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« April 2010 | Main | June 2010 »

May 29, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

Memorial Day Barbecue Guide
It's looking like a glorious holiday weekend, so the Beachwood Reporter Celebratory Barbecue Unit has prepared its annual guide to making the most of the extra day off. Here are some suggestions to get your first backyard party of the season going in full gear.

1. Invite everyone. You know they'll be there anyway, so why not make it official? Sure, you might wind up blowing your budget, but at least it won't all go to inflated lapels, eh Nancy?

2. Marinate your seafood in impotent rage. The world's foremost barbecue chefs have known for years the best way to cover a little excess oil is with tons and tons of bitterness. If that doesn't work, try some mud.

3. Roast your own ass. After waiting more than a month, people will be starving for it.

4. Stop playing games. You're at the adults' table now, Sam. And the less said about your involvement at the kiddie table the better.

5. Take lots of pictures. Or maybe don't? Or maybe stop taking them in three years? Or maybe something?

6. Limit the booze. It might seem un-American, but too much beer and whiskey makes everyone think they're funnier than they are.

7. Knock yourself out. It's a great way to get everyone to forget what a total fucking tool you've been in the past.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Knock yourself out.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:23 AM | Permalink

May 28, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

"As Melvin Jones stood half naked, handcuffed to a wall, former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge allegedly attached an electrical device to his penis and sent such a painful shock to his groin Jones said he can barely talk about it nearly 30 years later," the Sun-Times reports.

"I was just thinking he was a mad man," Jones said.

*

"Earlier Thursday, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said when he was a young assistant public defender, Anthony Holmes - another one Burge's alleged victims - tearfully told him how he was 'hooded' and electrocuted before he was forced to sign a murder confession."

The curious part about Suffredin's testimony is why he never brought Holmes' allegations into his trial.

"Back then, Suffredin argued, a confession without corroborating evidence wasn't enough to convict, and that evidence was completely lacking," John Conroy writes at his Burge trial blog on Vocalo. "Furthermore, Suffredin said, they were before the 'best law judge' in the County, Louis Garippo. So they based their strategy on that argument, asked for a bench trial, and lost. The appellate court overturned the verdict, but the Illinois Supreme Court later reinstated it . . .

"[I]t seemed to me that Suffredin left out one crucial piece of information. A motion to suppress a confession in which a Black Gangster Disciple alleged he'd been given electric shock in a Chicago police station would have met with complete incredulity in 1973. It is only in recent years that Cook County judges have been willing to accept that torture took place, and on this issue, even at this late date, there are few profiles in courage on that bench.

"According to Holmes, Suffredin and [colleague William] Murphy didn't believe the story themselves in 1973."

Conspiracy Quo
"But when their commanding officer, Sgt. Robert Peabody, arrived at the scene, he handed Killackey back his gun and badge and let him go, denying Clermont the chance to file a complaint."

Not sure how that could be true; there was no time to formulate a conspiracy.

I guess these things just happen.

The Daley Show:
"We know there's texting going on, something going on in the suburban area with a lot of young adults," our Sociologist-in-Chief said on Thursday.

Maybe someone should shove a cell phone up the mayor's ass and send his butt a text just to show him how effective it is.

*

I think I've got maybe one more of those in me, then I'll quit.

*

"'Twenty-two people were arrested, and 14 of them were from the suburbs,' Weis said.

"'Repeat that again,' Daley said, interrupting Weis.

"Weis then repeated the line as the assembled officials laughed."

Ha ha, it's funny 'cause you expect opposite! He say read it again! Oh ho ho! And they laugh 'cause he da boss!

That's Neil!
I just don't have the strength for this today. Joke amongst yourselves.

Big Buff
"Brent Seabrook was nine years old and playing for a suburban Vancouver team when he first laid eyes on Dustin Byfuglien, a big kid from a Minnesota trailer park who would become his future Chicago Blackhawks teammate," the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.

"'He was head-and-shoulders above everybody else,' Seabrook said. 'He was so big. He had such a hard shot. And it was tough playing against him. I think I asked at about 13 or 14 years old where he went, and nobody knew. I guess he quit playing hockey.

"It was a touch later than that, but Byfuglien, now a 6-foot-4, 257-pound power forward, did hang up his skates as a teenager to spend the season fishing near his hometown of Roseau, about 20 kilometres from the Manitoba border. Minnesota is the 'State of Hockey' but Byfuglien wasn't in the state of mind to play the game back then, and conditioning himself to play professionally proved even more arduous after he returned to the ice and toiled in the junior WHL."

Golden Slider
"With the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup finals this weekend, I've been thinking about the last time I saw the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull," John Kass writes today.

"It wasn't at the old Chicago Stadium.

"It was at a White Castle on La Grange Road in Countryside."

More Than A Logo
Coming Monday in the Tribune, The Story Behind Chief Blackhawk:

"For Chicago's native Americans, the passion over a team named for a Sauk and Fox tribal leader has provided a 'teachable moment' concerning the original Blackhawk and Indian culture."

Governor Gumby
"Gov. Pat Quinn accepted $75,000 in campaign donation last month from the Teamsters union that would have benefited from changes he proposed when he vetoed legislation to overhaul the McCormick Place convention center," the Tribune reports.

"The Quinn campaign confirmed the Teamsters gave two donations - one for $25,000 and one for $50,000 - to the Quinn campaign on April 23. That was two weeks before the House and Senate passed legislation to re-organize the operations of the convention venue, following months of arduous negotiations.

"But Quinn spokeswoman Mica Matsoff declared the timing of the contributions played no role in Quinn's amendatory veto Wednesday, saying the 'assertion is completely offensive.'"

The Teamsters would've given Quinn $75,000 even if he single-handedly blocked the changes they wanted!

No, Mica Matsoff, you are completely offensive.

The Teamsters, though, are stupid. All they got out of the deal - so far - was an overridden amendatory veto. Those are free.

At The NRA Show
Dirty lemon wedgies, longnecks and greenwashing.

How The Cubs Killed 18 Minutes
Leading by example with a Falstaff tall and a big, fat doobie.

Bloodshot Briefing
One-armed bandit, sweaty grooves and Alfred's hot dogs.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Doobalicious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

The Restaurant Show In Review

1. Dirty lemon wedgie.

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2. This will also accommodate longnecks.

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3. Mmm, frosty.

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4. Official.

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5. Greenwashing.

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6. Failure to grasp concept.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

Bloodshot Briefing

1. Rosie Flores: One-armed bandit and self-professed health nut.

"Rosie Flores is hardcore," according to the City Paper of Rochester, New York, where the Bloodshot artist is scheduled to play tonight.

"She's been on the road forever and is familiar with all its charms. Broken fan belts, detours, claustrophobia, and truck-stop grub - nothing slows her down. Even a broken arm couldn't sideline this sensational Austin-based roots rocker.

"'Basically I fell out of bed,' Flores says. 'But you should've seen the other guy.'

"Ba-dump-bump. But Flores digresses. 'Some kind of varmint woke me up in the middle of the night, a flying cockroach or something - one of those big Texas wild bugs. I rolled over and 360'd and fell right on the tip of my shoulder and broke my humerus in half and split the bone down the center.'"

"That's a problem, since Flores plays the guitar. With the cast on until July, she needed either an extra arm or another guitar player. Enter Nashville's multi-instrumental grandson of royalty, Chris Scruggs."

Here's Rosie (with cast - and her Rivetors) last week from the Rodeo Bar in New York City:

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2. Andre Williams: CD-release, sweaty and suggestive.

"Andre Williams, the gravelly voiced blues and soul legend, has just released a new record packed with sweaty and suggestive grooves, which he will celebrate at a CD-release show this weekend," the Daily Herald reports.

"Williams traveled to Detroit to record That's All I Need, out now on Chicago's Bloodshot Records, and its songs boast contributions from a host of musical heavyweights from the Motor City. Here's a chance to see a true down-and-dirty player in action.

"Andre Williams will play with Dirty Diamonds and the East of Edens Soul Express DJs at 10 p.m. Saturday, May 29, at Schubas."

Here's a little Andre Williams for you:

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3. Where else is Bloodshot this weekend?

On Friday night, Wayne Hancock plays the Muddy Roots Music Festival in Cookeville, Tennessee . . . as does the Dex Romweber Duo . . . Whitey Morgan and the 78's play the Mid America Freedom Rally in Buckhorn, Missouri . . . the Deadstring Brothers play Lee's Liquor Lounge in Minneapolis . . . Justin Townes Earle plays the Symphony Hall-Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta . . .

On Saturday night, the Deadstring Brothers move on to the Nestor Tavern in Fargo, North Dakota . . . the Dex Romweber Duo moves on to Atlanta to play Bubbapalooza with Charlie Pickett at the Star Bar . . . Rosie Flores plays the Rodeway Inn Conference Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania with Tweed Shade and the Sugardaddies . . .

On Sunday night, the Deadstring Brothers move on to the Phoenix Lounge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania . . . the Bottle Rockets play the Rib America Festival in St. Louis . . . Whitey Morgan and the 78's move on to the Green Lantern in Lexington, Kentucky . . . the Waco Brothers stay home to play the Double Door.

4. Bloodshot streaming.

Tuesday: The Deadstring Brothers on KGLT, Bozeman. Listen online!

Thursday: The Deadstring Brothers on KEXP, Seattle. Listen online!

5. Alfred's Hot Dog Day; soundtrack by the Detroit Cobras.

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Regular correspondent Matt Harness is on hiatus but we'll still bring you Bloodshot Briefing (nearly) every Friday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:23 AM | Permalink

How The Cubs Killed 18 Minutes

The Cubs game on Wednesday night was delayed for 18 minutes when the power went out at Wrigley Field and in parts of Wrigleyville. Here's what various members of the Cubs did to pass the time.

Lou Piniella: Drank a Falstaff, tinkered with the lineup one more time, and told the damn kids to get off his lawn.

Col. Jessup: Packed a bag and called his sister to let her know he was coming to Washington.

Cubs bullpen: Had just enough time to catch up with the latest chapter in their audio book club.

Carlos Zambrano: Conducted an emergency phone session with his therapist.

Geovany Soto: Smoked a big, fat doobie.

Derrek Lee: Practiced leading by example.

Aramis Ramirez: Rebuffed Rudy Jaramillo three more times.

Tom Ricketts: Made $200,000 in interest, completed a million-dollar hedge fund trade and rehearsed pleading poverty in advance of his next crappy Toyota sign deal. Also, looked in the mirror and practiced being just a regular ol' Cubs fan with a really rich father.

Alfonso Soriano: Remained in left field, oblivious to the delay.

Carlos Silva: Sacrificed another goat as part of his deal with the devil.

John Grabow: Tried to help ComEd workers fixing the outage but just made things worse by walking the first electrician he saw and giving up a two-run shot to the union steward supervising the situation.

Jim Hendry: Signed Bob Howry contract in the dark. Also re-acquired LaTroy Hawkins and Mel Rojas.

Rudy Jaramillo: Stashed his new supply of corked bats in Storage Room B.

Ron Santo: Kept telling nonsensical story, unaware that play had been halted.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:41 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"'You expect to get beat up by the police, but you don't expect to get electrocuted or shocked,'' [Anthony] Holmes said Wednesday, the first day of Burge's federal jury trial on perjury and obstruction of justice charges," the Sun-Times reports.

*

"In the chronology of victims assembled in the last 20 years, Holmes is the first to have alleged he was given electric shock at Burge's hands," John Conroy notes at the Burge trial blog he's writing for Vocalo. "Unlike other victims whose claims became known through documents filed by the victim or his attorney, Holmes's story became public because of a chain of events, set in motion by an anonymous police officer, 16 years after Holmes was wired up."

Don't Tell Daley
"The son of an elderly Army veteran who shot and killed a would-be burglar early Wednesday morning says the situation exemplifies why Chicago's law banning guns is flawed," NBC Chicago reports.

"'That's an open door for people like this suspect to enter people's homes, especially [the] elderly. They can prey on them,' said Butch Gant."

*

Don't get me wrong; like Mick Dumke, I support stringent gun control measures. But unlike Richard M. Daley, I think discussing the issue and imagining a range of solutions is permissible in polite society.

*

Gant's father isn't unlike Otis McDonald - an elderly black man and crime victim trying to protect himself and his family in a rough neighborhood.

*

"Crime is still too high in Chicago, but without the handgun ban, it would likely be even higher," Chapman University professor Lawrence Rosenthal wrote in a brief filed before the Supreme Court.

"In high-crime drug- and gang-ridden communities, criminals are all too likely to exploit a right to bear arms to terrorize the community and engage in violent competition for the spoils of the drug trade. There is no 'well-regulated militia' in these communities."

*

Yes, the same Lawrence Rosenthal that used to work for Daley. But still.

*

"Those of us who live in Chicago know the longtime mayor, Richard M. Daley, has a habit of shooting his mouth off," Cynthia Bowers reports for CBS News. "This past week he very nearly put a weapon where his mouth is."

His mouth is up Mick Dumke's ass?

*

Memo to Mick: Never thought your butt would be the subject of so many - any - news stories, huh?

Roeper Doeper
"At a Chicago screening of Sex and the City 2 the other night, there was a moment when a piece of jewelry was front and center on the big screen," Richard Roeper writes today.

"'Damn!' exclaimed a woman in the audience. Chuckles all around.

"At another juncture, there was a kiss. A woman near me sighed audibly and quietly said, 'Oh.'

"This is the thing about the differences between men and women: They still exist."

Totally!

For example, men aren't interested in jewelry at all!

And kissing? Ugh!

Tomorrow: Jokes about a man's right to leave the toilet seat up and how aggravating it is when wifey burns the meat loaf.

The Daley Show
"Mayor Daley criticized the Illinois General Assembly today for attempting to borrow its way out of the state pension crisis - even though he's using the same approach on a lesser scale to bankroll police back pay," the Sun-Times reports.

"Daley's public rebuke flies in the face of his own plan to authorize a $160 million short-term borrowing to finance retroactive pay raises for Chicago Police officers awarded by an independent arbitrator.

"Isn't it hypocritical for the mayor to sit in judgment of state lawmakers for borrowing when he's doing the same thing on a lesser scale?

"'Well, eventually, we'll pay it right back,' Daley said. 'It's a very small amount of money. It's very short. That's nothing compared to the state. We will pay that right back because we have to do that.'"

*

Daley then threatened to shove borrowed money up the reporter's ass to prove how effective it is.

That's Stella!
"At the rate violent crime is occurring in this city, more people may start thinking that help from the National Guard is not a bad idea," Stella Foster writes.

Totally! I mean, if crime keeps dropping like this . . .

"Chicago Police Supt. Jody 'The Robot' Weis mentioned that he is open to having his huge $310,000-a-year salary reduced if necessary in order to get a new three-year contract," Foster continues. "And I say, rightly so . . . I am glad that he realizes that he is getting paid waaaaaay too much money."

Actually, what Weis said was that if Stella Foster was willing to take a pay cut in order to "rightsize" her salary, he'd be willing too.

*

Also: Violent crime down nationwide. Boy, this country really is depressed . . . everyone's at home tucked under the covers or something, too worn down to even kick a pest in the shins.

Thanks For The Joy
"To those still in love with poodle skirts, sock hops and many a broken-down Wurlitzer 1015-Bubbler with its iconic yellow catalin plastic, James R. 'Jim' Van de Walker was truly a jukebox hero," the Tribune reports.

"Affectionately referred to as 'Juke Box Jim,' the longtime Elgin resident was a cement truck driver in the early 1970s when, at a flea market, he picked up a classic jukebox that was in desperate need of repair. It became the first in a long line of antique music machines that Mr. Van de Walker restored and resold in his small shop, some for upwards of $5,000."

Pinball Heroes
Live from Cokato, Minnesota.

Cubs vs. Hawks
Cubs: Star player gets paid to hop in the outfield.
Hawks: Star player hops out of cabs without paying.

More at Agony & Ivy.

Slacker P.I.
Episode 1: Reverse Psychology

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Hopping.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

World Pinball Championship!

"On May 16, 2010 the World Pinball Championship was held in Cokato, MN. Sixty-four of the world's best pinballl players representing 13 countries competed. The final match was between Daniele Celestino of Italy and Andy Rosa of USA."

Let's take a look.

-

Results from the International Flipper Pinball Association:

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Daniele Celestino Acciari d. Andy Rosa (4-1)
Daniele won on Spiderman, Bow & Arrow, Pirates of the Caribbean, Wizard
Andy won on Getaway

CONSOLATION FINAL
John Miller d. Jorgen Holm (2-1)
John won on Dirty Harry, Indiana Jones
Jorgen won on Corvette

5TH - 8TH PLACE MATCH
Jorian Engelbrektsson - 17 points (5th place)
Mads Kristensen - 15 points (6th place)
Zoltan Babiczky - 13 points (7th place)
Joshua Henderson - 3 points (8th place)

-

Our Heroes In The News
* "I would like to know, and congratulate Daniel Celestino Acciari, aka 'Cele' for having brought Italy the title of world champion pinball," writes the Italian Forum Flipper (translated).

"For those who have had occasion to talk to him and know he realized that a true champion, is also a smart guy and humble. Keep these your qualities, you will distinguish yourself and ranked as the best for life. You've made everyone's ass!!!!!!!"


* "Andy Rosa just wanted to finish in the top 16 of the world pinball championships," the Flint Journal reports.

"To make it all the way to the finals and finish second, Rosa said, was 'awesome.'"

-

Dr. Dude: A Review of the Beachwood Inn's pinball machine.

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Tim: "Play it yet? I haven't finished reading it!"

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Cubs vs. Hawks

"Cubs cede radio time to Hawks."

Just so you won't get confused:

Cubs: Cursed by a goat.
Hawks: Cursed by a ghost.

*

Cubs: Star player gets paid to hop in the outfield.
Hawks: Star player hops out of cabs without paying.

*

Cubs: Big Z missing frontal lobe.
Hawks: Duncan Keith missing bottom row.

*

Cubs: Drop balls to end games.
Hawks: Pucks drop to start games.

*

Cubs: Decades of games on TV have caused misery and heartache.
Hawks: Decades of games not on TV have caused misery and heartache.

*

Cubs: Z.
Hawks: Q.

*

Cubs: Kosuke Fukudome.
Hawks: Dusty Byfuglien.

*

Cubs: Lou Piniella's gut has taken on a life of its own.
Hawks: Joel Quenneville's mustache has taken on a life of its own.

*

Cubs: Anti-winning.
Hawks: Antti Niemi.

*

Cubs: Mascot conquered by man.
Hawks: Mascot conquered by white man.

*

Cubs: Getting a new Toyota sign.
Hawks: Getting new trophy.

-

Comments and contributions welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

Slacker P.I.: Episode 1

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

-

First in a series.

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Tonight's episode: "Reverse Psychology."

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Next week: Episode 2: The Race Card.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

May 26, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The white mayor/wet mayor controversy in 1989 should have been a warning to us all," John Kass writes today.

"Speaking to white voters on the Southwest Side, then-mayoral candidate Daley reportedly said, 'You want a white mayor that can sit down with anybody.'

"Naturally, Daley blamed the media. His mouthpieces argued that reporters misunderstood what he said.

"He didn't say 'white mayor,' argued the Daley guys. Instead, he said 'wet mayor,' as in, 'You want a wet mayor that can sit down with anybody.'

"What's troubling is the Daley guys couldn't explain why he wanted to become moist with voters, or why Chicagoans would ever wish to sit down with a sopping mayor who would invariably leave puddles on the floor.

"A wet mayor. Hmmm. Wet mayor. I still don't get it."

*

Adds Kass:

"That the 'wet mayor' explanation was accepted in this town tells you more about the media and politics in Chicago than you probably want to know."

*

The media decides who they will let get away with making offensive, racist, outrageous, sexist, stupid, ignorant comments. Likewise, they decide who they will attack incessantly. Advancing one's career depends upon plugging oneself into the "right" way of thinking - which is not to think at all.

*

"[A]s someone who, for the past decade and a half, has routinely pointed out that Daley is a charmless, ill-spoken bully, I don't feel obligated to feign surprise at each new instance of charmlessness, ill-speaking and bullying," Neil Steinberg writes.

Huh. I don't remember Steinberg routinely pointing out anything about Daley, though I do remember him ruing on Feb. 28, 2007, that as an expat living in Northbrook he couldn't cast a ballot for the man. "I would have voted for Daley, warts and all," Steinberg wrote. "I always did. The corruption doesn't bother me - what city doesn't have corruption?"

Then again, Steinberg also argues today that Mick Dumke's question to the mayor about the effectiveness of the city's gun ban was "stupid." Really? A gun ban that doesn't appear to have banned guns? What a dope, Dumke! You don't have to make a federal case out of it just because it's, um, a federal case!

It's not as if the mayor isn't thinking about it.

Self-Dealing Division
* "University of Illinois trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition for new students by 9.5 percent and approved a contract that pays the school's incoming president approximately $620,000 a year - about $170,000 more than the man he'll replace."

* "Tribune Co. plans to pay 35 of its top executives $14.9 million in additional 2009 bonuses, a court filing revealed late Monday, despite pointed opposition from several key constituents in the company's 17-month-old Chapter 11 bankruptcy case."

People with the power to take care of themselves first will always do so - and ask everyone else to sacrifice for the greater good.

Governor Gumby
"On a handful of occasions, Quinn took a state plane to Springfield during the day, only to fly back to Chicago the same night," the Tribune reports. "Among these cases were trips to attend a campaign fundraiser and his aunt's funeral. Quinn defended the funeral round trip as an appropriate use of taxpayer money because he was honoring a woman who was a 'citizen of Illinois for eight decades.'"

A) And the fundraiser was honoring an Illinois practice at least eight decades old.

B) Quinn also defended using a state plane to go to McDonald's because it's an Illinois company.

C) Quinn said he would have stayed overnight if his Super 8 VIP Club card hadn't expired.

*

"Gov. Pat Quinn had been in office only a few hours last year when he vowed to do something his impeached predecessor did not - live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield," the paper reports.

"But a Tribune analysis of his official travel schedule shows that Quinn stays at the ornate, taxpayer-funded house only sporadically. During his first year in office, Quinn slept there 55 nights, mostly while lawmakers were in session. He didn't spend more than three consecutive nights in the executive mansion."

*

Says Quinn: "The governor lives in the mansion in my opinion."

Oh, did Michael Madigan move in?

*

"[A]t some appearances in Chicago, Quinn tells the crowd he lives on Chicago's West Side, 'the best side.' When he's been in Springfield, he has called the capital home."

When he's in Wisconsin, he says he lives in Fond du Lac. And when he's in North Dakota, he lives in Grand Forks. Can't you see the Super 8 commercial already?

*

"On June 29, Quinn met with Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago before flying to Springfield to huddle with Democratic legislative leaders. Quinn was there for just over two hours before flying back to Chicago, where he hosted an evening campaign fundraiser at the downtown Hyatt . . .

"On Oct. 10, Quinn flew from Chicago in the afternoon to host a Springfield reception for his former Northwestern University law classmates, then flew back to Chicago about five hours later. On Dec. 19, Quinn flew to Springfield to host a holiday open house and staff party before returning to Chicago a few hours later."

Isn't it illegal to use state property for personal and political business? Has any state ever sent three governors to the pokey in a row?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pokable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Johnie-Lift: Never Touch The Seat Again!

Sanitation has always been a key issue with public restrooms and even toilets within the home, especially those in which a toilet seat must be lifted by hand. A company called Johnie-Lift, LLC has introduced a new, decorative toilet seat handle to address this issue.

The Johnie-Lift handle attaches instantly and provides a more sanitary and convenient way to raise and lower the seat, eliminating any direct contact. Being able to avoid direct contact with the toilet seat where the "splash zone" is located reduces contact with and the spread of germs found in bathrooms. It protects consumers while visiting public restrooms, household members and anyone that cleans toilets regularly, either at home or on the job.

lift.jpgSome may have noticed the unique Johnie-Lift handle in stylish hotels, but now it's also available to households nationwide.

And this couldn't come in a timelier manner. On May 12, 2010, Congress had a hearing regarding the "Potty Parity" bill, which has to do with the number of public toilets available for women as opposed to how many toilets/urinals are available for men. The bill would require the number of women's toilets to equal or exceed those in men's restrooms for new federal buildings or those being extensively renovated.

Health concerns about the use of toilets in unisex restrooms were also discussed, stating these may cause even more spreading of germs when toilet seats are touched or lifted.

"We have always felt that toilet seats should have been designed with handles. And as more and more bathrooms become 'Gender Parity' (otherwise known as unisex), our product will become more important as the need to raise and lower the seat is increased," states Paul Doyle, President of Johnie-Lift, LLC.

"Most individuals find it unsettling to touch the seat and, as a result, it is not raised when it would be appropriate to do so. Our handle reduces what I call the 'EEEEEWWW' factor."

Both commercial and household consumers will find the handle very easy to install. It can be instantly applied to the bottom of the toilet seat on either the right or left side without the need for glues or screws. The user will simply remove the protective tape from the
handle and press it into place. Once in place, the toilet seat can be raised or lowered without actually touching the seat.

The Johnie-Lift handle is intended for all households, hotels and hospitals, and custom handles with company or hotel logos are also available. For just a few dollars per handle, consumers and businesses can greatly reduce the spread of germs in restrooms. The handle is available at select retail stores as well as the JohnieLift.com website. The company also offers corporate sales for hotel chains and hospitals.

"The American Medical Association has reported that it takes five consecutive hand washings to remove most of the germs after just one contact with a toilet seat," Doyle added. "While our product will not eliminate all germs, it will greatly reduce them as it is outside of the 'splash zone' of the toilet."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:05 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

The two winningest starting pitchers in the majors are Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price.

Let that sink in for a bit.

Sure, Jimenez has gotten better every year and probably was considered at least a No. 2 starter for most fantasy teams coming into this year. But he has been incredibly dominant, with an 8-1 record and an ERA just under 1.00.

Price? He has long been expected of great things, yet over the last two years didn't realize his potential when anyone thought he would. Thus, he came into this year as a late-round bench pick.

So, will the real Cy Young please stand up? Which one of these pitchers can keep it going all year, if either? Is there one you should sell high?

Both are with teams that have potent lineups that might carry them through bad outings here and there, and I think that makes all the difference.

Certainly, Jimenez will come back down to earth a bit. Pitchers with dominant first halves rarely keep the same pace for a full year. Price's Tampa Bay Rays are on a pace for well over 100 wins, however, and Jimenez' Colorado Rockies are underachieving right now and should start winning more.

So, I honestly wouldn't trade either one. I think both have the stuff and the team support to reach 20 wins.

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It's Week 8 in the fantasy baseball world, and Carlos Silva is still pitching better than Jake Peavy.

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Fantasy Find of the Week: Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Toronto.

A once-promising fantasy prospect after hitting 26 home runs for Cincinnati in 2008, Encarnacion has not done much since landing in Toronto last year, and spent most of this young season on the DL. That all changed in the last week with an amazing hot stretch of 6 HRs and 11 RBIs in just 21 at-bats. The run included a three-homer game. He should cool off considerably, but it looks like he's recaptured his power stroke.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado.

A lot of the top-ranked players looked lost during the opening weekend of interleague play, but the stint seemed to help Tulo' find himself after a sluggish start to the season. He hit .391 with 3 HRs and 6 RBIs last week, and you should get him back in the starting lineup.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Mark Teixeira, 1B, NY Yankees.

He showed signs recently of coming out of his usual slow start, but was just awful last week, going 3-for-25 with no power or run production. Albert Pujols had a similar bad week, but at least salvaged a couple stolen bases.

Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston. He just came off the DL, and I like his chances to finally get in gear during a four-game series against Kansas City later this week.

Expert Wire
* Closing Time is high on Corey Hart, who has been hitting again after a season-and-a-half-long slump. Perhaps he stopped wearing sunglasses at night.

* Bleacher Report has the countdown toward the return of Curtis Granderson from the DL.

* Fantasy FanHouse features starting pitchers due to make two starts this week.

* Press Box Online says it's time for the train to leave the station while Gordon Beckham is still in the restroom. I had Beckham figured for a good sophomore year, but if you have the bench room, why not keep him? Honestly, it can't get any worse.

Finally, forget fantasy baseball. Simulation baseball is the next big thing.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:18 AM | Permalink

Speaking Chicago

A Chicago morning radio show host recently wondered whether seeing billboards in Spanish was good or bad for our society, insinuating that we as Americans should strive to have a common language - English.

Some of his callers said they were appalled by Spanish billboards and could not understand why Spanish-speaking immigrants would not learn English. Others phoned in to say that it is simply freedom of expression and billboards can be displayed in any language. While a great intellectual debate about our society is to be had, the true answer may not be based on what it means to be an American, the First Amendment, or even an official language, but rather, through better understanding of our history.

Similar to the rapid increase in racial and ethnic diversity we have experienced for the past several decades, language has also been exceptionally diverse. Data collected in 2000 and 2008 by the U.S. Census Bureau captured about 95 non-English languages spoken each year in the Chicago metropolitan area. Non-English speakers increased from 24.7% of the total population in 2000 to 27.7% in 2008, with Spanish being the most dominant language (Table 1).

While Spanish is clearly the most prevalent, other languages have made noticeable gains as well, including Polish, Tagalog, Chinese, Korean, and Arabic. Not only do these languages represent those ethnic groups that have robust communities in the area, they are also well represented on a global scale as well. According to the CIA World Factbook, top 10 languages found in the Chicago metropolitan area accounts for languages used by more than three billion people around the world.

Being able to speak foreign languages, of course, does not necessarily mean that people are confined to those languages alone for expression. Contrary to much criticism about immigrants' supposed refusal to learn English, many immigrants do read, write, and speak English to varying degrees, largely depending on when they arrived in the United States.

Many scholars consider one's ability to use English and one's loss of ability to speak another language as measures of assimilation into American society. Such consideration makes speaking English, and only English, as the norm.

Indeed, for much of middle class America, foreign language is merely a reflection of the novelty experience of living overseas during their youth only to forget about it by the time they reach their middle ages. Very often this brief exposure to another language and culture has little to no bearing whatsoever in their lives as a whole. Therefore, those individuals who are truly multilingual are often children or grandchildren of immigrants.

Looking at non-English speakers who were born in the Chicago metropolitan area, there is a glimpse of these children and grandchildren of immigrants, mostly from European countries that have long history of immigration into the region, still trying to maintain their cultural values (Table 2).

With sizable Mexican neighborhoods in various locations in the area, including Little Village, Pilsen, Hegewisch, Carpentersville, and Aurora, it is not surprising to see the rise in Spanish-speaking Americans. Though smaller in sizes, the Polish community also has maintained large pockets of neighborhoods to create an environment conducive to preserving Polish language. Even smaller communities of Greeks, Koreans, and a number of ethnic groups that use Arabic, use religious institutions as venues for their own languages.

In the past, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the Naturalization Act in 1906, and the Immigration Act in 1924, to ban Chinese immigrants, to implement English language requirement to attain naturalized citizenship, and to further reinforce immigrant ban from non-western and northern European countries. Interestingly, it wasn't social justice or civil rights that lifted these restrictions. Rather, it was the War Bride Act of 1945, when mostly white American soldiers needed to bring their Asian brides after World War II.

By 1952, the immigration and Nationality Act removed race entirely as a restrictive criteria in immigration. Clearly, if American nurses wanted to bring in their Asian husbands after the war, the government wouldn't have reacted as swiftly to correct the policy. Removal of race-based restriction in immigration was an unintended consequence rather than recognition of social injustice.

On the flip side, despite evidence in history showing that societal and cultural values aren't as rigidly defined as we believe, history is also often forgotten. On that faithful morning of the Spanish billboard debate, those who complained about the prevalence of Spanish as being un-American and that English is the foundation of American culture clearly failed to recognize the irony of calling in from such places as Waukegan, Kankakee, Mokena and Kenosha.

The American version of English was birthed out of gradual conflicts and resistance and that process constantly continues to change the way we speak, read, and write. Given the fact that a large influx of population into this country ceased to be English speakers is a good indicator of where our language is headed. Whatever language we end up using in the future will also likely to be derived through similar conflicts and resistance over a long period. And no policy, law, or mandate are likely to control or change such shift by the masses.

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Kiljoong Kim is a research consultant and doctoral student in sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He welcomes your comments. Read more in the the Who We Are archives.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

May 25, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

In a curious turn of events, it is now Rick Bayless who owes Lynn Sweet an apology.

Last night on Chicago Tonight, Bayless accused Sweet - though he didn't mention her by name - of simply making up her since-corrected story of Bayless's tweeting about the White House state dinner he recently prepared.

Unless there is evidence to the contrary, it appears that Sweet simply made a mistake. It happens.

It isn't the first time Bayless has leveled the charge.

"Lynn Sweet @ Sun-Times made up this very offensive story," he tweeted after the original story appeared.

If Sweet "made up" the story, she ought to be fired. Otherwise, the Sun-Times ought to tell Bayless to shut his trap.

In fact, Bayless's reaction makes me wonder whether he doth protest too much. After all, he would be the one with a motive to make nicey-nice to the White House.

And Sweet's apology, curiously, seems limited to the notion that he was tweeting from the White House kitchen - as if that'd be a crime in the celebrity-soaked, faux-transparent Obama administration - when he was apparently tweeting from his hotel room instead.

"Bayless at Gapers Block said he did not send his tweets from the White House kitchen," Sweet wrote in her correction. "Bayless also sent a tweet out about my post. To clarify: Bayless tweeted about the upcoming dinner and about the White House kitchen, but not from the White House kitchen. My apology."

Which still leaves open the question of whether the White House muzzled him, perhaps chastened by the Desiree Rogers Experience.

After all, Sweet wrote in her original report that "The White House press operation wanted to downplay the glamor aspect of the state dinner; these are tough economic times.

"Bayless talked about the dinner in interviews - he gave up a few facts about what he may be cooking - his Oaxacan mole, for example. 'He's been blabbing,' wrote the Washington Examiner 'Yeas and Nays' column. 'He's done interviews with the New York Times and NPR, revealing bits and pieces of the menu' . . .

"But after his Tuesday Tweet early in the morning, Bayless was shut down on Twitter.

"Last year, when the Obamas entertained the prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, the guest chef, Marcus Samuelsson, a big name in the cooking world, was neither seen nor heard from and asked not to give interviews about the dinner in advance. He was not allowed to appear at the press preview of the dinner.

"The White House at first was keen on limiting reporting opportunities from the state dinner, but Tuesday eased up on a restrictions . . . At first, the White House was not planning any advance event to preview the dinner."

The Obama administration clearly wanted to pretend the state dinner wasn't happening.

So you can see how they might have told Bayless to zip it. That's the part of the story that Sweet hasn't seen fit to correct. I assume she stands by it. If not, she needs to be clearer about the extent of her correction. She may have simply made some unfortunate leaps of logic. That's different than making something up. And if she does stand by the rest of her report, she and the Sun-Times need to make that clear, too.

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Perhaps most unfortunate in all the hullaballo is Time Out Chicago proclaiming "And never, ever forget: He's Rick Bayless, bitch!"

City To FOIA: Drop Dead
Ironically, too.

Like Clockwork
And Suddenly, The Blackhawks Aren't So Likable.

We Love Q
And we did before you.

Meet The Flyers
And their best fucking fan.

Pardon Our Dust
You may have noticed a new look to our Sports section. We're still tinkering, please be patient.

Sim Zam
We didn't see any reports this morning on Carlos Zambrano's simulated game on Monday, so we assume it went down just as we predicted.

Blackstone Hotel Fridge Fail


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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dusty.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Meet The Flyers

With last night's win over the Canadiens, the Flyers are the last team standing between the Blackhawks and their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Let's take a look at how they got here - and who their best fan is.

1. "Didn't quit."

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2. Captain Mike Richards, Alpha Male.

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3. Sweet hands.

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4. Flyers Fans.

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5. Best Flyers Fan Ever.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

City To FOIA: Drop Dead

Last week the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform released its annual lobbying survey, reporting that taxpayers paid lobbyists hired by cities, counties and public agencies nearly $6.4 million to influence their own state government last year.

In researching the report, though, the ICPR experienced a more fundamental problem with our political culture: The widespread disregard of the Freedom of Information Act.

"Relying on the Freedom of Information Act to get government lobbying contract information was time-consuming and too often produced partial records or none at all," the ICPR said.

The problem, it seems, is that public officials in Chicago act like it's their money - and their government. Aside from relying on your money to fund them, you are incidental at best and a treacherous obstacle at worst.

Let's take a look at what ICPR experienced in Chicago alone.

"In the ICPR survey, more than 10 percent of the units of governments responded later than the maximum 14 working days to respond. Twenty units did not respond for a month or more. Even some of the larger government bodies with experience handling FOIA requests, including the City of Chicago, took more than two months to respond. ICPR's experience with the City of Chicago is illustrative of problems we had with many units of government. Obtaining a full response to the initial request required four separate follow up letters (five letters in all) to four different agencies within the City.

"* ICPR mailed its request to the City of Chicago's Law Department by first class mail on Aug. 21, 2009. This followed the practice ICPR had developed in the previous two annual lobbying reports. The letter sought contracts, invoices, and records of payments from the City to state lobbyists, and specifically noted a prior relationship between the City and William Luking & Associates. This letter drew no response from the City.

"* ICPR hand delivered a second letter on March 19, 2010, citing the changes to the FOIA law that took effect on January 1, 2010. This drew a response that the Law Department had no records responsive to our request. The Law Department cited a 1999 court ruling that each department of the City is a separate entity under FOIA and suggested that ICPR send a request to the Department of Procurement Services.

"* ICPR hand delivered its third letter to the Department of Procurement Services (DPS) on April 8, 2010. DPS responded with a copy of a contract signed in 2006 with William Filan, Ltd, but did not include any invoices or records of payments to William Filan, Ltd, nor did it include any information related to William Luking & Associates. In a follow up phone call, DPS recommended ICPR submit a FOIA letter to the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, as that was the department named in the Filan contract. From past experience, we know how to use the City's website to find information on contracts with specific contractors, and were able to find indications of payments to Filan, but without any details beyond amounts and dates (such as, invoices showing why the payment was due).

"* ICPR hand delivered a fourth letter to the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (MOIG) on April 20, 2010 seeking contracts, invoices, and statements showing payments to lobbyists. A response on April 28 noted that MOIG had no documents responsive to our request. In a follow-up phone conversation, MOIG confirmed that it has no contracts with William Luking & Associates, even though the firm listed the City of Chicago as a client in calendar years 2008 and 2009 (and, indeed, for 2010). MOIG also suggested sending a FOIA request to the Finance Department to look for records of payments or invoices.

"* ICPR hand delivered a fifth letter to the City of Chicago Finance Department on April 29, 2010, seeking copies of invoices or records of payments to lobbyists, specifically naming William Luking & Associates. The Finance Department responded in a letter dated May 7, postmarked May 12 and received on May 17. This letter rejected our FOIA request, noting:

"'As the Comptroller's accounting system does not categorize payments by tasks performed by the payee, there would be no way to verify a payment was made for a particular task, including the lobbying of state government, without inspecting each of the thousands of payments the City made to individuals and businesses during your specified time frame. Therefore, as your FOIA request is currently written, the dedication of staff and/or resources is unduly burdensome on the daily operations of the Office of the City Comptroller.'

"And yet, each of the five letters ICPR sent to the various departments of the City of Chicago specifically referenced William Luking & Associates, noting that the firm had recently registered with the Secretary of State as a lobbyist for the City. None of the City departments we contacted were able to produce any documents showing that William Luking & Associates actually represents the City of Chicago.

"That our efforts to obtain lobbying records from the City of Chicago should come to this end is particularly ironic, given that the City of Chicago argued that units of government should be exempt from lobbyist registration precisely because they are covered by FOIA, and their lobbying records are accessible through FOIA."

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The full report is available here.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:45 AM | Permalink

May 24, 2010

SportsMonday: Duncan Keith's Teeth

Will anyone be able to focus on anything in Sunday's series clincher against San Jose other than the seven teeth?

Just like that, Duncan Keith's smile was obliterated in the second period when a fearsome clearing attempt sent the puck smashing into his mouth during a Blackhawk power play.

And sure enough, there was the proverbial, additional insult - the Sharks went down and scored a short-handed goal as Keith made his way to the bench for medical attention, seemingly seizing command of the game with a 2-0 lead.

Yes, yes, yes, the Hawks are four wins away from an NHL championship almost 50 years since they last won it (the longest such streak in the NHL), after rallying to win 4-2 and sweeping the Sharks for the Western Conference crown. Dustin Byfuglien is the team's best big-game player since, since, well . . . how about since Pierre Pilote (a star defenseman on the Hawks' last Cup winners - the 1961 squad).

Jonathan Toews did not touch the Campbell Cup and thereby did not jinx the team's quest for the Cup (not sure where that concern about jinxes was when the Hawks' assumed they would beat the Canucks in Game 6 of the second round the week before, but we'll just go with it for now).

But, seven teeth! Knocked out by a speeding hard-rubber disc! And Keith came back to play a great third period! I can sense many dismissive shrugs out there . . . the "that's just the way hockey players are" sentiment. But it doesn't matter how many other hockey players have battled through how many other traumatic injuries when their team needed them. Each such instance should be given its due.

After the injury, Keith did need at least a little time to recuperate. He headed back to the locker room and received at least two shots of pain killer (Novocain?) in his gums. Then, with a gaping hole in his mouth where all his teeth (OK, not quite all but still . . . ) his teeth used to be, he just headed back out to the ice for another amazing period. The Hawks dominated the Sharks in the third and Keith backstopped it all, as he has all series (almost always leading the Hawks in ice time). It was spectacularly tough stuff.

After the game, it appeared Keith finally acknowledged the gruesome injury at least a little bit. He skated back to give goalie Antti Niemi the customary, celebratory pat on the head, paused for a moment and then cleared out as the rest of the Hawks rushed toward the netminder. He had been willing to put his mouth at risk of further damage and himself at risk of plenty more pain during the maelstrom of a playoff third period, but he wasn't risking it in a series-ending celebration.

Game Notes
* I didn't think it was possible. I didn't think that fans could generate more noise in the cavernous United Center than they did in the perfectly constructed Chicago Stadium that was demolished in 1995 after an awesome 65-year run of sports and circuses and even politics (multiple presidential conventions). At the old stadium the balconies hung out over the action. Tickets for seats up there were great deals (at least until the third period, when the accumulated exhalations of a thousand smokers - at least - seriously diminished air quality and even visibility at times).

The United Center was built with luxury suites and unobstructed sightlines foremost in mind. That meant revenues skyrocketed but it also meant the upper reaches of the building were way more spread out than they were at the Stadium. I had the chance to attend a first-round playoff game at the UC last year where people were talking about how loud it was and I was sure they were exaggerating. It simply wasn't as loud as it was at the Stadium and it wasn't just my nostalgic bias kicking into gear.

But the noise is reaching another level this year. All those people (more than 22,000 per game - more than any other hockey team, or basketball team for that matter, in the country) are pumping up the volume to seemingly unprecedented levels. And it is a good thing because the roar is what keeps people coming back to view games in person even in this era of ridiculous ticket prices on one side and amazing home viewing technology on the other (you can just about always see the puck on Hi-Def!)

* Have the Hawks played a better playoff period than the third against the Sharks in the clincher? It was awfully good. They scored the two goals in the second period but their play was choppy during the first 40 minutes, generating barely any offense for most of the first and suffering a couple defensive breakdowns in the second. The Hawks aren't just a great team. They are a great team that is playing its best hockey when it matters most.

* Whoever makes it through the Eastern Conference and into the Stanley Cup Finals opposite the home team will be as big an underdog as we have seen in a major American sporting event in a long time. Hope the Hawks don't jinx it.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

The view from San Jose:

"It is never pretty, being swept out of a playoff series. And there were broom scars all over the Sharks here Sunday," Mark Purdy writes for the Mercury News.

"As recently as a week ago, there was legitimate talk of a Stanley Cup finals being played in San Jose for the first time in city and franchise history. But after the Sharks so impressively won eight of their first 11 playoff games and advanced to the Western Conference finals, they never managed another victory.

"Intellectually, of course, the Sharks knew it was possible for the Blackhawks to win four straight. But the prospect had seemed so remote until it actually took place."

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"Will anyone be able to focus on anything in Sunday's series clincher against San Jose other than the seven teeth?" our very own Jim Coffman writes.

No.

Grand Theft Daley
A Beachwood reader writes:

"I have an idea for a video game that is free for the taking for any Beachwood readers who are game developers. All I ask is 5 percent of the gross on final sales.

"The game works on two levels. In the part that the game player can't control, but is played out in the background, thugs with handguns and semi-automatic weapons randomly kill Chicago citizens in a variety of neighborhood settings.

"In the foreground, in the part the player does control, Richie Daley moves across the screen, holding a rifle, chasing after different Chicago reporters. If he catches one, he sticks the gun barrel up the reporters butt and pulls the trigger. This immediately reduces the number of killers killing in the background.

"The trick to the game is to have Daley catch enough reporters to reduce the number of killers to zero.

"Of course, since there are more working thugs with handguns than reporters in the city, the player can never win."

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Beachwood Special: Daley's Gunbutt Diplomacy.

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Of course, Daley doesn't really regret anything, despite this headline. The story tells a different, um, story.

"Asked whether he was sorry about the remark, Daley said, 'Sure I'll be sorry, if you want.'"

Translation: If that's the headline you're looking for, go for it.

"Pressed on whether he meant it, the mayor said, 'I'm not gonna sing the song, 'I'm sorry now.'"

Huh?

"But yeah, you regret it."

You do?

"The mayor said he was only try to 'shock' reporters into shining the light on the havoc caused by gun manufacturers who represent the only industry that is never held accountable."

Oh, that's what he was trying to do. Liar.

"I want to shock you, maybe scare you to realize, this is serious."

Because the media doesn't yet think gun violence is serious. They barely ever cover it at all.

"Why is it that the media is silent in regards to who the gun manufacturers are?"

It's part of the conspiracy.

"Asked why he even suggested 'sticking' the gun in that part of the reporter's anatomy, Daley said, 'It was a gun with a bayonet . . . What is a bayonet used for?'

"Reminded that you don't normally 'stick it there,' the mayor said, 'You stick it everyplace. It's a bayonet. Let's not make trivia about this.'"

Let's not.

"If you meet a mother who lost her son, that's a violent way. You should hear what the parents will say to me at their funerals. They're very upset that the media doesn't realize how guns are killing their children. That's what they can't understand."

The media doesn't realize how guns are killing the city's children.

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Daley's attacks on the media are so recklessly inaccurate that he ought to be sued for slander. Just two weeks ago, there was this:

"This is how the media does it: 'Jogger Stabbed in Riverwalk' . . . 'Iowa Man Stabbed in Chicago Visiting.' How 'bout the same headlines? I want the same headlines from you. Why not? Be fair,' Daley said after Wednesday's City Council meeting.

"'I want the same headlines from the Sun-Times and Tribune, from TV and radio. Same thing. Why not? It was a hoax. It was a fake. He lied. He cheated. How 'bout the same headline. I plead with you.'

"When a TV reporter noted that his station led its 10 p.m. news with the alleged hoax, Daley came out from behind the podium to shake that reporter's hand.

"'Now the rest of you, would you please do that? This is unfair. This is not right. That's why we're suing him . . .We're gonna sue for all this cost, [all of the] bad p.r. Look what he did to us,' the mayor said.

"The Sun-Times ran an eight-paragraph article about Hunninghake's admission that he faked the attack at the top of Page 8 in Wednesday's editions. The three-paragraph article about the original attack ran on the bottom of Page 8 of the April 25 edition. The headline about the hoax was twice as large as the headline on the earlier story."

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See also: Daley's Cop Canard. Our mayor is a liar. No one seems to care.

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Including Greg Hinz.

"[I]f Mr. Daley's comments after the shooting of Chicago police officer Thomas Wortham IV were over the top, some of the resulting media commentary was even more so," Hinz writes.

"I understand his anger at the recent crime wave that has hit certain neighborhoods, a crime wave that endangers all this mayor has attempted to do over 20 years to make Chicago safe and welcoming for the middle class.

That doesn't make him a 'bully,' or someone who has 'spent his life pushing weaker people around.' That makes him someone whose frustration has boiled over at his inability - and everyone else's - to bring an end to Chicago street crime."

If Daley's odd outburst occurred in a vacuum, that might be true. But it didn't. Even Daley's allies think he's a bully. Don't embarrass yourself, Greg.

"A little less nasty name-calling, please, as a brave and good cop is buried. How about some more attention to what might solve the problem?"

Yes, the media has practically spent no time at all exploring solutions!

It was only 17 years ago that the Tribune produced its award-winning, year-long "Killing Our Children" series, followed by the year-long "Saving Our Children" series.

The media, blind spots notwithstanding, has barely let up since.

Don't carry the mayor's water, Greg; not on this one.

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"One popular columnist termed Mr. Daley 'a bully,'" Hinz wrote, shielding readers from the fact that the columnist has a name - John Kass. A link to the column under discussion would have been nice, too.

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"I don't normally come to the defense of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who is quite capable of getting himself into and out of trouble without my help," Hinz writes at the outset of his post. "But I'm going to do so today."

Yet, later he describes Daley's threat to stick a rifle up a reporter's butt "indefensible."

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It's nice that Hinz can construct an answer to the question that set Daley off, but Hinz isn't the mayor.

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452 comments and counting.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Make our day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

The White Sox Report

When the White Sox head to Cleveland this week, let us not dwell on the things they cannot do.

Forget the trade bait and its rapidly diminishing value.

Forget about the monumental, recently broken two-game win streak - longest of the season!

Forget about the horrifyingly bad offense, effectively posting the worst collective line in the American League despite a deceivingly well-rounded lineup, fourth in home runs and somehow second in stolen bases.

Forget about that much-vaunted rotation whose collective ERA is well past the five-run mark and stands as the only staff in the American League without a complete game to its credit.

Forget the bullpen going 8-for-13 in save opportunities, five relievers joining forces to equal the output of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Instead, simply remember this: the Indians cannot continue to dominate the White Sox as they have thus far, and the Rays are not going to play .727 ball forever. But more importantly, remember that the Sox, all 18 wins and 25 losses of them, are 1.5 games ahead of last place. A game-and-a-half between being just another loser and being the absolute rock-bottom of a terrible, terrible division punctuated by a vicious, three-way battle of sub-.500 teams.

But if they don't win this week - and let's be serious, there's a very good chance they won't - it means the Chicago White Sox, even if only for a moment, were the worst club this awful year could produce. Some people root for their team to win; we, here, now, have been reduced to simply hoping they don't lose too often or, barring that, too badly. But hope can only carry a fan so far.

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Week in Review: Bruised. After sweeping a one-game series against Detroit, the Sox dropped both to the Angels and took two of three from the Marlins, although the 13-0 shellacking the Fish handed the Good Guys on Sunday will probably leave a mark.

Week in Preview: Daunting. Three against Cleveland, who are terrible yet against whom the Sox are 1-5, and four against the seemingly unstoppable Tampa Bay Rays.

Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Well, Joe Maddon, there's a guy who can beat you and you won't even know it. He might be over there signaling a guy to take a pitch, and the next thing you know, you look up and the Rays are in first place. And if our Sox can catch some of that, and I truly believe they will, then this is a first-place ballclub, no doubt. And that's all it is, it's taking those wins and turning them into taking winning pitches, because if you've got a guy throwing 95, 96, 97 miles an hour, you give him all the curveballs in the world, they're no good if the batter's just gonna take them. That's what makes these Rays so good, and that's why Kenny Williams built this team the way he did: to take winning pitches."

Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Gordon Beckham stolen bases, 2010: 3. Manny Ramirez stolen bases, 2010: 0, thus proving Beckham's superiority to the Dodgers slugger mathematically impossible to calculate.

Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox trade bait pitchers Clayton Richard, John Ely, and Gio Gonzalez combined for 21 innings pitched, three earned runs, and three wins Saturday.

The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Hardly. The Florida Marlins, who have no designated hitter, went 5-for-10 mostly using Jorge Cantu in the DH spot over the weekend while the Sox, who also have no designated hitter, got a 5-for-11 performance from the two-headed hydra of Mark Kotsay and Paul Konerko.

The Q Factor: Along the banks of the Cuyahoga River, Carlos Quentin examines the water rushing past him, seeking inspiration from its ebb and flow: Reflect nothing, but burn forever.

The Guillen Meter: With the Phillies reportedly interested in his closer and setup man, the Guillen Meter reads 3 for "You can have them both if you send back a cheesesteak cart."

Endorsement No-Brainer: Sunday's pitching performance for the March 19, 2005 issue of New Scientist: 13 Things That Do Not Make Sense.

Cubs Snub: The Cubs' website currently boasts a new slogan: "It's a Way of life," with the "W" taking the form of the victory flag so rarely flown over Wrigley Field. Also a way of life: third place and a losing record.

The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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The White Sox Report welcomes your comments.

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Andrew Reilly sets his watch this morning to a tributory Lima Time. He lives in Chicago.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

The Cub Factor

Just when we thought it was safe to not care.

Just when you were going to trade in your fungoes for hockey sticks.

Just when you thought you would spend a little more time in the backyard this summer.

Just then, the Cubs go ahead and win for a week.

Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean they are back in it. But it's enough to have to keep tuning in.

Three more of these weeks and you're going to have to pay attention the whole summer.

I don't think that's going to happen, but there are a few things this season that I didn't think would happen.

They say a blind squirrel can still find a nut and maybe this is what happened this week.

But seriously, how many people have ever seen a blind squirrel? A blind squirrel is not going to last long. They can't dodge traffic, know when to jump to the next tree branch, or stay far enough away from that kid next door that really isn't "all there."

So the Cubs aren't a blind squirrel. They are a well-fed, poorly conditioned, annoying squirrel that can dance. And who is not going to watch a fat squirrel dance, for at least a little while?

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Week in Review: The Cubs won five of seven, squashing a lot of fans' plans to not watch the 2010 season anymore.

Week in Preview: The Cubs come home for three games against both the Dodgers and Cardinals. With expectations back on the rise, expect to be angry at this team again by Thursday.

The Second Basemen Report: Six starts by new second basemanRyan Theriot this week and one by old second baseman Mike Fontenot. It seems the new, rock-solid starting second baseman is guy who was supposed to be the rock-solid starting second baseman two years ago. This only means that two years from now, Mike Fontenot will be the rock-solid second baseman. You know, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Jeff Baker, who used to be in the second-base mix this year, started in right field for the Cubs on Wednesday. He is missed, at second base.

The Zam Bomb: Will Big Z simulate anger during his simulated game? He may be returning to the rotation, but he's still getting angry.

zam_Boom.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Cubbieo no no watchy is Japanese for The Hawks are in the Cup.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Carlos Silva for not working out.

Sweet and Sour Lou: 30% sweet, 70% sour. Lou is up five points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to winning baseball, yet not as high as he should be due to the Cubs acquiring Bobby Howry. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou is happy you are making something of yourself and that you are moving into a nice house, but why did you invite your cousin Ray to come help move? He's going to at least break a lamp and will probably drink all the beer, and that is going to really bug Lou.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of junk bonds are in fashion this week.

Over/Under: The number of batters faced before Bobby Howry gets booed: +/- .5

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 Bobby Howry is a bad idea.

Agony & Ivy: It's a way of life.

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

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

Fantasy Fix: The season's biggest underachiever is neither Cub nor Sock.

The Mount Lou Alert System: Moves to yellow as cool winning steam breezes lower the core temperature of Mount Lou. But someone needs to clean up the place, Mount Lou looks terrible.

mtlou_yellow.gif

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:14 AM | Permalink

Daley's Gunbutt Diplomacy

You heard these here first!!:

QUEEGLINGS / The Canine Scrootening / GunButt Diplomacy

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DaleyTube 1.

DaleyTube2.

"If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. Let me put a round up your, you know . . . Maybe they'll see the light of day . . . Maybe one of them (the Supreme Court Justices) will have an incident, and they'll change their mind overnight, going to and from work." Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley / May 20, 2010

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Daley Apologizes, Second City Cop:

"Have you ever seen the look on some dork's face when he sees the bra advertisements in the Sears catalog? Or Butthead from Beavis & Butt-head grinning and chanting 'fire, fire fire!'"

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DaleyGun.jpg

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Captain Queeg:

"It quickly becomes apparent that Queeg is prone to eccentric behavior."

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The Mayor's the One Missing the Point

Posted by Mick Dumke on Fri, May 21, 2010 at 4:39 PM

"Mayor Daley wants to make one thing clear: it's my fault that he lost his cool yesterday and offered to sodomize and shoot me for asking a question about violence in the city. A little while ago the mayor told reporters that he was merely trying to teach a lesson to me and the rest of the press corps about how dangerous guns are, since it was clear from my question that we don't get it. 'I want to shock you, maybe scare you to realize, this is serious,' he said. 'I want you to be as passionate as I am.' Yesterday mayoral press secretary Jackie Heard put it more coherently, as she always does: 'The person asking the question was missing the point that unrestricted guns are a devastating issue.' Actually, they're missing the point, and they're of course doing it on purpose. They want to miss the point. You don't have to fire a gun to shoot the messenger."

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Aggravated Assault, Second City Cop:

"Leaving aside the fact that he stopped making sense by the fourth line, did he just threaten to stick a rifle up a reporter's ass? That's Aggravated Assault . . . At the very least, Shortshanks ought to be in for a 72-hour evaluation."

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Mayor Daley Regrets . . . Huffington Post:

"There's no better illustration of his intolerance for debate, dissension, and transparency than his decision to hold a gun up and joke about shooting a journalist."

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Police Officer Slain As The Mayor Embarrasses Himself And His City, John Kass:

"A reporter asked the obvious question: Given the numbers of shootings in the city, isn't the handgun ban ineffective?The question was more than fair. In Chicago, the only people who are confident in their 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms are the criminals, the cops and the politicians . . . Confronted with a logical question, here's what the mayor did: He picked up a rifle from the prop table of guns, raised it and began to babble. 'It's been very effective,' said Daley of the handgun ban. 'If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. Let me put a round up your, you know.' The mayor of Chicago then went on to say if the justices were attacked by thugs with guns, they'd see things his way. 'Maybe they'll see the light of day,' Daley said. 'Maybe one of them will have an incident, and they'll change their mind overnight, going to and from work.' . . . Daley has been a bully his entire life, a child of muscle and privilege, and now he's terrified at the prospect that his citizens might think he's lost control of the streets. The police despise him. Their department is terribly understaffed and overworked. Taxpayers want more cops. But there's no money for additional police because Daley wasted it all, hundreds of millions of dollars year after year after year on deals for his cronies."

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The [Friday] Papers, Steve Rhodes:

"As I was thinking about how to write-up today's column about the latest goofiness from our mayor, my mind drifted back to last night's episode of Real Housewives of New York City. Stay with me on this. The 'housewives' finally realized last night that castmate Kelly Bensimon is stone-cold crazy. Now, I've never thought that Richard M. Daley was crazy. Just venal. And when I first read about his 'joke' - or whatever it was - about putting a rifle up Reader reporter Mick Dumke's butt yesterday and pulling the trigger, well, I just figured it was Daley being Daley. You know, an asshole. But the rest of the mayor's comments make less sense than Bensimon thinking her fellow housewives are channeling Satan and trying to kill her . . . The Daley Show. It really isn't funny.."

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DaleyDevil2.jpg See enlarged image

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WitchHuntDaley2.jpgSee enlarged image

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Astra2.jpgSee enlarged image

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

May 22, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

We're still hoping we won't have to publish this report for another six years or so. But just in case . . .

Market Update
You know, in about 12 to 15 years people are going to realize this whole complex mess could've been avoided if we'd just trusted the righteous God of Free Market Economics like our forefathers intended.

Blown Star
If the above scenario seems frightening, take heart. Analysts are quick to point out no one learns much of anything in Texas public schools anyway.

Stroke of Bad Luck
Investigators this week have discovered a hole spewing poison into the heart of one of our most treasured national institutions. Oh, and that thing in the Gulf is apparently pretty bad, too.

City of Big Shoes to Fill
The City of Chicago has acknowledged this week that it is named in a lawsuit brought by high-end luggage maker Coach. "Look at the bright side," city Department of Law spokeswoman Melissa Stratton was quoted as saying. "At least a recognizable name in the industry is giving our city the time of day again."

Eyes in the Skies
Meanwhile, despite the well-publicized loss of the 2016 Olympics, the Windy City remains determined to transform itself into London one surveillance camera at a time. However, city hall officials concede we might still be spared certain indignities.

Lo-Cannes Do
Finally this week, Lindsay Lohan magically escaped arrest by claiming her father stole her passport thereby preventing her return trip to Los Angeles from Cannes for a mandatory court date. The actress' representatives say she will appear in court on Monday, however, provided her dog doesn't eat her return ticket.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Dog eat dog.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:17 AM | Permalink

May 21, 2010

The [Friday] Papers

As I was thinking about how to write-up today's column about the latest goofiness from our mayor, my mind drifted back to last night's episode of Real Housewives of New York City.

Stay with me on this.

The "housewives" finally realized last night that castmate Kelly Bensimon is stone-cold crazy.

Now, I've never thought that Richard M. Daley was crazy. Just venal.

And when I first read about his "joke" - or whatever it was - about putting a rifle up Reader reporter Mick Dumke's butt yesterday and pulling the trigger, well, I just figured it was Daley being Daley. You know, an asshole.

But the rest of the mayor's comments make less sense than Bensimon thinking her fellow housewives are channeling Satan and trying to kill her.

Consider:

DUMKE: You talked about the gun violence that still has gone on but the gun ban here is still in effect so how effective has it been? People still have guns.

DALEY: It's been very effective.

Huh?

Now, if Daley wanted to say, "Look, violence in the city would be even worse if you could buy guns just down the corner," he could try to make that argument. He might be asked to supply some evidence, but still.

Instead, Daley said this: "If I put this up your - heh - your butt - heh, heh - you'll find out how effective this is. If I put a round up your - heh, heh."

I understand that Daley was trying to evade the question, but just play along for a second: How in the world would firing a round up Mick Dumke's ass show how effective Chicago's gun ban is?

(God, Mick, me and every other reporter in town envies you to the hilt for being the subject of such a question. I gotta start going to these things and get me some of that . . .)

Okay, now let's give the mayor the benefit of the doubt - a bad joke, let's say - and move on to the serious portion of his comments.

"This gun saved many lives - it could save your life."

Isn't that an argument against you, mayor? If that gun has saved many lives - and could save ours - shouldn't we be allowed to have it by our side in our own home? Instead, you took the gun off the street!

"We save all these guns that the police department seizes, you know how many lives we've saved? You don't realize it. First of all, they're taking these guns out of someone's hands."

So you're saying that taking that gun off the street is what's saved lives.

But then how does this make sense?

"You have to have confidence in the Supreme Court. Maybe they'll see the light of day. Maybe one of them will have an incident and they'll change their mind overnight, going to and from work."

I guess that means that maybe a justice will be shot and they'll decide to allow cities to ban guns. Or it could mean they'll wish they had a gun to defend themselves. After all, they say a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

Or maybe they'll stick a rifle up Mick Dumke's ass and fire a round just to see what happens. Maybe Mick is channeling Satan and trying to kill them.

Curiously, neither the Tribune nor the Sun-Times named Dumke in their reports about the incident, nor the possible latent hostility Daley could be feeling toward Dumke and the Reader for blowing the cover off the mayor's shadow budget and parking lease mayhem.

Later, propaganda minister Jackie Heard made a fool of herself because of her inability to simply admit that her tyrannical boss said a stupid thing.

"Asked about the mayor's remark later," the Sun-Times reports, "mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard said Daley was somewhat exasperated because 'the person asking the question was missing the point that unrestricted guns are a devastating issue' for Chicago.'"

Huh? So the problem was Dumke's exasperating failure to understand that the all-knowing mayor's point of view was unassailable fact that ought not be questioned?

"To illustrate the point," Heard continued, "he offered what admittedly could be considered a less than ideal example, but it's one that is a stark reminder of how destructive gun violence has been."

A stark reminder of how destructive a gun up your butt could be?

The Tribune added this from Heard: "I think he hasn't thought twice about it. Since the moment he left (the news conference), he has been on to the next thing and the next thing, because that's how his life is."

How in what way? Say stupid things and move on?

It's all very ha-ha until you realize that it's impossible to have a reasonable discussion with this man. He's not only banned guns in Chicago, he's banned democracy. No questions allowed or he'll pop a cap in your ass. (How does the mayor spend his time while on the job? None of your business.)

"Daley has been a bully his entire life, a child of muscle and privilege, and now he's terrified at the prospect that his citizens might think he's lost control of the streets," John Kass writes today.

"The police despise him. Their department is terribly understaffed and overworked. Taxpayers want more cops. But there's no money for additional police because Daley wasted it all, hundreds of millions of dollars year after year after year on deals for his cronies."

What BGA executive director Andy Shaw writes today in the Sun-Times about the upcoming Blagojevich trial is just as apropos about the Daley administration:

"For a 'culture of corruption' to survive and thrive, as it has here in Illinois, you need enablers who aid the perpetrators, minions who go along to get along and a cast of inside characters who know that something's amiss but do nothing about it . . .

"Until more people say 'enough is enough' by quitting or blowing the whistle or telling the emperors they have no clothes, the corruption will continue.

"So enjoy the perverse entertainment value of the Blagojevich trial, if you must. It's hard to resist. But don't forget the incredibly high stakes: The fragile fabric of a political system that's been tattered and torn from years of neglect and abuse - a system in desperate need of heroes to join the restoration effort."

You could say the same thing about The Daley Show. It really isn't funny.

Lobby Farm
Illinois taxpayers paid lobbyists nearly $6.4 million to influence their own state government last year.

Triple Crown Trough
Blame stupid humans - not the horses - for a 32-year drought.

Roeper's Games
"For real people who bet enough to expose themselves to both thrill and heartache, gambling is work," our very own David Rutter writes. "Gambling without real risk is a joke. Hubert and Fats weren't joking."

American Craft Beer Week
Featuring the goals and ideals of our country.

Song of the Moment
Heaven and Hell.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ideal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Video Reports From American Craft Beer Week

Congress finally does something right.

"While most of Washington was focused on Tuesday's election results, the House was busy doing something else: Passing a resolution about beer," Politico reports.

"House Resolution 1297, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Markey, supports 'the goals and ideals of American Craft Beer Week.'"

Thank you, American Craft Beer Week. For those about to drink, we salute you.

1. Black Fox.

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2. Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter.

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3. Collaboration beers.

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4. Beer Expedition.

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5. Fresh New Zealand Hops, Limited Release.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Heaven and Hell

We finish Dio Week here at the Beachwood honoring the late, great Ronnie James Dio with a look at a song that is purportedly his favorite - and ours. It was from his debut with Black Sabbath, after the departure of Ozzy Osbourne, and it was a classic, crystallizing the morality play of our existence that marked Dio's lyrics through his career.

Released: 1980

Length: 6:59

Label: Vertigo/Warner Bros.

Charts: No. 81 on VH1's list of the top 100 hard rock songs.

Black_Sabbath_Heaven_and_Hell.jpgWikipedia: The music was written mainly by Tony Iommi, but credit is given to the entire band. The lyrics were written entirely by Dio. In Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, Dio explains the song is about how every individual has "heaven and hell" inside him or herself, as well as the ability and the choice whether to choose good or evil.

AllMusic: After Ozzy Osbourne left the mighty Black Sabbath, they hunted down Elf singer Ronnie James Dio and tried their hand at making an album with him. Bassist Geezer Butler stepped aside as head lyricist for the first time in a decade and allowed Dio to pen his own songs, which drastically changed the direction of the band and affected them years after Dio had moved on to do solo work.

"Heaven and Hell" is one of the first songs they ever collaborated on, and the result is one of the best songs they managed to muster in their post- Ozzy years.

Lyrics:

Sing me a song, you're a singer
Do me a wrong, you're a bringer of evil
The devil is never a maker
The less that you give, you're a taker
So it's on and on and on, it's heaven and hell, oh well

The lover of life's not a sinner
The ending is just a beginning
The closer you get to the meaning
The sooner you'll know that you're dreaming
So it's on and on and on, oh it's on and on and on
It goes on and on and on, heaven and hell
I can tell, fool, fool!

Well if it seems to be real, it's illusion
For every moment of truth, there's confusion in life
Love can be seen as the answer, but nobody bleeds for the dancer
And it's on and on, on and on and on . . .

They say that life's a carousel
Spinning fast, you've got to ride it well
The world is full of kings and queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams
Its heaven and hell, oh well

And they'll tell you black is really white
The moon is just the sun at night
And when you walk in golden halls
You get to keep the gold that falls
Its heaven and hell, oh no!

Fool, fool!
You've got to bleed for the dancer!
Fool, fool!
Look for the answer!
Fool, fool, fool!

Video:

1. Studio version.

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2. Live in Chicago, '83 bootleg, presumably Ian Gillan on vocals.

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3. Live, 2007.

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4. Rob Halford steps in on the Ozzy (short-lived) retirement tour.

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See also:
- Dio in Chicago
- 666 Words For Ronnie James Dio
- The Tao of Ronnie James Dio

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Comments welcome.

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Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Triple Crown Trough

Just as no baseball fan really expects to see a player hit for the triple crown anymore, so it probably also goes in Thoroughbred horse racing.

Super Saver's eighth-place finish behind Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness Stakes (Grade I) Saturday assured that another year will pass since Affirmed last won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1978. That capped off a golden era in the 1970s that also saw Seattle Slew rule in 1977 and the immortal Secretariat make it his own in 1973.

Big Red's mastery came 25 years after Citation in 1948; there were four TC winners in the 1940s. Currently, we're in a 32-year drought.

Calvin Borel and Super Saver put up a game effort, well positioned coming into the turn, but when it came time to hit the gas, Super Saver was empty. So exhausted he ran nearly sideways entering the stretch while looking for a hole to shoot. Three big races in five weeks did him in.

Finally getting a decent post position, Lucky, the seven horse, ran free and easy on the backstretch, rating just off longshot First Dude, before he and Caracortado overtook that one and Super Saver. But First Dude fought gamely after setting most of the pace and hung on for second. Jackson Bend got up for third, just edging Illinois Derby bridesmaid Yawanna Twist. You wonder if Lucky could have won the Derby had he drawn a decent post position in that race, too. He seems the toughest of the three-year-old bunch.

With the thoroughbreds so lightly raced now, the common argument is that no horse will have enough foundation to be able to go the three big races in five weeks, topped off by the 1.5-mile Belmont. That's got to be partially true, but in my relatively short time in this game, I've seen the people screw up more than the horses.

Gary Stevens still laments that "he never saw him coming" when his Silver Charm was beaten by Touch Gold in the 1997 Belmont.

More recently, Funny Cide deviated from his usual M.O. in 2003 and got loose on the lead in a quick pace in a wet Belmont. Jose Santos said Funny didn't handle the wet track well, and you could tell Funny Cide just tried to run right through the adversity. You wonder if Santos could have held him back more for the stretch run.

The closest I ever saw to a Triple Crown winner was Smarty Jones the following year. To this day, I blame second-tier, or maybe third-tier, jockey Stewart Elliott for his inexperience at Belmont, not having enough "clock" in his head to understand just how big a track is The Big Sandy and not feeling the mile-and-a-half around Belmont.

Coming into the Belmont undefeated, the first since the Slew, Elliott failed to understand the enormity of the effort as he tagged right along with Purge and Rock Hard Ten, running about as fast on the backstretch, they say, as Secretariat did. It looked as if Elliott thought he was at Oaklawn in the Arkansas Derby and most of us watched in horror as he used up Smarty just about from the full backstretch on.

Birdstone, the little Grindstone colt bred for such a race, took the Belmont at 35-1, stunning the crowd into both anger at Birdstone and at Elliott. Birdstone owner Mary Lou Whitney and jockey Edgar Prado just about apologized for winning, feeling they had deprived the world of a Triple Crown.

And not only did Elliott lose the Triple Crown, he really killed my exacta that day. To make matters even worse, it was the last race Smarty Jones ever ran. He was retired soon after with "bruised ankles" and, as with Ghostzapper and Afleet Alex in more recent years, fans were deprived of yet another chance to watch a potential superstar.

Barbaro in 2006 looked like he might be able to do it, with a combination of size and speed, but his tragic Preakness took care of that. Big Brown, maybe, but he had bad feet. Don't be disappointed in 2010. It didn't really appear any of this year's three-year-olds had what it took to win the Crown.

NBC Hype Machine
Reporting and researching must be really hard. But I don't think hype is

NBC talks the talk and strings the violins in touting its horse racing coverage on TV and on its site, but they don't really walk it.

Once again, their coverage Saturday was horrible. Understandably, they launched coverage with features on Super Saver, Calvin Borel, and trainer Todd Pletcher. You know, Todd finally reaching the pinnacle of the Derby and Calvin born in the swamps and dropping out of school. That kind of stuff.

Cut to commercial. And when they return, they do it all over again!

Then they run a snippy sound op with D. Wayne Lukas telling everyone how he is still relevant on the biggest stage.

Kent Desormeaux was criticized heavily for allegedly easing Paddy O'Prado, or perhaps just not being astute enough to realize Ice Box was coming in the Kentucky Derby and sacrificing second place.

Bob "The Raven" Costas got to him in the jock's room and both asked and answered his own questions about that and Ol' Kent's mysterious, still unexplained easing of Big Brown in the Belmont. Costas looked like he was prepping him for testimony in front of the grand jury. It wasn't pretty. Even Desormeaux seemed to be thinking "Why am I even here?"

Meanwhile, they payed absolutely no attention to track conditions or biases or the undercard, completely blowing off coverage of the Dixie Stakes while they were on the air. Bang-bang: Dixie goes off and they cut to commercial.

Also, once again, no odds. It didn't matter to me as I had the BozoPuter fired up and was looking at real-time odds all afternoon.

And another significant story was the rekindling of the "party" atmosphere in the Pimlico infield through the Maryland Jockey Club's "Get Your Preak On" marketing campaign. Maryland racing, in such dire straights, decided it would provide all-you-can-drink beer for $20 after curtailing festivities in the past couple of years as the rowdies took over. Take away the beer and attendance dropped. It might not have been pretty video, but it was a story nonetheless.

With friends like this, horse racing could really use a TV network.

Epilogue
Who do they think this guy is? Frank Sinatra?

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Thomas Chambers is our main on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

Lobby Farm

Public Bodies Spent Nearly $6.4 Million Lobbying State Government; CTA topped the list in spending, but private sector spending is a secret

Taxpayers paid lobbyists nearly $6.4 million to influence their own state government last year, but the money spent by cities, counties and other public bodies is just a fraction of the total spending on lobbying by the public and private sectors.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's (ICPR) annual survey of local governments and public agencies found 119 units of government contracted with 85 lobbyists or multi-member lobbying firms and paid them a total of $6,364,860.08 in FY 2009. The total is nearly the same as the FY 08 spending and is up 23.6 percent in comparison to the $5 million identified in the FY 07 survey.

The biggest spender was the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which spent $385,345 to hire six lobbying firms. A total of more than $1 million was spent by the four Chicago area mass transit agencies - the CTA, the Regional Transportation Authority, Metra and Pace.

"It's important for the public to know how much their governments are spending on contract lobbyists and what those lobbyists are doing to influence state government," said Cynthia Canary, Director of ICPR. "Because those contracts and invoices are public documents, we do know who is getting paid and how much. In some cases, we also can learn a little about the issues they are trying to affect.

"The public also should know what the private sector is spending to lobby state government, but the state's lobbyist laws keep that information hidden from public view," Canary said. "Other states and the federal government require much more information be reported by the private sector, but Illinois lobby laws keep the public in the dark."

The ICPR survey was conducted by requesting the contract information through the Freedom of Information Act, which was strengthened by reforms that took effect after the survey period of July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. One out of 10 surveyed governments missed the deadline for providing documents.

The complete survey, including the identity of lobbyists and contract amounts for each of the governments, is available at www.ilcampaign.org.

The findings include:

* Lobbying fees paid by governments and public agencies ran from a low of $750 per month to the $18,500 monthly fee paid by the Chicago Transit Authority to a consortium of three lobbying firms under joint contract.

* The five units of government paying the most for lobbying services were the CTA, DuPage County, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority ("McPier"), Metra and the City Colleges of Chicago. The five spent a total of $1.3 million on lobbyist contracts, which is 20.8 percent of the total costs identified in the survey.

* Three small Cook County suburbs reported spending far more on contract lobbyists than the City of Chicago. The Village of Bellwood spent $138,500 with four lobbyists or firms; the Village of Crestwood spent $120,000 with one firm; and the City of Countryside spent $90,000. The City of Chicago reported spending $84,000 with one lobbying firm, but city officials said they did not have a contract on file with a second firm that reported Chicago as one of its clients.

* Fifteen public community colleges and universities spent more than $1 million with lobbyists on contract. The City Colleges of Chicago spent the most, contracting with four lobbying firms for a total of $190,986.

"Compared to disclosure requirements for lobbying the federal government and many other states, the Illinois Lobbyist Registration Act is extremely weak," said David Morrison, Deputy Director of ICPR. "There are few disclosure requirements in Illinois law, and enforcement is deficient at best. Even some local governments, including the City of Chicago, require more information from those registered to lobby city government."

The full report is now posted at http://tinuyrl.com/Illinoislobbyists.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

Roeper's Games

On March 28, the Sun-Times published an excerpt of columnist Richard Roeper's then-forthcoming book, Bet The House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance.

"I've been on a professional lucky streak for nearly my entire career - something I try to remember always," Roeper wrote. "Sometimes I get irritated when people say, 'Must be nice to watch movies for a living." [I want] to sit down with these people and tell them about all the hours I put in doing behind-the-scenes work. I want to invite them to watch crappy movie after crappy movie in a dark screening room in the middle of the day. I'd like to explain to them the challenge isn't writing A column, it's writing a column every day, four or five times a week, for 20 years. I'd like to make them understand that between the column and the blog and the Twittering and the Facebooking, the book projects and the TV show I'm trying to put together, the meetings and the screenings and the appearances and the speeches and the guest shots on radio and TV, it feels like I'm never not working.

"And then I realize I should shut the f*ck up."

When a columnist and his accomplice newspaper write this sort of self-referential claptrap, two things are immediately obvious from the reader-columnist transaction.

First, under no circumstances in this space time continuum is this writer ever going to "shut the f*ck up" or even "shut the fuck up." Because that might require some period of quiet self-reflection and introspection which we all know is a waste.

Second, we owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Sun-Times for saving us from that awful word with the cleverly prophylactic "f*ck", a collection of letters than essentially cannot be pronounced in any other way than "fuck."

Let's all have a group wink-wink, say-no-more moment of self-recognition here.

As a writer, Roeper is a cheap date who occasionally delivers, and I sincerely hope that cheap dates don't take offense at being lumped in with Roeper. The thinking-to-drivel ratio on his Sun-Times work is about one in 10, which might be a function of being stretched too thin in The Roeper Media Empire. Thinking takes time. Glibness is not a counterweight to insight.

In this media landscape, maybe we shouldn't complain because, after all, we are the ones who put up with it.

But I digress.

Only because I have a passing interest in gambling (though no skill), I read the book as a community service on the off chance it was a whiz-bang potboiler that no one should miss. Maybe I could send a "must-read" message to my friends and relatives.

Not so much.

Indeed, this book mostly is like everything that Roeper writes, which means words sometimes resonate with tinny clanging and cheap puns that are not even awful enough to be fun.

But mostly, he defies the one element of serious gambling that I know to be true because I have seen it up close and frontally. Real gambling is exciting and exhilarating at a cellular level because it is perilous. That's why it becomes a compelling addiction.

Yet, against all odds (a Roeper-style pun), Richard Roeper has managed to take a modest amount of money in real gambler terms, pretend that gambling at a $1,000-a-day clip for a month is high drama, and produce a treatise that is incomprehensibly, thuddingly dull.

Or maybe it's only that Roeper is dull. He even announces that if he wins, he'll give some of the proceeds to charity, which immediately characterizes this as a sham. No one who legitimately gambles is going to give anything away, because it's hard work. Also, he's too cheap even to go all in.

So, he flips coins, bets the NCAAs, plunges on any form of gambling that a bookie can broker and even takes a trip up to Kenosha for a day with the dogs.

To all of this, Roeper doesn't ever seem emotionally welded enough to the topic or the people embedded in it for him to notice that the entire premise is cheesy. People are losing their homes and their jobs and Roeper's societal impulse as a writer is to pretend he's a gambler.

If you have enough time with Google, you can find out every fact Roeper apparently knows about real gambling.

For example, if the crowd at Dairyland Dog Track was 300 on the day he attended, and Roeper kept making $100 bets to win, it's that very bet that changed the pari-mutuel odds. He turned dogs into favorites. He wasn't the observer of any phenomenon. He was the cause of it.

In another passage, he rattles off the blackjack sequence in several dozen deals. It's like sitting with your kid and playing "War" for an hour.

If the concept of this book makes some sense, there are better ones. In fact, former Wall Street Journal reporter Andres Martinez did a better one on the exact same premise (24/7: Living It Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegas) with $50,000 and five weeks in Vegas. It's as superficial as Roeper's try, but at least it's frantic and lunatic in equal measure. Or maybe Michael Craig's The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time.

Or consider this:

In 1968 or so, I was allowed into a bar in Johnston City, Ill., where Rudolph Wanderone, the real Minnesota Fats, was testing Hubert "Daddy Warbucks" Cokes, in a game of eight-ball. Before the feds shut it down some years later, the annual soirees in Johnston City were quite the resplendent gambling summits. I learned to drink good Scotch neat in Johnston City.

I had grown up at a local newspaper in Evansville, Ind., and one of my regular over-the-phone sports department duties was supplying Hubert with his daily fix of horse race results off the clanking wire machine in our office. I was pretty sure what he was doing was illegal, and what I was doing was similarly risky. But Hubert had once shot a man in his Evansville home and was rumored to have gotten away with homicide because the man "accidentally" bled to death before an ambulance got there. So I decided that it was better for Hubert to be my friend than my enemy.

For six hours, Hubert and Fats played for $1,000 a ball. Everyone in the room - except for me because I was a kid and too poor to be flamboyant - gambled feverishly.

As memory serves, Hubert was a big winner. Hubert and Fats both sweated like farm animals for the entire six hours. Fats never stopped talking, and Hubert launched the evening by handing his shoulder holster and .38 Smith & Wesson to his driver.

For real people who bet enough to expose themselves to both thrill and heartache, gambling is work. Gambling without real risk is a joke. Hubert and Fats weren't joking.

The difference, one supposes, is whether investment in a book about gambling should reflect a desire to understand more about human peril, if not humanity. Even dilettantes like Roeper should have some higher goal.

But what do I know? Maybe I should just shut the f*ck up.

-

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

-

Also by David Rutter:
* The Lords of Ireland.

* Speaking of Notre Dame . . .

* Scheduling Notre Dame.

* Spade Robs Farley's Grave.

* Gov. Fester.

* Black Talks, Zell Walks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

May 20, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

Due to some nitwit at Speakeasy, we've had an e-mail disaster here at Beachwood HQ. I'll be spending much of my day trying to restore order and plotting revenge. The Beachwood will return on Friday, unless apprehended.

The [Wednesday] Papers
"It makes me wonder if any politician or elected official can get a fair trial," Betty Loren-Maltese writes in a post called "Fair Trial For Blago?" on her new blog.

"What type of peers of Blago's will sit on the jury? Will the system find a suitable cross-section of Illinois politicians who can understand how things are done in this state and judge Blago fairly according to those standards?"

In other words, a jury of Blago's political peers would never convict him! Priceless.

*

Yes, I will give credit where credit is due. I learned of BLM's blog from Sneed. Who learned of it from BLM.

*

BLM's blog appears at KTF Media Group. How it came to be is, um, fascinating.

"I have recently made the decision to be a literary contributor to KTF Media Group because of some common experiences that I happen to share with the Publisher, Mr. Joseph Fosco, and part-time contributor Conrad Black," she writes in her introductory post. "All of us have suffered (in some cases considerably) from victimization by the law or the underworld - and, in some cases, by both.

"The Chicago Outfit has victimized Mr. Fosco. The entire judicial branch of the Northern District of Illinois, including the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, has victimized Mr. Black. Both of these entities have hijacked my life in the past, and I know how difficult and painful it is to go on living after this kind of persecution. I hope I am able to exorcise some of these demons here, much like Mr. Fosco has done, and contribute to the social and political well-being of the greater Chicagoland area."

*

Who is Joseph Fosco?

"Growing up on the west side of Chicago, where Oak Park, Chicago, River Forest and Elmwood Park meet, positioned me near several of the biggest Outfit families in American history," Fosco said in an interview posted on his site. "To my misfortune, I had actually met some of them and/or their immediate family members in a number of social settings in our community. I am certainly not alone, as many law-biding citizens have been exposed to the same group of people in the community."

Fosco, of course, got himself into a little bit of a jam, see.

But this is my favorite part of the interview:

"In the early part of 2005, [Dr. Joseph L.] Giacchino insisted that I take some 'sample' medication to calm down a bit prior to having lunch with Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

"Giacchino had me driven to Tuscany Restaurant in Oak Brook and persuaded me to say a litany of things that I cannot remember today because of the medication that I was on at the time.

"All I seem to remember at this time is that Kass became very uncomfortable when he realized that Giacchino bought our lunch with his credit card, especially since Giacchino was not present.

"Today I believe that Giacchino was hoping my public antics, coupled with our close relationship, would spook the Outfit from continuing to do business with him. I am not sure if it was a good idea or not.

"However, the attention from the Family Secrets case apparently produced an opportunity for Giacchino to cut down on his payroll.

"No doubt, Giacchino's gold-digging wife, Maria Luisa Gil-Giacchino, certainly found new uses for the influx of cash resulting from this reduction in mob pay out."

(I couldn't find a Kass column mentioning Fosco or Giacchino.)

Lo and behold, Kass actually wrote about Giacchino just last Friday.

*

The KTF in KTF Media, by the way, stand for Keys To Faith.

*

"There are conflicts, overlaps, subplots, and Machiavellian chicanery everywhere [in Chicago]" writes KTF's Conrad Black.

"Another interesting current legal initiative is the personal campaign of Joe Fosco, scion of a Teamster union family once associated with the Capones, to recover blackmail money he claims was extorted from him by the mob and to establish his good name. He is fighting a lonely battle against public- and private-sector interests who are not accustomed to being treated as if they were accountable."

From the Tribune, September 2009:

"Reputed mobster Rudy Fratto has been charged with tax evasion in a new federal case, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division said Tuesday. Fratto, 65, of Darien, has previously been identified by authorities as a lieutenant in the mob's Elmwood Park street crew. New information filed in federal court alleges that Fratto failed to report nearly $200,000 in income in 2005.

"Fratto this year was among the targets in a civil racketeering claim filed by Joseph Fosco, son of the late Teamsters treasurer Armando Fosco, who alleged that Fratto, reputed Chicago Outfit figure John 'No Nose' DiFronzo and others tried to extort $400,000 from him. Lawyers for the men have contested the suit. An attorney for Fratto was not immediately available Tuesday to address the new criminal case."

Bayless Tweetless
"Rick Bayless, the Chicago superstar chef, was Twittering from the White House kitchen about today's Obama White House state dinner honoring Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Until the Tweets stopped. The White House kitchen is for cooking, not Tweeting," the Sun-Times reports.

"The White House press operation wanted to downplay the glamor aspect of the state dinner; these are tough economic times."

So instead of canceling glamorous state dinners given the economic times, the White House just doesn't want you to know they're going on without - and despite - you. Talk about focusing on image over substance.

"The White House at first was keen on limiting reporting opportunities from the state dinner, but Tuesday eased up on a restrictions. Michelle Obama and Mrs. Zavala will visit an elementary school in the Maryland suburbs of Washington with students from Central and South America on Wednesday morning. That is the picture of the day the East Wing wants."

And then the president will go back to lecturing the media for being easily manipulated by photo ops and frivolity.

Junk It
This story about Spain by Lori Rackl of the Sun-Times was paid for by Spain.

The Palin Exception
Sexism only matters when you're liberal.

Facebook Follies
Repeatedly alienating your own customers is no way to run a business.

The Tao of Dio
No one ever told him life was kind.

Baseball's Biggest Underachiever
Is neither a Cub nor a Sock.

Toddler Going Out With A Bang
"A FOX Chicago News investigation has uncovered even more '24-9' contracts handed out by the office of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. In all, Stroger's office issued eight contracts on April 22-- all for $24,995, and all signed by embattled Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Oglesby."

-

"One contract went to Prentiss Harris, who's part of a rap duo called 'Dude N Nem.' You can find his videos on YouTube, but his company 'Citymerge' is a little harder to locate. When FOX Chicago News went to one address on Harris' contract, we found an empty lot."

*

This isn't bad, though:

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Dude.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

May 19, 2010

The [Wednesday] Papers

"It makes me wonder if any politician or elected official can get a fair trial," Betty Loren-Maltese writes in a post called "Fair Trial For Blago?" on her new blog.

"What type of peers of Blago's will sit on the jury? Will the system find a suitable cross-section of Illinois politicians who can understand how things are done in this state and judge Blago fairly according to those standards?"

In other words, a jury of Blago's political peers would never convict him! Priceless.

*

Yes, I will give credit where credit is due. I learned of BLM's blog from Sneed. Who learned of it from BLM.

*

BLM's blog appears at KTF Media Group. How it came to be is, um, fascinating.

"I have recently made the decision to be a literary contributor to KTF Media Group because of some common experiences that I happen to share with the Publisher, Mr. Joseph Fosco, and part-time contributor Conrad Black," she writes in her introductory post. "All of us have suffered (in some cases considerably) from victimization by the law or the underworld - and, in some cases, by both.

"The Chicago Outfit has victimized Mr. Fosco. The entire judicial branch of the Northern District of Illinois, including the United States Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit, has victimized Mr. Black. Both of these entities have hijacked my life in the past, and I know how difficult and painful it is to go on living after this kind of persecution. I hope I am able to exorcise some of these demons here, much like Mr. Fosco has done, and contribute to the social and political well-being of the greater Chicagoland area."

*

Who is Joseph Fosco?

"Growing up on the west side of Chicago, where Oak Park, Chicago, River Forest and Elmwood Park meet, positioned me near several of the biggest Outfit families in American history," Fosco said in an interview posted on his site. "To my misfortune, I had actually met some of them and/or their immediate family members in a number of social settings in our community. I am certainly not alone, as many law-biding citizens have been exposed to the same group of people in the community."

Fosco, of course, got himself into a little bit of a jam, see.

But this is my favorite part of the interview:

"In the early part of 2005, [Dr. Joseph L.] Giacchino insisted that I take some 'sample' medication to calm down a bit prior to having lunch with Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.

"Giacchino had me driven to Tuscany Restaurant in Oak Brook and persuaded me to say a litany of things that I cannot remember today because of the medication that I was on at the time.

"All I seem to remember at this time is that Kass became very uncomfortable when he realized that Giacchino bought our lunch with his credit card, especially since Giacchino was not present.

"Today I believe that Giacchino was hoping my public antics, coupled with our close relationship, would spook the Outfit from continuing to do business with him. I am not sure if it was a good idea or not.

"However, the attention from the Family Secrets case apparently produced an opportunity for Giacchino to cut down on his payroll.

"No doubt, Giacchino's gold-digging wife, Maria Luisa Gil-Giacchino, certainly found new uses for the influx of cash resulting from this reduction in mob pay out."

(I couldn't find a Kass column mentioning Fosco or Giacchino.)

Lo and behold, Kass actually wrote about Giacchino just last Friday.

*

The KTF in KTF Media, by the way, stand for Keys To Faith.

*

"There are conflicts, overlaps, subplots, and Machiavellian chicanery everywhere [in Chicago]" writes KTF's Conrad Black.

"Another interesting current legal initiative is the personal campaign of Joe Fosco, scion of a Teamster union family once associated with the Capones, to recover blackmail money he claims was extorted from him by the mob and to establish his good name. He is fighting a lonely battle against public- and private-sector interests who are not accustomed to being treated as if they were accountable."

From the Tribune, September 2009:

"Reputed mobster Rudy Fratto has been charged with tax evasion in a new federal case, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division said Tuesday. Fratto, 65, of Darien, has previously been identified by authorities as a lieutenant in the mob's Elmwood Park street crew. New information filed in federal court alleges that Fratto failed to report nearly $200,000 in income in 2005.

"Fratto this year was among the targets in a civil racketeering claim filed by Joseph Fosco, son of the late Teamsters treasurer Armando Fosco, who alleged that Fratto, reputed Chicago Outfit figure John 'No Nose' DiFronzo and others tried to extort $400,000 from him. Lawyers for the men have contested the suit. An attorney for Fratto was not immediately available Tuesday to address the new criminal case."

Bayless Tweetless
"Rick Bayless, the Chicago superstar chef, was Twittering from the White House kitchen about today's Obama White House state dinner honoring Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Until the Tweets stopped. The White House kitchen is for cooking, not Tweeting," the Sun-Times reports.

"The White House press operation wanted to downplay the glamor aspect of the state dinner; these are tough economic times."

So instead of canceling glamorous state dinners given the economic times, the White House just doesn't want you to know they're going on without - and despite - you. Talk about focusing on image over substance.

"The White House at first was keen on limiting reporting opportunities from the state dinner, but Tuesday eased up on a restrictions. Michelle Obama and Mrs. Zavala will visit an elementary school in the Maryland suburbs of Washington with students from Central and South America on Wednesday morning. That is the picture of the day the East Wing wants."

And then the president will go back to lecturing the media for being easily manipulated by photo ops and frivolity.

Junk It
This story about Spain by Lori Rackl of the Sun-Times was paid for by Spain.

The Palin Exception
Sexism only matters when you're liberal.

Facebook Follies
Repeatedly alienating your own customers is no way to run a business.

The Tao of Dio
No one ever told him life was kind.

Baseball's Biggest Underachiever
Is neither a Cub nor a Sock.

Toddler Going Out With A Bang
"A FOX Chicago News investigation has uncovered even more '24-9' contracts handed out by the office of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. In all, Stroger's office issued eight contracts on April 22-- all for $24,995, and all signed by embattled Deputy Chief of Staff Carla Oglesby."

-

"One contract went to Prentiss Harris, who's part of a rap duo called 'Dude N Nem.' You can find his videos on YouTube, but his company 'Citymerge' is a little harder to locate. When FOX Chicago News went to one address on Harris' contract, we found an empty lot."

*

This isn't bad, though:

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Dude.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 AM | Permalink

Facebook Follies

I was on a panel recently when a question about the future of Facebook came up and I said that Facebook was actually vulnerable to a challenge because their glitchy technology and ongoing privacy snafus have alienated so many of their users.

Since then, I've collected these developments:

1. Facebook Calls All Hands Meeting On Privacy.

"Facing increasing pressure from the media and users, Facebook has called an all hands meeting tomorrow afternoon, at 4 PM Pacific, to discuss the company's overall privacy strategy according to sources inside the company. Facebook has come under increasing scrutiny for a number of reasons and many were left with a sour taste in their mouth following a New York Times reader Q&A with Elliot Schrage, the company's Vice President for Public Policy," All Facebook reported.

"While it's unknown what Facebook will announce during the meeting, it's pretty obvious that changes will need to be made if Facebook is going to regain users' trust. The most likely change will come in the form of a temporary removal of the 'Instant Personalization' service, or at the least, a shift to 'opt-in', something many privacy advocates have been calling for."

2. Four Nerds and a Cry to Arms Against Facebook.

"How angry is the world at Facebook for devouring every morsel of personal information we are willing to feed it?" the New York Times reported.

"A few months back, four geeky college students, living on pizza in a computer lab downtown on Mercer Street, decided to build a social network that wouldn't force people to surrender their privacy to a big business. It would take three or four months to write the code, and they would need a few thousand dollars each to live on.

"They gave themselves 39 days to raise $10,000, using an online site, Kickstarter, that helps creative people find support.

"It turned out that just about all they had to do was whisper their plans."

3. Protect Yourself Against Facebook's New Hacker Path.

"Facebook had its third alarming bug in as many weeks, when a security researcher showed how a hostile website could obtain your Facebook information via Yelp," Gawker reported. "The hole is supposedly fixed, but then so were the prior two."

4. EU Is The Latest To Criticize Facebook's Privacy Changes.

"Poor Facebook. It's in the midst of a very loud uprising by the tech elite over its latest batch of privacy changes - and it's still being criticized for the changes it made way back in December," paidContent reported.

"Those changes meant that users could no longer restrict access to some basic information - like what pages they liked and who their friends were - and had less control over what information about them was shared via the Facebook API. Not okay, according to the European Union's Article 29 Working Party, which issued a scathing letter today (via the FT) calling the changes the site had made 'unacceptable.'"

5. From my Facebook feed:

"[User's] Posts are mysteriously disappearing off my page."

Comment: "I like the party analogy at the end, that FB is acting like the drunk spoiling everything rather than just being a good host and getting out of everyone's way."

6. Looking to Delete Your Facebook Account? You're Not Alone.

"Over the past 24 hours, searches related to deleting Facebook accounts have been some of the top trending items on Google," the Wall Street Journal reported.

7. From my Facebook feed:

"[User] So by selecting not to link to various pages/sites pertaining to my profile info (e.g., schools, favorite movies, etc.), most of my info got deleted. What's up with that?"

Comment: "Mine did too! Son of a Facebook."

8. MySpace Introduces New Un-Facebook Like Privacy Settings.

"Can MySpace (NYSE: NWS) benefit from Facebook's recent privacy woes? The company is updating its privacy settings to make them not Facebook-like; new privacy settings will be 'simpler' and 'more intuitive' - a contrast to Facebook's settings which have been criticized for being too complex," paidContent reported. "Specifically, MySpace says users will now be able to easily control who can access all of the content on their profiles. The site previously had more granular settings but few were using them."

9. From my Facebook feed:

"[User] As of today, there is a NEW Facebook PRIVACY setting called 'Empty My Bank Account' that takes all the money from your bank account and it is automatically set to 'Allow.' Go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications & Websites> Empty My Bank Account, and uncheck 'Allow'. If your friends don't do this, you can laugh at them. COPY & REPOST THIS!!!

Also:

"[User] joined the group Petition: Facebook, respect my privacy!"

Also:

"WTF is up with FB tonight? My responses to people are showing up under other peoples' updates/comments. If my comments are showing up under your entries making no sense whatsoever, I'm totally not on drugs or drunk tonite. It's totally FB's fault."

10. ReclaimPrivacy.org | Facebook Privacy Scanner

"This website provides an independent and open tool for scanning your Facebook privacy settings. The source code and its development will always remain open and transparent."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:28 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix

I was in the mood to pick on someone, so I decided to go back and look at my pre-season top 40 fantasy baseball picks to see who would qualify as the biggest under-achiever of the group. It had to be someone who hasn't spent extensive time on the disabled list, which ruled out guys like Ian Kinsler, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jimmy Rollins, whose low numbers reflect far fewer games played.

Mark Teixeira looked like a candidate until the last week or so, when his bat really came alive. What about Ben Zobrist, the 2B/SS/OF, whose position eligibility and multi-category HR/RBI/SB/AVG studliness made me list him at No. 34? He had 0 HRs though Tuesday and just 16 RBIs with a .266 AVG. He was redeemed somewhat by his 6 SBs, but has otherwise been a huge disappointment.

Then I stumbled upon Grady Sizemore, the Cleveland centerfielder who was considered one of the most productive leadoff men in baseball just a few years ago. Sizemore's power and speed combo kept him listed in the top 40 in many drafts his year despite an injury-plagued 2009. I had him listed at No. 31, but through Tuesday, he had 0 HRs, 13 RBIs, just 4 SBs and a.211 AVG.

Congratulations, Grady, you're the biggest bust of the year so far.

So, should you keep Sizemore if you have him?

I tend to look at June 1 as the deadline for guys to start pulling their weight, regardless of pre-season rank.

Having said that, last year I dropped Troy Tulowitzki on June 1 when he was hitting .218, and he went on to have a MVP-like season. Do what you have to do.

-

It's Week 7 in the fantasy baseball world, and Grady Sizemore better take the hint.

-

Fantasy Find of the Week: Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto.

A guy with 11 home runs should not be a secret at this point, but Bautista remains only 48% owned in Yahoo! leagues. He is hitting .241 at a pretty deep position, but with 4 HRs and 8 RBIs last week alone, and a little bit of position flexibility, it might be time to buy.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota.

He has been looking more like teammate Joe Mauer lately, hitting .545 last week with 4 HRs and 8 RBIs.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee.

Braun was looking brawny just a couple of weeks ago, but a 3-for-17 stretch with no HRs or RBIs last week no doubt dimmed the prospects of many a fantasy team.

Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Javier Vazquez, SP, NY Yankees.

He started horribly this year in his second stint with the Yankees after a winning tour of the National League last year. Interleague match-ups over the next week, beginning with a scheduled start against the Mets Saturday, give him a shot at redemption.

Expert Wire
* Roto Arcade has a piece on the No. 2 pre-season fantasy player, Hanley Ramirez, who was held out at least one game for "doggin' it." Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez will not get much love from fantasy leaguers, regardless of how selfish his top player sounds.

* CBSSports.com takes a look at players with lofty prospects as interleague play begins this week. Interleague plays means nothing but confusion in fantasy baseball corners. You've got healthy DHs not playing, random National League utility men getting more at-bats than they will get the rest of the year - I don't like change.

* Bleacher Report asks if Aramis Ramirez is back to his old self after a walk-off homer Monday night. Wrigleyville denizens and fantasy owners sure hope so.

* Bleacher Report reports on two promising Detroit Tigers - SP/RP Max Scherzer and 2B Scott Sizemore - being sent to the minors. Scherzer used to have one of the fantasy world's best strikeouts-per-nine innings and strikeouts-to-walks ratios, but has lost his touch this year.

* USA Fantasy WindUp loves SP Mat Latos, even though he spells his name weird. Latos has been flying off the waiver wire in a lot of leagues, which will happen when you don't give up a run for 18 innings and counting.

-

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 12:31 AM | Permalink

The Tao of Ronnie James Dio

Between the velvet lies
There's a truth that's hard as steel-yeah
The vision never dies
Life's a never ending wheel

- Holy Diver

*

You're just a picture - just an image caught in time
We're a lie - you and I
We're words without a rhyme

- Rainbow in the Dark

*

Hanging from the cobwebs in you mind
It looks like a long, long way to fall
No one ever told me life was kind
I guess I never heard it, never heard it all

- Straight Through the Heart

*

We pray to someone
But when it's said and done
It's really all the same
With just a different name

- We Rock

*

Come down with fire
Lift my spirit higher
Someone's screaming my name
Come and make me holy again

- Man on the Silver Mountain

*

Kneel and behold your new king
Digital dreams
And wonderful things to tease you

- Killing the Dragon

*

All the smiling faces
Promising the sun
Another way of breaking you down

- Feed My Head

*

If you listen to fools
The mob rules

- The Mob Rules

*

The world is full of kings and queens
Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams

- Heaven and Hell

*

See also:
- Dio in Chicago
- 666 Words For Ronnie James Dio

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

The Palin Exception

One thing I learned this week - well, I re-learned, I've faced it before - is that sexist coverage of female politicians is an awful thing unless the pol is Sarah Palin. Then it's perfectly acceptable to at least a certain number of progressive feminists in and out of the media.

Why? Because if you despise someone's politics, they apparently no longer can be defended on any other grounds. Apparently it was always about politics, not principle.

So when I posted Reporting Palin, I shouldn't have been surprised by the depressing responses I got from some quarters.

As I've written before, the whole of America seems to need a civics lesson in how to carry on political discourse, decipher the media, and learn to think for themselves like the actual, independent citizens that democracy calls for.

And much of the media still needs lessons in how to do their jobs.

Here is the simple proposition I was operating under:

"Sexist coverage of Sarah Palin is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Laura Bush, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Michelle Obama, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Kay Bailey Hutchison, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Nancy Pelosi."

How silly of me. Haven't I learned by now of the Palin Exception?

Her politics are so despised - in part justified in my view, but also in part based on a lot of debunked nonsense akin to Al Gore's never-made claim to have invented the Internet - that certain principles go out the window.

But she has a right to her politics. She also has a right to covered fairly - even if she, like many other politicians, including our president, doesn't always play fair. Make that part of the reporting, but don't demean her because of her gender.

Just to reiterate, here is just a slice of the record.

1. "From Ferraro to Palin: Sexism in Media Coverage of Vice Presidential Candidates." By Caroline Heldman, Occidental College.

"We find persistent gender differences in mention of dress/appearance, mention of candidate family, gendered policy coverage, and negative tone that disadvantage female candidates. Additionally, female candidates are four times more likely to receive sexist media coverage, and the intensity and volume of sexist coverage increased dramatically from Ferraro's run in 1984 to Palin's run in 2008. We also compared Palin's coverage in Old Media (print) and New Media (blogs) and found that sexist coverage and negative coverage are more pronounced in this new medium."

2. "Like Hillary, Sarah Faces Media Sexism." By Marie Cocco.

"[T]he media will continue to subject Palin to the unapologetic sexism that has been directed at her since the very first hours after John McCain announced that she was his pick to be the Republican vice presidential nominee - and which continued to animate coverage of her, right up through a lengthy political profile in the current issue of Vanity Fair.
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"Almost as certain, my colleagues will seek to defend the indefensible as something Palin brought upon herself - by being too ignorant, too unpredictable, too touchy, too hypocritical, too loose with facts, too inept at governing, too flirty, even too obviously fertile. Yes, this is one of the assertions made in the Vanity Fair profile . . .

"Almost as soon as she'd finished her breakthrough speech at the Republican National Convention, one columnist for the liberal online magazine Salon called Palin a 'dominatrix' and a 'pinup queen,' referred to her 'babaliciousness' - and described her convention address as having been charged with enough sexual energy to give the partisan crowd a 'collective woody.' Another Salon columnist described Palin as a 'Christian Stepford wife in a sexy librarian costume" who was, for the most ideological Republicans, a 'hard-core pornographic centerfold spread.'

"Palin early on was called 'Stepford Barbie' and 'Caribou Barbie' - terms used even by highbrow commentators, who find it acceptable to liken Palin to the impossibly proportioned fashion doll. The Barbie epithet marked Palin as an object of sexualized fashion fascination well before it came to light that the vice presidential nominee had used Republican Party funds to buy an expensive campaign wardrobe."

3. "Media analyst sees racism, sexism in election coverage." By Holly Jackson.

"Audible gasps filled Ellis Auditorium at MU on Tuesday night, as Pozner played a clip featuring CNBC talk show host Donny Deutsch saying Palin was a woman he wanted to lie next to in bed and Clinton should have put on a skirt."

4. "Geraldine Ferraro Accuses Media Over 'Sexist' Scrutiny of Sarah Palin." By Tom Baldwin.

"Ms Ferraro remains angry at the 'sexist treatment' of Mrs Clinton by the media. 'In New Hampshire, someone put up a sign saying Iron My Shirt. Nobody spoke out. Imagine if Hillary's supporters had said [to Obama] Shine my shoes. Everybody would quite rightly have been jumping on it. Women in politics should not be treated better than men, just fairly.'"

5. "Estrich On Sexist Attacks On Palin." By Jim Lindgren.

"Susan Estrich, former Dukakis campaign manager, just said on Fox that she was appalled by the attacks on Palin [and called them] 'really unfair' and 'really sexist.'"

6. "Juan Williams: 'Centerfold' Palin Successful Because She's Attractive." By Lachlan Markey.

"Fox News contributor Juan Williams, also a reporter for NPR and the Washington Post, was at a complete loss when Sean Hannity told him last night that he would rather Palin be president than Barack Obama. 'Your libido is getting in the way of your thinking,' Williams told Hannity . . . 'I think she is a superstar centerfold for conservative men.'"

7. "Clinton Aides: Palin Treatment Sexist." By John Harris and Beth Frerkring.

"Sarah Palin found some unlikely allies Wednesday as leading academics and even former top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed the Republican charge that John McCain's running mate has been subject to a sexist double standard by the news media and Democrats.

"Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen, who has written best-selling books on gender differences, said she agrees with complaints that Palin skeptics - including prominent voices in the news media - have crossed a line by speculating about whether the Alaska governor is neglecting her family in pursuit of national office.

"'What we're dealing with now, there's nothing subtle about it,' said Tannen. 'We're dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes . . . '

"* Liberal radio host Ed Schultz used the words 'bimbo alert' to refer to Palin, and the Huffington Post featured a photo montage of Palin with the headline, 'Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?'

"* CNN's John Roberts recently pondered on air: 'Children with Down's syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?'

"This line of inquiry was echoed by writer Sally Quinn, who in her 'On Faith' column for washingtonpost.com agreed that Palin is a 'bright, attractive, impressive person," but also asked, "is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job?'

"'Her first priority has to be her children,' Quinn wrote. 'When the phone rings at 3 in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make?'"

8. "'No One Will Ever Be Able to Take Your Place' as a Mom." By Richard Prince.

"'My question to Sarah Palin is this. Who is going to lead your children?' Sidmel Estes-Sumpter, a media consultant and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists, asked on her blog on Friday.

"'I get it when you say you have a supportive husband who is always there for you. I get it when you complain that men aren't subjected to the same kind of questioning as women when it comes to family values. Been there . . . done that . . . got the t-shirt. But Sarah . . . GET REAL. No one will ever be able to take your place as a mother. I'm telling you this not because of what I have heard. I'm telling you this because this is what I know.

"'More than 17 years ago, I was elected the national president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). . . the first woman in our organization to accomplish that. The biggest heartstring pulling at me was how it would affect my two year old son. That consideration almost forced me not to run.'"

9. "Newsweek Cover Races To The Bottom With Old Photo Of Palin." By Glynnis MacNicol.
palin2.jpg
"The weekly magazine, which since its relaunch has opted for increasingly blogosphere-like headlines to generate readers, apparently has decided that the best way to cover Sarah Palin's reemergence on the national stage is with an old photo from Runner's World . . . But resorting to a photo like this (and yes I realize she posed for it, though in an entirely different context) to illustrate such a condescending headline forces me conclude that Newsweek thinks Palin is an annoying little problem because she looks good in runner's shorts, and not a problem because, as both the magazine's articles suggest, she is the 21st century's version of Barry Goldwater, and has broad national appeal for a whole slew of reasons, very few of which having to do with how she looks in runner's shorts."

10. "Biden's Gloves Come Off . . . Against 'Sexist' Media." By Matthew Jaffe.

"[T]he truth is, some of the stuff that the press has said about Sarah, and that others have said about the governor, I think, are outrageous," Biden said. "I just think some of the stuff said has been over the top, totally unfair, and has been sexist, and I think the way the governor has handled it has been admirable."

11. "Matthews: Palin Like A 'Mail-Order Bride.'" By Ed Morrissey.

"No one will be surprised to see Matthews do this, but having Newsweek's Howard Fineman busting a gut and joining in the fun may be a bit of a surprise."

12. "From Gloria Steinem to Norah O'Donnell, Misogyny and Sexism Are Fine if the Target (Palin) Is on the Right." By Julia Reed.

"Blogs accused her of faking her own pregnancy with a Down syndrome child to cover up for her daughter. Mainstream journalists - female mainstream journalists - like Norah O'Donnell questioned whether a mother of five could effectively function as vice president. More piled on about her irresponsibility in accepting the nomination with five children, including one with special needs. Alan Colmes suggested on his blog that her airplane travel had possibly contributed to the fact that her child was born with Down syndrome. It went on and on and on. Where was the feminist outcry?

"Plenty of Republican women were sickened over the treatment of Hillary Clinton (hell, even I cried at the video that introduced her convention speech), but there has been no reaching across party lines to defend Palin. Not even when Martin Peretz dismissed and demeaned her by saying, 'I give [Palin] her due: she is pretty like a cosmetics saleswoman at Macy's.'"

13. "Eric Zorn's Sexist Folly." By Steve Rhodes.

"The Tribune columnist today retells the jokes of late-night comics about Sarah Palin without any recognition of how offensive many of them are."

14. "Palin as Pinup." By Steve Rhodes.

"I'm not sure what to do first, re-read Freud or call Susan Faludi."

*

Again, my simple proposition is this:

"Sexist coverage of Sarah Palin is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Hillary Clinton, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Laura Bush, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Michelle Obama, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Kay Bailey Hutchison, which is every bit as despicable as sexist coverage of Nancy Pelosi."

But when it comes to Palin, well, a lot of "progressive" women (and liberal reporters) simply don't care.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

May 18, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

"In another development Monday, prosecutors disclosed that onetime Blagojevich adviser Tony Rezko had begun cooperating with the government in July 2008 - the month after Rezko was convicted on charges he used his influence in Blagojevich's administration to benefit himself and his associates," the Sun-Times reports.

And yet, numerous reports over the last few weeks have stated that Rezko will not be called as a witness at Blagojevich's trial. Why not?

The media isn't saying.

For example, the Sun-Times reported on April 15 that "Tony Rezko, the once prolific fund-raiser and friend of President Obama, is unlikely to be called as a witness in Rod Blagojevich's trial, sources say."

Why not? Didn't say.

The Tribune reported on April 23 that "Rezko, a top fundraiser for Obama and Blagojevich, is cooperating in the case against the former governor" but that "sources have said Rezko has not been prepped by prosecutors to testify in the case, and that the government has not made a decision on calling him."

Why not? Didn't say.

Other reports have repeated the contention that prosecutors haven't prepped Rezko for a court appearance, though the Trib also reported that a "defense filing makes it clear that the Blagojevich camp is confident Rezko will take the stand as 'one of the government's main witnesses.'"

On May 1, the Sun-Times reported that "The Blagojevich defense team also wanted Obama to testify about his relationship with corrupt businessman Tony Rezko, who has been cooperating with authorities since his 2008 conviction on corruption charges involving state business under the Blagojevich administration," but that "sources said it's unlikely that Rezko will be called as a witness, despite his cooperation with the government."

Why not? Didn't say.

On May 2, Mark Brown wrote that "As it happens, there is every indication the U.S. attorney's office does not plan to use Rezko as a witness against Blagojevich, despite continued defense assertions to the contrary. Prosecutors, who have questioned Rezko's truthfulness on other matters themselves, appear to have built their case around other witnesses, even on matters directly involving Rezko."

We can infer from that that prosecutors aren't confident in Rezko's truth-telling. We can also infer from some of the most recent reports that putting Rezko on the stand could open the door to forcing testimony from Obama. But inferring is not knowing. Perhaps Rezko's credibility would be savaged given his own conviction - or the fact that he has yet to be sentenced. Or maybe prosecutors don't want to jeopardize Rezko's testimony and/or cooperation in other ongoing investigations.

We can infer all we want, though; it would be nice for reporters passing along what their sources tell them to also explain what their sources are telling them - or to simply acknowledge that they have been unable to unearth just that.

After all, the absence of such a major figure as Rezko from the witness stand is immensely curious - and immensely newsworthy.

Antti's Army
"When Antti Niemi was working as a goalie for a second division team in Finland, he made extra money by driving the Zamboni at a local rink," AP reports.

"'That's how he paid his bills,' recalled Bill Zito, his Chicago-based agent."

Oil Slick
Fixing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill the Chicago Way.

Heaven and Hell
Ronnie James Dio in 666 Words.

Tootsie Roll's Sweet Deal
"All that Tootsie Roll Industries Inc.'s Ellen and Melvin Gordon brought with them to Chicago Congressman Dan Rostenkowski's Washington, D.C., office 20 years ago was a bag of their company's signature candy, but they walked away with a deal that's the envy of the candymaking world," Crain's reports.

"The Gordons won an exemption from a tariff that nearly doubles the cost of imported sugar for other U.S. candymakers. It's a financial advantage that rivals can only seethe over."

Here is the video report:

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Mine That Gap
"How would you fill the 76-foot-deep hole meant for the Chicago Spire?"

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Testify.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Fixing The Oil Spill The Chicago Way

From dolphins with mops to a series of nuclear explosions, everyone seems to have a solution for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico except BP. Here are ours, straight outta Chicago.

* Bribe the oil spill. It's the Chicago Way.

* Threaten the oil spill with an opponent in the next election. It's the Chicago Way.

* Offer the oil spill a place in the Daley administration - or perhaps on the bench - in exchange for dropping out of the Gulf. It's the Chicago Way.

* Whack it. It's the Chicago Way.

* Dolphins with wires. Every oil spill should know by now to always behave as if other spills are wearing wires, yet they keep spilling. It's the Chicago Way.

* Allow the spill to replace itself after the election with its less illustrious kin. It's the Chicago Way.

* Propose toothless oil spill reform to pretend the problem has been addressed and move on. It's the Chicago Way.

* I know the oil spill is important, but somebody just fired a shot through the window of my campaign office!

* Challenge the oil spill's ballot petitions. It's the Chicago Way.

* Co-opt the spill by funding it forever on subsistence wages and false hope. It's the Chicago Way.

* Organize the Independent Reform Organization (IRO) out of ex-cons and city workers to represent the interests of the oil spill while pretending the goal is to clean it up. It's the Chicago Way.

* Create a TIF district that will reward BP with future tax revenues to improve its spill while depriving the rest of the Gulf of public investment. It's the Chicago Way.

* Gerrymander a congressional district around the contours of the oil spill and send a Machine pol to Washington as its representative. It's the Chicago Way.

* Create a media strategy for the oil spill that will have the rest of the world crowing about the greatest oil spill ever even as Gulf residents suffer. It's the Chicago Way.

* Millennium Oil Spill Waterpark. Because it's a complicated project put together in a hurry, only no-bid contracts will suffice. It's the Chicago Way.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood reader Mark:

* Get Rahm Emanuel to bully the spill into capping itself. Plenty of dead fish to send as a message.

* Put up a new blue-light camera. Maybe the spill wouldn't be so cavalier if it knew the CPD was watching.

* Promise the spill a spot on the clout list to get upgraded to a more prestigious body of water. You like the Caribbean? Stop leaking now and we'll put Arne Duncan's initials next to your name.

* Despite all the money and effort expended thus far, this well just refuses to shut up and do what it's supposed to do. Maybe it's time to consider moving it to the bullpen as an 8th inning setup man.

* Install a new parking paybox in the Gulf. Now the spill can only stay for two more hours or the city will come cap it with a boot.

2. From Spencer Maus:

* Tax the residents of the Gulf Coast, since this is free oil.

* Send in Jon Burge and his team to handle it.

* Blame the whole thing on Asian Carp chewing a hole in the pipe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:03 AM | Permalink

666 Words For Ronnie James Dio

I.

Here's the thing about the devil horn salute Dio made famous: it wasn't a devil horn salute at all, but an Italian gesture of safety meant to ward off evil spirits. When normal, less-cultured men throw the horns, they mean it as a way of calling out to Satan; when Dio did it, he did it because he loved you.

*

II.

Most purists forget this, but Sabbath's last days with Ozzy were musically actually quite awful, as both 1976's Technical Ecstasy and 1978's Never Say Die! had reduced even the mighty Butler/Ward/Iommi juggernaut to a caricature of itself. But Dio's huge voice, more operatic and melodically flexible than Ozzy's, gave the band an entirely new instrument to write for and in turn gave new life to the kings of the undead. Certain corners of the Sabbath universe lament the prime Dio years only producing two proper albums, but those people are looking at things the wrong way: that lineup only needed two albums. If Dio doesn't leave Sabbath after Mob Rules, we as a species suddenly find ourselves denied "We Rock," "Evil Eyes," and "Lock Up the Wolves" and that, simply put, is not a world in which any of us should have to live.

*

III.

Do you know why dragons, wizards, swords and mythical demon-beasts are metal? Because Dio came along and said they were, and we should all be thankful for that, lest cars and casino fires still be held up as the gold standard of where the devil's music can and should find inspiration.



*

IV.

Dio wasn't the first to write about those wonderbeasts and dream worlds, he simply penned classic after classic about those mythical beings because he thought they were interesting, and at the same time made those things cool in the process. Yes, they were ridiculous. Yes, the idea of a grown man running on stage holding a sword over his head was laughably stupid. That didn't matter. Dio loved those things, and he was going to do whatever he wanted whether you liked it or not, and in the end spectacle and conviction won out over fashion and common sense. He never sold out, never bowed to trends and famously threatened to destroy the master tape of 1983's Rainbow in the Dark because he thought it was too poppy. Years later, people wrote songs about wonderbeasts and dream worlds because Dio had already blazed that trail, and made it all look so awesome along the way; witchcraft and wizardry were just part of the drill, but the real challenge was seeing how far anyone would dare take them after Dio had already proven the only way to not look ridiculous was to in fact be Dio. Lesser bands tried, and those lesser bands failed.

*

V.

In 2001, Tenacious D's excellent tribute song "Dio" playfully proposed that Dio was by then too old to rock; considering the man was 59 years old, you could forgive people for thinking that was the joke. Except if you actually saw the man in action around between then and now, either with Black Sabbath's surprisingly earth-moving reformation as Heaven & Hell or with his eponymous band hitting the road for a fantastic tour with Iron Maiden and Motorhead in 2003, you found yourself understanding that the fundamental question the D was trying to sidestep was not "why does he do it?" but rather "how does he do it?" Most men would have been too worried about shattering their arthritic hips to kick out "Holy Diver" at that age; Dio, slyly laughing in their faces, threw caution and Father Time to the wind.

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DCLXVI.

Somewhere beyond the gates of Babylon, a mighty beast takes flight from its mountaintop perch, vainly seeking shelter knowing full well its assassin is about to come riding over the horizon. A million suns set, a cold wind blows, and from up on high a thunderous voice echoes forever on, a guiding light across the endless midnight sea. Dragons beware.

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See also:
* Dio in Chicago.

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Andrew Reilly stands up and shouts for many fine publications, including this one. Visit him at andrewreilly.org.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

May 17, 2010

SportsMonday: Way Out West

They pulled it off.

It was audacious and then some to pack for an extended stay on the West Coast when the Hawks traveled to Vancouver for Game 6 of their second-round NHL playoff series last week. By all accounts the local hockey organization made it clear to the team that they were to be prepared to stay in the Pacific time zone for far longer than it would take to play the potential deciding game of the series.

Beachwood Baseball
  • The Cub Factor.
  • The White Sox Report.
  • Agony & Ivy: A way of life.

  • In other words, they assumed they were going to beat Vancouver (and avoid Game 7 back in Chicago) and then settle in near San Jose. They already knew the Sharks would be hosting the first two games of the Western Conference final.

    I mean, I don't think I have to believe in superstitions to be confident that there is a fine line between being prepared and sure of yourself and . . . calling down the biggest jinx in hockey history.

    Also, the Hawks knew the next series wouldn't start for a handful of days after the one with the Canucks concluded. Especially considering how well they played after their two flights to Vancouver in the second series, why not come back to Chicago for a couple days and then head out to San Jose?

    Now, initially we didn't know about the trip to Alcatraz (two days before the series opener, the whole squad toured the former island prison in the San Francisco Bay that used to hold all sorts of delightful criminal characters). And apparently that was a historically good team-building exercise.

    Actually, what that was a masterstroke by coach Joel Quenneville. In this era of so many professional teams believing the only way to maximize performance is coaches spending ever more ludicrous amounts of hours at the office and athletes engaging in more and more offseason "voluntary" workout regimens, it was great to see a team go the other way.

    With the pressure on to finally start a series successfully (knowing it would be a lot tougher to win four of six games after an opening game loss against the ultra-talented Sharks than it had been against Nashville or Vancouver - against both of whom the Hawks concluded series' by winning four out of five), the Hawks took a break. And it was a refreshed team that pulled off a classic hockey playoff win Sunday afternoon.

    So now it is the Sharks who will have to win four of six, at minimum, to win this series .

    Oh by the way, from his teammates' comments, it seems pretty clear professional instigator and winger Adam Burish was fortunate to make it out of that Alcatraz place with his freedom intact.

    And given how well he played Sunday, netminder Antti Niemi must have been inspired by something out on the island. Perhaps he envisioned himself as a guard?

    There are some similarities there, although those guys were obviously more focused on keeping people in cages rather than keeping pucks out.

    Now, if ever a team was going to be confident about a result on the road, it was the Hawks going into that Game 6 against Vancouver. The Canucks didn't just lose Games 3 and 4 on home ice, they were defeated physically and mentally. They were psyched out early and eventually overwhelmed by so much Blackhawk talent.

    But still, this is hockey we're talking about. This is the sport where you don't just expect the unexpected, you bank on things happening like the Eastern Conference final, where the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Flyers actually have the home ice advantage (and used it on Sunday in a 6-0 series-opening victory over Montreal).

    So what happened? The Hawks went out and laid an even worse whuppin' on the Canucks than they had in either of the games in the middle of the series. The 5-1 triumph. Wow. It is hard not to be ultra-confident about this team heading forward. At least until they head back to home ice, where they have been almost as bad as they've been good on the road. But that's still way out in the future. First we will revel in Tuesday night.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    1. So, um, the Hawks cheated . . .

    2. Dio in Chicago. The world is full of kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.

    3. Reporting Palin. Please don't user her gender, her accent or her leather jacket against her.

    4. In criticizing Highland Park school officials, deep thinker Richard Roeper compares Arizona's new law regarding suspected illegal immigrants to dumb, archaic laws like a requirement in Florida that the doors of all public buildings open outwards (which might actually be a safety requirement, but who knows.)

    It wouldn't be so funny if a member of the Highland Park girls basketball squad was discovered to be undocumented after getting stopped by the Arizona cops while the team was there for a tournament.

    Look, it's not unreasonable for Highland Park officials to want to protect the liberty of possibly undocumented players who could be on the team next winter. The issue is the ham-handedness of how those officials have handled this.

    This decision shouldn't have been made in private by a tiny group without input from students and parents. A range of solutions may have come to the fore. And everyone involved could have deciphered what this was really about - safety, politics or both. The team may have decided, in fact, to make a political statement. Nothing wrong with that. A team with black players may have chosen to forego a tournament in Alabama back in the day when those players would have had to stay in separate quarters. Or to protect their very lives. So let's not be flip about this.

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    Comments:

    * A Beachwood reader writes:

    Yes, that crazy law Roeper talks about with doors opening outward is hilarous - um, except that in Chicago we have the same law for theaters after the 1903 Iroquois fire where 600 people died because the doors opened inward. Mr. Chicago should read up on his Chicago history.

    * Another Beachwood reader writes:

    Of course it's a safety reason! At the Iroquois Theater, all the doors opened inward, that's why all the bodies were found piled up in front of the doors.

    I also seem to remember that the doors at Our Lady of the Angels school might have been inward opening. But the fact that the fire department's ladders were too short & the idiot nuns keeping the kids in the rooms to pray also were major factors there.

    Go into any school today & you'll see that not only are the classroom doors opening outward, but the doors are recessed into the wall so that when they open up, no one in the hall will cause it to close just by walking by.

    I guess Roeper's contract precludes editing!

    5. So, in other words, there were no AK-47s.

    6. Sorry to rain on the Tribune's parade, but their editorial on Sunday bragging about the paper's efforts to get Abraham Lincoln hardly reflected well on itself.

    "Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's nomination to be president and, we think, a perfect moment to publish this photo," the paper says.

    "That was Lincoln with his favorite newspaper - this one - on his lap.

    "Yes, Lincoln was a loyal subscriber. And, not to brag, but this paper did have something to do with his convention victory in 1860.

    "But, ah, about that photo? It's altered. Lincoln actually held a German anti-slavery newspaper, not the Tribune.

    "We're chalking that one up to a little overzealous marketing by then-Tribune managing editor and co-owner Joseph Medill, who shared an intense common cause with his famous subscriber - abolishing slavery."

    Altered photos, so funny! Of course, if that was in today's blogosphere, we'd get a lecture about how upstanding the old-fashioned press was/is.

    And abolishing slavery? Always hard to tell if that was Lincoln's passion - he famously said he'd rather save the union instead.

    "Medill spared no newsprint or superlative in promoting Lincoln for president."

    Sounds like Daily Kos.

    "For nearly 163 years, this newspaper has fought for causes - and candidates - we believe in."

    Or more like, causes that Col. Robert R. McCormick once believed in, and the causes that suburban Republicans now believe in. But is that really the role of a newspaper? Or should a newspaper fight for its greatest cause - that of journalism? No favor to any party, dedicated only to truth, honesty, transparency, accountability.

    Here's what else the Tribune is proud of:

    "Sen. William Seward of New York was the heavy favorite. But Lincoln had Chicago's political muscle - and its finest mischief-makers - behind him. Including Medill, of course.

    "And they made no little plans."

    They were cliches before their time.

    "Lincoln supporters poured into the city, courtesy of special cheap rail fares engineered by Lincoln's men. No tickets to the convention? No problem. Counterfeit convention tickets were printed on local presses - history doesn't record whose (but we can guess) - and handed out to Lincoln boosters.

    "Lincoln's men also forged signatures for special Seward cheering-section tickets and recruited 'idlers, who for a modest fee or just for fun, agreed to be at the Wigwam before the Seward men,' the Tribune reported in 1960."

    Only a hundred years late!

    "'When the latter appeared, they were refused admittance because their places had been taken by the holders of fake tickets.'

    "That morning, Medill pulled what he later called 'the meanest trick' of his life.

    "He gerrymandered the Seward-voting New York delegates into a far corner of the convention floor, where they couldn't easily be heard - remember, there were no microphones in 1860. One account admiringly reported that 'Lincoln's organizers had recruited 1,000 of the loudest shouters in the state' to drown out the competition.

    "The ploy paid ear-pummeling dividends. Cincinnati newspaperman Murat Halstead wrote that when Lincoln's nomination was seconded, 'the uproar was beyond description. Imagine all the hogs ever slaughtered in Cincinnati giving their death squeals together, a score of big steam whistles going ... and you conceive something of the same nature.'

    "Seward led on the first ballot that day, but fell short of enough votes to clinch the nomination. On the second, Lincoln gained votes. On the third, Lincoln needed just 1 1/2 votes to win. That's when Medill raced over to the Ohio delegation, which had been supporting favorite son Salmon P. Chase.

    "'If you can throw the Ohio delegation to Lincoln, Chase can have anything he wants,' Medill promised delegation leader David Cartter, without authority to actually deliver anything. Cartter climbed onto his seat and declared the switch of four votes to Lincoln. (Footnote: Chase did eventually become Lincoln's secretary of the treasury.)"

    Is that really something for a newspaper to be proud of? The Tribune should have been exposing such chicanery, not participating in it.

    Yet, the paper today remains shockingly proud of its antics, concluding:

    "Sometimes, we'd add, facts aren't enough. Sometimes, history needs a shove. We're sure Medill would agree."

    As would the zealous sectors of the blogosphere that the MSM so likes to castigate.

    7. Alcatraz made all the difference for the Hawks yesterday.

    8. Lou Piniella and Carlos Zambrano both scheduled to lose their minds this week.

    9. The Sox will get three clinics on winning organizations this week.

    10. Exile on North Ave.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Heaven and hell.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    Reporting Palin

    Readers of this site know that I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Sun-Times reporter Abdon Pallasch. He's one of the city's best reporters and I've stated before that he could be even better if his employer was a bit more savvy about its operation. But I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with Pallasch about his defense on Sunday of his account last week about Sarah Palin.

    In a vacuum, some of what Pallasch wrote would be true. But he's missing, in my view, the context in which his reporting appeared. And in some cases, I just think he's wrong.

    Let's take a look.

    "I've been attacked by conspiracy theorists of the left and right this past week - like most weeks," Pallasch writes to open his piece.

    By classifying critics of his reporting as conspiracy theorists, he marginalizes those - including me - who saw his description of Palin's appearance just the latest example of the media's sexist and patronizing prism through which they view her. I'm sure many conspiracy theorists voiced their complaints to Pallasch, but to not acknowledge that some complaints came from, for example, offended women is offensive in itself.

    "Mentioning that Sarah Palin wore a leather jacket, a short black skirt and her hair down when she spoke in Chicago on Wednesday before a massive American flag proves I'm a chauvinist or a liberal because I'd never mention what President Obama wears or his hair!" Pallasch wrote.

    His defense:

    "When Obama introduced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential nominee in Springfield, I noted both men were dressed casually in shirt-sleeves. I wrote that Obama wore suits made by Hartmarx in Des Plaines and that the company might be closing. Nobody complained."

    First, the media's obsession with appearance is in itself disturbing. And guess what? These stories are accompanied by photos, if not video. A description isn't necessary, nor usually relevant, no matter what they teach at Medill, where Pallasch writes that he was "taught to include sights, sounds and smells so readers feel like they were there at the event." Was he ever taught to ask himself who cares if two guys are dressed in shirt-sleeves?

    The fact that Obama wore a Hartmarx suit, though, was actually relevant: It was meant to send a political message. That's hardly the equivalent of mentioning that Palin wore a skirt (and it was first reported as a mini-skirt, until corrected), unless the skirt was made by Hartmarx.

    *

    "Google 'Obama,' 'Pallasch' and 'haircut' and you'll find stories I wrote about Obama getting his hair cut at the Hyde Park Hair Salon. (People questioned the newsworthiness of his haircuts, and I have to agree.)"

    Again, writing about the local place where the president gets his haircut is hardly the same as noting that Palin wore her hair down. One is a slice of local flavor, though I also would question its newsworthiness; the other is simply a description thrust upon women - like the obsession over Michelle Obama's fashion choices or Hillary Clinton's hairstyles back in the day - that demean them by reducing them to sexual and aesthetic objects. Duh, this has been a criticism of the media for decades. (In Alaska, Palin used to wear her hair up a lot be "less attractive" so the media wouldn't focus on her looks.)

    *

    "When I quoted Palin saying Illinois' corrupt politicians remind her of the ones she ran out of office 'back home in Alaaahhhska,' I wasn't simply giving readers the sights and sounds of the event. I was trying 'to make her appear less than intelligent,' one reader e-mailed me."

    Really? Pallasch would have to have been living in a cave for the last three years to not know that making fun of Palin's accent has been one of the chief ways she has been caricatured as an idiot. But as I've written several times before, that's the way people talk in her part of Alaska, just as it's the way people talk in Minnesota. "You betcha" is an old Minnesota saying. People there aren't stupid.

    "I wrote that Obama had a distinctive way of pronouncing 'PAHK-i-stahn.'"

    It's not distinctive so much as its "correct." Obama's pronunciation of Pakistan is akin to a politician correctly pronouncing foreign words as a show of respect; it was a empathetic signal to that region of the world. Obama has plenty of linguistic tics, though, that no one makes fun of. Not that they should, but to chide Palin for her accent is the worst kind of elitism - ignorant and unwarranted.

    "I mentioned it neutrally, not disapprovingly, not making him out to sound 'unintelligent,' just like with Palin, who has a distinctive way of saying 'Alaska,' lingering on the 'l' and the second 'a' - not as much as Tina Fey's exaggerated version of it, but enough that it caught my ear Wednesday."

    Without Tina Fey, you might not have reported it at all! You know, the Tina Fey who makes fun of Palin in part by exaggeratin' her accent to make her sound stupid.

    *

    "When Palin walked onto the stage in Rosemont wearing a leather jacket, a short black skirt and saying she liked being called a 'redneck,' I thought that was interesting and readers might want to know that, in addition to what she said on the issues."

    She's been wearing a leather jacket ever since I can remember. Thank God she doesn't wear the official red suits of Washington. Let's make fun of those. Or hasn't the media been granted permission - by itself - to do that?

    *

    "When Kagan appeared on stage in Chicago two weeks ago with the man she hopes to replace, Justice John Paul Stevens, guess whose wardrobe I mentioned? Not hers. I noted that Stevens tried on a Cubs jacket over his white shirt and bow tie."

    A woman in her usual garb giving a speech is hardly the equivalent of a Supreme Court justice donning a Cubs jacket. C'mon.

    *

    The problem isn't so much that Abdon Pallasch is Neanderthal, because he's not. He's top-notch. But his account just goes to show how much the media absorbs from each other and then regurgitates without thinking about what it is doing.

    And in this case, it's particularly tiresome because describing a woman's appearance has been an issue for so long; I think I was taught that at my journalism school - 20 years ago.

    Finally, it's beyond aggravating because the most blatantly sexist attacks on Palin come from the supposedly tolerant and feminist forces of the left - the same elitist hypocrites who similarly savaged Hillary Clinton on behalf of Barack Obama.

    Feel free to dislike Sarah Palin for her political stances, but please don't dislike her because she's a woman with whom you disagree. Using her gender (and her accent, which liberals would find endearing - along with the leather jacket - if she was on their side) against her ought not be part of the program.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. Amanda K writes:

    Thanks so much for your retort to Abdon Pallasch's original article as well as his defense. As a woman, it makes me crazy to hear a blow by blow account of what women wear, their make-up, their hair in the media. Report what she says, and by all means disagree with it, but do not mock how she speaks. Sarah Palin is not dumb - and while I cannot agree with what she says, I do not feel it is kosher to attack her on her clothing, make-up and accent along with her politics.

    It makes me crazier when "progressives" feel its ok to attack her fashion as a legitimate issue - and when you disagree with that, they react as if you are chanting "Drill Baby Drill!"

    Anyway, thanks for making me not feel as though I am crazy for being able to separate my political arguments with a woman's right to dress however she so chooses.

    2. Paul Mollica writes:

    I tell folks that if Sarah Palin were a liberal-populist from the frontier, they'd be celebrating the very quirks (the hunting, the SnoCat, the clutch of kids with bizarre first names, the clothes, etc.) that they're now deriding.

    Part of what made Ann Richards so popular with libs was her charisma, that she came from the Southwest and seemed "authentic."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    So Sox brass is upset with the team's performance, and that's all well and good, what with the whole "don't lose control of your club" thing generally being an admirable way to run a ballclub.

    But.

    The thing is, when this is over, the heads that roll will probably not be those of the Mark Teahens and Randy Williamses of the world. Those players in particular may go but we will see again what we have seen before. They'll bring in fresh cannon fodder and wonder why the guy with a history of terrible fielding can't contribute defensively. They'll build a bullpen out of swiss cheese and wonder out loud why no lead is safe. They'll stock up on guys of dubious offensive merit and wonder why the bats can only deliver just enough runs to lose.

    On the plus side, their newly-acquired ace is well on the road to becoming a great six-inning pitcher and two-thirds of the new outfield could finish first and second in comeback player of the year awards; I hesitate to throw "MVP" out there because teams this bad tend to not produce players of serious consideration in that category.

    So with that, they brace for showdowns with three models of everything the Sox are doing wrong. The Angels' player development and clinics in fundamentals showing how to lay down bunts that aren't popped up and how to advance runners beyond second base. The Tigers showing how much fun you can have when your owner is crazy enough to not care about losing money. The Marlins giving a veritable master class on drafting and how to really win on the cheap, rather than just filling in the gaps with low-rent second-tier players.

    And yes, it's easy to envy those teams just because they're winning more often than the Sox, but that's exactly the point; the Sox have some stuff going for them, but they're not winning. Ever. They are losing series to everyone. Their longest winning streak is three games. They have not emerged victorious in consecutive games since April 23, 24, and 25. They have reached a level of sadness only a select few clubs normally reach, the Sox now having more in common with the Orioles and Royals of the world than with anyone any fan would want their favorite team to emulate, but it's like the wise man said: if you listen to fools, the mob rules.

    -

    Week in Review: Useless. Splitting a pair with the Twins was cool, but dropping two of three to the Royals negated the whole endeavor.

    Week in Preview: Mini-serious. A two-parter in the Ruins of Detroit, followed by a two-game set at home against the Angels and a three-nighter with the Marlins.

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "Mike Scioscia, I tell you, that was a guy who'd hit .260, that was a .260 that would go 4-for-4, day in and day out, and to see that kind of baseball mind at work over in that dugout, you can read it in his eyes when he's thinking, 'Alright, let's get a hit here,' or 'It's a 2-1 count, here comes that big ol' hook and hammer.' And that, I've seen that in three other catchers: Carlton Fisk had it, our own A.J. Pierzynski definitely has it, and Ron Karkovice. And any of those three, I tell you, those guys can change a game. You could put Karko out there right now and he'd still go 1-for-3, maybe 2-for-5 or even 6-for-7 if he wanted. Because that's what great players do."

    Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Active hitting streak, Albert Pujols: two games. Active hitting streak, Gordon Beckham: three games. Advantage: Beckham.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox bust prospect Jon Rauch currently sits in a tie for second-most saves in the American League with 10 while former South Side Superman Jose Contreras recorded his first career save Saturday for the Phillies against the Brewers.

    The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Heating up. Omar Vizquel continued his ascent, going 1-for-4 Friday night against the Royals and raising his average to an almost Pierzynskian .143.

    The Q Factor: Carlos Quentin missed the entire series in Kansas City due to a mysterious stomach ailment. Preliminary reports from TCQ labs suggest Quentin may have ingested the partially rotten skull of Royals pitching prospect and former White Sox Hall of Fame outfielder Brian Anderson. He is expected back in the lineup for the Detroit series.

    The Guillen Meter: As we wake up to a world without Ronnie James Dio, the Guillen Meter reads "6.66." Some sabbaths are blacker than others.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: White Sox baserunning for the 1992 Chevrolet Silverado: like a rock.

    Cubs Snub: You know your team sucks when game recaps show off the timely hitting and outstanding defense of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

    -

    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 7:48 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    After another week of pretty much torture watching this year's version of the floundering Cubs, one has to wonder - once again - why we watch these guys.

    Yeah, I know, it's "what you do" because, well, you're a fan, but one doesn't have to look any further than our crusty old manager for some words of wisdom.

    Good old Uncle Lou chimed in with another doozy after the game this week that Big Z blew up.

    When asked (again) if Big Z is the answer in the 8th inning, Lou said he didn't have a lot of options.

    First, that is a shot at the GM for building a bad team. Second, he's right - and neither do we. I'd like to not watch the Cubs at all sometimes, but I don't have a lot of options. So I kind of know what Lou is going through.

    I could sit here and write that you shouldn't watch this bad mish-mosh of pieces that never seems to fit, but you are still going to watch.

    But I will say that they really better do something to blow this thing up and get a plan together or else I'm going to . . . to . . . to . . . yeah, I can't pretend that I am going to do much of anything.

    I guess it's like that poker game you are playing when you have way too many chips in there and you know you're beat. You know you have no chance to win but you just can't fold, either. You really don't have a lot of options.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to both the Marlins and the Pirates at home. To call this week "pathetic" is an understatement. It was pathetically pathetic to let the Pirates beat you and score that many runs.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs play two more at home against the Rockies, then travel to Philadelphia for two games and on to Texas for three. If nothing else, this is an interesting week travel-wise, and how many times does a team play two two-game series' in the same week? Talking about the schedule is better than talking about the team these days.

    The Second Basemen Report: The new old second baseman Ryan Theriot started four games this week with Mike Fontenot getting the start in the other two games. I guess when you have two guys batting over or around .300, the thing to do would be to platoon them at the same position instead of putting them on the field at the same time. It's not that Starlin Castro shouldn't be playing, it's just that this is Exhibit W (and we started at Exhibit A) that there really is no real plan, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

    In former second baseman news, Ronny Cedeno came to town this week and looked like how we remembered Ronny Cedeno. He was just here so he's not really missed right now, but he will eventually be missed.

    The Zam Bomb: How long can this Big Z impersonator keep up this charade? We say the mask comes off this week and go boom.


    zam_Boom.jpg

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    Lost in Translation: Crazeio towny foggy braino is Japanese for Carlos Silva is 4-0 for this team.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Carlos Zambrano for bull tranquilizers, because this dude is on something.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 25% sweet 75% sour. Lou is down another five points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week because his team lost to the f'n Pirates. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows he's just an old man and doesn't care about much this week but when you guys lost to old uncle Frank and his half-blind son Kevin in baggo out back last night, it sticks in Uncle Lou's craw. Until his seventh Falstaff, anyway.

    Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of eye patches are up this week due to an increase in the Pirate market.

    Over/Under: Number of times Tom Ricketts reads the state's Lemon Law this week to see if he can return this team to Sam Zell for a refund: +/- 4.5.

    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 has got to be blown up.

    A & I Labs: What's wrong with this team?

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

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

    Fantasy Fix: The Starlin Castro Watch.

    The Mount Lou Alert System: Seismologists from around the world concur that Mount Lou is going to blow. It's not if, it's when. Mount Lou may be old but it's not dead. Anger lava will flow down Waveland Ave after the game Tuesday.

    mtlou_red.gif

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    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

    Dio in Chicago

    "Heavy metal lost one of its icons Sunday when singer Ronnie James Dio died at 67. He was being treated in a Houston hospital for stomach cancer," Greg Kot reports.

    "He fronted some of metal's most revered bands, including a Deep Purple offshoot called Rainbow, the second incarnation of Black Sabbath and his namesake group, Dio. As a result, he had a hand in a half-dozen of metal's greatest albums, including Sabbath's Heaven and Hell and Dio's Holy Diver. Most recently he was heard fronting a Sabbath offshoot, Heaven and Hell, which released a fine 2009 album, The Devil You Know, and toured extensively in 2008-09.

    Plus, he invented ("Invented? No. But perfected . . . ") the devil's horns.

    *

    Here are some excerpts from Dio's (mostly) recent Chicago appearances.

    1. The less that you give, you're a taker.

    *

    2. Someone stopped the fair.

    *

    3. She was up from a nether world . . .

    *

    4. Don't think that they're saving you the finest for last.

    *

    5. No one ever told me life was kind.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Exile on North Ave.

    Exile on North Ave.

    Every day I dream
    of a different life.

    Like: a city in a ship.
    Not a ship

    in a bottle, but a city
    in a ship, a city

    of words.
    I have stripped away everything,

    stripped it down: a few books,
    cigarettes, coffee, beer.

    Food is the least of my worries.
    Food is a chore, food is a function.
    Radio and television, OK.
    Some clothes, a sink. No fridge.
    Dreams.

    A part-time job
    I can hardly stand.

    Years now: cigarettes, tears.
    Somewhere down the line
    I made a choice. Stripped.
    Words are people, buses, beers and rain.

    Sometimes I hear my neighbors bitch.
    There's a firehouse up Pulaski
    that gushes sirens. You get used to it.
    Fan, space heater, a printer

    out of ink for two years now.
    There better be a city in it, man,
    or I'm fucked.
    There were different lives

    but I walked away from them all.
    There better be a dream in it, man.
    I have gushed a stereophonic tunnel
    of howls, picking out choruses,

    weeding through crocuses.
    Bliss is a bitch you can only worry on.
    I can feel it all slipping away
    but it's OK because I wrote a lot of it

    down. I picked the jewels from my
    frown. If what is left is but shards
    perhaps they'll glitter.
    Yeah: I can feel it all slipping away.

    But there were a couple of weeks of bliss
    and that's a lot to be thankful for.
    People rarely get to build their own glass ship.
    Words fail but don't we all.

    We do have this.

    -

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

    -

    More Tindall:

    * Music: MySpace page

    * Fiction: A Hole To China

    * Critical biography at e-poets.net

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

    May 15, 2010

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Lest you should feel offended by any portion of the following report, we'd like to point out that the entire premise is incorrect.

    Market Update
    Despite assurances that the hemorrhaging has been stopped, global markets remained deeply skeptical that the damage won't continue to worsen. So in other words, duh.

    Second City Second Season
    As the Blackhawks prepare to face the San Jose Sharks in the NHL Western Conference Finals, the two cities' mayors have prepared the traditional series wager. While San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has adopted a kill-'em-with-kindness strategy involving waffles, wines and assorted confections, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has apparently opted for the much more direct kill-'em-with-a-massive-fucking-coronary tactic.

    Shrugging off the Big Shoulders
    Mayor Daley also announced this week that he will donate the spoils of his second-round wager win over Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to Greater Chicago Food Depository. After all, those British Columbian delicacies are bound to taste a little bitter under the circumstances.

    Tit for Tat
    Not wanting to miss out on the playoff fun, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and his California counterpart Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed a wager of their own. The deal sees Schwarzenegger staking his state's miserable unemployment rate against Quinn's crippling budget deficit in a bet neither side seems capable of actually winning.

    The Glass Cellar
    Finally this week, feminist activists have expressed outrage that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to be subpoenaed by lawyers representing Rod Blagojevich. After all, only when women can be sucked to the depths of political depravity can we truly call ourselves equals.

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Depraved.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    May 14, 2010

    Highland Park Hacks

    "District 113 administrators hunkered down, refusing to address the firestorm of debate - except through e-mail statements about why they canceled the trip," the Tribune reports.

    In other words, Highland Park school officials are now boycotting the media and the public along with Arizona, their own students and the parents of their students.

    *

    I'd call for a boycott of Highland Park but we'd have to pretend there was a reason to go there in the first place.

    *

    "'We cannot commit at this time to playing at a venue where some of our students' safety or liberty might be placed at risk because of state immigration law,' Superintendent George Fornero said in a letter to parents."

    So now "liberty" is at stake.

    Do high school basketball referees now have the authority to ask for papers under the new law?

    *

    "'Since undocumented students may be participating on any of our extracurricular teams, we need to ensure that all of our students can travel safely, especially in the United States,' Suzan Hebson, the assistant superintendent, said Thursday in an e-mail to the Tribune.

    "Earlier this week, Hebson said she did not know if anyone associated with this year's team is undocumented. The district does not yet know the make-up of its varsity team next fall. Parents and players said they knew of no one currently on the team who was in the country illegally."

    So it depends on how well recruiting efforts go over the summer.

    *

    "Fornero and Hebson on Thursday backed away from any suggestion that the decision was a political protest, despite Hebson's comment to the Tribune on Tuesday that the trip 'would not be aligned with our beliefs and values.'

    "'District 113's decisions regarding travel of its students in regard to extracurricular activities is never political,' Hebson said in her follow-up e-mail."

    So the district would have had no problem playing Sun City?

    *

    "Administrators say they are seeking another out-of-state tournament for the team to play in next season."

    But so far they have come up empty looking for a state without any objectionable laws. In fact, administrators announced they will no longer allow their teams to play in Illinois tournaments until Gov. Quinn passes serious ethics reform.

    *

    "Highland Park [is] an upscale North Shore community that includes the heavily Hispanic town of Highwood in its educational district."

    Bingo.

    And thanks to district school officials, the raid on Highwood will take place long before any stinkin' basketball tournament.

    *

    One student tries out for Fox News:

    "Jessie Rooth, 17, a junior, said she's in the band, which went to China last year.

    "'I don't think the team should be stopped from going to Arizona seeing as how we were allowed to go to China,' Rooth said. 'There are issues in China with communism. Before we left we talked about certain things and how we couldn't act certain ways. Arizona has its issues, and there shouldn't be a correlation between the kids not being able to go just because of the laws in Arizona.'"

    Another student tries out for MSNBC:

    "Marissa Medansky, 17, a junior, applauded the administrators' decision.

    "'We have a very diverse student population, and it's our responsibility to protect everyone who goes to this school regardless of their race, regardless of their documentation status,' she said.

    "'I think the media attention is unfortunate,' she added. 'I think the district did a brave thing, and it's horrible how it's being misconstrued by all these media outlets. There are two sides to the story, and they're only choosing to tell one side of the story, that the team can't go.'"

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    "Suburbia in Wrigleyville?"

    Sure. Why should that neighborhood be any different than the rest of Chicago?

    *

    Same story: "End Of A 'Hip' Hood?"

    Is the Sun-Times the squarest paper on the planet?

    If Wrigleyville is hip, that was a mini-skirt Sarah Palin was wearing the other night.

    *

    "Bar, theater and restaurant owners lambasted Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Thursday for endorsing a $100 million mixed-use development across the street from Wrigley Field that will sweep them out of the 'cool, hip neighborhood.'

    "Roughly eight neighborhood businesses would be displaced to make way for 'Addison Park on Clark,' a project at Addison and Clark that includes a 137-room Hyatt Hotel, 135 residential units, 145,000 square feet of retail space and 399 underground parking spaces.

    "The displaced include iO Theater, formerly known as ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark; Bar Louie, 3545 N. Clark; Salt & Pepper Diner, 3537 N. Clark; Goose Island Beer Co., 3535 N. Clark, and Red Ivy, 3519 N. Clark.

    "Earlier this week, Tunney endorsed the project and took it to a final community meeting. M&R Development revealed that prospective tenants include Best Buy, Dominick's, an Apple Store and a CVS Pharmacy."

    Now if they could only get rid of that damn ballpark . . .

    *

    "It's not just about the Cubs," said Charna Halpern, owner and director of iO Theater. "Now, there'll be nothing. It'll be Best Buy. How exciting is that on a Saturday night?"

    *

    "Halpern directed her anger at Tunney, owner of Ann Sather's Restaurants.

    "'We're the people who elected him because we thought he was a man of the people - that he wouldn't be bought out by big business,' she said.

    "'If some business owner bought up his property and wanted to throw him out for a Friday's chain, we would have his back.'"

    *

    Give Tunney a break - he's just auditioning for the job of Mayor of Chicago's Lame-Ass Developers.

    That's Carla!
    "A top aide to Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, back to work after a 5-day suspension, admits she signed off on a no-bid county contract with her own private public relations firm," the Sun-Times reports.

    Wait. Let me read that again:

    She signed off on a no-bid county contract with her own private public relations firm.

    Um, okay.

    "She also admits fast-tracking the $24,975 payment to her firm."

    Wait. Let me read that again:

    She also admits fast-tracking the $24,975 payment to her firm.

    Um, okay. So she resigned, no? She was fired? Indicted?

    "But Carla Oglesby, Stroger's deputy chief of staff, said those actions were simply mistakes made by someone brand new to government work."

    And from reading the papers, she thought that was how government worked.

    "She notes that Stroger's other executive staffers signed off on the contract, too."

    And they've been in government for a long time.

    "Oglesby, who joined Stroger's county staff a little more than two months ago, said this is her first government job and better training may have helped her avoid this."

    For example, it would have only taken a few seconds of training for someone to have told Oglesby that awarding no-bid contracts to your own company isn't a good idea. Without that training, though, how would he have known?

    "Her name also appears on payment vouchers and directs a check to be cut and sent to herself."

    I mean, nobody trained her not to!

    "Despite the controversy, she doesn't regret taking the $120,000 job. She believes some of the controversy can be traced to county staffers upset that she is calling for streamlining departments and recommending layoffs."

    Gee, why would anyone be upset about that - especially when everyone else is getting raises?

    Meanwhile, Todd Stroger remains clueless to the end.

    "I'm the reason that the government is in better shape than the state and the city and all that," Stroger said. "That's my hard work that I get no credit for."

    Rainbow Shades
    * Song of the Moment: By The Time I Get To Arizona.

    * Highland Park Hacks: I'd call for a boycott of Highland Park but we'd have to pretend there was a reason to go there in the first place.

    Preakness Preview
    It's Howlin' Time.

    -

    supreme-court.jpg

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Howl.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: Preakness Preview

    Our man on the rail, Thomas Chambers, is on special assignment this week in an undisclosed OTB. So we'll leave this year's Preakness Preview to lesser experts and just wish you good luck at the betting window.

    1. Marco D'Angelo breaks it down.

    -

    2. Mitch chats it up.

    -

    3. It's Howlin' Time.

    -

    4. Tbred Daily News.

    -

    5. Get Your Preak On. (Embedding disabled)

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: By The Time I Get To Arizona

    "In 1991 Public Enemy wrote a song criticizing Arizona officials (including John McCain and Fife Symington) for rejecting the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Chuck D writes. "The same politics written about in 'By the Time I Get to Arizona' are alive and well in Arizona today, but this time the target is Brown people."

    Released: October 3, 1991

    Length: 4:48

    Label: Def Jam/Columbia

    Sample Credits: "Walk On/The Love You Save" by the Jackson 5; "Two Sisters of Mystery" by Mandrill

    New Cover: By Toki Wright

    Original Lyrics:

    I'm countin' down to the day deservin'
    Fittin' for a king
    I'm waitin' for the time when I can
    Get to Arizona
    'Cause my money's spent on
    The goddamn rent
    Neither party is mine not the
    Jackass or the elephant
    20.000 nig niggy nigas in the corner
    Of the cell block but they come
    From California
    Population none in the desert and sun
    Wit' a gun cracker
    Runnin' things under his thumb
    Starin' hard at the postcards
    Isn't it odd and unique?
    Seein' people smile wild in the heat
    120 degree
    'Cause I wanna be free
    What's a smilin' fact
    When the whole state's racist
    Why want a holiday Fuck it 'cause I wanna
    So what if I celebrate it standin' on a corner
    I ain't drinkin' no 40
    I B thinkin' time wit' a nine
    Until we get some land
    Call me the trigger man
    Looki lookin' for the governor
    Huh he ain't lovin' ya
    But here to trouble ya
    He's rubbin' ya wrong
    Get the point come along
    An he can get to the joint
    I urinated on the state
    While I was kickin' this song
    Yeah, he appear to be fair
    The cracker over there
    He try to keep it yesteryear
    The good ol' days
    The same ol' ways
    That kept us dyin'
    Yes, you me myself and I'ndeed
    What he need is a nosebleed
    Read between the lines
    Then you see the lie
    Politically planned
    But understand that's all she wrote
    When we see the real side
    That hide behind the vote
    They can't understand why he the man
    I'm singin' 'bout a king
    They don't like it
    When I decide to mike it
    Wait I'm waitin' for the date
    For the man who demands respect
    'Cause he was great c'mon
    I'm on the one mission
    To get a politician
    To honor or he's a gonner
    By the time I get to Arizona

    I got 25 days to do it
    If a wall in the sky
    Just watch me go thru it
    'Cause I gotta do what I gotta do
    PE number one
    Gets the job done
    When it's done and over
    Was because I drove'er
    Thru all the static
    Not stick but automatic
    That's the way it is
    He gotta get his
    Talin' MLK
    Gonna find a way
    Make the state pay
    Lookin' for the day
    Hard as it seems
    This ain't no damn dream
    Gotta know what I mean
    It's team against team
    Catch the light beam
    So I pray
    I pray everyday
    I do and praise jah the maker
    Lookin' for culture
    I got but not here
    From jah maker
    Pushin' and shakin' the structure
    Bringin' down the babylon
    Hearin' the sucker
    That make it hard for the brown
    The hard Boulova
    I need now
    More than ever now
    Who's sittin' on my freedah'
    Opressor people beater
    Piece of the pick
    We picked a piece
    Of land that we deservin' now
    Reparation a piece of the nation
    And damn he got the nerve
    Another niga they say and classify
    We want too much
    My peep plus the whole nine is mine
    Don't think I even double dutch
    Here's a brother my attitude hit 'em
    Hang 'em high
    Blowin' up the 90s started tickin' 86
    When the blind get a mind
    Better start and earn while we sing it
    Now
    There will be the day we know those down and who will go

    Why Chuck D Should Have Been Our First Black President: He would have brought the noise and 911 would no longer be a joke.

    YouTube:

    1. Official video.

    *

    2. Live last year.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks
    * I Kissed A Girl
    * Theme From Shaft
    * Rocky Mountain High
    * North to Alaska
    * Barracuda
    * Rainy Days and Mondays
    * Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
    * Baby, It's Cold Outside
    * Man in the Mirror
    * Birthday Sex
    * Rio
    * My Sharona
    * Alex Chilton
    * Surfin' Bird

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

    Meeting Up Now

    The newest Chicago meetups.

    *

    Chicago Mobile App Developers (iPhone, Droid, iPad)

    *

    North Shore Cloth Diaper Crew

    *

    Networking Couture

    *

    Mask-making

    *

    The Highly Sensitive Persons Group (HSP) - Chicago Suburbs

    *

    Body Back Chicago

    *

    Pagan Circle Of the Southwest Suburbs

    *

    Connect & Grow

    *

    Workforce Language & Culture

    *

    Adventure Seeking Families

    *

    Gay and Lesbian Service Corps

    *

    The Chicago Clear Your Clutter Group

    *

    Midwest Scriptwriters

    *

    Be Inspired in The City

    *

    Aaja Nachle - Bhangra Bollywood

    *

    Belly Dance Chicago

    *

    Chicago's Bright Idea Cultivators' Group

    *

    Chicago Differently-Abled Dog Meetup Group

    *

    Nuevo Pueblo Ministries

    -

    We've been tracking Chicago meetups since December 2007. In some ways one might argue that the nature of meetups says something about society at some particular moment. We'll let you decide for yourselves.

    -

    * August 8, 2007: Ex-Southerner? Expat Aussie? Expert in cash flow and living in Lincoln Park? In 15 Meetups.

    * August 24, 2007: The Calabrese And Friends Bensenville Basement Meetup. Meetup Match Game.

    * December 5, 2007: Millionaires and insomniacs now have the support groups they always needed. In Meeting Up Now.

    * February 6, 2008: Wiffleball in Chicago Heights. Beadwork in Schaumburg. Meeting Up Now.

    * August 6, 2008: Karaoke in Romeoville. Flag football in Naperville. In Meeting Up Now.

    * September 10, 2008: Cleveland Browns fans in Naperville. Boycotting Wal-Mart in Vernon Hills. A secret poker club in Elgin. In Meeting Up Now.

    * October 1, 2008: Indiana John Birchers and Naperville Knitters. In Meeting Up Now.

    * November 19, 2008: Kinky Figure Drawers and Gospel Greats of Comedy. Meeting Up Now.

    * January 14, 2009: Des Plaines day traders and displaced Texans. In Meeting Up Now.

    * April 30, 2009: Old Bakers Square People and The Chicago Starseeds. In Meeting Up Now.

    * July 1, 2009: Paddlers 4 Jesus. Baby Blanket Bingo. In Meeting Up Now.

    * August 5, 2009: Russian moms, psychics and salsa. In Meeting Up Now.

    * October 28, 2009: Let's lighten up, Lake County! In Meeting Up Now.

    * December 17, 2009: Jury panels and paranormals. In Meeting Up Now.

    * January 21, 2010: Robot City and Suburban Hip Moms. In Meeting Up Now.

    * March 31, 2010: Chicago Super Happy Fun Time! and Guerrilla Gardening. In Meeting Up Now.

    * April 7, 2010: Chicagoland Cougars and Bored in Crest Hill. In Meeting Up Now.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    May 13, 2010

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "Sneed hears the bottom half of a man's body found in Arlington Heights on April 16, and the top half of a man's body found last week in Lions Woods Forest Preserve near Des Plaines might be the same person."

    Or it might not!

    * * *

    The first stop on the Tribune's "not-the-usual-suspects Chicago tour"?

    The Green Mill.

    I'll just meet you at the Sears Tower after stopping at Wrigley Field.

    * * *

    "After some really awesome investigating this afternoon, many of the stolen weapons were recovered, along with many other items that were stolen out of the gun range," Harvey spokeswoman Sandra Alvarado said.

    How awesome?

    "Alvarado could not say where the guns were recovered - or if anyone has been arrested. Or how many guns are still missing."

    * * *

    "Stroger made 6 top hires since election loss."

    It would've been cheaper to just re-elect him.

    * * *

    "Radisson Blu to Open First Hotel in the U.S. in Chicago."

    They not only save millions in typography costs by not using the "e," but they can charge $50 more a night because yuppies sleep better at night in hotels whose names aren't spelled properly.

    * * *

    "Palin spoke in a black leather jacket and mini-skirt with her brunette hair hanging down."

    Nobody ever reports on the type of skirts Barack Obama wears.

    -

    Note: "mini-skirt" has now been edited to simply "skirt," as it also appeared in at least some print editions. Further discussion here.

    * * *

    "This is how the media does it," Mayor Daley complained. "'Jogger Stabbed in Riverwalk' . . . 'Iowa Man Stabbed in Chicago Visiting.' How 'bout the same headlines? I want the same headlines from you. Why not? Be fair."

    Okay: "Iowa doc stabs self visiting Chicago."

    - Scott Buckner

    * * *

    "Chicago aldermen who long resisted the notion of anyone looking over their shoulders voted Wednesday to create a City Council watchdog - but the new investigator wouldn't be able to make a move without first asking for permission.

    "Investigations would require approval of the little-known Chicago Board of Ethics, which in 23 years hasn't found a single case of wrongdoing by aldermen. During that period, more than 20 City Council members were convicted of felonies."

    Stop it, you're killing me!

    * * *

    "What's wrong with somebody making a complaint swearing that it's true?" Ald. Ed Burke said.

    Burke later refused to swear that he actually said that.

    * * *

    Don't tell Tom Ricketts. Cubs uniforms aren't museums, you know.

    * * *

    "In an earlier e-mail to Pioneer Press, [Highland Park] school district assistant superintendent Sue Hebson said the decision is not a political statement, but rather for the safety of students."

    Meanwhile, an Arizona high school canceled a trip to Chicago out of safety concerns because police here don't ask Mexicans to show their papers.

    * * *

    "School officials said the Arizona immigration law that requires police to check the immigration status of suspects was not 'aligned with our beliefs and values.'"

    Meanwhile, an Arizona high school canceled a trip to Chicago because the city's tolerance of police torture and political corruption was not "aligned with our beliefs and values."

    * * *

    "A retired Chicago police detective who will testify in the trial of fired Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge had some critical words for prosecutors moments after leaving a federal courtroom today.

    "'This is wrong,' said former Area 2 Detective Michael McDermott, after being given immunity to testify in Burge's upcoming trial. 'This is wrong what they're doing, to conduct an investigation 25 years later.'"

    McDermott also called on the Chicago Police Department to shut down its cold case unit.

    * * *

    "Giannoulias said that during GOP opponent Mark Kirk's time in Congress, 'We went from record budget surpluses to doubling the national debt by going into two wars we didn't need.'"

    And by that he meant the Iraq war and the war over funding the Afghanistan war.

    Alexi G finally ready for prime time.

    * * *

    "Palin said the school is still sponsoring a trip to China."

    It's a working trip; China called in a loan.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Suck it, Leno.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    3-D Chicago

    The next issue of Playboy, which is apparently still around, will include a 3-D centerfold, which they apparently still have.

    This got us thinking about what might be featured in a 3-D issue of, say, Chicago magazine, if Chicago actually covered Chicago. To wit:

    * An alderman's greasy 3-D hand thrust toward you as he's about to accept a bribe.

    * The mayor's . . . being thrust in your face as he's about to screw you.

    * A Jay Cutler interception coming your way!

    * Block 37 in 1-D 'cause nothing goes right there.

    * Sneed's day-old leftovers in 3-D.

    * A bullet coming your way for black subscribers. Oh wait, Chicago magazine doesn't have any black subscribers . . .

    * Lou Piniella ambling toward you to make a pitching change.

    * Your receipt limply sputtering out of a parking pay box.

    * Amy Jacobson in a bikini at your pool party.

    * A centerfold of Tom Ricketts' new Toyota sign, with the rooftops behind hit Photoshopped out of the picture.

    * Your property tax bill, including a tacked-on 3-D fee.

    * An application to the University of Illinois including a box to check if you know Mike Madigan.

    * A working surveillance camera.

    * Wait, Chicago magazine is still around?

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

    May 12, 2010

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    Several folks alerted me to Worldview's report on Tuesday in which one expert mentioned hosting the Olympics as one contribution to Greece's financial crisis.

    "One interesting problem that has worsened the situation for Greece is the Olympics," Ohio State political scientist professor Richard Gunther said.

    "There was a tremendous investment in infrastructure preparing for the Athens Olympics in anticipation of huge increase in tourism that might offset some of those expenses.

    "In actual fact, though, tourists stayed away from Greece during the Olympics because they thought there would be far too much in the way of traffic and inadequacy of hotel reservations etc, so Greece actually suffered a very bad economic year, certainly in terms of its tourism sector, at the same time that they had spent an outrageous amount of money in preparing for the Olympics, so this was one factor that contributed to the severity of the Greek crisis."

    Even more interesting, then, that the Tribune editorial page today states that "Greece's problem is that it has lived far beyond its means," and that "If Americans want to avoid the fate of today's Greece, they had better do what the Greeks failed to do: scale down what they demand from government and accept the need to pay for what they get."

    This is the same page that supported Chicago's Olympic efforts despite heaps of evidence that hosting the Games is almost always a financial disaster.

    Of course, Olympic spending is just one of many factors contributing to Greece's problems. The point is: whose spending and on what are really the issues here?

    Also:

    "In general, I think that the unwillingness of Greeks to foot the bill in terms of paying their fair share of taxes had a major role," Gunther said. "Tax evasion is a significant contributor to some of these problems."

    Gunther adds that "There's really no necessary link between social welfare spending and the size of public debt. It really is a question of maintaining an adequate fiscal policy to pay for whatever it is that government is engaged in. And in this particular instance, it's really not correct to assume that this is the result of overspending on social services."

    *

    "Greece Offers to Repay Loans with Giant Horse."

    *

    And as long as the Blackhawks were in Vancouver, you might have thought local reporters might check in with the aftermath of that city's Games. For example:

    "Olympic Transit Legacy Less Than Golden."

    Or maybe check in with this piece and see how things turned out:

    "Olympic Bill Tops $6 Billion."

    Instead, the local media will just move on to its next reporting debacle, never stopping to evaluate how well they are - or aren't - doing their jobs. They hold others to account, not themselves.

    *

    Speaking of which . . . maybe I missed it but I didn't see this reported anywhere locally:

    "CBO: Health Care Bill Will Cost $115 Billion More Than Previously Assessed."

    Then again, the health care bill will still cut the deficit as long as the administration spends $116 billion more than previously planned.

    *

    Is that right? I'm getting a headache trying to work out the concept behind that joke.

    Gun and Run
    "Four hours into an investigation of the theft of more than 20 guns from the Harvey Police Department, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart pulled the plug," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Dart, who agreed earlier in the day to investigate, sent a team of detectives, gang officers and others to look into the reported theft, which Harvey officials said they discovered Monday morning.

    "But Tuesday night, Dart canceled the sheriff's investigation because they were unable to conduct a probe 'free of influence by Harvey police,' said Dart spokesman Steve Patterson."

    Um, shouldn't this kind of interference result in a redoubling of investigative efforts? Wouldn't you want to dig in and try to find out what they're trying to hide?

    The Daley Show
    "Mayor Daley read Picardi the riot act, suspended him for an unprecedented three months, then moved him to a six-figure job in the Chicago Police Department," the Sun-Times reports.

    I'm sure what the mayor read to Picardi was a riot. Picardi's laughing all the way to the bank.

    Eat At Desiree's
    And other Chicago restaurant concepts we'd like to see.

    Public = Online
    Why POIA is the new FOIA.

    The Starlin Castro Watch
    Is he right for you?

    That's That


    The Beachwood Tip Line: That's that.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

    Chicago Celebrity Restaurant Concepts

    "Matt Bridgeford is no paparazzo, but he does have a thing for celebrities - and their restaurants," the Sun-Times reports in Fans Often Lose Appetite For Celeb Eateries.

    "At headlinerdiners.com, Bridgeford has gathered details - such as photos and recollections - on celebrity restaurants in 500 locations, including Chicago. A Seattle assisted-care worker, he figures he has visited 50 of them - the best and the worst of the concept."

    This got Beachwood Labs/Restaurant Concept Division thinking . . .

    * Billy Corgan's Cafe. Every meal is about him; he sits at your table and whines about his problems as you eat.

    * Jim Hendry's Hamburger Hamlet. There is no menu, just a hodgepodge of whatever's in the kitchen that day and whatever was on clearance.

    * Michael Sneed's Upshot Emporium. Only serving leftovers prepared by other restaurants yesterday.

    * Daley's Diner. Only serving customers somebody sent.

    * Steve Albini's Buffet. Unedible food to go along with unlistenable music.

    * Richard Roeper's Restaurant. Airport food served to simulate the environment in which he writes most of his columns.

    * Ozzie's. Restaurant manager spends every evening going table-to-table talking about how he would feel if he was fired.

    * Pat Quinn's Cafeteria. Everything tastes like chicken, and the chicken tastes like rubber.

    * Stroger's Steakhouse. Every busboy is also a county worker.

    * Alexi's on Broadway. Hey, it's not his fault the food went bad hours after he set it out and left.

    * Rezko's Ristorante. Do you eat here so he doesn't rat you out or not eat here so the feds don't become suspicious?

    * R. Kelly's Closet. Intimate booths also function as restrooms.

    * Blago's Bistro. There is no food on the menu, just an explanation of how Rod did nothing wrong and was only trying to help people. Patti runs the beer garden.

    * Sammy Sosa's. If you can finish the bloated 120-oz. steak from a steroid-injected cow, they give you a bat to destroy the boom box playing ear-shattering salsa music.

    * Oprah's Gastropub. A sumptuous buffet in a grand ballroom with a vomitorium and counselors on hand to cope with the guilt.

    * Desiree's State Dinner Diner. No reservations necessary.

    * Lovie's. Only one sandwich on the menu: Two pieces of bread "Cover 2" pieces of baloney.

    -

    Marty Gangler, Drew Adamek, Eric Emery, Steve Rhodes.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Thomas Chambers:

    Cutler Cafe. Where 4.68 percent of all entrees will be delivered to the wrong table. Nine serving platters a year will simply be fumbled to the floor.

    Kyle Orton's Osteria. Denver outpost lease lost. Opening in another city, hopefully.

    Skilling's Skillet. The Wizard of Oz runs on the big-screen 24-7.

    Milton Bradley's Baltic Cafe. If you don't like the food, it's your fault.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: The Starlin Castro Watch

    Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro made his major league debut last week in stellar fashion, with a home run, a triple and a half dozen RBIs. And we thought we were kidding last week when we said the Starlin Castro Watch had begun.

    After his debut, it was less than an hour before I saw Castro picked up off the waiver wire in one of my leagues. Is that jumping the gun just a bit? Yes, though it also might offer a glimpse at just how bad things are, fantasy-wise, at shortstop this year.

    No. 1 shortstop Hanley Ramirez has just started to pick up the pace, but he's been streaky this year. Top SS picks like Jimmy Rollins, Troy Tulowitzki, Yunel Escobar and Rafael Furcal have been injured. Miguel Tejada is well past his prime. The top SS performer thus far, Alex Gonzalez (no, not the former Cub), was not even ranked in the top 1,000 players overall in pre-season.

    So, it may not be just hopeful Cub fans who made Castro a popular pick-up last weekend. Still, there are a few more realistic options if you need a SS:

    Stephen Drew, Arizona: Third among shortstops in doubles with 10, and hitting .305.

    Marco Scutaro, Toronto: Near the league leaders in hits with 37 and has more walks, 17, than any other SS except Elvis Andrus. Only 66%-owned in Yahoo!

    Juan Uribe, San Francisco: Don't laugh, Sox fans. He's third in RBIs among shortstops with 20. Only 29%-owned in Yahoo!

    -

    It's Week 6 in the fantasy baseball world. Where's Cal Ripken, Jr. when you need him?

    -

    Fantasy Find of the Week: Dallas Braden, SP, Oakland.

    Throwing a perfect game should get you more than this honor, but I was surprised to find Braden claimed in only 60% of Yahoo! leagues even two days after his gem. A nice 4-2 record playing for a winning team whose home park is a low-ERA cavern makes him a nice pick-up.

    Fantasy Stud of the Week: Vladimir Guerrero, UTIL, Texas.

    The "UTIL" tag is limiting (though he may be "OF" in some league formats), but the old bad-ball hitter is young again, having knocked 4 HRs and 13 RBIs last week to go with a .381 average.

    Fantasy Dud of the Week: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis.

    The top-ranked fantasy player when the season began has lagged for the first six weeks of the season, and couldn't muster more than a .227 average with 0 HRs and 1 RBI last week. Maybe he is thinking about that big contract Ryan Howard got.

    Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Johnny Damon, OF, Detroit.

    I like Damon in consecutive stretches against the Yankees and Red Sox, two of his former teams with whom he won World Series titles. Damon's 36, but having another good year hitting around .300 and scoring a lot of runs.

    Expert Wire
    * SB Nation lists a plethora of under-achievers who are expected to come back strong as the season progresses. Check out which Cubs and White Sox players are leading off.

    * USA Today's Fantasy Windup has its sights set on up-and-comers, including Castro, Travis Snider and Ian Kennedy.

    * MLB Skinny sees OF Austin Jackson as a sell-high candidate, and has an update on the long-injured Carlos Beltran.

    * Bleacher Report has the scoop on a bunch of unheralded players. Who's Brennan Boesch?

    -

    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 7:01 AM | Permalink

    Public=Online

    We're really moving.

    Seriously.

    We spend a lot of time talking about what government should do to become more open and transparent, and in this past week there's real movement in Congress on one of the things that we need to happen.

    It's an easy fix to our current system which would simply make government work better.

    Specifically, Senator Jon Tester has introduced the Senate version of the Public Online Information Act, which would revolutionize how the public can gain access to government information. And though we're going to have to build much more clout to actually pass the bill in the House and Senate, the introduction of this bill is a big step.

    Keep the momentum strong by signing the Public=Online pledge and sharing it:

    http://publicequalsonline.com/pledge/.

    Numbers are one of the things that Congress listens to most, and we need to be as loud as possible. Thus, our goal is to get 25,000 pledge signatures in the next 6 weeks.

    At the end of June, we'll take the Public=Online pledge to Capitol Hill and present it to the co-sponsors of the bill. This will show them that we not only support the Public Online Information Act, but that there are citizens everywhere demanding Congressional action on it.

    They're waiting to hear from us, but we need to let them know what we want. By signing the Public=Online pledge, we're doing that.

    We're just about to reach 4,000 signers. When we get to 5,000 we'll start making phone calls as well.

    Much more to come in the months ahead. Thanks for all your support!

    The Sunlight Team

    -

    1. POIA 1

    -

    2. POIA 2

    -

    3. POIA 3

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:59 AM | Permalink

    May 11, 2010

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once wrote that confirmation hearings are "a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis. Such hearings serve little educative function, except perhaps to reinforce lessons of cynicism that citizens often glean from government."

    As Eric Zorn points out, Kagan has already retreated from that position lest it get in the way of advancing her career.

    During her confirmation hearings on the way to becoming the U.S. solicitor general, Kagan said "I am . . . less convinced than I was in 1995 that substantive discussions of legal issues and views, in the context of nomination hearings, provide the great public benefits."

    I guess Kagan's judicial philosophy, then, is "Do what I say, not what I do."

    *

    As one of Zorn's commenters points out, Kagan stated during her solicitor general hearings that "There is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage."

    *

    "The pro-forma criticism will come from the right; the more interesting response will be from the left - whether Kagan is progressive enough, whether she endorses a variant of the unitary executive theory held by John Yoo and Dick Cheney, whether her scholarship is up to snuff, whether her views on campaign finance mirror those she was asked to argue for as SG," Atlantic political editor Marc Ambinder writes.

    *

    See Glenn Greenwald's case against Kagan as well as his round-up of commentary that you won't ever see in your daily papers while they're busy with the hometown rah-rah.

    iPeas in an iPod
    Also from the "do as I say . . . " file, Obama wants college students to lessen their dependence on technological devices that - he says - have turned information into entertainment.

    This from a SportsCenter-obsessed president who insisted the Secret Service find a way to let him keep his Blackberry.

    *

    "With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations - none of which I know how to work - information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation," Obama said at a commencement on Sunday.

    He doesn't know how to work an iPod? Who is this guy, Rod Blagojevich?

    And what of the Internet-savvy candidate we all heard about?

    Well, I've got news for you: That wasn't his doing.

    I was on a panel last year that included the Obama campaign's chief technology officer - this write-up saw the, um, bright side to my observations - who not only didn't argue with a single assertion I made about the campaign but pointed out that Obama's website and Internet strategy was badly outmatched by that of Hillary Clinton in the early-going. It wasn't Obama who made his use of the Internet a success, it was some rogue elements that joined the campaign and turned the tech side of things around. Give Obama credit for letting it flourish, but in my questions to the former CTO, it became clear that Obama was pretty detached from that whole side of the campaign.

    *

    Beyond that, do we really need a president who took celebritizing his candidacy to new heights lecturing us yet again on how superficial the media is?

    *

    And does Obama not realize - beyond how great the iPod, iPad and so forth are - that these are key drivers of our economy and technological advancement that also bodes well for media? Bill Clinton can't send an e-mail either but at least he understood the road to the 21st Century and - with Al Gore's considerable help - assisted in laying the groundwork for that famous Information Superhighway.

    My God, you should be celebrating Apple, Mr. President, not denigrating its products.

    Omaha, Illinois
    Who passes for celebrities in Chicago: A TV sportscaster, an economist, a nutcase reverend-politician, and a backup goaltender.

    It Wasn't Televised
    The Revolution came and went and we missed it.

    "Long gone are the days when the appropriations committees had any input," Rich Miller writes. "Also vanished is the 'budgeteers' system, when appropriations chairmen and experts from each caucus would sit down to hash out the budget's details. Instead, all of the work now is being done by staff at the leaders' absolute direction.

    "As a consequence, senators barely had any idea about what they were voting for last week when they approved a budget along party lines. The committee hearing before the vote provided precious few details and instead revolved around partisan bickering over a Democratic maneuver solely designed to embarrass the Republicans. Republicans repeatedly denounced the budget process as far too rushed and wholly untransparent, and they were right.

    "This was without a doubt the most top-down, opaque budget ever produced under the Statehouse dome."

    Meet Bill Brady
    Ready for prime time.

    Goose and Gander
    The Sun-Times has called on boycotting Arizona to protest an unjust assault on immigrants. Hasn't yet called on boycotting Chicago to protest an unjust assault on African Americans.

    Best Kabob Ever
    You brought joy to our lives, Mr. Shuler.

    And then the greedheads came for you.

    DeRo's Last Waltz
    His best shows ever. With added Beachwood value.

    Independence Day
    The McCormick Place Bill of Rights. With added Beachwood value.

    Windy City Gay Idol
    Better than the real thing.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Add value.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    The McCormick Place Bill of Rights

    "To reduce costs, the McPier reform legislation includes a 'bill of rights' that lets convention exhibitors . . . "

    * Under-the-table payments to electricians no longer need to be made in unmarked bills.

    * The right of exhibitors to bear arms shall not be infringed.

    * Bills to exhibitors will now include details such as how much everything costs.

    * Rounding up bills to make contributions to the Find Jimmy Hoffa Fund will now be "optional."

    * Exhibitors will now have a choice in mob factions supplying their muscle.

    * Overtime will now begin after eight hours of work instead of "when we're damn good and ready to start charging overtime." Weekends excepted.

    * McPier executives will no longer be allowed to call dibs on new products as they roll off the trucks.

    * New swag limits for relatives of McCormick workers; not to exceed a tenth of one's income or the total take must be reported on one's taxes.

    * Exhibitors now allowed to visit restrooms alone instead of having to pay for escorts.

    * Escorts still available, however, for a fee.

    * "Lost and Found" booth will no longer charge for return of items if you can properly identify yourself - beyond a handling fee, of course.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:30 AM | Permalink

    Windy City Gay Idol

    Windy City Gay Idol, now in its eighth year, is halfway through this year's search for the best amateur gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) singers in the Chicago area with four more events before the semi-finals on June 5. Two new bars, North End and Berlin, join the competition this yearl.

    What started as a fun promotion has become the largest and most highly anticipated annual competition event in Chicago's GLBT community. Many winners have gone on to sing at Wrigley Field, Soldier Field, Market Days and at festivals around Illinois, Milwaukee, and even Toronto. Plus, the Windy City Gay Idol Finals in 2008 featured a then little-known Lady Gaga as a guest performer.

    So you never know what you will see and hear! You don't have to sing to be a part of it. Just come and vote!

    idol10_4.jpgWindy City Gay Idol, produced by Windy City Media Group and premium sponsors Miller Lite and Bacardi, continues with four more preliminary competitions around Chicago's GLBT bars.

    Windy City Gay Idol 2010 preliminary competitions are one night only at many different bar locations where as many as 20 participants sing at each venue. All contestants compete for the chance to advance to the semi-finals Saturday, June 5 at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted. Results from every preliminary, semi-final and final event come from audience votes. Votes from friends, family and audience members hopefully land them on the stage at the Finals Saturday, June 19 at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted.

    Premium sponsors this year are Miller Lite and Bacardi. Other co-sponsors include: American Airlines, Ravinia, Autobarn Limited, Creaoke, and Windy City Media Group.

    With more than $5,000 in cash and prizes, the road to the 8th Anniversary of the Windy City Gay Idol finals is not easy. All contestants face local celebrity judges that include cabaret singers, DJs, actors, talent and casting agents and those familiar with the performance arena.

    Each winner collecting the most votes at each preliminary bar will win $100 cash. Two winners from each bar will advance to the semi-finals. Audience members at each bar also have the chance to win great prizes, such as Miller and Bacardi merchandise, Ravinia tickets, local theater tickets, new DVD releases, and much more.

    The finals includes big prizes for audience members as well as the top three contestants, including weekend stays at downtown hotels, American Airlines tickets and tickets to top Chicago theaters and concert venues.

    The winner of the entire event at Sidetrack is awarded $1,000 in cash, a pair of American Airlines tickets, Bacardi and Miller Lite premium gifts, Ravinia tickets, and more, not to mention the coveted title of Windy City Gay Idol 2010.

    The event is open to all amateur singers age 21 and above, regardless of sexual orientation. There is a $10 sign-up fee for singers, and a $5 fee for audience members at all preliminary events. There is a $10 cover at the semi-finals and finals at Sidetrack.

    The Windy City Gay Idol 2010 schedule:

    Thursday, May 13: Sofo bar, 4923 N. Clark, 7 p.m. sign up, 8 p.m. start.

    Tuesday, May 18: North End, 3733 N. Halsted, 8 p.m. sign up, 9 p.m. start.

    Sun., May 23: Berlin, 5355 N. Clark, 9 p.m. sign up, 10 p.m. start.

    Wed., May 26: WILD CARD, Roscoe's, 3356 N. Halsted, 9 p.m. door opens, 10 p.m. start. Invited guests plus open slots for new singers.

    Sat., June 5: SEMI-FINALS, Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted, 1 p.m. door opens, 3 p.m. start.

    Sat., June 19: FINALS, Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted, 1 p.m. door, 3 p.m. start.

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    Complete rules and regulations at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:57 AM | Permalink

    DeRo's Last Waltz

    Outgoing Sun-Times rock critic Jim DeRogatis listed on Sunday the top 15 concerts he covered for the paper over his tenure there. I'll augment those choices here with some audio, some video, some comments of my own.

    Band: Nirvana
    Venue: Aragon
    Date: Oct. 23, 1993
    Comment: This is audio only.

    *

    Band: The Jesus Lizard
    Venue: The Vic
    Date: Nov. 13, 1993
    Comment: It may shock some, but I've never seen The Jesus Lizard live. I know. But this show apparently lives in infamy. Or famy, actually.

    *

    Band: The Flaming Lips
    Venue: Metro
    Date: Feb. 18, 1994
    Comment: I was there, but I prefer the show they played just a few weeks or months previously at the Empty Bottle. Near the end, Wayne Coyne walked through a packed house to an old-stand up piano across from the bar and plunked out "Put The Waterbug In The Policeman's Ear." Here's the version that appeared on the EP Due To High Expectations . . . The Flaming Lips Are Providing Needles For Your Balloons.

    *

    Band: Hole
    Venue: UIC Pavilion
    Date: Sept 3, 1994
    Comment: I wasn't there, but I saw Hole at Lollapalooza that year and Courtney Love was mesmerizing.

    *

    Band: Barry White
    Venue: Chicago Theatre
    Date: July 22, 1995
    Comment: I never would have pegged DeRo for a Barry White guy - and maybe he isn't, he just found himself covering the show - but squeezing people (or yourself) into narrow boxes musically is as bothersome in music as it is in politics. (I just had to break the news to someone - again - that I kind of hate The Who and that I'm planning to post a piece soon called Defending Styx.)

    *

    Band: Bob Dylan
    Venue: Metro
    Date: Dec. 13, 1997
    Comment: I think I was at this show though I may be confusing it with a show at the Riv. But the best Dylan show I've seen was at Benedictine University in Lisle the month before.

    *

    Band: PJ Harvey
    Venue: The Vic
    Date: Oct. 28, 1998
    Comment: I'm pretty sure I was at this show and I'm pretty sure it was pretty damn good. I'm pretty disturbed at how my memory is failing me, though. I thought I knew every show I'd ever been at, but some of them are merging into others in my mind.

    *

    Band: D'Angelo
    Venue: The Arie Crown Theatre
    Date: March 31, 2000
    Comment: I don't think I've ever heard a D'Angelo song, so I have no comment. But I trust DeRo, even though my tastes probably line up more with Kot.

    *

    Band: Screeching Weasel
    Venue: House of Blues
    Date: Oct. 28, 2000
    Comment: This video is dated Oct. 29, but unless they did a two-night stand, this has gotta be the show.

    *

    Band: Wilco
    Venue: Petrillo Band Shell
    Date: July 4, 2001
    Comment: I was at this show and from where I was sitting, middle to back, the sound was crappy. Plus, I've been a big Wilco fan from the beginning, though I haven't listened to much of their post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot stuff, but I never thought they were particularly good live. I've seen 'em at Lounge Ax and the Auditorium Theatre and even on some broadcast performances and something always seems to be missing to me. But I think I'm alone in that assessment.

    *

    Band: The Rolling Stones
    Venue: The Aragon
    Date: Sept. 16, 2002
    Comment: I kind of hate the Rolling Stones so I can't really say, but I saw them (unfortunately, and not really by choice) at Soldier Field and they were a joke. I heard a little of them from outside the Double Door that famed night and they sounded pretty good. DeRo says this show was better, so I'll take his word for it. This is audio only.

    *

    Band: Kanye West
    Venue: House of Blues
    Date: Feb 11, 2004
    Comment: I've read a fair amount about Kanye West but I'm not sure how much of his music I've actually heard, so again, I take DeRo's word for it. I will say that I don't know if it was so much that George W. Bush hated black people as that he never really thought about them . . . but West said what others should have been talking about. It would have been interesting to hear Bush talk about race for, say, an entire hour, including taking questions.

    *

    Band: Neil Young
    Venue: Chicago Theatre
    Date: Nov. 12, 2007
    Comment: It's not entirely clear, but I think this is from that show.

    *

    Band: Ida Marie
    Venue: Lollapalooza
    Date: Aug. 8, 2009
    Comment: This video is comment enough. There are a couple others, too.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    AMENDMENT: A Beachwood reader points out that I forgot to include Kraftwerk's show at the Riv on June 10, 1998. Oops, just an oversight. I have nothing to say about Kraftwerk, though; I've never seen them and I've barely listened to them. So I'll just add in DeRo's own commentary about that show:

    "The legendary 'Beach Boys of Dusseldorf' and progenitors of modern electronic dance music hadn't performed in the United States for decades when they made this rare appearance outside the walls of Kling Klang Studio, which they actually packed up, brought with them and reconstructed onstage for a crowd so thrilled that it didn't even care that it was missing one of the Bulls' key championship games."

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

    May 10, 2010

    The [Monday] Papers

    1. "In 1992, Ross Perot's high-profile independent campaign siphoned Republican votes away from Bush and helped doom his re-election campaign against Democrat Bill Clinton," Laura Washington writes today.

    "Consumer and environmental gadfly Nader returned the favor in 2000, wreaking havoc on Democratic nominee Gore's presidential dreams in the brutally contested 2000 presidential contest. Nader's Green Party run helped bring us George W. Bush, America's most disastrous president."

    Neither of these assertions are true.

    Exit polling showed that Perot voters were otherwise evenly split between Bush and Clinton.

    Likewise, the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County hurt Al Gore far more than Ralph Nader, as did a host of other factors. Some polling indicates as well that Nader voters weren't necessarily otherwise disposed to Gore. And something like 200,000 registered Democrats in Florida voted for Bush.

    The blame-Nader analysis also ignores the obvious fact that more Floridians tried to vote for Al Gore than George W. Bush. Simple as that.

    You can propagate the myths that usually originate as talking points from political campaigns or parties or you can think for yourself and, um, check it out.

    2. Wearing a kilt backwards wasn't the only thing Neil Steinberg got wrong in his column today.

    Dan Rostenkowski hardly went to prison with his "head held high." According to former Tribune managing editor Dick Ciccone, Rostenkowksi complained that "I'm going to jail for sending a guy a rocking chair."

    As if.

    And Rostenkowski complained that "The press, especially the Sun-Times, wanted to sell papers. There were a lot of suppositions and uninformed stories."

    For decades, apparently.

    From James Merriner's Mr. Chairman: Power in Dan Rostenkowski's America:

    "In a series of articles beginning 20 November 1983, Rostenkowski's and Annunzio's machinations were disclosed in the Chicago Sun-Times by reporter Chuck Neubauer (who later wrote many of the stories leading to Rostenkowski's indictment in 1994). Rostenkowski's public response was predictable and characteristic: 'Anything I did for Presidential Towers, I did for the city,' he said. 'I guess I use my leverage for any kind of project that benefits the city.' It was good for the city!"

    When he was finally indicted for a whole 'nother set of schemes, federal prosecutor Eric Holder, now the U.S. Attorney General, said: "This indictment alleges that Congressman Rostenkowski used his elective office to perpetrate an extensive fraud on the American people."

    Rostenkowski eventually plead guilty in exchange for the most serious charges being dropped.

    *

    I guess that's what you get, though, from a guy who gets such a thrill out of rubbing shoulders with with the people he "covers" - even if they're convicted felons who betrayed the public trust for decades out of a thirst for power.

    *

    "Had lunch last Friday with Dan Rostenkowski and a few other pals," Steinberg wrote on Feb. 4, 2009. "A rollicking good time upstairs at Gene & Georgetti, as always, and while discretion forbids me from revealing anything that was said, I must comment upon one gesture.

    "Occasionally, to emphasize a point or subtly signal that I should shut up so he could speak, Mr. Chairman would reach over, grasp my forearm and give it a squeeze.

    "Afterward, I thought about how many times Lyndon Johnson must have done the same thing to Rostenkowski , and it pleased me greatly to think of that squeeze being passed from LBJ to Rosty to me."

    *

    Neil Steinberg's continuing search for validation in all the wrong places, only in the Sun-Times.

    3. Last May, Beachwood legal correspondent Sam Singer thought Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was the favorite for the opening that instead went to Sonia Sotomayor.

    "For those keeping score, Elena Kagan has more 'plus factors' in her column than either of the two favorites," Singer wrote.

    "That's to her credit, but she also enjoys some other advantages. For one, she has built a reputation as a unifier, having gone further toward uniting Harvard Law's warring academic factions than any dean in recent memory. Also, her hair is still windblown from sailing through the Senate after the president appointed her Solicitor General. She was confirmed by a vote of 61 to 31. Those are odds Obama just might take."

    4. "Congressman Mark Kirk will speak at the City Club of Chicago public policy luncheon Monday," his campaign says. "He will discuss the opportunities and challenges we face at home and abroad."

    And how each relates to Broadway Bank.

    5. How 'Bout Those, Um, Hawks?

    6. "At least in the short term, fares are likely to rise, especially on routes with less competition and the 13 routes flown nonstop between the two airlines' hubs, such as Newark to Los Angeles, Cleveland to Chicago, Denver to Newark, Houston to Denver, and others," George Hobia of Airfare Watchdog reports.

    And:

    "Since United has slightly different fees for some services than Continental does, it's likely that any higher fees on United will be adopted on routes flown by Continental, as happened when Delta merged with lower-fee Northwest. And existing fees could increase, since the less choice that consumers have, the fewer opportunities they have to fly on airlines with lower fees."

    These deals are never about consumers, no matter what hullaballoo you'll be hearing.

    7. Kmart's circular logic.

    8. Facebook executives apparently don't read Facebook.

    9. "Gene Simmons recalls passing by the band's hotel room (Rush toured as Kiss' opener early on), only to find Lee, Lifeson and Peart sitting quietly reading or watching TV while everyone else orgied," Variety reports in it's story about the documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage.

    (h/t: Mark Frazel's Facebook feed.)

    10. The White Sox's plan is working.

    11. The Cubs' plan is working.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Work it.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: How 'Bout Those, Um, Hawks?

    How could the teams that faced off in convincing Vancouver victories in Chicago in Games 1 and 5 of this Western Conference semifinal series have been the same squads who did battle when the Hawks absolutely took it to their hosts in Games 3 and 4 in British Columbia? Is it the game itself? Is there something about hockey that makes these sorts of series' almost inevitable?

    One thing we know is that goalie play could not be more pivotal. And it isn't just the giving up of goals, it is the timing and tenor of the scores that slip through, especially early in games, that sets the tone for everything that comes after.

    Beachwood Baseball
  • The Cub Factor.
  • The White Sox Report.
  • Agony & Ivy: A way of life.

  • But back to the uneven play. At least there was a transition between the Canucks dominating Game 1 and the Blackhawks overwhelming their foes in Game 3. The second game of this series was a tight-checking affair where the Hawks had to rally for three goals in the third period to eke out a win that wasn't secured until an empty netter in the final seconds. There was no transition between Games 4 and 5. The Hawks were an unstoppable force in the former but just never got going in the latter.

    Of course, there is the worst-case scenario: Game 5 could have been the transition, from the Hawks in command to Vancouver claiming the overall upper hand. But surely that isn't the case. The Hawks have two more chances to close this thing out. One is on the road, where they have rocked. And then there is a possible Game 7, which they worked all year to ensure would be on home ice. As long as they don't give up a goal in the first minute of both of those games, they should be fine. Shouldn't they?

    There are ebbs and flows in any playoff series in any sport (except of course in sweeps - but no signs of those in these parts the last two years as the Hawks have won three playoff series in six games each and lost one in five). But these aren't ebbs and flows, these are crashing stops and tire-squealing accelerations.

    The best explanation is probably the simplest. We love the work goaltender Antti Niemi has done at critical points so far this postseason. But he still has plenty to prove. The goal he gave up with all of 59 seconds gone last night, whiffing on a long shot from the point that he saw all the way, was just the sort of early setback that puts hockey teams on their collective heels. From then on, the Canucks played a disciplined, determined game, refusing to take stupid penalties and severely limiting serious Hawk scoring chances.

    Still, it is just goofy that the Hawks have been so bad at home two out of three times in this series. In this topsy-turvy sport it seems like whatever is clear one night invariably turns completely murky the next, but one can't help but be a bit concerned about a team hasn't been close to truly taking advantage of its home-ice advantage.

    Here's one theory about why Vancouver has been so much better in Chicago than in its home town: The home crowd makes the Canucks anxious. There is only so much you can draw from the telecasts, but it sure did seem like Vancouver's fans are especially attuned to the officiating. When one of the Canucks flops but doesn't get the call, there is a much louder, outraged reaction than in many other hockey venues. That has to contribute to Vancouver's fundamental belief that the Hawks are taking liberties and bending the rules and the officials are letting them get away with it. And of course that attitude is about as self-defeating as an attitude can be.

    If the crowd was anxious during Games 3 and 4, imagine how it will be when elimination is on the line tomorrow night.

    Game Notes
    * Vancouver's Alex Burrows was sent off for tripping Duncan Keith relatively early in the first period, but it was clearly a terrible call. Just as early goals against don't seem to do as much damage if they aren't soft, early penalties aren't as disheartening if they aren't the result of clear lapses in self-discipline.

    * Roberto Luongo may have shaved off his beard but he's still the same guy. He was much better about controlling rebounds in Game 5, but he still had a few of those awkward falls where he pitches over forward apparently because he is so sure someone is on the verge of absolutely running him over. Kris Versteeg scored his game-winner in Game 2 in large part because Luongo was down on his stomach and out. If he keeps doing that, the Canucks are toast.

    * TV voices Eddie Olczyk and Pat Foley got a little carried away with the "they only need one (goal)" thing when the clock ticked below 10 minutes remaining in the game and the Hawks still trailed 3-0. You understood what they were trying to say earlier in the third period, that if the Hawks could just score one goal it could give them enough extra energy - and the Canucks enough doubt - to lead to more tallies. But when the clock ticked under four minutes remaining and the Hawks still trailed by two and Olczyk again said "they just need one" you couldn't help but disagree, vehemently. On this night the Hawks needed a hell of a lot more than "One Goal."

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    The Cub Factor

    Marty Gangler is on special assignment investigating conditions on Tom Ricketts' bison farm. If he's not back next week, please contact the authorities.

    Just like the White Sox, the Cubs' season is going exactly according to plan.

    Unfortunately, it's Jim Hendry's plan.

    True, Hendry didn't expect Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee to disappear, but that's just because Hendry's not really paying attention. They always disappear.

    Here's how the Cubs can fix their season before it's too late:

    * Lower beer prices. Even for away games. Ease our pain, guys.

    * Use the money from the new Toyota sign to help eat Alfonso Soriano's contract when you trade him to an American League team where he can DH. That would almost make the sign worth it.

    * Clone Marlon Byrd.

    * Open up the Captain Morgan Club to the enlisted men, too.

    * Stop listing whether a player is right-handed or left-handed; this information only feeds Lou Piniella's worst obsession.

    * Now that Carlos Zambrano has been completely devalued, complete the master plan and trade him for a head of bison.

    * Face the facts: This core - Soriano, Lee, Ramirez - will never win. The window has closed. Even if they turn the season around, they'll disappear in the playoffs. And if the Cubs are gonna suck, it would be much nicer if they sucked with likable players.

    -

    Week in Review: The Cubs were swept by the Pirates and lost two of three to the Reds. They scored 14 runs in their one victory this week, but otherwise their run totals by game were 2, 2, 1, 2, 3.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs start an eight-game homestand with three against the Marlins and three against the Pirates. Look for them to score three runs in each series.

    The Second Basement Report: We'd like to welcome SBR-alumnus Ryan Theriot back to the fold. Theriot got three starts this week as the team's new starting second baseman, a position Mike Fontenot lost despite a .311 average. Fontenot got one start; Jeff Baker got the other two. And in a curious twist, Fontenot will now be Starlin Castro's back-up at shortstop, not Theriot. Why? Because that's the way Uncle Lou sees it in his fever dreams. Aramis Ramirez, meanwhile, is still the third baseman.

    In former second basemen news, Mike Fontenot is now the backup shortstop for the Cubs.

    The Zam Bomb: This is the week the Zam Bomb runs out of wick. Fans in the first 10 rows at Wrigley this week are advised to wear radiation suits.

    zam_furious.jpg

    -

    Lost in Translation: Toyota is Japanese for Tom Ricketts tells fans to suck it.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Starlin Castro for the New York Yankees, whose hat he'll wear into the Hall of Fame.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 30% sweet, 70% sour. Lou is down 10 points on the Sweet-O-Meter, erasing last week's gains and leaving the Goodship Cub adrift. And just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows the kids in the neighborhood start getting antsy when school's about to let out, but he'll be damned if they're gonna get away with ruining his lawn again this summer, so he's already building a new fence from his Falstaff empties and buying a guard dog bark simulator.

    Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Toyota's freefall was stemmed upon news that at least one affluent American still had faith.

    Over/Under: Number of times Lou snaps at reporters after embarrassing losses this week: +/- 4.5.

    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 Jim Hendry never really had a plan.

    A & I Labs: What Tom Ricketts can do with his Toyota sign . . .

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

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

    Fantasy Fix: Rookie phenoms.

    The Mount Lou Alert System: Please stay tuned to the Emergency Broadcast System for evacuation routes and locations of medical centers this week as residents of Wrigleyville and surrounding communities are urged to seek safer environs. Mount Lou is ready to blow.

    mtlou_red.gif

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    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    The White Sox Report

    In a way, they're doing everything exactly according to plan.

    They have two great starting pitchers.

    They have a woefully underachieving designated hitter.

    They have two lousy outfielders.

    They have a pair of major problems in the bullpen.

    Except, you know, none of those are the right problems executed in the manner expected of them, instead entirely misplaced and made all the worse by leaving nothing better in their wake. That should've been Andruw Jones costing the team run after run after run, not Carlos Quentin. That should've been Scott Linebrink and Randy Williams softly tossing clay pigeons, not J.J. Putz and Bobby Jenks. That should've been Alexei Ramirez regressing as both a hitter and a fielder, not . . . wait, scratch that one.

    But really, all they have to do is keep doing exactly what they've been doing, except do it even less. Move Alex Rios to the leadoff spot to get that much-needed speedy on-base percentage action at the top. Upgrade the infield defense by moving Juan Pierre to third, because he can't possibly be a bigger liability than Mark Teahen. Bat Paul Konerko second so there's someone on base once the theoretically powerful heart of the order comes up. Move the newly unreliable Gavin Floyd to the bullpen, the newly finesse-devoted Jenks to the rotation, the newly abysmal A.J. Pierzynski to Charlotte - shake it up! All of it! Because, come on, what's the worst that could happen? Humiliation? Defeat? Abysmal attendance? Please. Those things have tried to stop these White Sox and those things have failed like so many corner outfielders flailing desperately towards a fly ball just out of reach. Let those other teams have their pointless runs and hollow victories; these White Sox have moved on such pedestrian endeavors.

    Let us hope and pray the rest of the league soon follows suit, as conspiratorial indifference may be our last hope.

    Week in Review: Negatory. Take two of three from the Royals, but then drop three of four to the Blue Jays for a good old-fashioned week of .428 ball. Fantastic.

    Week in Preview: Rivalrous. The Sox make their first trip to Target Field for a two-game miniseries against the twins (with a chance to either make up [or only lose a little] ground), then head to Kansas City for three against the Royals (with a chance to prove themselves as either totally average or completely hopeless).

    Hawkeroo's Can-O-Corn Watch: "And that was the thing, with playing all those games in that dome, I don't care you who have out there, you could field eight pairs of cleats and a big ol' bag of dirt, but as long as Joe Mauer was calling the games and Ron Gardenhire was over there in the dugout, you could've given me a ten-run lead and I wouldn't have said I'd win. But you take guys like these Twins have had, I remember Torii Hunter, still one of the best center fielders to ever play the game, Luis Rivas probably going to go down as one of the greats, even Lew Ford, who for my money was second at his job then only to what Denard Span is relative to his position now, and you put guys like that on this field with Joe, with Gardy, and you're gonna have some baseball games. I guarantee you will have some baseball games, and that's what has made this into, for my money, one of the best rivalries in baseball, ever. Ever. Because every year, our Sox are right there in it, and they always will be, because that's what Kenny Williams, Ozzie Guillen, Jerry Reinsdorf, that's what kind of baseball men they are. And that's why, as far as I'm concerned, this new Target Field, this isn't gonna be anything like playing in the Dome - because Kenny Williams knows that."

    Gordon Beckham Hall of Fame Update: Alex Rodriguez-directed threats of violence this week: one. Gordon Beckham-directed threats of violence this week: zero. And with that, Gordon Beckham is officially more beloved than arguably the greatest baseball player of our time.

    Alumni News You Can Use: Former White Sox outfielder Scott Podsednik went 5-for-13 with two RBI last week in a three-game series against the White Sox, while former White Sox designated hitter Jim Thome has five home runs and 15 RBI in 66 at-bats for the Twins. In related news, the White Sox Report hates Juan Pierre so much right now.

    The "H" in "DH" Stands For: Half, as in the approximate ratio of Mark Kotsay's slugging percentage (.304) to Andruw Jones' (.620).

    The Q Factor: His strange feat of notching exactly as many runs driven in as hits has people asking: when does Carlos Quentin put a ball in play? Whenever he damn well feels like it, that is when Carlos Quentin puts a ball in play.

    The Guillen Meter: Staring at the very real threat of reaching last place in a hurry, the Guillen Meter reads 8 for "already 8 games behind the goddamned Twins and it's barely May."

    Endorsement No-Brainer: White Sox baseball for Electrolux vacuums: Nothing sucks like it.

    Cubs Snub: Swept by the Pirates and shamed by the Reds? In the same week? Seriously? That's not just bad, that's like White Sox bad.

    The White Sox Report: Read 'em all.

    The Cub Factor: It's funny because it's true.

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    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 6:48 AM | Permalink

    May 8, 2010

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Natasha Julius left Beachwood HQ abruptly on Thursday and is reportedly in hiding. We'll fill in until her situation is resolved.

    Facebook Feed: John Kuczaj knew something was up yesterday when www.eTrade.com temporarily redirected to www.YouAreSoVeryFucked.com.

    Market Update
    Futures in Illinois leaders took a big tumble this week as the entire sector seemed to collapse under the weight of its own venality and cluelessness.

    Daley's Situation
    Chicago Shore sure to follow.

    Facebook Feed: John Kuczaj 12 = The over/under on the number of new liquor licenses that will go to Daley-connected businesses.

    The Starlin Castro Era
    Next disappointment arrives.

    Facebook Feed: David Brummer Turned on the WGN radio this morning to hear the hosts rave about "Starling" Castro.

    Don't Toews Me, Bro
    All used up.

    58% Of America Fails IQ Test
    "42% Say United-Continental Merger Will Increase Airline Prices."

    Super Bowl Ads Created By White Men
    Who have never been kissed before.

    Beachwood Nation Confirms Scientific Study
    Used double-blind studies last night.

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Expand and contract.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

    May 7, 2010

    The [Friday] Papers

    I've got a busy morning and it's already been a clusterfuck of a week, so just a few things today and you can look for an expanded Weekend Desk Report tomorrow.

    1. I'm proud to say that I'm pretty sure we've just posted the best review you'll find anywhere in America of the Kentucky Derby weekend.

    Our man on the rail, Thomas Chambers, beautifully fulfills a big part of our mission here - and at Agony & Ivy - by bringing you the unvarnished truth about something we love and hate to see tarnished by ego, greed and power plays. (Which side in these great dramas are really the immature ones?)

    Tom got me thinking about how it's so funny to hear the word "purist" slung around like it's a bad thing to be; sort of like the derisive term "goo-goo" is flung at "good government" types. Are you for bad government, then?

    Yes, I know that "purists" can become unreasonably holier-than-thou, at which point they usually become hypocrites at some level or demand a standard of behavior that is impossible to attain. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the fact that Tom, for example, has this funny idea that the health and welfare of the magnificent horses on his beat should be paramount, followed by the way the industry treats its customers.

    Alas, it just ain't so - just like in the rest of Corporate America, which seems to inherently corrupt values. (More on Tom Ricketts and his freakin' Toyota sign later.)

    So go read Tom's piece, even if you aren't a horse-racing fan. You won't need to be to feel outraged, angry and also appreciative of the finer aspects of the sport.

    2. If you haven't yet read Drew Adamek's two-part interview with fanzine writer extraordinaire Bill German about his life with the Rolling Stones, do so now. I'm not really a Rolling Stones fan; in fact, I kind of hate them while acknowledging their place in musical history and the fact that they've obviously written some great songs. But I'm a huge fan of this interview, it's well worth your time.

    3. A couple of our faithful readers have added to Renaming Navy Pier; it's worth going back to.

    4. Beachwood cartoonist Sunil Adams has a couple new compositions. (Sorry for our text clarity issues, we're working on it.)

    times-bomber.jpg

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    iPhone.jpg

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    See you Saturday and/or Monday.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Don't lose it.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:10 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: Derby Lament

    Like any Kentucky Derby, the 136th gave us a couple of dozen story lines.

    You had trainer Todd Pletcher winning his first Derby with Super Saver, a horse that was down on his depth chart earlier this year. You had Calvin Borel winning his third Derby in four years, and his third Triple Crown race in the last four. We rehashed the good trips and the bad trips and asked the inevitable question: "Who's going to the Preakness?"

    Dis and Dat
  • Ofman takes a Taser to the local sports scene.

  • But if you care about the game, and know what you want out of it, you can't be anything but disheartened and disappointed with the failures of many of the people who touch this race. The humans who find it impossible to reach, or even attempt to reach, the zenith of performance they ask and demand of the 20 magnificent Thoroughbreds. Nineteen colts and a filly we figure aren't as smart as us, but who never fail to deliver it all, or fulfill every expectation.

    I took a more lackadaisical approach this Derby season, keeping tabs, and seeing who stood out. I won on Saturday, and I helped others to win. And there was a rush of satisfaction during and after the breathless 2:04.45 minutes of the race that my hunches and ideas worked out. That's the handicapper's fix.

    It's in the post-mortem, the impressions, and most of all the stories, where we see the humans failing to deliver. Unable to properly conduct, or deliver, two of the greatest days racing has to offer. It's been twisted into an assault on patrons with profit the motive, and content cross-promotion and the elevation of meaningless people into meaningless celebrity as the weapons.

    In a rough chronology, all gleaned after the Derby:

    * We found out that Doug O'Neill, handler of such nice horses as Great Hunter, Lava Man, Notional, Square Eddie, Stevie Wonderboy, and Thor's Echo was fined and suspended for an illegally high level of carbon dioxide (usually administered with a "milkshake" of bicarbonate of soda) found in Illinois Derby runner Stephen's Got Hope after he ran at Hawthorne April 3.

    The punishment? A suspension of 15 days and a $1,000 fine. He'll continue to train because California will honor his appeal and he wouldn't set foot in Illinois until the Arlington grass festival at the earliest, if then. I don't have to tell you that this does nothing to solve the problem of drugs in American racing.

    * As always, in racing, only the horseplayer or fan is hurt by the childish squabbling of various caretakers of the wager.

    Because TwinSpires Inc., through its coupling with Magna Entertainment, is trying to conquer the world of American advance-deposit wagering, the only racing channel I can get on DirectTV, TVG, was not allowed enough access to produce The Works, a useful and entertaining show it used to do that highlighted how the horses were working and faring in the week or so before the Derby. HGTV has its version, but because of racing and cable/satellite bickering, I can't tune that in.

    I liked the show. It got me fired up during Derby week. They took it away.

    What if you snare a customer as he's flipping past college lacrosse or bar brawls in cages? Wouldn't that be nice? Meanwhile, those of us pushing the dollars through the window are ignored.

    * The corporate menace continues.

    Seems an independent promotion by Louisville's "Galt Hotel, the Kentucky Derby Museum and Jane Dempsey, a Californian whose family has been bringing fans to the Derby via junkets for 64 years" turned sour when Derby-winning jockeys Ron Franklin and Jorge Velasquez were not able to score tickets to Churchill Downs and were aced out of attending either Friday or Saturday.

    Living Derby winners put their hands in cement at the Galt Hotel, immortalizing their accomplishments and ensuring at least some flow of tourist dollars for companies like Churchill Downs Inc. to grab. Thanks a lot, Churchill.

    They even ran the Pleasant Colony Purse on the Derby undercard. Velasquez won the Derby on Pleasant Colony in 1981.

    While we are treated to reality show floozies who would hurt themselves around a stove or TV Q-Listers forced upon us through cross-promotion, Franklin and Velasquez, who put more on the line to make the day possible than anyone, couldn't even get a seat on the clubhouse turn.

    But think of it. This is not unusual behavior by a corporation. It's not a horse race, it's a TV show. The Super Bowl is not a game, it's an extended version of America's Best Commercials. While the Masters golf tournament has gone way over the top with its obsessions, at least it controls its product for the presentation of the golf.

    * See if you can follow me.

    NBC has the television rights for the Kentucky Derby. I'm sure they called dibs on Kentucky Oaks on Friday. But instead of daring to interrupt the profitable local news, where we can all keep up with a dog on the expressway, they shunted the Oaks to the NBC-owned Bravo channel.

    What did we get? Coverage of the race? Nope. Nothing but effin cross-promotion of some cooking show they have and people cooking. And hats. And more hats. And no odds. And the tormenting of Mr. Stomach Staple Al Roker as he introduces Derby dishes we might like. Of course, for what Roker gets paid to say it's going to rain somewhere in the country today . . .

    It got worse on Saturday.

    * I can't critique ESPN for its coverage of the Derby Day undercard, because I saw very little of it. But I did hear Hank Goldberg get a bet down on a horse that had been scratched six hours earlier. He's the one who couldn't make the piggy bank the network staked for him last for more than a couple of races one Saturday, and ended up smashing it. Then he continued to make losing bets.

    * They must all be Buffys and Biffs straight out of Syracuse broadcast school. The director from over in the entertainment division. And the consultant on demos, you know, the age groups. And, of course, the keepers of the corporate profits. I think they have their own room in the truck out back.

    How else would you explain the abominable coverage of the Derby from NBC, and its missing the story story of the day.

    Why didn't they ever show the odds? And when they did, it was for mere seconds, not enough to even write them down. I was in a bar, like millions of others. And I have a phone account, like millions of others. Don't they understand that even the julep-chugging Hat Sallys in the crowd bet on the Derby? I had people asking me to make bets for them, right after they asked me "Now who's running again?"

    Wouldn't you think Churchill Downs would demand more showing of the odds? If just to tap into this naive betting pool.

    And what a story those odds were. The favorite, Lookin At Lucky, went off at better than 6-1, the highest price ever for a favorite. Ever. The longest longshot, Make Music for Me, went off at 30-1, a decidedly low figure for a longshot in a race where a few of them should have been in the 75-1 range or higher.

    The story was twofold. It was the Giacomo-Mine That Bird Syndrome in that no horse should be counted out for the win, no matter the handicapping. No matter the shape of the race.

    And it was that this Derby was the most ambivalent in memory. No horse stood out. There was no Big Brown, or even an Eskendereya. For all intents and purposes, for this Derby, it was as if all the horses were basically taking the same kind of money.

    In seeing the nano-flash of the odds a good 45 minutes before the race and then as they were loading, it also seemed as if the odds held pretty steady most of the afternoon. Another story.

    But let's throw it back to the cooking set and watch them defile some Woodford Reserve.

    And NBC's camera work was horrible. This isn't the N-Frickin'-L. Just because you can put a camera on a wire on the top of the turn, doesn't make it a good idea. They had every camera angle known to man, except the one that told you who was in front. Wide lenses made it look like they were always on the turn.

    When you could see the horses, from the overhead blimp, you couldn't tell who they were. In one shot, the horses appeared to be going the wrong way. God forbid you want to see how Calvin Borel put together his winning trip. You could only see that after he basically had the race won and was gliding toward the wire, on the rail.

    * The tote services.

    I had an early hunch the odds were holding, catching glimpses on the TV or on the smartphone. Then it happened. The Oregon wagering hub went down and it was increasingly difficult if not impossible to get a wager down in the hour before the race.

    You heard right, the Commodore 64s went down!

    "Some bettors across the country nearly got shut out of the May 1 Kentucky Derby when AmTote International's multi-jurisdictional wagering hub in Portland, Ore., locked up twice within 50 minutes of the Derby's post time. The outage affected several advanced deposit wagering platforms including TwinsSpires.com, XpressBet, and Youbet.com."

    No, not nearly. I did get shut out for the 20 minutes before the race.

    Luckily, figuring I had done enough studying, I placed my Derby bets very soon after the previous race ended. I was okay. But trying to get in a couple of cover bets and bets for others, I couldn't get through. I actually got the message "Due to unusual call volume . . . click."

    The people had no clue, before or after:

    "I think where AmTote and the whole industry can improve is to do a better job testing for big days," AmTote president Steve Keech said. "It is so tough to test that big day because that is when things get fragile. I want to stress it wasn't the wagering volume, we know how to handle that. Was it the creation of new accounts and funding of those accounts? We're not sure."

    So this guy is one of those corporate wonks who feigns concern by asking and answering his own questions, and essentially blaming me for opening an account or adding money to my existing account. Stick it, Mr. Keech.

    From the bad Oregon hub to the ancient machines at the OTB, Thank You, racing industry for keeping up on the technology and providing a seamless and enjoyable experience for us all.

    * Calvin Borel.

    You can't deny the success he's had. As mentioned above, his record in recent years is remarkable.

    But let me ask you this, Calvin. Could you be a little more humble? The wise, grizzled, little Cajun gnome act has worn mighty thin and you don't have to be in every picture.

    And you should be ashamed of yourself for the way you whipped Super Saver in that race, especially in the last eighth. In most parts of the world, you would have been suspended for unnecessary whipping. So I don't want to hear about your love of the horse because when you whip like that, it becomes all about you.

    And where are the lords of racing who have dragged their heels on a no-brainer issue that would help the industry? Jockeys here whip the horse as in no other jurisdiction.

    And shame on the Daily Racing Form's editors who hid Stan Bergstein's insightful column on the issue behind the login for premium subscribers, of which I am one. Mr. Bergstein also talked about how they are greatly reducing the amount and severity of whipping in harness racing in America. I can't remember the last time one of his columns was run online pay-per-view.

    And one more thing, Calvin: While the announcers crown you Captain Courageous for the way you take the rail in these races, don't forget that it can probably now be said that the other jockeys, for some reason, don't have the guts to challenge the rail against you. You stole some candy, and I think you know it.

    One of the most thrilling aspects of the Kentucky Derby was the way Ice Box struggled to get into the open and head for the wire. By the time he did, it was too late. Nevertheless, he displayed a tremendous determination and exertion in an attempt to catch Super Saver, finishing second in the process.

    He may have known he couldn't catch the winner, but he put in the best effort he could.

    Too bad we can't say the same for all of the Kentucky Derby people who's responsibility it is to try their hardest, do their best. Too bad.

    -

    Thomas Chambers is the Beachwood's man on the rail. He brings you TrackNotes (nearly) every Friday. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:26 AM | Permalink

    Ofman: Dis and Dat, Dem and Dose

    The most annoying part of the recent Bulls press conference announcing the dismissal of Vinny (we hardly got enough time-outs from you) Del Negro was GM Gar Forman claiming he was just starting the process of contacting potential replacements. Really? Seriously?

    *

    Is it me or are the White Sox fading into oblivion and it's only the first week of April? Their batting average with men in scoring position is so low, archeologists might find the remains of Abner Doubleday first.

    *

    Someone suggested the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano to the Sox for Mark Buerhle. It won't happen because Buehrle would balk at being an 8th inning set-up man. Then again, the way's he's been pitching . . .

    *

    By the way, when do the Cubs return to their senses and put Big Z back in the rotation just to get him some work?

    *

    I said this on WGN Radio the day after Milton Bradley bolted the ballpark in Seattle: "This man is crying for help. How many ways can you spell THERAPY!" I'm not busting a tear for this mope of a human because he should have asked for help years ago. Then again, those who managed and generally managed him in recent years should have detected the signs. Bradley is sick. So are those who aided and abetted his problem by lavishing millions on him. Shame on everyone.

    *

    Sat alongside the Tribune's Dan Pompei on Chicago Tribune Live the other day. He's a great guest and lightning rod for lively discussion. He claims the Bears don't need any veteran wide receivers because the ones they have are good enough. Love you long time Dan, but there isn't one accomplished receiver on this team including Devin Hester. While Jay Cutler stumbled badly his first season, I bet there would have been fewer interceptions had there been more competent wideouts. The Bears are a need-to-win-NOW team. That means they need a veteran receiver or two NOW!

    *

    Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault accused Dustin Byfuglien of getting away with murder in front of the net during last year's playoffs. After game three, the Canucks coach should have Byfuglien arrested and charged with "Death by rebounds."

    *

    Instead of using a Taser on fans, aim it in the directions of some players who admire what they think are home runs, and then start running. Bet that would settle the issue.

    *

    If Aramis Ramirez refuses the advice of hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo while he tries to figure out just how his hitting stroke disappeared, then Lou Piniella has no choice: He must show him the bench. Lou already has shown his mettle with Soriano and Zambrano. He must do the same with Ramirez even if it means playing either Jeff Baker or Chad Tracy at third.

    *

    The Cubs played Houston, the Mets, Washington, Arizona and Pittsburgh all in the span of 21 days. It was considered the easy part of their schedule. Is it possible those teams looked at their schedules, saw the Cubs and exclaimed, "This is the easy part of our schedule!" The results speak for themselves after the Cubs put an embarrassing punctuation mark getting swept at Pittsburgh by getting blown out.

    *

    That's all she wrote, which happens to be the name of my blog on ChicagoNow. You can also follow me on Twitter at @georgeofman and on Facebook.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 AM | Permalink

    May 6, 2010

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "One of the city's most persistent and troubling scandals reaches federal court Thursday when jury selection begins in the trial of Jon Burge, the former Chicago police detective accused of overseeing the torture of suspects," the Tribune reports.

    "For nearly two decades, Burge and his detectives allegedly sent dozens of men to prison on the basis of coerced confessions, deepening bitterness between police and minorities and helping inspire former Gov. George Ryan to reject capital punishment and empty the state's death row."

    Austin's Power
    "A Chicago alderman gave her grandson a job in her ward office four months after he was charged with helping to bilk a retiree out of thousands of dollars, in another example of City Council members rewarding friends and relatives with their taxpayer-funded expense accounts," the Tribune reports.

    "Kenneth Austin Jr., 21, was paid about $18,500 last year as a legislative aide for his grandmother, Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th, chairwoman of the Budget Committee."

    And by Austin's logic, we should make it a priority to hire relatives of public officials.

    "In the past, Austin defended the employment of her grandson, who first surfaced on her expense-account payroll in December 2008, by saying she holds him to 'a higher standard . . . I can ask of him what I can't ask of other people as well.'"

    Like what, pick up her dry cleaning?

    *

    "Austin, who is currently ill, was unavailable to answer questions about her grandson's arrest, and staff members said they could not address the issue for her."

    Perhaps because they've never seen Kenneth Austin actually perform any work.

    *

    "In August 2008, Kenneth Austin was charged with felony theft for allegedly teaming up with an in-home nurse to steal more than $2,000 from an elderly woman the nurse was caring for, court records show. The case is pending. He declined to comment."

    Commenting isn't in his job description.

    *

    "[Kenneth Austin is] just one of the relatives whom aldermen paid through their annual expense allowance of $73,280, according to a Tribune review of the 2009 accounts. Others are Angela Moore, the daughter of Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, and Dorothy Burnett, the mother of Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th. (See the database by clicking here).

    "Aldermen are given wide discretion over how to use their expense allowances, which were increased from $33,280 by Mayor Richard Daley in 2008. The Tribune last August documented how the 2008 money was used to hire relatives, lease expensive automobiles and pay public relations professionals. New city data show that those practices continued last year."

    *

    "Cochran paid his daughter about $19,000 from his expense account between January and August of last year to work as an aldermanic aide in his ward office. She was later moved from the expense account to the city's regular payroll, according to city officials.

    "Cochran's daughter is a college graduate who previously ran a coin laundry owned by her father.

    "'In this job, it is very important that you surround yourself with people you can trust,' Cochran said."

    Is that what they taught you at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Willie, when you were earning your master's degree in public administration there?

    *

    "Also being paid out of aldermanic expense accounts was Thomas Sadzak, a legislative aide in the 10th Ward to Ald. John Pope. Sadzak, a Democratic precinct captain, resigned from the Department of Streets and Sanitation in 2005 after being accused of sexual harassment, and he appears on a city do-not-hire list, documents show."

    Well, the guy is named Pope.

    University of Madigan
    "Taxpayers have a right to know which public officials used their influence to get applicants into a state-funded university, and why," the Tribune editorial page says today.

    But Michael Madigan ain't talking.

    "Last summer, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was asked to testify before a panel investigating the University of Illinois' secret admissions track for applicants with powerful friends. He refused."

    Madigan's Mouth, Steve Brown, has said that his boss was merely performing constituent service - even though the Tribune reported that "Only five of the 28 applicants helped in three recent years by the state's most powerful lawmaker lived in Madigan's district, and many would not have been admitted on their own merit."

    Madigan has also refused to answer questions from Tribune reporters, because that's not how Madigan thinks democracy ought to work.

    The way it works in his office is for Brown to go onto websites such as The Capitol Fax Blog and complain that the Trib's reporting is a "tortured attempt to smear someone."

    Not nearly as tortured as getting unqualified relatives of cronies into a public university that would otherwise reject them.

    Lisa Madigan's Compartments
    "Today, Attorney General Lisa Madigan strongly criticized ComEd's offer to put $500 million towards the state's budget gap in exchange for freezing above-market rates for four years, calling it 'just another effort to lock in unjustified profits,'" Progress Illinois reports.

    Lisa Madigan also strongly criticized her father's efforts to lock in unjustified admissions at the U of I. Oh wait, that didn't happen.

    Suck It, Medill
    Per usual.

    Renaming Navy Pier
    We have a few ideas.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Your move.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    Renaming Navy Pier

    "Mayor Richard Daley today said Navy Pier's name should not be changed, even if it means more money," the Tribune reports.

    "The idea is part of a plan being considered in Springfield to allow the troubled agency that runs it and McCormick Place to sell naming rights to its facilities to raise more revenue.

    "'It's called Navy Pier. You try to change Navy Pier," Daley said at a news conference in the Austin neighborhood to announce summer activities for children. 'Dedicated to the men and women who gave service in the Navy.'"

    Daley's stance is unfortunate because the Beachwood has learned the following new names are under consideration:

    Old Navy Pier: A stale joke for a stale venue.

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    Chotchkies: Now with twice as much flair.

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    Navy Pier 1 Imports: Now partnering with the CTA and the Water Department.

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    National Guard Pier: Oh, and while you're here . . .

    *

    Blago Pier: Tourism would triple.

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    Google Pier: Dedicated to the men and women who give service in search.

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    The Peoples Pier: Sponsored by Peoples Gas.

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    Millennium Pier: Taking new bids now.

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    Pritzker Pier: Family egos not yet satisfied.

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    BP Pier: Beyond petroleum spills.

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    Comments welcome.

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    1. Beachwood reader Mark chimes in:

    PETA Pier: Every dog walked on the Pier is forcibly spayed, neutered, or set free, and the new featured attraction is a paintball game where red pellets are fired at fur-wearing patrons.

    Wrigley Pier: An historic but crumbling civic icon that has been sold off piece by piece to advertising and sponsorship - no longer serving its original purpose to any meaningful degree, but a nice family entertainment destination and a great place to get drunk.

    Oprah Pier: Finally gives O a stronghold on the sea - the one area where her empire had previously seemed vulnerable.

    Pop-Tarts Pier: A culturally deficient attraction brought to you by a nutritionally deficient product.

    Stroger Pier: As he leaves the Cook County Board, a chance for Todd to oversee an actual carnival.

    Zell Pier: Upon closing the highly leveraged and ridiculously complex deal to secure the naming rights, the Pier immediately begins to slowly sink into Lake Michigan.

    CTA Pier: Opens late every day with large sections closed for maintenance; no direct route from one end of Pier to the other; new attraction/ride - The Doomsday Scenario.

    Willis Pier: Continuing our tradition of ceding the historic names of beloved civic icons to obscure out-of-town insurance conglomerates.

    2. From Spencer Maus:

    Shakes-Pier: To rename or not to rename. Is that your freaking question? This could be freaking golden!

    Steak and Shakes-Pier: Would you like fries with your boat ride?

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:55 AM | Permalink

    Under Their Thumb: Part Two

    Our conversation with Bill German, the author of Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy From Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With The Rolling Stones (And Lived to Tell About It), continues. Part One is here.

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    Beachwood: You describe living life without the Stones changing from daunting to necessary. What was that like?

    German: It may have had something to do with me turning 30, but it just started to feel like a bit of a drag. It was a cumulative effect; dealing with the people around the Stones got harder, and things started to get more corporate, starting with the Steel Wheels tour. I knew it wasn't going to get any better.

    When they did their Voodoo Lounge tour in '94-'95, everything was just so much more corporate. It made it that much more difficult for me to interview the band. It used to be that I would just pop over to Ronnie Wood's house to interview him. I'd just call him up, and tell him I am coming over. Keith, pretty much the same thing. He would say, send Bill German down and it was like, okay, Bill German is coming down. It was just that easy, and then suddenly there are publicists, and tour promoters and bodyguards, which they didn't have in the 1980s, not on a regular basis anyways. All of that made my job more difficult, as far as getting interviews, getting access, getting news to the fans. Even getting photos became a problem, they developed all these rules about photos and it just became too much of a crush.

    Then I got disenchanted as a fan. It's just too disappointing to know that the Stones are going to charge $500 for a ticket and that fans are going to be locked out. Some of their hardest core fans won't be able to see them because they simple can't afford it. So of all that together conspired to make me feel like I had done it long enough. And it had been 17 years; it was more than half my life. That's basically what got me to quit.

    BONUS AUDIO: German talks about Keith's passion
    Beachwood: After having dedicated over half your life to this, was there a period of loss when you gave it up?

    German: Yeah, there was an emptiness. This was something that consumed me every day, and then suddenly I didn't have it. And it was like, well, where do I go next? I did considered writing about everything else in the world, other than the Rolling Stones. But it took me a little while to get that going; I just had all of these Stones flashbacks whenever I wrote. I felt like I couldn't move on with my life until I had the catharsis of writing this book, Under Their Thumb. I knew I wouldn't be right until I got this book out of me, so I finally sat down and did.

    I started taking notes, and the notes just piled up and piled up and I said, I have to start organizing these. Eventually I did, and here we are. Getting this book out has been a really nice catharsis for me. I'll never fully have the Stones out of my life - I don't want them to be completely out of my life - but it's been nice to get all of that stuff out of my head and off my chest and on to the page.

    Beachwood: How did Bill German survive the Rolling Stones notorious killing machine for 17 years?

    German: I knew when to ask questions and at the same time, I knew when to be a fly on the wall. I think that is how I survived as long as I did around the Stones. I saw so many people who burned themselves out. They might have gotten in for a little while, and might have partied with them but then they burned themselves out and made themselves unwelcome.

    Physically speaking, I never did the drugs, so that's it right there because there were so many causalities. I've thought about this a lot. I think it might have been my upbringing; my parents weren't into booze or anything like that. Even my clique of friends were not into the drugs, so I really wasn't into booze or drugs. I would have the occasional drink, as I mention in the book, I'd have the occasional Jack Daniels [with Keith Richards]. But it really wasn't my thing. There were so many people around the Stones just to do the drugs and that just wasn't me.

    It may sound corny but it was a dream come true for me to hang out with the Stones. So when I am in Ron Wood's house or Keith's hotel room, I want to remember every single minute of it. Plus, I was doing journalism, and I was there to gather up news and information. If I was any kind of "holic" it would be a workaholic. That's how I managed to survive physically.

    Emotionally, I've always had a sense of humor about it all. I knew we weren't curing cancer here; it is only rock 'n' roll. One of the things I tried to do with Beggars Banquet was show a more human side of the Stones, some of the humorous sides of the Stones; some of the ironies of celebrity life that you don't have in show business now.

    For instance, if I told you, 30 years ago, that Keith Richards was on the street, walking his dog, it was humorous because it was Keith Richards. There was some irony to it as far as Keith's image. But nowadays, it's the front cover of People magazine that celebrities are walking their dogs. So it's a lot different, the irony of Mick Jagger or Keith Richards or Ron Wood being seen around New York City.

    In one of my early issues, I had a picture of Mick on roller skates. So that was funny back then, Mick Jagger, the big rock 'n' roll God on roller skates and that humanized the Stones. I always had a sense of humor about it, and I think that's how I survived emotionally.

    Beachwood: Have you had any feedback from the Stones on your book?

    German: Everyone asks me that and so far the answer is no. I haven't really tried to get any feedback. I did send a copy to Keith's house in Connecticut. I never heard back but that's typical Keith. He doesn't call people, he's not on the Internet or anything like that. He doesn't tweet. I wasn't expecting to hear from him.

    I was going to send Ron Wood a copy but he shacked up with this 21-year-old girl. He moved out of his house and I didn't have his little love nest address. I haven't really tried contacting him about it. The others I didn't really bother with.

    So no feedback so far, but I know that Keith Richards and Ron Wood come off looking pretty good, as well they should. My goal was to just tell a true story and what comes out, comes out. In the end, maybe Mick doesn't come off looking so nice but again, in the end I was just trying to tell a true story, at least from my perspective, and I think that I accomplished that, so I am pretty proud of the book on that level.

    Beachwood: What kind of Rolling Stones fan are you now?

    German: I am still a fan of the music; I am still entertained any time I watch them on TV. I would still go to a show here and there if it were still affordable. I am not as crazy as I once was as far as collecting. I don't have to go to 20 shows a tour; one show a tour is fine. Just flipping through the dial the other night I stumbled onto the T.A.M.I. show, from 1964, on the local PBS station, where the Stones were on a bill with James Brown, The Beach Boys and Chuck Berry. I stumbled on to that and I am glued to it, still, all the years later.

    I am still a fan of their music and their charisma. I'll carry that with me forever, no objections there. I always separated the people from the artists. Well, maybe not always, but once I really started hanging around with Mick, I realized that the guy might be a bit of an asshole at times but he is still, in my opinion, the best lead singer out there. I am not going to let his personal stuff color my opinion of him artistically.

    Beachwood: You've had a prolific career - a couple of books, you published a magazine for 17 years, yet you didn't finish journalism school. How did not going to journalism school inform your career?

    German: I learned by trial-and-error. I made a lot of mistakes on my own. I can look back and realize a lot of mistakes that I made, in various ways, nothing major. I learned on the job; I think there is just a lot of stuff that you can't learn in journalism school. I don't really know because I can't compare or contrast what a full four-year college journalism education at NYU would have gotten me.

    I mentioned this before, but I learned a lot from watching Tom Snyder, even though I was a writer and he was a broadcaster; I learned certain techniques from him. Then later on, I loved Charlie Rose in the mid-eighties when he was on overnight. I learned interview techniques by watching these people, as well as reading the writers I loved in Rolling Stone magazine, people like David Dalton, pre-MTV Kurt Loder, the people that wrote for Creem magazine, the DJs on WNEW, here in New York. That's who I patterned myself after. I felt like I kind of didn't need to learn that in school. I have no idea if it would have benefited me or not.

    Beachwood: I have one last question: Is the coolest thing you've ever said: "Tell Keith Richards that Bill German is here"?

    German: It's funny when I look back, now that I am leading such a different life. When I step back, it really does amaze me that I was friends with these guys. I really could tell someone, "Tell Keith that Bill German is here." And that was my entree and no problem. And wow, when I look back at that . . .

    When Keith would enter a room, and if I was in the room and the room was full of people, Keith would come straight to me, instead of some record company executive or someone else. And it's like wow, even now, it's amazing. I still can't believe it sometimes. And I guess that's the perspective of the book.

    I really did come into as a fan, and maybe I ended up leaving it older and wiser or maybe a little sadder and wiser. But I did come into as a fan, and that's why I think the readers can relate to it. Because if I came into it any other way, if I was a fellow celebrity that got to know the Stones or some record company executive who was already big and powerful and then got to meet the Stones because I signed them to my record label, it would have been a totally different perspective. This book is written from the honest perspective of being a fan who befriended the Rolling Stones, which is extremely rare but it happens.

    Sometimes I look back and I think, wow, did I really hang out with these guys that much? It's amazing because it's kind of different from my life now. I am glad I lived it, and I am glad that I got to write about it.

    -

    Bill German lives in New York City and is working on a memoir about the disco vs. rock wars in Brooklyn in the late 70s.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

    May 5, 2010

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    1. I'm not quite sure which shell the ball is under, but my instinct is that the state would be better off making a deal with Scott Lee Cohen's pawn shop than accepting ComEd's offer.

    2. "Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th) lost a pair of major airlines and seven other law clients last year, but picked up a dozen new ones and still has 34 clients that did business with the city or other local government agencies, according to his annual ethics statement," Fran Spielman reports.

    "But, like so many other Americans, the City Council's Finance Committee chairman had a tough year for investments in 2009."

    Ed Burke: Just like you and I.

    Oh, except for this part:

    "Burke tried to make up for the loss by hustling 12 new clients that do business with the city: Community Housing Partners XI L.P.; Fifth Third Bank; The Habitat Co.; Humana Inc.; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399; JP Morgan Chase Bank; K-Five Construction; Kenny Construction; MCL Construction; Prairie Material Sales; Walgreens and Wentworth Tire Co."

    3. Either the Reader isn't very well-read among media folk or media folk are willfully ignoring the paper's recent reporting that found that claims about Walmart being the only store willing to locate in Pullman Park were, well, false.

    The latest offenders are Fox Chicago News and the Defender.

    Last night, Fox's reporter stood by silently as Ald. Anthony Beale told her that "Everyone has turned their back on us" except Walmart.

    But representatives from Jewel, Ikea, Costco and Target say Beale has never contacted them.

    Likewise, the Defender's recent cover story, "Beale's Bundle," reports that Beale "also courted other big retailers - including Costco, Dominick's, Ikea, Jewel and Target - to anchor the development, but they all declined."

    So it's Beale's word against the word of Costo, Ikea, Jewel and Target. (Dominick's was non-committal in its response.)

    Beale went on to tell the Defender that "They all turned their backs on us. I didn't want this fight, but Walmart was the only one willing to come" and that "This development hinges on Walmart."

    4. Oil Companies Pay a Pittance in Penalties to Offshore Drilling Regulator.

    5. "For an enterprise that's supposed to be all about taking a 'fresh, innovative approach' and creating a brand new model for journalism, the Chicago News Cooperative continues to look a lot more like a job haven for former Chicago Tribune editors and writers," Robert Feder writes.

    True.

    Then again, for an enterprise that's supposed to be all about taking a fresh, innovative approach, Vocalo continues to look a lot more like a job haven for people like Feder.

    6. UAL-Continental merger triggers multi-million exec bonuses.

    7. Does Ald. Tom Tunney think the street vendors working the sidewalks around Wrigley Field are stupid? Yes.

    8. The University of Madigan.

    9. What kind of baseball do you play?

    10. Life with the Rolling Stones: Part One.

    -

    Suck it, Arizona.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Satisfy your hunger.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    University of Madigan

    "House Speaker Michael Madigan swayed the University of Illinois to admit the relatives of public officials, political allies and donors who contributed $115,200 to campaign funds he controls, a Tribune investigation has found," the paper reports today.

    "Only five of the 28 applicants helped in three recent years by the state's most powerful lawmaker lived in Madigan's district, and many would not have been admitted on their own merit."

    Well, there goes the excuse that he was just performing constituent service. Oh wait, I forgot that in Illinois your constituents are your relatives and campaign contributors.

    "The Tribune investigation is the first detailed public examination of the relationships between U. of I. applicants who received preferential treatment and an elected official responsible for getting them on a secret admissions clout list. While the newspaper previously reported that Madigan's name was associated with more applicants than any other lawmaker, it couldn't determine whom he helped and how they were linked to him."

    *

    "Michael Madigan declined to speak to the Tribune but released a statement saying he intervened in admissions cases to be responsive to his constituents and Illinois citizens when they asked for his help. Records show Madigan's office faxed, called and e-mailed university officials on behalf of the students.

    "'I would do so without regard or consideration as to any political relationships or campaign contributions,' Madigan said in the statement."

    Really? I could just call up Madigan's office and have just as good a chance of getting his help as any of the people in this story? Fascinating!

    Let's read on.

    "However, at the time of the requests, the people Madigan helped included the relatives of a Chicago alderman, a high-ranking Chicago Police Department official, a Chicago comptroller and an Appellate Court judge. Two of the applicants are related to Madigan himself."

    Total coincidence, dude.

    "The documents show the university took Madigan's requests seriously. About 16.5 percent of the university's operating budget comes from a state appropriation, and Madigan has significant influence over higher education funding.

    "In one instance, an undergraduate application was twice referred to as a 'very important' case, noting that chief university lobbyist Rick Schoell would 'call the speaker' about it. Employees of the university's office of governmental affairs repeatedly told a campus official that the request came from Madigan's office.

    "When referring to a relative of then-Chicago comptroller Tariq Malhance, university lobbyist Terry McLennand wrote in a 2004 e-mail that the applicant was among the 'top cases we are watching' after an admissions official wrote that the student was expected 'to be denied.' 'Any and all help on these cases is greatly appreciated,' McLennand wrote."

    I'm sure Madigan could clear up his involvement in these cases if he could just find the time to answer the Tribune's questions. But Tuesday was the day he shops for apples.

    "Malhance did not return calls for comment, and the relative denied any knowledge of Madigan's help."

    So funny how no one is able to explain!

    "[Madigan] disagreed that students he backed were underqualified, because, he said, they have done well at the university. Rather, he blamed the admissions system.

    "'It seems that an imperfect screening and review system, rather than a lack of merit and achievement, might have been the real cause of their denial for admission or placement on a waiting list,' he said [in his statement]."

    See, Madigan's screening process - you know, the one in which he'll help anyone who contacts his office - is much more thorough than the one those so-called "experts" at the university uses.

    The students Madigan sent all did well!

    Um . . .

    "University records show otherwise. One student associated with Madigan who was admitted off a wait list received an F, two D's and 13 C's during his first three years in high school.

    "Another applicant, who was 'moved in' after appealing his rejection and described as 'relatively important' by an admissions officer, had missed his first-period class nearly three dozen times in his senior year, according to university records. 'The high school counselor was very surprised and not exactly thrilled that he was admitted,' the officer wrote in an e-mail to the governmental affairs office."

    It gets worse. Or better, shall we say.

    "Another Madigan contributor whose relatives are on the admissions clout list is Steven Gruca, a retired Cook County probation officer who has given $18,675 to Michael or Lisa Madigan-related funds since 1998. Two of Gruca's relatives applied to U. of I. in 2007, and were accepted for fall 2008. Gruca made his two largest contributions - $2,200 each - in 2007 and 2008.

    "According to U. of I. records, Madigan received a letter in October 2007 asking for 'any consideration' in regards to the Gruca relatives' applications. Madigan's office faxed the letter to the university. The applicants were admitted in December during the first round of notifications, and documents show they were ranked highly by the admissions staff.

    "Neither Steven Gruca nor his wife, Barbara, a Cook County probation officer, responded to requests for comment.

    "Steven Gruca's father, Stanley, said he doesn't know if his son asked Madigan for help, but he believes the students deserved to be admitted.

    "'My son is a big Madigan supporter, so I don't see what the problem would be,' said Stanley Gruca."

    The system works!

    But we're not to the punch line quite yet. Ready? Here goes:

    "In the early 1990s, the elder Gruca appeared on the ballot as Madigan's Republican opposition, though news reports at the time indicated he never campaigned against the speaker, and he told the Tribune in an interview last month that he considers himself a lifelong Democrat."

    Wow. That was almost better than sex.

    "Cook County and Illinois have a rich history of ghost candidates and so-called political plants appearing on the ballot against veteran politicians - the theory being the plants weaken any real opposition. The elder Gruca said he just wanted to know how it felt to run in a political race."

    Against Michael Madigan. Just wanted to know how it felt. And you know what? It felt great! Especially because he didn't have to actually do any campaigning!

    *

    "Madigan also sponsored a relative of Steven Hensley, a Madigan campaign contributor and circulator of petitions for the speaker's campaigns. The relative, referred to in university records as a 'Madigan request,' was an alternate to get into a competitive graduate program at the Chicago campus. The applicant eventually was admitted. What's more, the relative then received more than $32,000 in taxpayer-funded legislative scholarships from the speaker.

    "Hensley, a Cook County sherriff's office employee, donated $20,375 to Lisa Madigan and Madigan's 13th Ward organization from 1997 to 2009. When reached at the sherrif's office, Hensley said: 'I can't talk to you about that. I am at work.' He did not return later calls. A woman who answered the phone at Hensley's listed address threatened to call police if a reporter called again."

    The Hensleys apparently are not proud of the work their relative - perhaps a son or daughter - did at the University of Illinois. Or they were out buying apples for their friend, the Speaker.

    *

    Finally:

    "While in prior years Speaker Madigan made inquiries on behalf of applicants, we know of no instance in which he exerted inappropriate pressure," U. of I. interim President Stanley Ikenberry said in a statement.

    Every inquiry is inappropriate pressure, Stanley. Where did you get your degree from?

    *

    POSTSCRIPT: "11,000 Students Denied Aid."

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Rookie Phenoms

    The 2010 rookie class generated a lot of buzz before the season started. Heck, with the anticipated arrival of young luminaries like Jason Heyward, Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman, the rookie class built a lot of buzz before spring training started, and perhaps even before last season ended.

    Everyone is still talking about the 2010 rookie class, even though two of the three phenoms I mentioned haven't made it to the big leagues yet. Heyward has lived up to his billing, with 8 HRs, 24 RBIs and a .272 average in his first month in the majors. But, beyond Heyward, an impressive crop of rookies have quickly become promising fantasy pick-ups:

    Wade Davis, SP, Tampa: A slow start turns into a 3-1 record real quick when you pitch for the Rays, the best team in the league.

    Ike Davis, 1B, NY Mets: In his first 12 games, he has 1 HR, 6 RBIs and is hitting .306. Just 21% owned in Yahoo! leagues at a deep position, but worth watching as a mid-summer pick-up.

    David Freese, 3B, St. Louis: Arrived in late April, and has already collected 3 HRs, 16 RBIs and a .355 average.

    Austin Jackson, OF, Detroit: The guy who is leading all of MLB in hits, with 40, is just 59% owned in Yahoo! leagues. Five SBs hint at speed that hasn't been fully exploited.

    Jaime Garcia, SP/RP, St. Louis: The latest pitcher to benefit from great coaching in St. Louis is 3-1, with 23 Ks and a 1.12 ERA.

    Mitch Talbot, SP, Toronto: A 3-1 record with a 2.05 ERA and a complete game already in the bank. However, only 7 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

    -

    It's Week 5 in the fantasy baseball world, and the Starlin Castro watch has begun.

    -

    Fantasy Find of the Week: David Freese, 3B, St. Louis. Yes, him again. Hard to avoid him when he hit .519 last week alone. All three of his homers came last week, too. Just 41% owned.

    Fantasy Stud of the Week: David Wright, 3B, NY Mets. Hit 2 HRs with 9 RBIs last week, as his power shortage from last year appears to have been a fluke. 5 HRs already on the year for the surging Mets.

    Fantasy Dud of the Week: Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NY Yankees. We'll follow the third basemen pattern a bit longer. A-Rod hit .160 last week with no homers, and has only 2 HRs on the year.

    Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Yovani Gallardo, SP. He has strung together three wins in a row after a slow start, and has recorded double-digit strikeouts in two of those games. I like his chance to do it again against free-swinging Arizona this week.

    Expert Wire
    * Bleacher Report has praise for Chicago's Very Own Alex Rios, hitting well and on a pace for more than 50 steals this season. If only he could get the rest of the lineup in gear.

    * Roto Arcade notes that Brad Lidge is back. Is this good news in a year already marred by unstable closers?

    * RotoExperts suggests buying low on Ben Zobrist, who is disappointing his owners this year (me among them) with 0 HRs so far. The 5 SBs are nice, but if I wanted no homers and a bunch of steals, I would have picked Juan Pierre.

    * FanHouse plays "Stud or Shelton" (honoring one-time flash in the pan Chris Shelton) with Texas SP/RP Colby Lewis, a sudden star after brief stints in the majors in the last few years and a trip to Japan. Can he keep up the good work?

    * In case you were wondering about Strasburg, CBS Sports says the fireballer is getting closer to The Show.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's 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 3:39 AM | Permalink

    Under Their Thumb: Part One

    A Rock 'n' Roll Love Story: Bill German and the Rolling Stones

    Bill German lived every literate rock 'n' roll fan's wet dream: He turned a teenage cut-and-paste fanzine into a globetrotting adventure, rubbing shoulders with an unbelievable coterie of rock stars, celebrities and sycophants. For 17 years, he wrote, designed, published and circulated more than 100 issues of Beggars Banquet, the paper of record about the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll band.

    German started Beggars Banquet in his bedroom as an aspiring teenage journalist in 1978 with little more than a pair of scissors, illicit access to his high school's mimeograph room and an obsessive determination to get the story right. He created a newsletter that published everything fit to print about the Stones: public sightings, tour plans, recording updates, show reports and exclusive interviews.

    He started out selling copies at Manhattan record shops, but over time Beggars Banquet grew to include thousands of subscribers from all over the world. German dropped out of NYU journalism school after a year to work full-time on the 'zine. He never made much more than a subsistence wage for all his efforts. He kept Beggars Banquet going out of a love for journalism, the thrill of the chase and an unbridled passion for all things Stones.

    Then German got his big break outside of a Manhattan nightclub one night when he handed Keith Richards and Ron Wood a copy of his newsletter. The Stones loved it, becoming supporters and important sources of information for him. In 1984, the band made Beggars Banquet its official newsletter.

    German also fell in with the Stones personally; he co-authored a book with Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards took him under his wing and gave him some of his best tips. Mick Jagger was "a nice bunch of fellas" to him.

    Under Their Thumb: How a Nice Boy From Brooklyn Got Mixed Up With The Rolling Stones (And Lived to Tell About It), chronicles German's journey from high school kid with a passion for the Rolling Stones to band confidant and back. But more than a kiss-and-tell insider account of the Rolling Stones, Under Their Thumb is also a journalist's tale, full of ethical conflicts and hard-earned learning experiences.

    German set out to become a writer, not by classroom theory but by covering the beat he loved most. He followed the old journalism saw: Write what you know, and write as if you were the audience. He took his journalism seriously and practiced it with a passion rarely seen in music journalism these days.

    The Beachwood talked to German recently about what drove him to dedicate most of his life to writing about the Rolling Stones, what happened to all the passion in rock 'n' roll, and what it takes to hang with the Rolling Stones.

    This interview has been edited and in some places re-sequenced for clarity.

    Beachwood: Starting off, were you looking at Beggars Banquet to build a journalism career or as a way of ingratiating yourself to the Stones? And ultimately, did you see yourself as fan with a fanzine or as a reporter covering the beat you loved the most?

    German: That's really what it was - it was my beat. I started Beggars Banquet in September 1978. It was the week of my 16th birthday. I was a junior in high school, at South Shore High School in Brooklyn, where I was taking journalism classes. I was a crazy Rolling Stones fan but I was also a fan of journalism. And one of the things that really annoyed me was, other than Rolling Stone and Creem and WNEW in New York, everyone got the story wrong.

    The Rolling Stones' Some Girls came out in the summer of 1978. They went on tour and all the articles about them in the local paper and on the radio shows just kept screwing up the facts and it drove me crazy.

    When it came to the Stones, I just had this crazy desire to get the story right. And that's what motivated me. Wanting to ingratiate myself with the Stones, that was maybe somewhere in the back of my mind, but definitely not in the first year or two of doing it because I didn't even show it to the Stones for the first year, year-and-a-half.

    As far as it leading to a journalism career, I had no idea where it would lead. I wanted to be a journalist but I didn't know if these two would connect me or lead anywhere. It was really an end unto itself, starting Beggar's Banquet, at least when I was 16-years-old. I did it almost without thinking about it, that's how passionate I was. I was a Rolling Stones know-it-all, and I needed to put all of this knowledge and energy into some kind of outlet. That was it. I didn't care if I got one reader or a million readers, it didn't matter. I was just going to keep putting this thing out.

    BONUS AUDIO: German talks about the early 'zine days

    Beachwood: Did you have a mentor teaching you how to do the journalism of Beggars Banquet or were you just driven by your love for the subject?

    German: More the latter. I wish I had a mentor. I really didn't actually. If I had any mentor, I know this sounds crazy, I think it was Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow show. He was my idol. I would stay up and watch his show when I was a teenager, and from watching him, I just got a sense of journalism and journalistic ethics.

    I didn't really have a hands-on mentor to ask questions if I dealt with any kinds of problems. But somehow, I just kind of had some kind of journalistic ethics that I picked up, you know just like from reading the New York Times, or watching someone like Snyder. And really, from the one year of journalism I took from Mr. Weber, who I mention in the book very briefly, in high school, and a year of journalism in college before I dropped out to follow the Rolling Stones.

    Maybe I was an underachiever, because I channeled all of my journalistic knowledge into a fanzine about the Rolling Stones. But it really was my favorite beat, and it was a subject that I really had a passion for. I probably would have had the same passion if I was covering the White House or the New York Mets, but I honestly felt like there were people out there who could do that job better than me. But when it came to the Rolling Stones, I felt like I can do this job as well, if not better than anyone else out there. So it was that knowledge that drove me.

    BONUS AUDIO: German talks about his parents

    Beachwood: At what point did you say, after starting in your pajamas, I am really doing this - I am actually covering the Rolling Stones?

    German: When I was 20-years-old, once I moved into my apartment. I took over the lease from Keith Richard's "pharmacist," and I was paying incredibly cheap rent. And so I knew that this was it; I am living on my own and my parents aren't paying my way. I only have to come up with $300 a month, which probably still seemed like a lot back then, but I only had to make $4,000 a year.

    I realized this was my job. It became a full-time occupation because the Stones were always doing something. If I wanted to cover them as best I could, it was a full-time occupation. I couldn't have any other job. It also had a lot to do with the hours of it all. During the day I was at the printers and the post office; at night, I am off chasing the Stones at some nightclub because I want to see Keith jam with Chuck Berry or something like that. So I guess that was the point, when I was 20-years-old, and I had been doing it for four years when I realized, this is now turning into a career.

    Within a month or two of moving into that apartment, I got the phone call from the Stones management, saying, "Hey, Mick and Keith love your little newsletter and they want to take your fanzine, that you started in your pajamas and printed out in your high school mimeo room, and they want to turn it into their official newsletter and advertise it in their next album, which turned out to be Undercover, and you'll get to interview them and you'll get to go out on the road with them."

    So then it just took off and then it was like, well, this is really my job. I couldn't even think about doing some other fanzine about some other subject or any freelance stuff. It just took up every minute of my day. But that was fine; I was able to cover my nut you know, pay for my cheap rent, pay for my food and write about a subject that I loved.

    Beachwood: It must have been a 20-hour-a-day job.

    German: It really was at points. I just kept going and going. I don't think that I could do it at this age. But back then, in my 20s and early thirties, I had the stamina to do it and you can do it substance-free. I didn't even drink coffee. I really just did it on pure adrenaline and emotion and desire.

    There was one issue were Keith's eye didn't fill in properly in the picture. I sat there with a number two pencil filling in his eyeball in each one like a hundred times in every copy. I remember another issue where I said that something took place in June but it was really July, and I remember sitting with an eraser, I don't even know how it erased because it was ink, but I sat there with my eraser and an ink pen and replacing the "ne" with an "ly." It's something that people can't even relate to today because you click and you delete and that's it. Back then, that's what it required. It was a mistake that I caught too late, after the printing. I sat on each issue and did that.

    I just felt I never wanted to let my readers down and my readers were me. I mean, all I ever put into the fanzine was what I would have wanted if I were on the other side, if I was receiving it in the mail. So I really knew what the fans wanted.

    And maybe that's the difference; for a lot of these people (music journalists) it's just a job. I don't even know what's on MTV but I would guess it's got very little to do with music. But whoever is on there and supposedly giving you music news, they're on there because they want to be famous. Whoever it is, Carson Daly or whoever, he just wants to be famous, it doesn't matter what the venue is for him. That's his goal, and not to pick on Carson Daly but it's all of them, whoever they are. They just want to hang out and go to some parties and get free stuff.

    That's the problem, and you see that across the board, the people running the radio stations and the people running the record companies, as well as the artists, obviously. You look at these little girls that are coming out with their songs; they might have one or two little catchy tunes but they are just there for the fame more than the music. So that's where the passion goes out of it.

    Beachwood: In the face of the Internet for 24-hour celebrity news, and eBay for memorabilia, can guys like Bill German exist anymore?

    German: Can I exist being the fanzine guy? I don't think so, certainly not as a hard copy fanzine. Things are more accessible. Although, I hear from my old people, now that I have a website - I'm not a total Luddite - who tell me how much they miss that experience. They loved coming home from work or school, and seeing Beggars Banquet in the mailbox. They would open it up and just sit there on their front steps and read it immediately. That's a nice feeling.

    I think some of those people would still pay for a hard copy fanzine but less and less obviously. None of the kids, no one who is 30 or under would care and that just makes it obsolete. Especially now that everyone can do it. You had to have the passion to do a fanzine, which meant that you had to believe that you were good at it. And now the Internet has allowed anyone with a keyboard to put anything they want up there. You have no idea whether it is accurate in terms of your favorite band.

    The marketplace is just too flooded for someone like me to exist nowadays because people would just say, who cares about Bill German. There are a hundred other places to get information. It wouldn't matter that I was the best - let's just say that I was, just for argument's sake - because there are just so many now and everyone thinks that they are entitled to their opinions.

    It's a great thing, the democratization that the Internet has brought, that everybody could do it; that was sort of the DIY ethic of fanzines back then. But back then the dividing line was that passion. But now it is so cloudy and muddied up that no, I don't think someone like me can exist anymore.

    BONUS AUDIO: German on the tactile old days

    Beachwood: Were there tough moments of balancing your journalistic integrity and your love for the Stones where you said, I don't want to put this out because it might hurt the Stones?

    German: There were a couple of instances. There was one time when I was interviewing Bill Wyman in England. It was my first time overseas. I was 23-years-old. I wasn't as close to him as I was Mick and Keith and Ronnie, but that was largely a geographical thing because he lived in London the whole time. Whenever I did see him, he was actually pretty nice to me. He had me over to his office, and he gave me a pretty good interview.

    Then he dropped a bombshell on me: He revealed to me that Mick had tried to throw him out of the band a couple of times. At the time that he told me this, in 1986, this was exclusive news. I don't even know why he volunteered this to me. But I did sit on that. As a journalist, I am embarrassed that I sat on it, but I knew that if I put that in Beggars Banquet, it would be too explosive.

    Mick, as well as the Stones management and their lawyers, had already hassled me about some of the things that I had put in the newsletter. Them complaining to me had a chilling effect on me. So I just kind of skipped over the fact the Mick had tried to throw Bill Wyman out of the band.

    Beachwood: In the book, you describe emotionally transitioning from work being fun to fun being work, and losing some of your drive to keep operating Beggars Banquet. What kept you going?

    German: I loved getting the story; I still loved the journalism part of it. I still enjoyed chasing a story, tracking down and interviewing sources or witnessing an event myself. It was still putting together a fanzine and writing about a subject that I loved, even if some of the people around the Stones, or the Stones themselves- well, Mick- were giving me a hard time.

    I also felt like I had this commitment to the readers. I was in a very unique situation. Being in New York and having befriended the Stones as a fan, it was almost like a responsibility to my fellow fans. I was in this unique position to give fans the news that they wanted and at the time, no one else could do this. I was in the right place at the right time, with the right temperament.

    -

    Tomorrow: The Stones go corporate.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

    May 4, 2010

    The Cub Factor

    I guess the biggest question you have to ask yourself this week is:

    What kind of baseball do you play?

    No, really, what kind of baseball do you play?

    If you were under a rock this week, this is what good ol' Uncle Lou asked a reporter who had the audacity to ask Lou why he didn't bunt in a tight ballgame. I've been trying to wrap my head around what possible answer someone could come up with ever since.

    Do you play small ball? Long ball? Bean ball? Moneyball? A cross between small and long ball - let's call it medium to long ball, or maybe if you sway the other way it would be small to medium ball. What about small moneyball? Do the Royals play small moneyball, or just bad ball? Because the answer for most people would be, no ball. Because who actually plays baseball anymore? I know I haven't played a game of real baseball since I was like 13 and I wasn't very good. So my answer would be none to horrible baseball. And wouldn't that be like most other reporters also? So I guess the answer would be: That is kind of a stupid question, Lou.

    Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Nats and took three of four from the D-Backs. One game over .500 is barely above average. And that is about right. This team is barely above average.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh and Cincy for three games each with their bitter divisional rivals. I kind of made up the "bitter" part because there is really nothing very exciting about going to Pittsburgh or Cincy. I do expect Cub fans to be bitter about something this week, though.

    The Second Basemen Report: Mighty Mike Fontenot has stepped up and put a headlock on the starting second baseman position by getting the starting nod in six of last week's games. Jeff Baker got the other start. Just think, if Fontenot played this well last year the Cubs wouldn't have gone out and got Jeff Baker in the first place. It's all part of Jim Hendry's master plan; you know, the one he drew up.

    In former second basemen news, Augie (Dog) Ojeda just came into town to play the Cubs this week with the Diamondbacks. Can you believe he is still playing the big leagues? And even though we just saw him, he is missed.

    The Zam Bomb: Big Z remains furious. This bullpen thing is just a bad idea and the longer he stays in the bullpen, the shorter that wick becomes.

    zam_furious.jpg

    -

    Lost in Translation: Smalley time-ie happy happy is Japanese for you better enjoy this Soriano hot streak while it lasts, because it won't.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Alfonso Soriano for hot sauce because as good and as hot as your moth feels right after you take a bite, it'll fade away pretty quickly.

    Sweet and Sour Lou: 40% sweet, 60% sour. Lou is up a whopping nine points on the Sweet-O-Meter this week due to stupid questions, and just like your real crazy drunk uncle, Lou knows that he drinks too much but don't ask him a silly question like, maybe you should put down that beer because you are driving Lou, because he's just going to rip you a new one and bring up that time that he bailed you out of jail for curfew and didn't tell your parents about it. Lou is crazy and drunk, don't F with him.

    Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Salsa music is up this week due to large amounts of it coming for Soriano's locker and it not bothering his teammates as much as it sometimes does.

    Over/Under: Number of games the Cubs should win this week against two bad teams: +/- 5. Bonus proposition: Number of games the Cubs will give away this week that they should have won: +/- 2.5.

    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 PNC Field friggin rulz.

    A & I Labs: What Tom Ricketts can do with his Toyota sign . . .

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

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

    Fantasy Fix: 2B and Big Z.

    The Soriano Saga: Chapter 1,473.

    The Mount Lou Alert System: Lou moves back to Orange territory this week. Local natives started drilling into the surface of Mount Lou and really got under its protective shell. An explosion of anger magma may be very close. Villagers in the Greater Cincinnati area have been warned.

    mtlou_orange.gif

    -

    Contact The Cub Factor!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 PM | Permalink

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Luis Gutierrez is on the griddle.

    "The FBI has interviewed City Hall employees and Chicago aldermen about U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez's ties to a corrupt developer, according to records and interviews that raise new questions about the congressman amid an ongoing federal investigation," the Tribune reports.

    "A former alderman convicted in the investigation told FBI agents that Gutierrez boasted of helping his longtime political supporter Calvin Boender obtain a lucrative zoning change for a development on the city's West Side. Another alderman told agents this year she thought Gutierrez was going to buy a home in the development.

    "And several city planners told investigators they were stunned by the highly unusual intervention of a congressman in a local zoning matter."

    The Tribune story follows a Sun-Times report that Gutierrez is now also the subject of an investigation by the city's inspector general in another foul-smelling deal.

    On that one, Mark Brown put it best:

    "Congressman Luis Gutierrez was calm and composed when he returned my call Monday, which is not what I would have once expected on a day the Sun-Times carried a story zinging him over a real estate deal involving his daughter.

    "Gutierrez didn't think it should have been a story, didn't want to see his daughter put through the news media grinder.

    "But when an alderman who happens to be the congressman's political protege free-lances his own off-the-books affordable housing program and one of the reduced-cost units winds up in the hands of the congressman's daughter, who flips it a year later for a nice profit, well, that's a story."

    And as Brown goes on to note, that isn't even the topic of his column; the fact that Gutierrez no longer lives in his congressional district is.

    Gutierrez didn't do himself any favors when he explained why to Brown.

    "He said he felt they deserved their choice after years of living in homes based on his political needs."

    Sorry you were held hostage to your constituents all these years, Luis.

    "I wanted them to be safe," Gutierrez also told Brown, though Brown writes that "Gutierrez said he didn't mean to suggest that he couldn't find a safe place to live in his district."

    I'm not sure what else it could mean.

    *

    Gutierrez says his daughter received no preferential treatment. But his daughter referred questions from the Sun-Times to her father. "My father knows all about that," she said.

    So her father arranged the deal.

    Former Ald. Billy Ocasio, now in the Quinn administration, was also involved.

    "'I've known Omaira since she was 6 years old,' said Ocasio, who hired her to work part-time in his aldermanic office about 10 years ago. 'She got no preferential treatment.'"

    So Gutierrez and Ocasio intervened for everyone who came into their office asking about affordable housing?

    *

    "Ocasio said he doesn't know exactly how many affordable homes were created under the 26th Ward program, in part because his staff destroyed many of its records when he shut down his aldermanic office."

    I wonder what gave his staff the idea to do that . . .

    *

    It turns out the best thing that's happened to Gutierrez in the last few days is that he got arrested. It may not be the last time.

    Unidental
    Tribune headline: "1st Priority: Happy fliers."

    Riiiight.

    Online version.

    Walmart Whitewash
    The Tribune talks to David Doig (D-Daley) and Ald. Anthony Beale (D-Daley) for its update today on the Walmart saga, but ignores the huge chunk of credibility each lost when the Reader's Hunter Clauss asked a simple question last week.

    *

    The Trib does note that "Although Daley's administration has the power to simply approve Wal-Marts in properly zoned areas, it has not done so, with Daley saying he wants a solid majority of the City Council to approve."

    So the reality is that no one is standing in Walmart's way but Daley.

    *

    The president will use reconciliation to pass health care reform but the mayor won't approve a Walmart without a solid majority of the city council.

    Perceived political imperatives - not policy - drive both.

    Fare Wars
    "CTA worker sold drugs at L office: prosecutor."

    Free for seniors, though.

    Pawnbroker vs. Powerbroker
    Compare and contrast.

    Illinois Pyramid Power!
    It's just a short drive away.

    The Cub Factor
    Is still being delayed by technical problems. Like Aramis Ramirez's swing.

    Oh, haven't you heard?
    News of a certain ornithological event. In Song of the Moment.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Pyramidal.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    Pawnbroker vs. Powerbroker

    "Pawnbroker Scott Lee Cohen announced his independent candidacy for governor Monday, trying to leap back into the political fray that chewed him up and spit him out in February," the Tribune reports.

    -

    Pawnbroker: Unacceptable occupation for a politician.

    Powerbroker: Highly esteemed occupation for a politician.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Exploits vulnerable people for profit.

    Powerbroker: Exploits vulnerable people for votes.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Welcomed by powerbrokers to privately contribute to pols.

    Powerbroker: Arranges private contributions to pols from pawnbrokers.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Comes from a long line of sleazy operators.

    Powerbroker: Comes from a long line of sleazy operators.

    *

    Pawnbroker: A legally licensed profession.

    Powerbroker: An unofficial profession that often operates illegally.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Knows both the value and price of everything.

    Powerbroker: Knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Will help you out of a jam, no questions asked.

    Powerbroker: Will help you out of a jam, no questions asked unless he's wearing a wire.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Competition on various street corners.

    Powerbroker: Competition in various gutters.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Often signified by a brightly lit sign of a diamond ring.

    Powerbroker: Often signified by brightly displayed diamond pinkie ring.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Often cashes checks for customers.

    Powerbroker: Often collects checks from customers.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Not allowed to be a lieutenant governor.

    Powerbroker: Wouldn't deign to be a lieutenant governor.

    *

    Pawnbroker: Scott Lee Cohen.

    Powerbroker: Michael Madigan.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

    Illinois Pyramid Power!

    "James Onan of Wadsworth, Ill. was inspired to build his 17,000-square-foot home in the 1970s after reading a University of Wisconsin study suggesting that pyramids generate energy," Parade reports in "Home, Strange Home."

    -

    Through the years . . .

    Publication: Los Angeles Times

    Date: September 18, 1988

    Headline: "A Man Who Believes in Power of the Pyramid Builder Lives in One"

    Excerpt: "Outside the main entrance is a 200-ton statue of Ramses II. The pyramid is an island perched on a concrete foundation in the middle of a 20-foot-deep, spring-fed lake with access by causeway. The 12,000-square-foot glistening roof is made of stainless-steel plates electroplated with gold. There are three garages, all pyramids. Eighty miniature Sphinxes line the driveway to the main structure home. [James Onan] also is building a replica of King Tut's tomb on the property."

    *

    Publication: Chicago Tribune

    Date: January 17, 1990

    Headline: "Tourist Trade: 1 of the world's 7 wonders"

    Excerpt: "People said I was nuts," Onan recalls. "If I'm nuts and people pay $7 apiece to come here, what are they?"

    *

    Publication: Chicago Tribune

    Date: April 22, 1991

    Headline: "4 hurt in crash of small plane"

    Excerpt: "Four people were injured, one critically, when their small plane crashed Sunday in a farm field near Gurnee after apparently experiencing engine problems, authorities said.

    "The victims were sightseeing and taking pictures of James Onan's famous Gold Pyramid house, a replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, said Lake County Sheriff's Lt. James Christopherson."

    *

    Publication: Chicago Tribune

    Date: February 28, 1993

    Headline: "Wadsworth millionaire offering nation a dose of pyramid power"

    Excerpt: "James Onan, owner of the Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth, has thrown down the gauntlet for the spendthrift lawmakers in Washington, D.C.: Show some financial responsibility and the pyramid is yours, no money down and no payments forever.

    "'. . . My wife and myself offer today, free and clear, with no tax deduction or credit, the Gold Pyramid House!' Onan wrote in the statement. 'We make this offer in the hope that the federal government will use the Pyramid House as a successful fundraiser, in much the same way as the state of California uses the Hearst Castle.'

    "Onan said he hopes that money generated from tours of Lake County's own San Simeon-a scaled down replica of Egypt's Great Pyramid of Cheops-will help erode the mountainous national debt."

    *

    Publication: Haunted Places: The National Directory

    Date: August 27, 2002

    Author: Dennis William Hauck

    Excerpt: "Then, an underground spring bubbled up out of nowhere at the center of the pyramid. The water from the spring formed a natural moat around the structure that was so pure that owner James Onan was allowed to bottle and sell it. In 1986, hordes of black birds started attacking anyone using the north entrance to the Chariot Room. According to legend, such birds protected the north entrance to the real tomb of Tutankhamen. Some believes in the ancient powers of pyramidology have felt powerful energy at the north wall, and also in the middle of the meeting room, which is directly over the source of the spring."


    *

    Video 1: Featuring James Onan.

    *

    Video 2: Exclusive interior shots.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

    Song of the Moment: Surfin' Bird

    Oh, have you not heard? It was my understanding that everyone had heard.

    Band: The Trashmen

    Released: 1963

    Format: 7"

    Length: 2:24

    Label: Garrett Records

    Writers: Al Frazier, Carl White, Sonny Harris, Turner Wilson Jr.

    Charts: No. 4 in the Billboard Hot 100

    Covered by: The Ramones, The Cramps.

    Wikipedia: "[Surfin' Bird] is a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingtons, 'Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow' and 'The Bird's the Word.'"

    Trashman.jpgSongfacts: "The brainchild of Trashmen drummer Steve Wahrer, the song was a quirky and consumable hit, boldly combining Surf music with novelty R&B. The Trashmen were a garage band from Minneapolis, which isn't surfing territory."

    Lyrics:

    A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird
    B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a don't you know about the bird?
    Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a . . .

    A-well-a everybody's heard about the bird
    Bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a don't you know about the bird?
    Well, everybody's talking about the bird!
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word
    A-well-a bird . . .

    Surfin' bird
    Bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb . . . [retching noises] . . . aaah!

    Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-
    Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow

    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-oom-oom-oom
    Oom-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-a-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow
    Oom-oom-oom-oom-ooma-mow-mow
    Ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, ooma-mow-mow
    Well don't you know about the bird?
    Well, everybody knows that the bird is the word!
    A-well-a bird, bird, b-bird's the word

    Papa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow
    [repeat to fade]

    YouTube:

    1. Performed on American Bandstand, 1963. (Embedding disabled)

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    Previously in Song of the Moment:
    * Iron Man
    * The Story of Bo Diddley
    * Teach Your Children
    * Dream Vacation
    * When The Levee Breaks
    * I Kissed A Girl
    * Theme From Shaft
    * Rocky Mountain High
    * North to Alaska
    * Barracuda
    * Rainy Days and Mondays
    * Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
    * Baby, It's Cold Outside
    * Man in the Mirror
    * Birthday Sex
    * Rio
    * My Sharona
    * Alex Chilton

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    May 3, 2010

    The [Monday] Papers

    The Papers will return on Tuesday, as will the rest of the Beachwood.

    But for those who need their Cubs fix . . .

    * "And they all stood and applauded," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "Alfonso Soriano had homered, doubled and then homered again, giving him four home runs in three days as he almost single-handedly led the Cubs to three straight wins over the Diamondbacks. As he strode to the plate for his fourth at-bat of the day Sunday, the Cub fans all jumped to their feet and gave him an extended ovation. And wasn't that nice - slightly disconcerting, but nice."

    * Jaramillo's Job Safe - For Now.

    * A Chad Tracy Sighting!

    * Concession Review No. 2: The High Plains Bison Hot Dog.

    * "An overlooked benefit of Carlos Zambrano's assignment to the bullpen? The Cubs are wearing their hideous alternate blue softball jerseys a lot less," notes our very own Chris Rewers.

    -

    The Weekend Desk Report
    Don your goofiest hat and pull up a couple of mint juleps, it's time to watch exploited workers labor in intolerable conditions!

    Special Kentucky Derby Edition
    With the biggest name definitively ruled out of the proceedings, it's kind of hard to pick a front runner. Here's how we handicap the best of the rest.

    Slowest Start
    There's no way he start as sloppily as his cousin, American Tiger, but we're thinking the pressure might finally tell on American Lion.

    Fastest Start
    Hard to argue against the early form of Sidney's Candy.

    Riskiest
    Although both are certainly capable of sneaky rail maneuvers and deceptive running, it's a safe bet time will catch up with both Discreetly Mine and Super Saver.

    Best Chance of Recovery
    On paper, you might think Looking at Lucky has a shot. Trust us, though, Backtalk looks almost as strong as his cousin Backtrack.

    Our Pick
    With early favorite Awesome Act already showing a tendency to flinch, we think it's inevitable that Ice Box joins his stable mates in, well, the Ice Box.

    -

    Weekend Desk Special News Video Report

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Whitewashed for your protection.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: The Soriano Saga, Chapter 1,473

    And they all stood and applauded. Alfonso Soriano had homered, doubled and then homered again, giving him four home runs in three days as he almost single-handedly led the Cubs to three straight wins over the Diamondbacks. As he strode to the plate for his fourth at-bat of the day Sunday, the Cub fans all jumped to their feet and gave him an extended ovation. And wasn't that nice - slightly disconcerting, but nice.

    Beachwood Baseball
  • The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday.
  • The White Sox Report returns next week.
  • Agony & Ivy: A way of life.

  • For three days in a row, Soriano's non-solo round-trippers were pivotal, giving the Cubs the lead for good Friday, tying the game at five on Saturday on the way to a 7-5 Cubs win and then capping off the four-run first and the 10-run total in the series-winner. Even when the man made an out it was impressive. The Diamondbacks finally retired him his final time up on a rocket-shot to third.

    And so he clearly deserved the applause. But hopefully no one expected him to take it to heart in a "You like me. You really like me" kind of way. Fans have every right to shred a guy who they think is an overpaid underperformer but they have to know that when they turn around and they shower him with good cheer when he turns things back around, it rings more than a little hollow.

    The boo-birds (is this word a complete anachronism or is it still at least slightly acceptable? Because it's all I've got for this context) succeeded in getting in Soriano's head early in the season. The defensive miscues began to accumulate and the left fielder was in danger of getting lost in the negative spiral of bad baseball and lost confidence. He deserved plenty of criticism for instances of showboating - the incredibly dopey hops before catches and the standing at home plate to admire a drive that didn't quite make over the fence and probably could have been a triple instead of a double. And analyst Bob Brenly, for one, didn't shy away from delivering it.

    But there was also plenty of over-the-top, practically apocalyptic yammering about Soriano being the symbol of all that was wrong with the Cubs and with baseball in general. He was the guy who was dragging everyone and everything down. Except he wasn't. Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez had much worse first few weeks of the season than Soriano. And it was the bullpen (other than Carlos Marmol, of course) that had completely betrayed the cause and deserved to dragged out back and flogged en masse.

    Fortunately, Soriano has handled it all the right way, maintaining perspective about the fans (knowing that no matter what color you are, the loudmouths will pound you when you're down and cheer you when you're up - i.e. he was the anti-Milton Bradley) and perhaps coming to his senses about the hops. He vowed not to do them anymore and although he has backslid a few times, I am optimistic he is moving on. He is also healthy this season after a knee injury clearly affected his performance for a sizable swath of the 2009 campaign.

    And what a relief that is for Cubs fans (although the way this game is, a bad week turning things back around the wrong way could always be right around the corner). Because love him or hate him, Soriano and his giant contract (five more years and almost $100 million yet to be paid) aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

    D-Lacks
    I don't think I saw even one Diamondback shirt in the upper deck Sunday. Even the least popular teams almost always have a few fans on hand at Wrigley/Mecca. Fortunately, there were some other folks to hound. Three Vancouver Canuck fans marched down the aisle at one point in the middle of the game, drawing a decent amount of boos. The problem: receiving that small amount of attention probably made those Ca-shmucks' year.

    Then the Cub fans busted out a decent round of "Let's Go Hawks! Let's Go Hawks!"

    Hawk Tawk
    Good Lord, Blackhawks.

    You realize Chicago is fairly fired up about this series with the Canucks, don't you?

    And that makes it all the worse when you lay an egg like Saturday's no-chance 5-1 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals?

    I know you mailed in your effort in one of the games (#3) against the Predators as well and still managed to win that playoff series, but this sort of thing will bite you in the ass at some point guaranteed.

    No matter how good this season has been so far, it will go down the toilet if you can't muster a hell of a lot more fire than that for the rest of this series and beyond.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    May 1, 2010

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Don your goofiest hat and pull up a couple of mint juleps, it's time to watch exploited workers labor in intolerable conditions!

    Special Kentucky Derby Edition
    With the biggest name definitively ruled out of the proceedings, it's kind of hard to pick a front runner. Here's how we handicap the best of the rest.

    Slowest Start
    There's no way he start as sloppily as his cousin, American Tiger, but we're thinking the pressure might finally tell on American Lion.

    Fastest Start
    Hard to argue against the early form of Sidney's Candy.

    Riskiest
    Although both are certainly capable of sneaky rail maneuvers and deceptive running, it's a safe bet time will catch up with both Discreetly Mine and Super Saver.

    Best Chance of Recovery
    On paper, you might think Looking at Lucky has a shot. Trust us, though, Backtalk looks almost as strong as his cousin Backtrack.

    Our Pick
    With early favorite Awesome Act already showing a tendency to flinch, we think it's inevitable that Ice Box joins his stable mates in, well, the Ice Box.

    -

    Weekend Desk Special News Video Report

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Whitewashed for your protection.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 PM | 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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