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« October 2010 | Main | December 2010 »

November 30, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Beachwood will return on Wednesday. And it will kick ass. As usual.

The [Monday] Papers
"Stuart Haverty was a down-to-earth 23-year-old who loved watching the Bears so much that he set up 'stadium seating' in his living room," the Sun-Times reports.

"But when he got up to go to the bathroom Sunday at halftime at Soldier Field, his friends never saw him again.

"Haverty, of far northwest suburban Woodstock, fell 35 feet to his death from a balcony on the west side of the stadium.

"A skilled climber who enjoyed scaling up the side of buildings and trees, he may have even hopped over a railing to enjoy a cigarette behind one of Soldier Field's famous columns before he fell, friends said."

Jay's Way
"I have often said of Cub great turned broadcaster Ron Santo that he's a fifth-grader (virtually no preparation for broadcasts, childish, emotional reactions to on-field happenings), but he's our fifth-grader," our very own Jim Coffman writes in A Petulant Quarterback In Full. "I suppose Cutler is more of a seventh-grader, convinced authority is out to get him unfairly and prone to acting out. But he's definitely our seventh-grader."

Plus: The View From Philly: Fuming.

My Fare Daley
"Chicago's taxicab king, Russian businessman Symon Garber, is facing millions of dollars in fines for illegally putting old wrecks back on the street as cabs," the Sun-Times reports.

"Garber and his business partners together face $9 million in fines for operating 180 wrecked cop cars as cabs, a Chicago Sun-Times review of hundreds of complaints filed by City Hall shows."

*

This is the good part:

"Garber operated cabs in Moscow and New York when he befriended Mayor Daley's son Patrick nine years ago in Russia. In just a few years, Garber became the predominant force in Chicago's taxi business, an industry regulated by City Hall."

*

But it gets even better!

"Garber has hired the law firm of mayoral candidate Gery Chico."

*

That would be Chico & Nunes.

"Chico & Nunes P.C. is an exceptional Chicago law firm committed to responsiveness, innovative approaches to resolving conflicts and finding solutions that add value for our clients."

*

"Our practice areas encompass a range of government regulatory and real estate services, spanning land use, TIF/financing and other entitlements, education law, construction law, procurement, public utility law, litigation and general business counseling."

*

Perhaps Garber's attorney there is Caroline Domagalski, a former assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago in the Commercial and Policy Litigation Division.

Or maybe it's Kate Tragesser, a former City of Chicago prosecutor.

Or maybe it's Marcos Nunes himself, seeing as how he is a former assistant to Richard M. Daley.

Either way, it's surely not Chico - even if the checks Garber writes have his name on them.

Chico and the Man
Paul Vallas's endorsement of Chico was warm and fuzzy, but look who is in the shadows:

"Mr. Emanuel received help from scores of campaign workers loyal to longtime Democratic ward bosses on the North and Northwest Sides. He had a conspicuous lack of such help from what have historically been the most powerful ward groups from the Southwest Side," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"Campaign foot soldiers for Alderman Edward Burke, from the 14th Ward on the Southwest Side, instead helped Gery Chico, whose mayoral campaign gathered about 50,000 signatures. Mr. Burke, the longest-serving alderman and chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, had not previously declared his preference for mayor. He told the Chicago News Cooperative this week that he directed the 14th Ward Democratic workers whose names appeared as circulators on petitions for Mr. Chico, a native of the Southwest Side."

20 Years Of Corruption And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
A perfect gift for the family member whom nobody sent. On sale now!

Riding While Dead
They not only vote, but they take the CTA to the polls.

*

This I did not know:

"In reality, however, this is chump change when compared to things like the seniors income tax exemption," Rich Miller of Capitol Fax writes. "They pay no state taxes on retirement income, no matter how high those incomes are. They also get some property tax relief."

Mark Kirk To Be Sworn In Today
Does that mean he's now under oath?

Media Pretends It Doesn't Exist
"Chicago Mayoral Contenders Fight For Attention."

Attention from who? Us! The media!

*

Note the passive voice:

"A number of contenders - including former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, state Sen. James Meeks and former school board president Gery Chico - are betting their positions on the issues and familiarity with the city will help them overcome perceptions that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is the candidate to beat, based on his previous stash of campaign money, early television ads and name recognition."

Missing: Perceptions hardened into the public mind by the media's incessant repetition of that very perception!

*

"But intensive efforts to challenge Emanuel's right to run pose a double-edged sword for his competition. While 15 petitions have been filed to knock him off the ballot, based on his not having lived in the city over the last year, the issue also threatens to overshadow the debate they seek on other issues."

Missing: Overshadow the debate, that is, if that's what the media focuses most of its attention on!

*

The media never thinks it's part of the story - except when they tell everybody how important they are to telling the story.

Leslie Nielsen For Medicare
His best performances ever?

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you.

The Circus Came To Town
Tigers, Tall Dancers and a Superhero Clown Car.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: The Greatest Tip Line on Earth.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

November 29, 2010

The [Monday] Papers

"Stuart Haverty was a down-to-earth 23-year-old who loved watching the Bears so much that he set up 'stadium seating' in his living room," the Sun-Times reports.

"But when he got up to go to the bathroom Sunday at halftime at Soldier Field, his friends never saw him again.

"Haverty, of far northwest suburban Woodstock, fell 35 feet to his death from a balcony on the west side of the stadium.

"A skilled climber who enjoyed scaling up the side of buildings and trees, he may have even hopped over a railing to enjoy a cigarette behind one of Soldier Field's famous columns before he fell, friends said."

Jay's Way
"I have often said of Cub great turned broadcaster Ron Santo that he's a fifth-grader (virtually no preparation for broadcasts, childish, emotional reactions to on-field happenings), but he's our fifth-grader," our very own Jim Coffman writes in A Petulant Quarterback In Full. "I suppose Cutler is more of a seventh-grader, convinced authority is out to get him unfairly and prone to acting out. But he's definitely our seventh-grader."

Plus: The View From Philly: Fuming.

My Fare Daley
"Chicago's taxicab king, Russian businessman Symon Garber, is facing millions of dollars in fines for illegally putting old wrecks back on the street as cabs," the Sun-Times reports.

"Garber and his business partners together face $9 million in fines for operating 180 wrecked cop cars as cabs, a Chicago Sun-Times review of hundreds of complaints filed by City Hall shows."

*

This is the good part:

"Garber operated cabs in Moscow and New York when he befriended Mayor Daley's son Patrick nine years ago in Russia. In just a few years, Garber became the predominant force in Chicago's taxi business, an industry regulated by City Hall."

*

But it gets even better!

"Garber has hired the law firm of mayoral candidate Gery Chico."

*

That would be Chico & Nunes.

"Chico & Nunes P.C. is an exceptional Chicago law firm committed to responsiveness, innovative approaches to resolving conflicts and finding solutions that add value for our clients."

*

"Our practice areas encompass a range of government regulatory and real estate services, spanning land use, TIF/financing and other entitlements, education law, construction law, procurement, public utility law, litigation and general business counseling."

*

Perhaps Garber's attorney there is Caroline Domagalski, a former assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago in the Commercial and Policy Litigation Division.

Or maybe it's Kate Tragesser, a former City of Chicago prosecutor.

Or maybe it's Marcos Nunes himself, seeing as how he is a former assistant to Richard M. Daley.

Either way, it's surely not Chico - even if the checks Garber writes have his name on them.

Chico and the Man
Paul Vallas's endorsement of Chico was warm and fuzzy, but look who is in the shadows:

"Mr. Emanuel received help from scores of campaign workers loyal to longtime Democratic ward bosses on the North and Northwest Sides. He had a conspicuous lack of such help from what have historically been the most powerful ward groups from the Southwest Side," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

"Campaign foot soldiers for Alderman Edward Burke, from the 14th Ward on the Southwest Side, instead helped Gery Chico, whose mayoral campaign gathered about 50,000 signatures. Mr. Burke, the longest-serving alderman and chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, had not previously declared his preference for mayor. He told the Chicago News Cooperative this week that he directed the 14th Ward Democratic workers whose names appeared as circulators on petitions for Mr. Chico, a native of the Southwest Side."

20 Years Of Corruption And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt
A perfect gift for the family member whom nobody sent. On sale now!

Riding While Dead
They not only vote, but they take the CTA to the polls.

*

This I did not know:

"In reality, however, this is chump change when compared to things like the seniors income tax exemption," Rich Miller of Capitol Fax writes. "They pay no state taxes on retirement income, no matter how high those incomes are. They also get some property tax relief."

Mark Kirk To Be Sworn In Today
Does that mean he's now under oath?

Media Pretends It Doesn't Exist
"Chicago Mayoral Contenders Fight For Attention."

Attention from who? Us! The media!

*

Note the passive voice:

"A number of contenders - including former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, state Sen. James Meeks and former school board president Gery Chico - are betting their positions on the issues and familiarity with the city will help them overcome perceptions that former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is the candidate to beat, based on his previous stash of campaign money, early television ads and name recognition."

Missing: Perceptions hardened into the public mind by the media's incessant repetition of that very perception!

*

"But intensive efforts to challenge Emanuel's right to run pose a double-edged sword for his competition. While 15 petitions have been filed to knock him off the ballot, based on his not having lived in the city over the last year, the issue also threatens to overshadow the debate they seek on other issues."

Missing: Overshadow the debate, that is, if that's what the media focuses most of its attention on!

*

The media never thinks it's part of the story - except when they tell everybody how important they are to telling the story.

Leslie Nielsen For Medicare
His best performances ever?

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you.

The Circus Came To Town
Tigers, Tall Dancers and a Superhero Clown Car.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: The Greatest Tip Line on Earth.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

20 Years Of Corruption And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

A perfect gift for the holidays. Buy it now!

corruption.jpg

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

The Circus Came To Town

"After a long period of constantly changing its spots to chase the competition, the Greatest Show on Earth has, these last couple of years, settled more easily into its own distinctive, time-honored skin," Chris Jones wrote for the Tribune this month.

"The enjoyable latest edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus - entitled Barnum's FUNundrum - takes its cue from the 200th anniversary of the birth of that great showman P.T. Barnum, and thus is a cheerfully - even defiantly - retro experience that re-centers this last of North America's great traveling circuses in the carnival tradition."

The circus was in Rosemont until the 14th, then played at the former Chicago Stadium through Sunday night. Here are some highlights.

1. The Train.

-

2. Elephant Walk.

3. The Opening.

-

4. The Tigers.

-

5. Superhero Clown Car.

-

6. Bike Sphere.

-

7. Tall Dancers.

-

8. Protest.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Leslie Nielsen For Medicare

Leslie Nielsen's death on Sunday from pneumonia - or complications thereof - has a nation rightly remembering his best lines from Airplane!, The Naked Gun and the horribly underacknowledged Police Squad!. He was a man of many acting talents.

"Mr. Nielsen, a tall man with a matinee-idol profile, was often cast as an earnest hero at the beginning of his film career, in the 1950s," Anita Gates writes in the New York Times.

"His best-known roles included the stalwart spaceship captain in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet (1956), the wealthy, available Southern aristocrat in Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) and an ocean liner captain faced with disaster in The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

"In the 1960s and '70s, as his hair turned white and he became an even more distinguished figure, Mr. Nielsen played serious military men, government leaders and even a mob boss, appearing in crime dramas, westerns and the occasional horror movie."

But is it possible his best work was in these commercials for Medicare?

1. Oh, uh, hello . . .

-

2. Whoops!

-

3. Hold the mayo.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Gold Motel at Subterranean on Saturday night.

-

2. Stornoway at Schubas on Sunday night.

-

3. Never Shout Never at House of Blues on Saturday night.

-

4. Bruno Mars at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

-

5. The Maine at House of Blues on Saturday night.

-

6. Big Gigantic at the Riv on Saturday night.

-

7. Every Time I Die at Subterranean on Friday night.

-

8. Stardeath and White Dwarfs at the Double Door on Friday night.

-

9. Castellano at Pasha on Friday night.

-

10. Tame Impala at the Double Door on Friday night.

-

11. Netherfriends at Schubas on Friday night.

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 AM | Permalink

The View From Philly: Fuming

"The philosophical way to look at what happened at Soldier Field yesterday is that the Eagles were playing the third installment of four games in 18 days, they were riding a three-game winning streak, all big, emotional clashes, and they were due for a stumble," Les Bowen writes for the Philadelphia Daily News.

"Philosophers were in short supply in the visitors' locker room, though. The Eagles were an angry team, a tone set by their coach. A red-faced Andy Reid met reporters after his team's 31-26 loss to the Chicago Bears, and he wasn't ruddy just from the breeze wafting through the windy city. Players said Reid was unusually terse in his postgame remarks to them.

"'He's mad, we're all mad. That was a game we didn't play well at all,' said tight end Brent Celek, whose 30-yard touchdown catch in traffic set the final score, with a minute and 48 seconds left. 'We feel like we really killed ourselves in this game.'"

*

"Left tackle Jason Peters declared the 7-4 Eagles still a better team than the 8-3 Bears, which, frankly, was a hard view to get behind, on a day when the visitors trailed by 31-13 going into the fourth quarter.

"'As bad as we played, we lost by five,' Peters said. 'They know we're the better team and they got the victory. We let the game get away. Hopefully, we'll see them again and battle from there.'"

Coach's Corner
"Andy Reid was furious, which means one of two things," Phil Sheridan writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"Either he saw this messy loss to the Chicago Bears as a winnable game that got away from the Eagles, or he saw worrisome cracks in the foundation on which his team built its 7-4 record."

*

"From the outside, this 31-26 loss was hardly a shock. Even in their best seasons under Reid, the Eagles have a game or two like this, usually on the road. The year they went to the Super Bowl, there was that 27-3 aberration in Pittsburgh. In 2002 and 2006, there were humiliating blowout losses in Indianapolis. It happens."

DeSean The Decoy
"DeSean Jackson sat there in his locker, with his head buried in his hands, for about 10 or 15 minutes after reporters were allowed into the Eagles' dressing room," Rich Hoffman writes for the Philadelphia Daily News. "Every once in a while, a teammate would walk over and lean down and say something, but the pose remained fixed. Nearby, a club official stood watch."

*

"This was another day when the opposition played with two deep safeties - and in this one, the Bears' safeties were sometimes playing just east of Skokie. It is nearly impossible for Jackson to run past people who play that deep - and running past people is what his game is all about. On days when Eagles quarterbacks - either Vick or Kevin Kolb - have been forced to work the underneath routes, Jackson's frustration has been palpable."

B Team
"Eagles cornerback Joselio Hanson, subbing for an injured Asante Samuel, struggled most of game and was burnt for two touchdowns," the Burlington County Times writes.

*

"It didn't hurt that the Eagles were missing their top two cornerbacks after Pro Bowler Asante Samuel stayed home with a knee injury and Ellis Hobbs went on injured reserve during the week with a neck injury. Defensive end Juqua Parker also sat out with a hip flexor strain."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: A Petulant Quarterback In Full

Give it up for the Bears.

I said, "Give it up for the Bears!"

Seriously . . . right now . . . give it up.

Tough to know where to start breaking down this awesome 31-26 victory over the Eagles and previously undefeated (this season in games he has started and finished) and unintercepted (since 2006) Michael Vick. I suppose it has to be four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Really, it was four touchdown passes and only one even almost interception. And that was on a pass to a tight end (Greg Olsen) who we knew would do what needed doing when a touchdown was up for grabs. It was four scoring strikes and at least a dozen more laser beams that hit Bear receivers in their hands and exactly in stride . . . four touchdown tosses and about 20 passes that were thrown where they would either be completed or would fall harmlessly to the turf or out of bounds.

And it was four touchdown passes despite four sacks, despite breakdowns in protection that would have thrown lesser quarterbacks completely off their game.

There were so many great completions but the most promising pass may have been one that didn't find its intended target. That was the incompletion that Jay Cutler threw on third-and-goal with the Bears leading 28-13 in the third quarter. That was the pass Cutler would have tried to force in games past. Heck, that was the pass Cutler did force for his one and only interception against the Vikings a couple weeks ago, a pick that for a time made that game much closer than it should have been.

This time Cutler put the ball out there in the back corner of the end zone where either Johnny Knox would make a circus catch or the Bears would go for the field goal that put them up by three scores. Robbie Gould hit the field goal.

It was a quarterback in full orchestrating a performance that more than justified the massive hype that followed the Bears trading a king's ransom for him before last season.

And Cutler did it his way, which is a way I suppose we're all just going to have to accept.

He pumped his fist when the going was good and flailed about petulantly when the play calls came in a little slow or his supporting cast didn't execute perfectly.

And he capped it off by complaining bitterly not once, not twice (when he ran down the field to confront the umpire) but three times (when he stopped and spewed a bit more invective as he left the field) to finally draw an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after a clear illegal contact penalty was not called in the fourth quarter.

I have often said of Cub great turned broadcaster Ron Santo that he's a fifth-grader (virtually no preparation for broadcasts, childish, emotional reactions to on-field happenings), but he's our fifth-grader. I suppose Cutler is more of a seventh-grader, convinced authority is out to get him unfairly and prone to acting out. But he's definitely our seventh-grader.

There was also the fact that the Eagles played the game without either starting cornerback. One of those absences, resulting from Asante Samuels' injury, was just bad luck. The other was less so: Ellis Hobbs was sidelined for the season by a neck injury suffered a few games ago while returning a kickoff. If you send a valuable cornerback out to carry the ball on the most dangerous play of the average game, what do you expect?

Speaking of kickoff returns, it was another remarkable return game for the Bears' special teams. Both Hester and Danieal Manning just missed breaking kickoff returns for touchdowns while still taking those kicks all the way back to near midfield. And another big return was negated by Nick Roach's questionable holding infraction late in the game. One reason the Bears execute these plays so well is that they put their best blockers out there for returns no matter who they are.

There was Earl Bennett, recipient of two of Cutler's touchdown passes and an ever more critical component of the Bears' ever-improving passing game, leading the way with key blocks on big returns.

As for the third part of the Bears' winning formula, well, this had to be about as well as a defense can play while still giving up 26 points despite no offensive turnovers.

On a day of redemption for general manager Jerry Angelo - his no-name receiving corps caught everything thrown its way including several critical improvisations (like Matt Forte's late catch and run of the little flip for a key fourth-quarter third-down conversion and Devin Hester's beautiful tightrope of the sideline while hauling in a perfect little lob pass earlier) - his defensive line stood out. While Angelo has neglected the offensive line in the past five drafts (other than taking Chris Williams in the first round a few years ago), he has annually used a pick or two to shore up the D line.

And that paid off as lineman after lineman made big plays Sunday.

If it wasn't Israel Idonije starting the game with a couple quarterback pressures and Harry Melton recording a key sack, it was Tommie Harris making the play of the game - creating pressure up the middle and then getting his hand up to deflect the pass that Chris Harris intercepted in the end zone, turning a sure Eagle lead into a Bear touchdown drive the other way and an eight-point halftime advantage.

If it wasn't Matt Toeaina grabbing a big sack of his own it was Julius Peppers making plays all over the field and capping it off with an absolute all-out effort to run down Vick near the sidelines late, diving flat-out to get a hand on his heel and trip him near the Bear 20-yard line. That last sequence was typical of Peppers' season because it was a play no other lineman in the league would have made but it won't show up on the stat sheet; because Vick managed to fall forward for a gain of a half-yard, Peppers didn't earn a sack.

The Bears made it exciting in the end - of course they did. How in the universe did that last Vick touchdown pass make it through three Bear defenders (Brian Urlacher was in great position but couldn't quite tip it away and in the process ended up sealing off D.J. Moore, who otherwise probably could have cut in and made the pick). And the scrappy Eagles did not go down without a fight, on every play, even the freaking kneel downs. But the Bears earned their best win since the NFC championship game of 2006 and all a skeptic could do in the end was give it up and admit this team is in the running for not just a spot in the playoffs but playoff success.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:01 AM | Permalink

November 26, 2010

The College Football Report: The Mighty Ducks, The Pistol, The Iron Bowl and Tiger Droppings

We know enough about journalism and sportswriting to realize that Thanksgiving week typically results in a "let's mention all the things we are thankful for" story. (Even MMA writers got in on the act this year.) If you have read the College Football Report before, you can guess at most of what would appear on our list. And we will spare you a cynical treatment by not producing a list of everything that makes for juicy copy: dumb coaching decisions, odd mascot stories, Lane Kiffin and Rich Rodriguez, massive conspiracy stories, the start of Layoff Season, and the ongoing saga of one Cameron Newton. (Wait, what did we say about lists?)

Thus, in lieu of the usual Turkey Day column, we will focus on what we're most thankful for: Football. See below, dear reader, for our overview of all the Top 5 action this holiday weekend including our picks in parentheses.

#1 Oregon @ #20 Arizona (+19, Friday 6:00PM)

Oregon's offense leads the country with a scoring average of 50.7 points per game. But the Ducks face off against a tough Wildcats defense that has allowed only 102 yards rushing at home. Combined with Arizona's D, we wonder if some of the recent distractions and a lingering lower-leg bruise that limited him in practice on Tuesday might hamper the performance of Oregon running back LaMichael James.

The sophomore star hopes to get his Heisman campaign back on track after Cal limited him to less than 100 yards rushing (for only the second time this season) and kept James out of the end zone for the first time this year.

Should Oregon win on Friday, the Ducks will lock up the Pac-10 conference title and an appearance (at least) in the Rose Bowl. But as one of only four undefeated teams remaining in the Top 25, Oregon's sights are on the BCS championship game.

Meanwhile, Arizona's last win came nearly a month ago - October 30th - on the road over UCLA. The Wildcats haven't fared well against the spread, going 1-6 vs. Pac-10 opponents, 1-4 in their last five games and only 2-3 at home. But we expect the Wildcats will have learned from watching tape of Cal's near-upset over Oregon last week and will show up for Friday night's feature game.

#2 Auburn @ #9 Alabama (-4.5, Friday 1:30PM)

Alabama owns the overall advantage in the Iron Bowl (40-33-1 all time, 2-0 last two) but can only play spoiler in the 75th meeting against cross-state rival Auburn. 'Bama can still play in a BCS bowl as an at-large team, but derailing the Tigers' shot at the championship game will spur on the Crimson Tide. Auburn secured a berth in the SEC championship game (against #18 South Carolina) by beating Georgia two weeks ago but needs to win out to stay in the BCS chase.

The Iron Bowl hasn't featured two Top 10 teams since 1994 (#4 Alabama over #6 Auburn, 24-14) but the game doesn't need top rankings to produce high drama; former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville resigned under pressure after losing a squeaker to Alabama last year. Even when both teams are out of the Top 25, all of Alabama comes to a halt each November to watch this game. This Friday, with the entire nation's attention on the BCS and Heisman hopes at stake, we expect Nick Saban to fire up his crew for a win.

Just for kicks, here's a bit of Iron Bowl trivia:

* Auburn won the inaugural game 32-22 on February 22, 1893.

* Alabama posted the highest margin of victory in a 55-0 drubbing on December 4, 1948.

* The highest scoring game (Auburn 49 - Alabama 26) fell on November 29, 1969 while the lowest point total (Alabama 3 - Auburn 0) took place on November 26, 1960.

* Alabama has had games during the season rescheduled for after the Iron Bowl three times: in '63 against Miami (postponed due to the JFK assassination); in '88 when Hurricane Gilbert delayed the match-up against Texas A&M; and after 9/11 when all the games to have been played on September 15, 2001 (including Bama vs. Southern Miss) were rescheduled. (With thanks to "I-59 Tiger" of www.TigerDroppings.com. Yes, TigerDroppings. LSU fans - whatever.)

#3 Boise State @ #19 Nevada (+14, Friday 9:20PM)

Did we say that the Oregon game was the featured match-up on Friday night? Why didn't someone call us on that? The late show from Reno might determine the national championship. Boise (#3 AP, but #4 BCS) gained on TCU (#4 AP, #3 BCS) again last week in the BCS, and now trail the #3 Horned Frogs by only a fraction of a point in the latest standings.

If the projections hold true, Boise can (finally, for all of us fans of The Little Guy) gain a spot in the BCS title game. But those projections, by USA Today among others, assume both a win by Boise and a loss by Auburn this weekend. And you know our position on Alabama-Auburn.

And while a Boise win may not be much of a stretch, but the Wolfpack seem too wily a bunch to spot two touchdowns at home. Nevada (10-1, 5-1 WAC) averages 44.1 points per game, good for fourth in the country, while senior QB Colin Kaepernick needs only 16 rushing yards to become the first player in NCAA history to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 2,000 in three consecutive seasons.

Kaepernick runs Nevada's signature "pistol" offense. Reportedly developed by coach Chris Ault in 2004, the scheme resembles the shotgun but places the quarterback closer to the center and the back directly behind (rather than beside) the QB in the backfield. When employed by a team with a dual-threat like Kaepernick, the formation can create an advantage in both the rushing and passing game. There must be something to the idea, as Nevada has posted a 47-33 record since 2004.

"System" quarterback or no, at 6' 6" we hope Colin makes it in the NFL. Even as a backup. His fallback option? To play for the Chicago Cubs. (Kaepernick was drafted by the North Siders in the 43rd round of the 2009 MLB draft.)

#4 TCU (-44) @ New Mexico (Saturday, 3:00PM)

The Horned Frogs must feel the Broncos breathing down their collective necks. About the only play for TCU will be to blow out New Mexico. At 1-10 on the season, the Lobos should be able to oblige. For more on the fate of the Horned Frogs, go here.

Northwestern @ #5 Wisconsin (-23.5, Saturday 2:30PM)

We mistakenly backed Northwestern last week, forgetting that QB Dan Persa was on crutches. Yet even Persa's absence doesn't quite explain the 519 yards of rushing the Wildcats defense yielded to Illinois, including 330 yards to Illini RB Mikel Leshoure. We doubt NU will fare much better against the road-graders of Wisconsin in Camp Randall this weekend.

#6 (#5 BCS) LSU @ #12 Arkansas (+3.5, Saturday 2:30PM)

Despite the potential implications, this match-up will be tough to predict until Saturday morning. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, a win by LSU should guarantee the Tigers a BCS berth. But for a shot at the national championship (still a possibility), LSU can only hope that Auburn loses at Alabama - although it might also take a Boise loss to Nevada.

We feel the stakes for LSU will play a major part in the outcome - with everything on the line, we would take Les Miles but The Battle for the Golden Boot doesn't generate a great deal of natural drama on its own. Our gut tells us LSU won't feel like much is at stake and might come out a little flat against Arkansas - probably not a good idea on the road against the likes of QB Ryan Mallet.

And here is a quick review of the remaining Top 10 action this weekend:

Oregon State @ #7 Stanford (#6 BCS, -13.5, Saturday 6:30PM)

Possibly the biggest layup of the weekend. But buy the hook (to -13) just to be sure.

Michigan @ #8 Ohio State (-17, Saturday 11:00AM)

Yes, that does seem like a lot of points to lay in a rivalry game. But have you seen Michigan play defense this year? Neither have we.

#14 Oklahoma @ #10 Oklahoma State (#9 BCS, -2.5 Saturday 7:00PM)

We love the Cowboys' fun-n-gun style of play . . . but the over (67) might be the safer pick here.

#11 Michigan State (#10 BCS) @ Penn State (+1.5, Saturday 11:00AM)

Joe Paterno has extended his pact with the Devil for another year and will return next season. Michigan State will be playing for a share of the Big Ten title, the first for the school since 1990. We imagine the Spartans sidelines might take a few peeks at the scoreboard during the game as an Ohio State loss would leave the door open for an MSU Rose Bowl trip. We're guessing the Nittany Lions will make it a moot point.

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Mike "Stargate" Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space every week. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

What If The Punisher Became Captain America?

Recommended.

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Comments welcome..

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:23 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. A Skylit Drive at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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2. The Alaya Conscious at The Mutiny on Wednesday night.

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3. Chayanne in Rosemont on Wednesday night.

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4. The Frames at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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5. Rocco DeLuca at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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6. Phife at the Shrine on Wednesday night.

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7. Empires at Subterranean on Wednesday night.

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8. Jeremiah at Enclave on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:17 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Rusty Wallace, WTF?

Owing to a change in state law, Rusty Wallace's history of saying anything for a buck might be curbed. The former NASCAR star is the local happy-go-lucky mouthpiece for Midwest Title Loans, which has charged 10,000 percent interest (only marginally hyperbolic) on loans that have to be repaid by the end of the month. On Jan. 1 the law will forbid payday loan vermin from pillaging cash-poor citizens at the same three-figure rate.

About time.

Payday loans are slightly better than loan sharks. Nobody comes to break your kneecaps. They do come to take your car, though, not to mention your dignity.

The trick of payday loans is that, up until now, people who must borrow to pay heating bills and buy groceries probably won't have the total repayment in hand any time soon . . . or later. Or maybe ever. The peril is that the person already in financial tailspin also will lose the only thing of value they own - their car. That's how the loan is designed.

And best of all for the title loan company, the loans never get repaid. They just get rolled over perpetually and become a permanent anchor around the borrower's neck. Very slick. Usury used to be a crime. Now it's capitalism.

By the time he retired from a 25-year NASCAR career in 2005, Wallace had earned $50 million. THAT'S FIFTY MILLION BUCKS! He still shills for various race broadcasts as an analyst. Compared to Pol Pot, he's probably a nice guy.

But his "borrow money for Christmas gifts" TV pitch this month - with Santa and elves and a Christmas tree - is particularly noxious and manipulative. Making poor parents feel guilty for lack of resources at Christmas deserves its own place in Hell. We think it's Level 74.
Just turn left, Rusty. You can't miss it.

2. Former Priests, WTF?

Okay, so this is a personal item from WTF's College of Really Angry Former Catholics.

Why do priests who decide the priesthood is no longer their thing start off by boffing nuns? No time for a contemplative interlude? Couldn't they go somewhere and practice on civilians before the dive into the boffing life? Without warming up in the bullpen, we get too many former priests and former nuns boffing. Yeee-uck.

The same people who used to tell children they'd go to hell for inadvertent sexual daydreams are boffing . . . EACH OTHER!!! And sometimes, they don't go far, far away as they should and leave us alone. No, they hang around and provide lectures on moral uprightness and theological correctness, which, surprise, always validates their life decisions. Really? WTF?

They always seem to surface around Christmas to share ethics homilies. Robert McClory, one of those former priests who started off boffing an ex-nun, is one of these. He wrote a biography about his successor at St. Sabina, the incendiary and professional social martyr Michael Pfleger. They have strong mutual admiration. Pals, it appears. It figures.

Here's a tip. If a priest really wants a life of modesty, spirituality and contemplative service to the needy, he can do it without a megaphone. There are models for this behavior. They're called saints. A megaphone makes you look like a member of the Palin family. Celebrity is seldom inflicted on those committed to avoiding it.

3. Them Fightin' Illini, WTF?

They are going bowling this holiday season, which should fully demonstrate the inflationary growth of useless bowls. But there is this theory afoot that a 6-5 record, built mostly on wins over teams even more mediocre than they are, somehow merits genuflection before the Altar of So The Ef What?

This season was mostly like how you feel after the appendectomy. You feel better than you did before. And maybe that's enough.

As the Trib notes: "The team's most impressive victories this season came against Penn State and Northwestern, but half of the total came against teams with losing records. Illinois feasted on Southern Illinois (5-6), Indiana (4-7) and Purdue (4-7), while losing to 2-9 Minnesota. Still, doubling last season's 3-9 victory total is a feat worth recognizing."

Right.

4. Meatloaf, WTF?

Just in time for Thanksgiving overeating, Harry Caray's restaurant on Navy Pier named its meatloaf after Channel 2's Bill Kurtis, whose ranch supplies the beef.

Think of Kurtis and then think of meatloaf. Res ipsa loquitur.

5. Nincompoops, WTF?

Strictly speaking, this is not news WTF thinks is a bad omen for the holidays. We quite enjoy this news. It appears a mountain of evidence suggests, ne PROVES, that the nation is growing an entire generation of idiots. We don't mean idiots in the clinical, medically approved description. We mean idiots like several of your cousins or, alternately, village idiots.

For some reasons obvious and others more cultural, kids don't know how to do things anymore - like tie shoe laces (what's a shoe lace, daddy?) or open a can that does not possess a pull tab or even address an envelop. Or answer a question without Google.

We are heartened by this news because of the Cosmic Grading Curve of Existence. Even though we at WTF are not becoming smarter by any baseline description, we are becoming comparatively smarter as we age. Which might be the first time in the recorded history of the species that an older generation is smarter than the new one without having to do anything.

If the only way to be smarter is to be trapped in a phone booth with a growing herd of ever-dumber people, we'll settle for that. Unfortunately, they won't know what a phone booth is.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

November 25, 2010

George W. Bush's Letter To President Obama

Dear President Obama:

As you know I've been peddling my book Decision Points and while doing interviews, people ask me what I think of the job you're doing. My answer is the same: He deserves to make decisions without criticism from me. It's a tough enough job as it is.

But their inquiries did prompt me to write you to privately express my continual admiration for the job you are doing. Amazing! I say "privately" because making my sentiments public would not do either of us any good, if you know what I mean.

First, I can scarcely believe my good fortune as to how your foreign and military policies - "continuity" was the word used recently by my good friend, Joe Lieberman - has protected my legacy. More than protected, you've proven yourself just as able - and I may say sometimes even more so - to "kick ass" as my Daddy used to say.

My pleasant surprise is darnn near limitless. Your Justice Department has not pursued any actions against my people - not to mention Dick Cheney and I - that the civil liberties and human rights crowd keep baying for you to do.

Overseas, all I see are five stars. You are roaring in Afghanistan, dispatching our great special forces into Yemen, saying, like me, that you'll go anywhere in the world to kill those terrorists. When you said you would assassinate American citizens abroad suspected of "terrorism" - that news came over the radio during breakfast when I was eating my shredded wheat and I almost choked with amazement. You got cajones, buddy. I was hesitant about crossing the border into Pakistan - but you, man, are blasting away. Even Dick, who would never say it publicly, told me he is impressed.

The Leftists are always trying to have your policies show me up negatively. Hah - they're having one hell of a tough time, aren't they?

Me state secrets, you state secrets. Me executive privilege, you executive privilege. Me stop the release of torture videos, you backed me up. Me indefinite detention, you indefinite detention. Me extraordinary rendition; you extraordinary rendition. Me sending drones, you sending tons more, flying 24/7. Me just had to look the other way on collateral damage, you doing the same and protecting our boys doing it. Me approving night time assassination raids, you're upping the ante especially since General Petraeus took over. Me beefing up Defense, you not skipping a beat. Me letting the CIA loose, you told them operate at large. Me demanding no pictures of our fallen troops, you doing the same, but allowing the families to go to Dover which I should have done.

There is one big difference. I never cracked a law book. You are a top Harvard lawyer and teacher of constitutional law. So when you do what I did, man, it's - what's the word - legitimization!

Domestically, sure you rag Wall Street, but you continued the big bailout of the bankers and their supporting cast. Sure, you're tougher with your words, but they deserve it - remember I said that the Wall Streeters "got drunk" and "got a hangover."

What I get such a kick out of is how you handled the unions and libs who backed you with dreams of Hope and Change. How smoothly you let them learn they got nowhere to go, just as we used to tell our conservative wing the same thing (though now they've been reborn as growling Tea Partiers). So, cardcheck, single payer, rolling back my party's passage of legislation in Congress - you made them forget it!

You have been such a great president - backing me on so many things - keeping most tax cuts and shelters, support for my oil and gas buddies (my base), big loan guarantees for nukes, keeping Uncle Sam from bargaining down pharma, expanding free trade, not going tough on China (my Daddy especially liked this one), avoiding class struggle rhetoric and so on.

You want to know how confident I am about you? Even though you called waterboarding "torture," I proudly admitted approving its use to protect our country and its freedoms. Isn't that really what the Presidency is all about, along with honoring our troops and the entire national defense efforts?

Semper fi -
George W. Bush

P.S. My mother Barbara is a big fan. She calls your term so far Obamabush. Cute, aye, for someone who was never a wordsmith.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:56 AM | Permalink

This Week On CAN TV

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

THIS WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

ADAPT - Special Olympics & The Answer, Inc.

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In this episode, Special Olympics athlete Allison Berggren and members of the Special Olympics staff are interviewed. ADAPT also visits The Answer, Inc., a south side autism awareness and support group. This program was produced by ADAPT of Chicago Productions with support from CAN TV.

Click here to watch video online.

Chicago Newsroom
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Every week, host Ken Davis speaks with journalists and bloggers for a look at current events as reported in print, online, and on radio and TV.

Watch on CAN TV21 Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

For videos online click here.

Cradle to College Pipeline Summit: The Role of Race - Poverty, American Values, and Justice
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Roosevelt University hosts a panel of community leaders discussing racial disparities and poverty as cradle-to-college deterrents.

Sunday, November 28 at 9:00 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Cradle to College Pipeline Summit: Juveniles Caught in the Adult System
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Educational, mental health and legal system specialists discuss the implications of incarcerating juveniles into an adult system.

Sunday, November 28 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

Black Mexico: Afro-Mexican Studies Symposium
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The DuSable Museum hosts contemporaries in the field of Afro-Mexican studies to discuss the intricacies of race relations between African American and Latino communities.

Sunday, November 28 at 12:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

Larry Hill Taylor, Stepson of the Blues: A Chicago Song of Survival
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Chicago Westside drummer and singer, Larry Hill Taylor is joined by his co-author, Bonni McKeown, to discuss how he survived gangs, prison, drugs, racism, family hardships and the music business.

Sunday, November 28 at 2:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

The Renaissance Society: Rebecca Warren
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The Renaissance Society presents renowned British sculptor, Rebecca Warren, displaying her first solo exhibition in an American museum.

Sunday, November 28 at 5:00 p.m. on CAN TV19
44 min

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CAN TV gives every Chicagoan a voice on cable television by providing video training, facilities, equipment, and channel time for Chicago residents and nonprofit groups. CAN TV's five local, noncommercial cable channels, CAN TV19, 21, 27, 36 and 42, reach more than one million viewers in the city of Chicago.

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Disclaimer: Barbara Popovic, the executive director of CAN TV, is both a friend and landlord to Beachwood editor Steve Rhodes.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

Czar of the Playbook Preview: Eagles at Bears

Pressure from the Bears' front four is key, but it's the secondary who will win the game.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

November 24, 2010

The [Thanksgiving] Papers

11/26 UPDATE 12:15 PM: The College Football Report: The Mighty Ducks, The Pistol, The Iron Bowl and Tiger Droppings.

11/26 UPDATE/7:05 A.M.: What If The Punisher Became Captain America? An allegory of America's transformation into a vigilante state?

11/26 UPDATE/7 A.M.: The Week in Chicago Rock: You shoulda been there.

11/25 UPDATE/Noon: George W. Bush's Letter To President Obama: You legitimize me.

11/25 UPDATE/11:25 A.M.: This Week on CAN TV: A British sculptor, a West Side gangbanger turned drummer, Black Mexico and more.

11/25 UPDATE/10:45 A.M.: Czar of the Playbook Preview: Eagles at Bears.

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Posting will will continue throughout the holiday weekend and today we're chock full of great stuff.

For example:

* Lupe Fiasco vs. Kanye West: Stop Apologizing To Bush! (Via the fine folks at Vocalo.

* Germany vs. USA: We Suck! (Via the fine folks at The Interview Show)

* Giving Thanks For Halloween Rock: Honoring A Chicago Tradition That Rules

* Winning Ugly: In The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

* If You're Going To Tucson: A Stout To Try At Old Chicago

* The Pope's Nose Awards: Here To Bury, Not Praise

Plus:

* "Every year it's the same: Grandma pulls the stuffing cage out of the turkey's butt and the feast begins!"

* Agony & Ivy's 13 Moments To Forget

And if you haven't seen it yet:

* Jay Levine: Let Him Finish Or I'm Gonna Deck Ya!

Also catch our holiday weekend updates at:

* Facebook

* Twitter

From the Beachwood vault:

* Home for the Holidays

What we most give thanks for:

* God Gave Rock and Roll To You

If you're so inclined:

"The Rodeo Riders Chicago will host its final club night at Touche, 6412 N. Clark with their 'Unstuff the Turkey' party on Friday, Nov. 26," Gay Chicago reports.

"The night features the infamous Rodeo Riders' turkey filled with door prizes, a post Thanksgiving tradition for many years. Guests are selected by random drawings to 'unstuff' the bird to claim a prize. This final bar night will mark the end of an era for Chicago's leather community."

Best holiday story with a local angle:

Budding Chicago archeologist digs for pumpkin pie.

"Her research entitled, 'Looking for Pumpkin Pie's Analogs in the Indian Ocean trading system: Applying the Creolization Model to the Swahili Coast,' is now being showcased in the inaugural issue of the Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Journal. The journal publishes undergraduate work of the highest caliber for those students enrolled at a CAA school."

Also in the news:

"Offering voters 30 years of public service advocating for their needs in neighborhoods across the city and in Springfield, Dr. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins Monday formally entered the race for Mayor of Chicago by filing over 40,000 signatures backing her candidacy."

Who?

And a Bear shall lead them:

"Leslie Frazier is now on board as interim head coach. His story is both tragic and triumphant. He was a defensive back for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s. His career ended on the winning side of Super Bowl XX. And the tragic moment was a punt return that Keith Ortego botched by calling a fair catch and then handing off the ball anyway to Frazier on a called reverse. Frazier was down. Forever. The game was already in hand, the Bears 4-6 defense as good as any in football ever. But Frazier never played again.

"His coaching career began a few years later at Trinity College in Illinois. He took an unheralded program and turned it around to the point he won two NAIA titles. In 1997 he was promoted to defensive back coach of Illinois. In 1999 he joined the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles as a DB coach. The Eagles suddenly turned their team around. He then was hired in 2003 by Cincinnati as defensive coordinator. The Bengals immediately ended a long streak of consecutive losing seasons. That Cincy team was renowned for its' ability to create turnovers. In 2005 Frazier was hired by Tony Dungy as DB coach and Special Grand Inquisitor's Assistant or something like that. That Colts team improved in its' pass defense from 15th to 6th and won Super Bowl XLI. Finally, Frazier was hired by Minnesota (and Brad Childress) in February, 2007."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Stuff us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

Lupe Fiasco vs. Kanye West

Former president an imperial gangster.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

If You're Going To Tucson . . .

High alcohol content and high drinkability at Old Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Were You Born On The Wrong Continent?

Thomas Geoghegan thinks so.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

Giving Thanks For Halloween Rock

One of the city's best rock traditions are the annual Halloween shows at various venues in which local bands perform as well-known national acts. On the eve of this month's signature holiday, we give thanks for the memories of last month's signature holiday.

1. Canasta as Elton John at the Abbey.

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2. The Female Motorists as the White Stripes at Reggie's.

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3. Blackbox as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at the Double Door.

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4. ZZ Listening! as ZZ Top at the Abbey.

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5. Model Stranger and Bullet Called Life as David Bowie at the Elbo Room.

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6. The Delafields as New Order at the Abbey.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The 2010 Pope's Nose Awards

I know you've been waiting all season for this, the special time of year when we all gather around the table like one big happy family, solemnly join hands, and together trash the worst fantasy football players of the season.

That's right, it's time for the Pope's Nose Awards. I could explain the name, but to save time (my own, not yours) I'd rather have you follow the link to last year's awards, and add another hit to the website to please the Beachwood powers-that-be.

This season, like every season, featured plenty of great performances, and plenty of guys have exceeded expectations all year long. But, we're not here to praise, we're here to bury. There also were no shortage of disappointing performances, but the biggest bombs at each position this season have been fairly obvious:

QB: Brett Favre, Minnesota.

You don't have Brad Childress to kick around anymore, but he wasn't the one who had thrown 17 interceptions going into this week against 10 TDs. There have been a couple flashes of the old brilliance, but Favre looks a lot like an old man playing a young man's game and he was likely a wasted draft pick regardless of how late you got him.

RB: Ryan Mathews, San Diego.

Injuries have played a part here, but what makes the rookie a big stinking failure is how high he was ranked in the draft - a first-round pick in most leagues. He has only two TDs, and his single-game season-high of 78 yards came in Week 1. Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles have been better plays, while Mathews has been jettisoned in at least a handful of leagues.

WR: Randy Moss, Tennessee.

Playing for his third team this year, and it just keeps getting worse. How bad? So bad that he didn't catch a single pass last week - in a game that went into overtime. His days as a top WR pick likely are done unless he somehow lands in an offense like New Orleans' or San Diego's.

TE: Brent Celek, Philadelphia.

Here's a player who wasn't ranked all that highly in the pre-season, yet was almost universally viewed as the sleeper at this position. Unfortunately, Philly's three-man attack of Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy has left him out in the cold with only two TDs.

K: Jeff Reed, formerly Pittsburgh.

Another easy choice, since he was just dumped by the Steelers. Traditionally one of the more reliable kickers and higher picks at the position - and though he actually made a couple 50-yarders this season - he missed seven field goals overall.

Those are my turkeys. Enjoy your own this week.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week lists forgotten Minnesota QB Tarvaris Jackson as a moderate buy. The thinking is that the Vikings are bad enough that Favre will sit soon and Jackson will play, but I'll believe it when I see it.

* Bleacher Report Week 12 Sit 'Em/Start 'Em says to start NY Giants WR Mario Manningham. He's had a couple good games this season, but the main reason to start him is because the Giants' other two more preferred WRs, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith are both out at least the next two weeks.

* SI.com is the latest fantasy football tracker to celebrate the value of the lowly kicker. This is a variation on a column somebody somewhere writes at least once a season. Washington's Graham Gano apparently is one to watch. Whatever you do, don't pick up Jeff Reed.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Winning Ugly

Blue: I'm not as funny as my co-author of this column.

I'm not as witty.

Come to think of it, I'm not even as tall as he is.

But, week after week I'm correct on my calls more often than he is.

If you were to take his predictions as the basis of your calls to Uncle Rocko (for entertainment purposes only, including gambling), you'd be going to Carl for some witty excuses to tell the wife why the toy pile under the Christmas tree or Chanukah bush is looking a little thin this year.

This isn't to say that this year's version of the Chicago Bears is something beautiful to look upon in marvel, but it's better than a leg lamp as your main holiday decoration, which Mr. Mohrbacher proudly displays in his front window.

Staying in the holiday motif, let's just say that last week's game versus the Miami Dolphins was a great gift from the gods of football.

Rarely do you have the opportunity to fine-tune your defense and work out the kinks in the offense during a live scrimmage on national TV like the Bears had in pitching a 16-0 shutout in Miami.

Unless you're one of those rare defense enthusiasts that gets excited watching a third-string quarterback like Tyler Thigpen look like the never-ran that he truly is, you realize that you have to win games such as this because you only play 16, and it's going to take 10 to get into the playoffs.

The defense did hold the Dolphins running attack of oft-injured (Ronnie Brown) and oft-stoned (Ricky Williams) to 11 yards on 6 carries. And Brandon Marshall looked like a man too scared of his own shadow to catch the ball.

Wait, why am I rattling off statistics when the only thing that matters is that the Dolphins scored ZERO!?

I can rant and rave about how Jay Cutler and his offense is getting better and making fewer mistakes, but the haters will hate and the Bears (hopefully) will keep winning their special brand of ugly football. The run game wasn't dominating and the wide receivers didn't put up eye-popping numbers, but we put up 16 points. They put up ZERO. We win.

Dan McNeil of The Score can wish the Bears to lose as many games as it takes to get a new regime in place and Carl can use 80s references and obscure band member names all he wants to tell us why these Bears are crap, but in the end we're 7-3 and sitting atop the NFC North. So shut up, get to drinking some Blue Kool-Aid and get on board with this team.

Eagles at Bears
This one is a put up or shut-up game. This one will show the world that these Bears are for real. The defense comes to play, holds Michael Vick and his many weapons to a modest fire versus the explosion we've seen in weeks' past. The Bears' reformed and reworked offensive line has its third straight game with the same lineup and gives Jay Cutler the time to pick the Eagles defense apart. This won't be pretty, as no games to this point have been pretty, but in the end our Bears prevail.

Bears 30-23.

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Orange: The NFL is one of the most successful businesses on Earth because it knows how to package its product. It performs a daily clinic in branding fit for a master level course in marketing. Built on a thunderous soundtrack, heroic cinematography and archetypical military themes, the NFL takes a game that averages about five seconds of action for every 40 seconds of down time and presents it so effectively, we sometimes overlook the blatant misogyny 17 seconds into this interview with Deacon Jones.

Occasionally, even the best marketers are short on ideas and participate in bandwagon riding. In its endless chase for a buck, the NFL occasionally falls into the trap of serving up a cultural flavor of the month, as evidenced by this commercial featuring the musical stylings of Joe Esposito. In this case, the NFL is catering to the contemporary trend of ironically incorporating kitschy 80s music into contemporary montages.

Isn't it hilarious that we all used to pay money for this?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha . . .

DRAGOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Is this quote ever out of context?*

However, revisiting the past to re-implement the things that made something successful isn't always a bad idea.

On the other hand, you could also say that the Bears' coaching staff, like their NFL marketing brethren, are capable of succumbing to a cacophony of citywide peer pressure.

Motivations for an improved game plan aside, Thursday's 16-0 victory is in large part credited to the fact that the Dolphins injury report read like the tags section of WebMD and by the end of the first half approximately 65% of the talent on the Miami roster was in street clothes. Matt Millen noting that the Dolphins were "out of linemen" in the third quarter wasn't exactly a harbinger of victory.

Have you ever heard the words "star left tackle," "labrum" and "win" in the same sentence? Didn't think so.

To the Bears' credit, they learned something from their early season woes. It seems when playing a bad team and in possession of a really good defense, less is more on the offensive side of the ball.

It would have been nice of the coaching staff to figure that out against Washington, but other than millions of fans, who's counting.

Thanks to another terrible performance by the 3-7 Minnesota Vikings, the 7-3 Bears are in the midst of a two-horse race in the NFC North. So let's pull on our blue chaps with orange piping, spur this pony up to 88 miles an hour and ride towards the future as we predict the notable headlines along the way to a successful first-round out.

HEE-YA!

- Turns out Kristin Cavallari has been making Jay Cutler where lingerie under his uniform to help his throwing mechanics and it's working.**

- Despite Lovie's attempts to put him in a position to break the all-time return record, Devin Hester will not run back another punt or kickoff for a touchdown in 2010. He will, however, return two missed field goals, a fumble and needlessly intercept the overtime coin toss in a wild Week 14 game against the Patriots.

- Early in the game against the Jets, Mike Martz remembers that thing he meant to do in Week 3 and calls a play in which Devin Aromashodu is the first read, resulting in a 58-yard touchdown reception. Aromashodu closes out the last two games of the season with 28 catches for 476 yards and 4 TDs.

- Julius Peppers continues to rack up impressive plays that don't show up in the box score by roundhouse kicking a live fumble directly to D.J. Moore, who gains 35 additional yards on the turnover. The Players' Association will use this highlight to attempt a transplant of the "set" stat from volleyball to football.

- While totally unrelated to the outcome of the game, Rod Marinelli provides some desperately needed comic relief by taking one in the pleats during a 45-10 loss to the Lions.

- Pisa Tinoisamoa discovers that an anagram hidden within his own name is the key to unmasking the prophetic hero who can finally bring peace to the denizens of Redwall.***

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Next up are the "Iggles."

Eagles at Bears
Mike Vick.

Eagles 30-23.

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* A: No. Try it at your next quarterly review or nephew's bar mitzvah. See?
** Rent Bull Durham if this does not make sense to you.
*** First reader to top that obscure literary reference wins a new pocket protector.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 AM | Permalink

November 23, 2010

In Action: Grinderman At The Riv

"The women in Nick Cave's Grinderman songs come on strong," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune. "A worm tamer, heathen child and spider goddess - they're a handful. The guys should be overwhelmed, but they act like they've got nothing to lose except their dignity.

"At the Riviera on Monday, Grinderman explored and exploded the tension in Cave's songs: on one side, subject matter cloaked in biblical drama; on the other, the psychosexual splatter of pulp novels, low-budget noir movies and bad drunks talking to themselves at the end of a bar."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Let Him Finish Or I'm Gonna Deck Ya!

Holy 1950s!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

* In Action: Grinderman at the Riv.

* From The Jay Levine Affair Desk: Let Him Finish Or I'm Gonna Deck Ya!

* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies.

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1. "Get out of the way - the bus of the future is here!"

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2. "Politicians talk about this and that."

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3. "Golf the next day!"

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4. "Got some pythons still hatching out."

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5. "It's Somethin' Else!"

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6. "Shut up!"

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* Programming Note: Thanks to everyone who came out for Beachwood Monday Night! last night. Saw some old friends, made some new ones. See y'all again next week!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Frosty and refreshing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies

On November 22, 2010, I sat in the federal courtroom of Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer and witnessed a dog and pony show. Lawyers representing George Ryan argued their motion to get Ryan released from prison based on the June 2010 Conrad Black case, when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal honest services law of which he was convicted is vague and unconstitutional.

In 2006, after almost a six-month long trial and several days of deliberation, a jury unanimously convicted Ryan on all 22 counts of his indictment. Judge Pallmeyer subsequently sentenced Ryan to 6 1/2 years in federal prison. So far, he has served three of those years.

There were two issues in this hearing: Whether to vacate the conviction of mail fraud and whether to release Ryan on bond until and if the federal government decides to retry him on mail fraud. Ryan exhausted all attempts to overturn his conviction for fraud and racketeering when on May 27th, 2008 the United States Supreme Court rejected Ryan's last bid for appeal. These latest motions are simply an attempt to determine if the Conrad Black decision also applies to Ryan's public corruption case.

The three main arguments presented by Ryan's legal team regarding vacating the mail fraud were that the government failed to sufficiently prove that George Ryan ever benefited from gifts or services given to him by his friends who received lucrative government contracts and leases; that the Ryan jury was given bad instructions before they deliberated on the verdict; and that the government insufficiently proved property fraud.

All of that sounds reasonable except that the appellate court and the U.S. Supreme Court have already ruled on these issues. And that was exactly the counter-argument made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie Barsella. As a matter of fact, she described how Ryan tried to cover his tracks on the gifts he received by fabricating a bogus money trail that was later uncovered by the FBI.

Likewise, Ryan's team failed to mention that Ryan was guilty of covering up various briberies, including the license-for-bribe scandal, when his own investigators from the inspector general's office uncovered an ongoing conspiracy to use bribe money from unqualified truck drivers and filter it to his campaign fund for governor.

At one point, attorney Albert Alschuler compared convicted felon Ryan to Mother Teresa, saying if she were elected governor, she would not have been convicted by a jury if she received gifts from friends. Well, Ryan was once considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, now let's think about canonizing him. After all, he did bring us the digital driver's license. Of course, Viisage, one of the digital vendors, had to pay a kickback.

Eighteen national highway deaths have been tied to the licenses-for-bribes scheme, including those of the six Willis children in an accident in Milwaukee 16 years ago. One convicted driver's license examiner stated she contributed $80,000 in bribes to the Ryan campaign. How does a politician not benefit from bribes in the form of campaign contributions?

Ryan attorney Andrea Lyon argued why he should be released on bond. She stated that Ryan has a compelling case and she believes the ruling on vacating the mail fraud will be in his favor. So why not give him a bond until the decision is rendered. If he loses, he can go back to prison. He is not a flight risk. Nor is he dangerous. Lyon asked the judge to consider the human factor. Lura Lynn, Ryan's wife, is ill and she might die in a year. She has been without him for three years. Lyon asked Pallmeyer, "Why not give them this time together?"

At this point in the show, I wanted to jump up and shout out, "Scott and Janet Willis have been without their six children now for 16 years and they are never coming home!"

AUSA Barsella rebutted with a more professional cool, calm, and collect demeanor. She stated that Ryan should not be given any more special treatment than any other convicted felons who are also separated from their families. Like all families, loved ones become ill or suffer crisis. To give Ryan special consideration impacts the confidence of the citizens.

Pallmeyer concluded the proceeding with reason. She stated she was certain no matter what her decision will be, it will be heard on appeal. She said she will rule as quickly as she can.

Obviously, I am biased. I was one of the investigators whose cases were obstructed by Ryan and his cronies. I have also had the privilege to get to know Scott and Janet Willis. Ryan was not driving the truck that so suddenly and tragically took the lives of their six children; however, his prior and subsequent actions of greed and lies are indicative of his culpability. Three more years remaining on his sentence is humane enough for me.

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

November 22, 2010

SportsMonday: Here Comes Vick

The revival of the Bear defense this year certainly owes plenty to the signing of Julius Peppers, although I thought some of Jerry Angelo's ravings about the defensive end this past week were clearly over the top, and self-serving. After all he signed the guy. If Peppers plays well, Jerry looks good.

Despite the fact that Peppers hadn't piled up the sacks until grabbing three on Thursday night against the Dolphins, it doesn't take microscopic analysis to figure out that the highest paid player in the league often does great things even when he isn't tackling the quarterback. He is a heck of a talent who is doing as much as any athlete could to justify the $20 million portion of his contract due to him this year.

(Actually, Peppers won me over the night after he was signed, when he ordered 25 bottles of champagne for everyone in the Chicago club where he was celebrating. As someone who has spent a little bit of time in bars during the past few decades, acts of generosity therein are especially meaningful, even if the purchase of cases of champagne at a trendy club is slightly different than buying a round for the house at the neighborhood pub.)

But the season-long resurgence of the Bear defense is not about individual excellence. It is about the unit working together beautifully to both stuff the run and to defend the pass. It must be said that pass defense couldn't have been much easier than it was against third-string Miami quarterback Tyler Thigpen and his depleted line. But this is still a unit that has come together to play some of the best defense the NFL has seen this season.

And the unquestioned leader of the unit as a whole is not Peppers but Brian Urlacher. So far, all his defense has done is lead the team as a whole to a so-much-better-than-expected seven wins in 10 games. Now the Bears can take it to the next level by succeeding against their best foe yet. Coincidentally enough, that opponent is led by the player who did the most to launch Urlacher toward stardom back in 2001.

This Sunday, quarterback Michael Vick is coming to town with the first-place Eagles team he has electrified with his awesome play the past few weeks.

It was in 2001 that a promising Bears team that would finish 13-3 - but then flame out at home in its first playoff game - traveled to Atlanta to face Vick's Falcons for an early season showdown. It was during that game that Urlacher, who was already establishing himself as a worthy heir to the Bears' cherished tradition of excellence at linebacker, made the play that cemented his arrival. The Bears had taken a 17-0 lead in the first half at the Georgia Dome but Vick was driving the Falcons toward a score that could have started to make a game of it.

Then, on the play after the Falcons moved inside the Bears' 10 yard line, Vick rolled out with the option to throw or pass but with the intention of running the ball into the end zone. That was when Urlacher used his amazing speed against the player thought to be the fastest in the NFL to spread the play out toward the sideline. With the help of defensive end Phillip Daniels, Urlacher then stepped up and spun Vick to the turf, dislodging the football in the process. Urlacher proceeded to snatch the ball off the turf and race 90 yards for what was essentially the clinching touchdown.

On Sunday evening, in a 24-17 win over the Giants, Vick showed again that he still has incredible speed for a quarterback - or, really, for any player on the field. But it has been his arm that has been most impressive since he seized the starting job in Philadelphia early this season, sat out a few games with a rib cage injury and the raced back onto the field and into the limelight in the past few weeks.

When he has had the time during the past two weeks (especially during the Eagles' huge victory over the Redskins last Monday night), he has delivered pinpoint passes all over the field, including several devastating deep balls.

Pressure from Peppers will be an important element to stopping those deep balls from getting thrown - or getting thrown with accuracy - but Urlacher will be the real key.

One great thing about the analysis of the Bears' victory over the Vikings the week before last was how clearly replays showed how well Urlacher is dropping back into pass coverage again. On numerous occasions, Brett Favre was forced to adjust passes to avoid one fast-dropping zone coverage specialist/linebacker in particular, resulting in numerous incompletions. And against Miami, Urlacher orchestrated numerous successful bliltzes, capping it all off with an almost comically overwhelming sack of Thigpen.

That was the play when Urlacher rushed in untouched - which was possible in part because the Dolphins were so worried about a Peppers stunt to the outside of the gap through which the linebacker rushed - and prepared to level Thigpen. Except that as he got there, the quarterback essentially leveled himself, going down in a heap before Urlacher could even begin to wrap him up.

The Bears will need all of Urlacher's abilities both as an individual and as a leader of the defense as a whole to limit Vick on Sunday. If they can pull that off, there won't be any more arguing about whether this team deserves its spot near the top of the NFC standings.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Independent brewers say the brand-name distributors, with deep pockets and abundant supply, often resort to pay-to-play business practices that mirror the worst of Chicago politics," Crain's reports.

"Sources say the big brewers and their wholesalers keep out the independents by offering cash, new tap systems, free beer and other incentives to tavern owners and retailers in exchange for taps or shelf space for mainstream brands. Some bar owners have set up separate marketing companies to take in the cash, a monthslong Crain's investigation has found, while their taverns benefit from lower prices and 'special' discounts.

"There's just one problem: Federal and state laws forbid producers and distributors from offering money, loans or anything else "of value" to retailers to freeze out the competition, with such exceptions as signs or ad materials under certain dollar limits. It's also unlawful for bars to accept these gifts."

One-Way Wrigley
How the conversation went as imagined by our very own Natasha Julius.

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Big Ten: So what's that on the diagram?

Cubs: Oh, that's just our Brick Fucking Wall.

Big Ten: Sweet.

[eight months later]

Big Ten: Wait, did you say a BRICK fucking wall?

Cubs: That's right.

Big Ten: Not a fucking wall of candy?

Cubs: Nope.

Big Ten: Well, shit. that changes everything.

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And yet, that's what's so great about Wrigley. After all, nobody clamored to have the game played at the park formerly known as Comiskey.

Parking Wars
"The Expired Meter is proud to announce the very first Chicago Driver Survival Seminar presented by Alderman Scott Waguespack (32nd) on Tuesday, November 30th.

"This free class will teach Chicago drivers the basics of: avoiding and contesting parking tickets, red light camera tickets, speeding tickets and other moving violations, keeping the Denver boot off your car and updating attendees on new driving laws that effect pedestrian and biking safety, and much more.

"The Driver Survival Seminar is the very first event of its kind in Chicago and perhaps the nation with the sole purpose of educating and empowering motorists to protect themselves from these issues that challenge drivers every day on the streets of the city."

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Disclaimer: I have a business relationship with The Expired Meter's Parking Ticket Geek.

TIF Tiff
A Beachwood reader writes:

"Am I the only person who read this story and thought, maybe they should just do away with the special funds?

"If they can spend the money on cops, if hiring cops is an economic development idea that will boost property values and ultimately pay back the lost revenue over the life of the TIF district, then maybe they should just put that money back in the general fund and stop
draining cash away from schools and general services and put the money back into the regular budget. I mean, if that's the best use of these funds, then Emanuel really oughta come out against TIFs, right?"

My reply:

"I thought the same thing - it just goes to show that these really are/have become slush funds, rather than the economic development tools they were touted to be. You are right - Emanuel is now saying (like others), 'Let's use this money for whatever we want!' rather than giving back to schools, etc. This city is so screwed up.

Tom Dart's Brother Is Evil and Rich
"Last year alone, Tim Dart, 43, was paid $541,500 to lobby Daley's staff, the City Council and city agencies on behalf of 15 clients, records filed by the younger Dart with City Hall show," the Sun-Times reports.

Circus Trips
"Will the construction barrels ever go away on the always-busy downtown section of the Kennedy Expressway, where entrance and exit ramps have been reconfigured?

"And why have CTA Orange Line trains lost their zip, and when will they get it back?"

Jon Hilkevitch has the answers in his "Getting Around" column today.

Half Pint Brawlers
In Bartlett at Bannerman's on Tuesday night.

Too Little, Too Late
"Chicago defined the 'City of the Century' in the Twentieth Century. But is Chicago becoming the 'Suburb of the Century' in the Twenty-First? Are big-box retailers eating up our neighborhoods? Or are they the perfect solution to the problem of food deserts and widespread unemployment? Is the land of Sullivan and Wright becoming generic Anyplace, USA? Or do mixed-use developments replace historic buildings that no longer serve their purpose, ultimately enlivening the neighborhood by providing much-needed amenities? Are we becoming less of a city in which to stroll? Or do the adjoining green spaces planned for many mixed-use developments make Chicago, in fact, more walkable?"

Find out the unsurprising answers on Wednesday, December 1st when the Chicago Architecture Foundation presents "The Malling of Chicago."

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Urbane News TV
From the Negro League Cafe.

Englewood's Got Talent
Chicago All-Stars put on a show.

A Social Media Book Tour
Scheduled entirely through Twitter.

A County Clout List
Homeland Security funds secure family and friends.

SportsMonday
Will appear later this morning Here Comes Vick.

Bartender Journalism
Start your holiday right with a visit to Monday Night Beachwood!

Once again I'll be behind the bar slinging Old Styles and Bell's and manning the jukebox controls to amplify your favorites and magically skip past the dregs. Disco ball optional.

Plus, free football pizza, pool, games and - sorry to report - Stargate pinball.

Yup, Dr. Dude is in the ICU and the prognosis isn't good.

But Stargate is getting rave reviews so far, except for its sensitive tilt. (An adjustment is forthcoming.)

So stop on by and just tell me that I sent you.

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Also, message to Bill: I have a question for you. Stop in or send me your e-mail!

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Some of our satisfied customers:

* Unidentified patron sipping on her drink.

* Lauren.

* Braids.

* Choose wisely!

* Hey, that's the guy on the CD!

* We've got Cheez-Its.

* Tracy, Garrett and Rescue 911, the predecessor to Dr. Dude.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Emotional rescue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

A County Clout List

"FOX Chicago News obtained a copy of a 'clout list' showing who landed jobs funded by a federal disaster grant. The list details who in county government sponsored the employees and contains information about friends and family already working at Cook County.

"The $10.3 million dollar grant was awarded to help residents whose property was damaged by flooding following heavy rains that swept through Cook County in the summer of 2008 . . .

"The list contains the names of 31 people who got jobs or contracts funded by the disaster grant. Written in hand beside many of the names are notations such as 'father and uncle with county,' 'Andrea's brother,' or 'uncle in highway.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:00 AM | Permalink

A Social Media Book Tour

Scheduled entirely through Twitter.

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Reviews:

1. Highly recommended.

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2. Written in the same voice he uses on Twitter.

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3. The footnotes are hilarious.

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4. Results congruent with our integrity.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:38 AM | Permalink

Urbane News TV: The Negro League Cafe

A Chicago Nightlife feature.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:30 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

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1. DJ Shadow at Park West on Friday night.

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2. Nitzer Ebb at Double Door on Saturday night.

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3. GLC at The Shrine on Friday night.

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4. Circa Survive at House of Blues on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:18 AM | Permalink

Englewood's Got Talent

"The All Stars Project has brought its successful approach to developmental community organizing to Chicago's youth. Director of the All Stars Project of Chicago (ASP of Chicago) David Cherry, is a grassroots organizer who has worked in Chicago's diverse communities for 16 years and is committed to building a vibrant community of growth and development for Chicago's inner-city youth.

Cherry launched the All Stars Talent Show Network in Chicago in March of 2007 and produced the first show at Bogan High School on the South Side. Since its inception, the ASP of Chicago has reached more than 1,000 young people from Chicago's South and West Sides."

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On November 6th, the Chicago All-Stars brought its talent show to Englewood High School. Here are the highlights, courtesy of Majik773's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

November 20, 2010

The Weekend Desk Report

We would like to declare that the Weekend Desk is no longer a news source. We are now a news entertainment destination.

Market Update
Despite reclaiming a measure of financial respectability, BP suffered a blow this week as head of crude trading Henrik Wareborn resigned. Defending the decision not to replace Wareborn CEO Bob Dudley reportedly said, "Fuck him. Like we need that asshole to seem crude."

Wish You Were Here
Closer to home, Rahm Emanuel continued to defend his Chicagoiness this week as questions swirled concerning his residency status. And really, you'd think a major American city would be able to figure out whether its next mayor lives there or not. It should be just about as obvious as a fucking brick wall.

The Wall
Of course, the Illinois and Northwestern players wouldn't be the first local heroes to crash spectacularly with everyone watching this week.

The Dark Side of the Moon
Meanwhile, in-coming Tea Party candidates were quick to proclaim the late change of plan to be another nefarious plot hatched by huge difference between the two ends anyway.

A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Finally this week, seriously? The one in the sweater vest? Seriously?!

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The College Football Report: Deepwater Do-Do.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Vested.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:59 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2010

The College Football Report: Deepwater Do-Do

The weekend before Thanksgiving rarely features any compelling matchups in college football. Some teams try to take a break from conference play to schedule lesser opponents - such as Alabama (#10 AP, #11 BCS), who squared off on Thursday night against Georgia State. Others will be idle, including the top three in this week's BCS poll - Oregon, Auburn and TCU.

This is probably a good idea, with the Thanksgiving break (amazingly enough) coming up next week. College students looking forward to a week off and a quick trip back home for some of Mom's home-cooked Tofurkey shouldn't be asked to focus on anything too important. (We are talking about Generation Y here, folks. God knows what passes for tradition with these kids. Maybe they will grow up with fond memories of the holiday Skype get-together and reading Justin Bieber's Thanksgiving Twitter feed on their iPads.)

Finally, there are teams like Boise State who have smartly realized this weekend is an ideal time to grab some spotlight. The Broncos (9-0 overall, 5-0 in conference, #3 AP, #4 BCS) welcome WAC opponent Fresno State to the Smurf Turf on Friday night.

And while few of us may think of Friday as an ideal time for gridiron action, Chris Peterson and (the Electric Blue) Company will get national exposure on ESPN2.

While Fresno State is no pushover on the road this year (3-1 away), few in the WAC can matchup against the firepower of Boise's offense while also penetrating what has developed into a stifling defense.

And yes, then there are the true gimmicks as those of us in the Chicagoland area have witnessed unfold throughout the week. But first, allow us to comment briefly on the white elephant in the room.

The Cameron Newton Situation, or, Why This Season May Be a Do-Over
First, let's reiterate there is no evidence anything untoward happened during Cameron Newton's recruitment by . . . Auburn. Rather, the goings-on during his recruitment by SEC West rival Mississippi State have stirred up what could be the worst public controversy for the NCAA since Reggie Bush.

Despite Newton's alleged explanation that the "[Auburn] money was too much" for him to attend Mississippi State that is echoing around message boards, no tangible evidence has surfaced on any wrongdoing on his part or by his father, Cecil Newton. Again, pertaining to his recruitment by Auburn.

We won't bore you with a recap of the story to date (you can refer back to our Week Ten column for that) but this week did see an interesting wrinkle emerge: A potential connection between Alabama casino owner Milton McGregor and a pay-for-play scheme including not only Newton but the entire Auburn program.

The FBI has been investigating McGregor in a federal wiretapping case for allegedly trying to buy pro-gambling votes from Alabama politicians. Now the FBI has asked McGregor about his involvement with Cam Newton and paying players.

McGregor owns the an entertainment complex in Shorter, Alabama. The complex contains the Victoryland dog track, the Oasis hotel, and "Quincy's 777" casino and sportsbook. The complex has been closed since August following a raid by the state gambling task force, an entity created by Alabama Governor Bob Riley (Democrat).

Last week, Governor-elect Dr. Robert Bentley (Republican) announced in a press-conference on various reforms and changes he will make upon taking office in January that he will dissolve the task force.

Bentley will instead work with the new state attorney general, Republican Luther Strange. Among his past work, Strange lobbied on behalf of Transocean Offshore Drilling Co.- owner of, you guessed it, the Deepwater Horizon rig - in the late '90s.

In other words, the fatcats will be returning to Victoryland any day now.

This is just the beginning of what can be a deep, deep rabbit hole. Don't just take our word for it. Bookmark this link for an impressive message-board rant on the alleged Da Vinci Code-esque scope of this story. Dan Brown, eat your heart out. Even you couldn't dream up a sports conspiracy theory this juicy. Take my advice - print all four parts of this sucker and keep it on hand for those long hours at the office between now and Turkey Day. (With many thanks, we suppose, to loyal Beachwood reader and Jayhawk-in-resident Nick S. Congrats, Nicky, you owe us at least one night of sleep.)

For his part, McGregor (or rather, his attorney) denies any involvement in the Newton situation. McGregor, a major booster for the Auburn program (he donated a cool $1 million to the school in '08), might have to do a bit more than that to avoid further questioning on the matter.

The Auburn (#2 AP, #2 BCS) program can only hope for one outcome of this mess: total exoneration of Cameron Newton. That fishiness occurred seems without question, given Friday's news that one of the key figures involved in the MSU scandal - pseudo-agent (and alleged representative of the Newton family) Kenny Rogers - texted an outline of the pay-for-play scheme to fellow Bulldogs booster Bill Bell. For his part, Rogers insists Cecil Newton forced him into what he knew was an unwise decision. (Sending the text, it seems, not the pay-for-play scheme in general.)

Asked for comment by an Atlanta TV station on Thursday, Newton's family attorney responded by saying, "No money has been offered to Cam Newton . . . [nor has he] asked for any money."

Well, great. But nobody has accused Cam Newton of anything. But if his father was shopping him around, then what? Did Cam know? What if he didn't? Does it matter? (And look, not for nothing here, but how could he be that blind?) To clear Newton, the NCAA will have to say that either all of the stories about text messages, voicemails and conversations have been completely fabricated by jealous fans , boosters and spurned agents (not a total stretch, incidentally, given the fervent atmosphere in the SEC) or that Cecil Newton did (unsuccessfully) shop Cameron around but the signing with Auburn was clean.

Then what? The former seems unlikely and the latter creates a dangerous precedent in the college game.

The whole thing makes me feel like I need another shower. The College Football Report won't give you any answers to this problem. I don't know if there is a solution. For sure, paying players won't work - but don't just take my word for it - for that, give ESPN.com's Johnette Howard a read and if you're still in doubt, try out Bill Plaschke from the LA Times.

The state of affairs today that makes a Reggie Bush situation possible - wherein only the high profile offenders get caught - will only change when students, fans and boosters exert enough pressure on schools to either vigilantly self-police or (perhaps better yet) fund a significant "ethics enforcement" effort by the NCAA.

The NCAA is funded by its member schools, so efforts to catch recruiting violations are inherently limited by the resources made available by those same institutions breaking the rules.

I suppose we could ask Congress to get involved, but let's assume for the moment that body is busy screwing up other parts of society to leave big-time collegiate sports alone.

And, as we've mentioned here before, we shouldn't expect change overnight. In the meantime, however, we have to continue busting the rats too lazy, too corrupt or just too stupid to avoid getting caught. What's the alternative?

Backyard Football Comes to Wrigley - Northwestern, Illinois Debate Who Gets to Be "Shirts"
Just when we felt like things couldn't get any worse, news broke on Friday that the Northwestern-Illinois game at Wrigley Field will be played with backyard football rules. The story will not come as a surprise at this point, but I hope I'm not alone in rejoicing at the sheer silliness of it all.

Then again, that tune might change when the inevitable class action lawsuit gets filed. I think we can all safely assume that everyone who shelled out for tickets in the bleacher seats (the now-vacant end zone) will be more than a little peeved to watch all the offensive action take place at the other end of the field.

Now, think about the likely lawyer-to-regular-Joe ratio in that crowd. We have to be talking about, what, 1 in 100? 1 in 50?

Then again, maybe the Big 10 will think of a solution. Like a two-for-one beer special for the bleacher seats. That ought to do the trick. I can't think of any problems that would cause. At all.

Maurice Clarett, This Is Your Life
The CFR would like to welcome one-time NFL draft bust and former felon Maurice Clarett back to football.

Clarett, interviewed here, enjoyed a return to the field with Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League this season after being released from prison in January.

He served 3 1/2 years on robbery and weapons charges stemming from an incident in 2006 after failing to make the Broncos roster in 2005.

Clarett, who was ruled ineligible for receiving extra illegal benefits the season following the Ohio State 2002 championship, should serve as a cautionary tale. Not everyone gets away it. But despite making a royal mess of his once-promising career, we can't help but root for the guy now. Here's hoping he keeps to the straight-and-narrow and returns next year for the Nighthawks.

Enough pontificating, let's get to the picks.

The Sports Seal:
Kansas State (-2) at Colorado (Saturday, 1:10PM)
Illinois @ Northwestern (+7.5, Saturday, 2:30PM)
New Mexico @ BYU (-30, Saturday, 5:00PM)

And in the Top 25:

New Mexico State @ #18 Nevada (-37.5, Saturday 3:00PM)
#13 Arkansas (-3) @ #21 Mississippi State (6:00PM, Saturday)
#25 Florida State (-4) @ Maryland (7:00PM, Saturday)

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Mike Luce brings you The College Football Report in this space every week. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:28 PM | Permalink

Keep Sleepin' On Us, Haters!

Up next, the Philadelphia Eagles. We got something for you too.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

Retro Chicago: Eyewitness News

With Joel Daly, Mary Ann Childers, Mike Adamle, Roger Ebert and Cindy Sandberg circa 1984.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

The Week In Comic Books: Huge For Batman

Including a wicked awesome new suit.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Maserati at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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2. The Australian Pink Floyd in Rosemont on Tuesday night.

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3. SB at Reggie's on Thursday night.

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4. Delorean at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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5. Mucca Pazza at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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6. Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.

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7. Magic Kids at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

-

8. Very Truly Yours at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Text I sent to a diehard Bears fan last night: "They won't win another game this season."

Oops.

So this one goes out to me.

Heads Up
"It's not necessarily a crime for a police dispatcher to warn drug dealers about law enforcement activity, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday," AP reports.

*

Hey, I'm not a lawyer, but whatever happened to aiding and abetting?

Christmas Sweater
"Naperville Wants Every Resident (All 145,000) In Holiday Card."

*

Including this one?

Roland's Right
"Burris Farewell: Lack of Blacks in Senate 'Unacceptable.'"

*

It's apparently acceptable to Barack Obama, who wanted Lisa Madigan to succeed him.

Rahm's House
"Rahm Residency: Emanuel Presents More Evidence For Eligibility."

*

Mails dead fish marked "Exhibit A" to election officials.

Vote Note
"Increasing your midterm vote totals, but losing? Turns out it happened in Illinois, too," Nick Bogert reports for the Examiner.

Big Ben's Journalism Lesson
"I don't think I've ever been to the City Hall press room," the Reader's Ben Joravsky tells Chicago magazine. "I don't even have a press pass."

*

And yet, who is the far superior and more indispensable reporter, him or Fran Spielman?

Waiting For Arianna
"It's likely that [Waiting for Superman] would not have attracted any debate (or attention) at all if it had not been rolled out with the loudest, most ridiculously overblown media campaign since the Octomom," local education reform activist Julie Woestehoff writes.

"But since we all had this piece of propaganda shoved in our faces for days and days via Oprah, NBC, and even the Huffington Post (which refused to publish my essay on Arianna Huffington's role in all this), yeah, there has been some 'disagreement.' Take, for example, the 50 or more well-written, thoughtful slams at [filmmaker Davis] Guggenheim in response to his request for teacher feedback."

Chapman's Folly
"I don't know Steve Chapman," David Andriesen writes at CBSSports.com. "He might well be a heck of a guy. But Steve Chapman is out of his mind.

"A member of the editorial board for the Chicago Tribune, Chapman wrote in Thursday's edition that it's time to consider just tearing down Wrigley Field, an idea so misguided I don't even know where to start."

*

I don't either, except to say that Chapman probably wrote the piece just before grabbing a Starbuck's and catching the Metra to a soulless suburb where he picked up some Boston Market for dinner and caught a rerun of Forrest Gump.

New Schools, Old Story
"The new South Shore High School is taking shape at the corner of east 75th Street and south Jeffery Boulevard, but CPS officials still haven't made clear who will attend the new school - the subject of a fierce community debate," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"At issue is whether the students at the four existing small schools inside South Shore High will get a chance to go to the modern steel-frame building, as some parents want. Or whether the new school will be just that, a new school reserved for a fresh mix of students."

Best Buys
"Boom. Digital advertising turned in another record period, hitting $6.4 billion in the U.S. in the third quarter, a 17% increase from the same quarter last year, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PriceWaterhouseCoop," Ad Age reports.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

Retro Chicago
Eyewitness News.

Casting Couch
"Kelsey Grammer To Star As First Daley In Cable Series."

Producers haven't decided who will play son Richie, but they've narrowed the choices down to two candidates.

Quinn vs. Quade
Compare and contrast.

The Week In Comic Books
Batman returns with an awesome wicked new suit.

Zell's Way
"Sam Zell is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Carey to order that all parties to the Tribune Co. bankruptcy who want to sue him for his role in the company's 2007 buyout be informed that they will lose their cases if they sue," All Access reports.

*

Zell then declared martial law. Please report to Tribune Tower for chip implantation immediately.

The Week in WTF
Find out who most aggrieved us.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Bend our ear.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:27 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

WTF Goes Tweet, Tweet.

1. WGN radio's delightful purge, WTF?

"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"

2. Half-naked woman in car with sex toys, WTF?

Apparently, a suburban trend.

3. $55 million county strip search settlement, WTF?

Search me! Search me! Please!

4. Todd Stroger, WTF?

Search him! Search him! Please!

5. Tom Ricketts, Cubs, $300 million, WTF?

Nope. On second thought, hell nope.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

Quinn vs. Quade

Compare and contrast.

Quinn: Accidental Governor.
Quade: Accidental Manager.

Quinn: Lame backup to Blago.
Quade: Lame substitute for Ryno.

Quinn: Winner of garbage-time election.
Quade: Winner in garbage-time games.

Quinn: Inexplicably eager to spend next four years taking blame for larger institutional problems which will most likely go unaddressed for decades after he's gone.
Quade: Ditto.

Quinn: Bush-league governor.
Quade: Bush-league player.

Quinn: Bald and chubby.
Quade: Bald and Cubbie.

Quinn: Maligned by Sun-Times.
Quade: Mispronounced by Santo.

Quinn: Wants to raise your taxes.
Quade: His boss wants to raise your taxes.

Quinn: Can't overcome Mike Madigan.
Quade: Can't overcome Jim Hendry.

Quinn: Toiled in minor leagues for decades.
Quade: Toiled in minor leagues for decades.

Quinn: Was a utilities reformer.
Quade: Was a utility infielder.

- Andrew Reilly, Rick Kaempfer, Steve Rhodes

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2010

The [Thursday] Papers

"Trustees of Chicago's failing public pension funds have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into highly speculative investments that not only have failed to realize outsize returns but also saddled them with underperforming, long-term assets that can't be sold off, a Tribune investigation has found."

What, they invested in Sam Zell's Tribune?

Sam's Club
"Federal authorities are taking a closer look at the stock transfer at the heart of billionaire Sam Zell's disastrous leveraged buyout of Tribune Co., after a U.S. District Court last week determined a portion of the 2007 deal was a 'prohibited transaction' under federal law," the Tribune reports.

Rahmfather
Rahm doesn't need no stinkin' election laws.

Socialist Mayor
"Delivering on a promise made to Chicago's financial exchanges in 2007, Mayor Daley proposed a $15 million tax subsidy Wednesday for CME Group Inc., owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade," the Sun-Times reports.

*

Well, I guess somebody's gotta keep the free market free - even if it's the government.

Game Ball
"A boy aged nine who devised a board game is in line for a top inventor's award in the US," England's Scotland's Daily Record reports.

"Scott Ballantyne came up with the Adventure Boardgame aged just seven last year while off school with a serious illness.

"Now he's at the Chicago Toy Fair where he is up for the Young Inventor award."

*

"While in Chicago, he'll be interviewed on TV by George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson in Cheers."

*

The Chicago Toy & Game Fair.

Healthy Mouths
"A northwest Indiana hospital system is asking a judge to stop a woman from criticizing its care," the Tribune reports.

*

Similarly . . .

"The next time three of Dr. Jay Pensler's patients could be seeing him will be in a court of law," Fox Chicago News reports. "But it's probably not what you're thinking. Pensler's patients aren't suing him - he's suing them.

"Pensler is upset about negative remarks they made about him on Yelp and Citysearch, two websites where customers can anonymously post reviews about almost anything and everything.

*

Of course, readers can post comments anonymously on Fox Chicago's website too.

Hardly Epic
"How bad is student partying at Northwestern?"

Not bad enough, trust me.

Eight Loko
"While Google refines this product offering, Google Boost is currently limited to testing in Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco," ClickZ reports.

*

Mixes alcohol, caffeine and search in one can.

Chicago Tonight's Science Survey
Seeking your advice.

FOIA Reform Fading
Who to blame.

Czar of the Playbook: Bears at Dolphins
It's all about the red zone, baby.

Chicago Magazine Is 40-Something
An exclusive look at their anniversary issue.

New Enemy Front In Chicago!
The basil gimlet sounds delish.

Julian Lennon and Crystal Gayle
In our new edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Coinoscopy
Best farting butt bank ever.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Deposits insured.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

FOIA Reform Fading

"The Illinois House voted on Tuesday to overturn Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto on a bill that originally kept private the performance evaluations of all public employees," Illinois Statehouse News reports.

"In 2009, the General Assembly revamped Illinois' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to give the public greater access to government information.

"But in the last year, the General Assembly has taken steps to reduce the amount of information that is available."

How they voted:

STATE OF ILLINOIS
NINETY-SIXTH
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE ROLL CALL
HOUSE BILL 5154
PERSONNEL RECORD-EVALUATION
MOTION TO OVERRIDE AMENDATORY VETO
THREE-FIFTHS VOTE REQUIRED
PREVAILED

Nov 16, 2010

77 YEAS 36 NAYS 0 PRESENT

Y Acevedo
Y Davis,Monique
N Kosel
N Ramey
Y Arroyo
Y Davis,William
Y Lang
N Reboletti
Y Bassi
Y DeLuca
Y Leitch
Y Reis
Y Beaubien
E Dugan
Y Lilly
N Reitz
Y Beiser
Y Dunkin
Y Lyons
Y Riley
N Bellock
Y Durkin
Y Mathias
Y Rita
Y Berrios
Y Eddy
Y Mautino
N Rose
N Biggins
N Farnham
N May
Y Sacia
N Black
Y Feigenholtz
N Mayfield
Y Saviano
Y Boland
N Flider
N McAsey
N Schmitz
N Bost
Y Flowers
Y McAuliffe
Y Senger
N Bradley
Y Ford
Y McCarthy
N Sente
Y Brady
Y Fortner
Y McGuire
Y Smith
Y Brauer
N Franks
Y Mell
N Sommer
Y Burke
Y Fritchey
Y Mendoza
Y Soto
A Burns
Y Froehlich
Y Miller
Y Stephens
Y Carberry
Y Gabel
Y Mitchell, Bill
N Sullivan
Y Cavaletto
Y Golar
Y Mitchell, Jerry
N Thapedi
Y Chapa LaVia
Y Gordon, Careen
Y Moffitt
Y Tracy
Y Coladipietro
N Gordon, Jehan
E Mulligan
N Tryon
N Cole
N Hannig
Y Myers
Y Turner
Y Collins
Y Harris
Y Nekritz
Y Verschoore
Y Colvin
N Hatcher
Y O'Sullivan
Y Wait
Y Connelly
Y Hernandez
N Osmond
N Walker
E Coulson
Y Hoffman
A Osterman
Y Watson
N Crespo
Y Holbrook
N Phelps
N Winters
N Cross
Y Howard
N Pihos
Y Yarbrough
N Cultra
Y Jackson
Y Poe
Y Zalewski
N Currie
Y Jakobsson
Y Pritchard
N Mr. Speaker
Y D'Amico
Y Jefferson

E - Denotes Excused Absence

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:01 AM | Permalink

New Enemy Front In Chicago

"8fifty8 is reinventing the nightlife experience making each party its own work of artful conception."

-

Best Tweets So Far:

Yum! RT @outfitevents: Who's ready for tonight? I could use one of @8fifty8's Culinary cocktails right now! The basil gimlet sounds delish

Vs.

@samantharonson letting peeps know what time it is @8fifty8Chicago http://plixi.com/p/55237520

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About:

8fifty8 is the culminating point where the past, present, and future of Chicago nightlife . . . come together as nothing short of fate. It is everything that Chicago nightlife was at its best, beyond what it is currently and will be the trendsetter for future hot spots around the country. 8fifty8 is reinventing the nightlife experience making each party its own work of artful conception, the best in music with talent brought in weekly from coast to coast, creativity in events, ingenuity in cocktails through the artistry of master mixology, a staff straight from the catwalks of fashion shows and a welcoming atmosphere of friendship from the walk up to the door all the way through last call.

8fifty8 embodies "Be the change you want to see" in nightlife.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:44 AM | Permalink

Chicago Magazine Is 40-Something

"Chicago Magazine Celebrates 40 Years With Special Anniversary Issue."

-

Billy Corgan and Billy Dec "Pour out a 40" for Our Favorite Dead Chicagoans.

40 Chicagoans Who Might Have Hired Angelo Torres.

Ron Huberman on the 40 Best Jobs Mayor Daley Gave Him.

40 (or at least 4) CPS Schools You'd Consider Sending Your Kid To.

"It's Just Lunch" Now Has 40 Directors Named "Heather."

From Goat To Dec: 40 Billys Who Made This City Even Worse.

Same Shit, Different Tens Digit: Four Decades Of Overrated Bars & Restaurants.

Meet The 40 Chicagoans Poised To Just Stop Trying.

The 40 Elected Officials Who Made Corruption Cool Again.

Forty Rich People Who Made Some Money.

The 40 Hottest Sources Of Heat In Chicago.

Our 40 Best Liposuction Ads.

Chicago's Favorite 40 Rich People.

The 40 Neighborhoods We've Never Been To.

40 Years of Chicago's Best Dentists: A Retrospective.

40 Chicagoans Doing Much, Much Better Since Getting The Hell Out Of This Town.

40 "Best" Chicago Sports Teams of the Past 40 Years.

40 "Best" Mayoral Candidates To Ever Lose To A Daley.

40 Suburbs That Are Doing A Little Better Than They Were In 1970, I Guess.

40 Sexiest Singles Of 1970: Where Are They Now, And Are They Still Sexy Singles?

40 Most Retroactively Hilarious Cover Story Assertions, From "This Disco-Dancing Alderman Is Our Next Mayor" to "The South Loop Is Anything But A Cold, Vacant Wasteland."

- Matt Farmer, Andrew Reilly, Steve Rhodes (who worked at Chicago magazine for six years)

*

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

Czar of the Playbook Preview: Bears at Dolphins

Jay Cutler still has to make better decisions in the red zone.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:39 AM | Permalink

Chicago Tonight's Science Survey

From: Webmaster@wttw.com
Subject: Chicago Tonight needs your feedback!
Date: November 17, 2010 2:21:13 PM CST

Dear Steve,

At Chicago Tonight, the opinions of our viewers are truly important to us. We'd like to invite you to take part in an important survey to assist our continuing efforts to make Chicago Tonight as enriching as possible. As an extra way of saying thank you, the first 40 people to respond will win a family pass (general admission for any combination of 4 people) to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is presenting the time-honored holiday tradition, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light, now through January 9. To make your voice heard, please complete the survey by December 1. It will take only about 10 minutes. Please note that your responses to this survey will not be shared with any other organizations. Thank you very much for your support of Chicago Tonight. Sincerely, WTTW and the Chicago Tonight Team.

[Survey via Survey Monkey]

Overall, how would you rate Chicago Tonight
[Range offered from Poor to Excellent]

How interested would you be in Chicago Tonight segments on the following topics?
[Range offered from Not At All Interested to Very Interested]

Arts and culture

Nature

Science

Local politics

Chicago history

Sports

Business

How knowledgeable do you consider yourself to be on the following topics?
[Range offered from Not At All to Very]

Arts and culture

Nature

Science

Local politics

Chicago history

Sports

Business

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements about science?
[Range offered from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree]

I regularly pay attention to news about the latest advances in science and technology.

Science topics are intimidating to learn about .

Science used to be one of my favorite subjects in school .

I seek out science-related activities that are happening in my community.

I am curious about scientific topics.

I hear about local scientists advancing scientific discovery through their research.

It is important to promote science education in schools.

It's important to pay attention to scientific breakthroughs.

Scientists are bad at communicating with a general audience.

How familiar are you with each of the following institutions?
[Range offered from I Am Not At All to I Visit This Institution Regularly]

The Adler Planetarium

Chicago Botanic Garden

Brookfield Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo

Museum of Science & Industry

The Field Museum

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The Morton Arboretum

Shedd Aquarium

How much do you think each of the following Chicago-area institutions contributes to scientific research, discoveries, and innovations?
[Range offered from Not At All to A Great Deal]

The Field Museum

The Morton Arboretum

Fermilab

Lincoln Park Zoo

Argonne National Laboratory

Chicago Botanic Garden

The Adler Planetarium

The Shedd Aquarium

Brookfield Zoo

University of Chicago

Northwestern University

Museum of Science & Industry

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Do you get high-quality information and education about science and science-related topics from the following sources?
[Range offered from "No, this is not a source of high-quality information about science for me" to "Yes, I consistently get high-quality information about science from this source"]

PBS NewsHour

The New York Times

The Chicago Sun-Times

The National Geographic Channel

Chicago Tonight

The Discovery Channel

The Chicago Tribune

Chicago-area museums (e.g. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Morton Aboretum, etc.)

Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ 91.5 FM)

Do you recall seeing the segment by Jay Shefsky about the Proton Beam Therapy Center that aired on Tuesday, November 16 on Chicago Tonight?
[Yes/No/I Don't Know]

Do you recall seeing the segment by Jay Shefsky about the Proton Beam Therapy Center that aired on Tuesday, November 16 on Chicago Tonight?
[Yes/No/I Don't Know]

Do you recall seeing the science in Chicago segment with Dr. Neil Shubin and Phil Ponce that aired on Tuesday, October 19 on Chicago Tonight?
[Yes/No/I Don't Know]

Do you recall seeing the science in Chicago segment with Dr. Neil Shubin and Phil Ponce that aired on Tuesday, October 19 on Chicago Tonight?
[Yes/No/I Don't Know]

Do you recall seeing the segment by Jay Shefsky on the Morton Arboretum's work on the Emerald Ash Borer that aired on Tuesday, September 21 on Chicago Tonight?
[Yes/No/I Don't Know]

*

Chicago Tonight is planning more science in Chicago ("Scientific Chicago") segments in the future. Which of the following topics would interest you the most? Please check your top two.

The Fort Knox of the Tall Grass Prairie: The Chicago Botanic Garden's seed bank, designed to ensure the future of native habitats.

The Chicago Diabetes Project: How transplanting pancreatic islet cells might cure the disease.

Re-gaining Balance: Kinesiologists at the University of Illinois, studying the biomechanics of falling down, are designing ways to help the elderly regain balance.

Encyclopedia of Life: The latest on the Field Museum's ambitious goal to create 1.8 million web pages, one for each known species in the world.

Nanotechnology: Meet the Chicago researchers leading the revolution that could diagnose and even cure diseases.

Re-Reversing the River: A look at the possibility of undoing one of engineering's greatest feats and why the idea appeals to some people.

Gorillas vs. Chimpanzees: New research at the Lincoln Park Zoo shows that gorillas are out- performing chimps, once believed to be the smartest ape.

*

Please share any other suggestions for topics that science in Chicago segments could feature.

*

Are you (or anyone else in your household) currently a member of WTTW?

No, I'm not currently a member but have been in the past

No, I've never been a member

I don't know/I am not sure

What is your age?

Under 25

25-34

35-44

45-54

55-64

65-74

75+

What is your gender?

Female

Male

Do you have children living at home with you (at least part-time)?

Yes

No

What is your ZIP code?

Which is your annual household income?

Up to $49,999

$50,000-$99,999

$100,000-$149,999

$150,000-$199,999

$200,000 or more

Which ethnic category do you most identify with? Please check all that apply.

White or Caucasian

Black or African American

Hispanic or Latino

American Indian or Alaska Native

Asian

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

Other (please specify)

What is the highest level of education that you've completed?

High School/GED or less

Some college

College degree (BA/BS)

Graduate or Postgraduate degree

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:36 AM | Permalink

November 17, 2010

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

Blue: 6 and 3.

As of this writing the Chicago Bears are 6 and 3, tied with the Green Bay Packers for first in the NFC North and crazily tied for second in the NFC overall. Drink yourself sick on the Orange Kool-Aid if you will, deriding this years' version of the Monsters of the Midway. Use your sports talk radio show as Dan McNeil did to try to advocate that it would be better for the Bears to lose all their remaining games so that the Lovie-Angelo regime will be fired, leaving us to hope for better in the next leadership team.

Better than 6 and 3?

Should we wish for a fiery young upstart coach (Josh McDaniels) to tear up our formula for success by trading off our quarterback and running out our best scoring threat?

Or maybe we bring in an established coach (Mike Shanahan) to destroy our locker room chemistry by benching our leader at the climax of an important game.

As much as the prospect of a Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden (if for no other reason to let us reclaim our sanities on Monday nights) or an upstart like Leslie Frazier might make you think that the right coach can make us overcome our talent holes, I'll take last week's victory 27-13 over the Minnesota Vikings and look forward to a strong push towards the playoffs in the second half of this season.

The offense appears to have room for improvement, but when your defense is third in points allowed and leads the league in takeaways, the formula for success might just be to not do anything too stupid while in possession of the football.

Mike Martz's playbook might still be a bit beyond the young talents of Knox, Bennett & Co. at wide receiver, but when he opens up his mind to using all of the tools at his disposal, positive surprises seem to arise.

Who would have thought Matt Forte, who amassed 1,715 yards from scrimmage in his rookie years, might do well if given the ball on a consistent basis? Or that Chester Taylor, at a measly $12.5 million over four years, might make for a quality one-two punch at the running back position? Or that both Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis could both catch the ball? Davis hauled in 3 TDs in the 2009 season, Olsen caught 5 for scores, and surprisingly they complement our speedy receivers with routes over the middle.

The offensive line seems to have found some consistency having the same crew take the field each week, and regardless of fans' collective screaming of "Omiyale, YOU SUCK!" they did find ways to keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright or on the move on his feet for the vast majority of the game.

Speaking of Jay, whenever he figures out that settling for three points instead of throwing into traffic leads to more points, he will be scratching that "franchise quarterback" title that we originally traded for.

* * *

The defense continues to be basic but effective, bendable but rarely breakable, and only rarely giving up the big play.

Julius Peppers isn't recording as many sacks as might have been predicted upon his signing, but his run-stopping ability shines, while Israel Idonije with his freakishly long arms and surprising speed more than adequately hold down the opposite end position.

The linebackers contributed mightily to holding Adrian Peterson to a pedestrian 51 yards with a 3 yards per rush average.

DJ Moore continued to surprise at the nickel corner spot, with his fourth interception, and overall the secondary held Brett Favre to 170 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

As stated earlier, this team doesn't give up that many points and seems to still amaze with their ability to force turnovers, so here's to hoping that formula is enough against the likes of the Eagles, Patriots and Packers in the weeks to come.

* * *

Last point about last week: Devin Hester. Now re-installed at both the kick and punt returns positions, there is no way that opposing teams can kick to him after he ran for a combined 146 yards in returns.

Named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week (for the record eighth time) without scoring a touchdown on a return, teams have to respect this thrd phase, which will shorten the field for the offense. Welcome back to ridiculousness, Devin.

Bears at Dolphins
The 5-4 Dolphins come into this game more than a bit nicked up, having lost both their numbers one and two quarterbacks and now turning to Tyler Thigpen, who in the past could not wrest control of the Kansas City Chiefs' starting spot.

Considered the "best third string quarterback" by some in the NFL, I say the tallest midget is still a pretty little feller.

Compounding this is the loss of Jake Long on their O-line and the possibility of no Cameron Wake (Dolphins number one pass rusher) for Thursday's contest.

Reports are that Chad Henne might be ready but with their passing attack severely weakened, the 'Fins will lean heavily on the run, which plays right into the Bears' defensive strength.

But look to a close game as Miami still sports a tough overall defense and the Bears offense always seems to have an emotional letdown after important divisional victories.

Bears 17-13.

-

Orange: If Star Trek reruns have taught us anything (other than that Tribbles are trouble), it's that a sure fire way to identify an evil twin is a close examination of the suspect's facial hair.

The presence of a dark, cleanly trimmed goatee clearly identifies male impostors, while evil female twins typically remove the pony tails and glasses sported by their angelic counterparts.

However, these are only guidelines. Special cases exist, such the evil twin of Jared Allen, whose doppelganger mimes a badminton serve instead roping up an imaginary calf after a sack. After recording a single sack against the Bears on Sunday, while going up against 7th-round rookie J'Marcus Webb no less, the Vikings probably wished it was the alter-Allen who dressed for the NFC North showdown in Chicago.

While it's easy to spot the doppelganger of a single person, a copy-cat franchise is harder to unmask.

It can be done, but the devil is in the details.

Consider the following statistics and see if you can spot an impostor:

* A featured running back rushed 17 times for 51 yards. He was not injured and at times looked very effective. The team was not down by two scores until roughly eight minutes remained in the fourth quarter.

* A quarterback threw three interceptions in 31 attempts, including two in the final two drives of the game.

* A team went 1-9 on third down.

* A team had three drives that lasted over nine plays. These same three drives yielded a total of three points.

* A team had possession of the football for roughly 25 minutes out of 60.

Alright, times up. Which football team was described above?

Very Bear-like, no?

Final answer?

WRONG!

Every single one of these stats applied to the Minnesota Doppel-Bears in their 27-13 loss in Chicago on Sunday.

Should we give the Bears credit?

Probably not.

Perhaps Garrett Wolfe hid a tiki idol in the visitor's locker room, maybe the Vikings parked their bus on an ancient Indian burial ground, who knows.

Or maybe Johnny Knox figured out how to come back to the ball on busted plays and Jay Cutler discovered that there's no shame in stepping up in the pocket when rolling to his right or being slammed head-first into the ground aren't good options.

If the Bears deliberately changed their M.O., one can only speculate as to the possible reasons why.

Some probable motivations can be deduced.

* Virginia McCaskey promised to authorize the use of cheerleaders in 2011 if the Bears attempted over 500 rushes this season.

* Mike Martz was holding the playbook upside down during the game.

* Matt Forte promised to take running backs coach Tim Spencer and his family out for exactly two rounds of laser tag with the performance bonus of $150 he was to earn for eclipsing the 450-yard mark.

* Seizing on three decades of football experience, Lovie Smith realized the game would take less actual time if the Bears ran the ball more often, thus allowing him to get home by 6 pm for Telemundo's La Ley Del Silencio.

* The McRib is back!

Whatever the reason, the 6-3 Bears were able to vanquish their NFC North alter ego and leave their mirror image crippled at 3-6.

Bears at Dolphins
No amount of $2 well drinks could wash away the memory of last year's 10-6 loss on Thursday night against the 49ers, and this week's Thursday game doesn't project to be any better. While it's not a short week leading into a West Coast trip like last year, it is a short week leading into a bad match-up.

Over the last few seasons, the strength of the Fish was the multi-headed rushing hydra led by Ronnie Brown and renowned Rastafarian Ricky Williams. Unfortunately for Miami, the best days of the wildcat formation have been relegated to Goldie Hawn movies (does anybody else not remember the stars of being in this classic?).

While almost no one in Chicago is intimidated by the thought of third-stringer and likely Thursday starter Tyler Thigpen, they should be. A mobile quarterback who in his last real opportunity posted an excellent second half of the season for the Chiefs in '08, Thigpen will do most of his damage slinging bootlegs to Davone Bess while most of the defense is concerning itself with number one receiver and former Cutler teammate Brandon Marshall.

Miami 17-13.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias' family bank failed because it was heavy into real estate loans and couldn't absorb the losses during the economic downtown, but management also pursued other strategies that made the institution vulnerable, according to a report Tuesday from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's inspector general's office," AP reports.

"The agency said the bank had an 'aggressive growth strategy' to pursue commercial real estate and construction loans but didn't have good credit risk management practices to manage the loans and then couldn't withstand the losses in a worsening economy."

Jaws Giorango was not available for comment.

*

"The failure cost the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund $390 million."

Huh. Well, Alexi's net worth is only about $30 million but maybe he can borrow some money from the Ricketts' to pay the fund back.

*

"Other factors also contributed to the bank failure, including out-of-territory lending in Florida and New York, investments in certain securities and other funding sources, such as brokered deposits, which increased the risk to the bank, the report said."

Jaws Giorango wasn't available for comment.

*

"At of the end of 2007, loans outside the Chicago area accounted for 60% of the bank's total lending, the report said," Crain's notes. "The bulk of those loans were to real estate developers and investors in New York City and Florida."

Jaws Giorango . . .

*

One of Broadway's weakness was "Loan Grading and Review," according to the report:

"Most of the examinations and visitations performed from 2005 to 2010 identified weaknesses in the bank's loan grading and review practices and inadequate attention by bank management to address examiner concerns and recommendations related to this issue."

Senior loan officer Alexi Giannoulias did not comment.

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Fantasy Island
"Federal health-care reform will give Illinois the opportunity to transform Medicaid into a program that saves money, keeps patients healthier and attracts more doctors, a member of Gov. Pat Quinn's cabinet said Tuesday."

Officials are also really excited about the provision promising unicorns in everyone's backyard.

America Jumps Shark
"Prosecutors say a rural Wisconsin man blasted his TV with a shotgun after watching Bristol Palin's Dancing with the Stars routine, sparking an all-night standoff with a SWAT team," AP reports.

"According to court documents, 67-year-old Steven Cowan became enraged while watching Palin dance on Monday evening. He felt Palin was not a good dancer."

Mary Schmich or Parody Schmich?
"Once-hip AOL now seems boring."

Goose and Gander
Yes, but how much does Stella Foster make?

*

For that matter, let's see news organizations practice the transparency they demand in others and post all their salaries.

DQ Treat
"The first Dairy Queen store received local landmark status Tuesday, which should help people realize Joliet's importance in the birth of the ice cream giant that today has 5,900 locations in the U.S. and 21 other countries," the Aurora Beacon-News reports.

"Being home to the first Dairy Queen is not a well-known fact in the City of Steel and Stone."

*

No kidding. I would've thought the first Dairy Queen would've been in Minnesota, where the corporate headquarters is located. Nope.

House Shroud
"America's housing mess came to the western part of Humboldt Park long before it hit wealthier neighborhoods, but like much of the country the crisis is apparently going nowhere," Reuters reports.

"'Everything is on hold here,' said John Groene, director of the neighborhood's branch of nonprofit lender Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago (NHS), on a tour of this predominantly black and Hispanic area. 'And there's no end in sight.'"

*

"The housing stock in the area NHS calls West Humboldt Park consists largely of old, well-built red brick homes that would sell for large sums in Chicago's richer areas."

And the park totally rules.

Half As Crazy
"Four Loko Maker Will Cut Caffeine From Product."

*

So just Two Loko.

The Chicago Way
"Many fans of the Sunset Strip feel that the city of West Hollywood is turning its back on Tower Records as if it was its mistress," Jerome Cleary writes in a press release.

"Twenty-four-year resident, Jerome Cleary remarked: 'Allowing the Tower Records Store on the Sunset Strip to disappear would be equivalent to permitting the Roxy and the Whisky sites to go away too. Why must Tower Records suffer the fate of an out of town developer's wrecking ball?'"

*

"Chicago developer Sol Barket still needs city approval for the proposal to demolish the empty record store and rebuild on the site," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Thanks, Stanley Davis
Noted Chicago blues proprietor Going Home.

Gangster City
From the grief-stricken citizens of Chicago.

The Return of Elton Brand
And other NBA oddities.

The Lonely One
In Chicagoetry: Son of Some Other Guy.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Still Four Loko.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Gangster City

From the grief-stricken citizens of Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Son Of Some Other Guy

SON OF SOME OTHER GUY

"Some other guy is sippin' up her honey like a yellow dog, oh now
Some other guy, now, has taken my love just like I'm gone, oh now
I'm the lonely one
As long as I can feel all right"

****
Previously, on "Some Other Guy:"

"Awake in the razor'd dark
to the consummate torture
of my own imagination...

Him, luxuriating
in her inspired lewdness..."

****
O Muse!
Evil bitch!
O Love!
Cruel Fate!

Awake, again,
in the razor'd dark...

****
Her, flush
with renewal

(and relief), anticipating
new pleasures,

new routines,
new risks.

Brand new:
for Halloween, for him,

Julie Newmar's
Catwoman...

****
Her, on her
knees, naked

except for the
spike heels

and that
belly belt.

Slowly, noisily,
expertly eating

her new
man.

She pauses, smiling, right
eyebrow raised, asks

where he wants
to finish...

"I knew it,
you Dirty Boy..."

****
Him, emphatically
her Dog, slapping

that perfect
ass

just firmly enough,
pulling

that rich
hair (w/fresh highlights),

just firmly enough.
Her, barking

oaths of surprise
and delight...

****
I roll another
cig,

look for a late
rebroadcast of

Charlie Rose,
hoping

to God
he'll love her

as much
as I

still do.

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Chicagoetry: Some Other Guy

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Return of Elton Brand And Other NBA Oddities

Fantasy basketball campaigns are entering Week 4, and most of the top-ranked players from the draft are merely lurking on the fringes of the top 25.

With the exceptions of Chris Paul, PG, New Orleans, who's been all-around tremendous, and Pau Gasol, PF/C, LA Lakers, who's averaging a career-best 23 PPG and 12.4 RPG, the best fantasy performers this far have been big surprises.

Here are a few early-season accolades:

Biggest surprise overall: Elton Brand, PF/C, Philadelphia.

An eighth- or ninth-round pick in most fantasy leagues, the former star had pretty much fallen off the radar. With Philly, he's in revival mode, averaging 16.3 PPG and 8 RPG, and most significantly, shooting field goals at a 56% clip. He's been a hot waiver wire pickup, and is 93% owned, but my advice to Brand owners is to sell high. I don't think the 12th-year player on one of the NBA's worst teams can keep it up.

Biggest single-game surprise performance: Kevin Love, PF/C, Minnesota.

Had the NBA's first 30/30 game (31 pts., 31 rebounds) in almost 30 years, since some guy named Moses did it. His averages are still levitated from that experience - 18.5 PPG and an amazing 14.3 RPG. The averages will come down, but he's still one of those rare players who will average a double-double.

Biggest scoring surprise: Paul Millsap, PF, Utah.

Forty-six points in one game pushed his scoring average to 21.7 PPG, a full 11 points above his career average. Doubtful he can keep that up, though with Carlos Boozer gone from Utah it's clear that Millsap is benefiting most.

Biggest rookie surprise: Eric Bledsoe, PG, LA Clippers.

Bledsoe was not even expected to play much in the early-going, but has been taking minutes from veteran Baron Davis. He's now averaging 9.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG, as well as 12.8 PPG just in the last 10 days.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo!'s Big Board has players like Al Horford, Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis movin' on up.

* SLAM Online looks at how well the NBA's senior citizens are faring this season.

* Bleacher Report features a list of players to target in early trading action.

* ESPN says you better go pick up Bledsoe, and maybe Taj Gibson, at least until Boozer comes back.

Fantasy Football
Two absolutely stunning fantasy QB performances this past week:

* Michael Vick, Philadelphia: 350 yards passing, six TDs (four passing, two rushing), 80 yards rushing. You may have passed up the dog-killer in the draft and later when he was still available on the waiver wire, but now he's tearing it up for another fantasy team, hopefully not the one you will lose to in the playoffs.

* Matt Cassel, Kansas City: 469 yards passing, four TDs. It came in a game in which his team got blown out, but nothing is better for fantasy passing stats than having a QB who's on the losing end of a blow-out. They just keep throwing and throwing, which also means INTs, but more often than not, the winning team is so far ahead, they're just phoning it in on defense.

Poor Kyle Orton, QB, Denver - he beat the stuffing out of KC and threw three TDs himself, but also for about 170 yards fewer than Cassel.

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Speaking of stuffing, next week is turkey week, and that means the Pope's Nose award will be handed out to fantasy football's biggest turkey of the season. Stay tuned.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, a Beachwood blog.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 AM | Permalink

Remembering Stanley Davis, Blues Proprietor

"It is with sadness that we relate the news that Stan Davis, the gregarious owner of Lee's Unleaded Blues, a favorite haunt of the Chicago Blues Tour, has passed on," WXRT reports.

"He fell to cardiac arrest Friday, November 12. We send our condolences to his family and many, many friends, and will always remember him fondly.

"Stanley Davis Going Home Services will be held -

"Visitation: 1 PM - 8PM, Wednesday Nov 17, 2010 at Taylor Funeral Home. 63 E. 79th St, Chicago, IL.

"Wake/Funeral: 11 AM/11:30 AM Thursday Nov 18, 2010, at Carter Temple Church CME, 7841 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL.

Repast will follow and for those who can attend after the service, the band will play at Lee's Unleaded Blues, 7401 S. South Chicago.

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Lee's Unleaded Blues.

*

"There was this one club on the South Side, Lee's Unleaded Blues, that's still doing business today," Tom Paronis told the New York Times in May, recalling his early days with Buddy Scott and the Rib Tips, "that had mirrors on the ceiling and shag carpet on most of the walls and Christmas decorations up year-round. This was where the road bands of the Chi-Lites, Johnny Taylor, Otis Clay, and Tyrone Davis often played. When I worked that club, I knew, baby, I had arrived."

For the record, though: When Stanley Davis bought the club and remodeled, he removed the shagged walls.

*

"Lee's Unleaded Blues has been a South Side hot spot for the blues since the 1970s, when it was known as Queen Bee's Lounge," Karen Hanson wrote in Today's Chicago Blues in 2007.

"Now owned by Stanley Davis, a retired police officer, the corner club is as active as ever. Duke, the doorman, greets guests and makes them welcome. Stan sits at the far end of the bar, using a wireless microphone to announce the arrival of well-known guests. 'It makes me feel good to see people coming in and having a good time,' he explains.

"The club showcases local blues bands, but in Chicago that includes internationally known recording artists like Johnny Drummer. Musicians also drop by to hang out and sit in with the bands as musical guests.

"'Guests get insulted if you don't call them up,' Stan says.

"Lee's Unleaded Blues has been featured in National Geographic, and Men's Journal magazine named it one of the six best juke joints in the country. Davis is proud to call his place a juke joint. The juke joint is an African-American creation, he says. In the rural South, black people had no clubs, so people would gather in houses or barns or wherever they could find space. Today places like Lee's Unleaded Blues continue that tradition . . .

"Stan was no stranger to the entertainment business when he bought Lee's Unleaded Blues. In addition to his full-time job as a police officer with the Illinois Secretary of State, Stan worked part-time for 20 years as a bodyguard for musicians at concerts. He worked with such legends as the Rolling Stones, Prince, the Grateful Dead, and Earth, Wind and Fire. As a result, he became interested in the entertainment business and when he retired in 2001, he looked around for the right establishment. He had good timing; the former owners of Lee's Unleaded were also getting ready to retire and wanted to sell."

*

"It's 11 o'clock on a Friday night at Lee's Unleaded Blues, an oasis of light and music on a desolate strip of South Chicago Avenue near the South Shore neighborhood," David Whiteis wrote in the Reader in 2002. "The featured band, Johnny Drummer & the Starlighters, has been onstage for more than an hour, but Drummer has sung only one or two songs. A singer and harmonica player called the Arkansas Belly Roller took the microphone shortly after the set began; he stormed through primal re-creations of 'Driving Wheel' and 'Shake, Rattle & Roll,' stopping occasionally in the middle of a verse to lift his shirt and perform a couple of his trademark midriff undulations.

"Leeroy Jones, aka the Junk Yard Dog, hobbled on his crutches to the center of the room, took the mike from the Belly Roller, and delivered Latimore's 'Let's Straighten It Out' and Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come' in a sweet-sour croon. He writhed as he sang, the stump that was his right leg jutting out from his body at a 90-degree angle. Ladies hollered their approval, and several walked up and stuffed dollar bills into his fist.

"Meanwhile Calvin 'Kadakie' Tucker set up a djembe in front of the band. During the day Kadakie, who's originally from Bermuda, works as an electrician; he's currently helping rewire Lee's to accommodate a mirror ball and a battery of multicolored lights. Another guest vocalist, Delores Scott, eases into a sultry 'Dr. Feelgood,' and Kadakie's polyrhythmic punctuation adds an exotic Afro-Cuban texture to her rendition of Aretha's soul-blues classic.

"No one seems to mind that the featured attraction has barely had a chance to do his own show. At Lee's, a blues set is more a party than a formal gig."

*

"'A lot of people say, Well, Stan, can you run a bar? On my last command I had 30 policemen - I can handle four barmaids, handle a few bands. That's nothing! I know properly how to handle and talk to people. Do you know how to order whiskey? My father was a tavern owner, my grandfather was a tavern owner. My mother and stepfather, in 1976, at 922 E. 63rd, we opened up our first liquor store. I set that up for them and got them started. I had a back stock of $10,000 worth of liquor in the back room, so I know how to order whiskey. Matter of fact, my mother is part business owner with me in here - her name is Pauline Morrison. I owe a lot of my great entrepreneurship to her. I had my beautiful career in law enforcement, and I guess I'm going to do the same thing in entertainment.

"'We have top bands here, they're here every week. Remind you of The Rocky Horror Show - everybody know what they're gonna sing, and the fans sing right along with 'em. You sit next to somebody, next thing you know they're up singing. That's what really made me like the club when I first came here. I'm talkin' to somebody, they say, Excuse me, it's time; they're callin' me up!'"

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Scenes From Lee's

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-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

November 16, 2010

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on Monday told the Tribune's editorial board he doesn't have a Plan B to come up with $200 million if the state rejects his proposal to borrow that money in a bond offering," the paper reports.

Huh. I guess there's nowhere else for the Ricketts' to turn.

Oh, wait:

"The family patriarch, J. Joe Ricketts, grew up in Omaha and started a discount stock brokerage. In the 1990s he transformed the company into an Internet trading powerhouse now known as TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. He is ranked among the world's billionaires, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. Shares of the company are also owned by his wife and four children."

Chicago's Worst Landlord?
The reviews are in.

All Too Mortal
"Twista's . . . next project is a DVD titled Mr. Immortality: The Life and Times of Twista," MTV reports. "Part behind the scenes, part informative visual, the veteran MC looks to put a spotlight on the violence that's been plaguing his Chicago hometown."

-

America Goes Hungry
One in four children at risk; one in six adults.

TSA Pat-Downs
What Would Jesus Do?

Coyote Ugly
"A wild coyote running around downtown Chicago is not a threat to humans and serves a useful purpose by helping to keep the rodent population in check, a city animal control official tells the Chicago Tribune."

His Work Here Is Done
"No Role For Me At Tribune Going Forward: Sam Zell."

White Castle Is Trending
"The Indiana State Board of Accounts says East Chicago Police Chief Augusto Flores and Human Resources Director Hector Rivera must repay $1,340.14 to the police department's petty cash fund for disallowed expenses including a run for White Castle hamburgers," AP reports.

Chicago's Best Cassette Tape Labels
Vol. I.

Surviving The Holidays
With help from the federal government.

Bears' Charmed Life
Dolphins running out of QBs.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Steam-fueled.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Up Next: Dolphins Running Out Of QBs

Tyler Thigpen likely to get the call.

-

Here he is.

-

Thigpen takes over in Dolphins' win over the Titans.

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Thigpen seals it.

-

Dolphins locker room.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Best Cassette Tape Labels [Vol. 1]: Neon Blossom Records

"The medium, it's different - it's got a warmer quality to it," says Daniel Smith.

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See the whole A.V. Club story here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Survive The Start Of The Holiday Season With These Tips

As the unofficial start to the holiday season, Thanksgiving is a busy time full of travel plans, good food, friends and family. These tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center can help make this time less hectic and more fun.

If you're flying this holiday season, make sure you brush up on the latest rules and regulations from the Transportation Security Administration. Find out what items are safe to pack in your carry on before heading out, and on your way you can check for any airport delays or last minute flight changes from the "My TSA" mobile app.

mg_camouflage.jpgPreparing a Thanksgiving feast is no easy task and if it's your job to cook, you want to make sure you serve a memorable meal. Start with recipes for healthy Thanksgiving dishes and get tips on cooking for a crowd to make the task more manageable. Feel free to recruit friends and family to help you cook, but make sure everyone brushes up on food safety guidelines, like keeping raw meats away from other foods and cooking poultry to 180 degrees.

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular days for people to volunteer. You can find a way to give back to your community, but make sure you call ahead first to see if they still need help. Some places get so many volunteers on Thanksgiving, they have to turn people away. If that's the case, consider giving your time on a different day.

Enjoy the food that you get to eat this time of year without worrying about packing on the pounds. Make time for a family walk after you eat your turkey to help your food settle, or if you're looking for a bigger challenge, sign the family up for a local turkey trot race. If you're a Black Friday shopper, park farther away from the mall and walk the extra distance and take the stairs instead of escalators when you're inside. Sneaking in extra movement will help offset that second slice of pie.

For more tips on making the most of your Thanksgiving holiday, visit the USA.gov Thanksgiving page. Whether you're staying close to home or traveling to see family this Thanksgiving, you'll be ready with this information from the Federal Citizen Information Center.

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The Federal Citizen Information Center connects people with government benefits, services and information through its family of websites, including Pueblo.gsa.gov, USA.gov, GobiernoUSA.gov and ConsumerAction.gov; by phone at 1 (800) FED-INFO (that's 1 (800) 333-4636) and with publications by mail from Pueblo, Colorado. FCIC is part of the U.S. General Services Administration's Office of Citizen Services.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

Americans Going Hungry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service reported Monday that more than 50 million Americans, including more than 17 million children, are food insecure - meaning they lack consistent access to a nutritious, well-balanced diet. The findings are based on data collected by the government in December, 2009.

In Illinois, 12.2 percent of households were food insecure at least some time from 2007 to 2009, including 4.4 percent with very low food security - up from 11.1 and 4.1 percent, respectively, in 2006-2008.

The report, Household Food Insecurity in the United States, is a sobering snapshot of the pervasiveness of hunger in our nation. The report shows that child hunger remains critically high. Nearly one in four children was at risk of hunger in 2009.

Anti-hunger advocates continue to seek passage of a new child nutrition bill when Congress returns to session this week. The bill will strengthen access to healthy meals, including weekend, evening and summer meals. The Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in August, and the bill now awaits action by the House of Representatives.

Food insecurity increased only slightly in 2009, compared to a sharp increase in the report issued one year ago, which reflected the first full year of the recession. Advocates credit greater enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) and the increased SNAP benefit levels provided in the economic recovery package, as well as lower food inflation, with protecting families from hunger in 2009.

The sharp rise in food insecurity rates during the recession mirror the findings in the local report of Hunger in America 2010, which showed that the number of people seeking emergency food assistance each year through the Greater Chicago Food Depository had increased 36 percent since 2006.

The full report can be found here.

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See also:

The New Normal: The Greater Chicago Food Depository now serves one in eight people in Cook County, according to the 2010 Hunger in America study. The Food Depository distributed a record 66 million pounds of food in 2009-2010.

Growing the Field: The Food Depository unveiled its five-year Strategic Plan in July 2010. The plan emphasizes the distribution of low-sodium, transfat-free and whole grain items and redoubles our commitment to the distribution of fresh produce. Other focuses include: developing community-based responses, expanding SNAP outreach and implementing measurement scorecards.

Holiday food: During November and December, we plan 41 Producemobile and 35 Mobile Pantry distributions. Items include:

* 25,420 turkeys
* 14,688 hams
* 42,216 pounds cranberry sauce
* 34,632 pounds canned yams
* 27,630 pounds canned corn
* 18,320 pounds instant potatoes
* 10,958 pounds stuffing

Events:

* ABC 7 and Dominick's Holiday Food Drive (Nov. 5 - Jan. 2)

* One City, One Food Drive (Nov. 15 through Dec. 11)

* 86 Hunger (Spiaggia, Nov. 16; NAHA, Jan. 11; Custom House Tavern, Jan. 27; BOKA, Feb. 1; Heaven on Seven, Feb. 23)

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Twitter: @FoodDepository.

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About the Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community.

The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year.

Last year, the Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 135,000 meals every day.

The Food Depository's programs and services for children, older adults and the unemployed and underemployed address the root causes of hunger.

For more information, log onto www.chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

November 15, 2010

SportsMonday: Play Action Proves Pivotal

The game was a classic set-up and the pivotal play 50 minutes in the making.

In fact, the Bears had been laying the groundwork for Jay Cutler's clinching fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Kellen Davis for months.

All season when the Bears have faced third or fourth-and-one, they have lined up in power formations and quarterback Jay Cutler has handed the ball off first to Matt Forte and then, in the last few contests, to Chester Taylor. In other words, when teams have studied the digital record of the Mike Martz Bears, they have seen nothing but short-yardage dive plays.

And all through the first three-plus quarters Sunday, the Bears ran frequently when they had a chance, i.e. when it wasn't second or third and a ton. Martz may finally be seeking true play-calling balance but he still doesn't call the give-up draw plays in those situations that were a Ron Turner specialty.

This time when the home team faced third-and-one from just inside the Viking 20 near the end of a key 27-13 victory (bye-bye 3-6 Vikings, hello 6-3 Bears), they finally pulled the trigger on play action.

And thank goodness, because if it had been another running play, the Vikings were in position to blow it up for a loss of several yards.

As for the nuts and bolts, the fake handoff was okay but as analyst Moose Johnston pointed out, the primary receiver, reserve tight end Kellen Davis, didn't pause at the line to try to better convince defenders it was a typical short yardage play. Fortunately, Johnny Knox had also gone out as an eligible receiver and forced the safety to linger in the middle of the field for a critical moment or two before breaking to try to cover Davis. It was way too little, way too late.

Moments later, the Bears' reserve tight end was capping off the clinching touchdown with a sweet dunk over the crossbar.

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Back Where He Belongs
Overall for the second straight week, the Bears were determined to keep calling running plays even if they weren't really working (until a few decent runs well into the second half, their running backs weren't even averaging two yards/carry). Martz may have been the last guy to arrive at the "establish the run game to set up the pass" party but he's in there now dancing up a storm.

Of course, calling low-percentage (chances of success) running plays is a great deal easier to do when the team has consistently great field position, i.e., the Bears' return game delivered again.

After the game, Lovie declined to go into detail as to how the decision was made to switch Devin Hester back to returning kickoffs. He ended up saying something about the team just trying to make some more plays. I prefer to think that the head coach and special teams man-with-a-plan Dave Toub looked at how teams had begun to kick virtually every punt out of bounds and decided the Bears needed to give Hester more chances to make plays.

And that was the overriding priority even if Danieal Manning had been doing a fine job bringing back kickoffs.

Reserved Seating
Come on down Rashied Davis!

He made the Vikings pay for a short kickoff by grabbing it just before it started skidding along the turf and churned through an inspired 30-yard-plus return back past midfield to give the Bears what became their usual awesome field position. Also from his up-man position, he made solid blocks to help spring Hester on his big kickoff returns.

Then the reserve receiver was ready to go in the second half when Hester and Knox were sidelined briefly by what appeared to be minor dings. Davis ran a perfect out route from the slot position and then made the catch-and-run for a big third-down conversion on the way to Davis' touchdown.

Jay's Way
Offensively, other than the one brutal interception in the red zone, Cutler did the job. He appeared to chew out teammates and himself on several occasions, but that's just who he is. People love to give the quarterback a hard time about his less-than-ideal body language but they forget that plenty of other quarterbacks aren't exactly sweetness and light when games are in the balance. Just check out Peyton Manning the next time his team struggles for a few possessions in a row.

D-Fence
As for the defense, it was another great no sack day for Julius Peppers. His drawing of extra blockers setting up other linemen to make plays was highlighted when Israel Idonije got enough of a power rush against a lonely single blocker on the other side of the line to be in position to tip the pass that D.J. Moore intercepted. Peppers also had a big tackle-for-loss against the Viking rushing game and made several other plays where he either contributed to a tackle or forced Adrian Peterson into the teeth of whatever defense the Bears were running at a given point.

Percy's Play
On the slightly less bright side, Percy Harvin had quite a day for the Vikings. In between exposing first one Bear safety (Chris Harris) and then another (Manning) to score a long touchdown and then set up a field goal by drawing a long pass interference penalty, Harvin also used his excellent hands to prevent a touchdown. When Moore grabbed his interception it appeared for the all the world he would waltz into the end zone. But despite the fact he was lying on the ground, Harvin managed to reach over and trip up Moore at the 10. The Bears ended up having to settle for a field goal.

Favre's Fail
Of course, the primary national story line was the fate of Brett Favre. And so a viewer could understand it when play-by-play man Kenny Albert and Johnston, who was otherwise strong all day, continued to play up the fact that the Vikings were still in striking distance down the stretch, especially considering the two-touchdown rally their aged quarterback orchestrated the week before.

But it would have been nice if just once Johnston or Albert or even glorified sideline reporter Tony Siragusa would have pointed out that a comeback like the one the week before was more than a little less likely against the Bear defense than it had been against the Cardinals.

The View From Minnesota
A three-phase failure against a lesser team.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Obama Loan Mod Pledge Doesn't Add Up

When the Obama administration launched its flagship foreclosure prevention program in early 2009, it pledged to spend up to $50 billion helping struggling homeowners. But the government has so far only spent a tiny fraction of that.

A recent Treasury Department report summarizing TARP spending put the total at $600 million through October.

Although the Treasury Department posts the maximum amount that could go to each mortgage servicer on its website, it doesn2019t report the details of the spending. So we filed a Freedom of Information request for the data, and can now show for the first time exactly how much money has gone to each servicer. (A Treasury Department spokeswoman said they're considering regularly releasing the information going forward.)

The program, which uses TARP money, tries to prevent foreclosures by paying mortgages servicers incentives to make loan modifications. The largest payout, $79 million, has gone to JPMorgan Chase. Next on the list is Bank of America with $45.1 million. That's a drop in the bucket for BofA, which reported net servicing income of $780 million in the third quarter. (You can use our bailout tracker to see how much money has gone to each mortgage servicer. The figures, which come from our FOIA request, only go through August.)

With the government's program showing signs of slowing down, the small payout so far shows that Treasury won't come close to using the full $50 billion, said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance.

You Can Help
  • Have you worked for a servicer in a loan modification call center? We want to hear from you.
  • Are you a homeowner who's struggling to pay your mortgage? Are you seeking a loan modification through the government program? We want to hear from you.

  • "It's a joke, because everyone's asking 'is [the program] really worth the $50 billion we've committed?,'" he said. "We'll never spend anywhere near that."

    There are two main reasons why so little money has been paid out. First, there have been few modifications done through the program. The government only pays incentives for finalized modifications, not trials. For instance, even though $8.3 billion has been set aside for Bank of America, it won't get that money unless it provides modifications.

    Second, incentives are paid out over time. For instance, homeowners in the program receive a $1,000 reduction to their mortgage each year for five years if they stay current on the modified loan. The program is less than two years old, and few modifications were given during the first year.

    Incentives are paid to three different groups: homeowners, investors, and banks and other companies who service the loans (The four biggest servicers of mortgages are also the U.S.'s largest banks: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup.) So far, the servicers have kept most of the money paid out: $231.5 million all told. Investors (lenders and mortgage-backed securities investors) and homeowners have received $129.2 million and $34.7 million, respectively. Our database breaks those amounts down for each servicer.

    It's hard to estimate just how much Treasury will ultimately use of the $50 billion. One reason is that a portion of the modifications will default, so all the incentives for each modification will not be paid out. Of modifications completed a year ago, about 21 percent have already defaulted, according to Treasury data.

    If a homeowner keeps up payments on a modified mortgage for the full five years, it could cost the government in the range of $20,000 over five years, according to a ballpark estimate provided by the Treasury spokeswoman. But many homeowners in the program are expected to default on their mortgages well before that.

    The government has set aside billions of dollars from the TARP for other, related programs - but it also remains to be seen how much of that money will be spent. The government pays incentives for other ways of avoiding foreclosure, like short sales, but those programs started relatively recently. It's also allocated $7.6 billion to 18 different states (plus Washington, D.C.) for local plans to avert foreclosure. Another $8.1 billion has been reserved for a plan to refinance homeowners in underwater mortgages into Federal Housing Agency loans.

    Separate from the TARP, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both under government control, also participate in the loan modification program. Administration officials have said Fannie and Freddie could pay up to $25 billion in incentives to their servicers and homeowners, but it's also doubtful that whole amount will be spent. As the TARP inspector general recently noted, they've only paid out $451 million through September.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

    Borders Patrol: Ricky Martin

    "International superstar Ricky Martin flew the red eye Friday morning to Chicago from his previous night's appearance at the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas to sign copies of his new memoir, entitled Me, at the Lincoln Park Borders, 2817 N Clark St.," ChicagoPride reports.

    -

    -

    "The 38-year-old International Superstar and father of twin boys Valentino and Matteo can now add New York Times best selling author to his list of accolades," Accidental Sexiness reports.

    -

    NYT: "Ricky Martin's Personal Spin."

    *

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    Weather Mane

    When forecasts were hand-written.

    -

    Newman again six years later.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:33 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Gramatik at the Metro on Sunday night.

    -

    2. Furthur at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday night.

    -

    3. Twin Shadow at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

    -

    4. Attack Attack! at House of Blues on Saturday night.

    -

    5. Turbo Fruits at Bloodline on Saturday night.

    -

    6. Robyn at the Metro on Saturday night.

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    7. Stereo Skyline at the Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    "The game was a classic set-up and the pivotal play 50 minutes in the making," our very own Jim Coffman writes.

    "In fact, the Bears had been laying the groundwork for Jay Cutler's clinching fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Kellen Davis for months."

    *

    The view from Minnesota, though, was of a three-phase failure against a lesser team. (Same link.)

    Californification
    Did Apple ruin the North & Clybourn station?

    We're With Madigan
    "In one corner stands the media and attorney general Lisa Madigan. In the other stands one of the most powerful unions in the state," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

    "The Illinois Press Association says its top priority for the Illinois General Assembly's upcoming veto session is preventing an override of Gov. Pat Quinn's veto of House Bill 5154, which would bar disclosure of government employee performance evaluations in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.

    "On the other hand, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 says it will push hard for an override so that performance evaluations of state employees won't be released to anyone who happens to ask."

    We Salute You
    Oak Forest man to be inducted into White Castle Hall of Fame.

    *

    Excerpt from the essay that got him there.

    *

    Lester Talcott of Crystal Lake was also among this year's 13 inductees.

    *

    Among those previously inducted: Gera-Lind Kolarik, former ABC7 field producer.

    Hawaiian Punch
    - "Killer's New Life In Hawaii Sparks Outrage."

    - "EIU Murderer Paroled: Justin Boulay To Move To Hawaii With New Wife."

    - From the Trib's archives: "College Roommate Details Slain Woman's Last Day."

    *

    "KITV4 News has learned that convicted Illinois killer Justin Boulay, 33, is far from the first mainland killer to travel to the islands for parole. Hawaii is home to seven people convicted of killing or trying to kill others on the mainland."

    We Wuz Robbed
    "Chicago's agreement for a Morgan Stanley partnership to run its parking meters for 75 years, expected to cost drivers $11.6 billion, has Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles rethinking their own deals," Bloomberg reports.

    "Indianapolis, whose city council plans to vote tonight on a proposal with Xerox Co.'s Affiliated Computer Services, would rather take less money up front in favor of more total fees in its 50-year transaction. It also wants something Chicago didn't get: exit clauses that let the city end the lease."

    Earmark Irony
    "Another outsider who's keeping close watch over the conference vote is Joe Ricketts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs and former chief executive of TD Ameritrade," the National Review reports. "Ricketts founded a new political-action committee, Taxpayers Against Earmarks, earlier this year, and funneled millions into anti-earmark ads aired during the 2010 midterms.

    "On his website, EndingSpending.com, Ricketts is charting the current whip count in the caucus, based on public statements."

    *

    I mean, I know this isn't an earmark, but . . .

    *

    "It's Not Just Chargers Who Would Fleece Insolvent Political Entity."

    Obama Loan Mod Promise Doesn't Add Up
    "It's a joke," ProPublica is told.

    Spared The CTA
    In I Am A Security Guard.

    Retro Forecast
    When Channel 7 weathermen used markers.

    Borders Patrol
    Ricky Martin was here.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    You shoulda been there.

    Help Write Tomorrow's Beachwood
    By coming to the Beachwood Inn tonight!

    You can contribute to some works in progress - or just enjoy our cozy ambience.

    Once again I'll be behind the bar for another glorious Monday night of Old Style, Dr. Dude, free pizza and a jukebox that's still full of surprises.

    We also have some new additions to our Bell's lineup.

    Just tell me I sent you.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Petition Junction.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:01 AM | Permalink

    I Am a Security Guard: The Roads Not Taken

    Thanks to dumb luck, the road not taken or closed off has sometimes turned into a blessing in disguise for me. Years ago, I did not hit on a voluptuous neighbor who turned out to be a drug dealer. I did not get a pricey liberal arts graduate degree that's currently unmarketable. And I decided not to move into a more expensive apartment just before getting laid off from my longtime gig.

    Recently, my good fortune struck again.

    Twice over the last three years, I interviewed with one of the biggest local security companies. I wore a suit, filled the application, and patiently answered the interviewer's questions. Both times, I did not get a rejection letter or even a call back.

    During the heat wave over the past summer, I observed the security guards that company sends to CTA train stations. The guards had to work outside in very humid conditions. The sun beat down on them during the day. At night, the temperature did not drop. Sadly, the guards did not have access to air conditioning or fans.

    A young man working at one station had beads of sweat pouring down his face. He occasionally swatted at flies buzzing about him. He told me he would turn on the overhead lamp to draw the flies, but that would simply add more heat.

    A middle-aged female security guard at a different stop said: "What can you do? You have to live."

    I had a great deal of sympathy for them. Yet, I also felt some relief. That could have been me wilting in the heat. Their company did me a favor.

    A Taste Of My Own Medicine
    On a recent morning after work, I stopped by an art supplies store for the first time to look at sketchbooks. A store clerk, a petite blond, walked by me. A few minutes later, she passed me again. Some time later, she walked by me for a third time. She never carried anything or asked if I needed help. I got the message and soon left the store.

    The woman made me mad, but then I cooled off. Perhaps she had simply done her job. I've been in that position. At times, I watch unfamiliar people when they linger at my store. Often my suspicions are unfounded, but I don't want to risk being wrong. Certainly those customers felt the same way I did when the clerk walked by me.

    Although I got over my hard feelings, my discomfort remained. I have not returned to the store.

    My Big Mouth
    On a Friday night, a young couple arrived at the register with soft drinks. I paged the Cool Cashier, who was busy cleaning an aisle.

    The man started to pay. During the transaction, he and his date walked away from the register and started joking by the door.

    I could have kept quiet, but could not resist calling out the man for his rude behavior.

    "Sir," I said.

    "There is no one behind me," he said.

    "Sir, the cashier has a lot of work to do."

    The man walked back to the register and paid for the goods. He mimicked me. "Sir. Sir. You can tell you really love your job."

    The couple left.

    Afterward, I pondered whether keeping quiet would have been a better option. I concluded no. The man had it coming.

    Not My Brother's Keeper
    Near the end of another shift, I chatted with the Young Cashier. Around 4 a.m., a short man with a backpack walked into the store. The visitor looked scared. He said a car followed him, and he wanted to call his family to ask for a ride home. He needed to borrow a cell phone.

    I said no. I have this fear that a stranger will use my phone to buy drugs, and the cops will cuff me along with him. No sense taking a chance.

    The Young Cashier gave him change for the pay phone at a nearby corner. He called. Someone picked him up in a van.

    As the vehicle pulled away, I felt a bit awkward about my cynicism. Someone genuinely needed my help. I failed him.

    Human Nature
    Dixie Carter, star of the classic sitcom Designing Women, recently died at 70. According to an obituary, her father, the owner of a department store, provided a valuable lesson about human nature. When she asked him how he dealt with shoplifting, he told her: "Most people are honest, and if they weren't, you couldn't stay in business, because a thief will find a way to steal."

    Although my job has made me more cynical, I thought the comment made sense. Occasionally, I keep it in mind while standing at my post.

    Don't Spend It All In One Place
    A surprise recently appeared on my paycheck: A raise of 25 cents per hour.

    Though I've never gotten a bad review, the raise did not result from merit. Four years ago, Illinois mandated a series of hikes in the minimum hourly rate. The latest - and final - jump pushed the rate to $8.25.

    I had mixed feelings about the raise. The extra dough felt good in my pocket. However I believe the market should determine the pay, not the law.

    Anyway, the raise won't help me much. It barely covers the recent hike in my rent.

    -

    A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain. He welcomes your comments.

    -

    See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:06 AM | Permalink

    November 13, 2010

    The Weekend Desk Report

    We'll deal with the government; you've got enough to worry about.

    -

    1. But one winner won't get into heaven.

    -

    2. BREAKING! Chuck Berry to hold his Winter Dance in Chicago.

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    3. In our book, they're No. 1.

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    4. Home Depot Is One-Stop Shopping For Flooring, Heart Valves.

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    5. Something to think about tonight: Hipsters sure looked different in the 50s.

    -

    6. Earmark Malarkey.

    Now:

    -

    Then: Obama's total earmark requests (when teamed up with other senators) is $399,766,475. The price tag for his solo earmark requests is $321,766,475.

    *

    And, of course: The $3 Million Overhead Projector.

    -

    7. But is there a porn angle?

    -

    8. It seemed like only yesterday.

    -

    9. "Bingo Cove can help online bingo players to forget about the bad British Chicago weather this weekend, because no soon than they touch down at Bingo Cove they will be instantly transported to distant shores."

    -

    10. We'll be here all weekend keeping our eyes on these stories and more!

    -

    The Weekend Desk Party Line: Intoxicating.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    November 12, 2010

    The College Football Report: Let The Bloodletting Begin!

    About this time of year, we start to hear the phrase "coaching carousel" come up to describe college football programs firing and hiring head coaches. Presumably, this process calls to mind a carnival ride spinning furiously out of control, whipping those unwary or unworthy from their seats into the bystanders. We've never fully understood how this image accounts for coaches who switch jobs or land promotions from the assistant ranks, but there you are. "Coaching Duck-Duck-Goose" just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

    We don't care much for cliches here at The College Football Report. In fact, if we were to compose a list of our least favorite aspects of college football commentary, it would include - in no particular order:

    1. The coaching carousel.

    2. Using metaphors of other sports to describe football plays (such gems as "Ryan Mallett brought the high heat on that one," and "The Wildcats will have to go for a home run here").

    3. Mark Schlereth.

    4. Hoary old chestnuts like "milking the clock," "in the shadow of their own goalposts," describing quarterbacks as "gunslingers", and the liberal (and nearly always incorrect) use of the word "literally."

    5. We will allow at least one exception to Rule #4: the use of "extracurricular activity" to describe two teams at one another after the whistle. We love it. Works even when shortened to "extracurriculars."

    6. Note: Keith Jackson holds a lifetime exemption from Rule #4.

    7. Along similar lines, a different set of rules apply to Brent Musburger - as anyone who has played his drinking game well knows.

    One thing we will give Musburger - and we wish more commentators would (with a wink) do the same - he doesn't shy away from alluding to the point spread. Late field goals, botched extra points and such can elicit a winking comment along the lines of "that won't factor into the outcome of this game, but I bet some people are still paying attention to the margin in this one!"

    All that said, we will do our best to continue to avoid cliches such as the carousel. Instead, to describe the inevitable wave of forced retirements, resignations and terminations about to break out, let's add a new character to the cast here at CFR. We'll call him Sheldon, College Football Coach Serial Killer. Or just Sheldon the Shitcanner, for short.

    Sheldon struck early this season when the University of Minnesota announced last month the dismissal of head coach Tim Brewster. The Gophers top . . . dog . . . went down without much of a fight after compiling a record of 1-6 this season (15-30 overall, and 6-21 in the Big Ten). Thankfully, Coach Brewster can make himself a nice pillow to cry on out of his $600,000 payout money.

    Not to be outdone in underperforming, North Texas head man Todd Dodge rode off into the sunset on October 20th after racking up a total of six wins (against 37 losses) in his years in Denton, Texas. (No word on a severance package for Dodge.) UNT took a big risk by offering Dodge the job - at the time, he was among the nation's top high school head coaches. We hope he was at least allowed to empty out his locker.

    But Sheldon really bagged a big name when the University of Colorado fired coach Dan Hawkins earlier this week. Yes, the same coach who intimated in the preseason that a contract extension would help ease the program's woes.

    Some might remember Hawkins from his glory days at Boise, where he built the program into the BCS-buster that it is today. Yet the former Mustang couldn't get the hang of the Big 12, running up an uninspiring 19-39 record including a record-breaking collapse last Saturday. Leading by 28 with 11 minutes remaining, the Buffs allowed Kansas to score 35 points for the win.

    Athletic Director Mike Bohn should probably brush up his CV as well. Over the past five years, Colorado has ramped up the recruiting budget, added football staffers, upgraded the facilities (including the coach's office) and practice field . . . and will throw $2 million in severance money at Hawkins to force him out.

    Next year, the Buffs join the Pac-12 where the average (by CFR's accounting) annual compensation for coaches comes in around $1.5 million. Considering its listless fanbase - Colorado hasn't sold out all 53,613 seats in Folsom Field since 2005 - we don't see where the program will get the money to compete for a top candidate any time soon.

    Former Buffalo head coach Gary Barnett, who was ousted by Bohn five years ago, agrees.

    Maybe the program should consider alternate sources of revenue?

    That's Coaches 0, Sheldon 3 if you're scoring at home. And by scoring, we mean keeping track.

    God Bless America, Or At Least The Football Teams Of Her Service Academies
    If Army can eke out one more win this year, the 2010 season will mark only the third time since 1960 that all three service academies have finished with winning records.

    Not that the Black Knights need extra encouragement - the program hasn't had a winning season since 1996.

    Oddly enough, Army must win one of its next two despite three games remaining on the schedule. The traditional Army-Navy game takes place on December 11, too late to count toward the minimum of six wins for bowl eligibility.

    Update From The Cap-and-Gown Department
    A recently released NCAA study places Rutgers (4-4, 1-2 in Big East) atop the rankings of public institutions in graduation success rate.

    Compared to the entire nation, Rutgers still lands in eighth place behind seven private schools - Notre Dame, Duke, Northwestern, Rice, the U.S. Naval Academy, Boston College and . . . Vanderbilt. (Good for Vandy, by the way - they should be good at something.)

    The study covered the 2000-2003 enrollment years during which the Rutgers football program registered a graduation success rate of 88 percent. Compare that to the woeful 67 percent average across all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Even if the NCAA grades on a curve, many of those 120 programs should be deemed failures.

    Add the #1 ranking posted by the Scarlet Knights in the Academic Progress Rates released in June, and head coach Greg Schiano should earn some consideration for The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award - regardless of record.

    Finally . . . Andrew Gachkar, This Rib's For You
    We don't often go in for human interest stories here at the Report, but we will make an exception this week. Outside linebacker Andrew Gachkar leads the defense of the #20 Missouri Tigers in tackles this season, despite needing four emergency surgeries and three weeks in the hospital his sophomore year.

    Gachkar, now a senior, suffered a sudden blood clot in his chest during spring workouts two years ago, was rushed to the hospital and eventually needed to have a rib removed to restore a normal bloodflow. Rehab took months, during which Gachkar lost 40 pounds.

    He will take the field this Saturday for Senior Day as Mizzou hosts Kansas State. Regardless of the outcome, remember this Andrew - chicks dig scars.

    The Pick Sheet - Warming Up
    Don't call it a comeback, we've been here for . . . well, a year at least. And so, Week Eleven - for entertainment purposes only, including gambling.

    First, The Sports Seal offers up the following anchovy-smeared picks for your consideration:

    Boston College @ Duke (+3.5, Saturday 11:00AM)
    We need Duke to close on a 3-0 tear to validate our "Blue Devils make a bowl game" preseason prediction.

    Minnesota @ Illinois (-21, Saturday 11:00AM)
    We didn't know (shh!) the Gophers had been playing without a head coach all this time. Is it too late to take advantage?

    Army @ Kent State (pick 'em, Saturday 1:00PM)
    A belated honorary pick for the Black Knights and their postseason bowl hopes. Go Army! Beat . . . um, Kent State!

    *

    And, for your viewing pleasure (given that none of the above, at least outside the Big Ten "ESPN Plus" TV territory will be televised) here are the CFR Top 25 picks:

    #4 Boise State (-34.5) @ Idaho (Friday 8:00PM)
    That's a lot of points for a rivalry game, especially in front of a small but hostile crowd at the (get this) Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho.

    Little love is lost between these two programs, made worse by Boise's disinterest in continuing the annual matchup after moving to the Mountain West Conference. This will be the last meeting between the Mustangs and Vandals until at least 2013. And yet Boise must put up a big number to stay on the radar screen for the BCS.

    #1 Oregon (-19.5) @ California (Saturday 6:30PM)
    Maybe the better option for this one would be the 58.5 "over", but we doubt the Ducks will squander this opportunity to stay on top even on the road against the sometimes-scrappy Bears.

    Georgia (+7.5) @ #2 Auburn (Saturday 3:30PM)
    The Dawgs can trade touchdowns with just about anyone and enter this game fresh off scoring 55 points in a tune-up last week over Idaho State. And we desperately need someone to end this Cameron Newton national nightmare. The Heisman voters want it. Mississippi State wants it. We don't know of a better way for the underachieving Bulldogs to partially salvage a disappointing season than to upset the Tigers on the road. Wishful thinking? Probably. But we've lost for less compelling reasons before.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    1. I would love to see Alexi Giannoulias jump into the mayoral race just to see if Rahm Emanuel attacks him as a mob banker.

    2. Stay classy, Todd.

    3. Sick of the Ricketts' yet?

    4. The art of headline writing.

    5. The Week in Chicago Rock.

    6. "There is a Chicago connection to the Carnival Cruise ship that was stranded off the coast of California: 60 people who work for the CTA were on that cruise," Fox Chicago News reports.

    *

    "Blue Island residents Terry and Glinda Fisher were among the thousands of passengers disembarking the ship," AP reports. They were scheduled to return to Chicago, where their 24-year-old son Tim was planning to pick them up from Midway Airport this evening.

    "'My girlfriend read about it online on Monday and asked me if this was the ship my parents were on. My mom had sent me a picture of the ship before we boarded, so I looked it up and knew it was them,' he said Thursday night. 'I was like, What? The one they're on is on fire and they're stranded in the middle of nowhere? I don't freak out that easily, but I thought a lot about it.'"

    7. "Visitors to the Portage Park area of Chicago, in the city's northwest side, may find themselves traveling down Lech Kaczynski Way," the Warsaw Business Journal reports. "A one kilometer stretch of the area's North Central Avenue has been honorarily renamed after the former Polish president, who died along with 95 others in the April 10 plane crash in Russia."

    8. "Anyone looking to satisfy a sweet tooth will be pleased to hear that Classic Cobbler has opened in Chicago Heights," the SouthtownStar reports.

    9. "New Machines Dispense 106 Flavors Of Coke," the Sun-Times reports.

    10. "A man was sentenced to 10 days of work release after pleading guilty to pelting a North Central College security officer's vehicle with condoms filled with what appeared to be vomit," the Sun-Times reports.

    11. "Some of us really care about our communities, and that's not what's being promoted," aldermanic candidate Rhymefest tells Viva Fidel Radio. "You know, the biggest challenge that I've had since the beginning of this campaign is the perception that a rapper can't be nothing more than an ignorant nigger."

    12. "I'd say on some levels Minnesota was much more run by gangsters than Chicago was."

    13. "The judge in Tribune Co.'s bankruptcy case approved more than $40 million in 2010 incentive bonuses for 635 of its operating managers and executives Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

    *

    "Tribune Co creditors asked a Delaware judge to let them try to recover millions of dollars awarded to insiders in the year prior to the media company's bankruptcy, saying they can do a better job than Tribune can," Reuters reports.

    "In a Thursday court filing, Tribune's official committee of unsecured creditors said it wants current and former Tribune officers and directors to return more than $250 million of awards, including bonuses and restricted stock."

    14. The Week in Comic Books.

    15. Live At Eleven: A Beachwood Poem.

    16. "The jockey had murder in his eye, the chef cooked up a winner, and pari-mutuel integrity was fully compromised. And that was just on the first day," our man on the rail Tom Chambers writes in TrackNotes: As The Breeders' Cup Turned.

    17. The World's Greatest College Football Report: Let The Bloodletting Begin!

    18. The Week in WTF.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Bonus material.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Rhymefest's Rap

    "Some of us really care about our communities, and that's not what's being promoted. You know, the biggest challenge that I've had since the beginning of this campaign is the perception that a rapper can't be nothing more than an ignorant nigger."

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    Comments welcome.

    -

    See also:
    * Rhymefest's Run: Knows what shorties need.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:53 AM | Permalink

    The Week in Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Anarbor at the Beat Kitchen on Wednesday night.

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    2. Hey Monday at the Bottom Lounge on Monday night.

    -

    3. Electric Hawk at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

    -

    4. Chameleon World at Reggie's on Thursday night.

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    5. Nick Shaheen at Uncommon Ground on Wednesday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:44 AM | Permalink

    Live At Eleven

    Cameras off
    and the world goes mad.

    Producer's notes fly to action team headquarters.

    Headlines scream,
    This, and This Only:
    All of Your Attention.

    An excitable alcoholic,
    six weeks on the wagon and
    two weeks away from cancer,
    earns his pay:

    denigrating, pontificating, suffering, shouting,
    pulling those fucking ratings up ten thousand households at a time.

    Cameras off
    and the crew goes home.

    We've told the story the way we were taught; leading with blood, leaving out the truth at the heart of the matter.

    I made a woman cry once,
    prying out the murder
    of her only daughter.

    It was a great shot
    and only took one take.

    Cameras off
    and a star is born.

    It's a vicious, empty cycle. The bottomless space between commercials is so very carnivorous.

    We feed
    so we don't starve.

    Cameras off.
    One more person dies.

    Hopefully,
    tomorrow will be a slow news day.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

    The Week in WTF

    1. Bad teachers, WTF?

    Something rotten - you can decide what for yourself - makes public schools lousy. Forget about the fat cat suburban prep palaces with fencing and water polo teams. For the rest of them, the record in Illinois is crummy.

    But try to pick on any cause - go ahead, try - and the chorus of denial screeches into hysterics. The latest is this study, which points out that the largest producers of teachers in the state (Southern Illinois U. and Northern Illinois U.) do a particularly lousy job.

    Based on the response from the ed fortress, the researchers might just as well have called them Al-Qaeda bombmakers.

    But here's the thing, Bunky. If our public education ranks just below Mozambique, there's a problem. And chances are it's either bad teachers, or stupid students. As comic Ron White says, you can't fix stupid. So maybe we better work on the teachers.

    Here's the disturbing operative paragraph from the Trib story:

    "Last year, the Illinois State Board of Education approved a new policy that limited aspiring teachers to five attempts at passing the basic skills exam - another complaint in the NCTQ findings. The state also required applicants to pass all four subjects: reading, math, language arts and writing. Just 22 percent of test-takers passed in September under the new requirements, said Linda Tomlinson, an ISBE assistant superintendent who oversees teacher certification."

    Twenty-dos percent. Let the congregation rise and give us a WTF hosanna.

    2. Carolee Bildstein, WTF?

    Some news events defy any ability to summon cogent commentary. Or any words, for that matter. WTF has met its effing match. We surrender. This is that story. But before you go to the link, we leave you with the operative sentence:

    "She . . . assaulted the officer . . . with . . . a rigid feminine pleasure device."

    We will refrain from suggesting she needs a stiff sentence or should do hard time, because we shun vapidity. It's beneath us.

    Now, break into small groups and discuss.

    3. George W. Bush, WTF?

    Depending on which estimate suits you, the U.S. invasion of Iraq cost 4,427 American lives, 32,900 wounded and 300,000 more who suffered brain injuries. Seven hundred or so America amputees. At least 100,000 Iraqis died and maybe as many as 600,000. As a nation, we don't care to be too precise on that number.

    In any case, it's the price two nations paid to catch and execute Saddam Hussein.

    Does Dub regret the decision to invade? Or any decision? Nope, not at all.

    In his national book tour now being inflicted on the nation, he reveals a man still living a stupendously unreconsidered life. Never had a serious thought before. Still doesn't. He's mostly upset that Kanye West called him out on TV as indifferent to black people. And, of course, the photo of him looking out of Air Force One's window at a drowned New Orleans. Bush laments public relations gaffes but not body bags?

    We get it. He's the same person now that he was before. As Ron White says, you can't fix stupid.

    4. Douglas Rivlin, WTF?

    Is there a worse job than PR flack for a Chicago Democratic Party official? Well, doing road kill autopsies are sort of lousy on hot summer days, and Tariq Aziz's PR job will leave him hanging.

    So after decades of doing public advocacy and developing a network of DC connections, Doug Rivlin's entire reputation now hinges on him not being deceived by his most recent boss, Rep. Luis Gutierrez.

    Lots O' Luck with that.

    Rivlin, in response to assertions that Gutierrez got a sweetheart deal from Blago henchman-in-chief Tony Rezko, says: "The congressman never received any free 'upgrades' - or anything else for free - on his home at River Walk, and certainly never told anyone that he did. Any report that he did is completely false."

    In other words, Rivlin is asserting that the Sun-Times's sources are lying. The Sun-Times, in standing by its story, is asserting that Rivlin - and Gutierrez by proxy - isn't telling the truth.

    Road kill is nasty business, Doug.

    5. Pat Quinn, WTF?

    Governor Gumby sees a "mandate" to raise taxes in his goobernatorial victory but but we see a mandate mostly to be anybody else but Bill Brady. He says poe-tah-toe; WTF says "rigid feminine pleasure device."

    Anyway, Simba, we need to make a better effort so all the words we use reflect what they really mean. Refer to Ron White quote above.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: As The Breeders' Cup Turned

    The jockey had murder in his eye, the chef cooked up a winner, and pari-mutuel integrity was fully compromised. And that was just on the first day.

    The 2010 Breeders' Cup World Championships provided all manner of triumph and heartache. Blame, Zenyatta, Goldikova, Life At Ten, Uncle Mo, Bo-Rail, Pletcher, Johnny V, and Edgar. All had a hand in it.

    * * *

    After a tolerable level of hype all day, with ABC/ESPN keeping tabs on Zenyatta's race-day regimen, it was finally time for the Classic in Churchill's autumn gloaming.

    After a lackluster start and a seeming inability to gain full traction, it didn't take long until jockey Mike Smith had to urge Zenyatta to move up and get closer to the action. It was apparent the Churchill Downs dirt had to feel at least a little different to her. I said out loud, she's not going to win this race.

    "I couldn't get her going the first part; the dirt was hitting her (in the face) and she was a bit overwhelmed by it in the beginning," Smith later said, while placing full blame for the loss on his own shoulders.

    Meanwhile, Garrett Gomez and Blame were quite content to lead the second tier of horses; Gomez able to fashion a perfect trip for the four-year-old son of Arch. Quality Road, Espoir City and Etched battled up front.

    On the backstretch, Smith decided to go low toward the rail in an effort to save the big mare some ground. He knew he had used some fuel to keep Zenyatta from being hopelessly behind. "I had to cut a corner," he said.

    Zenyatta did gain ground on the turn, but now she needed to find a seam, a hole, to be able to get out into the stretch and turn on her famous closing kick. Smith had to check as a tiring Quality Road backed up to her. Up front, Blame had to muscle his way through a hard pinch by Etched on his inside and Lookin At Lucky to his outside.

    Zenyatta found her opening, but had to go hard right to get it, stutter stepped and then zigged and zagged for three strides. Blame shook his pursuers and emerged with the lead. And, on the outside, Zenyatta roared, Smith unfortunately whipping the hell out of her. Now I'm thinking, she's going to win!

    But not on this day. Blame put everything he had into a strong, consistent, focused drive to the wire, never twitching as Zenyatta threatened him, never backing down even well through the wire. Blame punched out a longish nose win.

    With such a flat start, Zenyatta had too much to do. This wasn't a questionable Grade I with a short field back on a California synthetic. She was facing some of the finest horses she'd ever seen. A couple of bad breaks here and it's over.

    But oh how she ran! Enduring a very tough trip, there she was in the stretch, showing the world just what she's made of. Her streak of 19 victories seemed so trivial, so foolish as she ran the greatest race of her life in her first loss ever.

    And those of us who follow this game were left to wonder what would have been if she had gotten more experience on different dirt tracks, damn the streak! Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs had had their quixotic fling with perfection, an idea unthinkable, really, in the hard-knocks of horse racing.

    Zenyatta will always remain an enigma to me, great in a handful of races, but tough to rank in the pantheon of the all-time greats. But she sure gave us a great one Saturday.

    -

    Triple Crown
    The truly greatest mare in the world had actually made her history three races earlier.

    Goldikova became the first horse in history to win the same Breeders' Cup race three consecutive years - the Breeders' Cup Mile - or three Breeders' Cup races of any kind, for that matter.

    In her patented push-button style, Goldikova bided her time until the turn, went four wide, and downshifted into her legendary closing gear, winning going away in what looked like a ridiculously easy effort. It was as thrilling as I thought it would be.

    Goldikova is the best in the world because, unlike Zenyatta, she has taken on the best in Europe, male or female, on several different tracks. The Mile was one of those races where I watched only one horse, Goldikova. America's Gio Ponti finished a gallant second.

    -

    Grooming Gold
    How cool is this shot of Goldikova's groom rooting his girl on and "running with" her as she overpowered the Turf field?

    -

    It gives you some idea of how fast and powerfully these horses are as they thunder past him at a level higher than the surface he's standing on. I thought to myself, I don't think he's supposed to be out there, and a later showing of the video confirmed it as a huge security guy calmly came out to get the groom after they had crossed the finish line.

    * * *

    Goldikova's trainer, Freddie Head, the only man to both ride and train Breeders' Cup winners, left no doubt when he said simply, "She's the best mare in the world."

    Head rode Miesque as she won this same race back-to-back in 1987 and 1988.

    The Fight
    The 2010 Breeders' Cup festival got off to a pugilistic start as the rage of Cajun jockey Calvin Borel made all the papers in the usually forgettable Breeders' Cup Marathon, the first race on Friday.

    Javier Castellano on Prince Will I Am cut off Martin Garcia on Romp as they came out of the turn in the 1 3/4-mile race. Romp went to his knees and Garcia literally pulled him back up, by his own description.

    As Garcia was dealing with his disaster, Borel, on A. U. Miner, came up to Garcia's right and had to check up himself. In recovering, Garcia was completely out of the saddle, hanging on for dear life with just the reins to hold. He plopped back down on his seat and I believe Borel was so close to him, horses touching, that he may have helped Garcia get back in the saddle.

    Prince Will I Am went on to contend, finishing second. As Castellano and Borel entered the scales area near the winner's circle, Borel went zombie, warning Castellano of his impending death at Calvin's own hands. Eyes as big and bulging as Moon hubcaps, face crimson, Borel was so angry he couldn't speak and almost hyperventilated. That worked up, he could have strangled, skinned and eaten a gator back in his native Louisiana but, ironically, Castellano threw the only punch that landed.

    Are these jockeys strong? It took four people, including his bigger big brother, to restrain Borel. The jockeys' room was locked down and, allowed to ride their Breeders' Cup mounts, Castellano and Borel could be seen escorted by burly security guys the rest of the weekend. Castellano and his mount were disqualified to last in the Marathon.

    Since then, Castellano has been suspended for six days and fined $2,500, although he was granted an injunction allowing him to ride in Japan this weekend. Borel was fined $5,000.

    -

    -

    Stunning Disclosure
    The integrity of the wagering was severely compromised as the horses paraded before the Ladies Classic Friday, the big race for females.

    In a stunning and bizarre combination of reporting and disclosure, ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame former jockey Jerry Bailey queried Life At Ten jockey John Velazquez about the horse's seeming lack of energy.

    "I don't know Jerry," Velazquez said as he passed the perch ESPN had constructed for the anchor team on the first turn. "She just didn't seem to have the same energy in the paddock she usually does."

    Unbelievably, moments later, horse and rider passed by again and Bailey shouted "How's she doing now?" "Not so good, Jerry."

    It was one thing for Bailey to comment on how lethargic the horse looked, but for her jockey to admit as much minutes before the race was truly earth-shaking. I snapped out of my shock and with just four minutes left before the race, I was able to cancel my online bets and reconstruct them. Life At Ten went off the second favorite!

    Velazquez' fears were confirmed when the gates opened and he immediately took Life At Ten back and embarked upon a mere gallop around the track.

    Thankfully the horse didn't get hurt and is alright.

    But this is a pari-mutuel snafu rivaling that of the Pick Six scandal of the 2002 Breeders' Cup at Arlington. Whereas 2002 was skulduggery, this year's was a blatant lack of integrity and complete disregard for the betting public.

    The only people who knew anything about the problem, besides, I'm convinced, trainer Todd Pletcher and Velazquez, were those of us watching on ESPN. If you were anywhere except in front of a TV with the sound on and you were betting online or via mobile, your bet was made for good. Or bad.

    Think of the betting consequences: single race either win or exotics, Daily Double, Picks 3, 4 or 6, Ladies Classic/Classic double, jockey bet. Despicable.

    Pletcher blamed the problem on "tying up" due to a possibly bad injection of the anti-bleeding medication Lasix. Kentucky racing officials are huffing and puffing about an investigation and deflecting responsibility.

    If it's me, I suspend Pletcher minimum three months, and that means not come within 100 yards of any horse of any kind at any track or any stable and fine him a minimum $100,000, no trainer earnings, nothing. Velazquez, minimum one month suspended and $50,000 fine. I can dream, can't I?

    -

    The Next Big Thing
    Kentucky Derby conversation usually starts as soon as they cross the wire in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. This year's "It" horse is Uncle Mo, who dazzled with a powerful 41/4 length win.

    A lock for Two-Year-Old Eclipse Award honors, Mo handled any questions anybody might have had about his first try at two turns. He's now got three wins by a combined 23 1/4 lengths, including the Grade I Champagne last month.

    However, being an Indian Charlie colt out of the Arch mare Playa Maya, whispers about his ability to get the classic 1 1/4-mile distance of the Derby are already being heard.

    For the record, Breeders' Cup Juvenile winners do not usually win the Derby. The only horse to pull off the Juvey/Derby double was Street Sense in 2006-07.

    -

    Rough Riding
    I'm no expert, but I really thought I saw a huge divot of turf go flying when (poorly named) Rough Sailing had his feet go out from under him as he made the first turn in the Juvenile Turf.

    We were getting diametrically opposed opinions on the turf all week and on the two race days. The gifted three-year-old British colt Workforce, coming in off winning the iconic Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, was scratched out of the Turf after his connections complained all week about the hardness of the course. Yet, a few jockeys called the course soft. It was rated firm for the Breeders' Cup.

    Churchill officials said they had been watering the turf intensely because of drought conditions throughout the summer. I can only wonder if the pan underneath was hard and the top layers of grass and dirt were soft. Sounds dangerous to me.

    Jockey Rosie Napravnik was lucky she wasn't stepped on by a trailing horse as Rough Sailing went down. He got back up and it did not appear he had any leg injuries. Sadly, we were informed later that the two-year-old had severely broken a shoulder and had to be euthanized.

    -

    Winning Meal
    Celebrity chef Bobby Flay had a good line after his More than Real won the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday:

    "I don't know what to say, and I'm never at a loss for words," Flay said, flanked by statuesque actress wife Stephanie March, jockey Garrett Gomez and Pletcher.

    If you've ever watched a minute of him on television, you know that's true.

    -

    Retire That Bird
    Mine That Bird, who joined with Calvin Borel for a crazy ride down the rail to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby, was retired after finishing 10th in the Dirt Mile. It was his ninth loss with no wins since the Derby, although he did finish a close second in the Preakness.

    But there is news the Bird might soon hit the silver screen in a movie about him. All I'll say, still suffering from Secretariat shock, it had better be good.

    -

    Props To Prado
    Edgar Prado, Red Bradley's favorite jockey, was grateful as his Shared Account won the Filly and Mare Turf on Friday, paying a very nifty $94 to win.

    It was Prado, 43, who was credited with saving Barbaro's life after the colt injured an ankle in the 2006 Preakness, two weeks after they had won the Kentucky Derby together. The Peruvian native also rode Birdstone in 2004 when he denied Smarty Jones the Triple Crown.

    As Hall of Famer Prado and Shared Account approached the ESPN platform, Bailey congratulated him and Prado just said, "Everybody forget about me."

    Well, I never forgot about him. He's one of those jockeys who always enters into the handicapping, as far as I'm concerned.

    -

    Paddock Patter
    ESPN/ABC's coverage of Breeders' Cup weekend was generally good, but not perfect.

    They started out strong by staying with Borel going ballistic, and in its followup coverage Jeanine Edwards reported that Tell a Kelly trainer John Sadler was not at all happy with Borel, who was scheduled to ride his charge three races later. "He couldn't change jocks now if he wanted to," Edwards said, strongly implying that that's exactly what Sadler wanted to do.

    As he entered the paddock for that race, Borel appeared to have two or three game faces on. Nice shot. On Saturday, Borel and Castellano were loaded into the gate right next to each other. Castellano locked, looking straight ahead, while Borel was looking all around.

    * * *

    Once again, puritanical avoidance of showing the odds and in-race fractions was quite aggravating. Thankfully, I had the computer going.

    And the quick-cut, goofy camera angles for the attention-deficit crowd and the useless overhead shots were very annoying. You could never get a sense of the races or which horses were gaining or losing.

    Saddle-bound analyst Caton Bredar did her usual good work, but was dodging the turf-condition question to a degree.

    Kenny Mayne and Hank Goldberg were given such short shrift in outlining their wagers to viewers, that ESPN/ABC almost shouldn't have bothered. Goldberg was in a rare winning mode, but we didn't get to hear much of his analysis. And next year let's trade Mayne and anchor Joe Tessitore. When it comes to the horses, Mayne's really got it goin' on.

    * * *

    There was an extra special bonus as ABC made the switch over to ESPN at 2:30 on Saturday as Illinois and Michigan were going at it in the Self-Esteem Bowl.

    In college overtime, boys and girls, one team gets the ball and if they score, the other team gets the ball. And on it went as both teams kept scoring in what looked like a flag football game. The overlords of college sports are not doing the campus muscleheads any favors by shielding them from the agony of sudden death overtime losses. The Big Can't-Count-Past-Ten Conference must have better lawyers, armed with no-interruption clauses.

    * * *

    Just as football interrupted coverage Saturday, the move of Friday's late races to prime time, under the lights, is nothing more than another revolting example of television controlling all aspects of our lives. But with the state of horse racing today, it's inevitable.

    * * *

    I won't use the word (or his name), promise. But the Churchill Downs bugler really . . . has a hard time with the call to the post. But think of it this way, Ralph Kramden couldn't hit the high note either. Where's Bonny Brown when you need her?

    * * *

    That hulking football stadium in the background that we saw every time there was a shot up the stretch is really ugly. Ruins the pastoral ambience of Churchill Downs.

    A bit of research reveals that it's called Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Um, okay, but how are these college kids gonna learn anything eating inferior pizza?

    * * *

    Illinois-bred Giant Oak, one of the favorites in the Marathon, was adversely affected by the Castellano-Garcia-Borel mess and had to go wide to avoid them. He finished fifth, 5 1/2 lengths back. Hard to say if he could have defeated Eldaafer, the Marathon winner.

    * * *

    Early in the Breeders' Cup Classic, it became clear we were going to get a butcher job of a race call from hired-gun race announcer Trevor Denman of Santa Anita.

    In a display of cheap, fabricated drama, Zenman yelled three times "Zenyatta is DEAD LAST!"

    Trevor, that's her game, and you didn't need to emphasize the word "dead" so much. A horse had already died earlier in the day. And you totally missed Blame's nifty muscle move to split horses and get the lead in the early stretch.

    But Denman doesn't deny it. "It wasn't a day to be impartial. That wasn't in my heart at that moment." So basically he's telling us to stick it.

    Denman epitomized the jingoistic fervor that characterized so much of the Zenyatta hoopla and became so unappealing. In the end, he called Zenyatta's race, not the Breeders' Cup Classic. It was a disservice to Blame and all the other horses.

    No wonder Claiborne Farm's Seth Hancock, owner of Blame, was so defiant in claiming Horse of the Year status for his Classic winner.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

    The Week In Comic Books

    The Return of Bruce Wayne, Thunder Agents and Red Robin.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    November 11, 2010

    The [Thursday] Papers

    "What's black and white and read all over? Not the white pages, which is why regulators have begun granting telecommunications companies the go-ahead to stop mass-printing residential phone books, a musty fixture of Americans' kitchen counters, refrigerator tops and junk drawers," AP reports.

    "If the white pages are nearing their end, then Emily Goodmann hopes the directories would be archived for historical, genealogical or sociological purposes.

    "'The telephone directory stands as the original sort of information network that not only worked as kind of a social network in a sense, but it served as one of the first information resources,' said Goodmann, a doctoral student at Northwestern University who is writing her dissertation on the history of phone books as information technology. 'It's sort of heartbreaking . . . even though these books are essentially made to be destroyed.'"

    *

    Goodmann's Twitter bio: "PhD candidate on the historical trail of telephone directories and information operators."

    *

    Goodmann's Chicago & The Telephone Directory slide show: "The Chicago telephone directory, an early prototype, was distributed to incentivize telephone subscriptions and assuage calls to the operator. In practice, however, it was a survey tool for its users. Through the directory's use by subscribers and residents, individuals mapped new pathways for understanding and acclimating themselves to urban life at-large. The directory-surfing mobile telephony enthusiast of today echoes the directory users years ago who extolled telephone directories as 'intensely interesting and absorbing' (Nelly Gordon, The Story of Chicago, 1912)."

    Rahmapalooza
    "Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel plans to make official this weekend what everyone already knows: He's running for mayor of Chicago," AP reports.

    "An Emanuel campaign aide confirmed the plans to The Associated Press on Wednesday evening. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't want to pre-empt Emanuel's announcement planned for Saturday."

    *

    Coming Friday: "Rahm Emanuel is within a day or two of officially announcing his candidacy for mayor, an aide said on condition of anonymity as part of an expensive media rollout planned by highly paid consultants."

    *

    Coming Saturday: "Encouraged by the media coverage of his unofficial campaign for mayor, Rahm Emanuel will make his run 'official' by creating an artificial event that in no way changes reality in anyway, an examination aided by media professionals and physicists has found."

    *

    Coming Sunday: "It's Official: Rahm In For Mayor."

    *

    Coming Monday: "How did the Rahm announcement go? We take a look."

    *

    Coming Tuesday: "Now comes the hard part: officially campaigning for mayor."

    *

    Coming Wednesday: "Can anyone beat Rahm? Instant frontrunner appears to have it in the bag."

    *

    Coming Thursday: "Our view: Spoiler candidates should just drop out."

    *

    Coming Friday: "Our view: Why waste the money holding an election when it's obvious Rahm is the winner?"

    *

    Coming Saturday: "Maybe we should have asked more questions about that $16 million Rahm made as an investment banker in just 18 months without any previous experience, or about how he got elected to Congress with the help of Don Tomczak's illegal patronage army, but it's too late now. Besides, he simply refused to answer and we got too scared to bring it up. It doesn't matter, the people of Chicago don't care anyway. They always elect crooks."

    *

    Coming Sunday: "How Rahm won."

    The Problem With Hyperlocal
    Onion or Tribune?

    *

    I prefer hyperjournalism.

    Qwappy Quigley
    I'm disappointed in Mike Quigley. Nancy Pelosi is one of the few competent leaders in Washington. She may be "politically toxic" but that's only because she's been demonized by the Republicans, who will go on to demonize whoever replaces her. The Democrats do it too. It's gotta stop. Does the Obama administration and its political tentacles, including the DNC, have the courage to actually change our discourse? I doubt it. That's not who the president is - just who a lot of folks thought he was, and now he's paying the price.

    Obama Stimulus Claims Half Lies
    "He stretched the facts," an examination by ProPublica and Politifact has found.

    Making TV
    The Chicago Code On Location.

    America's War On Christianity
    "It is now possible in America to be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for praying in the name of Jesus."

    *

    Example: Everybody get down or I swear to God I'll blow your heads off!

    Meister Brau On The Move
    Trademark for purveyor of Daley's Brew is up for sale.

    The Czar of the Playbook
    Has the keys to this week's Bears-Vikings game.

    -

    Outlaws and the Outfit

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Double stuf.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

    Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

    It's harder than it looks.

    1. Jennifer Beals and Jason Clarke.

    -

    2. Fire in the hole!

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    3. Stunt driving, guns drawn.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    See also:
    * Trailer: The Chicago Code

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:22 AM | Permalink

    America's War On Christianity

    NEW BOOK DOCUMENTS HOW SECULAR ELITISTS ATTACK CHRISTIANITY

    Conducting interviews on this topic is the author of America's War on Christianity, Brad O'Leary.

    WASHINGTON - The battle over America's Judeo-Christian identity is heating up, and at least one author isn't taking the fight lying down. A powerful new book from bestselling author Brad O'Leary put the lie to secularist claims that Christianity isn't under an intense attack.

    America's War on Christianity is a timely and expertly documented expose that takes you deep inside the battle to save our nation's Judeo-Christian heritage, and with it, our liberty.

    From attacks on Christian holidays to government efforts to stamp-out homeschooling to the courtroom assault on Christianity and free speech, O'Leary leaves no stone unturned and lays the radical secularist agenda bare for all to see.

    The evidence is compelling indeed. Courts are forcing the removal of displays of the Ten Commandments from public property. War memorials displaying crosses in honor of our nation's fallen fighters are under legal attack because the cross is also a Christian religious symbol.

    It is now possible in America to be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for praying in the name of Jesus. Catholics are being called "hateful" and "callous" for opposing gay marriage. Christmas trees are being turned into "holiday" trees and the words of Christmas carols are being changed to "winter" and "holiday" songs.

    Along with a well-documented presentation of these attacks, the book presents solid evidence from major public opinion polls, including Zogby, Gallup, Rasmussen and Pew, showing that most Americans hold Christian views.

    In fact, Rasmussen found in 2009 that a supermajority of 80% of Americans believe in a historical Jesus who lived and walked the earth, while only 8% do not. Clearly, the very small secular elite behind these attacks is way out of step with American values and beliefs.

    *

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brad O'Leary is publisher of The O'Leary Report and a former NBC Westwood One talk show host. He is the author of 13 books, including: Shut Up, America! The End of Free Speech; The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama's War on American Values; Presidential Follies; and Are You a Conservative or a Liberal?

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Czar of the Playbook Preview: Vikings at Bears

    Keys to a Bears victory: Olsen, Idonije and flooding the zones.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

    Obama Stimulus Claims Half False

    This story was co-reported by PolitiFact and ProPublica.

    -

    "One of the interesting things about the Recovery Act was most of the projects came in under budget, faster than expected, because there's just not a lot of work there."

    - Barack Obama on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 in a 60 Minutes interview

    President Barack Obama says the time is ripe for immediate investment in infrastructure projects such as highways and bridges. With the nation recovering from a recession, interest rates are low, competition among contractors for work is intense and the cost of building materials are low.

    As evidence, Obama pointed to the government's experience with the economic stimulus package, saying that taxpayers have gotten pretty good bang for their buck.

    "One of the interesting things about the Recovery Act was most of the projects came in under budget, faster than expected, because there's just not a lot of work there," Obama said in an interview on 60 Minutes on Nov. 7, 2010. "I mean, there are construction crews all across the country that are dying for work. And companies that are willing to take a very small profit in order to get work done. And so for us to say now's the time for us to rebuild this country and equip ourselves for the 21st Century. That's something that could make a real difference."

    In the fall campaign, Republicans assailed the stimulus as wasteful spending, but now Obama is citing it as a example of efficiency. And so Politifact decided to collaborate with ProPublica to see if Obama was right that "most" of the projects funded by the stimulus came in "under budget" and "faster than expected."

    We'll break this into two parts: whether most stimulus projects came in under budget, and whether they were faster than expected.

    Under Budget?

    There is no comprehensive federal database that tracks whether stimulus projects have come in under budget. But the White House pointed us toward Vice President Joe Biden's latest stimulus report, issued in early October, which found that "Contract bids, in some cases, have come in anywhere from 6 to 20 percent below expected costs, allowing agencies to do more work within their original appropriations."

    But that was based on a limited sample - an administration survey of eight agencies with a large number of infrastructure projects. The survey found that project bids came in about $8.5 billion less than anticipated, allowing the stimulus to fund more than 3,000 additional projects.

    The bulk of the "bid savings" in the survey came from the Department of Transportation, where low bids for projects came in $7.5 billion less than expected, allowing the department to fund an additional 2,500 projects. But DOT wasn't alone. All of the agencies surveyed reported projects coming in under budget. In the Veterans Administration, for example, project bids came in 8 to 12 percent below estimates, allowing the VA to stretch its number of funded projects from 942 to 1521.

    Those figures come as little surprise to industry experts who said that projects in the last couple of years have often been below estimates. The recession decimated the construction industry, which led to intense competition for public projects like those funded by the stimulus.

    Whereas most projects would typically get five or six bidders, they now get 20 to 25 - heightening pressure for lower bids, said Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. In a survey of its membership near the beginning of 2010, 90 percent said they had lowered their bids that year; and 10 percent said they were even bidding below the cost of the project, "buying work," just to keep employees busy until things pick up, Turmail said.

    Another factor: Construction estimates were unusually high in 2006 and 2007, when many estimates were first made. They were inflated by strong demand for construction and high materials costs.

    As a result, officials began revising their estimating formulas to account for higher costs, at the very time when costs for construction goods and services actually were coming down. As a result, many projects in 2008 and 2009 - prime time for the stimulus - came in well under budget.

    The U.S. Government Accountability Office confirmed the trend in a March report.

    "Many highway contracts were awarded for less than the original cost estimates," the report states. "These 'bid savings' allowed states to fund more projects with the Recovery Act funding than were initially anticipated."

    For example, an Interstate 59 pavement project in Gadsden, Ala., came in 31 percent below the original estimate of $53.9 million. The 8-mile Old Glenn Highway resurfacing project in Anchorage, Alaska, was nearly 50 percent below the original estimate of $25 million.

    So there is some truth to Obama's point. But without definitive data telling us what percentage of all stimulus projects have come in under budget, we think it's a stretch for Obama to claim that most stimulus projects have come in under budget. After all, that's based on a survey of just eight agencies that found "contract bids, in some cases" were coming in well below budget.

    Faster Than Expected?

    This is a statistic that depends somewhat on who is doing the expecting.

    Asked for backup, the White House again pointed to its October report, which noted the administration met its target of "outlaying," or spending, 70 percent of the stimulus funds by the end of September 2010. The administration also provided data on various deadlines met, or exceeded, to "obligate" money to various agencies. But "obligated" simply means the money has been committed to a project. It could take months before it's spent.

    So back to the money "outlaid." Shortly after the law passed, the administration set a goal of having 70 percent of the funds outlaid and delivered in tax relief by Sept. 30, 2010. In the report, the administration boasted that as of that deadline, the government had outlaid $308 billion and paid out $243 billion in tax relief - a total of $551 billion, or almost exactly 70 percent of the Act's $787 billion cost estimate at the time of enactment.

    Liz Oxhorn, a White House spokeswoman for the stimulus program, defended Obama's "faster than expected" claim based on outlays, saying, "Because most projects pay out on the back end, money out the door is one of the best indicators that projects are being completed ahead of schedule."

    But if outlays are the measuring stick, the projects have not come in "faster than expected," they have come in exactly as expected.

    And a couple caveats are in order here. The stimulus bill contained $288 billion in tax cuts and $499 billion in spending. As of Sept. 30, 85 percent of the tax cuts had been issued, along with 62 percent of the spending. In other words, the 70 percent threshold is inflated a bit by tax breaks.

    An analysis by ProPublica also found that a number of agencies were lagging behind spending estimates.

    The Department of Energy, for example, has been the slowest agency to spend its stimulus funds, as many of the agency's programs have been tied up by an onslaught of applications and regulations regarding prevailing wages, American-made materials, increasing electricity rates and environmental clearances. As of Sept. 17, it has spent only $7.6 billion of its $32.7 billion allocation. The slowest energy programs include the $3 billion "clean coal" carbon capture program, the $4.5 billion smart grid program and the $2.5 billion loan guarantee program to support clean energy projects.

    The Department of Homeland Security spent less than $500 million of its $2.8 billion allocation. When the stimulus bill was passed, the CBO estimated that Homeland Security would spend more than $1 billion by now. The slow spending comes from nearly every part of the agency. For example, Customs and Border Protection has paid out less than $50 million, even though it was authorized to spend $680 million to modernize ports of entry and deploy other border technology. That program was halted briefly last fall as news media and members of Congress questioned the plan to modernize little-used border stations in Montana and North Dakota instead of busy crossings along the southwest border.

    While outlays may be a good measure of the progress of stimulus spending, we also think most people would interpret Obama's comment to mean that projects were actually being done faster than expected. Again, there is no comprehensive federal database tracking that statistic.

    But ProPublica analyzed a piece of the stimulus, the money awarded to the Federal Highway Administration. Of the 12,932 projects listed in a database provided by the agency, 5,752 are marked as completed, about 45 percent. Of the completed projects, 51 percent were completed earlier than the estimated date. About 30 percent came in late and 12 percent on the same day. Several hundred projects had no estimated date.

    In the case of the Federal Highway Administration, Obama could rightly claim that "most" projects have come in faster than expected (though barely, at 51 percent). But this is just one agency.

    As with the claim about projects coming in under budget, Obama would have been on firm ground had he said "many" projects have come in faster than expected. Many have. But many have not. And if the claim is based on meeting a deadline to outlay funds, the overall target of 70 percent was reached - barely - by the end of September. That's only faster than expected if you expected the government to fail.

    Obama makes a valid point about this being a good time to get deals on infrastructure projects. The recession has created desperate workers willing to work cheaper, and the cost of materials is still relatively low. Obama's point that this was borne out by the stimulus projects is on target. But he stretched the facts - at least what is actually known - when he claimed most projects have come in under budget and faster than expected. And so we rate his claim Half True.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    See also:
    * Recovery Redacted: Says one expert: "Oh for the love of God!"

    * Six Months Of Stimulus: Silly spending, jobs propaganda and no transparency.

    * Stealth Stimulus Lobbying: Obama's broken promise.

    * Biden's Bullshit: His butt can't cash the stimulus checks his mouth is writing.

    * Stimulus Job Claim Lies: Few news organizations took the time to report the lower number, choosing instead to focus on the more eye-catching "million" number.

    * Stimulus Transportation Spending Lags Predictions: Not doing much stimulating.

    * Behind Those $533,000 Stimulus Jobs: More stimulus bullshit from the Obama administration.

    * Stimulus Stats Saved Or Created: The White House will now count any person who works on a stimulus-funded project - even if that person was never in danger of losing his or her job.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    Meister Brau On The Move

    "Meister Brau occupies an important place in U.S beer history as the precursor to Miller Lite - and, more recently, as the favorite beer of Cousin Eddie, the unforgettable red neck in National Lampoon's Vacation movies," Ad Age reports.

    "Now it can be yours.

    "The beer label is among 150 trademarks that span 13 categories ranging from toys to personal-care products that will be auctioned off next month in New York."

    *

    Mmm, Meister Brau. Let's take a look.

    meisterbrau110910.jpgWikipedia: After its first inception as "Gablinger's Diet Beer," which was created in 1967 by Joseph L. Owades, a biochemist working for New York's Rheingold Brewery, the recipe was given (by the inventor of the light beer process) to one of Miller's competing breweries, Chicago's Meister Brau, which came out with the Meister Brau "Lite" brand in the late 1960s.

    When Miller acquired Meister Brau's labels the recipe was reformulated and relaunched as "Lite Beer from Miller" (which was its official name until the mid 80s) in the test markets of Springfield, IL and San Diego, CA in 1973, and heavily marketed using masculine pro sports players and other macho figures of the day in an effort to sell to the key beer-drinking male demographic.

    Miller's approach worked where the two previous light beers had failed, and Miller's early production totals of 12.8 million barrels quickly increased to 24.2 million barrels by 1977 as Miller rose to 2nd place in the American brewing marketplace.

    Other brewers responded, especially Anheuser-Busch with its heavily advertised Bud Light in 1982, which eventually overtook Lite in 1994. In 1992 light beer became the biggest domestic beer in America.

    -

    You don't have to be rich to enjoy a beer as rich in taste as Meister Brau.

    -

    BeerAdvocate Rating: D-. Avoid.

    -

    1963 Meister Brau Ad: With Irv Kupcinet.

    -

    Street Sign: Meister Brau Drinkers Only.

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    Web site: MeisterBrau.com.

    -

    Special brands: Daley's Brew and Paddy Bauler's Beer.

    -

    Nod to modernity: Mouse pad.

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    Classic clothing: T-shirt.

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    MySpace profile: 44, Male, retired.

    *

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    November 10, 2010

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    "A Republican congressman hoping to chair the powerful House Energy Committee refers to the Bible and God on the issue of global warming," the Daily Mail reports. (h/t: Capitol Fax)

    That Republican congressman would be Illinois' very own John Shimkus.

    "Shimkus insists we shouldn't concerned about the planet being destroyed because God promised Noah it wouldn't happen again after the great flood."

    "Speaking before a House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing in March, 2009, Shimkus quoted Chapter 8, Verse 22 of the Book of Genesis.

    "He said: 'As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.'"

    Now Shimkus has launched a "long-shot bid" for the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairmanship, Crain's reports.

    The Shimkus crazy quotient is nothing new, but now bears reviewing.

    *

    "The House ethics panel was harshly critical of how Illinois Republicans House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Rep. John Shimkus and Hastert staffers handled the Mark Foley page scandal allegations and various judgment calls they made along the way," Lynn Sweet reported in 2006.

    "As the chairman of the House page board, he never told other board members of allegations against Foley. He went to talk to Foley - to tell him to cut out contacts with pages - after only seeing fragments of e-mails. He told me in an interview he never pushed to see more because the parents of the former page who got the e-mails objected. The investigators found that the family never objected to sharing the e-mails with 'appropriate House members or staff.'

    "The panel determined that Shimkus should have informed the other board members and 'should have demanded copies of all relevant e-mails or other documents,' and that not doing so was 'imprudent.'

    "'At a minimum, Rep. Shimkus had an obligation to learn more facts regarding the e-mails before concluding that he could handle the matter himself,' the report said."

    *

    Shimkus was in charge of the page program.

    *

    The Tribune endorsed Shimkus that year (and ever since) for re-election, by the way, calling him "a decent, honorable man." The Sun-Times also endorsed him.

    *

    Not so that year (or since) in the Beachwood:

    "I am not going to leave because of political attacks," Shimkus said.

    Will you leave because you suck?

    *

    "The investigation found that after Foley resigned, Shimkus told another Republican member of the page board why he never informed the Democratic member of the board, Rep. Dale Kildee of Michigan, about Foley: 'Dale's a nice guy, but he's a Democrat, and I was afraid it would be blown out of proportion,' Shimkus told Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia," the Springfield State Journal-Register reported then.

    *

    And:

    Tribune questionnaire 2010:

    Q. Do you believe the ethics laws governing behavior by members of Congress are or aren't adequate?

    A. I believe they are adequate.

    *

    Finally:

    "Illinois Republican John Shimkus rose on the House floor today to compare the Democrats' position on the war to an imaginary St. Louis Cardinals-Chicago Cubs baseball game in which 'my beloved Cardinals' simply leave the field in the 15th inning to let 'the much-despised Cubs' win," the Tribune reported in 2007.

    The King of Dark Money
    Is Illinois.

    Guilty Pleasures
    A disturbing new list from Drew Adamek.

    The Blue & Orange
    Like Asian carp waiting for Godot.

    Fantasy Land
    Arrows up for Jay Cutler and Chester Taylor.

    -

    Office Chatter
    Me: I just finished posting.

    College football correspondent Mike Luce: Beachwood's on Pacific Coast time today.

    Me: (chuckle)

    Luce: Beachwood's going West Coast!

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Bows and arrows.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    Illinois: The King of Dark Money

    1. Thank you, Supreme Court.

    -

    2. "Illinois Senate Democratic candidate Alexander Giannoulias, hoping to hold the seat that was once occupied by President Barack Obama for his party, has been the target of more attacks funded by undisclosed donors than any other candidate-more than $4.4 million, according to a preliminary review of disclosures that explicitly state whether a candidate is supported or opposed by an outside group," the Sunlight Foundation reported late in the campaign.

    -

    3. "Dark Money Fueled Kirk Victory."

    4. "While most of the secret money in this cycle was spent to knock out Democrats, advocacy groups say it's really a non-partisan problem," Dane Placko reports. "White House senior adviser David Axelrod recently said that he might be willing to allow these sort of outside groups to run ads in the next campaign."

    *

    "Once a tactic works for one political party, you can bet it will be adopted by the other," said Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.


    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    My Guilty Pleasures

    When I was single, I had a surefire conversation starter for first dates.

    At the first awkward pause, I'd spring my winner: Say you are alone in your car and a shitty song comes on the radio. You turn it up, sing along and completely jam out but you'd be totally embarrassed if your friends saw you enjoying it. You'd just die if anyone knew how much you loved this song. Which song is it?

    I could usually tell which direction the date was going to go - and if there were any relationship possibilities - by her answer.

    I got through a lot of first dates with this little gem. Now that I am married*, I still like to use it as an icebreaker with people I don't know very well. It never fails because everyone has at least one guilty pleasure song.

    My list of guilty pleasure songs is really long because I have to adhere to my own, made up metalhead rules. Music must meet the ridiculous standards I arbitrarily created as an angry, know-it-all, 14-year-old boy.

    That means no poser bullshit, no genres outside of metal, blues or early '90s hip-hop and nothing with any meaningful emotional content. I don't truck in musical ironies or diversity; it's all blazing guitars, testosterone and aggressive posturing for me. But that doesn't mean that I don't enjoy a couple of jams that fall outside my limited musical tastes. I am going to share these today at the risk of ruining my imaginary metal reputation.

    These are the rules for this list: 1) I can't own the song; I can only catch it on the radio. 2) My brother, or my inner teenaged boy, would laugh at me if they caught me listening to and liking any of this crap. 3) I generally only listen to these while alone in the car. 4) I am not a poser because I like a couple of crappy songs.

    Here, then, are my guilty pleasure songs:

    1. Anything By Paula Abdul.

    That's right, I just put my lifetime membership in the Metallica fan club on the line. My love for all things Paula probably comes from the time R and I smoked ourselves into oblivion and danced together to "Opposites Attract" in my mother's kitchen while the grilled cheeses on the stove we forgot about caught on fire.

    The happiness of being totally stoned and goofy with my best friend imprinted itself on my brain that night. Now I am forever stuck associating being joyous and carefree with the shitty pop stylings of Paula Abdul. Fuckin' A.

    2. Taking Care of Business/Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

    Scene: Protagonist is 14-years-old and seething with self-righteous musical indignation and misguided rebellion.

    Setting: Inside his mother's Ford Escort station wagon.

    Action: A fuzzy-headed woman is driving, lighting a cigarette, drinking a cup of coffee, trying to get the car in gear, wiping the cigarette tar off the windshield with an old McDonalds napkin, and not noticing that the light has turned green twice*.

    Suddenly, WCKG launches into Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business." Woman blasts the song, raises her arms over her head, spills coffee and cigarette ashes everywhere, and sings the lyrics like her life depended on it. Son looks on, bemused.

    Truth is, I actually don't like this song but it's Mom's favorite. It's a tired, cheesy car commercial jingle of a song, but Mom sings along as if it were a holy mantra. There's just something about it that sums up all that is Mom for me. For that reason, I will always turn it up in her honor, even though I feel like a trucker's obese wife celebrating her divorce at ten-cent wing night every time I do.

    3. Nothing Compares 2U/Sinead O'Connor.

    It's not that I crank it up that embarrasses me, but that I cry whenever I hear it.

    I was using really heavily when this was released and the drugs imprinted this song as the soundtrack to my heartbreak and failure. I remember sitting in R's living room, realizing that I was bottoming out and this video came on. I sobbed like a baby that night at the line, "All of the flowers that you planted/in the backyard, mama/all died when you went away," and I haven't been able to listen to it since without choking up.

    Problem is, metalheads don't cry and they certainly don't let chick singers get them all emotional and shit. Maybe I really am a poser.

    4. Don't Want To Miss A Thing/Aerosmith.

    I have no emotional or historical attachment to this song. I just like it.

    But since Aerosmith is as heavy metal as creme brulee and this is a love song from a shitty Bruce Willis movie, I consider myself a whiny, teenaged-girl-poser for liking it. I deserve to be ashamed and ridiculed for the pleasure I derive from it.

    5. Friday I'm in Love/The Cure.

    Back in my mullet-having, leather jacket-wearing heyday, The Cure was shorthand for all that sucked. The enemies, as my shortsighted brain calculated them, were posers, preps and The Cure kids.

    But, for as much as I hated The Cure, I had never actually listened to their music. So imagine my surprise when I found myself turning this song up without knowing it was by The Cure. I can still hear my angry boy calling me a wussy every time I sing along to this catchy jam.

    6. Anything By Timbaland.

    I once had a girlfriend tell me that she was going to break up if I didn't stop playing Timbaland and Magoo's "Luv 2 Luv U."

    I am so seriously addicted to his minimalist and hypnotic beats that I go borderline ADD whenever I hear his songs on the radio.

    But I don't dare buy a Timbaland album because I know that almost all of the songs except for the radio single will suck.

    Almost anything he produces - "Work It" by Missy Elliot, "Bringing Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake - qualify for this list because I will always turn them up without fail but deny even knowing that they exist if asked.

    7. Touch of Grey/Grateful Dead.

    I abhor everything that the Dead inspire and everything that they stand for: dirty hippies, meandering grooves, and college hippies that "always wanted to follow the Dead, man."

    I mean, yes, I did like buying sheets of acid at the 1980s Alpine Valley Dead shows, and I did think of myself as a hippie for one weird year (as long as our Dead acid lasted), but in general, hippie jamfests make me want to die.

    But, once in a while, usually on long road trips in the middle of the night, I catch this song on the radio and, for a brief second, I catch the crunchy groove vibe.

    Then, I go home and wash my feet.

    9. Anything By Slayer.

    Yes, yes, I know Slayer rules.

    In fact, I love Slayer.

    Shit, I waited in line at the Lakehurst Mall to buy Reign in Blood the day it came out.

    But while I've gone to at least a dozen of their shows and I own their entire catalog, I am starting to get a little too old to be this guy: the late-30ish balding, chubby guy headbanging in a crappy American car with rusted door panels at an intersection in a quiet, liberal New England college town at 2:30 in the afternoon. I just have too much self-respect for that now.

    So, unfortunately for my immortal metal soul, Slayer has now been relegated to embarrassing music that I own and only listen to on the headphones.

    10. Radar Love/Golden Earring.

    Jesus, this is a terrible fucking song. I am so ashamed to turn it up to 11 every time I hear it.

    11. Behind Blue Eyes/The Who.

    I fucking hate The Who.

    I feel as if I am betraying everything I believe to be right and true in the universe saying otherwise.

    But for some reason, and maybe it's related to my substance abuse, I related to this song as a teenager.

    Sure, it's a transparent and facile portrait of teen angst but goddammit, it worked like a charm on me.

    And so, if I am in a particularly nostalgic mood, I'll give this one the full karaoke in the car.

    -

    *For the record, my wife answered, "What a stupid question." It was love at first slight.

    *Driving with Mom is a scary fucking thing to do.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    Other Lists By Drew Adamek:
    * Today's Syllabus
    * Shit My Dad Says
    * Work Weirdos
    * Things I Miss About Chicago
    * 20 Albums I Wish I Had Never Bought
    * Their Chicago
    * Cities I've Slept In
    * My Favorite 1980s Chicago Radio Memories
    * Why Milwaukee Rules
    * Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In D.C. Anymore
    * The Beer Goggle Recordings
    * A List Of Reader Comments To Drew's Lists
    * Life's Little Victories
    * The Worst Jobs I've Ever Had
    * Jobs For The Zombie Apocalypse
    * Lemme Get A Bite Of That
    * Lists I'll Never Write
    * Things I Miss About My Imprisoned Best Friend
    * Things I Miss About Being Single
    * Things I Love About Being Married
    * Why Chuck D Should Have Been Our First Black President
    * Picture This
    * My Suggestions For Ways To Further Desecrate Wrigley Field
    * Signs I Am Getting Older
    * My Most Memorable Half-Assed Ideas
    * Why My Mom Rules
    * My Summer To-Do List
    * Signs That My Doomsday Is Nigh
    * Five Albums That Changed My Life
    * Things That Make Me Happy

    Plus:
    * Fan Note: Me & Metallica

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report

    Blue: Though I am doomed to at least eight more weeks of looking for the positive Blue lining in a sea of Orange muck, I can tell you this: When prepared right, Asian carp is quite delicious.

    Though the Mississippi and many other rivers in the southern Midwest are under threat of ecological disaster, many in these areas are working to make a living farming these fish, which are highly sought after in ironically, Asia.

    Like this much maligned fish, the 2010 version of our Bears are highly criticized in nearly all forums, yet if you look close enough, you can find the positives.

    Granted all of the positives I will list did come during a comeback victory against the worst team in the NFL, but remember I'm saying that the redeeming quality of a creature that might destroy the Great Lakes is that we can make money selling it's flesh to the countries of origin.

    The O
    The offense showed promise, with Mike Martz "dialing up" a more evenly balanced run/pass ratio (30 passes to 31 rushes). Funny, when we're not targeting one cornerback to pick on by throwing the ball at/to him over and over again, it keeps the defense off the field and doesn't totally surrender field position and thusly points.

    Though not an overly affective run attack, the Bears were able to avoid the costly turnovers that sank the ship versus the Redskins. The receiving corps continues to show improvement with Earl Bennett showing that he might be the real possession wide receiver this team has lacked since the days of Marty Booker.

    The offensive line is still comprised of five monstrous, barely moving lumpy piles of stinking Asian carp flesh, but somehow they were able to hold the 25th ranked (by sacks) defense from killing Jay Cutler like so much defenseless plankton.

    Additionally, the only holes this offensive seems to make are in creating donuts from Danish with angry bites, but both Matt Forte and Chester Taylor showed that if they're given the rock enough times, they can show flashes of why they make the big bucks.

    The D
    The defense is still exposing us to the pain of waiting for the bend to break, but somehow they pulled a couple interceptions when they counted and stopped a drive to end the Bills' chances of pulling out their first victory.

    It's good to see our recent draft picks (Major Wright, DJ Moore, Henry Melton) actually on the field for the Bears and contributing. Whether they can keep giving up yards while waiting for Godot and a another miracle turnover without getting crushed by quarterbacks not hailing from the Ivy League remains to be seen.

    To keep this winning streak of one going there's got to be more pressure on the quarterback, but we did spend some serious dollars to get the best defensive lineman in the game on our squad. Here's to hoping that Julius Peppers gets his sack on and Tommie Harris realizes that sacks are better than sitting out.

    Vikings at Bears
    We're not good, but they're not so good either.

    Though their run defense is still tough, the quarterback pressure has been wanting in Minnesota, which should give Cutler time to find his usually confused wideouts for a good number of off-balance flings which should lead to points.

    The Bears and crew have had Favre's number in preceding years, but look for them to play the run heavily while punching at Percy Harvin and the ball he's carrying past Peanut Tillman and into the endzone.

    It should be close, but at home and while still theoretically in the hunt for the division lead, I see our Bears pulling out another narrow, if ugly victory.

    Bears 24, Vikings 17.

    -

    Orange: Can we really glean any insight about the Bears from their victory over the Buffalo Bills?

    Nope. They beat a crappy football team.

    But let's ask the experts anyway.

    "We're not sitting in first place right now, but to me (that's) because we've played one less game than the team that's up top right now." - Lovie Smith, 11/7/10

    Strange. It seemed like it was because of home losses against Washington and Seattle.

    "Jay (Cutler) did a good job utilizing his feet and converting some big plays for us on the ground." - Greg Olsen, 11/7/10

    So good that he accounted for about 37% of Chicago's rushing yards (39 of 105). Cutler, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester combined for 7 rushes out of a total of 31. Let's not get too worked up about the Bears "commitment" to the run when their starting running back has 14 attempts in a game against the 32nd-ranked rushing defense.

    "We've been kind of inconsistent offensively." - Jay Cutler, 11/4/10

    That's one way of putting it. One could also call them inconsistently offensive.

    "It feels like someone kicked you in the stomach." - Bills coach Chan Gailey, 11/7/10

    Thankfully, it only hurt about 80% as much as it would have in New York, thanks to the Canadian stomach-kick conversion rate.

    "Why is Earl Bennett covering Greg Olsen?" - Marivel Mohrbacher, just prior to Olsen's second quarter touchdown reception

    Also, Johnny Knox just missed making the tackle. Sooooo . . . the simplified version of the Martz offense confuses receivers enough to have the top three options standing within five feet of each other in the end zone?

    "I've never [beaten] a 10, but I once [beat] five 2s." - George Carlin

    Okay, okay. Let's give Green Bay credit for being a seven.

    The Bears have beaten four 2's.

    Vikings at Bears
    Want to get hammered on Sunday?

    Take a shot of whiskey every time one of the broadcasters says some variation of the word "gunsling" during the coverage. Between Cutler and Favre, balls should be flying all about the lakefront and who knows where they'll end up. Expect the turnover differential to be about even when all is said and done.

    This contest will ultimately be won or lost with the running game and we've seen what Adrian Peterson does to arm tackles.

    If the Bears play conservatively, they should be able to hang in this game thanks to the ball-punching abilities of the secondary, but ultimately the Vikings have too many weapons and the defense will be on the field too long to hold all of them down.

    Vikings 20, Bears 13.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: There Go The Lions

    Nevermind.

    Last week, I recommended about half of the Detroit offense based on the fact that QB Matthew Stafford was healthy again.

    Well, his healthy period lasted about one week, as shoulder problems popped up near the end of what was a pretty good Week 9 performance - 240 yards passing, 3 TDs (one running).

    If you had him in the lineup last week, you probably did well, but reports out of Detroit suggest Stafford might now be lost for the rest of the season.

    Going into Week 10 is a tough time to look for a QB, but if you are looking to trade for one or scour the waiver wire, here are my picks for QBs poised to do big things the rest of the way:

    Jay Cutler, Chicago: Don't laugh. He made some smart throws and smart non-throws last week, albeit against a winless team. What I like going forward is that his coaching staff is focusing more on shorter routes, and has figured out that the passing-rushing play balance really buys him time.

    Brett Favre, Minnesota: A lot of people had written him off along with the rest of the troubled Vikings, and while he hasn't been great this year and still has injury issues, I'd bet on Favre to make a late-season run (unfortunately starting with a game against the Bears this week).

    Jon Kitna, Dallas: The Cowboys are terrible enough to have fired their head coach, and Kitna's got nothing to lose in flinging it around to a top-notch group of receivers. Even if Dallas keeps losing, he should pile up yards.

    Shaun Hill, Detroit: The Lions' offense is not as potent with Stafford out, but Hill should be able to throw for 200+ yards and a couple TDs per game.

    Colt McCoy, Cleveland: The caveat here is that he is not assured to start the rest of the way. But he looked pretty good in Eric Mangini's offense, and it seems like Cleveland will keep things simple for him. Could be an especially good play against Jacksonville's bad secondary in Week 11.

    Expert Wire
    * Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes QB Hill, but also Chester Taylor, RB, Chicago, who has suddenly been discovered by his own team.

    * Bleacher Report, like everyone else, likes Jacob Tamme, TE, Indianapolis, who is Peyton Manning's new favorite target.

    * ESPN has updated its top position rankings based on projections, and Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota leads the top 100 overall. I really didn't think he was going to have a great year, but he's been the most consistent player on Minnesota and the most consistent fantasy RB week to week.

    * ESPN also handed a mid-season award to Arian Foster, RB, Houston. Okay, maybe Foster has been the best fantasy RB, but Peterson still has been more consistently good.

    -

    I've been neglecting fantasy basketball, as the world will continue to revolve around fantasy football for a few more weeks, but next week, I'll take a closer look at the Elton Brand revival.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    November 9, 2010

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "Rep. Luis Gutierrez's office said Monday that a Chicago Sun-Times report that the Illinois Democrat got free upgrades on a Chicago townhome from convicted political fixer Tony Rezko was 'false' and 'inaccurate,'" Politico reports.

    "'The Chicago Sun-Times ran with a story that is false,' Gutierrez spokesman Doug Rivlin said in a statement. 'As we made clear to the Sun-Times, Congressman Gutierrez never asked for nor received any free upgrades to his home and certainly never told anyone he did. It is unfortunate the Sun-Times chose to run a story that is entirely inaccurate."

    Like many others, I received this e-mail from Rivlin on Monday:

    "I noticed you carried a link to the Sun-Times story on Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez this morning. In case you or your bloggers are interested, here is a brief statement we put out.

    The Chicago Sun-Times ran with a story that is false. As we made clear to the Sun-Times, Congressman Gutierrez never asked for nor received any free upgrades to his home, and certainly never told anyone he did. It is unfortunate the Sun-Times chose to run a story that is entirely inaccurate.

    Of course, that position was already reflected in the Sun-Times piece, which included this passage:

    "Gutierrez was in Puerto Rico last week. Through his Washington congressional office spokesman, Douglas Rivlin, he declined to answer questions about his FBI interview.

    "But Rivlin said: 'The congressman never received any free 'upgrades' - or anything else for free - on his home at River Walk, and certainly never told anyone that he did. Any report that he did is completely false.'"

    The Sun-Times also contacted the lawyer who accompanied Gutierrez to his FBI interview:

    "Gutierrez was accompanied to the 2008 FBI interview by defense lawyer Michael Deutsch of the People's Law Office.

    "'I'm not going to go into what was discussed or why,' said Deutsch, who said his office has done work with the Puerto Rican community and that Gutierrez has been a 'good supporter' of that effort."

    The Sun-Times story was reported by Natasha Korecki, who is one of the city's best and who seems to have impeccable sources in and around the federal courthouse.

    I'm inclined to believe her over a congressman who refused to answer her questions.

    Zwecker's People
    One of them is Alexi Giannoulias. In The Keith-O Chronicles.

    Burge Sentencing Postponed
    But why?

    FOIA Finger
    "The Illinois Press Association informs CJP that the Illinois House Democrats will once again revive House Bill #5154 and try to pass it during the veto session that starts next week," Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project writes. "This bill provides a blanket exemption that prohibits access to evaluations for all public employees, including prosecutors and police officers. During the 2010 election year this bill did not leave the house because politicians were worried about public backlash regarding serious attacks on the new FOIA. Now when little attention is focused on Springfield the bill is being revived!"

    You can read CJP's issue brief here.

    How Comedy Is Written
    An e-mail exchange.

    -

    TIM: "Passengers will no longer be allowed to fly with toner cartridges weighing more than a pound"

    I assume that FedExing toner will continue to be just fine . . . But, hey, we're Doing Something!

    ME: You also cannot fly with underwear weighing more than 3 ounces or shoes weighing more than a half-pound.

    HP: Our toners weigh less

    Carry-on inkjets will be just fine, though . . .

    TIM: "Explosives weighing more than one pound are not permitted."

    ME: Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

    -

    Letter To The Editor
    From The Task Force To Oppose Gambling In Chicago:

    Forces are again at work to bring a casino to Chicago with 4,000 gambling positions and three other locations for 3,600 positions. Wait there is more - the proposed bill would allow 6,300 gambling machines at Illinois' six horse tracks. And there is even more: 800 more gambling positions at existing and new casinos for a total of 10,400 more gambling positions. Finally, the state in the midst of a budget emergency, would allocate money to County Fairs to conduct wagering on horse racing and all riverboats may become land-based casinos.

    Wow, that's a lot of gambling. Considering the gambling public lost on average $102 per person in October, that's a lot of money lost to the gambling bosses. Money that was lost from college funds, mortgage or rent payments and food for the family funds.

    These gambling efforts are led by a former legislator who is now a lobbyist. But, the gamblers are also trying to reinvent the norms of society to accommodate more gambling in an over saturated market.

    Chicago has consistently made it known through public opinion mechanisms they do not want casinos in the city. At the same time, gambling interests want to legalize more than 15,000 video poker machines in the city. What do they want - total gambling slaves of the people living and visiting in Chicago?

    Let's hope that cooler heads will prevail. Chicago is a fine world class city without gambling in our city limits. Let's keep it that way and work to support our fine sports teams, putting kids through school instead of worrying about "the Man" collecting his winnings.

    Sincerely,

    Doug Dobmeyer
    Spokesperson

    The Task Force to Oppose Casino Gambling in Chicago has existed for twenty years opposing every attempt to bring casino gambling to this city.

    Members of the Task Force include:

    St. Sabina's Catholic Church
    First United Methodist Church (Chicago Temple)
    Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
    Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems
    Community Renewal Society
    Protestants for the Common Good
    Jeannie Evans, attorney and Public Affairs Representative of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    Americans for Democratic Action
    United Methodist Church
    Epiphany UCC Church
    Community Renewal Society
    Anti-Gambling Task Force United Methodist Church Northern Illinois
    League of Women Voters of Chicago
    David Orr, Cook County Clerk
    Better Government Association
    Voices for Illinois Children

    Purple To The People!
    7-11 and the president's Slurpee fixation.

    A Glove Affair
    We now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Peanut.

    Poet vs. Doctor
    In Chicagoetry.

    Trivial Pursuit
    Now with new fun facts about Kanye West, Kurtis Blow, The Spinners, Axl Rose, Iggy Pop, Van Morrison, George Harrison, Donna Summer and more!

    Bartender Journalism
    Thanks to the longtime readers and new friends who came out to Beachwood Monday Night and helped save a relatively slow night. Good times were had by all.

    I'll be back behind the bar briefly tonight from about 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. while the rest of the bar staff is in a meeting to which I am not invited. Maybe they don't like the way I mix my Sea Breezes.

    Bob is back, pool is free and a new winter Bell's ale is in stock.

    Document Destruction!
    In my favorite inbox e-mail from Monday, Ald. Joe Moreno announced the 1st Ward Shred-a-Thon, an exercise in Document Destruction.

    I wonder if the other aldermen are invited, too.

    *

    Actually, this kinda sounds like fun:

    "Tomorrow, during my regular Ward Night hours, from 5 to 8 p.m. you'll be able to shred and safely dispose of any documents.

    "This service is free for residents of the ward.

    "The shredding and destruction of documents is a way to protect from any threat of identity theft and it's good for the environment.

    "If you can't make it tomorrow, we now have a security cabinet at my office where one can deposit their private documents for eventual destruction.

    "Parking will be easy too, since our neighbors, Red Hot Ranch and John's Pizzeria have kindly offered to let us make use of their parking lot for tomorrow."

    *

    shred.jpg

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Search and destroy.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    Purple To The People!

    7-Eleven Slurpee Trucks Bringing FREE "Purple to the People" Slurpee Drink to Chicago, IL

    -

    What: 7-Eleven deployed five Slurpee Trucks from Dallas headed for Capitol Hill and the trucks are stopping along the way to bring the American people the "Purple to the People" exclusive Slurpee drink FREE.

    Why: In the wake of President Barack Obama's statement that Slurpee is a "very delicious drink," 7-Eleven and Slurpee are going to bring Slurpee drinks to our nation's capitol and our nation's people along the way.

    Where: 3407 N. Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60645.

    When: Tuesday, November 9 from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.

    -

    DALLAS (Nov. 4, 2010) - Early yesterday, President Barack Obama jokingly told a Bloomberg reporter he might serve America's favorite drink, the Slurpee, during an upcoming meeting with the incoming House Speaker, Ohio Rep. John Boehner and referred to it as "a very delicious drink."

    "We are not surprised by President Obama's comments about Slurpee, which is non-partisan and has been bringing people together for more than 40 years," said Joe DePinto, 7-Eleven, Inc.'s president and CEO. "We have made an offer to the White House to install Slurpee machines and to host a Slurpee Summit."

    In addition to offering to host a Slurpee Summit, the Slurpee trucks will leave Dallas Friday for Washington, D.C., and share the "delicious drink" with the American people along the way.

    To further commemorate President Obama's momentous mention, 7-Eleven also is offering to install Slurpee machines at the White House and in Rep. Boehner's office on Capitol Hill.

    7-Eleven is bringing Slurpee to the people by embarking on this tour making stops at capital cities along the way. Though mixing and matching flavors is a standard practice of our loyal Slurpee fans, people on the Slurpee truck route can also join in on the mixing gig. They can show their patriotic colors by trying or mixing a red, white or blue Slurpee drinks or show their unity by choosing our new flavor, "Purple for the People." Slurpee fans know that when you bring different flavors together the result is always better.

    -

    Beachwood Bonus Material:

    The Official Drink of Republican Obstructionism

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    The Keith-O Chronicles

    "Keith Olbermann on Monday night thanked supporters and criticiized NBC, breaking his silence concerning MSNBC's two-show suspension for making unauthorized campaign contributions to three Democratic candidates in an open letter to viewers of his Countdown program," Phil Rosenthal writes for the Tribune.

    "In the letter [full text at the Trib link], distributed to the Chicago Tribune and other outlets by a representative, Olbermann apologized to supporters 'for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama,' but said he 'previously knew nothing' of the NBC News policy he breached with his donations and noted the rule was 'inconsistently applied.'"

    Right. It never occurred to Olbermann that donating money to the campaign of a candidate he just got done interviewing on the air would be a problem.

    *

    What if Olbermann had chipped in to help pay for the Yankees to sign a free agent while he was at ESPN? I mean, he was an "opinion journalist" then, too.

    *

    What if Olbermann invested in a stock he touted on the air on, say, CNBC? I mean, you knew he was for it!

    TV's Randy Moss
    "Several sources in the MSNBC and NBC world confirm Keith Olbermann's indefinite suspension for making campaign contributions without network permission was only an excuse to sideline the outspoken liberal anchor," Bill Zwecker reports in the Sun-Times.

    "Olbermann is widely disliked at MSNBC, where he's called 'an insufferable diva' and 'a snob and a bully' - and those are just the descriptions printable in a family newspaper. It's also been learned the incoming Comcast honchos who bought the NBC empire are none too keen on Olbermann, his style or (perhaps most important) his multi-million-dollar contract."

    Zwecker's People
    "A quick search through a Center for Responsive Politics database on OpenSecrets.org of political contributions reveals he's not the only journalist to put himself in murky territory," Columbia Journalism Review reports.

    For example:

    "William Zwecker, reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times - $1,000 to Alexander Giannouilias (D-Ill.)."

    From the Zwecker archives:

    Oct. 16, 2008: "Forget the big issues, the politicians participating in the National Association of Women Business Owners' "Campaign Couture" event Friday will be more worried about how they look. Among the pols hitting the Palmer House Hilton runway will be Alexi Giannoulias, Julie Hamos, Kirk Dillard, Anita Alvarez and Kwame Raoul."

    Dec. 16, 2008: "State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias was spied brunching at Perennial Sunday."

    Oct. 9, 2009: "Mayor Daley and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias are co-chairing the Chicago Cultural Center fete, emceed by CBS2's Rob Johnson."

    Isn't that an ethical violation by Johnson, too?

    Jan. 8, 2010: "Author Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Outliers) slipped into Table Fifty-two for dinner, the same night Alexi Giannoulias hosted a private dinner for major donors to his U.S. Senate campaign, organized by Trish Rooney Alden and Neal Zucker."

    May 11, 2010: "A huge crowd of Mike Flannery's media pals jam-packed the Billy Goat 'neath Boul Mich Saturday night - toasting the veteran political reporter as he transitions from his long run at CBS2 to Fox Chicago later this summer. Organized by Flannery's longtime editor, Deb Segal, the happy fete attracted such familiar broadcast types as Walter Jacobson, Robin Robinson, Lilia Chacon, Jan Jeffcoat, Anne State, Rob Stafford, John Drummond, Suzanne Le Mignot, Joanie Lum, Kristyn Hartman, Mary Ann Ahern, Mike Parker, 'Big Al' Lerner, Rick Kogan and Jim Avila, plus U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias - as well as a slew of Mike's many behind-the-scenes station colleagues and managers."

    May 12, 2010: "A big crew of pro athletes and other high-profile types was on hand for the recent ''Guys Night Out.' Among those present to support the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center at Carmichael's Chicago Steakhouse were Ron Kittle, Dan Pasqua, Jim Thornton, Kevin Butler, Jerry Azumah and Zack Bowman; politicos Tom Dart, Bob Fioretti, Brendan Reilly and Alexi Giannoulias, and Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis."

    Oct. 15, 2010: "While walking by One Mag Mile Wednesday night - where Michelle Obama was having a 'girls' night out' at Spiaggia after fund-raising for Alexi Giannoulias - I spied a bunch of Giordano's pizzas (reportedly ordered by the first lady) being delivered to the hungry Secret Service detail waiting outside on Oak Street."

    Party Line
    "I'm not sure it's fair to compare Bill O'Reilly to Countdown host Keith Olbermann - Chris Matthews on MSNBC does a far better job of airing conflicting views," Eric Zorn writes for the Tribune. "But it certainly is fair to point out that Olbermann seems almost pathologically averse to guests who take anything other than the straight liberal line."

    -

    AP, before Olbermann's public letter

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    We Now Pronounce You Mr. And Mrs. Peanut

    A glove affair.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

    Chicagoetry: Some Other Guy

    Some Other Guy

    Him, luxuriating
    in her inspired lewdness.
    Her, chuckling
    at my timidity and tenderness.

    Sweet, shy, cute
    v.
    Hot, tough, aloof

    The burden of reverence
    v.
    The challenge of contempt

    Innocence
    v.
    Experience

    I can soothe her,
    but he can feed her.
    I can amuse her,
    but he can move her.

    Shuffling, stumbling, eviscerated,
    rife with the devastation
    that never walks safely
    down North Ave. in Austin.

    Used clothes, eye bags, cig breath
    v.
    Armani, Mont Blanc, Rolex

    As I shuffle to the bus stop,
    his car becomes a Lear Jet.
    As I stumble to my SRO,
    his condo becomes Xanadu.

    To sleep, per chance NOT to dream (please!).
    Eye mask, mouth guard, gloves
    and the beers without which Morpheus
    never arrives but with which
    I awaken without fail (not failing?!)
    in the razor'd dark
    to the consummate torture
    of my own imagination.
    Send in the evil clowns.

    Poet
    v.
    Doctor

    (Williams!)

    Jaybird
    v.
    Prairie Falcon

    And the cumulative strain
    of "again."

    Again...AND again...AND again: she chooses.
    Again...AND again...AND again: I lose.

    And I live on.

    -

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

    -

    More Tindall:

    * Chicagoetry: The Book

    * Ready To Rock: The Music

    * Kindled Tindall: The Novel


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

    November 8, 2010

    The [Monday] Papers

    1. Bears Win Doesn't Totally Suck.

    2. Obama finally does something right.

    3. "Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko gave U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez free upgrades on a riverfront town house after the congressman asked for them, Gutierrez told the FBI, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned."

    *

    "Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko will be sentenced in January for his crimes under Rod Blagojevich, a federal judge in Chicago said Thursday - which makes it unlikely he'll testify at the former governor's retrial on corruption charges in April," the Sun-Times also reports.

    So much for the pundits.

    4. Um, no, Pat, your election wasn't a mandate for an income tax increase - even if I believe in one (at least at the top end). It was a mandate for being slightly less sucky than Bill Brady. An income tax increase was not on the ballot.

    5. It was just last Thursday that I wrote this:

    "Yes, every election we're disappointed that bad judges get retained; certainly the media could be louder about who to vote against. But isn't the real story how these judges got on the bench in the first place and who keeps them there, rather than who fails to remove them? After all, aren't they the beneficiaries of political organizations that for some reason are rewarding them or want them to be judges?"

    I added that Joe Birkett had just been named to replace Jack O'Malley on the bench.

    Well, now comes this:

    "The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Chicago Alderman Thomas R. Allen (D-38) to the countywide vacancy that will be created next month by the elevation of Cook County Circuit Court Judge (and former Circuit Court Clerk) Aurelia Pucinski to the Illinois Appellate Court."

    *

    "Wanna Be A Judge?"

    *

    Yes, by all means my liberal readers, keep pretending the Democratic Party is the party of sunshine and light.

    6. "The city is paying a Chicago public relations firm $72,000 to teach it how to communicate with the public through Twitter, Facebook and other interactive forms of social media," the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel reports.

    "'We don't have a person (in house) who can do this,' Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said, noting that the elimination late last year of two of the city's four neighborhood advocates has made it more difficult to communicate effectively with the community. Carolyn Grisko & Associates will also train city employees to continue the communications program once the one-time contract expires."

    Huh. That's weird. I'll do it for half!

    Oh, wait.

    "Malloy is a former chief information officer for the city of Chicago."

    Uh-huh.

    "Carolyn [Grisko] devoted five years to local government work, serving as deputy press secretary, mayoral aide and campaign manager for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley."

    Yep. Democrats.

    7. "Day after day, thousands of commuters are breathing high levels of toxic diesel pollution trapped in Chicago's two major rail stations and even inside the trains they ride, a Tribune investigation has found," the paper's excellent environmental reporter Michael Hawthorne reports.

    8. "Obama: Political Price Of Health Care More Than He Expected."

    A) Didn't read newspapers between appearances on Letterman, Ellen, ESPN.

    B) Budget price too.

    C) A McRib in every pot!

    9. Sun-Times' new strategy: Hyperlocal micro meta news.

    10. The Political Odds have changed.

    11. Happy Birthday, Mr. Expressway: The Kennedy At 50.

    12. The Cubs' Crappy Undercover Boss.

    13. The Weekend in Chicago Rock!

    -

    Bartender Journalism
    Once again I'll be behind the bar at the Beachwood Inn tonight for Monday Night Beachwood! Old Style for $2.50 if you name your favorite federal corruption investigation; $1 off well drinks if you explain why. Pool for a buck; Dr. Dude pinball for 50 cents. Free pizza for all Beachwood readers and writers. Just tell me I sent you.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Visionary.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    The Cubs' Crappy Undercover Boss

    Even I'm amazed every week at how Undercover Boss reveals just how out of touch America's corporate suite is with the companies they run and the employees they rule over. Are they really so clueless about their own organizations?

    Yes. Yes they are.

    And the latest case in point really hits home: Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts looked as if he'd never worked a hard day in his life last night.

    Dude.

    You can watch the whole episode here.

    (CBS is not allowing embedding. Someone should go undercover there.)

    Meanwhile, let's take a look at some of the reviews.

    1. "Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts proved last night that just because you're in the boardroom doesn't mean you can handle cleaning a bathroom," babble reports. "It was amusing to see that in the real world, he would barely make it two days with the demands his club puts on his workers."

    2. "Todd Ricketts, this week's guest on the show, is one of the four children of J. Joseph Ricketts, founder and former CEO of Ameritrade, which rose to become the top online discount brokerage in the world," Daily Finance reports. "In the process, it also made the senior Ricketts a billionaire: In 2009, he was number 371 on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans.

    "Rather than sit on his holdings, J. Joseph bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009, and installed his children in the front office. Today, the Ricketts kids occupy four of the six seats on the Cubs' board of directors, and son Tom Ricketts is the organization's chairman. It isn't really clear what Todd does for the Cubs."

    3. "[On] tonight's episode of Corporate Welfare Apologetics Undercover Boss . . . Todd Ricketts proved to the world that he has never done a minute of manual labor in his entire blue-blooded life," Mercurial Outfielder writes at Another Cubs Blog.

    "And that was before he got fired from his janitorial position and lied to his boss about what was tantamount to stealing.

    "This team is in serious trouble because the new owner is a fucking child who thinks he just bought Disneyland, when in reality he's a grownass man who just bought a crumbling, urine-soaked relic."

    That's about right.

    4. And finally:

    LoL RT @NatlSportsMAP: #undercoverboss... Wow... #Ricketts fam should rethink their strategy b4 sending #idontknowanything guy out

    -

    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

    The Cubs' Crappy Undercover Boss

    Even I'm amazed every week at how Undercover Boss reveals just how out of touch America's corporate suite is with the companies they run and the employees they rule over. Are they really so clueless about their own organizations?

    Yes. Yes they are.

    And the latest case in point really hits home: Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts looked as if he'd never worked a hard day in his life last night.

    Dude.

    You can watch the whole episode here.

    (CBS is not allowing embedding. Someone should go undercover there.)

    Meanwhile, let's take a look at some of the reviews.

    1. "Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts proved last night that just because you're in the boardroom doesn't mean you can handle cleaning a bathroom," babble reports. "It was amusing to see that in the real world, he would barely make it two days with the demands his club puts on his workers."

    2. "Todd Ricketts, this week's guest on the show, is one of the four children of J. Joseph Ricketts, founder and former CEO of Ameritrade, which rose to become the top online discount brokerage in the world," Daily Finance reports. "In the process, it also made the senior Ricketts a billionaire: In 2009, he was number 371 on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans.

    "Rather than sit on his holdings, J. Joseph bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009, and installed his children in the front office. Today, the Ricketts kids occupy four of the six seats on the Cubs' board of directors, and son Tom Ricketts is the organization's chairman. It isn't really clear what Todd does for the Cubs."

    3. "[On] tonight's episode of Corporate Welfare Apologetics Undercover Boss . . . Todd Ricketts proved to the world that he has never done a minute of manual labor in his entire blue-blooded life," Mercurial Outfielder writes at Another Cubs Blog.

    "And that was before he got fired from his janitorial position and lied to his boss about what was tantamount to stealing.

    "This team is in serious trouble because the new owner is a fucking child who thinks he just bought Disneyland, when in reality he's a grownass man who just bought a crumbling, urine-soaked relic."

    That's about right.

    4. And finally:

    LoL RT @NatlSportsMAP: #undercoverboss... Wow... #Ricketts fam should rethink their strategy b4 sending #idontknowanything guy out

    -

    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Bears Win Doesn't Totally Suck

    My wife is a Patriots fan and we both went into Sunday's action convinced that our teams were in no-win situations. Lose to bad opponents (the Pats were taking on the woeful-for-years Browns) and the standard amount of post-loss aggravation is at least doubled. Win and no one is impressed. After all, those guys haven't even won a game yet (that would be the Bills of course - the Browns had at least scratched out a few wins in the season's first eight weeks).

    But we were half wrong. The Bear win felt like a win.

    It doesn't really matter who the foe is when you win on the road (kind of - the game was in Toronto), especially if you do so with a fourth-quarter comeback.

    And you can always build up the opponent by saying things like, "Hey, they've been playing much better football lately - they lost their last two games in overtime, against good teams, on the road."

    It especially helps if those things are true.

    (As for the half-right part, well, the Patriots didn't just lose but were thumped by the Brownies.)

    In the end, the Bears game was primarily a disaster avoided and a small step forward.

    Robbie's Jobbie
    Robbie Gould's errant 42-yard field goal attempt in the second half of the second quarter reminded fans how fortunate the Bears have been to have him. I can't remember the last time Gould missed a comparable kick - one that was inside 45 yards and featured a stellar snap, a sure-handed hold and passable blocking.

    Gould is one of the many special teams stalwarts who have been responsible for far more big plays in wins than bad plays in losses during the past few seasons.

    And in the second half, Gould partially redeemed himself. With dangerous Bills rookie return man C.J. Spillers back deep, Gould forced three straight touchbacks with beautifully deep kickoffs.

    One and Done
    As for the offense, well, the Bears better not be too excited about scoring from the one-yard line for the first time this season. We thrilled to see Chester Taylor slip into the end zone from a yard out in the third quarter. And it was even more exciting because it meant the Bears had actually scored in the first 15 minutes after the half, something they hadn't pulled off in their first seven games.

    The problem, of course, was that when they needed one stinking yard to put the game away in the final two minutes, Taylor was stuffed.

    But here came the special teams again. Brad Maynard was good and lucky as he put his punt inside the 14 and then watched as it took a fortuitous bounce and rolled all the way down to the one. The Bears immediately allowed the Bills to escape the shadow of the end zone with a first-down pass, but then the final pick sealed the deal.

    Northern Exposure
    On defense, well, the Bears safeties were exposed. Danieal Manning and Chris Harris (who did have one of the Bears' two huge second-half picks) have done a decent job so far this season against not great quarterbacks. And on several occasions against solid signal-callers (Eli Manning springs to mind), they've done okay when the defensive line and linebackers have been able to generate consistent pressure. Remember that the Giants struggled mightily to score more than a field goal for three quarters.

    But there are much, much better quarterbacks on the schedule horizon- beginning with Brett Favre next week coming off one of the biggest games of his career. It's hard to be optimistic about the ability of Manning and Harris to meet the challenges ahead.

    Then again, if rookie quarterback Colt McCoy could outplay Tom Brady on Sunday, I suppose just about anything is possible in the NFL.

    -

    The Official Highlights

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:22 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    -

    1. Ben Folds at the Riv on Friday night.


    -

    2. Yonder Mountain String Band (covering "Crazy Train") at the House of Blues on Friday night.

    -

    3. Escape The Fate at Reggie's on Friday night.

    -

    4. The Ponys at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

    -

    5. Tortured Soul at the Double Door on Saturday night.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:32 AM | Permalink

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Expressway

    1. "After 50 years, Kennedy opening recalled with fondness, fear," the Tribune reports. "A milestone in Chicago development, expressway changed face of city."

    *

    "It was at 11 a.m. on Nov. 5, 1960, beneath a bunting-draped Lake Street overpass, that Illinois' political powerhouses, Gov. William Stratton, Mayor Richard J. Daley and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan, officially opened the Northwest Expressway.

    "Although it followed by only weeks the completion of the Congress Street Expressway, now the Eisenhower, Stratton called it 'the greatest highway in America.'

    "Three years later, the expressway would be renamed for President John F. Kennedy, a week after he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. That was only fitting because the expressway shared a special link with the young president who captured the city's heart. During Kennedy's three visits to Chicago, hundreds of thousands lined the route to watch his motorcades.

    "Construction of the Kennedy -it cost $232.3 million -- became the foundation for Daley's reputation as a master builder and helped transform the small suburban Orchard Field into one of the world's busiest airports, O'Hare."

    2. The Kennedy on Facebook.

    3. The Kennedy on Flickr.

    4. The Kennedy reviewed on Yelp.

    5. The Kennedy on Wikipedia.

    *

    "The Kennedy was originally constructed along the route of Avondale Avenue, an existing diagonal street, and the northwest railroad corridor, in the late 1950s and completed on November 5, 1960. Originally named the Northwest Expressway for its general direction of travel, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously on November 29, 1963 - one week after the assassination and death of President Kennedy - to rename the highway the John F. Kennedy Expressway."

    6. Tribune photo gallery.

    7. The Rostenkowski Myth."

    8. The Virgin Mary.

    -

    9. Deerhunter plays under the Kennedy in September.

    -

    10. A Blue Line train oputpaces traffic on the Kennedy.

    -

    11. The Kennedy inbound at night.

    -

    12. Salsa Kennedy.

    -

    13. Kennedy Timelapse (via Chicagoist).

    -

    14. Tribune, Nov. 30, 1963: "Northwest Expressway Is Renamed for Kennedy."

    "The Northwest expressway was renamed John Fitzgerald Kennedy expressway by the city council yesterday.

    "The council suspended its rules to enact the two paragraph ordinance, which made the name change effective immediately, and also ordered the department of streets and sanitation to make necessary changes in expressway signs as quickly as possible.

    "Ald. Thomas E. Keane [31st], administration floor leader, moved for suspension of council rules to permit immediate adoption. He said this would be a fitting tribute to the late President Kennedy, who rode the route many times and called it one of the greatest highways in the United States.

    "Nine other aldermen joined in brief speeches urging enactment. Included were two Republicans, Jack. I. Sperling [50th] and Edward T. Scholl [41st]. No alderman voted against the change."

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:07 AM | Permalink

    November 6, 2010

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Contrary to recent reports, we have not been suspended by our parent company. We are, in fact, on strike.

    Market Update
    Maybe the rest of the world is right to complain about our economic stimulus plans. After all, we're already inflicting a Bear market on our nearest neighbor.

    Glory Daylight Savings
    Of course, if the current situation is a little much for you, it's a good weekend to fall back to the good old days.

    Thunder Down Under
    The "race" for ruler of Chicago promised to get interesting this week as former senator Carol Moseley-Braun accused Rahm Emanuel of "cutting and running" on a weakened President Obama. Not that she would know anything about such activities herself.

    Brady Slump
    Meanwhile, in the race for Illinois Chess Club President, Bill Brady has finally conceded he is slightly less socially adept than Pat Quinn. Which, frankly, ouch.

    Damn Right.
    The really sad part is, politicians have actually gotten more likable in the past two years.

    Notre Shame
    And in other news, duh.

    -

    The World's Greatest College Football Report
    Is in and available for your perusal and anything else you may want to do with it, like make an important call or two to kickoff. We don't care what you do with it; it's really none of our business.

    -

    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Cut and run.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:25 AM | Permalink

    November 5, 2010

    The College Football Report: The Case of Kid Cameron's Elite Preparation as a Commodity in a Poorly Regulated Market

    In a week that featured an enormous intergalactic frozen peanut, post-game Tweets on trash talking, and some sort of election hubbub . . . how happy are you that we can return to the agents-recruiters-and-cash-under-the-table issue in college football? What a relief, right? To think we might be focused on, say, Utah versus TCU this Saturday. Or LSU against Alabama. No, by all means, let's dig our shovels into the muck, lift up a scoopful and say, "Here. Smell this."

    Recruiters and agents, along with other assorted third parties, have cast a shadow across the 2010-11 season. Beginning with UNC, South Carolina and other schools implicated in the shady Miami Player-Agent Expo (see our preseason notes on the ACC) that took place in the offseason, the storyline has crept into week after week. This week, allegations surfaced concerning the consensus favorite for the Heisman Trophy.

    Cameron Newton began his college career as a highly touted backup to the (Immortal, Praise Be Unto Him) Tim Tebow at the University of Florida. He joined the Gators' class of 2007 and gained the backup quarterback spot over fellow freshman (and current Gator QB) John Brantley. He qualified for a medical redshirt season for 2008 but ran into trouble in November 2008 when he was arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop from a fellow student. (Another version of the story has Newton inadvertently buying the stolen computer from a fellow student. Either way, that would make Newton among the many Gators who have found themselves in a situation with the law. We would find a catchy name for this group, like the Gainesville 27, but that number will not stick at 27 forever.)

    Facing suspension by coach Urban Meyer, Newton quit the program in January 2009 and transferred to Blinn Community College in Brenham, Texas. After a year of play at the juco level, several SEC schools, among them the notably crooked Kiffins at Tennessee, vied for Cameron's services for the 2010 season. Combined with his stature as a top high school recruit, Newton's 22 TDs (and juco title) at Blinn would give any coach in need of a QB a bad case of the butterflies.

    Newton is no run-of-the-mill athlete. Nor does he play a low-profile sport. He's not at Auburn on a table tennis scholarship. He's known for his prowess on the football field, not in the physics lab. And Auburn was justly excited to learn they could count on his presence (all 6-foot-6, 245 pounds of him) when he committed to the Tigers for the 2010 season. The Tigers came into this year with five QBs on the roster, and only one (junior Kodi Burns) had started a game.

    The impossible aspect of this situation is that you can't remove the personal nature of dealing with college-aged kids from the business aspect of big-time college football. Newton was, and still remains (albeit his value is tied more to his pro potential now), a commodity. And yet he is, by all accounts, a great kid.

    Allegations arose this week, published by ESPN.com, that a man claiming to represent Newton during the fevered period surrounding his transfer from Blinn asked for a six-figure payoff in exchange for a signed national letter of intent committing Newton to a program.

    The story originates from Mississippi State, one of the schools that expressed serious interest in Newton in '09. Dan Mullen, former offensive coordinator for Florida during Newton's time in Gainesville, is now the MSU head coach and the Bulldogs seemed like a natural fit. Former MSU player Kenny Rodgers has been identified as the alleged agent for Newton (if that's what we want to call it) who approached the school with the pay-for-play pitch.

    Rodgers runs a company called "Elite Football Preparation", with operations in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi. Reportedly, Rodgers shopped Newton around the SEC with a price tag of $200,000 - but was willing to offer a $20,000 discount to MSU. (That's a 10% cut - the Friends & Family Plan really delivers at EFP!)

    To be clear, all of this could be untrue, exaggerated or done without (as they maintain) the consent of the Newton family. To me, that doesn't change the larger picture. While many, if not most, of these operators shouldn't be considered agents (not everyone can be a Worldwide Wes, after all), I don't know what else to call them. Concerned parties? Friends of the family? And how much commission would one of these bird dogs earn on a $200,000 finders fee? Sports agents typically take about four percent - but those deals are in the millions and done above the table.

    For example, assuming Rodgers pocketed only a portion of the payoff, what happened to the remainder?

    The authors of the ESPN story (Pat Forde, Chris Low and Mark Schlabach) hint that, if Auburn did pay Rodgers for Cameron's services, some of the cash may have helped the Newton family restore their church in Newman, Georgia. Newton's father Cecil runs the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance in Coweta County. As of 2009, the church was in danger of being demolished. In a curious bit of timing, the county received word this spring that the long-delayed work on the church would begin. And as of last month the church is in compliance with county building codes.

    Considered against recent examples (Reggie Bush, et al.), the Newton story - while somewhat tragic if true - does not sound too farfetched.

    Spotlighting the role of the true bad guy - EFP, in this case - only raises more doubts on the rest of the companies, "prep" camps, boosters and other independent agents doing business in the gap between high schools, junior colleges and major college programs. To say that these entities operate along the margins is a gross underestimate.

    The market surrounding athletes and prospects has outpaced the system built to oversee it. And in truth, the system isn't built to respond quickly. Compared to agents who can operate at will in the market - essentially, shifting on the fly to follow the money - changes to the NCAA will need to wait until at least 2012 for all the committees, councils and cabinets to submit findings and come to an agreement.

    In an interesting development, the NCAA - possibly sensing that transparency could equate to an improved public image - has hired the author of the old Bylaw Blog. The blog was known for a time as the best window into the inner workings of the world of collegiate athletics. We will be interested to see how well the (co-opted?) version resonates with the public.

    While we hope the Newton story ends in clearing Cameron and his family, some case somewhere, involving a star player with a big-name program, has to be the last straw. Auburn coach Gene Chizik is only half-right when he says "Cameron Newton is eligible at Auburn University, period. End of story."

    -

    The Sports Seal Says . . .
    Illinois @ Michigan (Over 57, Saturday 11:00AM)
    Navy @ East Carolina (-3, Saturday 2:30PM)
    Texas @ Kansas State (+3.5, Saturday 7:00PM)

    The College Football Report Staff Says . . .
    It's Road Team Week here at CFR. Get in the spirit by schlepping to some unfamiliar watering hole with your crew. Get there early, stake out a spot and wear your colors proudly.

    #3 TCU (-5) @ #5 Utah (Saturday, 2:30PM)
    #18 Arkansas (+4) @ South Carolina (Saturday, 6:00PM)
    #6 Alabama (-6.5) @ #10 LSU (Saturday, 2:30PM)

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    The [Friday] Papers

    1. Polls are a ridiculous waste of time and money. Discuss.

    2. Richard M. Daley, Emperor of Dirt.

    *

    Yep, the greatest mayor ever.

    3. Dylan at the Riv.

    4. "While leading mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel hits Hollywood to raise big bucks, mayoral hopeful Gery Chico is hosting a Hollywood party of his own," Sneed "reports".

    "* To wit: Chico is tossing a campaign party at the Hollywood Grill, a 24/7 'greasy spoon' diner in Wicker Park.

    "* Quoth Chico: 'I'm sure Hollywood is very exciting; I'd rather be in our neighborhoods.'"

    Right. I'm sure Chico eats in our neighborhoods all the time.

    *

    The Hollywood isn't really a "greasy spoon" either. But nice try.

    5. "Republicans have added over 675 seats to their ranks in this election, dramatically surpassing 1994 gains. This number could go even higher as the tallies in the undecided races are determined," Tim Storey reports for The Thicket, a blog of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    "The success by Republicans at the state level could give the GOP a dramatic advantage in the redistricting cycle that will start in just a few short months. The Census Bureau will deliver data to legislatures in early February. There are many caveats when it comes to redistricting especially given the legal complexity of the task and the inevitable litigation. But Republicans are in the best shape for the decennial line-drawing that they have been in since the modern era of redistricting began in the 1970s."

    6. "Convicted political fixer Tony Rezko will be sentenced in January for his crimes under Rod Blagojevich, a federal judge in Chicago said Thursday - which makes it unlikely he'll testify at the former governor's retrial on corruption charges in April," the Sun-Times reports.

    "U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve set Jan. 28 for sentencing Rezko, who was convicted in June 2008 of shaking down people who wanted state business under Blagojevich's administration."

    A) So much for all those pundits insisting that Rezko would (or should) testify at Blago 2.

    B) Rezko (and pretty much the rest of Blago's inner circle) was convicted of virtually the same thing Blago was charged with - "shaking down people who wanted state business under Blagojevich's administration." Are you telling me the evidence didn't show that Blago was not only aware but complicit of this method of operation?

    7. This nonsense is what constitutes a big front-page story for the Sun-Times. But let's blame voters for being unserious.

    *

    Yesterday, it was the pseudo-news of the Kirk-Giannoulias beer summit. In which reporters were not privy to their discussion. Which wouldn't have constituted news anyway unless Alexi finally explained what happened on that trip to Florida to meet with Jaws Giorango.

    *

    I guess they just can't help themselves, because no one is forcing them to behave like children.

    *

    And by "they" I mean the newspaper, not the pols.

    8. Can we please have a moratorium on political photo ops from Manny's Deli and the Billy Goat?

    9. The Greens vs. WTTW.

    10. "Electrical brain stimulation may Improve math skills," the Tribune reports.

    Can we sign up Bill Brady for the first test case?

    11. "Beyond the tenuous connection to Chicago, where Winfrey's Harpo Studios is based and her long-running show taped, it's not clear how the Oprah plane will benefit the airline (in fact, it could easily turn just as many off - 'The Farewell Season'?)," Abe Sauer writes for brandchannel.

    "Indeed, if United really wanted to do a promotion having to do with Chicago and United, it would find a way to improve experiences at Chicago's O'Hare airport, one of the most despised in the nation and recipient of only two of a possible five total marks in the most recent J.D. Power rankings for overall satisfaction, security and accessibility."

    12. Lookin' At Lucky.

    13. "That impossible dream can come true if you're lucky enough to have a close Springfield connection, like Sen. Rickey Hendon, an assistant Senate majority leader and mayoral candidate," Ruth Ratny writes at Reel Chicago.

    "Disclosure of Hendon's taxpayer-funded beneficence to his relatives became public last week when U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed state agencies seeking copies of contracts and other financial records related to nearly 50 non-profit agencies and more than a dozen individuals.

    "A number of the agencies said they received grants with Hendon's assistance and several individuals have ties to Hendon. Among those agencies was one run by his sister and her daughter."

    14. The Week in WTF.

    -

    The Derrick Rose Dunk Everyone Is Talking About

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Explosive.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

    TrackNotes: Lookin At Lucky

    It's time to run.

    Post positions have been drawn and morning line odds are posted. And like feuding children, the four top runners in the Breeders' Cup Classic have been separated up and down the Churchill Downs starting gate.

    Quality Road (post 1), Blame (post 5), Zenyatta (post 8), and Lookin At Lucky (post 12) will attack the Classic from different angles. This is a fine field, but not truly great. Its best description would be competitive, as any one of these four could win 2010 Horse of the Year. That's what will make this a great race.

    I believe every horse in this race, including Zenyatta, has negatives for handicappers to deal with, but the big four should be able to get decent trips. Weather forecasts are good and the main track should be fast.

    Quality Road, morning-lined at 5-1, drew the most intriguing post. If this were the Kentucky Derby, he'd be pretty much doomed. And Lookin At Lucky will tell you so after he drew the same post in the Run for the Roses last May.

    In the Derby, the 20-horse gate requires the one and two horses to veer inward to avoid the rail coming into the stretch the first time. With only the use of the main 14-horse gate Saturday, they can move it over and not have a problem.

    QR comes in off an easy win in the Woodward September 4. Horseplayers will look to the race before that, a head loss to Blame in the Whitney on August 7th. He really had no excuse in the Whitney and I wonder if he can get this distance. I'm not completely thrilled with some of the horses he's beaten, except for a game Musket Man twice and Tizway. If this delicate specimen gets into any kind of duel on the lead, he'll have to contend with others down the stretch. He's run triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in all but one of his races and pretty much fires off a layoff. If the track is unduly wet, I'll toss him.

    Blame's rep Saturday is that he's a "horse for the course." He's won three of four at Churchill (five of his last six at five different tracks including Keeneland's Poly Track), including the June 4 Stephen Foster and last November's Clark Handicap. As he did in the Whitney, he can hang back in the second tier of horses and make a late move, perhaps the kind of move that can hold off Zenyatta. He also comes in off a trying 10 furlongs in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont October 2. It might be just the foundation he needs to go all the way here. He's a versatile horse. I'll wonder if he can maintain his 9-2 morning line.

    The big mare Zenyatta casts a huge shadow over this race. Already the only female to win the Classic, she will try it again. She's also won the Ladies Classic. And to top that all off, she will try to extend her perfect record to 20-0, coming in with a perfect 19-19-0-0 career mark. The historical significance of this race nearly rivals that of a Triple Crown-winning Belmont Stakes. She'll never be my best of all time, but I wouldn't miss this for the world.

    She comes in famously building her record with 17 wins on the synthetic surfaces of Southern California. All of the pundits will tell you she is better on dirt (and maybe even turf) anyway, which she confronts Saturday. But is she? And then there's the Churchill dirt. I believe this track will be much faster than the two Oaklawn Park tracks she scored on in two Apple Blossoms.

    I believe she will have to win this race big to have any chance of shaking off the skepticism surrounding her cloistered, synthetic career. Thanks John Shirreffs and Jerry Moss. She's nineteen-and-oh, for chrissakes, and you don't really trust her, when it gets right down to it.

    Her M.O. has been to lay back last, close on the turn and then pour on the coal to get up at the wire. If you look at Beyer patterns, they've been consistently nine points or more lower than when she nipped the best horse she's ever beaten, Gio Ponti, who opted out of this Classic and will run in the one-mile Turf against Goldikova. Also, in the up-down Beyer cycle some bettors believe in, this race portends a down cycle. The comeback to that one is that she does just what she has to to win any race.

    It's no secret I've generally not been bowled over by her competition and there are few, if any, key races to be seen on her sheet. And it feels like Mike Smith will need to be precise as ever in telling her when to run; she visually runs nearly the same race every time.

    Zenyatta has been amazing at closing into so many different pace scenarios. If it's too slow, she'll have other closers to contend with, primarily Blame. She won't be any kind of price. And if for any reason she doesn't get hold of the Churchill dirt, well . . .

    All that said, she has looked magnificent in her works and in getting out of her limo at Churchill. Sounds banal, but if she likes the track and can run her race, she's the horse to beat.

    Lookin At Lucky has the 12th and outside post. I really like this Bob Baffert trainee. He has overcome a lot of race adversity in last year's Breeders Cup Juvenile, April's Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby to carve out three very nice wins in the Preakness(!), the Haskell Invitational and the very sloppy Indiana Derby October 2. He seems to have bonded with Martin Garcia, who took over the mount from Garrett Gomez after the Kentucky Derby.

    He's a hard-knocking, hard-trying horse who can overcome a stumble or a bad break to give you everything he's got. After a tough and hectic spring, Baffert has eased up on him and he showed at Hoosier last month that he's ready. At a morning line 6-1, I'll take him all day.

    You might call him Mr. Key Race since last fall as Haynesfield has rounded into a very good three-year-old who comes in with a head-turning four-length victory over Blame and Fly Down in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. If you toss his Whitney two back when he busted through the front of the gate, he's won five straight. In the JCGC, he established a slower pace, took a nice lead and pulled away. He likes to be at or near the lead.

    After a couple of trying November wins, Haynesfield didn't race again until June, and the race lines have included "Under wraps early" and "When ready 3w (wide), clear." Sounds like he's got the hang of it and he's done well under Ramon Dominguez, as money a rider as you'd want. If he can save some ground and shoot away into the straight, Zenyatta may not catch him.

    A foreign element is the Japanese five-year-old Espoir City. He's 6-for-7 since March and seems to like to wrestle the lead at about the eighth pole and finish out. While his Racing Post Ratings are very commendable, he just ran in Japan on October 11. That's a tough ship.

    Dale Romans colt First Dude will also get some buzz, but while he finished only a length back in third in the Belmont, he's the kind of horse that rubs elbows with the big boys by usually finishing in the money, gets a free sandwich out of it, and somehow gets invited to the next party. He's only a maiden winner at Gulfstream in January. One asset is that he should be fresh after last racing September 25. Get a price.

    Fly Down seems to pal around with First Dude and they usually perform about the same.

    Musket Man, a horse I've enjoyed since he won the Illinois Derby in April 2009, might provide some intrigue. I probably question him at 10 furlongs, but he always seems to be in the mix of it down the stretch. He's got a 109 and 108 Beyers in two of his last three in losing to: Quality Road and Blame. I'll try to find a way to show him some respect.

    And at 30-1 or better, here's a few bucks on Etched. He's lightly raced and won seven of nine lifetime, including his last two, and appears to enjoy being part of the pace. It appears Kiaran McLaughlin has pointed this one to the Breeders Cup for Godolphin Racing and I've always liked Alan Garcia in the saddle.

    I wonder why Paddy O'Prado is in this race ($$$, duh) as he has forged a fine summer on the turf, including an impressive win our own Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. Pleasant Prince takes a huge step up in class off of a 10-point Beyer jump in winning the Oklahoma Derby. The three-year-old is 1-1 at Churchill.

    So, who's it gonna be?

    I'll have two tickets, one of them including Zenyatta, the other, not. If she's what she appears to be, she really shouldn't lose.

    But I like Lookin At Lucky to win the race. He's just delivered so well this year. Blame certainly has a legitimate shot, but I do wonder if he'll have too much to do and I question his ability to handle it all. If the race turns somewhat bizarre, Haynesfield also has a shot. Espoir City will also have a spot on my ticket.

    * * *

    Of local interest will be Illinois' own Giant Oak who is, lo and behold, the co-favorite in the Breeders Cup Marathon, a 14-furlong test that kicks off the festival Friday.

    While it's kind of a process-of-elimination pick by many of the commentators I've heard, the Chris Block trainee, out of Giant's Causeway and a Crafty Prospector mare, is bred to go the distance. After 21 races, they're still trying to find a niche for the big four-year-old. He's co-favored at 4-1 with Prince Will I Am, a definite contender.

    Go Oak!

    * * *

    Historical? Oh, I suppose.

    Friday's Breeders' Cup lineup, beginning with The Marathon as race 5 on the card, starts late (3 p.m., ESPN2), which means the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic will be run under the lights at 6:30 our time. Just so you know.

    Saturday's coverage begins at 12:50 p.m. on ABC and then switches over to ESPN at 2:55. If you happen upon Hank Goldberg, don't listen to him. Your instincts are better, believe me.

    * * *

    I'm going to throw in four words here: the Churchill Downs turf. If they become important, I'll explain next week.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    The Week in WTF

    1. Bill Brady, WTF?

    Just how lousy a candidate was Bill Brady?

    Way lousy. Illinois elected several crazy people Tuesday. Against that grim qualitative standard, Brady still fell below the Mendoza Line.

    He not only lost a race almost any normal (breathing regularly) Republican would have won, he does not comprehend that he lost. Nope, he says. I didn't lose. There are more votes to count.

    At this moment, this hard-edged clear-thinking businessman is waiting for results from the outlying Inca precincts because he's very strong in the dead-700-years-ago Latino demographic. When those write-in votes from Machu Picchu arrive, he's sure to be over the top. Just be patient.

    Here's what it all means, Elmer.

    Illinois is in a gargantuan fiscal mess and its new governor is gargantuanly addlepated. This is an improvement because his predecessor was more crooked than a tick hound's hind leg. But Brady? Nah. There were 1.7 million Illinoisians who said we must have Gomer Pyle, USMC.

    It now appears that the GOP guy who said he could fix the Illinois red-inky budget can't add.

    2. Melissa Bean, WTF?

    She appears about 300 votes short of stopping Joe Walsh from taking her suburban 8th Congressional District seat. Walsh's credentials for the job include a recent foreclosure, multiple suspensions of his driver's license, lapses in his auto insurance and the really, really pissed defection of his top campaign staff who thought he was too crazy even for them. If he hangs on, he will among the 20 or so looniest Tea Partiers who will bring a deep sense of unchecked lunacy to American government.

    How could this happen? The district is temperamentally conservative, but Bean is more conservative than most old-time Republicans. She raised $1.9.million at last reports and spent $1.7 million, though WTF doesn't have the faintest idea where the money went. Her ads didn't start to appear regularly on Chicago TV until the last few weeks.

    Her top five contributors were Exelon, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, CME Group (does the term "credit default swap" ring a bell?) and Baxter International. On most fiscal issues, Bean was the most Republican of all the Democrats. A Republicrat. But she wasn't a crazy undercover Republican.

    We hope the U.S. House of Representatives has a corps of burly psych ward orderlies at the ready. Oh, doctor, Mr. Walsh needs his daily Thorazine, and bring the electro-shock device, too.

    3. Tony Peraica, WTF?

    You can't beat a dead horse too often for WTF's taste. They don't fight back.

    So here's another thump on Tony Peraica's derriere. Among the most amusing skirmishes before Tuesday's vote, it's hard to beat Peraica's alleged late-night ramblings and skullduggeries. He was even supposedly dressed all in black as a good Political Ninja should. Suh-WEET. All he needs now is a Bat Cave. Tony was courting the Keye Luke vote.

    He said he was set up by political foes. They say he was just being his usual jerk self and destroying his political foe's signs, which seems a Katzenjammer Kids sort of badness.

    Truth is always a good defense. Barring other evidence, WTF believes Peraica was ousted from his commish seat because of ill-fitting Ninja duds. Cheap Ninja duds are always too snug in the place where being too snug is very uncomfortable.

    5. Conrad Black, WTF?

    Upon further review by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the decision on the field is confirmed. He's a low-down skunk and a felon. And by that, we mean he's still a low-down skunk and felon.

    We can only hope his defense in federal court is draining his piggy bank of the money he stole.

    5. Illinois Turkeys, WTF?

    We don't know what it means in the larger metaphysical sense. You tell us. Turkey blazes around Thanksgiving burn up Illinois homes more often than anywhere else in the country except Texas. We are dangerous with exploding stuffing.

    So, we suggest Bill Brady stay away from open flames this month. We refuse to explain the joke if you don't get it.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:32 AM | Permalink

    Dylan at the Riv

    Catching up with his performance last Saturday night.

    *

    "Dressed in what's become his custom attire - a wide-brim hat, bolo tie and military-style suit that looked pulled out of the attic of a Civil War battlefield general - Dylan led a crack backing quintet that, given its sharp black suits, low-key demeanor and angular movements, could've passed as a gang of mob hit men from the 1930s," Bob Gendron wrote in the Tribune.

    "Friskier and looser than at his previous local appearance, Dylan spent half of the concert liberated from the constraints of his keyboard, taking the opportunities to sing at center stage and blow harmonica solos in between verses. A number of songs - 'Summer Days,' 'Thunder on the Mountain' - hopped and skipped, the jumping rhythms owing more to swing jazz than rock or Americana."

    *

    "The last notes of a rousing 'Like a Rolling Stone' faded and that was supposed to be it for Bob Dylan's show Saturday at the Riviera Theatre, according to setlist reports from the latest leg of his Neverending Tour. But the band wasn't moving to the front of the stage to bask in show-ending applause. Instead, everyone huddled near Dylan as he instructed them to play one more song, 'Forever Young,'" Dave Miller wrote at ChicagoConcertgoers.

    "Those lucky enough to be at the sold-out show on Halloween Eve caught Dylan and his band on a particularly good night. Hard-core fans were buzzing about the 17-song setlist, which some called the best of this edition of the tour. The show engaged from the start. The musicians took the stage looking like they just came from a funeral. They were dressed completely in black with the exception of Dylan's light-colored hat and the stripe running down the side of his pants. They opened with the fashion-ridiculing 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat.'"

    *

    Flickr photo set.

    *

    "Still backed by a beefy band, led by chiseled guitarist Charlie Sexton, Dylan croaked through a remarkably fan-friendly set list, switching between organ, guitar and harmonica," Thomas Conner wrote in the Sun-Times.

    "Things really swung in the middle of the two-hour show, with Sexton on a hollow-body guitar for a jumping-jive version of 'Summer Days,' then a slow, swaying retelling of 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.' 'Cold Irons Bound' ('Oh, the winds in Chicago have torn me to shreds') thundered with big drums, courtesy of George Recile, and Dylan stood at the microphone visibly at ease while spitting out the words and blowing a hot harp solo, then brushing his gray locks back underneath his gray hat - and smiling, a rarity that held through the cool pace of 'Simple Twist of Fate' and surfaced later on a workaday run through 'Tangled Up in Blue.'"

    *

    Audio: "Jolene."

    *

    Tweet from Paul Suwan: "I was let down last time I saw #Dylan too--two yrs ago maybe--but having Charlie Sexton back in band helped a lot."

    *

    Set List:

    1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

    2. The Man In Me

    3. Things Have Changed

    4. Positively 4th Street

    5. Summer Days

    6. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

    7. Cold Irons Bound

    8. Simple Twist of Fate

    9. High Water (For Charley Patton)

    10. If You Ever Go To Houston

    11. Highway 61 Revisited

    12. Tangled Up In Blue

    13. Thunder on the Mountain

    14. Ballad of a Thin Man

    Encore:

    15. Jolene

    16. Like A Rolling Stone

    17. Forever Young

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    The Greens vs. WTTW

    First, the press release. Then, highlights from the lawsuit.

    -

    The Illinois Green Party and candidates Rich Whitney and LeAlan Jones filed suit in federal court against public television station WTTW, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Public Broadcasting Service and President and CEO of WTTW Daniel J. Schmidt. Gubernatorial candidate Whitney and Senatorial candidate Jones were both excluded from debates which occurred on WTTW this week. This happened despite the Illinois Green Party being one of only three legally established political parties in the state. Furthermore, Whitney received over 360,000 votes in the 2006 gubernatorial election.

    The complaint alleges that WTTW, PBS and the CPB violated their 501(c)(3) status by conducting debates that had the effect of participating in, or intervening in a political campaign "on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." These debates plainly had the effect of supporting the Democratic and Republican candidates, who alone were provided with a forum to propagate their views, to the exclusion of the two ballot-qualified Green Party candidates. The suit also charges these three corporate defendants with having violated the Federal Communications Act, including its Equal Time provisions pertaining to political candidates, by sponsoring a debate that gave the Democratic and Republican candidates more time than their Green Party challengers.

    In a third count, the plaintiffs charge the three corporate defendants with violating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Act which clearly states that, "The Corporation may not contribute to or otherwise support any political party or candidate for elective public office."

    Finally, the complaint alleges that Schmidt violated the First and Fifth Amendment rights of Whitney and Jones by discriminating against them on the basis of their political views.

    "We gave WTTW every opportunity to do the right thing and invite me into the debate and it refused," Whitney explained. "I was even there, right outside the building protesting Thursday evening, and would have stepped in to enter the debate if the station had invited me at 6:59. But WTTW stubbornly refused to invite me and betrayed its own purpose and mission of serving the public interest.

    "This is an outrage," he continued. "A public broadcasting station has a solemn obligation to inform the public by presenting all points of view on the issues, as well as equal time for ballot-qualified candidates. It is not supposed to play favorites, yet WTTW used taxpayer funds to promote the campaigns of its two favored candidates. Think about it: a taxpayer-supported public broadcasting station favored the corporate-sponsored candidates over the two public-interest candidates. LeAlan and I don't accept corporate sponsorship as a matter of principle. What a sad day this is for broadcasting history and our democracy.

    "WTTW not only committed an offense against American taxpayers; it also disrespected the voters. The people of Illinois deserve to hear all points of view of all ballot-qualified candidates put to the test of debate. The voters of Illinois deserve to hear real answers to the real problems afflicting them. WTTW chose to deprive the voters of that opportunity and instead subjected voters to a repeat of the same nauseating spectacle that they've already witnessed in the other so-called debates between Pat Quinn and Bill Brady - an uninformative mud-slinging match between two candidates who consistently refuse to address the burning question of the budget crisis in Illinois, and who are both content to allow the systematic destruction of public education, public colleges and universities, and the public sector in Illinois.

    "To tell voters that their only choice is between Pat Quinn and Bill Brady is like telling them that they have a choice between driving off a cliff at 55 miles an hour and driving off a cliff at 60 miles an hour. Now choose the lesser evil, because you sure don't want to even consider 'wasting your vote' on that other candidate."

    *

    COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE, DECLARATORY RELIEF AND MONETARY DAMAGES/NATURE OF COMPLAINT

    This complaint arises from the censorship of legally qualified candidates from debates hosted and publicly broadcast by a publicly-funded, tax-exempt television station in the Chicagoland area.

    Defendants, WTTW, CPB and PBS willfully and intentionally undertook "political activity" that violated their 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) status by sponsoring candidate debates that promoted two established parties' candidates and opposed one established party's candidates. In addition, these entities are alleged to have violated the terms of their license under the Federal Communications Act (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.), by denying equal access and opportunity to legally qualified candidates to participate in debates, including the willful and intentional opposition to Green Party candidates. Defendant, Schmidt, is alleged to have violated Whitney's and Jones' First and Fifth Amendment rights by discriminating against them on the basis of their political views. The Defendants' actions manufactured and created false consent and approval for Democratic Party and Republican Party candidates, and opposition to Green Party candidates to their detriment and harm in the eyes of the voters in Illinois.

    FACTS
    In recent years, WTTW has broadcast debates in Chicago and the geographically surrounding area, between and among candidates for political office in its broadcast, including Illinois Governor, United States Senator, and other elected offices.

    In October 2010, WTTW promoted, broadcast, and otherwise publicly disseminated candidate debates, incorrectly referred to as "candidate forums," between the Gubernatorial and Senatorial candidates, whereby candidates are present at the same time and location, and engage in a unique discussion format that allows different views to be expressed and rebutted contemporaneously.

    Despite the fact that the Green Party is legally afforded the status of "established political party" pursuant to the Illinois Election Code, WTTW intentionally and willfully excluded Plaintiffs, Whitney and Jones, from the political debates it promoted, broadcast and otherwise publicly disseminated on October 27, 2010 and October 28, 2010. Defendants also excluded Green Party candidates from other debates as well.

    Counsel for the Green Party sent letters to, inter alia, WTTW production staff and CEO Daniel J. Schmidt requesting the inclusion and participation of Green Party candidates in the debates in advance of the actual debates.

    The letters pointed out that WTTW's refusal to afford full participation to Green Party candidates was un-democratic, counter to its self-described mission to operate in the public interest, violated its obligations as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity under the Internal Revenue Code and violated the equal access requirements of the Communications Act of 1934.

    Despite the Plaintiffs' best efforts to notify WTTW of their discriminatory and biased plan to exclude Green Party candidates, and allow WTTW an opportunity to resolve this matter, WTTW refused to reconsider its position, and this lawsuit ensued.

    On information and belief, Defendants have in previous years been perceived by the public and voters in Illinois to be a generally non-partisan and objective source of information because of their public funding, as compared to commercially funded broadcasters, which rely exclusively upon sale of advertising time.

    In light of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), voters in Illinois are looking to and relying upon Defendants more so than commercially funded broadcasters for information about candidates during this election cycle.

    Based upon the rapidly escalating corporate financing of elections, it is therefore even more important than ever before, that publicly funded broadcasters such as Defendants strictly adhere to their mission of serving the public, and avoid all partisan political activity that may favor or oppose legally qualified candidates for public office that will appear on the ballot in Illinois.

    *

    The Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 1 et seq., regulates the taxation of income of corporations and individuals.

    In Subtitle A, Subchapter F, the Code established requirements for organizations such as Defendants to acquire tax-exempt status. 26 U.S.C. 501 et. seq. 26. 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3), establishes and describes the requirements for one category of tax-exempt organization, and reads in toto:

    "Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific,testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

    IRS guidance has further established that a debate or forum that shows a preference for or against a certain candidate of party constitutes a prohibited activity under Subchapter F; IRS guidance provides no "safe harbor" for reliance upon commercially-funded polling data to exclude legally qualified candidates from candidate debates or forums.

    Thus, tax-exempt organizations are prohibited from any activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate or party.

    If the tax-exempt organization chooses to host a political debate or forum, it must provide an equal opportunity to other candidates seeking the same office and it may not indicate any support or opposition to any candidate.

    Defendants' willful and intentional refusal to include Plaintiffs unquestionably influences the public discourse, impermissibly manufactures apparent approval for candidates, and improperly intervenes in the associated political campaigns.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs inures to the benefit of, and is on behalf of, the included candidates, and impermissibly influences the legislative process which should be the purview of the People - citizens of the state of Illinois.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs constitutes promotion of the so-called "two-party system," and opposition to more than two established political parties, which has no legal justification or status; on the contrary, the Illinois Election Code and Illinois Constitution allow for the simultaneous existence and operation of more than two political parties in Illinois.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs confers an unjustified imprimatur of legitimacy and endorsement of the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates, and wrongly and improperly conveys to the public an aura of illegitimacy on the Green Party, its candidates and platform.

    By refusing Plaintiffs' access to their debates and political forums, the Defendants have violated restrictions that Defendants agreed to in exchange for the privilege of being exempt from paying federal taxes, as provided in 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3).

    Plaintiffs have been damaged thereby, including but not limited to loss of opportunity to equally address the voters of Illinois, apparent opposition by civic leaders and publicly funded broadcasters in the Chicago land area, the false and unfounded perception advanced by the Defendants that Plaintiffs are somehow not legally qualified for office, and otherwise publicly opposed by Defendants in the eyes of Illinois voters and the public at large.

    *

    The Communications Act of 1934 47 U.S.C. 151 et seq. regulates and provides licensing requirements for broadcast radio and television stations.

    The Act creates the Federal Communications Commission, and obligates the Commission to operate in the "public convenience, interest, or necessity..."; the Commission is required to grant and renew licenses "if the Commission finds that public interest, convenience, and necessity would be served thereby." 47 U.S.C. 307(a) & (c)(1).

    Section 315 of the Act (47 U.S.C. 315) sets for the the requirements for licensees regarding candidates for public office, as follows:

    Candidates for public office
    (a) Equal opportunities requirement; censorship prohibition; allowance of station use; news appearances exception; public interest; public issues discussion opportunities. If any licensee shall permit any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use a broadcasting station, he shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office in the use of such broadcasting station: Provided, That such licensee shall have no power of censorship over the material broadcast under the provisions of this section. No obligation is imposed under this subsection upon any licensee to allow the use of its station by any such candidate. Appearance by a legally qualified candidate on any-

    (1) bona fide newscast,

    (2) bona fide news interview,

    (3) bona fide news documentary (if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary), or

    (4) on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including but not limited to political conventions and activities incidental thereto), shall not be deemed to be use of a broadcasting station within the meaning of this subsection. Nothing in the foregoing sentence shall be construed as relieving broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, from the obligation imposed upon them under this chapter to operate in the public interest and to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views on issues of public importance.

    Sections 312(a)(2), (3), (4) and/or (7), (47 U.S.C. 312) provide for administrative sanctions, including revocation of license, for licensees that willfully or repeatedly failure to operate substantially in accord with the terms set forth in their license.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs confers an unjustified imprimatur of legitimacy and endorsement of the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates, and wrongly and improperly conveys to the public an aura of illegitimacy on the Green Party, its candidates and platform.

    By promoting, broadcasting, and otherwise disseminating the debates between the certain but not all Gubernatorial and Senatorial candidates, to the exclusion of Plaintiffs, Defendants have denied reasonable and equal access in violation of their FCC license.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs constitutes promotion of the so-called "two-party system," and opposition to more than two established political parties, which has no legal justification or status; on the contrary, the Illinois Election Code and Illinois Constitution allow for the simultaneous existence and operation of more than two political parties in Illinois.

    Plaintiffs were proximately harmed thereby, including but not limited to loss of opportunity to equally address the voters of Illinois, apparent opposition by civic leaders and publicly funded broadcasters in the Chicago land area, the false and unfounded perception advanced by the Defendants that Plaintiffs are somehow not legally qualified for office, and otherwise publicly opposed by Defendants in the eyes of Illinois voters and the public at large.

    The conduct of the Defendants was the proximate cause and substantial factor in causing Plaintiffs' harm.

    *

    Congress, in enacting the Corporation for Public Act, found that "it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to complement, assist, and support a national policy that will most effectively make public telecommunications services available to all citizens of the United States" 47 U.S.C. 396 (a)(7).

    The Plaintiffs - Rich Whitney, LeAlan Jones and the Green Party, as well as 361,000 citizens of the State of Illinois who voted for Mr. Whitney in 2006 - have been denied public telecommunications services, in violation of 47 U.S.C. 396 (a)(7) and the national policy promulgated thereby.

    Additionally, pursuant to the announced national policy, the Act requires that the CPB, and its subsidiaries such as PBS and WTTW, operate in the public interest.

    More specifically, in subsection (f), "Nonprofit and nonpolitical nature of the Corporation," the Act requires that "The Corporation may not contribute to or otherwise support any political party or candidate for elective public office." 47 U.S.C. 396 (f)(3).

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs in their debates and political forum constitutes an overt, express and substantial promotion, contribution, and support for the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates and ideas, individually and together.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs constitutes promotion of the so-called "two-party system," and opposition to more than two established political parties, which has no legal justification or status; on the contrary, the Illinois Election Code and Illinois Constitution allow for the simultaneous existence and operation of more than two political parties in Illinois.

    Defendants' refusal to include Plaintiffs confers an unjustified imprimatur of legitimacy and endorsement of the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates, and wrongly and improperly conveys to the public an aura of illegitimacy on the Green Party, its candidates and platform.

    Plaintiffs have been damaged thereby, including but not limited to loss of opportunity to equally address the voters of Illinois, apparent opposition by civic leaders and publicly funded broadcasters in the Chicago land area, the false and unfounded perception advanced by the Defendants that Plaintiffs are somehow not legally qualified for office, and otherwise publicly opposed by Defendants in the eyes of Illinois voters and the public at large.

    *

    This Count lies against Daniel J. Schmidt, as officer of WTTW, a member of the Public Broadcasting System and recipient of funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

    All of the above-described wrongful acts served to deny Plaintiffs their rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and State of Illinois Constitution.

    WTTW is a member and holds equity in the Public Broadcasting System.

    Historically, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has received 15% to 20% of its annual operating revenue from Federal sources and 25% to 29% from State and local taxes.

    More specifically, revenue sources for public television and radio in the United States is sourced thusly: Subscribers, Business, CPB Appropriation, State Governments, All Other, State Colleges and Universities, Foundations, Local Governments, Federal Grants and Contracts, Private Colleges and Universities, Other Colleges and Universities.

    Of the above categories, non-tax based, private sources (Business, Foundations, Private Colleges and Universities) account for 24.6% of funding.

    Therefore, over 75% is paid for by the public, or as PBS itself acknowledges, "Viewers like You", either through taxes or subscription or other means, like promotional auctions held on PBS affiliates.

    Thus, Defendant Schmidt's position is funded by the public, in that it is dependent on public funds, state and federal, for its continued viability.

    Defendant Schmidt's position involves administering the national policy announced in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Act.

    Defendant Schmidt therefore, is a government actor for purposes of this lawsuit.

    Thus, when Defendant Schmidt barred the Green Party, its candidates and ideas, and excluded the Plaintiffs from WTTW's debate and political forum, Defendant Schmidt acted under color of law.

    When Defendant Schmidt violated the Internal Revenue Code, the Communications Act of 1934, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Act, as described supra, by excluding Plaintiffs from WTTW's debate and political forum, he purposefully deprived the Plaintiffs of Due Process and Equal Protection under the Fifth Amendment.

    The Fifth Amendment, while not containing an express Equal Protection clause, has been found to incorporate Equal Protection principles. See Bolling v. Sharpe 347 U.S. 497 (1954).

    The First Amendment guarantees a citizen's right to freedom of speech.

    When Defendant Schmidt barred the Green Party, its candidates and ideas, and excluded the Plaintiffs from WTTW's debate and political forum, Defendant Schmidt purposefully retaliated against Plaintiffs for their protected speech.

    Plaintiffs were proximately harmed thereby, including but not limited to loss of opportunity to equally address the voters of Illinois, apparent opposition by civic leaders and publicly funded broadcasters in the Chicago land area, the false and unfounded perception advanced by the Defendants that Plaintiffs are somehow not legally qualified for office, and otherwise publicly opposed by Defendants in the eyes of Illinois voters and the public at large.

    The conduct of the defendants was the proximate cause and substantial factor in causing Plaintiffs' harm.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

    November 4, 2010

    The [Thursday] Papers

    Pat Quinn's lead is growing, not shrinking. Four more years of Governor Gumby.

    *

    In other odds and ends, check out our ElectionNotes 2010. Exclusively in the Beachwood.

    Judge Fudge
    "Cook County voters Tuesday narrowly retained four Circuit Court judges who had been deemed unqualified to continue on the bench by several legal groups," the Tribune reports.

    "Jim Ryan and Susan McDunn each garnered about 63 percent of the vote, just above the required 60 percent to be retained; Dorothy Jones pulled in 64 percent; and William O'Neal recorded 66 percent.

    "'The bar groups who spend many hours interviewing and vetting these judges are disappointed,' said Jeannine Cordero, chair of the Chicago Bar Association judicial evaluation committee."

    Yes, every election we're disappointed that bad judges get retained; certainly the media could be louder about who to vote against. But isn't the real story how these judges got on the bench in the first place and who keeps them there, rather than who fails to remove them? After all, aren't they the beneficiaries of political organizations that for some reason are rewarding them or want them to be judges?

    *

    Joe Birkett named to replace Jack O'Malley on appellate court.

    Captain Ron
    "Chicago Public Schools Chief To Leave Office At End Of November," the Tribune reports.

    "Huberman had said he would not serve next mayor."

    *

    So his loyalty was to Richard M. Daley, not the children of Chicago. Nice.

    Cop Chop Shop
    "The Chicago Police Department is striking a compromise after running into opposition over a plan to raise its minimum application age to 25," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Instead of forcing aspiring police officers to wait until their 25th birthday to take the police entrance exam on Dec. 11, the revised policy allows them to take the test when they turn 21. But they still can't enter the police academy until they're 25."

    How in the world does any of this make sense?

    First, I understand Jody Weis's desire for a more mature police force, but maturity doesn't necessarily correlate to age. If you're qualified and you have the right temperament, you're qualified and you have the right temperament. And vice versa.

    Second, the compromise sounds like a joke to me. Take the test now and we'll admit you in four years! A lot can happen between now and then. People become angry, fat, disillusioned, or uninterested. It's no way to recruit police officers.

    Burke's Law
    "Non-profit organizations that solicit charitable contributions on Chicago streets would pay $10-a-day for the privilege - and their solicitors would be required to wear reflective vests - under an ordinance proposed Wednesday by the City Council's most powerful alderman," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Finance Committee Chairman Edward M. Burke (14th) wants Chicago to join Boston, Skokie, Glenview and Cicero in charging a 'modest administrative fee' to non-profits that obtain city permits to seek donations on the public way."

    *

    I've got a better idea: Let's charge Ed Burke $10 a day for every $1,000 in his campaign fund. That would bring in a million bucks a week.

    Variety Show
    America's Got Talent Holding Auditions In Chicago.

    *

    Pat Quinn will pretend to balance a budget while Mark Kirk juggles tea cups.

    How To Make Animal Balloons
    Chicago-style.

    The Czar of the Playbook
    And his Bears-Bills preview.

    The Chicago Code
    See the trailer.

    The 98th Worst Cub Ever
    Claude Hendrix.

    Mike Fontenot's Ring
    And other Cubs and Sox tidbits from our very own Dan O'Shea.

    Nuclear Tree Service
    These guys do not fool around.

    -

    The Billy Goat Bogus Beer Summit

    beer3.jpg

    And then I said to Jaws, oh, what the hell, you're good for the money, right?!

    -

    beer2.jpg

    See, you pay interest at this rate and lend it out at this rate.

    -

    beer4.jpg

    The media, performing its Constitutional duty, will later complain that the public doesn't want substance.

    -

    COMMENTS

    1. From Michael O'Connor:

    If Kirk had picked up his Miller Lite bottle, he would have found the words UNION MADE on the label, as it is on every Miller product. Of course, if he read that he might have spat out the beer into Alexi's face.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: With interest.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

    ElectionNotes 2010

    Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones received 115,623 votes (3.2 percent); about 30,000 more than Alexi Giannoulias needed to overcome Mark Kirk.

    Libertarian Party candidate Mike Labno, however, received 85,607 votes (2.4 percent); enough to have carried Kirk to victory if neither Jones nor Labno were in the race and those voting Green voted Democratic and those voting Libertarian voted Republican.

    Of course, that wouldn't have necessarily happened. If Jones wasn't in the race, for example, I simply wouldn't have voted. Alexi would not have gotten my vote.

    The real question is, why didn't those 1,668,690 voters who went for Giannoulias vote for Jones?

    -

    Republicans took two state offices from Democrats: Treasurer and comptroller.

    Significance? Now we have to read four more years of Sneedlings from the irrepressible Judy Baar Topinka and wonder if Dan Rutherford will run for governor in four years.

    -

    Dick Durbin must be counting his lucky stars he wasn't up for re-election this time around, given the environment and the way he mishandled the Roland Burris seating. Durbin won't face voters until 2014.

    -

    Beachwood contributor Tim Willette sends in this gem:

    "Illinois voters didn't appear overly enthusiastic about either Senate candidate, but Republican Mark Kirk triumphed with help from independents, men and people worried about the economy, an exit poll showed," AP reports.

    In other words, everyone! Is anyone not worried about the economy?

    Says Tim: "Ha ha - like writing 'Kirk received crucial support from people who fear death.'"

    *

    Me: "Ha! At Filter with Mike Luce, just read this to him. He says 'Ideological women not worried about the economy, however, went the other way.'"

    Tim: "You're in luck - both of them just tweeted that they're also at Filter at this very moment. Check the table by the window."

    -

    Mary Schmich writes:

    "Good pundits do more than parrot common wisdom. They make you question your assumptions. That's good, even if they're wrong. My favorite political opinion Tuesday came from Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, who offered this contrarian opinion in a radio interview:

    "'Winning candidates do raise more money, but the relationship between the money and their winning, it's just a correlation. It's not causal. So imagine you'd go out onto the street and it's raining really hard and everybody's got an umbrella. And if you didn't know any better, you'd think, oh, man, those umbrellas are making it rain . . . The people who win do raise and spend more money, but the reason they have more money is because they're a more attractive candidate.'"

    First, a multitude of studies have shown that there actually is little correlation between candidates who raise and spend the most money and winning.

    Among those who say so: Stephen Dubner.

    Now, it's true that most of the studies I'm thinking of actually look at self-funded candidates, so they spend money but they don't raise it.

    At the same time, those who do raise it are most attractive to who? Those who have a strong interest in contributing large amounts of money to candidates who will protect their those interests.

    I'm not sure what's so revelatory about that.

    -

    "The Obama White House will shift into re-election mode in a few months, and the 2012 presidential campaign headquarters will be Chicago again, if all goes as planned."

    Great. Way to change the political culture. Was it ever out of re-election mode?

    -

    Richard Roeper is the last pundit in the country to muse over conservative candidates vowing to "take back the country."

    Too bad he doesn't take the opportunity to point out how the punditry and pols complaining about this phrase are lame and hypocritical.

    -

    "The bitterly contested race for the Illinois senate seat that launched Barack Obama into the White House has been fraught with claims of dishonesty on both sides, leading to an exceptionally high level of distaste for both candidates, according to preliminary exit polls," ABC News reports.

    "Of the 37 closely-watched senate contests across the country, this was one of the nastiest, with Democrat State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias portrayed as a mob banker and current Republican Mark Kirk as a serial liar.

    "The acrimony was reflected in preliminary exit poll results, with a third of the voters saying they felt neither candidate was honest and trustworthy. More than half the voters said both candidates attacked each other unfairly."

    Wow, voters really are stupid. Only a third felt neither candidate was honest and trustworthy? That means two-thirds of voters of idiots. And more than half said both candidates attacked each other unfairly? The attacks seemed fair to me.

    -

    From Technology Review:

    Bogus Grass-Roots Politics on Twitter

    Data-mining techniques reveal fake Twitter accounts that give the impression of a vast political movement.

    Researchers have found evidence that political campaigns and special-interest groups are using scores of fake Twitter accounts to create the impression of broad grass-roots political expression. A team at Indiana University used data-mining and network-analysis techniques to detect the activity.

    -

    Among the Election Night analysts spotted on local TV broadcasts: Scott Fawell, Roland Burris, Dennis Hastert and Cliff Kelley. More like a rogue's gallery. Might as well put Oxford Cell Block C on the air.

    *

    What, nobody thought to prop the cold, dead body of Danny Rostenkowski up near the weather guy?

    -

    During a discussion of Republicans trying to exploit discontent with House Speaker Michael Madigan in legislative races, Fox News Chicago anchor Robin Robinson found it ironic given that, according to her, Michael Madigan himself wasn't on the ballot.

    *

    Maybe she meant that with a fake opponent he wasn't really involved in a campaign of his own.

    -

    In rushed, dramatic tones, Channel 2's Jay Levine told us he had just gotten off the phone with the Bill Brady camp and they were "cautiously optimistic!"

    I don't know why TV reporters can't just say "I just got off the phone with folks up in Bill Brady's suite and they had absolutely nothing of value to say. They're just waiting on the returns like everybody else. But we'll let you know when there's news to report!"

    -

    Fake smart guy David Brooks writes in his New York Times column:

    "Memo to young journalists: Democratic victories are always ascribed to hope; Republican ones to rage."

    Really? I thought Ronald Reagan's successes were attributed in large part to his sunny outlook, especially compared to supposedly grim Democrats like Jimmy Carter (post-smile) and Walter Mondale.

    And didn't George H.W. Bush famously run on a platform of "Don't Worry, Be Happy?"

    And wasn't Bush's son the happy-go-lucky have-a-beer-with frat guy who was preferred over policy wonk library-head Al Gore and the dark visage of John Kerry?

    -

    "A comparison of vote totals in Chicago's most heavily gay wards shows that Illinois Comptroller-elect Judy Baar Topinka, who has long supported LGBT rights, outperformed other Republicans by a wide margin in those wards," Gary Barlow reports in Gay-Friendly Topinka Gets Boost From Heavily Gay Wards.

    "Topinka supports civil unions and other LGBT community issues, stands she's taken for years, often at the cost of losing support from right-wingers in her own party. But as she showed in her successful campaigns for state treasurer earlier in her career, those pro-LGBT positions gained her so much support in Democratic strongholds that she easily outpolled other Republicans on the Illinois ballot Nov. 2."

    *

    "I know I sound like a broken record," said Equality Illinois Director of Public Policy Rick Garcia. "But again, it looks like the only two Republicans left standing statewide are the moderates, Judy Baar Topinka and Dan Rutherford."

    -

    Joe Berrios, debunker.

    "To me it was all a bunch of bunk," Berrios told the Chicago News Cooperative, when asked about the persistent criticism of cronyism that has dogged his campaign. He vowed greater transparency, but set a vague standard for it, saying that from day one "you will see more information than you have in the past" out of the office.

    Berrios' victory is big for Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, the Chicago Democrat who heads the state party organization - and whose law firm handles many property tax appeals cases in Cook County

    Casting himself as a reformer, Claypool frequently criticized Berrios for his work as a Springfield lobbyist and for his cozy ties to Madigan as well as other property tax lawyers. As head of the three-member Board of Review, which has the power to reduce property tax assessments, Berrios received massive campaign donations from the many of the same lawyers who appeared before the board and won tax breaks for their clients.

    The Chicago News Cooperative reported in January that Berrios has raised $3 million in the past decade from property tax lawyers.

    -

    And what about Joe Berrios' daughter, Toni?

    She was described in a 1st Ward Democratic flier that came to my home as part of the ward's Democratic family, along with Ald. Joe Moreno and committeeman Jesse Juarez.

    From Fox Chicago News:

    "Maria Toni Berrios is a Democratic State Representative from Chicago's Northwest Side. Reporter Dane Placko asked her: 'Are you concerned that there is a least an appearance here that they may be trying to win favor with your father by donating to you? Her reply? Not at all, not at all.'"

    "She first won her seat in 2002 running unopposed with the help of her father, long-time Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Joseph Berrios who now also heads the Cook County Democratic party. Placko asked him is he ever solicited donations, campaign donations for his daughter.

    "Berrios replied: 'I've been at her fund-raisers as any proud father would be.'

    "But this proud political papa's friends are doing most of the heavy lifting. A Fox Chicago News investigation found that in 2008, more than 60% of the campaign contributions to Toni Berrios came from tax attorneys, appraisal companies, and real estate firms looking for a break on property taxes from her father's agency."

    *

    Said Toni: "That's just your coincidence."

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:59 AM | Permalink

    Playbook Czar Preview: Bears at Bills

    Give Forte the football.

    -

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    Trailer: The Chicago Code

    "You think you change how things get done - in Chicago?!"

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

    How To Make Animal Balloons

    Twists, knots and pinches.

    1. Frog.

    -

    2. Baby dolphin.

    -

    3. Snake.

    -

    4. Dragonfly

    -

    5. Caterpillar.

    -

    6. Squirrel.

    -

    7. Love monkey.

    -

    8. Ladybug bracelet.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:10 AM | Permalink

    November 3, 2010

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    Here's the thing that really killed me this week: As I sat in the waiting room for potential jurors called to duty at the Daley Center on Monday, the TVs were all set to Channel 7. That meant that for five hours until my group was finally cut and sent home, we had to listen to all those campaign commercials over and over yet again.

    So last night I watched Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel instead of the returns, and then went to bed early.

    Did I miss anything?

    That's Pat!
    At 12:54 a.m., Pat Quinn addressed the crowd at his Election Night party: "It looks like another landslide victory is heading our way!"

    *

    At least if he pulls out the squeaker he'll provide better material than Bill Brady. But sheesh. Illinois must be paying off some very deep sins from a previous lifetime.

    *

    According to AP this morning, Quinn leads Brady by 8,349 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting (1,694,196 votes to 1,685,847 votes). The percentages: 46.5% to 46.2%.

    *

    - Quinn quote via CapitolFax

    The Rebuke
    I wonder if the Tribune regrets its endorsement of its favorite son two years ago.

    *

    It came from both sides of the spectrum.

    "Let's not shoot the messenger," Robert Scheer writes at Truthdig. "Yes, the tea party victors are a mixed bag espousing often contradictory and at times weird positions, the source of their funding is questionable and their proposed solutions are vague and at times downright nutty. But they represent the most significant political response to the economic pain that has traumatized swaths of the nation at a time when so-called progressives have been reduced to abject impotence by their deference to a Democratic president.

    "Barack Obama deserved the rebuke he received at the polls for a failed economic policy that consisted of throwing trillions at Wall Street but getting nothing in return. His amen chorus in the media is quick to blame everyone but the president for his sharp reversal of fortunes. But it is not the fault of tea party Republicans that they responded to the rage out there over lost jobs and homes while the president remained indifferent to the many who are suffering."

    *

    The rebuke was felt in Illinois congressional races as well. Is our formerly Blue state now officially Purple?

    8th District: Republican insurgent Joe Walsh is in a dead-heat with Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean.

    10th District: Democrat Dan Seals goes down for a third time to shadowy Republican Bob Dold. Can we officially declare the 10th a Republican district instead of a swing district? Yes, the district went for Gore, Kerry and Obama but it also hasn't elected a Democratic congressman since 1977.

    11 District: Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger easily knocked off incumbent pro-business, moderate Democratic Debbie Halvorson, which may have happened in any year. But Dems may have been able to do a better job protecting her in any other year too.

    14th District: Republican challenger Randy Hultgren easily knocked off Democratic incumbent Bill Foster, who did nothing I can think of to truly alienate anyone.

    17th District: Republican challenger Bobby Schilling easily knocked off true-blue Democratic incumbent Phil Hare.

    Obama 2008: Good for Illinois?

    *

    At least we'll end up with Rahm Emanuel as mayor.

    Alexi Gone
    "Illinois voters didn't appear overly enthusiastic about either Senate candidate, but Republican Mark Kirk triumphed with help from independents, men and people worried about the economy, an exit poll showed," AP reports.

    *

    Let's face it: The Democrats certainly could have retained this seat if they had nominated a better candidate than the child banker. Kirk became surprisingly vulnerable with revelations about his exaggerations - and wouldn't it have been nice (and good for turnout and enthusiasm) to once again provide America with its only African American United States Senator?

    Likewise, Quinn. Dan Hynes would have had his own vulnerabilities but I find it hard to see how his campaign could have done worse.

    Toolbox
    In our never-ending quest to determine just how many tools reside in Cook County, we have a new base figure to start from: at least 621,652 people voted to elect Joe Berrios the new assessor.

    County Bounty
    Toni Preckwinkle waltzed into the Cook County board presidency, as expected, but with her brand damaged. She is now officially under suspicion.

    *

    Tony Peraica lost his board seat to Jeff Tobolski, the McCook mayor whose police force arrested Peraica over the weekend.

    *

    Just for the record, John Daley was re-elected to his county board seat with about 70 percent of the vote. More impressive, though, was the 90 percent of the vote that Bill Beavers pulled in.

    Madtown
    Michael Madigan easily won re-election to the Illinois House, which will remain under his control. Close to 1,900 people voted for his fake opponent, P.J. Ryan, and they are either to be commended or rescued.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Recounting daily.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:25 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Detroit's Forgotten Men

    No one was picking the Detroit Lions to win their division this year, with such proven powers as Green Bay, Minnesota and, er, Chicago, standing in their way. But the Lions, after years of misery, had something like a buzz about them coming into this season, with a solid receiving corp, a promising running back and a second-year quarterback who was not afraid to fling it.

    I liked QB Matthew Stafford in particular as a pre-season sleeper pick for the draft, but he was injured in Week 1 and the Lions have been up and down ever since. With Stafford's stellar return in Week 8 (four TDs), the fantasy stock value shot up for a whole pride of Lions.

    Here's who you should be picking up or trading for:

    Matthew Stafford, QB: I thought he'd shake the rust off quickly, and it appears he did just that. He's got a tough match-up against the Jets this week, but should be locked in as a fantasy starter for games against Buffalo, Dallas and Chicago. Still available in 49% of Yahoo! leagues.

    Calvin Johnson, WR: He caught three of Stafford's four TDs last week, and should play up to his second-round draft pick status the rest of the way. Good luck prying him away from his current fantasy owner.

    Brandon Pettigrew, TE: He may have the most to gain as Stafford will look for him when Johnson is heavily covered. There's a cautionary note here because fellow TE Tony Scheffler occasionally gets in on the passing game, too, but Stafford and Pettigrew started connecting frequently late last season.

    Jahvid Best, RB: The rookie held the fort for the Detroit offense while Stafford was out, actually managing more receiving yards than rushing yards. A more balanced offense means he may have the element of surprise more often.

    Fantasy Basketball
    The news after Week 1 of the NBA season is that none of the "Three Kings" are among the top-ranked fantasy players thus far. Dwyane Wade is third in total points and LeBron James is fifth, but unless you count James' league-leading 25 turnovers, none of them leads a stat category. Russell Westbrook, PG, Oklahoma City was the Week 1 fantasy stud, with 67 points, 20 rebounds, 22 assists and eight steals.

    Expert Wire
    * ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto is not going to waive Randy Moss, despite the fact Moss has been waived by Minnesota. But TMR is in a 14-team league, and if you're in a 10-team or 12-team league, there must be somebody else available. You can wait for Moss to land a job, but if Tom Brady and Brett Favre couldn't get much out of him, who will?

    * Bleacher Report recaps Week 8, and looks ahead to the second half of the season.

    * The Big Lead spots LaGarrette Blount as a big waiver wire pick-up after his big performance in Week 8.

    * FanHouse says Steven Jackson's best days are over. Doesn't someone say that about this time every year? The difference this year is that QB Sam Bradford is improving every week, and Jackson isn't being counted on to carry the load.

    * Fantasy Football Toolbox has the bad news on Kenny Britt. His season could very well be over due to injury just one week after he was the most celebrated WR waiver wire pick.

    -

    Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:42 AM | Permalink

    November 2, 2010

    The Cisco Kids

    Giants win the World Series; cute city celebrates.

    1. San Francisco's Finest.

    -

    2. Where'dja get that jacket?!

    -

    3. See it and weep, Cubs fans.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    AA Destroying The Social Lives Of Thousands Of Once-Fun Americans

    This just in.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend in Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. The Vaselines at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

    -

    2. Ghostface Killah at the Abbey on Sunday night.

    -

    3. Los Amigos Invisibles at the Green Dolphin on Friday night.

    -

    4. Mumford and Sons at the Riv on Sunday night.

    -

    5. Shakira in Rosemont on Friday night.

    -

    6. The Cash Box Kings at Buddy Guy's on Thursday night.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Yep.


    -

    The press release.

    The Best News Of The Day
    It's the little things in life.

    *

    If elected, I promise a McRib in every pot!

    Stipulated
    "A creditors committee in the Tribune Co. bankruptcy case has sued myriad parties involved in a 2007 leveraged buyout that it called 'among the worst in American corporate history,' alleging the deal pushed the company into bankruptcy less than a year later," Crain's reports.

    "In one of two lawsuits it filed, the committee named as defendants Chairman Sam Zell, who bought Tribune in the $8.2-billion deal, and Tribune board members who negotiated with him, including Betsy Holden and William Osborn, saying the deal amounted to a fraudulent transfer of assets."

    For example, Alfonso Soriano's contract.

    The Cisco Kids
    Eat your hearts out, Cubs fans.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    You shoulda been there.

    Memo To Lynn Sweet
    The Democrats - and Barack Obama - have only themselves to blame. Rod was their guy and even after he was arrested they didn't have the guts to do the right thing and hold a special election.

    Rod Blagojevich is a symptom, not a cause.

    Media Insanity
    Stella Foster once again shows why she makes so much more money than I do.

    Everyone's Favorite Patsy
    Dialing in to Sneed with "sources" and "scoops" is an Election Day tradition!

    A Beachwood Election
    * The [Election Day] Papers

    * A Beachwood Voters' Guide.

    * Mystery Senate Debate Theater.

    * A Beachwood Candidate Questionnaire.

    * The Political Odds.

    * The Illinois Enthusiasm Gap.

    Vote your conscience. It's the only one you've got. The problem is them, not us. No one owns your vote. Don't be a pawn in their game.

    Sandwich Board
    "Marshall Field sandwiches will be available at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Friday morning, and sandwich orders may be placed by calling (641) 521-4949 any time until 5 p.m. Thursday," reports the Newton Daily News of Jasper County, Iowa.

    "A Marshall Field sandwich is patterned after the signature sandwich once served at the famed Marshall Field department store in Chicago. A hearty meal itself, it features mild rye bread, lettuce, ham, swiss cheese, chicken, bacon and boiled egg, served cold with a generous portion of homemade dressing poured over the top. Many people eat half of a sandwich for lunch, saving the other half for dinner."

    AA Destroying Lives . . .
    . . . Of Once-Fun Americans.

    That's About Right
    President Obama Talks To Ryan Seacrest To Address What May Be Crushing Dem Losses.

    -

    AP or Onion News Network?

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Make amends.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    The [Election Day] Papers

    If all you want is a reliable vote, why not Roland Burris? Or, as I've written elsewhere, a trained monkey? We could pay the monkey less.

    Election 2010!
  • A Beachwood Voters' Guide.
  • Mystery Senate Debate Theater.
  • A Beachwood Candidate Questionnaire.
  • The Political Odds.
  • The Illinois Enthusiasm Gap.

  • -

    Tony Peraica denies he was destroying a campaign sign of his opponent, but what if he was? Is that any different than pretending you don't know that your cronies are doing it? That's not to absolve Peraica if he's guilty; it's to say he isn't any guiltier than the rest of 'em.

    *

    My favorite part from the Sun-Times's account:

    "The chief also noted that Peraica was dressed head to toe in black for his night-time mission."

    (Peraica says he was dressed in jeans, white tennis shoes and a gray pullover. But I hope he was really in all black.)

    -

    From: Steve Rhodes
    To: Michael Madigan Mouthpiece Steve Brown
    Sent: Fri, Oct 1, 2010 3:16 pm
    Subject: Ryan

    I'm not sure this answers the question:

    "Asked if Madigan put Ryan up to running, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said, 'We elect Democrats -- it's a real simple, straight-forward situation. It's good to see Republicans using their time and energy on things like this.'"

    You know the question. You know how it looks. You know how politics works in Chicago. The question is:

    Is Patrick John Ryan a shill for Madigan? Does anyone associated with the Madigan political campaign or operation know anything about Ryan's candidacy? Is Ryan's purpose to help Madigan? Why in the world would a lifelong Democrat get on the ballot as a Republican in this race? Why does this always happen in Madigan's races? Are you really peeved that the GOP makes an issue of this? Don't you see their point? Wouldn't you? So again: Can you attest to the fact that Madigan and his surrogates know nothing about this? And if so, is Madigan willing to state so publicly and even go so far as to offer to debate Ryan or ask him to step out of the race?

    *

    From: Steve Brown
    Subject: Re: Ryan
    Date: October 1, 2010 7:57:42 PM CDT
    To: Steve Rhodes

    Steve
    I liked my answer no involvement with Ryan but I do like the time they are wasting
    Might. Explain. Why Quinn and Lexi are running ahead or even right
    I think. The other questions. are best directed to ryan

    *

    To: Steve Brown
    From: Steve Rhodes
    Date: 10/2/2010 9:33:58 A.M. CDT

    You just answered my question: He's a Madigan shill and Madigan knows all about it. Thanks for confirming.

    *

    From: Steve Brown
    Subject: Re: Ryan
    Date: October 2, 2010 2:40:56 PM CDT
    To: Steve Rhodes

    Now your reading comprehension skills are shot too
    That's too bad
    Steve

    *

    "Did Michael Madigan Set Up A Fake Opponent In Patrick John Ryan?"

    -

    "If you don't like the way Mike Madigan runs this state, you can't vote him out," the Tribune editorial board writes. "He even engineered his own Republican opponent on the ballot."

    Huh. I wonder if Madigan/Brown asked for a correction - or better yet, if they'll sue for libel.

    No?

    Huh.

    -

    "House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, called it 'unbelievable' that Republicans are using Madigan's long tenure as a wedge issue," the Tribune reports.

    She thought the Republicans had been bought off too.

    -

    "Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the dire predictions that this election will result in the demise of many Democrats are off the mark," the Tribune reports. "Brown said many races will come down to Election Day turnout, something Democrats take pride in doing well.

    "I think ti's all going to come down to who has the boots on the ground Tuesday," he told the paper.

    Has there ever been an election in the history of mankind not determined by turnout? Isn't that what voting tabulates?

    -

    "People Who Don't Vote May Hold Key To Who Wins On Tuesday."

    Or vice versa.

    -

    "The reality is, Kirk has led a life that is extremely impressive in most respects," David Brooks writes in the New York Times. "The oddest thing about him is that he's willing to go through this process."

    Yes, so odd someone would be willing to go through this process to become a United States Senator and, one way or another, be set for life. So odd.

    "And the larger question is: In the years ahead, how many other talented people will be willing to do it, too?"

    As many as can raise the money. That's what's so odd - that our elected offices are for sale.

    *

    Perhaps Brooks is sympathetic to Kirk because of his own history of mangling facts.

    -

    "With both sides looking for the slightest edge in the dead-heat races, the advertising all that money is buying is relentlessly nasty and often blurs the lines between reality and rhetoric," the Tribune reports.

    "In the Senate race, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias is portrayed as a mob banker and Republican Mark Kirk as a serial liar. In the governor's race, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is a 'pitiful' failure and Republican state Sen. Bill Brady is compared to a string of crooked governors."

    I dunno, sounds pretty accurate to me.

    -

    "A consultant to Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, Pete Giangreco, solved the mystery in a pre-debate press room this evening: It was, he confirmed, a 'coordinated' product of the Democratic campaign, the latest in a series of such attempts by Democrats to drain Republican votes with more than a touch of deception," Ben Smith reports at Politico.

    Yes, by all means vote Democrat. You know, with your head.

    *

    Don't you think it's time that liberals and progressives abandoned their illusions about the Democratic Party?

    *

    "After the debate, Giannoulias admitted his campaign, in coordination with the Democratic Party, funded a mailer to Downstate conservatives touting Libertarian Senate candidate Mike Labno as the 'pro-life, pro-gun' alternative to Kirk, who supports abortion rights like Giannoulias and who at least previously favored restrictions on handguns.

    "The Democrats hoped to divert votes from Kirk to Labno. Is that deceptive?

    "'No,' Giannoulias said."

    Huh.

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

    Michelle Obama: "He will be a phenomenal U.S. senator."

    -

    "And here's a turnout link you won't hear mentioned on election night: heroin," Jim Warren reports. "Mr. Hendon said the price had plummeted to a dollar a bag in black neighborhoods, and 'if someone is strung out, it's hard to convince them to vote.'"

    -

    "His politics did not suffer from excessive idealism; they were undermined by the 'false realism' of cynics who refuse to draw a meaningful line in the sand.The false realism of cynics who refuse to draw a meaningful line in the sand."

    -

    "Two great political reformers in this state, Gov. Patrick Quinn and Chicago Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, have endorsed Joe Berrios for Cook County assessor," Phil Kadner writes in the SouthtownStar.

    "Back in the spring, Preckwinkle said she despised political cronyism, but that was when she was running for the Democratic Party nomination.

    "Now that time has passed and Preckwinkle has had an opportunity to think things over, I guess she sees the wisdom of the Berrios way."

    *

    "Quinn has been a leading critic of corrupt, Democratic machine politics for 30 years.

    "Sure, he wants to become governor. But would he really be willing to climb into bed with Berrios, Madigan and the gang to ingratiate himself with the Democratic Party organization?"

    *

    "Of course, the average guy, who watches the TV news, might think Berrios represents everything that is unsavory about politics in Cook County.

    "Madigan, Quinn and Preckwinkle would say you are wrong. Berrios represents good government."

    *

    "So you can listen to Madigan, Quinn and Preckwinkle and support Berrios, or tell them all where to shove their endorsements. "

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    The 2010 Beachwood Voters' Guide

    For entertainment purposes only. And voting.

    GOVERNOR

    Like George W. Bush after 9/11 and Barack Obama after his election in 2008, Pat Quinn has squandered an unusually awesome opportunity to unite citizens for positive change. Instead, his fluke ascension to the state's top job exposed him as an inept bumbler incapable of holding such high office. Democrats nominated the wrong person and now want to stick us with him for another four years. And if his term is somehow cut short, we'll be left with one-term Carbondale city councilmember Sheila Simon. How irresponsible of Pat Quinn, who picked Simon after voters chose Scott Lee Cohen.

    On the other hand, Bill Brady snuck through the crowded Republican primary despite his record as a lackluster legislator who is the type of conservative often called paleolithic. If his term is somehow cut short, we'll be left with callow lumber heir Jason Plummer. How irresponsible of the Republican Party, which didn't vet its lieutenant governor candidates any better than the Democrats did theirs.

    Clearly, Rich Whitney is the best candidate in the race - even if that's not good enough for party hacks and their enablers who know in their heart they are wrong. Your vote is yours. Do you want to vote for Eric Zorn's candidates your whole life?

    Your vote for, say, Pat Quinn is no different than Joe Berrios's vote for Pat Quinn. The real question isn't why you are voting for Whitney, it's why Zorn and Co. aren't.

    Or, if you're proclivities lay on the other side of the spectrum, vote for libertarian Lex Green. No one can take your vote from you. This isn't Russia. Your vote is about you, not them. It's not a protest vote and it's not about sending a message - it's about voting for who you think is the best candidate available and being proud of that vote because so many have died to protect it. They didn't die for you to be blackmailed into voting for mob bankers and bumblers and throwbacks and liars.

    *

    Besides, don't be fooled. Your vote doesn't matter. It's one vote. Make it count - for you, not them.

    U.S. Senate
    What would it take for liberals to not vote the party line? Being a mob banker isn't enough? How about the sheer audacity of being Alexi Giannoulias, a rich kid who bought his way into the system with no credentials to be a United States Senator? Where would you draw the line? A monkey trained to vote with the party every time? A monkey with a questionable past trained to vote with the party line every time? Why not just go with a monkey - we could pay him in bananas and save the taxpayers some dough.

    On the other side of the ballot, a vote for Mark Kirk may have once seemed tolerable, but his cynical core has been revealed for all to see. Should he be rewarded or scorned?

    Again, it's hard to come to any other conclusion than voting for the Green Party's LeAlan Jones or libertarian Michael Labno. Jones has a compelling personal story, is right on the issues and would be the only African American in the Senate. How can you not vote for him? A vote for Alexi Giannoulias is equal to Joe Berrios's vote for Alexi Giannoulias. You don't get to add an explanation to your ballot. It counts the same. Was voting for Rod Blagojevich the right thing to do four years ago in order to keep a Democrat in office?

    Cook County Board President
    Toni Preckwinkle was obviously the best candidate in the Democratic primary but she's also just as maddening as she was as an independentish alderman, playing footsie with the Regulars when she finds it opportune and displaying smarts but not the kind of courage of a real leader. Tom Tresser isn't the best qualified for the job but the last thing we need is Joe Berrios's pal in office.

    Cook County Assessor
    Anyone who votes for Joe Berrios has their head up their butt. There is no justifiable rationale. I find Forrest Claypool to be a bit smarmy, slick and weaselly myself, but I'd rather have him running that office for the next four years than the video poker industry's lobbyist who also happens to be the chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party (read: the Gates of Hell) and a Machine hack on the Board of Review.

    State House District 22
    Neither paper makes an endorsement in this race but I can't urge residents there strongly enough to vote for P.J. Ryan, Michael Madigan's shill. Put the shill in!

    State Treasurer
    Robin Kelly is the Giannoulias aide whom we might normally think of as a fine public servant but who, unfortunately, is the Giannoulias aide. She's on the team, folks. And that won't do.

    Dan Rutherford is the Republican legislator looking to move up and the last thing we want to do is give him a path to a run for governor down the road.

    The libertarian is James Pauly; how a libertarian would run this office is the source of endless humorous speculation at Beachwood HQ. But we'll pull the lever for the Green, Scott Summers. What's not to like?

    State Comptroller
    David Miller wins our endorsement for this reason alone. (Original Kristen McQueary article mysteriously not available; the upshot is that the Illinois Education Association is disingenuously refusing to endorse Miller, the Democrat, for unscrupulous reasons. No interest group is your friend, folks, even if they tend to lean toward your side. They're only using you.)

    Secretary of State
    Incumbent Jesse White is an ally of Joe Berrios. Robert Enriquez is the Republican and is endorsed here simply to stick it to The Man. The libertarian is Josh Hanson, but we fear he would spend his term in office campaigning against all traffic laws.

    Attorney General
    Lisa Madigan has been a success based on one simple quality: competence. It's amazing that's all it takes in Illinois! On the other hand, she has refused to investigate her father's campaign for voter fraud regarding allegations that - once again - he has put up a shill as his opponent, even as she'll be watching everyone else. And what's not to like about David Black?

    U.S. House
    As usual, the Tribune and Sun-Times largely endorse the incumbents (in 14 of the 16 races the Trib endorses in and 10 of the 11 races the S-T endorses in). Do you think Congress is doing that great of a job? Do you think that Congress is doing a terrible job but that for some strange reason the Illinois delegation is kicking ass? Neither do I.

    Let's take a look by district.

    1. Both papers endorse hapless race-baiter Bobby Rush. The Green Party candidate is Jeff Adams and the Republican is Ray Wardingley. Adams is preferred, but either would be acceptable as a way to dislodge Rush.

    2. Neither paper offers an endorsement due to Jesse Jackson Jr.'s troubles. Voters have no such luxury. Anthony Williams is the Green.

    3. Both papers endorse Dan Lipinski, proving that no matter how heinously you get into office in Illinois, the media will soon forgive and forget. I find such behavior reprehensible. Laurel Lambert Schmidt is the Green. Michael Bendas is the Republican, but I can't endorse Republicans whom I do not know in these races in case they are shills.

    4. Both papers endorse Luis Gutierrez even though his real estate dealings are shadier than anything Junior is likely to have done. Gutierrez's passion for immigration reform is commendable, but not enough. Robert J. Burns is the Green.

    5. Mike Quigley is the incumbent. Let's see how much progress he makes.

    6. Both papers endorse Republican incumbent Peter Roskam. I'll take Democrat Benjamin Lowe.

    7. Both papers endorse incumbent Danny Davis, a grade-A clown. Clarence Desmond Clemens is the independent.

    8. Both papers endorse Republicrat Melissa Bean. Bill Scheurer is the Green.

    9. Both papers endorse incumbent liberal faker Jan Schakowsky. Simon Ribeiro is the Green.

    10. The Trib endorses Republican weasel Bob Dold for Mark Kirk's open seat while the S-T endorses perennial loser Democrat Dan Seals. Write in your neighbor.

    11. Both papers endorse Republican challenger Adam Kinzinger over incumbent Democrat Debbie Halvorson, who apparently has been a total disaster. Write in your neighbor.

    12. Both papers skip this race, denying an endorsement to Democratic incumbent Jerry Costello. Rodger Jennings is the Green.

    13. Both papers endorse Republican incumbent Judy Biggert. Scott Harper is the Democrat. Judy's been there long enough.

    14. Both papers endorse Democratic incumbent Bill Foster, whom I have no quarrel with.

    15. The Trib endorses Republican incumbent Tim Johnson. The Democrat is David Gill.

    16. The Trib endorses Republican incumbent Don Manzullo. The Green is Terry Campbell.

    17. The Trib endorses Republican challenger Bobby Schilling over Democratic incumbent Phil Hare. The Green is Roger Davis.

    18. The Trib endorses Republican incumbent Aaron Shock. The Green is Sheldon Shaefer.

    19. The Trib endorses Republican incumbent John Shimkus. The Democrat is Tim Bagwell.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 AM | Permalink

    The Illinois Enthusiasm Gap

    Election Day is upon us.

    Yet, despite the untold efforts - e.g., early voting, mailers, advertisements to guide citizens to the polls - in all likelihood, countless people will chose not to exercise this hard earned freedom.

    In light of the unending complaints about those in office and disgust with the state of our public affairs, it seems astonishing that only 50% of the good folk of Illinois are expected to cast their vote on Election Day.

    Granted it is not a presidential election but it is one with the potential to greatly impact Illinois.

    So in light of the Land of Lincoln's desperate need of repair and all the ballyhooing about the importance of showing up, why then such a mediocre anticipated voter turn-out, you ask?

    Diverse and creative, the reasons, as to why close to half of Illinois' nine million eligible voters will abstain include:

    * disillusionment with the political process

    * inconvenience of having to a) find and b) actually go to a polling location versus being able to do it online

    * having voted in the last election or in the one before the last election

    * not feeling strongly about any particular candidate

    * failing to recognize any names (or offices) on the ballot, such as Busta Rhymes

    * disdain for the new touch screen system

    * upset about the budget cuts elimination of the "I Voted Today" stickers

    What we as Americans may not realize is that not all citizens are presented with this prerogative.

    Remarkably, in some parts of the world, voting is not merely considered a right of citizenship but as a citizens' civic responsibility.

    On the global front, to hone in the idea that voting is a duty, there are those countries, e.g., Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Egypt, Fiji, Luxembourg, Turkey, Uruguay, et al, where voting in elections is compulsory and, as a mandatory activity, is regulated by electoral laws.

    It is in these countries where non-voters run the risk of sanctions and fines ranging from a cool $3US in Switzerland and $7US in Peru to upwards of $20US in Argentina; $200US in Australia and a sweeping $500US in Cyprus.

    While not an immediate consequence, should apathetic voters in some of these countries ignore paying fines, they then face the very real possibility of jail time.

    Fortunately for us in the US, we have the luxury of voting if we feel so moved rather than being penalized if we fail to do so.

    For this reason, we decided to offer some arresting enticements as to why the non-voting half of Illinoisans should consider upping their game by getting 'up and off' the couch and into the polling booth:

    * Unique chance to pick either a Republican or Democratic gubernatorial candidate with all the qualities of a mudslinging sixth-grader.

    * Amazing opportunity to cast your vote for an Illinois Senate candidate who has shown outrageous lapses in memory or for one has had highly consequential mishaps in judgment.

    * Curious and curiouser, the irresistible prospect of selecting a Cook County Assessor who will give you a job if you are a friend or family member or the lone lawman who avows to clean up Cook County and sweep up all its debris?

    * Still more alluring political contests to peak your interest: State Treasurer, Attorney General and, County Clerk, Secretary of State, just to name a few. Plus, need I mention the judgeship upon judgeship whose fate lies in your very own hands.

    Just because the US government won't penalize you if you don't, we highly encourage to get out and vote - if, of course, you have not already done so during the early open voting period.

    Regardless of whether your preferred candidates get elected into office, bear in mind your vote, along with offering you a way to express your civic point of view, could still make a heck a lot of difference.

    If in doubt, think about the 2008 Minnesotan, neck-and-neck senatorial contest between Democratic Senatorial candidate Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman. Separated by a slim 312 votes, Franken (after a much drawn-out recount) was finally heralded as the victor.

    So, on Election Day, remember that you are good enough, smart enough and doggone it wise enough to choose Illinois' next round of leaders. Well, you can only do so much - the candidates will also need to step it up a notch and do theirs.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

    November 1, 2010

    SportsMonday: As The Seasons Turn

    Local teams trump national events, at least for Chicago sports fans. When faced with a choice between watching Derrick Rose and the Bulls hosting the Pistons or whoever wasn't injured for the Hawks taking on Minnesota versus viewing the World Series on Saturday, baseball took the bronze. The brand new basketball season and the still young hockey campaign held more far more allure than the final gasps of the diamond death march.

    The turning of the sports seasons was the best part of growing up a Chicago sports fan in the 70s. Not happy about a current season - and we were almost never happy about the baseball or football seasons during the first half-dozen years of this delightful decade - you at least knew the next campaign was right around the bend. This was especially important in the fall, as baseball season after baseball season wound down ingloriously and football season after football season started with virtually no hope for Super Bowl contention. The Bears and the Blackhawks, on the other hand, put great teams on floor and ice early in the 70s. They didn't win championships of course - let's not get too crazy - but they boasted a series of compelling teams.

    On the other end of the spectrum, my family started with Bears season tickets early in the decade and the one specific memory I have of the first few years is of a couple fans parading down the aisle nearest the playing surface at Soldier Field with a big anti-Abe Gibron (the former offensive lineman who struggled through several seasons at the helm for the Bears) banner. Another fan grabbed the "Fire Gibron" sheet or whatever it was and crumpled it up, setting off a brawl that was far more entertaining than that day's game.

    I actually have one more specific memory of seeing the Bears in person in the 70s, which actually occurred as era of late-60s-early 70s Bears futility finally approached. Indulge me here will you? After all there's no better time for a little Bears nostalgia than a bye week.

    It was in 1977 that the 3-5 Bears hosted the Chiefs and fell behind 27-21 in the final 30 seconds, setting off a speedy exodus from the stands.

    Soldier Field was at least three-quarters empty when the Bears got the ball back and Bob Avellini fired a pass to Robin Earl, who made a great run after the catch and got out of bounds with :10 on the clock just inside the Kansas City 40-yard-line. Next up was the best pass of Avellini's career, a 37-yard touchdown strike to tight end Greg Latta. Latta, running down the seam and right toward my dad and I in the corner of the south end zone, had to bend his head straight back to keep his eye on the ball as the pass came in straight over his head. He made the catch on the dead run and after Bob Thomas kicked the extra point, the Bears had a 28-27 win. The victory started the team on a six-game winning streak capped off by a shocking wild-card playoff berth.

    That was the era of Jim Finks running things, of course, and after treading water a bit in the middle of the decade, he went on a drafting binge that built the great Bears teams of the mid-1980s. The one thing Finks knew that Jerry Angelo has never figured out is that a successful football team prioritized drafting linemen on both sides of the ball. It was not a coincidence that the Bears finally took off in the 80s only after Finks drafted offensive tackles in the first rounds of the 1981 (Keith Van Horne) and 1983 (Jimbo Covert) drafts. This came on the heels of setting up the defensive line for years by picking Dan Hampton and Al Harris in the first round of the 1979 talent disbursal. Oh, and Finks had also drafted offensive linemen in the first rounds in 1976 (Ted Albrecht) and 1977 (Dennis Lick).

    Wait a minute, didn't I start this thing intending to focus at least a bit on the Bulls and Blackhawks? I did indeed and I return you now to your originally scheduled column.

    On Saturday, the Bulls struggled early against a Pistons team picked by most to finish at or near the bottom of the Eastern Conference this time around and then collapsed in the second quarter with mostly subs on the floor.

    Their second team is atrocious right now. Among other improvements needed sooner rather than later, the Bulls need to focus intensely on setting better screens to get reserve shooting guard Kyle Korver many more open shots. If they can get him going, that will go a long way toward avoiding the sort of stretches that left the Bulls trailing by 19 a half-dozen minutes before halftime.

    Fortunately the Bulls rallied in delightful fashion, especially in the fourth quarter. Rose was his usual amazing self, piling up 39 often high-flying, hang-timing points. Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and James Johnson (yes, James Johnson) chipped in clutch tip-ins. Don't look now Luol (Deng, a frequent target of less-than-complimentary critiques in this space in previous years), but Johnson is improving in a hurry. The second-year small forward scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds as he kept Deng on the bench all through the final 12 minutes.

    Deng had a great preseason but he has started the games that matter with two poor outings (not a shocker given his weak and highly inconsistent performance the past few years - ever since he signed his big contract). If Johnson continues apace, he could turn the 2009 draft, in which the Bulls took him and fellow forward Gibson in the second half of the first round, into one of the great drafts in franchise history. It would actually offset the ridiculousness of Deng filling up far too much of the team's salary cap.

    As for the Blackhawks, they are in a very strange place at this point. They lead their division but have the most losses. As of Sunday morning, the Hawks had compiled a 7-5-1 record to hold a slim lead (15 points to 14) over the Blues (6-1-2). The ever-puzzling NHL has loaded up the home team's early schedule (and it continues tonight with a game at the Rangers) while others play many fewer games.

    With Dave Bolland joining Marian Hossa on the bench with injuries along with defenseman Brian Campbell on Saturday, the Hawks still managed to gut out a big win with Troy Brouwer leading the way with a huge goal (breaking up a scoreless tie with less than a minute left in the second period) for him and for his team. It was his first of the season.

    The seasons turn, turn, turn in Chicago. The World Series has to be over by now, doesn't it?

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    The [Monday] Papers

    Of all the days to get called to jury duty, I get called today.

    I hear they have wi-fi down there so we'll see if I can update the site while I wait to see if I get picked or cut.

    And I'll get everything pending posted before the polls close tomorrow at the latest but hopefully before they open.

    Our Beachwood 2010 Election Guide is almost ready to go, I just don't think it's quite funny enough yet so I want to shine it up.

    I have posted Mystery Senate Debate Theater and updated our Political Odds.

    (I was unable to find a transcript of a Pat Quinn - Bill Brady debate for a Mystery Debate installment; if you have one, send it along.)

    We also have a couple other Election Day pieces in the works - as well as posts in our other sections, of course. So we'll see how the day goes.

    Bartender Journalism
    Jury duty or no, I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Monday Night Beachwood has turned into a bit of a phenomenon; no promises but last week we set a record! So come on in and help contribute to the next day's Beachwood!

    Our Election Eve specials will include Bill Brady Old Styles for $2.50, $1 off Pat Quinn's well, free mob banker pizza (you'll pay later), serial lying pool for a buck, 18 songs on the jukebox for an assessed value of five bucks depending on which law firm you hire to appear before me, and Dr. Dude's lonely reformer pinball.

    We open at 5 and close at 2.

    *

    This front page from the weekend struck me.

    alexiobama.jpg

    I'm pretty sure Alexi was saying "And then I told the IRS I still worked for the bank!"

    *

    The Weekend Desk Report
    By Natasha Julius

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

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

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

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

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

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

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Encrypted.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
    TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
    POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
    SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

    BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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