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« March 2011 | Main | May 2011 »

April 30, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is in Taiwan on royal honeymoon duty. The B Team is here, though, to monitor the foibles of our very own Royal Family.

Vatican Counsel
Quick, before she goes south!

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Catholic Church's search for a miracle more desperate than Cubs'.

Bears Endorsement Opportunity
For Verizon, because apparently AT&T dropped their call.

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What, they don't have a text plan?

That's Ozzie!
Announces plans to continue annoying us through multiple platforms.

*

Why do we see a WLS radio show in his future?

They've Got Ricketts
To go along with discount performance.

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Now if they'll only double the bleacher douchebag tax.

Home Depot
We remember when $1.3 mil bought the entire neighborhood.

Ewwwww!
Then again, neither do we.

North Poleaxed
Old business model no longer viable.

Butler Cashes In
Tartans and tweed.

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"It is important to note that true English style never appears contrived."

Yes, we see what you mean.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Sweet and sour.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

The Fire that Changed America
31060-TriangleFire.jpg
Professor and author Jo Ann Argersinger discusses the Triangle Factory fire of 1911 that sparked major labor safety reforms and legislation in the United States.

Sunday, May 1 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 51 min

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Special Forum on Health Disparities and Education
31058-Forum-on HealthDisparity.jpg
The Healthy Schools Campaign and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services host a forum featuring professor Charles Basch from Columbia University Teachers College and Gail Christopher from the Kellogg Foundation.

Sunday, May 1 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 25 min

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Know you Rights at Wright: Informational Forum
31059-KnowYourRights.jpg
Wilbur Wright College hosts a resource fair and information panel on housing and workplace rights.

Sunday, May 1 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 24 min

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2011 Student Health Profession Conference
31016-HealthProConf.jpg
The Urban Health Program of UIC sponsors this conference to address the essentials of early college preparation and admissions for younger students.

Sunday, May 1 at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

April 29, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

There's no rule that says media coverage of the royal wedding has to be so approving.

In fact, the principles of journalism dictate just the opposite. We should be outraged - and our coverage should reflect that.

We should be offended by the continuing existence of a monarchy; by the absurdity of a royal family; by the elitism, sexism, and outright falsities projected by the media managers carefully cultivating cliched narratives for the masses to lap up.

A modern fairy tale? More like a modern nightmare.

I mean, my God.

*

And really, are there many people more insufferable - and despicable - than people like this who think they are so specially chosen by God as to qualify as royalty?

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"The media refuses to examine where England's 'Royal' family got their wealth: from the blood and resources of Indigenous Peoples," Censored News notes. "Instead, the media wants the world to celebrate this opulence, greed and genocide."

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"On Friday 29 April the people of Britain will be invited to participate in the joyful celebration of the marriage of Mr. William Windsor and Ms. Katherine Middleton," Alan Woods writes. "At the same time that the government is cutting billions from unnecessary extravagances such as hospitals, schools, teachers, nurses, the old and the sick, the unemployed and single parents, the Coalition has had the good sense to spend a lot of money on something as essential to the Public Good as the nuptials of Willy and Kate."

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"At the wedding, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared the ceremony for Princess Elizabeth was 'exactly the same as it would be for any cottager who might be married this afternoon in some small country church,'" Kitty Kelley wrote in The Royals. "The differences: the twelve wedding cakes at the royal reception, including one nine feet high that Philip cut with his sword, 2,666 wedding presents, including a Thoroughbred horse, a mink coat, a 54-four carat pink diamond said to be one of its kind in the world, and a plantation and a hunting lodge in Kenya."

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"Kelley provides a hilarious account of Princess Margaret's difficulties with political correctness, especially when it necessitates being polite to Irish, Jewish or dusky persons," Christopher Hitchens wrote in his review of Kelley's book. "And an early, non-gossipy chapter is particularly enlightening on the Windsors' attempt to live down - actually to conceal - their German connection and some of its more embarrassing ramifications. How lucky they were that Hitler bombed Buckingham Palace, enabling them to rehabilitate their image as well as their home from the damage."

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I could go on, you get the point. The royal family being celebrated today is a hateful, bigoted, delusional bunch. (Hitchens: "Even if, before reading The Royals, you thought that it was a good idea to pick your head of state from the gene pool of just one family, you would close the book realizing that to fish from this particular pool was a deeply serious mistake.")

Let's stop pretending otherwise.

*

Oh what the hell. Let's keep going.

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"In Naperville, It's Hats Off To The Royal Couple."

Close, Naperville. Next time, though, let's make it "Heads Off."

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Um, hate to break it to everybody, but the Middletons are super wealthy.

*

Really, Sun-Times?

*

Coming Tomorrow: Another Fairy Tale Makeover.

Mancow Is (Still) A Birther
And other tales from the Manchurian front.

Cooking For Kyle Korver
A Paleo Diet for Sensational Shooting.

Where Books Are Going
Someplace very cool.

The Week in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you - especially if you live by the Empty Bottle.

The Week in WTF
Pfleger, Oprah, Trump, the Round Lake police, and a tiny Indiana governor.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Common carrier.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Mancow Is A Birther: A Look At The Manchurian Madness

1. Half-man, half-cow questions president's identity.

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2. Jerome Corsi, Swift Birther.

"After the surprise release by the White House of what it claims is Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate, an author challenging Obama's legal eligibility to be president - whose upcoming book has become a No. 1 bestseller a month before its release - summarizes his response to the day's events in two words: 'Obama blinked.'

"Jerome Corsi, Ph.D., whose two previous No. 1 New York Times best-sellers - Unfit for Command and The Obama Nation - both have dramatically affected the presidency, is the author of the forthcoming WND Books release Where's the Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President. After a major story on The Drudge Report last week, the book shot up to No. 1 on Amazon's best-seller list and remains one of the nation's hottest-selling books three weeks before its official debut.

"'Public pressure finally forced Obama to do what he did today. Now the game begins,' said Corsi. 'Nixon thought he could stop the Watergate scandal from unfolding by releasing a few tapes. All that did was fuel the fire.'

"Suggesting that Obama's presidency will not survive the revelations contained in his book - which goes beyond the birth certificate controversy to document the multiple legal problems with Obama being a U.S. president - Corsi said, simply, 'When people read the book, they will see that Obama is not eligible to be president.'

"Moreover, said the author, today's White House action raises more questions than it answers: 'Obama spent a fortune on attorneys to block release of this document. Why? The same attorneys are still blocking release of many other vital documents - his school, medical, passport and other documents routinely released by all presidents, but steadfastly hidden by Obama. Will he now release those as well?'

"Also, he asked, why did Obama withhold the birth document that had been legally requested by an Army doctor, Terrence Lakin, but instead watch him be court-martialed and imprisoned over the issue?

"'I am calling for the immediate release of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, the Army flight surgeon who is now sitting in prison because Obama wouldn't produce his birth certificate,' Corsi said.

"Corsi considers the release of the Hawaii birth certificate that was presented to the media today by the White House a pre-emptive strike against the book's imminent release, which documents multiple bases by which Obama could be determined as ineligible for the presidency according to the standard laid down by the Constitution's framers.

"Also raised in the book is the issue of the other documentation for Obama's career, verifications that remain concealed, including his passport records, kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, University of Chicago articles, Illinois State Bar Association records, Illinois State Senate records and schedules, medical records, Obama/Dunham marriage license, Obama/Dunham divorce documents, Soetoro/Dunham marriage license and adoption records."

3. Impeach Barry!

"At long last, Barack Obama Jr. released his long form birth certificate today, clearly proving he is NOT a natural born citizen. So, why has there been virtually no call in the Senate to begin impeachment proceedings? And why are so many news-fakers acting as if all Obama needed to substantiate he was a Natural Born Citizen was to prove he was born in the U.S.A?

"The U.S. Constitution and U.S. law, as of the time of Obama Junior's birth, still required a President to have a father who was a U.S. citizen. Clearly Obama's father was a British citizen, as clearly shown on the very document Obama released.

"Still not convinced? Let's take a refresher course in U.S. history. Our founding fathers didn't want any U.S. President to have mixed loyalties so they required that both parents of a President be U.S. citizens in order to qualify their son or daughter to be a Natural Born U.S. Citizen. Period. Simple. Not complicated.

"Here's the exact language of the Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by the first U.S. Congress:

And the children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.

"So there you have it. Obama is not eligible to be U.S. President and needs to be impeached and convicted quickly to avoid a constitutional crisis and to follow rule of law.

"Bottom line: It doesn't matter if Obama was born in Hawaii, which was actually a U.S. Territory at the time of Obama's birth and not yet a U.S. state. What does matter is that Obama Jr.'s dad Obama Sr. was not a U.S. citizen and thus rendering his son's Presidential aspirations patently illegal.

"Need more proof? The founding fathers put the definition in writing from the defining documents of their day. Founding father John Jay used the definition of "natural born Citizen" straight from The Law of Nations (Vattel) that states:

"The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens." (Vattel in Book 1, Sec 212)

"Case closed. Impeach and convict Obama now."

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Fact-Check

1: Conspiracies do exist, but so do facts. Conspiracy theorists will never be satisfied; every fact can be explained away as part of the conspiracy.

2: Conspiracy theorists have always been with us. Talkin' John Birch Paraonid Blues. And frankly, as I've written before, the claims of birthers aren't nearly as outlandish as the claims of truthers - echoed by many mainstream Democrats.

3: Why did Obama choose this moment to release the long-form? Perhaps the "controversy" no longer accrued to his political benefit in rallying his supporters and raising money. Donald Trump, indeed, forced the issue. Of course, Donald Trump is a bald-faced liar.

4: As I've written before, the Republicans did themselves a huge disservice in 2008 - and since - by focusing on the likes of Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright instead of the likes of Richard M. Daley and Tony Rezko.

Washington wunderkind and careerist pool boy Ezra Klein is just the latest to catch on:

"America is mired in three wars," Klein writes. "The past decade was the hottest on record. Unemployment remains stuck near 9 percent, and there's a small, albeit real, possibility that the U.S. government will default on its debt. So what's dominating the news? A reality-television star who can't persuade anyone that his hair is real is alleging that the president of the United States was born in Kenya.

"Perhaps this is just the logical endpoint of two years spent arguing over what Barack Obama is - or isn't. Muslim. Socialist. Marxist. Anti-colonialist. Racial healer. We've obsessed over every answer except the right one: President Obama, if you look closely at his positions, is a moderate Republican from the early 1990s."

5: Obama has, indeed, withheld some records. He's tried to wipe Occidental College and Columbia University out of his history. Perhaps it doesn't fit David Axelrod's narrative.

6: The media isn't bright.

7: No one remembers Obama as a kid? Read this, Mancow. You too, Trump. In fact, read the whole series. It's better than whatever Corsi has cooked up and its revelations didn't receive nearly as much attention as they ought to have.

8: Why did Obama spend $2 million trying to keep his birth certificate a secret? He didn't.

9: Do both parents have to be U.S. citizens for you to be a citizen? No. Being born here is enough.

10: Chris Matthews, Repurposed, Rails Against Trump. But Where Did Trumpism Come From?

Conclusion: In a world where facts aren't respected - and they ought to be revered - it's not far, however, from mainstream spin to conspiracy kookiness. Obama did lie about Tony Rezko. That's a fact. And I wonder if Obama's lies are more damaging than Trump's. After all, so many more people believe them. And he is the president.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

A Next-Generation Digital Book

Software developer Mike Matas demos the first full-length interactive book for the iPad - with clever, swipeable video and graphics and some very cool data visualizations to play with. The book is Our Choice, Al Gore's sequel to An Inconvenient Truth.

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See also: Books: Not Dead Yet!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Cooking For Kyle Korver

These meals are great examples of Paleo Nutrition and proper Basketball Nutrition.

1. Asparagus is a favorite.

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2. Use real sea salt.

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3. It's all from Trader Joe's.

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4. An all-time favorite game day breakfast.

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5. A favorite off-day brunch.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Freelance Whales at Metro on Tuesday night.

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2. Chico Mann at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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3. Asteroid at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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4. Secret Colours at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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5. The Foals at Metro on Tuesday night.

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6. Sublime at the Riv on Thursday night.

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7. Red Plastic Buddha at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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8. Dark Fog at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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9. Twin Tigers at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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10. Mazerati at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Rev. Pfleger, WTF?

Not to go totally Vatican on you guys, but WTF wonders why it took so long for Chicago's Catholic cardinal to whap Rev. Michael Pfleger upside his head with an incense burner.

Bishops hate when parish priests tell them to go fly a liturgical kite. Pfleger stuck out his chin and dared the bishop to smite him. Consider yourself smited. Or is it smote? We have the smoting gun.

Pfleger, a morally upright person, just forgot he's not a freelance public do-gooder with a catchy style on the pulpit. It's worked for Jesse Jackson, but not for Pfleger. That's because he has to live by rules. He's a priest. He promised to submit joyfully to the authority of his church when he took the sacrament of Holy Orders. He didn't promise a person or an organization. He promised God. Sorry, dude. That's the rule. That's the vow. You don't get to be a priest without that promise, and it's no bureaucratic trick. Pfleger forgot he's not bigger than the faith he swore to uphold. The bishop just reminded him.

Whap! And smote!

And just as a reality check, the parish of St.Sabina does not belong to Pfleger. As a matter of history and law, it belongs to the bishop.

2. Oprah, WTF?

We might smirk at Great Britain for tolerating the extravagant self indulgence of royal households, but our royalty is just as preposterous.

Queen Oprah is going, alas, to the West Coast. She plays a Chicagoan on TV and uses the city as a prop. But she's a Californian in all meaningful ways. God save the Queen.

Let us sum up the phenomenon that is Oprah with true wonder. Mostly we wonder WTF.

What is Oprah? But that we mean, what does she do that makes her a beloved mega-millionaire, adored by the masses who are sent into paroxysms of hysteria by the very mention of her name?

Has anyone in American cultural history - aside from Ronald Reagan and Howdy Doody - gotten more mileage out of modest acting talent than she has?

3. Donald Trump, WTF?

If Donald Trump actually is running for president - which we predict he isn't - why did he give Rahm Emanuel $50 Gs for the mayoral run?

Seems an odd way to punish the president.

Or maybe this is a . . . wait, wait . . . WTF was about to think up an Obama plot where he gets Donald to make the batbleep crazy Tea Partiers seem even crazier and require "normal Republican presidential candidates" (whatever they are) to dip their ladles into the batbleep crazy broth, too? It made sense for about two seconds. But WTF's skull can only hold so many plots.

4. Mitch Daniels, WTF?

A guess. Indiana governor is not running for president, either.

He can't run on what he believes about economics because the country would just as soon buy a used Packard. Plus, he's about the size of a hood ornament. Face it. America just doesn't trust little people.

5. Crime-fighting, WTF?

Being a maven of electronic wizardry, WTF would be the last maven to question the value of the Internet, because, after all, it's the only reason you're reading this.

But have you noticed how often these days that crimes are "solved" by Internet info sharing? In North Africa, lifelong dictators are toppled by Facebook. Here, we get fairly obvious tragedies digitally cleared up when old-fashioned police work might have worked just as well. Here's a case.

First, it did not take the Internet to inform Round Lake Park police that she died somewhere other than where her body was found. Her body was found in the back of her minivan.

Second, how long she had been dead is a timeframe to be inferred by crosschecking other people with access to the parking lot. When was the first time others with daily access to the lot noticed the van?

Third, since there were no signs of trauma and she apparently did not die of natural causes, even Inspector Clouseau could tell it was likely drugs and that someone had moved her body there.

Ask yourself, who moves the body of a person killed by illicit drugs? Someone who gave the drugs to her and doesn't want to be blamed.

Also, based on the police response, here's how to disappear in the 21st century with little chance of being found. Ditch your cell phone, credit cards and switch off Facebook for good. You become almost invisible.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

April 28, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

Rahm Emanuel, anti-Semite:

"The mayor-elect spent a half hour Monday evening charming the alderman and the rest of the crowd with his usual mix of self-deprecating humor and policy chatter," the Reader reports. "He got everyone laughing with jokes about taking his parents to dinner ('These are Jewish parents - you've got to get used to that. My father just wants to know who's paying before he picks out a place . . . ')."

Because money-obsessed Jews are, you know, tight with a dollar.

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Rahm Emanuel, confused:

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel suggested to a theater full of arts patrons Wednesday that he would look into whether nonprofit institutions will have to start paying property taxes under his administration," the Tribune reports.

"Later, however, an Emanuel transition aide clarified that the incoming mayor is not considering raising taxes on nonprofits, saying the option isn't on the table."

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Rahm Emanuel, Trump's guy:

"Trump donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel's mayoral bid."

Will he return the money?

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Rahm Emanuel, media master:

"Rahm Emanuel is a Windy City guy. So when the mayor-elect makes his way back to Washington for the White House Correspondents' Dinner this weekend, he'll be going with a Chicago media outlet, of course," Politico reports.

"Emanuel will sit at the Chicago Tribune table, along with Ben LaBolt, his campaign spokesman (and former White House assistant press secretary) who will serve as press secretary for the Obama reelection campaign in Chicago."

I suppose it would make for an uncomfortable dinner for the Trib to call out Rahm for his anti-Semitic remark, so they'll just let it pass. It's not like Louis Farrakhan said it or anything.

Rubber Stamp Media
Journalists are supposed to operate under frameworks independent of spinmeisters, pols or corporate power. The standards and guidelines for those frameworks are little things like the law, the rules, the ordinances, stated purposes and basic pillars of democracy and decency.

But here in Chicago, even as they call for a more independent city council, the media accepts the frameworks dictated to them by our cynical officeholders.

As Mick Dumke points out for the Reader:

"Lots has been written about the skirmishes between mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and City Council dean Ed Burke as they vie for power in the post-Daley world. But lost in the speculation over whether Emanuel will choose to keep Burke as finance committee chairman is the fact that it's not supposed to be his decision to make.

"Under the council's own rules, the number, responsibilities, and makeup of committees are the responsibility of the aldermen themselves: 'The membership of Aldermen on standing committees, and the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of such committees, shall be determined by the City Council by resolution duly adopted.'"

No city council can be considered independent if it lets the mayor choose its committee chairmen.

And no news organization can be considered competent if it fails to point that out.

*

Similarly, the Chicago media doesn't seem bothered at all that - once again - the search for a new police chief is being conducted secretly by the (incoming) mayor, rendering the police board process moot.

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"Emanuel keeps saying that he doesn't want a rubber-stamp council - he wants aldermen who will be 'partners.' But he was vague about what that will mean in the committee reshaping process.

"He said it is 'technically correct' that committee assignments are the job of aldermen. He added: 'I will have a view on it and I will present my view and obviously the City Council will have their role.'"

Rahm Emanuel, liar.

One Happy Family
"Former battling pols Joe Berrios and Forrest Claypool, who ran for Cook County assessor (Berrios won), were spotted dining on harmony and grist at Petros Monday morning," a "source" called into Sneed.

That would be the Forrest Claypool whom Rahm just named to lead the CTA because they are old friends and Forrest needed a job after losing the county assessor's race to Berrios.

How soon they forget:

"Forrest Claypool, the independent candidate for assessor, launched JoeBerrios.com, a website with the name of his Democratic opponent. And as you might imagine, it's not the most flattering depiction.

"The page quotes the Better Government Association, describing Joe Berrios as 'pay-to-play personified.' It recounts Berrios, in his role at the Board of Review, taking campaign donations from tax appeals attorneys, and giving tax breaks to their clients in exchange."

Curiously, JoeBerrios.com now redirects here.

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If Sneed was a real reporter she would've asked who bought.

Beachwood Birth Certificate Tweets
From @BeachwoodReport.

Trump Hotel Presidential Suite now comes with complimentary fruitcake. #birthcertificates #Trump

New #Trump Hotel policy: U can check in anytime u like, but u can't leave without showing a long-form birth certificate. #birthcertificates

Lady Gaga releases birth certificate; she really was born that way. #gaga #birthcertificates

Dick Cheney releases birth certificate; proves he is a born liar. #cheney #birthcertificates

Richard M. Daley releases birth certificate; was delivered by two patronage storks plus a supervisor. #daley #birthcertificates

Rahm releases birth certificate; was born purely out of ambition. #rahm #birthcertificates

Obama releases political birth certificate; proud son of Tony Rezko and Emil Jones. #obama #birthcertificates

Bill Daley releases birth certificate; wasn't fully born until JP Morgan consummated deal with Chase. #blago #birthcertificates

Blago releases birth certificate; was delivered after long-winded labor. #blago #birthcertificates

Dick Durbin Hates The Internet
Jesse Jackson Jr. no prize, either.

Goodbye Empire Man
A compendium.

Meet Keenan Cahill
Chicago's Teenage Lip-Synching YouTube Sensation Who Also Has A Rare Genetic Disorder.

Not Dead Yet!
Repurposing books for the digital age.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Cold cuts and shark butts.

Remembering Lacy Gibson
A Chicago master and his gospel-tinged hillbilly jazz blues guitar.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crafted.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Keenan Cahill: Chicago's Teenage YouTube Lip-Synching Sensation Who Also Has A Rare Genetic Disorder

A 16-year-old from Chicago has become a lip-synching sensation after his YouTube videos went viral, leading him to meet some of the celebrities behind the songs he was covering! Jenna Lee spoke to Keenan Cahill via Skype from his home base where he records his videos about how he balances his Internet fame while battling a growth-stunting disorder IRL.

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See also:
* Keenan's Room
* Lip-Synching Video Star Suffers From Genetic Disorder
* Teen YouTube Sensation Battles Rare Disorder
* Keenan Cahill on Twitter
* Keenan Cahill on Wikipedia

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Books: Not Dead Yet!

1. Book Diversion Safe.

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2. Secret Hollow Book Diversion Safe.

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3. Anne Rice Hollow Book.

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4. Club Dread Hollow Book.

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5. Accessorize with dice and cards.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

Goodbye Empire Man

1. "Lynn Hauldren, 89, the advertising copywriter who became the inspiration for the Empire Carpet Man in the 1970s and helped launch the company's signature jingle into national recognition, died Tuesday, according to an Empire spokesperson," the Tribune reports.

"Mr. Hauldren rose to became a decades-long advertising icon, as the person who wrote the catchy jingle that accompanies the company's famous phone number, and often delivered it with style: 'Five-eight-eight, two-three-hundred . . . Empire.'"

2. Here's a nice collection of videos and observations.

3. 588-2300.

4. Chicagoist from 2006: Who's the Empire Carpet Guy?

5. Empire Man, Wikipedia.

6. From Fox Chicago News in February: Chicago Man Still the Face of Empire Carpet.

7. Empire Carpet TV.

8. A brief tribute.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

Dick Durbin Hates The Internet

1. By Melissa Leu/Illinois Statehouse News:

Illinois' online sales tax law may soon go national.

A plan proposed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the "Main Street Fairness Act," would create a national law that forces online retailers to start collecting sales taxes on purchases made over the Internet. Amounts will be based on each state's already existing sales tax rates.

"It is not only a confusing situation, Internet sales are firmly established across the United States. States, counties, cities are losing substantial amounts of revenue because of the current system," Durbin said.

Illinois sales tax rates are separated into three categories: food and prescriptions (1 percent), vehicles (6.25 percent) and other general merchandise (6.25 percent). Local communities also can create additional taxes.

Durbin estimates that states could be losing a total $37 billion every year on purchases made through online retailers, with Illinois losing about $153 million.

"It's one of those things unreported. We're not sure what we're missing. I think it's going to be a minimum of over $100 million a year," Durbin said.

A 1992 Supreme Court case ruled that only retailers with a physical presence in the state had to collect sales tax.

In March, Gov. Pat Quinn signed Illinois' first online sales tax law that extended a company's physical presence to their online affiliates with offices in the state, thereby requiring them to collect sales tax and submit it to the state. As a result, major online retailers, such as Amazon.com, dropped their affiliates.

Brent Shelton, spokesman for Fat Wallet, an affiliate of Amazon.com and eBay.com, said the company moved to neighboring Wisconsin to avoid being dropped as an Amazon affiliate. He said the effect of the proposed federal law on Fat Wallet largely depended on how its partners react.

"It wouldn't surprise me if some of the merchants aren't exactly for (it)," Shelton said.

Fat Wallet offers coupons to shoppers through affiliate partnerships with online retailers such as Amazon and eBay.

Brian Bieron, a lobbyist at eBay, said it was unfair to pit giant retailers that have actual stores and already have to collect sales taxes against the smaller businesses that don't.

"Forcing small businesses to take on the same costs and tax burdens as national retail businesses is unrealistic, unfair and will unbalance the playing field between giant retailers and small business retailers on the Internet," Bieron said in a written statement.

Smaller, brick-and-mortar stores, however, say the new state law - and the proposed federal initiative - will make it easier to compete.

"We know it's a competitive environment. We have to compete to be viable, but we should be on a level playing field with our online sellers," said Bob Thompson, owner of BikeTek, a bicycle shop in Springfield.

Lam Sargis, owner of Springfield Running Center, an athletic apparel and shoe store in Springfield, said he's had customers come into his store asking him to match prices they found online without the sales tax.

"Even though we give a little bit of a discount to locals, we cannot match the discounts given by the big companies that don't have the bricks and mortar," Sargis said.

But not all small business owners agree.

Brandi Tolley, who runs a men's apparel eBay store, called the measure a "desperate" way for states to pull in revenue. Her store earns about $35,000 in sales annually, Tolley said.

"A lot of us are small businesses. We don't have huge brick-and-mortar stores. We're just tiny businesses trying to make it," Tolley said.

"Is (being online) an advantage? Sure. But (stores) have that same opportunity. They could certainly shut down that brick-and-mortar and sell to people all over the world, just like the rest of us do," Tolley added.

Illinois shoppers are required by law to self-report sales taxes for online purchases that aren't collected by the retailer. The Illinois law and federal proposal would shift that responsibility from the customers to the retailers.

Self-reporting "creates a system which is very hard to administer across the United States, when it's up to the consumer to voluntarily step forward and declare that they owe sales tax in a given place," Durbin said.

Durbin expects to introduce the legislation by next month.

*

I wonder if Durbin has ever self-reported taxes on anything he's bought online; then again, I wonder if Durbin has ever bought anything online.

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2. Jesse Jackson Jr. Blames the iPad For Killing Jobs

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3. Even though he not only owns one but wants the federal government to supply one to every student in America.

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"Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said he stood-by a proposal he made last week that could result in the federal government providing an iPad for every student in the nation, despite a barrage of criticism he has suffered from the media in recent days," The Hill reported a month before Jackson blamed the devices for killing jobs.

"'Let me be clear about a few things,' Jackson said, brandishing both an Apple iPad and an Amazon Kindle on the House floor. 'These devices are revolutionizing our country - and they will fundamentally alter how we will educate our children.'"

4. If our elected representatives weren't so disconnected from real society, they wouldn't be wasting their time trying to fit new dynamics into old paradigms and instead would be working to bring our laws, taxes and regulatory affairs up to speed. Start with self-employment taxes, advance new corporate structures like L3Cs, and worry more about our biggest corporations not paying taxes than Amazon Affiliate ads on blogs.

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See also:
* Amazon vs. Illinois
* Walmart Wins: Pat Quinn Takes Away Our Amazon Ads

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Cold Cuts

When are Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner coming back?
-Sue, Winnetka IL

If the Cubs have their way, faster than a North Side meter maid tickets you for an expired plate sticker.

Listen to Mike Quade's April 22nd endorsement of the James Russell and Casey Coleman contingent:

"If we have another option, someone who's ready, I would like to explore that."

Here are some of the options the Cubs are exploring:

* Signing the Philly pitching robot. I don't care if it spends its entire existence trying to understand this human emotion called "love;" its 40+ MPH fastball is just as good as Tim Wakefield's.
*Technically, Jennie Finch is a free agent.
* Maybe the Yankees would consider giving back Carlos Silva, since the Cubs will pay him 11 million dollars this season anyway?
* JDate

Why aren't the Cubs hitting more home runs?
-Derek, Cedar Rapids IA

Let's let Alfonso Soriano, um, field that one:

"It's not easy to play here, especially in April with the cold weather and the wind blowing in all the time," Soriano said.

Of course, as the Trib's Paul Sullivan noted: "The wind was blowing out briskly Tuesday night, but it only seemed to help the Rockies."

So basically the answer is: Too many Cubs failed out of meteorology school.

Should Starlin Castro hit first, second or third?
- M.Q., Chicago

Yes.

Is Koyie Hill going to play at any point this season?
-Jack, Hammond IN

The backup catcher is a defensive upgrade over Geovany Soto, but the improvement Hill offers on defense is negated by a precipitous drop-off in production at the dish. Even though Soto's power numbers are down early, he still takes plenty of walks . . . to 7-Eleven for Cool Ranch Doritos and Nesquik. The fourth-year starter will start to hit eventually, probably after Sharktopus wraps up on Syfy.

So while Soto is the one who smells like a forest, his bat will keep Hill riding the pine.

I went to the game on Monday and it was miserable outside. Do you think Major League Baseball will ever consider shortening the regular season?
-Ralph, Rockford IL

This makes sense in principal, but what are the chances of poor April weather in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minnesota or Pittsburgh?

In practice, reducing the regular season significantly, say down to 140 games, is essentially asking billionaires to take a couple furlough days. My esteemed colleague, ISIS Agent Lana Kane is an expert in the field of baseball economics and may have some additional thoughts on the matter.

Do you think Major League Baseball will consider shortening the season, Lana?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

Remembering Lacy Gibson, Master Bluesman

1. From Steve Balkin:

This Friday, April 29, 2011, I have been invited to attend an outside street memorial celebration to honor Bluesman Lacy Gibson. He passed away a few days ago.

Lacy was the brother-in-law to Maxwell Street Bluesman Bobby Too Tuff, a friend of mine.

There will be free food and free Blues music. I was told this is a free event. No asking for donations.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 2628 W. Wilcox. They will be blocking off two streets for this.

lacy.jpg2. From Alligator Records:

Known for his sophisticated, jazz-influenced guitar style and robust vocals, Gibson was a musician's musician. He recorded three albums under his own name and appeared on scores of recordings. His rich, flashy guitar style was featured in dozens of bands, including those of Son Seals, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Jimmy Reed, Billy "The Kid" Emerson, Billy Boy Arnold, Sun Ra and many others.

Born on May 1, 1936 in Salisbury, North Carolina, Gibson headed to Chicago with his family in 1949. He gravitated to the city's blues scene, where he met Willie Dixon, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Sunnyland Slim and Muddy Waters, learning directly from the masters.

By the mid-1960s, Gibson was an in-demand session player for local labels, including Chess, where he worked with Buddy Guy and sang "My Love Is Real" with Buddy on guitar. He cut two 45s for the tiny Repetto label in 1968, one of which also features Guy on guitar. His first LP, Wishing Ring, was released on his brother-in-law Sun Ra's El Saturn label in 1971.

Gibson played in Son Seals' band for two years, and appears on Seals' Live And Burning album on Alligator. His opening numbers at Son's shows were always highlights, which is why Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer recruited Gibson to cut four stand-out tracks for the label's Grammy Award-nominated Living Chicago Blues series, released in 1980

In 1983 Gibson released Switchy Titchy on the Black Magic label. During the 1980s and throughout the 1990s he continued to perform locally around Chicago, sometimes with his own band and other times backing Billy Boy Arnold and Big Time Sarah.

Along with his wife, Gibson ran Ann's Love Nest, an after-hours club on Chicago's West Side. Over the years Gibson continued to hone his craft and perform as his health allowed. He appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2004, performing his signature version of "Drown In My Own Tears" to thunderous applause from the crowd.

His most recent release was 1996's Crying For My Baby (Delmark), a first-issue of sessions originally recorded during the 1970s.

Survivors include his wife, Ann Gibson, son Erte Lacy Shaffer, daughters Coronto Shaffer, Synphia Shaffer, Verdonna Shaffer, B.B. Gibson, Tamika Gibson, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

3. From the Reader:

Ann's Love Nest, in the basement of a building near Lake and Western, was run by Gibson's wife Ann.

The only way you'd know if Ann's was open for business was if the Christmas lights were flashing in the window; for a dollar or two you'd be admitted through a ratty old curtain. Ann served beer, wine, and mixed drinks from behind a makeshift bar in the corner. The walls were cracked and dirty, adorned with pictures of dogs playing poker; the tables and chairs were rickety and prone to unexpected collapse; the chips were stale and the beer sometimes lukewarm; the pipes in the bathroom dripped ominously, and the stage looked as if it had been banged together from discarded plywood and tinker toys. Sometimes the entertainers seemed more interested in drinking or squabbling than playing.

Ann's Love Nest closed down about a year ago after an overenthusiastic nightclub owner from outside the neighborhood organized a west-side pub crawl and included Ann's on the itinerary. Neighbors who'd been putting up with the club's all-night guests finally drew the line at crowds of tourists showing up in buses. The authorities were called in and the place was closed down.

Ann has now teamed up with Eula at Midnight Players. Along with the Family Band, many of the Love Nest regulars have found their way here.

4. From Alligator Records:

Lacy credits his mother for much of his style and inspiration. During his youth in Salisbury, North Carolina, she taught him the hillbilly guitar style she played so well, and also the rich gospel-tinged singing that still marks his increasingly rare performances today.

*

Since the '50s, Lacy has worked with "damn near all of 'em," from Willie Mabon and Billy Emerson to Lowell Fulson, Ray Charles, Jerry Butler, Red Holloway and Al Hibbler.

*

Lacy laid down the blues with the conviction that can only come from a man whose departing lady once took his false teeth with her.

5. From The Blues Defined:

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6. Supporting Sunnyland Slim:

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7. From The Facts of Life; at a Blues Factory Studio rehearsal with Willie Dixon.

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8. Supporting Willie Dixon at Theresa's Lounge:

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9. Drown In My Own Tears:

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10. Drown In My Own Tears by various artists.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

For our fantasy baseball players - and really, just plain ol' baseball fans - we have Dan O'Shea's weekly installment of Fantasy Fix today (with interesting notes about Matt Garza and Sergio Santos).

The rest of the Beachwood is taking today off to catch up on royal wedding news. Our absence today has nothing to do with this:

CAN_VS.jpg

See you on Thursday.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Exactly what the facts is.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Trending

The top three hitters in Yahoo! fantasy baseball right now are Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee; Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles; and Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto. This should not come as a complete surprise, given that Braun was anticipated to be a top 10 pick in many leagues, and Kemp and Bautista were not far behind.

Yet, before the season there also was reason to believe that all three were headed for at least a slight decline. Braun saw a drop in HRs, RBIs, SBs and batting average from 2009 to 2010; Kemp saw a 50-point drop in his average from 2009 to 2010, as well as dips in RBIs and SBs; and Bautista came out of nowhere to hit 54 HRs last year - how do you top that?

Trying to figure out which direction players' stats are headed in is the most difficult thing about fantasy sports. Sometime, all the cues point in one direction, and they still end up being wrong. The difference, of course, is the human factor, something that not even the humans involved can predict. Playing stat trends is a huge part of the fantasy game, but never forget they can surprise you and head in the opposite direction.

Having said all this, if you are looking to read something into the stats of players who are still widely available, here are a few candidates:

Chris Coghlan, OF, Florida: 4 HRs, 13 RBIs and a .301 average for a first-place team. All this from a guy traditionally more known for SBs (he only has one). Available in 69% of Yahoo! leagues.

Johnny Damon, OF Tampa: 4 HRs, 17 RBIs, 3 SBs. The old man has made a habit of game-winning HRs this month. He's been benefiting from Sam Fuld getting on base extremely frequently in front him. Available in 71% of Yahoo! leagues.

Randy Wolf, SP, Milwaukee: Wolf for years has been a borderline fantasy candidate, and he has not exactly been dominant this season if you look at the numbers: 3-2 record, 29 strikeouts in 30 innings with a 2.64 ERA. However, in three straight wins, he has a 0.44 ERA and is benefiting from the Brewers' big bats.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says Jonathan Broxton is out as the Dodgers' closer. The big man been very hittable since late last season.

* USA Today Fantasy Windup notes the demotion of Brandon Belt, 1B/3B, San Francisco, who had been a chic rookie draft pick in some leagues.

* ESPN still likes the fantasy value of Matt Garza even though he has yet to win. Other numbers, however, are comparing favorably against his stats last year.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade wonders if Sergio Santos is the answer to the closer woes on the South Side. He certainly couldn't be any more of a question than Matt Thornton or Chris Sale. Santos had two saves in a row this week, so keep an eye on him.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

April 26, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari may have just gotten engaged, and the whole world of total dipshits may be obsessing about the Royal Wedding, but we had something occur last night at the Beachwood Inn that easily tops both.

After a couple Schlitzes for him and a couple of glasses of red wine for her, a gentleman patron we had never met announced to the bar that he had something he wanted to say. He then got down off his bar stool and onto one knee and proposed to his sweetie. She accepted and Beachwood history was made. The text messages flew as various family members were informed; meanwhile I dug into our champagne supply and poured it gratis for the house so we could properly toast the happy couple.

Given bartender-client privilege, I will say no more except that the couple met playing dodgeball. Take that, Kristin and Kate.

Royal Wedding
In which Rahm marries himself.

*

See also: Emanuel's 'Day of Service' Ignores Most of South Side.

*

Most fitting:

"Asked to explain how the Emanuel team picked the locations and whether they attempted to include all corners of the city, a spokesperson said the projects were identified with help from organizations including the Friends of the Chicago River and One Good Deed Chicago. In a statement, she said they're also encouraging people 'to create their own service projects.'"

Perfect!

The elite turn to their support networks while telling the poor to do it for themselves.

Next: More charter schools!

*

I realize the entire South Side isn't poor. But you get the point.

Glass Half Full
Illinois Ranks Dead Last In Funding Worker Pensions.

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Says Matt Farmer on Facebook: "Such a negative headline. How about: 'Illinois finishes first in refusing to meet its pension obligations.'"

Harmonic Convergence
"At least in BC, it appears even the harmonized sales tax takes a back seat to play-off hockey," Energetic City reports.

"The provincial government had scheduled it's first telephone townhall meeting tonight in Surrey, but it will now be held tomorrow night.

"That's being done so it won't clash with the deciding game of the Vancouver Canucks' Stanley Cup series with the Chicago Black Hawks."

*

Harmonized sales tax? Geez, even Canada's taxes sound nicer than ours. That one probably pays for everyone's health care. Or harmony.

Here Come The Hawks!
A theme song compendium.

Exurbia
"In this distant Chicago suburb, a builder has finally found a way to persuade people to buy a new house: he throws in a car," the New York Times reports.

Maybe he should throw in a job.

And We Don't Even Get A Car
"Almost one in three renters in the Chicago area, and one in four renters nationally, spend more than half their income on rent and utilities, a cost burden that has increased dramatically in the past decade, a study found," the Tribune reports.

Comment Crew
"The newspaper of record for the Chicago suburbs has been subpoenaed with a request to disclose the identities of many of its online commenters," the Huffington Post notes.

Wouldn't it be funny if they all turned out to be the same person?

Flavor Flav's Fried Chicken Flameout
Clock strikes midnight in Iowa.

International Pop Overthrown
It happened at a venue near you.

Garbage In, Garbage Out
"Cleanup crews began removing bags of garbage and piles of yard waste from two vacant lots in the Englewood neighborhood on Monday," Dane Placko reports for Fox Chicago News. "But neighbors said that - ironically - the cleanup crews are the same people who dumped the garbage in the first place."

Maybe Englewood could use one of Rahm's service projects.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fried and tied.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:56 AM | Permalink

International Pop Overthrown

The International Pop Overthrow wrapped up its Chicago schedule over the weekend. Here are some highlights.

1. Material Re-Issue at the Abbey.

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2. The Right Tidys at the Red Line Tap.

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3. The Luck of Eden Hall at the Abbey.

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4. Brighter at the Abbey.

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5. The Break at the Red Line Tap.

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See also: Material Issue Overthrows The World Of Pop: 20 Years Later

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:18 AM | Permalink

Flavor Flav's Fried Chicken Flameout

Flav had pitched a reality show based at the restaurant that "will feel something like Happy Days."

But that was before he tried the potato salad.

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From AP:

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From the Quad City Business Journal:

"After 13 weeks in business, Flavor Flav's Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa, closed Sunday night, sparking a war of words between the rap icon and the local merchant who was his business partner."

*

"The restaurant opened Jan. 24, with the rapper entertaining the mayor and members of the Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon cutting. Lines of customers stretched for blocks in Clinton, a city of 26,000 that received national media exposure."

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From the Quad City Times:

"When Flavor Flav and Nick Cimino went into business together in Clinton, Iowa, 13 weeks ago, Cimino's mother said the men were 'like brothers.'"

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From TMZ:

"It's official - drunk people in Vegas will soon be able to turn to Flavor Flav for all of their late night fried chicken munchy needs . . . because he just locked his deal to open a new joint in Sin City.

"Moments ago, in front of the Crazy Girls strip club at The Riviera Hotel and Casino . . . Flav sealed the deal to open a mega-store at the Riv called, 'Flavor Flav's House Of Flavor.'"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Here Come The Hawks!

Before "Chelsea Dagger" there was this classic Hawks theme song, written by J. Swayzee and produced by the Dick Marx Orchestra and Choir in 1968.


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"It is still played today during the pre-game video," according to its Wikipedia entry. "An abbreviated rendition is also played following the end of each period on an organ."

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The players' version.

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The Wurlitzer organ version.

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The "Chelsea Dagger" version.

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See also:
* "Chelsea Dagger" on Songfacts
* "Chelsea Dagger" on Wikipedia

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The Vancouver Canucks' version.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 AM | Permalink

April 25, 2011

Canucks Minds Thoroughly Blown

If the Canucks go ahead and complete the historic collapse from a 3-0 series lead with one final first-round loss to the Hawks on Tuesday, do they just shut down the franchise?

Because the Canucks haven't just lost the last three games to the Hawks. The team from the awesome city just over the border in the Pacific Northwest (it really should be on everyone's must-visit list) has been utterly demoralized in three different ways.

If the Hawks repeat their performance from Game 5, when they skated into British Columbia in the middle of last week and gave the home team a 5-0 thumping, it will mark the third year in a row our town's hockey warriors have bounced promising Canuck squads out of the playoffs.

A team rallying from a 3-0 deficit doesn't feel like as big of a deal as it did even way back in 2009 because the Flyers did it to the Boston Bruins early in the NHL playoffs just last year. But it has never been done in a seven-game series in the entire history of the NBA and has happened all of once in Major League baseball postseason history (the Red Sox over the Yankees in 2004). The NHL had seen this kind of comeback only twice in almost a century of playoffs before Philadelphia rallied in 2010.

The first game of the Hawks' epic run back from 3-0 down (known simply as Game 4 from here on out) was just one of those things.

Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo wasn't sharp and the Hawks were especially fired up after a Rafi Torres shot to Brent Seabrook's jaw the game before sidelined the defenseman (until Sunday).

Intense support from a home crowd disappointed by the series deficit but still immensely appreciative of the Stanley Cup run the year before fed a 7-2 blowout. So did a Canuck team that knew it could go and win at home the next time out.

Game 5 was similar and yet fundamentally different.

Vancouver came out ready to re-take command on its home ice and, assisted by a power play all of 16 seconds into the game, peppered Corey Crawford with shots early on.

But Crawford stayed strong and Seabrook's defensive partner and the league's best defenseman (he is still the Norris Trophy holder after all) Duncan Keith led an overwhelming surge. His two goals and two assists - what may have been his finest game as a Blackhawk, and that is seriously saying something - sparked a five-goal outburst in front of Crawford's first-ever playoff shutout.

The Canucks finally played well again on Sunday in Game 6 but they couldn't shake the Hawks. They led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 before watching the home team rally.

And after goalie Cory Schneider hurt himself splits-ing in vain to stop Michael Frolik's perfect penalty shot (the first successful Blackhawk playoff penalty shot in franchise history), the game was tied and the shaky Luongo was back between the pipes.

Sure enough, the Hawks finally solved him again 15:30 into overtime.

And while we're running down post-game questions, could Luongo possibly have looked more awkward than he did on Niklas Hjalmarsson's final shot from the blue line? That was the one that resulted in the benched Canuck goalie's lunging save, the rebound, and Ben Smith's awesome goal in what play-by-ply man Pat Foley pointed out was only his 12th game with the Blackhawks in his career.

Oh wait, Luongo had looked just as awkward on another high shot earlier in the overtime. He was just lucky that shot - which bounced off the bottom part off his catching glove - didn't result in a rebound disaster.

When I was young and we played dodgeball in gym class at the Latin School (those were the days!), we played with a couple pins set up in opposite corners maybe 50 feet from the middle line. A team could win if it nailed all the guys on the other side of the court before someone caught a throw to put everyone back in the game, or it could win by knocking down those two pins.

There was one kid in my class who wasn't coordinated but he was into dodgeball. What he would do was place himself in front of one of those pins and be the final line of defense. He would try to make catches (and if he did, he would then give the ball to one of his teammates to go up and gun at an opponent) but when he invariably missed, at least he had protected the pin.

He was better at protecting that pin then than Luongo is at protecting the goal now.

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The Highlights

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Cheering Section

I'm still not at all used to rooting for Frolik. What am I supposed to do with Smith, who has gone from starring for Boston College in the Frozen Four to doing the same for the Hawks in one remarkable year? But I can cheer, cheer, cheer for Marian Hossa at this point, that's for sure. And he has been earning his money (he has the team's biggest contract) in the past couple games. His first goal ensured the squad would take command of Game 5 in the middle of the first period and his second goal ensured it would put the game away.

And last night, he was a tower of power as he bulled the puck into the Canuck zone near the sideboards late in the overtime session. Analyst Steve Konroyd, who did a great job other than getting a few things exactly wrong when Luongo came in the game, pointed out that Hossa had to use his stick and his skates to keep control of the puck as he did so. Then he did it again as he moved the puck across into the center of the attacking zone.

That enabled him to drop the little pass back to Hjalmarsson, who then sent the perfect point shot on net, which then rebounded back to just the right spot for Ben Smith to reach out and flick a backhander over Luongo, who had awkwardly sprawled across the ice on his belly (even my buddy from gym class never would have done that).

What Konroyd had wrong was the notion that the Hawks should have done anything to get shots on Luongo once the shaky veteran entered the game in the third period. Konroyd's belief was that quick shots, no matter how low-percentage (in terms of their chances of going in), were the Hawks' best chance to take advantage of a rattled netminder.

But Luongo actually would have benefited from a few run-of-the-mill slap shots from the point in the minute or two after he entered the game. That would have been his best chance to really warm up and start getting the confidence going.

The question was eventually moot because the Hawks struggled to mount sustained offensive pressure in the second half of the third period, i.e. they didn't put themselves in position to take long shots to try to throw Luongo off even if they had wanted to.

The Hawks mounted some pressure early in the overtime, resulting in several scoring chances like the aforementioned shot that Luongo had to flail to knock away with the inside of his wrist. But the Canucks had the better of it from about five minutes into the extra period until five minutes remained. Then the Hawks finally put together the scoring chance that finished the deal.

Speaking of Hossa, he was determined not to let little Ben Smith head out on a solo journey of overtime celebration, wasn't he? There would be no Patrick Kane-like, post-goal singular skate back down the ice. Hossa clung to Smith like his life depended on it before the rest of the team arrived to form the glorious, victorious mob.

Game 7 Preview

Toews: 'Anything Can Happen Now'

vs.

Canucks, With More To Fear Than Fear Itself, Wrap Their Heads Around Game 7

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:56 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The judge and attorneys in Rod Blagojevich's corruption retrial today were set to resume the daunting task of selecting jurors who can put aside what they've heard about the high-profile case and give the former Illinois governor a fair trial," AP reports.

"Judge James Zagel was expected to individually question up to 40 more people out of a pool of more than 100 potential jurors to assess their suitability. Each filled out a 38-page jury questionnaire as the retrial started last week."

Here's the important part:

"But he refused defense requests to send home several people who seemed biased against Blagojevich, including a retired auto shop owner who wrote that, 'Based on news accounts, my personal bias is - he is guilty.' Zagel said he accepted the man's assurances in court that he could set aside his preconceptions and focus solely on the evidence."

Objection!

I always thought Zagel was a decent judge but his track record makes one wonder if he's still naive after all these years.

*

"Blagojevich himself has seemed closely involved scrutinizing potential panelists, scribbling notes on a yellow pad as would-be jurors answered questions."

You can see a copy of those notes here.

*

"His wife, Patti, also has taken detailed notes sitting on a nearby spectators' bench."

You can see a copy of those notes here.

Canucks Catastrophe
A guide from Canada's National Post.

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Plus, our very own Canucks Minds Thoroughly Blown.

Wilco World
New album due in September.

*

I guess they couldn't get it together in time for Rahm's inauguration.

Grad Rate 1010
New Chicago schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard's latest dissemblings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today on Rochester TV.

BREAKING BLAGO NEWS!
WLS "reporter" creates "news" by making lame remark to defendant!

Del Valle's Stand
Won't work for City of Chicago.

Plus:

"Del Valle made it clear that he was sincere in stepping out of city politics the day after the election, when he was offered a position on the Emanuel transition team.

"'Rahm called me the next day and asked me if I would be a culture of transition to him and I said no,' del Valle said. 'I've been around long enough to know how transition teams work. He was asking me to implement his agenda, which I criticized during the campaign. It would be totally inconsistent and would have affected my credibility quite a bit. People would have perceived that as me setting the stage to get some kind of appointment and I made it very clear from the beginning that I would not do that.'"

Our Proud Tax Cheats
"Some big Chicago-area retailers have found a way to avoid paying high local sales taxes on their wholesale purchases," Rich Miller writes. "They've essentially set up their own 'tax havens' in downstate counties that have no local sales taxes. The havens mostly are just one-person offices with a fax machine.

"The retailers contract to purchase mass quantities of fuel or construction equipment or lumber or whatever, and then those contracts are faxed to their little downstate offices, stamped as received and then faxed back to headquarters and - voila - no local sales taxes are owed."

It's nice to see we're a nation of stand-up people eager to take responsibility as good citizens.

Crime Against Writing
At least their lead wasn't "Hair today, gone tomorrow."

Top Cop Chop
"Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is aware of the chatter, aware that people's expectations of him jumped considerably earlier this month when he received a $60,000 raise to stay in Philadelphia after flirting publicly with the idea of taking the top cop's job in Chicago," the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Q: How did your family and friends react in Chicago?

A: They were disappointed. A lot of people thought I was really going there. . . . Some of the things that were written in the papers out there just weren't true.

Q: Such as?

A: That I was asking for big money and a house. It was just misinformation. I asked for a real-estate agent who could steer me to a place to rent, because, at one point, I was seriously considering going.

That sounds like Ramsey was actually offered the job - as does this:

"I would have enjoyed coming and working with Mayor Emanuel," Ramsey told the Sun-Times. "It was a tough choice."

Though Ramsey was likely referring to this:

"Sneed hears rumbles Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who lost a bid to become Chicago's top cop because he was angling for big bucks, also wanted a home tossed into the mix."

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Including Arcade Fire, Duran Duran, Material Re-Issue, The National, Jonathan Coulton and Chris Cornell.

Dolla TV
42nd Campbell, the hottest block in Chicago.

Jobless Should Buy iPads
Pundits say.

Starlin Sushi
Good but raw. In The Cub Factor.

Even Ozzie Is Bored
Giving up? In The White Sox Report.

Really Old Book For Sale
The Nuremburg Chronicle dates to 1493.

Someone Might Still Love Me
Zeus farts and snores.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. The Chicago Code is a rerun; we'll show it upon customer request or just stick with the jukebox.

(It's the one about Cabrini-Green, which is actually kind of cool because it's the first time - I think - that show creator Shawn Ryan dipped into the history of Chicago and really lent a richer and innovative texture to the show. Plus, the focus is on Alderman Gibbons, who grew up in Cabrini, and is by far the most interesting character played by the show's best performer.)

Either way, we'll have free pizza as usual, Old Styles for $2.50, and the usual witty banter from various ne'er do-wells and Beachwood contributors. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Break the code.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Should The Nation's Unemployed Be Buying New Apple Computers?

Panelists discuss how owning a top-of-the-line MacBook or an iPad 2 is actually essential to finding a new job.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Uh Huh Her at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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2. Arcade Fire at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday night.

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3. The National at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday night.

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4. Material Re-Issue at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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5. Chris Cornell at the Vic on Friday night.

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6. Duran Duran at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. Rusko at the Congress on Friday night.

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8. Jonathan Coulton at Park West on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

One Of World's Oldest Printed Books Is Yours For $100,000

A copy of The Nuremberg Chronicle, one of the world's oldest printed books, dating to 1493, is for sale.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

Dolla TV: 42nd Campbell

AINT NO FAKE SHIT ROUND HERE JUST A TASTE OF HOW DA FUCK THE SOUTH SIDE OF CHICAGO CAMPBELL STREET SDz GET DOWN AINT NO FAKE GANGBANGIN OVER HERE KILL OR BE KILLED MU-FUCKER!!!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Starlin Sushi

Another week goes into the books and the Cubs continue to make fans ask:

Um, are these guys good or are they bad?

It's impossible to say right now.

Are they overachieving? Underachieving? Or just achieving?

I'm kinda thinking that what you have is what you got.

A team that will be around 81-81 at the end of it all.

But the more important question is: What do they have in Starlin Castro?

The kid is obviously good so far but I'd like to think right now he's what you would call "baseball sushi."

Sushi is good but it is raw.

Just like Castro.

The cool thing about his rise to the big leagues is that the kid is so young there wasn't time to overhype him.

It's like, who overhypes a 12-year-old?

Even the Cubs didn't have time to put expectations on this kid.

Anyway, as I was saying, this kid is sushi right now - good stuff but raw.

It's not like raw is bad; sushi is pretty tasty and Castro is pretty darn good but "raw" and baseball only have a certain amount of shelf life.

You want this kid to become "seasoned," like a properly aged steak.

And like sushi, if something is raw and sits around in the sun too long, it can get stinky and no one wants to eat it.

And there is a chance that Starin doesn't learn from his mistakes and doesn't get better.

I mean, Shawon Dunston was never able to throw the ball to first base.

Ever.

So not getting better is certainly possible.

But like it or not on this Cubs season menu, sushi is the best thing to order and worth making a reservation for.

The kid might be batting third but he's the chef's special.

The Week in Review: The Cubs went an even (naturally) 3-3 for the week, winning two of three from the Padres and losing two of three to the Dodgers. When you are constantly one game above or one game below or .500 on the dot, you are not allowed to win many games or lose too many in short period of time.

The Week in Preview: The Rockies come to town for three and then the Cubs head west to play the D-Backs for four. Expect the Cubs to win on Monday - they have to be 11-11 and back to .500, it's what they do.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all six starts once again for the Cubs this week and has a complete stranglehold on the position. D-Bone (does that nickname work for you?) is becoming the next Ryan Theriot. You know, the guy that Cub fans will latch on to even though he's really just kind of just decent. Yeah, we here at The Cub Factor are not on board the Barnyard Express (better?). But neither is Jim Hendry because he wouldn't have Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt on the team if he was. You know, just like he drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Aaron Miles now plays for the Dodgers and actually starts for them and leads off at times. He last played for the Cubs in 2009 and hit .185. He's batting .255 this season and is just not missed, except when he got three hits on Sunday against the Cubs. But even then, he's not missed much.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z lost his first game this week in his last 11 decisions going back to last season. And the Cubs booted a few behind him. This is the recipe for Big Z to go Boom. He doesn't get through two more starts before his brain misfires. But for now he is still secretly just Getting Angry.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Victor Conte is now giving Byrd weekly injections of "sixth place hitter."

Lost in Translation: Fukudome crazio godzilla is Japanese for Fukudome has an OBP of .529.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Reed Johnson for President. People only remember a few good things you've done, and that is all it takes.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 95% sweet, 4% sour. Down one point this week due to arguing a call with an umpire and getting his blood pressure up a bit, not a lot though, just a bit. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike had to get a little stern with the neighbors when they were playing their music a bit too loud this weekend. Mike runs a foster home for abused dogs and Bandit had been through a lot and needed some quiet time.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: The company that makes Barney the dinosaur VHS tapes traded higher this week. But this uptick in sales may not last too long.

Over/Under: Number of current Cub outfielders that should be the fourth outfielder on a good team +/- 4.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that a youth movement is cool if you've won a championship in most fans' lifetime.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean?

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 AM | Permalink

Even Ozzie Is Bored

Nothing makes a team look disinterested, dull, and boring as one that isn't hitting.

I mean, why go to the ball park unless a few guys knock the ball into a gap, off the wall, or up the middle?

You swat the ball around the yard, run the bases, and score some runs.

That description doesn't come anywhere close to the Sox' performance last week. Hence, they appear to lack hustle and spirit. Even Ozzie said he was bored.

But it appears that something else might be going on with the team's manager.

He's played his infield up close in the first three innings with a runner at third base and less than two outs. Wasn't it a bit early to do that? Was Ozzie waving a white flag, saying, "Better stop them now because we aren't going to score many runs?"

The strategy backfired in Detroit when the Tigers got hits on balls that would have been fielded had the infield been at regular depth. On the other hand, the Sox, in fact, didn't score once during the weekend. Who knew?

In another weird move on Saturday, the Sox were trailing 6-0 in the sixth inning with Edwin Jackson struggling on the mound. Ozzie had him issue an intentional walk to load the bases with one out. Will Ohman was ready in the bullpen, and Edwin clearly had had enough. But no call to the pen. A sacrifice fly and another hit made it 8-0. That's not Ozzie. Normally Ohman would have entered after the intentional walk.

Meanwhile, the camera shots of Ozzie joking with Joey Cora or Don Cooper have been non-existent. Granted, there isn't much to rejoice about, but Guillen is a guy who likes to have fun in almost any situation.

Talking about foul moods, just before the game started on Wednesday in Tampa Bay, the cameras gave us images of both the Sox' and Rays' dugouts. There were Carlos Quentin and Gavin Floyd - two fellows not prone to smiling countenances even in the best of times - sitting stoically among like-minded teammates. Pan over to the first base side and viewers saw B.J. Upton yukking it up with his buddies, including manager Joe Maddon. This was a portent of yet another loss as the Sox managed only six hits in a 4-1 setback.

The team also is timid. Seems like they don't want to make a mistake. Brent Morel was on second base Friday night when a ball got away from Tigers' catcher Alex Avila. Although the ball bounced 20 feet away from Avila, Brent never made a move toward third. No doubt he figured it was much safer staying put.

And Sunday Juan Pierre played a line drive on the first bounce rather than going for the catch, which he often makes. When you're going bad, you don't want to add yet another mistake. But you don't win ball games that way either.

Guillen expressed relief last October when the season ended. It was a frustrating summer with an up-and-down team (more downs than ups). Twenty-two games into this season, we tend to wonder whether the game is any more fun now than it was in 2010. Needless to say, a string of victories will make everyone feel better, not the least of which will be Ozzie. But at this point, it's unclear whether this team is capable of putting together something positive.

Now it's on to New York for four games. Sure, the Yankees are leading the East, and the Sox are playing miserably. Yet, I'm not impressed with the four pitchers the Sox will face. Bartolo Colon? If our guys have problems with him on Wednesday, then we'll really have to wonder if this early-season nightmare will end. C.C. Sabathia on Thursday? The Sox have had some success against him.

Opposition Research

You grimace watching the Sox the last ten days, but there were a couple of young opposing players who impressed me.

Sam Fuld was liberated from the North Side as part of the Matt Garza trade and the 29-year-old is making a name for himself in Tampa. He hasn't been under the radar since he's been among the league leaders in batting in the early going. He leads off for the Rays, presents a base-stealing threat, and he stifled the Sox with outstanding plays in the outfield.

Fuld was a college teammate of Carlos Quentin at Stanford in 2001-03. Quentin kissed off his senior year to sign as a first-round draft choice of the Diamondbacks while Fuld went to the Cubs in the 10th round in 2004. Sam had a solid minor league career but never was offered full employment by the Cubs at the big-league level. If he does turn out to be a bust, don't feel sorry for him. Prior to Stanford, Fuld attended elite prep school Exeter, so this guy is no dummy. He's a shoo-in for the All-Academic team.

Going back to the last homestand, the Angels' 23-year-old backup catcher Hank Conger looks like a keeper. A late season call-up in 2010, Conger is playing behind Jeff Mathis, a career .199 hitter. He better improve quickly. Conger slugged a three-run homer when he was in town; he blocked every low pitch with great footwork and lightning speed; and he threw out defending Major League base-stealing leader Pierre. His bullet throw arrived knee high to the first base side of second. Impressive!

Like I say, when your team is struggling you look elsewhere for talent. Let's hope that changes quickly.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Someone Might Still Love Me

Someone Might Still Love Me

Demeter in semi-profile,
like Illinois on a map:
sharp brow, full cheek,
lake to her left ear,

glassine underworld
of wrecked ships
and crashed planes,
lovers and suitors
plucked by Hades
who is Time.

Demeter w/purse phone
recovering Persephones
of a necessary gender.

Forgotten acquaintance from high school
betrothed to Ms. Wrong.
Coveted bf of a college roommate
adrift in domestic limbo.
Barely-noticed colleague from two jobs ago
whose wedding mattered more than his marriage.

Her finger caresses
the glassine surface,
checking the chatter
as Zeus farts and snores.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:58 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Don't piss us off. You wouldn't like us when we're pissed off.

Market Update
Celebrity Truth took another beating this week as it was revealed High-Speed Escort figures were significantly more pedestrian than originally thought.

Easter in Chicago
You'll forgive us for not greeting the latest resurrection with unbridled enthusiasm.

Spring Cleaning in Chicago
Of course, Mayor-elect Emanuel can be forgiven for bringing back a few familiar faces. History suggests if you don't really do much for, say, 20+ years, eventually things clean themselves up.

Droning On
At least the people of Libya can take heart in these violent times; now that U.S. Predator drones are there, the current conflict is sure to end swiftly.

Boring 737
It's taken three weeks, but at last it seems investigators have found something less riveting than the royal wedding.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Inclusion zone.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Student Forum on Teen Bullying
31055-Bullying.jpg
Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes and the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues host an anti-bullying seminar for teens. Speakers include comedian Elizardi Castro (pictured); clinical social worker Hilda Ramos; and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Sunday, April 24 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 24 min

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Sweatshop, Warehouse, Walmart: A Worker Truth Tour
31056-WalmartSweatshops.jpg
Robert Hines, Cynthia Murray, and Aleya Akter - local, national, and international workers representing different links in the Walmart supply chain - share what it is like to work for Walmart whether directly or indirectly.

Sunday, April 24 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 18 min

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Tobacco in the Ranks
31057-Tobacco-in-ranks.jpg
Radio Arte and Vida Media host a community dialogue about tobacco use in the military with Luis Garcia, a combat veteran, and local health experts.

Sunday, April 24 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 16 min

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WATCH ONLINE

League of Women Voters of Chicago: The State of the City
31050-State-of-the-city.jpg
Cook County Board of Commissioners president Toni Preckwinkle delivers the keynote speech for the 25th Annual State of the City luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Chicago.

Click here to watch.

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Chicago Newsroom
CNR-Budget-RESIZE-1.jpg
Ken Davis is joined by Steve Rhodes, editor of The Beachwood Reporter; cyber-columnist Monroe Anderson; and Lorraine Forte, editor in chief, Catalyst Chicago. They discuss the appointment of Jean-Claude Brizard as new Chicago school CEO and the future of journalism.

Click here to watch.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:49 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2011

The Blackhawks Have Risen From The Dead

Chicago, Easter
a haiku

By Tim Steil

Two tix to game six
Means your kid Jesus gets nixed
Like, sorry God dude.

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See also:

* NBC's ProHockeyTalk: Chicago's Heart of a Champion Giving Vancouver Deja Vu

* Montreal Gazette: Suffocating Pressure Continues To Mount On Canucks

* Wildcat0206: Canucks On Verge Of Epic Collapse

* The Province: A Meltdown Of Epic Proportions

* The Vancouver Sun: Season's Promise Turns To Playoff Panic

* Bleacher Report: What's The Statistical Likelihood Of A 3-0 Series Comeback?

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NHL VIDEO:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Illinois Farm Team Deploying To Afghanistan

"A group of about 60 Illinois National Guard soldiers is getting ready to spend a year in Afghanistan working with the country's farmers," AP reports.

"The guard says the 14th Agriculture Development Team is made up of soldiers from around Illinois. Their backgrounds and professions make them good candidates to help develop Afghan agriculture. They'll work with farmers on their growing techniques and with government on agricultural infrastructure."

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agguard.jpg

MISSION (via the unit's Facebook page):

Mission: Support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) counter-insurgency objectives by conducting Agricultural Support Operations in the Province of Kunar, Afghanistan that will revitalize and establish a strong, growing, and sustainable agricultural industry.

Intent: Coordinate agri-business development that: - provides basic agricultural needs and services - educates and trains farmers and ranchers - develops the Kunar Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation, and livestock from the provincial to the district level - provide food security thru high quality, abundant and affordable agricultural products - assist in development of sustainable, value-added enterprises that increase the economic well-being of the people

End State: The government of Afghanistan provides support to farmers in Kunar Province as the agricultural sector grows to become a solution to local food security and a viable participant in the world market for legitimate agricultural products.

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The Kunar Province.

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The Guard's Agricultural Development Teams.

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The Guard's press release:

ILLINOIS NATIONAL GUARD AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT TEAM DEPLOYS

Specialized group of Soldiers prepares to help bring food security to the Afghan people

SPRINGFIELD - A deployment ceremony is scheduled for approximately 60 Soldiers who will deploy to Afghanistan as part of the 1st team of the 14th Agriculture Development Team (1-14th ADT). The ceremony for the 1-14th ADT will be April 25 at 10 a.m. in Building 10 at Camp Lincoln in Springfield.

The Soldiers will deploy for one year to conduct agricultural support operations in Afghanistan that will revitalize and establish a strong, growing and sustainable agricultural industry. The team will provide basic agricultural needs and services by working side-by-side with Afghan government agriculture agencies and teaching and training Afghan Extension Agents and farmers.

The Soldiers deploying with the ADT are from all parts of Illinois. Many of them were specifically chosen for the mission based on their education and civilian background in farming.

"This mobilization illustrates the diverse skill sets and training of our Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers and the variety of missions we support in today's challenging international environment, as well as in our state and community," said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. "This mission shows the unique nature of the citizen-Soldier. Many times our troops deploy overseas and are able to use their civilian experience to make the operation a success."

Agriculture in Afghanistan accounts for 31 percent of the Afghan Gross Domestic Product and employs 78 percent of the overall 30 million people in the country. National Guard ADTs work to improve the functionality of Afghan governmental agencies that are needed to sustain a viable agriculture sector and to educate and train Afghan farmers in more modern agricultural methods and techniques. The changes will improve the quality of life and provide economic stability in the region.

Col. Fred Allen of Delavan, commander of the ADT, said he is excited to be part of such a unique opportunity.

"I always figured I would deploy a second time but would have never imagined it would be centered on what I did in my civilian career, said Allen. "As a life-long farmer, I have always loved the fact that the Army National Guard symbol of the minuteman included a farmer standing next to a plow."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has decided to merge the city Departments of Fleet Management and General Services to place all city assets - vehicles, buildings and leases - under one roof," the Sun-Times reports.

Prediction: In five to 10 years the new megadepartment will be split back into smaller departments in the name of efficiency.

Bar Nut
"A six-hour presumed barricade situation Thursday in south suburban Oak Forest was an elaborate hoax," the Tribune reports.

"The man who was supposed to have been holed up inside in his home actually was stringing police along from his cellphone from a neighborhood restaurant-bar, authorities said. He was arrested.

"But not before a large contingent of the South Suburban Community Emergency Response Team descended on the scene, neighborhood residents were evacuated and area streets were blocked off. Police eventually threw tear gas into the home on the 5500 block of Babette Court and stormed in to find no one there.

"Reports said a suspect was arrested outside Beggars Pizza and taken to a hospital for mental evaluation."

Car Nut
"A Quarter Of All Car Crashes Involve Cell Phone Use."

So the number of car crashes per capita has increased by 25 percent since cell phones became ubiquitous? Because before cell phones no car crashes involved cell phone use.

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Let's go to the Google - results returned in 0.19 seconds.

"The estimate of 25% of all crashes - or 1.4 million crashes - involving cell phone use was derived from NHTSA data showing 11% of drivers at any one time are using cell phones and from peer-reviewed research reporting cell phone use increases crash risk by four times," the National Safety Council says. "The estimate of an additional minimum 3% of crashes - or 200,000 crashes - involving texting was derived by NHTSA data showing 1% of drivers at any one time are manipulating their device in ways that include texting and from research reporting texting increases crash risk by 8 times."

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In other words, the claim that one-quarter of all car crashes involve cell phones is not derived from actual traffic accident data. Instead, it is derived from taking the highest estimate of cell phone use while driving and multiplying that by the highest estimate of how much such cell phone use increases crash risk.

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The estimates on cell phone use while driving, by the way, include hands-free devices. So you may as well have lumped that into a category including distractions from talking to a passenger too. Or singing to the radio. The phone had nothing to do with it.

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Further, the NSC used estimated "attributable risk" that is not a factor mutually exclusive with other factors. So if your bald tires skid on the ice and you crash into another car while you are talking on a hands-free device, the bald tires don't get the blame in this case but the phone does.

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I'm not defending cell phone use while driving, but let's not exaggerate either. The problem isn't the phone, it's the distraction. And it's incredibly hard to believe that 25 percent of all crashes can be attributed to that distraction in particular. That's because it's not so; it's an estimate multiplied by an estimate using a shaky foundation to begin with.

Ancient Reporters Gullible Too
Last Supper Was Probably Next-To-Last.

Worst Governor Ever
"State efforts to recoup $1 million that impeached ex-Gov. Blagojevich said he errantly gave to Loop Lab School yielded Illinois taxpayers a paltry $89,000, Illinois Auditor General William Holland disclosed Thursday," the Sun-Times reports.

"That finding, which triggered new questions about the role Gov. Quinn's current chief of staff had in the Loop Lab School grant, was part of a broader analysis by Holland of how the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity did a poor job of keeping tabs on some of the $1.5 billion in grants it oversaw.

"Some of those spending initiatives administered by the department, as well as other state agencies, have become focal points of an ongoing federal investigation into state grants secured by at least four state legislators, the Sun-Times reported earlier this month."

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In response, Blago called reporters to his Ravenswood home for a photo session with him and his cute little dog, Snickers.

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AP, too.

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Blago PR Memo: Update all file photos! Cuddle with a cute animal or something so they don't keep showing this!

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Or your mug shot like they would if you were an, um, ordinary crook.

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Then again . . .

I Can Has Blagojevich Cat.

Sox West
"The two parties most often mentioned as interested buyers [of the troubled Dodgers], each of whom lives in Los Angeles, are Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Chicago White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert," the Los Angeles Times reports.

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Dennis Gilbert, Special Assistant to Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

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"Dennis Gilbert owns an insurance firm," the Los Angeles Business Journal wrote in January. "But the former sports agent is a baseball fanatic and he'd buy a team in the right conditions."

Illinois Farm Team Deploying To Afghanistan
From Springfield to Kunar.

The Blackhawks Have Risen From The Dead
Can they pull off an Easter miracle?

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

The Week in WTF
Waiting for J-C.

Programming Note
I'm always reluctant to mention these because i can't stand myself on TV but I always get complaints if I don't notify friends and readers, so . . . I appear on the current Chicago Newsroom hosted by Ken Davis, along with Monroe Anderson and Lorraine Forte. You can watch the video here or tune in to CAN TV 19 today at 1:30 p.m. or CAN TV 21 Saturday at 7 p.m.

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TV adds 10 pounds. And subtracts 20 IQ points.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Catty.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Submarines at Schubas on Wednesday night.

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2. Spectrum at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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3. The Black Angels at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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4. Alexis at the Elbo Room on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Jean-Claude Brizard, WTF?

There is no specific element of J-C Brizard's hiring to run Chicago's schools that announces unequivocally: Well, of course, that makes perfect sense.

Ah, but there is.

Rahm Emanuel's thinking is transparent only if you have dark, cynical soul. It just so happens that WTF does.

Here's a hint. Brizard is a product of multi-billionaire Eli Broad's social engineering foundry.

What Broad has done for urban education with his Broad Foundation, the Koch brothers would do for energy. That is, own it by owning the public agencies that regulate it. And not totally beside the point, Broad gave $25,000 to Emanuel's campaign. Broad wields influence like Thor wields a broadax.

What's the effect? Many Broad Institute superintendent graduates (their education there is subsidized by Broad who then helps pipeline them into jobs) have been run out of their towns, just ahead of angry villagers storming through the night with torches and pitchforks. In short, exactly the sort of Boris Karloff lookalikes that Rahm would find appealing.

The grads are all characterized by their critics as autocratic and committed to upheaval and chaos as a tool to break down a community's will to resist. Resist what? The philosophy is sort obvious if you look with clear eyes: Shift public tax dollars away from traditional schools to vouchers and charter schools. Then control the new school system. They are zealots in that cause.

The Rochester, N.Y., school system whence Brizard sprang is virtually belly up because the city is belly up. Brizard says he made a positive difference in education there. Almost no one else there does.

2. Jesse Jackson Jr., WTF?

Perhaps because dad is having that same old problem again, it's a good moment for junior to step up and be sort of, well, really dumb or really nuts. Maybe it's both . . . duts and numb.

This was after he was really in favor of the iPad. That was last week. This is this week.

Oh, Nurse Ratched, we have a WTF emergency in Aisle 3. Bozo is loose again.

Sometimes when you say a person is an idiot, you thereby insult the clinical idiots whose idiocy is a medical condition and not the result of carefully crafted stupidity. Technically, junior is not an idiot, just a nitwit.

3. Rick Santorum, WTF?

And speaking of deranged zombies lurking in the antechamber, the Rickster is still taking his nut job pills, too. They're big, blue ones.

The pride of Carmel High in Mundelein is running for president, but, then, isn't everybody?

The Rickster almost makes Trump seem like a statesman. But there is justice in the world even for distasteful detritus like Santorum, and the Internet is the means of the Lord's good work.

4. No-Hooker Zones, WTF?

This alderman wants "prostitution-free" zones in the city but this seems to imply there are "prostitution is okay" zones. Odd. We thought there always was a "no prostitution zone." It's called EVERYWHERE.

Also, prostitution is hardly ever free.

While we work out those legal details, let's have a contest for the design of the "No Hookers Allowed" signs. We assume there's a circle with a red diagonal line through it. But what is the image? Mingle among yourselves and call us in the morning.

5. Bobby Douglass, WTF?

He's been a 63-year-old bad boy but we doubt reports the ex-Bear kicked in the front door of his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend in Lake Forest to inquire about her diminished ardor.

Bobby is not a kicker. Of course, he wasn't much of a quarterback either. Just for the record, he has a 48.5 quarterback rating for 11 seasons.

We back this alternate legal theory related to the legal kerfuffle: Bobby calls out to his love, Double-deep-zag-f54-on-two, hut hut, fade back, slide right, sees she's in the Cover 2 defense (she's really cute in that Cover 2) ,looks for his check-down short-release across the middle, head-fakes the strong side linebacker to clear room for the H-Back's crossing route, and then throws the ball 853 miles per hour right through the front door of the condo 10 feet away.

It's like a WTF Vietnam flashback.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Convicted Liar Who Broke His Word As Governor So Many Times Legislators Forced Him To Sign 'Memorandums of Understanding' Still Seen As Credible By Media.

2. Media Now Selling 'Interviews' With Public Officials In Joint Publicity Venture.

3. City Hall To Remain A Fact-Free Zone.

4. If It's So Quiet Why Won't The Defendant Shut Up?

5. Buffoon Persuades Media To Use Warm And Fuzzy Photo From Here On Out.

6. Evil Progressing Geometrically.

7. Because It's Worked So Well For The White House.

8. Illinois Congressman Prefers Comforting Myth To Truth That Would Shake His Worldview.

9. So Was The Old Chief's, And Look Where That Got Him.

10. General Assembly Becoming Too Gay For Him.

-

Rahm's Partner in Reform
"Can Rochester, N.Y., superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard pad a payroll? Skirt the rules? Spend frivolously? Distort statistics to make himself look good? Infuriate his constituents with a high-handed style? Check, check, check, check and check."

- Eric Zorn, Our Kind Of Guy To Lead Chicago Schools

*

"I think we should sue his ass."

- Rochester School Board member Cynthia Elliott, New CPS Chief Owes Us $100K For Quitting, Rochester Schools Say

*

"Chicago is an amazing opportunity for me and my family."

- Jean-Claude Brizard, Brizard Suggests Successor, Says Reforms Will Continue

*

"When Rochester City Schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard departs to take charge of Chicago's public school system, he'll leave behind a largely broken school district with dismal test scores, shaky finances and a fractured relationship with teachers."

- Tribune, Chicago's New School Chief Leaves His Old District Mired In Questions, Controversy

*

Geez, what was so wrong with Terry Mazany?

Police Pick
If his schools pick is any indication, Rahm Emanuel's choice for police chief will leave behind a department with shaky finances, falsified crime statistics and fractured morale.

Meaning it could be an insider or an outsider.

Search Engine Manipulation
"Emanuel has been running a separate but parallel selection process while the police board goes about its work," the Tribune reports.

Um, what exactly is the police board's work if Emanuel is running his own search? And how much is their fake search costing us?

*

"[Emanuel] has been outspoken about picking his own top cop, sending a clear message that he expects the board's list of finalists to contain his own shortlist picks."

Wouldn't it be easier, then, for the police board to just call Emanuel when his search is over and ask him who the finalists should be instead of running its own search as well?

*

"The police board, which is appointed by the mayor and is currently headed by a City Hall lobbyist, does not have a record of opposing the mayor on the top cop selection."

No wonder so many board members don't see the point of showing up for their meetings.

Economical Emanuel
"Emanuel did all the talking at Wednesday's press conference," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "His economic team stood silently nearby, with each member standing on a piece of blue tape with their initials marked on it."

The tape was a reminder to grown adults to keep their mouths shut.

*

Likewise . . .

"Appearing with Emanuel at a news conference Monday at a Southwest Side high school, Brizard read a brief statement saying he was 'honored and thrilled' to come to Chicago. But Emanuel fielded all questions on Brizard's behalf."

Maybe Rahm just got carried away talking about how transparent he wanted his administration to be.

*

And then there was the appointment of Washington, D.C., official Gabe Klein as Chicago's new transportation commissioner . . .

"Emanuel did not allow his new appointee to answer reporters' questions."

Instead, a piece of tape with his initials on it was placed over his mouth.

*

"Klein launched Washington's bike-sharing program and expanded its trolleylike bus lines. After the new Washington mayor took office, his transition team issued a report criticizing the transportation department, saying it skirted accountability and violated local laws in funding projects, according to a news report."

Hence the tape.

*

Finally, Forrest Claypool was named the head of the CTA while Terry Peterson was re-upped as CTA board chairman.

"Claypool and Peterson did get to speak."

Either because they're old Daley hands who are already well-trained or because Rahm ran out of tape.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Naming names, spitting game.

Boystown, USA
Casting underway.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Split the difference.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Naming Names

When can we expect Fukudome to start batting .245? Spring is almost here.
- Jon, Zion IL

Don't rush him, he's still adjusting to being a platoon player. Rudy Jaramillo has him in the cage every other day.

Alfonso Soriano already has six home runs. What's gotten into him?
- Bill, Humboldt Park

Manny Ramirez's urine.

When will Starlin Castro be moved to third in the lineup?
-Justin, Mokena IL

Not until his first slump of the season, when batting him first would be an embarrassment.

Even though the Cubbies had a losing road trip last week, it seemed like they were one or two pitches or clutch hits away from going 6-3. How close are they to being a good team?
-Stacy, Appleton WI

One or two pitchers and a clutch hitter.

How did Darwin Barney get his name?
-DeLino, Rockford IL

His parents were pioneers in the sociobiology of children's TV.

Is Mike Quade really as nice as he seems?
- Annabelle, Bolingbrook IL

Only when Hendry keeps him medicated.

How many times will Carlos Pena strike out this season?
- Sam, Streeterville

As often as Steve Stone in the Viagra Triangle.

I forget: How did the Cubs acquire Jeff Baker?
- Jim, Lakeview

Through Central Casting; they asked for Anonymous Extra Second Baseman Number Two.

Aramis Ramirez looks slimmer this year. What happened?
- Sandy, Berwyn IL

A bout of contractitis.

How did the Cubs let Sam Fuld get away?
George, DeKalb IL

They needed to clear a roster spot for Jim Hendry's incompetence.

-

Comments - and questions - welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:45 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

From my point of view, the universe sure picked a bad week for Blago's new trial, the Sun-Times's Pulitzer, Rahm's new appointees and everything else going on because, frankly, I'm having a hard time keeping up. As always, I have to also try to conduct business. I never really even caught up on the last election.

So I'll get to everything in due course. Today I'll have to just pick some low-hanging fruit.

1. "1-800-CHICAGO Actually A Phone Sex Line."

Which is funny because 1-800-FUCKME goes to the mayor's office.

2. "New Leadership Announced For The Chicago Transit Authority."

More like old leadership, wouldn't you say?

3. "Jesus and Late Mayor Daley Share Spotlight on Easter."

Equal billing for Jesus at last.

*

Late mayor will turn water into patronage.

4. "Illinois Gov Pat Quinn Proclaims April 23 Talk Like Shakespeare Day."

Will also announce a new state estate tax.

5. "Jury Selection Begins In Blago Retrial."

Donald Trump will advise; Gary Busey a candidate.

*

After all, residency in Illinois is merely an issue of intent.

6. "4-Year-Old Served Mudslide at Chicago Chili's."

No way! They serve mudslides at Chili's?

7. "Controversial Pat Quinn Appointee Lands Second State Job."

The play's the thing.

8. "Will Bill Ayers Be Allowed To Speak In Canada?"

Yes, but Barack Obama's voice will come out.

9. "Chicago Mayor-Elect To Name Deputy Mayor."

Sources have identified this man as the likely appointee.

10. Break Up Sam Fuld!

11. Save Chicago Code.

12. Hazing Freshmen.

13. The Wax Trax! Retrospectacle.

14. Bottling Windy City Wheat.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Retrospectable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

Bottling Windy City Wheat

"A Belgian-style wheat ale brewed with honey and spices, a great beer for quenching the thirst of Chicago. Windy City Wheat swirls in the mouth with a pleasant sweetness and a zesty, orange-citrusy fruitness settling nicely into the honey tones."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

The Wax Trax! Retrospectacle

"As important as Chess Records was to blues and soul music, Chicago's Wax Trax imprint was just as significant to the punk rock, new wave and industrial genres," Richard Giraldi wrote for the Sun-Times on Sunday.

"What began as a record shop on Lincoln Avenue that specialized in underground music more than 30 years ago morphed into an influential label and seeped into the city's culture. Even after the label went bankrupt, the storefront closed and founders Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher passed away, the music and reach of Wax Trax Records never dissipated."

*

"Amid almost ceiling-scraping stacked amps pumping surging, unyielding beats, Wax Trax! artists - including Front 242, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and members of KMFDM and Revolting Cocks - paid tribute over the weekend at Metro to the label that shaped their formative careers," Althea Legaspi wrote for the Tribune. "Dubbed the Wax Trax! Retrospectacle, Friday and Saturday's benefit shows were sold out; an encore performance was held Sunday."

*

Here are some of the highlights.

1. Rights of the Accused.


-

2. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

-

3. KMFDM.

-

4. Front 242.

-

5. Revolting Cocks.

-

6. Blue Ribbon Glee Club.

*

See also from the Beachwood vault: Waking Wax Trax

*

And here's Julia Nash, daughter of Wax Trax co-founder Jim Nash, at the Retrospectacle.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Save The Chicago Code?

"Chicago Code creator and executive producer Shawn Ryan, who was honored at the Hugo Awards last week, told guests that the show's ratings for the next three weeks will be critical in determining the Fox show's renewal for another season," Reel Chicago reports.

"A good sign is improved ratings. Chicago Code Fan reported that Fox's overnight ratings for the April 11 episode, a repeat, pulled in 5.98 million viewers with a 1.8 in the coveted 18-49 demos. This a sharp uptick from the March 28-April 3 report of 3.9 million total viewers."

*

"Despite steady numbers, the show is still facing not being renewed for a second season. Recent ratings show the series holds steady anywhere between 7-8 million viewers since its premiere on Feb. 07, 2011," an online petition to get the show renewed says.

"Like any other good story, The Chicago Code needs more than one season to really tell it all."

*

This, however, really raised the hackles of the Beachwood Code crowd on Monday nights. Mancow? Really?

*

Also disappointing: Sneed "reports" that Code star Jennifer Beals "just put in a request to be part of the mayoral inaugural celebration." C'mon, Jenny!

*

The Code won't air in its regularly scheduled Monday slot next week but will be back on May 2nd with this (from Fox):

"While Teresa and Jarek set the stage for their case against Alderman Gibbons, their effort to clean up Chicago takes an unexpected turn when a deadlocked jury acquits a corrupt city official. Suspicious, the two mount an investigation, only to discover that jury tampering is just the tip of the iceberg in the all-new 'Bathhouse & Hinky Dink' episode of The Chicago Code airing Monday, May 2 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX."

-

Comments welcome.

-

Previously:
* 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

* The Chicago Code Drinking Game

* Jennifer Beals Channels Beyoncé.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:17 AM | Permalink

Hazing Freshmen

"Freshman hazing a tradition in Illinois General Assembly."

We have some suggestions:

* Embarrass a freshman by making them complete an ethics course.

* Freshmen are required to wear Michael Madigan's dirty laundry on the floor.

* Disable a freshman's "Present" voting button.

* Assign a freshman to read a bill and report back to the caucus. Then pretend to care.

* Assign a freshman to cut Mike Madigan's lunchtime apple.

* Force a freshman to accept a bribe and then rip off your shirt revealing a fake wire.

* Make freshman participate in a version of the Brewers sausage races but dressed up as bills instead.

* Cut the power to the offices of all freshmen who threaten to vote against ComEd's bills.

* Fill with manure the offices of all freshmen who threaten to vote against the horse racing industry's bills.

* Introduce freshmen to new deputy whips R.J. Vanecko and Angelo Torres.

* Assign a freshman to listen to all of the Blago tapes.

- Nick Shreders, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:58 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Break Up Sam Fuld!

If going horizontal to make amazing catches somehow could be translated into a fantasy stat, Sam Fuld would be the top-ranked player in fantasy baseball.

Of course, Cubs fans have known this for years, witnessing his defensive heroics as a September call-up and late-inning defensive replacement for Alfonso Soriano.

During those brief glimpses, though, Fuld never showed much more on offense except tenacity - not a bad thing, but the Cubs were looking for fireworks.

That's why they packaged him up and shipped him to Tampa Bay as part of the Matt Garza trade.

But, wouldn't you know it, it turns out that Fuld can hit, too, if given enough chance.

Now starting in the Rays outfield, Fuld has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises of the three-week old baseball season, hitting a league-leading .396 with 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 doubles and 7 SBs.

On Monday night this week, he almost single-handedly dismantled the White Sox in Tampa with a 4-for-4 night that included a couple more of his trademark highlight-reel catches.

It was already his second four-hit game this year, and Sox radio play-by-play man Ed Farmer didn't miss the chance to tweak the Cubs for letting Fuld escape, saying something to the effect of, "How has this guy stayed a secret for so long?"

It seems Fuld is still something of a fantasy baseball secret, too, as he was still available in 43% of Yahoo! leagues through Tuesday.

There are probably a lot of people who don't believe he can keep up anything near his present pace at the plate.

That may be true, though if he continues to start and settles in with a respectable .275 - .285 batting average, he could easily approach the value of Juan Pierre, OF, White Sox, or Michael Bourn, OF, Houston, two guys who get pretty regular fantasy play on speed alone.

Fuld may not steal 50 or more bases, as Pierre and Bourn are likely to do, but 30-40 SBs is definitely possible, making him a nice bench guy to slot in a couple days a week.

Regardless, why not pick him up now and ride his hot streak for as long as it lasts?

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade examines another surprising early season star - Jed Lowrie.

* Fake Teams celebrates the return of Grady Sizemore, once a top-10 fantasy player derailed by injury. Can he fight his way back up the charts?

* Bleacher Report wonders if Pedro Alvarez is already a bust. Yes, he is, and I wouldn't blame you if you drop him, but keep an eye on him for a mid-season or second-half surge.

* ESPN sizes up whether to drop Phil Hughes, the dead-armed Yankees pitcher who had such a great season last year, and was a premium pick in many drafts this year. Is there any more horrible-sounding diagnosis for a pitcher than "dead arm?" It basically sounds like the next step is amputation. "Undead arm" would be a lot more fun, like something out of The Walking Dead.

* Finally, Bleacher Report has the story of Mike Leake, the Reds pitcher who was charged with shoplifting. Leake was pretty good last year, and was probably a late-round pick in some fantasy leagues, so stay tuned for status updates - he could be suspended. In any case, if the charges stick for the second-year player with a $425,000 annual salary, you may want to drop him on principle anyway.

-

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 1:37 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2011

The Chicago TV Stand

Gather every element of contemporary thought and structure as you marvel at the simple and graceful design of this unit.

-

See also: Italian Modern Chicago TV Stand By Cattelan Italia.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers will be late today due to a late night on the bartending shift, but we already have this week's Outside Sox Park column by Dmitry Samarov posted - with another brilliant portrait. Collect them all!

UPDATE 1:53 P.M.: Life and other things are intruding, so the Beachwood will be so late today it will simply return tomorrow. We do have one more post up: The Chicago TV Stand. Enjoy and we'll see you on Wednesday.

The [Monday] Papers
1. What If You Can't Afford To Pay Your Taxes?

See also: The Rich Aren't Like You & Me; They Don't Pay Taxes.

2. The Wild Hare is closing.

"Ethiopian owner-musician Zeleke Gessesse will close his club and prepare to open a new one in his homeland."

*

Thanks for the good times, Zeleke Gessesse.

3. "In their worst game of the series, the Vancouver Canucks still didn't lose," CBC Sports reports.

"But it wasn't enough to impress Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

"'Everyone wants to look at the stats all year and talk about what [the Canucks] do well and how good of a team they are,' Toews said. 'That's whats frustrating.

"'We're not exposing them for what they really are. I think a lot of people outside this locker room are giving them too much credit.'"

*

Yeah, they're just getting lucky . . .

*

Jonathan Toews, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

4. "Notre Dame said Monday that football staff responsible for advising whether it was safe to practice outside used out-of-date weather information the day a student videographer fell to his death when the hydraulic lift he was on toppled over in high winds," AP reports.

"The investigation found that staff members likely depended on readings from the National Weather Service provided at 1:54 p.m. that day showing 23 mph winds in the area with 29 mph gusts. Although practice didn't start until 3:45 p.m., the staff was unaware that at 2:54 p.m. the weather service reported winds of 29 mph with 38 mph gusts - two hours before the accident."

*

Hey, Notre Dame investigators: You don't need a weatherman to know the winds are blowing.

"It was 3:22 p.m., reports Pete Byrne of CBS affiliate WSBT in South Bend, Ind. Practice was just starting, when Sullivan tweeted a grim premonition: 'Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I've lived long enough.'"

*

Another teachable moment whitewashed.


5. "A suburban Chicago priest who also serves as an Indy race car chaplain has been accused in a federal lawsuit of child sex abuse," Claims Journal reports.

6. Obama Back Trying To Trick People To Believe He Wants To Change Politics.

I'm not done saying I Told You So, so here goes: I Told You So.

7. Beachwood Field Trip?

8. Sticky Notes On A Parked Vehicle.

9. View From The Book Table: Gospel Coalition 2011.

10. Chicago Repo: Red Lobster Finale.

11. The White Sox Report: Making Minnie Minoso Sick.

12. The Cub Factor: Pigeon City.

In which I note that:

* Starlin Castro is the new Derrick Rose.
* Dusty Byfuglien is the new Mark DeRosa.
* Marlon Byrd is the new Barry Bonds.

13. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

14. Advice for anyone driving to the season's first night Cubs game at home this season.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. From 8 to 9 we'll take time out from the world's greatest jukebox to bring you another new episode of The Chicago Code. Here's how TV Guide describes it:

St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The mayor faults Teresa for rising crime rates after five people are shot in Lincoln Park, and Teresa wants Jarek to find the shooters so she can rebuild her public image. Elsewhere, Isaac and Vonda must re-investigate an old domestic-abuse case.

Of course, we'll also show the Bulls playoff game against the Pacers, the Cubs at home against the Padres, and the White Sox versus the Rays, accompanied by the usual free pizza, pool, $2.50 Old Styles and the witty banter of whatever random Beachwood contributors wander in. See you tonight.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Tangential.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: April Doesn't Last Forever

I didn't want to write about the team this week; it was that bad. When I ran into Steve yesterday at Flying Saucer, I told him as much. My column will be: "THEY SUCKED. The End," I said, Maybe I'll draw the letters large enough to fill up the page. He assured me I'd come up with something. So . . . this will be about disappointment.

The Sox only won one game in the last six and that one was barely snatched from the jaws of defeat. I picked up a fan in Wicker Park who'd been at the game and was happy to relive the extra-inning victory. It was the lone bright spot; when the bullpen wasn't blowing leads, the outfielders dropped easy fly-balls and the hitters, who'd been so hot, were going dead-cold. Adam Dunn made it back from his appendectomy, but didn't do much to distinguish himself. Apart from a homer that was a run short of being a decider, he struck out eleven times. He'll likely whiff about a hundred-ninety more times and hit another thirty-eight dingers if history's any guide. He's all-or-nothing and I'm fine with that, but if the rest of 'em are that way we've got in for a long summer.

A clerk at the 7-Eleven at Wrightwood and Lincoln groused sourly about getting stuck with Matt Thornton on his fantasy team. "He's just not a closer," his buddy said. I wonder how many times every Sox fan screamed that in the last few days as one loss stacked on top of the next. When your team doesn't play up to expectations, you start to wonder. It's far too early to panic or even to despair, though that's a feeling most every fan knows. The closest I came to crying at a sporting event was Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. That was disappointment.

I remember watching the shots of the Red Sox locker room covered in plastic to minimize the effect of the champagne about to flow and the MVP trophy (that was to be handed to Bruce Hurst) on TV in my parents' house. I was sixteen. It all went away, of course, and we all knew that even though there was another game to be played, we'd missed our chance. Losing five out of six in April's nothing like that. If they do well on the road, we'll remember this as just a blip. A character-builder. A couple of the games were bad enough that I flipped the radio to the Cubs game to get my mind off it. Doesn't look like the Northsiders are doing much better, though not much is expected of them either.

We can all hope that this year's squad will have the opportunity to blow a Game 6; so far they've only blown the chance to be ahead of two bottom-feeders in the standings. The only sliver of silver lining is that the Tigers and Twins are doing even worse. Sometime soon, however, the Sox will have to start winning. April doesn't last forever.

adam_dunn.jpgAdam Dunn by Dmitry Samarov (Enlarge)

-

Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. What If You Can't Afford To Pay Your Taxes?

See also: The Rich Aren't Like You & Me; They Don't Pay Taxes.

2. The Wild Hare is closing.

"Ethiopian owner-musician Zeleke Gessesse will close his club and prepare to open a new one in his homeland."

*

Thanks for the good times, Zeleke Gessesse.

3. "In their worst game of the series, the Vancouver Canucks still didn't lose," CBC Sports reports.

"But it wasn't enough to impress Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.

"'Everyone wants to look at the stats all year and talk about what [the Canucks] do well and how good of a team they are,' Toews said. 'That's whats frustrating.

"'We're not exposing them for what they really are. I think a lot of people outside this locker room are giving them too much credit.'"

*

Yeah, they're just getting lucky . . .

*

Jonathan Toews, you are Today's Worst Person in Chicago.

4. "Notre Dame said Monday that football staff responsible for advising whether it was safe to practice outside used out-of-date weather information the day a student videographer fell to his death when the hydraulic lift he was on toppled over in high winds," AP reports.

"The investigation found that staff members likely depended on readings from the National Weather Service provided at 1:54 p.m. that day showing 23 mph winds in the area with 29 mph gusts. Although practice didn't start until 3:45 p.m., the staff was unaware that at 2:54 p.m. the weather service reported winds of 29 mph with 38 mph gusts - two hours before the accident."

*

Hey, Notre Dame investigators: You don't need a weatherman to know the winds are blowing.

"It was 3:22 p.m., reports Pete Byrne of CBS affiliate WSBT in South Bend, Ind. Practice was just starting, when Sullivan tweeted a grim premonition: 'Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I've lived long enough.'"

*

Another teachable moment whitewashed.


5. "A suburban Chicago priest who also serves as an Indy race car chaplain has been accused in a federal lawsuit of child sex abuse," Claims Journal reports.

6. Obama Back Trying To Trick People To Believe He Wants To Change Politics.

I'm not done saying I Told You So, so here goes: I Told You So.

7. Beachwood Field Trip?

8. Sticky Notes On A Parked Vehicle.

9. View From The Book Table: Gospel Coalition 2011.

10. Chicago Repo: Red Lobster Finale.

11. The White Sox Report: Making Minnie Minoso Sick.

12. The Cub Factor: Pigeon City.

In which I note that:

* Starlin Castro is the new Derrick Rose.
* Dusty Byfuglien is the new Mark DeRosa.
* Marlon Byrd is the new Barry Bonds.

13. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

14. Advice for anyone driving to the season's first night Cubs game at home this season.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. From 8 to 9 we'll take time out from the world's greatest jukebox to bring you another new episode of The Chicago Code. Here's how TV Guide describes it:

St. Valentine's Day Massacre: The mayor faults Teresa for rising crime rates after five people are shot in Lincoln Park, and Teresa wants Jarek to find the shooters so she can rebuild her public image. Elsewhere, Isaac and Vonda must re-investigate an old domestic-abuse case.

Of course, we'll also show the Bulls playoff game against the Pacers, the Cubs at home against the Padres, and the White Sox versus the Rays, accompanied by the usual free pizza, pool, $2.50 Old Styles and the witty banter of whatever random Beachwood contributors wander in. See you tonight.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Tangential.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

Pigeon City

Marty Gangler is on a top secret scouting mission this week so I'm filling in until his return. He isn't missing anything. For example:

* Pirates Nip Cubs To Stay In First. Oh wait, that's from 1974.

* Pittsburgh's Power Clubs Cubs, 22-0. Oh wait, that's from 1975.

* Expos Gain, Whip Chicago Cubs. Oh wait, that's from 1978.

* Dexter Fowler Heroics Help Colorado Rockies Rout Chicago Cubs 9-5. There we go. That just happened yesterday.

The Cubs are scuffling at 7-8, a far cry from the .649 pace (24-13) Mike Quade squeezed out of the club last year.

Still, it's early and I find myself even sort of, loosely, in a certain kind of way actually rooting for them if only because I want to see Quade succeed, which is a big change from years past when I went from being a fan to merely acknowledging that this was the (Chicago) team I followed while I rooted for them to lose out of spite for Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Jim Hendry and such totally unlikable players like Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano.

Now you kind of root for Darwin Barney and Tyler Colvin and admire the way Marlon Byrd plays the game even though your team isn't a contender if he's your No. 3 hitter and he insists on working with Victor Conte.

Starlin Castro is the next Derrick Rose and even though Soriano is off to a good start it seems like this is less and less his and A-Ram's and even retread Kerry Wood's team. Good. I'd rather see Casey Coleman kick butt.

Nonetheless, Hendry is still around and the Ricketts' are obviously evil so there's still plenty of Cub to go around. The last thing I would want to do is get my hopes up.

-

The Week in Review: The Cubs took two of three from the Astros and dropped two of three to the Rockies. They were outscored 37-29 (including a shutout loss in Coors Park) and showed equal parts pitching and hitting proficiency and pitching and hitting ineptness. In other words, they're about a .500 team right now.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs start a nine-game homestand with three at home this week against the Padres and three against the Dodgers. The Rockies come in next week. They will probably go 5-4 and get to .500 before going on the road and sucking.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got all six starts last week with Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt coming off the bench in pinch-hit roles. Baker also got a start at first filling in for the injured Tony Pena. Barney still doesn't have a nickname because his real name is already so, um, nicky.

In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa may be the odd man out in San Francisco. Hint, hint.

Seller's Remorse: Dusty Byfuglien is the new Mark DeRosa.

The Zam Bomb: Carlos The Cured showed his first sign of cracking this season when he abruptly walked off the mound during a pitching change before Quade could get there - a major breach of baseball etiquette not even tolerated in the little leagues. So while Z pretended to be Apologetic, we think he's Getting Angry and could explode today against San Diego.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte is now giving Byrd weekly injections of SB-IQ.

Lost in Translation: Fukudome quo statusio is Japanese for Fukudome is still here.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Starlin Castro for Derrick Rose - and vice versa. MVP! MVP!

Sweet and Sour Quade: 95% sweet, 5% sour. It's still early and he's got some young kids figuring out their roles and he's not going to panic early and let his ego get in the way. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike helped his nephews with their homework the other night and told them not to get too upset about their score on the first test because the important thing is their score on the last test.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Between the return of the Cubs to infested Wrigley Field and the return of Blago to the courtoom, trading on Pigeons is strong.

Over/Under: The number of times Carlos Zambrano will apologize this season: 3.5

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Doug Davis is not the answer.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean?

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Views From The Book Table: Gospel Coalition 2011

Last week a few folks from Christian Focus Publications were in attendance at the 2011 Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago. Our Christian Focus, Mentor, and Christian Heritage imprints were featured at the Christian Focus Publications table in the main book area, while our CF4K titles were featured on the children's book tables.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

Sticky Notes On Parked Vehicle

Found this car in Chicago, IL, April 8th, 2011, with Sticky Notes all over, and Passer Bys were leaving notes, like on a Facebook Wall.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:17 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. No Devotion and the Revolting Cocks at the Metro on Saturday night for the Wax Trax! Retrospectacle.

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2. Levi Lowrey at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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3. El Tri at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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4. A Rocket To The Moon at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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5. My Chemical Romance at the Aragon on Friday night.

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6. ANR at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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7. Go Radio at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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8. Royal Bangs at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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9. John Wesley Harding at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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10. Jukebox the Ghost at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

Repo Chicago: Episode Four

Red Lobster finale.

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Previously:
* Episode One: Cool Rookie, Hot Temper
* Episode Two: Big Ant, Little Jax
* Episode Three: Lobster joint stakeout.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

The Rich Aren't Like You & Me; They Don't Pay Taxes

1. "Still scrambling to file your taxes? You'll probably take little consolation in hearing that the super rich pay a lot less taxes than they did a couple of decades ago," AP reports. "And nearly half of U.S. households pay no income taxes at all."

2. The Real GE Scandal.

3. Over The Last Five Years, Boeing's Total Tax Rate Was 4.5 Percent.

4. A Little Extortion Never Hurts The Bottom Line.

See also: New Caterpillar CEO's Compensation Quadruples.

5. 9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes.

6. Who Pays The Taxes?

See also:
* The Great American Tax Dodge
* Who Really Pays The Taxes?

7. From Michael Moore and MoveOn:

"Do you wonder (like I do) what the tax accountants and executives are doing over at GE this weekend? Frantically rushing to fill out their IRS returns like the rest of us?
Hardly. They're taking the weekend off to throw themselves a big party and have a hearty laugh at all of us. It must really crack them up to see us like suckers scurrying around to make sure we report everything to Uncle Sam - and even send him a check, if necessary.

"The joke's on us, folks. GE and tons of other corporations will have a tax bill for 2010 of ZERO. GE had $14.2 billion in profits in 2010. Yet they will contribute NOTHING to the federal government while every last dime is soaked from us.

"In the latest budget deal, our politicians could have tackled the deficit by stopping the flow of these ill-gotten billions to corporations. Instead they cut billions from 'wasteful' programs that do 'wasteful' things, like create new jobs, drive economic growth, and help the needy and our nation's children. It's Democracy in reverse and it sickens me.

"GE spends $20 million a year to lobby Congress to throw themselves this party. But do you know what speaks louder than $20 million? 20 million votes! 20 million people, and more, standing together and taking to the streets. That starts now, with you.

"[Today] is Tax Day - and that's the day when 'we the people' will demand our country back from these corporations in events all across the country. The folks at MoveOn tell me that the nearest event to you is in Chicago. I hope you'll be there:

Where: Boeing
When: Noon

"This Monday, MoveOn members -along with union, community, and environmental allies - will gather outside the headquarters and local offices of the biggest corporate tax dodgers to deliver tax bills from the American people. And we'll demand that our leaders make these corporate deadbeats pay.

"We're doing this because we don't buy into the Big Lie: that greedy teachers caused the crash on Wall Street! That the selfish firefighters sent millions of jobs overseas! That pregnant woman, infants, and children are sending us into deficit!

"No, it was the big corporations that did this. It was the CEOs and the top 1% of the country. THEY brought on the mortgage crisis. THEY made off with trillions of dollars from our economy. THEY are systematically destroying the middle class. And THEY have bought and sold the very people elected to represent us!

" This Monday we will call them out - can you join in?

"On Monday, we will have something to say to Exxon, Chevron, and the big banks that crashed our economy and got billions in bailouts, like Citigroup and Bank of America, who pay little or no federal income tax. In fact, the IRS will likely give them a tax REBATE. If that doesn't boggle your mind then nothing will.

"The Tax Day events are about sending this message: We are coming after you, we are stopping you and we are going to return the money, jobs, and homes you stole from the people. This is your tipping point, Corporate America. And I, for one, am glad it's going to happen this Monday.

"If you've never been to an event like this before, this is the time. And don't go alone, because none of us can win this fight by ourselves. Plus, it's more fun and exciting to go along with friends and family to be part of real democracy in action - not the store-bought kind Big Business gets on Capitol Hill."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

Making Minnie Minoso Sick

The wearing of Jackie Robinson's number 42 on Friday night was a nice touch in a week that sorely needed one. Amidst dropped fly balls, Juan Pierre's five consecutive base-stealing failures, an anemic offense, Gavin Floyd's wild pitches, lots of errors, and the woeful bullpen travails, MLB honored its 64th anniversary of integration and the legacy of Jackie Robinson as all big-leaguers wore his number in ballparks throughout America.

If you're interested in reading a definitive account of Jackie Robinson, try Arnold Rampersad's 1997 biography. It is an honest, detailed, and fascinating account, not only of Robinson's life but also the times in which he lived.

Dodger general manager Branch Rickey and future Sox owner Bill Veeck saw the value and wisdom of signing African-Americans a number of years before it finally happened. Veeck claimed that his quest to buy the Phillies during World War II was blocked by the owners and commissioner when they suspected (not without a healthy dose of truth) that he wanted to sign black players.

In 1947 when Bill owned the Cleveland Indians, Larry Doby made his debut as the American League's first black player 81 days after Robinson on July 5. Robinson achieved eternal recognition and fame since he came first, but Doby and others experienced the same indignities and hardships and still managed to perform at a high level.

Doby, a Hall of Famer, had quite a career, including two productive seasons (1955-56) with the Sox. Veeck later hired him to manage the team in 1978 after Bob Lemon skipped town to manage the Yankees.

Rickey, one of baseball's first general managers, clearly realized it was past time to exclude African-Americans and Rampersad does a solid job of describing why Rickey chose Robinson. Among other assets, Jackie was a college guy, he had served in the military, and - lest I'm remiss - he could run, hit, field, throw, and hit for power. The debut of Jackie Robinson goes beyond the altruistic. Rickey wanted to win ballgames, and the likes of black players like Robinson, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella, Junior Gilliam, Joe Black, and Sandy Amoros helped Brooklyn/Los Angeles win five National League pennants in the 1950's.

Contrast that to the Red Sox, the last team to sign a black player, Elijah (Pumpsie) Green in 1959. They finished no higher than third during the decade despite the presence of Ted Williams.

The White Sox were the seventh of the 16 Major League teams to integrate. General manager "Trader" Frank Lane, who bartered players as often as Sarah Palin says something silly, brought Minnie Minoso over from Cleveland for the 1951 season. Sure, Minnie was Cuban, but he also was very black, and prior to 1947, he had no chance to play in the big leagues.

All Minnie did was hit .324 in his inaugural season on the South Side, which was a preview of seasons to come. He led a resurgent franchise in its struggle to overtake the Yankees each summer. Ironically it only happened once - in 1959 - and at that time Minnie was back in Cleveland, a weird turn of events in Sox history. However, Minoso came back to the South Side in yet another trade prior to the 1960 campaign to play a total of nine seasons for the South Siders.

Phil Rogers had a delightful column in the Tribune prior to Opening Day when Minnie threw out the first ball. In addition, my lifelong friend, videographer Tom Weinberg, is in the beginning stages of producing a 60-minute documentary on Minoso which will air on WTTW with hopes that it will get national exposure. I'll keep you posted.

Minnie's likeness now resides on the left centerfield wall at The Cell as well as on my kitchen wall to remind me that once I was young, that it's important to hustle, and always take the extra base if the opportunity presents itself.

minoso.jpg

Now in his 80's, Minoso remains fit and energetic. That is, until the past week when he was at The Cell for a couple of games which made many of us ill. Ozzie Guillen obviously was suffering physically on Wednesday after the bullpen surrendered six runs in the 9th and 10th innings to turn John Danks' strong performance into a 7-4 loss to Oakland. Chris Sale couldn't get anyone out, and Matt Thornton gave up a ninth inning two-out, two-run single to Cliff Pennington - he of the .211 average - to tie the game.

Juan Pierre had made two errors in his last 252 games prior to this season, yet he dropped two fly balls in four nights, resulting in two losses. Then Pierre leaps above the wall to take a home run away from the Angels on Friday night. How do you explain that?

Or the 15 errors in 14 games or six blown saves?

Now the team hits the road, and they better get comfortable since 30 of the next 43 games will be out of town. The adage "Break even on the road and win two-out-of-three at home" may have to be reversed after the disappointing 4-6 homestand.

On the bright side: It's only April. The Twins are doing even worse with Joe Nathan, coming off arm surgery, blowing two saves and losing the closer role. The Sox are chasing Kansas City and Cleveland and, c'mon, they can't keep it up. Let them have their fun now.

Jake Peavy keeps getting closer to coming back. Matt Thornton can't be this bad. Besides, Hawk pointed out a couple of times Sunday that the Angels also swept the Sox in a three-game series in 2005, and we all know how that season ended. The boys will start hitting again, and it's going to get warmer. Patience, Sox fans, patience.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Translated from Natasha Julius's desperate text messages from a cave somewhere in the bowels of Roscoe Village, where technical difficulties severed her internet connection.

Alternate Route
My train home from work on Thursday got delayed 20 minutes by President Obama's motorcade, preventing me from breastfeeding my daughter. Take that, Michelle Bachmann!

Grading On A Curve
The CTA is stress-testing two electric buses to see if they are reliable enough. If they are, the total number of reliable CTA buses will be two.

Royal Flush
The parliament of the United Kingdom has realized its succession laws are discriminatory because sons trump daughters, making princesses just as screwed as 99.9 percent of the rest of the population.

Too Soon?
Just as Charlie Sheen replaced Michael J. Fox on Spin City, the Beachwood's Hollywood bureau hears Sheen could be in line for a new installment of Back to the Future. China is already preparing.

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Then again, we've got nothing to brag about when it comes to regulating television.

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What do Charlie Sheen and Michael J. Fox have in common? They've both got the shakes.

Blago 2
Speaking of sequels, Rod Blagojevich will reprise his role next week as the world's most tortured victim of a grand conspiracy to send innocent perpetrators of routine children's hospital shakedowns to prison in the courtroom drama Then They Came For Me.

Blago had threatened to back out of the project but could not get out of his contract.

*

The idiotic public will reprise their role as the idiotic public.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Cave-proof.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 PM | Permalink

April 15, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Rahm's Inaugural, WTF?

Welcome to the Rahm Emanuel Stone Deaf/Tin Ear Inauguration. Recession? Homeless people under the bridges? We'll get to that later. The city's sort of broke? So? Pass the champagne and the check. Mass-produced potholes so deep you need a guided burrow tour to get to the bottom? Walk it off. Pass the cake. Put the cash in the duffel bag.

Because Barack Obama is such a gifted politician - WTF has heard that - did you wonder why his White House often lapsed into those strange, odd amoral dead zones when intelligence and integrity would have worked so much better? Maybe it was Mayor Rahm being Chief of Staff Rahm.

So the Inaugural/Coronation requires cash for the extra big salad bar, plus Rahm always needs walking around cash for incidentals - a few million will do. Pony up boys. As the Tribune notes: "There are varying levels of support, including $25,000 'sponsors,' $10,000 'supporters' and a $5,000 'friend' level. High-dollar donors will gain special access, but Emanuel has said the inauguration itself will be free and open to the public."

For $2,500, you can be a "mildly ambivalent acquaintance"; for $2,000 you're an "odd hitchhiker you'd never slow down to pick up"; $1,000 and you can be "hostile, angry mope." At the $50 level, you're "Berny Stone who stumbled through the front door looking for a bathroom."

If you want to give me 50G's, that okiedokilie. But $50,001 is over the line. That extra dollar makes all the difference in ethics.

2. Tin Ear Redux, WTF?

A day after telling America's fat cats they need to pay more taxes - finally a good idea that makes him sound amazingly like a Democrat - the Prez arrives in town to raise money from fat cats for his re-election. He's going for a billion total. These are probably different fat felines than he was addressing Wednesday. These are the good fat cats.

There is a range of giving modes available. Natch.

For $35,800 - the legal limit - you get a private dinner with the Leader of the Free World. Actually, the world has never been free as much as it's been affordable depending on your income.

But don't expect to give him $36,801 because that would be unethical. The extra dollar makes all the difference.

3. Morton schools, WTF?

Finally, a local school board president who's mobbed up. In Cicero. Could it be better?

Yes, but unfortunately Betty Loren-Maltese isn't eligible for the school board.

He announced to a crowd of outraged and incredulous parents that receiving immunity to testify about his mob buddies did not imply he was guilty of anything because immunity is sort of a pro forma paperwork thing. It's like checking the open box on the cable TV contract that confirms you've read all the small print. To which the attending students all hooted in derision because they've been watching Law & Order since they were two.

4. Higher ed, WTF?

Should we not assume that a public university this lousily managed also turns out lousy graduates? Does a bear not defecate in the leafy/deciduous/woody area?

So here's the skinny which is widely known and widely ignored except for intermittent audits that inevitably produce shock and dismay: Chicago State is a lousy school. Pick any area. But it still costs students about $100,000 for a degree. (It's the interest on the loan that's the killer).

It's been a lousy school for such a long time that it cannot be repaired. And worse, it can't be killed because of racially framed politics, a sad reality itself because Chicago's young African-American population has been turning away from the school for decades. They can see the waste of their money even if the professional education community can't.

Said board of trustees chairman the Rev. Leon Finney: "Students don't even feel that they're cared about at the school . . . we are an academic institution that operates as though it's a McDonald's hamburger franchise. And not very well at that. At least McDonald's makes you feel good for a 99-cent hamburger."

And he's on the board.

Can't be fixed; can't be demolished. It's the WTF Chicago Code.

5. Tipsy toddlers, WTF?

The WTF gang has been around many small humanoids - we've even constructed a few - and, frankly, we believe that feeding them alcohol at restaurants - as done here and also here - generally makes for a more serene, pleasurable dining experience.

Drunk small humanoids tend to be quieter, if not more malleable, dining partners. A nice Bourbon shot with a Heineken chaser quiets even the rowdiest 2-year-old. They get drunk really fast. This is a good thing, not a bad thing.

In the meantime, fast food chains everywhere are scrambling to retrain their staffs against repeating the phenomenon. How more complicated can that be than the assistant manager screaming to the assembled wait staff: "Don't give booze to the small children anymore, you morons!" WTF. Really.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:47 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"The judge overseeing the trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says he was duped by the governor's defense team in the last trial," WBEZ reports.

Um, just arrive on Planet Earth, judge?

*

Meanwhile . . .

"The complexity of the trial we found daunting," jury foreman James Matsumoto told the Tribune.

Yeah, well, it took them six days to find the verdict forms so I don't have a lot of sympathy. Probably still puzzling over how to work the vending machines.

Park Place
"The park is there to cover the political sins of the past," John Kass writes.

"The Park District - which is controlled by City Hall - spent $10 million to build the park. There's a reason it cost so much.

"It is the site of the old Stearns Quarry. And park officials said much of the money went toward environmental remediation, a fancy way of saying somebody had to clean it up, because for decades it was a dumpsite.

"It was a dumpsite when the mayor was a child and it was a dumpsite for years and years afterward, as the Hired Truck kings dumped debris into the quarry. They dumped construction waste and ground-up vehicles and other junk.

"And when the scandal broke, the mayor said he was amazed, and didn't know anything about it, though his trucking boss buddies from Bridgeport and Chinatown had been dumping there for decades."

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Given his 22 years in office, can't we say definitively that no Chicago mayor has told more lies than Richard M. Daley? Stick that in your legacy book.

Lawsuit Pending?
"The error at the U. of C. that contributed to [Sun-Times Media CEO] Tyree's death falls into a category some health industry groups refer to as a 'never event,' which means it was a preventable situation," the Tribune reports.

"He died two days [after admittance] from an air embolism following the removal of a dialysis catheter while he was being treated for pneumonia. The catheter was removed incorrectly by a physician's assistant, federal officials said Thursday."

That's What She Said
"Sears Roebuck and Co. and one of its companies have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Chicago against a Georgia online company for selling a sexual enhancement product marketed under the 'DieHard' brand name," the Tribune reports.

"Sears and KCD IP LLC, an affiliate of Sears which owns trademark rights to 'DieHard,' charge that RockHard Laboratories LLC and RockHard Laboratories Holdings LLC infringed on its trademark and caused its reputation to suffer from the online marketing of RockHard's topical desensitizing spray."

*

You had me at RockHard Laboratories.

Oak Park Sucks
"[S]tand-alone taverns and bars that do not serve food are not allowed."

Urges Ousting Incumbent
Obama Says He's Best Prepared To Move Economy.

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See also: Here We Go Again.

True Identity
The Life of a Comic Book Hero.

The Problem With Uncle Mo
His work record is blank.

Wild Boi TV
Chicago spring breaks in South Beach.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You really shoulda been there.

The Week in WTF
I mean, really?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Departures daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Amon Amarth at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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2. Anberlin at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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3. Subhumans at Reggie's on Wednesday night.

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4. Ron Pope at Schubas on Wednesday night.

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5. Origin of Animal at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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6. Nat Baldwin at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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7. Pantha du Prince at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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8. Pet Lions at the Hideout on Tuesday night.

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9. The Civil Wars at Schubas on Monday night.

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10. Phosphorescent at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

Wild Boi TV: Spring Break in Miami

All the way from Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

The Life of a Comic Book Hero

Performed at the Double Door.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

Here We Go Again

President Barack Obama kicked his formidable fundraising operation into action Thursday in Chicago, telling supporters his 2012 campaign will focus on fixing the country's money problems without doing harm to "the America we believe in."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: The Problem With Uncle Mo

In New York sports, more than any other town, you lose a few games and you are the lowest bums in existence. Win a few, and you are the juggernaut that only the Big Apple deserves and produces.

So it was fitting that this year's Kentucky Derby "it" horse, Uncle Mo, who just minutes before was touted as the next coming, touched off such revulsion after losing the Wood Memorial Saturday at Aqueduct, Ozone Park, NY.

TVG's Simon Bray and Todd Schrupp pulled an Ivory Soap and declared 'Mo a 99-44/100 percent lock. They would have declared a total full-nelson, but for things like his gate stall not opening or John Velazquez getting tossed off or the wicked witch releasing the flying monkeys, and not in that order of probability.

But as often happens in this game, the aftermath of Uncle Mo's "monumental" upset, finishing a tiring third at ridiculous odds of 1-9, has proven quite revealing as we ponder how he could have lost and where he goes from here. And why all those grizzled horseplayers drank the Kool-Aid and pounded 'Mo at the windows.

As the last gasps of hype lingered into the new week, there were those who reminded us that even the great Secretariat had lost this race - finishing third himself - on the way to winning the Triple Crown. If Secretariat was almost always a Ferrari running on all cylinders, Uncle Mo might be more like an Arab sheikh's gold-plated Mercedes that won't start. At least as far as his supposed collision course with the first Saturday in May is concerned.

Soon after the Wood, rumors began flying on the Internet and the demolition of his four-race reputation commenced in earnest. In classic Guys and Dolls style, this one guy's buddy's in-law swears Uncle Mo had surgery in Florida to clean out a joint. You could supposedly even see the surgery scar on his right front foreleg. Hence, the extended Christmas vacation.

Besides, as simply a precocious 2-year-old he had dream trips in both the Champagne last October at Belmont and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (the two horses he beat that day, Boys At Tosconova and Rogue Romance, are out of training with injuries). And don't forget that measly $78,000 Gulfstream stakes, the Timely Writer, where he ran against a bunch of lowly stiffs in a race basically written for him.

And one excuse he might have had in the Wood is that he grabbed a quarter and almost lost a shoe in the race, which could explain why he switched leads so often.

We won't get anything out of trainer Todd Pletcher, but I think the reason he didn't get going with Uncle Mo earlier and into a more authentic Derby prep regime is that he has a fragile horse who was anything from tired to sore to scoped over the winter. But this just in yesterday, Pletcher announced that the horse had/has a gastrointestinal infection and that it explains everything. And not to worry, 'Mo's not canceling his deluxe suite at Churchill Downs.

But why all the hype in any case? For one thing, America seems to need singular messiahs in its sports; witness Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Zenyatta is gone, although her personal marketing campaign continues, with sales spikes ahead when they unveil her statue or mark the obligatory anniversaries on the fives.

Racing seems to have adopted the same playbook with Uncle Mo, no doubt capitalizing on basic human neediness in identifying with a horse, any one horse. People yearned for it with Afleet Alex and the lemonade stand and Big Brown, despite his bad feet. It might have happened for real with Ghostzapper, until he was stolen away from the fans and sent to the breeding shed.

As for Uncle Mo, he came into the Wood 4-0, with one of the most impressive races of Breeders' Cup weekend, a 4.5-length win in the Juvenile. He also added the 2-year-old Horse of the Year Eclipse Award to his trophy case in January.

But as the Jerry Baileys and Randy Mosses of the world declared just moments after the Juvenile win, Indian Charlie colts can't get the distance, meaning the 10 furlongs of the Derby. Urban myth? Not really, it's pretty much true. And what chance will an undertrained, under-raced and out of shape Uncle Mo have to show us definitively that he can get the mile-and-a-quarter? Or not?

Despite the fact 2-year-olds sometimes do not improve, or improve much, in their 3-year-old year and a horse has only once parlayed the Juvenile into a Derby win (Street Sense in 2006-07), the 'Mo's hype train rumbled on.

If you had obeyed a basic rule of handicapping, you would have seen that his work record was blank all the way from the Breeders' Cup the first week of November to a 4-furlong work at the Palm Meadows training facility in Florida on February 13. His four-furlong works, a paid workout at Gulfstream and a bad showing in the Wood do not a foundation make.

Early on, Pletcher had said 'Mo would, for goodness' sakes, run in only two preps for the Derby and would start working in late January, pointing to the 8.5 furlong Tampa Bay Derby March 12 on the sandy-demanding Tampa Bay Downs course and then the Wood.

But the horse didn't start training until mid-February and then abruptly Pletcher changed course and announced 'Mo would go in the Timely Writer. The next red flag was that the Timely Writer was run at only a mile, 8 furlongs. This was puzzling, or telling. If Uncle Mo was so good and prepared, why would he turn back to a mile at Gulfstream, which he ended up running in 1:36-2 and a mediocre 89 Beyer Speed figure, against a bunch of going-nowhere horses?

Despite a trying start, 'Mo ran well in the Wood, taking on the pace for most of the race. But just after the eighth pole, he was swallowed up by Arthur's Tale (now off the Derby trail with an injury) and then by eventual winner Toby's Corner.

Like the big-for-his-age Little Leaguer, the other kids have perhaps caught up with him, especially when he might be misplaced in races longer than a mile. You keep hearing that as a Triple Crown candidate at the 10-, 9.5- and 12-furlong classic distances, 'Mo is going to make a helluva 7- or 8-furlong horse someday. Yet another who may not belong in the Kentucky Derby?

As for the Derby - and don't be surprised if he doesn't even make it into the gate - I can't believe he will have any of the foundation he needs. I'll need to see a nearly blazing 5-furlong-with-a-big-runout work from him fairly soon and Pletcher won't do that. I'll hope he still takes a lot of that civilian Derby money and he'll need to be a big price with a great post position for me to remotely consider him.

The cycle doesn't seem to end, so keep an eye out for The Factor. If he impresses in the Arkansas Derby Saturday, he's your new next coming.

The Disabled List
The Life At Ten saga continues.

Jockey John Velazquez was fined $10,000 for his part in the debacle that was the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic. Half of it will go to the Disabled Jockeys Fund.

His sin is that while he twice told a nationwide ESPN audience that Life At Ten didn't seem herself before the race, yet he failed to inform the gate veterinarians and ask them to look at her.

You know how I feel about the incident. While JV apparently violated the cockamamie "protocol" as divined by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, remember that jockeys are independent contractors, riding at the whims of trainers and owners.

If Johnny V does anything to get that horse scratched, he loses business and suffers big-time at the peak of his career. He took a huge left hook to the chin "for the industry" and I respect the hell out of him. In the end, he did the right thing for the mare, running her easily around the track.

And here's some news. Life At Ten ran second in an $80,000 optional claiming race at Gulfstream Sunday. Trainer Todd Pletcher wasn't there.

Both Pletcher and chief steward - now there's an oxymoron - John Veitch were also aware of Life At Ten's troubles that day.

I hope to have some related news on those two guys at some point. Veitch? Maybe. Pletcher? Don't count on it.

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Thomas Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:05 AM | Permalink

April 14, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

First, the news from Vancouver:

* Canucks Came Out Flying Against Blackhawks.

* Blackhawks Exit Game 1 Even More Battered.

But . . .

"Is it me, or does anyone else feel the terrible weight of expectation being hoisted on the backs of the Vancouver Canucks?" Pete McMartin writes for the Vancouver Sun. "And the sense of impending collapse said weight I fear will cause the Canucks to come crashing to the ground?

"Don't lie to me. Of course you do.

"And you feel this way because there is a very good reason why the Canucks might not win the Stanley Cup this year, despite their sterling regular season record.

"This reason is called 'history.'"

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So it's not just Chicago sports fans with an unremitting sense of impending doom.

Blago's World
Here's a quaint notion a few of us have been kicking around for years: Just because somebody calls a "press conference" doesn't mean you have to "report" on what he says.

For example, if an ex-governor already convicted of lying to the FBI and known for using the media to try to influence future jurors calls the media to his home six days before his second trial and says absolutely nothing new - and a lot that isn't true - you basically have two good choices: don't report it or show how he's lying again.

Unfortunately, our esteemed local news operations tended to take a third tack: They gave him free reign to spew his garbage.

Here are just two examples from local broadcasts that gave Rod Blagojevich relatively valuable airtime at or near the top of their early evening shows (the only ones I saw):

"Blagojevich really didn't say anything tonight he didn't say before," said Channel 2's Vince Gerasole. "But we're covering him anyway to help him sway the jury. Next week we'll drive him in our news van to the homes of prospective jurors to make his case to them personally, and then we'll put him up in our helicopter and drop leaflets over the city with tapes of his statement."

Okay, Gerasole didn't say that second part, but he did say the first - after his station aired Blago's tired complaints that prosecutors won't let him play "all the tapes" or call all the witnesses - such as Rahm Emanuel - who could exonerate him.

Over on Channel 5, Jeff Goldblatt noted that Blagojevich did not take any questions from the media after making his statement. In other words, he could have just sent in a tape and the station would have just run it.

Reporters did catch up with Blago while he was in his car and engaged in what Goldblatt called "a little friendly Q-and-A."

Blago was asked if this was a publicity stunt, which is a question that nearly defies metaphysics.

"Did you just manipulate us?"

"Of course not!"

"Are you manipulating us now?"

"Of course not!"

"But that's just what you would say if you were manipulating us! If you weren't manipulating us, you would answer honestly and tell us that you were. But then you'd be admitting to manipulating us so you'd be manipulating us . . . "

*

Here's a simple question: If Blago was not trying to reach a future jury, who was he speaking to?

*

The print media also seemed a bit at odds as to how to handle Blago's pseudo-event.

The Sun-Times, for example, engaged in their standard stenography.

(As of 9:15 a.m., the story is the fourth-highest on their website. Get those clicks!)

On the other hand, the Tribune's Stacy St. Clair presented a more even treatment, nicely including this nugget for example:

"The remarks - given shortly after 5 p.m. so they could be broadcast at the top of local newscasts - even included a brief reference in Spanish for the Univision station that was airing it live."

But writing next that "He denied that his remarks were an attempt to influence his next jury" was unnecessary. I know that's what some reporters - or their editors - are trained to do, but not all of us were. I find this acceptable only if he had articulated what other purpose was intended by his remarks. That's a question reporters should have asked.

New Jersey Preparing New Ad Campaign
Illinois Takes Step Toward Ban of Trans Fats.

Surge Protector's Fault?
American Family Insurance Blames Audiovox and Best Buy for Chicago House Fire.

Two Americas
"Milwaukee's own Sweet Water Organics perch is on the menu for a fundraiser dinner for President Obama tonight, April 14, at mk The Restaurant in Chicago," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.

"The perch, raised through an aquaponic system of agriculture, will be served with tartar sauce as part of an hors d'oeuvre that also includes grass-fed beef tartare and lobster, to open a dinner featuring only sustainably produced food and wine from America."

vs.

Illinois, Chicago Foreclosures On The Rise Again.

*

Here's an idea for Change: Have the president hold fundraisers for people who need help. His campaign staff could even put the video up on YouTube and get commercials out of it.

Chicago Way State
"[T]he scathing audit portrays the 7,000-student university as a financial mess, with federal grants misspent, lax control over contracts and misuse of purchasing cards," the Tribune reports.

I wonder if they have a journalism department with any openings.

Approaching The Unreal
Rush live in Chicago.

Powers TV Almost Here
A cop show with a superhero element.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
From A-Ram to Z.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: In the bag.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

In Action: Rush in Chicago

One of the greatest bands to rock this planet brought its Time Machine Tour to the big arena on the Near West Side on Tuesday. Let's take a look.

1. Intro/Spirit of the Radio.

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2. Limelight.

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3. Freewill.

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4. 2112.

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5. The Chicken 2011.

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6. Subdivisions.

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7. Closer to the Heart.

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8. Neil Peart solo.

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9. YYZ.

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10. Second Intro/Tom Sawyer.

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11. Stick It Out.

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12. Camera Eye.

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13. Leave That Thing Alone.

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14. Workin' Them Angels.

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15. La Villa Strangiato.

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16. The Witch Hunt.

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17. Alex Lifeson solo.

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18. Working Man.

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19. Red Barchetta.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

Powers TV Is Almost Here

"The producers of Powers, a TV pilot for Sony TV and FX Productions reportedly coming here in mid-June, are no strangers to shooting television entertainment in Chicago," Reel Chicago reports.

"A-list television executive producer and director Michael Dinner returns to Chicago, after having been here on 12 episodes of The Beast, the FX Channel series that shot in Chicago in 2009 with the late Patrick Swayze . . .

"Two years in development and based on comic books by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, Powers follows a pair of homicide detectives who investigate deadly crimes committed by people with super-powers."

powersgreenlit.jpg

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"Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler, who turned down a slew of offers for broadcast pilots this season, is now being courted for FX's drama pilot Powers," Deadline.com reports.

*

"About two years after this website even launched, FX and Brian Michael Bendis have announced that the network is finally moving forward with a Powers TV pilot," PowersTV.com reports.

*

Bendis on Twitter:

"For those comparing Powers to other super hero shows, it's not a super hero show . . . It's a cop show with a superhero element. Big difference."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:51 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: From A-Ram to Z

We've already blown a couple of late leads. Should I be worried about the bullpen?
-Darrin, Mt. Prospect IL

Easy there, Darrin. Unless the Ricketts family signs your paycheck, there's no "we" in Cubs. But to answer your question, no . . . the Cubs should be worried about having only three healthy, but very ordinary looking, starters.

Will Alfonso Soriano ever be a stolen base threat again?
-Emily, Rogers Park IL

Absolutely not. At 35 . . . or so . . . he's roughly 52 in professional athlete years; just young enough to play the Silver Fox card and get it up, but too old to out-hustle any of the young bucks on the dance floor. Soriano hasn't stolen more than 19 bases since 2006, largely because he spent several of those years hopping over second base just as he's about to grab it.

Thanks to Zambrano's no hitter back in '08, we haven't heard much about Milt Pappas lately. What's he up to these days?
-Ziggy, Appleton WI

Milt is enjoying being a member of Wikipedia's exclusive "1939 Births" club and still reaps the many benefits of having been traded for Frank Robinson. These include being booed by elderly Reds fans and getting angry every time Susan Sarandon's "I believe in the church of baseball" monologue from the opening scene of Bull Durham comes up on Versus.

Will Ron Santo get in to the Hall of Fame?
-Tyrone, Chicago IL

Yes, but ironically as a broadcaster.

Who's going to be the best Mexican player on the Cubs this year?
-Gary, Gary IN

Is it racist to say Starlin Castro, even though I know he's from the Dominican Republic?

[Editor's Note: Yes]

Who's going to be the best American player on the Cubs this year?
-Gary, Gary IN

Is it racist to say Ryan Dempster, even though I know he's from Canada?

[Editor's Note: No]

We're about a week in; what do we know about the 2011 Cubs?
-Dante, Peoria IL

We're running out of space, so I'll make this quick.

Castro is the goods, Colvin isn't a first baseman, Mateo means "Farnsworth" in Spanish, the Cubs have too many outfielders and second basemen, Sean Marshall is that good in the 7th but I can't explain why, Pat Hughes is still solid, no one will notice or care when Fukudome quietly bats .287 this year, Darwin Barney looks like he's Hawaiian or something and no one is really sure how old Josh Vitters is but we'll find out in September regardless of Ramirez's health because 83 wins . . . ain't . . . gonna . . . do it (gasp, huff, puff, cough).

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

April 13, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"More than 40 people have applied to become Chicago's next top cop, officials said Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Chicago Police Board will interview the candidates for Chicago police superintendent and present three finalists to Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who takes office May 16."

*

And then Emanuel will choose the candidate he wanted all along, even if he or she is not among the police board's finalists, just like Richard M. Daley did before him. And that's how we got Jody Weis.

*

Chicago Police Board, you are Today's Biggest Joke in Chicago.

Hooked on Hookahs
Right on schedule, the annual hookah lounge story.

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Tribune, June 24, 2003: "Despite notorious links to the drug culture, the hookah is enjoying a whiff of mainstream popularity as college students flock to new cafes, where it's become trendy to spend the evening puffing on the exotic water pipes."

Tribune, March 13, 2005: "The hookah craze is picking up steam again."

Tribune, May 12, 2005: "In case you haven't noticed, hookah joints are opening all around town, bars where patrons can puff flavored tobacco from hookahs--bubble pipes that might remind some people of a similar device from their college days.

"The hookah - once limited to Turkish restaurants and coffeehouses in certain Chicago ethnic neighborhoods--has become the thing to do for the 18-25 hipster crowd. It's also becoming trendy enough that weekly hookah gatherings Thursdays at the W Hotel on Lake Shore Drive have been picking up steam with the Gold Coast business set."

Sun-Times, July 22, 2005: "On any given evening, the air is thick with fruit-flavored tobacco smoke like apple and strawberry permeating the darkly lit hookah restaurants and lounges around town. At some water pipe havens, you'll even find a bevy of belly dancers mesmerizing the smokers reclined on comfy couches, often amid heavy drapery and lush in deep red hues.

"Today, the vintage water pipe has been reborn with a new generation of fans - 20- and 30-somethings who are lighting up the entertainment landscapes at hookah havens ranging from Guess Hookah , a tobacco shop and lounge on the Near West Side, to the Tizi Melloul Mediterranean Restaurant and Lounge in River North and the exotic Samah restaurant in Lakeview."

Tribune, September 1, 2006: "On a recent Friday night it happened again. Dozens of Chicagoans gathered in a new North Side cafe (this one called Ugly Hookah) to celebrate the grand opening of yet another spot where customers can freely eat, drink and smoke in every corner of the room . . . The popularity of hookahs with this underserved demographic is apparent on weekend evenings, when such places are almost universally jammed with young patrons."

Sun-Times, November 8, 2006: "While Chicago's been working to rid its restaurants of smoke, two neighborhood smoking lounges have found a successful, and perfectly legal, niche in hookah .

"Flavorful tobacco, comfy couches and easy atmosphere are hookah 's appeal in Wicker Park and East Village - and being part of the growing scene takes a little planning."

*

And so on.

And that doesn't even count the dozen or so stories from RedEye or those related to anti-smoking legislation or the health effects of hookahs.

The Boss's Script
"The CEO of Gurnee-based BrightStar Care will be featured on Sunday's episode of Undercover Boss, a reality TV show at 8 p.m. on CBS," the Sun-Times reports.

Here's my prediction: She'll be really bad at frontline jobs that she didn't know even know existed in her own company; she'll see some bad behavior that she'll demand be fixed because that's not how her company operates; she'll be touched by how hard some of her employees work and give some them a relative pittance to help them out of their difficult circumstances; she'll charm her employees in the end when they see a video of how clueless she is.

Blackhawks Bad Bet
"Las Vegas oddsmakers: Canucks have highest odds of winning championship."

*

"Vancouver (54-19-9) closed out the season with back-to-back wins despite having first place locked up," Sportsbooks Odds reports. "The Canucks have a fair amount of momentum heading into the postseason, as they've won seven of their past 10 games. As a result, they have 3/1 odds of winning the Stanley Cup."

Besides From Heaven, That Is
"Where Does My Beer Come From? And Why Is Illinois Re-Examining The Process?"

Partners In Reform
Emanuel Seeks Donations up to $50K for Inaugural.

Really?

Is this necessary?

Can't Satan just swear him in and be done with it?

Fifth Column
Illinois Legislators Hate Freedom.

Kiting Waukegan
On a beautiful day.

When The Real Thin Lizzy Played Chicago
Bootleg audio from their 1976 and 1977 shows here.

Sisters of Chrome
Those hot chicks are really just "auto product specialists."

* The Channel 5 version.
* The Channel 7 version.

Here Comes Willie Bloomquist
And Starlin and Paulie.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Smokin'.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:20 AM | Permalink

Channel 5's Sirens of Chrome

The Talent Shop's Margery Krevsky discusses her book Sirens of Chrome and auto show product specialists on WMAQ-TV in Chicago.

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See also: Channel 7's Sirens of Chrome.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

Channel 7's Sirens of Chrome

The Talent Shop's Margery Krevsky discusses her book Sirens of Chrome and auto show product specialists on WLS-TV in Chicago.

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See also: Channel 5's Sirens of Chrome.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

Kiting Waukegan

Another annual Chicago Kitesurfing Crew meeting in spring. First-person view of what kiting is all about. Winds 20-25 knots from the south on a great 80-degree day in April.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

When The Real Thin Lizzy Played Chicago

"It's been a tough year for Thin Lizzy, having lost guitarist Gary Moore and hitting the 25th anniversary of frontman Phil Lynott's death," Illinois Entertainer wrote in advance of the new lineup's appearance in Chicago on April 1st.

We thought we'd bring you instead audio from the original lineup's 1976 and 1977 appearances. (All 1976 audio is believed to have come from their show at the old Chicago Stadium; the 1977 audio is believed to have come from shows at the Stadium and the Uptown, though they also apparently played the Riv in at least one if not both of those years and the Aragon in 1976.)

1. Angel From The Coast, 1976.

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2. Jailbreak, 1976.

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3. Blues Boy, 1976

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4. Suicide, 1976.

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5. The Rocker, 1976.

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6. Rosalie, 1976.

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7. Emerald, 1976.

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8. Southbound, 1977 (Uptown).

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9. Cowboy Song, 1977 (Chicago Stadium).

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Paul Clark:

I was at the Thin Lizzy concert at the Uptown in 1977. But I didn't go there to see them, I went to see the opening act - Graham Parker and the Rumour - who were fantastic. In fact, they were so good, we left after they played.

I also remember that as Parker's band went into its first encore, the smoke machine started, completely obscuring the band. We assumed it was because the headliners did like all the love their opening act was getting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Illinois Legislators Oppose Freedom of Information

The Illinois Legislature might make the state's Freedom of Information Act less open.

A measure moving through the state Senate would restrict some records that are available to the public. The plan comes a little more than a year after sweeping changes in the law made it easier for the public to access public records through Illinois' Freedom of Information Act.

"I think a lot of the changes that are being proposed right now are premature at best," said Josh Sharp of the Illinois Press Association. "And a lot of them are just not at all in the public's interest."

Charging more to reproduce public records and expanding the definition of what is off-limits are both included under Senate Bill 2203. But what especially concerns opponents of the measure is the creation of "vexatious" FOIA requests.

Simply put, the legislation would make it harder for people who are deemed annoying for the sake of being annoying, to get records.

"It's like pornography; you recognize it when you see it, recognizing it as someone coming for no apparent purpose," said State Sen. Pamela Althoff, a co-sponsor of the plan.

The legislation states that members of the public who makes more than 48 open records requests to a single public body during the course of a year are put on a list. Government bodies are given 21 days to reply to requests by people on that list.

The current law gives governments five days to respond to any requests.

"We don't believe there are secrets in government, that is the intent, and nobody wants to peel that away. I think we just want to create a solid, reasonable, clear framework to work within for those units of government," Althoff, R-Crystal Lake, said. "There are people that do, and everyone recognizes them, take advantage of any law, regardless of whether it's the Freedom of Information Act or whatever."

Sharp and others said putting any limit on the number of requests a person can file creates an environment that chokes government accountability.

Beyond the so-called "vexatious request" addition, the legislation also lets governments charge more to process lengthy requests or to retrieve documents from a third-party storage site. That's something that is unacceptable to Whitney Woodward of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

ICPR describes itself on its website as "a nonprofit, nonpartisan public interest group that conducts research, educates the public and advocates reforms to promote public participation to address the roll of money in politics and encourage integrity, accountability and transparency in government."

"Let's remember that these are public documents that have already been created with taxpayer funds," Woodford said. "I think it sends the wrong message if the government is basically nickel-and-diming individuals to access public documents."

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office has generally advocated for easier access to records, and calls the changes a step backward for open government.

"Over the course of this (legislative) session, we have expressed serious concerns about any attempt to roll back provisions that were designed to strengthen the Freedom of Information (Act) to increase government transparency and accountability," said Natalie Bouer, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

Althoff said she is planning a meeting with all people interested in FOIA and the implications of the proposed law to discuss possible changes. But, she said, major changes aren't likely.

"There are still a few little items that we need to tweak, but I think pretty much we took what we thought were reasonable modifications to the original legislation and put them into one omnibus bill," she said.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Here Comes Willie Bloomquist

The biggest surprise of the young MLB season - aside from the fact that the Cleveland Indians are leading the American League Central - may be the emergence of journeyman Willie Bloomquist, SS/3B/OF, Arizona.

The type of player who occasionally ends up on fantasy baseball rosters for short stretches thanks to multi-position eligibility and better-than-average speed, Bloomquist started the season as the Diamondbacks' starting shortstop because of an injury to Stephen Drew. He also has played the outfield. After the first week-and-a-half of the season, Bloomquist is among league leaders in hits (14), and stolen bases (6).

At the beginning of the season, there are always a few breakout stars whose names will be hard to remember by the All-Star break. I'm betting Bloomquist won't be just a flash in the pan for two reasons:

* Arizona manager Kirk Gibson has embraced the running game. The D-backs already lead the National League in SBs, and Bloomquist not only fits the game plan, but should get the green light to run early and often.

* Arizona is not a great team. Few starters are really locked in, and Bloomquist should end up playing almost every day somewhere.

These are just a couple reasons why Bloomquist has been one of the hottest acquisitions on the Yahoo! waiver wire this week, going from about 50% availability last weekend to only about 30% by Tuesday. Act fast.

A few other surprises from these opening days:

* Paul Konerko and Starlin Castro were tied (with a few others) for the league lead in hits through Monday with 16. Which one can keep it up?

How about both. Konerko has rejuvenated what looked like a fading career at the beginning of the 2010 season, and Castro appears to be years ahead of schedule.

* Mets first baseman Ike Davis was tied for the league lead in RBIs through Monday with 11. Davis at best was a late-round back-up pick at a very deep position, and it's not clear he'll stay among the leaders, but ride him for this hot streak, however long it lasts.

* Albert Pujols, the consensus No. 1 pick in many fantasy leagues, was hitting .150 through Monday. Unlike a lot of stars, Pujols is not usually a slow starter; in fact he tends to pile up home runs right out of the gate. Expect greater things, especially during his contract year, but if you're in a daily league, I wouldn't blame you if you sat him for a day, particularly if you have Ike Davis.

Expert Wire
* USA Today discusses fantasy surprises, including Sam Fuld, the guy apparently never good enough for the Cubs outfield.

* Yahoo! RotoArcade has the bad news on Josh Hamilton: Out 6-8 weeks with an arm injury.

* Finally, Johnny Damon thinks Manny Ramirez is dead . . . oh, wait, he is . . .

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Some of our more astute readers may have noticed that our left rail is missing from this page today. That's because I accidentally deleted the template for it. I should never be allowed to go anywhere near the technology. We will restore it as soon as we figure out how.

At least I'm not the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Frowney Faces
"Facing an attentive but largely hostile crowd, Wal-Mart representatives presented their proposal for a grocery store in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood at a public meeting Monday evening," the Tribune reports.

"About 200 people - many wearing anti-Wal-Mart buttons and stickers - filed into the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ to hear the proposal."

*

Huh. What would Jesus do? Shop at Costco?

That's Winnetka!
"Winnetka's affordable housing proposal, which has bitterly divided residents in recent months, will come before village trustees for the first time Tuesday," TribLocal Winnetka/Northfield reports.

"The issue of affordable housing played a significant role in last week's local election. Local political organization Winnetka Home Owners Association, which was re-energized in the fall by its opposition to the plan, was instrumental in its backing of the three village council candidates who went on to win April 5."

*

Huh. What would Jesus do? Methinks he would smite the village. Or at least the home owners association.

That's Glen Ellyn!
"A visit from the Grave Digger has some Glen Ellyn officials a bit worried about pedestrian safety," TribLocal Glen Ellyn reports.

"During a village board meeting Monday, Interim Village Manager Terry Burghard brought to the attention of trustees an event by the local Advanced Auto Parts that allows monster truck fans to view one of their favorite vehicles.

"The Grave Digger is the most popular truck, said Steven Czerak, general manager of the store, and is only second to Big Foot. It will be available for viewing at the store on April 29.

"Advanced Auto Parts owns the title sponsorship for the monster truck series known as Monster Jam.

"This has some officials worried, though, about the large crowds it will attract and issues with parking. Some felt there will be the potential for excited guests to be crossing the heavily traveled Roosevelt Road because of a lack of available parking near the store."

*

Huh. What would Jesus do? He'd cross the street. After all, he's already dead.

That's Pat Quinn's Brain on Budgets!
"Mental health clients rallied [Monday] against how the Quinn administration plans to transition clients out of the controversial institutions that have outraged advocates," Progress Illinois reports.

*

Huh. What would Jesus do? Methinks he would send as many of the state's mental health clients as possible to live in affordable housing in Winnetka.

Robert Plant in Chicago
Covers Dylan, Los Lobos and Zeppelin.

The Hottest Show in Chicago
Airs every Monday at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 25.

Save The Data!
Don't let Congress kill transparency.

Outside Sox Park
Not quite Valhalla.

Bringing The Bizarre
Weird fiction from Weird Tales.

Bringing The Bas Relief
At the County Building.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: How you spell relief.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Save The Data!

Many important government transparency programs may be cut by Congress. Help us defend them.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Hottest Show!

The ReAwakening every Monday at 10:30 p.m. on Channel 25.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Bringing The Bizarre

Weird Tales is an American fantasy and horror fiction pulp magazine first published in March 1923.

It ceased its original run in September 1954, after 279 issues, but has since been revived.

The magazine was set up in Chicago by J.C. Henneberger, an ex-journalist with a taste for the macabre. The "sub-genre" pioneered by Weird Tales writers has come to be called weird fiction. The first editor published some of Weird Tales' most famous writers, including H. P. Lovecraft, C. M. Eddy, Jr., Clark Ashton Smith and Seabury Quinn.

Music: Henry Mancini, "A Shot In The Dark"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

County Bas Reliefs

While attending a "We Are One" rally in Chicago's Daley Center I wandered across the street to admire these bas reliefs on the front of the Cook County Building.


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These are the work of Herman Atkins MacNeil, a renowned sculptor who did work on the Columbian Exposition, the U.S. Supreme Court and designed the Standing Liberty quarter. The latter is known as one of the most beautiful coins ever circulated.

For more information about Mr. MacNeil visit this site.

This clip is presented by ChiTownView & produced byMindsiMedia. We have several channels on YouTube and other video sharing outlets; you can access all of them from our web portal.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:07 AM | Permalink

In Action: Robert Plant at the Auditorium Theater

It happened on Saturday night.

1. Black Country Woman.


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2. Ramble On.

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3. House of Cards.

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4. Tangerine.

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5. Angel Dance.

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6. A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: Not Quite Valhalla

I got lots of positive feedback to last week's column, including from my friend John McNaughton, who wrote to say he was glad to hear I was a Sox fan, adding, "Growing up in Roseland we would have just as well seen the Cubs as walk the plank off the top of the Prudential building." A few people said that they might actually be interested in reading about sports for the first time. Things like that are gratifying and a bit overwhelming to hear.

I picked up several Sox fans in the cab after Thursday's home opener. No diehards though. In fact, there were three young guys leaving Sox Park before the bottom of the 8th. They were Live Nation employees who were at the park to take advantage of their company springing for an open bar. The one from Atlanta even admitted to being a basketball fan, though he did agree that listening to the game on the radio on the way back to his hotel made it seem exciting. Then there was the couple that stumbled in around midnight in full-on Sox regalia. The girl told the guy, as we pulled away from a bar, "Wow, what a great Opening Day. I don't remember any of the game, but it was a great day."

The Games

After a sloppy opener, the second game of the season wasn't a 2-1 loss as I'd been predicting. Instead, Edwin Jackson turned in a solid start and the bullpen didn't implode as it had the night before. An 8-3 win doesn't leave much to suspense but neither is it unwelcome. The last game against the Indians was a different story. With our best starter (John Danks) going, it was reasonable to expect a sweep, but as every fan knows, the games rarely play out the way they look on paper. Danks did his part, but when you hit into a triple-play and then insert a mop-up reliever (Ohman) into a close game, the odds won't often work in your favor. This was also the only game when they didn't hit the crap out of the ball.

The Kansas City Royals, a team that's doomed to be minor-league caliber due to lack of revenue, has always given the Sox fits. Even before the first game it didn't look good; Dunn had to have an emergency appendectomy. The rest of the squad didn't have that excuse. They were up 4-0 before Hochever could catch his breath, but hope would seep out of this one like a slow leak as the game wore on. Gavin Floyd is a maddening cipher of a pitcher: he's either unhittable or it's batting practice. He couldn't hold the lead but still lasted seven innings, which was long enough for the hitters to bail him out. Of course the bullpen gave it up and both clubs trudged on into the 12th, unable to put the other away. When Lillibridge got picked off second by a rookie reliever, the outcome was no longer in doubt. Tony Pena starting the bottom of the inning was the exclamation point.

The next one was another 12-inning affair but featuring an improbable comeback in the 9th, and, aside from Thornton's blown save, no bullpen collapse. Even without Dunn, the offense looked solid; pitching remained the question mark.

The home opener was the best game of the season. Jackson threw eight innings of thirteen-strikeout, one-run ball. If he can do half that well the rest of the way, we'll be okay. The best game was followed by the worst: Thornton gave away a three-run lead in the 9th and gift-wrapped the first win of the Rays' season. These wild swings have always been part of the game, mitigated in some small way by the marathon-length of the season. My hope is that this one will be forgotten (as will Thornton's stint as closer.)

The Announcers

Ed Farmer has a uniquely awkward way with the English language. Most of his phrases seem to contain two or three extra words. He's also inordinately fond of mixing metaphors. When he says things like, "He can have a good one, but he still has to throw it," referring to Thornton's secondary pitch, I have to pull my cab over and puzzle out the man's logic. Occasionally though, the deadpan delivery really works, as when he described an opposing pitcher's background thus: "He went to Valhalla High School. I think that's the Nordic . . . it's like their heaven or something." I much prefer that to the times he tells us that a 3-2 count is as far as one wants to go with a batter.

His partner, Darrin Jackson, was a decent ballplayer. When he takes over the play-by-play in the middle innings, I'm hard-pressed to discern from his tone, when a ball's hit, whether it's a hit or an out. As my pal John Sampson said, "It's as if he's bypassing his mouth and talking straight through his nostrils." Still, there's something about a ballgame broadcast on the radio that I'll always take over watching it on TV.

edwin_jackson.jpgEdwin Jackson by Dmitry Samarov. (Enlarge)

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. Some Chicago schools do not allow brown bag lunches.

It's a government takeover of school lunch!

But truly, a bit heavy-handed. CPS should focus on its own crappy lunches before taking on the meals prepared by parents.

2. "Jeff Pesek, 38, president of the Morton High School District 201 board, which oversees several thousand students from Cicero, Berwyn and other suburbs, has been partners in business with admitted wholesale cocaine dealer Enrique 'Henry' Rendon, according to court testimony and documents," the Sun-Times reports.

I wonder what their school lunches are like.

*

"Jeff Pesek was hired in October 2008 to be the town's director of services and recreation as well as Cicero's safety director at an annual salary of $94,322, according to town records.

"The Peseks' mother, Elaine, was appointed to [Cicero Town President Larry] Dominick's town literacy office starting in 2006 and has earned more than $38,000 for her service.

"Elaine Pesek, a former teacher, helps promote literacy in town. In 2009, [Jeff's brother] Craig Pesek won a seat on the Cicero library board. He is also a state Republican central committeeman. Even though he is a consultant and not a town employee, he has received town health insurance since 2007 because Pesek sits on a town committee."

3. Putting the Blackhawks into the playoffs wasn't enough to save his job.

*

SportsMonday: Hawks Back Into Canucks.

4. "On a Chicago morning in late December, 60 people are lined up outside along a downtown street, waiting for buses headed to Des Moines, Indianapolis, and Kansas City," Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports.

"It's 20F, the wind talons, and the travelers sway and stamp. A student of clinical psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, standing near four dreadlocked white guys, says he paid $26 for a 200-mile trip to Iowa City, which prompts someone else to brag that his seat on the same double-decker bus cost $5.

"They're all there to catch rides offered by Megabus, the largest of the private companies to corporatize New York's 'Chinatown bus' model of street-side pickup, express travel between sizable cities, and cut-rate fares. Half a mile from the Greyhound depot and barely on the periphery of Union Station's Beaux Arts grandeur, the Megabus stop's only identification is a modest street sign displaying the company name above its mascot, a cherubic, Benny Hill-like character in a yellow driver's cap."

5. "When Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hired Margaret Garner in 2005 as the first black woman contractor to build one of its stores, she was hailed as a symbol of the benefits local businesses and minority communities would reap from the retail giant's push into Chicago," Crain's reports.

"Six years later, her company is bankrupt, crushed by cost overruns on Wal-Mart's first Chicago store, located in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side. A Crain's investigation shows that the benefits to minority contractors were less than suggested by the hype surrounding Ms. Garner's hiring.

*

"The Austin project casts doubt on the predicted boon in jobs and contracting dollars for minorities from Wal-Mart's plan to build several dozen stores in Chicago over the next five years. Wal-Mart and supporters, including Mayor Richard M. Daley, used such promises as a rallying cry to beat back opposition to the Bentonville, Ark.-based chain's expansion in Chicago.

"'It's not at all what was promised to residents of that ward and the city of Chicago,' says Virginia Parks, a professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, who is co-writing a book on Wal-Mart's push into urban neighborhoods."

*

"Last month, Mr. Daley stood at a podium flanked by fresh produce to herald six additional sites in the Englewood, Chatham and West Loop neighborhoods. Chiding rivals who fought Wal-Mart, Mr. Daley touted the jobs those projects would create for minority workers. 'When construction comes, I'm going to see men and women of color on this job,' he said."

Daley did more than chide Walmart's critics; he called them racists.

6. "Those hoping for a daggers-out political tell-all from Gov. Deval Patrick's new memoir will be sorely disappointed," AP reports.

"Instead in his book A Reason to Believe, the Massachusetts Democrat tells his version of the American rags to riches story, chronicling what he dubs his 'improbable' rise from a broken home and poverty on the Chicago's South Side to the upper echelons of American politics."

7. "Libyan visitors to Chicago are being paid visits by the FBI because of fears about a terrorist attack here," Chuck Goudie reported on Friday.

"The I-Team has learned that over the past two days, in Chicago, FBI agents have started questioning about 100 Libyan visitors."

8. Chicago Metal Worker At War.

9. The New Jim Crow.

10. Repo Chicago: Lobster joint stakeout.

11. Miley Cyrus in Chicago.

12. The Cub Factor: Starlin Castro's Defining Moment.

13. The White Sox Report: Attention Mustn't Be Paid.

14. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn and it appears that The Chicago Code will back with a new episode as well. We'll show it from 8 p.m to 9 p.m. and then return to the jukebox for your entertainment pleasure.

If you need to catch up on your Code, here's a guide.

If you need to catch up on our little Code reindeer games, just remember to groan - and drink - every time a character mentions the Irish Mob, the Nigerian Mob, or an address that is in Lake Michigan.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Wag the dog.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Miley Cyrus in Chicago

1. Leaving LAX.

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2. In Chicago.

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3. Returning to LAX.

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See also: Miley Cyrus To Talk About Bong Scandal on Oprah

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:16 AM | Permalink

Enduring Freedom: Spc. Joshua Smith

This edition features SPC Joshua Smith, a Metal Worker from Chicago, Ill.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Hawks Back Into Canucks

The Hawks may be backing into the playoffs, but at least they are doing so on skates. And one of the many elemental wonders of hockey is how smoothly NHL players transition into skating backward and how well they can move in that direction.

So at a fundamental level, a hockey fan knows an action that would seem doomed to awkwardness (like, say, propelling oneself butt-first down a sheet of ice) can be redeemed quite quickly.

The Hawks didn't just fail to win their way into the postseason, they failed to knock off their arch-rivals at home (losing to the Red Wings 4-3 in the regular season finale Sunday afternoon - a finale that was meaningless for the visitors from Detroit) when the stakes were highest. Afterward, they found themselves outside of the playoffs looking in.

But after the underdog Minnesota Wild rallied to defeat the favored Dallas Stars 5-3 last night, the Hawks were back. Hard to imagine any of the current members of the Wild really cared, but it was pretty cool that the team that represents the city that was abandoned by the then-North Stars in 1993 was the one that knocked that organ-i-zation out of the playoffs.

And now they get a shot at the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks, a team whose number they've had for a while now. The eighth-place Hawks travel west for late-night games Wednesday and Friday. Win just one of those contests and there is a great chance their foes will start to melt down.

Remember last year's playoffs? When occasional, grazing contact initiated by Hawk forwards sent all-world Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo into a tizzy? And the Canucks, and especially coach Alain Vigneault, became far more concerned with penalties not being called than with finding ways to take advantage of their players' (especially the Sedin twins) copious amounts of skill and speed? Daniel Sedin just wrapped up a season in which he led the NHL in points with 104. At the same time brother Henrik posted a league-high 75 assists.

Then early this season after a rare blowout (the Hawks torched the Canucks 7-1 during the November circus road trip) there was Vigneault after the game, complaining about the Hawks running up the score. There is no better way for someone affiliated with major league sports to tattoo "LOSER" on his forehead than by complaining about a foe not taking it easy at the end of a lopsided game.

You want to complain about someone running up the score in Little League, I'm right there with you. In the majors? Please.

The Canucks had some success against the Hawks later in the season but when the pressure is on, it is still a decent bet that Luongo or even more likely Vigneault will become distracted.

Of course, all is not sweetness and light for the Hawks. They may have lucked into a favorable matchup but several of the things that make it favorable haven't been seen in these parts in a while, primarily exceptionally physical play from their forwards.

The player who did most of the distracting of the Canucks last time around - Dustin Byfuglien - is gone, gone, gone to the Atlanta Thrashers, for whom he was last seen starring at the blue line after playing so well at wing for the Hawks.

The Hawks are paper thin at this point. If it seemed as though defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were on the ice forever on Sunday it was because they were (28 and 24 minutes, respectively). And Joel Quenneville double-shifted Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews and the Patricks Kane and Sharp (who played more than 21 minutes despite the fact that he is still recovering from a late-season knee injury) for most of the second half of the game.

After the game, the camera lingered on Toews' sweat-drenched face for a long, long time. He had given every ounce of effort and his team had still fallen short. It is hard to be optimistic about his team not suffering a similar fate if not in the first round of the playoffs than in the second in the coming weeks.

Bulls Bit
Just wanted to send a quick shout-out to coach Tim Thibodeau, who has made it clear he will not hold players out of games in the final week of the regular season to rest them for the playoffs even though the Bulls have clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

When teams give guys games off when they aren't hurt, they are tanking the game. How is that okay? I have said it before and I'm sure I will say it again that teams that do this damage the integrity of their games. It is hard to understand why people don't get that.

Oh, and resting players is also lousy strategy, unless of course fans really think that sports teams can easily turn off their competitive fire and then just turn it back on whenever they want.

They can't. And we have seen numerous instances of teams that rest late in seasons playing poorly once the playoffs kick into gear.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

The New Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander, author of the groundbreaking new book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, talks about long-term impact of Black male incarceration on families, communities, Black women and economic infrastructures. She is speaking to conferees at the 8th annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Repo Chicago: Episode Three

Lobster joint stakeout.

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Previously:
* Episode One: Cool Rookie, Hot Temper
* Episode Two: Big Ant, Little Jax

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. I Set My Friends On Fire at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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2. Amity Affliction at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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3. Robert Plant at the Auditorium Theatre on Saturday night.

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4. Sleeping With Sirens at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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5. Woe, Is Me at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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6. Of Mice and Men at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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7. Greyboy Allstars at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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8. Cut Copy at the Riv on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:06 AM | Permalink

Defining Moment?

The first Cub Factor of the season could have appeared last week, after the opening three games of the season, but I have to admit I just didn't know these guys yet.

I still have to say I'm not sure I have my head wrapped around this team.

But we may have already seen the defining play of the season - or at least one that so far sums up the 2011 Cubs. Let's take a look.

The main thing to remember here is that Castro really didn't get hurt. Which is kind of like the first week plus of the season. The Cubs really didn't get hurt.

Okay, two-fifths of the starting rotation got hurt but I'm not talking about that.

I mean, it could have been worse. The poor kid could have broke his jaw in three places - just like the Cubs could have started the season 2-7 and dug themselves a hole they'd never get out of.

And on that flip side, the ball could have smacked Starlin in the jaw and ricocheted back into his glove where he then slapped the tag on the runner becoming one of the most talked about plays in major league history - just like the Cubs could have gone 9-0 to start the season, which would have been also truly amazing.

But no. The Cubs' greatest hope for the future just looked really stupid by catching a ball with his face. Just like the Cubs looked really stupid to start the season by blowing a few late leads, kicking the ball around, and somehow getting the two youngest pitchers in the rotation hurt in less than eight innings each.

I'm hoping that this example of the first week of the season was just that - an example of the first week of the season - not an example of the entire season. But who am I kidding, maybe I need a Rawlings in the face at 90 mph to remind me that these are the Cubs.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-5 to start the season, losing two of three to the Pirates and Brewers and winning two of three from the D-Backs. But they seem to be really trying hard and that counts for something. Maybe there should be some kind of extra point given for that, like in hockey when you tie and lose - which by the way is really lame. So yeah, they were 4-5.

Week in Preview: The Cubs continue on the road for three each against the Astros and Rockies. Hey, at least there are night games and us working folk can see what they look like a little better. Yeah, its early in the season and I'm reaching.

The Second Basemen Report: How cool is it that The Second Basemen Report will never die? It's like the Terminator. You know, the one that was made of liquid metal. I don't even remember how they killed that Terminator but it was hard to kill.

Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney both started four games each to start the season and Blake DeWitt started the other one. The weird thing is, these guys are all hitting the crap out of the ball - except DeWitt but he had a huge pinch-hit this week.

Carrying this many second basemen is like the Bears having three place kickers - but it's sure fun for The Second Basemen Report. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryan Theriot is now the starting shortstop for the St Louis Cardinals and is currently batting .222. Can they really be a contender?

The Zam Bomb: Like a green leaf emerging each spring, Big Z has vowed to be a nice guy like he does every year but unless you are psychic or some kind of plant genius you can't tell if that green leaf is going to be a tulip or crabgrass. Big Z is holding at apologetic, for now.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Lost in Translation: Bronxio watchit mega foody is Japanese for Carlos Silva signed this week with the Yankees.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Alfonso Soriano for unmanned drones, because he's really flying under the radar.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 95% sweet, 5% sour. Mike Quade starts the season happy to be the manager of the Chicago Cubs. And you really can't say that about the last couple guys. And just like your smart, well-adjusted uncle, Mike helped old lady Thompson unpack her groceries the other day. Not because he thought she'd pay him back sometime but because it's what normal nice people do, sheesh.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in Bauer hockey masks traded higher this week on speculation they will be making a baseball version for shortstops.

Over/Under: Number of times Cubs fans will look at the Astros lineup and say, we are really losing to these guys? +/- 4,653.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by the The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there will be a ton of games determined by just one pitch with these guys all season.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean?

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:19 AM | Permalink

Attention Mustn't Be Paid

I received some nice feedback and response to the season's first White Sox Report. It was encouraging to know that other people aside from my immediate family read the report. Apparently I am not the only Sox aficionado with time on my hands.

One such e-mail came from an old friend who has been following the South Siders even longer than I. He asked, "Do the Sox get a fair shake from the media?" and why are the "White Sox continually a second-class citizen in their home town?" I couldn't suppress a long, anxiety-reducing sigh. However, he redeemed himself with the tag, "Is that even important?"

Not in the least. There are any number of life situations where we might feel resentful or victimized. The other night, I recorded the Phoenix-Bulls' game only to have the recording end abruptly and unceremoniously with Kyle Korver's second free throw hanging on the rim in a two-point game with 13 seconds to play. Talk about hardship.

When I was a kid, the Sox were the talk of the town, and the Cubs were a perennial second-division team. The Cubs were unlovable losers and short on talent. The closest one got to a Cubs vs. Sox argument was whether you'd rather have Banks or Aparicio on your ballclub. Sane people acknowledged who had the better team.

In those days, the mark of popularity and success was drawing a million fans. Please keep in mind that they used to count attendance and not ticket sales. At the risk of getting too far afield, how annoying is it to go to the ball game, see 20,000 people in the seats, and then the scoreboard tells you that the attendance is closer to 30,000? I couldn't care less about all the season-ticket holders who went to the movies or had dinner at Uncle Al's. Let's count the fannies in the seats.

That being said, the Sox used to draw a million fans almost every year. In fact, in the 15 seasons from 1951 to 1966, the Sox missed a million just once. And the Cubs in the same period? Exactly the mirror of the Sox: season attendance topped a million one time!

Keep in mind that Wrigley Field was just one of the vintage ball parks in those days. It wasn't unique, notwithstanding the ivy. There were a number of quaint, lovely ballparks, but unless the team was competitive, there were thousands of quaint, lovely, empty seats.

Comiskey Park was different. It was cavernous, imposing, and bold. The double-decked stands encompassing the entire structure - save for dead center field - expressed size and strength. Sprinkle in the stench from the stockyards rising on the south wind, and you had a sensory experience unparalleled in the history of Chicago. Now add a talented ballclub which took on the venerable Yankees every summer, and you can understand why Sox fans took a back seat to no one.

We all know about the April 1983 f-bomb-laden tirade from Cubs manager Lee Elia, whose team had just fallen to 5-14 to start the season. The rage was real, his facts slightly inaccurate. "Eighty-five percent of the fuckin' world's working. The other 15 come out here," he - how shall I say? - observed.

In point of fact, slightly less than 10 percent (still an unacceptable number) of Americans were out of work that spring, but you get the picture. Despite Elia's displeasure, the Cubs were on their way. They had good players and a poor record that season. However, they still drew 1.4 million in 1983; they won the division the next year and night baseball at Wrigley was only five years away. Today the decrepit confines at Clark and Addison are a bigger draw than the team on the field, and I'm convinced that up to a third of the park is filled with tourists on any given July afternoon.

Possibly the pendulum is swinging back the other way. Apparently there were maybe 20,000 fans at Wrigley for last Monday game against Arizona, a five-year low. The Sox haven't drawn well in April for years, but the opening series against Tampa Bay brought out decent and enthusiastic crowds.

And the team had a strong first week. Sure, new closer Matt Thornton and the defense blew Friday's game, but the Sox "stole" one in Kansas City by beating super-closer Joakim Soria (115 saves in 124 opportunities the last three years) in the ninth inning on Wednesday. Over the course of a season, things tend to even out, so I can't get too upset about Friday.

The bullpen so far has taken a shellacking, and poor Will Ohman absorbed the brunt of the fans' scorn when he was booed during introductions at the home opener. Nevertheless, others such as Jesse Crain and Sergio, have looked sharp, and it is much too early to panic. Last I looked, no one was asking for Scott Linebrink's return to The Cell.

Bullpens look much better with solid starting pitching - see Messrs. Humber and Floyd on the weekend - and robust hitting like the Sox' league-leading .307 team average.

So I'm not too concerned whether the Cubs outdraw the Sox or whether the South Siders receive the respect they deserve. We're just a week into this campaign, and so far it's been grand.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:52 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

It doesn't get much more nonessential than the Weekend Desk, but we're still showing up for work.

Good To Be Kings
Look, we don't want to quibble, but if you're going to remake a classic American dramedy, you need more likeable characters than these.

And you can't just replace hatred of poor women with hatred of women in general.

Lost
Hey, wouldn't it be great if, when this whole mess comes back again next week, it turns out in a shocking twist that everyone's secretly dead already, they just can't move on without each other?

C'mon, look at these guys . . . it's not that far-fetched.

Mashed
Or maybe the war could just end.

Yeah, alright, okay, so that one's a little far-fetched.

If They Only Had A Newhart . . .
Or maybe we'll all wake up one day and discover nothing's really very different after all.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Update your status quotient.

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CAN TV Weekend Report

Saturday University
31046-SaturdayUniversity.jpg
Black Star Project founder Phillip Jackson joins community members and organizations to announce plans to provide a supplemental education system for public school students.

Sunday April 10 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV 21
33 min

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Pioneer Women Journalists of Chicago
31047-Women-in-Journalism.jpg
Journalist Diane Monk McClelland joins fellow women pioneers Carol Felsenthal and Sandra Pesmen to share insights and personal experiences during the 1960's and 1970's; decades of change at Chicago newspapers.

Sunday April 10 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV 21
1 hr 30 min

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Middle East Politics in a Time of Transition
31049-MiddleEastPolitics.jpg
DePaul University professor Scott Hibbard, provides background and analysis of the recent upsurge of democracy movements throughout the Middle East.

Sunday April 10 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV 21
1 hr 30 min

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League of Women Voters of Chicago: The State of the City
31050-State-of-the-city.jpg
Cook County Board of Commissioners president Toni Preckwinkle delivers the keynote speech for the 25th annual State of the City luncheon hosted by the League of Women Voters of Chicago.

Sunday April 10 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV 21
1 hr


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:35 AM | Permalink

April 8, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "What else do you need to see from Derrick Rose to believe that if nothing else, his name should be the first one out of your mouth when we start the MVP conversation?" Sekou Smith writes for NBA.com.

*

"[W]hile it took a little time for the outsiders to catch on, there's little time or reason for an argument," Jon Greenberg writes for ESPNChicago.com.

*

See also our very own Being Derrick Rose.

2. "Midwest Gaming is hosting its first job information fair today for their new casino in Des Plaines [today]," Fox Chicago News reports.

*

"Earn a winning future," the casino company says. "We're hiring now for every position, from managerial to wait staff to food service. If you're enthusiastic, hard-working and interested in working on one of the newest, most exciting employment opportunities in Des Plaines, we want to talk to you now."

3. Sex toy demo works.

4. "When Rebecca Black's "Friday" became a YouTube sensation overnight, it was a given what would follow - "Sunday" of course," the Christian Post reports.

"Creating their own rendition of the 'wannabe weekend-party anthem,' as Yahoo's Lyndsey Parker put it in her music blog, and giving it a holy twist, the Creative Arts Staff at [Chicagoland's] Community Christian Church quickly got to work . . .

"While Rebecca Black ponders things like which seat to take in her friend's car, Sadie B. has more, or rather equally, important things to think about like . . . front pew or back?"

5. Good news for Rahm Emanuel.

6. "Lee Thomsen, the owner of The Winning Ticket bar on Main Street, took a creative approach in encouraging citizen action this week by offering drink specials to anyone who voted at Thursday's town meeting," the Winsted Journal in Connecticut reports.

"This is the Chicago way of getting people to a meeting," Thomsen said.

7. "Cubs fans are notorious for outnumbering, out-cheering and even (gasp) out-drinking their Brewers counterparts when the two teams meet here in Milwaukee," Andrew Wagner writes for OnMilwaukee.com.

"The closest place to a 'Cubs Haven' our investigation found was, surprisingly, Comet Cafe, 1947 N. Farwell Ave., where co-owners Adam and Val Lucks are big-time and die hard Cubs fans.

"The siblings don't spend as much time on-site anymore, general manager Andy Menchal explains, but their North Side loyalty has a lot to do with Comet's Old Style sales."

8. Duh.

9. Bambi McMillion.

10. The Week in Chicago Rock.

11. The Week in WTF.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A McMillion reasons why.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Being Derrick Rose

1. From the NBA itself:

"Check out Derrick Rose as he goes for 30 points and continues his MVP campaign, leading the Bulls to a huge win over the Celtics in Chicago."

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2. Answering the media's inane questions.

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3. From the NBA itself:

"Check out this insane Derrick Rose rejection as he races back on defense and shows off his unbelievable hops."

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4. Tattoo U (2009).

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5. Brotherly Love (2009).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

WJYS-TV Spring Preview: Bambi McMillion

Weekdays at 11 a.m.

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See also:
* WJYS-TV Spring Preview: Bishop Horace E. Smith

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Cults at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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2. Maps & Atlases at the Park West on Thursday night.

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3. Two Door Cinema Club at the Park West on Thursday night.

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4. Three Days Grace at the Riv on Thursday night.

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5. Allstar Weekend at Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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6. Acid Mothers Temple at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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7. The Ready Set at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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8. Liam Finn at the Hideout on Tuesday night.

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9. The Joy Formidable at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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10. The Luyas at the Hideout on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:20 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Cold, Cruel Sun-Times, WTF?

Various aging mooks have owned and run the Sun-Times, and we had thought they were mostly greasy and inept. Lots of grease.

But no ept in this crowd. Not a lick of ept.

It turns out they are low down skunks, too. The kind of people who give their word and then pull it back like Lucy tricking Charlie Brown in the eternal field goal he will never kick.

But this is not a cartoon. This is real life.

So an old woman would have been saved from a destitute exit from life had the Sun-Times paid its debt to her. She won a million-dollar lottery it ran in 1996. But then the Sun-Times was excused from honoring the deal by truly odious legal legerdemain. She was the winner who should have gotten $40,000 a year for the rest of her life.

The people who owned the Sun-Times when it went bankrupt, and another group of men who bought it (and escaped the legal duty to pay her because she is an "unsecured creditor" and thus SOL ) were all rich when they owned the Sun-Times, rich when they walked away from it, and were all equally rich together and separately after the fire sale.

A lot of very rich mooks, each of whom could have written one check to cover one fading year of her life. But she is just an elderly nobody they did wrong. Aside from morality, there is no power in her corner.

There is nothing to be done because the law generally protects people with money against those with none.

But remember 84-year-old Joyce Santago the next time the Sun-Times lectures editorially about the obligation to honor your civic duty. Or suggests you should just do the right thing.

2. Dead John, WTF?

At the risk of sounding harsh, this seems like exquisite karmic equilibrium to WTF.

Entropy can be a bitch. And, as it turns out, some sexually transmitted diseases are lethal. The gods chuckled.

3. LeBron's Mom, WTF?

Where, you might well ask, did LeBron James develop his overwhelming dose of royal hubris, self-involvement and uber-entitlement, his sense of LeBroncenterocity? For the Man To Whom No One May Say Nay, it might come from here.

4. Winnetka, WTF?

The unresolved debate in Winnetka over affordable housing shows that even beautiful, rich people can be ugly.

The social underpinning of this NIMBY subspecies is that not only should nuclear plants, landfills and strip clubs be somewhere else, so should poor people, as defined as anyone who makes less than $75,000 per - which makes the entire WTF family dirt poor. Actually, mud poor.

WTF believes that WInnetkans are missing an educational moment in which a small crop of poor people could be bred, cultivated and housed - sort of like rabbits - for further study; plus, poor people make swell pets.

To be fair, WTF knows Winnetka. This is mostly not who Winnetka is. We hope they come to remember that.

5. Charlie Sheen and Snookie, WTF?

Our WTF "Who's Dumber?" quiz this week:

In this corner, people who paid up to $185 per ticket to see Charlie Sheen at the Chicago Theatre.

In that corner, the dolts at Rutgers.

It's close. Sheen tickets speak for themselves. We give it a 10 on the Idiot Meter because even car wrecks can be fun to watch. For comparison, Paul Ryan's plan to kill Medicare is about a 12 only because no one but Michele Bachmann will vote for it.

Now for Rutgers. Remember when Rutgers was outraged by the Don Imus insult to its women's basketball team? Now Rutgers has spent $32,000 in student funds to hear the wit and wisdom of Snooki.

Rutgers gets a 13.

Vote early and often.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:40 AM | Permalink

April 7, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

The Beachwood is off today on a company retreat to refocus our chi, but will return tomorrow in all its stupendous glory.

The [Wednesday] Papers
"When the hands come off the holy books at swearing-in ceremonies next month, Chicago will have a City Council churned by turnover of more than a third of its 50 members along with a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel," the Tribune reports.

"The new council will be without its second-longest-serving member, 50th Ward Ald. Bernard Stone, who suffered a crushing loss. Also gone is 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, a veteran African-American leader who went down in a narrow defeat.

"Not even the 36th Ward, long a Democratic machine bastion, was safe from change. Appointed Ald. John Rice, the former driver for political powerbroker William J.P. Banks, lost to a little-known firefighter, Nicholas Sposato."

*

All to the good.

But I'm kind of heartbroken that Rhymefest lost to Rahmfest - er, Willie Cochran.

Or did he?

Rahform
"If you've been following Chicago politics lately - either as a victim or student of the Chicago Way - it's probably best to take some precautions," John Kass writes.

"That's because today is the day after the city runoffs, the conclusion of an election season that, for the first time in decades, did not officially involve a mayor named Daley. The aldermen are eager to rush down to City Hall to do their business. They're all about reform now.

"And Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel just can't wait to take over and reform things. And he will, too. Just as soon as outgoing Mayor Richard Daley and his White House chief of staff brother Bill Daley say it's OK."

Practice Run
"Aldermanic candidate Hal Baskin was arrested at a South Side polling place Tuesday after allegedly getting into a shouting match with an election judge," the Sun-Times reports.

Huh. That actually doesn't seem like it would be all that unusual for Chicago, but . . .

"I can't remember this happening to a candidate in my years at the Board of Election," a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners told the paper.

Maybe Baskin was just getting a head start on the inevitable fate of so many aldermen - though that displayed a bit of overeagerness; he lost to incumbent JoAnn Thompson.

Still, you've got to admire his pluck.

Union Dues
"James Cappleman beat Molly Phelan by a surprisingly comfortable margin in the 46th Ward," Gay Chicago reports.

Cappleman becomes the council's second openly gay alderman, along with Tom Tunney.

*

"Cappleman also appears poised to become the first Chicago alderman to take advantage of Illinois' civil union law, as he and his partner of 20 years, Richard Thale, said during the campaign that they plan to enter into a civil union when the law takes effect June 1."

Power Play
The other result that really hurt aside from Rhymefest was the triumph of Danny Coalfest, I mean Coalis, I mean Solis in the 25th.

Just remember, Pilsen: Flip-flop once, shame on Solis. Flip-flop twice, shame on you.

Berny Stone Learns A Life Lesson
"'I'm up against the machine, Stone said of his race against accountant Debra Silverstein. Silverstein was backed by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and her husband, state Sen. Ira Silverstein, who is also the 50th Ward Democratic committeeman.

"'I used to be the machine,' Stone said."

Rahmfest
"Seven of the 10 candidates endorsed by Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel won their campaigns for City Council on Tuesday," AP reports.

The Koschman Archive
The questions being asked now were first raised - albeit briefly - seven years ago.

Mods vs. Rockers
Chicago 2011.

Poetry Friggin' Everywhere
Who to thank.

Sites and Sounds
Phunk One and Co.

Feds: Don't Let Allergies Keep You Inside
Their advice.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hypoallergenic.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"When the hands come off the holy books at swearing-in ceremonies next month, Chicago will have a City Council churned by turnover of more than a third of its 50 members along with a new mayor, Rahm Emanuel," the Tribune reports.

"The new council will be without its second-longest-serving member, 50th Ward Ald. Bernard Stone, who suffered a crushing loss. Also gone is 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, a veteran African-American leader who went down in a narrow defeat.

"Not even the 36th Ward, long a Democratic machine bastion, was safe from change. Appointed Ald. John Rice, the former driver for political powerbroker William J.P. Banks, lost to a little-known firefighter, Nicholas Sposato."

*

All to the good.

But I'm kind of heartbroken that Rhymefest lost to Rahmfest - er, Willie Cochran.

Or did he?

Rahform
"If you've been following Chicago politics lately - either as a victim or student of the Chicago Way - it's probably best to take some precautions," John Kass writes.

"That's because today is the day after the city runoffs, the conclusion of an election season that, for the first time in decades, did not officially involve a mayor named Daley. The aldermen are eager to rush down to City Hall to do their business. They're all about reform now.

"And Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel just can't wait to take over and reform things. And he will, too. Just as soon as outgoing Mayor Richard Daley and his White House chief of staff brother Bill Daley say it's OK."

Practice Run
"Aldermanic candidate Hal Baskin was arrested at a South Side polling place Tuesday after allegedly getting into a shouting match with an election judge," the Sun-Times reports.

Huh. That actually doesn't seem like it would be all that unusual for Chicago, but . . .

"I can't remember this happening to a candidate in my years at the Board of Election," a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners told the paper.

Maybe Baskin was just getting a head start on the inevitable fate of so many aldermen - though that displayed a bit of overeagerness; he lost to incumbent JoAnn Thompson.

Still, you've got to admire his pluck.

Union Dues
"James Cappleman beat Molly Phelan by a surprisingly comfortable margin in the 46th Ward," Gay Chicago reports.

Cappleman becomes the council's second openly gay alderman, along with Tom Tunney.

*

"Cappleman also appears poised to become the first Chicago alderman to take advantage of Illinois' civil union law, as he and his partner of 20 years, Richard Thale, said during the campaign that they plan to enter into a civil union when the law takes effect June 1."

Power Play
The other result that really hurt aside from Rhymefest was the triumph of Danny Coalfest, I mean Coalis, I mean Solis in the 25th.

Just remember, Pilsen: Flip-flop once, shame on Solis. Flip-flop twice, shame on you.

Berny Stone Learns A Life Lesson
"'I'm up against the machine, Stone said of his race against accountant Debra Silverstein. Silverstein was backed by Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and her husband, state Sen. Ira Silverstein, who is also the 50th Ward Democratic committeeman.

"'I used to be the machine,' Stone said."

Rahmfest
"Seven of the 10 candidates endorsed by Chicago Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel won their campaigns for City Council on Tuesday," AP reports.

The Koschman Archive
The questions being asked now were first raised - albeit briefly - seven years ago.

Mods vs. Rockers
Chicago 2011.

Poetry Friggin' Everywhere
Who to thank.

Sites and Sounds
Phunk One and Co.

Feds: Don't Let Allergies Keep You Inside
Their advice.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Hypoallergenic.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Don't Let Allergies Keep You Inside

Now that winter is over, there is nothing more exciting than finally being able to get outside again and enjoy the weather.

With higher temperatures, longer daylight hours, the trees growing back and flowers springing up, what could change your good mood?

Stepping outside and suddenly sneezing, you realize your allergies are back too.

Whether you suffer from mild allergies or more serious reactions, these tips from the Federal Citizen Information Center can help you get control of your seasonal and household allergies.

With spring in the air, opening windows and doors to enjoy the fresh air can also cause the stirring of pollen which can bring allergens inside your house. Allergies to pollen, known as hay fever, affect more than 35 million Americans a year.

You can't avoid going outside all spring and summer, so do your best to prepare for allergies. But you can do some simple research and try over-the-counter remedies for this time of year. Or a doctor can run blood or skin tests to find out exactly what you're allergic to and can recommend whether an oral medicine or an allergy shot is best for you.

As temperatures rise, humidity can as well, which leads to mold and other bacterial contaminants that can affect your allergies. The EPA suggests that for most small mold contaminations, you can take care of the problem yourself. Severe water damage can also lead to mold, and worse allergies, so make sure to stop the spread of mold as soon as you notice it.

Allergies can really put a drag on your day. Check out a full list of resources that can help you avoid future allergy problems, and discover if you have other food or animal allergies. Once you've tamed your allergies, you can get back to smelling the flowers and enjoying the spring weather.

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

The Koschman Archive

Reading the stories about the death of David Koschman in the Sun-Times led one of my contributors to wonder this week where the paper was seven years ago when the actual incident occurred. I wondered too; I presumed a fight outside a bar didn't result in any coverage at all, but in fact the papers back then - if briefly - were asking some of the same questions they are now. Let's take a look.

*

Headline: Mayor's Nephew Quizzed in Fatal Fight - No charges in Suburban Man's Death Outside Bar
Date: Saturday, May 22, 2004
Newspaper: Sun-Times
Reporters: Frank Main, Fran Spielman

"A nephew of Mayor Daley was among those questioned by Chicago Police about a fight outside a Near North bar that led to the death of a suburban man, sources said Friday.

Richard J. Vanecko, the son of Daley's sister Mary Carol Vanecko, has not been charged in connection with the fight at 3:15 a.m. on April 25 on the sidewalk at 35 W. Division, officials said.

"On that morning, David Koschman , 21, of Mount Prospect, got into an altercation with three unknown men, said Sgt. Robert Cargie, a police spokesman. One of the men pushed Koschman and he fell backward, striking his head on the pavement.

"Koschman was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died on May 6, Cargie said.

"'We have been working with the state's attorney's office on this,' Cargie said. 'At this time, charges are not warranted based on the evidence.'

"Richard Vanecko, 29, was questioned by Belmont Area detectives along with several other people, including witnesses, sources said. Vanecko could not be reached for comment.

*

"The family of David Koschman could not be reached for comment."

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Headline: Daley Nephew At Fatal Fight Scene
Date: May 22, 2004
Newspaper: Tribune
Reporters: Jeff Coen, Carlos Sadovi

"A nephew of Mayor Richard Daley was present at a fight that resulted in a man's death, but there was no evidence the nephew was involved in the altercation and he has not been charged, law-enforcement officials said Friday.

"David Koschman, 21, of Mt. Prospect died of blunt-head trauma on May 6, 12 days after he was involved in an early morning fight near the Rush Street bar strip, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

"Witnesses told investigators that Richard Vanecko, the 30-year- old son of the mayor's sister, Mary Carol Vanecko, was among a group of men who got into a tussle with Koschman and his friends, according to law-enforcement authorities.

"Koschman was punched or pushed to the ground and his head hit the pavement, police said. A relative said Koschman was about 5-foot 3- inches tall and weighed about 125 pounds."

*

"Vanecko has not been identified as the person who pushed or punched Koschman, investigators said. Witnesses did not pick him out of a lineup Thursday, the investigators said.

"'We were consulted about this by the police and agreed that no charges would be placed against any individual in this case at this time. There were four guys, and Vanecko was one of them,' said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

"Vanecko's attorney did not return calls for comment.

"Officials in the state's attorney's office also said the preliminary investigation suggests the victim may have been the aggressor.

"Sgt. Robert Cargie, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said police are continuing to treat the death as a homicide."

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Headline: No Charges in Fatal Fight Involving Daley's Nephew: Did Clout Play Role? 'Of Course Not,' Police Chief Says
Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Newspaper: Sun-Times
Reporter: Fran Spielman

"No charges will be filed in connection with a fight outside a Division Street bar that led to the death of a Mount Prospect man - not because Mayor Daley's nephew was involved, but because there is insufficient evidence, Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline said Tuesday.

"David Koschman, 21, died May 6 from head injuries suffered 11 days earlier, when he allegedly fell backward and hit his head on the pavement after being punched or pushed to the ground during a sidewalk scrap at 35 W. Division.

"Koschman and three friends, all of whom had recently turned 21, were apparently attempting to hail a cab at 3:15 a.m. after a birthday celebration on Rush Street when they got into a fight with another group of men that included Daley's nephew, Richard J. Vanecko.

"Vanecko is among those who has been questioned by Chicago Police about the April 25 fight. He is the 29-year-old son of Daley's sister, Mary Carol Vanecko.

"'The state's attorney's office and the Police Department both agree at this time, there's no basis for criminal charges based on the witness statements and all of the evidence we have,' Cline said, after joining Daley at a police graduation at McCormick Place.

"The superintendent said a charge of involuntary manslaughter 'doesn't fit, based on everything we've looked at so far . . . If new evidence came up, we could change. But, based on all of the evidence we have now - all the witnesses brought in and lineups conducted - there's no basis for criminal charges.'

"Cline blanched at the suggestion that politics may have played a role in the decision not to file criminal charges.

"'That's not true. No. Come on. Come on. No. Of course not,' the superintendent said.

"Nanci Koschman of Mount Prospect, the victim's mother, could not be reached for comment."

-

No further stories appeared in either paper - according to the ProQuest newspaper archive database - until the Sun-Times broke its new story on February 28th:

"[N]early seven years after the April 25, 2004, confrontation that left Koschman mortally injured, the Chicago Police Department has decided to reinvestigate the case. Investigators began reinterviewing witnesses after a Chicago Sun-Times reporter filed a request Jan. 4 seeking copies of all police reports in the case, under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act."

So it was the paper's FOIA request that led Chicago police to re-open the investigation, which is odd. It's almost as if the CPD saw the FOIA request and decided that instead of merely fulfilling it, it would, you know, try to get out front of anything the Sun-Times might have been looking at.

"The police, citing what they described as a now-ongoing criminal investigation, agreed to make public only a heavily redacted crime-scene report. It provides little information other than Koschman's name and the date and location of the confrontation.

"But a Sun-Times investigation has turned up problems with the way the police and prosecutors originally handled their investigation into Koschman's violent death. Detectives didn't begin interviewing witnesses until after Koschman died. They didn't conduct lineups to try to identify who threw the punch until almost a month after it happened. And prosecutors say their files on the case have disappeared.

"Now, in what law-enforcement sources say is an unusual move, the police department has assigned the re-investigation of Koschman's death to a different detective bureau, transferring it from Area 3 to Area 5.

"The Cook County state's attorney's office says it stands by its initial conclusion that no one should be charged."

*

"The police won't talk about that night. And Vanecko didn't respond to interview requests, while his three companions all declined to comment.

"But Koschman 's friends - including, beside Allen and Copeland, Dave Francis and Shaun Hageline - agreed to talk publicly for the first time about what happened."

What they said re-opened the story.

-

And now, from today's Sun-Times:

"In an interview, Weis said he was the one who ordered a new set of detectives to re-examine the evidence in January, after the Chicago Sun-Times asked for documents from the 7-year-old case."

*

"Q. Is it common when a Freedom of Information Act request comes in for the police to re-investigate what happened?

"A. Sometimes, it triggers it. You could have a case from seven years ago - all the administration has changed. The chief of detectives is new. We got a new deputy superintendent over the Bureau of Investigative Services. Many regime changes have taken place in seven years. So, unfortunately, in some instances, sometimes new people come in and it's not on anybody's radar screen because it's - at least it's been thought to - have been resolved."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

Poetry Foundation Celebrates National Poetry Month

The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce an exciting array of literary events and programs in celebration of National Poetry Month, April 2011.

Poetry
More than 20,000 free copies of Poetry's April issue were distributed to 3,000 reading groups around the world in celebration of National Poetry Month.

The magazine introduced the giveaway program last year and has already seen a tenfold increase in participation.

In the April issue, Poetry readers will find new translations of Arthur Rimbaud by John Ashbery, as well as work from Averill Curdy, W.S. Di Piero, Atsuro Riley, C.K. Williams, Laura Kasischke, Karen An-hewi Lee, and more.

Readers can celebrate poetry, and find inspiration for talking and thinking about it, in the April issue's discussion guide and with the Poetry podcast, which recently won a National Magazine Award in Digital Media. The current issue of the magazine is available online.

Poetry Everywhere
Eight new films debut in a new season of Poetry Everywhere, a poetry film series produced in association with WGBH Boston and David Grubin Productions.

Featuring poets such as Kay Ryan, Rita Dove, Galway Kinnell, and Matthew Dickman reading their work, the films air during unexpected moments in the public television broadcast schedule.

They are also available online and can be found at iTunes U and YouTube.

This month, the Poetry Everywhere collection also launches on Teachers' Domain, where educators will find resources - such as short introductions and discussion questions - to bring the films into the classroom.

The updated collection at Teachers' Domain comprises 35 poets, including Adrienne Rich, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Kwame Dawes, and Marilyn Chin.

A Child's Garden of Poetry
The Poetry Foundation has teamed up with HBO Family to produce A Child's Garden of Poetry, premiering Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time on HBO.

Featuring beloved poems read by top actors - including "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by Julianne Moore, and "When You Are Old" by William Butler Yeats, read by Liam Neeson - the captivating program features whimsical animation and contributions from kids, who share selections from their favorite poets (from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes) and some of their own work, and speak from the heart about why they value poetry.

A Child's Garden of Poetry is the second collaboration between the Poetry Foundation and director-producer Amy Schatz. Classical Baby (I'm Grown Up Now): The Poetry Show, which debuted in April 2008, received an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Children's Program.

Readings
The Poetry Foundation will present several poetry readings in Chicago throughout National Poetry Month.

On April 16, the Poetry Foundation and the PianoForte Foundation present music by Ari Brown and Mabel Kwan inspired by the poetry of Reginald Gibbons, Christina Pugh, Ed Roberson, and Rachel Jamison Webster. Nikki Giovanni will read at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium of the Harold Washington Library Center on April 30. Mary Karr and Nikki Giovanni's readings are free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis. The PianoForte performance is a ticketed event. More information is available here.

Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest
On April 28 and 29, high school students from every state (as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.) will compete in our nation's capital for the title of Poetry Out Loud National Champion and a $20,000 award.

Poetry Out Loud is a partnership initiative of the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts that encourages the study of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high schools across the country. More information is available here.

Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute
The Poetry Foundation's Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute (HMPI) has co-published Blueprints: Bringing Poetry into Communities with the University of Utah Press; the e-book is available for free download, and the printed book is available for purchase from the press.

Edited by inaugural HMPI director Katharine Coles, and intended for use by educators, arts administrators, and members of the poetry community, the book features essays by poets - including Robert Hass, Elizabeth Alexander, and Patricia Smith - discussing the various ways they've introduced poetry to diverse groups.

Blueprints also provides a toolkit that presents strategies and tips for those interested in bringing poetry into their own communities.

Earlier this year, HMPI also released a "Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry," a guide to reasonable and appropriate uses of copyrighted materials in new and old media, prepared in collaboration with American University's Center for Social Media and its Washington College of Law. Both publications are available for free download.

Harriet: The Blog
During the month of April, the Poetry Foundation's blog, Harriet, will host more than 30 poets, including Kenneth Goldsmith, Eileen Myles, and Major Jackson, for a month-long conversation about poetry, poetics, and the poetry blogosphere.

This is the second year the blog will host a National Poetry Month discussion; in 2010, invited poets, editors, publishers, and translators contributed to this lively community event. This year's mix of voices and perspectives promises to be just as engaging and provocative. Follow the conversation.

Website
Watch for a redesign of the Poetry Foundation's award-winning website, which will feature the full archive of Poetry magazine dating back to 1912 and a richer, faster browsing experience, among other improvements.

A preview of the update is available on our blog.

*

About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Sites and Sounds

This short clip served as the introduction for the Chicago CAN TV show Sites and Sounds. This video clip shows a short interview with Chicago's hip hop producer Phunk One and a brief look at DJ John Swift on the ones and twos.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Mods vs. Rockers: Chicago 2011

A teaser vid for the annual Mods vs Rockers event in Chicago. The Ton-Up Club of Chicago has rallied a cult following of motorcyclists to their annual gathering of the most eclectic bikes from the Windy City and beyond. Sprinkled within the event footage is historical footage showing the inspiration of the modern day, pseudo-clash of subcultures.

For more information.

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See also:

"In many respects the short-lived Chicago mod craze was a typical retro revival, dusting off a British youth culture that was already two decades old - most Chicago mods took their cues from the Who documentary The Kids Are Alright and from Quadrophenia, Franc Roddam's film adaptation of the rock opera," J.R. Jones wrote for the Reader in In Mod We Trusted.

"But in hindsight the mod scene was more than that. Though none of the bands set the world on fire, their alumni would go on to form bigger and sometimes better bands. They primed a young audience for the ska and punk-pop of countless Chicago acts since. And they fueled the do-it-yourself ethic that would later put the city's underground music on the national map.

"The mods had their own parties, their own fanzines, and their own shows, most of them orchestrated by a Park Ridge teenager named Craig Ziegler, who started out hosting band parties in his parents' basement and wound up promoting bills at Cabaret Metro.

"It was all over in a few years; people grew up and moved on. But for one brief skanking moment, the kids were indeed alright."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

April 5, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Election Day is off to a slower-than-usual start today, with some precincts in the city and suburban Cook County seeing only one voter as of 8 a.m., two hours after polls opened, election officials reported," the Tribune reports.

"'It's scary quiet,' said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners."

Too quiet.

*

"The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners predicts fewer than one in four voters will turn out in the 14 wards around the city where run-off elections for alderman are scheduled," the Sun-Times reports.

"Absentee and early voting ballots are running highest in the far Northwest Side 41st Ward, where longtime Ald. Brian Doherty, the city council's lone Republican, is retiring."

*

"The Irish-American Catholic schools grads, just six months apart in age, work just around the corner from each other near Devon and Northwest Hwy. in Chicago's leafy northwest corner," the Sun-Times reported last week.

"Mary O'Connor runs O'Connor's Market and Catering and the Blackthorn Manor banquet facility. She has run the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce and the Edison Park Turkey Trot.

"For the last 15 years, Maurita Gavin has been a top administrative aide to Ald. Brian Doherty - the go-to person in his office for getting things done in the ward.

"These success-story, girls-from-the-neighborhood might be the kind you'd expect to see sharing laughs over a cup of tea at Le Flour Bakery across from the Edison Park Metra station. Gavin even held her mother's birthday party at O'Connor's banquet hall a few years ago.

"But the two - who face off in the 41st runoff [today] - aren't exchanging pleasantries anymore, particularly as the field of candidates narrowed from 11 to two."

*

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel today said his support of a slew of incumbents in Tuesday's aldermanic runoff election doesn't mean he backs business as usual," the Tribune reports.

And then Emanuel burst out laughing.

*

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel won't say Tuesday's City Council runoff is all about him - but he comes close," AP reports.

"'I need a new partner,' Emanuel told reporters on the eve of the election in which 14 members of the City Council will be picked. 'That partner is a City Council that wants to work in the spirit of reform and change the way business is conducted in city government.'"

Except in the eight of 10 races in which he's supporting his - or Daley's, I guess - old partner.

"Emanuel has spent nearly $250,000 on the races, contributing to the campaigns of seven candidates, including six incumbents. He also endorsed - but did not give money to - two other incumbents, including Alderman Willie Cochran, a former police officer who faces Grammy-winning rap artist Che 'Rhymefest' Smith."

*

All you need to know about Willie Cochran, from the Tribune on May 5, 2010:

"Cochran paid his daughter about $19,000 from his expense account between January and August of last year to work as an aldermanic aide in his ward office. She was later moved from the expense account to the city's regular payroll, according to city officials.

"Cochran's daughter is a college graduate who previously ran a coin laundry owned by her father.

"'In this job, it is very important that you surround yourself with people you can trust,' Cochran said."

Isn't that what Todd Stroger always said?

*

In the spirit of reform: "Emanuel Endorses Cochran in 20th Ward."

*

"Voters in the Northwest Side 45th Ward have a clear choice in Tuesday's aldermanic runoff," the Sun-Times reports.

"John Arena, 44, who owns a graphic design company, has been active in the Portage Park Neighborhood Association for more than a decade, trying to steer what he thinks is the right kind of pedestrian-friendly development to the Six Corners business district. Arena is a Democrat running with strong support from unions.

"John Garrido, 43, a police lieutenant and lawyer, says he would be far less picky about development in the ward, green-lighting just about any business that wants to come in. A Republican, Garrido is endorsed by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce."

*

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who had close ties to [retiring Ald. Patrick] Levar, has remained neutral in the 45th Ward race," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "Garrido said he met with Emanuel and does not expect him to issue an endorsement in the runoff.

"But Garrido's supporters include Juan Rangel, the charter-school executive who had a prominent role in Emanuel's campaign. Garrido participated in a leadership program conducted by Rangel's United Neighborhood Organization, a powerful Latino community group."

*

Also in the spirit of reform:

"Ald. Danny Solis (25th Ward) reports two in-kind donations yesterday that showcase his ties to the city's most powerful politicians: Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's political committee ponied up more than $7,700 for a mailing supporting Solis while House Speaker Michael Madigan's committee paid for around $1,000 in staff time to help the incumbent," Progress Illinois reports.

Solis is a founder of UNO. He's also a creep of the first order.

*

"The incumbent worked 19 years at a Jewel grocery store bakery. The challenger is a Southwest Airlines skycap.

"But a working-class background is about the only thing the two candidates for 15th Ward alderman in Tuesday's election have in common," the Sun-Times reports.

"Ald. Toni Foulkes, a 39-year resident of the ward, left her bakery job to run for an open seat in 2007 and sought the help of her union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. The UCFW and other unions have since poured tens of thousands of dollars into Foulkes' campaign chest. Foulkes said Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has helped too . . .

"Her challenger, Ray Lopez, 31, has lived in the ward four years. He was a precinct captain in the 23rd Ward organization run by former U.S. Rep. Bill Lipinski and was a local school council member at Kennedy High School ­- not in 15th Ward. By the end of the year, his campaign had only taken in about $7,000, with most of it coming from Lopez himself.

"The 15th Ward covers some of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas in the city, including parts of Englewood and Chicago Lawn. Its black population, while shrinking, remains the majority at 61 percent. The Hispanic population has grown from 26 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2010, according to the recent U.S. Census."

*

"Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel [Saturday] added the personal touch to his financial support and endorsement of 17th Ward Ald. Latasha Thomas, appearing with her at a get-out-the-vote rally in advance of Tuesday's runoff election," the Tribune reports.

"Thomas, an 11-year City Council veteran, faces David Moore in the head-to-head contest. Moore says Thomas has let things slip in the ward, which includes parts of Englewood, West Englewood and Gresham.

"But in his first announced appearance at a campaign event hosted by a candidate in one of the 14 aldermanic runoffs, Emanuel told a crowd at the New Friendship Baptist Church in Englewood that he likes the work Thomas has done, particularly in bringing several grocery stores into the area."

I can't resist bringing this up from a 2006 Sun-Times story ("CHA Chief's Former Ward Rakes In Contractor Cash"):

"A 17th Ward official who responded to a call to [Ald. Latasha] Thomas asked that questions be e-mailed. No one responded to the e-mail."

*

The CHA chief in that Sun-Times story, by the way, was Terry Peterson. Which is what makes this current reporting from the Tribune so interesting:

"Latasha Thomas . . . is backed by Burke and Emanuel. Thomas was the chief of staff to predecessor Terry Peterson, now a political force in his own right and an Emanuel political operative."

*

From the same Tribune report:

"Many of the contributions defy the notion that Burke and Emanuel will go to war to control a majority of the 50-member council . . . A prime example of this phenomenon is the campaign of Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, who has represented the South Side's 6th Ward for 13 years. She's backed by Emanuel, Burke, the unions and even a number of business interests.

Lyle faces a fierce challenge Tuesday from Roderick Sawyer. He's the son of Eugene Sawyer, the former alderman the City Council picked to replace Mayor Harold Washington after his death in office."

*

Voting herself a pay raise in 2006, Lyle said "I know I work very, very hard."

As opposed to the taxpayers from whom her salary derives.

*

Meet Rahm Emanuel's new partners. Same as the old partners.

Aldermanic Odds
We've got 'em.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho!
Protest Song and Chant Writing Workshop with Jon Langford.

Back To Our Future
David Sirota stops in to Revolution Brewing in Chicago to talk about his new book.

Outside Sox Park
A Cabdriver's Notes on Baseball.

Channel 62 Spring Preview
Bishop Horace E. Smith.

Chicago Totem Pole
"A grimacing sea monster at the bottom, a man riding a whale above it, and Kwanusila the Thunderbird on top."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fans' Notes.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

WJYS-TV Spring Preview: Bishop Horace E. Smith

Sundays at 1 p.m. on Channel 62.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

David Sirota Talks Back To Our Future

David Sirota is a Senior Editor of In These Times, a radio host, bestselling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. On a recent visit to Chicago, he talked to us about his new book, Back To Our Future, what 80s TV shows like The A-Team and even Highway to Heaven have in common with today's political culture, and why he went on Fox & Friends.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Chicago Totem Pole

At Addison Point on the lakefront.

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From Wikipedia:

"Kwanusila is a 12.2 meter (40 foot) tall totem pole carved from red cedar. It stands in Lincoln Park at Addison Street just east of Lake Shore Drive in the Lake View Section of Chicago, Illinois. The colorfully painted totems include a grimacing sea monster at the bottom, a man riding a whale above it, and Kwanusila the Thunderbird on top.

"Its sculptor was Tony Hunt, the chief of [a] tribe in British Columbia, as a 1986 replacement for the totem pole that stood at the site since 1929. That pole, which was carved by Tony Hunt's ancestor, the ethnologist George Hunt, had been donated to the city by cheese baron James L. Kraft, the founder of Kraft Foods. The 1929 pole had suffered from poor maintenance, weathering and vandalism over the years, and was sent to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in 1985 for study and conservation."

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See also: Lakefront Totem Pole Contains Many Tales

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

Hey Hey, Ho Ho! Protest Song and Chant Writing Workshop with Jon Langford

Whether you are anti-war, pro-environment, anti-love, pro-bacon, or whatever your passion or politics might be, join us for a rollicking good time, as you learn how to craft a chant or song for your next protest!
011-0261_HeyHeyHoHoFlyer_02.png
After a short history of protest songs, create your own with legendary musician Jon Langford. Join all songwriters and others on June 4 to share the fruits of your labor in a public culmination on the steps of the MCA Chicago.

Workshop: Sunday, April 10, 2-4 p.m. Free but reservations required - call 312.413.5353 for reservations. Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, The University of Illinois at Chicago, 800 S. Halsted Street.

Culmination: Saturday, June 4, 3:30 p.m. Free and open to the public, MCA Plaza, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Avenue.

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Hey Hey, Ho Ho is co-represented by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. These activities are offered in conjunction with MCA Chicago's exhibition Susan Phillipsz's We Shall Be All through June 12, 2011, and the JAHHM presentation of Phillipsz's 2002 sound installation Pledge.

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Bonus Video:

1. Plenty Tough, Union Made.

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2. Performed in Wisconsin last month.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

Outside Sox Park: A Cabdriver's Notes on Baseball

I moved to Chicago to go to art school in 1990. I'd been a Red Sox fan ever since a school trip to Fenway Park sometime around 1980. It was one of Carl Yastrzemski's last years and I didn't know a damn thing about baseball. Having only arrived from the USSR recently, the thought of signing me up for Little League wouldn't have crossed my parents' minds. I played stickball with my best friend, Dan, against the wall of the elementary school. We also played Strat-O-Matic, keeping stats on curling sheets of lined paper, playing out countless seasons as the '57 Brooklyn Dodgers or the '27 Yankees or some crazy amalgam All-Star squad spanning decades. Being a Red Sox fan, you needed to embrace disappointment, so when I got to Chicago and looked around for a local club to follow, the Cubs weren't an option. I already had a lost cause and didn't need another. The White Sox were another story.

While their history of futility rivaled both the Cubs and the Red Sox, they went about their game in a low-key, workmanlike way that drew me to them. The town ignored them for the most part. The little I knew about Chicago - mainly what I'd read in Nelson Algren novels - the White Sox reflected in some way to me.

Over the years, my allegiance drifted steadily from Red to White until 2004, when Boston broke the Curse of the Bambino and lost any hold on me. In those same years my hatred for the Cubs grew and developed. Driving a taxi in this town for the last eight years has exposed me to more Cub fan foolishness than anyone should ever have to see. On the other hand, no team loses quite like the Cubs and there's no doubt they've brought me much pleasure. I even have a few close friends who are afflicted with the North Side problem and somehow we still get along.

I'm not a journalist nor do I aspire to be one. Statistics and detailed technical analysis can be found in a thousand places these days with little effort, so I won't bother with much of that here. I'm a guy who listens to at least one baseball game a day on the radio while driving his cab around the city. Looking over the box scores from the night before is a daily ritual I miss dearly November through March. Like any baseball fan, I have my share of opinions, a few of which may even be well-reasoned. That's what you can expect in this column.

Opening Day
Mark Buehrle started the opener and cruised for five innings. It was 14-0 in the fourth Inning and my interest was waning. I want my team to win, but prefer it not be by a football score. It was good to see Adam Dunn hit a homer as he was brought in to do. I wasn't that excited when he was signed until the Sox also brought Konerko back. This could be quite a lineup, though what's the point of judging after only one game?

When Buehrle coughed up four runs in the sixth, with help from the bench-warmers brought in to play the field in this blowout, my tepid interest began to turn into irritation. I flipped the radio over to WGN to check on the Cub loss-in-progress and learned upon return that Will Ohman had been brought in to give the Indians three runs. Besides having a surname perfectly suited for a mediocre reliever (Oh, Man), he's an ex-Cub! Let's hope he's only brought in to mop up or in laughers like this one. Tony Pena was next in; a pitcher guaranteed to make one want to claw one's eyes out. When a game's out of hand early, a loss of focus seems almost expected. The Sox let the Indians hang around, dragging out the proceedings for no good reason. After making sure the Cubs lost, I left the house to start my work day.

One of my favorite things about baseball is listening to old men talk about it. My first fare of the afternoon was a couple old duffers in River North. They were happy to hear the Sox game on the cab's radio. "You a Sox fan or is this just for our benefit?" one asked. They'd certainly had a few and covered many subjects on the long ride to the far northwest reaches of the city. I couldn't even begin to reproduce most of what they said. We all breathed a sigh of relief when Jesse Crain finally nailed down the 15-10 victory. The highlight of their repartee was an evisceration of "Hawk" Harrelson: "Good to hear that Darren Jackson actually get to talk. When he was on TV with Harrelson, he couldn't get a word in. That guy's a bully and an asshole . . . Remember when he was the Sox GM? Only way that happened? Musta been fucking Reinsdorf's daughter. That's wrong man . . . " They said many other things. We all will before this season's through. "Go Sox!" they each said as I dropped them off.

So glad that baseball's begun again . . .

buerhle.jpgMark Buehrle by Dmitry Samarov. (Enlarge).

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Dmitry Samarov brings you Outside Sox Park every Tuesday. You can also find his work at Hack and at dmitrysamarov.com. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. "[Anheuser-Busch] recently informed federal railroad regulators that it wants to shut down Manufacturers Railway Company, the rail company that has been part of A-B since 1887, when A-B co-founder Adolphus Busch turned to trains to supply his growing brewery," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

"The company is a shortline railroad, operating 13.5 miles of track and providing service only between the brewery and other railroads just over the river in Illinois."

Huh. Maybe high-speed rail would be a reality around the Midwest by now if it ferried beer. Just a thought, A-B.

2. Once again, we're not Detroit.

3. Michelle Monaghan of the action thriller Source Code, which takes place on a Chicago commuter train, spent three years at Columbia College here studying journalism.

"News and newspapers were always at the forefront of my household growing up," she told the Tribune's Michael Phillips.

4. Perhaps it was their sense of entitlement.

*

"After punching Koschman, Vanecko ran off with a friend, Craig Denham. Two other Vanecko friends who were there - Kevin McCarthy and his wife, Bridget Higgins McCarthy - initially told the police they didn't know the two guys who ran away. They didn't admit they did know them until May 13, 2004, Yawger says - 18 days after Koschman got punched and seven days after he died in a hospital from brain injuries suffered when the back of his head hit the street. Till then, the police hadn't been able to identify Vanecko or Denham as being involved, according to [Ronald Yawger, the lead detective on the case]."

*

The detectives who just re-opened and re-closed the case never talked to Yawger, by the way. Go read the whole story.

5. Chicago Food Critic Finally Gets Stolen ChicagoRestaurant.com Domain Name Back.

6. Villa Taj Owner: "It Was Not Meant to Insult Anybody's Taste".

7. Chicago UFO Mystery Solved.

8. Lupe Fiasco Used To Eat His Wages.

Also on the Crappy Fast Food Job and Attempts At Clever Headline Writing Watch:

* Would You Like A Job With That?

* Are Investors Lovin' It?

* McDonald's Will Hire 50,000 of America's 24.3 Million Unemployed.

And also from the Crappy Food Economic Index front:

* Papa John's, Domino's Hit 52-Week Highs.

9. "It seems only last week that a teacher of young minds was threatened with legal action for mocking one of her class on Facebook," Chris Matyszczyk writes at CNET.com.

"Because it was only last week. Yes, this Chicago elementary school educator was upbraided for allegedly laughing at a little girl's Jolly Rancher hair.

"But now there is news that another teacher - this time in Paterson, N.J. - has been suspended for allegedly calling her first-grade class 'future criminals' on Facebook."

10. "If this is winning hockey, the rest of the NHL can have it," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday: Hawks Trapped.

11. "Lest our enthusiasm become too contagious, we must hearken back to some other less impressive openers," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in The White Sox Report: Who Needs Hope?

Roger is one of two new White Sox writers this season. You'll meet the second tomorrow.

*

If you want to join our team, I'm looking for someone to revive our Minor League Report this season and I'm open to correspondents interested in covering soccer, roller derby or anything else your heart desires. Drop me a line.

Of course, we're open to new contributors (and editors) in our other sections as well, and as always we need help with tech, design and business development.

12. Chicago Street Racing: Summer's here and the time is right.

13. In our Political Odds, we update the aldermanic runoffs.

14. Repo Chicago: Episode Two. Wherein Big Ant teaches Jax how to break into a car.

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

Programming Note
I think Chicago Code is a repeat tonight, but that just means an extra hour of jukebox time at the Beachwood Inn tonight. I'll be your host behind the bar slinging cold Old Styles, free pizza and witty barbs. Stop in and tell me I sent you. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We have a dream.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

Chicago Street Racing

1. K20dc vs k20 eg coupe.

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2. K20 dc vs k20 type r.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

Repo Chicago: Episode Two

Wherein Big Ant teaches Jax how to break into a car.

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Previously:
* Episode One: Cool Rookie, Hot Temper

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Patrick Stump at Schubas on Sunday night.

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2. DE/VISION at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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3. Omar Rodriguez Lopez at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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4. Queens of the Stone Age at the Riv on Friday night.

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5. Black Joe Lewis with Eddie Shaw at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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6. Tiny Magnets at Cole's on Friday night.

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7. State Radio at the Vic on Saturday night.

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8. Nicki Minaj at the big arena on the Near West Side on Friday night.

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9. Kina Grannis at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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10. Sub Swara at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Hawks Trapped

If this is winning hockey, the rest of the NHL can have it.

And that is starting to look almost likely. The defending Stanley Cup champs are teetering on the edge of missing the playoffs heading into the final week of the regular season.

Tampa Bay pulled out Sunday's game against the short-handed Hawks 2-0 thanks primarily due to their stultifying neutral zone trap. And while some fans may admire the work that goes into playing that style effectively, most don't enjoy the choppy hockey that results.

Analyst Steve Konroyd and the producers of the Blackhawk broadcast on WGN-TV carefully showed how the Lightning consistently arrayed as many as four skaters across the middle of the ice just outside their own blue line, making it very difficult for the home team to get any sort of a rush going.

In other words, there was no flow. The Lightning had scored a textbook power-play goal early on and that was enough for them (the visitors eventually finished the scoring with a last-minute empty-netter). It was as if they were playing four defensemen at a time. And those blue-liners certainly did the job, blocking countless Hawk shots and carefully keeping the puck near the boards almost all of the time.

That meant the Lightning wouldn't be busting out on any exciting rushes of their own, which was a little unfortunate (in terms of entertaining the fans anyway) considering the team employs exciting offensive players such as Steve Stamkos, who led the league in goal-scoring for a time this season, and Martin St. Louis. (Another skilled Tampa Bay forward, Vincent Lecavalier, took a stick to the face in the second period and was sidelined the rest of the way.)

The system also exposed one of the Hawks' primary shortcomings. They were forced to dump pucks into the offensive zone and then go and try to win battles in the corners. And they don't have enough guys who are physical enough to win enough of those battles this year, plain and simple. They desperately miss power forwards - and salary cap casualties - Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien.

Of course the Hawks would have benefited from having their primary sniper, leading goal-scorer Patrick Sharp, in the lineup on Sunday, along with second center Dave Bolland. Both are still sidelined by injuries. Then again, especially after Lecavalier went down, the Lightning were playing shorthanded as well.

While I enjoyed Konroyd's breakdowns of the teams' schemes, there was another element of the WGN broadcast that was grating. I am a huge Pat Foley fan and I realize there are limitations to what a hockey announcer can see and then say about the remarkable amount of action that often occurs during a tiny amount of time on the ice. But I do grow tired of Foley gushing "Great Save!" when it was actually a shooter blowing a great chance by firing it right at a given goalie.

Tampa Bay back-up Mike Smith earned the shutout on Sunday with 31 saves and he was certainly solid between the pipes, especially, as Konroyd pointed out late, in terms of limiting rebounds. "It seems like he has puck Velcro on his chest," said the former Hawk defenseman late in the third period. But despite Tampa Bay's best efforts, the Hawks did have a handful of point-blank chances only to see the resulting shots settle comfortably into Smith's mid-section.

The teams who could overtake the Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference both notched big wins later Sunday. Calgary knocked off the Avalanche 2-1 and Dallas pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. That leaves the Flames a point in back of the Blackhawks and the Stars three back. The Hawks travel to Montreal on Tuesday and host the Blues the next evening. Then they wrap up the season with a home-and-home against the Red Wings on Friday (in Detroit) and Sunday.

Draft Note
It was a tough Sunday in Chicago with both baseball teams going down before the Hawks even took the ice. But let's not talk about that. Let's talk about . . . the NFL Draft!

Okay, so the NFL's name is Mud these days but that doesn't mean we can't speculate about who will take who in this year's talent disbursal festival.

Wait, what is that you're saying? Wake you up when the Bears are picking? Okay. But remember, there is nothing better to talk about, sports-wise, then a draft.

There is absolutely no end to the speculating that can be done about who will go where and who should go where.

And that combination of potential and intrigue makes for the best sports talk.

Here we will focus on the Bears' first round pick (No. 29 overall), although I must admit at this still early date, I only have a couple thoughts, the first of which is: Focus on defense!

Except no one has the Bears doing that in their mock drafts (here's a good one).

Most folks believe it will be an offensive lineman in general and a tackle, like Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod (6-6, 312) in particular.

I still say take the best pass rusher or cornerback/safety on the board in the first round.

But if it must be a lineman, for gosh sakes make it a guard with a bad attitude like Florida's Mike Pouncey (he played center for the Gators this past year but actually struggled with shotgun snaps - the man should just be a guard).

The Bears need an ultra-aggressive guy who can knock someone around and do so with extreme prejudice a heck of a lot more than they need a light-on-his feet back-pedaler who might or might not protect the edge of a line.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

The White Sox Report: Who Needs Hope?

Hope doesn't necessarily spring eternal at the start of the baseball season. Curiosity maybe. Can Konerko match last year's numbers? Can Beckham bounce back? Will Peavy be able to perform? Does Ozzie really have a closer? Can Pierzynski make any friends? Will Adam Dunn strike out 200 times?

And there is surprise. One day the Sox are playing a bunch of minor-leaguers in Arizona, and then, presto, they're in Cleveland, and the game actually counts. It happens very quickly.

So did my entry into the blogging world. It appears that 60 years of following the White Sox - including seven vending beer at Comiskey when I worked virtually every game - qualifies me to comment on this latest edition of the team along with relating past events. So here goes:

Not long after the White Sox' Opening Day 15-10 victory at Cleveland, my brother John sent an e-mail. In case you missed it, the Sox led 14-0 before Mark Buehrle and an infirm bullpen let the Indians make a game of it. Brother John was reminded of the 1960 opener.

The defending American League champions - we are talking about the South Siders here! - blew a 9-2 lead against Kansas City only to win it in the bottom of the ninth, 10-9.

Needless to say, this latest group didn't need any late inning heroics like Minnie Minoso's walk-off (the term hadn't been invented then) homer. Minoso, arguably the most popular player in team history, had been exiled to Cleveland for a couple of years, and what a homecoming it was. Two homers, six RBI, standing ovations from the 41,000 in attendance. Surely this was the start of another pennant run.

However, we learned at an early age that hope does indeed spring eternal in The Bronx and not on the South Side. Maybe also on the North Side where they don't know any better, but we Sox fans are realists.

Having had the privilege of attending Games 1 and 6 of the '59 Series, I could have contentedly passed on from this life without another October drama for the Sox. Of course, 2005 came along and fractured the vision that as promising as this team might be, another autumn appearance would never be in the cards. In '59, World Series bleacher seats at Comiskey Park went on sale at 8 a.m. the day of the game - honest! - so as teenagers we arrived the night before to join a few hundred other fans to make sure we would have a ticket.

I've moved up in the world. In '05, we sat behind the plate.

So now we have the present cast of athletes, and they look pretty good. Opening Day last week in Cleveland was a lot of fun. Carlos Quentin was locked in; Dunn hit a homer; Konerko looked like 2010; and Beckham behaved like an All-Star.

But lest our enthusiasm become too contagious, we must hearken back to some other less impressive openers.

This is not pessimism. This is history. Billy Pierce, who still makes an occasional appearance at The Cell, started seven openers and usually battled valiantly in 2-1, 3-2, and 2-0 contests. He even won a few.

I wasn't around when Bob Feller no-hit the Sox in the 1940 opener, the only no-no in history on Opening Day. But unfortunately I was part of the throng on a gray, cold day in 1979 when Toronto creamed our favorites 10-2. Owner Bill Veeck, embarrassed by the effort, told the 41,000 to hold onto their ticket stubs which could be redeemed for a future game.

In 1987 I was teaching English to seventh-graders at the Francis Parker School, an institution priding itself on a progressive philosophy. But not progressive enough to acknowledge that Opening Day should have been a holiday. (Actually the place was filled with Cub fans, and the halls were noticeably empty when the North Siders opened.) I snuck out to Comiskey for a few innings between classes, but by the time I got to my seat in the first inning, Lou Whitaker and someone named Matt Nokes had already homered en route to an 11-4 drubbing of the Sox. This was well into the Reinsdorf regime, so there was no mention of ticket redemption for a later game.

Perhaps the most dismal summer for the Sox was 1970 when they lost 106 games, a franchise record for futility. I figured I could attend the 1971 opener pretty much in solitude. I still don't understand how they got more than 43,000 to show up. I'll never forget walking into the park and seeing the crowd. It was electric. Could it have been rookie shortstop Bee Bee Richard? That's Richard as in a guy's first name as opposed to Ri-char as in Rocket Richard.

The Sox scored in the bottom of the ninth to win 3-2. Bee Bee went oh-for-four and committed one of his 26 errors before being benched mid-season. Nevertheless, the team improved to 79-83. I was ecstatic. So excited that I got a speeding ticket in Hubbard's Cave soon after the final out.

Thursday marks the 111th home opener for the Sox. The house will be near capacity. The beer will flow. The flag will cover the field. The players will be introduced. The anthem will be greeted with roaring cheers, and the Blue Angels will do their thing. Who needs hope? This is just a good time.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Judy Wallenstein:

I think Roger Wallenstein's article was tremendously interesting and instructive about how one should emotionally deal with Opening Day! He's a genius!

2. From Mike Knezovich:

Roger Wallenstein, great job.

There can be an, er, misunderstanding that the only baseball tradition in Chicago means bad baseball and shrubbery.

Minnie Minoso for the Hall!

3. From Brad Herzog:

If the Sox could hit the way Roger Wallenstein writes, hope wouldn't be a four-letter word on the South Side.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

April 2, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

We know this isn't really necessary or beneficial, but you've got to admit . . . it's awfully fun!

Market Update
The Corporation of Life took a hit this week. Earnings figures revealed its supply-driven approach to production has caused the value of its primary product to plunge to a mere $50.

Misfire
It's not that we don't think violent torpedoes of truth are necessary, but it seems like really fucking rich men have exposed enough harsh realities in the city of Detroit.

What Daddy Can Go Do
Of course, that's not the most tasteless thing a really fucking rich man has done recently.

In Other News . . .
This just in: Pre-wedding jitters are still boring.

The Way to Really Fly
Chicago-area commuters received unsettling news this week as it seems new Metra CEO Alex Clifford is taking his "zero tolerance" policy a little too seriously.

Math Lag
Finally this week, with the state of local schools a key topic, the impact of America's growing math deficit has never been more clear. After all, what good does it do to post calorie amounts if people can't add as fast as they eat?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Caloric.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:28 AM | Permalink

April 1, 2011

About Those Loafing Truck Drivers

You may have heard about the news this week that the city could save $18 million if it just cracked down on loafing truck drivers who, the city's inspector general found, are so typically paid to do nothing.

And you would have heard wrong because the media largely missed the point of the report that came out of Joe Ferguson's office, which was that Richard M. Daley negotiated a terrible long-term deal with the city's unions that we know was spurred by his desire to assure labor peace for the 2016 Olympics - which will be held in Rio.

In fact, Ferguson said in a statement accompanying his report that "The prevailing stereotype would have it that these workers were wrongfully loafing on the taxpayer dime when they should have been actively engaged in work. Our review revealed that these idle workers were not technically doing anything wrong; remarkably, they were completely fulfilling their defined job duties."

So what did the media do? It went with the stereotype.

"Nearly $18 million a year could be saved by getting rid of 200 city of Chicago truck drivers who spend parts of their workday loafing or even sleeping, according to a report by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson," the Tribune reported City of Chicago Urged to Get Rid Of 200 Truck Drivers Who Loaf.

But the point of Ferguson's report wasn't that there was loafing going on, but that the city shouldn't sign long-term collective bargaining agreements like the 10-year deal Daley gave the Teamsters and other city unions for his own political purposes.

Note how the Tribune's passive construction, though, places blame on the Teamsters.

"The inefficiencies are essentially locked in place by the city's long-term contract with the Teamsters union that makes change nearly impossible, the report concluded."

It turns out it was Daley who demanded a 10-year contract; the Teamsters wanted something shorter.

Another version of the Trib version is headlined: "City Inspector General Hits Loafing Truck Drivers.

A more accurate headline would have been "City Inspector General Hits Daley Contract."

Or better yet: "Inspector General: Daley Deal Wastes $18 Million."

Perhaps the lead could be:

"Motivated by his fevered Olympic dream, Mayor Richard M. Daley entered into a 10-year union contract to secure labor peace that is now costing taxpayers at least $18 million by paying city truck drivers whose services aren't needed, the city's inspector general has found."

Plenty of other media outlets also missed the point.

WBEZ reported that "City Pays Drivers Millions For Little Or No Work" and only added that "Ferguson also criticized the long terms of some labor contracts, saying they don't allow the city enough flexibility to make changes during unforeseen crises such as the economic recession."

It's not that Ferguson also criticized the long terms of some labor contracts; it's the workers with nothing to do who are incidental, not the other way around. In fact, Ferguson's recommendations focus squarely on the city's collective bargaining agreements, not the truck drivers.

Meanwhile, it took the Sun-Times 11 paragraphs in its report to note that "Mayor Daley signed the ten-year agreement with the Teamsters and other unions to guarantee labor peace through 2016, when he hoped Chicago would host a Summer Olympic Games ultimately awarded to Rio de Janeiro."

What's more, the Sun-Times reports that "In an arbitration hearing just this week, the city testified that it's 180 drivers short."

That's the city's testimony, not the testimony of loafing Teamsters. And it could be true if the city's contract with the union doesn't allow current drivers to be shifted to where they are needed.

Which isn't to say I'm pro-Teamster - not when spokesman Brian Rainville spews stuff like this:

"The inspector general is in the business of doing reports and basically acting as a launching pad for people's political careers. It's a PR machine. They have to have something to say. But it's just not true."

I guess we can thank David Hoffman for opening the door for that complaint to be lodged against every city inspector general to come. But still.

*

And so on.

AP: Chicago Has Too Many Truckers.

NBCChicago: Taxpayers Wasting $18M on Truck Drivers.

Chicago Conservative Examiner: Chicago City Drivers Sit Around and Sleep While Costing $18 Million a Year.

Drive that narrative!

*

Mark Brown of the Sun-Times came closest to getting it right.

"Back in 2009 the city inspector general's office received a complaint from a resident with a familiar story. He reported observing a crew of at least nine Water Department employees at work on a project on his block while another employee just sat in his truck reading the newspaper.

"The resident told the IG he confronted the guy in the truck who responded that 'he was just doing his job.'

"As it turns out, the guy in the truck may have been telling the truth - just sitting there actually is the job of some Chicago truck drivers whose primary purpose is to ferry city work crews and tools to job sites, then wait . . . and wait."

But we have to wait until the end of Brown's column, until after he reminisces about a summer job on the railroad. to get to this:

"One target of Ferguson's criticism was the 10-year labor deal that Mayor Daley struck with the city's unions back in 2007 to assure labor peace through what were to be the city's 2016 Olympics. The IG's report argues the term of the agreement was too long and didn't allow the city enough flexibility to respond to changing conditions."

Oh yeah, Daley! He had something to do with this too!

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From the report:

"The prime reason for the inefficient use of [Motor Truck Drivers] is that the City's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the union that represents MTDs, the Teamsters, severely constrains the City's managerial rights.

"In successive CBAs with the Teamsters, each ratified by the City Council, the past and current administrations have relinquished the City's ability to combat identified inefficiencies by prohibiting the City from transferring certain MTD responsibilities to other employees or subcontracting the services MTDs help provide.

"The current CBA, in effect until June 2017, does not allow the City to unilaterally transfer work that has been traditionally performed by MTDs to other City employees, except in emergencies. Additionally, the CBA does not allow the City to subcontract any service that would result in the layoffs of MTDs.

"Thus, regardless of operational needs or changing technologies, the City is severely limited in how it can reorganize the many City services that MTDs are involved in delivering.

"The constraints the Teamsters CBA places on the City illustrate the significant downside to excessively long-term labor contracts.

"The current Teamsters CBA, as well as over 30 other City unions' CBAs, was ratified in December 2007 and runs through June 2017.

"While long-term contracts may appear advantageous to negotiating parties at the time they are entered into, the possibility, and in the case of ten-year contracts, the likelihood, of significant changes in the financial condition of the City and the work requirements of the City make these ten-year contracts unnecessarily restraining for current (and future) management.

"By signing a ten-year CBA with the Teamsters (and with over 30 other unions representing City employees), the current administration and City Council unduly hamstrung not only the current management of City government, but the next six years of management as well, a period that extends well beyond the elected terms of the incoming Administration and City Council.

"In this regard, excessively long CBAs implicate many of the same concerns and considerations posed by long-term leasing of City assets which this office has elsewhere analyzed."

So it's not just about truck drivers; Daley entered into 10-year contracts with 30 other unions that similarly constrain common sense and fail to protect the taxpayer. Ferguson goes so far as to compare these deals with the disastrous leasing of the city's parking meters. So who's really doing the loafing here?

*

The response to Ferguson's report was disingenuous all the way around.

The Teamsters got a sweetheart deal and they aren't giving it up, taxpayers be damned.

"As for Ferguson's proposed 'reopener clause,' Rainville had two words: fat chance," the Sun-Times reported.

"Before this Olympic-inspired contract, there weren't ten-year contracts, but that's what the city agreed to. What's the point of having a contract if you're just gonna reopen it? When the city was flush, the unions didn't say, 'Let's reopen and get higher wages and benefits.' You honor your contract,'' Rainville said."

Thanks for helping out, guys.

The city was worse.

"City Budget Director Eugene Munin said the Inspector General's report 'suffers from a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of collective bargaining, the laws governing union-employer relations, and the dynamics of the negotiation process.'"

Really? It sounds like the city lacks a fundamental understanding of the nature of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.

"Officials said the city had obtained 'work rule improvements for [motor truck drivers] that the city has negotiated to protect taxpayers in the last several years,'' including lower salaries for new drivers and assigning injured drivers coming back to work to smaller rodent control vehicles 'rather than being paid to stay at home.'"

That may be but it has nothing to do with signing politically motivated 10-year deals. But then, Munin says it is aligning contract lengths with mayoral terms - as Ferguson recommends - that would unduly politicize the process.

City law office spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said in an e-mail to Eric Zorn of the Tribune that "When a CBA terminates, the parties don't start from scratch. You start from the existing status quo and any changes in that status quo have to be specifically bargained for in order to be legal. That's why it's extraordinarily difficult for employers to 'claw back' and obtain a concessionary contract. It's a major victory to maintain the status quo."

But the status quo for 22 years was negotiated by Daley's City Hall. And it's not just the provisions of the contract that are problematic, it's the length. Getting a new crack at it every four years is preferable - for both sides - to living with it for 10.

(And remember: "Teamsters spokesman Brian Rainville said it was the Daley administration, not the Teamsters, that wanted the 10-year deal.")

*

I would be remiss for not noting that veteran political reporter Greg Hinz of Crain's wrote that "The city makes its point, but in some ways, it would have been better not to have responded at all to the report by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson."

Besides the fact that the city really avoided the point, don't you love it when journalists offer advice on how to do better PR?

Instead, it would have been nice for Hinz to demand that Daley and his associates explain themselves. It would have been even better if Hinz and his associates were on the ball when these contracts were signed, but they were too busy cheerleading for the Olympics.

*

"This report illustrates the hazards of entering into long-term CBAs in uncertain economic times with severe constraints on managerial rights and flexibility," Ferguson said in a statement that accompanied the report.

Ferguson also made recommendations which escaped media attention:

* The City Council should consider an ordinance limiting CBAs to four years, tracking the term of the Mayor and City Council.

* Before ratifying a CBA, the City Council should require a comprehensive analysis of a CBA's impact on the delivery of City services, staffing requirements, and management rights.

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"Also, in order to address the inefficient use of MTDs, the IGO recommends that the City examine amending the current CBA to include two additional provisions.

"First, the IGO recommends a reopener clause to allow for the renegotiation of the CBA based on the financial condition of the City.

"Second, the IGO recommends that a 'Four Corners' provision be added to ensure that all the terms of the agreement between the union and the City be placed within the text of the CBA. This means one comprehensive document should be presented and acted on in its entirety by the City Council, and no 'side letters' or 'Memoranda of Understanding' not expressly incorporated into the CBA would govern the employment relationship. The CBA should also refrain from restrictive references to 'unit work' or 'traditional work' without allowing the City the ability to reorganize services based on technological change or operational need.

*

And then comes the inevitable from the Tribune edit board:

"Think it's hard to find wasteful spending in Chicago's budget? Think again. Inspector General Joseph Ferguson says the city could save $18 million a year by getting rid of 200 truck drivers who taxi other workers to and from job sites and spend the rest of their day loafing."

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Comments welcome.

-

1. From Tim Willette:

I also resent the accusation that they're somehow lazy or shirking their duties or whatever. My friend Woody has a similar job: he drives people from point A to point B, waits, and then drives them to point C. He's a limo driver.

The problem has nothing to do with the truckers themselves - under a different arrangement, when new assignments come up, drivers could be properly dispatched. But like all wage earners, they're being compensated for their time, not just the hours they're actually driving. Granted, the deal seems to make it very difficult to properly allocate resources, but that shouldn't reflect poorly on the people who do the jobs. Lots of jobs involve waiting - fireman, bartender, cook, call center agent, roadie. Are all of them lazy, too?

REPLY: Reporters spend a lot of time waiting too - for people to call them back. For the press conference to start. For their editors to get back from their three-hour lunches.

TIM: Waiting for the bar to open.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Skull Defekts with Daniel Higgs at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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2. Kid, You'll Move Mountains at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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3. Yelawolf at Reggie's on Thursday night.

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4. Devotchka at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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5. Geronimo! at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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6. Ellie Goulding at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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7. Mount Kimbie at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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8. Brontosaurus at the Double Door on Tuesday night.

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9. The Dig at Schubas on Monday night.

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10. Apex Manor at Schubas on Monday night.

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11. Scale The Summit at Bottom Lounge on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:39 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Take me out to the ballgame, and then take out a loan to pay for it," Jamie Sotonoff writes for the Daily Herald today.

"As the Chicago baseball season begins today, a new report shows both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox continue to rank among the most expensive teams to watch play.

"The cost of taking a family of four to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field this year is estimated to be $305.60, and it'll cost $258.68 for a White Sox game, according to the 2011 Fan Cost Index, a dollar amount calculated annually by Wilmette-based Team Marketing Research."

A Brewers game, by contrast, costs a family of four $160.40.

Between the Brewers and the Packers . . . Wisconsin ain't bad.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
An Opening Day preview.

He Ain't Heavy
"Being the younger brother of the world's best two-way hockey player can be cause for unfair comparisons, but David Toews says his big brother is a blessing and not a curse," Gary Lawless writes for the Winnipeg Free Press.

"The 20-year-old Toews has two goals and two assists through three Western Hockey League playoff games with the Brandon Wheat Kings and was looking for more when the Wheaties hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers Thursday night at Winnipeg's MTS Centre.

"When your big brother is Jonathan Toews, Olympic hero and captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, you're going to have to live with the 'he's J.T.'s little brother,' stuff."

Man U
Comes to Chicago to play the fire July 23rd.

A Jockey's Life
Perhaps the greatest athletes of all.

Cow Pokes
"Cattle futures surged to a record in Chicago yesterday on speculation demand for U.S. beef would increase in Japan after radiation from the stricken nuclear plant contaminated food supplies," Bloomberg reports. "Tyson Foods Inc., the top U.S. meat processor, said the country may increase imports."

Lead Feet
"Residents in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood complained for years about metallic-tasting smoke rolling down their narrow streets but had little evidence it was harmful," Michael Hawthorne reports for the Tribune.

"Now they have proof. New monitoring data obtained by the Tribune reveal that high levels of toxic lead frequently lingered in the air last year outside an elementary school in the predominantly Latino enclave that is attended by nearly 500 children."

Health Care Reform
"During the recession, Chicago's Swedish Covenant Hospital chief Mark Newton was unwilling to take draconian measures such as layoffs," Health Leaders Media reports. "Instead, he deployed a tactic from his entrepreneurial background: he challenged his staff to find ways to cut costs themselves."

And apparently they did - and saved their jobs.

About Those Loafing Truck Drivers
The media misses the point.

Chicago's Human Stun Gun
Or Not.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

The Week in WTF
Farrakhan, Blago, hyperlocal news, pediatricians, Jewel.

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American Dream Declared Dead As Final Believer Gives Up

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A dream deferred.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Blago again, WTF?

It tells something about who you are if this news makes you laugh or cry. Or whether you think this shows students are wise - or dumb as owl bleep.

We vote for owl bleep.

The Junior State of America will greet the convict governor this weekend in Oak Brook for a round of enlightening repartee and civics tutorials. Yes, the Cirque du Blago comes to town once again with clowns and overpriced cotton candy.

Junior States is an innocuous resume-padder and debating society for prepsters looking to snag an Ivy League admissions' edge. It fulfills the Hippocratic Oath for innocuous juvenile pastimes: It does no good, but it does no harm either.

These young political leaders of the future believe that if they ask politely, Rod Blagojevich will answer their questions truthfully and without hesitation, thus assuming the Federal Prosecutor for the Northern District of Illinois could have gotten the truth had he just asked more politely.

WTF will save Junior States their first several questions:

* Does he admit he did anything wrong? No because I'm innocent.

* Then why did he get convicted of lying to the FBI? Just a trumped up charged by powerful interests plotting to bring me down, and I'm innocent. Really.

* How do you keep your hair so nice? It's my own line of follicle products, "Bleepin' Golden." Order online now.

Thus, the nation marches on to the strains of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

2. Hyperlocal News, WTF?

This is the underlying problem with hyperlocal news: It can be stupid. It can make you stupid if you read too much of it. Your brain can go to sleep. A large pile of such stories doesn't make you smarter or more in touch. Just sleepier. Or likely dumber, because it takes up your time.

Also, just consider the implications of relevance. The Chicago Tribune, the "flagship" of the Tribune Company, has a story on its home page (SPANNING THE WORLD TO BRING YOU THE GLOBE, or something like that) detailing that "a man . . . was looking around as he exposed himself and he appeared to be about 60 years old." And get this. It was near the Illinois Prairie Path. Where? Don't ask WTF. We're just a visitor here.

The story has a byline and a photo of the reporter, whose parents must just be thrilled.

And this update from WTF's breaking news desk: Gurnee police decided not to pursue the assault charge against the woman who menaced an officer with a "feminine pleasure device." The woman even posed for a photo outside the restaurant whence she fled after failing to pay her bill, and thereupon took up the aforementioned device to ward off police.

3. Louis Farrakhan, WTF?

For reasons that might be political affinity or more likely just oil money pulpit-greasing, Minister Louis Farrakhan has always had a thing for Moammar Khadafy. They're BFFs.

It's been a 30-year Man-date.

WTF finds Farrakhan fascinating. Every time Farrakhan says something provocative that a thoughtful person should consider as a legitimate possibility, he quickly follows by saying two things that mark him as a bat bleep-crazy self-promoting loon.

WTF loves lunacy.

Of particular lunacy is this assessment of Khadafy as reported by the Trib:

"When you come out of a colonial past where you have lost the value of your own self-interest, God raises somebody from among you that can instill in you the value of yourself again and that person dictates the path until you have grown into your own self-interest."

His audience cheers because, well, we don't know.

Just to make sure we heard, he repeated it.

Yep, bat bleep crazy.

4. Jewel-Osco, WTF?

We'd call this "being taken to the cleaners," but who has enough money to take clothes to the cleaners anymore? WTF's chief constable always has asked for plastic because he's a lazy, unthinking oaf who believes plastic is a natural substance grown on plastic bushes in Idaho. Also, plastic has handles and is just easier when you lug groceries.

But you can't let this corporate power grab go unanswered. It's just The Man with his boot on your neck. So now we ask for paper . . . and double-bag that baby, everyone.

At-ti-ca! At-ti-ca! At-ti-ca!

Actually if you demand the paper bag be placed inside the plastic bag, it produces a triple layer Depends-safe conveyance for your perishables. I don't know what a perishable is, but it probably grows on plastic bushes.

5. Pediatricians, WTF?

WTFers with children have perused the new pediatric suggestions for toting your progeny in car seats and now believe pediatricians have never actually been around children in their natural environment.

For example?

Find me a 12-year-old boy who would allow himself to be placed in a "booster seat" without being anesthetized first. Try. We dare you.

In case pediatricians haven't noticed, the biggest concern parents have for their 12-year-olds is how to keep them from buying condoms and reefer paper in advance of the weekend oral sex party.

WTF prefers the old-fashioned ways. Just tie the kid to the fender - presuming cars still have fenders.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Opening Day

Who will be starting at second for the season opener?
-Rutager, Alsip IL

There has been a strong push within the organization to give the job to Darwin Barney, but there is an outside chance that he will be named starting Small Town Deputy Sheriff in Sevierville, Tennessee; home to the Cubs AA affiliate. Many feel his name lends itself to the job. [Editors Note: Shortly after going to print, Darwin Barney was named the opening day second baseman and the Small Town Deputy Sheriff job was awarded to pitcher Trey McNutt]

What's up with the Orioles? Former Cubs Kevin Gregg, Jake Fox, Cesar Izturis, Derrek Lee and Felix Pie are on their major league roster. Corey Patterson, Will Ohman, Rocky Cherry, Scott Moore, Mike Fontenot and Lou Montanez were all on the team last year. Rich Hill and even Sammy Sosa were sent to Baltimore at one point. Is this the equivalent of Andy MacPhail rummaging through an ex's trash for loose clumps of hair in an attempt to make some sort of wicker-Cub?
-Rick, Crystal Lake IL

That's not a Wicker-Cub . . . THAT'S a Wicker-Cub.

What's the Over/Under on the number of times Len Kasper will say the phrase "Another good starting effort is wasted by a series of defensive miscues" in 2011?
-Ozwaldo, Barrington IL

No representative of the Cubs organization, including myself, condones gambling on the outcome of sporting events, so officially I'd advise you to consult a legitimate wagering website, a sea craft docked 17 inches away from an Elgin riverbank, or your local bookie*.

What will Jeff Samardzija's role be on the team this year?
-Jeff S. Merrillville IN

Because he is out of options in the baseball sense (he's got about ten million reasons to feel like he's got plenty of non-baseball options), Jeff is likely going to break camp with the major league club. However, he is scheduled to be ineffective for the first quarter of the season and get picked up on waivers by the Mets, where he will continue his career as a mishandled starter.

Who do you think the winner was in the Milton Bradley/Carlos Silva trade?
-Jermajestique, Chicago IL

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bradley made $11 million last year and Silva made $12.75 million, so the answer is Silva by a nose.

What kind of managing style can we expect from Mike Quade?
-Doug, Kankakee IL

He's going to be a fighter and a lover, so watch out ladies. Quade is a baseball lifer whose ability to sit and chew sunflower seeds is on par with any manager in the majors. Thanks to his lack of hair, he is also significantly less impacted by drag in the water, so the Cubs should be expected to have a noticeable edge in games where Marco Polo is incorporated into the strategy.

*Mine has it at 25.5

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Send your comments and your mail to Carl.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Human Stun Gun. Or Not.

The History Channel's Stan Lee's Superhumans recently featured suburban Chicago's very own Human Stun Gun, who can supposedly knock you out without ever touching you - and kill you with a tap.

It didn't work when it was done four years on Fox either.

Still, television producers find the story of the Stun Gun - otherwise known as Tom Cameron - irresistible.

After all, Cameron has also appeared on Steve Harvey's Big Time and here on Ripley's Believe It Or Not:

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We vote Not.

After all, Cameron's technique appears to only work on his students - and the stray talk show attendee.

Or in his own words:

It only works on 40 percent of the population!

Or not at all.

*

Truth be told, it's not just TV producers. It's media managers on all platforms. They think alike, as much as the print folks would have you believe otherwise.

For example, the Tribune printed "You Don't Want To Mess With This Guy" in 2004 in which Cameron said "I'm one of three recognized masters in the Western Hemisphere in 'Death Touch.'"

The Trib bought it.

Get out. Does that mean you can punch someone once and they die?

"No, it means I can stand six feet away from someone and cause them to die."

Sweet.

Cameron, 50, learned the smackdown of death during 33 years of training. He teaches self-defense to about 100 students in the Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn Recreation Departments and the Palos Olympic Health Club in Palos Hills. Cameron hasn't actually killed with his "Death Touch" - we don't think, anyway - but he has taught some of his students "tap knockouts" that can lay people out without taking their lives.

That wasn't the Trib's first foray, however. Four years earlier, on the occasion of one said TV appearance, it published "Teacher's Touch Is Treacherous: Believe It Or Not, A Martial Arts Instructor From Burbank, Using His Fingertips, Has Attracted The Attention Of A New Television Show."

Using only his fingertips, Tom Cameron can make a grown man fall to the ground.

"To the people who see it and are not familiar with it, I'm sure that it must look like something right out of the Book of the Dead," Cameron said. "Either people are really fascinated by it or they are so horrified that they want to get rid of me."

Quite.

Cameron's mere touch at an acupressure point on the body can make one person faint, while putting another into cardiac arrest. Within seconds, he can revive the victims.

Really?

I consulted The Skeptics Dictionary:

"Proponents claim to prove the existence and power of chi [which is what Cameron claims to use] by healing people with acupuncture or chi kung (qi gong), by doing magic tricks such as breaking a chopstick with the edge of a piece of paper or resuscitating a 'dead' fly, or by martial arts stunts such as breaking a brick with a bare hand or foot. When examined under controlled conditions, however, the seemingly paranormal or supernatural feats of masters of chi turn out to be quite ordinary feats of magic, deception, or natural powers, or natural feats requiring extraordinary physical training and discipline."

And from Quackwatch:

"Qigong is also claimed to influence the flow of 'vital energy.' Internal Qigong involves deep breathing, concentration, and relaxation techniques used by individuals for themselves. External Qigong is performed by 'Qigong masters' who claim to cure a wide variety of diseases with energy released from their fingertips. However, scientific investigators of Qigong masters in China have found no evidence of paranormal powers and some evidence of deception. They found, for example, that a patient lying on a table about eight feet from a Qigong master moved rhythmically or thrashed about as the master moved his hands. But when she was placed so that she could no longer see him, her movements were unrelated to his."

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Just to be fair, I went to Cameron's very own website next but could only find a version from 2005 thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine. Cameron's fingers must've gotten too close to the keyboard, because the site currently is dead.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
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POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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