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« January 2011 | Main | March 2011 »

February 28, 2011

SportsMonday: Bulls Avoid Disastrous Trade; Hawks Locked In Four-Way Tie

The buzz heading into the trade deadline on Thursday was that the Bulls had the chance to trade promising seven-foot center Omer Asik to the Rockets for Courtney Lee, a 6-5 shooting guard from Western Kentucky who comes off the bench.

Or as part of a deal with Memphis for O.J. Mayo, the former USC standout who had also been riding the pine until Rudy Gay went out with an injury.

Bulls GM - who says he was never close to a deal despite the rumors - would have been nuts to make either trade, something that become even clearer as other options emerge late Sunday and early Monday.

It is certainly questionable whether the Grizzlies would have even done a deal with the Bulls (or vice versa). Memphis owner Michael Heisley, a longtime local (St. Charles), has had a spotty relationship with his hometown team. It was an annoyed Heisley whose forthright comments about preliminary negotiations that could have led to a Luol Deng for Pau Gasol trade a few years ago embarrassed the heck out of the Bulls brass. Heisley contended the deal would have happened if the Bulls had simply been willing to bump up their payroll a bit and pay some luxury tax. The Bulls denied it.

The most exciting thing about the possible trade with Houston was that Lee can really shoot it, even in limited minutes. Plenty of guys can compile decent shooting percentages when they have 30-plus minutes per game to get themselves going, but this year, averaging just 18.8 minutes, Lee is shooting 45 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range.

Nevertheless, in general, you shouldn't trade a young, promising big man for a young, promising shooting guard.

The Rockets eventually ended up trading Shane Battier to Memphis for Hashem Thabeet, the 7-foot-3 Tanzanian by way of UConn who is almost certainly on an express trip to Bustville. There were some other dimensions to the deal but those were the two main ingredients. At this point, Thabeet isn't half the prospect Asik is and yet he was still able to command talent like Battier in return. That is a better gauge of how valuable a big man should be than Asik-for-Lee would have been.

Then the buyouts began. The biggest news from NBA buyout-land has been that Golden State and 6-10 power forward Troy Murphy would reach a deal where they would pay him most of the rest of the money on his contract and he would become a free agent. Late Sunday that seemed a done deal and Murphy was rumored to be headed to the Celtics. Boston's controversial trade of Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green last week would make a lot more sense if Murphy came aboard to help fill the hole inside created by the departure of Perkins.

It also now appears as though the Clippers will do the same thing with shooting guard Rasual Butler, who played his college ball at LaSalle in Philadelphia. And the early favorite to sign him is the Bulls.

But Butler's shooting numbers should give the local team pause. He has hit on only 32 percent of his shots from the field this season (he is actually slightly better from three-point range than he is overall - 32.6 to 32.3). He was better last year (40 percent overall) but last year he played 31 minutes per game. He wouldn't get those kind of minutes with the Bulls. And at this point, who knows who else might be cut loose.

Hawk Tawk
A sucky second period didn't quite drag the Blackhawks down on Sunday, but it made them scramble for their latest two points. They allowed conference rival Phoenix to rally from two two-goal deficits in the middle period and eventually escape the United Center with a point for forcing - though losing - a shootout. It could have been considerably worse.

The Hawks could afford to give up a point, though, after a couple huge results on the road during the week. They rallied to knock off the Blues 5-3 in regulation early last week, then played their best game in awhile on their way to a 3-0 victory at Nashville.

The coolest thing is, Jonathan Toews is playing some of the best hockey of his young and still oh-so-promising career, and he capped off an awesome week with a pair of goals against Phoenix. And neither of those were the captain's biggest play of the evening. That happened in the shootout, when Toews led off and slipped his shot along the ice and just in between the inside of Ilya Bryzgalov's right pad/skate and his stick for the only goal of the extra session. It held up because Corey Crawford stoned three straight Phoenix shooters to cap off the win.

The Hawks are now locked in a four-way tie for seventh in the Western Conference. They have the exact same record as two of the other teams in the deadlock and they are only a point in back of sixth-place Calgary, which has played two more games.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I have an appointment this morning so there won't be a column today but that doesn't mean we don't have plenty to offer.

* Reading Rahm Part 1: Master Media Manipulator

* Yuppies - Not Asians - Made Ameya Pawar An Alderman

* Chicagoetry: My Gods

* The Weekend in Chicago Rock

* SportsMonday will appear later today is up: Bulls Avoid Disastrous Trade; Hawks Locked In Four-Way Tie

Programming Note
Don't forget - you can bring this to the Beachwood Inn tonight to use as your guide. I'll be there from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. slinging Old Styles, turning up the jukebox, serving free pizza and directing our special showing of The Chicago Code. (Drink every time they say "Irish mob"!) Just tell me I sent you.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Turn and cough.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Naked Raygun at the Congress on Saturday night.


2. Rabble Rabble at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


3. Belphegor at Reggie's on Saturday night.


4. Trey Anastasio Band at the Riv on Sunday night.


5. Dennis DeYoung at Governors State University Theatre on Saturday night.


6. Dropkick Murphy's at the Congress on Saturday night.


7. Yann Tiersen at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


8. Thyateria at Reggie's on Saturday night.


9. Axwell at The Mid on Saturday night.


10. Kid Rock at the United Center on Saturday night.


11. With Our Sunken Ship at the Metro on Sunday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:33 AM | Permalink

Reading Rahm Part 1: The Master Media Manipulator

1. From Spin Cycle: How The White House And The Media Manipulate The News, the 1998 book by Howard Kurtz.


"Senior adviser Rahm Emanuel assumed Stephanopoulos's role of behind-the-scenes press handler."


"The morning papers had strikingly different takes on the [tobacco negotiations]. The Washington Post quoted unnamed sources as saying the administration 'refused to intervene' in the tobacco talks until both sides agreed on a final package. The New York Times, however, cited 'a top Clinton administration official' in saying 'that the White House might be willing to play a more active role if negotiators were not able to produce a completed plan.' The reporters had obviously relied on different administration leakers.

"Rahm Emanuel, the ever-intense presidential assistant who was assuming a larger role in dealing with the press, stuck his head in McCurry's office. 'I had my headline in the Washington Post; Bruce [Lindsey] had his in the New York Times,' he said. It was a rare instance of two White House aides pushing their competing views in public, and Emanuel felt lucky that no journalist had called them on the contradiction."


"[O]n a different story, [Wall Street Journal reporter Michael] Frisby found himself pointedly excluded. Rahm Emanuel had passed the word to USA Today that Clinton had decided to ask the Federal Election Commission to outlaw the use of 'soft money,' the large, unregulated donations that filled both parties' coffers. As other reporters picked up on the buzz, Emanuel also leaked the story to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Even though it was not much of a story - the odds that the FEC would take such action were slim - Frisby immediately called Emanuel when he realized he had been bypassed.

"'I'm going to fuck you,' he declared.


"After the election [communications director Don] Baer and his closest colleague, Rahm Emanuel, spent considerable time thinking about the month of January. They knew there would be a news vacuum in the weeks before the inauguration and the arrival of the 105th Congress, and they wanted to position Clinton during this period as the national healer, the repairer of the breach. They needed to stage some events that would convey this image to the press.

"Baer and Emanuel gave Clinton a strategy memo on the subject. They talked up the idea at every opportunity. The incoming chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, arranged for them to accompany Clinton a pre-Christmas trip to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, so they could get some face time with the boss. Clinton nodded in agreement at their suggestions, but he was obviously distracted. They couldn't quite get him to focus. He was preoccupied with picking Cabinet members. Baer and Emanuel decided to proceed on their own.

"They began with a well-timed leak. Baer gave a background briefing to John Harris, a voluble, easygoing reporter who covered the White House for the Washington Post, laying out the broad outlines of the coming events. Harris's piece ran the next Sunday, above the fold. 'Clinton Prepares To Push Role as National Unifier,' the headline said. Baer was thrilled. It had worked. Several other newspapers and television programs would follow the Post's lead."


"The man who increasingly played the role of behind-the-scenes broker with the press was a wiry, curly-haired Chicagoan with an aura of intensity. Rahm Emanuel was convinced that the press operated within paradigms, neat little belief systems that fit the contours of elite opinion. The notion of objective reporting was hogwash; Washington journalists were incredibly, if subconsciously, biased. Their preconceived take on Bill Clinton, he believed, was that he was a petulant little child with an uncontrollable appetite.

"The very thought made Emanuel angry, desk-pounding angry. These pampered little correspondents with their gourmet cuisine and their full-time housekeepers couldn't be more wrong about Clinton, a man who had risen from a fatherless childhood in Hot Springs to the pinnacle of national power. He was more in touch with what folks out there wanted than these self-appointed Beltway oracles.

"It wasn't that Rahm Emanuel disliked reporters. Indeed, he spent perhaps 60 percent of his time schmoozing them, spinning them, fencing with them, yelling at them. On a particular day he might chat up columnists Paul Gigot and Mark Shields, return calls from James Bennet and Todd Purdum at the New York Times, check in with the networks, have lunch with Cokie Roberts. That was part of the job.

"Emanuel, thirty-seven, viewed himself as an early warning system for Clinton. He would often call the network folks at 10:05 a.m. right after their morning conference call with New York, to find out what they were working on and try to shut it down if necessary. On other days he would check in earlier, trying to pout out a story line before the conference calls began. He understood the rhythms of the beast."


"Rahm Emanuel had been finance director of Clinton's 1991 campaign, but he had had a rocky first term. After starting out as White House political director, he was eased into a lesser job when his overzealous style antagonized people, but he had worked his way back into Bill and Hillary's good graces . . .

"He preferred to operate outside the media spotlight, even if a spate of newspaper and magazine profiles had recently dubbed him 'Rahmbo,' the warrior who sometimes screamed at subordinates. He didn't want too high a media profile, for he knew that officials who were puffed up in the press eventually got deflated.

"Emanuel, a dedicated ballet dancer, knew the moves; sometimes he would spin so hard that reporters felt he was insulting their intelligence or simply didn't understand the news business. He was not shy about calling a reporter a fucking idiot."


"Often, Emanuel felt, the prevailing media paradigms worked in the administration's favor. He had been a chief strategist in helping pass the 1994 ban on assault weapons, and there the paradigm was clear: gun control good, opponents NRA stooges. The same dynamic had developed in the battle over the North American Free Trade Agreement the previous year. The media wisdom was global-minded free traders in support, labor goons in opposition. Journalists simply failed to appreciate how their deeply held views shaped their coverage."


"And so the Clintonites decided to reach out to some of the journalists who were kicking them in the shins. William Safire was officially a White House enemy for having assailed Hillary as a congenital liar, but Don Baer spent a fair amount of time talking to him. Rahm Emanuel affectionately called him Uncle Bill, even had Safire over for dinner. Michael Kelly, now the editor of the New Republic, berated Clinton each week as 'a shocking liar,' 'occasional demogogue,' and 'breathtakingly cynical,' but Emanuel asked him to do lunch . . .

"When the president was toying with asking the Federal Election Commission to abolish soft-money donations, the plan was leaked to Alison Mitchell - and, incredibly, to Michael Kelly, who, when prodded by Rahm Emanuel, wrote a halfway favorable column about it."


"Rahm Emanuel knew as much about the [Republican] fundraising scandal as any investigative reporter. He had his research team crank out one report after another, barking his requests into the phone, so he could play defense with the press. The White House staff spent untold thousands of dollars on Nexis searches, combing the journalistic databases for every scandalous tidbit they could find so Emanuel could knowledgeably engage in the art of spin."


"Rahm Emanuel thought of a way to change the subject [from Paula Jones]. Chelsea would be graduating from Sidwell Friends School at the end of the week. McCurry had already told an annoyed press corps that the graduation ceremony would remain closed, in keeping with school tradition, even though the president was speaking. But perhaps that could be changed. The pictures of a proud father, with his seventeen-year-old daughter in cap and gown, would remind people of what even Clinton's sharpest critics conceded, that he and his wife had raised a remarkable daughter.

"Emanuel went to the president. 'As a parent,' he said,' I'm ashamed to bring this up. As a political person, if I didn't raise this, I wouldn't be doing my job.'

"Clinton waved him off. 'We've already made our decision,' he said.

"Emanuel tried his pitch on Hillary. She stared at him and invoked his three-month-old baby. 'Rahm, as Zak gets older, you'll know we made the right decision.'

"It was funny, Emanuel thought. The president who was always accused of being excessively political was passing up a sterling opportunity to exploit his daughter's high school graduation, and no one in the press had noticed.

"But Emanuel didn't give up. He was determined to milk the subject. He helped arrange for Susan Page to interview Clinton and Hillary for a Father's Day piece on the president as first dad. Emanuel knew that the New York Times or the Washington Post would take a cynical approach to such a piece, casting it as a crass effrort to divert attention from Paula Jones. But USA Today played it straight. Page wrote a remarkably upbeat front-page story that led off with Clinton recalling how he had hugged Chelsea after she got her diploma."


"McCurry was miffed that NBC, alone among the major networks, did not air a separate story on the NATO expansion. David Bloom, the new White House correspondent, simply packaged the diplomatic news with his scandal story. Even worse, Bloom broke out of a press holding area and rushed up to a rope line to try to get Clinton to utter a sound bite on the Senate hearings. 'Stay on me, I'm going in,' Bloom told his camera crew. Clinton brushed him off with a cursory response, which Bloom used in his piece. McCurry couldn't tolerate such behavior. He saw Bloom as showy and aggressive, a Generation X version of Sam Donaldson. The previous month, during the flap over General Joseph Ralston, whose candidate for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been derailed by an extramarital affair, Bloom got angry calls from McCurry and Rahm Emanuel after reporting that Clinton had little political capital to spend on the issue of adultery. Don't be surprised if ABC starts getting all the leaks, Bloom was told. "

2. From "The Limits of Rahmism"; New York Times Sunday Magazine, March 14, 2010, by Peter Baker:


"Along the way, he stayed in touch, calling me unsolicited from time to time to trade gossip or point out something about George W. Bush's White House that he thought deserved more scrutiny from the news media. He managed to get around so much that an editor at a major newspaper at the time recalled finding Emanuel's name on the expense account of virtually every reporter covering Washington for that paper."


"Emanuel is unquestionably a master manipulator of the news media."

3. From The Promise: President Obama, Year One by Jonathan Alter:


"He loved it when the press retold the irresistible 'ballet dancing enforcer' stories and knew that being feared in Washington enhanced his power."


"In his own contacts with the press, Rahm usually managed to sound candid without revealing much, and he was contemptuous of others who couldn't talk that line."

4. From Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics, by Ari Berman:


"Soon enough, details of the confrontational meeting [about strategy for the 2006 midterms with then-DNC chairman Howard Dean] hit all the major papers. Dean refused to talk about it publicly and instructed his aides to hold their fire. Rahm exercised no such restraint. He knew all of Washington's best reporters and didn't hesitate to tell them what a disaster Dean was. Practically every week, a damning article about Dean appeared in a major paper . . . Rahm fueled all of this coverage."


[The media hailed Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rahm as "the architect" of the Democrats' 2006 midterm success, while Rahm's friends James Carville and Stanley Greenberg complained that even Republican pollsters said Dean's strategy had left 15 to 20 seats on the table.]

"Under closer inspection, Carville's and Greenberg's outlandish claims were quickly debunked. National Journal's 'Hotline' blog, the ultimate insider source in D.C., examined every competitive House race and concluded: 'Extra money could have made a small difference, but certainly not to the degree that Carville has been suggesting. Dean may have made strategic blunders in the past, but his fiscal responsibility here seems like the wiser course.' Even Dean's old foes among the party establishment found this particular criticism of the DNC chair utterly preposterous. Don Fowler Sr., the tall South Carolinian and former DNC chair under Clinton whose son, Donnie, ran against Dean for the job, told the Times: 'Asking Dean to step down now, after last week, is equivalent to asking Eisenhower to resign after the Normandy invasion. It's just nonsense. Carville and Greenberg - those people are my friends - they are just dead wrong. They wanted all that money to go to Washington consultants and speechwriters and pollsters.' Added the new Senate majority leader, Harry Reid: 'I didn't support [Dean's] running for DNC chair . . . I was wrong. He was right: I support his grassroots Democratic Party-building.'"

"With Dean in the hot seat, Rahm started receiving a little scrutiny of his own, as candidates who were largely ignored by the DCCC registered surprise upsets or lost narrowly while many of Rahm's favorite candidates went down as expensive failures. According to the final tally, of the twenty-one candidates Rahm first endorsed and funneled large checks to, a mere nine won. Of the sixty-two candidates the DCCC endorsed in total, only half prevailed. The top three candidates Rahm spent the most money on (nearly $10 million combined) - Tammy Duckworth in suburban Chicago, Lois Murphy in suburban Philadelphia, and Ken Lucas in western Kentucky - all lost. Rahm supported primary challenges to four other winners and snubbed a number of compelling grassroots candidates who nearly made it, such as Larry Kissell, a high school social studies teacher and former textile worker from the rolling Piedmont of central North Carolina who didn't get a dime from the DCCC and lost by 329 votes."

5. How Rahm buffaloed his Tribune courtier.

6. From "Rahm Pushes The Networks" by Howard Kurtz, Aug. 3, 2009:


"In the days before President Obama's last news conference, as the networks weighed whether to give up a chunk of their precious prime time, Rahm Emanuel went straight to the top.

"Rather than calling ABC, the White House chief of staff phoned Bob Iger, chief executive of parent company Disney. Instead of contacting NBC, Emanuel went to Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric. He also spoke with Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS Corp., the company spun off from Viacom.

"Whether this amounted to undue pressure or plain old Chicago arm-twisting, Emanuel got results: the fourth hour of lucrative network time for his boss in six months."


"Sarah Feinberg, Emanuel's spokeswoman, says that after press secretary Robert Gibbs heard that network officials had concerns about programming conflicts, 'Rahm made a round of calls to network executives to discuss ways the White House could accommodate concerns.' The upshot was that the news conference was moved up an hour, to 8 p.m. - a boon to NBC, which had a 9 p.m. special featuring overnight British singing star Susan Boyle.

"Emanuel tried to create a sense of momentum - calling Disney's Iger last, for instance, and saying he had secured agreement from the other two networks.

"Some calls had little impact. Emanuel reached GE's Immelt, a member of Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, after learning that NBC chief executive Jeff Zucker was traveling. But Immelt told him that it was Zucker's decision, and a subsequent call to Zucker yielded an agreement that NBC would provide live coverage.

"Tensions have been building behind the scenes. Some television executives say the Bush administration informally floated possible news conference dates in advance, while Obama officials basically notify the networks of their plans."

7. From "Committeemen Go Along With Emanuel - He's Not Really Their Kind Of Guy, But He's Daley's - And It's A Bad Idea To Cross Him" by Mark Brown, Sun-Times, Nov. 19, 2001:


"I've known him since he was working at the Illinois Public Action Council, a group that mixed a populist political agenda with aggressive door-to-door fund-raising tactics.

"At one point, he started his own opposition research firm, the kind that digs up dirt on political candidates. His partner did the research. His role was to plant the stories.

"He told me once that, if necessary, he liked to use a college newspaper to break the story he was pushing, just to put it in play and force the bigger news outlets to deal with it."


"It's less well-known that he had a lead role in spreading a lot of the negative stories that helped torpedo Eugene Sawyer's re-election effort."

8. From "Emanuel Fends Off Mayoral Talk - 'You Guys Gotta Start Drinking Decaf'" by Abdon Pallasch and Fran Spielman, Sun-Times, April 28, 2010:


"President Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tried to tamp down talk about his running for mayor of Chicago as he appeared Tuesday at the Richard J. Daley annual Global Cities Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"At the same time, Emanuel gave what might be construed as a window into how he would govern as mayor, advocating a regional approach, cooperating with suburbs to tackle problems. Emanuel shared the stage with the mayors of Paris and Philadelphia.

"'You know we have our home here,' he said, trying to beg off questions from reporters after the event. 'Don't over-interpret anything. Don't everybody get excited. At some point, when we come back, which is always our goal, which is why we rented the house . . . You guys are way too excited. You guys gotta start drinking decaf.'"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:59 AM | Permalink

Yuppies - Not Asians - Made Ameya Pawar An Alderman

Nearly five years ago, I wrote my first column for the Beachwood Reporter, about why Chicago has never had an Asian alderman. I made the point that Asian Americans were victims of Chicago racial politics that had to balance existing power of African Americans on one hand and emerging forces of Hispanics on the other. In the process, areas like Chinatown, where there is the greatest concentration of Asian votes, were chopped into four different wards, thereby disabling their chance at political representation in the city.

When Ameya Pawar won the election for 47th Ward last week, he finally became the first Asian American alderman. Even among Asian Americans in Chicago, Pawar was not a heavily groomed candidate like Naisy Dolar was in 2007 when she unsuccessfully challenged Berny Stone in 50th Ward, nor did he win in a ward that has heavy concentration of Asian votes.

pawar.jpg(View enlarged image)


This unexpected victory by a 30-year-old man from suburb of Riverside with little money is not simply historic for Asian Americans, but his victory speaks volume about shift in local politics in Chicago.

Pawar's victory came in an area where a different type of concentration played a role. Rather than ethnic or racial concentration, gentrification that swept through the neighborhoods in the ward - like the west end of Lakeview and St. Ben's, as well as trendier areas like Lincoln Square and Ravenswood - changed the composition of its constituents from largely working middle-class to upper middle-class home or condo owners.

But unlike other gentrified neighborhoods, where residents are constantly churning in and out, many of the new residents in neighborhoods like Lincoln Square organized themselves to prevent further condo development that would attract even more newcomers like themselves.

Outgoing alderman Eugene Schulter played a vital role - both in bringing in the new wave of residents and then making them feel at home.

During his 35-year tenure, Schulter managed to displace much of the ward's immigrant, minority, and poor population and accommodated young urban professionals who were being priced out of Lincoln Park, Bucktown, and Wrigleyville.

In many ways, his effort to secure his own position and votes through folding in these new constituents into old guard machine politics is the very reason his self-selected successor failed to capture their support in this latest election.

Under the name of neighborhood preservation, Schulter and his supporters maintained low density and prevented the neighborhoods from being overbuilt by condominiums.

Once the ward was stabilized, however, Schulter's function was no longer needed and while he may have kept his job anyway had he run for re-election out of the loyalty of his constituents and gratitude for his work, the majority of voters in the ward felt no need to transfer that loyalty and gratitude to Schulter's preferred successor, Tom O'Donnell.

As a young, highly educated professional with a reform-driven agenda, Pawar cut a profile more in line with the new ward that Schulter built; another Machine pol to keep the heathens away was no longer necessary.

That's not to say that racial politics is dead in Chicago; it's most certainly not. But Pawar's victory - on a shoestring - suggests that city politics has become a little more complex than it once was as the class and culture of newer, affluent residents adds to the mix.

On one hand, Chicago's persistent balkanized political culture and its high level of racial segregation is likely to maintain white, black and Latino wards and continue the historical trend of racial politics in South, West, Northwest, and Southwest Sides of the city.

On the other hand, those areas that are dominated by young, affluent, and relatively new constituents, such as the South Loop, the West Loop, University Village, Logan Square, and Wicker Park, will likely vote more based on characteristics beyond race and demand different types of political representation.

The result will be a shift in the composition of the city council - but not always for the reasons we may see on the surface.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: My Gods

My Gods

My Zeus and Hera reign
Atop the White Castle Tower,
A marvelous urban summit
Of light just south of Sears Tower.

From this electric Olympus
They pull my strings and arrange
My fates. Hey: it's
An interpretation

As all gods are. Symbols, not things
In themselves. I wonder and worry
But do not believe. I make up stories
To explain my sorrows.

Less terrifying that way.
Zeus specializes in busting my balls,
Hera slips me treats and boons
Behind his hairy, winged back. Wow:

They're like parents!
Funny how that works.
I spend my days currying
Their favor with chants and spells

And silent, specialized gestures.
I blow sunshine up their asses
So they don't hurt me any more
Than they are already prone to do.

Doesn't always work.
Friends die, lovers leave, jobs
Disappear like heat mirages
Despite my artful homages.

Thing is, I take comfort.
My ego is soothed by delusions
Of favor with higher powers,
Of a leg up on infidel neighbors

More likely to die
In the next tornado.
Yeah: I got People!
My very clouds are seeded

With invisible Uncles and Chinamen!
It feels really, really good.
It is utter, egomaniacal bullshit
But it makes me feel better.

My tears become wine.
Drunk with delusion, I stay alive.


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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Special 2011 Oscar Preview Edition

With the price of oil pushing above $100 per barrel this week, it's possible Americans will soon pay almost as much for a gallon of gas as they did for a movie ticket in 1999. Which means, of course, that it's time to gamely prop up the brutal dictatorship that is Hollywood. Here are our picks for the major categories.

Best Supporting Actress
Our nation's recent history suggests when faced with a choice between two Fighters, go with the bloodier conflict.

Best Supporting Actor
Why give the award to a fake crackhead when Hollywood can produce the real thing?

Best Actress
If the past week has taught us anything, it's this: don't bet against the ballerina.

Best Actor
The field has been riddled with upsets and agitators, but at the end of the day no one has managed to topple the King.

Best Picture
The Social Network may not win this year, but we've got a feeling next year's sequel, The Hastily Retooled Search Algorithm, will dominate.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Good just to be nominated.


CAN TV Weekend Report

Chicago Newsroom
In this one-hour post election special, Ken Davis is joined by political strategist Delmarie Cobb; Sun-Times columnist Alejandro Escalona; Nadig Newspaper columnist Russ Stewart, and Chicago magazine writer Carol Felsenthal. They review the results of Tuesday's election and the prospects for the April aldermanic runoff races.

Saturday, February 26 at 7 p.m. on CAN TV21

To watch the video online click here.


Perspectivas Latinas: Centro Romero
Abel Nunez, associate director for Centro Romero, discusses adult education, women's empowerment, legal assistance and youth programs offered by the organization.

Saturday, February 26 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min


The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang
Co-authors Lance Williams and Natalie Moore discuss their book on the gang that originated in Chicago's Woodlawn community.

Saturday, February 26 at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


The National Association of Women Business Owners: Black History Month Panel
Lynn Sutton of Kairos Consulting Worldwide joins a panel of women business owners to share their success stories and the history of the women who've inspired them.

Sunday, February 27 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 16 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:17 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Chicago Voters, WTF?

Sure, people in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia face off against bombs, paid assassins and machine guns just for a chance to determine the course of their daily lives. That freedom/democracy thing seems to excite most folks who don't have it. But Chicago?

Nah, not so much.

What the ascendancy of Rahm Emanuel suggests is that no matter how much is spent on commercials or how loudly the media bleats about the necessity of paying attention, there is little about electoral rights that keeps Chicagoans awake. This explains the glass-is-60-percent-empty vote Tuesday.

I have long worked on the political theory that Americans don't really care much about politics as long as police are relatively useful and the potholes get filled. Maybe half will vote. Maybe a few more if the debates seem interesting.

But passions that exercise the political press don't cross over into the lives of citizens unless there is some remarkable, transformative, transcendent event.

Politics can fill up long blank spots on cable television and talk radio. So what? At any given moment, 600,000 people are watching Fox News. How many is 600,000 in a nation of 310 million? At any given moment, more Americans own ferrets and are trying to get them out from underneath the bed. America bought more false eyelashes last year. More people live in Lake County.

So we amuse ourselves with democracy and elect people like Emanuel. If Chicago gets a better mayor than most expect, it surely will be more to the good than Chicago deserves, and mostly proves the law of unintended consequences.

2. Scott Walker, WTF?

Say what you want about Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Doofus), and we've had plenty to say, at least he's not Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-Jackass). Does it make you feel oddly queasy that Quinn seems both smarter and more reputable that Walker?

Walker's intention to drive our northern neighbors back to the 19th century seems obvious enough, and he's not even particularly honest about it. True, union busting is an old conservative blood sport, but this has become full contact martial arts in cheeseland.

But I wonder, I said to himself.

Is this really the America that people thought they were voting for in the last election?

As for comedy hijinks, Walker has the amusing aspect of being ardent but not very smart, as demonstrated by the fake Koch Brother gotcha on the telephone.

My favorite line from the transcript shows Walker seeming to agree with the fake Koch that MSNBC morning talker (and Zbig's daughter) Nica Brzezinski "is a nice piece of ass."

As a one-time Wisconsinite, I can suggest that Registered Cheeseheads are a good-natured lot who will take almost anything from their politicians except dishonesty, mean-spiritedness and conduct likely to embarrass the state. Walker has a WTF trifecta going.

3. Blaming Unions, WTF?

And while I'm at it, when did your American right to bargain freely for job benefits and honorable conditions become a transitory fad that a politician like Walker could demand you surrender?

Every overtime hour, every weekend off, every paid holiday, every required on-the-job safety protection was earned by that right. The crash of the American economy wasn't caused by unions. It was caused by Wall Street.

4. Crazy Hoosiers, WTF?

And while it's not the only available evidence, this suggests that not only is Illinois not as crazy as Wisconsin, it's not as crazy as Indiana, either. At least sanity returned soon enough for this wazoo to be terminated.

WTF's chief constable grew up in Indiana. Sheesh.

(The Indiana deputy attorney general in question was a graduate of The Ohio State University, which does explain some of this. I've never lived in Ohio.)

All of this political thuggery makes you feel America is becoming Bulgaria. And not the chic new Bulgaria, but the old one from where Mission Impossible used to rescue all the imprisoned dissidents.

5. Cubs Karma, WTF

The only way the Cubs could be a real contender this year was for a WTF Bangladesh-grade monsoon to sweep through the National League Central. Oddly enough, it has.

The season ending arm injury to Cardinals perennial Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright this week takes at least 10 wins away from the Cards and redistributes them among the Cubs and their division colleagues.

The Redbirds won't lose all of his likely 20 wins, but they can't make up the difference with a platoon of willing volunteers.

It might actually be enough to make Chicago a contender. However much good the event does the Cubs, though, it should make the Reds completely giddy.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. Meet the new transition team, same as the old . . .

2. Add the nation's mayors to the list of constituencies Barack Obama has alienated.


"And when I came to them for re-election there was no one left to speak out for me . . ."

3. And then they came for the middle class . . .

4. "Cop Shootout Highlights Problem Panhandling."

Um, no. The primary question reporters ought to be focused on is whether the cops patted down they guy they ended up having to kill.

It's not a complicated question. The officers know the answer. Can they be trusted to tell the truth or are they getting their stories straight?

(From the Tribune: "Police haven't said if the two veteran officers searched Hardaman or if his hands were cuffed in front or in back, but one law enforcement source said the officers searched Hardaman but missed the gun because he wore several layers of clothing.")

The secondary question reporters ought to be focused on is services for the mentally ill. Start with Pat Quinn, move on to Richard M. Daley, and finish with Rahm Emanuel.

5. "U.S., Chicago Gas Prices Spike 6 Cents Overnight."

Never let a crisis go to waste.


No, really.

6. "Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests More Than 100 Individuals" vs. "Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?"

7. Watercooler Stories by UPI.


Separately, UPI reports that "The West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team is allowing Web site visitors to vote on potential ballpark menu items including bologna lollipops."

8. "Microsoft announced that it has signed cloud computing agreements with 16 new government and education customers at the Microsoft US Public Sector CIO Summit," OnWindows reports.

"These include the City of Chicago; Michigan State Senate; City of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Portland Public Schools; and the State of Idaho, Department of Labor.

"The City of Chicago used Windows Azure and Silverlight to build an online map that its residents and visitors could easily use to plan a visit to the annual Taste of Chicago event."

Isn't there an app for that?

9. "Surprising Number of Patients Try Super Glue Before Visiting Dentist."

10. Former Chicago athletes sell homes here.

11. "The City of Chicago recently contracted Hike Metal of Wheatley, Ontario, Canada to construct a new 'heavy duty' NFPA 1925 Type III Fireboat to replace its 55 year old fireboat," the company announced today.

"This sleek new 90-foot 'state of the art' Fireboat is designed to break up to 12 inches of first-year ice at 3 knots and can therefore operate year-round on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River."

12. Schaumburg Flyers evicted.

They should have tried bologna lollipops.

13. The Week in Chicago Rock.

14. A faithful Beachwood reader writes:

Please don't be too hard on people who did not know there was a mayoral election in Chicago earlier this week - that's the pool of people who will be on the next Blago jury. We don't want to make enemies before they're seated, do we?

15. At least we didn't get Bill for mayor.


The Beachwood Tip Line: State of the art.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Drastics at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


2. Rough Cut at Martyr's on Wednesday night.


3. Robbie Fulks and Robbie Gjersoe at the Hideout on Monday night.


4. Hood Smoke at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


5. Escape the Fate at the Vic on Sunday night.


6. Morcheeba at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


7. Immortal at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.


8. Set Your Goals at the House of Blues on Monday night.


9. Parkway Drive at the House of Blues on Monday night.


10. The Ghost Inside at the House of Blues on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:32 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2011

The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party says this is no Shield.

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party says this is no Wire.

* Do a shot every time someone in your viewing party says this is no My Boys.

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party complains in a whiny voice that "That would never happen here."

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party refers to the boss hog with the big nuts.

* Drink every time someone in your party references "The Night Chicago Died." (Drink twice if they cite the lyric about the old East Side.)

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party references Flashdance or Crocodile Dundee.

* Drinks on me if the season-ending episode reveals who hired Angelo Torres.

* Drink every time someone in your viewing party complains about the actors' accents.

* Punch in the face any member of your viewing party who mentions Ditka, Da Bears Superfans or the Billy Goat.

* The person on your right must buy you a drink if you are the first to spot a cop on a Segway in the background.

* Drink twice if a character actually mentions Jon Burge. Then buy a round for the house.

* Drink every time a character makes an insufferable reference to hot dogs or pizza.

* Take a shot of whiskey for every mention of the Irish Mob.

* Drink every time someone in you're viewing party complains that we call it The Outfit here, not the Mob.

* Drink every time one of the characters makes an insufferable reference to the Cubs, Sox, Bulls or Blackhawks.

* Drink every time the El is shown.

* Take two drinks and buy the house a round if the show ever utters the phrase "beat realignment."

* Buy the person on your left a shot if you spot Jody Weis in the background of any scene in a gym.

* Punch in the arm any person who mentions Billy Corgan and/or his theme song approvingly; then take their drink.


Comments welcome.


* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

* Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent


1. From Todd Allen:

Drink every time someone in your viewing party says Burt Natarus was never more powerful than the mayor.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

1. "Prosecutors Moving To Dismiss Some Blagojevich Charges."

For example, conspiracy to commit hair fraud and talk show racketeering.

2. Rahm's coalition.

3. The [2011 Election] Papers.

4. "A study prepared for The New York Times by academics at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, has analyzed some 1,450 Supreme Court decisions since 1953," Economy Watch reports.

"It showed that, during the five terms in which John Roberts has been Chief Justice, the percentage of both business cases on the Supreme Court docket and cases won by business interests has grown visibly.

"The Roberts court ruled for business interests 61 percent of the time, compared with 46 percent in the last five years of the court led by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and 42 percent by all courts since 1953."


"There has been a return on investment, not to sound too crass," said Robin Conrad of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

5. "A PERSONAL SHOUT-OUT of congrats to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, and here's hoping that you will stay focused, as you have often said during your campaign, on the escalating crime rate and murders of young people in our city," Stella Foster writes today.


Actually the crime rate has declined for a decade in Chicago and the rest of the nation, and the murder rate in Chicago reached a 45-year low last year.


"Between 1990 and 2009, the national violent-crime rate was halved, while property crime dropped to 60 percent of its previous rate, according to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data," Christopher Beam writes for Slate. "But almost every year since 1989, most Americans have told pollsters they believe crime is getting worse. "

Now where do you suppose Americans are getting that idea?

6. "Demonic possession is 'still very real,' Fr. Jeffrey Grob said in a lecture on campus Wednesday night," the Notre Dame-Saint Mary's Observer reports.

"Grob, one of the official exorcists of the Archdiocese of Chicago, delivered a lecture titled 'Evil and the Healing Ministry of Exorcism' at the Hesburgh Library Auditorium."


See also: "Chicago Exorcist: The 'Evil One' Is Very Real."


And: "Exorcists In U.S. And Europe Holding Conferences To Discuss Surge In Demonic Activity."


Plus: "Supernatural: Buffy's Amber Benson Returns For Episode 619."

7. "Can social media make you depressed?"

Not as much as local TV news.

8. If you haven't been reading Bulls, Beer & Mystery Sex, please do so now.

9. "The Homeless Jazz Man Who Should Have Been Famous."

10. Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Debilitating.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The [2011 Election] Papers

A roundup of highs and lows. Mostly lows.

Too Soon?
"Rahm Receives Call From U.S. Attorney."

A) Will you be home tomorrow morning about 6?
B) Please secure all evidence when you take office.
C) Were any fish harmed in the making of your campaign?



A Star Is Born
But it's not Susana Mendoza, it's Ameya Pawar, who upset Gene Schulter's handpicked replacement to become the city council's first Asian American.

"So stunning was the victory that Pawar's campaign had not scheduled the customary election-night party," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "As returns came in showing that Pawar was winning, his campaign hastily organized a victory gathering at the Timber Lanes bowling alley on West Irving Park Road. Pawar himself hurried in from Des Plaines, where he had been watching the returns with his parents."


Timber Lanes: 8 classic wood lanes, manual scoring and a full bar.


See also: "There Are No Asian-American Aldermen Here."

First In Class
Incumbent downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly got more votes - 15,499 - than any other city council candidate. He ran unopposed.


By contrast, George Cardenas won re-election in the 12th Ward with just 2,680 votes.


Meanwhile, Ed Burke, he of the $8 million war chest, ran unopposed but garnered just 5,778 votes.


By contrast, Marty Quinn (who?) ran unopposed in the 13th Ward and notched 11,530 votes. (Matthew O'Shea won a five-person race in the 19th with 14,426 votes.)

Rahm's Base
"Closer to the lakefront, some voters said they turned out specifically to vote for Emanuel," the Tribune reported.

"'It's a big change in Chicago,' said Margaret O'Hara, who cast her vote for Emanuel in a high-rise residential building near Lake Shore Drive. 'It's important that the next mayor understand the importance of keeping the Magnificent Mile nice, with art and flowers.'"


Margaret O'Hara, you are the Worst Voter of 2011.


These are the worst non-voters.

We'd All Like To Forget Jane Byrne But . . .
"I said to my niece Claire, maybe someday you will be the first woman elected to be mayor of the City of Chicago."

- Carol Moseley Braun

I Won't Mention The Fact That . . .
"City Clerk Miguel del Valle repeated his charge that former White House chief of staff Emanuel's use of President Barack Obama's image and voice in a campaign commercial is dishonest," ABC7 reported.

"'His opinions have always been insightful, his commitment to this job has always been heartfelt,' Pres. Obama says in the ad.

"He played a radio ad then-Senator Obama made for Del Valle's 2007 campaign for city clerk.

"'Miguel Del Valle is an exemplary public servant. He was someone who I immediately latched onto when I arrived in Springfield,' said the president in the ad.

"'I could use portions of this tape the same way. But I would not do that because it would be dishonest,' said Del Valle."


I could bring this tape to your attention and try to pretend that Obama could just as well be supporting me, but to do that would be wrong!


And to reporters who felt forced to write that Obama gave Rahm a "near-endorsement" or didn't "officially" endorse him, you are supposed to cut through the artifice and report reality.

Reality doesn't need a pseudo-event like a press conference or "statement" to become true. Rahm would not have used that video of the president without his permission, and it's as certain as the laws of gravity that Obama knew when he made those statements they would show up in a campaign commercial later.

To convey that somehow the president wasn't involved in this election in any way is to convey a falsehood to readers.


"Emanuel even enlisted some old White House help," the Tribune reported. "Alyssa Mastromonaco, deputy chief of staff, and Stephanie Cutter, a top aide to senior presidential adviser David Plouffe, flew in to lend a hand."


And the biggest presence in this story isn't even Rahm - it's David Axelrod.


Finally, it's also folly to pretend that Rahm wasn't Richard M. Daley's man.

"Emanuel could have had the Daley endorsement if he had wanted it," John Kass noted. "But he didn't want it. The mayor had become toxic with that parking meter mess, with motorists paying quarters and quarters and more quarters, reportedly enriching investors in Abu Dhabi. Rahm wisely didn't want Tuesday's election to become a referendum on Daley.

"So Rahm had the best of both worlds. He received the Daley support, meaning establishment Chicago support, after behind-the-scenes discussions brought the elites to Rahm's side. And he received Obama's tacit endorsement, undercutting black support for former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, to avoid a runoff with Gery Chico."

With Cloaking Device
In its endorsement of 1st Ward Ald. Joe Moreno, the Tribune said that "He has implemented a free trolley along Milwaukee Avenue."

I'm not saying the trolley doesn't exist, but I am saying that no one I know who lives in the ward has ever seen it.


Maybe the Trib, in their haste to pretend they know what's going on in the wards, got ahead of itself:

"Moreno also supports plans for a free trolley that will shuttle patrons to stops along Milwaukee Ave. from the parking garage [across from Irazu] to as far east as Ashland Ave.," Streets of Wicker reports.

Absentee Alderman
"But Jackson, who helped lay the groundwork for a $4 billion plan to redevelop the U.S. Steel South Works plant, said her time in the nation's capital is an advantage to her ward's residents," the Tribune reported.

"I have access to an audience out there that I wouldn't be able to speak to otherwise," she said.


And that helps her ward how?


And FYI - and this isn't sexist, it's just a fact - Jesse Jackson Jr. laid the groundwork for the U.S. Steel site long before Sandi became alderman.

First Ward, Second Thoughts
"The 1st Ward was the first organization to endorse Gery Chico for Mayor and Susana Mendoza for City Clerk," Moreno repeatedly reminded his constituents in e-mail alerts during the campaign.

And yet:



Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:20 AM | Permalink

Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions

"SportsTech gets a sneak peek at Madden 12's new helmet simulators, which will simulate Sunday's biggest hits by firing pistons directly into players' skulls."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Bulls, Beer and Mystery Sex Pt. 3

Third of a three-part series.


Part One: The blood of the Madurese tastes like cow.
Part Two: If we like beer, maybe we'd like some women?


This is Indonesia writ small: Externally conservative but also wide open and available, especially behind closed doors. It's corrupt and yet the corruption offers enough freedom of movement and wiggle room - rules meant to be broken, bribes that grease skids and line public servants' pockets - that it works, for now, for enough of the country's growing middle class and even the upper levels of the poor.

The rich already have their perks guarded and guaranteed by the government and police; it's down here in the middle register, where the strictures of Muslim conservatism meet the licentiousness of street life and somehow meld, that the social and financial pressures of an expanding export and unmistakably import-consumerist economy are quietly, privately bled off.

I'm not saying that middle class Indonesians are all visiting massage parlors for rubdowns and quickies, or that they're smuggling beer to dry towns and selling it for profit.

What I mean is that there's enough slippage here built into the system - and it's definitely a highly regimented, hierarchical, formalized system of government control of jobs and information and access to both, with millions of people either plugged into the system or trying desperately to get plugged in - that Indonesians are able to get what they want or need, more or less, regardless of what the rules say.

This isn't uncommon in repressive or restrictive societies, but here the rule-breaking is part of the national culture. It's sanctioned, in some ways built-in, and universally expected.

From middle school classrooms to the halls and cubicles of tens of dozens of government offices in every city and region, there's always a fudge, an exception, a shortcut if you want it. Like anywhere else, vice is just another shortcut here, but in Indonesia there's very little effort to control the vice, or the shortcuts. In China, bribe-taking officials are occasionally executed as real-life examples of the potential consequences for professional avarice and perfidy. Some politically minded Indonesian judges think capital punishment for corruption is a good idea, and it's not uncommon to see readers in the comments sections of the online English-language newspapers from Jakarta calling for similarly harsh sentences. This is mostly opportunistic drum-beating by the judges and outraged Western-moral-sensibility among the English-language readers, social anger that's weirdly and I think troublingly mixed with admiration for Chinese martial law. Does Indonesia need to execute law-breakers? I hope not, but the country could certainly use some good-faith law enforcement.

Every couple of days the papers run a story about some high-ranking official who's managed to avoid serious jail time for steering contracts to relatives, for shaking down office-seekers, for embezzling billions of rupiah from public works projects.

The national government operates an embattled Corruption Eradication Commission that is the target of fierce and possibly criminal attacks from within the country's justice system.

It's a complicated story but two high-ranking officials from the Corruption Eradication Commission have been targeted by federal prosecutors who allege the officials shook down a businessman they were investigating.

The defendants claim they are innocent and that police officials and prosecutors have manufactured the case against them in order to protect the well-connected businessman and to undercut the Corruption Eradication Commission's authority. The case was at one point thrown out but later reinstated by the Jakarta High Court, against the explicit wishes of the attorney general's office. A snapshot of Indo-Justice, such as it is.

Are the corruption fighters actually corrupt, adding another level of bathos to a glumly familiar national storyline? Or are they victims of a carefully engineered political defenestration? The case is pending.

Indonesians decry the rigged decks and gamed systems under which they live but rather than substantively reform them, they seem content on the whole to find a place for themselves within the machine.

A friend and local business owner expresses deep frustration with stifling regulation and taxes yet has tried several times to get hired on with the tax collection agency: Better and guaranteed pay, for life. The cushest of gigs.

But for many reasons, including the fact that she's ethnic Chinese, a group long and proudly discriminated against in Java as former colonial toadies of the Dutch and later stereotyped as money-grubbers and financial cabalists in a way that would be very familiar to Jews the world over, my friend will almost certainly never land that job.

She will instead cobble together an income from several little businesses - a motorcycle shop, a food cart, a small grove of softwood trees for use in making shipping pallets - and she will remain a bystander to the jostling among ethnic Javanese who run this country for sweet spots along the feed trough.

And as long as those sweet spots aren't threatened, what's to bother with controlling others? Sure, Internet porn is blocked here. But is it? Writing this essay, I can toggle over to my browser and easily access from my computer, using a public high school's wi-fi network,, the arty and tastefully outre San Francisco S&M house.

I think this is perfectly fine but there's a national Information Technology Minister whose job it is to block every single porn site on the Web from befouling Indonesian eyeballs and bedrooms. Does anyone outside the media, who regularly use this guy as a well-deserving punching bag, believe he cares about the details of his job? Come on.

So he takes the press conference stage in a blue nylon track suit and fields some questions, takes his lumps, and drives off in his Mercedes. And this is the point: If it's not political or radical or overtly terrorist, no one cares. (One notable exception is the prosecutorial hounding of the former editor of Indonesian Playboy. A one-time fugitive who finally turned himself in, the man is currently serving a two-year sentence for indecency. He was convicted in a secret trial - a secret trial - despite having never published any nude photos in his magazine.)

The Indonesian government fears and forcefully resists unrest - thousands of troops were recently summoned to guard the presidential palace on the anniversary of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's re-election; police were authorized to use live ammunition on protestors, and one cop did - but it does not fear and does not especially resist libertinism. Private lusts and wants aren't dangerous. Politics are dangerous. You don't necessarily have the right to public protest but you can probably get your cock sucked if you know where to ask.

* * *

I couldn't tell you if the devout Muslim men of Madura are paying for sex. Maybe I was twice propositioned in Pamekasan because I'm white - the Indonesians say bule, a word that means paleface or albino - and because being white means I probably have money.

There is also still considerable white privilege to be had here for no other reason than showing up. (Is that why none of the white foreigners and tourists I see during my travels ever say hello? Are we, seen in proximity to one another, not so special?)

Maybe Madura is a stop, like Surabaya, on the Southeast Asia sex tourism circuit but that seems unlikely. It's just too remote. Why drive hours outside Surabaya when the whorehouses and massage parlors of that city's Dolly red-light district are filled with Maduran women ready to practice their vaginal arts?

No, I doubt anyone's making a special trek to Pamekasan for sex. Instead, the Maduran flesh trade is like that across Java, maybe across all of Indonesia's thousands of islands. It's a social and physical perk for men who want it or need it - the original alleviating vice - and who expect its availability.

When I first arrived at my teaching post in Central Java, several hundred miles from Madura and its enticements, I was casually informed by some male colleagues that I could have a girl for the entire night for about $15. If you get lonely, they said. Maybe you like 17 years, or 16? Kids about my students' age.

I wasn't sure if they were being serious since they finished their offer with laughs. The Javanese laugh a lot, especially when they're nervous, and I figured maybe they were embarrassed for having asked. I smiled, they smiled, and with deniability plausibly established we talked about something else.

Then a couple weeks later, a different guy approached me in the teachers' lounge. How are you, Mr. Brett? I'm good. Do you have comfort? Yes, I'm comfortable. You like girl? Cheap. Just like that. He sensed my puzzlement - here, Pak? - and laughed off the question. Then he said, Maybe? I don't know if he's running girls himself or just freelance brokering. We didn't get that far.

* * *

I work in a vocational school where most of my best students are girls. They represent a small minority at an institution that mostly trains auto mechanics, carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, and computer network technicians - the girls are almost all enrolled in computer classes - but they are invariably the hardest working kids in English classes and their grades, like girls' grades everywhere, are better than those of their boy classmates.

They wear uniforms with skirts, some with headscarves, they walk behind the boys, they are quiet and deferential to adults, and they often hold their hands to their mouths when they laugh, which is pretty often. They seem at least three or four years younger, socially and even pop-culturally, than the high school students I've taught in Chicago. Just nice kids. And yet this is where nice ends for most of them.

They are vaguely co-equal at the school, although often shouted down and hectored by the boys, but for most of my blue-collar girl students that social standing ends at graduation. They will become Indonesia women, unapologetically second-class citizens.

Those from the more conservative Muslim families will feel it first, married into traditional roles of wife and mother while still in their teens. The others will be expected to assume those roles sooner or later. Their husbands will be free, at some point (beginning when, exactly?), to buy sex or peddle it to others. Maybe the women will hear or know of the jokes and boasts and offers, and maybe they won't. Maybe they'll smile through it. Whatever else they do, they'll bear it.

Madura. Java. Indonesia. All hardest on the vulnerable or the fair. This is a man's island, country, and world. I've gotten to know the director of my town's women's crisis center and she told me once that she cannot keep up with her voicemail some days, with the messages from women in distress, women beaten by their husbands and sons, women raped by their partners. She just does what she can while the phone keeps ringing.

Most of the women she helps come from Muslim families, but then most of our town is Muslim. I asked if Muslim men were harder on their wives and girlfriends than local Christian men. The crisis center director is a Christian, and her husband is a former high-ranking local official. She is a well-established figure in our little city, and the question made her uncomfortable. I don't want to say, she finally answered.

* * *

We went to the bull races in Madura because the guide books and some friends suggested we'd find an especially authentic Indonesian experience out there, way off the tourist trail. And sure enough it was.

But what's authentically Indonesian? Is it the ceremonial beauty and harsh running conditions of the races, the outwardly visible and highly photogenic spectacle - the smiling kids hawking souvenir bull whips, the gamelan bull bands, the red-and-white banners lazing in the windless air; the wizened old women stirring pots of bakso and mie inside the festival grounds?

Sure, but what about the unspoken, underground authentisms like Pak Budi and the young cop-pimp, the undercurrents of privilege and exclusion, of unabashed, systemic corruption?

None are discussed in the tourist literature. They're less picture-perfect, of course, and they're significantly harder to celebrate as a visitor with a suitcase to fill with curios.

Yet all are fundamental parts of the Indonesian experience - the rule-breakers, libertines, powerbrokers, flesh-peddlers, and good-times salesmen - and through them we can glimpse the other Indonesia, the unadvertised Indonesia: An Insider's Guide to Comforts and Available Opportunities.

We finished our day at the bull races in the shade of a large tent where we'd been invited to meet the mayor. He shook our hands, ordered several pictures taken, passed me an orange.

Where are you from?


Are you having a good time?

Yes, I admit. I'm having a good time.

Will you come back?

I smile and say mungkin, which means maybe.

Behind the smile I am thinking, Thanks, but I've seen enough already.


Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher who chronicled his adventure in Indonesia at The Year of Living Volcanically and served as the Beachwood's Southeast Asia correspondent.


* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House
* Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die
* Indonesian Journal: The Chicago Way Out Of Vietnam
* Indonesian Journal: My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud
* Indonesian Journal: The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment
* Indonesian Journal: Obama's Beacon Of Hope Sorely Tested
* Playing Doctor


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

Once again, the enemy of those of us with both brains and heart has been quantified: 321,773 Chicagoans (presumably) voted Rahm Emanuel into the mayor's office on Tuesday.

Factor in the 59 percent of the city who didn't bother to vote and you can see what we're up against.

Miguel del Valle, easily the most honest and earnest candidate with the most substance and the most passion for the city's neighborhoods and the people who live in them, garnered votes from just 54,081 people - about the size of one city ward.

And half of those voters are probably idiots.

Democracy is hard, folks.

"The city wanted a strongman and it got one," John Kass writes.

But here's the funny thing about strongmen: They are weak. They are driven by their insecurities. They are driven by their vanity. They are driven by their psychological issues. They are often mentally ill. They are driven by sick ambition. They are bullies.

Chicago has just voted to continue the bullying.

Oh, maybe it's not "us" who want to be bullied, some might say. It's "them" we want bullied. The city council. City workers. Competitors like, um, Detroit. Lazy retrogrades. The South Side. The West Side. Bully them like jocks bullying the weirdos.

But we're not back in high school here in Chicago; we're in grade school.

Our notions of "toughness" are perverted. Was there any man "tougher" in the race than this one?

It's easy to be cynical. It's easy to go along to get along. It's easy to look the other way. It's easy to be selfish; easy to hook up with the established order and ride the gravy train.

What's hard in this life is opposing cynicism, thinking for one's self, living by an ethical code and enduring the hardships and sacrifices that result.

Rahm Emanuel has done none of those things, yet his pampered upbringing and lifestyle afforded him the most, best and easiest chances to do so.

When he left politics for 18 months he didn't build housing for the poor or work in a soup kitchen or teach in an inner city school; he worked as an investment banker against the interests of everyone but a tiny number of already rich patrons and became wealthier than the vast majority of Americans in the process.

Do you think he gives a fuck about you and your problems?

He's as much as said he doesn't throughout his career, whether condemning progressives, union members, grassroots politicians or anyone else who has dared to challenge his dark realpolitik.

The difference between Rahm and Richard M. Daley is that Daley really probably doesn't know any better. Rahm does. And so do many of his supporters, be it Mike Quigley, Forrest Claypool, David Hoffman or any of the other abundant fakers in this town.

Now the loyal opposition can either sit back and take it or start building for 2015 because it's gonna be a long four years, and four years is enough.

Prime Time
"Chicago, meet your new boss," Kass writes. "The Rahmfather."


Spotted by Beachwood contributor Tim Willette:

7:00 p.m. CLTV - WGN News Election Special AMC - The Godfather

The Political Odds
Rahm edition.

Rahm Is Nuts
A David Letterman Top Ten List.

Catchers Report
Where does Geovany Soto rate?

They Like To Rock
Let's Welcome April Wine To The Illinois State Fair.

Bulls, Beer & Mystery Sex
Part Two.

Our New Mayor 1


Our New Mayor 2


Our New Mayor 3


Our New Mayor 4


Our New Mayor 5


The Beachwood Tip Line: Rahmbusters.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

Let's Welcome April Wine To The Illinois State Fair

"The Tubes and April Wine are the first bands to announce a Grandstand show at this year's Illinois State Fair," the Springfield State Journal-Register reported last week.

The Tubes? Ugh. "She's a Beauty" was one of the worst songs to ever infect our planet.

But April Wine? Sure, it would be nice if the Illinois State Fair booked bands that we're relevant at least sometime in the last 20 years, but I never thought April Wine was given its due.

Let's take a look.

1. All Over Town.


2. I Like To Rock.


3. Roller.


4. Sign of the Gypsy Queen.


5. Just Between You And Me.


6. Could Have Been A Lady.


7. Before The Dawn.


8. Crash and Burn.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Manhattan 'Melodrama, Miguel Cabrera's DUI and Where Geovany Soto Fits Among Top Catchers

The New York Knicks won the battle for Carmelo Anthony. Did they pay too big a price?

We don't care. We just care about how much this deal will affect our fantasy teams.

As we discussed a few weeks back, Anthony probably will take a giant bite out of the Big Apple and the aggressive offensive game plan of the Knicks.

Other than that, the player whose fantasy numbers could be most affected is the one who was a bit of a surprise addition to the 'Melo trade package.

That would be Raymond Felton, PG/SG, who is headed to Denver after having the best half-season of his career in New York.

Denver Coach George Karl already has said Felton won't start at either of his eligible positions, and when he does play, it will mostly be as a committed PG with fewer opportunities to shoot.

But if you own Felton, hold onto him for now; there is actually a chance he is only making a temporary stop in Denver.

If he stays, don't expect him to be the top 25 player he has been thus far, but once his role becomes clear, he could make nice trade bait with assists as his primary value.

Expert Wire
* The Toronto Sun has a nice player-by-player look at the 'Melo deal, as well as a couple other trade rumors.

* says 'Melo trademate Chauncey Billups will see his PPG decline.

* Dime Magazine offers a dissenting view on how 'Melo's own PPG will be affected.

Fantasy Baseball
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit, got a DUI during spring training. How will this affect the fantasy value of one of the top five players overall?

I would say not much, assuming he doesn't miss any time at the beginning of the season, for court dates or rehab or what have you.

Cabrera had his best season in 2010, and after 38 HRs last year, 40-plus seems very possible for this young talent in 2011. If you have the fourth or fifth pick in the first round of your fantasy draft, I wouldn't hesitate.

Next up, the next stop in our ongoing fantasy baseball draft guide is the backstop:

1. Victor Martinez, Boston.

Overall best power/average combo. Boston's offense will feed him.

1. Joe Mauer, Minnesota.

Best-hitting catcher, doubles king, but HRs lagged in 2010 after big 2009.

3. Buster Posey, San Francisco.

A mini-Martinez. 25 HRs, 80 RBIs, .300 average definitely possible.

4. Mike Napoli, Texas.

Ranking him higher than most because position's HR king moved to HR park.

5. Carlos Santana, Cleveland.

Benefit of full season should translate to 20-plus HRs, handful of SBs.

6. Brian McCann, Atlanta.

Still very productive but RBIs and average have been sliding.

7. Miguel Montero, Arizona.

Flopped in 2010 under great expectations, but potential remains high.

8. Geovany Soto, Cubs.

Make or break year? Power, average could inch upward, walks a bonus.

9. Matt Wieters, Baltimore.

Like a mini-Mauer. Has a lot to offer, but lacks HR numbers.

10. John Buck, Florida.

Broke through last season with 20 HRs, .281 average.

Catcher Sleeper: Bryce Harper, Washington. It's not clear what the Nats will do with him and when. At this point, he is a viable late pick in keeper leagues, and perhaps in others if you are willing to gamble a roster spot on the possibility he shows up in the majors sometime this season.


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 7:25 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Bulls, Beer and Mystery Sex Pt. 2

The second of three parts.


Part One: The blood of the Madurese tastes like cow.


The women of Madura are not only physically beautiful, with softer, rounder facial features than their high-boned cousins on Java, but they are said to practice a kind of superorgasmic, dick-milking squeeze during sex that reduces all men to quivering heaps of baby talk, marriage proposals, and, for the Christians, religious conversion.

This is common knowledge and fairly open conversational game among men across Java and maybe even all of Indonesia, where heterosexual sex and its availability is a constant topic of giggling guy talk.

(The availability of sex here is still a mystery to me; my adult male friends front like practiced Lotharios but I get the very strong sense that they're mostly all very schoolboyish and unpracticed in the dirtier sexual arts. Pornography, while available, especially on the very porous Internet, is officially banned here and during a recent college debate-club exercise I listened as the students and their instructor argued whether soft-core T&A horror movies of the Cinemax variety constitute actual porn. Many said yes. Any skin, any necking is porn. It's not polite.)

A friend was in a cab in Surabaya a couple weeks ago and talk turned to the bull races and to Madura. The cabbie lit up, launching into a grinning disquisition on Maduran women that my friend could not understand. No Indonesian? That's okay. The cabbie made his point clear by clamping his right index finger inside the tightly closed palm of his left hand. He jammed the finger into his palm, back and forth a couple times, and smiled widely. Penetration. Ya?

The cabbie also taught my friend another hand sign: Tuck the right thumb between the index and middle fingers on the same hand, allowing just the tip of the thumb to protrude, maybe as deep as the cuticle. This means either Fuck You or, in the words of an Indonesian friend, I Want to Get Fucked. Use it when cruising in Madura, the cabbie suggested. Uh, terima kasih. Thanks.

* * *

The night before the races, Pamekasan's alun-alun, the downtown square, was crowded with young couples on motorbikes, young families on foot, vendors hawking clove cigarettes and fried tofu, spectators streaming in to watch a traditional Maduran dance on a temporary stage. I went out to see the scene and, if I could, to find some beer.

I don't drink much here and traveling with four American friends - all here, like me, to teach high school English - made me thirsty. We were talking and laughing a lot. God, did it feel good to speak idiomatically!

So I headed out with J.T., a shyly handsome former Teach for America volunteer from Ohio, into the hot and humid, drizzly night to find some beers. At Indomaret the shelves were empty. We asked at the counter and were told we'd have to find Pak Budi. Where is Pak Budi? J.T.'s Indonesian isn't bad and he heard the answer as: Down the street, take a right, look for an orange light.

Off we went, in the Indonesian way, stopping for directions every couple minutes. Do you know Pak Budi? Yes. Is he nearby? Go straight. We asked some young cops, Where can we find some beer? They looked confused. You want beer? Yes, beer. They looked at each other. You need to see Pak Budi. Do you know where he is? Go straight, then left.

We finally found Pak Budi when someone waved us onto his front porch 20 minutes later. We'd walked by the place a couple times, thinking we were looking for a storefront. Nope, Pak Budi operates out of his living room. Come on in, boys. Have a seat.

Pak Budi is a large and vaguely androgynous man who's missing the thumb on his right hand. I didn't ask about it so I have no idea. He wore a gray sleeveless t-shirt and khaki shorts and sweated steadily. His breasts and soft gut filled his tank top in a sad, sagging way and he served us hot beer from 24-ounce bottles he retrieved from the kitchen.

At 30,000 rupiah each, they were heavily overpriced but, then, Budi's household speakeasy is the only game in town. We bought one and drank it from handled glass beer mugs while Budi and his friends watched English soccer on TV. Several elaborately carved and colorfully painted birdcages hung overhead, their too-orange and lime-green garishness overwhelming the plumage of the simple songbirds trapped inside each one.

We asked for beers to go and Budi returned from the kitchen with three more bottles, bought in Surabaya and trucked four hours to this very spot. Is beer legal in Pamekasan? Not exactly. It's illegal? Maybe. But the cops sent us here? I didn't ask that out loud. Budi opened the beers and poured them into empty water bottles, then bagged up the water bottles and pointed to my backpack. Put them in there. We were scoring beer. I haven't done that since high school. Illicit beer! We thanked Budi and rose to leave. But wait. If we like beer, maybe we'd like some women?

Budi's friend, the guy wearing a white Muslim skull cap and sitting on the floor, said he could find some women, if we were interested. He could bring them to our hotel room.

This seemed both right and completely outrageous. Right in that I've been in illicit situations before and usually illicit shit of a certain type, when you're a guy, leads to offers of sex for sale. If the doors are closed or if you're in the right bar or apartment or hotel room, someone's going to ask if you're looking for a chick. So even all the way over here, in this crucible of Indo-Muslim conservatism, vice is vice is vice. It seems almost quaint that beer is a vice that equals whoring but I get where the guy was coming from. Still, whores?

I was curious enough and had J.T. ask the guy how much. Not here, the guy said. We can talk about it down the block. He'd catch up with us soon. We walked through the night market near where the guy said to wait but we never saw him again.

On the way back to our hotel, a young cop waved us over from across the street. I was carrying 48 ounces of outlaw hootch but didn't think too much about it. The guy wasn't threatening us. He wanted to talk. He wore a khaki uniform and a badge and stood in tall, black military-style boots. His name tag identified him as Imam and he was about 22-years-old.

First Imam asked if we wanted some coffee from a nearby cafe; then he asked us to make change for a crumpled 20,000 rupiah note in his hand. Kind of weird but sure. We handed over our change and he very slowly handed over the 20,000 note, and as we were about to leave he said something like, Stop. I don't know if the rest of it was in English but that's how it's stuck in my head. You want . . .? He stuck his right hand out, thumb jammed between index and middle finger. Seck. You want seck?

Our young uniformed cop-pimp. He surprised us both with the question and I laughed out loud. J.T. spoke for us both. No thanks, Mas. I didn't ask the kid's rates because at that point who cared? The line between legal and illicit had been erased and the sales price, especially for a couple non-buyers, didn't matter. What matters is that you can get what you want in Madura - beer, mysterious sex - and the cops will help you find it.


Tomorrow: Illicit sex good, politics bad.

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. "Chicago voters, most of them living, set to pick a new mayor today," the Los Angeles Times reports..

2. Most likely the final installment of The Mayoral Odds.

3. Follow us on Twitter today and tonight for the best breaking election quips.

4. Meme of the Day.


5. A banner fucking year in the Bill Daley household.

6. "Rich Have Money To Burn Once Again."

The system works just as designed.

7. "'Decimation' Of Human Services Seen In Quinn Budget Pitch."

The system works just as designed.

8. "Charter School Says It's Private Though It Gets Tax Dollars."

The system works just as designed.

9. The system works just as designed for those whom it is designed for - those doing the designing.

10. Song of the Moment: On, Wisconsin!

11. "IDOT: We were surprised by freezing rain."

Nobody could have seen it coming!


IDOT: Spring took us by surprise!

IDOT: Didn't see fall coming!

IDOT: Winter really crept up on us!

12. Will Blackhawks U-Haul Tragedy Change Everything?

13. Bulls, Beer & Mystery Sex Part One.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dream a little dream.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:32 AM | Permalink

Will Blackhawks U-Haul Tragedy Change Everything?

Let's take a look.

1. "Police say the U-Haul was dangerously overloaded with an entire NHL team, equipment, produce, and the team's front office, which operates out of the truck when parked."


2. "Police say two players were forced to ride in the wheel well after the team agreed to transport a large crate of irregular jeans in exchange for 50 dollars."


3. "In the wake of the Blackhawks crash, the NHL is encouraging its players to hitchhike or walk to games."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Bulls, Beer and Mystery Sex Pt. 1

First of a three-part series.

For about three seconds, as a pair of yoked and frothing bulls bore down with their teenage jockey skittering sideways behind them, I forgot all about the heat and the mud and the welts forming on my ankles from the previous night's hotel bed bugs and I just got the fuck out of the way. Fast.

Me and maybe 40 other camera-toters and rubberneckers crowded into the north end of a weather-beaten cement stadium in the sweltering, rain-soaked East Java island of Madura.

We just turned and ran, and as I made my break I thought specifically about avoiding the kind of inexcusably silly death or near-mortal injury that occasionally turns up in the international news briefs. American man trampled at foreign bull race; Had no business being there, now confined to breathing machine.

The bulls came charging past the finish line and into our ranks, veering hard right as a group of local men stepped up and collared the animals, then helped the jockey drag them to a relatively quick halt. A perfectly normal end to the race, it turns out, and the joke was on us. Irritatingly high-pitched laughs all around.

But, really, if you're going to watch bull races you need to watch from behind the finish line. All of the action's down here, including most of the gambling.

And if you want to watch bull races at all, you need to travel to the flea-bitten, sun-scorched, gritty little Maduran capital of Pamekasan during the last week or two of October. It's the only time and the only place on earth where this happens.

The Madurans love their bulls and they race them all over this poor and flat and deeply Muslim island year round, but that's minor league stuff. The President's Trophy is the big deal and features the finest bulls in Madura, racing in two-animal beast-teams that have advanced through local and regional tournaments to get here.

The race track is a bumpy and patchy 100-meter grass field ringed with Red Bull banners, squeezed between the air-conditioned Philip Morris VIP tent and the small and crowded cement grandstands filled with Maduran mothers and grandmothers and children - the men all down at the finish line or crowded along the makeshift bamboo rail with tote sheets in hand.

Despite the corporate support, the races retain a kind of makeshift amateurism that's fitting; this is basically a state fair for a threadbare and very rural, very hardscrabble outpost a couple hours from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city.

* * *

The race announcer teases the crowd through a buzzy loudspeaker. As bull teams approach the starting line, groups of handlers muscle the animals into place and the announcer says, Awas! The word means be careful.

The bulls lumber into place, lunging forward and pressing against their handlers, while adolescent jockeys take their mounts behind the animals, standing on wooden drag-sleds they'll ride flat-out for 10 or 11 seconds of earth-pounding haul-ass.

A coffee can is fixed to the bottom of the skid; it's filled with nails and is supposed to rattle along behind the bulls as they gallop down the field, irritating them and goading them on to faster, angrier finishes.

Awas, the announcer croaks. And the bulls toe the starting line. Awasssss . . . And then someone waves it off. No go. A restart. This happens at least six times for each heat, usually more. The crowd tenses, and releases. Tenses, and releases.

And eventually they tense and the bulls come humping down the field, chased out of the gate by groups of rowdy young men who shake their own nail-filled coffee cans and yell after the bulls to go get it. Lari! they yell, urging the bulls to run. Lari, sapi!

The bulls are sleek and muscular, of course, but they are small and their features almost delicate. Their coat is a beautiful fawn and their faces and eyes are smaller versions of a Brown Swiss, their eyelids naturally mascaraed. The bulls' small horns are buffed to a high polish, their faces and bodies adorned with gilded headdresses and halters. The winners will command hefty stud fees all year; the losers will go home as prized possessions and village celebrities.

All of them are fussed over like thoroughbreds, although when's the last time a prize horse entered the track to the sound of his own marching band?

Prior to the races, and prior to the raucous and loosely choreographed Whip Dance that kicked off the races, each bull-team was paraded across the racing field with a retinue that included trainers, jockeys, toadies, little brothers, occasional visiting Westerners, and a busy troupe of men playing gamelan gongs, drums, and reedy bugles called sronen.

The sound is percussive and buzzing, waves of resonant gong and chime rippling beneath a swarm of mildly angry bees. The bulls aren't supposed to like it, just like they aren't supposed to like the hot glue that's shot into their eyes before they race for a little edgier run or the Maduran bull race crop that's beat against their hind haunches the length of their run.

The crop, really a stiff wood switch, has a nail or three pounded into one end and the jockey hammers away at the bulls with this thing. At the finish line, anyone looking can see the hot glue cried out and setting on the bulls' faces or the blood streaming down their rear legs from wounds opened near their tails. This is a party but it's not for especially squeamish animal lovers.

Like a lot of Indonesia, the Maduran bull races are earthy and a little rough. About an hour-and-a-half before race time, I found a man skinning a freshly slaughtered goat near the grandstand. He'd tied the animal to a tree by its rear feet and had cut off its head. The goat's chest was split open and its guts were in a pile by his feet, field-dressed. The man was butchering the animal for meat he planned to sell to spectators, and as he worked a couple other of his goats, tied to a nearby truck, grazed and watched him slice through flesh and fascia. Race-goers walked right by. Later, they ate the goat.

Back down at the finish line, the sun is impossible. A wet furnace. I am in shorts and a diaphanous shirt and am still sweating heavily, as though I'd just finished a long run. I am slick, the hair on my forearm stuck to my skin, and sweat from the small of my back is dripping into my underwear. I can feel rivulets of sweat sliding down my soaked shins and into my shoes. We are in an outdoor steam room. We are pressed together here, chest to shoulder, and the Maduran guy next to me is wearing a denim jacket and heavy jeans. He's got a bandana tied around his neck and a floppy olive drab hat pulled tight on his head. This is local sunblock - you almost never see an Indonesian outside in short sleeves or shorts, and not just because many Indonesians are conservative Muslims - but here in this dizzying heat, how can he be comfortable?

But then everyone's in a jacket, some in what could pass for spring or fall-weight back home, others in nylon and acrylic fabrics that are definitely trapping heat inside. There's no way they're not.

Kusmarwadi, a short middle-aged man in a nylon jacket, said he wouldn't miss the races for anything - and a little sun was nothing. "The bull race is one of the traditions of Madura, and nowhere else," he said.

If any of us were drinking beer we'd be hammered or heaving from dehydration, but there's no beer. Pamekasan is an almost completely dry town, and the bull races are fueled by nothing more potent than lemon-lime Fanta. We drink bottled water and sugary pop and sweat it out between races.

* * *

The night before, a friend and I went looking for beer. Indonesia may be the world's most populous Muslim country but generally speaking you can find overpriced cans of skunky, unrefrigerated beer pretty easily at the local Indomaret or AlfaMart convenience stores. In Madura, though, no such luck. You will not visit the races and retire to a patio bar for a tall cold one. There is no patio bar, and no bar of any kind in town.

We should have guessed. When we got to Pamekasan, our driver made about a dozen laps of the town square trying to find our hotel. This he did in the traditional Indonesian-Javanese way, by simply driving around and asking people for directions every five or ten minutes. (On another recent trip to a Muslim wake, after we'd stopped a fourth time to seek directions, I asked if anyone in my group of Indonesian friends ever consults a map for directions. Never, one female friend said. Besides, Indonesian people are friendly. They always help you. Okay, but what kind of help is it when we keep driving in circles? Don't worry! We'll get there eventually!) So on our sixth lap of the square, we noticed a very official-looking traffic sign in Indonesian. Translated it read, Don't Ruin Your Soul by Drinking Alcohol. Funny. Beer is definitely legal in Indonesia, and I've never seen another sign here making a case for salvation at the expense of lubrication. But Madura's a little different.

Dusty and scrubby, with little of the natural and human resources that have long made Java the epicenter of Indonesian culture, Madura has for centuries been a rural backwater. Located just off the northeast coast of Java in the Java Sea, the oblong, rocky island is now home to about 3.7 million people and is arguably the most religiously conservative outpost in all of East Java, a notoriously hardline Muslim region.

Until two years ago Madura could be reached from the Java mainland only by ferry boat. Today, a new and much-celebrated suspension bridge, the Suramadu Bridge, connects Madura to Java, and that freer island access may or may not eventually affect the way of life on Madura. Until then, subsistence farming and animal husbanding is still what people do - transporting six cows means stuffing them into the flatbed of a half-sized Daihatsu pick-up truck - and you can see men and boys walking leashed goats through the island's small towns like more-stubborn dogs.

Other domesticated animals are well and fully represented too - stringy chickens scratching roadside, tufted rabbits hutched and not, cats underfoot and on rooftops, and of course the bulls.

Madurans are so strongly strongly identified with their racing bulls that a Javanese friend of mine, a high school English teacher with a civil servant job that's protected for life, told me in all seriousness that the blood of Madurese people tastes like cow. (Javanese blood, she explained, tastes like goat. No, it's true.)

Whatever their taste, the people of Madura are among the poorest in this part of Indonesia and they are also considered among the proudest, the most stubborn, the most aggressive, and maybe even the most hot-headed. Madura: Mas Macho, like parts of Cowboy Texas, without the Coors. Bull wranglers. Throwers-of-hands and wielders of knives, maybe, if it came to that. Prideful religious men. Who like tight pussy. This is the other thing everyone talks about while not actually talking about it when they talk about Madura: Vaginal contraction.


Tomorrow: Beer and whoring.


Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher who chronicled his adventure in Indonesia at The Year of Living Volcanically and served as the Beachwood's Southeast Asia correspondent.


* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House
* Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die
* Indonesian Journal: The Chicago Way Out Of Vietnam
* Indonesian Journal: My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud
* Indonesian Journal: The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment
* Indonesian Journal: Obama's Beacon Of Hope Sorely Tested
* Playing Doctor


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: On, Wisconsin!

"Tens of thousands of union supporters from Wisconsin and other states are engaged in an epic battle over what they see as a threat to the basic rights of workers to organize and bargain fair contracts," the Detroit Free Press reports.

"The 14 Wisconsin Democratic state senators in self-imposed exile are going to stick it out in northern Illinois even though conditions are far from ideal," the Ashland Current reports.

"The union protests that ballooned to nearly 70,000 people in Madison on Saturday have started spilling into other capitols, as well," AP reports.

Totally cool protest graphic spreads like wildfire!

On, Wisconsin.

Composed: 1909

Composer: Carl Beck

Wikipedia: "On, Wisconsin!" is the fight song of the Wisconsin Badgers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With modified lyrics, it is also the official state song of Wisconsin.

"On, Wisconsin!" was regarded by John Philip Sousa as "the finest of college marching songs."

An instrumental version of the song was used in the 1973 Disney animated film Robin Hood. During the fight scene where the music is played, Friar Tuck (portrayed as a badger) is cheering loudly.

The first four bars of the song can be heard in the Beach Boys 1963 hit song "Be True to Your School," about 1:05 minutes in.



On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Plunge right through that line!
* Run the ball clear down the field,
* A touchdown sure this time. (U rah rah)
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Fight on for her fame
Fight! Fellows! - fight, fight, fight!
We'll win this game.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Stand up, Badgers, sing!
"Forward" is our driving spirit,
Loyal voices ring.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Raise her glowing flame
Stand, Fellows, let us now
Salute her name!

* Sometimes these lyrics are altered to say "Run the ball clear down the field, boys - touchdown sure this time!"


On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Grand old Badger State!
We, your loyal sons and daughters,
Hail thee, good and great.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Champion of the right,
"Forward", our motto,
God will give thee might!







Comments welcome.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

The Mayoral Odds

For entertainment purposes only. Including gambling.

First posted: 9/9

Last updated: 9/21 9/30 10/4 10/14 10/22 10/24 10/26 10/27 11/3 11/5 11/8 11/14 12/12 12/18 12/26 1/1 1/7 2-9

Last posted: 2/22


Candidate: Rahm Emanuel
Status: Considering Almost In In
Odds: 100-1 2-1
Comment: Ask yourself a few questions. Does he really want to go from running the free world to worrying about Streets and San? And the man is still relatively young and ambitious. Where would he go from here - president? He's everybody's favorite but it's hard to envision.

UPDATE 2/9: Amazingly marshals forces to bully himself into office while pretending he's a reformer and a cool guy (thanks, Ax, you were right, it worked for Obama!) - with the most cold, hard cash. Rose Garden strategy and unresponsiveness to the press, the public and attention to neighborhoods signals the representation of Richard M. Daley's sixth term. His election will expose once again just how bad Chicago sucks.

UPDATE 2/22: The combination of Rahm's campaign fortune and his desire to crush all enemies will likely put our new boss over the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Wear a black armband today - or a del Valle button - if you are one of the few who understand just how horrible this is going to be.


Candidate: Gery Chico
Status: Reportedly In In
Odds: 433-1 3-1
Comment: Might have made a decent if sleazy U.S. Senator but a smart but slick lawyer who seems suspicious isn't likely to get much traction.

UPDATE 2/9: As much as a walking conflict of interest as Chico is, he's still easily preferable to Emanuel; he has imagination and his experience as Daley's chief of staff and chairman of the board of both the parks district and the school board means he knows the budgets inside and out as well as how much of city government really operates. He's also become a much better campaigner than when he ran for the Senate, even though he was easily the most knowledgeable of the candidates then, too.

UPDATE 2/22: Funny how Rahm is Daley's guy but Chico is the one perceived as the status quo candidate. Question: If the status quo is so bad - which it is - why would you vote for the candidate supported by the status quo?

(Memo to Gery: Please don't have a beer with Rahm at the Billy Goat or a sandwich at Manny's when this is all over. Form an opposition party instead.)


Candidate: Miguel Del Valle
Status: Considering In
Odds: 6-1 100-1
Comment: Nicely situated; would be a first-tier candidate.

UPDATE 2/9: Has gotten surprisingly little support from so-called Lakefront liberals and progressives; would also have made for the best "minority consensus" candidate. Clearly the only scandal-free candidate whose background on the education committee in the General Assembly as well as a stellar test run of sorts in the admittedly small city clerk's office should have meant more than it has. His neighborhood-centric platform is just what Chicago needs but powerful interests and the hypnotized masses seem hell-bent on perpetuating the Potemkin Village of China-loving Chicago.

UPDATE 2/22: The media pretends it wants substance, ethics and transparency but they always fall for the colorless bully dictators they then assign charismatic values as if re-living and somehow trying to correct and/or rationalize the traumas of their youth.


Candidate: Carol Moseley Braun
Status: Considering In
Odds: 50,000-1 5,000-1 1,000-1
Comment: Not completely unlikely but no one will forget Nigeria. Convinced henchmen Victor Reyes and Mike Noonan to hop aboard.

UPDATE 2/9: She's gotten further than a lot of the so-called experts expected, but her undisciplined campaign stands no chance against a media eager to bury her for errors allowed to others; mayoral temperament? Who the hell is in office right now and how many idiotic things has he said? Ditto for the frontrunner.

UPDATE 2/22: She's pretty much done in this town.


Candidate: Adam West
Status: Apparently In In
Odds: 50-1
Comment: Plans to keep his job in Quahog could complicate matters, but his campaign has already got a Facebook page and swag on the market.


Candidate: Dock Walls
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Even Though I Think He's Running For Governor Or Something Reportedly In In
Odds: He's already won in one of Stephen Hawking's parallel universes.
Comments: He runs for everything else; he oughta become a Nike endorser. (If only Harold Stassen was alive!)


Candidate: Roland Burris
Status: Out Considering In, momentarily, along with Patricia Van Pelt Watkins, Fredrick K. White, Tyrone Carter, Fenton Patterson, John Hu and Howard Ray. Out
Odds: 500,000-1
Comment: You know he's thought about it; too bad you took that Senate appointment!

UPDATE 2/9: Burris still out; Van Pelt Watkins still in. Why?


Candidate: Cynthia Plaster Caster
Status: In
Odds: 50,000-1
Comment: How can you not like a candidate who promises the hard truth?


Candidate: Lisa Madigan
Status: Apparently Out Possibly Considering Apparently Out Out
Odds: 3-1
Comment: Would face some backlash if she ran - it's time the job wasn't a family business - but would still become the instant frontrunner.

Last Heard From: 9/22: "Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday refused to say she would complete her third term if she is re-elected in November, leaving the door open for a run for Chicago mayor."

10/14: "No." So, still speaking in legalese.


Candidate: Dan Hynes
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Apparently Out Out
Odds: 5-1
Comment: Would face some backlash if he ran - it's time the job wasn't a family business - but would become one of the favorites though he should be the next governor instead.

Last Heard From: 9/16: "Comptroller Dan Hynes was reportedly approached by unions months ago about preparing for a run, but many don't expect Hynes to jump in after losing his second statewide primary race."

12/9/10: Endorses Rahm.


Candidate: Robert Fioretti
Status: In Out
Odds: 10-1
Comment: Called Daley a child when it still looked like he'd run again but the city's structural deficit is not a winning issue. Look for him to get some African-American support, however.

11/3: Bows out with throat cancer.


Candidate: Tom Dart
Status: In Out
Odds: 10-1
Comment: Before he was sheriff he was a state legislator, so he wouldn't exactly be a one-dimensional candidate. But some of the shine would come off during a campaign - he has no place to go but down.

10/28: Wants to spend more time with his family.


Candidate: James Meeks
Status: Considering In Out
Odds: 50-1
Comment: He's got a huge congregation but he's a reverend with some pretty wacky views; scrutiny would do him in.

Last Heard From: Hating gay people.

10/19: Mixing church and state.

11/1: Pretending he's no longer running his church.

12/23: Meeks withdraws.


Candidate: Ed Burke
Status: Willing To Grant Us A Single Term Apparently Out Out
Odds: 25-1
Comment: And after that term he'd declare martial law and put us all to work on his plantation.

Last Heard From: Not lately. Too busy planning to cash in on his wife's eventual ascension to chief of the state Supreme Court.

10/15: "[M]y intention [is] to seek re-election as Alderman and not seek the Office of Mayor." So, still speaking in legalese.

11/25: "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.

"'We haven't officially made an endorsement, but it would be close to that,' Mr. Burke said, citing Mr. Chico's experience in high-level Daley appointments, including chief of staff and city school board president."


Candidate: Ed Vrdolyak
Status: Out. Convicted Felon.
Odds: 50-1
Comment: You never know with Fast Eddie.

Last Heard From: Seeking pardon from Obama first.

10/15: "Yeah, I got 10 months."


Candidate: Tim Evans
Status: Has To Be Considering It Apparently Not Out
Odds: 10-1
Comment: Would be some measure of justice, no pun intended.

Last Heard From: Not since he was re-elected chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court.


Candidate: Dorothy Brown
Status: Out
Odds: 100,000-1
Comment: Wanted to spare the city from overdosing on the inevitable slew of Jeans Day jokes. Like creating a Jeans TIF.

Last Heard From: Conspicuously quiet.


Candidate: Bobby Rush
Status: Out
Odds: 50,000-1
Comment: Weakened by illness; otherwise he'd be pounding yard signs as we speak.

Last Heard From: 9/14: Slagging Rahm.

10/8: Slagging Meeks.


Candidate: Maria Pappas
Status: Under The Radar Out
Odds: 100-1
Comment: Isn't it time to go Greek?

Last Heard From: 9/14: But you heard it here first. Waiting to see if any other women jump in?

12/12: Off the grid.


Candidate: Pat Ryan
Status: Having Fleeting Thoughts That Quickly Disappear Out
Odds: 25-1.
Comment: Would face backlash against Irish Mafia but also fits the profile of the businessman mayor who knows how to manipulate money.

Last Heard From: Loudly counting his money.


Candidate: Sandi Jackson
Status: One Of Three Jacksons Considering It Out
Odds: 100-1 1,000-1
Comment: The idea of Sandi Jackson is far more powerful than the reality of Sandi Jackson, which is that she's shockingly unimpressive.
UPDATE 9/21: Taint of husband's infidelity and Indians fails to make her a sympathetic figure.

Last Heard From: 9/26: Telling the world her husband never had any intention of running for mayor.

11/30: Running for re-election instead.


Candidate: Jesse Jackson Jr.
Status: One Of Three Jacksons Considering It Out
Odds: 63.5-1 100-1
Comment: If it wasn't for the Blago taint, he'd be an instant frontrunner and planes would soon be landing in Peotone. But how can he now? It must be killing him.
UPDATE 9/21: Taint of infidelity and Indians probably too much.

Last Heard From: See Sandi.


Candidate: Jonathan Jackson
Status: One Of Three Jacksons Considering It Out
Odds: 1,000,000-1 10,000,000
Comment: Wait, what?
UPDATE 9/21: Who woulda thunk Junior would be the one to wipe out the family's political prospects?

Last Heard From: Who?


Candidate: Jesse Jackson Sr.
Status: Make That Four Jacksons Considering It Out
Odds: 500,000-1
Comment: It must have crossed his mind.
UPDATE: 9/21: Still as unlikely as ever, but not any more unlikely. He's already had his affair.

Last Heard From: Muttering "There for the grace of God went I . . . "


Candidate: Tom Allen
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 100-1
Comment: Relatively sane, workaday white guy who doesn't quite rise to the level of clownage or charisma that Chicagoans expect.

Last Heard From: 9/22: Trying to pretend he wasn't slagging Rahm.

11/5: Appointed to the Cook County bench.


Candidate: Anita Alvarez
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 25-1
Comment: Would quickly corner the female Hispanic market while playing the law-and-order candidate but is the desire really there?

Last Heard From: 9/16: Prosecuting SOS mopes.

UPDATE: 10/4: Our bad. According to Eric Zorn, she lives in River Forest and therefore doesn't have residency - though that won't stop Rahm.


Candidate: Scott Waguespack
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: Daley retirement actually hurts him; field just got too crowded for him to emerge.


Candidate: Rod Blagojevich
Status: Out. Convicted Felon.
Odds: 1,000,000-1
Comment: Would face some backlash if he ran - it's time the job wasn't a family business - but he could auction off his suits to raise the only campaign cash he'd need.

Last Heard From: Are you kidding?


Candidate: Robert Blagojevich
Status: Getting The Hell Out Of Here
Odds: 500,000-1
Comment: Seems like he could get elected mayor around here though these days.

Last Heard From: Attending church to thank God for his good luck.


Candidate: Dick Mell
Status: Out
Odds: 250,000-1
Comment: Would face enormous backlash for giving us Blago, though mitigated by jump-starting federal investigation.

Last Heard From: Reportedly seen in Tennessee trying to persuade Robert Blagojevich he could have a bright political future here.


Candidate: Brendan Reilly
Status: Considering Apparently Out Out
Odds: 100-1.
Comment: As downtown's alderman and a former AT&T public affairs hack, he partially fits mold as a business type and probably has access to money. Also a Madigan guy. But downtown Irish white guy doesn't play this time around.


Candidate: Tom Tunney
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 5,000-1.
Comment: The gay community isn't that big and is performance as alderman has been a little stumblebum lately.

Last Heard From: 9/27: Talking to Rahm.


Candidate: Desiree Rogers
Status: Conniving. And Out.
Odds: 100,000-1
Comment: Well, she did run Peoples Gas.

Last Heard From: 9/21: Air kissing at Fashion Week.


Candidate: Valerie Jarrett
Status: Under The Radar Out
Odds: 50-1
Comment: Easier to see than Rahm. She'd make history as the first black woman and inherit much of Daley's power structure. She's already sat on CHA and CPS boards. Obama would back her. Daley probably would too.


Candidate: James Houlihan
Status: In Out
Odds: 500-1
Comment: It's not the year to be the affable white Irish assessor.


Candidate: David Hoffman
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Out
Odds: 50-1
Comment: Has an immediate well of support but something about him as the actual mayor doesn't seem quite right.


Candidate: Todd Stroger
Status: Too Busy Pilfering Every Last Penny Out Of The County Before His Departure There
Odds: 600,000-1
Comment: If only you were competent, this could have been a move you could have made.


Candidate: Tom Tresser
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 50,000-1.
Comment: Could have ridden anti-Olympic effort to some success but lost focus when he weirdly entered the Cook County president's race instead.

Last Heard From: 9/25: Attacking Toni Preckwinkle for her unholy alliance with Joe Berrios.


Candidate: Bill Daley
Status: Playing Coy Out
Odds: 100-1.
Comment: Time for a change of families but put nothing past these guys.


Candidate: John Daley
Status: Playing Coy Out
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: See Bill.


Candidate: Michael Daley
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 10,000-1
Comment: See John.


Candidate: Patrick Daley
Status: Unknown Out
Comment: Looking at Moscow race instead.


Candidate: Billy Dec
Status: Stoked. But Out.
Odds: 50,000-1
Comment: Wants to change name of Block 37 to Hub37.


Candidate: Manny Flores
Status: Reportedly In In Out
Odds: 75-1.
Comment: Has to be thinking even more about how a congressional seat may open up in the scramble.


Candidate: Luis Gutierrez
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 25-1
Comment: Wants it but the moment no longer seems his.

Last Heard From: 9/30: Transforming America through immigration - and rightly so. Your calling is elsewhere.


Candidate: John Fritchey
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 30-1
Comment: Would he really bring in the National Guard if he won?


Candidate: Patrick Fitzgerald
Status: No Fucking Way
Odds: Off the board
Comment: Bodies would become unburied in a hurry.


Candidate: Danny Davis
Status: Mulling In Out
Odds: 25-1
Comment: It's not a ghost retirement job, Danny.

Last Heard From: 9/30: Now formally mulling.

10/21: Gathering petitions.

11/8: Comeback consensus candidate, which means next to nothing.

1/1: Davis drops out.


Candidate: Robert Vanesco
Status: Unknown. But Out.
Odds: 75-1
Comment: A Daley without the name, in the family and already into the family business.


Candidate: Angelo Torres
Status: Unknown
Odds: 750-1
Comment: "Perhaps the city (as an entity) can simply hire Angelo Torres as our next mayor," says Beachwood contributor Matt Farmer. "That way, when things ultimately go south, no one individual will be responsible for having hired him."


Candidate: Oprah
Status: Angelic
Odds: 1,000 angels dancing to one pinhead
Comment: Only if she can do it from California.


Candidate: Scott Lee Cohen
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Even Though I Think He's Running For Governor Or Something Out
Odds: 50-1
Comment: Has strong cash management skills.

Last Heard From: Still running for governor.


Candidate: Bill Beavers
Status: You Think The Thought Didn't Cross His Mind? But Out.
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: His nuts aren't that big.


Candidate: Leslie Hairston
Status: Out
Odds: 100-1
Comment: A female African-American alderman (woman) is a potentially potent combination - if only she were competent.


Candidate: Forrest Claypool
Status: Playing Coy Out
Odds: 50-1
Comment: A new Cook County board president and a new mayor and he won't be either. Has to be eating him up.


Candidate: Joe Moore
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 75-1
Comment: Hasn't put the pieces in place over the years the way he might have if he really wanted the job.

Last Heard From: 9/21: Barring an unforeseen circumstance. Like what, all the other candidates dying in the same plane crash?


Candidate: David Orr
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Out
Odds: 75-1
Comment: Gave up years ago and retired to cushy county job.

Last Heard From: 9/27: Telling the DePaulia what the city needs in a mayor.


Candidate: Ricardo Munoz
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 75-1
Comment: Might have been formidable but personal and family issues making the timing bad; probably looking at a congressional run instead.


Candidate: Toni Preckwinkle
Status: Has A Previous Commitment
Odds: 100,000-1
Comment: Now living in a world of regret.


Candidate: Bill Kurtis & Walter Jacobson
Status: Broadcasting From An Unwatched Location
Odds: 100-1
Comment: No, dummies, the first thing you're supposed to do is seize the radio station.


Candidate: Ron Huberman
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 15-1
Comment: A Daleyite who looks black and knows city government; also gay and Jewish. But not a people person.

Last Heard From: 9/23: Keeping secrets.

10/6: Quitting.


Candidate: Arne Duncan
Status: Unknown. But Out.
Odds: 100-1
Comment: Real scrutiny of schools record would prove embarrassing.


Candidate: Paul Vallas
Status: Out. Doesn't have residency.
Odds: Off the board.
Comment: Should've been governor; powers-that-be didn't allow it - and look what happened.


Candidate: Patrick O'Connor
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Out
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: A stalking horse for every other open office, why not this one?


Candidate: Ed Smith
Status: Playing Coy Out
Odds: 350-1
Comment: Will never really be quite ready for prime time.

Last Heard From: He hasn't been.

10/20: Judging others.

11/17: Retiring.


Candidate: Terry Peterson
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 63-1
Comment: An insider who has done Daley's bidding but is barely known and without a constituency.

Last Heard From: Possibly managing Rahm's campaign.


Candidate: Mike Quigley
Status: Has To Be Thinking About It Out
Odds: 75-1
Comment: Just got to Washington. He'll have another shot if he wants it. Maybe even in four years.


Candidate: Jay Stone
Status: The First One In Removed by election board along with M. Tricia Lee, Ryan Graves and Tommy Hanson. Rob Halpin also dropped out.
Odds: A Kabillion to One
Comment: The one guy his father - Berny Stone - could beat.


Candidate: Patrick Collins
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 5,000-1
Comment: Political neophyte rumored to be a Republican recruiting target.


Candidate: Ray Orozco
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 6,000-1
Comment: Did Daley really ask him if he was interested in a private meeting a couple months ago?


Candidate: Ron Gidwitz
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 500-1
Comment: Rahm would actually be the business community's candidate and Gidwitz doesn't have the charisma or name recognition to be our Michael Bloomberg.


Candidate: Patrick Murphy
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment : Now a judge, the former Cook County Public Guardian was a zealous advocate for children and used to have a relatively high profile.


Candidate: Kwame Raoul
Status: Out
Odds: 10,000-1
Comment: I thought about including him on the original list but he's been such a nothing I decided against it. He did, however, just publicly declare himself out so there you go.


Candidate: Anne Burke
Status: Unknown Out But Possibly Key
Odds: 500-1
Comment: I intimated she might be pulling strings to become chief judge of the state supreme court but one reader thought I might be referring to her pulling strings to become mayor. I doubt it, but I would put nothing past the Burkes.


Candidate: R. Emmett Tyrell
Status: Wants To Be In Out
Odds: A Zillion To One
Comment: I'm only adding him now because his fake campaign is getting some fake traction. Might as well bring in Alan Keyes.


Candidate: Rickey Hendon
Status: In Out
Odds: Please. We refuse to play along.
Comment: Always looking for a leverage point from which to extract something from someone.


Candidate: Cynthia Soto
Status: Unknown Out
Odds: 750-1
Comment: Why not? A progressive Hispanic female who once worked in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in the child support enforcement division and is now in the General Assembly whose committees include Appropriations-General Service; Appropriations-Higher Education; Labor (Vice-Chairperson); Transportation & Motor Vehicles; Mass Transit; Agreed Labor Bills, Subcommittee; Pension Fund Management Procurement; Transit Management and Performance.


Candidate: Emil Jones
Status: Supposedly Considering Out
Odds: 500,000-1
Comments: You expect me not to mention that he's Outsider Obama's self-described political mentor?


Candidate: Bridget Gainer
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 250-1
Comment: Not this time, but she might have a future.

Last Heard From: 9/13: "Gainer, an Aon executive, has worked as an analyst in the city Budget and Management Department and as the lakefront director of the Chicago Park District. Last year, she was appointed to the fill out the term of Mike Quigley after he was elected to Congress for the seat once held by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who also has expressed an interest in the mayor's race."

10/21: Collecting petitions.


Candidate: Tim King
Status: Supposedly Considering Out
Odds: 500-1
Comment: Only if his middle name is Martin Luther.

Last Heard From: 9/24: Talking to Delmarie Cobb.


Candidate: Larry Rogers Jr.
Status: Considering Out
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: County board of review not exactly a mayoral launching pad.


Candidate: Wilfredo de Jesus
Status: In Out
Odds: 500,000-1
Comment: But is he any more repugnant than James Meeks? And for that matter, his view that the Bible decrees marriage to be between a man and a woman is the exact same position that Barack Obama holds.

1/7: You mean he was still in?


Candidate: Annazette Collins
Status: Apparently Considering Out
Odds: 50,000-1
Comment: Appeared before black caucus seeking consensus candidate.


Comments welcome.


1. From Beachwood Mark:

Candidate: Phil Ponce
Status: Dozing
Odds: 50-1
Comment: Time for a new family dynasty at City Hall - this time with more harmonizing!


Candidate: Billy Corgan
Status: Whining
Odds: 100-1
Comment: Anything to get people to pay attention again.


Candidate: Lovie Smith
Status: Planning For A Lot Of Free Time On His Hands
Odds: 300-1
Comment: Maybe "better than Detroit" will be good enough as mayor.


Candidate: George Ryan
Status: Laundry Duty
Odds: 500-1 (pending appeal)
Comment: CTA drivers and City Hall clerks, get your checkbooks ready - Christmas is coming.


Candidate: Jody Weis
Status: Brooding
Odds: 1,000-1
Comment: Doesn't want to take the pay cut.


Candidate: Richard Roeper
Status: Maybe A Rent-It, But Not Quite a See-It
Odds: 200-1
Comment: Knows all about no-show jobs, but Sneed hears that this one's a longshot.


Candidate: Sam Adam, Jr.
Status: Fiery
Odds: 10-1
Comment: Knows how to work a roomful of reporters, oversee a political circus, and spin defeat into a PR victory.


Candidate: Chicago Mayors, LLC
Status: Lining Up Funding
Odds: To be determined by a collection of connected banking and investment firms
Comment: The city is on the cutting edge of civic financing innovation yet again, this time approving a 20-year lease on the mayor's office to a private consortium for a lump-sum payment.


2. From our pal driftglass:

This Sporting Life: Longer Odds/Darker Horses.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:40 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2011

SportsMonday: Is This Town Big Enough For Both Patrick Kane And Albert Pujols?

"As long as they aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to believe their season is still alive," reports.

"It might be getting close to the life-support stage if they don't hit a hot streak soon, but the defending Stanley Cup champions are nothing if not resilient this season. Yes, the Blackhawks are locked in a battle with a handful of teams for one of the final spots in the Western Conference's Top 8 position.

"Yes, they are still struggling with consistency - which has been a season-long tussle to this point. The bright side is that with those gut-wrenching valleys come hope-inspiring peaks - which is exactly what they earned on Sunday afternoon in front of 22,195 at the United Center.

"After outlasting the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in a nationally-televised game decided by a shootout, the Hawks are still clinging to hope like it's the last piece of driftwood for miles around."

That about sums it up. The banged-up Penguins were ripe for the taking but it was all the Blackhawks could do to muster a relatively lucky win.

Penguin Pascal Dupuis got the shootout festivities going by clanging the puck off the post. Hawks goalie Corey Crawford kept his team in it moving forward, and Patrick Kane took time off from bar-hopping to show up as the Hawks third shooter, using some seriously slick stick-handling to induce Pen goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to butterfly too soon on one side of the net and then made one last move back to his forehand and deposited the puck in the almost empty net.

Crawford then delivered one last stellar save after refusing to commit as Pittsburgh's Tyler Kennedy slowed way down on his way toward the net. The Hawks have a little more life, but not quite the magic they need to reassert themselves as real playoff contenders heading into the final stretch of the regular season.

The Shootout


Plus: Mike Milbury Says Patrick Kane Should "Grow Up"

Fattening Up Albert
Now that the Cardinals have seemingly bypassed their chance to re-sign Albert Pujols, the question in these parts turns to whether the Cubs have an interest in bringing him to the North Side next season.

Make no mistake - it would be the greatest coup in Cub history.

It almost certainly won't happen, but today we dare dream that the Cubs not only sign one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, but sign him away from their most hated rival.

And why wouldn't they?

Even if Carlos Pena hits 30 home runs and drives in 90 runs this season in his one-year (contract) audition for the first base job on the North Side, his career batting average (.241) is almost exactly 100 points lower than Pujols'.

And sure, batting average isn't as meaningful as a lot of other hitting stats, but if that doesn't convince you, consider that Pujols ranks fourth all-time in slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging.

If Pena can't find a way to get on base more than he has, his power numbers simply aren't worth more than a small fraction of Pujols' overall value.

Next off-season, someone (the Anaheim Angels maybe? Where Pujols could transition to designated hitter at some point?) will almost certainly offer Pujols somewhere in the range of $26 to $28 million a year over six or seven or even more years.

What do you say Tom Ricketts?

Because we all know the Cubs could still make money - in fact would have no problem doing so - while paying Pujols that sort of money. Hell, they could easily go to $30 million a year.

Like I said, it's almost certainly not going to happen. But now is the time for a fan to dream.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Tomorrow we vote, but still no answers from Rahm on his cozy ties to Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza," Jim DeRogatis writes. "And part of the problem is that, unconscionably, no one else in the Chicago media has been asking the questions."

Sadly, but predictably, that's not the only issue the media has failed to examine when it comes to Rahm Emanuel's campaign. I can only hope that we get a runoff because I've got a lot of material I've been preparing myself that I'd like to get out.

Unlike the easy buffaloed press corps, though, I don't get paid to put in an honest 40 hours of work every week to perform this public service.

A lot of "reporters" in town could stand to learn from DeRogatis. But 20 years in Chicago has taught me that the media will never learn - never learn, that is, how to do their jobs properly.

"Even a child must realize that establishment Chicago - the media, political and corporate elites - has been pounding the drums for Rahm Emanuel for mayor," John Kass wrote earlier this month.

That is demonstrably true, as I will soon show.


Also from Kass: "A win for bossism is a loss for democracy: After years in the dark, voters look for a boss to lead them back into the cave."

Chicago, you disgust me.

Game Over
"A Tribute To The Death Of Dibs Deadline."

On Task
"At This Chicago Employer, Asperger's Syndrome Is A Job Requirement."

Duerson Vs. Ditka
They had issues.

Betty Boop
"Since her return, Loren-Maltese has had a short stint working at a pizzeria and almost landed a job at a used car dealership until, according to her, a mobster told the dealership not to hire her," CBS2Chicago reports.

"How does she feel after hearing that a mobster from Elmwood Park doesn't think it's a good idea for her to work there?

"'Let's just say that it was the car dealership's loss,' Loren-Maltese responded."


Apparently unasked:

- What does the mob have against you?

- Are you saying the car dealer was extorted?

- Did you report this to the police?

- You seem to know just which mobster from the Elmwood Park crew that it was. Care to name names?


See also:
- "Betty Loren-Maltese Plans To Start Selling Cars"

Truck Stop
Does anyone else sense a corporate sponsorship here for our most likely new mayor?

Rahm's Base
"Less Than Half Of Emanuel's Money From Chicago."


I wonder what the race would look like if campaign contributions could only come from within the city limits - you know, residents.

Seasonal Aisle
"Most Winter Storm Warnings Expire For Chicago Area."

Dominick's keeps them on their shelves anyway.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn slinging cold Old Style and monitoring the jukebox. Also, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. we'll be showing the new episode of The Chicago Code if enough interested parties show up; last week was a blast. "Irish Mob" definitely became the favorite signal to drink.

Also, feel free to bring this along for guidance.

Chicago Is Getting Old
"The link between large white elderly population and large youth minority population is quite intimate," our very own Kiljoong Kim writes.

Chicago Is Arterial
Ice men hangeth, and dead limbs bangeth to the curb.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Hangeth and bangeth.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Dismemberment Plan at the Metro on Sunday night.


2. Clutch at the Congress on Saturday night.


3. Motorhead at the Congress on Saturday night.


4. Ensiferum at Reggie's on Sunday night.


5. Ludo at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


6. Goodbye Coastline at Subterranean on Saturday night.


7. Secret Colours at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


8. Joe Satriani at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


9. Times of Grace at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.


10. Panda Riot at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:27 AM | Permalink

Chicago Is Getting Old

"More than 2 million Chicago-area baby boomers begin turning 65 this year, unleashing a demographic wave that will last nearly two decades and transform nearly every part of the local economy," Crain's reported last week in a special report called "The Graying of Chicago."

"The number of people 65 or older in the Chicago area will soar 65% to 1.7 million by 2030, estimates William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

"That's less than the 78% increase expected nationally, thanks to immigration in Chicago. Still, about 1 in 6 people in the area will be 65 or older in 2030, compared with 1 in 9 today."

Our own examination has found that the transition has already begun.


The Chicago metropolitan area is home to a slightly lower proportion of elderly (10.9%) than that of the nation (12.6%).

The percentages, however, vary significantly by race and ethnicity.

For example, 14% of the non-Hispanic white population in the area is over 65, compared to just 4.1% of Latinos.

old1.jpg(View enlarged image)

And that's not just because of young immigrants streaming into the area. A number of studies have found that such variation stems from disparity in access to health-related resources between whites and other racial and ethnic minorities, resulting in shorter life expectancy for the minorities.

But whatever the reasons, this racial gap means the overwhelming percentage of elderly in the area (71.7%) is non-Hispanic white.

old2.jpg(View enlarged image)

On the opposite end of the age distribution, children younger than 15 are slightly overrepresented in the area population (21.7%) compared to 20.3% for the entire nation.

Again, there is a sizable racial and ethnic difference: 30.8% of Latinos and 19.9% of African Americans in the area are composed of children under 15, whereas only 17.2% of non-Hispanic whites are in the same category.

As a result of these young demographic compositions, 55.6% of children under 15 in the region are racial/ethnic minorities.

old3.jpg(View enlarged image)

In a metropolitan area where 55.9% of the overall population is non-Hispanic white, Chicago region, as is many other metropolitan areas throughout US, is rapidly becoming a place without a racial or ethnic majority.

old4.jpg(View enlarged image)

The link between large white elderly population and large youth minority population is quite intimate.

No matter how much modern science and technology extends human lives, the inevitable deterioration in aging process means a massive aging population is no longer an issue confined to those with elderly parents.

The well-being of current elderly population, as well as those that are closing in on that age group, are largely dependent upon the well-being of the emerging labor force that will largely consist of racial and ethnic minorities.

At a micro level, as Crain's points out, there will be shortage of skilled workers with the massive retirement of Baby Boomers.

But more specifically, the need for doctors, nurses, and other health care technicians and any other high-skilled jobs that cannot simply be outsourced to overseas will steadily increase.

If the shortage of these professionals persists, current and future retirees will have to spend increasing amounts of their fixed-income to receive care they need.

At a macro level, whatever the occupations and professions, the productivity of the next generation workforce is responsible for sustaining a large elderly population that is no longer capable of working whether it'd be paying into social security or taxes that will support various social programs/services and government agencies.


Over the years, Social Security has counted on two characteristics: having more workers than retirees and having relatively high wages across the labor market. But if massive number of future workers is dropping out of high school, as is the case among large proportion of African American and Latino students today, sustaining Social Security or any other social programs and services that are dependent upon tax dollars will become challenging.

Grooming a future labor force that is capable of earning a reasonable income rather than minimum wage is crucial not only for the next generation but also to the rest of the population who will have to depend on their productivity and ability to pay taxes.

Most of us do not think about concepts like interdependency across generations, contentious racial dynamics, or efficient labor market in our everyday decisions and future planning.

And current trends in government corruptions, fraudulent and wasteful spendings, and political pettiness keep hindering the ability to forecast what is to come in near future.

However, Chicago is perfectly capable of turning this demographic shift to economic opportunity by tweaking its existing infrastructure. For example, an abundance of vacant land can be used for senior housing of all socioeconomic levels from high-end accommodations with expansive gardens to affordable facilities. City colleges and community colleges can be feeders to needed technical jobs. In return, retirees can be mentors to those children growing up without parents or to anyone who seeks guidance and wisdom.

If the story is about one generation whose glory days are long gone and no longer capable of contributing and another generation that is simply not capable of receiving the torch from those glory days, the future is undoubtedly gloomy. But knowing what is to come ought to give us an opportunity to start a dialogue about how to change the course.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:09 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Arterial


Willows on the lake weep always
but all trees weep in winter.
Hearts hanging in reverse, denuded,
x-rays of arterial globes,
street by perfectly straight street.
Like the oldest cities on earth,
this one's a grid,

baubled by these naked, hanging hearts
forgiven by gravity.
In a blizzard, abandoned Harrapas.
In a heat wave, undulating Calcutta
or perhaps teeming Rajagriha.
Wait: the naked trees

are gnarled hands
grasping for sky
from tight graves,
wave after wooden wave.

And they weep in waves.
You can see the tears freeze,
then hang like crystal men.
No privacy for trees, or tears.

Ice men hangeth and dead limbs
bangeth to the curb, little corpses
shatter into spinning diamonds
en-fanging the public thoroughfares.

God: life limbed by freezing death,
life enlivened by looming shards.
Soon the tears will bloom, warmly.
The moments will accrue, it's true,

toward a louder lingering.
Soon the trees will sing.
All year the willows hum,
sniffling a bit as the gales come.

Without end, this is all Hell.
It is the end that sparkles in tears,
for the tears will end (for a time),
but the trees will keep reaching,



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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Sorry we're running a little late. We had the flu.

Market Update
It was a mixed bag on the Women's Index this week as the federal government announced plans to cut funding for Dignity. Not surprisingly, this was met with a massive run on Crazy. Analysts now suggest we may be in the midst of an historic depression.

Last-Minute Push
Election Day is at hand and two of the leading candidates are doing their level best to make front-runner Rahm Emanuel seem perfectly sane and reasonable. Good thing no one's paying attention to the actual sane and reasonable guy.

Homeland Security
The recently-approved plan for a Navy Pier flyover to reduce congestion on Chicago's lakefront trail was defended this week as "not a bridge to nowhere." It's worth noting, however, it's not exactly a bridge to just anywhere either.

Outland Security
Reports surfaced this week that a U.S. couple's yacht has been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. In response, the State Department has announced it will deploy its top agent to hijack them back.

Northern Exposure
Finally this week, duh.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: A bridge to everywhere.


The Weekend on CAN TV

LGBTQ Mayoral Candidate Forum
Tracy Baim from Windy City Media moderates a mayoral candidate forum focused on education, HIV/AIDS, youth homelessness, transgender rights and public safety.

Saturday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21

Sunday, February 20 at 3:00 p.m. on CAN TV21


West Side Mayoral Candidates Town Hall
Community groups from Chicago's West Side host a panel discussion for mayoral candidates to address economic justice, housing, education and youth.

Saturday, February 19 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21

Sunday, February 20 at 1:00 p.m. on CAN TV21


Asian American Community Services Mayoral Forum
Chicago mayoral candidates discuss their positions on public safety, community development, minority business enterprise, affirmative action, education and redistricting at this forum held by Pan Asian Voter Empowerment.

Sunday, February 20 at 9:00 a.m. on CAN TV21


2011 Mayoral Candidates Statements
31006-Candidate Staments.jpg
Chicago Mayoral candidates present their positions in statements taped exclusively at CAN TV.

Sunday, February 20 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21


Chicago Mayoral Forum on Violence Against Women
WBEZ's Alison Cuddy, moderates a community forum for mayoral candidates to share their plans for addressing the issues of violence against women, girls, and LGBTQ people.

Sunday, February 20 at 11:00 a.m. on CAN TV21

Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:27 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. They were at the Clock Tower.


So, by the way, was the Chocoholic Frolic.

2. "The Illinois crime lab has identified more than 4,000 cases of unexamined sex crime evidence statewide, and plans to test all of them by 2015, state officials said," the Tribune reports.


"Most of the old cases will be outsourced to Orchid Cellmark, a private lab, with cases nearing their statute of limitations given top priority.

"A $276,000 federal grant will help cover the cost of outsourcing, but the crime lab needs additional money from the state to ensure timely testing in-house, [crime lab commander Arlene] Hall said. It is requesting $407,500 in general revenue dollars to fund five new forensic scientists."


Hey, let's not get crazy. It's not as if the state has any extra money lying around.

3. "The deep cuts to social services spending proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn have left private agencies that work with the state's most vulnerable residents feeling they are being used in a political game," the Tribune reports.

"Quinn has enlisted the agencies' support for his 67 percent income tax increase and asked them to apply pressure on the mostly Republican group of lawmakers who have balked at his plan to borrow $8.75 billion to help pay the state's giant backlog of bills."


Quinn could ask for some of that Groupon money back, but he reportedly doesn't want to be seen as a Tibetan-giver.

4. "Six Flags Looks To Hire 3,200 Seasonal Workers," TribLocal Gurnee reports.

That's an awful lot of employees just to work the rest of the Wisconsin legislative session.

5. "The Chicago-based pizza chain Giordano's has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but will continue operating with court approval to use part of a $36 million bankruptcy loan to pay employees and vendors," AP reports.

Perhaps their dishes were too deep.


"Attorney Michael Gesas, representing the debtors, says the pizza business is strong, but the company defaulted on real estate loans."

Giordano's was a bank, too?


"Creditors included Saputo Cheese USA, claiming $426,700 in payments, Greco & Sons, $214,000 and Heinz North America at $132,000," Pioneer Press reports.

If the price of ketchup is a leading economic indicator, we're all in trouble.


"This case is about the real estate market collapse," debtor rep Michael Gesas said. "The pizza business is very healthy and very good."

Really? Pizzeria Uno just got out of bankruptcy last summer.


"The company had multiple loans totaling $45 million, most of which funded real estate purchases," Crain's reports.

Oh, now I get it. Should've invested in this instead.

6. The self-parody becomes complete.

7. "A Chicago-area man has been ordered to serve three years and two months in federal prison for trafficking in contraband cigarettes," the Springfield Journal-Register reports.

Geez, that's just eight fewer months than Robert Sorich got.

8. "United To Carry On With Economy Plus Seating."

Here's what it looks like.

9. "Chicago Zip Code Remains Riskiest For Mortgage Fraud For Third Straight Quarter."

That would be 60621.

10. Heavy Metal Alderman.

11. Alfonso Soriano's new workout regime.

12. The Week in Chicago Rock.

13. The Week in WTF.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Deep dish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Kids These Days at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.


2. Max Bemis at Schubas on Wednesday night.


3. Robbie Fulks and Kelly Hogan at the Hideout on Monday night.


4. City States at Subterranean on Tuesday night.


5. Killer Moon at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


6. Czar at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


7. Future Ghosts at Subterranean on Tuesday night.


8. Angel Eyes at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


9. Moon Furies at Subterranean on Tuesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Cubs Hope To Get Disappointing Soriano In Shape By Swimming With Sharks, Skydiving Without A Parachute

"Since the Cubs can't find a taker for Alfonso Soriano's expensive contract, they're working him hard this offseason, with a workout plan of bullet dodging and a diet of broken glass and poison.

"And if running across a highway at rush hour is the best way to get his legs in shape, they'll run him across a highway."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

Lyndon Johnson Approves This Fucking Message

"Write-in candidate Lyndon A Johnson is really pissed off at the establishment. In the 39th ward of Chicago, 25,000 active voters, 19,000 expected not to vote! If you are that angry, vote for Lyndon A Johnson 39th ward write in candidate!"


Lyndon Johnson for Chicago Alderman.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Albert Pujols, WTF?

Every person with Cubbie Blue in their little corpuscles wants owner Tom Ricketts to pluck Albert Pujols from the Cardinals and then, at the very least, soothe those lingering bed sores from the Lou Brock era. How sweet it would be.

But how much sense does it make for Cubs fans to lust after Pujols, who is, by acclamation and evidence, the greatest player of this era?

The word from St. Louis is that the pre-free agent "negotiations" over the last few months actually did not exist, other than as sharp objects being poked at the participants from the sidelines. The usual players were doing the jabbing: terrified fans, outraged fans and the media.

What has stood immovable, immutable is "the deal that must be." Pujols believes - and who really can doubt him? - that he is worth even more than Alex Rodriguez was to the Yankees.

That's the market. The deal has a particular, definable shape. The only deal Pujols likely will take is 10 years, $300 million. A few million more than A-Rod got. And as opposed to the yada yada about deadlines unmet, negotiations stalemated, the Cardinals could have Pujols the very second they agree to that number. Tomorrow. Next week. Maybe the week of the All-Star Game?

Here's a thought while visions of Sugarplum Alberts dance in the heads of local fans. If Ricketts actually could or would write a $300 million check for the best player of this era, why would he not have paid $300 million for the next three greatest players? You pick 'em. That would have built the franchise for another decade in one financial big bang. Or what if had he bought the top four pitchers in baseball for a smaller total price than for Albert?

He could have done that were he the sort to let the pot ride at the craps table. Doesn't your instinct tell you he's just not that way?

That big bang number would have bought him the starting outfield or infield from virtually any franchise in baseball.

But the $300 million for three doesn't make sense based on Ricketts' tightwad history. And neither does $300 million for Albert. Sorry, Cubs fans. The Lou Brock Lamentation continues.

2. Carlos Zambrano, WTF?

The calendar over/under betting line for Carlos's first flameout this season is June 26, the date when he went bonkers last year. They seem to be getting earlier every year.

When asked if will issue another ironclad guarantee (WTF? Carlos's annual promises seem mostly made of zinc) against going berserk this season, he answered (in an article headlined "Zambrano Vows to Stay Out Of Trouble," WTF?) "What do you think?"

Maybe it's not the first sign of dawning self-awareness, but you take what you can get. As for being nuts, Trib writer Paul Sullivan suggests that if "Z" has the same sort of season he had in his last 11 starts of 2010, he could contend for the Cy Young Award. True, but if Bob Gibson has another season like he did in 1964, he'd contend for the Cy Young, too. But Bob is 75, so his fastball isn't what it once was.

But you can play along. Let's start the countdown on how many times a local beat writer predicts a career year for a new player in town and how that stunning turnaround performance could, might, possibly should lift the team to heights heretofore anticipated only during hallucinogenic dreams. Pass the effing hookah, baby. Let's play two.

Of course, the Cubs could always sign Pujols.

3. Holy Champion, Wisconsin, WTF?

If someone says they saw the Virgin Mary in Champion, Wisconsin, and thereby earned the shrine there a "must see" hot list spot from the Vatican, who am I to say no? Once in Wisconsin, I saw Statue of Liberty carved in butter.

From a credibility standpoint, you'd hope even the Vatican might admit the obvious on this one. It's something of a reliability issue that Mary hasn't been since there since an 1859 visit to some Belgium person, and Flemish people are notoriously unreliable. Except for Hercule Poirot.

Thus, the Church's experts have validated the bona fides of the sightings though no one now alive was there to witness them. It's like how they validate your identity at check-cashing joints.

4. Mystery Teen Fish Killer, WTF?

Based on the legal rules dealing with juvenile defendants, there's no way to find out who this WTF fish killer is. But I sure like his way of approaching a problem. He's got Chicago Mob Future written all over him.

Actually, I could find out who he is, and would if someone paid me to do it. I want 10 years and $300 million.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"For the second time this school year, a family has complained that the University of Notre Dame failed to swiftly and thoroughly investigate their daughter's report of being sexually attacked in a residence hall," the Tribune reports.

The paper has previously reported extensively on another case at the college - that of Northbrook's Elizabeth Seeberg, who killed herself nine days after making her own complaint to officials.

And there is an additional news peg, as noted by the Trib:

"Both cases are being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education, which has launched an inquiry into how the nation's preeminent Catholic university responds to sexual misconduct complaints. Together, the incidents paint a picture of a campus police department that so frustrated both women's parents, they implored detectives to obtain evidence, question witnesses and treat their daughters' accusations with urgency."

But I wonder why the Trib - and other local media outside of this report by Fox Chicago News - is ignoring a report released this week by the Chicago Justice Project showing that one in six complaints of felony sex crimes are determined to be "unfounded" by Chicago police, a rate that is three times the national average.

"An unfounded complaint as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program is defined as a complaint that upon investigation is found to be untrue and baseless," CJP's report says.

Chicago police, however, would not provide CJP with the criteria it uses to decide a complaint is unfounded.

Perhaps even more astonishing is that Chicago police have categorized 50 percent of felony sexual crimes investigations over the last 10 years as "suspended," though the department refuses to explain just what that means.

"The practice by CPD detectives of suspending investigations was repeatedly criticized in our conversations with advocates," the Justice Project says. "Victim advocates argue that detectives use this bureaucratic process as a way of halting their investigation into a complaint while never having to admit it to survivors . . .

"We attempted to confirm the CPD's definition of suspended as well as if the detectives' categorization of these cases is ever reviewed but the CPD failed to respond to questions provided by CJP."

By all means, Tribune, go after Notre Dame. I'm not questioning the effort or the newsworthiness.

But what about the CPD?


DISCLAIMER: Tracy Siska, who founded and runs the Chicago Justice Project, is a friend. Nonetheless, his work stands on the merits and so does my argument.


Also from CJP's report:

"April 16th will be the 25th anniversary of a letter to the editor published in the Chicago Tribune from Laura Kaufman, then the program coordinator for the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women, in which Ms. Kaufman chastises then-Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley for failing to make data available to victims regarding their prosecution of rape cases.

Cook County State's Atty. Richard M. Daley doesn't seem to think that women have the right to know whether his office is doing a good job of prosecuting sexual assault cases under Illinois' new rape reform law. Chicago NOW and other women's groups have been asking Daley for months for statistics about what happens to sex crimes cases after they have been turned over to him by the police department. After a lot of stalling, however, Daley's staff now claims that his office doesn't keep organized records of decision made by its felony review unit, and that the numbers just aren't available.

Daley's lack of cooperation makes us twice as curious about those numbers. Could it be, for example, that the state's attorney doesn't accept very many felony sex crimes cases for prosecution - that too few rape victims get their day in court because their version of an attack isn't believed?

Again, that letter was published in 1986.


Lesson for the current mayoral campaign: Look at what the candidates have done, not what they say they'll do.

This Is Not Satire
"Quinn said Illinois must achieve 'financial stability' and proposed cutting aid to poor seniors, eliminating a prescription drug discount program and reducing spending on social services like alcohol and substance abuse treatment. He also called for reining in costs of Medicaid programs that cover health care for the poor."

By God, we're gonna balance this budget on the backs of the needy if it takes every ounce of political courage in my body!


Quinn expressed no regrets over charging taxpayers for Groupon's Tibet commercial.


In fact, Quinn liked the commercial so much he wants Groupon to make one for Illinois.


From Tim Willette:

"We'll have to make some painful choices. Our water will be less safe to drink. Fewer of our kids will be able to attend college. It'll be more dangerous to walk our streets. But we have no choice."

- Imaginary politician

I wish pols would just shut up about making "painful" decisions. Instead, the usual presentation: 1) the ballooning deficit requires us to make tough choices, and so 2) we need to cut a bunch of wasteful spending. But since when is cutting wasteful spending difficult? It ought to be easy! The only "painful" cuts are those that we never would make were we not so desperate, right?

Not exaggerating - they're literally this stuff:

"These cuts go far and wide, and will affect every community in the nation. These were hard decisions, and I know many people will not be happy with everything we've proposed in this package. That's understandable and not unexpected, but I believe these reductions are necessary to show that we are serious about returning our nation to a sustainable financial path. The cuts in this CR are the result of difficult work by our subcommittees who have weeded out excessive, unnecessary, and wasteful spending, making tough choices to prioritize programs based on their effectiveness and benefit to the American people."

Oh for a reporter to ask these guys to provide examples of cuts they expect will cause a majority of their constituents real pain, i.e., will negatively affect their quality of life. In truth, many such cuts have been proposed - dramatically slashing the USDA budget all but guarantees big layoffs of USDA inspectors, which will expose all of us to increased risk of sickness and death from eating shitty food. So just say so! Fuckers all.

Jennifer Beals . . .
. . . still friends with her Chicago high school pals but she's ditched the hometown accent.

Indonesia vs. Stroger Hospital
At least in one of those places the doctors are real.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Hard truths, painful choices.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Playing Doctor

A couple weeks ago I got word that my savings had been wiped out in a financial fraud engineered by an unscrupulous and not especially creative hedge fund manager turned thief. If you've read my recent Indonesian Journal missives, you know the details.

When the news of my destitution reached me, I was living in Central Java, Indonesia and working for $1,000 per month as a Fulbright English teacher. My stipend put me well below the U.S. poverty line but in Indonesia a cool grand per month is very decent money and I was living relatively large as an expat - regular cross-country travel by air, dining out a couple times a day, frittering away money on clothes and handicrafts and air-conditioned buses, zipping around on an almost-new Yamaha scooter.

I made a pittance but I was still pulling down more than three times what my Indonesian civil servant counterparts in the English Department earn during a six-day work week, one that features long days and sometimes three-hour high school classes. I didn't plan on saving much of my Fulbright money while abroad - in fact, I intended to spend most of it sightseeing - but I expected to come home to a nest egg that, according to the last fraudulent statement from my now-jailed fund manager, was edging toward six figures.

That financial cushion is what allowed me to pack up my stuff and rent out my house and set off for a year's adventures in Southeast Asia. When it went up in smoke, I had to confront a harsh reality: I was fucking broke. Whatever my level of exchange-rate comfort in Indonesia, I would be facing some tough bills when I got back home in early summer and, earning $1,000 per month, I wasn't going to have the money to meet them. Not unless I returned and started working for real money as soon as I could.

So I made a hard decision and headed back - in the language of overseas posts like the Fulbright or Peace Corps, I early terminated.

I sold my scooter, packed my things into two duffel bags, said some goodbyes, and headed for the airport. I was back at O'Hare about 36 hours later - Jakarta to Singapore, Singapore to Tokyo, Tokyo to Chicago. I deplaned tired, unemployed and uninsured. From Fulbright teacher, informal American cultural ambassador and local minor celebrity to just another jobless mope with student loans and no COBRA. My grad school insurance expired last summer and after that, nothing.

I've spent the first fews days home sleeping - a 13-hour time difference makes for some seriously disorienting jet lag - or at Stroger Hospital. I may have deplaned uninsured but I also came back with some kind of exotic Indo bug that I can't shake and that several Indonesian doctors could not cure with their repeated, reflexive prescriptions of antibiotics.

So I've been queueing up before 7 a.m. with several hundred other people outside the Fantus Clinic or inside Stroger's financial screening offices, and I've officially plugged into the county's safety-net healthcare system. Until I find work, this is where I'll be coming for primary care and emergency room visits.

(A doctor friend with offices in Winnetka also has volunteered to help diagnose my illness. "It's a very interesting case," he told me by phone. "The symptoms are unusual. Light and sound sensitivity? That's not really symptomatic of anything. It's . . . interesting." I said I was sorry I couldn't pay him but was glad I could offer something case-study-wise. Maybe we'll write a journal paper about it. Long-term, though, I can't ask him for extended pro bono care.)

I've got the salmon-colored Cook County Health and Hospitals System patient ID, which reminds me to "ALWAYS BRING THIS CARD WITH YOU!," and a Limit of Liability letter that means I get free care for a year, and now all I have to do is stand in lines or have a seat in crowded but orderly waiting rooms and eventually someone will probably poke me or prod me and might even ask a couple questions about how I'm feeling or what might be wrong.

I'm a near-lifelong Cook County resident and always figured County Hospital was where I'd want to go with a gunshot or stab wound, but I never considered relying on it or its doctors for regular care. Earlier in my life, I might have considered that possibility a kind of tragedy or failure, a sign of helplessness. But after repeatedly seeking medical care in Indonesia and seeing that country's hospitals and doctors up close, I find myself feeling just fine about Cook County's.

In fact, I'm pretty sure somebody over on Harrison Street is going to figure out what's ailing me, and when they do I'll gobble some generic medicine, then recover, and move on with my health relatively intact. I never had any similar expectation during my time in Indonesia.

You have a sore throat? A kidney infection? Muscle pain? Fatigue?

Take an antibiotic.

An Indonesian doctor told me not to drink orange-flavored Gatorade because it contained orange juice that might upset my stomach.

What do you mean it contains orange juice? I asked.

Well, it's orange, she said.

Another doctor diagnosed a kidney infection by punching me in the back.

And a third had me sit on a bloody sheet while he interviewed me about my symptoms.

None ever took my temperature or made even a cursory physical examination before prescribing drugs.

What do you think is wrong? they asked. What kind of medicine do you want?

I went to Indonesia as a healthy 30-something guy who didn't think very long or very hard about being anything but a healthy 30-something guy during my time abroad. I got the recommended vaccinations and skimmed the paperwork outlining the insurance coverage we'd have through the Fulbright program and I moved on to other, more pressing topics. Like, should I pack hiking boots or save the weight and room for something else? And how many books could I haul all that way? I mean, we'd have a doctor through the program, right? That was enough.

What I didn't know was that the Fulbright doctor works in Jakarta - a couple hundred miles from my placement site - and her office does not accept the Fulbright insurance plan.

She was occasionally willing to answer questions by phone or by text message but mostly she told us to seek care near our hometowns. If we really needed to see her, we could fly to Jakarta on our own dime and pay her out of our own pockets.

I called this doctor once for a consultation and she text-messaged a long list of laboratory tests she thought I should get at the Jogjakarta International Hospital, about 90 minutes from my home. I took the list to the hospital, where they collected blood and stool and urine samples and did the lab work and handed me a bill for about $150 - a pretty sizable hit, half a month's salary for a native teacher.

And after all that, the test were inconclusive; they didn't find anything wrong with me: no dengue fever, no typhoid, no parasites, no blood worms, no fucking low blood sugar. Nothing. But they did send me off with antibiotics. Take these for five days. And then come back. I soon came to understand that my visits were strictly revenue-generating. Are you feeling better? Some more antibiotics? And you come back next week?

I visited four different hospitals and met with at least seven different doctors during my time in Indonesia and at no point did I feel like I was receiving actual medical care. I was involved in a kind of health care pantomime: Man or woman in lab coat stands across from me smiling; he or she performs no physical examination, makes no diagnosis. That person then walks me to the pharmacy and then to the cashier and I am handed a bill. We are playing charades. I am a patient. She is a doctor. I am an Indian chief. He is a street sweeper. I am sick and not getting better. She is walking toward the nurses' station. The nurses are dressed in nurse uniforms. There is no thermometer in the entire hospital.

Yesterday morning, after more than two hours in a cream and blue windowless waiting area, I finally was summoned to an exam room inside the Fantus Clinic. A stern South Asian doctor who did not introduce himself or ask my name used a stethoscope to listen to my lungs. He dug his thumbs into my lymph nodes, he examined my mouth. He interviewed me about my symptoms and took notes. He ordered blood work. Earlier, a nurse had taken my temperature and blood pressure. The lab tech who drew my blood was unfriendly, didn't look at me, and I couldn't have cared less.

Stroger Hospital is a factory. It's bare-bones, even harsh. But it works. And they're practicing medicine.


Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher who chronicled his adventure in Indonesia at The Year of Living Volcanically and served as the Beachwood's Southeast Asia correspondent.


* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House
* Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die
* Indonesian Journal: The Chicago Way Out Of Vietnam
* Indonesian Journal: My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud
* Indonesian Journal: The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment
* Indonesian Journal: Obama's Beacon Of Hope Sorely Tested


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:02 AM | Permalink

Jennifer Beals Still Friends With Chicago High School Pals But Has Ditched Her Hometown Accent

Also: She loves snow and had the urge to make-out with her husband while giving birth.


Comments welcome.


* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:38 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

A look at today's headlines.

1. Black People Fled Daley's Inhospitable Chicago In Last Decade.

2. "Pump Room Memorabilia For Sale."

Including the booth where Chicago journalism icon Irv "Kup" Kupcinet took dictation from Hollywood press agents?

3. Lost Lyric From Howard Jones's "No One Is To Blame" Discovered In Sun-Times Headline.

4. Onion, Sun-Times or richly funded hyperlocal start-up?

5. "Lawmakers Push Concealed Carry Proposals."

Would allow legislators to carry secret bills exempt from state FOIA laws in their pockets.

6. "Posturing, Policy Problems Ahead Of Quinn's Budget Speech."

Funding for posturing would increase while policy gets slashed.

7. "Drug Tests For Illinois Lawmakers Up For Debate."


8. "131-Year-Old Temperature Record Could Fall Thursday."

That would be the record for most media coverage of weather in a single city in a year.

9. "Chicago Question Stumps Jeopardy Computer."

That would be "Who hired Angelo Torres?"

10. "Borders Files For Bankruptcy, To Close Stores."

CEO's plans to write a memoir met with yawns.

11. "United Grounds 757s To Check Software."

Didn't know Flight Plan by Facebook was still in beta.

12. "Obama's Election Claim Demands A Big Shovel."

After all, there must be a horse in here somewhere.

13. "Chicago's Field Museum Mounts A Big Horse Exhibit."

14. "Rahm Emanuel Offers $2,500 To Fake Twitter Author."

I dunno, does John Fritchey really need the money?

15. "Mayor Daley Hires Agent To Book Speaking Engagements."

Will also hire a speaker.

From The Beachwood CSI: Chicago Code Affairs Bureau
* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled.

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code.

Fantasy Fix
Where Chicago's infielders rate.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Code red.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:57 AM | Permalink

The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code



Comments welcome.


* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

The Music of The Chicago Code: Billy Corgan Gets Schooled

Compare and contrast.

1. By Billy.


2. By Stevie G.


Comments welcome.


* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

* The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

* The 33-Second Episode 2 Recap of The Chicago Code

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Where Our Infielders Stand

With Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues opening for sign-up a few days ago, it's time to catch up on our position rankings.

I've already mentioned my top 10 overall picks and my top 10 first basemen.

This time around, we visit the rest of the infield - including a few players from the local nines.


1. Robinson Cano, NY Yankees.

A Top 10 player overall should repeat last year's great performance.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Boston.

Coming off a foot injury, but showed new power last year.

3. Chase Utley, Philadelphia.

Fading a bit, but still very productive.

4. Dan Uggla, Atlanta.

Dissed as a slugger with no average, he fought back with .287 last year.

5. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee.

Injury-prone, free swinger finally paid off last year with 29 homers.

6. Ian Kinsler, Texas.

Fading slightly. His injury problems hamper his multi-category talents.

7. Brian Roberts, Baltimore.

Missed most of last year, but look for a rebound on an improved team.

8. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati.

Reds won the division, but his stats fell across the board.

9. Martin Prado, Atlanta.

Will play more 3B with Uggla in town, but could have best average among 2Bs.

10. Neil Walker, Pittsburgh.

Surprise pick here. Showed HR and extra-base power in his rookie campaign.

2B sleeper: Gordon Beckham, White Sox.

I gave him hometown love last year and he barely stayed in the majors, but seems to have made the adjustments and could hit .300 and score a lot of runs.


1. Hanley Ramirez, Florida.

Stolen bases are getting to be his top stat, but overall value still high.

2. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado.

Blooms late in the season, but when he does, watch out.

3. Jose Reyes, NY Mets.

Would like to downgrade him further, but stolen bases save this ranking.

4. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia.

Maybe a risk, but all stats should rise with a full season of play.

5. Ian Desmond, Washington.

Another, probably bigger risk, but I like his HRs, RBIs and moderate SB numbers.

6. Stephen Drew, Arizona.

Tired of ranking him this high and being disappointed, but more power must be lurking, right?

7. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox.

Another slow starter, but experience could give him an RBI, SB boost.

8. Elvis Andrus, Texas.

Thinking 30-plus SBs again, and hopefully more than zero HRs.

9. Derek Jeter, NY Yankees.

Lower on my list than elsewhere, but the writing is on the wall isn't it?

10. Starlin Castro, Cubs.

Surprised? Sophomore jinx is possible, but with Cubs committed to him, he has nothing to lose in attacking the ball.

SS sleeper: Reid Brignac, Tampa.

Should see more at-bats with Jason Bartlett departing. Pencil him in for 16 HRs and 90 HRs based on last year's 300 at-bats projected for a full season.


1. Evan Longoria, Tampa.

I like him for 30-plus homers and above .300 average.

2. David Wright, NY Mets.

Bounced back last year; great power, speed, average threat.

3. Alex Rodriguez, NY Yankees.

Aging out of the SB category, but power keeps him in top three.

4. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington.

His power numbers fell last year, but average jumped.

5. Adrian Beltre, Texas.

Power stroke returned in a near-MVP year, and Texas is a great place to continue that rebound.

6. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh.

Another shocker, but 3B gets questionable after the top five and his power is for real.

7. Jose Bautista, Toronto.

Hitting 54 HRs made other stats irrelevant, but that won't happen this year.

8. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: Fading and too injury-prone to be trusted, but you know he'll get his RBIs come August.

9. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee.

Breakout year may be followed by stat declines, but could still boost HRs, average.

10. Mark Reynolds, Arizona.

Despicable .198 average last year, but still 30-plus HR power.

3B sleeper: Michael Young, Texas.

Not clear where he'll play and with Beltre in town, he wants to be traded, but is always a consistent hitter and extra-bases machine.


Comments welcome.


See also:
* Dan O'Shea's Beachwood baseball blog SwingsBothWays

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:57 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Nobody does use the word 'poor' anymore, including the president," Bob Vondrasek of the South Austin Community Coalition tells AP in its report about how Obama's budget proposal will once again screw the poor, starting with cutting the totally huge heating fuel assistance program.


Obama is also proposing cuts in school library funds that would mean that "districts with at least 20 percent of its students who come from families who live below the poverty line will no longer have dedicated federal funds to specifically pay for school library materials," School Library Journal reports.


So poor people won't even have library books to burn for the heat they will no longer receive.


Obama is also proposing cuts to the Pell Grant college financial aid program, described by one university administrator as "crucial to helping lower-income students attend school."


No big deal. Poor kids growing up freezing and without books will hardly be thinking about college. See how all the pieces fit!

Now I wonder if he'll increase the federal prison budget.


No way.

CLARIFICATION 1:27 P.M.: Drat, this story is from last year. Will look for appropriate substitute. My bad.

UPDATE 1:53 P.M.: And here we go: The premise still works.


Even as . . .

"The proposed budget," The Crime Report says, "would cut funding for juvenile justice and child safety programs."


Well, you can't say the guy doesn't have a vision for America. Apparently his re-election campaign theme will be "Midnight in America."


Obama's plan working already.


Copies Of Obama's Budget Must Have Arrived
"Workers Overcome By 'Foul Odor' On SE Side."

The Chicago Cliche
Last night's episode of The Chicago Code was called "Hog Butcher."


It had its moments, but it's not there yet.


Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who turned out to the venerable Beachwood Inn for our special showing. Old Styles were had by all and "Irish mob" definitely was the most effective drinking game trigger; in fact, it worked for the rest of the night just by yelling it out at random long after the show was over. Good work, everybody.

Consensus Candidate
"Gery Chico: We Need Honest Candidate."

Therefore throwing support to Miguel del Valle.

Insert Punchline Here
"R.R. Donnelly Teams Up With L.L. Bean."

Motorcycle Stunts in Rosemont
"I told you to keep your cameras out!"

Winter Con At Chicago's Comic Vault
Right next to the liquor store.

Richard Dent's Long Road
To the Hall of Fame.

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


The Beachwood Tip Line: Like an Irish mob.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

Obama Screws Poor Again In Political Effort To Prove Once And For All He's Not A Liberal

Literally proposes leaving the needy out in the cold.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Winter Con 2011 At Chicago's Comic Vault

Held over the weekend.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Stunts From The Chicago Motorcycle Show

"I told you to keep your cameras out!"

Held over the weekend in Rosemont.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:59 AM | Permalink

Richard Dent's Long Road To The Hall Of Fame

After playing just a year-and-a-half of high school ball, Richard Dent went to Tennessee State to find himself. The Bears didn't find him until the eighth round of the draft. The NFL didn't find him in his first seven chances to get into the Hall of Fame. But he got there.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Robyn at the Riv on Monday night.


2. Big Gigantic at Lincoln Hall on Sunday Night.


3. Slash (with special guest Rick Nielsen) at the House of Blues on Sunday night.


4. Cobra Skulls at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


5. A Week Back at Reggie's on Sunday night.


6. Interpol at the Riv on Saturday night.


7. Farewell Fighter at Reggie's on Friday night.


8. Tortoise at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


9. The Church at Park West on Friday night.


10. George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at the Congress on Friday night.


11. Skrillex at the Mid on Friday night.


Comments welcome

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

February 14, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

Things are already royally screwed up today at Beachwood HQ so we can offer you Jim Coffman's SportsMonday: The Bulls' Transition Game and the rest of the day will be a crapshoot.

Rumor has it, though, that some folks will be in during my bartending shift at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight for a special showing of tonight's The Chicago Code complete with drinking game. Drink every time somebody mentions Flashdance? Every time somebody points out some ridiculously trivial continuity problem relating to Chicago names and/or places? Rules still undetermined.

I'll be there from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. The show runs from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.; then back to the jukebox. Free pizza will be served.

Hope to be back for more in this space and elsewhere on the site today, but can't promise.


The Beachwood Tip Line: What a feeling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Bulls' Transition Game

Big time basketball made it easy to transition out of the football season on the Sunday after the Super Bowl. When I say "big time," I mean the NBA, of course, with a nationally televised day that began with the Celtics barely holding off the Heat; continued with the Magic's Dwight Howard single-handedly pulling his team away from the Lakers; and ended with Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City squad coming up short at Golden State.

The best part was that the Bulls had taken care of business the night before, rallying past the Hornets in New Orleans 97-88. So they could kick back and enjoy the teams immediately in front and behind them in the Eastern Conference standings pounding away at each other and some of the best of the West (the Los Angeles team that fell to third in its conference in the last week). And then they could cap it off with a classic Western Conference second half in which the Warriors' Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee out-gunned Durant and Russell Westbrook 100-94.

At the end of the weekend, the Bulls (36-16) stood third on their side of the ledger. They trail the Celtics (39-14) and the Heat (39-15) by tiny margins but have built up some distance between themselves and the Magic (35-21) and the Hawks (33-20).

More importantly, the home team has tons of stuff working in their favor going forward.

They have just about weathered the extended injury absence of Joakim Noah. There is a good chance he will be back in action shortly after this weekend's All-Star break. The most remarkable thing about the Bulls' success this season has been that they have achieved it despite significant infirmities suffered by two of their four primary assets (Noah and Carlos Boozer have both missed multiple months - although part of Boozer's absence was the preseason - with hand injuries).

They'll go into the break within a couple games of the top of the conference (better than anyone projected they would be) despite Noah and Boozer having played only eight games together. And while this sort of situation might cause concern in many instances because of re-integration issues, Noah and Boozer's games are so complementary it is hard to imagine that being a problem.

On defense, Noah will almost certainly dive right back in and provide powerful interior presence and emotional energy, i.e. his specialties. Boozer can do a lot of things but he will never be mistaken for an intimidating defensive presence. On offense, Noah does his best work from the high post while Boozer is crafty about creating position for himself down low and then finding ways to put up good shots with tons of touch.

The other big element working in the Bulls' favor is the schedule. On Saturday, they capped off their second extended, winning West Coast trip (they went 3-2 after finishing the late fall circus trip 4-3) and now look forward to a home-heavy slate featuring only one more road game against a Western Conference foe. They host the Bobcats and the sizzling San Antonio Spurs (by far the league's best record at 45-9) on Tuesday and Thursday and then cruise into the break.

Even All-Star snubs will probably work in the Bulls' favor. Both Luol Deng and Boozer were qualified for spots on the Eastern All-Star team and, before his injury, Noah seemed well on his way to a spot on the team backing up Howard. Now they'll all rest during the NBA's holiday weekend and I'm sure will return refreshed and reinvigorated (well, we certainly hope that will be the case - the key will probably be whether Boozer can avoid calamity - he injured himself during the preseason in a fall in his house, after all). Perhaps being left off the team will also provide a little extra motivation for the Bulls forwards going forward.

The primary reason for the Bulls' ascendance has been and will continue to be Derrick Rose. When United Center fans started serenading him with M-V-P chants early this season it seemed cute, an acknowledgement of a rare bit of self-promotion in the preseason that saw Rose, when asked about potential MVP candidates around the NBA this season, say something to the effect of "Why not me?"

At this point, though, it isn't difficult to make an argument that Rose is the favorite for the award. And his greatness is such a cool story, what with his South Side roots and the spectacular trajectory of his career. He led Simeon to two state titles, Memphis to the national championship game in his one season of college ball and then has put together two-and-a half amazing pro seasons.

No one expected Rose to lead the Bulls into contention for an NBA title for at least another couple seasons, but if this team keeps playing like it has - and even better with Noah back - the Bulls will have to be a big part of the conversation when people start predicting conference and even overall champs as the playoffs loom.

* * *

Meanwhile, the prominent local minor league squads (the college outfits, of course) who were in action on Sunday are struggling yet again. Northwestern was crushed at Penn State on Sunday (65-41) and - unless they improbably run the table at the Big Ten tournament in a few weeks - they will miss the Big Dance yet again.

This is Bill Carmody's 11th season at the helm up in Evanston and he still hasn't achieved the one thing he was hired to do - take Northwestern to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1949.

So what did the school do earlier this season when there was still a shred of optimism against long odds that the Wildcats would break through? The athletic department brass extended Carmody's contract. Isn't Northwestern supposed to be an elite educational institution run by at least slightly smarter than average folks?

Then there's Illinois, which seemed to lift up its season to stay with a big win on the road in the middle of the week (against Minnesota), only to fall back with a disappointing loss to Purdue at home on Sunday.

The Illini (16-9, 6-6) are still tied for fourth in the Big 10 and will secure a spot in the Dance with another couple regular season wins and a win or two at the conference tournament, but with seniors Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale leading the way they were supposed to be better than this by now - a lot better.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

For the record, we still don't know what the hell that was, but apparently we went 2-for-3.

Market Update
A major shake-up happened this week on the Pervert Index as blue-chip earner Junk was devalued by a run on the lesser-known Trunk.

Year of Revolution
Of course the biggest news of this week is the revolutionary movement sweeping long-time autocrats from power across the north side of Africa. Word to the wise, though: make sure none of those strongmen quietly pop up in other key positions post-ouster.

Worst and Worsterer
Meteorologists bickered this week over a miniscule portion of the total amount from last week's blizzard qualified it as third or fourth worst. Of course, the difference between the two is not nearly as important as that between first and second worst.

Rail Roaded
We don't want to pile on to the woes of new Metra chief Alex Clifford but . . . is it just us, or is he a few clipper settings away from a certain other over-promising Illinois public figure?

Getting the Thorns
Finally this week, you'll forgive us for giving punching bag of the moment Groupon a pass on their latest snafu. After all, a few bucks here or there isn't going to make Valentine's Day any less painful.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Thorns only.


Show Recommendation
Gear Daddies at the Double Door on Saturday night.


The Weekend on CAN TV

The Future of the City Symposium
Mayor Richard M. Daley addresses the challenges and opportunities facing Chicago and all major U.S. cities.

Saturday at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


State of the Civil Union: What does the Recent Civil Union Passage Mean for You?
State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) joins a panel of distinguished experts to provide insight on the newly passed legislation allowing civil unions in Illinois.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Ugandan LGBTQ Activist: Frank Mugisha
Ugandan human rights activist, Frank Mugisha, discusses the challenges facing LGBTQ individuals and advocates in Uganda and across the African continent.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Asian American Mayoral Candidates Forum
Chicago mayoral candidates discuss their position on public safety, community development, minority business enterprise, affirmative action, education and redistricting at this forum held by Pan Asian Voter Empowerment.

Sunday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
2 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:54 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "Groupon Malaysia, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Groupon, aims to double its local business e-commerce to 80 per cent by year-end," Bernama reports.

Not if its ad team has anything to do with it.


Breaking: "Groupon Yanks TV Ads."

2. Poll Finds That 92% Of Chicagoans Lack Enlightened Political Views.

3. "Emanuel, comfortably ahead in the polls, never responded to any of the criticism and after the debate, left the site, Kennedy-King College, without stopping to take questions from reporters as all the other candidates did."

Maybe he was in a hurry to get to another speech he was giving on transparency.

4. "A landmark, homegrown Central Florida beer distributorship with 500 employees across the region and a half-century presence in Brevard County will be purchased by the 25th largest privately held company in America, the companies announced on Thursday," Florida Today reports.

"Chicago-based Reyes Holdings, LLC., a $12 billion a year food and beer distribution conglomerate, said its subsidiary, Florida Distributing Company, LLC., will acquire Schenck Company."


Reyes is actually based in Rosemont - and it's actually moved up to the 20th largest private company in America, according to Forbes, which says:

"Through its operating subsidiaries, Reyes Holdings is a wholesale food and beverage distributor in North and South America. The company's beer operations in California, Illinois, Virginia, and Washington D.C. make up the largest beer distribution system in the United States.

"Its Martin-Brower subsidiary is the exclusive distributor to approximately half of the McDonald's in the U.S., and all the chain's restaurants in Canada, Brazil and Central America.

"Subsidiary Reinhart FoodService serves fast-food chains like Burger King and Subway.

"Reyes Holdings also provides logistics services and manages a portfolio of real estate properties."


Forbes lists the Reyes family as the 205th most wealthy in America.


J. Christopher Reyes is a relatively modest campaign contributor, though described by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform as a "career patron" of former lieutenant governor Corinne Wood.


Last October, Reyes reportedly bought the West Buttermilk estate in Aspen for $31.5 million.


Reyes is also on the new Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau board.

4. "Ryan Dempster Cuts Price On Home Near Wrigley."

He's not leaving Chicago; he's merely upgraded to a different house a few blocks away.

Anyway, here are the details:

"Built in 2005, the three-story, 5,300-square-foot brick and limestone home that Dempster is trying to sell has 4 1/2 baths, four fireplaces, a master suite with a spa bath, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, a large gourmet kitchen with a butler's pantry and breakfast nook, a party room on the top floor, a sauna, lower-level media room and a wine cellar. Outside on the 3,000-square-foot property are two cedar decks, a hot tub and a 2 1/2-car garage."

5. "He might not be Superman, Batman or Iron Man, but Tim Davis plays an equally heroic role for his customers: Comic Book Man," the SouthtownStar reports.

"Davis, 51, of Tinley Park, is the owner of Alternate Reality, a comic book store on Chicago's Southwest Side."

6. "Chicagoans don't put mayonnaise on their hot dogs, but Brownsvillians do, so it was inevitable that cultures would clash over condiments at Mike's Taste of Chicago, a new eatery at 1244 International Blvd.," the Brownsville (Texas) Herald reports.

"McCreary opened Taste of Chicago with his wife, Letty, a Brownsville native, just a few weeks ago. But he comes by the business honestly, since his family owned Ralph's, a hot dog mainstay at Polk and Western in Chicago for 25 years."


"McCreary's menu features other Chicago-style fare such as Italian beef and Italian sausage sandwiches, as well as the 'Maxwell Street Polish,' a Polish sausage sandwich prepared with sweet grilled onions that's been a Chicago specialty since the late 1930s. Less traditional menu items include the 'Sears Tower,' a third-pound hamburger topped with cheese and a quarter pound of pastrami, served on a kaiser bun."

7. "Chicago Pneumatic, one of world's leading providers of various types of tools for the construction industry, has announced its increased activity and expansion plans for the Indian market in 2011, which include launch of several new products and comprehensively covering the Indian market through more and bigger distributors over the period of next few months," India InfoLine reports.


It's not clear to me whether this company has anything to do with Chicago.

8. "This has been a rough week in Indonesia, especially for religious minorities," our very own Brett McNeil writes in Indonesian Journal: Obama's Beacon Of Hope Is Sorely Tested.

"While the rest of the world watches to see whether widespread grassroots protest can or will yield real political change in Egypt, Indonesians find themselves wondering how to address a recidivist and religiously motivated backslide that threatens the future of pluralism in this undeniably multicultural and putatively tolerant nation-state.

9. Bill & Giuliana, Nivea Romance Couple.

10. The Real Rahm.

11. Robbie Fulks vs. Christina Aguilera.

12. Studs Terkel Book Made Into Musical With Songs By James Taylor.

13. The Week in Chicago Rock.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Accept no substitutes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: Obama's Beacon Of Hope Is Sorely Tested

This has been a rough week in Indonesia, especially for religious minorities. While the rest of the world watches to see whether widespread grassroots protest can or will yield real political change in Egypt, Indonesians find themselves wondering how to address a recidivist and religiously motivated backslide that threatens the future of pluralism in this undeniably multicultural and putatively tolerant nation-state.

Last weekend, Islamist zealots attacked and killed three members of a religious group considered apostate by hardline Muslims. Then, on Tuesday, Islamic fundamentalists rampaged through a Central Java city and burned three Christian churches.

The torching of the churches and a Catholic school building in Temanggung, a city about 30 minutes from Magelang, came after a local judge sentenced a Christian man to five years in prison for blaspheming Islam. The sentence was the maximum allowed under the law but protestors were unsatisfied. They sought the death penalty - the defendant last year had distributed leaflets critical of Islam - and when it wasn't handed down, they set out from the courthouse to the churches and, in full view of local police, burned them to the ground. One of the targeted churches is where my principal and his family worships.


The police have made several arrests but it's unclear how those cases will proceed. The arsonists are believed to belong to the radical Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, which has powerful political supporters throughout Indonesia.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has been criticized in the past for being too soft on Muslim hardliners, has called for authorities to disband the FPI, but public comments by other government officials make clear that not everyone in power supports that crackdown. The FPI and other fundamentalist organizations have significant electoral pull in some parts of the nation, especially on Java, and placating Islamists is part of the job description for any aspiring Indonesian politician.

And no wonder politicians are slow to act - there's no organized voice for religious minorities here, certainly not one as loud or inflexible as those coming from the Muslim right. And Islamic hardliners, with their willingness to use violence against their enemies, silence dissent or real public discourse before it ever begins. Better not to make waves as a Christian or other religious minority. Better to be polite and acquiesce.

A friend from the high school, an English teacher and Christian, told me the other day that while he was offended by the church burnings he understood where the radicals were coming from. The blasphemy trial defendant had insulted Islam and the actions of the mob in Temanggung were predictable and, in my friend's telling, almost reasonable. He equated distributing leaflets with burning churches. They are the same, really, he said. And anyway, Indonesian Muslims, he said, are not rational when it comes to religion.

So an entire nation's notions of civil liberty or equal citizenship are held hostage by hotheads and thugs? My friend did not answer that last question. Instead, he did what many Javanese do when they're nervous: He laughed.

The victims of last Sunday's murders were members of the Ahmadiyah sect, an Islamic group that paradoxically believes Muhammad was not the final prophet.


This unusual doctrinal stance makes the Ahmadiyah highly controversial and has made them the targets of repeated acts of violence and repression in Indonesia. The central government three years ago banned the group from openly practicing their religion or from spreading the teachings of their sect.

Last fall, two members of the group, including a woman who was stabbed, were attacked on their way to a religious meeting.

The media coverage of that earlier event decried the violence against the victims but in my conversations with Indonesians afterward, I found an undercurrent of told-you-so unconcern. The Ahmadiyah had made a very uncomfortable bed for themselves - their beliefs are unusual, no? - and it's not surprising that they're singled out for attacks by bullies.

My friends seemed unable to make a connection between religious persecution of one minority group and the potential persecution of another.

But the church burnings this week seem to have changed that, at least for some. As my principal said in discussing the attack on his church: Not good, sir. Not good.

In both attacks this week, the Islamists used fire. On Sunday, they burned a home where Ahmadiyah members were hiding in far West Java and then beat three of them to death when they emerged from the flaming, smoke-filled house. Two days later, a different group of Muslim fundamentalists torched the churches and school building in Central Java.

When he came to Jakarta last November, Barack Obama said Indonesia represented a kind of beacon of democratic hope in the Muslim world. This is the official line here: Founded out of anti-colonial struggle, Indonesia is a nation of many people and different beliefs, a polyglot, multiethnic, religiously free country strengthened by Bhinneka Tunngal Ika, or Unity in Diversity. But is it? The question for all minorities here, religious and ethnic alike, Christian and Papuan and all the rest, is this: Whose country is this?

Clearly that question must be answered by President Yudhoyono, a former general and second-term, once-upon-a-time reformer who greeted Obama with much pomp. He's got the power but commentators and citizens alike wonder if he's got the will. As an Op-Ed piece in the Jakarta Globe puts it:

"The way forward would seem to lie, for now, with Yudhoyono, who will rule until 2014. The vision of a modern, prosperous and diverse Indonesia is within reach, but only if the president reaffirms a real commitment to the secular and tolerant state founded in 1945. To do that he must take steps to repeal the overtly Islamic blasphemy law and the thinly veiled Islamic Puritanism of the 2008 pornography statute. He must see that the police finally break their ties with radical Islamic militias and adequately punish groups who pursue vendettas against minorities on the basis of religion. In short, he must govern on behalf of all Indonesians not just the intolerant few. One hopes he is up to the challenge."

I don't know if Yudhoyono is up to it but I am hopeful that Indonesians of all faiths - even the non-believers, who have no official standing in this country - are willing to press for a stronger secular state that is governed by law and not by corruption or by religious extremism. That both the Ahmadiyah and church arson attacks this week took place with police looking on suggests just how much work remains to be done here.

Are Indonesians up to the challenge?


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


* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House
* Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die
* Indonesian Journal: The Chicago Way Out Of Vietnam
* Indonesian Journal: My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud
* Indonesian Journal: The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

Studs Terkel Book Made Into Musical With Songs By James Taylor

"The perfect musical for everyone who has ever worked a day in their lives!"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

Robbie Fulks vs. Christina Aguilera

Robbie shows her how it's done - melodramatic flourishes and all - at the Hideout on Monday night.

Memo to NFL: Next year hire this guy and a high school marching band and be done with it.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

DayBreak USA or The Onion?

How are you?!


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 AM | Permalink

The Real Rahm

Straight from the horse's ass's mouth.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:50 AM | Permalink

Nation Elects First Openly Drunk Senator

First came out when he threw up on himself in the state legislature.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Radio Dept. at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


2. Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.


3. Carbon Tigers at Schubas on Monday night.


4. A Skylit Drive at House of Blues on Wednesday night.


5. Rooney at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.


6. Earthen Grave at the Abbey on Wednesday night.


7. Rusalka at Schubas on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:18 AM | Permalink

February 10, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Marie Wuczynski could be found most nights holding court at her Bucktown bar, a shot of Jagermeister, a glass of soda and a pack of Parliaments within easy reach," Becky Schlikerman writes for the Tribune.

"The ebullient queen of Marie's Rip Tide Lounge on Armitage Avenue, known for her towering pouf of whitish-blonde hair and bawdy sense of humor, danced and sang along to tunes from the old-time jukebox into the wee hours, entertaining an ever-changing late-night crowd.

"'That was Marie,' said Leo Zak, a bartender at the Riptide. 'She made you feel like you belonged.'

"Mrs. Wuczynski, 88, died of heart failure Monday, Feb. 7, at her home one flight above the tavern."


The classic portrait of Marie.


"Marie Wuczynski had a favorite number on the jukebox of the venerable Marie's Rip Tide, 1745 W. Armitage," Dave Hoekstra writes for the Sun-Times.

"Mrs. Wuczynski would often go to sleep after listening to number 120 on the juke. That song was "Melody of Love," with 1940s era WGN all-night radio personality Franklyn MacCormack reading a poem with the Wayne King Orchestra playing a waltz . . .

"Mrs. Wuczynki loved telling jokes, like the true story about the drunk man she encountered in 1961. The Rip Tide had a back screen door and a front screen door. 'I put the hook on the back door and he starts shaking it," she recalled. "I told him he couldn't come in because he was too drunk. He goes away. Then he starts shaking the front door. I said, You heard me, you can't come in here! He jumps back and says, How many fucking taverns do you own?'"

His Own Chinaman
Richard M. Daley is returning to China for the fifth time; one more and he qualifies for residency. Look for his name on the 2012 ballot.

Chicago Province
Killing State Street's Character One Storefront At A Time.

At least the store names aren't yet in Chinese.

CAN TV vs. Channel 5
You tell us which one is a joke.

Just In Time!
"All six mayoral candidates spar for first time."

With just 12 days left until Election Day.

Tumbling Dice
"Over the years, the Jesse White Tumblers have trained 13,000 young athletes and, according to White, 'Only 105 of them have gotten into trouble with the law.'" Steno Spielman reports.

1. That may very well be true, but I'd want to see some documentation before publishing it. Does White keep a spreadsheet or something?

2. That may very well be true, but how does that compare to the general population as well as the population of disadvantaged kids who presumably comprise the tumblers? And are they cherry-picked, so to speak?

"Rancic Introduced Cavallari To Cutler."


Rancic is now working on setting up Jennifer Aniston. Hey, this guy's single now!

Yeah, This Isn't Good Timing
"Groupon Says It Plans To Expand Its Online Coupon Service To China 'Soon'."

All You Need Is Love And Lisa Madigan
"Illinois wants to rescue John Lennon's guitar from the defunct Peace Museum," the Courthouse News Service reports. "The guitar and other stuff has been sitting at storage sites, one of which may have 'suffered significant water and mold damage,' Attorney General Lisa Madigan says."

Madigan has filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court seeking a receiver to take over the assets of the troubled museum.

Jeff Tweedy (D-Rahm)
Turns out Billy Bragg was right.

Rahm's Values
Skips community forums but finds time to speak at Housewares Show.

How To Stop Rahm
A Beachwood exclusive.

The Jersey Way
Here comes Michigan.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Pouring one out for Marie.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Jeff Tweedy (D-Rahm) Has Broken Our Hearts

"For knowledgeable music fans, two things jump out from the list of donors to the campaign of mayoral frontrunner Rahm Emanuel," Jim DeRogatis reports. "The first is the contributions from the two top executives at Ticketmaster/Live Nation, the monopolistic giant that has become the most reviled entity in the music business.

"Executive chairman Irving Azoff, the notorious 'Poison Dwarf' of the music industry and a man who's been pushing concert ticket prices ever higher since he started as manager of the Eagles, gave the campaign $10,000. And CEO Michael Rapino, as ruthless a figure as the music business ever has produced, gave $5,000.

"The second fact that leaps out is that no fewer than 15 employees at William Morris Endeavor, the Hollywood super-agency run by Ari Emanuel, have donated a total of $141,000 to his brother Rahm's campaign. Not coincidentally, William Morris co-owns Lollapalooza, which has a tax-free sweetheart deal with the city of Chicago that keeps it in Grant Park through 2018."

Just the latest reportage that makes one wonder: What the hell is Jeff Tweedy doing not only endorsing Rahm Emanuel but playing a fundraiser for him?

"The bigger picture, though, is that the approval of the unholy marriage of Ticketmaster and Live Nation marked one of the most disappointing decisions of the Obama administration's Justice Department, as noted numerous times in this blog and my previous forum at the Sun-Times," DeRogatis writes. "And many political insiders and Beltway pundits saw the influence of two key people behind that decision: the President's Harvard roommate and longtime pal Julius Genachowski, formerly on the board of directors of Ticketmaster and now the chairman of the FCC, and Rahm Emanuel, then the President's Chief of Staff.

"Rahm's brother Ari, the inspiration behind super-agent Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage, not only is CEO of William Morris Endeavor, one of the most powerful talent agencies in the world. He also is a member of the board of directors of Live Nation, and a key figure in pushing the winner-take-all, to-hell-with-the-little-guy policies of that voracious and all-consuming mega-company."

Earth to Wilco: Is transmission being received?


In Greg Kot's Wilco: Learning How To Die, Tweedy complains that Mermaid Avenue collaborator Billy Bragg thought he and his bandmates were a bunch of political rubes.

It would seem so.

"I've been to EVERY city and all other cities suck a little bit," Tweedy once said. "Except Chicago."

Right. Nothing about Chicago sucks - not the nation's worst segregation, the nation's worst gang problem, the nation's worst corrupt political culture, not the coal plants poisoning Hispanic kids and Jon Burge's torture. But San Francisco? Yuk! New York? Brutal! Austin? Borrring!


From Kot's book:

"In contrast, Bragg embraced Guthrie's politics. He insisted that the pro-union 'I Guess I Planted' and the Mussolini-bashing 'All You Fascists' be recorded, while Tweedy rolled his eyes."


"But Wilco and Bragg could never agree on a tour, and their joint success was short-lived. Quarrels ensued over everything from paying union fees for guest musicians to festival concert commitments, or the lack thereof."

In other words, Tweedy didn't want to pay union scale. Now it's making sense.


Is it fair to judge Tweedy for his political choices? As long as he's using his influence to put money behind those choices, absolutely.

It's also fair to wonder where his political impulses come from, given the subject matter of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which Kot once described thusly:

"Its themes couldn't be more contemporary or universal; it's a meditation both musical and lyrical on what it means to live in the world's most prosperous country."


Yeah, well, I've always been a huge Wilco fan, but with Jeff Tweedy I've always had the uneasy feeling there was less there than met the eye.


"It doesn't happen that frequently but every now and then I get stopped in the street by a perfect stranger saying, 'Didn't I see you in that movie?'" Howie Klein wrote in 2008. "Hmmm . . . which movie? 'You know, the one with Wilco.' Oh yeah, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. I was president of their record label and when I retired the very first move the label did was drop Wilco. Big mistake; Wilco is a signature band and the Warner Music Group soon ate shit and signed them up again - for even more money. I was in the film talking about this stuff.

"I doubt I ever had a political discussion with Wilco although it isn't inconceivable that I told them what I thought of Bush stealing the 2000 election or what I thought of his Iraq agenda or something like that. I'm positive I never discussed Chicago politics with them. In fact, until I read it in CongressDaily today I had no idea that their vile representative had asked them to play a fundraiser for him. Had I know, you can bet I would have chimed in. Hint: they live in Chicago.

"Rahm Emanuel was a little put off when Wilco played a fundraiser for Obama last month. Emanuel is playing it neutral even though he's part of the Clinton Machine because Obama is the home state boy but he was pissed because after Clinton 'gave' him the congressional district as a reward for narrowly pushing through NAFTA, Emanuel had to face actual voters and he asked Wilco to play for him. Being polite, Wilco said they don't do politics. Emanuel now says 'Their perspective has changed.' Either that or they're smarter than he gives them credit for being."


"As Rahm himself loves the salty language, let's dispense with politeness," Steven Walcott writes. "Rahm Emanuel is a dickwad and the best part of him ran down his mama's leg. He's the kind of Democrat who hates unions and poor people - it's not an accusation, it's true. He's a high-end corporate shitbird, period.

"And why Wilco frontman would want to get down with this prick is beyond me. I like a couple of their records from the '90s, but the last few have been a big ol' cup of sleepytime tea"


"Coincidentally, as the savvy folks at Pitchfork Media have already noted, Wilco just released their rendition of 'The Jolly Banker,' a droll anti-capitalist ditty by Woody Guthrie," Andria Lisle wrote in a 2009 Memphis Flyer post called "Is Wilco's Jeff Tweedy Living The Life He Sings About?"

Lisle provides the song's third verse:

When money you're needing, and mouths you are feeding,
I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I.
I'll plaster your home with a furniture loan,
Singin' I'm a jolly banker, jolly banker am I

Does Tweedy know that Rahm was once a ridiculously overpaid investment banker and later sat on the board of Fannie Mae in a patronage job? And if so, what does he think about it?


From Kot:

"As a result of Tweedy's feelings on the political nature of some of the lyrics, Bragg recorded mostly political songs while Wilco recorded more neutral songs."

Maybe we've been wrong all along. After all, remember this?


And there was this Tweedy quote, oy:

"If you love someone, set them free, right? I mean, Sting said that, and he knows a few things about music."

Dude, you're breaking my heart.


Maybe he's making nice so his wife can get her club back.


"The all-ages [Rahm fundraiser] show starts at $85 for general admission, and costs $150 for guaranteed seating with one drink ticket."


I meant to pull Tweedy's voting record to see if he has regularly gone to the polls, but I didn't have time.


Comments from the Huffington Post's "Wilco's Jeff Tweedy To Headline Rahm Emanuel Fundraiser":

Maybe he is managed by emanuel's brother. Having said that, it is amazing that people who made their career on Woody Guthrie's music would support that anti-union goon.


This only confirms my dislike of Wilco for being impostors. The Waco Brothers would never endorse Rahm.


Jeff, put away the smoke. Your judgement is cloudy. Rahm is NOT on your side.


Rahm has no real comment.


Jeff Tweedy oughta be ashamed.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:08 AM | Permalink

Make Fun Of Public Access At Your Peril; CAN TV Has Been Chicago's Campaign HQ

If CAN TV really is the black Chicagoan's WTTW - as argued in a stupefying, offensive post on NBC Chicago's often stupefying and offensive Ward Room blog - maybe the question NBC Chicago ought to be asking itself is why so many people in this city feel unrepresented by the likes of . . . NBC Chicago.

Meanwhile, how well has NBC Chicago done as the venue of choice for political news for dumb white people?

All you have to do is consider the Ward Room's concept along with NBC Chicago's noted pattern of embarrassing errors as well as the lost ethical compass of its boss men to dismiss it as unworthy of carrying CAN TV's camera cables.

Among Chicago's nine political influencers Ward Room purports to cover: Sandi Jackson, whose influence doesn't even extend to the borders of her own ward, and Rod Blagojevich, whose influence isn't even felt on reality TV anymore. The blog has mercifully dropped both Alexi Giannoulias, as if; and Lisa Madigan, finally realizing that her father is, um, sort of influential and that there was only room for one of 'em. For some strange reason only fathomable to the geniuses at NBC Chicago, Mark Kirk is one of Chicago's nine influencers but Dick Durbin isn't. The Ward Room also discovered Ed Burke somewhere along the line.

So not really in a position to feel superior.

[DISCLAIMER: As Beachwood readers know by now and as explained in the "lost ethical compass" link above, I left NBC Chicago after the most serious in a string of ethical violations and sloppy editing that imperiled both my reputation and my sanity; also, I rent my apartment in a home owned by CAN TV executive director Barbara Popovic. Nonetheless, my argument here is objectively unassailable.]

Let's take a look at CAN TV's coverage of the mayoral campaign, for example, and compare it in your mind's eye to NBC Chicago.


CAN TV has covered or will cover by campaign season's end 11 mayoral forums throughout the City. Mayoral forums are broadcast every Sunday night at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19 - or you can watch them online here.


Coverage has (and will have) included:

11/30/10: The UIC Chicago Mayoral Candidate Forum.

12/14/10: - The New Chicago 2011 Chicago Mayoral Town Hall Meeting.

Sponsoring Organizations: Action Now; ARC '09; Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation; Brighton Park Neighborhood Council; Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois; Community Organizing and Family Issues; Community Renewal Society; Enlace Chicago; Erie Neighborhood House; Grassroots Collaborative; Illinois Hunger Coalition; Jane Addams Senior Caucus; Jewish Council on Urban Affairs; Kenwood Oakland Community Organization; Lakeview Action Coalition; Logan Square Neighborhood Association; Organization of the Northeast; Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation; Southwest Youth Collaborative; supporting organization: Albany Park Neighborhood Council.

12/15/10: - The Raise Your Hands Chicago Mayoral Forum on Education.

Sponsoring Organizations: Raise Your Hand, Illinois Policy Institute, Northside Democracy in America.

12/16/10: - The Chicago Teachers Union Mayoral Candidate Forum on Education.

01/11/11: A Mayoral Candidate Forum on Public Housing in Chicago

Sponsoring Organizations: National Public Housing Museum and the Central Advisory Council.

01/19/11: The Chicago Mayoral Forum on Community and Environmental Issues.

Sponsoring Organizations: SOAR and Friends of the Parks (FOTP). Also: Friends of Downtown, Fulton River District Association, New Eastside Association of Residents (NEAR), North Dearborn Association, River North Residents Association, as well as influential environmental organizations: Great Lakes Alliance, Chicago Recycling Coalition, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Chicago River, Openlands, Sierra Club, and Trust for Public Land.

01/22/11: The Chicago Mayoral Candidate Forum on Veterans Affairs.

Sponsoring Organization: Coalition on Veterans Affairs.

01/28/11: The Community PTA Mayoral Forum.

Sponsoring Organizations: Black Star Community PTA and Educational Village Keepers Community PTSA, with the Chicago Teachers Union.

02/08/11: -The Korean American Community Services Mayoral Forum.

Sponsoring organization: Korean American Community Services

02/09/11: The LGBT Mayoral Forum

Sponsoring organizations: Affinity Community Services, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Amigas Latinas, Association of Latino Men for Action (ALMA), Bisexual Queer Alliance Chicago, Boricua Pride, Center on Halsted, Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, Equality Illinois, Howard Brown Health Center, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Chicago, I2I: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, Illinois Gender Advocates, Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Join the Impact Chicago, Lambda Legal, Lesbian & Gay Bar Association of Chicago, LGBT Change, LGBT Immigration Project of Heartland Alliance, Orgullo En Accion, POW WOW, Inc., Public Pride Alliance, The Civil Rights Agenda, The Literary Exchange, TransActions, Video Action League, and Windy City Black LGBT Pride.

02/15/11: The Mayoral Forum on Violence Against Women.

Sponsoring Organizations: Chicago Foundation for Women, Rape Victim Advocates, CAASE, Center on Halsted, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network.

02/16/11: West Side Mayoral Candidates Town Hall.

Sponsoring Organizations: Blocks Together, West Side United, West Humboldt Park Concerned Citizens and Chicago Teachers Union


And that's not all. CAN TV's election coverage has also included:

* Taped statements from five of the six candidates.

* Coverage of The Society of Midland Authors' panel discussion, "The Chicago Mayoral Race."

* Six public service announcements with the Chicago Board of Elections on "three ways to vote" and early voting in English, Chinese and Spanish.

* A Chicago Board of Elections program on navigating the challenge process.

* The weekly Chicago Newsroom with Ken Davis featuring Chicago journalists and bloggers discussing the candidates and the issues - airing every Thursday at 6:30 p.m on CAN TV19. (Watch for the Chicago Newsroom's post-election roundup on Saturday, Feb.26th, at 7 p.m. on CAN TV21 and online at

* Coverage of the Green Growth Platform Questionnaire for Mayoral Candidates Press Conference.

Sponsoring organizations: Active Transportation Alliance, Alliance for the Great Lakes, Blacks in Green, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Chicago Recycling Coalition, Citizen Action/Illinois, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Environment Illinois, Friends of the Chicago River, Friends of the Forest Preserves, Friends of the Parks, I-GO Car Sharing, Metropolitan Planning Council, Nuclear Energy Information Services, Openlands, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and Sierra Club/Illinois Chapter.


Is there anyone in Chicago who's been left out?


Meanwhile, Channel 5 has Mary Ann Ahern and the Ward Room. You tell me which station is a joke.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

How To Stop Rahm

According to a Beachwood panel of political experts.

* Out him as the guy behind Groupon's Super Bowl ads.

* Unearth racy interpretive dance footage.

* Rahm's signature discovered on parking meter deal!

* Exclusive! Rahm was on the board of Freddie Mac! Oh, wait . . .

* Name Rahm the new black consensus candidate and hope for white backlash.

* Circulate blue-light camera footage of Rahm setting up two Redskins folding chairs in a parking space that his renter shoveled out - it's a dibs controversy and a residency controversy all in one!

* Get Roland Burris to endorse him.

* Discover Rahm's real birth certificate - in Green Bay.

* Leak documents revealing his interest in Lincoln Towing.

* Throw a brick through Gery Chico's window.

* Challenge his residency. Oh, wait . . .

* Say that Rahm said he invented the El.

* "Rahm was against the Bears before he was for them."

* Fake press release: "Rahm to Oprah: 'This is MY town now, bitch!'"

* Have Crane Kenney get a priest to bless his campaign headquarters.

* Newly discovered documents find that Rahm hired Angelo Torres.

* Newly discovered documents find that Rahm is Angelo Torres.

* Photos show basement boxes full of cheeseheads.

* Fake press release II: "Emanuel: 'Who's up for a WINTER Olympics bid, huh?'"

* Have Lovie Smith announce that Rahm hurt his knee and has to pull out of the race.

* Fake press release III: "Emanuel's First Privatization Deal - There's Nothing Like Cruising the Lakefront on Willis Drive."

* Leaked documents reveal that Rahm intends to amend the parking meter deal; unfortunately, the planned amendment is to add a Personal Space License provision, charging lessees a one-time fee for the right to pay for a space.

* Drop a dime to Sneed suggesting that Rahm is a sleeper al-Qaeda agent.

* Ambush Rahm at an El stop with a game of Neighborhood Jeopardy.

* Ambush Rahm at an El stop and ask him for directions to Beach and Wood.

* Start a news organization that doesn't bow before our new overlord.


- Scott Buckner, Beachwood Mark, Tim Willette, Tom Chambers, Steve Rhodes

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

It's not easy being me.

Let's see what's in the news.

1. "Hoping to retain its newly recaptured muscle car supremo status, GM unveiled the 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show."

My most beloved car was my first - a 1975 green Camaro. Jensen speakers in the back. Rocked.

2. "Chicago's Left Blows Its Big Chance," Laura Washington writes.


"Del Valle is the only true progressive and coalition builder in the race. In his long political career as a state lawmaker and as city clerk, Del Valle has forged a solid record on liberal causes. He was the first non-African-American to join the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, where he served for 15 years. His authentically grassroots campaign has emphasized neighborhood-friendly postures on public education, community policing and economic development."


In today's updated Beachwood Mayoral Odds, I write:

"[Del Valle has] gotten surprisingly little support from so-called Lakefront liberals and progressives; would also have made for the best 'minority consensus' candidate. Clearly the only scandal-free candidate whose background on the education committee in the General Assembly as well as a stellar test run of sorts in the admittedly small city clerk's office should have meant more than it has. His neighborhood-centric platform is just what Chicago needs but powerful interests and the hypnotized masses seem hell-bent on perpetuating the Potemkin Village of China-loving Chicago [by electing Rahm]."

3. From the Facebook feed of WGN Radio News Director Charlie Meyerson:

"Ran into Rahm Emanuel at the L station around 5:30 p.m. He happily shook my hand. Things got chilly when I told him I'm a reporter and started posing questions. Asked to name his biggest concern of the campaign, he said it was that WGN reporters would interfere with his meeting and greeting voters. I reminded him we're part of the process, too. And then my train arrived. I can hardly wait for our next meeting."

4. "Chicago emergency management officials defended the city's expansive network of cameras following a scathing report from a leading civil rights group that raised concerns about the loss of privacy, a lack of regulation and fears the technology could violate the First Amendment," AP reports.

Here's what caught my eye:

"City officials have been tight-lipped about how many cameras Chicago has in place . . . ACLU officials said the city declined to give the group information on the cameras, including a tour of its operation center, statistics on crime and cost estimates."

So, secret government.

But what's so funny is how great the camera network is - until it's convenient for it to not be so great.

"In its report, the ACLU outlined three specific technologies that exceed the powers of ordinary human observation and increase the government's power to watch the public: zoom, facial recognition capacity and automatic tracking."

Jose Santiago, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, issued a statement saying the cameras don't have all of those technologies.

He obviously refused to elaborate.

Just trust him.

5. "Del Valle: Parking Meter Deal Violates City Ethics Law."


"Del Valle said companies that worked on the deal, including the law firm of Katten, Muchin, Rosenman donated a combined total of $29,000 to Emanuel's campaign."

That's really not a much - but there's a reason they gave that money to Rahm and not Miguel.

6. "Rumsfeld Wanted Afghanistan To Do Things The Chicago Way."

For example, residency would be determined by "intent."


I know it's not the same thing, but reading that reminded me of this.

7. "Twelve years ago, city workers heaped 65,000 sandbags into piles creating walls to prevent high winds from spilling Lake Michigan onto the Drive," Chuck Goudie reports. "They did this three days before the storm hit. Last week's blizzard came with even earlier warnings.

"Last week's blizzard came with even earlier warnings.

"On the day of the '99 storm, the Drive was closed to traffic due to blinding whiteout conditions. Snow plows were diverted to other roads.

"As was the warning last week, in 1999 forecasters cautioned that if sustained heavy winds came from the northeast, Lake Shore Drive would be submerged. But back then pumps supplied by the Army Corps of Engineers stood ready near the Drive."


And again:

"Monday, the I-Team asked Streets and Sanitation officials why the same preparations for Lake Shore Drive weren't made this year but received no reply."


We have a secret government in Chicago. They watch us with technology they will neither describe nor explain, but we are not allowed to watch them. All questions are put in a tube and flushed into Lake Michigan.

Given Rahm Emanuel's anti-public campaign, it looks like we're in for at least another four years.


Let me ask you something, Chicago: Is someone putting a gun to your head?

8. Extreme Urban Sledding.

9. A Pimp and a Hustler.

10. Carmelo Coast to Coast.

11. Joel Osteen To Hold "Night of Hope" At Wrong Chicago Ballpark.

12. Yo La Tengo Does Seinfeld At The Metro.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Countersurveillance.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

In Action! Yo La Tengo at the Metro

The band premiered "Sitcom Theater" last Friday night to an uneasy response.


The wheel that made them do it.


The result.


The YouTube comments:

now this is art. i think.


People were very entertained, but, ultimately, very upset. Hah. There was a girl behind me yelling, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"relentlessly.

The whole thing was fucking brilliant, though


The whole episode:


Photo gallery of the show by Time Out.


And, a song:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

A Pimp and a Hustler

"As Chicago work its way into a snow-free community, 69-year-old Al Wynn is daily working on the re-releasing re-releasing of his 2008 bestselling book A Pimp and a Hustler," Darnell T. Glover writes.


"During Mr. Wynn's life time he has rubbed shoulders with aldermen, congressmen, judges, and the top notch gangsters of Chicago. Most of them were head gang lords in the late sixties. He had several narrow escapes with his life."


"After Al graduated from the University of Hard Knocks USA, he became a successful entrepreneur in real estate, restaurant, roofing contractor, construction and general contracting."



See also: A Pimp and a Hustler on Facebook and on Twitter.


From the original release:

"Last month (May 2008) Ron Carter, Chair of the Black Wall Street Economic Summit V opened the Friday night reception holding a copy of the book A Pimp and a Hustler by Al Wynn, who was in attendance," the South Street Journal reported. "The book title"s significance lay in the fact that the Summit was established on May 19th of last year, in honor of Malcolm X"s birthday, who Carter noted, 'once was also a pimp and a hustler.'"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

Extreme Urban Sledding

By all means, try at home.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Carmelo Coast to Coast

It's NY vs. LA in the battle to land superstar Carmelo Anthony before the trade deadline, and the Denver Nuggets doing a deal with either the Knicks or the Lakers could have some interest fantasy implications.

In New York, 'Melo, SF/PF, would become part of a faster offense that would probably need him to score early and often, with the possibility that both Wilson Chandler, SF/PF and Danilo Gallinari, SF, or Landry Fields, SG/SF (though maybe all three) could be shipped elsewhere in the trade.

In Los Angeles, 'Melo would be playing second fiddle to Kobe Bryant, SG. I don't see him taking points away from Kobe, do you? From a fantasy perspective, if you have Anthony, the better destination is the Knicks.

Meanwhile, some of the bargaining chips in these competing trade offers also would be affected. LA would send Andrew Bynum, C, to Denver. Bynum missed the first 24 games of the season and is still not really up to par. With Bynum, Denver would have a glut of injury-prone centers, since they already have oft-injured Nene Hilario and Chris Andersen, who also missed the first month of the season and is slowly making his way back. Bynum would be Denver's starting center of the future, but things could be dicey for the remainder of this season.

In a New York deal, Chandler at the very least would be headed to Denver, but the Knicks may have to add someone else. Corey Brewer, SG/SF, Minnesota also could be going to Denver if it becomes a three-way deal (In that case, the dead weight of Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph could go to the Timberwolves).

Chandler has been having a great season, but if you think the Knicks' fast-paced offense should get most of the credit for that, you would not be alone. Chandler would score in Denver, but not as much. Brewer is not really a fantasy factor unless you're in a 12-team league where the steals category is especially contentious (he averages 1.6 per game), and Curry and Randolph are completely worthless.

If New York has to throw in Gallinari to Denver, the streaky but prolific shooter is a better, more direct replacement for Anthony than Chandler would be. If Gallinari stays and 'Melo comes to New York, it's bad news for Gallinari, as there won't be room for two shot-first-assist-never players in the Big Apple. If it's Fields who heads to Denver, he would have to battle for minutes and shots with J.R. Smith, SG/SF.

The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 24, so stay tuned.

Expert Wire
* says you can find fantasy value on even the lowliest NBA teams. Including Cleveland? Yes.

* Bleacher Report says Amir Johnson, PF, Toronto, is on the rise. He's averaged a double-double over the last few games.

* HoopsWorld updates its Top 100 player rankings.

* Sports Grumblings says it's time to get rid of Gilbert Arenas. Isn't it always time?

Fantasy Football Fix
What did we learn from the Super Bowl, besides that Groupon should have sold itself to Google and kept its mouth shut?

Well, if it hadn't already been settled, Aaron Rodgers definitely position himself as a first-round fantasy draft pick next season.

I have been a fantasy fan of Rodgers for awhile, and would have taken him as the first QB this past season, but until the last few games he wasn't living up to the hype.

His Week 16 game against the NY Giants changed that, and his postseason run ensured Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees will have to wait their turn to be picked next season.


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 7:57 AM | Permalink

Joel Osteen To Hold "Night of Hope" At Wrong Chicago Ballpark

"Tens of thousands fill arenas and stadiums across America and millions more tune in from around the world to hear Pastor Joel Osteen, a voice of hope for a new generation.

"On August 6, 2011, Joel and his wife Victoria will bring their distinctive, uplifting message to Chicago's legendary U.S. Cellular Field for an inspiring and memorable 'Night of Hope.'

"In 2009, just nine days after opening, Joel and Victoria held the first non-baseball event at Yankee Stadium with nearly 45,000 attendees.


"Similarly, more than 45,000 attendees filled Dodger Stadium in April of 2010.


"Another record-breaking turnout is expected for U.S. Cellular Field."

Meanwhile, the truly needy on the other side of town will go wanting.


Joel Osteen on TV.


Comments welcome.


See also:
* Beachwood TV Preacher Review: Joel Osteen,

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Today's column will appear whenever the hell I get to it. I'm tired, people!

The [Monday] Papers
"In my 53 years on earth, I have never witnessed a more tasteless, vulgar and morally repulsive example of exploitative marketing than this Groupon ad that ran on the Super Bowl," Paul Gillin writes at B2C Marketing Insider. "Can you imagine using the suffering of a repressed and brutalized nation to market online coupons?"

Well, we just had a state visit by a dictator who does exactly that sort of thing and, come to think of it, we're about to elect as mayor one of the celebrated political operatives of a trade bill unconcerned with labor standards, and one of our longstanding allies in the Middle East is about to fall due to brutal repression we propped up, so in a sense Groupon is an All-American company. They even took $3.5 million they didn't need in taxpayer subsidies (even as social services will now be cut beyond bone) just months before raising $950 million in venture capital.

If Groupon's Super Bowl commercials were meant to be social critique as parody, they would have worked marvelously. Same result if the commercials were produced by Saturday Night Live as a statement about the heroism assigned Groupon for its proficiency at, um, coupon deals.

Alas, this is straightforward botchery, even if Groupon is groping to explain what America's nimrods were too dense to get.

Sorry, Groupon. We don't all live in a closed universe inside Andrew Mason's head. You blew it, big time.

Or do I need to sign a non-compete to write that?


See also:
* The Super Bowl's Halftime Malfunction, Possibly Sponsored By Groupon

What Packers' Super Bowl Victory Means For The Bears
Think pass rush.


See also:
* Eat Your Hearts Out, Bears Fans

Trick Question
How many lame ducks does it take to plow an alley?

Stepped Over His First Homeless Man There
"Reagan had fond memories of Chicago apartment."

Army & Lou's: An Appreciation
Not just soul food, but soul.

That Toddlin' Town
The Chicago Code debuts tonight amidst parochial handwringing.

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

"Harry Caray's Statue Defaced With Incoherent Message."

Not Dead Yet
"Mastodon will release a live CD and DVD on March 14," NME reports.

"The album, Live At The Aragon, was recorded during the band's show on October 17, 2009 at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom."

How 'Bout
"As the world's No.1 daily deals website, which Google once tried to acquire for $6 billion, prepares for the launch of its China portal, it has apparently run into trouble finding the right URL to bring its service to the hundreds of millions of potential Chinese online consumers," Reuters reports.


Plus, China pissed too.

"Illinois Senators Want LSD Safety Review"
Also call for review of who hired Angelo Torres.

Oh wait, that didn't happen.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn, slinging Old Styles and monitoring the jukebox for volume and quality control. Stop in between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. and just tell me that Groupon sent you.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Group on, Group off.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"In my 53 years on earth, I have never witnessed a more tasteless, vulgar and morally repulsive example of exploitative marketing than this Groupon ad that ran on the Super Bowl," Paul Gillin writes at B2C Marketing Insider. "Can you imagine using the suffering of a repressed and brutalized nation to market online coupons?"

Well, we just had a state visit by a dictator who does exactly that sort of thing and, come to think of it, we're about to elect as mayor one of the celebrated political operatives of a trade bill unconcerned with labor standards, and one of our longstanding allies in the Middle East is about to fall due to brutal repression we propped up, so in a sense Groupon is an All-American company. They even took $3.5 million they didn't need in taxpayer subsidies (even as social services will now be cut beyond bone) just months before raising $950 million in venture capital.

If Groupon's Super Bowl commercials were meant to be social critique as parody, they would have worked marvelously. Same result if the commercials were produced by Saturday Night Live as a statement about the heroism assigned Groupon for its proficiency at, um, coupon deals.

Alas, this is straightforward botchery, even if Groupon is groping to explain what America's nimrods were too dense to get.

Sorry, Groupon. We don't all live in a closed universe inside Andrew Mason's head. You blew it, big time.

Or do I need to sign a non-compete to write that?


See also:
* The Super Bowl's Halftime Malfunction, Possibly Sponsored By Groupon

What Packers' Super Bowl Victory Means For The Bears
Think pass rush.


See also:
* Eat Your Hearts Out, Bears Fans

Trick Question
How many lame ducks does it take to plow an alley?

Stepped Over His First Homeless Man There
"Reagan had fond memories of Chicago apartment."

Army & Lou's: An Appreciation
Not just soul food, but soul.

That Toddlin' Town
The Chicago Code debuts tonight amidst parochial handwringing.

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

"Harry Caray's Statue Defaced With Incoherent Message."

Not Dead Yet
"Mastodon will release a live CD and DVD on March 14," NME reports.

"The album, Live At The Aragon, was recorded during the band's show on October 17, 2009 at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom."

How 'Bout
"As the world's No.1 daily deals website, which Google once tried to acquire for $6 billion, prepares for the launch of its China portal, it has apparently run into trouble finding the right URL to bring its service to the hundreds of millions of potential Chinese online consumers," Reuters reports.


Plus, China pissed too.

"Illinois Senators Want LSD Safety Review"
Also call for review of who hired Angelo Torres.

Oh wait, that didn't happen.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn, slinging Old Styles and monitoring the jukebox for volume and quality control. Stop in between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m. and just tell me that Groupon sent you.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Group on, Group off.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: What The Packers' Super Bowl Win Means For The Bears

It's clear after watching Aaron Rodgers march his team to a Super Bowl victory that there is really only one thing for the Bears to focus on in the coming months: The pass rush.

The Bears only have one option when it comes to dealing with Rodgers in the future and it isn't civilized. Rodgers did just about what he wanted against the best defense in the league on Sunday - after he ran roughshod over the best teams in his own conference in the earlier rounds of the playoffs. At this point he is so accurate and so deadly that when he is healthy he is just about unbeatable.

So when they face off against him next season, the Bears will need to hit Rogers hard and hit him often.

They don't need to hit him in the head (Danieal Manning's shot to Rodgers' arm at the end of the bootleg touchdown run early in the NFC Championship game was more destructive than Julius Peppers' foolish, flag-drawing face-to-face hit in the pocket later in the game), but they need to do damage.

Defensive end Israel Idonije made some strides this year, while Anthony Adams has been stout in the middle and a few other Bears have shown flashes, but the bottom line is they'll have to take another couple shots at adding speed and ferocity to that line (and the linebackers) in the draft and in its aftermath. Fortunately, that need dovetails nicely with the fact that the Bears are getting old on that side of the ball and will need to find a new generation of playmakers in the coming few years.

The Bears should be comfortably under whatever salary cap is in effect and will have a full slate of draft picks for the first time in years, having finally finished paying the price for Jay Cutler (a price that I still argue was amazingly low).

The memory of Manning's hit reminds one of another imperative for the Bears going forward. They need hard-hitting safeties to put the fear of football into Packer receivers.

What made Rodgers' postseason even more amazing was that he was able to overcome all sorts of drops to still put together eye-popping numbers.

Chris Harris will be back in the secondary and while I've had my doubts about him, there was no arguing with his production this year. The thing the Bears cannot do is count on Major Wright to be the guy at the other safety spot. Manning will be a free agent and from his comments at the end of the season, it seems like a good bet he will go elsewhere. The Bears better fortify this position.

Balance Schmalance
The Packers ran the ball just a dozen times while attempting 48 passes. And they still prevailed.

Maybe balance between the running game and the passing game isn't so important after all, as long as the offensive line (and scheme) is good enough to protect the quarterback - and the quarterback is smart enough to know when to throw away the ball and live for another down or series.

Let's make sure that scheme is in place next year from the start, okay Mike Martz? And hey Jay, you'll be working absolutely as hard as you can too on making sure that the lessons learned this season lead to more efficiency next year, right?

Lock Step
That is, if there is a next year.

There's a great chance the owners will lock out the players when the league's collective bargaining agreement expires on March 1 and there's a great chance that a majority of fans will absolutely ignore the particulars of the situation and blame the "overpaid" players for being locked out.

I suppose it makes sense to think there is too much money involved for an extended work stoppage to occur next season, but it doesn't feel that way at this point. Owners apparently have convinced themselves that raking in tens of millions of dollars every year isn't nearly enough. They want hundreds of millions.

One of their demands for the next collective bargaining agreement is that players give back enough of their share of the pie to set up a multi-hundred-million dollar fund to help retire the debt on all the new stadiums built over the past decade.

You would think trying to impose this sort of retroactive cost on workers would be utterly ridiculous on its face, but owners are going for it, along with their plans to extend an already brutal 16-game regular season schedule to 18 games.

It should all be delightfully exasperating.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Army & Lou's: An Appreciation

"Since 1945, when William and Luvilla Armstrong opened Army & Lou's on East 75th Street, the home-style eatery has catered to luminaries and regular folk alike in a way that made it more than just a soul food restaurant," the Tribune reports. "It became known around the city (and beyond) as a cultural and political institution.

"On Sunday, the current owners of Army & Lou's closed their doors in an attempt to buy time to attract new investors as they ride out a sluggish economy."


"Last Sunday, Army & Lou's - renowned as much for its fried chicken and peach cobbler as for its famous clientele - became the latest to succumb to the economy and changing times," the Sun-Times says in an editorial.


No TIF funds available? No corporate subsidies to save jobs? Can't Groupon spare something from its $3.5 million gift from the taxpayers just months before raising $950 million in venture capital?


"Mayoral candidate and Chicago City Clerk Miguel del Valle [visited] the site of the just-closed landmark Chicago restaurant Army & Lou's to call attention to disproportionate impact in this economic downturn on African-American business owners in the city."

No other candidate did.


Army & Lou's Soul Food Macaroni and Cheese Recipe.


Army & Lou's website and Facebook page.


As featured on Check, Please!


Check, Please! discussion:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Eat Your Hearts Out, Bears Fans

Today's Packerland papers.

1. The Racine Journal-Times.



2. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.



3. The Appleton Post-Crescent.



4. The LaCrosse Tribune.



5. The Green Bay Press-Gazette.



6. The Oshkosh Northwestern



Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

The Super Bowl's Halftime Malfunction, Quite Possibly Sponsored By Groupon

There was nothing more enjoyable about the Big Game on Sunday than tracking - and participating in - the Twitter stream (and to a lesser extent, Facebook) about the #halftimefail of the #BlackEyedPeas.

The New York Times captured it with this set of tweets it memorialized for posterity.

We, also, were active on Twitter and present our work forthwith, also including our Twitter stream about Groupon's ad embarrassment.

* Let's not get it started and say we did.

* BR contributor Eric Emery sez: Another thing. I prefer the chick who originally sung Sweet Child O Mine.

* What - Betty White couldn't make it?

* BlackEyedPeas now embark on tour of high school football stadiums and UFO crash sites.

* RT BorowitzReport: Mubarak on the halftime show: "And people want ME to leave?"

* RT lovinglychosen: "What are they trying to say to me?" -Grandma

* RT OnionSports: Looks like the @NFL learned its lesson with Prince: Don't ever let the #halftime show be good again

* Whoever thought Axl Rose would get the last laugh?

* Wow, Groupon ad not only sucky but offensive.

* Upon further review, BlackEyedPeas halftime performance overruled.

* RT L Pizzle: NameTheBlackEyedPeas Will. I. Am, Fergie, Chewbacca and Kim Jong Il

* RT nerdette: Someone should intro @Groupon to Kenneth Cole's PR team

* NFL commissioner disciplines BlackEyedPeas; books them for next year's Pro Bowl.

* RT BorowitzReport: The NFL says next year's halftime show will be Yoko Ono, a hyena, and two balloons rubbed together.

* Dalai Lama pulls plug on Groupon deal for total enlightenment.

* RT VodkaPundit: Now offering Indonesia a tsunami of savings!

* RT CatsPolitics: "Pol Pot slaughtered millions in the killing fields of Cambodia, but we just saved 50% on new pots and pans with Groupon!"

* RT mthinker: Explained advertising is failed advertising

* RT thegaf: Egyptians self-immolate with discount gas!


Comments welcome.


See also:
* Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet of 2011

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

The Chicago Code Finally Debuts Tonight After Seeming To Have Already Been On For Three Seasons

"Chicago!" writes Hank Stuever in the Washington Post. "What's not to love? Great food, impressive architecture, scads of culture, sports and those underground comedy troupes where you might see the next Amy Poehler. Granted, the winters kind of stink, but man!

"Then there's the Chicago of fictional television dramas, as seen over the years: That place is a freakin' nightmare! Dirty, noisy, dangerous - stay away! Corrupt to the bone, from city hall to Mafia dens. Murderous, too. Helicopters crashing in front of emergency rooms; people pushing one another off El platforms (splat!); miles and miles of housing projects filled with the criminal element. My God, the sirens alone. You'd think Mrs. O'Leary's barn was on fire 12 times a day.

The Chicago Code, Fox's immediately engaging new Monday-night drama from The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, prefers Chicago both ways. Fleeting moments of true Windy City pride (Chicago hot dogs, Chicago pizza, Chicago accents and newly assigned partners bonding spitefully over the Sox-Cubs divide) are woven into a story that relies on a significant part of Chicago turning up dead.

"Dead informants, dead officers, dead thugs, dead joggers. The Chicago Code's first order of business is to use up the national supply of yellow tape."


"Although I'm sure Chicagoans will easily pick out mistakes, let us give thanks for a show shot entirely on location in a location not located in Canada, eh? Here, Chicago really is Chicago," Stuever adds.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner. Or two.

One local writer - I couldn't find the link - complained that the show refers to the mob instead of the Outfit, as it is known (sort of) here in Chicago.

Um, this show isn't just being broadcast within our city limits. National audiences would only be confused by references to an organization called the Outfit.

(I've lived here for 19 years and I've done my share of reporting and research on organized crime here and the only people here who use the term "Outfit" instead of "mob" are journalism and authorial showoffs.)

(Likewise, another complaint was the show's practice of referring to "the police" instead of "police"; apparently the word "the" isn't used here.)

Steve Warmbir of the Sun-Times is also upset about the way the mob here is described in the show - as Irish.

Well, I find it refreshing. Do we really need another rehearsal of Italian stereotypes?

His next complaint makes even less sense.

"The next problem is the series' premise. It tells the story of the city's first female police superintendent and a legendary homicide detective who team up to investigate the city's most powerful alderman - arguably, the man with the most clout in Chicago," Warmbir writes. "Helping them is an undercover officer who has infiltrated the city's Irish mob.

"Of course, a superintendent and a detective who decided to shake out the dirty underwear of one of the city's most ruthless politicians would not remain a superintendent or a detective for long.

"They'd soon be looking for work in the private sector, perhaps as security consultants or suburban police chiefs.

"That's the Chicago Way.

"And that's why the feds historically have undertaken such investigations, even of lowly aldermen, much less powerhouses."

But that's exactly the point - the premise is that, for the first time, a police chief is finally going to take on political corruption, which, after all, often involves illegal activities. That's what makes it a show.


Not every local critic is feeling their Second Cityness.

"Chicago does not have a CSI," writes Steve Johnson for the Tribune. "It has never been granted its own Law & Order, either, despite the way those two series seem to spin off in a TV version of perpetual regeneration.

"But there's no reason to feel slighted. The wait for a contemporary police series the city could call its own has been worth it.

"Instead of trickle-down forensics or sixth-edition cops-and-lawyers, The Chicago Code (8 p.m. Monday, WFLD-Ch. 32) finds a unique and compelling path through the oft-trodden landscape of police officers and the people who give them something to do all day."

As for the details of our local culture and geography, Johnson writes:

"Locals will enjoy the guessing game it engenders - is that bank exterior the Wrigley Building? - but everybody will feel the depth of place: the frantic search through an actual 'L' station and car; the neighborhoods where brick two-flats mix with aluminum-sided cottages and the front doors are half a floor above street level; the industrial storefronts in the Lake Street corridor.

"Are there more scenes shot amid elevated train track supports than random chance would predict? Oh, yes. But this is no ER, blowing into town a couple of times a year so characters could have dramatic outdoor conversations along Wabash, beneath the 'L.' You can feel the city in this program, from scruffy vacant lots to swanky dinner spots."


One thing's for sure: The Chicago Code is no My Boys. What we don't know yet is if it will rise to the level of The Shield. We can only hope - regardless of what trivialities the show gets wrong.


Comments welcome.


* Trailer: The Chicago Code

* Making TV: The Chicago Code On Location

* Breaking The Chicago Code

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:28 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. DevilDriver at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.


2. Jarrod Gorbel at Schubas on Friday night.


3. Keller Williams at Park West on Saturday night.


4. Fitz & The Tantrums at the Metro on Saturday night.


5. The Fluid Minds at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


6. The Radiators at FitzGerald's on Friday night.


7. Talib Kweli at The Shrine on Friday night.


8. The Decemberists at the Riv on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

February 5, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

In case you missed it, we got some snow. Not that it'll keep us from our most important endeavors.

Market Update
Society futures took a tumble this week as analysts stressed the market's fragility. Let's face it: if one more of our trusted institutions turns hostile, we're toast.

Road to City Hall
Rahm Emanuel solidified his frontrunner status this week, picking up a key endorsement. Meanwhile, rival Carol Moseley-Braun proved she knows how to apologize while heaping blame on her detractors. Which, of course, makes her the clear frontrunner for Chief of Staff. Also this week, perhaps preparing for the inevitable post-election reality, both Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle looked for easier ways to backtrack.

Japan has been gripped by a texting scandal as several sumo wrestlers stand accused of using their cell phones to fix matches. The silver lining is that, pending residency confirmation, the wrestlers are now fully qualified to be mayor of Detroit.

The good news keeps coming for recently un-disgraced Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger; turns out he's not the only lying rodent in the state of Pennsylvania.

Change We Can't Believe In
Roethlisberger is also far from being the only unsavory character America's propped up. But then again, it's doubtful Mubarak's gamesmanship will end with a free trip to Disney World.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Spinning like saucer cups.


Special Weekend Desk Show Recommendation
The Detroit Cobras at the Double Door on Saturday night.

The Cobras are one of the most special bands on the planet.

Show-Me's opening in Naperville.


The CAN TV Weekend Report

Community PTA Mayoral Candidate's Forum
Black Star Community PTA and Educational Village Keepers Community PTSA host a Mayoral Forum at Corliss High School.

Sunday, February 6 at 5:00 p.m. on CAN TV19

Click here to watch video online.


We're Deep in Debt - What Would Keynes do?
Author and lawyer Thomas Geoghegan discusses the economic crisis from a labor perspective as part of East-West University's lecture series.

Sunday, February 6 at 9:00 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Torture, Guantanamo, and Accountability: Crime and Punishment in the Obama Era
Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait, and H. Candace Gorman, attorney for a Guantanamo prisoner, discuss the ongoing situation at Guantanamo despite President Obama's pledge to close it.

Sunday, February 6 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Who Decides? Democracy and Divide
The Union League of Chicago hosts Bill Bishop and a panel of fellow academic authors to discuss a nation polarized politically and culturally amongst red states and blue states.

Sunday, February 6 at 12:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Broken Windows Open Doors
A documentary film on the Republic Windows factory occupation in Chicago that is reminiscent of the sit-ins by workers during the Great Depression.

Sunday, February 6 at 2:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
44 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:21 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"In a city known for punishing mayors for their handling of snowstorms, Mayor Richard Daley was careful not to step in front of the cameras until the main streets were clear," AP reports.

"When he finally did Thursday, the mayor swiftly brushed aside any criticism of the city's response to the monstrous blizzard that created a startling spectacle: hundreds of motorists stranded overnight on the city's marquee thoroughfare.

"So far, few fingers were pointed at Daley, despite some inevitable second-guessing."


"Mayor Richard Daley emerged Thursday to praise the city's response to the blizzard of 2011, but only after Lake Shore Drive was reopened and his underlings had taken responsibility for the snowy debacle that left hundreds stranded for hours," the Tribune reports.

"In dealing with the blizzard fallout, Daley employed many of the same tactics he's used during past crises of his 22 years in office: Wait a day or two to respond to a tough issue, downplay the problem and then take some time to figure out if heads will roll."


"One day," said Daley. "I'm sorry. I love you. But not all of you were here, either. Let's be realistic. Come on."



"This is not The Daley Show."

Apparently unasked question: Mr. Mayor, is that a rehearsed line or did you just come up with it?


More important presumably unasked question: Mr. Mayor, did you at any time have a discussion with any advisor about not appearing in public in order to avoid a split-screen image of you and the paralyzed Lake Shore Drive being beamed worldwide?

Because we all know that's what happened. Come on. Let's be realistic.

The Daley Show
"Mayor Richard Daley's former Streets and Sanitation commissioner was sentenced Thursday to 21/2 years in prison for his role in rigging the city's hiring system, capping a lengthy federal investigation inside City Hall that embarrassed the mayor but left him largely unscathed," the Tribune reports.

Here's the important part:

"Former prosecutors said Thursday that they always hoped to learn more from Sanchez about the scheme but that he did not provide any information after they approached him in 2006 . . .

"On Thursday, Sanchez and his attorney only hinted at how far up the scandal went. The attorney, Thomas Breen, called the question 'the elephant in the room' and said people at City Hall knew of the hiring practices. Sanchez, speaking with reporters after court, said he believed Breen was referring to Daley."

Of course he was. Come on. Let's be realistic.


From the del Valle campaign:

"'It has come to light that not only does Rahm Emanuel take contributions from companies contracted with the City, but he has also benefited from the same patronage system which he talks about reforming,' said del Valle, who has long been a voice against patronage hiring in city government . . .

"Del Valle cited a Chicago News Cooperative report by Dan Mihalopolous stating that Emanuel used HDO's foot soldiers in his successful 2002 congressional run, as well as the patronage army led by Streets and Sanitation official Dan Katalinic, who admitted taking bribes in the Hired Truck scandal.

"Del Valle also highlighted some $10,000 in campaign contributions Emanuel has taken from attorney Ty Fahner and his wife, Anne Fahner. Fahner, since 2006, has represented Mayor Daley in lawsuits against the city claiming violation of the Shakman Decree. Nine other lawyers with Mayer Brown, the same firm for which Fahner works, contributed a total of $31,250 to Emanuel's campaign."

But I thought Rahm was a fresh start?


"In addition, del Valle discussed HDO's formation in 1993 under then-Chief of Staff Gery Chico's watch. 'Gery Chico needs to explain to the public what his role in HDO was, from its birth to present day,' said del Valle.

"Del Valle said Chicago's longstanding patronage system has cost the city 'millions of dollars in bloated payrolls, legal fees, and pension obligations,' and said the city's budget crisis 'stems, in part, from its corrupt politics.'"

But it's not The Daley Show. Let's be realistic.

The New Lake Shore Drive
Now with blizzard lyrics.

Non-Union Carolina On Obama's Mind
"In choosing Charlotte, North Carolina to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, President Obama selected a city with no unionized hotels, a non-union convention center, and the least union membership of the four options," BeyondChron reports.

"Last October, UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm wrote a letter to the Democratic National Committee, stating that Charlotte's non-union hotels made it an unacceptable choice.

"Candidate Obama pledged to join UNITE HERE's picket line at Chicago's Congress Hotel if elected President - a promise he made no attempt to fulfill - but as President has increasingly courted corporate interests while ignoring labor's needs.

"While some attribute Obama's decision to the importance of North Carolina and neighboring Virginia in the 2012 presidential race, another factor could also be at play. UNITE HERE has been waging the most aggressive union campaign ever against the Hyatt Hotel chain, owned by the Chicago-based Pritzker family. Penny Pritzker was the national finance chair of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. If Obama wanted to ensure ongoing Pritzker and corporate loyalty in 2012, choosing a city opposed by UNITE HERE and that only has non-union hotels sends a powerful message.

"As most labor union leaders continue to publicly praise President Obama, it's clear with each passing week that Obama feels he can actively court corporate America while taking labor support for granted. The President's choice of non-union Charlotte is the latest example, as even the conservative Red State blog observed that Obama likely chose Charlotte 'precisely because it is union-free.'"


The rest of Obama's presidency is going to be one long Sister Souljah moment.

Pappas's Perks
"[Cook County Treasurer Maria] Pappas once ran her office from a beautiful desk and credenza in her private office. But they were replaced with custom-ordered furniture costing $23,034," CBS2 and the BGA report.

"The furniture was part of a much larger redecorating job overseen by high-end interior designer John P. Regas. He was paid an additional $27,000 for his interior design work throughout the treasurer's office."

* "Is Treasurer Maria Pappas Wasting Your Tax Dollars?"
* "Treasurer Cuts 'Party Planners' In Wake Of Investigative Report"

Rejecting Chicago
New Haven police have no confidence in the Chicago troika at the top of their department.

Media Values
From Tim Willette:

Chris Matthews, sentimentalist.

Live on Scarborough. Re Mubarak:

"I feel shame as an American."

For propping up a murderous dictator for decades, right? Wrong!

"This is not how you treat a friend of 30 years."

Switching to Sanford & Son now.

The Week in Chicago Rock

They Want What We Have
Chinese Gossip Blogger Fights For Freedom To Post Celebrity Up-Skirt Photos.

al-Qaeda Mistakenly Bombs Pro Bowl
Loses street cred.

The Week in WTF
Including advice from Sam Kinison for blizzard whiners.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Go to where the puck will be.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

al-Qaeda Embarrassed After Mistakenly Bombing Pro Bowl

"The country narrowly avoided tragedy as inept terrorists detonated a bomb in the middle of the meaningless, sparsely attended Pro Bowl . . . al-Qaeda issues statement denying responsibility."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 AM | Permalink

Today Now!: Chinese Gossip Blogger Fights For Freedom To Post Celebrity Up-Skirt Photos


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:00 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Excision at the Metro on Thursday night.


2. Beware My Lovely at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


3. Testimony at Reggie's on Sunday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Blizzard Whiners, WTF?

Now that the village mobs with torches are out stalking the countryside in search of those guilty of not stopping the blizzard, we are reminded of the time the late, great Sam Kinison offered his insight into how to solve the perpetual problem of world hunger.

In other words, if you don't like blizzards that trap you on Lake Shore Drive, MOVE! GO LIVE IN BOCA!

Then there's the cliched Chicago reaction about "the politics of snow" and the inevitable recriminations and retributions, complete with fall guys and smoke signals.

Every time it snows hard here, the political oldheads feel compelled to resurrect Michael Bilandic's political legacy as if the city is incapable of a different reaction to familiar stimuli, even though 80 percent of what is now Chicago's population was either not alive in 1979 or lived somewhere else. Or was 10 years old. And when you're 10, blizzards are great.

If we didn't have local columnists to remind us how 2011 is just like 1979, how could the city even function?

Eventually we'll have to just blame God for screwing up Lake Shore Drive. Or maybe Exxon and OPEC. Or maybe the real culprits: all of us.

2. Donald Rumsfeld, WTF?

We claim Rummy as one of our own because he's a Winnetkan and an inaugural member of the New Trier High School Hall of Fame. And because us war criminals need to stick together. His new autobio Known and Unknown is out and, surprise of surprises, he's not sorry about the Iraq War.

Even without WMDs, he says, he would have favored spilling American blood and treasure by invading another country that posed no threat. Did he lie? No, because apparently when Rummy utters a statement it is by definition true. He has no time to dabble in self-reflection. He is no Robert McNamara.

As an NFL football coach once famously screeched about the Bears, the same can be said for the Bushite war mind: They are who we thought they were.

3. Mark Kirk, WTF?

Of course, others change their stories for reasons nearly as obtuse as Rumsfeld sticks to his. Like this story, which goes almost without any need for explanation. So we will simply quote what Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Goobercity) told the New York Times about why he once voted in favor of climate change legislation as a "moderate congressman" but now will vote against it as a senator: "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore."

Thus the most pressing strategic issue facing the human race hinges on whether Al Gore copped a feel of a masseuse. Allegedly. Can the pulpit get a WTF! Hal-le-looo-yeh!

4. David Haugh, WTF?

Some ideas are bad. Some good ideas are just ill-timed. And then there's David Haugh's Tribune column this week making the pitch that Chicago ought to be considered as a future Super Bowl site, which was a little of both.

First, the obvious. Put off the blizz of '11 by four days and you'd have the first Super Bowl postponed by frostbite.

Second, it would take several sainthood miracles to expand Soldier Field by another 10,000 seats required by the league to host the Big Game.

And yet, Haugh insists: "I understand all the reasons a Super Bowl can't come to Chicago. But I dare somebody in The City That Works to find a way it can."

Yeah! Right after The City That Works gets its side streets plowed.

5. Michael Scott, WTF?

Don't worry, Elsie. It's just The Chicago Way.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"You don't close Lake Shore Drive," a source experienced in snow emergencies tells John Kass. "If you close the drive, then you've paralyzed the entire North Side. There's no place for the traffic to go, and those people can't get home. It's not 'Why they didn't close the drive sooner?' The question is why they lost control of the drive in the first place."

I don't know if it was possible to keep Lake Shore Drive open - and drivable - but it's an entirely reasonable line of questioning, especially given that the monster waves we were warned of never materialized.

An even better line of questioning, raised by Kass, is this: Where was the world's greatest mayor?

I watched Channel 2's Jay Levine, for example, badger mayoral chief of staff Ray Orozco to no end. Why Orozco didn't finally just clock Levine I can't say, but I would've. And y'all know I think the media fails to ask tough questions.

I didn't find Levine's questions tough, though; I found them gutless. How many times can Orozco said he made the best call he thought he could make?

It's not like he hired Angelo Torres - as far as we know. (To my knowledge, Levine hasn't pursued that line of questioning with the mayor.)

Now, contrast Levine's approach to Orozco to this.

Anyway, Kass is right; Daley didn't appear on your TV screens for the post-mortems yesterday for a reason. Classless to the end.

From The Beachwood Tweetdeck
Last night on @BeachwoodReport:

* Wind chill advisory in effect; will get even colder than #Rahm's dark heart.

* Only one left on shore of Lake Michigan is some dude named Bodhi waiting for his set. #blizzard #snomg #pointbreak #swayze

* Experts: Expect #LakeShoreDrive baby boom in nine months.

* City learns Wendy's sea salt no better on roadways than the kind from McDonald's they usually use.

* Rivals accuse #Rahm of pandering for demanding that all pizza delivery in the city resume immediately.

* City: Streets will be cleared according to who sent you.

* ComEd donations restore power to #Rahm.

* #Rahm unable to claim dibs with furniture in storage; supreme court re-opens residency case.

* #Rahm: Don't blame me, I'm still only pretending to be mayor.

* CTA rails on time, so sense of normalcy yet to return.

* Wayward accordion buses blamed for #LakeShoreDrive mess; next year CTA will use ukelele buses.

Facebook Feed
More from John Kuczaj:

Wow, they we sure correct about this blizzard being life-threatening snow. When I went outside to shovel today, I saw a huge snowdrift that spelled out "I'm Going to KILL You".

News You Can't Use
Channel 2 actually "polled" viewers yesterday about what local sports personality they would most like to be snowed in with.

Mystery Flights
I'm still trying to find out more about the three international flights that landed at O'Hare in the middle of the blizzard even though all other flights (presumably) were canceled.

I Was Not On The List
Lou Malnati's sends free pizza to reporters across the country as promo for The Chicago Code.

Most Depressing Headline Ever
"Snowed In? Start Working On Your Taxes."


TIM: Oh brother. Hell, why not start working on your will while you're at it? Or suicide note.

Detroit Dodges Worst Of Storm
Relieved they didn't turn into "another Chicago."

He Lost His Heart At Wounded Knee
What's next, a revelation next week that his leg was amputated at halftime?

Song of the Moment: Lake Shore Drive
It'll take you up or down.

Rahm: Too Big To Fail
Stay off of my court; I'm playing a blood sport/Whaddup, Winnetka? Bye-bye Bridgeport.

Beergarita, anyone?
Leinenkugel's Prepares Football Fans For An Unforgettable Wisconsin-Style Big Game Party.

The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment
Fearing something - or someone - on the outside.

Art For The People
A Chicago story brought to you by TV Land.

Groundhog Day


The Beachwood Tip Line: We got you, babe.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Lake Shore Drive

The story of the storm and its most indelible images, Lake Shore Drive has been celebrated in song and story as one of America's greatest roadways. Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah famously (to Chicagoans) captured LSD's mystical quality with their ode to a road that is pleasure-bound.

Recorded: 1970

Artist: Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah

Released: 1971

Album: Lake Shore Drive

Reissue: 1993 on Quicksilver


Blizzard 2011 Version: "I'm stuck here on Lake Shore Drive, trying not to freeze."

Wikipedia: "From Ratz on up to Riches" refers to Ratzo's a near-North Side tavern where AHJ once performed. (Disputed).

Songfacts: "I saw an interview with Skip Haynes and he said 'pretty blue lights' are the Chicago Police cars." (Disputed)


There's a road I'd like to tell you about, lives in my home town
Lake Shore Drive the road is called and it'll take you up or down
From rags on up to riches fifteen minutes you can fly
Pretty blue lights along the way, help you right on by
And the blue lights shining with a heavenly grace, help you right on by

And there ain't no road just like it
Anywhere I found
Running south on Lake Shore Drive heading into town
Just slippin' on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound

And it starts up north from Hollywood, water on the driving side
Concrete mountains rearing up, throwing shadows just about five
Sometimes you can smell the green if your mind is feeling fine
There ain't no finer place to be, than running Lake Shore Drive
And there's no peace of mind, or place you see, than riding on Lake Shore Drive

And there ain't no road just like it
Anywhere I found
Running south on Lake Shore drive heading into town
Just slicking on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound

And it's Friday night and you're looking clean
Too early to start the rounds
A ten minute ride from the Gold Coast back make sure you're pleasure bound
And it's four o'clock in the morning and all of the people have gone away
Just you and your mind and Lake Shore Drive, tomorrow is another day
And the sunshine's fine in the morning time, tomorrow is another day

And there ain't no road just like it
Anywhere I found
Running south on Lake Shore drive heading into town
Just snaking on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound

You Tube:



Comments welcome.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Indonesian Journal: The Possibly Mob-Related Mystery Of My Fake Chicago Hedge Fund Manager's Voluntary Imprisonment

In an effort to share anything that might be of use to them in their investigation of My Fake Hedge Fund Manager, I sought a phone interview with the FBI and this week and spoke at some length with a very professional and mildly avuncular special agent from the Chicago office. I told him what I knew about Jim Brandolino and about my dealings with him over time, and I then got to ask a couple questions of my own.

I specifically wanted to know about a curious detail included in the press releases announcing Brandolino's arrest on fraud charges: Rather than seek bail, Brandolino asked to remain in federal custody. That means he's voluntarily locked up inside the Metropolitan Corrections Center downtown, that off-yellow, wedge-shaped modernist fortress near the Washington Library with the thin, vertical, rectangular battlement windows and the caged yard on top.

The place is a step up from Cook County Jail, but it's a dump, its interior worn and coated with generations of paint. I interviewed Betty Loren-Maltese there once with my friend David Jackson and I remember how cold and cinder-block the interior was, and how mauve - at least on the floor where we met with Cicero's former town president.

The public areas where civilians and the jailed are allowed to mingle have only plastic furniture, and pretty lightweight plastic furniture at that. I have no idea if Brandolino is receiving guests and using the plastic furniture. Maybe he's sticking to his cell. Either way, the accommodations are decidedly not Club Fed.

But the fact that he didn't seek bail and a chance to remain free until he absolutely had to go behind bars got me and apparently several others wondering.

A friend wrote to say the scuttlebutt at the Board of Trade is that Brandolino stole money from the mob and, well, you know what happens to people who steal from the mob. You've seen that movie.

I have no idea if Brandolino took from mobsters and gave to himself. That seems like an awfully risky move but, then, I'm not exactly inside the scheming head of a swindler.

Maybe he thought he could steal from others and pay the mob back and keep on keeping on.

Or maybe the talk of mob money is just so much ethnic stereotyping: Italian guy takes money from Italians; there must be some Outfit dough in there, right?

Again, I don't know. But I do know the veteran FBI agent I spoke with said he'd never before seen a defendant voluntarily seek to remain in custody. Not in about a decade-and-a-half with the agency. So something's troubling Jimmy, and I can't say I'm too broken up about it. If he feels safe in jail, I hope he stays there for a long time. Be safe, Jim!

The other possibly related question I had for the FBI agent was, Why now? What prompted Brandolino to turn himself in?

I figured Brandolino had basically run out of money and that one of his investors had come asking for a withdrawal. He probably couldn't come up with the money and at that point had only a couple options. He likely first considered flight; Brandolino reportedly went missing for a couple weeks around the holidays and surfaced only to turn himself in to authorities. I don't know where he went but with little cash to underwrite his escape, he must have realized his life as an exile - was he building that condo in Greece for his self-imposed retirement? - was over before it started. The FBI agent didn't exactly know Why Now but said my theory seemed realistic.

In their original charges against Brandolino and in press releases announcing those charges, the government said Brandolino had almost no assets left, meaning we victims would have little hope of restitution. There was no mansion or yacht or Caribbean island to auction off and divvy up. And while authorities continue to search for any undisclosed assets, I'm skeptical they'll find any. We're out what we're out and will never see it again.

The law stipulates that Brandolino, if convicted, will be legally responsible for making restitution to his victims for the rest of his life. Like student loans, that kind of legal sentence cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy: He'll carry that weight for good. But will he ever make a payment on it? With what income? And to whom? Who's first in line for the future, incremental, pittance payback?

Given the unlikelihood of restitution, I'd rather see Brandolino pay for his crimes with years of his life.

It sounds like Brandolino is cooperating with authorities in hopes of a speedy resolution to his case. Maybe this will all be done by early summer and Jimmy can start serving his, what, six years? Maybe less? Probably less? Whatever the case trajectory, I'll either be appearing before the court during the victim impact phase of sentencing or I'll be writing a letter to the judge to ask that he make sure Brandolino stays safely behind bars for as long as possible. Maybe even long enough to finish his book.


Brett McNeil is a former Chicago Tribune reporter, Chicago Journal editor, and Fulbright English teacher living in Indonesia. He blogs at The Year of Living Volcanically - where this post first appeared - and is also the Beachwood's Southeast Asia correspondent. He is looking for job leads to help make up for his financial loss and can be contacted through the comments link below.


* Indonesian Journal: Buying Flowers, Burning the Koran
* Indonesian Journal: The Control State
* Indonesian Journal: The Swarm And The Sick House
* Indonesian Journal: It's Funny Until 13 People Die
* Indonesian Journal: The Chicago Way Out Of Vietnam
* Indonesian Journal: My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Rahm: Too Big To Fail

You wanna play ball, put a check in the mail.



I got a call last spring from Good King Rich
He said the time had come for him to make a switch
He said, "Rahm, you've always been my boy"
I said, "Rich, you've always been my goy"
Then he started talkin' about his plan
To slip on out and make me The Man
He said, "Here's the teflon; you're gonna be a great Don -
Do the dance like my very own Black Swan"
Then I said, "I will prevail -
I got Hollywood cash; I'm too big to fail"

Then I let it be known that I was back in Chi-Town
Measuring drapes and getting ready to throw down
And just like that the field cleared
The wannabes all disappeared
I got rock star money; I can buy my own island
My family wants Thai food, I take 'em to Thailand
Stay off of my court; I'm playing a blood sport
Whaddup, Winnetka? Bye-bye Bridgeport
No need to vote; I will prevail
I got Hollywood cash; I'm too big to fail

Then I hit the streets with my top adviser
The guy in charge of my hand sanitizer
I smile and wish all the people well
Shake some hands and then get my Purell
They say I'm out of touch with the working man
With my thousand dollar suits and my year-round tan
I say spare me the rap about that neighborhood crap
Garfield Park is just a place on a map
You wanna play ball, put a check in the mail
I got Hollywood cash; I'm too big to fail

Public schools, hah, I don't need 'em
Parking meters, lord, I don't feed 'em
My big-money crew is gonna rock the downtown
And throw a few bones to the black and the brown
Kiss up to all the right preachers
Send dead fish to the union teachers
Bringin' it non-stop; rockin' the hip-hop
Did I mention that my uncle was a city cop?
Mess with me and you touch the third rail
With my Hollywood cash; I'm too big to fail


Previously by The Blue State Cowboys:
* Good King Rich b/w Pay To Play (But Keep Love In Your Heart) and Crawl Back To Crawford


Also by Blue State Cowboy Matt Farmer:
* I Tried To Break Into George Blanda's Car


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 AM | Permalink

Art For The People: A Chicago Story

In honor of Black History Month, TV Land is paying tribute to the art and artists of AfriCOBRA with an original special entitled AfriCOBRA: Art For The People premiering Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

Narrated by Phylicia Rashad, this half-hour documentary features an engaging and animated history of the AfriCOBRA group, contemporary interviews with some of the AfriCOBRA artists and an illustrious display of their artwork. After the special airs, it will be offered in its entirety on

"AfriCOBRA's artwork is visually stunning and radiates unity and possibility," said Larry W. Jones, president of TV Land. "This small and organized movement from Chicago uplifted and educated their struggling community with their own creative aesthetic and positive imagery. We have the very unique opportunity to speak with these artists' firsthand and to share their philosophies and masterpieces which are still being created today."

AfriCOBRA (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists) was formed in the 1960s by a group of Chicago-based artists seeking to effect positive change by creating images that affirmed and uplifted the black community. The group continues to create innovative African American artwork today.

AfriCOBRA: Art For The People was written, produced and art directed by TV Land and directed by Juan Delcan from Nola Pictures. Delcan recently designed the stage visuals for U2's 360 Tour as well as directed commercials for clients including NBC, Puma, Carolina Herrera, JetBlue and DeBeers among others.

About AfriCOBRA

In the 1960s, a group of talented African American artists called OBAC (Organization for Black American Culture) created the "Wall of Respect" mural in Chicago. The mural depicted African American heroes and leaders of that era. The Wall became a meeting place for many and served as the community's visual affirmation of African American cultural, intellectual and political heritage.

When the group disbanded, a new group emerged and became COBRA (Coalition of Black Revolutionary Artists) which later became AfriCOBRA, a name they continue to use today.

AfriCOBRA began when America was in an unprecedented racial upheaval and sought to express the dynamic and dramatic views of African Americans.

The group was co-founded by Jeff Donaldson, Jae Jarrell, Wadsworth Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams.

The artistic vision of the group is to create vibrant works that can start a dialog that is "pro-Black without being 'anti' anything else."

The body of work that stretches across a variety of mediums - including paintings and sculptures - follows several aesthetic principles. These include the use of bold, vibrant "coolade" colors, the use of lettering to clarify or extend the visual statement, lost and found line, mimesis at midpoint, and the objective of educating and speaking to African Americans' past, present and future.

On the artists' use of these principles founder Jeff Donaldson wrote, "We are a family of image-makers and each member of the family is free to relate and to express our laws in his/her individual way. Dig the diversity in unity. We can be ourselves and be together too."


Bios of AfriCOBRA Artists Profiled on AfriCOBRA: Art For The People:

Jeff Donaldson

"We hope you can dig it, it's about you and, like Marvin Gaye says, 'You're what's happening in the world today, baby.'"

AfriCOBRA founder Jeff Donaldson was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1932. He received a B.A. in studio art from the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff in 1954 after establishing the school's first arts major. He studied under John Howard, who had been a student of Harlem Renaissance painter Hale Woodruff, and who nurtured Donaldson's interest in Afro-centric art. Donaldson went on to complete his M.F.A. at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1963, and a PhD in African and African American Art History at Northwestern University in 1974.

As a member of the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC) in 1967 Donaldson organized the visual art workshop that created Chicago's seminal "Wall of Respect" mural, which depicted black heroes and became an iconic symbol of the black pride movement.

He was instrumental in the founding of AfriCOBRA, whose mission he saw as the development of a common aesthetic creed and the impetus for a movement in which artists effected social change by making images of affirmation for the black community and fostering black pride.

Donaldson described AfriCOBRA's aesthetic principles as: "The expressive awesomeness that one experiences in African Art and life in the USA like the Holiness church . . . and the demon that is the blues, Alcindor's dunk and Sayer's cut . . . Summitry that is free, repetition with change, based on African music and African movement . . . We want the work to look like the creator made it through us . . . We want the things to shine, to have the rich luster of a just-washed 'Fro, of spit-shined shoes . . . Color that shines . . . Color that defines, identifies and directs . . . Coolade colors for coolade images for the super real people."

Donaldson promoted "TransAfrican" art, explaining that, "African art - the art of Dogon masks, Kasai axes, gold weights - is not art of isolated objects. Everything's together, religion and tradition, oration, dancing and song. James Brown doesn't just stand up there and sing. You can't see AfriCOBRA unless you're in the struggle, unless you hear the music, unless you really know."

As a painter, Donaldson participated in over 200 group and solo exhibitions internationally. He was also an educator and over the course of his career he served as a professor, art department chair and dean of the College of Fine Arts at Howard University.

Jeff Donaldson died in February 2004.


Wadsworth Jarrell

"If you can get to bebop, you can get to me. That is where the truth is."

Founding AfriCOBRA member Wadsworth Jarrell was born in 1929 in Albany, Georgia and moved to Chicago in the mid-1950s. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was awarded a B.F.A. in 1958. As a member of the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC), he helped execute the famous "Wall of Respect" outdoor mural on the South Side of Chicago in 1967. That same year he married fellow artist Elaine "Jae" Jarrell. In 1968, the Jarrells co-founded the artist collective AfriCOBRA along with Jeff Donaldson, Barbara Jones-Hogu and Gerald Williams.

In 1971, Jarrell began teaching in the art department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and received his M.F.A. from the university in 1974.

In 1978, Jarrell and his family moved to Athens, Georgia where he taught painting at the University of Georgia. He retired from teaching in 1988. He continues to work as an artist and is represented by several prominent commercial art galleries in the United States.


Jae Jarrell

"You speak through your work. We can all do something. You speak through your medium."

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Elaine "Jae" Jarrell attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio before moving to Chicago. She attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She married artist Wadsworth Jarrell in 1967 and, with her husband, helped form what became the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA) in 1968.

Jarrell was a gifted clothing designer and contributed hand-made and adorned garments to AfriCOBRA exhibitions in the late 1960s and early 1970s. She later took graduate courses at Howard University and the Parsons School of Design in New York.

Her original designs of Afro-centric garments were widely exhibited in American museum exhibitions and were featured in magazines including Ebony and the International Review of African American Art.

Jae Jarrell owned a vintage men's clothing shop in New York for many years before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in 2009.


Barbara Jones-Hogu

"Black people, a total people, a total force, Unite, Unite . . . "
Barbara Jones-Hogu was born in Chicago. She received a B.A. from Howard University in 1959, a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1964, and a M.S., with a concentration in printmaking, from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1970.

Jones-Hogu is an influential artist associated with the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. As a member of OBAC (Organization for Black American Culture), she was one of the muralists who created the important "Wall of Respect" in 1967 on the South Side of Chicago - a public work that inspired the creation of socially, politically and culturally themed murals across the urban American landscape.

In 1968, Jones-Hogu became a founding member of the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA). As a member of AfriCOBRA she participated in formulating the group's mission statement, which stressed Black independence and artistic self-determination.

Her signature use of lettering in her artwork became a hallmark of the AfriCOBRA aesthetic.

Her famed screen prints created during her participation in the group were exhibited widely at venues including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Howard University, Cornell University, and the National Center of Afro-American Artists in Boston.

Several books and catalogues over the years have included her work, and she is featured in Creating Their Own Image: The History of African American Women Artists, the most important text on the subject, published in 2005.

"Unite," perhaps her most well known screen printed image, is included in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Napoleon Jones-Henderson

"My work in its essence is spiritual; meaning-full. We must be about the business of expressing what is beautiful; ourselves."

Napoleon Jones-Henderson was born in Chicago in 1943. He was awarded a B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1971 and pursued graduate studies at Northern Illinois University in 1974. In 2005, he received a MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art. He has been an active and long-standing member of AfriCOBRA since 1969.

During the formative years of AfriCOBRA, Jones-Henderson created large pictorial weavings that were included in the group's important series of exhibitions mounted at the Studio Museum in Harlem in the early 1970s.

He has taught in the art departments of several American institutions including Malcolm X College in Chicago, the Massachusetts College of Art, Emerson College in Boston and Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina.


Michael D. Harris

"Our art is not about destruction, it's about construction. It's about who we are and who we can be."

Michael Harris is an Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University and also serves as the Consulting Curator for the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art and Culture in Charlotte, NC. Previously, Harris was an Associate Professor of African and African-American Art History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for eleven years. In spring 2004, he served as the Visiting Professor of Art at Dillard University in New Orleans and has taught at Duke University, Georgia State University, Morehouse College and Wellesley College.

He also served as the Consulting Curator for African American Art at the High Museum in Atlanta from 2005 - 2009.

Harris has published extensively and his recent book, Colored Pictures: Race and Visual Representation, won two national awards. He was the curator of the exhibition "Transatlantic Dialogue: Contemporary Art In and Out of Africa," which traveled to the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and to the Tampa Museum of Art, and co-curated "Astonishment and Power" at the National Museum of African Art in 1993.

In 1996, Harris completed a doctorate in art history at Yale University, where he had also previously received his Master of Philosophy degree (1991), M.A. in Art History (1990), and M.A., with distinction, in African and African-American studies and Art History (1989). Additionally, he holds his M.F.A. in painting from Howard University and a B.S. in education from Bowling Green State University.

As an artist, Harris has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in public and private collections including those of David Driskell and the Hampton University Museum. He has been a member of AfriCOBRA since 1979.


Carolyn Lawrence

"Take the past and the present and make the new image."

Painter Carolyn Lawrence grew up in Houston, Texas and received a degree in Education from the University of Texas in Austin in 1961. She started teaching in Gary, Indiana immediately after graduation, then went on to complete her M.A. in Art Education at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

Lawrence was a member of the Organization for Black American Culture (OBAC) and took part in the creation of the "Wall of Respect" mural in Chicago, which sparked an urban mural movement and set off the chain of events that led to the founding of the AfriCOBRA collective.

Lawrence joined AfriCOBRA in the spring of 1969, while teaching art at Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago. She contributed to the group's first museum exhibition "10 in Search of a Nation" at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1970. She continued teaching at Kenwood Academy, where she also served as art department chair, until she retired in 2001. In retirement, Lawrence is getting back to her art and working on refining her craft.


Howard Mallory

"Our offering to the planet is valid enough for us to feel good about ourselves."

Howard Mallory is a sculptor and ceramic artist who joined AfriCOBRA in 1971 and exhibited with the group during their Studio Museum in Harlem exhibition in 1971 and in their Howard University exhibition of 1973. Mallory studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Texas Western College.

Early in his career he worked as an instructor in ceramics at the Parkway Community House in Chicago and exhibited his work at regional art exhibitions. He continues to work from his home and studio on the South Side of Chicago, where he has installed an outdoor work entitled "The Freedom Train."


Adger Cowans

Painter and photographer Adger W. Cowans attended Ohio University where he received a B.F.A. in photography. He served in the United States Navy as a photographer before moving to New York, where he worked with Life magazine photographer Gordon Parks and fashion photographer Henri Clarke.

A veteran still photographer in the motion picture industry, Cowans has captured the works of such film directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Bill Duke, Ron Howard, Spike Lee and Sidney Lumet. He is currently an active member of AfriCOBRA.


Kevin Cole

Kevin Cole, born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, has resided in Atlanta, GA. since 1985 where he has received numerous awards both as an artist and arts educator. Cole works in a range of mediums, using repetitive forms and color to create three-dimensional structures. Cole received his formal education (B.S. Art Education (1982), University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, AR; M.A. Art Education/Painting (1983), University of Illinois, Champaign, IL; and M.F.A Drawing (1985), Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL) in fine arts and art education. He is the newest active member of AfriCOBRA.


Frank Smith

Frank Smith was born in Chicago in 1939. He received a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1958 and began his teaching career in Chicago Public Schools in 1959. In 1970, Smith became a member of AfriCOBRA, and began a career at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He went on to receive an M.F.A. from Howard University in 1972.

Smith combines disjointed rhythms and syncopated patterns of paint and mixed media by sewing the canvas together, using a sewing machine - though he does not deny the process's or end product's resemblance to quilt-making.

Smith's work simultaneously pays homage to his African heritage and African art education while serving as a vehicle for his own challenges as a contemporary abstract artist.


Nelson Stevens

Nelson Steven's art is a reflection of elements both physical and spiritual which have their grounding in the African-American experience. His rhythmical, multi-layered reassemble of form and color can be likened to the quality of syncretism inherent in most aspects of our African-American culture.

Stevens received a B.F.A. in Painting from Ohio University in 1962, and an M.F.A. in Studio Art/Art History from Kent State University in 1969. He has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, including Drawing, Printmaking, African American Art History and Publication Production and Design.

He has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, and Howard University among others, and his work may be found in many private and public collections, including the Smithsonian, The Schaumberg Library and Research Center in New York, and the Chicago Institute of Art. He is currently an active member of AfriCOBRA.


Akili Ron Anderson

Akili Ron Anderson is a lifetime resident of Washington, D.C. He has successfully practiced as a full-time visual artist for more than thirty years. Mr. Anderson provides for the visual enhancement needs of cultural, religious and public institutions. He designs, fabricates and installs stained glass windows, sculptural forms, fine art paintings and theater sets. His media services include still photography, filmmaking, video, computer graphics, special effects and multi-media presentations.

Mr. Anderson attended The Corcoran School of Art (1964-1965) and Howard University, School of Arts and Science, Division of Fine Arts (1965-1969, 2005-2008), B.F.A., M.F.A. He held the position of Artist in Residence for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (1971-1973) and was the first chairperson of the Visual Arts Department at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (Washington, DC 1974-1976). He is currently an active member of AfriCOBRA.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

Leinenkugel's Prepares Football Fans For An Unforgettable Wisconsin-Style Big Game Party

Football, food and beer are undeniably a winning combination. The Wisconsin-based 144-year-old Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. is showing football fans how Wisconsin celebrates with brew-based recipes and pairings as its home state team competes in the country's biggest annual sporting event for the top spot in football.

Leinenkugel's Honey Beergarita
Kick-off the Big Game with a new take on Leinenkugel's best-selling brew!

* 1 cup tequila
* 1 12-oz. can lemonade concentrate
* 4 12-oz. bottles of Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss

Mix in a pitcher and serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slices. Makes one pitcher.


Leinie's Classic Big Game Beer Cheese Spread

* 1 8-oz. package cream cheese
* 4-oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 tablespoon chopped green onion top
* 1/4 cup Leinenkugel's 1888 Bock (seasonal Jan. - March)
* 1 teaspoon horseradish
* 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Microwave cheeses for 2 1/2 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining ingredients. Cook covered for another 1-2 minutes, stirring twice. Serve with pretzels, crackers and veggies.


Leinie's Sunset-Glazed First Down Chicken
* 10 - 12 pieces of chicken (cut for grilling)
* 2 bottles Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat (measure out 1/3 cup and set aside for sauce)
* 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
* 1 cup finely chopped onion
* 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
* 10-oz can mandarin oranges (save 1/3-cup liquid and finely chop oranges)
* 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Clean, salt and pepper chicken and place in a gallon-sized plastic storage bag. Pour all Leinie's Sunset Wheat, minus 1/3 cup, into bag with chicken. Refrigerate overnight.

To make Leinie's Sunset Grilling Sauce saute garlic and onions in canola oil over medium-low heat until onions become lightly browned and translucent. Add 1/3 cup liquid from orange can and oranges to onion mixture and continue to saute until juice is reduced. Turn heat to low and add maple syrup, soy sauce, Leinie's Sunset Wheat, ginger and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Prepare charcoal. Place chicken in baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour. Place partially baked chicken on grill and baste with Leinie's Sunset Grilling Sauce until done. You may want to make extra sauce to serve with chicken.


A Sweet Ending
Pair Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss, featuring a fresh blend of indigenous Wisconsin berries, including blackberries, elderberries and loganberries, with chocolate or a triple cream cheese like Camembert for a simple dessert option.


About Leinenkugel's
Leinenkugel's, brewed in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, since 1867, is the leading craft brewer in the upper Midwest. Year-round offerings include Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat, Honey Weiss, Berry Weiss, Leinie's Red, Creamy Dark, Original, Light, and Leinenkugel's Classic Amber Lager. In addition to the newly released Leinenkugel's Limited, Leinenkugel's offers four limited-release seasonal beers, including summer favorite Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, Oktoberfest, Fireside Nut Brown and 1888 Bock. For more information on the rich history of Leinenkugel's, visit or join Leinie loyalists at


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

We'll be continuously updating this column today and tonight as conditions warrant.


NEW 4:48 P.M.: From the del Valle campaign:

"Mayoral Candidate Miguel del Valle Traverses Storm to Preserve Perfect Attendance Record at Forums: Says blizzard won't stop him from fulfilling duties at City Hall or on campaign trail today."

Too bad he's not running for mailman!


NEW 4:13 P.M.: By Eliza Moeller.





NEW 2:43 P.M.: New court ruling: Inability to claim Dibs proves Rahm isn't a resident!


"'Kass would expect me to go into my basement and get a broken chair and put it in front of my house,' Emanuel told guests at a fundraiser the other evening as the snowstorm was gathering.

"But the poor guy still can't get to those chairs and claim a street parking space because he rented his house, remember?"

TIM: I wish I'd put them in my living room two years ago!


NEW 12:05 P.M.: John Kuczaj via Facebook:

Forecast for Chicago:

CNN: Blizzard conditions, keep watching CNN for more details. Please. We have Piers Morgan now

MSNBC: Huge storm will hit with Karl Rove-like force. By Wed, city will be a colossal mess dwarfed only by the mess Sarah Palin makes of the English language

FOX NEWS: Obama-fueled Nazi blitzkrieg Snolocaust to rain down against the voters' wishes, killing thousands of jobs and adding to the deficit


Idiot in the parking lot across the alley is stuck and trying the "Floor mats under the front wheels" trick. As usual...isn't working. Maybe he should go inside his building and get a damn shovel???


NEW 11:51 P.M.: A Beachwood e-mail exchange.

STEVE: Coincidence? Daley pledges not to run again. Mubarak pledges not to run again. Yemeni president pledges not to run again . . .

TIM: Rahm always intended to return to Cairo, too.


NEW 10:41 A.M.: The Cars of the Chicago Blizzard of 2011.


"Ramirez said he was outraged that earlier he had seen no sign of police or emergency officials on Lake Shore Drive."

TIM: If only they'd given us some warning!

STEVE: They should be stranded here with the rest of us!

TIM: "Separately, Punxsutawney Phil predicted motorists on Lake Shore Drive would be stranded for six more hours."


STEVE: We'll be here all night. And so will they!


TOM SKILLING: We expect rapidly deteriorating conditions.

TIM: But enough about politics - turning to the weather . . .


From @BeachwoodReport last night:

Instead of luxury tax, #Chico proposes #Rahm just keep a swear jar in his office.


T-shirt idea: I Survived Media Coverage of the #Blizzard of 2011.


If Jay #Cutler is too hurt to shovel snow, why is he healthy enough for a snowball fight?


#Chico says #Rahm would tax snow shovel purchases; Rahm says only luxury snow shovels.


Warning: Chicago parking meters must still be fed during #blizzard according to secret lease terms negotiated by Daley.


#Blizzard must be bad - Gangster Disciples just canceled tomorrow's shootings.


#Chico says #Rahm would tax snowblower purchases; #Rahm says only luxury snowblowers.


The Weather Channel feeling its oats; just endorsed #Rahm for mayor.


Lake Shore Drive closed due to #blizzard; stranded news crews threaten to annoy us to death if not rescued.


The wind is blowing out at Wrigley tonight.


#Blizzard Alert: Officials advise travel by emergency vehicles and Tamale Guy only.

State of Emergency
Quinn orders non-essential state employees to stay home; only Mike Madigan to show up for work.

World Gone Wrong
"Monster Cyclone's Wind, Rain Begin To Batter Australia: Tens of thousands stock up on food and hunker down in shelters ahead of Cyclone Yasi; With gusts of 186 mph, it's the strongest storm to hit the area in almost a century."


Remember, though: Cyclones spin the other way around down there.

Political Implications
* "Braun Tries To Calm Latest Storm." Mistook snow for crack.

* Rahm: I Will Only Tax Luxury Snow.

* Chico: I Personally Dug Out Entire City When I Was Daley's Chief of Staff.

* Del Valle Issues Entirely Sensible Snow Plan That Everyone Ignores

* Watkins: Okay, I Was A Crack Addict, If That's What It's Gonna Take To Get Your Attention

* Walls: It's Snowing Out.

U.S. Snow Sculpting Championship
Starts in Lake Geneva today.

In the fantasy sports world.

Chicago Road Trip Singalong
This is good, folks.

The Wages Of "Pragmatism"
Human rights conditions deemed unrealistic when it comes to U.S. aid to Egypt.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Sing along.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

U.S. Aid to Egypt: Where Does the Money Go - And Who Decides How It's Spent?

The protests in Egypt have prompted renewed questions about the U.S.'s aid to the country - an issue that the U.S. government has also pledged to reconsider. We've taken a step back and tried to answer some basic questions, such as how as much the U.S. has given, who has benefitted, and who gets to decide how its all spent.

How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt?

Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn't include the money spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The amount varies each year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged just over $2 billion every year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel following the Camp David Peace Accords, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2009.

That average includes both military and economic assistance, though the latter has been in decline since 1998, according to CRS.

What about military aid - how much is it, and what does it buy?  

According to the State Department, U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually in a stream of funding known as Foreign Military Financing.

U.S. officials have long argued that the funding promotes strong ties between the two countries' militaries, which in turn has all sorts of benefits. For example, U.S. Navy warships get "expedited processing" through the Suez Canal.

Here's a 2009 U.S. embassy cable recently released by WikiLeaks that makes essentially the same point

President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as "untouchable compensation" for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.

The military funding also enables Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services, a 2006 report from the Government Accountability Office explained [PDF]. The report criticized both the State Department and the Defense Department for failing to measure how the funding actually contributes to U.S. goals.

Does this aid require Egypt to meet any specific conditions regarding human rights?

No. Defense Secretary Gates stated in 2009 that foreign military financing "should be without conditions."

Gates prefaced that comment by saying that the Obama administration, like other U.S. administrations, is "always supportive of human rights."

The administration of former president George W.  Bush had threatened to link military assistance to Egypt's human rights progress, but it didn't follow through. When exiled Egyptian dissident, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, called on the U.S. government to attach conditions to aid to Egypt, U.S. officials dismissed the idea as unrealistic.

Who benefits from the military aid?

Obviously the aid benefits Egypt's military and whatever government it supports, which has so far been Mubarak's. Foreign military financing is a great deal for Egypt - it gets billions in no-strings-attached funding to modernize its armed forces and replace old Soviet weapons with advanced U.S. weaponry and military equipment.

According to the State Department, that equipment has included fighter jets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, anti-aircraft missile batteries and aerial surveillance aircraft.

Egypt can purchase this equipment either through the U.S. military or directly from U.S. defense contractors, and it can do so on credit. In 2006, the GAO noted that Egypt had entered some defense contracts in advance of - and in excess of - its military assistance appropriations. Some of those payments wouldn't be due in full until 2011, the GAO said.

The other group that benefits from this aid arrangement is U.S. defense contractors. As we reported with Sunlight Foundation, contractors including BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have all done business with the Egyptian government through relationships facilitated by high-powered DC lobbyists.

What about economic aid?

U.S. economic aid to Egypt has declined over the years, but is generally in the hundreds of millions annually.

Some of this aid also comes back to benefit the U.S. through programs such as the Commodity Import Program. Under that program, the U.S. gives Egypt millions in economic aid to import U.S. goods. The State Department, on its website, describes it as "one of the largest and most popular USAID programs."

Others were not as successful. A 2006 inspector general's audit of a 4-year, $57-million project to increase jobs and rural household incomes found that the U.S. investment "has not increased the number of jobs as planned" among participants [PDF]. A 2009 audit of a $151 million project to modernize Egypt's financial sector found that while the country's real estate finance market experienced significant growth throughout the project's duration, USAID's efforts were "not clearly measurable" [PDF] and the growth could be due to market forces or the Egyptian government's actions.

Critics of the Obama administration's economic aid to Egypt have noted that in 2007, for instance, such aid only amounted to $6 per capita, compared with the $40.80 per capita spent on Jordan that same year. Ahmad El-Naggar, economic researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, criticized the U.S. in 2009 for focusing on "programs valued for strict ideological reasons," and not on the country's growing poverty and unemployment rate - two issues fueling the current protests.

What about funding for democracy promotion and civil society?

Funding for programs that promote democracy and good governance through direct funding to NGOs in Egypt averaged about $24 million from fiscal year 1999 to 2009. But these, too, had "limited impact," due to "a lack of Egyptian government cooperation," according to an October 2009 inspector general audit [PDF]:

"The Government of Egypt has resisted USAID/Egypt's democracy and governance program and has suspended the activities of many U.S. NGOs because Egyptian officials thought these organizations were too aggressive."

Recently released cables from WikiLeaks show that officials within the Egyptian government have asked that USAID stop financing organizations that were "not properly registered as NGOs" with the Egyptian government. AFP reports on a 2007 embassy cable that describes President Mubarak as "deeply skeptical of the US role in democracy promotion."

Per the Egyptian government's complaints, the U.S. now limits its funding to NGOs registered with the government, therefore excluding most human rights groups, the Huffington Post reported. Such funding has also declined sharply under the Obama administration.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Chicago Road Trip Singalong

"Two idiots on their way to Chicago, reliving their childhood."


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

For a couple of self-described idiots, they're pretty damned good . . .

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Snomanslandocalypse

We interrupt this snowpocalypse to bring you breaking fantasy sports news:

Well, not really. Actually, we're in kind of a no-man's land where fantasy football is over, fantasy baseball isn't quite ready to go and fantasy basketball is in its lazy days before its way-too-late All-Star game and trading deadline.

It would help if there were some interesting trade news brewing in the NBA, but not much has happened in the last week, with Carmelo Anthony no closer to leaving Denver. So, all we can really do is make tweaks here and there, bring in a hot hand in exchange for a cold one.

Here are the some of the hottest hands of the last seven days who could be worth picking up:

Martin Gortat, C, Phoenix: He never did much as Dwight Howard's understudy in Orlando, but he has been in double figures in rebounds his last three games and five of his last seven. Meanwhile, his scoring line in his last three games has been 16, 19 and 25. 47 percent owned in Yahoo!

Ersan Ilyasova, SF/PF, Milwaukee: He's a streaky one, but has been on over the last week, with games of 25, 14 and 15 points. He can also get you a couple steals per game and anywhere from six to eight rebounds. Get him while he's hot. 21 percent owned in Yahoo!

Randy Foye, PG/SG, LA Clippers: I had been holding off on him because he's just been getting minutes starting for Eric Gordon, who is due back from injury any day. However, if you are looking to finish this week with a pure shooter who can get you 20 points in a pinch, Foye could be your man at least until after the weekend. 24 percent owned in Yahoo!

C.J. Miles, SG/SF, Utah: He has become a very reliable sixth man for Utah, so the minutes are there. He had a 20-point game and a 22-point game in the last week, with a horrible seven-point outing in between, but he'll almost always get you a couple three-pointers and a couple steals every time out. 36 percent owned in Yahoo!

Expert Wire
* SB Nation has the latest on the 'Melo rumors, with Houston as a possible destination.

* Bleacher Report suggests a few deals that might make sense before the deadline, which doesn't mean they'll get done.

* RotoWorld says it could be time to pick up Kendrick Perkins. With Shaq in Celtics green and Perkins previously injured, he's been a forgotten man.


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 8:03 AM | Permalink

Elite Snow Carvers Converge On Lake Geneva Today

While most Midwesterners head to a beach or hit the slopes for a much needed break, winter vacation for a select group of individuals means battling days of sub-zero temperatures to create massive works of art that only endure as long as the temperature remains below freezing.

For elite snow sculptors, the dead of winter means packing up the tools of their trade and heading to Lake Geneva, WI to compete in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, the top snow sculpting competition for U.S. carvers.

Snow Sculpting.JPG

The U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship begins Wednesday, Feb. 2 with judging set for the morning of Saturday, Feb. 5.

The competition is the centerpiece of Lake Geneva's annual Winterfest celebration, a festival of family and fun along the banks of Geneva Lake.

Weekend activities include horse drawn carriage and helicopter rides, children's entertainment in the famed Riviera Ballroom, a 1-mile, 5k and 10k walk/run and a winter carnival at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa's downhill ski facility.

Traveling from as far away as Alaska, the team's labor for three bone-chilling days and nights to create intricate, gravity-defying sculptures from three-ton, 10-foot-tall cylinders of snow.

The sculptors, men and women of all ages and from all walks of life, relish the opportunity to work side-by-side with the best in the business, each hoping to be crowned national champion.

"Competing in the National Championship is an amazing challenge and one of the most unique experiences I've ever had as a sculptor," said championship snow sculptor David Andrews, who has participated in the competition several times. "It's hard to explain, but there's something that happens when we're close to the end and working on the finishing touches. You look at what the team has created, the works of the other teams and recall the events of the past week. It's truly a euphoric moment. You say to yourself, 'Look what I've created out of snow.'"

Each snow sculpting team consists of three members, 18 years and older from the same state. No assistance is allowed at the sculpture site, except that given by competition organizers and ground crews. No media other than snow, ice or water are used in the snow sculpting process. The rules also stipulate that power tools are not permitted. The teams rely on saws, axes, files, scaffolding, shovels and a variety of homemade implements created to exacting specifications.

"It's not uncommon to see the sculptors working late into the night on Friday," said George Hennerley, president of the Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "In fact, most of the teams will forgo sleep to ensure their sculptures are perfect for judging on Saturday morning."

According to Hennerley, spectators shouldn't fret if snow is scarce as all of the snow utilized in the competition is produced and supplied locally by Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.

"The sculptors prefer artificial snow as it melts slower than natural snow and carves extremely well," added Hennerley. "The lack of foreign objects is also a big plus. There are no surprises."

For additional information on the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship and Winterfest, visit or contact the Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 345-1020.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:54 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2011

Live! The Jayhawks At The Vic

Waiting for the sun, last Thursday and Friday.

1. Darling Today.


2. Clouds.


3. She Walks In So Many Ways.


4. Real Light.


5. Up Above My Head.


6. Reason To Believe.


7. Crowded In The Wings.


8. Nothing Left To Borrow.


9. Wichita.


10. Waiting For The Sun.


11. Bad Time.


12. Tampa To Tulsa.


13. Blue (from Webster Hall in New York City a week prior; no Chicago version available).


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

Tonight It's Gonna Snow Like It's 1979

Party over, oops out of time.

1. Helen Lishman for Mayor.


2. Chairs.


3. Skippy the Snowball.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Forecast Calls For Shovel Boys

Weatherman: Where there's snow, the shovel boys will go.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet 2011

Sigh. I suppose once the NFL decided it was safe to re-enter the 21st century, the scourge of Nipplegate having passed its radioactive half-life, the inevitable choice of first contemporary act would be the Black Eyed Peas. Lyrically inert, rhythmically dance-tastic, sizable back catalog, perfectly willing to compromise their artistic integrity for the sake of the all-mighty dollar . . . they're the ideal choice to make a viewing public still reeling from Prince's subliminal fretwork feel like they're down with what the kids are listening to these days. Besides, Beyoncé is opening a car dealership in Burbank that weekend.

So for those of you unfamiliar with this wager, once the halftime entertainment for the upcoming Super Bowl is announced, I start taking predictions of which songs will be performed. Choose three songs; the person who guesses the most correctly wins bragging rights for the year. Hopefully no one in the band will give away the set list prior to the show, ROGER DALTREY.

Please put your picks in the order you think they will be performed; I have a feeling we're going to have some similar lists this year. The tie breaker is going to be a long payoff: when the NFL retreats to their stock of dated white males next year, will it be Bon Jovi or Mellencamp?

My picks:

1. Let's Not Get Retarded in Here as It's Offensive to Mainstream America so We'll Get It Started Instead

2. The Time (Dirty Bit) [hit the deck if you're watching with me; this song makes me want to]

3. Meet Me Halfway

Next year: Mellencamp. Come on, the game's in Indy.


Submit your picks here.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

UPDATE 12:50 P.M.:

Now posted:

* Tonight It's Gonna Snow Like It's 1979

* Forecast Calls For Shovel Boys

* Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet 2011

* Live! The Jayhawks at the Vic


The Beachwood will appear in fits and starts throughout the day today, as I fill out our sections, finish up the third part of Rahm's Rules, and deliver a Papers column. This delay has nothing to do with the Snowlocaust, Snowmaggedon, Snowpocalypse or SNOMG!

READER SUBMISSION 12:56 P.M.: I'm leaning toward Snowzilla, but Snowmaclysm is a close second. Also: The Snow Ness Monster! Snowmanian Devil! Great Snowgally Moogally! George H. W. Snow!!!

NEW ENTRY 2:49 P.M.: Snowtorious B.I.G.

NEW ENTRY 2:53 P.M.: Snowlapalooza.

NEW ENTRY: 2:54 P.M.: A friend's Facebook commenter wonders if the whole thing will be snowverated.

NEW ENTRY: 2:58 P.M.: A Facebook friend suggests Snowprah.

NEW ENTRY: 3:25 P.M.: Our main on the rail Tom Chambers says it's Win, Place or Snow.

NEW ENTRY: 5:26 P.M.: Snow-ma-la-ma-ding-dong!


For now, please enjoy this @BeachwoodReport tweet from Monday afternoon:

Breaking: Early voting exit polls show #Rahm has already won; rest of election canceled.

More later.

The [Monday] Papers
I'm still working on Rahm's Rules Part 3, which is about the media coverage of the challenge to his residency. Hope to have it up later today.

In the meantime, we're chock full of goodness:

* My Chicago Hedge Fund Manager Was A Fraud.

* Awful Buddy Holly Book By Local Author Gets Inexplicable Sun-Times Rave Even As Holly Himself Rolls Over In Grave.

* The Revenge of Patrick Sharp.

* SportsMonday: All-Star Agitation.

* The Congressman and the Olive Pit.

* Obama's Comcast.

* The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

And now, the news . . .

Blizzard Beer
"The National Weather Service has issued an unusually dire blizzard watch, calling a storm expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon over much of northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana 'dangerous, multifaceted and potentially life-threatening,'" the Tribune reports.

I can't think of a better time to spend your evening at the Beachwood Inn - your winter storm headquarters. I'll be behind the bar from 5 p.m. to 2 p.m. slinging Old Styles and serving up Blizzardtinis. Stop in, the jukebox is already warming up.

Voting Early and Ignorantly
Early voting has started in Chicago's mayoral contest, so be sure to make your selection before all the facts are in.

For example, maybe the White House will be forced to release those minutes from Rahm Emanuel's Freddie Mac board meetings and we'll learn what they're trying to hide.

Or maybe we'll find out that the candidate being lauded as leaving nothing to chance does know who sent Donald Tomczak's illegal patronage troops into the 5th congressional district to get Rahm elected.

("Before joining the White House, Emanuel was elected to Congress with the help of former city water boss Donald Tomczak and former Water Management official Gerald Wesolowski, who were convicted in a probe of illegal patronage hiring at City Hall," the Tribune reported in October. "Tomczak testified and Wesolowski said in a plea agreement that water workers were deployed for Emanuel's congressional campaign and the campaigns of others, including Daley, in exchange for better pay.

"Emanuel maintained he didn't know Tomczak and declined to say what role city workers loyal to Daley played in his first election victory.")

Or maybe we'll come across some new evidence that Rahm didn't "intend" to return to Chicago after all - at least not until Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he wasn't running for re-election - and thus is now in violation of the Election Code's residency requirement.

Who knows what we may yet learn? Drugs, hookers, payoffs, deal-breaking gaffes . . . it's been known to happen.

Or you can just make your choice now and dispense with any pretense of seeing the issues fully aired and the candidates fully vetted. The Sun-Times just did.

A Federal Case
The FBI is looking for Patrick Kane's Stanley Cup-winning puck.

Carol Moseley-Braun Possibly On Crack Herself
FBI urged to investigate once they find Kane's puck.


Meanwhile, when asked about the $18 million he made in just two-and-a-half years as an investment banker and the $320,000 he made in just 13 months on the board of Freddie Mac, Rahm Emanuel said he kept taking the money because it was like crack.

Midway Awakens
"An ambitious group of ex-Midway Chicago developers have emerged from the rubble of their former collapsed company to start anew with a fresh independent outfit," Develop reports.

"For at least a year, Chicago-based Phosphor Games has kept quiet about its existence, having taken on contract work for projects such as Bulletstorm, Gears of War 3 and Kinect Adventures.

"Now it is stepping into the spotlight with its own triple-A project - one that is said to be a spiritual successor to a final Midway project that never went Gold.

"Phosphor Games co-founder Chip Sineni told Gamasutra that its first major project, entitled Awakened, is being pitched to publishers."

Boy Scout Pat Quinn Always Does The Right Thing
Except when he doesn't.

Boeing Boeing
"The World Trade Organization handed a report to U.S. and EU officials on Monday, which industry sources said found that plane manufacturer Boeing Co. received billions of dollars in unfair subsidies from the U.S. government," Reuters reports.

* Chicago Head Quarters Cited In Boeing WTO Loss

See also:
* Boeing Director William M. Daley Resigns Board Seat

Squat Thrust
"Just days before Naperville officials are set to discuss how to deal with Scott Huber camping outside businesses, the city's infamous squatter has moved to a new spot on the city's Northeast Side," the Daily Herald reports.

"Managers setting up the Show-Me's restaurant and bar at 1126 E. Ogden Ave. said Huber has been spending time outside their establishment for about three weeks.

"On Friday, Huber said he's there to stay and is prepared to boycott and protest the restaurant, which is expected to open next month. He said he believes the restaurant, with its 'scantily clad servers is destroying the city's moral fiber.'"


The Beachwood Tip Line: Fibrous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:07 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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