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« May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

June 30, 2011

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Outfield Origami

It seems like when Randy Wells is off his game he gives up a lot of hits in a row. Is there a baseball term for allowing a certain number of guys to reach base consecutively?
-Mendoza, Line Store AR

That does seem to happen with Wells now and again, including Sunday when he let six consecutive Royals reach base.

Three in a row is a Turkey, borrowed from bowling vernacular.

Four in a row is a Sh*t Quatro, like the brand name razor.

Five in a row is a Pentaturd; the geometry majors in our reader base can figure that out.

Six in a row is an Alfonseca. Just Google "Alfonseca" and "six."

Everything after that is just called a "Shower Ticket."

Will Carlos Peenya be traded?
-Keith, Chicago IL

This has got to be from Moreland. He's the only guy I know who pronounces the name "Peña" (pain-yuh) like the Spanish word for pineapple.

He will be traded to San Francisco for Aubrey Huff, a picture of Aaron Rowand's forearms, a lock of Brian Wilson's beard and cash considerations.

What's up with those seagulls?
-Sunny, Des Plaines IL

Early in the season, Kosuke Fukudome constructed what he thought were one thousand paper cranes as part of a ritual meant to bless him with a more consistent second half.

Unfortunately, Kosuke isn't great at origami and had something of a mystical misfire.
Now, dozens of seagulls migrate to center field every afternoon.

Just be glad a medium-sized Godzilla hasn't destroyed Sluggers and the Cubby Bear.

How did Mike Quade get named to the All-Star team?
-Bruce, San Francisco CA

Someone must have compromised the security on Bruce Bochy's Twitter account.

How have the Cubs managed to avoid a three-game winning streak through June?
-Felix, Blue Island IL

The same way you get to Carnegie Hall . . . practice!

To put this strange feat into perspective, the 2004 Diamondbacks went 51-111 and had two such win streaks before the end of June.

-

Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:48 AM | Permalink

I Am A Wrigley Beer Vendor

People often ask me what the worst part about my job as a Wrigley Field beer vendor is. ("You mean, other than watching maddeningly mediocre baseball year in and year out?" I always want to ask.) For me, this is an easy one. It's not lugging my product up and down the aisles like some 21st-century pack mule. It's not even the drunk and sometimes staggeringly rude fans. Without question, it's the hour-and-a-half I'm forced to spend before each game mindlessly waiting for the day's assignment with my fellow grizzled and unwashed vendors.

Back in the "good old days" - I put this in quotation marks because the Old Guard is always pining for times gone by, when vendors allegedly made heaps of money without interference from The Man - we used to congregate before games on Waveland Avenue, near the day-of-game ticket windows across from the firehouse. But a few years back, the Cubs moved the vendors' staging area to a gated, concrete slab around the corner on Clark Street, affectionately known as "The Cage."

And that is where my fellow beer dudes and I spend a cramped and noisy couple of hours before each Cubs home game, waiting restlessly for our vending assignments and for fans to flood into the Friendly Confines. Since most vendors don't have the time or inclination to chat during games, it's here - in The Cage before games that we do most of our socializing.

Like any workplace, we've got our cliques.

There are the younger black kids who play furtive hands of poker in a minivan parked down the street.

There are the older, generally literate and intelligent vendors who escape the noisy cage for a carpeted locker room redolent of old man sweat and dirty socks. Here, they reminisce about the sitcoms, rock bands and sports heroes of their youths while taping up balky knees and pulling jock straps over saggy pairs of Hanes.

There are the loners, the guys who bury their heads in a book or sleep off yesterday's hangover in a corner.

There are the Angry Young Men, who mill around on the sidewalk in front of The Cage raging against everything - the fans who don't tip, the union steward who won't give them a beer card or the guidance counselor who failed to steer them toward a less degrading life.

And then there's a second clique of older vendors, mainly Jewish, who sell exclusively in the upper deck and gravitate around a couple of bosom buddies, Les and "Fish."

For some reason, I'm the only vendor under 35 who's been inducted into this clan of congenial old-timers, and it's to them I usually turn to pass the time.

Among their ranks is Howie, a good-natured member of the clique who telegraphs his obvious bi-curiosity (he's about 60 and married with kids) with his constant jokes about proctological exams and his odd daily greeting of 'Hey, where are the Butt Brothers?" - a definitely-not-funny-now-if-it-ever-even-was reference to Les and Fish.

("You know where they are, Howie," I always want to scream. "I just watched you walk up to The Cage with them.")

I've known all these guys for years, but I only just learned that Howie was a year behind Les and Fish in grade school, somewhere on the South Side in the 1950s, and that he was known then as Crazylegs Hirsch -- a reference to a long-forgotten Jewish footballer famous for his spastic gait.

Occasionally, the pre-game monotony will be interrupted by a special announcement from our union steward, Richie, who if you closed your eyes and listened to him talk you'd swear you were hearing our dearly beloved Mare Daley. These speeches are usually reminders to sign up to work special events - say, a NASCAR race at Toyota Park or a soccer game at Soldier Field - or exhortations to make a small donation to the union's political action arm.

But one day not too long ago, Richie's pre-game speech was of a darker hue. A vendor named Big Bobby, a soft-spoken walking mountain with arms covered in scars of indeterminate origin (fire? drug use? childhood trauma?), had passed away unexpectedly. His family lived out of town and didn't have the money to get to Chicago to claim the body, let alone to give him a proper burial. Within a couple of days, the vendors - a notoriously stingy and individualistic lot - had collected enough beer-stained fives and tens to pay for Bobby's cremation and roundtrip bus fare for a family member to retrieve his earthly remains.

The episode was a sobering reminder that many from our ranks live dangerously close to the edge, with no pension, no health insurance and small room for error. It was also a kick in the nuts to your faithful diarist, who maybe doesn't have as much cause as he thinks to bitch and whine about the inevitable ups and downs of being a Wrigley Beer Man.

-

I've held many titles over the years - journalist, copywriter, teacher - but none's ever suited me quite like Wrigley Beer Man. With the exception of a couple years spent working out of state, I've been slinging peanuts, soda pop and beer at Wrigley since I was a hapless teenager. For a host of reasons, I have to keep this column anonymous - so if it seems like I'm deliberately omitting personal details, that's because I am. Also, some names have been changed so as not to embarrass anyone. You can find me elsewhere on the web at www.wrigleybeerman.tumblr.com and on Twitter @wrigleybeerman. Drink up, my friends.

-

Comments welcome.

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Visit our Life at Work collection for tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:32 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Megabus.com, the first low-cost, intercity express bus service with fares from $1 via the Internet, [Wednesday] increased the number of trips between Chicago and Madison, Milwaukee and Minneapolis," the company announced.

"Megabus.com now offers eight daily departures between Chicago and Minneapolis, four trips between Chicago and Milwaukee and up to 13 daily trips between Chicago and Madison."

Effing Ridiculous
Spirit Airlines got some media play for capitalizing on the Blagojevich verdict with a new commercial bragging that their fares are effing golden. Maybe the airlines wanted to drown out this news:

"Spirit Air, which has been leading the charge when it comes to airfare add-ons, has one upped itself. Passengers will now have to pay $5 if the airline prints out a boarding pass for them."

*

And that's not all:

"Spirit isn't done with the charges," CBS8 in San Diego reports. "There's a $30 fee each way for carrying on a bag to put in the overhead compartment. If you want to pick out a window seat ahead of time, that's another $10 each way. Suddenly the fare, including one carry-on bag and a window seat is $269.40 . . . Most airlines charge for beer and wine, but Spirit charges for soda too, $3. And forget about free pretzels or peanuts - you can buy snacks starting at $2."

The Panacea That Isn't
"In recent years, there have been investigations in states, including California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which found charter school CEOs taking money from their own schools, putting unqualified relatives on their payrolls and engaging in other questionable activities," NPR reports.

"On Monday's Fresh Air, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Martha Woodall details her ongoing investigation into Philadelphia's charter school system, where 19 of the 74 charter schools operating in the city are under investigation for fraud, financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest."

*

And:

"Charter Schools Trail In State Test Results."

Turning Japanese
"The Yomiuri Giants have acquired third baseman Josh Fields from the Rockies, according to a Sponichi report. Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along the news and says we should expect an official announcement in a few days (on Twitter)."

*

And on the ex-Cub front:

"Triple-A Iowa infielder Bobby Scales soon will be joining former Chicago Cubs teammate Micah Hoffpauir on the Nippon Ham Fighters after the Japanese team purchased his contract Monday."

*

I like the Cubs playing in Japan more than the ones playing here. Matt Murton is also over there.

End the NEA
"Even as Congress and the White House tussle over a Fiscal 2012 budget, the National Endowment for the Arts has spent the last of its Fiscal 2011 cash in a series of grants announced last month in which a number of Chicago organizations picked up federal bucks," WBEZ reports.

"Chicago theater industry recipients are (in alphabetical order): Barrel of Monkeys Productions ($8,000), Chicago Children's Theatre ($20,000), Chicago Shakespeare Theater ($75,000), Child's Play Touring Theatre ($20,000), Goodman Theatre ($100,000), Emerald City Theatre Company ($10,000), League of Chicago Theatres Foundation ($10,000), Light Opera Works ($20,000), Redmoon Theatre ($50,000), Storycatchers Theatre ($7,000) and Trap Door Productions ($5,000).

"In addition, another 33 NEA grants went to institutions supporting music, dance, traditional arts, presenting and arts education ranging from the American Library Association ($20,000) to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra ($20,000) to the Jazz Institute of Chicago ($20,000) to the River North Dance Company ($10,000) and Sones de Mexico Ensemble ($35,000). Even the City of Chicago got some NEA cash, with a grant of $75,000 to the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation, a last legacy of the old Department of Cultural Affairs and its former Commissioner, Lois Weisberg.

"In all, Illinois organizations received 43 grants totaling $2,280,400."

You know what? I'm sure these are all fine organizations but maybe the NEA has outlived its usefulness. At the time it was established (1965), our nation's civic and cultural leaders were (presumably) concerned about supporting arts and media (such as public radio and television) that might not otherwise get seeded and nurtured within the confines of a capitalist economy. And that may have been the right move back then.

But now?

Let's just call it Mission Accomplished and move on. Because, for one, an awful lot of dollars go to elite institutions patronized mostly by elites. For two, who is the NEA to judge what projects are worthy of taxpayer support?

The world has changed. Over the years, the conservative critique of such public funding rang hollow, paranoid and small-minded; it never seemed to be about money.

But a liberal critique might ask whether we really need to kick in some extra dough to institutions such as the Goodman and the CSO instead of, say, struggling indie record labels (or to redirect the funds to a new initiative like green jobs or scholarships to turn poor city kids into computer programmers or to a program like this).

More to the point, the government needn't any longer be in the arts and media business. It was a good idea once; it worked as far as I can tell. Now it's time to move on.

Drink Up, My Friends
Please welcome the newest contributor to our Life at Work feature: Wrigley Beer Man. From his inaugural column:

"People often ask me what the worst part about my job as a Wrigley Field beer vendor is. ('You mean, other than watching maddeningly mediocre baseball year in and year out?' I always want to ask.) For me, this is an easy one. It's not lugging my product up and down the aisles like some 21st-century pack mule. It's not even the drunk and sometimes staggeringly rude fans. Without question, it's the hour-and-a-half I'm forced to spend before each game mindlessly waiting for the day's assignment with my fellow grizzled and unwashed vendors."

Outfield Origami
In Carl's Cubs Mailbag.

Why The Cubs Can't Blame Injuries
Because nearly every team ahead of them has it worse.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Injurious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2011

The Cubs Blame Injuries Every Year And Every Year They Are Wrong

First it's the cold weather. Then it's the day games. Then it's Wrigley Field. Finally it's injuries. The Cubs use the same excuses every year to explain their woeful performance except the obvious one staring everyone in the face: Management sucks.

Tom Ricketts hasn't proven to be any more competent at running a baseball organization than the Tribune Company or the Wrigleys. When he said "Nothing's wrong, just injuries" earlier this month, his delusion or disingenuousness was showing.

Worse, it's part and parcel of the Cubs' annual mantra, as if each year they would be a World Series contender if not for a key injury or unusual rash of injuries that mars an otherwise perfect plan put together by geniuses like Jim Hendry.

Even Mike Quade has gotten into the act, stating that in all his years in baseball,"I don't ever remember a situation like this [with injuries]."

Really? Because I remember "situations like this" occurring every year, to nearly every team. This year is no exception. Consider what the rest of the major league baseball is facing.

*

"Baseball's biggest spenders are getting more than they bargained for when it comes to injuries this season," USA Today reports.

"When the Red Sox and Phillies square off in a three-game series beginning Tuesday night - one being labeled as a possible World Series preview - they'll each do so with expensive talent, including 40% of their projected pitching rotations, on the disabled list.

"Like Boston and Philadelphia, injuries have left the AL East-leading New York Yankees, the team with baseball's largest payroll, with holes that are tough to fill. The three clubs have a combined $114 million in salary on the disabled list."

Those three teams also happen to have the top three winning percentages in the league thus far this year.

And it's not like the injured players are scrubs; they have names such as Derek Jeter, Joba Chamberlain, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, Carl Crawford and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

A spin around the rest of the league finds much the same.

*

"When it comes to injuries, the Dodgers top the list," the Los Angeles Times reported last month.

*

"The onslaught of injuries has forced the Cardinals to use the disabled list more through 73 games than they had all season in 2010," USA Today reported last week.

*

"The defending world champion San Francisco Giants had a lot of things go their way in 2010. One of the biggest advantages they had during their amazing run to glory was good health," Bleacher Report says.

"Things have been very different for the Giants in 2011, as the club has been racked with injury after key injury, making it very difficult for San Francisco to maintain its standing as one of the premier teams in the National League.

"Somehow, Manager Bruce Bochy and his club have been able to weather the storm. They find themselves in first place in the N.L. West as they approach the All-Star break."

*

"Right-hander Grant Balfour, one of the top candidates to be Oakland's All-Star representative this year, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with the right oblique strain that kept him out of the series at Philadelphia over the weekend," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

*

The Mets have Johan Santana, David Wright and Ike Davis on the DL.

*

The Pirates have nine players on the DL - four more than the Cubs.

*

The Nationals have eight players on the DL; the Rangers have seven.

*

"Let's be honest here. Injuries have riddled this Braves team," the Burke County, Georgia, News-Herald reports.

*

"We had some key injuries early to our pitching staff," Dusty Baker says of the Reds' struggles.

*

"Twins injuries bury season in a world of hurt."

*

A organization whose rosters are so fragile that it cannot withstand the inevitable bumps, bruises and broken bones that occur every season is not much of an organization at all.

And that's why the Cubs are, as of this writing, the second-worst team in baseball.

The worst team, the Astros, also have five players on the DL.

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From John H. Olsen:

You are forgetting that the Cubs now have to deal with the distraction of seagulls, a new public address announcer, and a new radio color analyst. I do not believe that any other MLB team has such handicaps.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:21 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Rod Blagojevich may be our villain of the moment - and a 100 percent worthy villain, to be sure - but corruption in Illinois politics is not and has never been the exclusive province of one political party," the Springfield Journal-Register says in an editorial today.

"We find it entirely appropriate, and not one bit ironic, that the nexus of Republican and Democratic bad players - embodied by Stuart Levine - helped both facilitate and expose what now ranks as arguably the greatest chain of political scandals in state history."

As the paper notes:

"[T]he next and final chapter in the Operation Board Games saga is due to arrive in a few months with the trial of longtime Republican leader William Cellini."

Continuing:

"State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, struck a conciliatory note in his remarks on Blagojevich's conviction. 'You certainly can't blame Democrats for the kind of person Blagojevich was, any more than you can blame Republicans for George Ryan's actions,' Bomke said.

"We appreciate Bomke's thoughtful tone and his avoidance of finger-pointing. But we can't agree with him completely.

"Party leadership should not escape culpability for either of our previous two governors and their misdeeds. The licenses-for-bribes investigation of George Ryan's secretary of state's office was well known and well under way when he ran for governor in 1998. Yet Ryan had no serious challenge for the Republican nomination. Months before Blagojevich won his 2006 re-election bid, federal indictments pointed to corruption in his administration. In addition, Blagojevich had lost the trust of nearly the entire General Assembly. But party leaders were not about to cross him and his $14 million war chest, so they signed on to his campaign.

"Not a great record for courage in either case, but a perfect formula for bipartisan corruption. No one should be surprised by the results."

Welcome aboard, SJR.

*

From a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial:

"There have been more than 900 24-hour news cycles since Blagojevich was arrested in December 2008. But the prosecutors hung in. And by rejecting his 'politics as usual, and besides, I didn't make a dime off it' defense, the jurors affirmed that Americans have a right to demand better."

*

See also: Blagojevich Mess Will Linger For Years In Illinois.

*

Illinois' new nickname: Comedy Central.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Con Hair
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

-

Inspiring Confidence In A Chicago Casino
"The Illinois Gaming Board underfunded the state's Educational Assistance Fund by as much as $9.3 million in the previous fiscal year, according to an Illinois Auditor General report released Tuesday," Crain's reports.

"Also, the report said, none of the money transferred in the year that ended last June 30 matched reports prepared by the Gaming Board, which is appointed by the governor to administer the regulatory and tax collection system for the state's riverboat gambling."

*

"Gaming" is a term of marketing and propaganda. From now on the Beachwood Style Guide will be amended to reflect our preference for Illinois Gambling Board. A suggested alternative - State Department of Craps - is still under advisement.

*

"Illinois Auditor General William Holland found irregularities, questionable procedures and potential conflicts of interest in the state's selection of a private firm to run the Illinois Lottery," Crain's also reports.

"Among the findings in a report issued Tuesday were a past boardroom relationship between New York-based Kroll Associates, a subcontractor hired to investigate applicants, and New York-based Scientific Games Corp., one of the partners in Northstar Lottery Group LLC, the joint venture that won the contract last year to run the Illinois Lottery.

"Mr. Holland's report also concluded that the state's evaluation of proposals was rushed to meet a statutory deadline of choosing a private contractor by Sept. 15, 2010. Some evaluators of the proposals missed meetings with applicants and in some cases did not document their evaluations in writing until the day of the selection or after it was made."

Boeing In The USA
"Boeing Co. overcharged the U.S. Army about $13 million on spare parts for helicopters, according to a new report," Crain's reports.

"The Chicago-based defense giant billed the Army for thousands of tiny spare parts such as pins, wheels and gears, charging a markup for overhead and other costs that ranged from 33.3% to 177,745%, according to a May report from the Army Inspector General obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, a non-profit watchdog group. In many cases, the parts were available in the Army's own inventory for pennies on the dollar . . .

"For instance, Boeing charged almost $1,679 for a plastic roller assembly that could have been obtained from the Pentagon's internal supplies for $7.71."

*

Boeing's ride on the taxpayers' back was a round-trip affair.

"The EU alleges that Boeing received almost $24 billion in illegal subsidies, such as research grants and free use of technology, from NASA, the Department of Defense, and the states of Illinois, Kansas and Washington," AP reports.

*

"Boeing also claimed that the WTO had come out in its favor. 'The WTO rejected almost all of Europe's claims against the United States,' it said in a statement. 'Nothing in today's reports even begins to compare to the $20 billion in illegal subsidies that the WTO found last June that Airbus/EADS has received.'"

$24 billion doesn't even begin to compare to $20 billion? No wonder Airbus is kicking their ass.

Second City
Chicago Adopts Slogan Similar To Aurora's.

They had a casino first too.

Music News
Chicago punks Rise Against cover "The Ballad Of Hollis Brown" on a new Bob Dylan tribute record, the Examiner reports.

Infomercial News
Tiny Classified Ads Can't Help Don Lapre Now.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: From a one-bedroom apartment.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:18 AM | Permalink

Tiny Classified Ads Can't Help Don Lapre Now

"They say the marshal always gets his man, but there's no guaranteeing the condition the fugitive will be in when nabbed," Phoenix New Times reports.

"Take infomercial huckster Don Lapre, who made the not-so smooth move of failing to appear for his arraignment in federal court on 41 counts of fraud-related charges. After his no-show on Wednesday, June 22, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

"U.S. Marshals had him in custody by Thursday evening.

"But when federal agents stopped the car Lapre was in, near Warner Road and Interstate 10 in Tempe, they found the marketing guru suffering from deep, self-inflicted knife wounds to his thigh and groin.

The U.S. Marshals Service believes the vitamin peddler had been trying to hit his femoral artery in order to bleed out and commit suicide."

*

*

"Last weekend while cleaning out the garage, I found my original package from Don Lapre and Making Money Chicago. Everything is in there, and post-dated January 9, 1995, the VHS tape with Don's 11 Secrets to Success, Pennies on the Dollar booklet, the national list of newspapers and so on. Had to add that, funny stuff to me. That's kind of where it all started for me I guess."


*

David Spade as Don Lapre.

*

Congress Erases Federal Deficit Using Don Lapre Making Money System.

*

"Don Wan," the Don Lapre story by Phoenix New Times.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:00 AM | Permalink

June 28, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Rod Blagojevich is going to the pokey.

For how long?

George Ryan is serving a six-and-a-half year term, but I'm reluctant to set that as the Over/Under because I'm not sure I would get any Under action.

See: Experts Weigh In On Possible Prison Term.

*

"What happened?"

Shit, Rod. Shit happened.

*

"He won't be Gov. Blagojevich to the prison guards," ex-con Scott Fawell writes. "He'll be a prisoner with a prison registration number that ends with 424, the 'Chicago' designation."

That's useful information for my next rap song.

*

Can we now all agree with my contention that the first jury did a terrible job? I don't know why the media felt they should be immune from criticism after the first trial; hell, WTTW gave the unimpressive, attention-seeking foreman James Matsumoto a blog for the second trial.

Contrast that jury with this one:

"The evidence was overwhelming, really," said Jessica Hubinek, 32, of Carol Stream. "When you have somebody recorded on a telephone saying something completely incriminating, it's hard to deny a guilty verdict."

And don't tell me the difference was the prosecution's "slimmed down" case. The first jury would've deadlocked in this trial and the second jury would have convicted in the first.

*

"[Karen] Wilson laughed at the way Blagojevich and his lawyers tried to recast the content of the tapes to seem less damning. She particularly noted his effort to explain the now-infamous 'effing golden' quote by saying he meant he was trying to secure something 'effing golden' for the people of Illinois.

"'That was pretty masterful,' she said, chuckling."

*

Politics as usual? Yes. And in Illinois, that means the system sacrifices a certain percentage of pols who play the game. George Ryan, Dan Rostenkowski, Ike Carothers, Robert Sorich, hell, even Larry Bloom.

"We know that there is a lot of bargaining that goes on behind the scenes," Blago juror Connie Wilson said. "We do that in our everyday lives and businesses. But I think in this instance, when it is someone who represents the people, it crosses the line."

*

"I'd come in thinking, 'OK, he's not guilty,' and then all of a sudden I'm like, 'Gosh darn you, Rod! You did it again!' I mean, he proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty," said juror Maribel DeLeon. "It was very difficult. I really tried to just find everything I could to make him not guilty, but I mean - it was - the proof was there."

*

"He deceived everyone," said Gov. Patsy Quinn.

On what planet?

The vast majority of the political system knew Blagojevich was a nutty hack who owed his existence to Dick Mell. Even with a mediocre record as a public official, state Democrats (including Barack Obama) found that Blagojevich's fundraising skills - his gall in making the ask, basically - combined with his youthful good looks and infomercial salesmanship made him the perfect front man for his interests.

Unfortunately, given Blagojevich's personality, that was a recipe for creating and enabling a monster.

*

"In 2002, 1.8 million voters elected Blagojevich governor with the hope that he would keep his promise to eradicate the corruption that thrived on Ryan's watch," the Tribune editorial page says. "By 2006, though, Blagojevich's friend and fundraiser Antoin 'Tony' Rezko had been charged in a 24-count corruption indictment - including accusations that he had sought kickbacks for Blagojevich's campaign fund, and had used Blagojevich's office to plant operatives in state positions of influence. Investigators were probing illicit state hiring, diversion of pension investments in exchange for political contributions, the awarding of state contracts, a $1,500 check made out to the governor's then 7-year-old daughter by a man whose wife had just landed a state job after failing a hiring exam, and so on.

"The probes focused on him and his shady stewardship didn't yet make Blagojevich a proven criminal. But they should have made him unelectable. Instead, 1.7 million voters accepted the advice of his Democratic campaign co-chairs, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones, and returned Blagojevich to the governorship."

Huh. Madigan was a reluctant and unenthusiastic supporter of Blagojevich's re-election campaign, despite the honorary title. And while the Tribune scolds voters, they conveniently forget to include Barack Obama on the list of those who ignored the obvious.

"In the Summer of 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Obama backed Blagojevich even though there were serious questions at the time about Blago's hiring practices," ABC News recalled in 2008.

"At the time, numerous state agencies had had records subpoenaed, with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald telling authorities he was looking into 'very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud' with a 'number of credible witnesses.'

"In an interview with the [suburban] Chicago Daily Herald in July 2006, then-Sen. Obama said, 'I have not followed closely enough what's been taking place in these investigations to comment on them. Obviously I'm concerned about reports that hiring practices at the state weren't, at times, following appropriate procedures. How high up that went, the degree at which the governor was involved, is not something I'm going to speculate on. If I received information that made me believe that any Democrat had not been acting in the public interest, I'd be concerned."

Huh. I thought Sarah Palin was the one who didn't read the papers.

*

"That said, Mr. Obama said, 'If the governor asks me to work on his behalf, I'll be happy to do it.'

"Apparently the governor did. At the Illinois State Fair in August 2006, Obama spoke on Blagojevich's behalf.

"'We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois,' Obama told the crowd."

*

Which isn't to say voters should have gone with Republican nominee Judy Baar Topinka, who is still getting a fair amount of media mileage from "having been right" about her opponent. The fact is that Topinka ran one of the worst statewide campaigns in recent memory; she failed to offer a pleasing alternative to Rod.

Voters - and more importantly, the Democratic establishment - could have supported Edwin Eisendrath, though. (See: Don't Blame Edwin.)

Or they could have drafted another candidate.

Hell, even Pat Quinn could have put on his big boy pants and given it a go.

And in the general election, progressive reformy types - you know, Obamaphiles - could have voted for Rich Whitney, the Green Party nominee.

Would anyone say now that they wouldn't have preferred Whitney - or Eisendrath - in the governor's chair instead of Blagojevich?

*

Curious, isn't it, that Rezko is always described as a former Blagojevich friend and fundraiser but not as a former friend and fundraiser to the president of the United States - who used to describe Rezko as his "political godfather."

This isn't to just drag Obama into this out of some animus. It's to make clear to anyone who still doesn't get it that Obama was never a voice of reform, change and hope in our state. In fact, he was an enabler of business as usual, always backing the status quo candidates over those seeking the kind of change Obama only talked about.

Predictably, that mode of behavior has continued in the White House. After all, who is Obama's Transportation Secretary? Ray LaHood, the Republican who did everything in his power to destroy the political career of Peter Fitzgerald because Fitzgerald had the gall to, for example, appoint a guy like Patrick Fitzgerald to the U.S. Attorney's post here.

"One night in 2001," the Tribune recalls today, "a Tribune editorial writer thrust a declarative question at U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.: 'You'd rather get some corruption-busting prosecutors named U.S. attorneys in Illinois than get re-elected to the Senate.' Fitzgerald didn't wait for 'to the Senate' before he barked, 'Absolutely!'"

Just so you know which side of the equation our president has always been on.

*

There is a lesson here for national Democrats and potential Obama voters looking to the 2012 election: Don't just mindlessly support the incumbent. All you'll get is more of the same. Find a candidate - or candidates - who truly represent the values and priorities you want to see; not just the candidates, like Blagojevich and Obama, who merely talk but don't walk.

That could mean another Democrat, a Republican, an independent, a Green, a Libertarian, whatever.

Like some politician - I forget who - used to say, if you keep electing the same people you'll get the same results.

The Political Odds
In the wake of Blago's conviction.

Sam Cooke Way
The King of Soul gets his own Chicago street.

Not Just For Sausages Anymore
Presidents, pierogis, condiments join the chase.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: With relish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:14 AM | Permalink

Not Just For Sausages Anymore

Let's take a look.

1. Presidents.

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2. Condiments.

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3. Pierogis.

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4. Pepsi brands.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

Sam Cooke Way

The late, great soul legend Sam Cooke got his own street in Chicago earlier this month. Let's take a look.

1. "Nearly 80 years after he moved to Chicago as a child, legendary soul singer Sam Cooke was honored with the renaming of a street Saturday afternoon near his boyhood home in Bronzeville," the Sun-Times reported.

"The renamed street, a stretch along 36th Street, runs near the site of the deceased musician's family's original home at 3527 Cottage Grove. 'Sam Cooke Way' begins at Cottage Grove and runs east past another one of his boyhood homes at 724 E. 36th St.

"The celebration was led by the Chicago Blues Museum and Erik Greene, Cooke's great-nephew."

2. Uploaded to YouTube by ToiTalese429. Part 1:


*

Part 2:

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3. Uploaded by Chicago Cruising.

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4. Slide show by Scott Paulson of Examiner.com.

5. Lee Bey's Q&A with Erik Greene.

6. The King of Soul Remembered By Herb Kent and Erik Greene.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"The jury deciding the fate of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has reached a verdict on 18 of 20 counts, Judge James Zagel just announced in court," the Tribune (and others) reports.

"'The jury has come to a unanimous decision on 18 of 20 counts . . . We are confident that we will not able to come to agreement on the two counts even with further deliberation,' the note from the jury read.

"The judge said he expects the verdict to be announced in his courtroom between 1 and 2 p.m."

*

As always, the best way to follow the verdict is through the #blagojevich hashtag on Twitter. Mindless commentary will follow on TV.

The Trough
"A Chicago venture capital fund whose projects paid more than $1.2 million to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's son has been taken over by the federal government, which says the fund owes taxpayers $21.4 million," the Sun-Times reports.

*

Also:

"[Richard M.] Daley, who left office six weeks ago, has begun collecting his pension, which, for now, comes to $183,779 a year," the Sun-Times reports. "Next year, he'll start getting automatic cost-of-living raises that will boost his pension by 3 percent every year."

Maybe The Buyer Is Named Daley
"The buyer of a secluded lakefront mansion on part of an old Armour family estate in Lake Bluff appears to have paid more for it than anyone has ever spent for a private home in that North Shore town," Dennis Rodkin reports for Chicago magazine.

Virtual Mayor
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he'll hold town hall discussions with residents - and they won't even have to leave home," AP reports.

"Emanuel says he'll hold a telephone town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Monday and a live online chat via Facebook at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday."

Here's the best part:

"Emanuel says the town halls fulfill a campaign promise to talk directly to residents."

More Mayoral Follies
"The Country Club Hills City Council is expected to vote today to cancel Mayor Dwight Welch's credit card," the SouthtownStar reports.

"The council's move to revoke Welch's card comes after the SouthtownStar reported the mayor and former city manager Henrietta Turner charged more than $75,000 at restaurants and at least $2,000 worth of movie tickets in 2010.

"Among other expenses, the mayor spent thousands on evening wear, tickets to musicals and a trip to a water park in Gurnee, according to a SouthtownStar analysis of Welch's and Turner's credit card statements."

Betting Limit
"As Chicago prepares to own its own casino, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won't find many examples of government-run gambling halls to study in this country," the Tribune reports.

"But there's plenty to see in Canada, and it's not all covered in gold.

"In Ontario, the nation's largest province, publicly owned casinos have pumped billions of dollars into government coffers over the years. But increased competition and a poor economy have left the four biggest casinos with flat or falling revenue and operating losses in recent years that total tens of millions of dollars."

*

Neil Bluhm, chairman of the Rivers Casino soon to open in Des Plaines, is one of the developers behind the Niagra Fallsview Casino in Ontario.


*

When Bluhm won the license to build a casino in Des Plaines, it was the last one allowed by state law. The prospect of a massive expansion, including a casino in Chicago, has him just a little steamed.

*

"Quinn: Gambling Decision Weeks Away."

Fail 101
"Former Goldman Sachs chief executive and U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is joining the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago," the Tribune reports.

Perfect.

Kosmic Karma
Earth's Date With Asteroid Delayed A Few Hours.

Waiting for Blago verdict.

Dark Satanic Mills
Descend on Boul Mich.

Saving Sears
20 ways how.

The Amazing Weekend in Chicago Rock
Truly.

Firing Blanks
"Every time a Major League Soccer game ends in a scoreless tie, someone should be fired," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

Wait 'Til Next Year
The season is over, Cubs fans.

The Trouble With Adam Dunn
"Dave] Nicholson's 175 whiffs have remained unmatched for the past 48 years in Sox annals," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in The White Sox Report. "But the mark clearly is in jeopardy now that Dunn has fanned 100 times - with seven strikeouts in eight at-bats over the weekend."

Programming Note
The verdict is in: I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Celebrate or mourn with a cold Old Style or three or partake of our very special collection of Bell's beers from Kalamazoo.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blankety-blank.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:44 AM | Permalink

Said in Stone

He's in a rare club, being a player and an announcer for both Chicago baseball teams. And now Steve Stone has written a book about his experiences in the national pastime. The former pitcher recently signed copies of Said in Stone: Your Game, My Way for fans at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville. NCTV17's Justin Zipser steps up to the plate and tells us more.

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See also:

* Excerpt: You Can't Win Without Pitching.

* Steve Stone's New Book Reveals Details of the Game.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Les Savy Fav at the Green Music Fest in Wicker Park on Sunday night.

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2. The Thermals at the Green Music Fest in Wicker Park on Sunday night.

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3. Matt and Kim at the Vic on Saturday night.

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4. Without Waves at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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5. Rascal Flatts in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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6. Jonny Lang at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. Westley Heine at the Gallery Cabaret on Friday night.

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8. Crosstown Collision at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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9. Avicii at the Congress on Friday night.

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10. Cheer-Accident at the Hideout on Saturday night.

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11. Valley Jumpers at the Elbo Room on Sunday night.

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12. Empires at Taste of Chicago on Saturday.

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13. Soul Asylum at Taste of Chicago on Saturday.

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14. Yo La Tengo at the Green Music Fest in Wicker Park on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Firing Blanks

Every time a Major League Soccer game ends in a scoreless tie, someone should be fired.

Do these people want fans to attend the games or not? It just isn't that difficult to send lots of players forward to ensure exciting attacking - and counter-attacking - soccer will be played.

Take, for example, the United States team's 4-2 loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final on Saturday evening. Surely the game was notable for the circumstances - arch-rivals facing off in the final of a big event in front of a huge crowd (about 93,000 people filled the Rose Bowl). But all those goals made it great, even if it was a wee bit disappointing that the Yanks blew a 2-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Fire stumbled to a 0-0 draw in the middle of the week against Real Salt Lake.

The Fire did manage to avoid the double shutout on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. But the team still failed miserably to put together enough decent play to actually record a victory. The visiting New York Red Bulls took the lead in the first half, gave it up early in the second and then managed to hold on down the final stretch for a 1-1 tie, the Fire's unbelievable 11th of the season against 2 wins and 4 losses. (The Red Bulls weren't happy with another draw either.)

My youngest daughter is playing T-ball this year at Welles Park. They play four innings and do not keep track of the score. Her team has fewer ties than the Fire.

The game was telecast on ESPN and analyst John Harkes could barely contain his disdain. The guy just wasn't impressed by the level of play virtually throughout. And while the Red Bulls had excuses, including the absence of leading players who were either hurt or recovering from playing in the Gold Cup, the homestanding Fire did not.

What was impressive, as always, were the vocal chords of the Fire's Section 8 fans. The folks who named themselves after the portion of the old Soldier Field where they sat and who now congregate behind the north goal at Toyota continue to amaze with their ability to keep the robust songs and chants going all game long.

They root for a Fire team, after all, that has managed to win only two of its 17 games this year. And they are still out there belting out songs of devotion for more than 90 minutes of game action. Awesome.

Bulls Beat
The Bulls aced the draft. With the 23rd pick of the first round, they traded up to grab Nikola Mirotic - a 6-10, sweet-shooting power forward - and then nabbed Marquette 6-6 swing man Jimmy Butler with the 30th.

Mirotic, who by all accounts is a determined defender and rebounder who isn't afraid to mix it up, was available at that point because he has four years remaining on his contract with Real Madrid in Spain. If he wants to come stateside before the completion of that deal, the buyout is reportedly $2 million.

But the Bulls are happy to have him stay in Spain for a while because A) they want him to gain more seasoning (he's like a college kid who could definitely use another year or two in school) and B) they don't yet want to give him the guaranteed contract he would have coming to him as a first-round pick.

The Bulls aren't exactly up against the salary cap (even if it gets significantly smaller in the collective bargaining agreement currently being negotiated) but they will be if they give Derrick Rose the maximum contract extension that is their absolute first priority.

The kid Butler won't contribute much on offense next season but he plays great defense. He will spell Luol Deng at times and can be matched up against strong opposing scorers.

The Bulls clearly need to add more shooting in free agency and they are in a position to do so - if there is free agency, that is. The current collective bargaining agreement runs out June 30 and owners are reportedly ready to institute a lockout.

So, considering where the NFL talks are at, two of the four biggest sports leagues in North America could find themselves in the midst of lockouts at the same time - that's not quite as awesome as Section 8.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Wait 'Til Next Year

"Depending on how fast reliever Kerry Wood and outfielder Marlon Byrd can
return from the disabled list, the Cubs might be able to put most of their Opening Day roster together for the first time in more than two months by the All-Star break," the Sun-Times reports.

"That's what general manager Jim Hendry said he wants to see before he decides what moves he'll try to make before the July 31 trade deadline."

You know what? Every year the Cubs hope to field their Opening Day lineup by the All-Star break. You know why? Teams suffer injuries. Every last one of 'em. Only the Cubs seem to use that fact of modern baseball as an excuse year in and year out as an explanation for why the grand plans of geniuses such as Jim Hendry don't pan out. After blaming the weather, of course.

O Lord, how long?

Jerry Krause was right when he infamously said organizations win championships. In baseball, the contest isn't between each team's starting nine, or even each team's 25-man roster. It's between each team's 40-man roster - plus any other stragglers they pick up along the way - as well as between the wits of the manager and general manager in charge of that roster.

If your team is an injury to Marlon Byrd or Andrew Cashner away from disaster, then your team isn't very good. (It's an infectious Cubs trait to blame injuries instead of incompetence; Dusty Baker is still blaming the injury to Derrek Lee one year and Aramis Ramirez another for his failings here.)

There is only one team in baseball worse than the Cubs right now, and the Cubs are damn lucky that it's the Houston Astros. Believe it or not, the Cubs aren't a last-place team because 31-46 is better than 28-51.

The Cubs are 12 games behind division-leading Milwaukee. Three other teams are between them. The Cubs would need to go on a 59-26 tear - a .693 pace - just to get to 90 wins. The best team in baseball right now, the Phillies, are winning at a .620 clip.

This season is over, Cubs fans. And the sooner Hendry (and more importantly, Tom Ricketts) gets that - if he doesn't already - the sooner we can get on with remaking this team. From the top down.

The Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the White Sox and then two of three to the Royals. They also lost every baserunner who tried to be "aggressive."

The Week in Preview: The Rockies come into town today and boy are they pissed. Then our boys get four against the Giants - including a Tuesday double-header - before the White Sox come to Wrigley to see who gets to parade the prestigious BP Cup around the country for the next year.

The Second Basemen Report: DJ LeMahieu got five starts at second; Blake DeWitt got the week's other start, while also getting starts at third and left field. As much as the Cubs try to make him into Blake DeRosa, though, it's just not the same. Meanwhile, Jeff Baker got three starts at DH and one at third. Darwin Barney started on the DL every game.

In former second baseman news, Alfonso Soriano continues to stink up the outfield.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is getting so angry he's now willing to waive his no-trade clause. Then why is he still here?

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Yeah, a special helmet, that's the ticket.

Lost in Translation: Reed Johnson-san is Japanese for everything Fukudome isn't.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Reed Johnson for some other team, because he certainly isn't a Cub. (And he probably won't be for long.)

Sweet and Sour Quade: 85% sweet,15% sour. Mike is down two points on the Sweet-O-Meter because after all these years in baseball these guys still don't know the difference between aggressive baserunning and stupid baserunning. And just like your supposedly well-adjusted uncle, he paid for the kids to go to camp every summer and all they did was goof off there and get in trouble. But kids will be kids, what can you do.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Getting A Baseball Guy To Watch My Baseball Guy were back up this week as investors hoped for an epiphany.

Over/Under: The number of innings Rodrigo Lopez will last in his start on Tuesday: +/- 2 2/3.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that an Astros winning streak could be the best way to get rid of Jim Hendry.

Farm Report: "The Iowa Cubs now officially have a Murderers' Row."

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? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . He's threatening to ground Starlin Castro, even though big brothers Sori and A-Ram have done much worse.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

The Trouble With Adam Dunn

I kept rewriting this week's report because things got weirder and weirder at The Cell over the weekend. Of course, I'm referring primarily to Adam Dunn, who is in an indescribable funk. Rehashing here what already has been covered elsewhere doesn't make sense. However, the South Side has never been witness to this kind of phenomenon, making it difficult to ignore.

Sure, there was Dave Nicholson, who struck out 175 times for the Sox in 1963. Nicholson was part of a trade with Baltimore that sent Luis Aparicio to the Orioles. Dave had signed a bonus contract with Baltimore which proved to be a waste of money, and they gave up on him at age 22. He had a reputation for hitting gigantic home runs so the Sox took a chance.

Is this relevant to Dunn? Well, sort of. For one, Nicholson's 175 whiffs have remained unmatched for the past 48 years in Sox annals. But the mark clearly is in jeopardy now that Dunn has fanned 100 times - with seven strikeouts in eight at-bats over the weekend.

I remember the fans loudly booing Nicholson much the same way as Dunn. But Dave did slam 22 home runs that season - a few of the gargantuan variety - and he drove in 70. He never came close to matching those numbers again and was dealt away after the '65 season.

Poor Adam has one little, itty-bitty, tiny, pint-sized infield hit in 53 at-bats against lefties. How weird is that? Last year he hit an anemic .199 against lefties - still much better than his present .019 - but he managed nine homers against southpaws.

The booing didn't help Nicholson, and apparently it's not helping Dunn. We know he hears the boos, but, as yet, he in no way resembles the Adam Dunn who averaged about 35 homers and 90 RBI in 10 National League seasons.

I don't boo him or any other ballplayer. I have a deep and genuine respect for the minute percentage of the population who can hit a baseball hurled at 90 miles an hour, using a round bat. And that's a fastball. The sliders, curves, and change-ups create even more havoc for people like Adam Dunn.

Lest you think that I am now going to recite the Boy Scout pledge, I admit to being a recovering boo-bird. When I was a kid sitting in Comiskey Park's bleachers one evening, I booed Mickey Mantle because, well, he was Mickey Mantle. He was superior to any of my favorite Sox players. I was envious and jealous, so I booed him. A middle-aged man sitting behind me shook his head and asked me why in the world was I booing Mantle.

Needless to say, I lacked an intelligent response, and I haven't booed since.

Well, check that. I have booed security guards for ejecting eager fans who fall over the railing onto the field to snatch a foul ball. I also boo the tacky promotion at The Cell where three contestants dance on the dugouts between innings. I've never been entertained by that nonsense, thus I am a consistent critic.

Cub outfielder Alfonso Soriano weighed in on the treatment of Adam Dunn during the Cubs-Sox series earlier in the week. Soriano feels sorry for Dunn as the boos become louder at The Cell. The Cubs' much-maligned outfielder has been there, done that on the other side of town. While his skills have eroded, no one can say that the guy isn't sensitive. Whaddaya want for eight years and $136 million?

* * *

Soriano's honest appraisal - when I play good, they cheer; when I play bad, they boo - is universal. Fans are fine and dandy when they're backing a champion or even a contender. It's fun. They feel good. They can brag about their team. Life is wonderful.

I literally groan listening to athletes who have just won some sort of championship gush about "the greatest fans in the world." Well, no kidding. Winning teams draw large, boisterous, adoring crowds complete with morons holding up their (index) fingers chanting "We're No. 1!" The bandwagon is an alluring vehicle, and there's room enough for everyone.

But are those the greatest fans? I think not. They are more typical than great.

So where are the "greatest fans?" At this juncture there are five major league teams averaging crowds of less than 20,000 this season: Cleveland, Oakland, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Florida.

One might argue that the greatest fans live in Oakland and Kansas City. Neither team has a remote chance of reaching the postseason. Each will lose more than it wins. I challenge anyone (outside of K.C. or Oakland) to name the starting lineup for either team. Get my point?

So why would anyone fork over $30 or more to watch the Royals or A's? Because - though few they may be - they are loyal, avid baseball fans. They love the game. They love being at the ballpark - the green grass, the smell of hot dogs and beer, the chance to talk to the stranger sitting next to them, the love of the game. John Updike made a decent living writing about it.

That leaves the two Florida teams and Cleveland. How anyone conceived putting teams in the Sunshine State is beyond me. It's too hot, there are too many other things to do, the retirees can't afford a ballgame, and the ones they can afford - spring training - sate their appetite for the entire year. Let's be clear: there are few baseball fans in Florida.

However, I always thought Cleveland had great fans. The Indians drew 2.6 million in 1948 when they won the World Series. Granted, they played in mammoth Municipal Stadium with a capacity of almost 75,000, but no franchise had higher attendance until the Dodgers in 1962 when big league baseball still was novel in L.A.

In the 1990s, with a competitive team and a new ballpark, Cleveland had 455 consecutive sellouts. Despite leading the division much of this season, the fans haven't returned. But the ones who are present at The Jake (hold on . . . Progressive Field) certainly can rival the folks showing up in Oakland and Kansas City. They've been there for the past few seasons when the Indians were also-rans. Evidently Clevelanders think this year's edition isn't much different than the past few seasons, so they're staying away in droves.

* * *

I haven't been to Oakland or Kansas City this season, but my guess is that there is little booing because the expectations are so much lower than those of Adam Dunn. He is the guy who is supposed to put the Sox over the top, and so far he's hurt the team instead of helping it. So the booing is understandable and expected.

At the same time, Dunn was cheered Saturday in the eighth inning when he walked, contributing to a two-run rally. The cheers may have been laced with sarcasm, but most Sox fans are aching to support the big guy. He came close Friday night to getting much-needed props, but Nationals' centerfielder Roger Bernadina made a sensational catch above to wall to rob Dunn of his eighth home run. So far it's been that kind of year for the big guy.

Veeck Redux
We received a number of approving e-mails from last week's column about baseball owners and Bill Veeck. For more Veeck, check out Chicago videographer Tom Weinberg's Media Burn website, which includes episodes of The Time Out Show on WTTW featuring Veeck (and Roger!) as well as the documentary A Man for Any Season.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Sol Gittleman:

The Veeck column showed wisdom, knowledge, and perspective; the one on booing shows maturity. I'm right there with you, Roger. But, I extend the equivalent of booing to sportswriters. When Dan Shaughnessy called Jose Offerman "a piece of garbage," I wrote that I would never read him again.

Do you recall the last line of Mark Harris' novel Bang the Drum Slowly? After attending teammate Bruce Pierson's funeral, Henry Wiggins, star pitcher, says, "From now on, I rag no one."

Me, too.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

Saving Sears

Not only is Sears threatening to leave Chicago, it's threatening to leave the planet. Business Insider pegs Sears as one of its 10 brands that will disappear in 2012. We think that would be a shame.

Here, then, are 20 ways to save Sears.

1. Widen aisles to accommodate flash mobs.

2. Introduce Craftswymyn brand to target lesbian carpenter demographic.

3. Lift longstanding ban on Sam Sianis' goat.

4. Resist impulse to merge with Montgomery Ward.

5. Add slots and video poker to the consumer electronics section.

6. Merge company with Cubs to get back that lovable loser vibe.

7. Internet dating on Sears.com.

8. Sign the GEICO gekko when he becomes a free agent.

9. Genius Bars in all stores - only because it's Sears just call them Safety School Bars.

10. Four words: Parking Meter Maintenance Specialists.

11. Sears's Slushies.

12. Um, sell stuff. I mean, what do they sell these days? Clothes? Craftsman tools? That car battery thingie?

[TIM: It's funny you should ask because the dig on them lately is that they've already abandoned their retail biz and have become a hedge fund:

"As strange as it sounds, this transformation of Sears is now in force. Its retail sales have dropped for five straight years, and managers complain about deteriorating stores. Meanwhile, Sears is pouring its money into risky, esoteric investments to generate huge returns for shareholders."

13. Cancel plans to hire Steve Bartman as spokesman.

14. Cancel plans to buy MySpace.

15. Sears Beer.

16. Sears After Dark at sears.xxx.

17. Flash mob discount.

18. Granny flash mob discount.

19. A hip new mascot.

20. Change name to Amazon.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood Mark:

* Create some buzz with a "Whatever happened to Roebuck?" campaign.

* Market Toughskins jeans to hipsters.

* Install parking meters on the Sears end of every mall; because everybody knows there's plenty of parking on the Sears end.

* Start selling soft pretzels in the stores - up yours, Auntie Anne.

* New ad campaign aimed at teens: "OMG! Your mom shops at Kohl's."

* Coming soon: Willis Department Store.

* Cancel deal to become Official Outfitter of the 2012 GOP Presidential Field.

* Re-train Photo Studio employees to do crime scene photography.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Unlike some people there's no question whether we'll work this Sunday.

Market Update
Cup Heroics saw its value decrease significantly this week.

Gr8 Mayor
Barely in office six weeks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is already laying siege his predecessor's legacy. While many will remember Richard M. Daley as the man who failed to bring the five-ring circus to town, Emanuel has already landed the much more entertaining eight-ring circus.

Brain Drain
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the lights are still out for many Illinoisans. After all, it takes a lot of energy to keep this farce going.

Print Strong
Let's just get this straight: bankrupt a newspaper company, stay in jail; bankrupt an entire city, get paroled. Who says traditional print media is losing its influence?

Rack and Re-Rack
Finally this week, as if death and taxes weren't enough, you can now officially add gravity to the list of the inevitable.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Powered by The Weekend Desk.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Musicians at Work Forum-Booking Gigs

31094-Musicians.jpgMusician Ben Gray takes part in a panel to discuss the details involved in booking an act and performing in the most suitable venues.

Sunday, June 26 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 23 min

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Asian Americans Aim to be Tobacco-Free!

31095-Asian-American-Smoking.jpgRod Lew, founder of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership, joins fellow community leaders and state and local health officials in a press conference to raise awareness of epidemic tobacco use in Asian American communities.

Sunday, June 26 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
28 min

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53rd Annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner

31096-Debs.jpgRalph Martire, of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability delivers the keynote address to reveal the intersection of tax policy, education, class, and racism.

Sunday, June 26 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 12 min

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International Day Against Homophobia

31098-anti-homophobia.jpgActivists and allies gather to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and to raise awareness of the situation facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world.

Sunday, June 26 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
29 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:37 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Blogroll

Forty Reads That Inform Us

Life of Trillian
BuzzMachine
Illinois Police & Sheriff's News
Investigative Reporters & Editors
Cubs Blog Army

Residents' Journal
Wesley Willis Art
Outside the Loop Radio
Consumer World
Boing Boing

Illinois Channel
CAN TV
SB Nation
Gawker
Doonesbury

Against Depression
Suicide Girls
dlisted
Capitol Fax
Jezebel

Mickey Kaus
The Daily Howler
Arts & Letters Daily
ArtsJournal
Nerve

Poynter Media Wire
The New York Observer
Catalyst
Anchower
Newstips

Pro Publica
Deadspin
Time Tells
Texts From Last Night
Footnoted

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:31 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2011

Foreclosure City: Our Tsunami

"Englewood is rapidly being abandoned, many of its blocks now little more than weed-choked and trash-littered urban prairies," the Tribune reports.

"A neighborhood that had long been on the brink was pushed over the edge by the foreclosure crisis, leading to a descent that threatens the rest of the city by draining resources and shrinking tax rolls.

"What is left in Englewood and West Englewood draws comparison to the worst of Detroit. As residents fled and investors pulled out, the number of abandoned buildings and vacant lots on many streets outnumbers occupied buildings."

*

So we've become Detroit after all. I guess nobody noticed because of all those hypnotic flowers Richard M. Daley planted.

*

Rahm Emanuel's solution? Move the goal posts.

*

"Not that many years ago, things were looking brighter. As housing prices rose, investors were attracted by solid bungalows and brick apartment buildings. A new campus for Kennedy-King College was seen as a potential anchor. But things took a wrong turn when the economy went bad."

Excuse me, but the economy didn't "go bad." We're not just in the downward part of a business cycle. This has really gotten lost in our reporting - particularly about city, state and federal deficits. The Great Recession wasn't caused by "living beyond our means" or wasteful government spending, it was caused by a greedy failure on the part of Wall Street and its enablers so large that Alan Greenspan renounced his life-long philosophy that guided his decisions as America's top banker.

(If you are too impatient to watch the full 6:36 - and I don't blame you - jump ahead to 6:17 for the key, even stunning statement here that seems to have been quickly forgotten.)

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See also PBS's The Warning.

It will make you want to march on Washington.

*

Now take a look at the handiwork of Greenspan and his buddies - including Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

*

The culprits, of course, are all back to doing great today. Not so much everyone else.

*

"The population of Englewood and West Englewood dropped by nearly a quarter, a loss of nearly 20,000 people, over the last decade. Some 3,500 properties sit empty, the highest concentration of vacant homes in the city . . .

"Many of problems in Greater Englewood trouble a number of neighborhoods already on the brink, like Roseland to the south, where 8,100 residents left in the decade, or Austin on the West Side, which lost 19,000 residents . . .

"The magnitude of what the city faces can be glimpsed on the 6100 block of Peoria Street. Out of 23 properties occupied 10 years ago, 18 are now either boarded up or reduced to vacant lots. A building that covered eight lots was destroyed by fire, said John and Jackie Moody, who live next to an empty house surrounded by a pasture of weeds five feet high."

*

The Chicago Abandoned Lot Project hasn't been updated for three years, which is a pity. The crisis was just getting going.

*

I'm reminded of a comment I posted to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax Blog after Miller (and others) expressed disbelief about the latest census figures showing the city lost about 200,000 people - 180,000 of them black - in the last 10 years:

"As a 20-year resident of Chicago, I can say that in the last decade it has become very expensive to live here, and as downtown has been glossed up, certain neighborhoods have gentrified while others have emptied out. Vast stretches of the South and West Sides are wastelands. It wouldn't have come as such a shock if the media had been paying attention and not distracted by the glitz."

*

I'm also reminded of an appearance I made last September on Fox Chicago Sunday to discuss the legacy of Richard M. Daley. James Warren of the Chicago News Cooperative appeared first with host Mike Flannery and together they marveled at the number of trees Daley planted during his reign. When I came on I suggested a better metric might be how many people were indicted during his reign.

But the real shocker to me was off-camera: I noted to Flannery that the gleaming downtown was one thing but that many neighborhoods on the South and West Sides in particular hadn't advanced at all during the Daley's era. Flannery brushed me off saying no city had solved poverty and looked at me like I was crazy to even judge the former mayor by how well he did by the least fortunate of us instead of the most.

*

"[A]lthough Greater Englewood is ground zero for the foreclosure crisis, the growing number of empty homes over the last several years throughout Chicago has in many ways ravaged property on a scale not seen since the Chicago Fire of 1871," the Tribune reports.

"The city's ongoing foreclosure crisis 'is our tsunami,' said Jim Capraro, senior fellow at the citywide Institute for Comprehensive Community Development. 'It's so widespread, and there is no relief in sight yet for foreclosures.'"

Our tsunami except this disaster was man-made.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Okay, let's try to sort this out:

"The 911 tapes from North Avenue Beach released to the Tribune by Chicago police include reports of stolen bikes, dehydrated patrons and people walking in traffic on North Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. But they do not describe any violence or threats."

*

But WLS reports that "[T]he 911 calls include complaints about fights involving dozens of people at Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach."

*

And:

"Friday morning, an Office of Emergency Management spokesman told WLS News the city always told the truth when it said the North Avenue Beach closure was because of people being overcome by hot weather.

"The spokesman says that one ambulance was called to the North Avenue boat house to respond to a report of a person overcome by hot weather, and says that ambulance was then overrun with up to a dozen people who also were overcome by the heat.

"He says that ambulance called for more ambulances which had trouble getting through the large crowds, which is why he says the city made the decision to close North Avenue Beach.

"The spokesman also told WLS that after the incident, reporters never specifically asked Police Supt. Garry McCarthy about violence at Oak Street. [Emphasis mine]

"He says even if they had, McCarthy might not even have known at the time about the 911 reports of violence at Oak Street Beach.

"He says McCarthy was answering questions about what happened at North Avenue, not Oak Street."

*

Are you any clearer than you were before the 911 tapes were released? Me either.

For one thing, the only way to know if the Oak Street incidents were significant is to compare them to other weekends - or other Memorial Days. Maybe that was par for the course.

For another, the only way to know what went into McCarthy's thinking would be to resurrect any and all conversations he had with his staff - and the mayor's office.

McCarthyism
The only thing that bothers me about McCarthy's rant against the NRA is the sneaking suspicion that he was merely playing to the crowd.

After all, it was just a few weeks ago that he told aldermen that "My goal is to bring the gun debate back to the center. I think that we have abolitionists on one side and I think that we have NRA and those kind of folks on the other side, and frankly it's too polarizing a debate, and 95 percent of the country is somewhere in between."

Foreclosure City
Chicago's tsunami - except this disaster was man-made.

Party City
According to this Southwest pilot.

Riggs
Before the Mike Quade of last season, Jim Riggleman was the last Cubs manager I actually liked. The cross he had to bear was demonstrating in his first managing job in San Diego that he was very good coaching young players on bad teams.

Upon his surprise resignation on Thursday, my mind flashed once again to the enduring memory and indelible image I have of Riggsy.

I was assigned by Newsweek to follow Sammy Sosa around for a couple of weeks in 1998 during the Great Home Run Chase. After one game I went to at Wrigley, I remember Riggleman facing the media gaggle from behind his desk in his locker room office with a paper plate of fried chicken and fixings in front of him.

He answered every question patiently without ever touching his food, as if it would have been rude to eat while being interviewed. He must have been famished. I wanted to scream "Eat! Eat!"

He always seemed like a class act to me. I think he just got tired of being treated as if he wasn't.

Danzig
"On Friday, October 7, at Chicago's Congress Theater, a Danzig 'Legacy' performance will be taking place as part of Riot Fest 2011," AltPress reports. "At the show, Glenn Danzig will reunite for a performance with members of his post-Misfits band Samhain, and he'll also be doing an onstage reunion with his Misfits bandmate Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein."

Paris
Paris Hilton arrived at LAX with a friend from Chicago amidst a report that she wants her own hotel chain.

She would call it "Hilton."

*

Her friend from Chicago is:

A) Named Pritzker
B) Billy Dec
C) Jay Cutler
D) Pete Wentz

iRahm
"A man has pleaded guilty to conspiring to hack into computer servers and steal e-mail addresses and personal information from iPad users," AP reports.

"Daniel Spitler and another man were arrested in January and accused of tricking AT&T's website into divulging more than 100 000 e-mail addresses, including those of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, film mogul Harvey Weinstein and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff."

FOIA that iPad!

The End of Horse Racing Is Near
"Gambling revenue is down across the board and throwing more banana peels at it is not going to help," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes.

The Week in WTF
Ebert, Preckwinkle, Lake County and wieners.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Monday, Monday. And Monday. Monday.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Front seat or back.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:47 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Fireworks at the Beat Kitchen on Monday night.

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2. Mixtapes at the Beat Kitchen on Monday night.

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3. Honor Society at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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4. Action Item at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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5. Katelyn Tarver at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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

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7. Peter Gabriel at the basketball/hockey arena on the West Side on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:50 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: The End of Horse Racing Is Near

There's a war on here. Did you hear about it?

It's between the financial/legal/political/religious establishment and the little guy - you hesitate to say middle class anymore.

In the Land of Lincoln, they're not only going after the rank-and-file types (pretty easy for a well-backed soldier of fortune such as Jean-Claude Brizard, right?), but they've just given up in any effort to improve the way of life or society in Illinois. They've given up. America is just so over, so let's get ours now, hell if we contribute to the decay.

You know who they are, but how must these people feel to be utterly bereft of any single moral, social, charitable or intellectual instinct or asset, choosing instead to plunder their very own people? Trouble is, they don't feel it and if you believe in hell, these people will land in its worst corner.

Another salvo on the Illinois front, meant purely to separate people from money they need, is the passage of a gambling bill, put together by a middle- and older-aged group of mean chimps.

They're talking about four more casinos and slots at Midwayland and O'HareWorld (huh?) and horse tracks.

Mainstream media coverage has been so bad, you might not realize that the bill has not gone to the governor's desk. It gives the evil scientists more time to perfect their poison after floating the trial balloon of a casino in downtown world-class-city Chicago.

Gambling revenue is down across the board and throwing more banana peels at it is not going to help.

But we talk about horse racing here. Despite the groundswell of pleading to sway Illinois legislators into installing slots at the tracks, there are a few things about this movement, specifically, that just don't feel right; that just gnaw inside.

The first feeling is that racing in Illinois is sprinting headlong into the spaceship of purse subsidies and profits without thinking of the consequences of bridling a beast they can't control and that doesn't like them.

The most heinous aspect of this whole sad story is that Thoroughbred horse racing, nationally and in Illinois, has done little to nothing to solve its own problems. It's as if racing, too, has given up. Rather than turn inward to address its own issues and build its own unity, it goes looking for a handout.

As Stan Bergstein reported in the Daily Racing Form, "Peter Carlino, whose Penn National Gaming is the biggest success story of the racing and gambling year, told investors and analysts last week that supporting cheap horses with inflated purses, as slots at tracks have been doing, is not his business plan and that he is not running a public charity."

On the one side, racing does not effectively address problems including oppressive wager takeouts (California, in addressing lower revenues, raised takeouts on many wagers, tipping the pendulum so against the horseplayer as to make them a nearly guaranteed losing proposition); horse medication (although some small progress is being made here); too many racing dates across the board; bad breeding (don't hold your breath for a Triple Crown winner, you'll burst); disjointed and paltry marketing efforts; poor customer service at some tracks and most off-track betting facilities; childish internecine simulcasting disputes that hurt only the fans; and jockeys being allowed to whip the shit out of these horses in the stretch.

On the other, even if you do get some sort of short- or mid-term benefit from having slots, are you going to believe that a faceless corporation like Churchill Downs Inc. is going to let the Arlington Park racing operations significantly drag down its bottom line? Do you believe the politicians are going to have any empathy with the racing industry when they'll see even more casino lobbying dollars available through letting the tracks close? Be assured this encompasses the darkest cynicism of the money trail.

Just this one assault on the racino business model reveals much: "Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is proposing to cut the purses at the state's two tracks by more than half, which would have a huge impact on the countless horsemen who have flocked to Hoosier Park and Indiana Downs (both slots-supported) as the new Shangri-Las of racing," Bergstein reports. Why? To pay back the casinos? Of course!

Besides addressing some of the pure racing issues, don't ask me for a solution. The attention-deficit disease seems born into an entire generation and is spreading to the oldsters who must stay hip. Wait more than the 1.5 seconds it takes for the reels to spin to settle another wager? Seems unlikely. Handicap a race? Why, that takes reading!

It's hard to believe in any addled soul when it cannot see itself for itself. And not help itself. Racing will have to help itself, before, not when, it hits bottom.

I just hope my gut feeling - that racing has given up - is wrong.

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


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Wieners and wieners, WTF?

Here's another difference between Chicago and New York: In Chicago we put them on buns, add mustard and then litigate. In New York, they also elect them.

2. Roger Ebert's tweet, WTF?

If you are famous for an entertainment franchise built on spiraling daredevil indifference to common sense and then die drunk-driving your Porsche at 140 mph, can you still lay claim to posthumous sensitivity?

Guess so.

Revered Chicago movie critic Roger Ebert leaped past the sensitivity turnoff this week. Okay, Roger, you've been imperfect.

But Ebert got the royal Twitter Bronx cheer, which these days means obscenity-laced diatribes, for saying, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive." He resisted an apology but acknowledged his timing was somewhat abrupt.

But this was not a tragedy.

When a child suffers from cancer, that's a tragedy. Ryan Dunn dared the world of probabilities to kill him if it could. It could.

3. Cost of injustice, again, WTF?

The cost of prosecutorial malfeasance and police perfidy now has a dollar value to Illinois taxpayers.

That $215 million would come in handy for schools, wouldn't it? And the tab will get much higher. But the bigger cost is that the credibility of justice itself has been lost.

4. Lake County, again, WTF?

Can anyone rationally explain why the U.S. Department of Justice has not landed there with a fully unfurled civil rights investigation?

Makes you wonder if they ever prosecute anyone who turns out to actually be guilty of murder.

5. Toni Preckwinkle, WTF?

The Cook County board president probably is completely accurate in her assertion that the war on drugs is a failure.

World leaders say it, as did Walter Cronkite.

But here's the catch. If all the cokeheads, meth freaks and OxyContin warriors are released from Cook County jail this week, would Chicago be a better place to live? If we don't jail drug offenders for drug use and sale, do we have to keep them high so they won't rob us for a hit on the coke pipe?

Must we christen an official Pot Hilton? Everybody is stoned and room service is mostly Fritos, ding dongs and pizza at 4 a.m.

If the drug culture is flawed only because we apply a harsh and arbitrary judgment of an addiction, maybe the act isn't the problem; maybe we have a nomenclature glitch.

Maybe we solve the burglary problem by demanding burglars must take more than $500 of your stuff before we call it burglary. Below that figure, it's just Misdemeanor Borrowing Your Stuff Out of Your Home when you're not there.

While the War on Drugs is a lost cause, so is the War of Poverty. That's a greater failure.

In either case, people without jobs and without hope will do drugs because they really work, if only for a few hours. Putting druggies in jail might not be a sustainable policy, but filling the streets with stoned punks isn't either. Maybe we should think harder about jobs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2011

About Pete Wentz's Favorite Chicago Bar

"Spin asked rocker and Wilmette native Pete Wentz to name his favorite spots in the Chicago area in honor of this summer's Lollapalooza," Luis Gomez reports for the Tribune. "Wentz, who will perform with his new band, Black Cards, at Lolla on August 5, of course named the bar he co-owns, Angels & Kings, but mostly recommended a few places off the beaten path.

"His favorite spot for dinner? 'Chuck Wagon is my jam,' said Wentz of the Wilmette fast food restaurant. Wentz said his favorite dive bar is Empire Liquors in Wicker Park and his favorite place to shop is the Belmont Army Surplus store in Lakeview."

Um, Empire Liquors and the Belmont Army Surplus store are hardly "off the beaten path." But that's only the beginning of the problems with Mr. Wentz, the Tribune and Spin.

For example, how in the world is Empire Liquors a dive bar?

Dive bars don't have bottle service or offer cocktails with names like French 77 ("Belvedere Vodka, Lemon Juice, Grand Marnier, Fee's Orange Bitters. Topped with sparkling wine. Served in a champagne flute with a lemon twist.")

(Metromix calls Empire "dive-bar chic," which must have come from the publicity materials; it then goes on to note "Dark walls and dim lighting, concrete bar top, wall-mounted antlers, metallic walls with stenciling, Gothic archways and a herringbone slate floor create a raw yet sleek and contemporary environment that speaks to the neighborhood's edgy personality."

(Right. Faux edgy - if you're from Wilmette.

(After all, the Empire website says that the bar's location just footsteps from the North-Milwaukee-Damen intersection is on a "still gritty stretch." If you're from Wilmette.)

And then there's this:

"Empire has partnered up with Lindsay McKay, feature celebrity stylist of the ultra-hot clothing boutique, TK Men, to dress all of the employees," Chicago Scene reported in a press clip featured on Empire's website.

Edgy!

Neither Wentz, the Trib or Spin bothers to mention that Empire's owner is a Wentz's partner in Angels & Kings either, but let's let Spin and Tribune commenters take it from here.

*

Anonymous:

"Uh, Empire Liquors is not a dive bar and the Biograph does not show movies anymore. Next you will be saying you really like the Chicago Sting."

*

Anonymous:

"Next time, pick a band from Chicago proper - not an expat."

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Rick Kal at 4:48 PM June 22, 2011:

"In addition to everything mentioned in the comment before me, HOW IS EMPIRE LIQUORS A DIVE BAR? Also, Lou Malnati's is not 'off the beaten path.' I used to stick up for Pete Wentz cuz 'eff the haters' but it's getting so hard.

"My assumption is that Spin asked him to do this for them and he agreed, but he should have said 'Man, I've been living in L.A. for years now, you should probably ask a different band who, ya know, lives in Chicago.'"

*

Peter Doyle at 12:31 PM June 22, 2011:

"First off the Biograph is Lincoln not Clark. Reckless Records is on Milwaukee and Damen not Division and Milwaukee. Best shopping in Chicago is Belmont and Clark?? Try Bucktown/Wicker Park. Pete you're more Hollywood than Chicago!"

*

Finally, let's take a peek at what some Yelpers have to say about Empire.

*

"Shots/drinks are roughly $8 each (not too pricey)"

*

"NOT INTO LISTENING TO LITTLE WAYNE"

*

"Our group was there early. However, I had two other friends who showed up at 10:45 pm trying to get in. There was a line of about 20 people that they were in, but the bouncers refused to let anyone in, despite the fact that the bar was HALF EMPTY. It was a 'space issue' apparently. Really, they just wanted a line outside to look popular. And the line was not moving an inch, because 'people had to leave before anyone could come in.' Really, at 10:45?? I explain to the bouncer that my friends and I had just paid $450 to be in their bar for bottle service, so they need to let my friends in. He barely acknowledged me. It took a full half hour of arguing with the bouncer and proving the money that we had spent before they finally let them in to the empty bar."

*

"It was all $30,000 millionaires trying to impress each other with expensive drinks and bad haircuts."

*

"It is a shitty Loop bar transplanted into the heart of Wicker Park. The crowd sucks and the music is horrible. I really wish that bar could be replaced by something decent, because it is right across the street from Flat Iron and I wish a good 2am existed in Wicker Park. Oh well, maybe someday?"

*

"The chicks are wearing cheap Forever 21 dresses and the dudes are straight out of the SNL digital short "Jizz in my Pants." No one can hold their liquor; I am pretty sure ankles must be breaking on a regular basis there, because I see chicks tripping in their heels all of the time coming out of that place. I really hope the super cool owners have good insurance."

*

"We headed here on a friend's birthday and the place was empty until about midnight, which I thought was kind of lame. But when the masses arrived they were all 21 year-old trixies and frat boys! I mean, if I'm going to go over to Wicker Park I expect those types to stay in their designated neighborhoods and not follow. Good grief."

*

"You'd be convinced your downtown once you walk into this joint."

*

"The girls will give you evil eyes if you look like you're going to take their men and the men get really offended if you don't want to talk to them . . . even if you're nice about it."

*

"I'm not used to paying 7$ for a vodka and soda!"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:14 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Illinois has been deeply involved in the war in Afghanistan - thousands of soldiers from the state have served there and dozens have died," AP reports.

*

"In all, 71 Illinois troops have died in the war in Afghanistan, including 19 National Guard members and 52 from the other military branches."

*

"Illinois National Guard units have been on the ground virtually every moment since the war began in 2001."

*

"The 33rd Infantry Brigade soldiers went to Afghanistan to train that country's soldiers and police in mid-2008 and returned a year later. They were in the country during some of the most violent months of the war to date, with American deaths in double digits for many of those months.

"Brig. Gen. Scott Thoele took leave from his job as a banker in Quincy to lead 33rd Brigade. A colonel at the time, he was blunt ahead of the deployment in saying the Afghan army and police were far from an effective force."

*

"Ralph Grieco hopes that at some point the payoff for the war that cost him his son is an Afghanistan governed in some way that insures the country won't cultivate another threat to the United States.

"People around Grieco asked often how the recent killing of Osama bin Laden affected him, whether it provided him any sort of closure or vindication as he thinks - and he says he does so every day - about his son.

"'People said, How do you feel? How do you feel? and We got the guy,' Grieco said. 'Those pictures of the young kids celebrating outside the White House just turned our stomachs, because it didn't bring Kevin back. It didn't bring any of them back.'"

Trading Places
"Poor financial decisions with a Chicago futures brokerage firm lost an alleged al-Qaeda operative with links to Osama bin Laden some $20 million dollars in just eight months, according to a lawsuit filed recently in Chicago by the U.S. Department of Justice," AP reports.

"Federal officials said Abu al Tayyeb, through an associate, deposited nearly $27 million - earned from a 'Saudi Arabian-based investment scheme' - into an account with Chicago-based R.J. O'Brien & Associates in 2005. But because of a 'poor trading position adopted' by the associate, the money dropped below $7 million less than a year later."

Global Economy
Chicago To Host NATO, G-8 In 2012.

By which time it will just be the G-7 and ATO.

Base Motives
New CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard will make a base salary of $250,000 plus performance bonuses. He also has been given $30,000 in taxpayer money for moving expenses. But the man does have a conscience:

"Brizard said that for the first year he will forgo any bonus - capped at 15 percent of his base salary - given the financial quagmire facing the district."

*

The poverty rate for children in Chicago Public Schools is 85 percent.

*

"Full-day kindergarten offers unequivocal benefits, especially for low-income students who often come to school already behind," Catalyst reports. "But in most cases, CPS only pays for half-day kindergarten, forcing schools to reach into their own already-stretched pockets to provide full-day programs that many working parents prefer."

*

"(CPS officials refused to provide a list showing which schools do not have full-day programs, and at press time, had not responded to Catalyst Chicago's two-month-old Freedom of Information Act request.)

"But compared to other big-city districts, it's clear that Chicago is outside the norm: New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other cities, each provide full-day programs for all children."

Charter Barter
"Jitu Brown from the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization says that he cannot understand how CPS can commit to renovating a building for Chi Arts when it is the midst of a budget crisis," Catalyst reports. "Last Wednesday, CPS' Board of Education voted to rescind the 4 percent raises due to teachers and other staff on the premise that the district is facing a $712 million budget deficit.

"'How can there be an investment in charter schools, an investment in turnaround schools, an investment in new schools and then a budget deficit?' he says. 'It is questionable at best.'

"CPS board members have already committed to spending $9 million for renovations for Urban Prep Charter School."

Cascade-Down Economics
"While much of the response of the foreclosure crisis has been focused on the negative effects on homeowners, they are far from the only victims," the Regional Home Ownership Preservation Initiative notes.

"Tens of thousands of Chicago region renters have been displaced - sometimes illegally - due to rental buildings going into foreclosure as well. The Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) recently released a report that found that, in 2010, nearly 6,000 apartment buildings went into foreclosure in the City of Chicago, affecting more than 17,000 units. Every week in 2010, 123 apartment buildings went into foreclosure.

ALSO:

"At every stage of the process - whether helping distressed homeowners work with servicers to stay in their homes, helping prospective homebuyers achieve sustainable homeownership, or educating new owners on the advantages and challenges of purchasing foreclosed homes - housing counselors are on the front lines doing difficult and necessary work to minimize the impact of the foreclosure crisis on communities.

"The necessity of their role makes it all the more concerning that the recently-signed FY2011 budget zeroes out funding for HUD-certified housing counseling assistance.

ON THE OTHER HAND:

"Now's the time to buy? In Humboldt Park, answer may be yes."

Mostly A Miracle
State Lawmakers Vote To Cut Their Pay Again.

"A lawmaker's base pay is $67,836 a year, but would be $64,717 a year once the 12 furlough days are figured in."

But there's always an idiot around when you need one to spoil an otherwise good story:

"Sen. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, argued that skimping on lawmaker salaries would discourage some from running for office, particularly candidates that are low income.

"'We want to pretend that we're doing a favor to the public,' said Collins. 'The public doesn't expect us to get paid less money for the job that we do. What they expect us to do is do the very best job that we can do and not say that we should do it free.'

"'To me, this is a mockery,' Collins said, saying that '$65,000 is not a lot to get paid to do a job. Not saying we don't love this job, because I love representing my community, the poor people who cannot be here to be represented.'"

Collins' $65,000 puts her in the top third of income-earners in the United States. The median income for a household in Chicago is $38,625. It's likely considerably less in Collins' state senate district, seen here on a page for predecessor Rickey Hendon.

*

Previously by Annazette:

"The Illinois State Board of Elections has fined the campaign committee of state Rep. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago) $20,000 and ordered her to apologize for filing political finance reports for the last three years that had showed her raising and spending no money when she actually took in and doled out more than $100,000," the Tribune reported in 2008.

Our Proud Past
"Carter's play involves three modern-day Lane Tech students who explore the Riverview grounds and encounter a ghost from the amusement park's past," John Owens writes for the Tribune. "The play touches on the rumors of racial tensions at the park, which some have cited as the reason behind Riverview's closing in 1967.

"Those tensions were symbolized by one of the controversial attractions at the park - the African Dip, where patrons threw balls at a target in order to dunk an African-American man in a tank of water. The exhibit was closed in the late 1950s amid pressure from leaders in the black community."

*

"And Riverview owner Bill Schmidt told reporters in 1967 that increased violence and disorder in the park - primarily from bands of teenagers - contributed to its closing."

Our Summer Staycation
Making the best of it right here in Chicago.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Cinch it up and strap it down.

About Pete Wentz's Favorite Chicago Bar
A dive on a gritty stretch - if you're from Wilmette.

Paint Job
Read the fine print.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like walking on egg shell white.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Strap It Down

After watching the Sox broadcast of the Crosstown for portions of the game, I've concluded that Hawk Harrelson makes a lot of obscure references. What's the strangest one you've heard?
-Steve, Glendale AZ

I tell you what Stone Pony, there's no reason to stop at just one Hawk-ism.

* You know who owned the best splitter I ever saw? Jose DeLeon. That's why I traded him straight up for Bobby Bonilla in 1986.

* I don't need to tell anyone that watched the '67 A's that the greatest outfielder of all time at playing balls off a single hop while moving to his left was Roger Repoz.

* [Following a muffled debate with a member of the WGN production team off mic] Doesn't matter if it's made of pure hormones. If it's called "Yaz," I'm assuming it's got something to do with Carl Yastrzemski, so I'm eating it.

There were shots of Rahm Emanuel in the stands at The Cell on Wednesday. Is there a shirt he won't wear a polo shirt under?
-Rick, Sycamore IL

No. When it's hot, Rahm wears a smaller polo shirt under his polo shirt to prevent sweat stains.

Who is fatter: Adam Dunn or . . .
-Randy, Huntley IL

I stopped reading. Adam Dunn.

I'm studying for the SATs and would like to ask you an analogy question. Yankees : Cubs :: . . .
-Sanjay, Evanston IL

27 is to 2.

Are the Cubs playing better ball or is the mediocre play of their divisional opponents producing the illusion of improvement?
-Stone, Roachtown IL

They are playing better ball in the same way a patient admitted to the ER in a coma with severe brain damage has been upgraded to "stable" condition by virtue of being not dead after a week.

Is Doug Davis good or bad at pitching?
-Paul, Paw Paw IL

No.

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:03 AM | Permalink

Our Summer Staycation

Making the best of it.

* Law & Disorder. The Blago trial will apparently run all summer. You may not get a seat in the courtroom, but hang out in the cafeteria and try to influence lunching jurors.

* Rough Justice. Better than Law & Order. Pick a murder trial; better - blog it.

* Gang Wars. Take a lawn chair to K Town and watch the action, just like the elite did during the Civil War. Make sure you wear the right colors for the side of the street you choose.

* Grant Park Softball Leagues. See those "fundamentals" that you always hear about but can't see at Wrigley or The Cell.

* Play Flash Mob. Terrorize tourists on North Michigan Avenue by pretending to be a flash mob. Watch their relief when they realize your gun is a lighter.

* Ask A Genius. Visit the Apple Store's Genius Bar and ask brain teasers such as the real value of pi and who created the universe. Remember, though, you need an appointment.

* Play Grand Theft iPhone. Hang out at the Taste of Chicago with a loosely secured smartphone and wait for roving bands of wilding youth to try to steal it.

* Dibs! Not just for winter anymore. Put together a decorative arrangement of your best plastic crates, brooms, and lawn furniture on the street. Entries will be judged. The most creative design wins a parking space in Rahm Emanuel's garage.

* Ozzie Guillen Bingo. Each box is a variation of "If the White Sox want to fire me, that's their decision." You will need a fresh card for every week of the summer.

* The Groupon Grift. See how many businesses you and your pals can decimate over the summer by exploiting poorly conceived deals.

* Play in Chicago's wading pools. The next time we have a good rainstorm, wait for the refuse to back up the sewer grates, put on your swimwear, and step off the curb at any city corner. Splash fight!

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- Jennifer Drackley, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Newly installed Chicago School Board members Wednesday will be asked to approve six-figure salaries for new Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and four other new top executives that represent raises over what their predecessors were paid," the Sun-Times reports.

"The vote on whether to boost executive Chicago Public School salaries comes only a week after the same board members, in their first official action, found the deficit-ridden system did not have enough money to pay for 4 percent raises to teachers and other unionized school workers worth $100 million."

*

The more Rahm says change, the more things remain the same.

*

"Brizard's base salary of $250,000 is $20,000 more than predecessor Ron Huberman made before taking furlough days; more than the $213,000 drawn by the New York City Schools Chancellor, and more than any other city executive - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel - except for New Police Chief Garry McCarthy."

*

"Chief CPS Communications Officer Becky Carroll is in line for a base of $165,000 - up from her predecessor's $130,383 and higher than the base salary of mayoral communications chief Christine Mather, who is taking home $162,492."

Well, that makes sense. Carroll is expected to do two percent more lying than Mather.

*

"CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley is due for a $215,000 salary, up from his predecessor's $179,167 . . . board members will be asked to give Cawley a two-year, rather than the traditional six-month, extension to move into the city to meet residency requirements. Cawley is a Winnetka resident and he and his wife would like their daughter, adopted a year ago from the Ukraine, to finish seventh and eighth grade in the suburbs before the family uproots and moves to Chicago, Carroll said."

I sure hope they get a long-term commitment from Cawley in writing - or a refund provision - because I have this weird feeling that after two years he'll be out of CPS anyway and he'll never have to move to the city.

*

I really want to choke on Becky Carroll's salary. After all, the median household income in Chicago is $38,625. (And just $41,994 nationally.)

*

In fact, just 6.24 percent of Americans aged 15 and over make more than $100,000 a year. Becky Carroll, staunch Democrat who worked for the Obama campaign and describes herself as progressive, is a fat cat.

*

How anyone can take raises in this environment is beyond me. Carroll is taking $35,000 more than her predecessor - the equivalent of the median income of one Chicago household.

*

"Carroll said she expects to also be in charge of internal and external communications as well as media."

So?

If she's intimating - but doesn't yet know even though her salary has been set - that she'll have more responsibilities than her predecessor, all I have to say to that is: Join the club.

Teachers are getting larger classrooms and they're getting raked over the coals.

*

Carroll's husband makes $$63,005.11 from his job as an operations project manager for IDOT, so their household income will be in rarefied air. It might not seem like it from our political debates and media images, but only 2.67 percent of all U.S. households make more than $200,000.

Now that elite group includes the communications director of a school district with a $712 million deficit.

*

Carroll's salary is also close to that of union president Karen Lewis.

*

Not that union management is to be commended. While Sneed was stymied today in her attempt to learn what Lewis makes, we can get a pretty good idea from what her predecessor made.

"Now it is possible to look back [on] how the former CTU leaders were doing while Marilyn Stewart held power in the union (from August 2004 through June 30, 2010)," Substance reported in February.

"Federal documents on the pay of former union officials are now publicly available.

"Former CTU President Marilyn Stewart took the top prize with her $178,116 salary in 2009 - coupled with her part-time $95,000 salary as an officer (secretary treasurer) of the Illinois Federation of Teachers . . .

"When the new CTU officers were first sworn in last summer, they announced they would cut the officer salaries to what they would earn as teachers according to their years of service and degrees earned, but prorate it to a 12 month salary, which would add an extra two months of pay which teachers don't receive during the summer. The same formula has been applied to all CTU workers hired by the new leadership.

"However, CTU salaries are still quite high.

"According to the CTU pay and benefits comparison spreadsheet distributed recently, the Stewart compensation average for field representatives was $191,026, but has increased to $199,528 due to the pay raises in their Teamster union contract, which is guaranteed until the end of the 2011 school year."

*

Of course, Sneed was probably fed the question about Lewis's salary by someone at CPS - maybe even Carroll - who knew the story about their salaries was coming.

The Big Man In Chicago
In 1996, Clarence Clemons doubled as a Fox Chicago reporter and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

Trekkie Town
In 1975, a landmark Star Trek convention was held in Chicago.

Dunn vs. Pena
Our very own Dan O'Shea got it right - so far.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fascinating.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

When The Starship Enterprise Landed In Chicago

1. By HeyHow via YouTube.

"As a teenager, I attended this early sci-fi convention and actually got to work on the crew. Excuse the poor quality of the photos . . . all I had was a cheap Instamatic camera.

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2. By Rich Portnoy via YouTube.

"This Convention was held at the Hilton hotel in Chicago, August 22-24, 1975. Recently transferred from 8mm film, this may be the only video available of this particular Star Trek convention."

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3. Time magazine report:

"Adrift for six years in interstellar limbo, disowned by its home base, the spaceship seemingly has no place to go but Ultima Nostalgia. All, however, may not be lost for the United Star Ship Enterprise and its 430 crewpersons. As countless signs, T shirts and bumper stickers proclaimed last week in Chicago, STAR TREK LIVES! Star Trek? The old NBC-TV space western? Indeed. While a new TV season dawdles toward its debut, 142 U.S. stations and another 117 overseas from Abu Dhabi to Zambia keep rerunning and re-rerunning the series. With an army of fans ready to put their phaser beam guns on 'kill' if it should be shot down, Star Trek attracts more viewers today than it did during its three-year network career."

4. AP report:

"Lisa Boynton was a 26-year-old short order cook in a Columbus drive-in when the Star Ship Enterprise blasted off on its five-year mission to explore 'where no man has gone before.'

"The Star Trek television series was 'phased' from the airwaves thre years into its mission, but Lisa and thousands of other Trekkies, as they love to be called, still bemoan the loss of their science-fiction show.

"But Miss Boynton, now 35, a tax consultant and law student, carries her Trekkie fanatacism to tis ultimate end: she's assembled virtually the entire Star TrekStar Trek club with members aged six to 60."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

When Clarence Clemons Worked For Fox Chicago

"Hey, who needs Ted Koppel's take on political conventions when you've got E Street Band member Clarence Clemons covering the Dems' gathering," the Tribune reported on August 21, 1996. "Bruce Springsteen's sax player is headed to town to handle special-correspondent duties next week for Fox Thing in the Morning."

TMOVIDEO2 uploaded this video to YouTube, explaining: "Clarence was our guest reporter, filing stories for the morning show at the Chicago Democratic convention . . . late evening parties etc. I was lucky enough to be his cameraman for the week."


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Of course, Clemons brought his sax to Chicago.

"This should stop traffic on Michigan Avenue - Clarence Clemons playing sax while Roger Clinton sings Tuesday on Fox Thing in the Morning," the Tribune reported on August 27, 1996.

Three days later, the San Francisco Examiner reported that "Shortly after President Clinton's speech ended at the convention hall, the rock band Los Lobos took the stage at the Navy pier. They were joined late in their set by delegate Clarence Clemons and Stephen Stills."

That same day, USA Today reported that "Chelsea Clinton partied with the Creative Coalition Wednesday night at Planet Hollywood, mingling with William Baldwin, saxman Clarence Clemons and tall, blond Lincoln Brown, 16, son of Phyllis George and a friend Chelsea has known since childhood.

In its convention review, the Tribune wrote this item: "Most unlikely midlife career switch: Bruce Springsteen's sax player Clarence Clemons, dreadlocks bobbing, buxom blond in one hand, mike in the other, chasing celebrities for his new gig as party correspondent for Fox Thing in the Morning.

"'To all those journalists out there, my hat goes off to you,' a panting Clemons said between interviews. 'I thought playing a sax for four hours was hard work. But this is tough.'"

But not everyone was happy with Clemons' appearance here, given that he was an actual delegate too.

"California Democrats already have picked a handful of delegates to the Chicago nominating convention in August, though the local caucuses have gone almost entirely unnoticed in the shadow of the Republican primary battles unfolding across the country," the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported on March 11, 1996.

"But some of the delegates from the North Bay may be better known than some of the GOP presidential candidates: there's sax man Clarence Clemons of Sausalito, actor Peter Coyote of Marin County and Esprit clothing founder Susie Tompkins, who was registered in San Francisco and has a home in Bolinas . . .

"But while sending celebs to Chicago seems like a cool Marin thing to do, it has Sonoma County Democrats hot under their party collars.

"They are joining a protest to state and national Democratic Party officials that complains that celebs are great for parties, but they're not likely to be around for the cleanup work. And although Sonoma County Democrats make up 60 percent of the Sonoma-Marin congressional district, no one from the county was selected to be a Chicago convention delegate.

"It turns out that Coyote is a registered Green Party member, and that Tompkins is registered in the city and not Bolinas.

"'The grass-roots Democrats were shut out,' said Roberta Hollowel, a Santa Rosa party leader who serves on the state party executive committee. 'Clarence Clemons can play the sax with Bill Clinton, but is he going to walk the precincts?'"

Or give money. According to the donor lookup on the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, Clemons never gave a dime to any candidate or party.

Of course, maybe he figured his boss had that department covered.

None of this is to diss Clemons; the Beachwood officially loves him. This is just what we found when we set out to do a "Clarence Clemons in Chicago" retrospective post.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Dunn vs. Pena

This week's Crosstown Classic series offers a chance for me to look back at one of my pre-season predictions - that Carlos Pena would hit more home runs this season than Adam Dunn.

As it stands after Tuesday night's Cubs-Sox battle at the Cell, Pena was leading Dunn 13-7.

I would like to spend a few paragraphs gloating about being right, at least at the almost halfway point of the season, but we all know this supposed contest mostly has been a battle of the duds. Pena was mostly useless for the first two months of the season, though he has made a strong charge recently. Dunn has been stuck in a deep hole all year, occasionally peeking above ground for a home run or a walk.

It's highly possible that neither Dunn nor Pena will survive in Chicago past the trading deadline. If Tom Ricketts actually decides to make Jim Hendry do something, Pena could fetch the Cubs two or three nice prospects, and we all know Kenny Williams has an itchy trigger finger and a grifter's moxie. He surely can convince someone to buy low on Dunn.

So, what should you do if you still have Dunn or Pena on your fantasy squad?

Surprisingly, Pena is quietly having a better season than he had in 2010. He's only two homers off last year's pace, his average is more than 20 points higher than what he ended with, and at this rate he'll garner 100 walks. He actually could be worth keeping, assuming he's not your starting 1B. His value could even rise if Hendry trades him into a better lineup (though really, don't count on Hendry for fantasy help).

Another surprise is that Dunn, despite a .178 average and power shortage, is still more widely-owned in Yahoo! fantasy leagues than Pena, and by a wide margin - 83% for Dunn, 53% for Pena.

A lot of fantasy owners must be banking on a second-half resurrection for Dunn, who probably was a more expensive draft investment than Pena.

If Dunn gets traded out of Chicago, you have to wonder if he will do any better elsewhere than he would have playing half his games in our local bandbox. If I'm a Dunn owner right now, I'm either entertaining buy-low offers or perhaps even dropping him for a young power hitter like Mark Trumbo, 1B, LA Angels, or Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle.

If you're on the other side, thinking about buying one of them low, both could prove to be a bargain. I mean, they can't get any worse, right?

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade eyes the return of the once-promising hurler Andrew Miller to the BoSox.

* Bleacher Report suggests replacements for injured demi-god 1B Albert Pujols. Guess which one of our hometown buys tops the list.

* Bleacher Report also lists 27 players likely to have second-half break-outs. Dunn and fellow underachieving teammates Alex Rios and John Danks make the list.

* Sporting News Fantasy Source says injuries and interleague play make it a prime time for some new waiver wire pick-ups. Anyone up for Alcides Escbar, SS, Kansas City?

* ESPN Fantasy Forecaster takes the obligatory look at American League DHs sitting in National League parks - or perhaps stretching little-used muscles as they prepare for a rare trip into the field.

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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 6:30 AM | Permalink

June 21, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

I don't necessarily disagree with Rich Miller's take on legalizing drugs and gambling, but it's not the morality of those who partake that concerns me, it's the morality of those doing the selling.

When it comes to casinos, for example, the house makes its huge profits largely based on deception. If regulators required that the true odds of each game be posted at every table, along with a description of the built-in house edge, then I'd have far less of a problem putting casinos anywhere anyone (but not government; I'll get to that) wanted.

Casinos employ a variety of psychological techniques to induce patrons to gamble and gamble more, be it the free drinks (thought not as prevalent as they used to be) at many venues which most of us enjoy but which also loosen our judgement; the absence of clocks; claims about "loose slots"; and even more pernicious practices like LED towers tracking previous roulette results - as if a pattern can be detected.

Unfortunately, that little silver ball doesn't remember (as statisticians say) where it landed the time before or the time before that. It certainly doesn't remember its last 20 rolls. Each play is a fresh start.

But casino operators don't want to play fair. Card-counting, for example, is perfectly legal. And there's nothing sinister about it; keeping track of which cards have been played at a blackjack table is standard, smart play.

But if you're too good at it, the casinos will kick you out - or at least make your life very difficult.

Now, if private citizens want to try their hand anyway, I suppose that's their right. But we require more disclosure on a candy bar than a casino game.

And it's not really a business the government ought to be in. It has nothing to do with governing.

Richard M. Daley always said he supported a Chicago casino if the city could own it. Yet he sold off our parking meters because he, as a privatization geek, thought cities weren't equipped to manage them.

Does that make sense?

The only role government ought to have when it comes to gambling is regulating it, like any other consumer product or entertainment event. And we all know that real regulation is virtually impossible because it would kill the golden goose.

Golden, that is, for those who own the casinos; certainly not for the vast majority of those who play in them.

* * *

Legalizing drugs (or at least marijuana) is a different matter with a different set of questions, but can you imagine the city owning the one big store downtown where you had to shop unless you wanted to drive to Aurora, Joliet or Northwest Indiana?

* * *

Let's throw prostitution in the mix too. Why should a business transaction between two consenting adults be illegal?

Now, I'm not a fan of prostitution for the same reason I'm not a fan of porn.

"More than 80% of all prostitutes are victims of sexual abuse in their childhood and youth," one study reports, and though I haven't reviewed all the literature this morning, I suspect that number may even be low.

(My understanding of women in porn is similar; that virtually every one of them was sexually abused as a child. Which doesn't mean that every woman abused becomes a porn actress or hooker; if so, there wouldn't be jobs for all of them.)

I find it hard to get enjoyment out of exploiting that circumstance.

But that doesn't mean legalizing and regulating prostitution wouldn't make it safer for everyone involved. I just can't imagine the city owning the only brothel in town.

* * *

Lastly, we know who is salivating the most about a Chicago casino: The same insiders who always make out like bandits on these deals no matter what the ramifications are for the rest of us.

* * *

I enjoy gambling. Particularly craps and sportsbooks. But I hate being duped more.

Patsy Quinn Strikes Again
"A $64.7-million state deal last September to keep Navistar International Corp. in Illinois lacks a guarantee that the truck and engine maker won't cut jobs here," Crain's reports.

Foreclosed
I suppose it's fitting that Quinn didn't get around to proclaiming June as Homeownership Month in Illinois until the 17th. You might say his calendar is under water.

Really, Roger?
"I have no way of knowing if Ryan Dunn was drunk at the time of his death," Ebert admits in response to the controversy he touched off by tweeting of the Jackass star's death, "Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive."

And yet, he finishes his piece, "Friends don't let friends drink and drive."

Yet another grudging non-apology apology.

Even if Dunn was drunk off his ass, the tweet is inappropriate. Did you really think that was an original thought, Roger? That no one else in America had made a similar, tasteless comment?

Chances are almost all of us had some such thought in our heads. And then we dispatched it instead of broadcasting it to the world.

For what gain, Roger?

Really, Jody?
"Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis walked out with a $76,308 check for accrued vacation days when he resigned his $310,000-a-year job on March 1 - a lump-sum payment for 64 unused days that's raising eyebrows at City Hall," the Sun-Times reports.

Geez, did you take one of those police SUVs with you too? A few pairs of handcuffs? Your stapler? Raid the refrigerator on your way out?

*

"His former $168,438-a-year chief-of-staff Mike Masters left police headquarters with a check for $30,448. That's the equivalent of 54 unused vacation days . . .

"Contacted Monday about the vacation payment, Masters, now the homeland security chief for Cook County, referred questions to county spokesperson Jessey Neves, who argued that it is 'standard policy' for employees to be compensated for unused vacation time and that Masters' payment was 'vetted by both the Police Department and the city's budget office.'"

Dear Mr. Masters: You are the homeland security chief for Cook County and you're afraid to talk to Fran Spielman? How does that make us safer?

*

Other bigwigs who took unused vacation pay:

"Robert Sawicki, deputy chief administrative officer for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ($40,075); Former Deputy Police Superintendent Ted O'Keefe ($28,872); former Water Management Commissioner John Spatz ($26,807); former First Deputy Budget Director Andrea Gibson ($23,593); former First Assistant Corporation Counsel Karen Seimetz ($21,226); Sam Roti, commander of Daley's bodyguard detail, ($22,200); and Former Deputy Police Superintendent Peter Brust ($20,623).

"The list does not include a host of top mayoral aides who stayed on until Emanuel was sworn in May 16, including Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and longtime mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard."

Oh, it's coming!

"Their vacation payments have not yet been processed. Nor have Daley holdovers who have postponed their departure dates until June 30 to sweeten their city pensions."

I wonder if Rahm thinks they're giving us the shaft.

It's Always About Ozzie
Most self-absorbed manager ever.

Media Trope
The Seven Dwarfs.

Darling Neko
Free concert on Saturday; enter for tickets today!

Like Steel Tadpoles
Two choppers converge south of Union Station.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Reversible shaft.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:27 AM | Permalink

Neko Case To Perform Free Concert At Poetry Foundation Open House

Singer-songwriter Neko Case will perform an intimate concert before 180 fans as part of the Poetry Foundation's Open House at 61 West Superior Street. The special show will take place Saturday, June 25, at 8:30 p.m. in the new building's performance space.

Ninety pairs of free tickets to the performance will be awarded via a lottery drawing. Fans may enter the lottery by going to poetryfoundationnekocase.eventbrite.com.

The Poetry Foundation will accept entries from 12:00 p.m. on Monday, June 20, to 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21. A drawing will take place after the entries have been received, and winners will be notified by email on June 22.

Known for "songwriting skills [that] tend to eschew visceral connections for intellectual intrigue and poetic mystery" (Pitchfork, March 2006), Case is a lover of poetry who has been published in Poetry magazine.

In the November 2007 issue, as part of the magazine's "View from Here" series, Case contributed an essay called "My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic about Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum." Case's piece countered the misconception that poetry is for the elite.

"Poetry is for everyone. That belief animates the Poetry Foundation, and it's a message that Neko Case has conveyed poignantly in her essay in Poetry magazine," said Poetry Foundation president John Barr. "How exciting, then, that she will help us open our new building to the people of Chicago with a performance of her own music."

Case's breakout album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, was released in 2006 and was widely considered one of the best of that year. Her 2009 follow-up, Middle Cyclone, debuted at number three on the Billboard charts.

She will tour extensively this summer and will return to Chicago in July to play the Pitchfork Music Festival.

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See also: Darling Neko

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

SportsTuesday: Ozzie Guillen Once Again Manages To Make Himself The Story

The primary highlight of last night's Crosstown Classic opener for this Cubs fan was Geo Soto's big smile after Ozzie Guillen gave his mask the boot in the sixth. Soto had made a great play after Alexi Ramirez topped one that landed about a foot-and-a-half in fair territory and then spun backward on is way back past home plate. Soto snagged it a fraction of a second before it arrived in foul territory; all he had to do was tag Ramirez for the out.

Then the fireworks began. Guillen, seizing on an opportunity to give his team a wake-up call, raced out of the dugout, threw Ramirez out of the way and started furiously pointing to the ground right behind home plate. He obviously was contending that the ball actually reached the dirt back there before Soto picked it up.

It wasn't absolutely clear from even the best replay (the one the broadcast producers found and aired after a commercial break), but if a person had to make a call based on the playback from the camera located to the right of the plate as one looks out at the diamond, he would have said the ball didn't quite make it past the dish. In other words, the ump was right.

But Ozzie didn't care. Here was a great chance to let it rip during what had been a frustrating night in which starting pitcher Gavin Floyd, who is often not quite big enough in big games, "gave up the loot" as the Cubs rallied from a 3-0 deficit to lead, and eventually win, 6-3. ("Gave up the loot" is a phrase I first heard Cubs pitcher Matt Garza use referring to giving up a lead. It officially became a part of the local baseball lexicon when Tribune beat writer Paul Sullivan used it in the text of a gamer on Monday.)

So Ozzie stomped around and pointed to the dirt and was kicked out in only a few seconds. Then he noticed Soto's mask sitting there in the dirt right just a little bit behind and off to the side of home plate. He stepped up and essentially chipped the mask a good 10 feet in the air toward the Sox dugout.

Later on, Cubs analyst Bob Brenly joked that Guillen probably had to ice his toe when he returned to the clubhouse after the ump gave him the boot. "Those masks are not made for kicking."

*

"I missed the dropkick," Cubs manager Mike Quade said after the game. "It must have been good because I saw the look on Soto's face."

Pun Patrol
* Ozzie Kicks Off Series With Ejection

* Ozzie Gets The Boot As Sox Lose

* White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen Unable To Mask His Emotions

How Good Is Starlin Castro?
* Guillen: This Kid Is Going To Be A Good One

* Great Expectations: Starlin Castro Is Thinking Big

* Castro Can Be That Good

Corporate Clutter
The broadcast of the opener of the British Petroleum Crosstown Classic was brought to you last night by Miller Lite, Chevrolet and other sponsors utilizing patented High-Definition technology at U.S. Cellular Field. And they wonder why Cubs fans resist more of a corporate presence (i.e. more sponsorships which are of course accompanied by more signage) at Wrigley.

Then again, whenever I sit in my regular seats at Wrigley in the upper deck out beyond first base with the left field bleachers out across the diamond from me, I get a vague urge to drive my Toyota out to O'Hare so that I can hop on a United flight. Last year I was always thinking about going to Horseshoe Casino. And when it gets cold my kids do wear Under Armour undershirts. So clearly the signage that is there is having an impact. I might go broke if there was much more.

Bulls Beat
Barring any last-minute deals, which are less likely than usual because A) there is so much uncertainty about the NBA collective bargaining agreement and B) the Bulls' first two picks aren't seen as terribly valuable, the home team will draft 28th, 30th and 43rd on Thursday.

The first two picks aren't as valuable because the advantage of having late first-round picks is thought to be almost out-weighed by the disadvantage of having to give guaranteed first-round money to borderline prospects (contracts for second-round picks are not guaranteed). We're not going to project who the Bulls will take - no one has any clue and when the guys are picked, no one will have any clue about their true NBA potential. But we can take a quick look at the recent past.

The list of players drafted in the final few picks of the first round who went on to be major NBA contributors is a short one. But there is reason for hope.

Last year, Jordan Crawford of Xavier and Greivis Vasquez of Maryland were drafted 27th and 28th respectively. Both are big guards who stuck with their NBA teams as reserves and received a decent amount of playing time. Vasquez is more a distributor and defender while Crawford has big-time potential to develop a killer NBA three. The Bulls would be ecstatic to get a shooting guard prospect with similar potential.

My guess is they will use the 30th pick on a kid with an unpronounceable name playing in Europe who won't be coming to America anytime soon. That way they won't have to pay him guaranteed money just yet.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Buzz

Buzz

Like steel tadpoles
held aloft by buzzsaws,
two choppers converge
south of Union Station.

Buzzsaws drone, the wind
batoning crescendo
and diminuendo.

Like burnished buzzards
circling a ravaged gazelle,
drones of the kinetic gazette
hover, and arrest the gaze.

As to a Texas Ranger
tracking Comanche, following the vultures,
the louche allure
of violent tragedy

beckons.

Gaze arrested, gush
of fear and fascination.
Gazelle on the Savannah,
decimated by thirst,
stumble upon the only oasis . . .
where the giant crocs lurk.

Surely death has come
to another
and I, the hunted,
must know.

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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 5:22 AM | Permalink

Media Trope: The Seven Dwarfs

"Republican voters are not especially enthusiastic about the potential Republican candidates for president this year, according to the latest polls, but history shows that is not unusual at this stage of the campaign," Jennifer Pinto wrote for CBS News' Political Hotsheet earlier this month.

Thank you, Jennifer. Because I'm already tired of seeing and hearing one of the political media's favorite tropes - that of the Seven Dwarfs.

As in:

"They assumed the stance of the Seven Dwarfs, not as a matter of physical but rather intellectual stature. Not one of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination who debated Monday night rose to a point of seriousness in addressing the nation's grievous problems."

Please.

"Republicans . . . can take solace in the fact that, like the famous cycle of grief, the nomination process almost always starts this way, with kvetching," Michael D. Shear wrote for the New York Times as far back as April - without acknowledging the media's role in pushing the familiar narrative cycles.

"In 1988, a series of big-name Democrats each took a pass on the presidential campaign," Shear wrote, "leaving their party's White House ambitions in the hands of Senator Gary Hart of Colorado and a group of candidates quickly dubbed 'the seven dwarfs' for their seemingly obvious flaws."

Dubbed by whom?

Let's take a look - then and now.

Jerome Watson, Sun-Times, May 10, 1987: "In fact, with Hart's decision to withdraw, speculation turned almost immediately to Cuomo, who was heralded as a potential top-drawer candidate for months before he announced he would stay out. Cynics have dismissed the rest of the Democratic field as a bunch of political dwarfs .

Roger Simon, Tribune, June 28, 1987: "The seven Democratic candidates, better known as The Seven Dwarfs, gathered together here to 'roast' New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley."

Michael Sneed, Sun-Times, June 30, 1987: "Sneed snoopers are wondering if Sen. Ted Kennedy plans to join 'the Seven Dwarfs' on the Dem presidential campaign trail. The last time Ted lost a ton of weight was when he launched his White House bid in 1980. Hi ho! Is it off to White House work he goes?"

Jon Margolis, Tribune, July 1, 1987: "The Democratic presidential candidates, often derided as 'the Seven Dwarfs,' go on national television Wednesday night with party leaders hoping that they are not so dopey or grumpy that their audience becomes sleepy."

Tom Wicker, New York Times, July 4, 1987: "The strongest and saddest impression this viewer took away from the collective appearance of the Democratic Presidential candidates on national television was that Snow White was missing, while the Seven Dwarfs prattled on."

Sun-Times editorial, August 28, 1987: "We don't share a negative view of the Seven Dwarfs (an affectionate nickname adopted by the contenders themselves). We believe that among them are several top-flight individuals."

Robert Maynard, Sun-Times, September 1, 1987: "Since none of the present complement of active Democratic candidates - somebody called them 'the Seven Dwarfs' - appears to have had significant impact on the voters, the non-candidates continue to have some nostalgic appeal."

Kathy O'Malley and Hanke Gratteau, Tribune, September 18, 1987: "Sounds like one of the Seven Dwarfs competing for the Democratic presidential nomination is named 'Phony.' Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) built his reputation around being a great orator and now has to defend the cribbing from others' speeches. Will it do him in? It's certainly not helping. INC. hears locally it's been enough to cause Chicago's Daley clan-as in William Daley, Biden's political director-to start shopping for a new candidate. Or are those just friendly chats with Daley's old pals now working for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis?"

Stephen Chapman, Tribune, September 20, 1987: "The Democratic presidential candidates, who have been uncharitably likened to the seven dwarfs, are apparently determined to embody the seven deadly sins instead. Gary Hart embraced lust. Now Joe Biden has taken on covetousness, and maybe sloth as well. Several of the contenders could probably qualify for pride or envy, qualities almost mandatory for ambitious politicians. Anyone for gluttony?"

Garry Wills, Sun-Times, September 25, 1987: "The Minnesota AFL-CIO was to be wooed by the whole lineup of Democratic hopefuls. But then the seven dwarfs began to act like 10 little Indians, dropping off."

Irv Kupcinet, Sun-Times, October 2, 1987: "With Gary Hart and Biden dropping out and Dukakis endangered, the Seven Dwarfs now may be known as 'The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.'"

Steve Neal, Sun-Times, October 16, 1987: "By any objective measure, he is the leading contender for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. The Rev. Jackson is far better known than any of the five dwarfs who are opposing him in the Democratic primaries. And, in contrast with his opponents, he's breaking new ground in discussing domestic issues."

Steve Neal, Sun-Times, January 10, 1988: "Democratic National Chairman Paul Kirk committed a blunder in suggesting that Hart shouldn't be running for the presidency. So, too, did the six Democratic dwarfs , who dropped in the polls with Hart's return."

Robert Novak, Sun-Times presidential candidate forum, January 24, 1988: "Gary Hart performed a tour de force on Friday night's debate by making the other six dwarfs look like they'd grown two inches each.

George Will, Sun-Times, February 14, 1988: "The candidates who are spared New Hampshire's guillotine will benefit from 'de-dwarfization,' the acquisition of stature by survival."

Carl Rowan, Sun-Times, February 17, 1988: "We snickered as we called Rep. Pat Schroeder of Colorado and the other Democratic candidates 'Snow White and the seven dwarfs.'

"'We got caught in the fixation of describing Vice President George Bush as a 'wimp'; Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole as a poison-tongued viper; television evangelist Pat Robertson as a faith healer who thinks God promised him the Oval Office, and Rep. Jack Kemp as an ex-jock who is trying to fumble his way into the political end zone.

"After watching the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries, I have concluded that elitists in my profession and cynics-at-large have slandered the 1988 crop of presidential candidates.

"Those who have a chance to win the nominations are among the best politicians this nation has produced, and they compare favorably with every president I've known in 40 years as a journalist."

Pat Buchanan, Sun-Times, February 21, 1988: "Even Brother [Fred] Barnes would have to concede the seven dwarfs are not prime horse flesh; if anything, they are the party's scrub stock."

Bob Greene, Sun-Times, March 1, 1988: "For months, the East Coast political pundits seemed to think it was clever to refer to the seven Democrats running for president as 'the seven dwarfs.' The takeoff, of course, was on the old Walt Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and as soon as the political 'seven dwarfs' analogy appeared in print for the first time, you could not escape it.

"Of all the publications in America, though, the National Enquirer was the only one to do a little reporting and find something meaningful in the phrase.

"The Enquirer took a survey; the publication asked 200 people (100 men and 100 women) in five cities the following question:

"'Can you name more of Walt Disney's Seven Dwarfs or more of the seven Democratic candidates in the presidential race?' (This was before Bruce Babbitt dropped out, reducing the Democratic field to six.)

"What did the poll find? Here is the lead of the National Enquirer's story:

"'Nearly 60 percent of Americans quizzed by The Enquirer in a nationwide survey could identify more of Snow White's Seven Dwarfs than they could the seven Democratic candidates for president.'"

David Elsner, Tribune, February 23, 1994: The Democratic [11th congressional] field stands at seven, and right now each candidate appears more like one of the Seven Dwarfs than the Magnificent Seven."

Garry Wills, Sun-Times, July 5, 1999: "But a much more immediate task is to get rid of the seven dwarfs of the religious right and their three adjuncts. The dwarfs are Lamar Alexander, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Dan Quayle and Bob Smith. The three adjuncts (a slight tinge lessr eligious) are Elizabeth Dole, John Kasich and John McCain."

Sun-Times headline, October 19, 2001: "Campaign Has Snow White, But Who Are Seven Dwarfs?"

Michael Sneed, Sun-Times, November 4, 2001: "GOP gubernatorial candidate Pat O'Malley, who was dubbed 'Dopey' in Sneed's 'Seven Dwarfs' contest . . . "

William Safire, New York Times, January 6, 2003: "The Seven Dwarfs: against all plans for the timing of the Restoration in 2008, the desperate party convention could turn to Hillary Clinton for salvation in 2004.

"Partisans on left and right would love that. And what a campaign Bush II vs. Clinton II would be. The Seven Dwarfs would have found their Snow White."

Stanley Fish, Sun-Times, July 24, 2003: "The single most important thing the party lacks is unity. And unity, it is said repeatedly, will be hard to come by in the next 10 months as the nine dwarfs (since at any event two of them are usually no-shows, the number is effectively seven ) use up their limited resources fighting each other in a spectacle that will only make the always on-course George Bush look more presidential."

Fran Eaton, Southtown Star, January 24, 2008: "This is embarrassing, but here we are, two weeks before we go to the polls, and there's no GOP candidate that's 'just right' for me.

"But maybe I'm as confused as Bill Clinton when it comes to fairy tales. Maybe it's not Goldilocks and the Three Bears I'm living; maybe it's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:16 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"The fine print in a contract between Illinois and Motorola Mobility indicates that the smartphone company can maintain a smaller workforce than the one it employs today and still qualify for more than $110 million in financial incentives designed to keep the company's workers in the state," the Tribune reports.

Wait, what?

"In May, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that the state put up the incentives to persuade Motorola Mobility to keep its corporate headquarters in Libertyville and retain about 3,000 jobs.

"What was not disclosed at the time is that the agreement specifically requires Motorola Mobility to retain a workforce here of 2,500 workers. The company disclosed in the contract that it employs 3,290 people at its locations in Libertyville and Chicago, which therefore allows it to reduce the size of its workforce and still get the credits."

Wait, what?

"That detail was contained in the state's contract with Motorola Mobility, one of 10 tax incentive contracts the state provided to the Chicago Tribune as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request. Motorola Mobility's contract represents about half of the $217 million in tax credit deals the state has made this year.

"The governor says the state has an 'oral' agreement with the company to keep 3,000 jobs in Illinois."

Oh lord. You might as well have an oral agreement to hire a million people and give them all lollipops. Doesn't the state employ lawyers anymore?

*

I was always proud of my nickname for the last governor: Governor Baloneyvich. Now I'm particularly proud of my moniker for the current governor: Patsy Quinn. (For awhile, I was using Governor Gumby.)

An even bigger disappointment than Barack Obama, whom I had figured from the get-go.

*

"The contract also includes a clause that Motorola Mobility is not required to hire any workers to qualify for the incentives. But if it does, the company could keep 100 percent of the taxes the new employees would have paid the state."

The contract also includes a clause requiring Quinn to wash the cars in Motorola Mobility's parking lot every Friday so they look shiny for the weekend.

*

"Since taking office, Quinn has pledged $547 million in tax credits over 10 years to more than 120 projects."

Good thing we didn't elect Bill Brady!

*

"He said the programs are needed as the state battles an 8.9 percent unemployment rate and fends off other states hoping to lure away companies."

Quinn praised Motorola Mobility for orally agreeing to only add 790 people to the unemployment rolls in exchange for $110 million.

*

Quinn must not be paying attention to what's going on with Chicago Public Schools, which just rescinded teacher raises promised in a signed contract.

*

Memo to Groupon: Pat Quinn's Daily Deal!

Quinn's Candy Store
"Sears Holdings Corp., owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, is considering the Washington area as a place to relocate its corporate headquarters, according to two people familiar with the company's plans," the Washington Post reports (via Capitol Fax)

"The company is one of more than 100 in Illinois with tax breaks that are scheduled to expire and last month suggested that it would considering leaving. It has reportedly been considering several states including Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas."

Why wouldn't every company in Illinois line up at Quinn's candy store?

*

"When Sears Holdings Corp. rattled Illinois last month by saying it was considering moving its headquarters out of state, Gov. Pat Quinn promised he would find a way to keep the retailer around," AP reported last week.

"It's a potentially costly scenario that could be repeated more than 100 times over the next three years.

"Tax-break deals with 107 companies will expire in 2012, 2013 and 2014, according to records obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request. Those deals, worth more than $100 million, run out at a time when other states view Illinois as a prime target for poaching after this year's tax increases stirred unhappiness in the state's business community."

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Hey, for $100 million I'll create twice as many jobs as any other company in the state. Promise.

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And by the way, let's not let the companies themselves off the hook. How can they complain about budget deficits (and crappy public schools) when they're looting the store?

The Flip Side
Also from Cap Fax: Quinn Again Tries To Strip Workers Of Their Union Cards.

Good thing we didn't elect Bill Brady!

Health Wealth
"The parent of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois raked in $1.1 billion in profit last year, a doubling of 2009's results that is likely to stoke the controversy over skyrocketing health insurance costs," Crain's reports.

This is personally heartwarming to read given that I had to drop my bare-bones Blue Cross plan last year after a price hike that was just a bridge too far for my budget.

"The robust financial performance comes amid nationwide criticism of the health insurance industry, which is basking in record profits thanks to double-digit premium increases and reduced claims, as budget-minded consumers put off going to the doctor."

Can't wait 'til the federal government forces me to buy a policy.

*

By the way, I've always been in favor of mandatory health care. But you have to pair that with a single-payer system or at least a public option. Obamacare is the worst of all worlds.

Moreno's Morals
"Felice 'Phil' Vanaria is a convicted felon and political operative, ordered to get treatment for a sex addiction after he demanded a young woman perform a sex act for a non-existent county job he promised," the Sun-Times reports.

"After his conviction, a judge banned him from doing political work.

"But that didn't stop him from getting hired as a fundraiser for Cook County Commissioner Joseph Mario Moreno before the February primary last year."

Here's the best part:

"Moreno hired Vanaria for the 2010 election campaign, even though Vanaria had been prohibited by a judge from doing political work during his probation.

"Moreno said he had not known about the prohibition then but would have hired him anyway to fundraise because it's not political work.

"'Political work I consider [as] working precincts, knocking on doors, getting out the votes,' Moreno said in the deposition. 'Fundraising is fundraising.'"

Right. Is there any work that is more political than fundraising?

*

"Over the decades, Vanaria has had several county jobs, including as an aide to Moreno in his county office - and a trail of allegations against him that he has pressured women for sex in exchange for jobs or favors . . .

"As for Moreno, he said he did not look at Vanaria's resume or check his background or even see his application when he initially hired him as an assistant in his government office. Moreno didn't care if the county did a background check on him because Vanaria was a loyal, honest political worker."

But he wasn't hired to do political work.

*

"'I wanted the person hired, I really didn't care,' Moreno said in the deposition, although he later added he wouldn't have hired Vanaria in his government office if he had known about the history of allegations against him. Moreno, though, did later hire him for fundraising work."

Rahm's War on Teachers
Who's really getting the shaft?

What Rahm Wants You To Read
The Beachwood has learned of his first One Book, One Chicago picks.

Alsip's Blind Mechanic
He also owns the joint.

No Baseball, Daddy
Even Marty's three-year-old knew the Cubs were playing some other game.

Station Identification
World's Greatest Newspaper TV.

As In Wreck
Where have you gone, Bill Veeck? A lonely baseball nation turns its eyes to you.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
Chock-full, people.

Programming Note
If it's Monday, I'm back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn. And it is, so I am. Please join us for a rousing night of jukebox favorites, cold beer, and witty banter. Doors open at 5 p.m., close at 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like good chuck.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Bottle Rockets at the Six Corners Festival on Saturday night.

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2. Deep Purple at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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3. Against Me! at the Metro on Friday night.

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4. Florence and the Machine at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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5. Screaming Females at the Metro on Friday night.

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6. Swervedriver at Taste of Randolph on Saturday night.

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7. Sondra Lerche at Schubas on Saturday night.

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8. Beady Eye at the Metro on Saturday night.

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9. Daniel Martin Moore at the Chicago Auditorium on Friday night.

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10. My Morning Jacket at the Chicago Auditorium on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

Station Identification: WGN/9

World's Greatest Newspaper TV.

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See also: Station Identification: WFLD/32/Fox Chicago

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:23 AM | Permalink

No Baseball, Daddy

As a dad, every once in awhile I am reminded of something I should remember by my young son. My little guy is just over three-years-old and at that age they tend to lack "political correctness." They really just call it as they see it and they let the chips fall where they may. Which means they can say the sweetest and most hurtful things in back-to-back sentences.

What I will remember about Father's Day 2011 is my son telling me, "No baseball, daddy." I tried to get him into the game but the answer was always "No baseball, daddy."

And it turned out he was right. I was better off not watching that debacle unfold on Sunday night, with the Cubs throwing away the game with so many "un-error errors." You know, those plays that don't show up as an error in the box score but are as detrimental to winning baseball as a lazy grounder going right under your glove.

I'm not sure that an "un-error error" is the correct term for outfielders giving up on catchable flyballs, but I do know that that was "No baseball, daddy." The smartest person in the room was the three-year-old.

The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-3 for the week, taking three of four from the Brewers and losing two of three to the Yankees. As overhyped as the Yankee series was and as over-into it as the Cubs (and fans) were, it really was the Chicago Cubs' 2011 World Series. That's because they stinks.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs take the short trip to the ballpark formerly known as Comiskey for three against the Sox and then head to KC to play three with the Royals. You can throw out the record when the Cubs play the Sox, but you can also throw out most of the Cubs roster.

The Second Basemen Report: I can't say I'm happy that Darwin Barney found the DL this week, but I will say that The Second Basemen Report is happy. If a part of a weekly internet column can somehow be happy. Blake DeWitt got three starts, Jeff Baker got one and that LeMahieu kid got a start also. This is exactly what we thought would happen until this meddling Barney kid got here and screwed it all up with some decent and somewhat consistent play, which was not how Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryne Sandberg has the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in first place. There is also a sweet golf visor giveaway coming up. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is getting a bit angry as he actually contemplates waiving his no-trade clause. Which should make Cub fans not angry at all.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Reed Johnson" in hopes to make him look better than he really is.

Lost in Translation: aboutio timee is Japanese for Fukudome had four RBIs in one game after having six all season.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Alfonso Soriano for Viagra, because the guy is a stiff.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 87% sweet,13% sour. Mike stands pat once again this week because he just doesn't know any better. And just like your supposedly well-adjusted uncle, the girls at the corner bar know Mike will buy them a few drinks every Friday night even though they don't give him the time of day.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Doug Davis traded higher this week and investors are advised to get rid of this stock now as you will never see it higher.

Over/Under: The number of different players who will bat third in the line-up this week: +/- 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 when the Cubs are on national TV they look like a complete joke of a franchise, which we know they are.

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? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . We think he's becoming delusionally optimistic.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

The South Side Could Use Cuban, Too

Rick Telander's column about Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the Sun-Times last week stirred up memories of former White Sox owner Bill Veeck. The teaser on the back page of the print edition claimed that "Cuban might have been better suited to change Cubs' fortunes than Ricketts family is, but baseball didn't want him."

According to Telander, the commissioner and owners (he named Jerry Reinsdorf as being a mover and shaker) didn't approve of Cuban. Too unpredictable; a loose cannon; not to be trusted. And ya think Reinsdorf wanted the likes of Mark Cuban only 70 blocks away via the Red Line?!?

The owners didn't want Bill Veeck either. When he put together a syndicate to purchase the Sox in the mid-'70s, the lords were similarly unimpressed. Even though (or should I say because?) Bill had owned and operated the Cleveland Indians (1946-49), St. Louis Browns (1951-53), and the White Sox (1959-61), he was an outsider for some of the same reasons as Cuban.

* * *

Bill was the owner who sent midget Eddie Gaedel up to bat for the Browns, had cow-milking contests (the players were the contestants) between games of a doubleheader, introduced the exploding scoreboard, gave unsuspecting fans a crate of live lobsters or 10,000 cupcakes, and multitudes of other promotional gimmicks which were fun and entertaining. And not to be remiss, he also won pennants in Cleveland (1948) and Chicago (1959).

A native Chicagoan - he worked for the Cubs in the '30s when his father was president of the team - Bill sought to re-purchase the Sox, who were in dire straits with little talent and fewer fans. His initial bid was rejected for subpar financing, said the owners. So Veeck raised more capital, went back to the lodge, and this time they couldn't turn him down without looking like the hypocrites that they were. He had met all of their criteria. Hence Veeck and his group took over the team for the 1976 season.

Much of this is common knowledge for those of us who witnessed this piece of White Sox history, but reading about and watching Mark Cuban during the NBA playoffs made me think how ownership of professional sports franchises has changed over the decades.
Veeck's office was at the ballpark, and he had the door to it removed, letting people know that he was accessible. If you didn't believe it, he also listed his number in the phone book. Bill used to claim that he would get calls in the wee hours of the morning from tavern patrons who phoned him to settle arguments about baseball trivia.

There was no owner's box or suite at Comiskey Park. Bill's dad was an old newspaperman, and Bill enjoyed the company of the writers. So he sat in the press box for home games in full view of anyone who cared to locate him.

And when his health permitted - Veeck lost his right leg as the result of a World War II wound - seeing him strolling around the ball park (often in the cheapest seats where he felt the most astute fans sat) talking to fans was not an uncommon occurrence. This was no marketing ploy. He valued what fans had to say about the team, and he simply loved hanging out with the folks who supported his ballclub.

He was a devoted and extremely competent beer drinker. After games Veeck would retire to the Bard's Room at Comiskey to talk baseball with the writers, his manager, and coaches. While others might tire and fade, Veeck - the man had incredible energy - would keep the beer flowing for hours, and the conversation never waned. And he would be back at the ballpark the next morning for another day of plotting ways to improve the team and entertain the fans.

Most owners today keep a low profile. Mark Cuban is not of that persuasion, nor obviously was Bill Veeck. Many of his evenings were spent in the community, giving talks to promote the ballclub. No group was too small or inconsequential for Bill to schedule an appearance. The few times you see owners today usually appear as items in newspaper columns.

Veeck at Comiskey.JPG (Enlarge)

* * *

I was teaching at a small, independent school in 1978, and we constantly faced money problems. The Sox had regained some buzz, primarily with the 1977 South Side Hitmen, one of the most exciting seasons in team history.

We invited Bill to deliver a talk at a fundraising event. He agreed to do it, but that April night was cold and wet. By the time he arrived, we had no more than 30 or 40 people waiting for him. We knew that the co-owner of Sterch's tavern on Lincoln Avenue was a Sox fan, so we phoned over there and asked him to inform his customers that Bill Veeck was about to speak at 721 N. LaSalle, the Catholic Charities building where we rented space for our school.

It took the better part of 12 minutes for a few more half-inebriated fans to walk in the door. Bill couldn't have cared less if there had been 5, 50, or 500 people listening to what he had to say. He used some standard stories, most of which were about his days with the inept Browns.

For instance, a fan once called the Browns' office to find out the starting time for the next day's game. "What time can you make it?" was Veeck's response. Then the fan asks about the best seat available. "How about second base?" Bill would say. "We're not using it."

Of course, having Bill Veeck regale us with his anecdotes and stories was a huge hit. But there was more. Since we had plenty of beer left over, Bill stuck around until midnight or so with maybe a half-dozen of us. This is where memory betrays me thanks to Edelweiss beer, a Chicago-brewed wonder long gone from the scene.

I do recall that - to my consternation - the conversation was not about baseball but best-selling books. Veeck was a voracious reader who digested as many as four of five volumes a week. Apparently, since he was with a school group, he figured that his audience was as interested in literature as in baseball.

Bill Veeck was a legitimate baseball operator. He didn't have other business interests. He couldn't rely on capital from other ventures to offset the expense of owning a ballclub. He wasn't rich in a material sense. But he understood pro sports for what they are: entertainment. He sought to create a good time for each fan who walked into his ballpark.

After selling the team to Reinsdorf's group in 1981, Bill didn't go to Sox games but was a regular visitor to the Wrigley Field bleachers before he died in January 1986. His contributions to the game are far too numerous to mention here, and it was fitting that the Veterans Committee voted Bill into the Hall of Fame in 1991. He would have been shocked, but pleased.

"Life was not wasted on Bill Veeck," said Bill's wife Mary Frances at the HOF induction ceremony. "He was born with a great joy of living, tremendous energy, integrity . . . He was such fun to be around."

Minny Skirts
The Sox were not much fun to be around last week in the Twin Cities. The losses keep piling up for the Sox against the Twins - four straight this season in which our athletes have been no-hit and have scored a total of three runs.

I get tired of hearing that the Twins play the game the way it's supposed to be played. The hype is that they make few mistakes, that their organization is somehow superior to their opponents, and that Ron Gardenhire is the second coming of Joe McCarthy. Ozzie calls them piranhas.

The team they put on the field last week - with names like Revere, Casilla, Nishioka, Hughes, Rivera, Repko - was not one to instill fear. Try Ortiz, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis, Crawford, and Ellsbury to create butterflies. And the White Sox swept three games from those boys in Fenway just three weeks ago.

Alright, the Twinkies are playing better baseball, their pitching is improving, and they're gaining confidence by compiling a 14-3 record in June. But they're still human, and Morneau, Mauer, and Kubel didn't even play against the Sox last week.

The Twins are a formidable opponent during the regular season, but their recent post-season record is pitiful. Since the LCS in 2002, the Twins have dropped six consecutive playoff series', losing 19 of 22 games. So much for the Twins' mystique.

The Sox have 13 games remaining with Minnesota including a four-game set at home prior to the All-Star Game. The Twins will come back to Earth. If the Sox hope to move up in the Central Division, they'll need to swing the bats and treat Minnesota more like sardines than piranhas.

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Comments welcome.

-

1. From Barbara Finn:

Your memories of Bill Veeck and your skill in conveying them are a real pleasure and treasure, I might add. Thanks to your writing you honor the man and the extraordinary spirit, creativity and humanity he brought to baseball. Thanks, Roger.

2. From John Harrold (Olsen):

The article about Bill Veeck is excellent! I got to sit behind him at a Cubs' game once. People do not get any better than he was.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Rahm's War On Teachers

In his crusade to reform Chicago Public Schools, Rahm Emanuel apparently has declared war on our teachers.

"Teachers got two types of pay raises [in a 2003 labor agreement]," the new mayor said last week as he defended his handpicked school board's decision to rescind 4 percent raises for CPS faculty. "People in public life got labor peace. Can anybody explain to me what the children got? I know what everybody else got."

In case anyone didn't catch his drift, Rahm clarified: "Our children got the shaft."

These are the same dedicated teachers I wrote about last month, nothing that "They have to manage the behavior of 25 individuals whose brains are not physically or emotionally developed while at the same time teaching them the basics needed to survive."

On Friday, one of those teachers was listening to Roe & Roeper on WLS-AM. The hosts were playing parts of the same Emanuel dialogue, including when Rahm stated that, in good conscience, he could not meet the demands of the teachers' current contract "because they have left the children by the side of the road."

She was so stunned that tears came to her eyes. It was her last week with the kids before summer break. It had been an especially difficult year. She has dedicated 30 years of her life to teaching. How could the mayor be so demeaning to such a dedicated class of people?

Ironically, the Sun-Times reported on Saturday that Rahm left a Chicago first-grader by the side of the road.

Apparently, while attending Governor Pat Quinn's signing of a sweeping education bill, Rahm brought a girl from South Loop Elementary School and paid tribute to her for asking him about his plans for a longer school day while he was visiting her class.

Guess what? It was the wrong kid. The right kid was Parker Rasmussen and he shouldn't have been hard to find; his comment (and photo) was posted on South Loop's website and the Sun-Times had actually captured the mayor kissing Rasmussen on the head in a photo that ran in the paper.

Teachers will probably forgive Rahm this faux pas; after all, schools are bustling with commotion even on ordinary days; on days that important people visit, they can be especially chaotic. Rahm may have found it difficult to concentrate.

* * *

Rahm attended public schools while growing up in Wilmette, including New Trier West High School. Teachers there have always been well-paid.

The average teacher salary at New Trier Township High School today is $86,424. The average teacher salary at CPS is $69,000.

I wonder if Rahm thinks he got the shaft when he was in school.

Before being a congressman and then President Obama's chief of staff, Emanuel worked on Wall Street for an investment banking firm. He made $16.2 million in 30 months.

I wonder if anyone felt like they go the shaft from Rahm.

He was also appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of Freddie Mac.

"The board met no more than six times a year. Unlike most fellow directors, Emanuel was not assigned to any of the board's working committees, according to company proxy statements," the Tribune has reported. "Immediately upon joining the board, Emanuel and other new directors qualified for $380,000 in stock and options plus a $20,000 annual fee, records indicate."

But that's just the tip of the shaft.

"On Emanuel's watch," the Tribune reported, "the board was told by executives of a plan to use accounting tricks to mislead shareholders about outsize profits the government-chartered firm was then reaping from risky investments. The goal was to push earnings onto the books in future years, ensuring that Freddie Mac would appear profitable on paper for years to come and helping maximize annual bonuses for company brass."

And:

"During his brief time on the board, the company hatched a plan to enhance its political muscle. That scheme, also reviewed by the board, led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago."

When asked by the Sun-Times political columnist Lynn Sweet if he had any responsibility for questionable practices at Freddie Mac, Rahm said: "I think I did my board service well, and I am proud of what I did."

No one can deny that Wall Street and Freddie Mac played major roles in the current mortgage crisis. Chicago ranks eighth among the nation's largest metropolitan areas with mortgages underwater. Of those properties, most are in default on the property taxes too - the major source of revenue for schools. I wonder if Rahm thinks he's given our schookids the shaft.

* * *

Rahm's net worth is between $6.2 and $16.2 million dollars, the Tribune reported last week.

Now he is saying the teachers must work longer hours and more days without a raise. What financial sacrifice will he make to reduce the CPS deficit?

Teachers are not responsible for the estimated $724 million shortfall.

That doesn't mean they aren't willing to share in whatever sacrifice is necessary to close the gap. But what about those who mismanaged the budget - and the economy - in the first place?

Rahm's war doesn't stop with teachers, either.

"Who do we value as a society, the CEOs who threaten to leave to get tax breaks or the hard-working men and women who teach our children and the police who patrol our streets?" Fraternal Order of Police president Michael Shields told the Tribune last week. "This war on public employees has to stop."

In a time when teachers are now getting the blame for our worst performing schools, maybe Rahm ought to consider that when teachers get the shaft, so do their kids.

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

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:59 AM | Permalink

Meet Bart Hickey: Alsip's Blind Car Mechanic

Bart Hickey lives in Alsip, a suburb of Chicago. Like many other people there, he's a car mechanic. But one thing makes him very different from the rest - he's been blind since birth.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:52 AM | Permalink

What Rahm Wants You To Read

The Beachwood has learned that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has settled on his picks for the city's One Book, One Chicago program.

1. The Plan: Big Ideas For America

2. The Prince

3. The Ballet Companion: A Dancer's Guide to the Technique, Traditions, and Joys of Ballet

4. The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids

5. Boss

6. A Public School of Your Own: Your Guide to Creating and Running a Charter School

7. Investment Banking: Valuation, Leveraged Buyouts, and Mergers and Acquistions

8. First-Time Landlord: Your Guide to Renting out a Single-Family Home

9. Casino Gambling For Dummies

10. Bad Teachers: The Essential Guide for Concerned Parents

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk popped out a Weekend Filing Cabinet last summer. We'd like to take this opportunity to wish a happy first Father's Day to the Weekend Drafting Table.

Market Update
You know it's bad when the IMF warns you to keep it in your pants.

Hell-Raises
The summer's rollercoaster thrill ride in Chicago looks set to be the titanic battle between the teachers' union and City Hall. We could let the two sides battle it out, or we could wait for the box office gross to tell us the winner.

Inelegant Design
Temporary Sarah Palin Michele Bachmann this week wasted the eighth of her 15 minutes by declaring that she "support[s] intelligent design" despite being confronted with strong evidence to the contrary every time she opens her mouth. "I would prefer that students have the ability to learn all aspects of an issue," Bachmann said, including, we assume, actual subjects of debate such as the scientific and legal definition of life.

Bach to the Future
After declaring her support for wrong-headed positions, Bachmann worryingly returned to her position as forewoman of the Blagojevich jury.

Father Knows Best?
Finally this week, research indicates that 20 minutes of roughhousing with Dad is crucial to childhood development. The authors of the study remained silent, however, on the subjects of horse trading and sports metaphoring with Dad.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Paternally yours.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Mujeres de Cambio 2011
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Marlene Gonzalez, CEO of Life Coaching Group, joins other leaders to discuss the emergence of Latinas in politics, the arts, education, media, and business. Hosted by the Chicago Foundation for Women's Latina Leadership Council.

Sunday, June 19 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 8 min

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Sustainable Development, Economic Development: Success Stories from the Region
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Scott Bernstein, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, joins a discussion on innovative investments in infrastructure that can make the Chicago region a more economically and environmentally sustainable place to live and work.

Sunday, June 19 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 37 min

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The Relationship Between Racism and Unemployment
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Nanette Campos, Primerica Regional VP, takes part in The First Unitarian Church's panel discussion on the relationship between racism and unemployment.

Watch Online

Sunday, June 19 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 34 min

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Talking About: Family Dynamics
31088-FamilyDynamics.jpg
The Chicago Cultural Alliance hosts a discussion on Arab American and Chinese American family dynamics, focusing on gaps between older and younger generations as they reshape heritage traditions to meet contemporary needs.

Sunday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 3 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:52 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved more than $1.8 million out of municipal bonds and into more broad-based funds in the months before he announced his run for office, according to disclosure records released Thursday that show assets between $6.2 million and $16.6 million," the Tribune reports.

"Many wealthy investors have been getting out of municipal bonds because of rising interest rates on other investments and because of fear that many local governments will be unable to pay their bills because of the economy and their cash-strapped budgets, experts said."

He's shorting himself!

Blago Beat
The jury is taking the day off and will return Monday. My prediction is that if we don't have a verdict by Tuesday, we're in trouble.

*

"Meanwhile, Sam Adam Jr., one of Blagojevich's lead attorneys during his first trial and who is still listed as an attorney in the case, was seen in the courthouse Thursday shortly after lawyers were called to meet privately with Zagel," the Sun-Times reports. "The typically outspoken Adam, who has given TV and radio interviews discussing the Blagojevich case as recently as earlier this week, would not answer media questions on Thursday.

"'I must decline comment,' he said. 'I cannot tell you why.'"

Maybe Zagel just told him to shut the hell up.

*

"Blagojevich Jury Seeks Legal Definitions."

Note to judge asked for clarification of the terms "schmuck," "sleazeball," and "douchebag."

Singled Out
Chicago magazine is having a tough time staying focused today because of, you know, their big event tonight.

*

Jury re-sends note asking for definition of "douchebag."

*

The only event worse than this every year is the Lisagors.

Riot Duty
Like many others voicing a similar sentiment, one of my pals wrote this on Facebook yesterday:

Canuck fans seem to riot like Americans. Except for the part about rioting when their team wins.

True enough. But isn't it the Americans who have it backwards?

Dealer's Hand
"Quinn, Emanuel Continue Talks On Gambling Bill."

Great. A mayor who can't take no for an answer negotiating with a governor who can't say no.

*

"I'm going to use that revenue to invest in Chicago's future," Rahm said. "Our roads, our bridges, our broadband, our schools construction, our mass transit. That will keep us economically competitive."

By transferring more wealth to those who already have it.

*

I thought Rahm was going to use a luxury tax to fund his initiatives.

Then again, that would have required the cooperation of the General Assembly, unlike a casi . . . er, wait . . .

*

I guess Rahm was persuaded against the luxury tax by arguments like "Everyone deserves a chance to drive a Chicago exotic rental car like our Chicago Lamborghini Gallardo rental or a Ferrari F430 rental car once in his or her life."

Reverse Psychology
Red-light revenue is dropping in Naperville because of better compliance with the traffic laws.

As I've said before, we should all obey the traffic laws strictly just to spite City Hall.

War Counsel
"Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is splitting with President Obama over the need for Congress to authorize military action in Libya - though he backs Obama's order to send in air strikes," Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times.

Durbin is probably quite confident that either A) the White House will just ignore him or B) he has the votes the White House would need anyway.

The last thing the White House wants, though, is to officially define the military actions in LIbya as a "war." It's more of an adventure.

*

"Flags waved, tears flowed and hundreds of supporters lined roads from Homer Glen to Elwood on Thursday to pay tribute to U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Olivieri, who was laid to rest at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery," Susan Demar Lafferty writes for the SouthtownStar.

"The Homer Glen resident, remembered as a 'great guy' and respected for his military service by those who came out to pay tribute, was killed in Iraq on June 6 along with four others when militants attacked their base.

"At a brief and somber graveside military service, Olivieri's wife, Sharon; parents Michael and Jody; and three siblings were surrounded by hundreds of mourners as they sat tearfully in white folding chairs in front of a flag-draped casket.

"They held hands tightly as Olivieri was given a 21-gun salute and 'Taps' was played. Members of the honor guard then folded the U.S. flag with military precision and slowly saluted before U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark McDonald presented flags to Olivieri's wife and mother."

Casting Call
Nobody Should Play Drew Peterson In A Lifetime Movie.

The CPD Is Watching You
And it's only gonna get worse.

The Ricketty Cubs
"Cubs fans, it seems, have finally had enough," Eric Peterson writes for the Daily Herald.

"Not from their team's eternally forgivable performance on the field, but rather high ticket prices and sales policies of recent years.

"Local ticket resale companies are reporting a historic decline in demand that not even the weekend series against the New York Yankees or next week's crosstown games with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field are helping to rebuild."

Realigning Baseball
Beachwood Labs takes a crack at it.

Fiance Of Bears QB Must Think You're Fat Too
Kristin Cavallari is both victim and perp.

Pretty Writing
Calligraphy at the Newberry.

The Week in WTF
Ricketts, wieners, Vancouver, Cook County health care and an unpleasant furniture store.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Rihanna, Natasha Bedingfield, Social Focus, HEMI and more!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unwritten.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Nobody Should Play Drew Peterson In A Lifetime Movie

The media is asking the wrong question. It's not a matter of whether Rob Lowe is the "right choice" to play Drew Peterson in a Lifetime movie, it's whether anyone should play him in any movie.

Two women are dead. Profiting off that tragedy is immoral. (And that includes the book by Joliet-area reporter Joe Hosey that the movie is based on.) Glitzing up the horrible trail of dead for viewers' entertainment is despicable. Making money off it is worse. (See No. 9; see also the item Peterson's Pension in this column.)

So instead of asking if Rob Lowe is "too pretty" to play Drew Peterson, let's ask if Rob Lowe is upstanding enough not to.

*

The coverage of Drew Peterson has always been a spectacle too far for my tastes. First, he hasn't been convicted. The fact that the evidence against him doesn't look good is the best reason not to turn him into a celebrity; it would be more compelling if he looked like he was being railroaded.

Second, even if he engages in curious, attention-seeking behavior, the media doesn't have to "cover" him. Except that, you know, it's "fun" and an awful lot of people are making money off the dead women - who still have live relatives.

What if you were on of them? How would you feel?

The media did its job well in helping bring the case to light. Then it went off the rails.

*

I wonder if RedEye's Curt Wagner was thinking of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson when he wrote that "I'm not saying that an actor can't ugly up to play a role, but this news is ridiculous: Rob Lowe will star as accused wife killer Drew Peterson in Lifetime's TV movie The Drew Peterson Story, aka Lady Killer."

I wonder if the geniuses at the Tribune were thinking about Kathleen and Stacy when they wrote "Someone call Jimmy Kimmel and the rest of the Handsome Men's Club. A travesty has taken place" and put together a search-engine friendly photo gallery of their casting choices. A travesty alright. Two women dead and Lifetime can't even cast the lead suspect right!

I wonder if the editors at the Joliet News-Herald (a Sun-Times Media joint) were thinking about Kathleen and Stacy when they decided to run a "click poll" asking readers if Lowe was the right casting choice.

Those deaths were not for our entertainment, people.

*

But it's all ha-ha.

Drew is unhappy. He wanted Denzel Washington.

Drew's lawyer Joel Brodsky says Al Lewis of Grandpa Munster should play the prosecutor.

What a barrel of fun.

*

And here's Channel 7's Ravi Baichwal on the beat!

"While some say Lowe fits the part, although not necessary the look, others say the movie is just drumming up more publicity for Peterson."

Some say Lowe fits the part! Others . . . don't!

*

Daily Mail: Handsome Rob Lowe is real Ladykiller.

Clever!

*

New York Daily News Poll:

Rob Lowe, Ladykiller

Do you think Rob Lowe can pull off playing accused killer Drew Peterson?

-Yes, he's a versatile actor
-No, he looks nothing like Peterson
-I don't know

Some people don't know!

*

"Bolingbrook Patch's daily 'Facebook Fan Poll' now appears in our daily 'Five Things to Know Today' feature.

"Today's question: Would Rob Lowe make a good Drew Peterson?

"Chime in below by leaving a comment!

"Or, to participate in the poll and become a fan of Bolingbrook Patch via Facebook, click HERE."

Please engage!

*

"The screenplay was written by Teena Booth, who wrote the 2009 Lifetime mystery drama about the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, which set ratings records for Lifetime Movie Network," Reel Chicago reports (links added by Beachwood Labs).

"Judith Verno, president of PeaceOut Productions, is Peterson executive producer. She has a raft of true crime movies to her credit, including Natalee Holloway, The Craigslist Killer, and Who is Clark Rockefeller?"

*

"Anytime anyone makes money off a horrific situation like that, it's inappropriate," said family spokeswoman Pamela Bosco.

Don't be such a buzzkill, Bosco.

*

"If Joel Brodsky is angry about something, it's that I am making money and he's not," Hosey told the Sun-Times.

Nice.

Maybe more people will die soon in marketable ways and we can all get rich.

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UPDATE 9:42 A.M.: See also: Stacy Peterson's Sister Calls Upcoming Movie A Waste

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Calligraphy at the Newberry

Since the 1970s, the Chicago Calligraphy Collective and the Newberry have worked together to advance the study of calligraphy and to promote the art to a broader public.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Collective's annual juried show held here at the Newberry until June 25th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

The CPD Is Watching You

Chicago is home to the most extensive camera surveillance network of any U.S. city - and it's going to get even more extensive under Rahm Emanuel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rihanna at the big basketball/hockey arena on the West Side on Wednesday night.

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2. Social Focus at Martyr's on Thursday night.

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3. HEMI at the Abbey on Wednesday night.

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4. Locrian at the Hideout on Monday night.

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5. Internal Empires at Pancho's on Monday night.

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6. Allo Darlin at Schubas on Monday night.

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6. Very Truly Yours at Schubas on Monday night.

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7. Chaperone at Schubas on Monday night.

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8. Natasha Bedingfield at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:52 AM | Permalink

Realigning Baseball

So it seems Major League Baseball is considering realigning the divisions - or doing away with the divisions altogether and just admitting the top teams to the playoffs.

Realignment is something Beachwood Labs has studied for years. Here are our proposals.

* Eliminate divisions but keep two leagues: Felonies and Misdemeanors. Owners would remain in a white-collar criminal class of their own.

* Eliminate divisions but keep two leagues: Steroids and Not. A whole new market for extra large helmets.

* New divisions according to the most popular surnames in the game: Rodriguez, Martinez, Gonzalez, Perez, Garcia, Hernandez and Ramirez.

* The iPod Shuffle Realignment: New divisions randomly chosen every year. Sponsored by Apple, which would get its logo on every sleeve in the game and a Genius Bar at every ballpark.

* New divisions according to the prevalence of team facial hair: Beards, Goatees, Mustaches, Mutton Chops, Soul Patches, Chin Straps and Clean-Shaven.

* Two leagues divided by whether their managers despise or merely dislike Tony LaRussa.

* Put the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies in their own division and broadcast every game on ESPN Sunday-thru-Fridays and Saturdays on Fox. Everyone else would just get a local TV contract.

* The Moneyball League vs. The Scouts Selling Jeans League.

* The Negative Return On Investment Division (-ROI), Sponsored by Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Teams in this division must be in the top ten in payroll, yet also suck at baseball (Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Mets, Angels).

* Take a page from European soccer and sort the teams into flights, named after the quality of their shoe contracts (Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Underarmour, Converse, K-Swiss, Keds, Stride Rite).

* Create an encased meats division where each team is managed by one of Milwaukee's sausages.

- Carl Mohrbacher, Mike Luce, Don Jacobson, Dmitry Samarov, Steve Rhodes

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:17 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Tom Ricketts, WTF?

The Cubs are 10 games out, but the owner is not upset with Jim Hendry, Mike Quade, Carlos Zambrano, or the Cubs in general.

Or Wrigley Field or that his team wore "Fuck The Goat" T-shirts on the field for a public practice recently. Classy.

He also is not upset with world hunger, nuclear arms proliferation or the Rwandan genocide.

He's a pretty happy fella. He smiles a lot. WTF has known people who stayed perpetually stoned on pot between 1960 and 1969 who were not this happy.

2. Political wieners, WTF?

Anthony Weiner's recent issues made us fear the worst. No, not human tragedy or loss of reputation or forced exile from Congress. No, this would have been really serious. What if Oscar Mayer benched its Midwest-touring fleet of Wienermobiles out of a misplaced sense of tastefulness?

Turns out we need not have worried. Mobile wieners are too embedded . . . in our national consciousness. The Wienermobiles, now seven of them, are motoring along all over the country as they have since 1936.

And just who was once was a Wienermobile driver briefly as a college student at Miami U. in Ohio? This guy. We always knew he was a wiener.

3. Vancouver police , WTF?

"[Const. Lindsey] Houghton stressed there has been a change in the party culture since the Olympics and said there is little reason to believe there will be a riot like the one that happened after the team's Game 7 defeat in 1994," the Vancouver Sun reported before this year's Game 7.

"That's not a road we're going down, the people we're seeing [downtown], they're in their early 20s and I think back in '94 those people were three- or four-years-old. It's a different atmosphere around here."

Well, not so much.

4. Aaron's Inc., WTF?

The manager at this establishment apparently managed not only the usual rent-to-own inventory of furniture and appliances, but also his own personal package.

It was an expensive package.

5. Cook County health care, WTF?

The provably false illusion of health care is that every citizen pretty much gets the same high quality for the same reason. We're exceptional as a nation. We're fair. We're dedicated to integrity. As Americans we certainly don't tolerate health rationing based on money, especially for children. Except, of course, we do.

We let children suffer if they don't have good insurance. Doctors let them suffer. Clinics let them suffer. Show me the money, kid. As a nation, and particularly here in Illinois, we do this all the time, even though it is illegal and, more to the point, immoral.

Illusions of grandeur can be so comforting.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:39 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Warner Bros. will hold casting calls Saturday and next week in Chicago, Plano and Naperville for paid extras to appear in its Superman sequel, which is being filmed in the area later this summer," Crain's reports.

Beachwood field trip?

Waste Management
"The state's chief gambling regulator teed off on the 'pile of garbage' that state lawmakers passed last month that would allow a casino in Chicago and put slot machines in the state's five racetracks," the Sun-Times reports.

"Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe gave a long dissection of the gambling package at the start of Tuesday's Illinois Gaming Board meeting, highlighting what he considered to be a series of serious constitutional flaws.

"'There are a million things they have to do that they haven't considered. I'm going to be very polite now and not say what I think,' Jaffe said. 'You can't make perfume out of a pile of garbage.""

*

"I realize that the state is in financial trouble, if gaming is the way that our leaders want to go, so be it. But they should do it in a fashion other than the way they did this particular bill," he added. "It's chock-full of items, that in my opinion, would never pass on their own."

*

"The bill lawmakers approved would create a Chicago casino and four others in Danville, Rockford, Lake County and southern Cook County." the Tribune notes. "Slots would be allowed at Midway and O'Hare airports and the state's six licensed horse tracks. A 'racino' would be added at the state fairgrounds in Springfield, and existing riverboats could add more gambling spots and move to land.

"Jaffe wondered why those cities and towns were picked for casinos when historically that's a choice the Gaming Board makes after months of deliberations and a lengthy vetting process. He expressed concern that the city of Chicago would oversee slots at the airports, and said changes buried deep within the 400-page bill would eliminate needed oversight measures.

"One such provision would get rid of the requirement that those seeking to operate slots at tracks undergo fingerprinting, which Jaffe said is necessary for criminal background checks.

"'If this happens at the track, we can be sure that casino gaming, video gaming and all other gaming will not be far behind,' Jaffe said. 'Good regulation breeds confidence, bad regulation breeds mistrust.'"

"Jaffe also warned that without the proper staffing and funding, there would be no way for the board to get the casinos and slots up-and-running in a timely manner."

*

"I have grave concerns about his comments," bill sponsor Lou Lang (D-Skokie) says in the Sun-Times account. "It's clear he's gone way beyond the borders of his job as a regulator. If he wants to go back and be a legislator, he ought to run for the Legislature. If he wants to postulate on the constitutionality of a bill, he ought to go back to being a judge. But he's neither of those things."

Well, Lou, you'd think the state's chief gaming regulator might be consulted to offer his expertise - especially considering this state's history as well as the fact that he's both a former legislator and a former Cook County judge.

"Here's my suggestion to them, which I don't expect that anybody will follow," Jaffe said. "Have the governor and mayor of the city of Chicago meet with legislative leaders and other civic leaders before a bill is proposed and not afterward. You're just going to make a worse mess than it actually is already."

*

"Jaffe said the 400-page bill was not given an adequate public airing before it was passed over two days in late May and filled with provisions buried deep within it that would not pass on their own," the Sun-Times reports.

"'I would suggest to you this bill has taken a legislative journey which would just confound the founders of our country. It's very, very bad constitutionally, and the Legislature doesn't follow the Constitution anyway,' he said."

Aaron Jaffe, you are Today's Best Person In Chicago.

*

Now, it has been suggested in some corners that the worst parts of the bill were necessary in order to gain enough votes to pass the best part - which is, supposedly, a casino for Chicago.

But if you have to turn a (questionably) good bill into a bad bill to get it passed, it's almost always better to just not have any bill. I mean, where does it end? "I'm sorry, we're going to have to put slots in your kitchen in order to get this thing passed. And you will be required to play them for three hours a day."

*

Various news accounts have noted that gambling is actually on the wane at the moment. So this AP report caught my eye this morning:

"Majestic Star Casinos has cut 50 full-time jobs and is closing a gambling floor on one of its boats in Gary . . .

"The Majestic Star company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2009 and is looking to exit bankruptcy by the end of this year.

"Casino workers union representative Tim Barnes says union officials were told about half the hotel rooms at Majestic Star would be closed. Buck says the hotel is never fully booked."

The [Trade Show] Papers
Unions are only third on the list of folks to blame for high costs at McCormick Place. Maybe fourth.

Seriously, Cubs . . .
Carl's Cubs Mailbag answers the important questions about the team you love to hate or hate to love.

Game Over?
National Pinball Museum in trouble.

Astonishingly Truthful Report About Chicago
This is Chicago - unless your perspective is always from an elite perch clouded by personal affluent (or artsy) experience and an overwhelming PR apparatus. This should be the starting point for the city's journalists, not North Michigan Avenue.

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Visiting journalists from other cities, states and countries eager to buy the packaged narrative could learn a lesson from this too. Regular people quoted!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We're all Russians now.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Game Over For National Pinball Museum?

At the National Pinball Museum in Washington, D.C., the history of the game with its rolling metal balls and noisy flippers is a passion for David Silverman.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Seriously, Cubs . . .

Looks like the Cubs are going to be sellers at the trading deadline. Who's on the block?
-Brock, Rockford IL

Who isn't?

But the main move in the works is a classic "too little, too late" trade between the Cubs and Giants aimed at pacifying an angry fan base: Whoever the Giants want in return for Mark DeRosa.

Seriously, Cubs . . .
-@tomnation2323, via Twitter

As an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies of time and money, Cubs customers are now requiring the Ricketts family to issue a $1.50 rebate check for every ticket transaction in 2011.

Do any Cubs smoke?
-Lil' Shirley, Ideal GA

Other than former Cub Mark Grace, none that I know of.

However, in an effort to generate new streams of revenue the Cubs are preparing to launch their own brand of cigarettes, Cubbie Strikes.

White boarded tag lines include "Infinite patience, infinite flavor" and the Lou Piniella inspired "Breathe fire like a dragon!"

I used to like Peter Gammons, but then he made those comments about Wrigley being a "dump" on The Score. You lie, dick!
-Tom R, Chicago IL

Here is an excerpt of the interview with Gammons from the June 10th Mully & Hanley Show.

"It's a dump, Wrigley Field . . . there's a ton of money that has to go into rebuilding that place."

First, the real dump is that cemetery just south of intersection of Irving Park and Clark where Cubs fans dump their garbage and urine on the way back to the car we parked at a gas station. Second, Gammons' claim is mathematically incorrect.

A dollar weighs one gram and there are about 454 grams in a pound, so a pound of dollars is worth $454. This means that the estimated $200 million needed to bring Wrigley up to code would weigh 44,052 pounds, about 42,000 more pounds than "a ton."

Is there something wrong with Carlos Marmol?
-Mark, Buffalo Grove IL

His slider is flat . . . like jo mama!

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2011

The Sexual Politics of Unlikely Chicago Icon Hugh Hefner

"Perhaps the most important moment in gender politics in America occurred at a kitchen table in Chicago late in 1953," Tom Matlack writes at Huffington Post.

"A young man named Hugh Hefner borrowed a thousand dollars from his mom to publish a magazine that was originally going to be called Stag Party. But apparently there was already a Stag magazine about horses. At that kitchen table, Hefner put together the first issue of his new magazine and decided to name it Playboy after an automobile company that his mom had once worked at. He featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover . . .

"In the years since launching his magazine, Hefner has sparked a profound change in American culture that continues to frame the way we look at sex and gender. The first mass-market magazine to show naked women, Playboy gave birth to pornography as we have come to know it - a business that has blossomed into arguably the biggest single media industry in our country.

"No other man has had as profound an impact on both the conscious and sub-conscious way men look and think about women and their bodies. From Madison Avenue to Hollywood the way women are portrayed is either a direct result, or a direct rebellion against, the boulder that Hefner started rolling down that hill 50 years ago."

*

That's why Matlack doesn't think NBC ought to air The Playboy Club, a show about Hefner's glory days in Chicago that is on the network's fall schedule. He has company from the (presumably) other end of the political spectrum.

"The Playboy Club won't air until the fall but it's already been deemed unsuitable for one NBC affiliate in Utah," CNN reports.

"Salt Lake City station KSL told the network that the '60s-era drama set in Hugh Hefner's famed Chicago establishment just doesn't fit with what the station aims to show its audience.

"'The Playboy brand is known internationally. Everyone is clear what it stands for,' said KSL President and CEO Mark Willes. 'We want to be sure everyone is clear what the KSL brand stands for, which is completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand.'"

*

But what is that brand, really?

"For a lot of people, thoughts about the sexual politics of Playboy run along the lines of what Gloria Steinem reportedly once told Hugh Hefner: 'A woman reading Playboy feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual.'" the University of Chicago Press says. "Hefner's magazine celebrates men as swinging bachelors and women as objects of desire; ergo, it's sexist.

"Not so fast, says Carrie Pitzulo. With Bachelors and Bunnies, she delves into the history of the magazine to reveal its surprisingly strong record of support for women's rights and the modernization of sexual and gender roles."

Maybe so, but isn't that a bit like a doctor trying to cure you after infecting you to begin with?

*

Perhaps most remarkable about the story of Playboy, though, is that it happened here and not in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or even Boston or Miami.

From Pitzulo:

"This time Hefner was put on trial when the city of Chicago prosecuted him over a nude pictorial of actress Jayne Mansfield.

"In June 1963, Hefner was arrested in his home for 'publishing and distributing an obscene publication.' Describing the experience to his readers in Playboy, Hefner wondered if 'the whole thing [was] just a bad dream caused by the frankfurters and Pepsi [I'd} consumed just before retiring.' The arrest was real, but some Chicagoans were not convinced. One Chicago Sun-Times reporter asked an obvious question, 'Why now? Playboy has been publishing nudes of voluptuous dishes for years.' Prosecutor John Melaniphy argued that the pictures in the June 1963 issue were different because a (fully clothed) man was shown on a bed with Mansfield, and the captions, which read 'she writhes about seductively' and said that she was 'gyrating,' made these particular photographs obscene."

*

"Hefner argued, 'Chicago remains one of the few major cities in America that is dominated by a single religious denomination - that is, where a majority of the officials in power belong to one church and where their administrative decisions sometimes appear to be predicated more on religious dogma than civil law."

Still, Hefner was cleared on all charges.

*

"You're Invited . . . There's a Party; Every Saturday Night in Playboy's Penthouse"
- Chicago Daily Tribune Jan 2, 1960

*

"Pets Help Tell Plans for Parties"
- Chicago Daily Tribune Aug 31, 1961

*

"HUGH HEFNER: PLAYBOY HITS IT RICH AT 35; Builds 20 Million Dollar Business How Playboy Hefner Struck It Rich at 35"
- Chicago Daily Tribune, Feb 11, 1962

*

The trailer:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:28 PM | Permalink

The [Trade Show] Papers

"A three-month Crain's investigation finds questions of profit and fairness clouding the future of McCormick Place, the linchpin of a Chicago convention industry that generates $8 billion in annual spending and supports 66,000 jobs," James Ylisela reported on Monday.

"In 2009, when some big trade shows left or threatened to leave Chicago over price-gouging and labor practices at McCormick Place, lawmakers rushed through legislation imposing wage cuts and work-rule changes on unions at the convention center.

"But labor represents a relatively small share of exhibitors' costs at McCormick Place. The reforms required no meaningful concessions from trade associations or a pair of show contractors that continue to squeeze exhibitors, who already bear most of the costs of conventions.

"Freeman and Global Experience Specialists Inc., which handle three out of four McCormick Place shows, still charge the same high rates exhibitors cite as their No. 1 complaint."

*

This is true. See Convention Wisdom, an excerpted summary of the story about McCormick Place I wrote for Chicago magazine in 2004, which included these passages:

"For all the talk of high labor costs in Chicago, convention officials still use wage rates as a selling point. A Web site dedicated to the McCormick Place West expansion boasts of average hourly pay that is lower than that in several other cities, including New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Atlantic City.

'"We honestly don't believe Chicago is out of line with its labor costs,' says [Ken McAvoy, a senior vice president at Reed Exhibitions, which owns, among others, the National Hardware Show]. 'We do believe that some of the work rules need to be reworked to make it easier to exhibit, but that's no different than any of the other cities.'

"Indeed, work rules, not wage rates per se, are the issue in Chicago. Show managers are concerned with issues such as the size of work crews, the way overtime pay is calculated, and allowing exhibitors to do more of their own work instead of being required to hire union labor for certain tasks."

*

"Indeed, union officials say they're willing to make further concessions as long as the pain is shared - something they're not sure happened during the last round of negotiations in 1998. 'We believe that we gave concessions that would keep and lure new business to Chicago,' says Dennis Gannon, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. 'We don't believe that the contractors ever passed that savings on to the customer.'

"The contractors say that's nonsense. 'All of the changes that did occur were passed on to exhibitors or show organizers if they were billed,' says John Patronski, executive vice president of industry development for GES. Bob Lozier, executive vice president of Freeman, says that not only have the savings been passed on, but contractors have absorbed the 3.5 percent to 5 percent annual raises labor has received.

"Gannon doubts the contractors are suffering. 'Follow the money,' he says. 'If you look at Freeman and GES's profit margins over the last four years, they didn't go down. But I can tell you that the money that was going in the pockets of the working men and working women down there went down from the concessions we had to come across with.'

"Further complicating the discussion is a confusing billing system that doesn't break down costs with as much specificity as some would like. 'The exact economics is a mystery,' says [Mary Pat Heftman, a senior vice president with the National Restaurant Association]. 'It's so convoluted.'

"For example, according to [Leticia Peralta Davis, who was the chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority that is in charge of McCormick Place], the contractors are responsible for moving freight off the loading docks and into the exhibit halls, and it's not clear how much of a markup they are getting. 'There has to be transparency in the way contractors bill our customer,' she says."

*

"Labor costs, aren't the only factor on which convention centers compete. 'They always like to try to blame the unions as to cost, but that's only one of maybe 20 things,' says McAvoy. 'You've got to look at the hotel costs, the cab costs, the airfare costs, the restaurant costs, everything else.'"

*

Back to Crain's:

"These [contractor] charges are higher at McCormick Place than at some other convention centers, including Rosemont's.

"At the same time, contractors reward the trade associations by covering some of their direct costs, then passing those costs on to exhibitors through higher prices for a range of services. Crain's also finds that trade associations pad their profits by substantially marking up what exhibitors pay for floor space and hotel rooms controlled by the associations.

"'The association managers have gone tone deaf to the needs of their exhibitors, and they've become addicted to the money they realize from the contractors,' says Jim Wurm, executive director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractors Assn., a Bend, Ore.-based non-profit advocacy group.

"Now McCormick Place is preparing to hand the contractors a lucrative new plum: exclusive rights to provide electrical services at trade shows. Last year's legislation required McCormick Place electricians to perform that work at cost but allowed Freeman and GES to compete. Officials say they can no longer afford to be in the electrical business, opening the door for Las Vegas-based GES and Dallas-based Freeman to mark up those services and wipe out one of the most significant cost savings exhibitors won from the reforms."

*

"Exhibitors say the reforms save them money by allowing them to do more work in their booths without union labor. But industry surveys consistently show they are far less concerned about costs of labor than they are about costs imposed by contractors and trade associations."

Here We Go Again
On the same day that Ylisela's report appeared, the Car Care Show announced it was leaving McCormick Place for Las Vegas.

"The Car Care World Expo has decided against holding its 2013 trade show at McCormick Place due to higher labor costs and instead will go to Las Vegas," Crain's reported.

"Eric Wulf, chief executive officer of the Chicago-based International Carwash Assn., said that the uncertainty surrounding wide-sweeping reforms enacted last year by state legislators and currently being challenged by several unions forced the organization to withdraw its letter of intent to hold a future show in its hometown.

"'Chicago simply is not a possibility given its work rules,' Mr. Wulf said."

*

Actually, the Car Care Show wasn't so much "lost" as it decided not to come here after all.

"A mid-sized convention has reversed its intention to go to Chicago in 2013 and will instead remain in Las Vegas," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

"Car Care World Expo, staged by the International Carwash Association, had earlier planned to return to its home base after being in Las Vegas since 2006. It has already booked the Sands Expo Center for next year."

Which isn't to say it isn't a loss for Chicago because it is. But not a huge one.

"The expo has been shrinking in recent years. This year's attendance dropped to 5,500, down one-fourth from two years ago and nearly half from the peak of 10,500, according to association numbers.

"Likewise, the number of exhibitors and square footage they rented, important income centers for the association, have declined in tandem.

"The show previously had gone into the Las Vegas Convention Center, but this year downshifted to the smaller Sands."

*

Back to Crain's:

"The package of sweeping reforms, including changes in labor rules designed to make McCormick Place more competitive with rival convention cities, became law after the Illinois Legislature overrode Gov. Pat Quinn's veto.

"Those reforms were challenged in court by several Chicago unions. A federal judge ruled in favor of the unions, but McCormick Place officials have asked that the reforms remain in place while the case is on appeal. The judge has yet to render an opinion on the request."

The Car Care folks cited uncertainty over this legislation as a factor in their decision. So let's put legislators and their poorly written bill ahead of the unions too when assigning blame. Contractors, legislators, unions. In that order.

*

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel [Tuesday] said he's concerned by the Car Care World Expo's decision not to come to McCormick Place and pledged to be aggressive in trying to keep costs down at the lakefront convention center," the Tribune reported.

Let's hope he reads Ylisela's piece.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. "[A] computer scan of 140 years of Chicago's official precipitation records indicates that rainfall is blind to the days of the week," Tom Skilling reports.

2. Blagojevich Jury Going Into 4th Day.

At this point in the first trial, deliberating jurors were still three days away from finding the verdict form and the indictment in their cart of paperwork.

That's not a joke, as those who followed the case - or this column - closely can attest.

3. "Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle ran for the job as a reformer, but on Tuesday she found herself defending a decision to put two former southwest suburban state lawmakers on the county payroll," Erika Slife reports for the Tribune.

Huh? I didn't know "reform," if that's what Preckwinkle ran on (I'd say more that she ran on "competence"), meant that you couldn't hire anyone who had ever worked (however briefly) as a state legislator.

"Former County Board President Todd Stroger was criticized during his term for hiring the politically-connected. On election night last November, a victorious Preckwinkle told supporters she planned to 'clean up county government by ending patronage.'"

Right. So how is this patronage? Stroger's problem was that he hired friends, family members and a steakhouse bus boy whose loyalties would be to him and not the taxpayer; if only he had hired qualified folks with integrity.

Now, if Preckwinkle's hires are political rewards, or come with untoward expectations of future political support, fine. Then say it. Otherwise, it's hard to see the issue here - unlike Preckwinkle's baffling support of Joe Berrios

4. It would be far more productive to read all of Rod Blagojevich's e-mails instead of Sarah Palin's, except for the pesky fact that Blago never "learned" to e-mail. Pity.

5. "For one night, fans of the Peoria Chiefs can have their own replica of LeBron James' first championship ring," ESPNChicago reports.

"Call it the cheapest promotion in sports history because, like James' ring, the handout doesn't exist.

"The Chiefs, a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Midwest League, will hold a LeBron James NBA Championship Replica Giveaway night on Thursday, poking fun at the Miami Heat star's loss in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.

"'Replica rings' - also known as air - will be handed out by stadium workers as fans enter the park, according to Chiefs spokesman Nathan Baliva."

6. "Illinois Senate President John Cullerton met Tuesday with the head of CME Group Inc. and came out saying he's willing to consider changes in state income taxes that would benefit the exchange," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

"But any cut would have to be 'revenue neutral,' offset by revenue from closing corporate 'tax loopholes,' Mr. Cullerton said."

So in other words, Illinois corporations wouldn't come out any better than where they're at now - except, I suppose, those that don't benefit from said loopholes. I find it hard to believe the CME isn't one of them.

"Or, [Cullerton] added, the rate could be cut if revenue from the recent hike exceed expectations."

And then what if revenue the next year doesn't meet expectations - will it go up again?

*

"Chicago has given some $32 million to the CME," the Chicago Teachers Union says (see Traders Sneer At Bake Sale).

"That includes $15 million in TIF money (although the CME is hardly 'blighted' as TIF districts are supposed to be). An estimated $7.6 million of that TIF money comes from Chicago Public Schools. In receiving this TIF subsidy, CME promised they would stay until 2017, not only keeping the current level of employees, but adding 638 more positions.

"Chicago also gave CME a special Property Tax break of $17 million in 2004. That year the City Council lowered CBOT's property taxes 'by a total of approximately $17 million over 12 years beginning in 2006.'

"Chairman of CME Group, Terrence Duffy, made a profit of $4.6 million and says that CME is considering a move, completely disregarding the subsidies and tax breaks that we, The People of Chicago, gave to them. According to the CME's annual report, last year they made a profit of $951 million dollars, a 15% increase above the previous year."

7. The Seinfeld Economy: It dipped, and then it dipped again!

8. Longtime Head Of Apple's Retail Strategy Hired To Be Boss Of JC Penney.

Look for Jeans R Us Bars in all stores soon.

*

Get it? Yeah, maybe that one's a stretch. At least I didn't suggest Penney's would soon be selling the iBlouse.

9. From a PR e-mail I got yesterday:

"If there's any way we could work with you on spreading the word about this event, we would love to offer you a free drink ticket at the show in exchange for a blog post!

That would have to be one very, very, very big drink.

10. It's Raining Rookies.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Precipitous.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: It's Raining Rookies

Are there usually so many promising rookie call-ups joining big league clubs from the minors this early in the season?

Starlin Castro was called up to the Cubs in May of last year, and there were one or two other notable debuts by guys around the same time who had not made big league rosters out of spring training, but this year, with more than a month to go to the All-Star break, it's suddenly raining rookies.

Here's a guide to some recent call-ups and one anticipated arrival you should have your eye on (all available in more than 90% of Yahoo! leagues):

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, San Diego: He has been described as the reason the Padres were willing to let Adrian Gonzalez walk. That's a lot of pressure, but in less than a week, he has a homer, a triple and more walks than strikeouts.

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Kansas City: He was expected to make the big league club in spring training, but played himself out of the opportunity. He's back, and if the Royals' fade continues, he'll be assured of at-bats the rest of the year.

Ben Revere, OF, Minnesota: He may have been called up early in part because the Twins were playing so terribly, but they have been stellar the last 10 games or so, and Revere has been playing for the injured Denard Span, contributing stolen bases and runs. When Span returns, Revere could take playing time from Delmon Young.

Dee Gordon, SS, LA Dodgers: Another speedster, he could quickly become a great value at a very shallow position.

Anthony Bass, SP, San Diego: He made the long trip from Double A, and four walks in five innings in his first outing suggest he's a work in progress, but he did get the win.

Jemile Weeks, 2B, Oakland: He has the same power-speed potential as his brother Rickie, and should get plenty of chances for a losing team.

Kyle Gibson, SP, Minnesota: He has not been called up yet, but the anticipation has been high for this power pitcher with great strikeout potential.

Expert Wire
* Fantasy Knuckleheads has some notes on players returning from the DL, and one significant arrival - Derek Jeter.

* Bleacher Report sees Matt Kemp, a superstar all season, as a sell-high candidate. I was surprised by his rise this year after a two-year slide, but he would be hard to part with now.

* Fake Teams gets inside your fantasy baseball nightmares, and finds - surprise! - Adam Dunn, among others.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade wants to know how you feel about Ichiro - in or out?

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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 3:04 AM | Permalink

June 14, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

I still have one problem file to transfer from my old, dead laptop - it's in a temporary home - and it's the key file I use to keep notes for this column. So . . . you know, all the good stuff is on there. Please, Blago jury, stay out one more day!

In the meantime, let's take a look at today's news.

Captain Kirk
"Little more than six months since Mark Kirk was sworn in, the state's junior U.S. senator has raised his profile and evolved into Illinois' senior Republican," the Tribune's Rick Pearson reports.

"Despite being a Republican, Kirk conducted a town hall event with U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, a West Side Democrat. He has co-sponsored legislation with North Side Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley that would reinstate the honest services doctrine, a corruption-fighting provision struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. He has worked with Southwest Side Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski on transportation initiatives."

Whether you agree with his politics, Kirk is doing a respectable job. But it's hard to forget what a nut he became during the campaign.

*

"Four Illinois elected officials have introduced a bill that would strip pension benefits from congressmen or senators convicted of felonies even if it happens after they leave federal office," Abdon Pallasch reports for the Sun-Times.

"'Governor Blagojevich has been convicted of public corruption crimes, yet he is still eligible to receive his taxpayer-funded congressional pension - this is unacceptable,' said Rep. Robert Dold (R-Winnetka), who appeared with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Monday.

"Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) are co-sponsors of the bill.

"They cannot stop Blagojevich's pension. The bill would apply to future members of Congress."

Blue Plate Special
"Illinois is so hard up for money that it's studying the possibility of selling ads on state license plates," AP reports.

"The idea is to offer special corporate-sponsored plates. Drivers would get a discount on the price, and businesses would put their logos on the plates."

*

In Texas, RE/MAX was first. Mighty Fine Burgers also gave it a shot.

*

"One Adam-12, see the Subaru southbound on Ashland, Illinois plate 'G' as in the feds, 'R' as in Rosty, 'O' as in Oprah, 'U' as in you dere, 'P' as in patsy, 'O' as in Oprah, 'N' as in an den he sez. That car's been reported stolen."

B and B
"Bill To Allow Bullet Trains Along Illinois Tollways Heads To Pat Quinn."

Bullets themselves already allowed.

Revenue Plan
"Noted Chicago personal injury attorney Thomas Demetrio, who has owned many high-end residential properties over the years, has paid $5.5 million for a five-bedroom, 10,500-square-foot mansion in Lake Forest," Bob Goldsborough reports for the Tribune.

I sense an accident coming on at that very location.

Wake-Up Call
"Ian Schrager is launching a new 'accessible luxury; hotel brand, Public, that will target visitors seeking value and affordability in a high-quality product," Michael C. Lowe reports for Meetings And Conventions. "Public Chicago will be the brand's first property and will open this fall in the former 285-room Ambassador East, which was built in 1926 in the city's Gold Coast neighborhood.

"Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, from the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant ABC Kitchen in New York, will head a new take on the property's original restaurant, The Pump Room, which hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart."

But will it still be called The Pump Room?

People Are Stupid
"After more than a century of failure, you'd think by now that we wouldn't expect much of the Cubs. But, no: Chicago's North Siders are in fact baseball's most overrated team," the Wall Street Journal reports.

Plea A Bargain?
Fitzgerald Defends Deal With American Terrorist In Chicago Trial.

International Treasure
Neil Young From An Art Gallery Somewhere In Chicago.

Saving Ozzie
It might be up to Sergio Santos.

The End Is (Still) Near
Are you ready?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rapturous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

Collapse: It's Coming! Are You Ready?

Everything is not alright. And things are going to get worse . . . much worse. The economy is on the threshold of calamity. Wars are spreading like wildfires. The world is on a razor's edge.

Not so, say world leaders and mainstream media experts. Yes, there are problems, but the financiers and politicians are aware of them. Policies are already in place and measures are being taken to correct them.

Whether it's failing economies, intractable old wars or raging new wars, the word from the top always maintains that steady progress is being made and comforts the populace with assurances that the brightest minds and the sharpest generals are in charge and on the case. On all fronts, success is certain and victory is at hand. Only "patience" is required . . . along with more men, more time and more money.

As far as these "leaders" and their media are concerned, the only opinions that count come from a stable of thoroughbred experts, official sources and political favorites. Only they have the credentials to speak with authority and provide trustworthy forecasts. That they are consistently, if not invariably, wrong apparently does nothing to diminish their credibility.

How can any thinking adult possibly imagine that the same central bankers, financiers and politicians responsible for creating the economic crisis are capable of resolving it? Within days of its announcement, we predicted that Bush's TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was destined to fail, and subsequently predicted the same for Obama's stimulus package (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). They were no more than cover-ups; there would be no recovery.

Meet the New Plan, Same as the Old Plan

Democrat or Republican, it makes no difference. Despite the heated rhetoric, solving economic problems had less to do with the party in power and more to do with professional competence. Both sides had their turn in office. Both used their power to initiate policies that created the problems. Both sides had their shot at fixing the messes they were responsible for. Both sides failed, as we predicted. Given who they are and what they've done, we confidently predict an unbroken sequence of bipartisan failures in the future.

The Beltway Incompetents are in the driver's seat. What person with a healthy instinct for self-preservation would believe the promises of politicians or trust the judgment of central bankers or Wall Street financiers whose only real interest is self interest?

Not "Business as Usual"

In the 1920s, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge declared, "The business of America is business." Four score and 10 years later, the business of America has become war: The forty-year War on Drugs; The ten-year War on Terror; the Afghan War (longest in American history); the eight-years-and-no-end-in-sight Iraq War; the covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen; and most recently, the "time-limited, scope-limited kinetic military action" in Libya.

While the justifications for engaging in these wars were all different, all were murderous, immoral, interminable, ruinously expensive and abject failures. Why would anyone believe the optimistic battle communiques issued by the "czars" in charge and the battlefield brass who keep reassuring the public that reapplying previously failed strategies would, this time, lead to success?

Yet even in the face of their proven failures and gross incompetence, anyone daring to challenge the party line or the conventional wisdom is dismissed as an "alarmist," "fear monger," or "gloom-and-doomer." However unwelcome our forecasts may be - pessimism, optimism, like or dislike are all irrelevant - only their accuracy counts. We correctly forecast:

* Afghan and Iraq Wars would be debacles
* Bursting of the housing bubble
* The "Gold Bull Run"
* The "Panic of '08"
* European Monetary Union crisis
* Failure of U.S. bailout/stimulus packages to revive housing and create jobs
* Falling governments, spreading civil wars and social upheaval on a global scale

We also said that the Federal Reserve's sighting of economic "green shoots" in March 2009 was a "mirage" and predicted that their much vaunted "recovery" was no more than a temporary solution, a quick-fix to be followed by "The Greatest Depression."

And now, in June 2011, with the Dow on a down trend and the economic data increasingly pointing in the direction of Depression, Washington and Wall Street remain in denial. The only debate among the "experts" is whether a "double dip" recession is likely.

However, for the man on the street - pummeled by falling wages, higher prices, intractable unemployment, rising taxes and punitive "austerity measures" - "Depression," not "recession," and certainly not "prosperity," is just around the corner.

According to a June 8th CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, 48 percent of Americans believe that another Great Depression is likely to occur in the next year - the highest that figure has ever reached. The survey also indicates that just under half of the respondents live in a household where someone has lost a job or is worried that unemployment may hit them in the near future.

Suddenly, after years of obvious economic hardship experienced by tens of millions of Americans - only when the suffering and pain can no longer be cloaked in abstractions and cooked statistics - does an emboldened media dare utter the forbidden "D" word.

For Trends Journal readers, alerted to this emerging trend some three years ago, the prospect of Depression should come as no surprise. Neither should the idea that, when it hits and can no longer be denied, a long suffering public will take to the streets.

When I made this forecast back then it was written off by most of the major broadcast and print media. Now, however, when one of their own, belatedly and hesitantly, raises that possibility he is elevated to sage status and it becomes big news.

In early June, Democratic strategist James "It's the Economy, Stupid" Carville, having finally mastered the higher math of adding two plus two, warned that decaying economic conditions heightened the risk of civil unrest.

As I described it all those years ago: "When people lose everything, and have nothing left to lose, they lose it."

Trend Forecast: The wars will proliferate and civil unrest will intensify. As we forecast, the youth-inspired revolts that first erupted in North Africa and the Middle East are now breaking out in Europe (See "Off With Their Heads," Trends Journal, Autumn 2010).

Given the trends in play and the people in power, economic collapse at some level is inevitable. Governments and central banks will be unrelenting in their determination to wring every last dollar, pound or euro from the people through taxes while confiscating public assets (a.k.a. privatization) in order to cover bad bets made by banks and financiers.

When the people have been bled dry financially and have nothing left to give, blood will flow on the streets.

Trend Lesson: Learn from history. Do you remember when it first became apparent that the U.S. economy was in deep trouble and heading toward the "Panic of 08"? Not many will. Most people were in a summer state of mind and in holiday mode. It was late July 2007 when the stock market suddenly plunged from its euphoric 14,000 high.

Though we had warned in our Summer 2007 Trends Journal (released that June) that "trends indicators point to a major crisis hitting the financial markets between July and November," the diving Dow was downplayed as a mere "hiccup" . . . a time to pause between more mouthfuls of expansion.

Biggest mistake in a falling stock market

The huge swings in the Dow are giving investors pause. But taking your money out of the market now could be the gravest mistake of all.

NEW YORK - This past Thursday was the second worst day of the year for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. But remember, it was just a week ago today that the Dow closed above 14,000 for the first (and only) time.

Fluctuations in the market shouldn't get to the 401(k) investor. Keep in mind your time horizon - most of us are going to be invested in the market until we retire, often decades from now. - CNN, July 27, 2007

Four years and trillions of dollars in stock and 401(k) losses later, that typical "take a deep breath, stay the course" advice looks tragically misguided. The Dow would eventually lose more than half its value and now, in June 2011, it's fallen below 12,000.

The moral of this story is to not let your mind take a summer vacation. Conditions are rapidly deteriorating and it is imperative to remain on high alert. Another violent financial episode is looming. It may be triggered by economics (e.g., debt defaults and debt crisis contagion in Europe, a crashing US dollar, or commodity price spikes); it could be terror (false flag or real), a man-made disaster (another Fukushima) or one made by Mother Nature . . . or any combination of the above.

Publisher's Note: To excel in any field - from gourmet chef to concert pianist to close-combat warrior - you have to practice . . . endlessly, over and over, until finally the training sinks in and becomes a part of you.

In that spirit, I again repeat: preparing for financial survival is a "practice." And it has to be treated as if you are preparing for battle; expect the unexpected and prepare for the worst, which in these perilous times could be a declaration of economic martial law. Banks may close, currencies may be devalued and deposit withdrawals may be imposed. Remember Gerald Celente's basic survival strategy, "GC's Three G's: Guns, Gold and a Getaway plan."

In the Summer 2011 Trends Journal (mid-July release) we will provide practical strategies to cope with the coming collapse and offer approaches that, if implemented, could reverse the prevailing negative trends.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

Fitzgerald Defends Plea Bargain With American Terrorist

The chief prosecutor in a landmark terrorism trial that ended last week in Chicago says a plea bargain with a confessed American terrorist was justified because of his value as a source of intelligence and as a key witness in any future prosecutions.

Jurors last Thursday convicted Tahawwur Rana, a Chicago businessman, after a trial that revealed unprecedented details about the alliance between Pakistani militant groups and that country's intelligence service.

In addition to investigative work by the FBI in the United States, Pakistan, India and Denmark, the case centered on five days of testimony of David Coleman Headley, who confessed to doing reconnaissance for the 2008 Mumbai attacks and a failed plot in Denmark.

Jurors convicted Rana on two of three counts of support of terrorism for letting Headley, a childhood friend, use his immigration consulting business as a cover for his plotting overseas. Headley described the Mumbai attacks as a joint operation directed by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and the Lashkar-i-Taiba militant group.

He testified as part of a plea agreement that enabled him to escape the death penalty for his role in the killings of 166 people, including six Americans, in Mumbai.

Defense attorneys argued that using Headley, a former drug dealer and DEA informant, to go after Rana was comparable to using a whale to catch a minnow.

But in a telephone interview Friday, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the Northern District of Illinois said the information that Headley provided about the inner workings of terrorist groups and the ISI was unprecedented in its scope and detail.

Headley will testify in any future prosecutions of fugitive masterminds such as al-Qaeda chief Ilyas Kashmiri and Lashkar's Sajir Mir, who is charged with a lead role in the Mumbai plot, Fitzgerald said. Fitzgerald declined to discuss details of the case such as the politically sensitive decision to indict a suspected ISI officer who served as Headley's handler and is known only as Major Iqbal.

"In addition to Rana, what we got from Headley was a lot of intelligence," Fitzgerald said. "There is no doubt in my mind that we would have been derelict in our duty if we didn't go after a deal with someone who had sat down with Kashmiri, with Sajid Mir, with Major Iqbal, someone who knew so much about these groups and these plots. He gave us 34 more targets in India. It was a no-brainer to me."

The trial was a duel of big guns. Fitzgerald, one of the government's toughest and best-known prosecutors, is a veteran of major terrorism cases dating back to the 1990s. He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for FBI director.

Defense attorney Charles Swift, meanwhile, is a former Navy lieutenant commander and military defense counsel who successfully challenged the legality of military commissions for Guantanamo inmates before the Supreme Court. After leaving the Navy and going into private practice, he has defended high-profile terror defendants.

In a telephone interview Monday, Swift insisted that Headley falsely implicated Rana and manipulated the government as he had when he was a DEA informant.

Swift also said it is doubtful that the top suspects in Pakistan will ever be brought to trial. The FBI has developed a lot of information about the identities and whereabouts of Major Iqbal and other suspected masterminds, but Pakistan has resisted pressure from Washington to go after them, U.S. officials admit.

"The prosecutors got nothing from their deal with Headley other than his allegations against Rana," Swift said. "From my review of the evidence, they got all the significant intelligence from him before they made the deal."

The jury apparently accepted the defense argument that Headley kept Rana in the dark about the Mumbai plot by telling Rana he was doing espionage work for the ISI in India. The jury acquitted Rana of involvement in the Mumbai attacks but convicted him of supporting the failed Denmark plot and of supporting Lashkar.

Swift said the mixed verdict was not surprising.

"From the beginning we feared the verdict could be a compromise," Swift said. "That's why we asked to separate the Mumbai charges from the Denmark charges. There was more evidence on the Denmark plot. He was found completely not guilty on Mumbai."

Nonetheless, Fitzgerald said the verdict shows Rana was aware from the start that he was involved in terrorist activity. He noted that Rana admitted after his arrest in 2009 that he knew Headley had been working with Lashkar for five or six years.

"The verdicts were hardly as inconsistent as some have made them out to be," Fitzgerald said. "The charge on Mumbai required that he know enough about the plot at the time he agreed to provide support to be found guilty of specifically agreeing to aid an attack with guns and bombs. The question was when did he know the full scope of the plot . . . The jury convicted him of the substantive offense of providing material support to the terrorist group that carried out the attack but did not convict him of agreeing specifically in advance to support that attack."

The jury rejected the idea that Rana remained a dupe once the carnage in India had happened. E-mail and wiretap evidence showed that Rana was a willing and knowing participant in Headley's reconnaissance for an attack on a newspaper in Denmark that has become an internationally known target of terrorists after publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005, Fitzgerald said.

"The jury could give Rana the benefit of a reasonable doubt as to how much he knew about the Mumbai attacks," Fitzgerald said. "But Rana played a more direct role in Denmark . . . And there was more corroborating evidence beyond Headley, whose credibility was challenged by the defense. Jurors naturally look for intrinsic corroboration. They want to see something in black and white."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Neil Young From An Art Gallery Somewhere In Chicago

Goin' back to the country.

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See also: In Action: Neil Young at the Chicago Theatre

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

Closing In

It's hard to like or even trust a closer. A couple hiccups and the seven or eight innings a starter put in are washed away as if they never happened. The pressure rises as the innings dwindle until it's the ninth and you're up by a run or two and the guy on the mound can keep things as they are (as you think they should be), or, let it all go up in flames.

Very few pitchers in baseball history have had the temperament to last any significant time in the role and even the immortals have faltered from time to time. Dennis Eckersley had Kurt Gibson and Mariano Rivera has the Red Sox (he's blown ten saves against them).

There's no one on the White Sox pitching staff who should be mentioned in the same breath with those greats of course, but until recently, Sergio Santos had been doing a more-than-serviceable job. After the Thronton debacle that started the year, anyone would shine by comparison. Still, the man's saved 12 games while only blowing two; not bad at all.

I've never been one to give too much credit or blame to baseball managers. Unless your name is LaRussa and you've apparently made a pact with the devil allowing you to plug no-name players into your lineup whenever a star goes down to a season-ending injury and keep on winning, the manager can only do so much. I'll always defend Ozzie Guillen for running his mouth like a fool in any medium available to him. It creates a buffer between his players and any criticism (deserved or not) when he rants and raves like a rabid dog, and that's not a bad thing.

If there's been one weakness with him, though, it's his handling of relievers. He just doesn't seem to have much of a feel for when to leave 'em in or when to pull the plug. Fat Bobby ripped into Guillen on his way out of town for how he handled his pitchers.

Of course, this came from a man who lost whatever it is that closers require to keep closing and has spent much of this season on the Red Sox disabled list.

Still and all, both times that Santos has blown leads it seems like Guillen has left him out there to get pummeled when he obviously didn't have anything left.

Meanwhile, the team's creeping closer to respectability. Konerko and Quentin keep bashing the ball and Dunn even hit a couple out after being benched for a couple days. The Indians are in freefall; how long could they have kept it up with nothing but smoke and mirrors anyway? The Tigers are still an unknown quantity and perhaps the Sox' true obstacle for the division lead.

We'll see. As long as we win the games we should win, it should work out alright.

carlos_quintin.jpgCarlos Quentin 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 7:18 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. WWII Bomber Crashes Near Aurora.

Finally runs out of fuel.

2. Crew Shortage Stops Six Metra Trains.

Because the labor market is so tight.

*

Hey, wait: There were seven survivors of that bomber crash . . .

3. Citigroup Kept Mum On Credit Card Hack For 3 Weeks.

You might say they had 0% interest.

4. Wendy's To Sell Off Arby's.

And lose the secret recipe to the Horsey Sauce?

*

There's just something inherently funny about that headline. The only thing that could make it better would be "Wendy's To Sell Arby's To Hardee's."

5. Board of Trade Building For Sale.

What better place to put a casino?

*

See also: Rahm's Palace.

6. Another Chicago Dog Found In Fayetteville.

7. Daley Set To Face Cyborg on July 30th.

If only.

8. "Altogether, Sunday proved a triumphal final night for the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park, restoring the high spirits that had been dampened, literally and figuratively, by rainy weather and some weak performances during the annual free festival's first two days," Kevin McKeough writes for the Tribune.

*

See also: The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

9. "Sandburg High School (Orland Park, Ill.) senior Lukas Verzbicas . . . became the fifth high school runner to record a sub-four minute mile," SBNation reports. "He busted out a time of 3:59 Saturday, winning the Dream Mile at the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City."

10. "[Alfonso Soriano] sort of sauntered his way around left field - taking a slow, safe route to a looping single in the left-center gap, playing it on a hop rather than charging the ball," Sean Keeler reports from Des Moines, where Soriano is on a rehab stint. "In three at-bats, Soriano, who's recovering from a strained left quadriceps, saw just six pitches. That's right. Six. He swung at the second offering each time. Meek grounder to second. Pop-out to first. Fly out to left. Thanks for coming, everybody! Drive home safe!"

*

See also:
* The Cub Factor: I Wanted To Like This Team.
* SportsMonday: Cut A-Ram. Now.
* Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Exotic Side Bets and Drinking Games

11. New Chicago Uno Grill prototype opening in Plattsburgh, New York.

12. Chicago Teen Gets $1M In Scholarships.

13. Sam Cooke To Get His Own Street.

14. Station Identification: WFLD/32/Fox Chicago.

15. A walk through Ravenswood Used Books.

16. Scorekeeping: A lost art comes back to life digitally.

17. Last Week in WTF.

Programming Note
I know there are a lot of hot topics I haven't gotten to yet, I'm still catching up since last week's laptop debacle. Flash mobs, Paige Wiser, Blago . . . and much more to come as best I can this week.

Also, seeing as how it's Monday, I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Stop in and say hello. 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with Horsey Sauce.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:02 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Millipede at the Abbey on Friday night.

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2. Foster the People at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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3. Eric "Guitar" Davis and the Troublemakers at Blues Fest on Friday.

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4. Black Dub at the Park West on Friday night.

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5. Project .44 at the Abbey on Thursday night.

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6. Keri Hilson at the B96 Summer Bash in Bridgeview on Saturday.

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7. Flux Pavilion at the Congress on Saturday night.

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8. The Hoyle Brothers at the Pritzker Pavilion on Sunday.

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9. T-Pain at the B96 Summer Bash in Bridgeview on Saturday night.

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10. Bouncing Souls at Reggie's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

Station Identification: WFLD/32/Fox Chicago

Through the years.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

Walking Through Ravenswood Used Books

"This has to be the most amazing bookstore ever! This place is a mess and extremely unorganized. There a so many bookshelves and they are placed so close together that really only one person at a time can be in-between them."

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"This is me trying to walk through the store. Everywhere you go you find another shelf full of books! If you want to go to a bookstore to find something specific, this is not the place to go. If you just love books and like finding random treasures within, you need to go to this place: 4626 North Lincoln Avenue."

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See also this alert from Ravenswood Used Books:

"The bookstore has just acquired a LARGE COLLECTION of material relating to the world wide SLAVE TRADE from its early history into the early twentieth century. Books by scholars, historians, novelists, and activists, from Steve Biko through Cornell West and M.L.K. Jr. Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, merrie olde England, sad New England, and the old plantation. Our books are NOT online and are sold to nice people who walk in, call, or send the money. That is all. "

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And: "A very charming corner in which you will find cookbooks across from those on spirituality."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Palace

Rahm Emanuel may think he doesn't look good in a toga, but if he gets his casino he may want to stick with the Rahmulus theme (better than the Rahmfather from a marketing point of view) and call it Rahm's Palace. It worked for Caeser.

Here's how we think it would work.

* Whenever the house is down more than $50,000, the casino will close for the evening due to "heat exhaustion."

* All cocktail waitresses will wear ballet outfits.

* Richard M. Daley as official greeter for $100K per. Plus, three shows a night.

* All fish at restaurant served with a threatening note.

* Water contract to Don Tomczak.

* Sewer and Wi-Fi contracts to Patrick Daley.

* Sanitation contract to . . . you know.

* The roulette wheel will determine admission to charter schools - if you can meet the minimum bet, of course.

* Don Rickles headlines. Wilco opens.

* Dealers required to have only three-and-a-half fingers.

* Garry McCarthy will use Compstat to continually reset the odds.

* Ed Burke assigned to slots committee; Patrick O'Connor to run high-stakes poker. LAZ assigned to the skim.

* All waitstaff trained at Ed Dbevic's.

* State Supreme Court will relocate there (or at least intend to) and wear togas instead of robes.

* Board of Trade will relocate there; all traders will wear togas.

* Slot machine contract sold off to a Russian company. Players hope to cash in with a "Triple Borscht."

* J.C. Brizard orders "Card Counting" classes to be taught at all "turnaround" schools.

* Security contract to R.J. Vanecko.

* The Barack Obama Suite: Looks huge from the outside but not so much once you step in.

* The Michael Madigan Suite: Sleep on sheets depicting a redistricted Illinois and under blankets emblazoned with the logo of Madigan's law firm. A portrait of Lisa hangs above the bed.

* The Pat Quinn Suite: Yeah, right.

* The Palace Buffett: Featuring foie gras and Asian carp.

* Lobby display of Elvis's white suit and Blago's blue suit.

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See also: Welcome To The New Chicago Casino!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Cut A-Ram. Now.

It would be such an awesome statement to give King Casual the boot before he can infect Starlin Castro with any more of his "why bother to go 100 percent when you can hit 30 home runs" attitude - except he can't hit 30 home runs anymore.

Yes, Ramirez hit a two-run homer on Sunday and he saved a game recently with a diving play in the field, but those rare highlights only make more stark the fact that he hasn't been able to rouse himself to play hard game in and game out even in his contract year - the last of a five-year, $75 million deal.

Haven't we seen enough?

Supremely talented slackers like Ramirez can usually be counted on to raise their games when there is money on the line. Not so for Ramirez, who could line up a decent payday with a merely decent season.

But he's even too lazy to chase dollar bills.

Meanwhile, Ramirez has pissed off fans yet again with his refusal to run hard to first on ground balls he hits and to go all out after ground balls (i.e., dive) in the field more than once in a blue moon. Though he "saved at least one run with a diving grab" against the Phillies last Thursday, Ramirez long ago stopped being a plus player defensively.

And what a coincidence it was that a story leaked recently that Ramirez was nursing a tight hamstring. No wonder he hasn't been running out ground balls! Now what explains the rest of the time?

"I don't want to make excuses," he told the Sun-Times.

And then he did.

'It's harder when you get older. It happens to everybody,'' he said.

He is 33.

''Especially playing a lot of day games . . . "

But I don't want to make excuses.

" . . . and it doesn't help when it's cold and raining and 30 degrees every day.''

But I don't want to make excuses.

* * *

So why not just trade him? Because that will be nearly impossible.

His delightful contract, yet another Jim Hendry masterpiece, requires that his option be vested if he is traded. So any team acquiring him this year would be on the hook for another $16 million in 2012. No team is that stupid.

Besides that - if you can believe A-Ram's agent - he isn't inclined to waive the no-trade clause that Hendry so generously agreed to.

The Cubs are likely to buy out A-Ram's contract for 2 mil at the end of the year anyway, so why not just let him go now?

Throw your fans a bone. Make a statement about playing the game with determination. Dump him and say to Starlin that "This way is absolutely not the way to play the game."

It would be so easy. Why am I so sure you won't do it?

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Comments welcome.

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1. From John Harrold:

Hey, lay off of Aramis Ramirez. You seem to forget that he has the extra burden of having to worry about his cockfighting endeavor too.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

I Wanted To Like This Team

I have to admit that I wasn't exactly sure what to make of this season before it started. The Cubs were in a weird place.

Instead of the standard, misplaced wait-til-next-year optimism of most years, you kinda thought that a ton of things would have to go right for them to have a chance. I was hoping for a little luck and at least a shot at the wild card.

But more than anything, I wanted to like this team.

I wanted to like them and move forward with them. I wanted to take my lumps with these kids and be okay with a rebuilding year or two.

But from the top down, these guys are clowns. And here we are again, hoping for cataclysmic failure - failure of such immense proportions that Tom Ricketts has no choice but to clean house and start over.

At least know what to make of this team now.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs put any insane notions of a salvageable season to rest with a 2-5 record for the week. 100 losses, here we come!

The Week in Preview: The Cubs come home for four against the now-in-first-place Brewers and then welcome the Yankees to Wrigley for three. Not exactly the Pirates and Nats. Quade may not last the month.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got six of seve starts this week with Blake DeWitt getting the other lone start. Blake also played a lot in left field this week, which is good, if by good you mean good for losing games because when a guy can't even show enough offense to keep the starting second baseman job you might as well start him in left field where most teams hide a masher. You know, just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Delino DeShields is the manager of the Dayton Dragons of the Class A Midwest League. He is missed, but was just over in Kane County playing the Cougars so he is not missed that much at the moment.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z seems to be Apologetic as he literally apologized this week, but this is just a cover for still Getting Angry. We're still awaiting the big Boom; so far just tremors.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "You Are Not Missing Anything" this week and administering "Don't Be In Too Much Of A Hurry To Get Back" orally.

Lost in Translation: Sayio ity noto soio is Japanese for Fukudome really only has 6 RBIs all season?

Endorsement No-Brainer: Prince Fielder for sausages. A lot of sausages.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 87% sweet,13% sour. Mike stands pat again this week because he is a doormat. And when your job is to be stepped on, it feels good to you when it happens. And just like with your own seemingly well-adjusted uncle, you always wished Uncle Mike was your dad growing up because he seemed to be great. But your cousin Terry, Mike's son, can't make a sandwich or do his own laundry, and he's 32. There was some goofy shit going on in that family.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of "Clown Car" traded higher this week as speculation of new roster moves were in the air on the North Side.

Over/Under: The number of LaMahieu jerseys you will see around the ballpark this year: +/- 5. (He does have relatives.)

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that another season is officially in the toilet.

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? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . We think he's becoming delusionally optimistic.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Scorekeeping

I had to walk up and down aisle after aisle last Thursday at The Cell looking for them. You can still find a few, but they are scattered throughout the ballpark, whereas years ago finding people penciling in scorecards was as easy as locating empty beer cups.

"It's a lost art," lamented Ed Wiklak who grew up just a few blocks from Comiskey Park. "I score every game. One time I missed in the last 50 years was because it was raining."

We'll forgive Ed for this omission, especially since he figures that he has 600-700 games stashed away at his Wheeling home. Decades ago he graduated from the scorecards sold at the park to a scorebook that he purchased at Sports Authority.

Wiklak likes detail. Even before the first pitch - the exact time of which he accurately records - Ed pencils in the temperature (it was a frosty 50 degrees for Thursday's 9-4 victory over the A's) and the names of the umpires. After the game, he tapes his ticket stub on the corresponding scorebook page, and he clips the box score from the next day's paper and attaches that as well.

Don Bowman of Beverly is similarly organized. He uses a form that he got "from someone who knew [former Sox broadcaster] John Rooney." It's a useful grid just waiting to receive each game's details.

Bowman ("You spell my name just like the old dairy") still buys the current scorecard once he enters the park. At $1 this is The Cell's finest bargain. By far. He clips his form to the scorecard so that he has a solid back on which to record what he hopes will be a Sox victory.

Back at home, Don slips the form into the unused scorecard. That in turn goes into a file for the current year. "The scorecards go back to the '70s," he says. "I have boxes in my crawl space." Chances are that's about all that's in his crawl space since he attends 30-35 games a season.

Bowman's father - like all responsible and intelligent dads - took Don to his first Sox game in 1949. Bowman remembers newspaper vendors outside Comiskey Park who sold the paper and also provided a free scorecard for the game.

Of course, over the years Bowman - and many like him - accumulated tons of paper. Whether it was baseball cards that our mothers clandestinely disposed of or scorecards, these documents of record lived perilous lives.

"They [his earliest scorecards] went with the proverbial flood in the basement when I was in the Navy," Don remembers with a smile.

One scorecard that Bowman won't lose is Mark Buehrle's perfect game from July 23, 2009. "I'm going to frame that one," he says. No doubt Buehrle would be willing to sign it before Don hangs it on the wall so that he can invite all the neighbors to pay homage.
What is it that drives these men (and women as well) to write down every play of every game?

"It keeps me involved," says Tony Rothschild, who was sitting behind home plate with his 20-something son Jimmy on Thursday. "It keeps me watching. [Otherwise] my eyes would wander, and I'd eat too much."

Rothschild did admit that an occasional hot dog is part of his ballgame experience, but that's where son Jimmy plays a part. Nary a play is missed since Jim takes over the book when Dad heads to the concession stand. "I also keep score when I come to the game alone," says Jimmy. Nothing like passing the torch, or the pencil.

Rothschild also uses a scorebook, a rather huge one published by MacGregor. His wife bought it for him. With Father's Day coming up Sunday, I would think this to be a perfect gift.

Rothschild is not a packrat like some of the scorekeepers. He said that he's thrown away most of his old scorecards, but Jimmy says that "Sometimes I find them lying around the house."

Bowman says that his dad first taught him how to keep score; he says now that "It has become addictive. It keeps my head in the game. I like to concentrate on things that are going on. I've been doing this since I was a kid, and now I'm 70. I guess I'm just an old diehard."

This skill also can come in handy depending on where you're sitting. Wiklak was on the third-base side Thursday, but he often sits in the outfield where he can't get a good view of the scoreboard. "It's very helpful to keep score there," he said.

I love a neat, well-documented scorecard, and I was thrilled to meet the three fans mentioned here. However, I didn't keep score very often as a kid because I had an older brother John who is the Rembrandt of scorekeepers. If I ever needed a reference, I simply consulted what he christened his "museum."

However, there were occasions - such as the 1959 World Series - where I suspected I was witnessing history. Hence my scoring of the Game 1, 11-0 drubbing of the Dodgers.

59 Series scorecard.JPG (Enlarge)

This scorebook - a 68-page masterpiece which sold for 50 cents - has been looked after carefully for the past 52 years. No crawl space for that puppy. I can retrieve it on a moment's notice.

Thursday also marked the scoring debut of my wife Judy. While I scoured The Cell for scorekeepers, she diligently marked down each play, using the tips I gave her along with the directions listed at the bottom of the scorecard, courtesy of the White Sox. While her initial effort shows promise, the experience of Mssrs. Bowman, Wiklak, and Rothschild can't be duplicated.

As Wiklak said, "They should give kids scorecards for free to get kids doing it. It gets them interested in baseball."

* * *

Judy already is interested in baseball, but she now has a new skill to perfect. Wouldn't it be lovely if the Sox continue to inch toward the top of the Central Division so that her trove of scorecards could be viewed years from now with fond memories?

With Sunday's 5-4 win they've closed to within 3 1/2 games of the division lead. Consider that back on May 6, the team was 11-22 and trailed Cleveland by 11 games. Nothing like a 22-13 awakening to create some enthusiasm and optimism. All of this despite blown saves, a mostly dormant Adam Dunn - could yesterday's three-homer be a sign for the future? - and an inconsistent offense.

The Sox have deficits, but no one can say they are not resilient. I credit Ozzie Guillen for much of that. Sure, the guy rants when he's frustrated, but he has been steadfast in his belief that this team can be a division contender when they're focused and playing hard.
Apparently his players believe him. Ozzie says he likes the talent, and the talent sure looks better now than it did five weeks ago. Who knew? I guess Ozzie did.

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Baseball scorecards have moved into the digital age. Here are a few examples:

* The ESPN iScore Baseball Scorekeeper.

* The touchScore Baseball Scorecard.

* Pointstreak K-ForCE Lite Baseball Scorekeeping.

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See also: 10 Awesome iPhone and iPad Baseball Apps.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

June 12, 2011

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Exotic Side Bets And Drinking Games

The Cubs are done. Now what? Why should I watch?
-Debbie, Downers Grove IL

Exotic side bets and drinking games.

For example . . .

* Will Carlos Zambrano have more hits than wins this season?

* Over/Under: Number of Cubs to miss games due to facial injuries: 3.5.

* Take a shot every time Len Kasper sighs heavily before saying "Well, partner" to Bob Brenly.

* Shotgun a beer every time Geovany Soto's bottom hand flies off the bat and causes him to wince.

* Take a bite out of a full can of Old Style the next time you hear the public announcer say: "Pitching and batting sixth . . . Carlos Zambrano!"

* Pound a bottle of cheap chardonnay every time the ceremonial first pitch is faster than a Doug Davis slider.

Does Zambrano have a point? Are the Cubs really playing like a Triple-A team?
-Paul, Palos Park IL

That's an insult to the Iowa Cubs.

Mike Quade is always looking for positives and I f&%$ing hate it! Is he delusional?
-Stu, Palatine IL

Speaking of almost a Triple-A team, I peered into my crystal ball last night (read: empty bottle of Evan Williams whiskey) and was greeted by a vision of the August 2nd lineup card Mike Quade is going to be forced to write out due to injury and lack of production:

1. Tony Campana, CF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. DJ LeMahieu, 3B
5. Lou Montanez, RF
6. Tyler Colvin, 1B
7. Fernando Perez, LF
8. Welington Castillo, C
9. Rodrigo Lopez, P

You play the hand you're dealt, but you can't bully or bluff in baseball.

I've noticed a lot of alcohol spokesmen doing cool things on commercials during Cubs games - the Dos Equis guy is cooking sti rfry with a mountain lion; Captain Morgan does a gainer off the plank in front a bunch of rum craving seamen; Keith Stone seems to get all the pretty ladies despite being homeless; Michael Imperioli is always angry about tequila . . . The point is, how about a Cubs mascot?
-DeTroy, Rock City IL

We had one named Santo, but unfortunately he's moved on.

Damn, Tony Campana is swimming in that uniform. Who else is invited to his pajama party?
-Megan, Fox Lake IL

Greg Maddux, Juan Pierre, and I want to say Frank Castillo, but I couldn't find an image of him.

You win again, the Internet. Thanks for making me feel like a geezer and a nerd.

[Editors Note: Carl should have realized he was a total baseball nerd when he also found himself Googling "What is Rey Sanchez up to?"]

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 PM | Permalink

June 11, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Inspired by this week's weather, we've invented a new game: 25 Degrees of Kevin Bacon. One day your career's red hot, the next the bottom drops out.

Market Update
Well, look at the bright side. It turns out we smoked 50% less than we thought in 2009. So that should pay off . . . hopefully sometime before 2024.

Sure Bet
Interest in this weekend's Belmont Stakes continues to wane after punters finally noticed that Animal Kingdom has actually won every single Triple Crown race ever.

Weiners
Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin reacted shadily this week to revelations she tried to have a tanning bed installed in the governor's mansion in Juneau. "My system was hacked," Palin declared. "I cannot say with certitude whether those were my streaky legs, but anyone can see I'm naturally this orange."

Deliberate Deliberations
In other former governor news, the jury in the corruption retrial of Rod Blagojevich used its first day of deliberation to decide to knock off early. Perhaps inspired by the evidence before them, jurors also set a rotation of who gets to hide in the bathroom when the discussion gets too intense.

All You Can Eat?
Finally this week we know it's a long shot, but is it possible the bidder was just confused and really, really hungry?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Feed us.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:55 AM | Permalink

June 10, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Jean-Claude Brizard, WTF?

Maybe WTF has lost track of how these things are done, but Brizard's contract to run Chicago's schools is still being negotiated and the deal has secrets in it?

WTF.

Isn't the deal supposed to be the same as the offer made by the boss?

The Boss: I'm offering x, y, z, a large heap of q plus 250 Gs per. You get all the pencils and copier toner you can steal.

You: Okay.

The teachers' union obviously wants to know what the juicy details are. And BTW, the school board apparently is still tinkering with a budget proposal (it's secret, too) that does not include the 4 percent teacher raises approved in the last contract. We seem to be missing a key fact here. Does the board think it can simply stiff the teachers on a contract it has already signed? There is a provision in the contract that allows for such a thing but the board would have to prove - probably in court - that it could not find the money.

Contracts aren't what they used to be.

2. Romantic CTA, WTF?

So Craigslist rates the CTA as the nation's most "romantic transit system."

We are speechless - and it takes a lot to make us speechless. Maybe their definition of romance involves rape, mob assaults, and knocking old women down the platform stairs. Love truly is in the air.

3. City salaries, WTF?

No good can come of this except the sheer pleasure of mischief.

Sure it's good to know how your money is being spent - except that it will most likely make you mad that to find out out and make city employees even madder because now you know how overpaid they are.

This attempt at candor has been tried elsewhere with mixed results. Local public unions usually scream so loud it makes your eyeballs bleed, and the well-meaning city leader has to pull them off the Internet before there's a mob action in his office.

In the meantime, though, let us enjoy the information. Cops and firefighters make between $75,000 and $85,000 for most jobs. That seems fair.

But we are most interested in how some jobs could pay what they do.

An "asphalt helper" gets $72,000. Some librarians get $74,000. "Sanitation laborers" get $72,000. "Truck drivers" in Streets & San make 70 Gs. An "accounting technician III" makes $73,800. The "deputy press secretary" in the mayor's offices makes $90,000. A "caulker" in Water Management gets $90,000.

Although everyone who works for the city probably believes they are underpaid and overworked, when these figures seep out to the rest of Illinois, whatever good vibes the city has with downstate municipalities will evaporate permanently.

Also, the next time the city pleads government poverty, some skeptic will get out this list and suggest about $10 kazillion in savings without even trying hard.

By the way, the city employs 300 people named Smith. And one named Zyskowski.

4. The Cubs, WTF?

Nobody has asked him specifically but don't you bet that after being shoved out the door with a boot in the tush, Ryne Sandberg is truly the happiest guy who didn't get his dream job managing the Cubs?

Mike Quade did get the job and though this team is not his fault, it's a smudge that will last a long time because it is so bad in so many ways. Ryne didn't dodge a bullet, he escaped a howitzer shell of career doom.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:54 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Not only still resolving ongoing computer issues but my nagging sore throat has developed into a full blown sickness of some sort. I will get some of our stuff posted later today and Natasha will be here tomorrow with the Weekend Desk Report. Hope to be back in full on Monday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

June 8, 2011

Fantasy Fix: Heating Up

There's a common understanding that power hitters will heat up along with the weather; that they will start blasting home runs with greater frequency as the majority of MLB cities migrate out of chilly spring into hot, humid summer.

It has something to do with arm hair having lower density or some such thing - I don't know. You should probably ask Tom Skilling.

Anyway, I've always though the weather gets too much credit for home run production. Sluggers hitting more home runs during June, July and August than in April could have to do with plenty of other things - after a couple months of the season, for example, hitters have their timing locked in, and they are certainly more familiar with pitchers and what they might throw in given situation.

Fans of the Cubs and White Sox had better hope there is something to this hot weather home run business. Our hometown teams have two of the most disappointing sluggers in the league right now in Aramis Ramirez and Adam Dunn. The way they both look right now, I'm not sure even a string of 100-degree days will get them going.

It's a good bet, though, that with the turning of the calendar to June, we'll start seeing more round-trippers, maybe even by some guys who aren't usually among the league leaders. Here are a few candidates:

Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, San Francisco: Struggled early, but turned it on with a three-homer game recently, and he typically heats up in late summer, so the best is yet to come. Available in 40% of Yahoo! leagues.

Miguel Olivo, C, Seattle: He has seven homers now, but four of them have come in the last two weeks. 78% availability.

Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Washington: Every year there's a guy who swats numerous home runs in spring training and is never heard from again. It looked to be Morse this season, but he has turned it on in the last week and now has nine. 42% availability.

Nick Swisher, OF, NY Yankees: He has been a big disappointment this year, but has hit three homers in the last 10 days and should get plenty of chances at Yankee Stadium, one of the best places for dingers. 38% availability.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade says it's call-up season already, as promising Jemile Weeks gets a chance in Oakland.

* Bleacher Report has the rundown on two talented rookie pitchers - Dillon Gee and Josh Collmenter.

* ESPN wonders if Edinson Volquez can get his mojo back. He did beat the Cubs Tuesday night, but results may be inconclusive when dealing with the Cubs.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:39 PM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. California Wives at the Do Division festival on Sunday.

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2. Lauryn Hill at the Aragon on Friday night.

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3. Hellblinki at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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4. Big Freedia at the Do Division festival on Sunday.

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5. Duenow at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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6. Dengue Fever at the Do Division festival on Saturday.

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7. Head for the Hills at Martyr's on Saturday night.

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8. Brendan Perry at the Metro on Sunday night.

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9. Frenchy and the Punk at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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10. Dayglo Abortions & Verbal Abuse at the Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:59 PM | Permalink

North Avenue Beach Pre-Closing Report

A beautiful day!

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See also:
* The Real Reasons Behind The Closing Of North Avenue Beach

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 PM | Permalink

Lupe Fiasco: The Biggest Terrorist Is Obama

Chicago rapper calls out the prez.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:25 PM | Permalink

The Three Jakes

Sunday afternoon, while working on the picture of Jake Peavy for this column, I listened as Peavy threw three perfect innings, then gave up six runs in the fourth and was removed from the game with a pulled groin.

In four innings, Peavy demonstrated the three modes of this year's Sox team: great, awful, and just plain unfortunate.

It'd be great if the man would stop getting injured and sustain the flashes of brilliance he's teased us with since coming over from the Padres.

That fist-pump thing he does at the end of his delivery is pretty great and it'd be nice to see it more than a couple times a year.

What do you say about a team that sweeps the Red Sox, then drops two of three to a middling Tigers team?

They're way out of whack, but listing the symptoms and recommending a cure are two very different animals.

Would they win a few more games if Dunn and/or Rios could manage to hit above the Mendoza Line? Sure.

Would they have a better chance if Alexei Ramirez made the routine plays as well as he does with the highlight-real ones? Of course.

And what if John Danks had won even half the starts he deserved to? Certainly.

But these are all wishes, and as the lyric goes, "You can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first." ("Lucky" by Mule).

It's as if you had all the pieces of a puzzle, yet no matter how you jammed them together they stubbornly refused to form a picture.

On the North Side, the problems are easy to see. There's plenty of blame to go around and there's little to be surprised about. Quade seems like a nice man and I don't envy him. His team's a disaster and the press is already starting to turn on him.

On the South Side, who the hell knows what will happen? This is no bargain-basement squad that can continue underperforming and be allowed to keep limping along. Will they start blowing it up if they don't change?

I feel bad for Konerko now for re-upping at a discount to stay with the team. He keeps putting up great numbers with little notice. He's the kind of player the game is all about. He just goes and does his job. I hope for his sake and ours that the rest of the team will start doing the same.

jake_peavy.jpgJake Peavy 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 11:31 AM | Permalink

Big Brent Lillibridge

Frank Thomas has always been huge, but the affable Big Hurt more than filled the screen last Thursday morning on the WGN-TV news. He was there to hype Going Yard, The Everything Home Run Book, where the book jacket tells us that Thomas wrote the foreward and provided commentary for veteran sportswriter Lew Freedman. Frank was to appear at a suburban book store that evening to meet fans and sign autographs.

Thomas knows a few things about hitting home runs, having belted 521 over 19 seasons. Not bad for a guy who prided himself on hitting for average while utilizing a working knowledge of the strike zone. Perhaps his finest skill was hitting strikes and being content to draw a walk. For his career, the Big Hurt had a .419 on-base percentage, which ranks him 20th all-time.

Ted Williams, who some consider the greatest hitter ever, reached base more often than anyone with a mind-boggling .482 mark. Like the Big Hurt, Teddy Ballgame also ended his career with 521 home runs. Of course, Williams missed parts of five seasons to serve in World War II and the Korean War. Meanwhile, injuries compromised Big Frank's career - he was hurt in 2001 and also in 2004-05 - but he rebounded nicely, slugging 39 homers for Oakland in 2006.

Thomas arrived on the South Side in 1990, fresh off three years at Auburn University where he also played tight end on the football team. Listed at 6-feet-5 and 240 pounds during his playing days, he appears to have put on a few pounds, although one would not call him fat. Especially to his face.

Thomas and Jim Thome stand out as the two guys in the Steroid Era who played it straight and still managed to bang the ball out of the park. These are two big, strong guys. You would expect them to hit for power.

Brent Lillibridge is another story. When he smacked Homer No. 6 last Wednesday in Boston, not only did it come at an opportune time - it broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning - but it also once again elicited a where-would-we-be-without-this-guy reaction.

Coming into this season, Lillibridge was a borderline player, splitting his time between Triple-A and the big club. He had three career homers prior to 2011 and never hit higher than .224. Prior to one of his demotions to the minors, Ozzie Guillen said Lillibridge needed to learn how to take better advantage of his speed. There never was a remote hint that he needed to hit the ball out of the park.

The Sox Web site lists Lillibridge at 5-11 and 185 pounds, which seems like a stretch. However, you don't have to be a big guy to be strong and quick. We got a good look last week at Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia - a former Rookie of the Year and MVP. He and Lillibridge are about the same size. Pedroia has a wicked swing. He's very quick and is capable of hitting for power.

Don't misunderstand - Brent Lillibridge won't generate MVP votes any time soon. But generating bat speed? That's another story. He's been hitting the ball to the left side with authority.

In addition, now that he's experiencing some success, his confidence is rising. Compare Lillibridge's approach at the plate to the season's other big surprise: Adam Dunn. No one could have predicted that two months into the season Lillibridge would out-homer Dunn.

Consider the mental approach these days of a player like Dunn. He's signed a four-year $56 million contract, but he's hitting less than .180, leading the majors in strikeouts, and he's basically helpless against left-handers.

With six more strikeouts Saturday and Sunday, the fans did what fans do: they booed. Dunn had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday, but he grounded out. Think he's feeling any pressure?

At the same time, the big fella is leading the team in walks. (Who would walk him? Evidently Dunn's reputation has preceded him.)

Management avers that Dunn "will be just fine." He is being paid a fortune to hit homers just like he has for the past 10 years.

On the other hand, Lillibridge draws a check just above the MLB minimum to, well, make the team, fill in as needed, and stay positive. At this point, Lillibridge is the game's greatest bargain while Dunn is the biggest flop. Lillibridge can play a variety of positions, and Ozzie now is finding places for him on a regular basis.

Take Friday night's fifth inning in the series opener against the Tigers. Lillibridge - in his finest Adam Dunn imitation - lined (quick bat) Homer No. 7 to lead off, giving the Sox a 5-3 cushion. Another home run when the team truly needed one.

Dunn is next, and he breaks his 0-for-40 streak against lefties. Not a home run. Not a line drive off the wall. Not even a stinging single to right. No, the big guy hits a little looper between first and second and - in his best Brent Lillibridge imitation - beats the pitcher to first for an infield hit. It's supposed to be the other way around.

So while we wait for Dunn to be "just fine" and Lillibridge continues his unlikely heroics, the team sweeps the Red Sox at Fenway but drops an important series to the Tigers at The Cell. Having played 30 of 43 games on the road between April 18 and June 1, the schedule now favors the Sox if you believe in home-field advantage.

However, if Dunn continues his swoon, it matters not whether the Sox are playing at The Cell or in Peoria. It's simply dandy that Lillibridge isn't who we thought he was; that Beckham and Morel are beginning to look like they belong; that the pitching has improved; that Paulie and A.J. are "all in"; that Ramirez likes warm weather; and that Pierre occasionally makes a great catch. Without Dunn looking more like the Big Hurt and less like the Brent Lillibridge of past seasons, this team is destined to remain right where it is.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

And here we go . . .

* Lupe Fiasco: Obama Is The Terrorist.

* Lauryn Hill, California Wives, Hellblinki and more in The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

* "Fans of the Cubs and White Sox had better hope there is something to this hot weather home run business," our very own Dan O'Shea writes in Fantasy Fix. "Our hometown teams have two of the most disappointing sluggers in the league right now in Aramis Ramirez and Adam Dunn. The way they both look right now, I'm not sure even a string of 100-degree days will get them going.

"It's a good bet, though, that with the turning of the calendar to June, we'll start seeing more round-trippers, maybe even by some guys who aren't usually among the league leaders. Here are a few candidates."

* "In four innings, Peavy demonstrated the three modes of this year's Sox team: great, awful, and just plain unfortunate," our very own Dmitry Samarov writes in Outside Sox Park.

* "A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it is going to take a real GM to fix this mess," our very own Marty Gangler writes in The Cub Factor. "And the Cubs don't have one."

* "You won't ever catch me saying 'We weren't sure it was a good idea but we said it would be okay for her to play in a travel league with a ridiculously far-flung and never-ending schedule because she loves the sport so much,'" our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday: Winning The Weekend. "Parents who express these sorts of sentiments need to be told, among other things, 'Yes and she would love to have chocolate cake for dinner and stay up until 2 in the morning.' Clearly the key is to set the right limits. And if anyone knows exactly what those are, please let me know."

* "At this point, Lillibridge is the game's greatest bargain while Dunn is the biggest flop," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in this week's White Sox Report. "It's simply dandy that Lillibridge isn't who we thought he was; that Beckham and Morel are beginning to look like they belong; that the pitching has improved; that Paulie and A.J. are "all in"; that Ramirez likes warm weather; and that Pierre occasionally makes a great catch. [But] without Dunn looking more like the Big Hurt and less like the Brent Lillibridge of past seasons, this team is destined to remain right where it is."

Programming Notes
The Papers will likely return on Thursday, though I'm still working off a temporary dead-laptop solution and not a permanent one. Thanks for your patience.

The [Tuesday] Papers
Still having computer problems. Apologies to readers and writers. Hope to be back soon. Will try to get somewhere to check e-mail today as well.

The [Monday] Papers
My laptop died this morning - and then somehow I miraculously brought it back to life. I wonder what it saw on the other side.

As a consequence, however, today's Beachwood will be a little late - later than usual, these days.

In order to maximize your reading day, here's a tip: I start posting in the Sports section, then move to Music and the rest of the site. I do The Papers last. So even if it looks like the same old thing out front, new posts are appearing elsewhere on the site as I go.

And in case the whole Beachwood edifice crashes, remember I'll be back behind the bar tonight. At least the bar doesn't freeze up, though sometimes it spins.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Edificial.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Winning The Weekend

My daughter Alana had a full slate of youth soccer games this weekend . . . and a couple baseball games, one of which was called after a half-inning due to the lightning storm that blasted through the area Saturday afternoon. It was probably excessive; it was definitely fun.

Regarding "probably excessive," ever more attention is being paid to how youth sports are administered in this area and across the nation. There is growing awareness that many kids do too much, too soon. Alana's parents are hyper-aware of this. Her dad (that would be me, of course) is on the Chicago board of the Positive Coaching Alliance (an organization devoted to improving youth sports coaching and the youth sports experience). But we also want her to have the most fun possible.

You won't ever catch me saying "We weren't sure it was a good idea but we said it would be okay for her to play in a travel league with a ridiculously far-flung and never-ending schedule because she loves the sport so much." Parents who express these sorts of sentiments need to be told, among other things, "Yes and she would love to have chocolate cake for dinner and stay up until 2 in the morning." Clearly the key is to set the right limits. And if anyone knows exactly what those are, please let me know.

If my daughter's schedule wasn't over-the-top this past weekend, it was close. We caught a break when the first baseball game was postponed due to lightning. So there was at least a little less organized sport than was originally planned. That was to have been her second big event Saturday.

Alana will turn 10 in August by the way. She is a determined, strong-for-her-age athlete. Her weekend began when her AYSO house team, which I co-coached, wrapped up its season with a cool little tournament. She played two, 25-minute mini-games the first day of the weekend and then, after sitting out a first half, wrapped things up with the final 12 minutes of a third and a divisional championship game on Sunday.

We lost that last game in a penalty kick shootout but afterward, when medals had been distributed, Alana said something to the effect of "that's okay dad, I like the way silver looks better than gold."

Then it was off to the baseball game at Welles. When we arrived, the sun was shining, the breeze was cool and all was well with the youth sporting world. About a half-hour later we were hurrying kids off the diamond after an electric bolt flashed through the sky out beyond center field.

On Sunday, we wrapped up the house soccer tournament and then Alana dashed off with her mom to a travel game out in Palatine. Her team (one of AYSO District 418's Northwinds squads) has had a better schedule than most, with only one game per weekend in the fall and spring (almost all on Sunday afternoons) excepting a Memorial Day weekend tournament. Half the games are in the suburbs, but except for a trip to Rockford in a couple weeks, the trips aren't too daunting.

Actually, it is oftentimes kind of nice to get on area expressways on Sundays after fighting through traffic weekday after weekday. On non-holiday weekend Sundays, the Edens and the Kennedy often live up to their names, i.e., they actually feel like express routes through the metropolis. The travel team pulled out a solid 2-1 victory, enjoyed a fine snack afterward and made it back to the city in plenty of time for the 5:30 p.m. baseball start. The best thing about the weekend was probably the miracle that none of the baseball or soccer conflicted. But the scheduling karmic wheel will probably come back around and bite us some time soon.

Alana's minor division Brewers team lost a choppy 7-2 decision Sunday evening. It was far from the team's best performance this season, but I'm confident everyone there would have said watching it sure beat viewing the Flubs or the White Flags on Sunday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Still having computer problems. Apologies to readers and writers. Hope to be back soon. Will try to get somewhere to check e-mail today as well.

The [Monday] Papers
My laptop died this morning - and then somehow I miraculously brought it back to life. I wonder what it saw on the other side.

As a consequence, however, today's Beachwood will be a little late - later than usual, these days.

In order to maximize your reading day, here's a tip: I start posting in the Sports section, then move to Music and the rest of the site. I do The Papers last. So even if it looks like the same old thing out front, new posts are appearing elsewhere on the site as I go.

And in case the whole Beachwood edifice crashes, remember I'll be back behind the bar tonight. At least the bar doesn't freeze up, though sometimes it spins.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

My laptop died this morning - and then somehow I miraculously brought it back to life. I wonder what it saw on the other side.

As a consequence, however, today's Beachwood will be a little late - later than usual, these days.

In order to maximize your reading day, here's a tip: I start posting in the Sports section, then move to Music and the rest of the site. I do The Papers last. So even if it looks like the same old thing out front, new posts are appearing elsewhere on the site as I go.

And in case the whole Beachwood edifice crashes, remember I'll be back behind the bar tonight. At least the bar doesn't freeze up, though sometimes it spins.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

A Bad Hand Played Poorly

If the 2011 Cubs season was a hand of hold 'em poker, you would have to say that Mike Quade was dealt a 9-4 off-suit.

For you people who don't know poker, that is a lousy two-card hand.

Not as bad as, say, the Astros' 7-2 off-suit, but a 9-4 is pretty bad. No matter what five community cards are on the table, it's hard to make something out of 9-4 off-suit.

But in poker, as in life, as in baseball, there are always more than just the cards you are dealt. You have to play your hand and get creative with your bets, checks, calls, etc.

I mean, sure you can be happy just to be playing cards for a living seeing as how most schleps are breaking their backs for a paycheck or slowly killing themselves in a cube somewhere, but you are playing for high stakes and can't just be happy to be there because you'll get pantsed. And there are, unfortunately, no cash awards given to the nicest player at the table. If anything being the nicest guy at the poker table shows that you lack a killer instinct, a full understanding of what you are dealing with, or a poker face - which in poker is kind of important.

So yeah, I'm talking about my once-loved (by me) manager Mike Quade. There is nothing wrong with being a good guy and believing in your players, but you have to know that when you are holding a 9-4 off-suit in a big pot, Albert Pujols is calling your bluff, your table presence is for shit and big Al came to play some cards.

The Week in Review: The Cubs lost every game they played this week. 0-6. So they won as many major league games as you did. (Note: if you are a major league player on a different team other than the Cubs reading this, this would not apply to you.)

The Week in Preview: The Cubs continue the Mike Quade Death March in Cincy for three against the Reds and then in Philly for four against the Phils. At this point I'm rooting for 13 in a row. How bad does this have to get to get Jim Hendry out of here?

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney once again played all six games this week at second base. But the interesting was that Barney played a little shortstop this week after a double-switch, which means he may see a little more time at short which will let a few kids we've never heard of available to play second base, which is just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Manny Trillo last played for the Cubs in 1988 but made Yahoo! news recently. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is Getting Angry this week as his bats and his teammates have let him down. He should go off soon.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with a new concoction called BHYWT - "Be Happy You Weren't There."

Lost in Translation: Clownieo Quade-san is Japanese for in over your head.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Mike Quade for Alternative Reality. The one where Albert Pujols stinks.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 87% sweet,13% sour. Mike stands pat this week because even going 0-6 will not break his spirit. And just like your well-adjusted uncle, sometimes Mike isn't quite as adjusted as you think. When Aunt Helen left him last year he kept making her dinner just in case she showed up that night. He can sometimes lose touch.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares traded lower on all Ameritrade products as the truth came out on how Tom Ricketts fleeced Papa Ricketts into believing the Cubs were a no lose business.

Over/Under: The number of quality relief appearances the Cubs will get out of Rodrigo Lopez: +/- off. (No one will take this bet).

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it is going to take a real GM to fix this mess. And the Cubs don't have one.

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? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . We think he's becoming delusionally optimistic.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Be sure to slap on your sunscreen this weekend. If you remember how, that is.

Market Update
We don't like to keep our money in the Human Misery Exchange, but we've got a strong feeling Hunger and Starvation will soon post impressive gains.

Newsflash!
Swarm of vicious bloodsuckers headed to Chicago this month! Will presumably avoid swarm of vicious bloodsuckers sworn in last month.

Misdirection Play
Speaking of vicious bloodsuckers, Rod Blagojevich this week tried to explain away his constant abuse of the truth by likening himself to a quarterback. Unfortunately for Blago, it turns out even quarterbacks lie whenever it suits them.

Saleh Forth
Yemeni officials are strongly denying that President Ali Abdullah Saleh has fled to Saudi Arabia after sustaining a mild head injury. And why wouldn't we believe them? After all, it's probably just a flesh wound.

Full Blatter
Finally, we've certainly had a go at poor old Sepp Blatter in this space, but we'd like to congratulate him on his recent re-election as president of FIFA. And once he's cleaned up that mess we'll be congratulate him on his next high-profile job as President of Ohio State.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Et tu?

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

At the Crossroads: The State of Illinois' Juvenile Justice System

Presenting all-day coverage of the John Howard Association's public forum on the state of Illinois' juvenile justice system.

The forum focuses on three key areas: prevention; intervention and diversion; and incarceration and parole.

Prevention
31075-Crossroads-Prevention.jpg
Victor Thompson, from the South Shore Drill Team, discusses prevention methods for youth.

Sunday, June 5 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 36 min

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Intervention and Diversion
31076-Crossroads-Intervention.jpg
Arnetra Jackson, from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, discusses intervention and diversion approaches to the juvenile justice system.

Sunday, June 5 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
59 min

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Incarceration and Parole
31077-Crossroads-Incarceration.jpg
Arthur Bishop, director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, discusses the process and outcome of incarceration.

Sunday, June 5 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 19 min

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The Future of Polish History
31074-Polish-History.jpg
Award-winning Eastern European historian, Keely Stauter-Halsted, delivers the 2011 inaugural lecture on Polish history.

Sunday, June 5 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 21 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:52 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

Best opening question in a cross-examination ever:

"Mr. Blagojevich, you are a convicted liar, correct?" Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar asked.

"Yes," Blagojevich answered.

Instant classic, Mr. Schar. Or to whoever credit is due - Patrick Fitzgerald may have had something to do with it.

*

"Schar is attacking Rod Blagojevich by pointing out he once told an adviser to put false information about Jesse Jackson Jr.'s chances for being named a senator into a newspaper gossip column, the Tribune reported in its live coverage yesterday. [The columnist was Sneed; see Chicago Columnist Outed As Blago's Favorite Patsy.]

"Schar asked if that was a lie.

"'That was a misdirection play in politics,' Blagojevich said. 'It was not factual.'

"'It was a lie,' Schar said again.

"'I don't see it that way,' Blagojevich said.

"The ex-governor said he was just trying to bolster the chances for 'the Madigan deal' that he had testified so much about 'that I would love to answer questions about.'

"Schar asked if Blagojevich was trying to deceive public officials knowing no one would challenge him.

"'It's the quarterback faking a handoff and throwing long,' Blagojevich said. 'It's part of the business. That was designed for the inside-political world.'"

The inside political world knows not to believe anything they read in Sneed but to instead parse out the meaning and motive of each planted item. Sneed gets paid a lot of money to carry out that function.

*

"On Nov. 4, 2008, Blagojevich held a press conference to talk about his Senate pick and had been asked about whether he might appoint himself. Blagojevich told a reporter he was not interested in the seat, Schar pointed out, so that, too, was a lie."

But Blago didn't see it that way. Just a misdirection play. Because that's how much he loves the people of Illinois.

*

"Schar is challenging Rod Blagojevich's statement last year after his conviction for lying to the FBI that the FBI had not allowed the meeting to be recorded.

"At a press conference, Blagojevich had said the process that led to his conviction for lying about his knowledge of fundraising was unfair because it was not recorded.

"Schar asked Blagojevich if he recalled the FBI bringing in recording equipment 'right in front of you.'

"'I don't recall recording devices or anything like that in that interview,' Blagojevich said."

This was the interview; it turned out that Blagojevich's lawyers were the ones who wouldn't allow it to be taped.

From the first trial, via Fox Chicago News: "On March 16, 2005, [FBI agent Patrick] Murphy testified, the FBI interviewed Blagojevich at the Winston and Strawn law offices. Murphy and and another FBI agent interviewed Blagojevich in front of several attorneys. Before the interview started, Murphy testified they offered to record Blagojevich's interview, but they were refused."

-

From Beachwood contributor Astralopry:

===============================

http://www.simulation-argument.com/

===============================

4:48 p.m. CDT June 2, 2011

"Blago pressed about 'good for me' comment

"Schar asked if he had told aides that his internal process should 'mirror' the external process the public was seeing. Blagojevich's lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, objected, saying he wanted to know when that was said.

"'Ever,' interjected U.S. District Judge James Zagel, telling Schar to put the word 'ever' into the question.

"Schar asked again about the mirroring of the two processes, and Blagojevich asked what that meant.

"'These are your words!' Schar said loudly.

"What he was getting at, Schar went on, was whether Blagojevich had 'good for the state and good for me' as a mantra.

"'Is that what we called it?' said Blagojevich, adding it had been called a 'matrix' at one point."

-

Blagojevich: As Senator, I Would Have Hunted Down bin Laden.

vs.

Blagojevich Hid In Bathroom From Budget Director.

*

"[S]ome dude in the small Russian town of Blagoveshchensk (no relation to Rod Blagojevich) decided that burying himself was the best way to receive a lifetime of good luck," Geekology reports.

Indeed.

Ah, but I think there is a relation to Rod Blagojevich.

*

Too soon?

*

Too obvious? 'Cause, you see, Rod Blagojevich buried himself alive this week too.

*

It's been a long week for a short week, folks.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

The Week in WTF
North Avenue Beach, big boobs, Daley, Berrios and Wheaton.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Beachy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Teddy Thompson at Schubas on Thursday night.

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2. The Script at the Aragon on Wednesday night.

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3. The Melvins at the Double Door on Wednesday night.

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4. Bob Schneider at the Park West on Wednesday night.

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5. Aura Noir at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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6. Marduk at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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7. Glasvegas at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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8. Black Label Society at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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9. Converge at Reggie's on Monday night.

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10. Friendly Fires at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:02 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. North Avenue Beach, WTF?

The city's new top cop and his new boss know better than to concoct total falsehoods and announce it to the public, don't they?

Apparently not. The Memorial Day Weekend beach kerfuffle and subsequent ancillary kerfuffles were not related to a thousand gangbangers arriving on our noble shores to mess up whoever was there. That's the official can't-pass-the-smell-test story. Pay no attention to the thugs behind the curtain. It was 88 degrees and that's really hot for some of us.

Gang? Whatsa gang? says Garry McCarthy, who apparently never saw any of those in Joyzey. And WTF, is he not the stiffest big square guy since Al Gore you've ever seen?

So hizzoner had to back up his cops in his first unpleasant press conference, and all evidence suggests it was a large crock of poop.

The summer is longer in Chicago than it is in Newark. Keep your sunscreen and Glock close at hand.

2. Richard M. Daley, WTF?

"Anyone worried about former Mayor Richard M. Daley being unemployed can breathe easier - he wasn't out of work long," the Sun-Times reports, thus presuming in the lamest of hoariest literary conceits that anyone was actually worried.

As for his new job of rounding up world famous speakers for a series of public policy debates - really, WTF - we've already signed up for "Stick That Leased Parking Meter Up Your Nose" and also "How the Olympics Are A Great Land Swindle Unless They Pick Rio." Sorry, but seats for the "He Was a Public Servant So Everybody Get Off Al Sanchez's Ass" seminar are sold out.

Even better, former Hizzoner also has a second job with a wired downtown law firm: He will practice pro bono law for the indigent poor. (Satire alert.)

It's the same law firm he paid $882,000 to negotiate the city's parking meter lease. If that doesn't get a hosannah WTF from the congregation, nothing can.

3. Wheaton, WTF?

Everybody knows that racism still haunts the South, which makes us feel very superior because that's them. We, on the other hand, are vastly superior and egalitarian in our views. There's no racism here. Well, that is, except for here.

4. Big breasts, WTF?

Blago's defense team has been trying to distract his jury, but they won't be really serious until they try the D-Cup Defense.

"Personally, I like large breasts," the attorney protesting the large breasts said in a quote that is likely unique in the history of local jurisprudence.

We don't know how this case was resolved, and we don't care.

5. Joe Berrios, WTF?

"She's entitled to that salary," Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios said of giving his daughter a $10,000 raise while whacking others' salaries.

Seldom has the term "entitled" been misapplied so revealingly.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"You now have a government owning an operation whose sole purpose is to make people losers," the Rev. Tom Grey, a longtime gambling opponent, tells the Tribune. "When government accepts the role that it will use an addictive product on its own citizens, it becomes a predator."

*

"Speculation has been swirling about potential locations, ranging from such Loop sites as the struggling Block 37 mall and the Congress Plaza Hotel to prominent properties such as the old main post office, riverfront property near the Merchandise Mart, the former Michael Reese hospital acreage, the U.S. Steel South Works site and a 62-acre parcel at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street.

"The underused East Building at McCormick Place has resurfaced as well, but as a potential temporary site while a permanent casino was under construction.

"A temporary casino could be up and running there in three to six months, said Ald. Robert Fioretti, 2nd.

"Convention officials have bristled at the idea of a permanent casino at the convention center, saying trade shows do not want a distraction so close."

Indeed. From my October 2004 article on McCormick Place for Chicago magazine:

"The specter of Las Vegas (and, for that matter, theme-parked Orlando) looms so large that the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau uses the slogan 'Attractions Not Distractions' on its marketing literature. (As lame as that sounds, [the] Supercomm [tech show] rejected Las Vegas in part because the atmosphere wasn't sufficiently businesslike.)"

*

See also: New potential locations added to Welcome To The New Chicago Casino!.

Dead Man Parking
Chicago Issues Parking Tickets To Dead Man.

A) Dead Man to contest through mail.
B) Dead Man to contest after voting.
C) Area Dead Man?
D) Dead Men still liable after Rapture

Patsy Quinn
Preckwinkle Points Finger at Quinn for Oak Forest Hospital Mess.

Also blames Area Dead Man.

Why North Avenue Beach Was Closed
The real reasons.

What The Kurgan Said
In Carl's Cubs Mailbag.

Is That A Felony?
Blagojevich Accused Of 'Smuggling' Testimony Into Trial.

That's LAZ!
"In the stairwells of the parking garages under Millennium and Grant parks, wires dangle from the red metal boxes that house emergency telephones," the Tribune reports.

"The phones, located on all levels, have been out of commission since mid-May because of a project to upgrade the system and won't be reconnected until July. That has left some garage users, forced to rely on spotty cellphone service, a bit nervous . . .

"Morgan Stanley, which leases the garages, is not required to provide emergency phone service but chose to invest in a system upgrade, leading to the temporary outage, according to a spokeswoman for LAZ Parking, which operates the facilities.

"'Because of the fact that you can use your cellphone, you don't really need to worry about the emergency phones,' said LAZ spokeswoman Avis LaVelle."

Then why invest in them?

"The system is being upgraded . . . to improve the quality of response."

To a higher quality than cell phones?

"[T]o reach the office in case they need help in a hurry."

Can't they just use their cell phones?

"The emergency phones are connected to the garage office, where attendants can dispatch a security guard or get help for a motorist whose car has a dead battery or other problem."

So not really for emergencies? Get it together, LAZ.

Retro Corruption
Licenses-for-bribes is so 90s.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Neo-retro.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

The Real Reasons Behind The Closing of North Avenue Beach

"Gang loitering, intimidation, flash mobs and violence had nothing to do with the Chicago Police Department's unprecedented decision to close North Avenue beach on a sultry Memorial Day, Acting Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Wednesday."

The Beachwood has learned the real reasons the beach was closed:

* Test run for privatization.

* Richard M. Daley wanted the day to himself and his Geiger counter.

* Garry McCarthy got his Rapture date all wrong; thought corpses were about to emerge from hidden graves under the sand.

* McCarthy misheard Rahm Emanuel declaring war against teachers; thought he said "beachers."

* Douchebag quotient was at 89 but with heat it "felt like" 101.

* TSA body scanners not yet in place.

* Landshark.

* Landcarp.

* Rumors of flash mob scheduled to arrive, take clothes off, jump into lake, and then "lay out" on towels.

* Obama ordered beachgoers back to pre-1967 borders.

* Survey crew for new Chicago casino needed clear sightlines.

* Just because Rahm could.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood Mark:

* Unbeknownst to most of those on the sand, a shark-jumping stunt in the lake went horribly wrong; a marine unit later pulled the body of a leather-clad Arthur Fonzarelli from the water.

* Rahm's new patronage armies needed to practice a good old-fashioned beach invasion just in case land routes prove ineffective.

* Several beachgoers reported seeing a bloated corpse floating in the water, which turned out to be the political career of Jesse Jackson, Jr.; officials speculated that it had been dead for quite some time.

* Budget crunch forces Park District to experiment with scaled-back hours at city beaches; now open at dusk and close at dawn.

* New provision in the parking meter deal about to kick in: Pay boxes for towel spaces.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: What The Kurgan Said

Who is the most disappointing Cub so far? I mean, there are so many to choose from.
- Dan M, Des Moines IA

That's a hard question to answer, but thanks to this exclusive video from inside the Cubs clubhouse of his recent visit, we now know how Kurgan would answer that question.

What metaphorical crime would you compare the 2011 season to?
-Clancy W, Springfield IL

There's nothing metaphorical about the holes I've punched in my drywall to this point or my various stud-related knuckle injuries.

The 2011 season is an acquaintance breaking into your home with the intention of robbing you and failing, but successfully suing you after suffering an injury slipping on one of your kid's roller skates.

Is Darwin Barney an All-Star?
-Rich E, Evanston IL

Like the Grammys, baseball has its own set of obscure, untelevised award categories. Case in point, there's a Grammy for Best Album Notes, despite the physical medium of music being dead to all but hoarders and vinyl enthusiasts.

Barney is in line for an All-Star award, but likely not a spot on the All-Star team. He's the leading voting getter in the "Best Cub You Never Heard Of A Year Ago" category, with Tony Campana currently in second.

Jeff Samardzija is also a likely winner for the "Best Bad Teenage Mustache: NL Central" award.

I'm kinda wishing we had Sam Fuld and Chris Archer on our roster right about now. What do you think?
-Jim H, Chicago IL

Sure, the Cubs missed out on $175,000 in merchandising revenue when they traded the rights to "Cape Night" to Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal.

But who needs a great outfielder and a top pitching prospect when you can have a guy who may have up to two of his five pitches working at any one time, sports a 4.00 ERA, costs $6 million a year and isn't named Tom Gorzelanny?

AH, AH, AAAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!
-Sam K, Peoria IL

After the Astros completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs we received a lot of, shall we say input, from the fan base. Out of the numerous angry e-mails, letters and messages written in feces on the wall of the Beachwood Industries employee bathroom, I felt the e-mail from Sam best summed up Cubdom's collective sentiment.

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Send comments and/or questions to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:54 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

We're sorry to see our new mayor make a sucker's bet so early in his term.

Oh wait, that's not us, that's Crain's. You know, the business publication always nattering about the business climate because its specialty is, well, business?

Here's what they have to say:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel came out strongly last week for a casino in Chicago. He apparently buys the argument that a casino is a sure-thing producer of jobs and revenue.

"Don't fall for it Mr. Mayor.

"Casinos don't bring new spending to town. They divert local spending from other purposes. Too often, those other purposes are groceries, rent, car payments and similar family necessities.

"Studies show social ills rise in places that have casinos. Guess who bears the cost of those social ills? That's right, taxpayers."

*

This is what we do in America: We prey on the vulnerable, seduce the weak, and then complain that they don't have sufficient strength of character to deny our come-ons. And be "we" I mean society in general but really Corporate America; for who else is getting rich off fast-food restaurants, tobacco billboards and liquor stores saturating impovershed neighborhoods? Whose character is really weakest, those who can't resist the lure of the government's ad campaigns for the lottery, and those clever, artful scratch-off tickets at every convenience store checkout counter, or the rich bastards getting rich off them?

And look, it's not just the poor who get seduced. It's just worse for them.

But here's the funny thing: Wouldn't it be great if everyone stopped playing the lottery? Isn't that in some way a societal goal? If we did, though, how would the state replace that revenue?

We are working at cross-purposes.

It's like red-light cameras. As I've written before, we should all stop committing traffic violations just to spite City Hall. They want us to roll through red lights, however innocently; they want us to not get back to our cars until our meters have expired. That's how they make money.

It would be great, wouldn't it, if everyone stopped smoking. But what about all that money we collect through cigarette taxes?

Now, I'm not against "vice." I like to gamble, I like to drink, and while I don't smoke I'm not sure I want to make it illegal. But government - and our elites - encouraging vices in order to exploit human behavior for revenue while turning around and scolding our citizens for doing what the pols and corporate execs hope we do so they can get theirs, well, that's what's immoral.

If we want to legalize gambling, then legalize it. But let's stop playing this game. Not just for ethical reasons but, as Crain's notes and everyone knows, the economics are perverted too.

*

"There's something so profoundly cynical about the arrangement, so fundamentally wrong and upsetting, that it puts into perspective all the braying and screeching of the politicians," John Kass writes in The Government Is The 'House' and You're The Suckers.

"One of the loudest was state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill that now requires only the signature of Gov. Pat Quinn to become law. Link raged against bus companies that bring Illinois gamblers to out-of-state casinos.

"'The one group I'm going to put out of business is the bus drivers,' said Link. 'They're carrying Illinois people. And they're not going half empty. They're going full. Every day of the week. And they're going with our taxpayers and our tax dollars.'"

If anyone is gonna rip off the people of Illinois, it's gonna be us, not Indiana!

*

Memo to Link: It's not taxpayer money until you decide to make it so. The folks boarding the buses are doing so with their own money.

*

"My personal opinion is that if the city can't rent trucks without corruption, they probably can't run a casino without it," the Rev. Philip Blackwell, of the Task Force to Oppose Casino Gambling in Chicago, told Kass.

*

And remember: Rahm will be rooting for you to lose. And lose big. That's the only way this will work.

*

The monstrosity served up by lawmakers is too big, too broad and, with its intrusion on the Gaming Board, far too reckless.

Oh, wait. That's not me, it's the Tribune editorial page, which also says:

"Nor would this expansion necessarily raise those gobs of new revenue. In fiscal 2010, casino gambling revenues in Illinois fell to their lowest level since 2001. Think of this as the Illinois Legislature's Loopy Law of Economics: When demand for gambling is in decline, that's the time to expand gambling! Put these lawmakers in charge of auto production and they'd have Chicago's Ford plant building Edsels, Fairlanes and Pintos."

Too bad the Tribune's newsroom assumes otherwise.

"But vetoing the plan would toss away hundreds of millions of dollars for a state still searching for money to pay old bills despite a recent income tax increase," Rick Pearson and Ray Long "report," as if the economic ramifications are obvious and without question. "And blocking the casino bonanza also risks the wrath of new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a sharp-tongued politician who inherited a city with its own set of money problems."

If it was a sure thing, though, nobody would oppose it. Assessing the downside - and potential pitfalls - is as important (actually more) than repeating (unproven) assertions of the upside.

*

Does Pat Quinn have the testicular fortitude to be the governor? Is he willing to take on Rahm, Madigan and Cullerton?

Recent history says No.

But the casino bill now on his desk appears to have a poison pill - or four in it. If it was just about Chicago, he might let Rahm have his way. But the bill would also put casinos in Rockford, a south suburb to be determined, Danville and Park City. It would make Quinn, who already has reversed his past position on gambling by expanding video poker, the author of the state's largest gambling expansion in 20 years.

*

"Quinn looks like a man without a country," Carol Marin writes. "Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton don't need him for anything, assuming they ever did. And besides, they have Rahm and Rahm has them . . .

"So what is Quinn to do?

"Well, for one, he can veto any legislation he believes is not in Illinois' best interest - whether that's casinos, ComEd rate hikes or other bills - establishing himself as a man of principle rather than mere political pragmatist. And someone unconcerned about running for re-election.

"Two, he can try to find his voice again. For a perennial gadfly once capable of getting under the skin of entrenched power, he seems to have totally lost the knack."

But don't you see, this is why the Establishment rallied around the gadfly. Just call him Patsy Quinn.

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See also: Welcome To The New Chicago Casino!

And So It Goes
"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley has joined Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, the law firm that negotiated the controversial lease deal to privatize Chicago's parking meters," Shia Kapos reports for Crain's.

Daley will presumably be provided with his own parking spot. If he's ever asked to show up to work, that is.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Double down.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

Welcome To The New Chicago Casino!

With Pat Quinn's rubbery spine the only thing left standing between sanity and a dramatic expansion of gambling in Illinois, we might as well start thinking about where the new Chicago casino will be located, along with possible names and themes.

* Capone's, 2135 S. Michigan. The former location of Capone's downtown headquarters, the Lexington Hotel, is perfect: close to McCormick Place with plenty of places to stash getaway cars. Geraldo Rivera could headline.

* Planet Las Vegas, 633 N. Wells. Bring back the Planet Hollywood gang and give them the whole of River North. Or just let each themed restaurant have its own casino. Bruce Willis and Sly Stallone could headline.

* Circus Circus, 1901 W. Madison. All those parking lots around the United Center offer plenty of room to build a casino around the arena, which could then also become the permanent home of the Ringling Bros. circus so the Bulls wouldn't have to take that awful trip out west every year when the elephants come to town. Bozo could headline.

* Blocks 36 and 38. Block 37 is too unlucky. Richard M. Daley could headline.

* Excalibur. Not the nightclub, but Tribune Tower, which must have plenty of dungeon space to spare. Sam Zell could be brought back to headline as an insult comic. Or the nightclub; Pete Wentz could headline.

* Caesar's Chicago, Greektown. All of it. (Rome, Greece, what's the difference?) Tina Fey could headline.

* Navy Pier. Ferris Wheel easily converted to world's largest Big Six wheel.

* The Bunker, Grant Park. Pull out those old plans for the Children's Museum; perfect because casinos never have windows.

* Grant Park. Forever free and clear doesn't have to mean forever; just look at that lakefront property! If we really want to be a world-class city . . .

* The CasinO, Harpo Studios. Forget Rosie O'Donnell. O-shaped chips, cards and dice. An Oprah impersonator could headline.

* Millennium Park. Customers would be overcharged; winners would get paid late. Chips in the shape of a bean.

Extras in the legislation:
* Every parking meter paybox will double as a slot machine.

* Keno at all Golden Apples.

* Mob bosses required to provide health insurance to all henchmen.

* Non-gamblers will be required to make payments directly to the city by simply flushing money down their toilets.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Beachwood Mark:

Money Madness at the Maxwell Street Market: The country's first outdoor casino, and the first to use overturned milk crates for table games; pit security will be handled by the existing blanket of blue-light security cameras; slots pay out in bags of tube socks and mix tapes.

Dollars at Daley's: The revitalization of the South Loop continues with this intimate getaway at the former mayor's former townhouse, where every dealer is someone who knows someone.

The Friendly Confines Casino at Wrigley Field: What better way to squeeze a few more dollars out of the decrepit old lady than by lining her crumbling concourses with craps tables (charmingly designed to look like urinal troughs, of course) and Ricketts Roulette stations? The tagline for this site practically writes itself: The Losing Doesn't Stop Just Because the Calendar Says September.

Casino Olympiad at Washington Park: If it was ideal for a temporary Olympic Stadium, it should be perfect for a temporary casino - just pull the plug and let it deflate when the not-so-encouraging revenue numbers start coming in; first 10,000 gamblers get a free Chicago 2016 T-shirt to remind them what losing feels like.

Wynn at the Willis: The highest casino in North America gives players a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - the chance to look out at the very house they're presently gambling away on an ill-advised double-down; I can see where I used to live from here!

2. From Spencer Maus:

Governors' Wing Casino: Built on a very large, moving boat (so it can't be stopped), this would honor all of the Chicago and Illinois politicians convicted of kickbacks received while in office. Each room would be named to "honor each public servant" who received jail time. It would be the only casino with a cover charge. Before you can gamble, you must "pay to play."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:13 AM | Permalink

Tribute: Gil Scott-Heron

1. "'Whatever happened to the people who gave a damn?' Gil Scott-Heron once asked in song," Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

"The Chicago-born artist was a voice of dissent in a music industry that was turning into a big business during the '70s, transforming pop hits and party tunes into profit. It wasn't a particularly hospitable place for Scott-Heron, who died Friday at 62. But he never set his sights on the charts. Instead, he devoted his life to writing, speaking, agitating and thinking out loud about the world. He gave a damn."

2. A Brief Look at Hip-Hop's Love Affair With Gil Scott-Heron.

3. Kanye West & Common Tribute Remix:


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4. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

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5. Lupe Fiasco Tribute: The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized.

6. We Almost Lost Detroit.

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7. Where Is The Gil Scott-Heron Documentary?

8. The Bottle.

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9. No Turning Back on Gil Scott-Heron's Sad Life.

10. Me and the Devil.

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11. Gil Scott-Heron's Music and Struggle With Crack: 'New York Is Killing Me'.

12. Leader Of A Revolution You Could Dance To.

13. Winter in America at Columbia College in February 2010:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:08 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Extreme Stat Makeover

If your fantasy baseball team is in second or third place as we move into June, then you have plenty to be happy about. But, there's another way to look at it: Why aren't you in first place? Is the first place team that much better, or is your team, hobbled by one or two troubling stat categories, just not winning by large enough margins?

If you have a player you have been wanting to drop, or have someone you can stash on the DL to free a roster spot, now's the time to act. Here's a bit of potential help for whatever stat is ailing:

HRs: Mark Trumbo, 1B, LA Angels.

Great name for a slugger. Trumbo is getting a lot of buzz for his tape-measure blasts, which have been showing up in greater frequency in recent weeks. He has 10 so far. Available in 74% of Yahoo! leagues.

RBIs: Ryan Ludwick, OF, San Diego.

With 34 RBIs, Ludwick is pretty much the chief RBI threat on a low-scoring team. In the last 30 days, he has knocked in 22 runs. 63% availability.

SBs: Coco Crisp, OF, Oakland.

16 SBs puts him close to the league leaders, and unlike some other speedsters, he'll occasionally get you extra base-hits and RBIs. 45% availability.

(If you want to stretch, there's always Tony Campana, OF, Cubs. Of his five career stolen bases, four came in the same game on Memorial Day. The Cubs are suddenly losing outfielders by the dozen, so he'll start for a while, and though the Cubs don't run, Campana has already earned the green light. 99% availability.)

Ws: Jake Westbrook, SP, St. Louis.

He has won three in a row and pitches for a first-place team. Not a great source of strikeouts, but when he's on, he has complete game potential. 93% availability.

Ks: Bud Norris, SP, Houston.

You may not get wins, because Houston just doesn't do that much, but Norris has 41 strikeouts in his last 39 innings. 55% availability.

Saves: Aaron Crow, RP, Kansas City.

This one is pure speculation as he just became closer this week after Joakim Soria blew his fifth save. Crow has put up dominant strikeout numbers and a low ERA as a set-up man, and the Royals have played many one-run and extra-inning games. 60% availability.

Expert Wire
* USA Today notes the recent spate of injuries to some of the game's top players. Looking at you, Buster Posey.

* Bleacher Report has some hot waiver wire pick-ups, including Michael Morse, 1B/OF, Washington, and Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee, who became a hot commodity after Posey's injury.

* Yahoo! Roto Arcade likes our boy Campy as an SB boost for your roster. Even if he is starting, he may not hit much, so he'll need to make the most of every trip to first.

* Sports Grumblings goes treasure hunting and comes up with Danny Duffy, SP, another Royals pitcher.

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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 3:16 AM | Permalink

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