Borel's behavior the week before the race was curious. He spent most of the week in New York and yet chose not to get in a few rides at Belmont for practice and familiarity. He reportedly had previously ridden at Belmont only seven times, last winning there 10 years ago. He had no other mounts on Belmont Day either, a day when Desormeaux won four races. For a guy who was a local hired gun at Churchill Downs for the Derby, you'd think he would know better.

    Borel talked after the race of how slow the pace was going, but the race interior was actually somewhat quick, with opening fractions in :23/2, 47 and 1:12. The final time was not barn-burning with Summer' logging a 100 Beyer Speed Figure, but the Belmont often encompasses more than one speed scenario. Could the clock in Borel's head have failed him? It's said that the backstretch at Belmont is so long that jockeys misjudge and figure the turn must be coming soon, soon, soon. Borel said he had plenty of horse and that might have lulled him into a false sense of security. But still, he moved too early.

    Jackson Street Freeze-Out
    It was a weird Belmont Stakes Day, from a horseplaying point of view as InterTrack Partners announced to patrons that it is closing the Jackson Street OTB, effective after this weekend.

    I called it a few weeks ago, what with the declining level of service and all. I passed on the $35 buffet for Derby Day. Believe me, it's never worth $35, and that's a steep price these days. Upon arriving for the Belmont, a $5 admission fee was requested to sit on the third-floor club level. It was a ploy to gouge the civilians who wouldn't know better, and I didn't see anyone except the regulars up there Saturday anyway. This after years of them not enforcing the $5 minimum food & beverage on that level that only a few of us met (we would have anyway).

    Management there never really acknowledged the regulars, ignoring the amounts of money we pushed through the windows. And the joint's management was a revolving door, not that any of them took the time to find out who their best customers were. In the past few weeks, I noticed a general sputtering of the wagering machines, with everything from grossly wrong bet amounts to just not working. That was another tipoff.

    I ended up at my favorite Italian restaurant for the bulk of Belmont Day, but noo ne else there shared the focused enthusiasm I had for the day's racing card, so it wasn't the same. Fun, but I was a fish out of water and had to make sure a couple of times they didn't throw a net on me.

    So the OTB alternatives now are the Stretch Run on LaSalle or the Mudbug on Weed Street (Hawthorne Race Course is actually handy for me just off the Stevenson from the West Loop, but you're talking $25-30 in cab fares). Forget MudBug, it'll be packed. I wonder about Stretch Run, because it isn't as big as Jackson. And I wonder if some of the Jackson OTB "railbirds" will go anywhere else. But I believe a few of my gang have a plan.

    I really question if Jackson St. was losing money, but that's what they said. Probably just not making as much as they wanted and I imagine they're also trying to consolidate leases and steer some of the weekday players to Stretch Run.

    If you've ever been to a Las Vegas race book and then come back to an OTB here, you know what I mean. The absolute absence of business sense and care for the customer is astounding at the OTB.

    -

    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you Track Notes every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: How Ha Ha Tonka Feels

    By Matt Harness

    Ha Ha Tonka releases its second album, Novel Sounds of the Noveau South, on Tuesday on Bloodshot Records, so we here at the Bloodshot Briefing desk caught up with lead singer and guitarist Brian Roberts, who lives in Santa Barbara, by phone from Kansas City, where he and the boys were getting ready to hit the road.

    *

    Beachwood Music: Buckle in the Bible Belt went over huge; some publications ranked in the top 20 for 2007. How is this album different, if not better, from your debut?

    Brian Roberts: I don't know if it's that different, maybe more polished, maybe a slightly bigger sound, a bit more expansive.

    We tie in some of the same themes as the first one but to the greater South. The first track is a thesis statement for the record, basically about empowering the individual. People have an inherent goodness.

    Whether we succeed or not is up to the listener.

    Beachwood Music: What music influenced you on this record?

    Brian Roberts: REM's New Adventures in Hi-Fi. Tom Petty's Wildflowers. The sound is between those two. But we always have an undercurrent of bluegrass.

    Beachwood Music: What did you listen to growing up? Who shaped your sound?

    Brian Roberts: Of course, when you are younger you listen to what your parents did, the Beatles, Eagles, those 70s bands. But in the late 80s, early 90s, it was country, anything country. Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn. If I had to pick a song, it would be John Michael Montgomery's "Grundy County Auction."

    Beachwood Music: The band is four friends. How are songwriting duties divided? Any tensions?

    Brian Roberts: It's a collective effort. Somebody brings an idea in, and we work it over. We then give up on it and rediscover it. We give up on it again and then rediscover it. Songs go through this big transformation.

    Beachwood Music: You guys always play a tribute song to one of your mentors, "Big Smith's 12-inch, 3-speed Oscillating Fan," at your shows. Any other covers you favor?

    Brian Roberts: "Black Betty" by the Ram Jam from the 1970s. Last time in Chicago we played Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How it Feels." We used a trombone and mouth harp.

    Beachwood Music: How does Ha Ha Tonka choose which cover songs to play live?

    Brian Roberts: I think most bands start out as semi-cover bands anyway. You learn how to play and perform certain songs over the years and then you work them into your own performances.

    Beachwood Music: How about set lists? Do you sketch one up before each show, kind of like a football team going over its game plan? Or do you wing it on stage?

    Brian Roberts: Well, touring with one album our shows were pretty much the same. Plus, the places we play and where we generally play in the lineup only allows us to play 12 or 13 songs.

    It's more interesting now with more songs to choose from, so it can be different every night.

    Beachwood Music: I can't be the only music fan who blurts out his favorites songs at shows for the band to play. How do requests go over on stage?

    Brian Roberts: It's pretty influential, more than you think. It's very flattering for them to want to hear a song that we do, and we are more than willing to oblige.

    Beachwood Music: End of the night. One karaoke song to take the crowd home.

    Brian Roberts: Jon Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." It's the biggest chorus song. The verse is so big it can be a chorus, and the pre-chorus can be a chorus. The chorus is like a super-chorus.

    -

    Bloodshot Briefing has three pairs of tickets to give away to Ha Ha Tonka's album-release show on Monday at Schubas. Be the first, third or fifth e-mailer! Here's a taste of what you might see.

    -

    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 AM | Permalink

    June 11, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    2:55 P.M. UPDATE: Oh what the hell, I might as well wait until tomorrow at this point. Here's what I posted on NBCChicago.com today, though.

    * CPS Is Nacho Nation. Heh-heh.

    * 'XRT's Brehmer: It Wasn't Me. Lin no lobbyist.

    * Alderman's Parking Perk. Courtesy of Joe Moore.

    -

    I'm on a panel this morning about opinion writing as part of the Community Media Workshop's annual Making Media Connections conference.

    The rest of the panel includes Dawn Turner Trice of the Tribune; Tom McNamee of the Sun-Times; and Chris Robling, a WGN commentator who works for Jayne Thompson & Associates.

    We start at 9:45 a.m., on the 8th floor at 1104 South Wabash.

    I'll have something for the column upon my return.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

    June 10, 2009

    Fantasy Fix: The Strasburg Factor

    By Dan O'Shea

    The NFL and NBA rookie drafts are always worth watching for ardent participants of football and basketball fantasy leagues. In both cases, there are any number of first-year players poised to make an impact in the following season. That isn't usually the case with the MLB draft, for mostly obvious reasons: The baseball draft contains a broad mix of high school and college players of various eligibility levels; baseball teams have vast farm systems and rely more on experienced starters to get the majority of playing time; college players with eligibility remaining who don't like their draft position or their signing bonus often return to school to wait until next year's draft; and it can take at least a year of seasoning for even the most experienced four-year college star to develop some of the further skills that will allow them to tread water in the majors, let alone excel. It's not out of the ordinary for pitchers who have dominated college and summer league hitters to be ordered to develop a new pitch or re-learn their mechanics - though in recent times, more pitchers like Rick Porcello and Tommy Hanson have earned a fast-track to The Show, if not an immediate call.

    All that could change with Stephen Strasburg.

    The San Diego State pitcher, drafted first in Tuesday's draft, has been said to throw above 100 mph on a regular basis and as of last week had 195 strikeouts in 109 innings with only 19 walks, a 13-1 record and a 1.32 ERA. The 2008 Summer Olympian was taken by the woeful Washington Nationals, and has been predicted by some to be the rare player who jumps directly from college competition to MLB competition within weeks.

    Should you be watching your waiver wire closely for the moment when Strasburg's name goes live? Definitely. Will he save your fantasy season or anyone else's? That's hard to say, but I'm betting not. First of all, his agent is likely to be Scott Boras, who some observers presume will demand for Strasburg the largest signing bonus in MLB history. If Strasburg signs with the Nats, it could take every minute right up until the Aug. 15 signing deadline to get the deal done. With that timing, even if Strasburg skips minor league warm-up starts, he would still likely pitch no more than six or seven games for the Nats - and for your fantasy team - this season. If you're a few points out of first place, maybe that could make a difference, but if you're doing that well, who will you bench to take a risk with Strasburg?

    And, despite all the praise, Strasburg is a still a risk and an unknown quantity against MLB hitters. How many of them will lay off his curves and sliders because they are better than Strasburg's college victims at telling the difference between his pitches? Strasburg still may be a superstar, and triple-digit heat will score you some fantasy points even if he does walk too many batters, but it could take at least half of those few late-season starts to figure out what he can contribute.

    There also remains the concern that he won't sign, and having just completed his junior year, will head back to school. The Nats failed to sign their first-round pick just last year over a money dispute, so it could happen again.

    Of course, there's still a possibility that Strasburg signs by June 20, gets his first MLB start by June 30 and is fanning 12 batters per 9 IP by the All-Star Game, with half a season left to keep impressing us and keep reminding us that we didn't scoop him up the minute he became available.

    So, what else is going on besides the tick-tick-tick of the Strasburg contract clock?

    * SI.com carries a post from Mastersball dispelling of certain fantasy baseball myths, including the one that you should always demand the best player in a multiple-player trade to come out on top. Not true, says Mastersball. I agree with that, and the philosophy that you try to get as many points as you can out of specific position while trying to achieve a balance, and that might mean giving up the best player if it means getting two who address your two weakest positions.

    * ESPN's Eric Karabell looks at some Rookie of the Year candidates, and likes Matt Wieters even though Wieters has barely laid bat on ball thus far. He lists several other top rookies, though no Gordon Beckham, the multi-talented infielder the White Sox rushed to the big leagues (though check out the Ozzie Guillen quote about Beckham far down in Karabell's column). Also, no Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates outfielder who I will make my dark-horse pick to win the RoY. McCutchen came up last week, and with Nate McLouth trade to the Braves, he has been handed a starting outfielder job. I wonder where Strasburg will finish.

    * Yahoo!'s Weekly Rundown highlights the case of Laynce Nix, who might be this year's Ryan Ludwick if he keeps up a pace that has him with 21 extra base hits of 30 total hits this year. Nix, like Ludwick, was something of an unknown quantity mostly playing a role as a spring training seat-filler until this year. Like Baltimore's Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold, a couple other hitters who showed power bursts in May, Nix could make a nice addition if you're lacking power stats in the outfield or want to do in a daily head-to-head like platoon him with a low-power speedster to get a balance of homers and stolen bases.

    * KFFL.com looks at supposedly star players that it might be time to give up on, including David Ortiz. Big Papi has suffered through the Big Daddy of all slumps this year, but he does have a couple of homers in his last three games, and seems to be finally picking himself up. Still, hitting .198 through Tuesday, he has a long way to go. He's also hurt by his UTIL-only classification. I wouldn't be surprised if he does well enough to become a chic late-season waiver wire pick-up, but for now, wave bye-bye.

    * Fantasy Windup suggests picking up RP Ryan Madson for closer duties with his bullpen mate Brad Lidge officially headed to the DL. Lidge was having so much trouble he was probably benched on many teams anyway, but Madson would be a good call if Lidge was your primary active closer.

    * And finally, the home run binge this year at New Yankee Stadium may have sent fantasy leaguers scrambling for pinstriped position players. Speculation about the cause has reached a fever pitch usually reserved for government conspiracy theories, and the Associated Press this week has a closer look at the issue, potentially debunking the suggestion that weather has played a role and blaming the homer increase instead on subtle changes between the new stadium dimensions and the old. The advice: Hold onto Melky Cabrera for now, and if your worst pitcher is due for a date in Yankee Stadium, bench him.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    I can tell you that the political grapevine was buzzing on Tuesday when the Sun-Times reported - based on sources including at least one family member - that Mayor Richard M. Daley has just been positively broken up for two years about his nephew's dubious involvement in city pension funds.

    It's just been tearing him apart.

    Right.

    But Mark Brown tries to come to the rescue today of his colleague Fran Spielman, who by all appearances was fed the swill and then retailed it to her reading public under the guise of a scoop.

    My guess is that brother Bill did the deed, but who knows for sure what channels the family uses to send its messages.

    When receiving information like this, reporters are often better off reporting the fact that someone is trying to shape a story rather than feeling obligated to do the source's bidding.

    Or Spielman could have just as easily told her source to go on-the-record or shut up.

    Would anything have really been lost if she had done so?

    But under Brown's theory, people like me are kooks taking time off from rooting around Area 51 to come up with outrageous ideas about how the Daley administration operates.

    "When the story of the anonymous sources dumping on Vanecko was later melded with the late-breaking news of his planned withdrawal from the pension deal, the conspiracy theorists suggested the newspaper was going soft on the mayor," Brown writes today. "Not so."

    But isn't tagging those who recognize the Daley game as "conspiracy theorists" just another way of, um, going soft on the mayor?

    Brown actually makes the conspiracy case quite well. By cataloguing the mayor's persistent denials about his nephew's dealings to show they are in conflict with a mayor tormented by two years of those very dealings, Brown effectively puts the lie on Daley.

    And he writes that "you shouldn't doubt for a minute that it was the mayor's brain trust that uncharacteristically chose to go after Vanecko."

    Isn't that what the "conspiracy theorists" are saying? The mayor's brain trust decided Vanecko had gotten too hot; it was time to cut him off at the knees.

    And what better way to do that than by feeding a story to Fran Spielman about Richie's misery?

    "Let's give Mayor Richard Daley a big, gushy get-well wish, so he recovers quickly from the flu," John Kass writes this morning.

    "Because I bet you can't wait to hear him tell you how shocked he is that his nephew Robert Vanecko, now under federal investigation, made a fortune after receiving almost $70 million in city pension-fund money to invest. And how Vanecko did it all without Daley's knowledge.

    "He'll expect you to believe it, since he figures you're a bunch of chumbolones, and that, like so many times before, you'll take a slap in the mouth and then ask, 'Please, sir, may I have another?'"

    I mean, really.

    "My favorite deal," Kass continues, "involves a site on South Pulaski Road that Vanecko and Davis bought with pension funds. Now, they're leasing part of the property back to City Hall for a hefty fee. Soon, the collected rent will be more than the entire property is worth.

    "Is there anybody in the world dumb enough to believe Vanecko could get his hands on almost $70 million in city funds without Daley's approval?"

    I'm reminded of John Callaway's interview of Ron Huberman a couple months back. Huberman was once Daley's chief of staff, as well as the former president of the CTA and the current chief executive of CPS. Huberman marveled that Daley's intricate knowledge of city departments and city business seemed to go beyond those charged with managing those departments and that business.

    Combined with the "tight-knit clan" of the Daley family described by Brown himself, it's beyond the outer limits of reason to believe that Daley simultaneously knew nothing about Vanecko's deals, yet was tormented by them and tried for two years to get him to beg off without success. Daley could order a leaf to turn over in this city and it would comply.

    Meanwhile, Carol Marin reminds us today that the pension boards in question, which include city officials, refused to respond to subpoeanas delivered by inspector general David Hoffman, who in turn brought in the feds.

    Daley may be broken up by all of this, but it's not because he's spent two years trying to rein in his nephew. It's because the jig is up.

    Monolith of McRib
    The Old Chicago Post Office is going to auction. We've got some ideas.

    When Roland Met Sonia
    It was all about him.

    Poor Patti B
    What NBC did - and didn't - show you.

    Deano Waco
    A Chicago treasure.

    Don't Be A Dick
    Our Life at Work feature is back!

    First it was J. Bird reporting from inside a Chicago law firm.

    Then it was Maude Perkins reporting from behind the counter of a large, publicly-owned corporate coffee chain with a green logo.

    Now it's Patty Hunter reporting from behind the server lines at a local pizza palace.

    "Yes, your food came out awesome," Hunter writes today. But chances are, the cook that night is a cokehead, the busser was hungover, your server hated your guts and the host warned everyone about what a pain you were. We're half actors and half prostitutes in the serving industry."

    Fantasy Fix
    Best baseball prospect ever?

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Just like Aldo Nova.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

    Poor Patti B

    By The Beachwood Z-List Affairs Desk

    NBC has become a propaganda vehicle for Patti Blagojevich. We'll give you a taste of what she's putting out there for a national television audience, and then provide another point of view.

    1. Patti's Schtick.

    -

    2. Patti's Legal Jeopardy

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    At Your Service: Don't Be A Dick

    People love to eat food they didn't have to prepare and don't have to clean up. It is a little vacation from kitchens with dirty counters and smelly garbage cans. It is a chance to eat food you know you could never prepare by yourself with your George Foreman Grill and subpar cookware. Those stories about your cute little waitress who showed you pictures of her dog do make great stories at the office.

    On the other hand, do you have any idea how the restaurant staff perceives you? You probably had no idea what we were saying about you out of earshot. Can you even imagine what goes on in the kitchen? Yes, your food came out awesome. But chances are, the cook that night is a cokehead, the busser was hungover, your server hated your guts and the host warned everyone about what a pain you were. We're half actors and half prostitutes in the serving industry.

    The pizza restaurant I have been working at for three years and some change is about 85 percent tourists. There is nothing wrong with tourists per se; only the dipshits that come through our doors. Sometimes I wonder if it is all staged - if all these people are part of some hidden camera, ha-ha-you-thought-these-idiots-were-for-real game show. Then reality sinks in. These people are not only real but exist by the millions. And they all find a way into our tiny little restaurant to make my life miserable.

    I should be leaving for work in 30 minutes. I have my work clothes and apron already shoved inside of my bag- clothes that will never lose their pizza smell no matter how many sheets of fabric softener I throw in the dryer. I think it is masochism that keeps me coming back to this job. And the economy. And my that college degree I still haven't quite earned.

    Sometimes it's a toss-up between who I hate more: several of my co-workers or the customers (excuse me, "guests") who ask if our pizzas come with cheese or sauce. Or who complain the four-cheese pizza is too cheesy.

    But: those co-workers who beg to stay for you if their section is closed before yours . . . and the ones who somehow always manage to take up the entire soda fountain by themselves . . . and the ones who spend the entire time complaining about how much money they're not making . . . I am stuck with them for eight hours opposed to the maybe the hour-and-a-half I must spend pretending I find a table interesting or funny.

    Co-worker horror stories are plentiful. But before I give you such anecdotal treats, some rules must be established. These rules should be printed out and carried in your wallet. Refer to them any and every time you step foot in a restaurant.

    * Please refer to us as servers, not waiters. Note the difference between "server" and "servant" and act accordingly.

    * Never ever tell your server you are broke. We could probably tell the minute you sat down you were a waste of our time . . . don't give us a another reason to wipe the fake smile off of our faces.

    * It is perfectly acceptable for more than one person to ask for a refill at a time. You are not special enough to warrant a second trip to the soda fountain.

    * No, we do not have anything that is not on the menu.

    * Never use this line: "We're in a hurry. Tell the cooks to crank up the heat back there." Laughing after you say it to imply a joke doesn't make you any less of a douchebag.

    * Please: if you want separate checks, tell us before you place your order.

    * The sugar is not on the table to serve as a toy for your child. You went out to dinner without a single amusement device for your fussy two-year-old? Really?

    * Think before you speak. Example: yes, of course your salad will take less time than the pizza.

    * Do not under any circumstances think it is okay to make physical contact with your server. This means no tugging on the shirts, no pulling on elbows, no wrist-grabbing. Even if we can't chew you out, remember that you do not know what is going on in the kitchen. Or as you might want to think of it, the revenge room.

    * Understand that we survive off tips. To clarify: leave us at least 15 percent although 18 to 20 percent is customary for good service. Verbal tips such as, "You were such a great server!" or "Our kids loved you!" do not put food on the table.

    -

    The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments.

    -

    COMMENTS:

    1. From Scott Knitter:

    I'm sorry, but I strongly feel this is one rules-for-restaurant-customers article too many. I've really grown tired of waitstaff rants with bullet points.

    Bottom line: People should be polite and considerate of others, whether waiting tables or dining out. And people should do their jobs well and with a positive attitude, no matter what that job is. That'll take care of the problems more than this sort of face-slapping of all those oh, so stupid customers.

    Very derivative, and very identical to about three other such articles I've read elsewhere recently.

    2. From Michael Marsh:

    Thanks for the Life at Work column. It has a cynical, slice-of-life vibe.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

    Deano Waco Meets The Purveyors

    By Don Jacobson

    Dean Schlabowske's new, Web-only, free-download album Deano Waco Meats the Purveyors is a pure example of artsy electric bluegrass and strangely disturbing gospel hollers. It also reminds us what the world is missing now that Austin's The Meat Purveyors have all but closed up the butcher shop.

    Deano, of the Waco Brothers, of course, is at his best on the song "Box Store," a hillbilly gospel tune about working at a boring job and apparently having a thing for a fellow box store employee. It highlights all his best songwriting traits: Smart-ass funny, impenetrably nonsensical and broadly hinting at something a bit darker just beyond the bend:

    I work in a box store
    Stand aside you on most days
    I love to hear to hear you talk
    I just can't stand the things you say
    If I could fly so high
    And look down upon this place
    I would blow out all the walls
    And wake up feeling different each day

    I work in a box store
    Some things nobody needs
    I love the way you look
    I just hate the way you look at me
    If I could fly so high
    And look down upon this place
    I would kill the chatter
    And wake up feeling different each day

    Schlabowske, Bill Anderson, Pete Stiles, Stanli Cohen and Cherilyn DiMond are joined by Waco Brothers/Dollar Store drummer Joe Canarillo on this song, which is one of more upbeat numbers on Deano Waco Meats the Purveyors, along with "Vacant Lot" (which features the line, "A preacher and a congressman trying to walk a straight line") and "Workin' For the Devil," in which Deano vows he's given up toiling for that particular employer (I wonder if it's really his boss from the box store?).

    Schlabowske is a Chicago treasure what with his wine store on North Avenue and his primitive, spooky electric guitar, which on the album blends thrillingly with the virtuoso string work from Anderson and Stiles that I loved so much with the pretty-much late and lamented TMP. I'm not sure how often vocalist-bassist DiMond has appeared with her former mates since they broke up in 2006 after she got married and moved to Maine, but I'm guessing the Deano project was probably one of the few times. She and Jo contribute backing vocals on the album that really make all difference.

    Oh, and I just had to include these lyrics from Deano's "More Than Fair":

    I'm diving in
    To the cut-out bin
    Yesterday's lunch
    Still on my chin

    Talk about about your "gutbucket" blues.

    Also, it should be noted that Bloodshot has announced it has come into possession of a batch of rare, long-out-of-print CDs of TMPs' 1999 second album, More Songs About Buildings and Cows. The label got 'em back from a foreign distributor and is now letting them go for $10 apiece.

    And your time would not be wasted by downloading the free promo track of "More Man Than You'll Ever Be (& More Woman Than You'll Ever Get)." A true Purvs classic.

    Right at the end of the above clip, you can catch a great shot of Deano exchanging a big ol' hug with Pete Stiles in the afterglow of a great hillbilly song, done very well. Kind of a YouTube moment, I'm thinking.

    Posted by Don Jacobson at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    June 9, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    There will be no column today, as I have too many soul-crushing things to attend to. I do have a few posts up at NBCChicago.com.

    * Free The Lakefront!

    * Al Capone Slept Here!

    * A story about this Supreme Court ruling on the impropriety of campaign contributions on judges should be posted soon.

    Programming Note
    I'll be on a panel about opinion writing on Thursday as part of the Community Media Workshop's annual conference. On Saturday I'll be on a panel as part of the Chicago Future Media Conference. I'll bring you the details tomorrow.

    -

    The [Monday] Papers
    1. He was my friend, and a credit to the profession.

    2. This story is a mess.

    "Joe Plumeri has cut a high profile as the head of Willis Group Holdings Ltd., being an outspoken critic against industry compensation practices and making one of the sector's biggest acquisitions in a decade," the Tribune reported on Sunday.

    "But few of his moves as chairman and chief executive of the multinational insurance brokerage have ever mobilized John Q. Public to start a Facebook group, create a Web site and circulate a petition - until recently."

    Does that mean some of his other moves - besides renaming the Sears Tower - have similarly mobilized the public?

    Why not "none" of his moves?

    "Backlash ensued, spawning ItsTheSearsTower.com and a Facebook group called Chicagoans against Willis Tower. An unscientific poll by the Chicago Tribune elicited 15,175 responses, of which 95 percent said they'll keep calling it Sears Tower."

    If it's an unscientific poll - and I'm assuming it was a click poll - what business does it have being in this story? You might as well include a poll of kindergarteners. Or cats and dogs.

    "'More information about the company's lack of Britishness might have been good,' Plumeri conceded in an interview last week in Sears Tower's Metropolitan Club when asked what, if anything, he wishes he had done differently in rolling out the name change."

    Really? Did you know Willis was a British company? I didn't. Beyond that, Macy's is an American company and that didn't relieve it from grief when it renamed Marshall Field's.

    "Now publicly traded, Willis asked for and received $3.8 million in tax-increment financing from the city to redevelop the Sears Tower space."

    Why isn't this the story? Why are Chicago taxpayers subsidizing a British insurance company?

    "It's going to cost us about $17 million," said Plumeri. "We're bringing jobs into the city, and hopefully in the next couple of years it'll be 600, 700 jobs because we expect our business to grow rather strongly in the next three years."

    Hopefully. But if we're paying for those jobs, shouldn't we just put those workers in the city payroll?

    I'd also like Mr. Plumeri to describe how those negotiations went with the mayor. Very well, apparently. The Trib apparently didn't ask.

    "Willis will consider spending money on marketing to help the Willis Tower name stick, but Plumeri knows it will take time. 'They can call it whatever they want, even The Big Willie,' said Plumeri, who turns 66 next month. 'All I know is that the day we announced that this building would be named Willis Tower, everybody in America knew who Willis was'."

    Then why would you have to spend money on marketing to make it stick?

    And really, The Big Willie? Are you a dick?

    "Willis doubled its North American revenues in 2008 with its $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs. It was the brokerage sector's biggest deal in a decade, Willis said."

    Then why do they need a taxpayer subsidy? Maybe they should be giving us a subsidy to keep the damn city running.

    "One of Willis' chief rivals is Chicago-based Aon Corp., which has about 2,500 Chicago-area workers and occupies one of the city's other big towers."

    It would have been nice to have someone from Aon comment on how they feel about a big competitor getting a city subsidy.

    But no. We'll just stick with The Big Willie.

    3. Illini Cheating Scandal Up To Quinn. Will he fumigate the state's largest university and teach everyone a lesson?

    4. Zell May Be Out. Bankers may be in. Just like old times!

    Zell couldn't even sell the Cubs, I mean, how in the world did this guy become the richest man in Chicago . . .

    Maybe the Ricketts family ought to buy the whole company and save the newspaper while they're at it.

    5. Schakowsky Says No. Money, race, and gender.

    6. Beachwood Sports:

    * "The Guillen Meter reads 3 for 'Whatever'," writes our very own Andrew Reilly in The White Sox Report.

    * Silver linings for the Cubs, including a GEICO deal and something about adult diapers. In The Cub Factor.

    * "It will take a Herculean effort for Orlando to win the NBA Finals now," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. But that doesn't mean there aren't reasons to keep watching.

    7. In case you haven't seen it yet, the world of rock and roll keeps delivering.

    8 Keeping It Real With Oasis, Dee Dee Ramone & Jack White. By our very own Don Jacobson, in our inimitable RockNotes.

    9. 20 Tweets: Billy Dec. Kickn it with Paris Hilton, Mancow and Oprah.

    10. Statehouse review:
    * Winners and losers according to the Daily Herald.

    * Lawmakers worked awfully hard after all, passing 800 bills. That ain't right.

    11. "In recent years," WBEZ reports, "CAPS meeting attendance has fallen by almost a third. The police department says that's because officers are connecting with citizens in new ways. But some criminologists and neighborhood leaders are skeptical.

    12. This would be better if they showed what would happen if you put a Wisconsin brat on a Chicago grill. Would the grill explode, or just kind of pout and turn itself off? Would your kid get kicked out of the U of I? Would you get a red-brat ticket in the mail a few days later?

    -

    13. I'm tired. That's all I can muster today.

    Mmm, Wisconsin brat . . .

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Grilled or raw.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    June 8, 2009

    Court: Campaign Money Mars Bench

    By The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform

    Today in a 5-4 ruling in Caperton v. Massey, the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged the harmful effects large campaign contributions have in the judicial system, when it ruled Monday that elected judges must recuse themselves from cases where outsized contributions they received can create the appearance of bias.

    This decision shows that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that outsized campaign contributions and special interest money can create the appearance of bias in the judicial system.

    "The Caperton case is about the conflict of interest that arises when judicial candidates benefit from large campaign contributions and special interest group spending," said Cynthia Canary, the executive director of Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. "Every person or group which comes before a court deserves a fair and impartial judiciary, and that's endangered when special interest groups spend huge amounts of money to influence judicial campaigns."

    Caperton v. Massey centers around a $50-million verdict against Massey Energy Co., which the coal company appealed.

    At the same time that Massey was appealing the verdict against it, Massey's chief executive spent $3 million in personal funds to support a West Virginia State Supreme Court candidate, Brent Benjamin, who was challenging an incumbent member of the Court. That $3 million was more than the total amount spent by all other Benjamin supporters.

    After winning election to the state Supreme Court, Justice Benjamin refused to recuse himself from deciding the appeal involving the verdict against Massey. Benjamin joined a 3-2 majority to overturn the verdict against his campaign's biggest financial supporter.

    The U.S. Supreme Court's Monday ruling said that Benjamin should not have participated in that ruling.

    ICPR joined a national coalition of concerned groups, including Justice At Stake, Appleseed, Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, in an amicus curiae brief asserting that Benjamin should not have participated in the decision involving Massey.

    The problematic situation outlined in Caperton v. Massey is not unexpected nor unfamiliar in Illinois. Across the country, the amount of money special interest groups are pouring into judicial campaigns is increasing, and Illinois has been no exception.

    States' Supreme Court candidates have raised more than $168 million in campaign contributions between 2000 and 2007, according to an analysis by Justice At Stake.

    In 2004, Illinois served as host to the most expensive state Supreme Court campaign in history, when groups spent a combined $9.3 million in the 5th Judicial District. Two years later, an Illinois Appellate Court campaign broke state records when parties spent a jaw-dropping $3.35 million on the campaign.

    These staggering figures show why Illinois must create a judicial public financing system, Canary said.

    "Judicial public financing remains the best way to avoid the question of bias altogether, because it allows candidates to run for office without relying on contributions from special interest groups."

    ICPR supports SB 2144/HB 2631, a bill that would create a judicial public financing system in Illinois. Judicial public financing passed the Illinois Senate in each of the last three legislative sessions, but has never been called for a vote in the House.

    Instead of creating a judicial public financing system, the General Assembly this year established a task force to study the issue, leaving Illinois' courts open to abuse by special interest groups for the foreseeable future. The task force is scheduled to report to the governor in 2012.

    With the nation's highest court now acknowledging the conflict that campaign contributions can have on the courts, ICPR urges the General Assembly to take more immediate action on judicial public financing.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: No Love For Lakers

    By Jim Coffman

    It will take a Herculean effort for Orlando to win the NBA Finals now. After dropping a dramatic Game 2 in overtime Sunday in Los Angeles, the Magic will have to win four of five games (the first three of which will be played in Orlando this week) to pull out the best-of-seven series. I'm dispensing with the 'if necessary' codicil at the end of a reference to the third of those three games (game 5) because Orlando will win at least one off the first two games to at least force that contest. But the Lakers are looking very good to wrap this up in five or at the most six games.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • Then again, 'almost eligible for Mr. Universe' Dwight Howard is about as close to a modern day Hercules as a mortal man could be. So perhaps we shouldn't completely count the Magic out just yet. The Magic's young center struggled on Sunday at times . . . specifically the times when he forgot that when the Lakers double-team him, he must immediately propel the ball back beyond the arc.

    His teammates have proven capable of bursts of hot shooting at just about any time throughout this post-season. Some observers have noted that can't last forever but when Orlando executes its offense; there are almost always wide open trifectas to be had and guys like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu to have them. It is a lot easier to keep the shooting percentage in the stratosphere when all the shots are in rhythm off good passes.

    On the other hand, when Howard doesn't pass out of double teams he becomes Mr. Turnover. And while Orlando had a shot to win at the end of regulation (coach Stan Van Gundy drew up a perfect inbounds play with :00.6 on the clock, leading to a long inbounds pass to rookie guard Courtney Lee and a relatively high degree of difficulty layup attempt that bounced off the backboard, the rim and out), the turnovers killed the visitors on this night.

    That and the fact that Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol made just enough plays to win. Can you even watch these games, John Paxson, knowing that Pau Gasol could have been yours for the low, low price of Luol Deng? And a few other player/picks and money I realize but still, not doing everything you could to get the guy - first and foremost convincing Jerry Reinsdorf to pay a little luxury tax - was devastatingly dumb.

    I'm rooting for Orlando but I couldn't care less about the Magic, and I have plenty of company. ESPN.com's Bill Simmons has written about desultory crowds at Orlando games earlier this season (when the Magic was tearing it up) for goodness sake, let alone seasons where the Magic had nowhere to go but up. When the team last made the finals in 1994, I actively rooted against it because I didn't want Horace Grant - who had signed with the club as a free agent the off-season before after winning three titles with the Bulls - winning one more championship than Michael did. I felt the same way about Portland when it made the Western Conference finals in 2000 or 2001 with Scottie Pippen but then lost to the Lakers at the beginning of the Shaq-plus-Kobe three championship run.

    This year my rooting interest has to do with Bryant, i.e., I'm rooting against him. I'd probably root against the Lakers even if Bryant wasn't on the team, but the Lakers and Bryant continue to be a killer combination. ESPN's analysts have been trying to sell the hokum that Kobe has finally figured it out this year, that he has finally started to be a good teammate, doing something other than pumping up himself and his stats. And in the first game of the Finals you had to give it to him. Bryant finished with 40 points, sure, but more impressive were eight rebounds and eight assists! A gigantic game. But it will take a great deal more than one game to start to truly change the perception of Kobe as the poster child for selfishness in the NBA.

    The Broadcast
    In case I wasn't completely convinced that Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are a great team on the mikes, Game 2 sealed the deal. The trio was seriously informative and seriously funny throughout the broadcast on ABC. Whether it was Breen talking about "the human time of calling a timeout" (announcers have long irritated me by just talking about what is on the clock when a player gains possession - they still have to go through the motions of calling a TO and that takes time) or Van Gundy noting that J.J. Redick "has to drive to score" to name just a few, these guys are a delight for an intense basketball fan. The Finals are worth watching just to listen to them.

    -

    Coach Coffman welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    1. He was my friend, and a credit to the profession.

    2. This story is a mess.

    "Joe Plumeri has cut a high profile as the head of Willis Group Holdings Ltd., being an outspoken critic against industry compensation practices and making one of the sector's biggest acquisitions in a decade," the Tribune reported on Sunday.

    "But few of his moves as chairman and chief executive of the multinational insurance brokerage have ever mobilized John Q. Public to start a Facebook group, create a Web site and circulate a petition - until recently."

    Does that mean some of his other moves - besides renaming the Sears Tower - have similarly mobilized the public?

    Why not "none" of his moves?

    "Backlash ensued, spawning ItsTheSearsTower.com and a Facebook group called Chicagoans against Willis Tower. An unscientific poll by the Chicago Tribune elicited 15,175 responses, of which 95 percent said they'll keep calling it Sears Tower."

    If it's an unscientific poll - and I'm assuming it was a click poll - what business does it have being in this story? You might as well include a poll of kindergarteners. Or cats and dogs.

    "'More information about the company's lack of Britishness might have been good,' Plumeri conceded in an interview last week in Sears Tower's Metropolitan Club when asked what, if anything, he wishes he had done differently in rolling out the name change."

    Really? Did you know Willis was a British company? I didn't. Beyond that, Macy's is an American company and that didn't relieve it from grief when it renamed Marshall Field's.

    "Now publicly traded, Willis asked for and received $3.8 million in tax-increment financing from the city to redevelop the Sears Tower space."

    Why isn't this the story? Why are Chicago taxpayers subsidizing a British insurance company?

    "It's going to cost us about $17 million," said Plumeri. "We're bringing jobs into the city, and hopefully in the next couple of years it'll be 600, 700 jobs because we expect our business to grow rather strongly in the next three years."

    Hopefully. But if we're paying for those jobs, shouldn't we just put those workers in the city payroll?

    I'd also like Mr. Plumeri to describe how those negotiations went with the mayor. Very well, apparently. The Trib apparently didn't ask.

    "Willis will consider spending money on marketing to help the Willis Tower name stick, but Plumeri knows it will take time. 'They can call it whatever they want, even The Big Willie,' said Plumeri, who turns 66 next month. 'All I know is that the day we announced that this building would be named Willis Tower, everybody in America knew who Willis was'."

    Then why would you have to spend money on marketing to make it stick?

    And really, The Big Willie? Are you a dick?

    "Willis doubled its North American revenues in 2008 with its $2.1 billion acquisition of Hilb Rogal & Hobbs. It was the brokerage sector's biggest deal in a decade, Willis said."

    Then why do they need a taxpayer subsidy? Maybe they should be giving us a subsidy to keep the damn city running.

    "One of Willis' chief rivals is Chicago-based Aon Corp., which has about 2,500 Chicago-area workers and occupies one of the city's other big towers."

    It would have been nice to have someone from Aon comment on how they feel about a big competitor getting a city subsidy.

    But no. We'll just stick with The Big Willie.

    3. Illini Cheating Scandal Up To Quinn. Will he fumigate the state's largest university and teach everyone a lesson?

    4. Zell May Be Out. Bankers may be in. Just like old times!

    Zell couldn't even sell the Cubs, I mean, how in the world did this guy become the richest man in Chicago . . .

    Maybe the Ricketts family ought to buy the whole company and save the newspaper while they're at it.

    5. Schakowsky Says No. Money, race, and gender.

    6. Beachwood Sports:

    * "The Guillen Meter reads 3 for 'Whatever'," writes our very own Andrew Reilly in The White Sox Report.

    * Silver linings for the Cubs, including a GEICO deal and something about adult diapers. In The Cub Factor.

    * "It will take a Herculean effort for Orlando to win the NBA Finals now," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. But that doesn't mean there aren't reasons to keep watching.

    7. In case you haven't seen it yet, the world of rock and roll keeps delivering.

    8 Keeping It Real With Oasis, Dee Dee Ramone & Jack White. By our very own Don Jacobson, in our inimitable RockNotes.

    9. 20 Tweets: Billy Dec. Kickn it with Paris Hilton, Mancow and Oprah.

    10. Statehouse review:
    * Winners and losers according to the Daily Herald.

    * Lawmakers worked awfully hard after all, passing 800 bills. That ain't right.

    11. "In recent years," WBEZ reports, "CAPS meeting attendance has fallen by almost a third. The police department says that's because officers are connecting with citizens in new ways. But some criminologists and neighborhood leaders are skeptical.

    12. This would be better if they showed what would happen if you put a Wisconsin brat on a Chicago grill. Would the grill explode, or just kind of pout and turn itself off? Would your kid get kicked out of the U of I? Would you get a red-brat ticket in the mail a few days later?

    -

    13. I'm tired. That's all I can muster today.

    Mmm, Wisconsin brat . . .

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Grilled or raw.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:14 AM | Permalink

    20 Tweets: Billy Dec

    From The Beachwood Tweetdeck

    One in a series.

    1. Kickn it w/ Paris Hilton . . . catchin up from last time together @ her at sis' wedding in Vegas . . .oh crazy times . . .11:22 PM Jun 6th from TwitterBerry

    2. Crowd nutz @ Underground w/Bulls Ben Gordon, MTV kid Quddus, Larenz Tate (Rescue Me), The Bachelor Jason something . .. all up on my table! 12:22 AM Jun 6th from TwitterBerry

    3. Kickn Quddus' butt (MTV/ Access Hollywood Host) @ my Rockit pool table while ladies lovin "The Bachelor" Jason(?) & his girl next table over10:01 PM Jun 5th from TwitterBerry

    4. Brutally beaten up by long time Sifu (Dino Spencer) . . . in a good way . . . 4:05 PM Jun 5th from TwitterBerry

    5. just shared a tease of my Oprah radio interview about dating yesterday on www.aChicagoThing.com for you to check out and forward on!!! 1:21 PM Jun 5th from TwitterBerry

    6. Closing my facebook account down! Get on my new one quick before we loose touch! http://bit.ly/15OqUm 10:17 AM Jun 5th from TwitterBerry

    7. New blog post: my craziest day on radio ever! http://www.billydec.com/blo...10:02 AM Jun 5th from Twitter Tools

    8. Reading in RedEye that "The Beast" might be cancelled?? Damn! I'll never b able to play my SWAT role again! Ugh. . . there goes my dream part 9:57 AM Jun 5th from TwitterBerry

    9. Eating again . . . at Rockit Wrigley w/partners Brad Young & Arturo Gomez . . . its Burgerfest baby! 7:13 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    10. @jarreauman thanks man for today's RedEye Rockit Burger shoutout! 5:09 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    11. pounding sushi @ Sunda! anyone think its funny that I went from Mancow to Oprah today? Feeln heavily confused & excited from all that crazy 5:00 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    12. Walking into Harpo Studios thinking I'm actually sore from my 1st salsa lesson last night? Dork 2:46 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    13. Speaking of "Oprah moments" . . . guess I had one on my blog www.billydec.com yesterday as gettin lots of sweet comments- very appreciated u all 2:11 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    14. Gettin ready for my big guest spot on OPRAH xm Radio Show in about an hour . . . Guess we're talking about sex & relationships!?! OMG . . . Its on- 1:43 PM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    15. Eating Rockit Burgers for breakfast on air w/Mancow while talkin Obama, David Karadine and talking to the dead . . . Scary- 8:13 AM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    16. Feelin lil like poop off to do LIVE radio gig hollaring at 9 BAjillion'ish people on Mancow show WLS 890 am . . . time to wake up! 6:55 AM Jun 4th from TwitterBerry

    17. New blog post: believe in art http://www.billydec.com/blo . . . 3:31 PM Jun 3rd from Twitter Tools

    18. Watchn Michael Clarke Duncan & the boys getting smoked by Chicago Sky / USA Olympic player Sylvia Fowles & the girls . . . Poor guys . . . Painful! 5:20 PM Jun 2nd from TwitterBerry

    19. at the big Celeb BBall game interviewin Celebs b4 start . . . U coming? Put info up on www.aChicagoThing.com w/fun story about last night w/??? 3:50 PM Jun 2nd from TwitterBerry

    20. New blog post: chicago talent loves coming home! http://www.billydec.com/blo...

    -


    See also:
    * 20 Tweets: Richard Roeper
    * 20 Tweets: Pete Wentz
    * 20 Tweets: Billy Corgan

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    By Marty Gangler

    As I was sitting in my living room watching the Cubs play extra innings for the fourth time this week (in only five games) I wondered to myself, what's worse than watching good pitching get wasted by horrendous hitting? And then it dawned on me: watching multiple extra-inning games of good pitching getting wasted by horrendous hitting.

    The silver lining is that the Cubs won three of those games. And that got us thinking here at The Cub Factor. Here are a few other silver linings to a few of the issues facing the Cubs of 2009.

    *

    Problem: Lou Piniella's gut seems to grow larger with every loss.

    Silver Lining: His painfully slow waddle to the mound gives relievers more time to warm up.

    *

    Problem: Sammy Sosa's bid for the Hall of Fame brings back steroid rumors and corked-bat memories.

    Silver Lining: Jim Hendry finally remembers Sammy's secret hiding place in the locker room for steroids and corked bats. Team poised for a good run.

    *

    Problem: Carlos Zambrano says he doesn't want to play anymore and will retire at the end of his contract.

    Silver Lining: Cubs can stop buying extra large adult diapers sooner than they thought.

    *

    Problem: The Cubs suck.

    Silver Lining: Won't have to waste a night in July watching the All-Star game.

    *

    Problem: The Cubs don't have a backup third baseman and Aramis Ramirez might be out for the season.

    Silver Lining: The Cubs have five back-up second basemen.

    *

    Problem: The Cubs can't hit.

    Silver Lining: Land GEICO as new sponsor; so easy a Cub can do it.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs split two in Atlanta (and had one rainout) and took two of three from the Reds. Yet, somehow going 3-2 felt wholly unsatisfying. Maybe it was the four extra-inning games that only highlighted their god-awful defense and total inability to hit.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs go to Houston for three and then come home to play the Twins in interleague play.

    The Second Basemen Report: Andres Blanco (!) started four games at the second sack this week; Bobby Scales got the other start. Mike Fontenot is the team's fill-in third baseman. Ryan Freel is on the DL. Alfonso Soriano has volunteered to play second, but he's still working on his infield hop so we haven't seen him there yet. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up. Why not put Hoffpauir or Fox there? They can't play anywhere else . . .

    In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa is now more popular in Chicago than a back-up Bears quarterback.

    The Zam Bomb: A bomb can't explode when it's soaked with the tears of a crybaby. But deep down, Big Z is seething.
    zam_furious.jpg

    Lost In Translation: Andres-san Blanco is Japanese for "Seriously?" It's also Spanish for Andy White.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Lou Piniella for Jenny Craig. A year from now.

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: Ouija Board. Because only the spirits know when this guy can play again.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 53% sweet, 47% sour. Lou is up three points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to not shaving or caring as much. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou told you not to play with the neighbor's dog because it kills squirrels and seems a bit off. So he's going to finish his Falstaff before he drives you to the hospital after the dog bit you in the face. He just doesn't care that much anymore.

    Don't Hassle The Hoff: Trading him to the AL if you're not going to play him wouldn't be a hassle. All he does his hit.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that National League teams with players like Hoffpauir and Fox in their systems will never win championships.

    Over/Under: The number of games Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano appear in together the rest of the season: +/- 15.

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

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    Fantasy Fix: Pujols stands alone among fantasy studs performing to expectations.

    Mount Lou: Moves to green. Due to a global change of philosophy and weather patterns Mount Lou may never erupt this season. Or next week.

    mtlou_green.gif

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    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    By Andrew Reilly

    There was a time, oh, last week or so, when things were looking not quite up, but at least away. The Sox had won some games, the two teams ahead of them started to slip a little and in Charlotte they had both a recovering pitcher and the most loudly heralded prospect the club has seen in quite some time, both ready to arrive on the big stage and solve every crisis facing Soxland. It was as though the team had finally started moving in the right direction.

    Instead, of course, we see now the team might not have been hitting their stride, but actually hitting their peak, as though sometime this October as we watch anyone else square off in the playoffs, we'll all be reduced to saying things like "Remember that one week in May where the Sox won a few games? That was awesome."

    The thing is, we all knew this would happen: the good would always be matched fully by the bad and the arms would always work against the bats. There'd be some expected injuries and some unexpected ones as well, and as far back as last season, we knew we wouldn't get anything out of Jose Contreras until mid-June. We knew at some point the shortstop of the future might contribute. We knew at least one of the three big bats would struggle, and we knew even a halfway-decent showing by the back end of the rotation would be gravy.

    So with all that in mind, is there really any reason to get upset over things like situational incompetence and horrific displays of non-offense against the worst pitchers in the American League?

    All things considered, not really. If we saw their shortcomings so far in advance, it's hard to blame them for delivering exactly what we expected; perhaps the real crime is that, for a moment, they dared to deliver the totally unexpected, and we only made things worse for ourselves by wanting more. Perhaps we have entered some bizarre new stage of our relationship with the 2009 White Sox where the good times should be celebrated disproportionately as we fans adjust to the notion they will never, ever come back.

    Except we tried that, and look where it got us.

    Meanwhile, back on the South Side, it's mid-June and Contreras returns to the club this week while Gordon Beckham has zero hits in the major leagues. Those past 56 games? It's almost as if they never even happened.

    Almost.

    Week in Review: The only thing worse than dropping three of four to the abysmal A's would be to then drop two of three to the equally wretched Indians. The Sox, sadly, were more than capable of doing both.

    Week in Preview: It seems early and presumptive to say things like "must-win" and "do or die" in mid-June, but the five-game series against the division-leading Tigers is just that. The Good Guys follow the set with the kittens with a trip to Milwaukee to face the other Central's current frontrunner. If a week against two last-place teams meant complete failure, we should probably all pray for rain. Or a league-mandated mercy contraction.

    The Q Factor: Set to return from the disabled list Thursday, Carlos Quentin lies in wait like a coiled python ready to shoot poison into the veins of Detroit Tigers pitcher Edwin Jackson.

    That's Ozzie!: "We don't know what to do. We've tried different lineups, we motivate people, we work hard, we try to be positive. Everything we try doesn't work."

    The Guillen Meter: The team in the midst of a gruesome downward spiral, Guillen seems to have already accepted the Sox' fate as never-rans. The Guillen Meter reads 3 for "Whatever."

    Underclassmen Update: Chris Getz' .248 average isn't really that good, but is currently good enough to "lead" all first-and-second year Sox.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox bullpen calamity Mike MacDougal has yet to allow a run since joining the Nationals and received a promotion to closer this week. Whether this says more about MacDougal or about the National League is open to debate.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: The Sox haven't played the Brewers since 2001, putting Hawk in the unusual position of having to adopt a whole new set of idols from the opposition. Expect gobs of adoration for Ryan Braun for the obvious reasons, .262-hitting utility player Matt Gamel to get an Erstadian "He's not that great a player, but he might be the best player in the game" treatment, and the utmost reverence for the skills of non-spectacular right-hander Braden Looper as he makes the Sox look entirely hapless.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Gordon Beckham for the October 2000 issue of Wired magazine. The future is now.

    Cubs Snub: Carlos Zambrano will allegedly retire after playing out his current contract with the Cubs, proving that even the people who love that team are counting down the days until they can get the hell away from it forever.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.

    -

    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

    -

    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:07 AM | Permalink

    RockNotes: Keeping It Real With Oasis, Dee Dee Ramone & Jack White

    By Don Jacobson

    1. From the Department of Couldn't Agree More.

    Former Oasis guitarist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs says the group should have broken up years ago, at its height in 1996.

    According to music writer Rick Sky of the British entertainment news website Bangshowbiz, Bonehead, who co-founded Oasis with The Fabulous Gallagher Boys, says the group's legendary shows at Knebworth in 1996 - which the BBC calls the crowning moment of Britpop - should have been the moment to go out on top.

    "I always thought we should have bowed out after the second night at Knebworth. Walking out on that stage gave us a feeling I can't explain, a sea of people. It was big!" Bonehead told Mr. Sky.

    And I have to say I agree. It's been a fitful and inevitable slide into inconsequence for them, much like that of the Labour Party England they're so closely associated with. As the Tories are about to retake the country, officially ending the 1990s nine years late in Britain, the Gallaghers have become even more of an anachronism. Will there be a Tory Knebworth moment in 2013? Does England have an equivalent to Ted Nugent?

    Meanwhile, Buzzshowbiz says Liam Gallagher reckons the band's new tour has "the potential to be even better than the Knebworth shows. It's been a top year for the band, and we're approaching these shows at the top of our game. My mind is totally on it. We're a miles better band than we were at Knebworth and we'll show it. People will have their heads blown off."

    If by having his "mind on it," Liam means he's going to avoid the kind of phoned-in performances he's been doing for the last 13 years, then alright, I suppose. It's about time. Though I'm guessing the heads-getting-blown-off part will start happening once Oasis stops getting booed off the stage like they were in their hometown of Manchester; they had so many sound problems they canceled the show, promising refunds to 70,000 fans.

    It might be worth taking a quick look at the Knebworth Oasis show and mourn the fate of a once-hopeful England:

    -

    2. Dead Dee Dee Dictates Tell-All Ramones Book.

    The fact that Dee Dee Ramone died seven years didn't stop him from telling his long-suffering former wife to write a book about him. So says Vera Ramone King, who asserts she was contacted by the late besotted bassist through a medium and was told to work up a tell-all tome. Thus, Poisoned Heart: I Married Dee Dee Ramone came to be.

    Vera told The Deseret News that she's not doing it for the money - she's doing it because Dee Dee told her to. Not only during the seance, but at several other points along the writing process.

    "There were times when it got really difficult," she said. "I would be remembering some of the hardships and heartbreak and felt like I couldn't go on, but then I'd get a phone call from (the medium) a few seconds after I stopped writing and she would tell me that Dee Dee wanted me to continue writing."

    Who knew that once he died Dee Dee would be such a taskmaster? Actually, Vera says the book is mostly about living with an addict and the nature of addiction. To have been married to Dee Dee Ramone for 17 years must have required a kind of true love and patience that I know I'd never be able to understand, so for that reason alone it would be interesting to see what she has to say.

    Oh, and she also reportedly has new stuff to say about the filming of Rock 'N' Roll High School, during which Dee Dee suffered a massive overdose, and the infamous gun-wielding Phil Spector recording sessions, which, now that the Wall of Sound inventor will be behind a Wall of Prison for the rest of his life, sounds like it could be worth a look.

    In honor of Poisoned Heart, here's Dee Dee Ramone in Rock 'N' Roll High School:

    -

    3. "Non-genuine" Jack White Moves to Nashville.

    Record producer Jim Diamond deserves a lot of credit for being probably the most influential guy behind the Detroit garage rock sound, which I absolutely adore. To me, he's this generation's Phil Spector (minus the guns and dead B-movie starlets, see above). And Jack White is its superstar. So, please, dudes, get along, OK?

    Three years after Diamond lost a lawsuit against the White Stripes looking for royalties as co-producer of the Stripes' first album - a suit in which White said Diamond had little or no role in coming up with their signature sound - the producer is still making great records, and this month is working in Phoenix with the Love Me Nots.

    But he's still taking shots at Jack White. In an interview with the Phoenix New Times, Diamond first praises White, saying, "I thought Jack was a very talented guy, and he probably had a greater sense of, you know, having a good look than anyone else in Detroit, and, you know, they worked really hard, they toured a lot. So, having some talent, having a good look, and touring a lot - that's a big piece of the puzzle."

    So okay, its sounds to me like he kind of jabs at him here for having "a good look." Sounds at bit like, "I admit he's ultra-successful but Detroit bands really don't care too much about . . . ummm . . . 'looking good.'" But maybe that's just me. Then, though, comes the clincher. When asked by New Times about White's recent move from Detroit to Nashville, well, pretty much only phonies and sell-outs do that kind of shit.

    New Times: And Jack White moved to Nashville?

    Jim Diamond: Yeah, he moved to Nashville.

    New Times: Why the hell did he move to Nashville?

    Jim Diamond: I don't think he had many friends left in Detroit. I think he alienated a lot of people.

    New Times: Yeah, no one cares for putting on airs in Detroit.

    Jim Diamond: Exactly. You're absolutely right, no one puts on airs. Yeah, that's one thing about Detroit, most people are pretty genuine, I've found . . . When they're not genuine, they move to Nashville.

    Let that be a lesson to you, Mr. White: It doesn't matter if Detroit loses its last job, turns the factory keys over to the U.S. Department of Basket Cases and sells the Hummer to the Chinese . . . it just keeps on getting more genuine. Because it is Detroit Rock City . . . and you, sir, well . . . please remember to recycle your hair gel cans in your fancy Nashville condo, OK, now?

    -

    Our RockNotes rule. Comments welcome.

    Posted by Don Jacobson at 2:00 AM | Permalink

    June 6, 2009

    The Weekend Desk Report

    By Natasha Julius

    Don't do anything drastic; this Report is going to be plenty stimulating.

    Change Watch
    Investors braced for the worst this week as the National Debate Index plummeted to levels not seen since the second quarter of 1981. Despite efforts at restructuring, this week shares in Hope failed to reverse their 20-year bear run.

    Fantasy Report
    The season is in full mood swing, so it's time for the patented Beachwood Reporter Weekend Desk Fantasy Corruption Review. If your league allows pinch hitting, the Blagojevich tandem should rack up embarrassment points for at least another week. However, if you're looking for a strong, five-tool player who can deliver wins in embarrassment, weaseling, egotism, influence and bald-faced cheek, you really can't beat perennial all-star Silvio Berlusconi.

    Reality Check
    In the world of pointless research, a report published this week shows once again that playing dead is not the same thing as actually facing death.

    Deadliest Catch
    Officials this week confirmed an odd fish caught in Washington Park is not a dangerous piranha. They reiterated the only exotic creatures likely to be found in the area remain sloths and vipers.

    The Son Also Rises
    Finally this week, rare insight and transparency from the Hermit Kingdom as observers were allowed a glimpse into the complex process to determine the heir apparent. It seems the current Peerless Leader favors a grueling round of Dance Dance Revolution.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    June 5, 2009

    The [Friday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    Is there a better read in the city today than the Beachwood?

    * You don't have to be a horse racing afficianado to enjoy reading the Thomas Chambers' dispatches from the rail.

    "Pace is everything in this race, and just when you think you've got it made, you've got four more furlongs to go! If you've got plenty of horse, don't use him up on the backstretch," Chambers writes in his preview of this weekend's Belmont Stakes.

    Tom is also spot-on comparing Carlos Zambrano's childish antics to the dedication of paralyzed Arlington jockey Rene Douglas. Give it a read.

    * Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer is a Jeffrey Toobin in the making. Sam just finished law school at Emory University in Atlanta and is back in his hometown of Chicago for at least the summer. Today he writes about the Chicago gun ban that was recently upheld by the courts but is still vulnerable.

    "Had I not spent the better part of my day thumbing through NRA policy papers, I'd be tempted to tee up a thematic trope like Chicago 'dodged a bullet' here, but I've just about had it with firearm metaphors," Singer writes. "Plus, to conclude the city dodged this challenge would be to ignore the high probability that it will resurface again, this time before the Supreme Court."

    * Stephanie B. Goldberg brings us The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week every Friday, and as usual she hits the mark again today. My favorite is this one:

    "How do you escape your lurid past as a former stripper, coke whore, raging nymphomaniac, and police informant who rolled over on a member of the Medellin cartel?

    "If you're Danielle Staub, you become a featured member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, because, on top of being a former stripper, coke whore, raging nymphomaniac and police informant who rolled over on a member of the Medellin cartel, you're just not terribly bright."

    * Smarty-pants Katie Buitrago continues her series of Chicago blog reviews today with a look at Parking Ticket Geek, the Tribuneized version of The Expired Meter.

    "I am not a fan of the garish orange used in the motif," Buitrago writes. "I mean, I get it: tickets are orange, and blinding, and only add to your fury when you see them. But the goal of the blog's layout should not be to infuriate you, too."

    * Matt Harness has been throwin' 'em back and suckin' em down with abandon on his Bloodshot Briefing series. Today he brings us an interview with Justin Townes Earle that delivers the added value we pride ourselves on here at Beachwood: the highs and lows of Justin's time here in Chicago and choices for his fantasy jukebox. Plus, performance video. (Earle will be performing this weekend at the Metronome Festival.)

    "I'd hang around the Old Town School of Folk Music," Earle told us. "It was a bunch of really artistic people attempting to live this artistic life. I stayed on the east side of Rogers Park on Touhy and Greenleaf. At the time, it was a perfect neighborhood for me. It was rough, and there was a lot of dope. All the trouble was all right there."

    Indeed.

    Dear Illinois
    Is Patti eating tarantulas any worse than the bullshit we were asked to swallow this week?

    Worst. Budget. Ever.
    Even more so than we thought.

    Landmark Lawlessness
    Chicago ruling roils waters.

    Cinema Scope
    A special shout-out to our very own Marilyn Ferdinand, the proprietor of the wonderfully smart and interesting Ferdy on Films. Ferdy writes:

    "There are some things that make cinema vitally important - as Gene Siskel said, a film critic has the American Dream beat - in terms of what it reflects about the way we live, how we see ourselves and others, and what fires our imaginations. Cinephilia, however, is full of a lot of nonsense, in my opinion, like compiling lists, watching box office returns, and overtheorizing what the filmmakers themselves saw as factory work done for dough. Blogging about film is a whole other animal. Bloggers have been taken to task by traditional media for everything from bad writing to destroying the economy. But what do they know? They don't live here - we bloggers do."

    Read the whole thing for Ferdy's take on what she's learned as a film blogger. It'll be worth your time.

    Inflatable Outdoor Home Theater
    "It's like the drive-in experience," says Reading With Scissors. "Except you don't drive in. And you supply your own projector. And you need a pump."

    Memo To MSM
    "[F]or going on five years now I've sat and listened to one self-satisfied butthead after another tell me that the world used to be good until the Internet kids and all their blogging made it suck, while anyone publishing or broadcasting anything prior to 2003 had Ultimate Authority Points that could beat a Super Nintendo Warlord Dungeonmaster thing," our pal Athanae writes at First Draft.

    "There is no golden age of newspaper authority, the phrase 'don't believe everything you read in the papers' was not invented around the same time Facebook came to be, and radio and television have been killing journalism for years and years and years now yet here we all are, tapping away on our keyboards, yelling into the phone that we just found out something amazing and have to tell the whole world."

    Defending Disco
    This week on Sound Opinions.

    Jukebox Hero
    Changes may be in store as soon as tonight at the Beachwood evening office. Stop by and see which songs make the cut.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Now in HD.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: Betting the Belmont

    By Thomas Chambers

    You've seen it here, and I won't deny it. The Triple Crown puts some of us into a real tizzy. But now that we know once again that there will be no Triple Crown winner, things have settled down and we ease into the joys of summer Thoroughbred horse racing.

    Not to say there aren't some highly compelling stories this week as 10 will go postward in the 141st Belmont Stakes, the 12-furlong Test of Champions. (ESPN,11 a.m.-4 p.m.; ABC, 4 p.m.-6 p.m.)

    Can Calvin Borel win his own human Triple Crown? He's back aboard Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird after winning the Preakness Stakes on the filly Rachel Alexandra. Can Mine That Bird win the race his sire, Birdstone, commandeered to thwart Smarty Jones (Stewart Elliott up) of his legitimate Triple Crown bid?

    Will Chocolate Candy, Dunkirk, Mr. Hot Stuff, Summer Bird or Flying Private be able to put less-than-enjoyable trips in the Derby behind them? Flying Private and Mine That Bird are the only two in this race to have run the other two legs of the Triple Crown.

    Either I think this race is wide open, or I don't know what to think. All the wiseguys are saying that should Mine That Bird understandably falter after a trying Crown trail, Charitable Man will be the horse to beat. They're also figuring Brave Victory and Miner's Escape will have something to say about the pace. Pace is everything in this race, and just when you think you've got it made, you've got four more furlongs to go! If you've got plenty of horse, don't use him up on the backstretch; I'm talkin' to you, Elliott. Lull them to sleep, and a slow front runner can wire this race, ala Da' Tara last year.

    So here they are, in post-position order. Draw your own conclusions.

    1. Chocolate Candy
    He actually had a decent race on the Churchill Down goop - or is it glop? - but this marks the first time he will actually be running on a fast dirt track. He hails from the California synthetics. As with so many of these, you toss the Derby. He's been training at Belmont a month, and they say he looks pretty good.

    2. Dunkirk
    The most highly touted $37K allowance winner in the land. Nobody knows how good he is, even with the 108 Beyer Speed figure in a losing effort in the Florida Derby. But his was a flashing rise up to the Kentucky Derby. He should get the distance and you're real sure of a good ride from Belmont veteran Johnny Velazquez. I don't think you can toss him.

    3. Mr Hot Stuff
    Hard to see. Another facing his first real race on fast dirt and it's the pressure packed Belmont. He looks to be more of a Grade III horse and has done all his training on the Keeneland Polytrack. Belmont Park veteran Edgar Prado will know if he has anything under him, and it looks like they're trying to see if 'Stuff will blossom on dirt. Price flyer can't hurt.

    4. Summer Bird
    Who luvs ya, baby? I do. My Derby wiseguy actually ran a good race and was gaining after having to come wide out of the turn. He looked like he could have danced all night. He gets a jockey upgrade in Kent Desormeaux, although you have to be concerned about Kent's mental residue from the Big Brown fiasco last year and his sometimes questionable pace management throughout the entire grind of this race. But he has been a money jockey before. Save some ground, Kent, and anything can happen.

    5. Luv Gov
    His speed figures are lacking, he seems more suitable to mud and Polytrack, and he has an awful lot of seconds in maiden special weights. He won his first race, a $52k MSW, just as the Oaks Day hangovers were subsiding early in the Derby undercard. No street cred and he got waylayed by a ton of these types in the Preakness. OK, Patti's the (former) Gov's Luv, so if you dig reality TV or snacking on bugs . . .

    6. Charitable Man
    Some call him a lock. This Lemon Drop Kid colt might just be able to control the pace and then run away. Toss the Bluegrass on the Polytrack, it's his third in the racing cycle, and he's got one of the hottest jockeys in the land in Alan Garcia. Young Alan's been making his bones on the New York circuit and I think he knows how to parcel it out over the mile-and-a-half. But what's the price here? 2-1 might be OK. Anything more would be great. I might like Garcia just as much as I like the horse.

    7. Mine That Bird
    Okay, I respect him now. He is fully capable of winning this race. Shoot, ol' sidewinder Borel guarantees it! After the romp in Louisville, he had a much tougher trip (Mike Smith has taken holy hell on his ride) in the Preakness and was most definitely all out in almost catching Rachel Alexandra. Borel can't think he'll win this race by falling back to Brooklyn Heights, so 'Bird's intended trip and his actual trip will be the most intriguing parts of this race. And Borel is not on his home court here. The long Belmont backstretch has confounded some of the great jockeys over the years. It's called the clock in the head. But you might get a price. If he wins the human Triple Crown, does Calvin endorse a cologne that smells like the paddock? Times Square's not far, and you never know.

    8. Flying Private
    Very tough to figure. He ran pretty well in the Preakness, but I think D. Wayne Lukas' efforts to get him on the Triple Crown trail left this one verklempt. He hasn't won since last August (!) and I think it took him until the Preakness to wash that damn Polytrack out of his mane from the Lane's End in March at Turfway. Another hot jock, Julien Leparoux, is aboard. This horse has a lackluster record and a tough 2009 season already. Get a price.

    9. Miner's Escape
    Nick Zito's first of two in this race, this winner of his last two, including the ungraded but respected Federico Tessio Stakes last out, may very well try to get to the lead and see what happens. It's the M.O. for any success he's had. His Beyer progression is good, but still short of where it probably needs to be. It appears he's maturing and has run very well at the end of his last two races. He's running his second off a short break and will be some sort of a price. Have I convinced myself yet?

    10. Brave Victory
    Zito's second horse, a colt out of one of my recent favorites, Lion Heart, has more paper credentials than the 9. New York veteran Rajiv Maragh has the mount here after he lost a whip in the Grade II Peter Pan May 9 but still was able to rally this horse to a third-place finish. He seems a tryer, but he hasn't beaten much, doesn't look like he closes much and doesn't look good in graded stakes races. Maybe Zito knows, but it also doesn't look like he'll get the distance. If you find something you like, drop me a line.

    -

    Races of the Day
    Obviously, the 2009 Belmont Stakes is a big and important race and it looks like a good one this year, but check out the Belmont undercard for Saturday. I think this is the finest single card since the Breeders Cup, and if you're simply watching on TV for the entertainment, there's a good chance ESPN/ABC will give you decent background on each race. A couple might even be better than the Belmont. These are the horses who give us such a great game on a regular basis.

    I'll just run it down, in race order, and tell you which ones get my juices janglin'.

    * True North Handicap (Grade II), 3&up, 6 furlongs
    Underrated sprinter of his time Benny the Bull (he was actually retired and now makes a comeback, of his own doing, they say), Fabulous Strike.

    * Just a Game Stakes (Grade I Turf), 3&up, fillies and mares, 8 furlongs
    Forever Together, My Princess Jess and price horse Diamondrella.

    * Woody Stephens S (Grade II), 3yo, 7 furlongs
    Maybe this is where some of these, including the Triple Crown wannabes, belong. Regal Ransom, This One's for Phil, up-and-comer (?) Munnings, needs-redemption Hello Broadway, and on the big stage for the first time, the Holy Bull colt Hull.

    * Acorn Stakes (Grade I), 3yo fillies, 8 furlongs
    Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra aren't here, but these lasses are mighty good looking in their own right. Justwhistledixie, Gabby's Golden Gal (at a price), Doremifasollatido.

    * Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (Grade I Turf), 3&up, 10 furlongs
    Where to start? Court Vision, Champs Elysees, Gio Ponti, Better Talk Now (10 years old!), Cosmonaut, Lauro and the relative spring chicken Cowboy Cal. This could be the race of the day.

    Big Z & Big D
    I've heard that Sweet Lou Piniella likes to play the ponies. I wonder if he's had a chance to tell Carlos Zambrano what true sporting adversity is. I wonder if he's had a chance to tell $91 million dollars-can't-buy-maturity Carlos about Rene Douglas.

    Winner's circles across the continent will fill with horsemen, track officials and, most assuredly, fellow jockeys at about 3:15 Saturday as they all salute Douglas, who looks to be permanently paralyzed from the waist down after a spill at Arlington Park May 23.

    You've probably already heard about it, so, simply, in trying to get through a hole, another horse in the Arlington Matron Handicap came out, a slower horse got in the way, hooves were clipped and Rene's horse went down. The horse rolled over Douglas and then lay on top of him. Miraculously, Douglas lived. He was taken off the respirator a few days ago. He's making slow progress. But progress.

    Eyes will be on Belmont Park, of course, and attention will be given to the dangers jockeys live with and the woeful plight they face if injured in this manner. The industry needs to get it together for these guys.

    Douglas won the Arlington riding title seven times and was one of the best turf riders around, go-to on the grass. He won the Belmont Stakes in 1996 with Editor's Note. The Panamanian knocked around, had some success on the mighty California circuit, and was seen on many a big undercard and in the Breeders Cup. Chicago was his racing home, the scene of his greatest accomplishments. He gave it his all, and he never had to remind us railbirds. We knew. Douglas, Catalano, Calabrese, look out. Big gun trainers invading Chicago on the turf came looking for Douglas. And you didn't hear a peep out of him, unlike the pampered polyester posers. He just went out and rode the hell out of every race. He knew tomorrow was never promised.

    So next time you see Baby Huey smash a soda fountain, remember who the real athletes, the sportsmen and sportswomen, are. I'll bet Sweet Lou knows. And Lou knows what he has. And doesn't have.

    -

    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    Chicago Blog Review: Parking Ticket Geek

    By Katie Buitrago

    The Tribune has introduced its new beta platform for local blogs. Here at the Beachwood's Chicago Blog Review Desk, we'll be taking a look at some of the new - and familiar - faces you can find there.

    -

    Blog: Parking Ticket Geek

    Description: Information, advice, and fury over matters driving-related.

    Substance: You may know the Parking Ticket Geek from his other home at The Expired Meter. Unlike CTA Tattler, which made the switch completely to ChicagoNow, The Expired Meter is still being updated with the same content as the new blog, for some reason. The Parking Ticket Geek follows parking-related news with incisive analysis, gives a weekly advice column on how to beat bogus parking tickets, and advises drivers on parts of town to avoid when big events are going on. It's a great mix of public service announcement and scathing attacks on Chicago's parking policies. The Geek points out hypocrisy and even does original reporting to dig up fascinating info that mainstream reporters are missing. The downfall of many a blog is that they're just another aggregator, but the Parking Ticket Geek actually brings new content to the table. *golf clap*

    Style: Funny and pithy mix of populist rage and insider advice. The posts are structured well and lead up to a well-defined point, despite the conversational tone. The Geek writes very well for web.

    Tl;dr Score: Some posts are on the long side, but they're written so engagingly that they don't feel tedious. Most are of moderate length.

    Commenter Involvement: Lots of questions about how to beat tickets, but aside from that, the commenters are not particularly involved. It seems like his regular audience hasn't migrated from The Expired Meter. Why would they, since both sites are the same?

    Linkage: High, and useful. The Geek liberally links to news stories and government agencies in his arguments.

    Screen Shot:

    geek.jpg

    Visual Appeal: I am not a fan of the garish orange used in the motif. I mean, I get it: tickets are orange, and blinding, and only add to your fury when you see them. But the goal of the blog's layout should not be to infuriate you, too. What if someone has ticket-related PTSD?? And what about all those kids-at-heart who had their candy brutally stolen on Halloween? You'll trigger them, Parking Ticket Geek! And, as with CTA Tattler, some useful links - namely, his About page - have disappeared in the ChicagoNow formulation. The pictures he uses with many posts are generally enlightening, from illegally parked Department of Revenue vehicles to parking meter "art."

    NSFW?: Well, sometimes the Parking Ticket Geek posts things like pictures of steaming piles of shit. But the pictures are a lot smaller on this blog than on The Expired Meter, so it's likely that no one would notice. It's not 100% safe, but you can probably get by.

    Start Here: "Meter Meltdown Remains A Mystery, Speculation Of Planned Attack Grows."

    Bottom Line: I'm not a driver, and I think driving should be discouraged when possible - yes, that means higher meter rates in congested areas, you whiny car people - but the Parking Ticket Geek has won even me over with his well-written, informative blog. There is some rank-ass hypocrisy regarding parking in this town, and we're better off having the Geek around to sniff it out.

    -

    What other blogs are we reading? See the Chicago Blog Review archive.

    -

    Comments and submissions welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:29 AM | Permalink

    The Five Dumbest Ideas Of The Week

    1. Q: What do you call it when Patti Blagojevich dines on a tarantula on NBC's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here?

    A: Professional courtesy.

    2. Memo to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu: You did a great job of scrubbing the Government Printing Office website of that 266-page "sensitive" report on civilian nuclear stockpiles.

    It's a pity you didn't get to this one. Or this one.

    3. How do you escape your lurid past as a former stripper, coke whore, raging nymphomaniac, and police informant who rolled over on a member of the Medellin cartel?

    If you're Danielle Staub, you become a featured member of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, because, on top of being a former stripper, coke whore, raging nymphomaniac and police informant who rolled over on a member of the Medellin cartel, you're just not terribly bright.

    4. If your face is saggy, baggy or craggy, pay close attention. This week the Home Shopping Network unveiled the Facial Trainer helmet, a neoprene/spandex ski mask that provides resistance while you perform a series of facial aerobics and provide your life partner with grounds for divorce in 16 states. At $200 per, it's flying off shelves. New Jersey housewives are a large market.

    5. Lawsuit of the Week: Janine Sugawara's failed class action, which asked for damages from Pepsico, owner of Quaker Oats, to cope with her disappointment upon learning that the crunchberries in Cap'n Crunch were not real berries at all, but actually colored bits of cereal.

    The suit was dismissed by a California federal court but we're wondering if she'll refile when she learns that Cap'n Crunch isn't a real Cap'n.

    -

    The Five Dumbest Ideas of the Week appears in this space every Friday. Stephanie Goldberg welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:27 AM | Permalink

    Chicago's Still Valid Gun Ban

    By Sam Singer

    For Second Amendment advocates, Christmas came in June last year with the Supreme Court's delivery of a historic gun rights victory in the form of District of Columbia v. Heller. Not only did the Court strike down Washington's ban on handguns, but it did so by reading into the Second Amendment an individual right to possess firearms for private use. After the decision came down, rejuvenated NRA lawyers fanned out in search of municipalities with similar firearm bans. They found one in Chicago, which mirrored Washington in its prohibition of handguns and automatic weapons within city limits.

    The NRA would soon learn that where the Second Amendment is concerned, Chicago has one critical advantage over the District of Columbia: It's a city. Because Washington is a federal enclave, the Supreme Court could apply its new and robust interpretation of the Second Amendment without passing upon the more controversial matter of the doctrine's applicability to state and municipal law. As the Seventh Circuit observed this week when it dismissed a similar challenge to Chicago's handgun ban, the Second Amendment's scope doesn't extend beyond federal action. Writing for the Court, Judge Easterbrook held that until the Supreme Court provides otherwise, the scope of the Second Amendment is plain, and lower courts have no business subjecting local gun laws to constitutional scrutiny.

    Had I not spent the better part of my day thumbing through NRA policy papers, I'd be tempted to tee up a thematic trope like Chicago "dodged a bullet" here, but I've just about had it with firearm metaphors. Plus, to conclude the city dodged this challenge would be to ignore the high probability that it will resurface again, this time before the Supreme Court.

    The Seventh Circuit is the third federal appeals court to weigh in on the matter. The other two, the Second and Ninth Circuits, reached opposite conclusions. The sticking point between the circuits, and the issue experts expect the Supreme Court to take up on appeal, is whether the Second Amendment's protections should be expanded to govern firearm restrictions at the state and local levels. In support of expansion, Second Amendment advocates question the wisdom of "selective incorporation," the Supreme Court's time-honored practice of picking and choosing which constitutional liberties extend against the states. They find incongruity in a constitutional system that restricts a city's ability to withhold welfare payments, but permits the same city to criminalize the possession of firearms. If the framers didn't elevate one fundamental liberty over another, why does the Supreme Court?

    The answer, without tunneling too far into constitutional history, is because it can. Since the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court has rebuffed calls to apply the Bill of Rights to the states en masse, opting to approach incorporation with an eye-dropper instead of a bucket.

    The Court's position on the proper scope of the Second Amendment defies estimation. The issue sits at the intersection of two of the conservative wing's ideological fault lines. Principally at issue is the continued relevance of the Heller decision, a trophy of the Court's 2008 term. But even after rescuing it from obscurity, the Court can't expand the scope of the Second Amendment without dramatically encroaching on state sovereignty, a result the Court's conservative justices will avoid at most costs. Which begs the question: What are they charging for state sovereignty these days?

    -

    Sam Singer is the Beachwood's legal correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

    -

    Previously by Sam Singer:
    * Is TARP legal? Court to decide on laugh test.

    * Taking Government Out Of The Marriage Business. Separating church and state.

    * Chicago's Disorderly Conduct. Dissent allowed even in Daleyland

    * Why Google Will Win. Newspapers are on the wrong side of the digital revolution.

    * Is Blago A Flight Risk? We asked; a judge said yes.

    * Obama's Torture Test. Politically calculating.

    * Replacing Souter. Signs point to Kagan.

    * Going to Pot. The states vs. the feds.

    * The Sotomayor Show. A guide for viewers.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:09 AM | Permalink

    Bloodshot Briefing: Justin Townes Earle

    By Matt Harness

    In case you don't already know, Justin Townes Earle is the 27-year-old son of Steve Earle, the notable country musician/political activist who coincidentally recently released an album of Townes Van Zandt covers. Steve honored his friend and mentor by bestowing Townes' name to Justin.

    I caught up with Justin by phone as he was relaxing in a hotel room preparing for a show in Kent, Ohio. We chatted about his bad-boy days as a teenager in Rogers Park and what he would put on his jukebox, if he had one.

    *

    Beachwood Music: Read where you moved from Nashville to Brooklyn not too long ago. Seems worlds apart. How is NYC treating you?

    Justin Townes Earle: I live in Manhattan now. Alphabet City. Being an imagery-based and situational songwriter, you can only go so far in one place. Nashville ran its course, and I moved to New York. The possibilities are endless here. Nothing ever calms down, and nothing gets old. All Southern songwriters should live in New York.

    And I happened to get a good deal on an apartment on the Lower East Side, which otherwise I wouldn't have been able to afford. I'm still young, but I don't go out to bars. When I was in Brooklyn, I never went to Willamsburg. Here, there's no yee-haw at 2 a.m. in the hallways and no yee-haw at 2 a.m. outside. Everybody here's been through that.

    Beachwood Music: You lived in Chicago years ago. Where did you live, and what are your memories?

    Justin Townes Earle: I was there when I was 17 for maybe a little over a year. I'd hang around the Old Town School of Folk Music. It was a bunch of really artistic people attempting to live this artistic life. I stayed on the east side of Rogers Park on Touhy and Greenleaf. At the time, it was a perfect neighborhood for me. It was rough, and there was a lot of dope. All the trouble was all right there.

    Beachwood Music: I'm a former Rogers Park resident. Which places did you favor in the neighborhood?

    Justin Townes Earle: Red Line Tap. Morseland. But my whole life revolved around whatever it is you call Bucktown now. On Western Avenue there was this bar that I don't even want to talk about now.

    Beachwood Music: How was Chicago good to you? What made you leave?

    Justin Townes Earle: For me, it was about being on my own. The friends I had in Nashville, I grew up with. Chicago was my first chance to be somewhere that no one really knew anything about me. I was able to get friends on my own terms.
    But I got into a lot of trouble in such a short period of time, like a lightning flash, and all of a sudden I'm back South.

    Beachwood Music: You self-released your debut, Yuma. Talk about your relationship with Bloodshot Records, which has released The Good Life and Midnight at the Movies.

    Justin Townes Earle: A friend of a friend gave me an address for some guy's house, Rob. I must admit when I went over there it took me a few hours to figure out it was Rob Miller (co-founder of the label). He came and saw me play, and it all kind of happened from there. It all fell together.

    Bloodshot's been nothing but good to me. Never once did they hear any of my records before I sent them to be pressed. No advance tracks, nothing. They sign people because they trust them. That's the beautiful part.

    These bigger labels . . . They don't give a fuck about music anymore. Everybody who works at Bloodshot Records, especially Rob and Nan Warshaw, are huge music fans. They absolutely love what they do.

    Beachwood Music: We are big fans of jukeboxes here at Beachwood HQ. You're the DJ of your fantasy jukebox. What earns your quarters?

    Justin Townes Earle: First, New York's Lakeside Lounge has the best one. But if I'm getting my hands on a jukebox, without a doubt Merle Haggard's "Sing a Sad Song" is going to be on it. I also have to have George Jones, probably "Window Up Above." I've been listening to Randy Newman a lot. I'd go with "Rollin'."

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    Justin Townes Earle headlines the folk stage at this weekend's Metronome Festival; he goes on at 8 p.m. Sunday. It might look a little something like this:

    -

    Bloodshot Briefing appears in this space every Friday. Matt welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

    June 4, 2009

    The [Thursday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "Growing up on a sharecropper's farm outside Memphis, young [Koko] and her three brothers and two sisters slept on pallets in a shotgun shack with no running water or electricity," Greg Kot writes. "By the time she was 11, both her parents had died. She picked cotton to survive and moved to Chicago in the early 1950s to be with her future husband, Robert 'Pops' Taylor. She found a job working as a domestic, scrubbing floors for rich people."

    She went on to become the Queen of the Blues.

    *

    Hear my favorite Koko Taylor song (actually written by Ellington Jordan and first recorded by Etta James) and see a YouTube tribute and an excerpt from Scorsese's The Blues: Here.

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    Burke's Law
    Multi-millionaire alderman Ed Burke wants to send those ticketed by red-light cameras to red-light school. "We've got to find the money somewhere," he said.

    I wonder how many tickets Burke's driver has gotten.

    *

    Course materials: Red Means Stop; Red Lights & You; Red Lights For Dummies; and, just to be fair, Howard Zinn's A People's History of Red Lights.

    *

    Can we send aldermen to aldermen school and generate money that way somehow?

    *

    On the other hand, I wonder how much being a red-light teacher would pay. I bet you'll have to know someone to get one of those gigs.

    Breaking Front Page News
    "THERE ARE PLENTY OF WAYS TO PREP YOUR BODY FOR THE BEACH THIS SUMMER."

    If you're a woman.

    The paper doesn't give advice to the guys.

    bikini.jpg

    Note the headless women.

    *

    Didn't anyone there ever take a women's studies class?

    *

    That was a joke. You don't need a class to know how dehumanizing you are. But tomorrow there'll be a story about the confounding mystery of anorexia among young girls.

    *

    From the actual story (yes, there is one):

    "Don't worry if you forgot about bikini season. With so much going on, who had time to think about counting calories and working out to fit into a two-piece?"

    I know, what with the stupid economy and everything! Who had time?

    "But it's not too late to get ready for the big reveal."

    You mean June 4 isn't too late to get my body in shape for bikini season? In which hemisphere?

    -

    See also:
    * Calling Out All Democrats. State of party leaves some blue.

    * Fight The Parking Power! It takes a million enforcers to hold us back.

    * The Wrigley Field Rule. Respect the roof.

    * Classic Heidi (Montag) Pratt, Christian.

    * In case of emergency, summer or pain, the federal government is here to help.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Blind.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Priceless Heidi Pratt

    By The Beachwood Z-List Affairs Desk

    -

    See also:
    - Jungle Patti

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:11 AM | Permalink

    Koko Taylor: Queen of the Blues

    By Steve Rhodes

    The first time I saw Koko Taylor - indeed the first time I heard her - wasn't here in Chicago but at a show in Tampa in the summer of 1990. I was working at a newspaper in nearby Lakeland at the time. My editor, in his inimitable minimal style, asked me one day: "Blues show. Tampa. Wannago?"

    I did, and I was mesmerized. Koko and her band easily fell into that deep soul blues groove that can be so moving. Her rich and deeplly layered voice was one for the ages. That throaty growl! Like she had to clear her throat - but no, please don't! She always had a crack band with her, and her passion never wavered.

    Koko Taylor is gone. She left us with many gifts.

    *

    1. My personal favorite: "I'd Rather Go Blind."*

    *

    2. I'm A Woman.

    -

    3. Excerpt From Scorsese's The Blues.

    -

    Thanks, Koko.

    -

    * Actually written by Ellington Jordan and first recorded by Etta James, but I like the inimitable way Koko does it.

    -

    - Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    The News From Pueblo: In Case Of Pain, Summer, Emergency

    By The Beachwood Pueblo Affairs Desk

    1. HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY
    Tornado, earthquake, flood, wildfire - an emergency, natural or man-made, can happen anytime. No one wants to think it could happen to them, but if it does, the emergency will probably be less scary if you've taken some time to prepare. Spend a few minutes planning how you'll communicate with family members, deciding where you'll go if you need to leave home, and gathering supplies for an emergency kit. And use Preparing Makes Sense: Get Ready Now, a booklet from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Citizen Information Center, as a guide.

    Its helpful checklists and straightforward tips will help you be prepared, not panicked, if an emergency does happen. For a copy, send your name, address, and a check or money order for 50ยข to the Federal Citizen Information Center, Dept. 323R, Pueblo, CO 81009. Or call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO, that's 1 (888) 878-3256, and ask for Item 323R. Have your credit card handy. And visit www.pueblo.gsa.gov to read or print this and hundreds of other FCIC publications for free.

    2. SUMMER SAFETY
    With warm weather beckoning you to the beach or other fun summer locales, it's time to brush up on some safety and travel tips from the Summer edition of the Consumer Information Catalog. It's filled with a list of more than 200 free and low-cost publications that you've come to trust from the Federal Citizen Information Center. Here's a sample of the publications you can find listed:

    * Handout on Health: Sports Injuries (Item 502T, free).
    Summertime is a great time to get active outside. Whether you're playing kickball with the kids or joining a rec league, make sure you know how to treat and heal any bumps or bruises that you or they get while having fun outdoors.

    * Looking for the Best Mortgage: Shop, Compare, Negotiate (Item 334T, $1.50).
    If you're in the market to buy a house, spend some time this summer learning how to save on a home loan. When it comes time to move, you'll be glad you got the best deal.

    * How to Maintain Your Tires (Item 595T, free).
    Inflating, rotating and inspecting your tires will keep them in safe condition and save you money on gas and repairs. Understand proper inspection techniques before that summer road trip.

    * Catch the Spirit: A Student's Guide to Community Service (Item 501T, free).
    School's out and kids want to keep busy and have fun. Help them learn simple ways to give back to their community this summer or all year long while doing things they already love.

    * National Trails System: Map and Guide (Item 111T, $3.00).
    Make time for an affordable adventure this summer by hiking some of the historic and scenic trails that crisscross our country.

    -

    Don't take that camping trip or head to the beach without ordering a Catalog to take along. There are three ways to get your free copy:

    * Visit www.pueblo.gsa.gov/newcat.htm to order a Consumer Information Catalog or to read or print these and hundreds of other federal publications for free.

    * Send your name and address to Catalog, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

    * Call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO. That's 1 (888) 878-3256, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.


    3. FINANCIAL GUIDANCE FOR SERVICE MEMBERS AND FAMILIES
    If you're an active duty service member or the spouse of one, you know you face unique challenges when it comes to managing your money. How do you prepare financially for the inevitable change of duty station or for a deployment? Who pays the bills when a single service member is deployed? Should you buy or rent when you'll probably move again in three years? Find the answers to these and other questions in Money and Mobility: For Military Personnel and Families, a free brochure from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, and the Federal Citizen Information Center. In it, you'll find checklists for organizing your finances, explanations of the laws in place to help you, and tips to help you avoid money drains and stay out of debt. To order a copy, send your name and address to the Federal Citizen Information Center, Dept. 596T, Pueblo, CO 81009. Or call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO, that's 1 (888) 878-3256, and ask for Item 596T. And visit www.pueblo.gsa.gov to read or print this and hundreds of other FCIC publications for free.

    4. MANAGING ARTHRITIS PAIN
    Thanks to the variety of pain relief medications available today, your arthritis pain doesn't have to prevent you from enjoying life. But what can you do to ensure your medicine is helping and not harming you? Read the free Managing Arthritis Pain package of publications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Citizen Information Center to find out.

    For your arthritis pain, your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or tell you to buy one over-the-counter. No matter which medicine your doctor thinks is best, be sure to ask some important questions about it: How should I take it? What side effects should I watch for? What should I do if I miss a dose? Learn other questions to ask with the Managing Arthritis Pain package.

    Before you're prescribed a new medicine, make sure to tell your health care provider about the other medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) you're taking. Your over-the-counter cold or flu medication might contain acetaminophen, and if you're already taking a prescription pain reliever with acetaminophen, you risk damaging your liver.

    It's also good to get into the habit of reading the label of non-prescription pain relievers before you buy them. Note the recommended dose. Taking more than the amount recommended won't relieve more pain, and taking a pain reliever longer than the recommended number of days may cause other problems. For instance, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can all cause bleeding in the intestines or stomach if taken too often. The Managing Arthritis Pain package can tell you more.

    With the help of medications taken the right way, you can better manage your arthritis pain and stay healthy at the same time. There are three easy ways to order the free
    Managing Arthritis Pain package:

    * Send your name and address to Managing Arthritis Pain, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

    * Visit www.pueblo.gsa.gov/rc/n91arthritispain.htm to place your order online or to read or print these and hundreds of other federal publications for free.

    * Or call toll-free 1 (888) 8 PUEBLO. That's 1 (888) 878-3256, weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and ask for the Managing Arthritis Pain package.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    June 3, 2009

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "Chicago's 35,000 parking meters were worth nearly twice as much as the $1.15 billion Mayor Daley got when he rammed through a 75-year lease in a few days without analyzing what the system was worth, the city's inspector general has concluded," the Sun-Times reports.

    "The bottom line is, there was no outside, independent consideration of whether it was a good idea to do this," said Inspector General David Hoffman.

    Which is really far more of an indictment on the city council - which is supposed to be a separate branch of government than the executive branch and should therefore have stopped the mayor in his tracks - than City Hall per se.

    After all, Daley's pals worked on the lease deal for the better part of a year (at least) before presenting it to the city council and giving them fewer hours to consider the plan than years they were putting their signature to.

    That's not to absolve Daley; it's just to say that we know by now that his motives are rarely pure.

    The unanswered question about the parking meter deal remains: Why?

    Now, Daley will tell you the deal was necessary because he needed money now.

    "Without the $150 million cash infusion to plug a two-year budget gap, Daley said he would have been forced to lay off 2,300 city employees or raise property taxes 18 percent."

    That claim would have more credibility if the specter of an 18 percent increase in property taxes wasn't so ludicrous. The truth is, Daley would likely have struck this deal even in good times.

    Why?

    Well, why does the mayor do anything? First, he gets a pile of cash to himself - kind of like TIF funds. He likes to control money without going through the usual channels of (theoretic) oversight.

    And why else?

    Because it enriches his pals.

    Think of all those fees generated by lawyers and consultants.

    Finally, for the same reason that, say, Tribune Company executives bought Times Mirror in 2000: ego.

    You don't want to get bored, you like the action, you want to do bold things. It's fun.

    If Daley truly made this deal because he needed money now and was willing to trade the next 75 years to get it even if it was a bad deal, that's a stunning abuse of fiduciary duty.

    He should just say he did it because he felt like it.

    *

    The Reader dates the origins of the fiasco back to January 2005, when the city sold off the Skyway.

    The Reader also notes that in February 2008, "The Chicago Park District announces it's spending $22 million to buy the office it's been renting at 541 N. Fairbanks, in Streeterville. The building's owner donated $50,000 to Mayor Daley's 2007 reelection campaign; Park District officials say there's no connection.

    "Money for the purchase comes out of the $563 million the city and Park District received from Morgan Stanley for leasing the parking garages. Much of the money is already earmarked to pay off debt and after this deal there's only about $100 million left over for neighborhood parks. It turns out they'd have benefited more if the city had held on to the garages."

    So we've been here before.

    Again: why?

    *

    Daley Chief of Staff Paul Volpe says "many of [Hoffman's report's] central claims are, in fact, dubious."

    Do tell, Paul.

    Because Hoffman isn't the only one making the same central claims. In fact, every independent analysis we've seen - and we've seen three now - comes to the same conclusion.

    "Tuesday's finding echoed a report by DePaul University professor H. Woods Bowman, a former Cook County official. Bowman's analysis, which the Tribune reported in February, concluded the city could have raked in $1.54 billion by keeping the meters in public hands," the Tribune reports.

    Ald. Scott Waguespack found much the same in his own examination.

    Are they all being ridiculous?

    *

    Follow the money, people.

    *

    Oh, this will help - bring in Jim Thompson!

    *

    Headline winners:

    - "Chicago's Public Assets: Now 50% Off!"

    - "IG Says City Lost Nearly 4 Billion Quarters."

    *

    "Inspector General David Hoffman was roughly halfway through his press conference criticizing the parking meter deal when reporters started getting the word over their cell phones: Paul Volpe, Mayor Daley's chief of staff, was going to hold a rebuttal press conference within minutes," Ben Joravsky writes.

    "Talk about rapid response - if only Mayor Daley ran the CTA as efficiently as he goes after his critics."

    *

    "Lips quivering, voice occasionally cracking, [Volpe] expressed outrage bordering on disgust that Hoffman- or anyone for that matter - could even remotely suggest that things didn't work as well as they should in Chicago," Joravsky writes.

    *

    As noted by Joravsky and others, Volpe's best line was when he spluttered "It's impossible for us to force the city council on any matter!"

    Car Max
    "Chinese Company Preparing To Buy Hummer."

    The Chummer?

    Fallen Heroes
    "This seems to be a year of fallen idols in the fantasy baseball world - and we aren't talking about the two superstars who have been linked to performance-enhancers," Beachwood fantasy sports correspondent Dan O'Shea notes in today's Fantasy Fix.

    "When you take a quick look at the pre-season top 10 fantasy players from Yahoo!, only one - Albert Pujols - is performing up to expectations."

    Is Chicago Still Gentrifying?
    Yes and no.

    Change Meter
    Hey, the Onion said it, not me.

    But welcome aboard!

    Murphy's Law
    After listening to Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy brag that Cook County is one of the country's largest units of government and does a pretty good job, Good Day Chicago's Jan Jeffcoat this morning asked if one of the nation's largest unit of government should really have gone seven years without an audit.

    *

    I'm telling you, folks: Good Day Chicago is the place to go for news in the morning. It's brought to you by Fox Chicago News, which is also underrated.

    State Budget First
    A feel-good affordable housing story.

    Aon's Big Deal
    Lands big kahuna of sports sponsorships.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Unmetered.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Fallen Heroes

    By Dan O'Shea

    This seems to be a year of fallen idols in the fantasy baseball world - and we aren't talking about the two superstars who have been linked to performance-enhancers. When you take a quick look at the pre-season top 10 fantasy players from Yahoo!, only one - Albert Pujols - is performing up to expectations.

    As the pre-season and current No. 2 player, Pujols is actually playing exactly to expectations, but look at the rest of the pre-season top 10 and you will find four players who are either currently on the disabled list or have seen chronic injuries hamper their performance (Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore and Josh Hamilton - the latter three being DL-listed); two third basemen are hitting above .325, but are well off their typical RBI paces (David Wright, Miguel Cabrera); and three others who are having fine years, but just seem to lacking the numbers we were promised Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley).

    It's hard to say if our old, familiar top 10 is in for a season-long shake-up. Pujols, perhaps the first star to be trusted in the post-steroids era, is the closest thing to automatic daily fantasy points in the majors. He's positioning himself nicely for a No. 1 pre-season ranking next year, and I see nothing at all changing for him.

    Shortstop Ramirez, however, is making the handful of people who didn't trust his No. 1 pre-season ranking look prescient. He has possibly the worst of all nagging injuries in the wide world of sports - a sore groin - and that means fewer stolen bases. He also plays for a team that will not exactly help him pad his numbers.

    Meanwhile, Reyes should be back soon, and should get better as the year goes on, but is part of a Mets squad that needs new motivation and probably a few new parts. Hamilton and Sizemore both have been flailing away, and you have to wonder whether their injuries are their only problems. Sizemore's injured elbow, however, is a doozy, and could keep him out for longer than his 15-day DL trip suggests. Out of the other five, only Wright may be worth worrying about. He is hitting .328 like clockwork and stealing bases at a fast pace than last year, but has only three home runs, and it has been widely suggested that the cavernous new Citi Field in New York has sapped his power for good.

    Still, barring the DL-listed players, all of these guys are still everyday line-up residents.

    That might leave you looking elsewhere for a points boost. My two current favorite lesser-owned players are Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B, and Shin-Soo Choo, OF. Reynolds recently acquired the 1B qualification, adding to his value as a home-run hitter and occasional base-stealer. He gets knocked for striking out more than anyone in the National League, but he's hitting above .260, and he already has as many SBs (11) as he had all of last year. Choo also is an occasional, if not prolific base-stealer. He's hitting .301, with 7 HRs, 31 RBIs and 8 SBs and playing every day for the first time in his career.

    Wieters Watch
    The expert wire this week predictably is carrying a lot of Matt Wieters news, though not just Matt Wieters news. In fact, we'll start off with a non-Wieters piece:

    * Closing Thoughts notes that Kansas City reliever Joakim Soria is just about ready to exit the DL. Soria was highly touted this year, a top-5 reliever on many draft lists, and the Royals started the year like a team that would hand a lot of leads to its closer. Alas, the Royals are starting to settle into their old losing routine, and it remains to be seen of Soria can live up to all the hype.

    * Okay, for Wieters Watchers, Bleacher Report had the mock panic reaction to the highly regarded catcher's first game result, an 0-4. It looks like Wieters will be given every chance to succeed - unless he doesn't. He was 3-17 as of Tuesday night, but two of those hits were for extra bases.

    * The Hardball Times says Cardinals reliever Chris Perez is worth watching for possible save opportunities. Ryan Franklin has been doing well as the Cards' closer, but many have probably forgotten it actually seemed like Perez's job to lose back in spring training before Perez got hurt and Jason Motte stepped up. Motte blew his first save opportunity Opening Day and gave way to Franklin. Manager Tony LaRussa loves to micro-manage his pitching, so it really wouldn't be surprising to see any of the three appearing in save situations.

    * Fantasy Insider tells us not to give up if the season has drifted south - just make some good trades. There is a common belief in the fantasy baseball realm that if you have a losing record or are in the bottom half of the standings on June 1, you might as well start setting up your plans for next year. But there are enough second-half dynamos out there to trade for or pick up that I wouldn't throw in the towel just yet. As we've noted in the past, starting pitcher Roy Oswalt is second-half stud he also may have the added attraction this year of being traded to a winning team sometime before the trade deadline.

    * Another player who could be trade-bait is Matt Holliday, the Oakland outfielder and former Coors Field star who nearly everyone felt was due for a bad year in a pitchers' park and a new league. He has deflated almost according to expectations, but Roto Rush suggests it's time to trade for Holliday. It's true that Oakland GM Billy Beane would sign his mother as a free agent and trade her the following May if he could get two young pitchers in return, and teams in more friendly hitters' parks, like Cincinnati, could be interested. For now, it could be the ultimate buy-low proposition. But not for long.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every in this space everyWednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    June 2, 2009

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    "The University of Illinois announced Monday that it will temporarily suspend the use of a clout list in the admissions process," the Tribune reports.

    It will return once safeguards are introduced to make sure that, um, adequate caps on clout are put in place.

    "U. of I. officials also said they would appoint a panel to examine the process and suggest ways to avoid political pressure in future admissions decisions."

    For example, prohibiting political pressure on future admissions decisions.

    But let's see what the panel comes up with.

    "The task force will report to university trustees."

    Who will then take the matter under advisement until it's forgotten about.

    "The review will examine how contacts from legislators, trustees, alumni and others have been managed in the past, what best practices are at peer institutions and what changes should be made going forward to ensure the integrity of the admissions process," the schools said in a press release.

    I can save y'all a lot of time and money. From now on, legislators, trustees, alumni and others are hereby instructed not to contact the admissions office. Admissions officials are hereby instructed to make public all such contacts and sternly remind anyone making them that they are not to interfere with the integrity of the admissions process.

    Presto!

    "University officials initially tried to contain the fallout by denying the list's existence and later suggested only a small number of students were admitted who might otherwise be denied."

    Isn't that academic fraud? Or even the garden-variety kind?

    Maybe the state attorney general should investigate. After all, she's already opened a probe into the city's parking meter lease on the basis of potential consumer fraud.

    "House Speaker Michael Madigan . . . has backed more [subpar clout list] applicants than any other legislator in the last five years."

    Oh.

    "Faced with public backlash, they released a statement Friday afternoon saying they 'mostly get it right'."

    So, C-plus?

    *

    Is there a class-action suit waiting to happen here?

    *

    "In one case, a relative of Antonin 'Tony' Rezko, the now-convicted influence peddler for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, got admitted after U. of I. President B. Joseph White wrote an e-mail stating that the governor 'has expressed his support and would like to see admitted' Rezko's relative and another applicant."

    I'm not entirely sure, but I seem to recall that White's previous job was running the online division of the Cayman Islands College of Clout.

    *

    "President White said it's not unusual for selective universities to receive input from interested parties, and it's important to have a system to track the requests."

    Otherwise how will they know who to recoup the favor from?

    *

    "The additional information can help the admissions office make more informed decisions, he said."

    Otherwise, they're just operating in the dark.

    "Though he said the university discourages applicants from sending letters of recommendations, saying on its Web site that 'sending unsolicited materials can be distracting'."

    We don't want recommendations nobody sent.

    *

    "Lawmakers delivered admission requests to U. of I. lobbyists."

    Many of whom are U. of I. graduates who majored in lobbying.

    *

    "We are a public institution and I think we have to answer to the state and that means those who support us perhaps through their acting representative, the board who is our governing body , and all the parents who call me up," said Chancellor Richard Herman. "I feel I have to be able to respond."

    Maybe your response should be "No."

    *

    "About half of this year's Category I applicants have ties to state lawmakers, who routinely insert themselves into the admissions process."

    Now, does Category I stand for Indictment or Impeachment?

    *

    "Among those [applicants tracked] was a New Trier senior whom Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) wanted admitted . . . his district does not extend into New Trier's boundaries."

    Cullerton refused to comment. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be asked about this every single day.

    Cullerton, Madigan, Blago, and now B. Joseph White. These are the state's leaders.

    Athletes on steroids are better role models.

    Stroger, Daley, Ryan.

    Our entire state is a criminal enterprise.

    Can the federal government prosecute Illinois under the RICO statutes?

    Seize our assets?

    Put all our elected officials into indefinite detention?

    *

    "To be honest, I think it helps to let [university officials] know we're watching," said state Rep. Angelo "Skip" Saviano (R-River Forest).

    Watching what, the ethical transgressions of the admissions process?

    *

    "In March 2008, Board of Trustees Chairman Niranjan Shah pushed for a student to be admitted to the rigorous MBA program, even though Chancellor Herman warned that school officials 'had serious concerns about his ability to handle the academics'."

    The chairman of the Board of Trustees.

    *

    That's okay, though; nobody takes an MBA from the University of Illinois very seriously.

    *

    "Trustee Lawrence Eppley said he forwards requests regardless of whether he knows the applicants."

    No wonder the other trustees always make fun of Eppley.

    *

    "[Eppley] said he tries to 'demystify' the application process."

    One applicant he doesn't know at a time.

    *

    "To the extent some problems were pointed out, we can and will correct them," White said.

    And to what extent is that, exactly? Eppley?

    *

    "To the extent that the story points out that there has been a small number of instances of inappropriate pressure to admit students . . . in the sense, jump over other students, we have to be crystal clear with our deans and admissions people that they are not to succumb to such pressure."

    Maybe appoint a task force to study how to do that and have it report back to you.

    That's Stella!
    In other news, Stella Foster gets paid to tell you she thought the MTV Movie Awards were "Gross, Not Funny," and that she can understand why Eminem walked out of the theater "obviously furious."

    She was on somebody's clout list too.

    The Spencer Pratt of Illinois Politics
    Is Michael Madigan.

    Wilco (The Reviews)
    Eclectic or simple?

    Jungle Patti
    Lies and almost dies.

    Ready For Reform
    Us vs. Them.

    White Sox Academy
    Infield Receiving Drill.

    Grant's Park & Tomb
    Hiram lives there.

    Nursing Home Horror
    One of the largest operators in the state is also one of the worst.

    A Bridgeport Steal
    This $1 million house must go!

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Admitted.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Ready for Reform: Conclusion

    By The Beachwood Illinois Reform Commission Affairs Desk

    Editor's Note: This is the fifth and final part of a series excerpting the final report from the Illinois Reform Commission. The legislative session has ended with your elected officials making a mockery of their work.

    *

    Over the past one hundred days, the Illinois Reform Commission traveled across the state to learn about and promote government reform. Throughout our short tenure, we have been humbled and awed by the number of Illinoisans who have dedicated their time and energy to reform efforts.

    Many people have asked why previous reform efforts have failed. One common answer is that those in power fight to maintain the status quo. But this is only part of the answer. The truth is, past reform efforts have met with forces just as destructive as self-interest or corruption: apathy, inertia, and cynicism. Despite the Commission's best efforts to bring attention to areas in dire need of reform, we can only be as effective as the people of Illinois allow us to be. Yet, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the critical role the media have played throughout our journey, which they must continue to play, to keep this discussion before the public.

    In our one hundred days as a Commission, we have listened to the voice of our citizens. The message we have heard time and time is clear: Illinoisans want prompt, comprehensive and effective reform. While we provide the blueprint for these long-overdue reforms, their enactment into law will require citizen action and commitment to ensure that elected officials follow through and finally give the citizens of Illinois the honest, effective, and transparent government they deserve.

    The endemic corruption in this state has been a source of much embarrassment and frustration in recent years. There are cynics who believe it will never change, but we take strong exception to that view. In spite of the embarrassments of recent years, this state has a proud political history and has elected many honest and dedicated public servants, many of whom serve today.

    Moreover, we have been encouraged by the sentiment among so many in this state that these problems are not insurmountable.

    The recent scandals in this state have reawakened interest in governmental reform. Many in the State, including our political leaders, are asking the same question, "What is wrong with our system and how can we fix it?" We have done our best to propose meaningful answers to that question. We encourage citizens and legislators to consider, discuss and debate our proposals. We are fully aware that some may feel our proposals go too far; others may feel they do not go far enough.

    We believe such a debate will be healthy and, ideally, lead to the enactment of comprehensive reform that will set this State on the right track. Throughout this country's history, we have repeatedly seen how a crisis often provides the seeds for change or reform. The current political crisis in our State has disillusioned many of our citizens, but we owe it to our children to use this crisis as an opportunity to reform a system long overdue for reform.

    The time for change is now.

    -

    See also:
    * Ready For Reform: Chapter One/Executive Summary.
    * Ready For Reform: Chapter Two/Campaign Finance.
    * Ready For Reform: Chapter Three/Procurement.
    * Ready For Reform: Chapter Four/Enforcement.
    * Ready For Reform: Not Loopholes.
    * Changing Illinois: The Four Tops And Their Money.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    What I Watched Last Night: Patti Blago

    By Steve Rhodes

    Watching Patti Blagojevich try to eat a tarantula faster than Lou Diamond Phillips last night really made me question what I was doing with my life. A new low.

    -

    Later, Patti lied her ass off explaining how Rod was being punished for just trying to help people. And let me tell you something, folks: if Spencer Pratt and Janice Dickinson are on the jury, we're looking at an acquittal. (There's an idea: "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Off This Jury!")

    A reminder.

    -

    See what else we've been watching.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:26 AM | Permalink

    White Sox Academy: Infield Receiving Drill

    Third in an occasional series.

    -

    Next: One knee backhands.

    -

    Previously:
    * Hands at Launch.
    * Lower Body Mechanics.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:18 AM | Permalink

    Wilco (The Reviews)

    By The Beachwood Critics Affairs Desk

    Wilco's new album, Wilco (The Album), is scheduled for a June 30 release but the reviews are already coming in. (You can hear the streams for yourself.)

    Let's take a look.

    *

    Critic: Greg Kot, Tribune
    Review: "Wilco Presents Nuanced Snapshots on Self-Titled Release."
    Verdict: "[A] mostly modest collection of sturdy songs."
    Song Descriptions:

    - ""Deeper Down": "[S]wathed in a lovely, chamber-pop arrangement augmented by harpsichord and sighing lap-steel guitar."

    - "You and I": "[E]xplores a fragile bond, as voiced by Tweedy and guest vocalist Feist . . . sparse simplicity."

    - "Everlasting": "[O]rchestral flourishes . . . surges with quiet conviction and finishes with a bird-song guitar solo that echoes the Duane Allman-led coda of Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla."

    - "Bull Black Nova": "[A] stomach-churning wake-up call . . . among the most harrowing songs Wilco has recorded.

    - "Wilco (The Song)": "[A] boisterous shot of reassurance . . . both a tongue-in-cheek wink and a blast of feel-good sincerity, riding a wave of guitar drone and punctuated with bell tones. It is that rare thing: an anthem with a sense of humor, a grand statement that doesn't sound like a grand statement. Listen to it, and try not to smile. That's what the healing power of music should sound like."

    *

    Critic: Jim DeRogatis, Sun-Times
    Review: "Wilco Keeps It Simple In New Album."
    Verdict: "[A] summing-up of what the band is and everywhere it's been,"
    Song Descriptions:

    - "Wilco (The Song)": "[A] heartfelt country-pop thank you to the fans, as well as an idealistic statement about the healing power of music.

    - "You Never Know": "[L]ifts a hook from Sly Stone's 'Everyday People' and pairs it with George Harrison's signature guitar."

    - "One Wing": "[B]oasts some of the most gorgeous harmonies the group's recorded."

    - "Country Disappeared" and "Solitaire": "[B]oth nod to mid-period Big Star with their fragile but pretty melodies and melancholy lyrics."

    - "You and I": "[A]a sweet pop duet with Leslie Feist."

    - "Sunny Feeling": "[T]he best Tom Petty song that Petty never wrote."

    - "Bull Black Nova": "[A]n exquisitely creepy examination of the aftermath of a murder, with Tweedy's edgiest vocal performance and a guitar explosion worthy of Television."

    - "Everlasting Everything": "[B]ig orchestral swells rife with tympani and tubular bells."

    *

    Critic: J. Niimi, Time Out Chicago
    Review: "Wilco (The Album)."
    Verdict: "'More sonic flavor,' as lead guitarist Nels Cline puts it. 'It's more orchestrated, more composed . . . baroque . . . but not rococo!'"
    Song Descriptions:

    - "I'll Fight": "[A]n up-tempo ballad in which his dour refrain of 'I'll die for you' is sweetened by B-3 organ bleats."

    - "Deeper Down": "Cline lays down gorgeous lap steel and electric leads that are at once country, Andalusian and bebop."

    *

    Critic: Jonathan Cohen, Billboard
    Review: "Wilco Returns With Electic Album."
    Verdict: "[O]ffers a little bit of everything."
    Song Descriptions:

    - "Bull Black Nova": "[B]uilt on a pulsating rhythm . . .layered with clattering piano and unhinged, interlocking guitar workouts."

    - "Deeper Down": "[G]auzy . . . short verses that come to a full stop and a wealth of sonic details in its nooks and crannies."

    - "One Wing": "[G]ripping . . . builds from a quiet introductory section to a strident, arena-worthy stomper."

    - "Everlasting": "[S]trings and horns color the majestic final portion."

    - " Wilco (The Song)": "[A] humorous, self-referential rocker with the reminder that even when life gets you down, 'Wilco will love you, baby'."

    - "You and I": "[A] gorgeous duet between Tweedy and Feist about the simple pleasures of love.

    - "You Never Know": "[A] flashback to the ebullient pop/rock of 1999's Summerteeth."

    - "Sonny Feeling": "[K]icks out a groovy, slide guitar-laden jam."

    *

    Critic: The R.O.B., (London, ON) Burgeoning Metropolis
    Review: "Mr. G's Song of the Week."
    Verdict: "Playing it safer than some of their more experimental offerings from years past."
    Song Descriptions:

    - "Bull Black Nova": "[T]he perfect musical representation of what it must feel like to endure a full-on panic attack."

    *

    Critic: Kevin O'Donnell, Rolling Stone
    Review: "Wilco Keep It Simple."
    Verdict: "[A] little something for everyone."
    Song Descriptions:

    - "One Wing" and "Sunny Feeling": "[B]reezy, pop-friendly tunes."

    - "Deeper Down": "[A] mellow ballad spiked with atmospherics and chamber strings."

    - "Bull Black Nova": "[S]tarts with rollicking drums, stacatto keys and guitars before exploding into a killer solo from guitarist Nels Cline."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:22 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: The Cloud Ulysses

    THE CLOUD ULYSSES

    His name
    was Hiram.
    He won
    a war.

    He is buried
    in Grant's Tomb.
    He lives
    in Grant Park.

    I sometimes see
    his cloud galloping
    gamely along
    the lake.

    -

    J. J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He can reached at jjtindall@yahoo.com. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    June 1, 2009

    The [Monday] Papers

    By Steve Rhodes

    * The Beachwood is now the exclusive Chicago carrier of Ask Ellie! (See lower left rail.)

    * Is adding Dear Abby to its lineup an effort by the Sun-Times to steal some of the Tribune's oldest readers? What's next, a bridge column?

    * The Sun-Times editorial board, as it were, having fewer members than the Cubs have had playoff appearances, is a pushover. The new FOIA bill sucks, and I've never understood why the media in this state hasn't made a full-court press for a real Sunshine Act.

    * I've thought about finding my first Camaro too! Mine was a 1975.

    * This parking meter thing really wasn't thought through.

    * Damn you, Larry Wood!

    * "Could Google's New 'Web Elements' Help Newspapers?"

    * Could it help GM?

    * Google Motors!

    * "The investigative team at WBNS-Columbus reported that Michael Randle has been selected as the new head of corrections in Illinois, leaving his position as Ohio's assistant director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections," IRE notes.

    "Randle leaves Ohio amid an Inspector General's investigation into his role with a contractor who bought furniture from the Department of Corrections. In March, 10 Investigates discovered Randle's Ohio State University fraternity brother had landed a deal that allowed him to purchase state made furniture for less than other state agencies could purchase the same furniture."

    * Dug out by Frank Coconate:

    Friends of Ike Carothers
    D-2 Semiannual Report
    7/1/2008 to 12/31/2008

    David J Axelrod & Associates 1448 Old Skokie Rd
    Highland Park, IL 60035 $350.00
    7/21/2008 Individual Contribution

    * University of Illinois President Joe White and Urbana Chancellor Richard Herman are the state's two highest-paid employees, Chuck Goudie reports.

    "More than the governor, the mayor, the Chicago police chief, state Supreme Court justices or anybody else (unless you count U of I's football coach.)"

    * Reading With Scissors. Inflatable home theater; shopping for artificial knees.

    * Ferdy on Films. The debuts of DePalma, DeNiro; Star Trek.

    -

    See also:
    * Springfield As Usual. Same old song and dance.

    * Video Poker Pushback. Not in my suburb!

    * The Tree Hater of Morgan Park. Hundred-year oaks gone in 10 minutes.

    * The Sotomayor Show. Who to watch.

    * The Salad Bar Series: The Cafe. Attention Streeterville wage slaves!

    * The White Sox Report. Embracing mediocrity.

    * The Cub Factor. What Big Z is doing to pass the time on his six-day suspension.

    * SportsMonday. The dolts at Simeon. Plus, the Cubs vs. the Cup.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Free content.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: The Cubs vs. The Cup

    By Jim Coffman

    When Sean Marshall chose Sunday night for the worst start of his career (and what has been a very successful Dodger lineup even without Manny Ramirez finally busted out against the Cubs after scoring three runs in the three previous games), how many viewers even thought of switching to NBC for the Stanley Cup finals? I did, but only because my older daughter, still a little ways short of big-time sports fan status but occasionally hyper-aware of current sporting events, reminded me. I think her brother may have been the one who reminded her but he wasn't around when we switched from the Cubs to the Cup.

    Beachwood Baseball:
  • The Cub Factor
  • The White Sox Report
  • The NHL in general still isn't on my radar. Of course the Blackhawks were, but I didn't watch a whole lot of the playoffs other than their games, and I watched even less non-Blackhawk hockey during the regular season. That was despite the fact that oftentimes during the winter sports months, I'm willing to watch just about anything to avoid the latest lame basketball doubleheader offered up by ES "We've made about as much money as we can off unpaid college athletes - now we're turning more and more of our attention to high school kids" PN.

    The problem with many of this year's regular season broadcasts on Versus were that they featured only one East Coast game that started at about 6 p.m. I'm not settling in to watch weeknight sports until 8, and by the time I got over to Versus on the relatively rare Monday or Tuesday nights that I remembered televised hockey was an option, I either found the second intermission in full swing or the final few minutes winding down.

    I'm not sure I was ever really in the habit of watching all of the NBA or NHL finals before Michael Jordan came along (and the Hawks made the Stanley Cup Finals in the early 90's before being summarily dismissed by the Penguins). I've been in the habit of watching the NBA Finals ever since, but not the NHL.

    The best news is Sunday evening's game was quite entertaining. A part of me feels as though a fan should root for the team that knocked his team out of a given playoff to go on and win the championship (thereby proving that one's own team might well be the second-best in the league). But a bigger part of me refuses to root for the Red Wings. For a while it looked good for the Penguins but the lucky ducks from Detroit (at least half of their six goals so far in the Finals have been total flukes resulted from ridiculous bounces off the boards or pucks on edge being shot from unpromising spots but then turning into knucklepucks that somehow found their way into the net).

    Still, this year is better than last year. Last year the Wings shut out the Penguins in both of the first two games in Joe Louis Arena on their way to a dominant Cup win. It appears Pittsburgh will at least be putting up a better fight this time around.

    One final hockey note: Everyone loves to bash Versus, the former Outdoor Life Network that has put on almost all televised professional hockey games during the past few years, and the channel that will show games 3 and 4 of the Cup Finals this year - apparently because NBC was so determined to show daily episodes of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, or some such absolute nonsense.

    Networks, try to remember, sports are the absolute original reality television and they are only about a million times more dramatic than the newfangled reality dreck that passes for entertainment these days. Versus hasn't done a good enough job promoting itself (heck, a huge portion of the populace doesn't know it exists and couldn't find it on in a directory even if it knew it existed). But if forces are ever to break the hold that the grim East Coach SPorts Network has over so much of televised sport, Versus has the best chance to do so at this point..

    Bloom Off Rose
    And how about that Derrick Rose? The only thing the Rookie of the Year has had to say of late is that he will have nothing to say about the fact that an internal CPS investigation found that a grade had been changed on his transcript in order to make sure he was eligible to play basketball for Memphis.

    And while it may not have mattered so much that Rose's grade was changed, it mattered plenty that his teammate Kevin Johnson's was changed. I'm sure Johnson was one of those typical star athletes who always got away with everything. Sure enough when he didn't study hard enough to get a scholarship, his grade was changed.

    And surely that state of affairs was a big part of Johnson thinking he could get away with armed robbery in Kane County. Except this time he didn't get away with it. And now he sits in jail.

    I suppose Rose also believes at this point that he will not comment on allegations that someone else took his SAT. Hey Derrick, you'll need to be a little more of a man than that. You need to step up and talk about what happened, at least pumping out a few of those delightfully meaningless generalities that athletes so often employ to great effect these days. And there is also one pragmatic reason in particular that should send you running, not walking, to the microphones.

    This story is out here and the one way to make it go away quickly could not be clearer. Make a statement about how much you regret that this happened. Show that most beloved of virtues (to American sports fans): a little contrition. Then you can move ahead unbowed.

    And finally, regarding the administrative dolts at Simeon High, you know, the ones covering each other's ass in all off this, do they have any conception of the fact that by hiding the culprit in this case, the person who changed a critical Rose grade, they are implicating everyone? If school officials can't find a way to see to it that the guilty party is punished, the CPS ought to just shut the school down.

    -

    Coach Coffman welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    By Marty Gangler

    The burning question on our minds this week - because we'd prefer to avert our eyes to the Cubs on-field shenanigans - is this: how will Big Z occupy his time during his six-day suspension? Using all historical data available to us by Major League Baseball, we're pretty sure we've got it figured out.

    Day 1: Big Z will sit down and talk with the pitching coach Larry Rothschild and will take notes about things to remember. But then his pen runs out of ink, he gets pissed, finds his bat, and crushes the pen.

    Day 2: Carlos decides to head to 7-11 for some comfort food. But then he notices that they are out of pepperoni combos and only have the regular nacho cheese ones. So he asks the clerk if there are any more in the back and the clerk says there is no "back" and everything is on the shelf. So he gets pissed, decides to get fun-yuns instead and realizes that fun-yuns suck, so he gets even more pissed, finds a bat, and bashes in the Icee machine.

    Day 3: Carlos decides to head out on Lake Michigan and get some relaxing fishing in. But then he gets a big fish on the hook and a guy on the boat screws up netting the fish and it gets away. Carlos gets pissed, completely bitches out the deckhand, and breaks the fishing pole over his knee. Then he finds a bat and breaks that over his knee too. When the Coast Guard arrives to a report of a boater on a rampage, he pretends to eject them from the lake.

    Day 4: Carlos is on his way out for a relaxing drive and pulls in to get some gas. But then he notices that his gas tank is on the other side from the pump where he pulled up. He luckily has a bat in his back seat. He finds it and bashes his way to the gas tank from the side where he pulled up. When the police arrive to a report of a driver on a rampage, he pretends to eject them from the station.

    Day 5: Carlos decides to stay in today to watch some daytime TV as the rest of the week hasn't gone so well. But then right when he's about to learn the results of the paternity test on today's episode of Maury, his cable goes out. Luckily he has a bat by his side. He bashes the cable box on top of his TV and then pretends to eject the Comcast repairman who comes to his home. He's pretty sure he wasn't the father anyway.

    Day 6: In preparation for getting back to baseball, Carlos realizes that he's broken all of his bats. So he gets pissed, finds a Milton Bradley bat, and breaks the rest of Milton Bradley's bats with the bat.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-3, winning two of three from the Pirates and splitting a four-game set with the Dodgers, all at home. 4-3 would be okay if you went 5-1 the week before, but they didn't. So 4-3 stinks.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs go to Atlanta for three and then to Cincy for three. I'm going to bet that someone else on the team is going to get hurt. Possibly by a flying toothpick to the eye in Cincy.

    The Second Basemen Report: The second base position is officially up for grabs. We had four different starting second basemen this week, with newcomer Andres Blanco joining Bobby Scales, Aaron Miles, and Mike Fontenot at the keystone sack. I honestly have no idea who will start next week, which is pretty much just like how Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa now has 33 RBI for the Indians, which is seven more than any Cub has this season. Ronny Cedeno has 5 RBI for the Mariners and many Cubs have more than that. But they are both missed.

    Zam Bomb: Yessir, Big Z go Boom!
    zam_Boom.jpg

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Carlos Zambrano for Timex.

    Lost In Translation: Jakeio-san Foxishi is Japanese for yet another Cub can't play the field.

    Milton Bradley Game of the Week: Clue. Milton Bradley finally has one.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 50% Sweet, 50% Sour. Lou is up one point this week on the Sweet-O-Meter because he's acting like he no longer cares and is not going to get mad. And like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is turning over a new leaf and is not going to get mad at your aunt anymore when she plays the wrong card when your playing teams in pinochle. He's trying a new strategy.

    Don't Hassle the Hoff: Dude, don't confuse Jake Fox with Micah Hoffpauir because they are pretty much the same guy, and that's a hassle.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that that was a sweet Gatorade machine.

    Over/Under: Number of players on the 25-man roster pissed off that they now have to manually get their own Gatorade: +/- 22.5.

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

    The White Sox Report: Now with a weekly Cubs Snub.

    Fantasy Fix: Is the stolen base back?

    Mount Lou: Mount Lou recedes to yellow as seismologists are baffled about the lack of volatility during this eruption season on Mount Lou. It's like anger lava no longer exists on Mount Lou. Has this volcano gone dormant?

    mtlou_yellow.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    By Andrew Reilly

    It's fun and pleasantly optimistic to compare this year's Sox squad to last year's division winners, and in many ways the two cast the same shadow. A division populated with losers; a theoretically potent offense incapable of producing; weird stretches of winning games they should have lost while losing, badly, games they should have only lost in normal fashion.

    And yet, all that pining for a magical non-spectacular team aside, the 2009 Sox actually share less with last year's edition than they do with other boring, non-remarkable squads of the past decade. Imagine Alexei Ramirez in the Jose Valentin role, Carlos Quentin as Frank Thomas, Chris Getz as Willie Harris, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as the plain old Los Angeles Angels.

    Some will cry "No!" and insist this team has turned a corner, which would be a sentiment both cool and agreeable were it not for the fact that even with their recent run of good baseball, the Good Guys still sit one under .500 and a full four games behind the Tigers. They can do some good, these White Sox, but they can dig a pretty deep hole just as well, which brings to mind something one of my college professors taught me: the good ones can get out of trouble, but the great ones kept themselves out of it in the first place.

    That said, there's a very strong chance we are in the throes of the Sox' best stretch of baseball this season, and as sad as that may seem, I say we embrace it fully. They're winning, and with authority, and not even the most sunshine-disposed fan among us would suggest they're going to keep running off sweeps and epic road wins at this pace. That losing record, despite the lameness it may suggest, still commands second place in the Central, and in the end the Sox' job is not to win all the time, just to lose less often than four specific teams. And lose they do!

    And win, sometimes, too!

    And that is exactly why they are so hard to either get excited about or write off entirely: the White Sox are not really all that good, and maybe they are not all that bad, either. Maybe they just are and, all things considered, maybe that's not such a terrible way to exist.

    Week in Review: The first full sweep of the season and 5-1 road trip came at a high cost: we'll miss you, Corky Miller.

    Week in Preview: Seven straight home games against the worst and second-worst teams in the American League, in that order. If ever the Sox could gain ground, this is the time.

    The Q Factor: Negligible, but his unscheduled medical leave should not be confused with "none," as Carlos Quentin's days off are the only known mathematical entities divisible by zero.

    That's Ozzie!: "We swung the bat." - Guillen explains the secret to a fundamentally sound 11-2 shellacking of the Royals.

    The Guillen Meter: They've started winning, which usually tends to take the edge off of the skipper a bit. The Guillen meter reads 5 for "momentarily complacent," although expect serious trouble after Thursday's four-error loss to the A's, after which Guillen drops no less than ten expletives and one new, experimental superexpletive (the oft-rumored and highly unspeakable "e-word") while denouncing reliever Octavio Dotel, third baseman Josh Fields, umpire Jerry Layne and FAA Chief of Staff Jana Weir Murphy.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Rob Mackowiak, Carl Everett, Keith Foulke, Ryan Bukvich. Four former Sox, four current Newark Bears.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: Saturday's game against Cleveland will be carried on Fox, meaning Friday and Sunday's broadcasts will have to pack in 1.5 times the kind words about Grady Sizemore of a normal Sox-Indians telecast despite Sizemore's current residence on the disabled list. Perhaps Harrelson will enlighten us as to the wonder of how Sizemore sustains injury the right way, the way Yaz or a young Norm Bass would. And how Sizemore looks good doing it.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Mark Buehrle for late 80s and early 90s Ford trucks. Quality is job one.

    Cubs Snub: Fourth place. In your face. I had the pleasure of attending Sunday night's disgrace against the Dodgers and found myself chuckling not just at the outcome, but also the pure hilarity of 40,000 Cub fans on their feet willing Alfonso Soriano to hit a home run with the bases empty and the Small Bears down 8-0. He didn't, of course, but that brand of stupid optimism suggests a larger problem at work besides the early-innings shelling. It was as though they not only didn't know how baseball works, but didn't care, either. In some regards, I envied them; in most other regards, my feelings more closely resembled pity. Meanwhile on Michigan Avenue, the mechanism that made Chicago's century clubbers so marketable has now made them nearly immovable. Oh, the sweet, delicious irony!

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: Know your enemy.

    -

    The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

    -

    Andrew Reilly is the managing editor of The 35th Street Review and a contributor to many fine publications.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    The Salad Bar Series: The Cafe

    By Marilyn Ferdinand

    Restaurant: The Cafe

    Location: 233 E. Chicago Ave.

    Description: It's hard to call The Cafe a restaurant. Hidden on the second floor of the massive American Dental Association building just off the Mag Mile, this cafeteria-style eatery isn't going to attract tourists and residents with the kind of income it takes to live and shop in this corner of Streeterville. The Cafe is designed to feed working stiffs who have just enough time to pull up an unpadded, formed-plastic chair for a quick bite to eat.

    Salad Bar Comes With Meal? As with any cafeteria, the salad bar is a la carte and is priced by the ounce. In addition to its small soup and salad bar, The Cafe has pre-made pizza slices, sandwiches, and hot food from the griddle. I had a decent-sized salad and satisfying bowl of soup for a total tariff of $6.30.

    Sneeze Guard: Clear plexiglass provides ample coverage for average to tall people. Shorter people or children could present a hazard.

    Estimated Length: Three feet, two rows of items.

    Reachability: Everything is in easy reach, and the well-lit room ensures you'll know what you're getting ready to put in your mouth.

    Best Ingredients: Organic spring greens and chipped romaine pieces are crisp and fresh, adding more proof that iceberg lettuce, like the 60s kitchens that served it, may be a thing of the past. Raw zucchini spears tasted great, as did a seasoned corn "relish". The food service director said their vegetable choices are seasonal, and spinach and yummy asparagus tips are just around the corner. The soups, which I always think should be part of a salad bar, are awesome. I had a black bean soup that was just the right amount of spicy and thick, and I could break either saltines or whole-wheat crackers into them.

    Unusual Ingredients: Quinoa, the much-touted supergrain, is on offer. It's kind of flavorless, but it's so loaded with nutrients that it's worth spooning around the salad. Broccoli is not an unusual salad bar ingredient, but getting cooked, chilled broccoli is; the flavor is so much better that I wish more kitchens would take the time to offer it on their salads and salad bars. Cooked chicken breast, walnuts, and sunflower seeds are nice protein alternatives to the more common chopped eggs and cottage cheese.

    Dressings: Different flavors of oil/vinegar, Lite Italian, and Caesar are nice choices. But this is a great salad bar for a Ranch lover like me, offering as it does Southwestern Ranch, Lite Ranch, and regular Ranch.

    Comment: The Cafe doesn't advertise itself on street level, so if you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was there. Remember, it's more like a lunchroom, so if you're an MCA patron looking for something artistic or a patient looking to be coddled before you have a speculum inserted where the sun don't shine at neighboring Northwestern/Prentiss Women's Hospital, go somewhere else. If you're a Streeterville wage slave who's into getting a tasty, healthy, inexpensive meal, The Cafe is a great choice.

    -

    Previously in The Salad Bar Series:
    * La Villa. Fake shutters, red vinyl, adequate sneeze guard.
    * Chuck E. Cheese's. An adult sneeze guard for pint-size sneezes. Plus, beer.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    The Sotomayor Show

    By Sam Singer

    As a political contest, the fight over the Sotomayor nomination was over before it began. President Obama knew he had the numbers in the Senate. He knew Sotomayor was a thorny target for her predominantly white and male opponents, who would have to challenge her fitness for the bench while holding back tactless remarks about her ethnicity. This while mining a relatively uncontroversial judicial record for controversy, and all during the fleeting moment after a nomination in which the public is actually paying attention. This nomination may go down in judicial history as the Two Day War; the indispensable SCOTUSblog says "It's Over."

    But if the political fight is a foregone conclusion, the debate in the legal community is just getting under way. More than most nominees in recent memory, Sotomayor's background lends itself to a close examination of prior case law. Her tenure on the Second Circuit produced a paper trail long enough to occupy legal journalists for months. As scholars sort it out, they'll add new dimensions to the public's understanding of Sotomayor's judicial inclinations. The deeper they dig, the better sense we'll have of her place on the Court.

    What follows is a list of writers who, when not steering this discussion, are regularly weighing in with meaningful contributions. I provide it not as an exhaustive list but as a representative sample, with confidence the writers themselves will point you toward other worthwhile contributors.

    * Tom Goldstein. Goldstein co-heads the litigation practice at an elite Washington law firm. When he's not doing that, he is arguing cases before the Supreme Court. When he's not doing that, he's writing about the Supreme Court. Goldstein's dual roles as reporter of and advocate to the Supreme Court make him one of the most clued-up writers in Washington. Along with the resources of a powerful Washington attorney, Goldstein has the deadline-beating itch of a young reporter: here's a 1,500-word analysis of the Sotomayor nomination posted three hours before the President announced. The combination makes him an impossible act to follow on the Supreme Court beat.

    * Slate has two talented correspondents in Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon. Lithwick is an effortless writer with a surprisingly extensive legal background. But it is how she animates the Court and its archaic procedures that sets her apart from her contemporaries in the popular press. Since Souter retired, Lithwick has spent more time beating back vitriol from the right than she has developing an outlook of her own. This is unfortunate, in part because Lithwick can't fully showcase her intellect when she is in a reactive posture, but also because movement conservatives are an irrepressible bunch - way too much for one young writer to contain. In this sense, Lithwick is left standing with a mop in a flood zone.

    * Adam Liptak. Liptak, the New York Times's Supreme Court correspondent, isn't in the same class as Linda Greenhouse, his Pulitzer Prize-winning predecessor. That said, Liptak is believed to have inherited Greenhouse's rolodex of sources, so it would be a mistake to overlook his coverage as the nomination process unfolds. For Greenhouse fans, here's a cameo Op/Ed addressing the Sotomayor pick.

    * Ed Whelan. There are writers with legal backgrounds and there are lawyers with writing backgrounds. In this latter category, Whelan stands out as one of the conservative legal establishment's sharpest thinkers and at that, one of its best hopes of being taken seriously on the left. Whelan made a splash early in the nomination process with a string of essays questioning the conventional wisdom that Seventh Circuit judge and frontrunner Diane Wood was a moderate jurist. Wood's qualifications aside, Whelan demonstrated a strong grasp of Wood's judicial record. His analysis was a welcome departure from the sound bite-driven attacks favored by movement conservatives.

    * Jan Crawford Greenburg. You may remember Greenburg from the years she spent covering the Supreme Court for the Tribune. As one of the busiest media personalities in Washington, Greenberg can't be relied upon for day-by-day coverage. Still, when she writes, it's because she has something important to say. More often than not, that something is breaking news. She remains one of the most plugged-in legal reporters in the country.

    Of course, along with regular contributors, you'll want to monitor the Op/Ed cycle for outside opinions. Editorial pages are flooded with guest viewpoints on the nomination. Howard Bashman does a commendable job aggregating them. In separating wheat from chaff, look for law professors; an author's employment at a major law school is a strong indicator that he or she has something gainful to contribute.

    -

    Sam Singer is the Beachwood's legal correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

    -

    Previously by Sam Singer:
    * Is TARP legal? Court to decide on laugh test.

    * Taking Government Out Of The Marriage Business. Separating church and state.

    * Chicago's Disorderly Conduct. Dissent allowed even in Daleyland

    * Why Google Will Win. Newspapers are on the wrong side of the digital revolution.

    * Is Blago A Flight Risk? We asked; a judge said yes.

    * Obama's Torture Test. Politically calculating.

    * Replacing Souter. Signs point to Kagan.

    * Going to Pot. The states vs. the feds.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
    TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
    POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
    SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

    BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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