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« July 2011 | Main | September 2011 »

August 31, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

The Papers will return on Thursday. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some fine offerings from our internationally acclaimed sports staff.

For example, here's a slice of what the world's greatest college football correspondent, our very own Mike Luce, writes today in The College Football Report: Bring On The Skillets, Barrels and War Axes:

"For a storied conference including the likes of legendary programs like Ohio State and Michigan, to adopt a school like Nebraska speaks volumes about the ongoing arms race in college football.

"Not that we carry a grudge against the Big Ten (okay, maybe we do), but we do think it's too bad the conference had to raid a powerhouse program in a far-flung state to compete with the other elite leagues.

"Adding Nebraska to the Big Ten, while in the financial interests of both, reveals an unpleasant result of consolidation: forced "rivalries" with little or nothing at stake. We despair at the prospect of "super conferences" because the traditions and rivalries associated with college football - what makes the game great - would lose significance if not altogether disappear.

"Iowa has played for the rights to trophies with two rivals since 1935 and 1977: fellow Big Ten member Minnesota and in-state foe Iowa State, respectively. The Hawkeyes and Gophers duke it out over the coveted Floyd of Rosedale while the Hawkeyes contest for the Cy-Hawk Trophy with the Cyclones. Recent ill-advised redesigns notwithstanding, we think battles over skillets, barrels, war axes and other memorabilia (Minnesota and Iowa play for rights to a bronze "prize hog") are an integral part of the game. Contrast these clashes with "rivalries" between the likes of Nebraska and Iowa, who have played only six times since 1946: the former are time-honored traditions while the latter feels like a PR scheme."

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Go read the whole thing and you'll get a bit of sports media criticism as well.

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And I can assure you that you can know absolutely nothing about college football and still enjoy Mike's talent, creativity, knowledge and craft.

That's one of the things I love about our writers. I've often said the same about our horse racing columnist, Tom Chambers. Our folks are a joy to read even if you don't normally follow the topics they do. And once you start reading them, you just may start following . . . college football, horse racing or whatever else we present to you.

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Another example is our fantasy sports columnist Dan O'Shea. You don't have to play fantasy sports to learn an awful lot about the games, teams and leagues just from reading Dan.

Today, Dan picks his Top 20 Tight Ends . . . and passes along a list of Stars Guaranteed to Fail that includes a notable Bear.

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Our sports section has burgeoned for a number of (somewhat random) reasons, but obviously we also care deeply about other issues here, including politics. Today we offer up a piece culled from a Woodstock Institute e-mail that landed in our inbox called Illinoisans Can't Afford To Wait For A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director.

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The rest of the Beachwood will return on Thursday. Thanks for reading.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Day after day.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Illinoisans Can't Afford To Wait For A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director

Nominee Richard Cordray up for confirmation next week

Next week will be an important one for every Chicago area consumer who uses financial services, from the payday loan store on the corner to Wall Street's biggest banks.

The Senate Banking Committee will hold a hearing September 6th to consider the confirmation of Richard Cordray, President Obama's nominee as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It is crucial that the Senate quickly confirm Cordray, a former Attorney General of Ohio who is well-qualified in consumer issues.

However, 44 senators, including Illinois' Mark Kirk, have vowed to block any nominee until the CFPB is significantly weakened. The longer the process drags on, the longer the CFPB will lack the authority to regulate some financial service providers which have high potential for abuse - such as payday lenders, independent mortgage lenders that made the majority of predatory subprime loans during the housing bubble, and debt settlement companies.

Illinoisans, particularly those in communities of color, have suffered significant losses as a result of reckless financial practices and a regulatory environment that did not prioritize consumers' best interests. Woodstock Institute's research has shown that:

* Nearly 80,000 homeowners went into foreclosure in the Chicago six-county region in 2010 alone, up from more than 70,000 foreclosures in 2009.

* Abandoned foreclosed homes are taking a multimillion-dollar toll on the City of Chicago's limited resources.

* Personal bankruptcy activity increased by 59.2 percent between 2008 and 2010 in Cook County, and women-headed households in communities of color make up a disproportionate share of Cook County's bankruptcy filings.

"Financial products offered by non-bank financial institutions contributed to Illinoisans' economic distress," said Dory Rand, President of Woodstock Institute. "Clearly, Illinois can't afford to wait any longer for strong consumer protections for high-cost payday loans, mortgages offered by independent brokers, and prepaid cards."

The CFPB already is working to protect consumers, even without an agency director.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act transferred the consumer protection authorities from seven federal regulators to the CFPB. It also empowered the CFPB with new consumer protection authorities not originally in these federal regulators' scope.

On July 21, when the CFPB officially opened, the agency became able to write and enforce the rules that were within the scope of the previous regulators' powers, however, the CFPB will not be able to exercise of the new powers granted to it until an agency director is confirmed. That means that sectors where predatory practices - such as triple-digit interest rates, hidden fees, and ballooning monthly payments - have flourished due to a lack of consumer protection standards will continue to lack federal oversight.

"Especially in these difficult economic times, consumers can't afford to go another day without the assurance that the financial products they use won't trap them in a cycle of debt or add to their financial uncertainty," said Karen Harris, Director of Asset Opportunity Unit, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. "We urge the Senate to confirm Richard Cordray as soon as possible so that consumers of all kinds of financial services will be protected, not just bank customers."

"Many Senators, including Senator Mark Kirk, are vowing to block any nominee - no matter how qualified - until the CFPB is effectively gutted," said Brian Imus, State Director of Illinois PIRG. "Illinois consumers need an effective cop on the beat to enforce our consumer protections laws and prevent abuse by big Wall Street banks. That can't happen until a director is confirmed."

For more information about the CFPB's authorities and the importance of confirming Richard Cordray, please download this fact sheet.

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See also: Obama Spurns Elizabeth Warren But Confirming Cordray Will Likely Be No Easier

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:45 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Tight Ends Are Your Friends

As Antonio Gates was en route to becoming a superstar tight end, much was made of his experience as a basketball player at Kent State. During his best years, his height, athleticism and long arms have not disappointed, and this year, a second-year TE with a hoops pedigree and similar dimensions is much-hyped fantasy candidate.

At 6'6", 260 lbs, the Saints' Jimmy Graham is actually two inches taller than Gates at the same weight. He played basketball at Miami University through his junior year (where he was listed at 6'8", but we all know Miami can't be trusted), then joined the football team and got just enough experience to get drafted in 2010 by New Orleans. Last year, he was something of a late-season surprise, catching five TDs, including four in the last three games.

Now, Graham is looking like the second coming of Gates, or Jason Witten or Dallas Clark. He is looking like what Jermichael Finley was supposed to be last year - a TE who can be a No. 1 receiver.

Here's my top 20 TEs:

1) Jason Witten, Dallas: Most people would still take Gates first, but Witten led TEs in fantasy points last year, and was the only one to collect 1,000 receiving yards (1,002).

2) Antonio Gates, San Diego: He's lost a step, and a few yards along the way, though he should still be among the TD leaders at this position.

3) Jermichael Finley, Green Bay: High expectation last year collapsed with a season-ending injury. He could challenge Greg Jennings as the Pack's top receiver, at least inside 40 yards.

4) Dallas Clark, Indianapolis: The questions about Peyton Manning's health are cause for concern, but like Finley, he should be his team's top mid-distance threat.

5) Jimmy Graham, New Orleans: The hype machine may have pushed him up a notch in the last 24 hours. Just the other day, I took Owen Daniels ahead of Graham and immediately regretted it.

6) Owen Daniels, Houston: Last season he returned from injury and was so-so, mainly because his QB, Matt Schaub, was wildly inconsistent. Maybe the No. 2 receiver now after Andre Johnson.

7) Vernon Davis, San Francisco: Talented, but it's hard to trust the 49ers to get him the ball enough.

8) Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit: The secret weapon on a loaded offense, he should get his share of catches and scores from QB Matthew Stafford.

9) Kellen Winslow, Tampa: Another great young QB feeding him in Josh Freeman, but his numbers were down slightly last season.

10) Mercedes Lewis, Jacksonville: A surprise last year with 10 TDs, and while the Jags don't have many threats, Lewis is one of them.

11) Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta: Has started to fade into the margins a bit on another team loaded with targets. Could it be the final season for the modern TE prototype?

12) Greg Olsen, Carolina: His stock has been rising in a system directed by his college coach, but his year could go either way if Cam Newton starts at QB.

13) Dustin Keller, NY Jets: QB Mark Sanchez will be better, and he and Keller already were on the same page.

14) Rob Gronkowski, New England: Hard to know which Pats TE to take, but this is the one that had double-digit TDs last season.

15) Aaron Hernandez, New England: This one had more yardage last season, but you have to wonder if new WR Chad Ochocino steals a few catches.

16) Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota: Should have been a star last year and was sunk by QB mess. Will he improve with Donovan McNabb taking snaps?

17) Todd Heap. Arizona: vet could see his stock jump in the opening weeks if he makes a connection with new QB Kevin Kolb.

18) Brent Celek, Philadelphia: Is there room for him on the super-squad? He should do pretty well just taking the table scraps.

19) Heath Miller, Pittsburgh: Slid from the elite TE crowd last year and may continue that slide this year.

20) Lance Kendricks, St. Louis: The rookie could make impact on an exciting team without a real star receiver.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade says a sharp preseason has helped Washington RB Tim Hightower.

* Windy City Gridiron likes Cleveland QB Colt McCoy as a sleeper pick. We'll call it a deep sleeper, but the potential is definitely there.

* Bleacher Report picks Stars Guaranteed To Fail - and Matt Forte makes the list. But the bigger surprise might be Peyton Manning at No. 1.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:25 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Bring On The Skillets, Barrels And War Axes!

And now, as the fall campaign officially gets under way, here is the final installment of our Other 25 season preview.

30. The of University of Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5, 4-4 in the Big Ten, W vs. Missouri: Insight Bowl)

Comment: Iowa's prospects for the 2011 season reflect the new reality of the Big Ten. We have not seen any preseason commentators pick the Hawkeyes to finish at or near the top of the new "Legends" division of the 12-team conference. Most publications reserved that honor (and, for many, the pick for conference champ) for Nebraska - a team that belonged to the Big 12 last year. Iowa seems destined to labor in the respectable yet unremarkable ranks along with Penn State, Northwestern and possibly Michigan. We expect Ohio State and Wisconsin to vie for the other spot in the inaugural Big Ten championship game but only Nebraska will field Top 10-level talent this year.

Nebraska's former conference, the Big 12, has played in seven national championship games (represented by Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas) since the first BCS season in 1998-99. Although Big 12 teams have gone 2-5 through that stretch (2-4 if you toss out the 2004-05 win by USC, since ruled ineligible), the Big Ten has three total (!) appearances . . . all by Ohio State. Everyone associated with the Big Ten conference points to the lack of a championship game and the resulting long layoff as the source of the Big Ten's average (10-12 overall) performance in BCS games. For a storied conference including the likes of legendary programs like Ohio State and Michigan, to adopt a school like Nebraska speaks volumes about the ongoing arms race in college football.

Not that we carry a grudge against the Big Ten (okay, maybe we do), but we do think it's too bad the conference had to raid a powerhouse program in a far-flung state to compete with the other elite leagues.

Adding Nebraska to the Big Ten, while in the financial interests of both, reveals an unpleasant result of consolidation: forced "rivalries" with little or nothing at stake. We despair at the prospect of "super conferences" because the traditions and rivalries associated with college football - what makes the game great - would lose significance if not altogether disappear.

Iowa has played for the rights to trophies with two rivals since 1935 and 1977: fellow Big Ten member Minnesota and in-state foe Iowa State, respectively. The Hawkeyes and Gophers duke it out over the coveted Floyd of Rosedale while the Hawkeyes contest for the Cy-Hawk Trophy with the Cyclones. Recent ill-advised redesigns notwithstanding, we think battles over skillets, barrels, war axes and other memorabilia (Minnesota and Iowa play for rights to a bronze "prize hog") are an integral part of the game. Contrast these clashes with "rivalries" between the likes of Nebraska and Iowa, who have played only six times since 1946: the former are time-honored traditions while the latter feels like a PR scheme.

Finally, we wonder about the integrity of those paid to cover the sport. We wouldn't lower the boom on sportswriters like Rob White, who penned the piece in the link above. Covering a program like Nebraska for the hometown paper (or statewide in this case) involves some rah-rah expectations. But is it unrealistic for us to hope for more from national commentators, particularly those on ESPN?

As the flagship for college football, the Worldwide Leader could better delineate coverage from the business aspect of the network. But we would be fools to think that such a thing is even possible, much less that a marketing powerhouse like ESPN would care to try. As an example of the problem, on the August 14 episode of the ESPN roundtable program The Sports Reporters, John Saunders closed the show with his "parting shot" monologue. Saunders described the bewildering changes to the landscape of college football - conference expansion, contraction, teams staying or going - and inexplicably concluded by stating "the biggest winners are the fans." We have to ask: how so?

The College Football Report isn't alone on this one. In another recent roundtable, this time among Sports Illustrated writers, Andy Staples put his thoughts about ESPN trying "to set the agenda for college coverage" bluntly, saying "that ESPN is in bed financially with all the conferences shouldn't affect its journalism choices." We couldn't agree more, Andy.

(Update: the Longhorn Network, a television partnership between UT and ESPN between UT and ESPN, went live on August 26 but no one can watch it. So few cable operators have agreed to absorb the $0.40 per subscriber fee to air the network that no one, in Texas or elsewhere, can access the channel. Too bad.)

Upset Potential: We hear Vegas set the morning line odds for integrity versus revenue at 50-1.

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29. The University of Miami Hurricanes (7-6, 5-3 in the ACC, L vs. Notre Dame: Sun Bowl)

Comment: Watching the Hurricanes struggle to consistently win the past few seasons almost makes us yearn for the days of the U swagger under Jimmy Johnson. Almost, but not quite. College football is more enjoyable when teams like Miami, which seem to inspire fierce devotion and distaste, can compete at a high level.

Upset Potential: The 2011 schedule for the 'Canes isn't as loaded as last year, even with three Top 25 teams on the docket. New coach Al Golden faces an uncertain situation at quarterback, with senior (and former CFR crush) Jacory Harris returning and sophomore Stephen Morris waiting in the wings. But Golden shouldn't worry about Miami's "D" - the Hurricanes are poised to dominate on defense, returning seven starters for 2011. Just don't back the "U" as a home favorite . . . over the past four seasons, Miami is 7-15 giving points at home.

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28. The University of Utah Utes (10-3, 7-1 in the MWC, L vs. Boise State: Las Vegas Bowl)

Comment: The Utes begin play in the South division of the Pac-12 this season after nearly dominating the Mountain West Conference in 2010. The Utes held serve until early November and entered a highly-anticipated match-up with TCU undefeated at 8-0. But any BCS and conference championship hopes fell flat as the Horned Frogs walloped Utah, 47-7. This year, the Utes eye a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game. By dodging North division dynamos Oregon and Stanford, the Utes figure to have a shot, especially with offensive wizard Norm Chow calling plays.

Upset Potential: Although the Utes face only one ranked team (#25 USC in Week Two), the Pac-12 may prove to be more challenging than the MWC. Conference opponents like Oregon State (#46 in The Other 25!) and Arizona State (#26 ) won't just roll over.

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27. The West Virginia Mountaineers (9-4, 5-2 in the Big East, L vs. North Carolina State: Champ Sports Bowl)

Comment: New coach Dana Holgorsen (remember him?) will try to clean up the mess left behind by former WVU coaches Rich Rodriguez (2001-2007) and Bill Stewart (2010-2011). Holgorsen's (no stranger to Vegas himself) trademark spread offense figures to post a lot of points en route to a conference championship. Our advice: take the over.

Upset Potential: Yikes, who agreed to the home-and-home series against LSU? What a tremendously bad idea. Although the Mounties put up a fight in Baton Rouge against LSU last year, losing 20-14, the Bayou Bengals start at #4 this season and figure to paste West Virginia at home on September 24. Then again, LSU might crap out early and show up in Morgantown a dispirited bunch.

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26. The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6, 4-5 in the Pac-10)

Comment: Bring back Sparky! We loved the goofy logo of the imp wielding a trident or pitchfork or whatever. Designed by the late Disney artist Bert Anthony, Sparky appeared after the student body voted to switch from the Bulldogs (formerly the Owls) to the Sun Devils in 1948.

Upset Potential: Spiffy new uniforms won't help against the likes of Oregon (#3) and USC (#25) but if Arizona State can rise above the rest in the South division, the Sun Devils might just get another crack at the Ducks in the first-ever conference championship game in December.

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There you have it, folks! The final installment of The Other 25 season preview. The season starts Thursday but the true action gets underway on Saturday in a prime-time match-up between #3 Oregon vs. #4 LSU. We will also keep our eyes on Iowa, Northwestern, Air Force and all the rest from The Other 25 active this weekend. Come back on Friday for picks by the Sports Seal and Free Range Chicken.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The head of Chicago's police department is acknowledging that sometimes police are too busy to respond to shootings," WBEZ reports.

Too busy doing what?!

Aren't the police supposed to be too busy responding to shootings to do, um, other things?

"A resident of the Woodlawn neighborhood said sometimes when she calls 911 to report shootings, she is told no officers are available. [Police chief Garry] McCarthy agreed that's a problem."

Come again?

"There are too many 911 calls in the system for us to respond to every one," McCarthy said. "And if our officers are tied up on a lower-level priority, then they're not available to reply to your shots-fired call."

I'm flabbergasted. I mean, of all the problems I would pin on the CPD, I wouldn't have guessed this one - even though I've argued long before it was fashionable that the force wasn't big enough.

"McCarthy insisted that the number of police is not the only issue."

Wait. What?

"He said the department is trying to figure out how to be more efficient, so officers are available to respond to 'priority calls,' like shootings."

Yeah, get right on that. My God.

The Rahm Show
"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got several earfuls from residents during a public meeting on the city's budget. The tightly controlled event Monday night unraveled a bit when Emanuel was confronted by a laid-off city employee," WBEZ reports.

"[A] woman who claimed to be one of the more than 70 traffic aides laid off this summer complained about her financial problems. That prompted an extended back-and-forth between the mayor and labor union members.

"'I'm responsible to the city taxpayers and the city residents,' Emanuel said, prompting audience members to yell that they, too, were taxpayers.

"'I didn't say you weren't,' Emaniel replied. 'I didn't say you weren't.'"

*

I wonder how the economic cost of laying off a city worker compares to the benefits of paring the city budget.

*

"The stated purpose of the meeting was this: find ways to trim the city's estimated $635 million budget deficit. At Kennedy-King College in Englewood, Emanuel did get some money saving ideas.

"'Can you stop printing the mayor and elected officials' names on doors, buildings, etc.?' read City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, who acted as the moderator of the event.

"The mayor replied 'yeah' to that suggestion, but sounded skeptical it would make a dent in the city's financial problems."

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Maybe it would be enough to hire back some traffic aides.

*

But seriously, here's what pols do: When they don't like a budget cutting idea, they argue that it will hardly make a dent considering the size of the problem, as if a single idea isn't valid if it doesn't solve the budget in one move. But when they do like a budget cutting idea, especially one with great PR value, they talk up how every little bit helps and this is an example of the measures they're taking.

I'd love to see an estimate of how much money the city would save - or would have saved - by not putting Rahm's name on everything that used to have Daley's name on it versus some of Rahm's own highly touted small-bore budget moves.

*

For example:

"The mayor also referred to his move, announced late Monday, to cut the salaries of members of five city panels, including the Chicago Police Board," the Sun-Times reports. "Salaries will also be tied to meeting attendance. The move, he said, will save $314,000." ($307,000, according to the Tribune.)

That's a great move. Bravo. But I have a feeling it cost the taxpayers more than $314,000 to put Rahm's name on everything.

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Of course, Rahm announced the move at the meeting in part with the hope that the press would use it in their leads - or at least to help shape in some way a narrative of action. Who knows when the real decision was made; it could have been weeks ago.

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"We've been doing smoke and mirrors on the budget," Rahm said, according to the Tribune's account.

By "we" Rahm can mean nobody other than Richard M. Daley. I wish someone would force him to say it.

*

Emanuel "encouraged an 'honest' conversation," according to the Sun-Times.

Yay!

"The mayor's aides screened, selected and, in many cases, asked the questions submitted Monday night," according to ABC 7.

Oh.

FOIA Findings Forum
The results are in: What are we gonna do about it?

Why The Bears Won't Be A Playoff Team
Plus: Who's hot, who's not, and a secret Bears backup plan.

Chicago's Oldest House . . .
. . . Is Turning 175.

Remembering David "Honeyboy" Edwards
Last of the Great Delta Bluesmen.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: On shuffle.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Why The Bears Won't Be A Playoff Team

Plus: Who's hot, who's not and who's got a secret back-up plan.

1. According to Pro Football Weekly:


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2. Here comes Dane Sanzenbacher. And there goes Chester Taylor.

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3. Mike Tice's Backup Plan At Right Guard.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

The Results Are In: FOIA Findings To Be Discussed

From an e-mail to the Chicago Headline Club mailing list:

You know what happens when reporters can't get information they need. Their stories are incomplete, delayed or worse yet, they die. That is one of the reasons the Chicago Headline Club undertook a sweeping survey of the state of journalists' freedom of information and access rights.

I'm writing to you because I hope you will join us on Sept. 17 when we discuss the findings and results of conversations we have had since with public officials. We will report on some improvements on the situation as a result of our talks. But as you will learn from the report, serious obstacles exist across a wide range of agencies.

Officials from several of the agencies highlighted in the report will discuss the findings along with journalists.

We will meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Lewis Towers at Loyola University's Water Tower campus, 820 N. Michigan Ave. Our meeting is in the Regents Ballroom on the 16th floor and the entrance is on Pearson at Rush Street. A continental breakfast will also be provided.

The McCormick Foundation supported our work on the survey, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

This is one of the most important events that the Headline Club has undertaken in the last few years. And so, I hope you will take part as well pass the word along about this event.

We hope to hold a follow-up workshop soon on how to use your Freedom of Information rights and officials from the state Attorney General's officials will help conduct the workshop.

If you have any questions, suggestions, stories to tell, whatever, please let me know.

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See also:

* Former Open Government Advocate Pat Quinn Opposes Freedom Of Information Now That He's Governor

* Illinois Legislators Oppose Freedom Of Information

* Open Government On The Line: Tell Your Governor

* State Rep: Democracy Too Expensive For Illinois

* FOIA Reform Fading

* City To FOIA: Drop Dead

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Oldest House Is Turning 175

"On Saturday, September 10, the Prairie Avenue Historic District of the city's South Loop will be the site of the 5th Annual Festival on Prairie Avenue. At the Festival, hosted by the Prairie District Neighborhood Alliance, visitors will experience an atmosphere of Prairie Avenue in the 19th century with activities spotlighting a unique variety of art, history, architecture, music and family-style play. A special emphasis of this year's festival will pay tribute to the 175th anniversary of the Henry B. Clarke House, Chicago's oldest (1836) and the 125th anniversary of the John G. Glessner House, an internationally-known architectural treasure (1886)."

*

A look inside the oldest house in Chicago.


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The Clark House Museum.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:23 AM | Permalink

Remembering David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Last Of The Great Delta Bluesmen

"Grammy-winning Blues musician David 'Honey Boy' Edwards, believed to be the oldest surviving Delta bluesman and whose roots stretched back to blues legend Robert Johnson, died early Monday in his Chicago home, his manager said. He was 96," AP reports.

"He came to Chicago in the 1940s and played on Maxwell Street, small clubs and street corners. By the 1950s Edwards had played with almost every bluesman of note - including Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters. Among Edwards' hit songs were 'Long Tall Woman Blues,' 'Gamblin Man' and 'Just Like Jesse James.'"

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"In 1972, Honeyboy met Michael Frank, and the two soon became fast friends," World Music Central reports. "In 1976, they hit the North Side Blues scene as The Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band, as well as performing as a duo on occasion. Michael founded Earwig Records, and in 1979 Honeyboy and his friends Sunnyland Slim, Kansas City Red, Floyd Jones, and Big Walter Horton recorded Old Friends."

*

"Edwards published an autobiography, The World Don't Owe Me Nothin', in 1998, and appeared in the 2007 film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," the Hollywood Reporter writes.

"During the Grammy preshow in 2008, Edwards played guitar in a trio with Pinetop Perkins on piano and Koko Taylor on vocals (combined age: 258) doing 'Let the Good Times Roll.' Edwards and Perkins later took the stage to accept the best traditional blues Grammy for an album they recorded with Henry James Townsend and Robert Lockwood Jr."

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"The aura of a shaman surrounded any given appearance by blues legend David 'Honeyboy' Edwards," Dave Hoekstra writes for the Sun-Times.

"He often favored creased, pinstriped suits because he fit so well into dignity. He had soft and easy cheekbones that were curtains to an enduring soul . . .

"He was the last of the Delta bluesmen."

*

"Just shy of his 96th birthday, Honeyboy played his last gigs at the Juke Joint Festival and Cathead Mini-Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi April 16 and 17, 2011," the official Honeyboy Edwards website says.

"Prior to his health turning for the worse in late April, Honeyboy was scheduled to play numerous gigs in Chicago, across the USA and in Europe, including [Monday] at Millennium Park in Chicago for the noon time concert series."

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"Visitation will be Thursday September 1 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, with an open mic for comments by his friends and fans from 7:00 to 8:00 pm at the funeral home. Services will
be private on Friday September 2,"

McCullough Funeral & Cremation Services
851 E. 75th St.
Chicago, IL 60619
Phone: (773) 488-8900

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"Grammy winner David 'Honeyboy' Edwards plays the blues and talks about his life as an artist."

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Maxwell Street Shuffle.

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The Robert Johnson Story.

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Spread My Raincoat Down.

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Q&A at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, April 15, 2011: Part 1

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Q&A at the Delta Museum: Part 2

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Q&A at the Delta Museum: Part 3

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Q&A at the Delta Museum: Part 4

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Q&A at the Delta Museum: Part 5

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The Hands of Honeyboy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:20 AM | Permalink

August 29, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

You know what? Mitt Romney was right when he said "corporations are people," because if all of you Democrats out there want to be honest, you'll recognize that what Romney meant was that corporations are made up of people, and if you raise taxes on corporations - which I favor - you inevitably are raising taxes, so to speak (in the form of wages and prices) on employees and customers.

Now, I happen to believe that highly-paid executives should be the ones to bear the brunt; that's the point. And that large corporate profits should be dinged without penalty to employees and customers. So let's make that happen.

But I bring this up not to discuss Romney or national politics, but to discuss the Tribune's blockbuster (in my mind) over the weekend about a state baby-sitting program that "has given rapists, molesters and other violent felons access to kids."

The connection is that "government," "corporations," "the state," "police," "schools" and so forth are comprised of people - real people, flesh and blood. Our neighbors, our friends, us.

Sometimes I think we forget that because large and powerful entities are organized into "systems" that often wield power recklessly and wreak havoc on our lives. But they are comprised of people nonetheless.

So sometimes we should have more sympathy. Cutting government - local, state, national - often means throwing people out of work. Can't we agree that isn't always productive - particularly in a down economy?

More often, though, as a journalist, a citizen and a human being, I find myself (like many others, I'm sure) wondering: What the hell were they thinking? Do people somehow lose their humanity working within bureaucracies? Or are they just mostly dim?

Many folks, I'm sure, know better but are simply too afraid to speak up. The so-called no-snitch culture that makes eminent sense on the streets when reprisal could mean the your life and the lives of your family makes little sense in the everyday workplace. But speaking up when seeing wrongdoing - or just plan inanity - isn't exactly a good career move. If only it were.

So mostly I wanna know: What the hell were they thinking?

"The state Department of Human Services poorly vetted baby sitters for years - and when a 2009 law forced better checks, it took nearly 18 months to start them, the newspaper's investigation of the Child Care Assistance Program found.

"Also, despite the reforms, the Tribune found that even now the state lacks safeguards to weed out baby sitters who watch children while living in the homes of sex offenders and other felons deemed too dangerous for the program."

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"[The] $750 million-a-year program . . . subsidizes child care for more than 150,000 impoverished Illinois families . . .

"[M]ore than 70,000 child care providers [are] paid by the program - 60,000 of them unlicensed."

Are you kidding me?

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"The issue increasingly became a topic in Cook County courtrooms, where defendants with long rap sheets mentioned their baby-sitting jobs during proceedings.

"'That profoundly concerned me,' said longtime Circuit Judge Nicholas Ford.

"By 2008, judges asked the court's child-protective division how ex-cons could qualify to baby-sit for the state. Checking into it, the division's policy analyst, Larry Grazian, said he learned nobody ran full background checks on unlicensed baby sitters."

Please read the whole thing as well as the rest of the Tribune's package.

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P.S.: On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme Court's assertion that corporations are people too when it comes to speech is absurd. Corporations have speech rights, but advertising, for example, is regulated in a way that, say, political speech isn't.

Equal Time
The Sun-Times also deserves its due today.

* "It is unreasonable and against the interest of taxpayers of Cicero to use TIF funds for hot dog purchases," Civic Federation president Laurence Msall says in the Quote of the Day. Go read "Cicero Spends $120,000 At Hot Dog Stand Linked To Board Member" for the rest of the story.

* Then there's "TV Chef 'Sandwich King' Jeff Mauro Still Owns Subsidized Chicago Condo." Here's the key:

"Mauro is the son of August Mauro, a former Chicago city housing commissioner who owns New West Realty, the company chosen by developers Michael Marchese and William Cellini to handle housing sales at University Village."

* And finally, check out "City Pension Funds Could Lose $1 Million In Deal With Daley Nephew."

We know what the people in these stories are thinking: We're gonna get ours, even if it screws the taxpayers. Because that's the Chicago Way.

Tom Tom Club
Good Samaritan Tom Lashinski is the subject of several news reports recounting the way he came to the aid of a Chicago police officer over the weekend.

We know Tom and we're awfully proud of him here at Beachwood HQ. Tom is also a friend of the Beachwood Inn and occasionally stops in on a Monday night with his lovely girlfriend Carly, whom we actually knew first.

But there's a better story - stories, really - involving Tom than this one. Tom works for a nonprofit helping folks facing foreclosure, and the stories he tells about this whole frickin' mess made me realize a few months back that if I ran, say, the Tribune, I'd create a foreclosure beat. Tom would be my first source. He's a terrific advocate and has the kind of on-the-ground knowledge and insight that is priceless.

These are human stories - each deriving from the same overarching framework but each unique in their struggles, complications and entanglements with the financial services industry. Write a book, Tom!

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar tonight for Beachwood Monday! Maybe Tom and Carly will be there too. 5p - 2a.

'The Rescue That Missed Main Street'
"The Federal Reserve lent billions to rescue banks during the financial crisis, but it has done little to help American taxpayers," Gretchen Morgenson writes for the New York Times.

Wood No Good
"Some CTA riders are walking extra cautiously to and from trains because the wood platforms are rotting, splitting, warping and sagging at a rapid pace at many of the new stations on the Brown Line, which underwent a $530 million overhaul that was completed nearly two years ago," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune.

"The prematurely decaying wood is the worst at the Francisco station, where the entire platform will be replaced between September and the end of the year at an estimated cost of $150,000 to $175,000, transit officials said. The station reopened in 2007 after a six-month renovation."

Can we please hold someone accountable?

Governor Gumby
Why Does Pat Quinn Hate Freedom?

Bird Botulism
"Weeks after dead and sick waterfowl were first reported near Southwest Side parks, more birds are continuing to be found in poor condition," Chicago Wildlife News reports.

"Since early August, dozens of sick geese and ducks, as well as a swan, have been spotted with drooping eyelids, while some can't stand, flap their wings or hold their heads up, according to Annette Prince, director of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors.

"Though some initially worried that the waterfowl were poisoned, the birds appear to be suffering from avian botulism, an illness that causes paralysis, Prince said. As a result, the birds lose their motor control and have difficulty breathing, swallowing food or blinking their eyes. The birds often end up drowning because they can't keep their head out of the water."

Cutler vs. Bears
QB's biggest obstacle is his own team.

No Cigar
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel sat down for a one-on-one interview with WLS Radio's Bill Cameron at City Hall Friday and gave him a completely different take on Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan - chairman of Illinois Democrats - consorting with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner two weeks ago at a suburban fundraiser.

"Madigan meeting with Boehner has everybody wondering what's Madigan up to - but not Mayor Emanuel. He sees it just the opposite because of the congressional reapportionment map Madigan drew at the expense of Republicans.

"'What's Boehner doing meeting with Madigan given that the map was pretty good - the map that Mike Madigan and John Cullerton drew! So I ask the inverse question. What was John Boehner doing meeting with Mike Madigan,' Emanuel said."

Clever, but no dice, Rahm. Boehner wasn't "meeting" with Mike Madigan. Madigan attended the fundraiser at the invitation of Chicago Mercantile Exchange chairman Terry Duffy. Madigan didn't have to accept; Boener was going to be there either way. Or Madigan could have accepted (not necessarily a big deal) but also chosen to attend events held by Democrats around the same time, including a visit by the president (a big deal).

But that's Rahm, professional media spinner.

Cardboard Chicago
A different kind of Potemkin Village.

Parental Guidance
"Raised in a $1.5 million Barrington Hills, Ill., home by their attorney father, two grown children have spent the last two years pursuing a unique lawsuit against their mom for 'bad mothering' that alleges damages caused when she failed to buy toys for one and sent another a birthday card he didn't like," the Tribune reports.

"The alleged offenses include failing to take her daughter to a car show, telling her then-7-year-old son to buckle his seat belt or she would contact police, 'haggling' over the amount to spend on party dresses and calling her daughter at midnight to ask that she return home from celebrating homecoming."

Maybe they were just jealous of what the Daley kids get away with.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue near you. We have the video.

The South Side Knights
Prospects vs. acquisitions.

Waiting For Super GM
New target wanted.

Introducing Chicago Story
Chicago!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: For the birds.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

Cardboard Chicago

"This is a cardboard version of Chicago made for a project with Otisforpresident. This isn't the project, this is just spare clips put together so I could remember this for always."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

Introducing Chicago Story

German TV version.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Cutler's Biggest Obstacle Is His Own Team

Jay Cutler should take a significant step toward NFL quarterbacking greatness this fall.

He should, that is, unless his supporting cast, from general manager Jerry Angelo on down, fails him.

That much was actually clear at the end of last season.Cutler didn't play well in the playoff finale against Green Bay but he was great against the Seahawks in the first round and he did enough - despite a terrible line and mediocre receivers - to lead the Bears to a division title. Anyone who paid even a little bit of attention to the season as a whole knew the chatter at the end about Cutler not being tough enough was idiotic at best.

Nothing that has happened since has diminished that view in any way. As always, we begin with the disclaimer that preseason games are downright deceptive if not completely meaningless. Then we point out that:

A. The Bears' second exhibition game (the big loss to the Giants) was notable primarily for the fact that Cutler felt pressure coming better than he did last year and smartly dumped the ball to hot-read receivers a half-dozen times in the first half. He did so a couple times even when those receivers had very little chance to get the first down. But he can't worry too much about receivers getting first downs in those situations. If the blocking isn't good enough and a blitzer is bearing down, Cutler has to just dump the ball and live to fight another day. If he continues to do that even a shaky offensive line won't doom him to another year of far too much punishment. If he takes that kind of pounding again this time around, he won't take that aforementioned step.

B. On Saturday, the quarterback simply made all the throws against Tennessee. He was especially impressive when he had to be to keep drives alive - the Bears converted five of seven first-half third downs. The Bears could only have dreamed of that kind of third-down success last year.

The question, though, is still whether Angelo has done enough to address the Bears' weaknesses. He didn't upgrade the offensive line in free agency and it will continue to be a huge question mark until a regular season game is played, a decent first-half performance against the Titans notwithstanding. And, if anything, the wide receivers are an even bigger unknown. Roy Williams finally managed to hold onto a few balls on Saturday but who knows if he really has anything special left in his tank. Earl Bennett looks like he's ready to take a step up but the Bears continue to try to force feed Devin Hester at wideout rather than in the slot and he was terrible against Tennessee.

The Bears need to be doing everything in their power to make sure they take advantage of the prime of Cutler's career. It sure would suck if Angelo failed again to do enough to give the quarterback a real chance to win a championship.

A few other thoughts heading into the final two weeks of the preseason:

* While Cutler had a strong first half in particular against the Titans, perhaps the best part of the first two quarters was the return of Matt Forte and the consequential return of the running game. Forte hadn't really been away but this was the first time in the preseason we were reminded of how well and how consistently he can carry the ball. And while I hated it when Lovie talked about the Bears getting off the bus running, any Bear fan who had the chance to thrill to Walter Payton pounding defenders a few decades ago thrills at the sight of an effective Bears running game.

* It is easy to forget incomplete passes when looking back at a team's performance in a game overall but the Bear secondary was torched twice early by Tennessee speedster Nate Washington and only avoided two embarrassing long touchdowns against by the grace of Matt Hasselbeck's inaccurate throws. Hard to believe this group of defensive backs is anything close to championship ready.

* After the game that was some big news about Lance Briggs wanting to renegotiate his contract, wasn't it? Just as Dan Patrick (or was it Keith Olbermann, or Charley Steiner?) once said that the prognosis for the return to full health of a sports figure who had suffered an infirmity was "day-to-day, but aren't we all?" so too must the only reaction to Briggs wanting more money be, but don't we all?

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rebelution at Northerly Island on Saturday night.


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2. Braid at the Metro on Saturday night.

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3. Ghostland Observatory at the Metro on Friday night.

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4. Cavemen at Schubas on Friday night.

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5. !!! at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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6. Colbie Calliat at the Lincoln Park Zoo on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

Waiting For Super GM

I haven't often felt this way in the history of The Cub Factor but here goes: I can't really complain that much about where things stand with this franchise.

Let me explain. Sometimes the Cubs have been good but hey, these are the Cubs and they are typically bad. The weird thing now is that these Cubs are bad and management finally actually agrees.

Sure, we could quibble about how they screwed up the firing of Jim Hendry - which they did. They should have done it earlier in the season - or maybe before this season started or even right when these Ricketts guys got the team. That's when I would have done it.

But here we are anyway. Most Cubs fans received a wish come true a few weeks back. You could even say one of their wildest fantasies was finally fulfilled - at least one of theri fantasies that doesn't involve a corn cob dress, that one bat girl or kicking the crap out of Bartman.

Sure, the Cubs still stink on the field and the future doesn't look all that promising. But there's no general manager complain about and not even a real manager to complain about. Just a bad team. And that isn't anything new.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 1-6 for the week and continue to remind us how much they stink.

The Week in Preview: The North Siders head out West for three against the Giants and then come home for three against the Pirates.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got five starts at second and one at shortstop - his natural position - while Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker each got a start at second. Barney had four hits and two walks for the week and is still considered one of the young bright spots on this roster. I'm still not convinced. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Darwin Barney isn't going to be here next season if the new GM really is a sabermetric guy. Then he may be missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is keeping in shape while on the disqualified list by still Getting Angry.

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Could of Helped a Contender."

Lost in Translation: Tylero Colvinee-san is Japanese for The next GM is not going to bother.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Ryan Dempster for my gas tank. The guy is on fumes.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 8% sweet, 92% sour. Clearly he's just playing out the string, yet he still managed to get ejected again this week. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike knew he didn't come to a complete stop at Main and 5th last week, but he took a day off from the plant to put together a Perry Mason-like defense in traffic court anyway. He lost and had to pay a $25 fine. The day off cost him eight hours of overtime. Duh.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of NBC traded higher among rumors the network is developing a new reality series called I'm A Cubs Fan, Get Me Out Of Here!

Over/Under: Mike Quade ejections coming this week: +/- .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 Aramis Ramirez sure perks up when he's in a contract drive.

Farm Report: This guy is not considered major league material for reasons no one has explained.

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.

Mike Quade Status Update: The magic word was gollygeewhiz, Bill!

Well-Adjusted / Delirious / High

dazed_and_confused_smiley.jpg

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Contact The Cub Factor!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:14 AM | Permalink

Former Open Government Advocate Pat Quinn Opposes Freedom Of Information Now That He's Governor

Quinn Has Weakened Public Information Law

Just two years after signing legislation to strengthen the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and calling the improvements "landmark," Gov. Pat Quinn on Friday signed House Bill 1716 to rollback some of those reforms.

"The changes approved by Gov. Quinn today discourage openness in government and the new law will be a disincentive to local governments to make information available online, without charging citizens," said Whitney Woodward, policy associate with the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. "The Freedom of Information Act is the fundamental tool that gives residents access to the inner workings of government, to see how their tax dollars are being spent. Measures to restrict that access are deeply troubling.

"For the first time in Illinois, public bodies will be able to force some businesses to pay for the cost of pulling a public record from a storage box or sending a computer file," Woodward said. "When governments are allowed to charge whatever costs they deem to be reasonable just to see a public record, that's going to discourage some public bodies from posting those records online where everyone can see them immediately, without charge.

"In addition, the legislation allows governments to send some citizen records requests to the back of the stack, where they can remain for months or even years," Woodward said. "Public bodies have long struggled to comply with Illinois' open records law. Allowing governments to delay responding to requests, indefinitely, is antithetical to a law called 'the Freedom of Information Act.'

"It is disappointing that Gov. Quinn, who once cultivated an image of himself as an advocate of open government, has approved a bill that takes Illinois' FOIA law backward," Woodward said. "It is ironic that at the same time as Illinois moves in reverse, Chicago and Cook County elected leaders are advancing open government through the posting of more government records and data sets online."

In sharp contrast with the 2009 public bill signing ceremony where Quinn hailed FOIA reforms as "one of the more significant pieces of reform legislation in our state's history," Quinn signed HB 1716 in private and did not offer any explanation of the retreat from transparency.

The changes in HB 1716, which take effect immediately, include the following:

* Every public body covered by FOIA will be allowed to charge businesses the "actual cost" of locating and transporting any public record stored away from the central office. ICPR opposed this provision because the retrieval fee is unlimited; there is no requirement that public bodies give requestors an estimate of the cost in advance of complying with such a records request; and the bill does not state how "actual cost" would be determined. Given historical problems with FOIA compliance, including how per-page copying fees varied widely prior to a 2009 statutory update, it is important to provide public bodies with limits and direction on these new charges.

* The Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General's Office no longer will consider appeals of denied FOIA requests by those commercial requestors. Because the filing of a lawsuit would be the only opportunity for commercial requestors to appeal a denial, this change may result in public bodies treating commercial purpose requests differently than non-commercial ones.

* Public bodies will be allowed to place individuals who submit to a public body as few as seven requests in a week or 15 in a month into a new subcategory known as "recurrent requestor." Once receiving a request from such an individual, public bodies would have no statutory limit on the amount of time they could take to comply with such open records requests. The bill only requires that public bodies provide requested records within a "reasonable" amount of time but does not define "reasonable." Under the law, public bodies have a maximum of 5 days, with the option for a 5-day extension, to respond to FOIA requests by all other citizens. The news media, academics and researchers are exempted from being placed in this category, which means only laypeople are targeted in this new subcategory.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:08 AM | Permalink

The South Side Knights

The memory remains unmistakably clear of the final day of July 1977, the summer of the South Side Hitmen.

More than 50,000 energized - this was the first summer of Hey Hey Goodbye - Sox faithful jammed Comiskey Park to witness a doubleheader between the first place White Sox and the Kansas City Royals, who trailed the Sox by 5 1/2 games.

The picture is not so much the first game when the Sox scored three times in the bottom of the 10th - Chet Lemon slammed a two-run homer to tie the game - to eke out a 5-4 victory. What I see is the image of Hal McRae in the late innings of the nightcap circling the bases in more or less of a walk after hitting a round-tripper to extend the Royals' lead in what would be an 8-4 White Sox loss.

McCrae was a tough customer. He was famous for his competitive nature. He was a menace when he broke up double-plays by barreling into the pivot man with a ferocity not seen since. His infamous post-game 1993 phone-throwing, desk-clearing meltdown as manager of the Royals speaks to his - how shall I say? - less-than-benevolent demeanor.

So I suspect that McRae knew exactly what he was doing when he took an inordinate amount of time to round the bases that afternoon as an omen of what was to come.
What followed were 46 wins in the Royals' 63 remaining games while the Sox went 28-34. Whereas the magic of the Hitmen led a resurgence of interest in a team that had lost 97 games the year before, the likes of McRae, George Brett, Amos Otis, John Mayberry and Freddie Patek were far too talented not to win the division. In fact, the Royals, managed by Whitey Herzog, finished first four times between 1976 and 1980.

Nevertheless, Sox fans were thrilled with their team. They won 90 games, led the division until mid-August, and were excited to watch sluggers like Richie Zisk and Oscar Gamble. The concession stands still have South Side Hitmen T-shirts 34 years after the fact. Imagine that!

But the swagger of that Kansas City team is much the same attitude that we're now seeing with the Detroit Tigers. Let's be clear: The 2011 Tigers are no match for those Royals on talent. However, with a month left in the season and a six-game lead, the Tigers are tasting the post-season. Despite getting pounded on Sunday by the Twins, the Tigers have won 12 of their last 17. Anything close to that in September easily will propel them to the playoffs.

Perhaps the most compelling reason that Detroit will take the division is Justin Verlander, who won his 20th game on Saturday. Without Verlander, the Tigers are two games below .500. His 20-5 record is the difference between Detroit and the Sox.

Verlander will get six more starts. Could he win them all? Unfortunately for the Sox, the answer is, "Why not?" He's 18-2 in his last 20 decisions. The guy is overpowering, and he has loads of confidence. He tends to throw harder toward the end of games than in the early innings. Think the guy can taste victory?

Chances are the Sox won't see Verlander this weekend during their three-game series in Detroit. That's a good thing. Verlander is 3-1 against our guys this season, the one loss being an 8-2 pasting in Detroit on July 15 the day after the All-Star break. That's the last time Verlander lost.

When I suggested to my friend Patrick, a zealous Red Sox fan, that Verlander should not only win the Cy Young but also MVP, he bristled, "How can you give MVP to a guy who only plays once every five days? Got to give it to [Adrian] Gonzalez."

Arguing against someone who's leading the league in hits, RBI and batting average might be foolish, but Detroit would be, well, about like the White Sox without Verlander. The Red Sox would be diminished without A-Gon, but they'd still be a formidable ballclub.

The Sox lost a game in the standings to Detroit last week despite a three-game sweep of Seattle because Detroit won five of seven in Tampa and Minnesota. Last Tuesday's 5-4 loss in Anaheim was especially damaging for our athletes. A first-inning error by Alexi Ramirez on a throw that Adam Dunn certainly should have handled and Alex Rios' misplayed deep fly ball in centerfield turned a Sox win into a defeat.

At least we finally were treated to the long-anticipated arrival of our Savior, Dayan Viciedo. All he did was lash a three-run homer on Sunday to get the Sox rolling to a 9-3 victory. Couple that with Tyler Flowers' grand slam, and the recent Charlotte Knights accounted for seven RBI.

Thanks to long-term contracts and Kenny Williams' desire to develop him at Triple-A, there apparently hasn't been a place for the 22-year-old Viciedo. I suppose the wisdom of that decision remains up for argument.

However, Dayan looks imposing and competent when he steps to the plate, and he also made a couple of nice catches in right field. Ozzie used Rios in the cleanup spot four times last week. Eight homers and a .214 average, and the guy's batting fourth?

And another 2011 Knight, Alejandro De Aza, homered on Saturday and is hitting .309 since being called up. Ozzie won't play him against left-handers, but I'm not alone in wondering how he would do on an everyday basis.

The beleaguered Twins invade the Cell tonight for the first of three games before the Sox visit the Motor City beginning on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Tigers warm up for the weekend with four home games with the last-place Royals. Gee, wouldn't it be nice if Kansas City could trot out the likes of Hal McRae before the Sox arrive in town?

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:42 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is on special assignment developing new performance benchmarks, drafting comprehensive strategies, launching evaluating processes, identifying ambitious goals, outlining structures for implementation, and designing new data collection systems to provide journalists with the tools necessary to cover the Emanuel Administration. We hope she makes it back next week.

Heckuva Job, Barry
The view from on high.

Stimulus Bill
"As Hurricane Irene roars toward the East Coast - home to some of the country's most densely populated cities and costliest waterfront real estate - experts are forecasting a multibillion-dollar disaster," AP reports.

On the other hand, the National Association of Realtors found in its 2006 report "The Impact of Hurricanes and Economic Activity" found that "job markets strengthened following the hurricanes, due to reconstruction efforts in the region."

Obama's Plea
Maybe bomb Morgan Stanley?

Cosmos Karma
Metaphor for Tea Party and Obama plays out in space.

Gang Claims Right Calf
Vandal Gives Marilyn Monroe Statue Makeshift Tattoo.

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Megan Fox had no comment.

The Answer Is . . .
No.

Unless Steve Jobs designs them.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Electrified.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

2011 Bughouse Square Debates

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Tribune writer Rick Kogan kicks off this public competition of debaters and orators discussing free speech, unions, religion and more.

Sunday, August 28 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 53 min

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BGA Live with Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins the BGA for a virtual town hall meeting on good-governance, transparency, and other issues.

Sunday, August 28 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr

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Community Unites to Rebuild Kelly Park

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Parents, youth, and community leaders launch a campaign to provide a space for young people and combat gang violence by renovating Kelly Park.

Sunday, August 28 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 12 min


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:10 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2011

The College Football Report: Postseason Predictions From A Free Range Chicken As Well As Some Non-Fowl Pundits

In part four of our season preview, we introduce The College Football Report Free Range Chicken. The CFR FRC joins our ranks along with the returning Sports Seal this year. While the Seal will continue to focus on (largely inaccurate) gambling predictions, we welcome the Chicken for arbitrary picks and commentary. We can't let you in on the Chicken's methods but suffice it to say that the Chinese calendar, Kellogg's Cornflakes and a University of Delaware tube sock are involved.

To showcase our poultry's prognosticatory powers, we present for your perusal the premiere of the Free Range Chicken Postseason predictions . . . paired with those from non-fowl pundits:

Monday, January 2, 2012 - Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
Big Ten champion vs. Pac-12 champion
Lindy's: Nebraska vs. Oregon
Phil Steele: Oregon vs. Nebraska
USA Today: Stanford vs. Michigan State
College Football Report Free Range Chicken: Illinois vs. Arizona

Monday, January 2, 2012 - Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ)
Big 12 champion vs. BCS At-large
Lindy's: Oklahoma State vs. Boise State
Phil Steele: Notre Dame vs. Boise State
USA Today: Oklahoma State vs. Notre Dame
College Football Report Free Range Chicken: Iowa vs. Utah

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
SEC champion vs. BCS At-large
Lindy's: LSU vs. Stanford
Phil Steele: LSU vs. Texas A&M
USA Today: LSU vs. Oregon
College Football Report: Florida vs. Notre Dame

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - Orange Bowl (Miami, FL)
ACC champion vs. BCS At-large
Lindy's: Florida State vs. West Virginia
Phil Steele: Virginia Tech vs. Pittsburgh
USA Today: Florida State vs. South Florida
College Football Report Free Range Chicken: Boston College vs. Cincinnati

Monday, January 9, 2012 - 2012 BCS National Championship Game (New Orleans, LA)
BCS #1 vs. BCS #2
Lindy's: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Phil Steele: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
USA Today: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
College Football Report Free Range Chicken: Baylor vs. Alabama

Well, that's odd. The Chicken may be onto something. Apart from the BCS title game, none of those picks look too outlandish. Well, okay . . . Illinois, Arizona, Cincinnati . . . let's move on, shall we? Below, you will find the next stage of our Other 25 preview, this week featuring teams between #36 (UNC) and #31 (Northwestern).

36. The North Carolina Tar Heels (8-5, 4-4 in the ACC, W vs. Tennessee: Music City Bowl)

Comment: In one of the more curious offseason moves, the North Carolina Board of Trustees fired head coach Butch Davis in late July - this after Davis had signed a recruiting class, presided over spring practice and almost all the way to preseason. The NCAA had already issued a Notice of Allegations a month prior that outlined numerous "potential major violations" including unethical conduct by former assistant coach John Blake, players receiving improper benefits and a problematic relationship with a former tutor. Yet the investigation concluded last December and sordid details about Davis' regime had surfaced as early as the 2010 preseason. Compared to the Jim Tressel situation at Ohio State, in which school officials deliberated for only fourth months before firing the legendary coach, we have to wonder if the Trustees at UNC are complacent, incompetent or (worse yet) complicit in undermining the school's reputation in return for glory on the gridiron.

Upset Potential: North Carolina dodges Florida State this year and only faces one ranked team (#13 Virginia Tech) late in the season. While unlikely - given change of command - if UNC can somehow squeak past the Hokies to win the Coastal Division, the Tarheels may land in the ACC championship game.

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35. The Air Force Falcons (9-4, 5-3 in the Mountain West, W vs. Georgia Tech: Independence Bowl)

Comment: The Falcons rolled over many teams last season with a rushing attack that averaged more than 300 yards per game, good for second in the country. Air Force will run the ball using the triple option offense until the opposing defense proves they can stop it. And then they will run it some more, because the odds are good that the opposing team won't stop it again on the Falcons' next possession.

Upset Potential: In addition to conference powerhouses Boise State (#5) and TCU (#16), the Falcons face a formidable opponent in non-conference play: #16 Notre Dame. Air Force may match up well against the Irish and star wideout Michael Floyd however, as two seniors in the secondary (CB Anthony Wright and FS Jon Davis) both earned honorable mentions in the All-MWC honors in 2010. While the Falcons probably won't bust the BCS or earn an invite to the Las Vegas Bowl (which picks first from the MWC), odds are good that the Poinsettia Bowl will come calling to match up Air Force against Hawaii (probable WAC champion) or Navy (if the Midshipmen are bowl eligible). The latter would prove to be a dream match-up for the service academies and fans.

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34. The University of Michigan Wolverines (7-6, 3-5 in the Big Ten, L vs. Mississippi State: Gator Bowl)

Comment: The Wolverines will try to move on from the horrendous Rodriguez era this season as new head coach Brady Hoke dons the maize-and-blue. Hoke has turned around struggling programs before - most recently at his alma mater Ball State, where he took the Cardinals into the MAC championship game (2008), sequential bowl games (2007-2008) and, for the first ever in school history, the AP Top 25. After the 2008 season, Hoke left for San Diego State and performed a similar CPR job for the Aztecs. SDSU concluded the 2010 season with nine wins (a first since 1971) and a bowl win - the school's first since a win in '69 in the (now defunct) Pasadena Bowl.

Hoke's first challenge will be to completely turn around both the offense and defense. The goofy 3-3-5 formation of last season proved too yielding for the Big Ten . . . maybe even the MAC. The Wolverines ranked dead last in the conference in 2010 in total defense (450.8 ypg), scoring defense (35.2 ppg) and pass defense (261.9 ypg). On offense, Michigan fielded an exciting unit led by QB Dernard "Shoelaces" Robinson. We loved Robinson's play so much last season that we compared him at one point to "Tecmo Bo" Jackson. But this year, Robinson and the Michigan "O" will line up in a more conventional West Coast offense. Nobody asked us, but we're not sure the West Coast system will allow Shoelaces to do his thing.

Upset Potential: Before producing results on the field, Hoke must hang onto his vaunted recruiting class. Highly touted freshman tight end (ranked #16 TE in his class by Scout.com) Chris Barnett bid Ann Arbor farewell this week to enroll at the University of Oklahoma. So long, Chris! Enjoy the cornfields.

The Wolverines face four ranked teams this season but three games will be in the cavernous confines of the Big House. A bowl game seems within reach, which will please Michigan faithful after only one postseason appearance in the three years under "Rich Rod." To get there, Hoke's squad will need to hold serve in nearly every match-up versus unranked teams or pull a stunner against Notre Dame (#16), Michigan State (#17), Nebraska (#10) or dreaded rival Ohio State (#18).

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33. The University of Central Florida Knights (11-3, 7-1 in Conference USA, W vs. Georgia: Liberty Bowl)

Comment: The Knights appeared in the Top 25 for the first time in school history (#25 AP, #23 USA Today) last season and promptly laid an egg, losing a conference game to unranked Southern Miss 31-21. Oh well, it was a good run - for one week. But UCF went on to finish the remainder of the season in style capped off by a hard-fought victory Georgia. With the Liberty Bowl win, the Knights announced themselves as a new mid-tier national power and expect to be in the mix for the Conference USA championship.

Upset Potential: The UCF schedule does not list any AP Top 25 teams - yet. But a few opponents, particularly BYU, stand a fair chance of slipping into the poll at some point this season. We like the Knights to win the C-USA title game and slip into the Liberty Bowl with the opportunity to humble another SEC squad.

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32. The Arizona Wildcats (7-6, 4-5 in the Pac-10, L vs. Oklahoma State: Alamo Bowl)

Comment: We can't remember the last time Arizona was legitimately good. With only one conference title (1993) and a 6-10-1 all-time record in bowl games, you could argue that the program has nowhere to go but up. We understand the enthusiasm in Tucson, but we would advise the Wildcats to set some modest goals before speculating about the Pac-12 title game. Then again, what do we know?

Upset Potential: Brutal. Just brutal. Arizona faces four Top 25 teams (in a row!) in the first five games of 2011 including three from the Top 10. By the time UA has run that gauntlet, the trip to Corvallis to play Oregon State may feel like a bridge too far for these poor bastards.

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31. The Northwestern Wildcats (7-6, 3-5 in the Big Ten, L vs. Texas Tech: TicketCity Bowl)

Comment: Quarterback Dan Persa tossed his final pass last season on November 13 against Iowa. The touchdown lob gave Northwestern the win but Persa strained his Achilles on his celebratory leap, benching him for the remainder of the season. Without Persa, Northwestern lost the three remaining games of the season including the TicketCity bowl. Coach Pat Fitzgerald has NU in line for a fourth consecutive bowl game and an outside shot (9/1) to win the new Legends division of the Big Ten.

Upset Potential: Avoid Northwestern as a betting-line favorite: when "giving" points the Wildcats are 5-17 since early 2006. But hammer the money line when the 'Cats play at home against a ranked opponent - in the past two seasons, Northwestern has gone 2-2 including wins against conference foes Iowa (#13) and Wisconsin (#16).

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 PM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. The Tiawanda Moore Case, WTF?

As legal case to be prosecuted, this was always a stinky bag of horse hockey.

So why prosecute a case so ripe with the likelihood of jury nullification? No valid excuse except that this verdict makes it almost impossible that another Illinois citizen will be prosecuted this way again.

It also suggests that the Chicago police Internal Affairs Division seems just as much interested in thwarting investigations of police conduct as it does in pursuing them. Once the jury heard the tape, the law would not matter to a jury.

Hail, Tiawanda.

2. Michael Madigan, WTF?

We think Michael Madigan goes out of his way to snub the governor because he thinks the guv is a schlub.

Besides, even WTF knows it's more fun to drink good Scotch with Republicans at a posh fundraiser than eat corndogs with Dems at the State Fair.

As for bypassing chats with the president, Madigan is the powerful crown prince of Illinois politics, and crown princes grow weary of bowing before the king.

3. Valpo Cookie Lady, WTF?

Ever have one of those unscripted events in your life that changes your perspective forever? WTF loves Oreo cookies, but we have been unable to eat an Oreo ever since we saw this news.

As for "severely damaging the toilet," we don't even want to think about what that might mean.

4. Getting Old, WTF?

Might as well fess up. WTF is old. Not Betty White old, but really old. Sort of old like this.

WTF remembers when Kirstie Alley was hot. WTF remembers when Betty White was hot, for crying out loud.

We even remember when we were so disillusioned by a politician that we promised we'd never again be hornswoggled into such useless enthusiasms. Oops, wait a sec. That was Obama.

5. Take my Pacer, please, WTF?

Car thieves still steal cars it's an old-fashioned American cultural tradition - but time marches onward, even for punks. So now they don't actually drive off with the vehicle; they prefer to steal accessories and fancy wheels. We'd call this a statistical anomaly. These "car theft" statistics are somewhat ass-kew because stealing part of a car does not meet WTF's very strict definition of car pilferage.

As for Escalades being the No.1 target, we say good. This Caddy varietal is a useless testament to conspicuous consumption of chrome. You drive that piece of junk and you deserve to have it stolen. At least get a Mercedes.

By the way, WTF drives a '62 Pacer that runs on vegetable oil. Its wheels are mostly round.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:41 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"On the eve of a vote that could nearly double tolls for Illinois drivers, Gov. Pat Quinn gave the tollway board the closest thing yet to a green light for a sweeping fare hike and massive road construction plan," the Tribune reported on Thursday.

"The tollway has to do what's necessary to protect safety, lessen congestion, make sure that we have roads that are efficient," Quinn said. "Clearly, there is public support for making sure that we do this and do it right."

Yes, the public always supports higher fees. I'm sure the governor has a poll somewhere he just misplaced that day.

But sure enough . . .

"An Illinois state board approved a massive toll hike Thursday to help fund an ambitious $12.1 billion construction plan to repair highways and bridges," WBEZ reports.

"The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority voted to raise tolls for I-PASS users from 40 cents to 75 cents at most toll plazas - a nearly 88 percent bump. Drivers who pay cash will still have to pay double the I-PASS fare, or $1.50 per toll. The toll hike takes effect at the beginning of next year."

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Most interesting, though, is what the Tribune reported in 1994:

"Patrick Quinn, the Illinois state treasurer seeking to become secretary of state, was in his champion-of-the-tollway-user mode Thursday, threatening to block the agency overseeing tollway operations from issuing any more bonds unless it makes changes in how it does business . . .

"Among other things the Quinn proposals call for: setting a final date for all Illinois tollways to become freeways; creating an independent inspector general within the authority; banning the sale of any new tollway bonds until more than $200 million in surplus investment revenue is used up; and issuing a moratorium on any toll increases designed to pay for construction of new tollways or tollway extensions."

Has any of that happened?

No.

Yes.

Presumably.

Um, obviously not.

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"Moody's Investors Service. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's rate the tollway's $4 billion of debt double-A minus," The Bond Buyer reports. "Fitch assigns a negative outlook, while Standard & Poor's is stable."

Miguel Is Right
"Miguel del Valle thinks this story is stupid," WBEZ reports. "Okay, so he didn't actually say that to me. He's too polite. But last week at a diner on Western Avenue, around bites of oatmeal and raisins, del Valle complained about the whole notion of 100 day assessments.

"'Well, I don't think it's a benchmark that should be used at all,' del Valle said. 'It takes time.'

"Del Valle is a former city clerk, and up until February 22, a candidate for mayor. He finished a very distant third to Emanuel.

"'The 100 days is more about a perception of whether or not there's movement, whether of not that movement is in the right direction,' del Valle said."

Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

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"One area where del Valle thinks Emanuel is moving in the wrong direction is on property taxes.

"'The mayor said there would not be a property tax increase in the city of Chicago,' del Valle said. 'Well, we're looking at a property tax increase for CPS. Now, I think it's a bit disingenuous on the part of the administration to say, Well, we said that there wouldn't be a property tax increase for city services. Well, the schools are a part of the city.'"

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Emanuel Launches Campaign WIth Tax Pledge.

"Raising taxes, he said, 'would price Chicagoans out of their homes.'"

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Then again, there was this.

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Politics is a hall of mirrors, folks. Nothing any candidate says is meant to be taken literally, just strategically or symbolically. And once in office, every previous statement is open to new interpretation, evolution or redefinition.

In fact, I have a new proposal. Let's stop reporting on what candidates and officeholders say altogether. Instead, let's only report what they do or have done. What a bold experiment that might be.

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You'd end up with more stories like this and fewer stories like this.

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Or maybe we just don't want to get bogged down in details, also known as "the facts."

New Pivot
Now that he needs them.

Homeowners Get Screwed Again
"Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door," ProPublica reports.

Signage Remorse
"Recently removed from the Chicago Cubs, former General Manager Jim Hendry may now be removed from a busy northwest suburban thoroughfare as well. Park Ridge officials want the Illinois Department of Transportation to take down Honorary Jim Hendry Way signs on Northwest Highway, which were authorized in 2009 by Cubs enthusiast and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich," TribLocal Park Ridge reports.

Starlin Zambrano
It seems to have gone unnoticed but after Starlin Castro returned from his one-game "mental break" earlier this week, Cubs catcher Geovany Soto had to call timeout just before a pitch was thrown because Castro was over chatting with Aramis Ramirez instead of manning his position.

Mo Better Racing
"It's Travers Stakes Day, and in the liturgy of the rail, it's one of American horse racing's holiest days," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers reports in a beautifully written piece.

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

Buzz Killington
Lay out your clothes? Oh lord . . .

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Here's my advice:

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The Beachwood Tip Line: L-I-V-I-N.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

Billions Meant For Struggling Homeowners May Pay Down Deficit Instead

With housing prices dropping sharply, and foreclosure filings against more than 1 million properties in the first half of this year, the Obama administration is scrambling for ways to help homeowners.

One place they won't be looking: an estimated $30 billion from the bailout that was slated to help homeowners but is likely to remain unspent. Instead, Congress has mandated that the leftover money be used to pay down the debt.

Of the $45.6 billion in Trouble Asset Relief Program funds meant to aid homeowners, the most recent numbers available show that only about $2 billion has actually gone out the door.

The low number reflects how little the government's home loan modification and other programs have actually helped homeowners deal with the foreclosure crisis.

The programs have been marked by poor oversight and consistent under-enrollment. Homeowners have been forced to navigate an often bewildering maze at banks marked by slow communication, lost documents and other mistakes.

The amount of money spent is also low because the government pays out its incentive over a number of years. As of July, according to a Treasury spokeswoman, the government is on track to eventually spend $7.2 billion helping homeowners enrolled in its main loan modification program. That number doesn't factor in other homeowners who may enter the program before it ends in December 2012, but it does assume that all homeowners currently in the program will be able to continue making payments.

In November, the Congressional Budget Office lowered their estimate of the total amount of money the government would spend on its foreclosure relief programs from $22 billion to $12 billion. (The New York Times reported Thursday that the government has "spent or pledged" $22.9 billion of the TARP money so far, a figure that's dramatically higher than ours and that the Treasury spokeswoman said was the Times' own number.)

According to the original TARP legislation, unused funds should be returned to the Treasury and used to reduce the debt. While Congress has the power to re-route those funds into new programs, Republicans seem unlikely to endorse such a plan.

An Obama administration statement noted that they were continuing to look for ways to "ease the burden on struggling homeowners" through new proposals and reconsidering old ones.

The other ideas the administration is looking at have received mixed reviews. Among them: turning foreclosed homes into rental properties or allowing homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today's lower interest rates, an old idea that may not actually help a large new segment of homeowners.

"We have no plans to announce any major new initiatives at this time," the statement noted.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Holy Day

It's Travers Stakes Day, and in the liturgy of the rail, it's one of American horse racing's holiest days.

Want tradition? This 142nd running keeps it America's oldest stakes race, continually run since 1864, when civil war still raged and John Hunter and W. R. Travers sent out the winner, nicely named Kentucky.

Since then, it's only not run five times, 1896 and 1898-1900 because of economic downturn and 1911 and 1912 because of a moral climate that eventually led to Prohibition. The Kentucky Derby follows with 137 runnings, continuous since 1875.

The earliest Travers Stakes rosters are etched in the bedrock of the game. Horses like D'Artagnan, Hindoo, Baden-Baden and Azra. Jockeys including Jim McLaughlin, still tied for the record with four Travers wins, Gilbert Patrick, twice a winner, including the first one, and, in a day when owners and trainers were able to look past color to get the top riders, African-Americans Alonzo Clayton and the legendary Isaac Burns Murphy, arguably the greatest jockey who ever lived.

You had August Belmont, the Dwyer Brothers, William Astor and the Bashford Manor gang filling the owners' boxes.

Man o' War won it in 1920, and today's trophy cup is named after him. The great Gallant Fox was so shockingly upset by a 100-1 longshot in 1930 that they named a key Travers prep race after him. The horse: Jim Dandy.

Eddie Arcaro began his climb to the Travers jockey summit in 1938 aboard Thanksgiving. Braulio Baeza and Pat Day each won their four later in the century.

Calumet Farm's great Whirlaway added the Travers to his Triple Crown in 1941. Native Dancer, one of the top sires of all time, won in 1953.

In what is considered the greatest Travers ever, Jaipur eked out the win over Ridan by a short nose after a slugfest that went gate-to-wire in 1962.

Later, all-stars such as Buckpasser (1966), Damascus (1967), Arts and Letters (1969), Alydar (1978), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Point Given (2001) and Bernardini (2006) all reached the winner's circle. Secretariat did not run in the Travers in 1973, but his jockey, Ron Turcotte, did, completing his own jockey Triple Crown/Travers parlay aboard Annihilate 'Em. Afleet Express, the son of Afleet Alex, won it last year.

Saratoga's even got a Travers canoe tethered in the infield pond painted in the colors of the winning stable.

Today, it's a snowball down the hill toward the November Breeders' Cup, when the modern world seems to seek closure on all things, and a horse may be crowned king off the one BC victory, sometimes without enough regard to what he did or didn't do the previous 10 months.

I would bet there was a day when you were forced to look at the whole of a horse's year, using a summer pinnacle like the Travers as a milepost and taking in the Triple Crown races and the Whitney and Haskell, even the Washington Park Handicap, and later in the year, the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Clark Handicap. Now? The Breeders' Cup is a fine day of racing, but it's not a whole season.

A win, or even a run, in the Travers Stakes? Boy, it's big. You have to earn it and if you win, it will always be: "Yeah, he won the Travers."

The 2011 edition of the Travers has all the intrigue you want, as the current three-year-old crop, opportunistic all year, should offer a very good race and challenging wagering. The undercard, the Ballston Spa (GII), Victory Ride (GIII), Ballerina (GI), and the King's Bishop (GI), has its own hooks, none larger than Uncle Mo's return in the King's Bishop.

From the inside post out, the 2011 Travers Stakes, 1-1/4 miles (10 furlongs) on the dirt:

1. Bowman's Causeway (12-1 morning line) is a Canadian import with a tough beat in the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie to next-out stakes winner Pender Harbour. A fourth in the prestigious Queen's Plate before that gives Bowman's his two best races in his last two. That's always good. I'm not going to say Ramon Dominguez in the saddle is an upgrade, as I did not like at all the ride he gave Gio Ponti in the Arlington Million, but he is a top jock. This Giant's Causeway colt has all the distance DNA he needs. With his Queen's beat on the synthetic at this distance and a top effort at just a sixteenth less last time out, and if you believe in continued improvement on the dirt switch . . . I'm talking myself into it. And by the way, trainer Chad Brown is sunspot-hot at Saratoga this summer with 31-percent of his runners basking in the winners circle and 61 percent in-the-money.

2. Rattlesnake Bridge (8-1) is a Tapit colt stepping up big-time here. His 91-90-91 Beyer Speed Figures in his last three do not inspire. Nor do his only two wins, first-out in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream in February and a tight win in the Long Branch at Monmouth last out. His biggest stakes race was a fourth in the slop in the Grade II Jerome in April. This closer showed heart in the Long Branch, stumbling at the start and still winning. His only angle will be to jump up about 10 in the Beyers, get a great trip, and hope the pace up front destroys the race. Ask Professor Marvel how it's going to go.

3. Moonshine Mullin (20-1) has wiseguy written all over him. That's because of the 15-point Beyer improvement (99) he made in getting pounded by Stay Thirsty in the July 30 Jim Dandy. That was his first dirt race after three on synthetic and four on turf and he was impressive to get second in a race where nobody was going to beat 'Thirsty. He's shown good tactical speed, especially under jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, who gets the ride here, but he's in some pretty deep company. The Beyer fits, he seems fine with the track at the Spa and has a good last workout. I'm thinkin' you gotta at least include him deeper underneath.

4. Ruler On Ice (6-1) is the first of the three-year-old all-stars. With no clear dominator, this crop has taken turns winning the top three-year-old races and they're all here, except probably the best one, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who is out with an injury. Ruler won the Belmont Stakes at 24-1, just hanging on over Stay Thirsty. Except for the Belmont, at it's anomaly of 12 furlongs, he hasn't beaten much this year and the Belmont was on a sloppy track. On the other hand, while he and Jose Valdivia mysteriously shuffled to the back in the Haskell, Ruler showed a nice closing ability after Valdivia veered him to the rail and made their bid there. It wasn't the kind of ride that will win this race, but coming in here in his second race off the Belmont with an extra panel than the Haskell, hitting the board is a can-do at a nice price. And I mean, get a nice price: 6-1 minimum.

5. Malibu Glow (20-1) seems the tossout. Daily Racing Form's Dave Litfin makes the case that Malibu ran just as fast as the Jim Dandy leaders the same day - for the first six furlongs - but then closed slowly. Two of the hotshot Form pickers are taking him, although I haven't seen the reasoning. His comparable Beyers are nice, but that's kind of like smoothing out the icing on a bad cake. He hasn't beaten anybody (well except perhaps Raison d'Etat who also goes here) and has shown no stakes moxie. Nope.

6. Raison d'Etat (10-1) is a very lightly-raced (4-1-1-1) A.P. Indy colt who shows a ton of potential but at this point is held back by his inexperience. Kind of like Starlin Castro, except Raison d'Etat runs real hard every time out - big difference. But while some young horses can be intimidated into obscurity in a race like this, trainer Bill Mott is confident and that's good enough for me. He posted a very nice 97 Beyer as the favorite in the two-turn Curlin Stakes at Saratoga on July 29th, so he's got that going for him, but he shied from the whip and ran greenly to compromise his chances of winning. He's got as much raw talent as any of these, but he's behind some of his other classmates in his grade. He's been working great in August. Hard to say on his price, as the savvy horseplayers have already spotted him. I don't see how you can't include him at what could be his last good price.

7. Coil (3-1) is Bob Baffert's California kid who brought his 3-for-5 Hollywood synthetic record to the Jersey Shore, stumbled slightly out of the gate, bided his time well in last place, turned some foot to stay with the pack and then roared very wide down the middle of the track to nip Shackleford by an impressive neck in the Haskell Invitational. The son of Point Given has won four of six races and has been consistent with 96 Beyers in each of his last three. But just because he's a now horse with the Haskell win, I don't think he's the "it" horse. He's not as fast as he used to be and I think the rest and relaxation he was able to get in the first half of the Haskell allowed him to catch and beat what was a deceptively deteriorating pace. The same Beyer on the dirt as opposed to synthetic tells me he's not jumping up on dirt. I don't think he'll be a good price at all. But that's fine, as I'll look at a couple of the other veterans and a few of the young guns.

8. J W Blue (20-1) is one of those cut-below horses who is in very deep in this Travers. His only two wins came in his early races, he couldn't seem to get up for the wins in his last two at Delaware, including the Barbaro Stakes, and has shown before he's not a Grade I horse. In the Arkansas Derby, he was a so-so sixth to Archarcharch, Nehro and Dance City, very nice horses back in that day, but well off the three-year-old main stage now. The only thing he might have going for him is that Tony Dutrow is bringing him off a short vacation, one of Dutrow's go-to angles. That, along with removing his blinkers, shows Dutrow is reaching into his hat and trying to pull out a rabbit. I don't think he's even going to get Rocket J. Squirrel.

9. Stay Thirsty (5-2 favorite), formerly known as Uncle Mo's stablemate, comes in off an impressive, professionally run Jim Dandy where he downshifted just after the eighth pole and romped by four over Moonshine Mullin. He rebounded off a disappointing Kentucky Derby to nearly win the Belmont. The Travers is his second race off a 45-day break. I see two instances in his form cycles where he's bounced badly off of good races and in the third similar cycle opportunity, ran very well in the sloppy Belmont. I don't think he's any cinch to get this distance against these horses on a fast track. Conversely, he seems to love Saratoga, just like his pappy, Bernardini. I'm not a big fan of this horse but you have to respect him and include him in your exacta or trifecta. If he stays at 5-2, I've seen worse things. Like having to sit through another feature on his cartoonish, my-money-in-your-face Brooklyn-wiseguy owner, Mike Repole.

10. Shackleford (9-2) is your Preakness Stakes winner who is always in the thick of things. His m.o. is that he's a pace participant who can set it, be a part of it or even control it. Ostensibly, he can just run away if you let him, but what happens in the stretch of those 1-1/4 miles of the Travers? He had chances in both the Florida and Kentucky Derbies, but was unable to seal the deal and his lone win in six graded stakes, including five Grade I's feeds the furnace of my doubt. And it was shown after he beat Animal Kingdom in the Preakness that 'Kingdom hurt himself in that race. It sure didn't seem like he was too able get the distance and hold off Coil in the Haskell, something that doesn't bode well here. Shackleford will have to contend with Stay Thirsty just inside of him as they battle to the first turn and assuming J W Blue won't keep up, Coil and Raison d'Etat in the next two slots. He's had a very active campaign with a nearly identical schedule as Stay Thirsty. But Shackleford ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown, the only Travers runner to do so. You have to include him on class, at least for place or show, but you might just be able to toss him if you're a gutsy wiseguy. 2-1? No way.

NBC will provide coverage of the King's Bishop and the Travers in beautiful hi-def with the capable analysis of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.

Mo Better
Uncle Mo will make his long-anticipated return in the 27th running of the King's Bishop, seven furlongs on the dirt.

Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole have extolled 'Mo's virtues since he returned to training and tell us he's on the muscle and ready to go. He's turned in two great five-furlong works in the past couple of weeks.

While the Repole Stable's Mutt and Jeff have yet to explain why they waited until the day before the Derby to scratch 'Mo when it was clear he was not right from what was later diagnosed as a liver disease, it's still nice to see the big colt back.

If Uncle Mo is right as rain, he certainly has the talent to win this race. But it's a tall order after being seriously ill and off since April. The Two-Year-Old Horse of the Year was going great guns all the way through the Timely Writer in March at Gulfstream until it became clear something was wrong when he finished a trying but lackluster third in the Wood Memorial.

He'll be facing horses such as Flashpoint, Caleb's Posse, Dominus and even Runflatout. I can't agree that 'Mo was made the 9-5 favorite, but when he was on, he was a visually spectacular horse.

It will be worth tuning in just to see Uncle Mo.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Hold Steady at the Metro on Thursday night.


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2. Death Cab For Cutie at the Congress on Thursday night.

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3. Breathe Carolina at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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4. Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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5. Ke$ha at Northerly Island on Wednesday night.

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6. I See Stars at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.

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7. Langhorne Slim at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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8. MOTO at the Mutiny on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Though Mayor Rahm Emanuel has repeatedly claimed that he's been making big investments in public safety, the number of Chicago police officers has dropped in the last three months," Mick Dumke reports for the Reader.

"Last October, 11,178 police officers were on the city payroll. By June, shortly after Emanuel took office, that number had dropped to 10,923. As of earlier today, it was down a tad more, to 10,918, according to payroll data."

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That's not the perception generated from Rahm's press, though even noted City Hall stenographer Fran Spielman reported in her "analysis" of the mayor's first 100 days that "Even the mayor's claim to have flooded Chicago streets with hundreds of additional beat officers is exaggerated. He campaigned on a promise to solve a severe manpower shortage by adding 1,000 officers not now on the street, 250 of them newly hired with funds generated by tax-increment financing districts.

"But 500 of the officers he has returned to beat patrol have been reshuffled from the same deck of cards. They come from specialized units now disbanded."

Doesn't that make Rahm Emanuel a liar? I still don't get where political "spin" is somehow assessed by its strategic smarts (how well it deceives the public) instead of its truthfulness.

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"Emanuel and [police chief Garry] McCarthy have also pointed out that having more cops isn't the same as deploying them properly," Dumke writes. "In June they announced that they were redeploying 150 officers from administrative duties to the street. Last month they announced they were moving 39 more from office jobs to work in the community.

"That might be good news - if the officers weren't doing any administrative tasks that actually helped prevent or solve crimes. Despite promoting its record on transparency, the Emanuel administration has not said what the officers previous assignments were."

Apparently the police department has a lot of "desk jobs" where officers shuffle papers needlessly and thus can be deployed to the streets as needed.

"Desks-to-streets announcements are also right out of the big-city political playbook. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley made them when pressure mounted for greater police visibility but he didn't have money to hire more cops."

Madigan's Mouth
"Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn said today he was 'disappointed' that veteran House Speaker Michael Madigan, the state's Democratic chairman, attended a fundraiser featuring Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner," the Tribune reports.

"[Madigan spokesman Steve] Brown said Madigan did not indicate to him whether the two speakers spoke to each other at the Aug. 13 fundraiser for Boehner's national GOP leadership fund."

See, that's why allowing Brown to act as Madigan's stand-in -as the media has all these years - is ridiculous. Alternative:

"Madigan, who earns a taxpayer-funded paycheck as Illinois Speaker of the House, refuses to discuss his appearance at the Boehner event. Madigan's spokesman defended his boss on Wednesday even as he admitted he had no idea what his boss was thinking or what he said to who or if he accepted the invitation strictly as a favor to the host or if he had any misgivings about making time for Boehner but not for President Obama when he came through Illinois days later or for Democrat Day at the state fair, which he skipped."

*

"I don't know that he espoused any support for Mr. Boehner," Brown said.

Or that he didn't.

*

"Brown said Madigan viewed the results of last year's elections that put Boehner in the speaker's chair as a reflection that 'the public wanted to see political leaders, government leaders, cooperate.'"

That's a load of crap on its face, but let's play along: Shouldn't Madigan have been meeting with Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross instead? What does cooperating across the aisle have to do with Boehner?

In fact, Madigan could have spent some time with Quinn and other Democrats and cooperated with them first.

Now seems like a good time to use a line I heard recently: Steve Brown, is your butt jealous of the shit that comes out of your mouth?

Police Pimps
"A former stripper who secretly recorded two Chicago Police Internal Affairs investigators while filing a sexual harassment complaint against another officer was acquitted on eavesdropping charges Wednesday," the Sun-Times reports.

And her previous occupation is relevant how?

*

"Ms. Moore is twenty years old and very much still trying to discover herself in this world," Chicago artist Chris Drew, also fighting an eavesdropping charge, writes in his e-mail newsletter.

"The Tribune calls her a former stripper but she is first a young woman struggling to survive in a depressed economy. She is too young to have established a career out of anything yet. She has every right to expect justice from our system and she is a brave fighter for women's rights. She stood up to the intimidation of Chicago police to lodge her complaint of sexual abuse. Anyone who listened to the testimony Tuesday and Wednesday at her trial knows that took a very brave spirit. We should expect more from the newspaper of record in reporting behind the scenes. They should examine in depth the way Cook County State's Attorneys Office shields police misconduct.

"She fought against a culture of intimidation other women of any background might face when they try to lodge a complaint against the Chicago Police for sexual misconduct. She won putting the Cook County State's Attorney on notice that they should not be shielding police who violate citizen's rights with malicious prosecutions of this type. Her win is a win for all women and all citizens who expect justice from Cook County. Her attorney argued that she was being intimidated out of her right to file a complaint by police who were breaking their own rules in doing so."

Beware The Privatizers
They want to sell your tap water back to you.

Bring Me The Head Of Bruce Levine
ESPN Chicago reporter has no problem with Starlin Castro facing the outfield during pitches.

Hendry Signs McNabb
In Carl's Cubs Mailbag.

I Give Up
"Daniel Kibblesmith has money," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Bucktown resident apparently made a small fortune at Groupon as a humor editor, working on corporate 'cultural initiatives' like naming an office couch 'Sofa Coppola.'"

Stop, you're killing me.

No, really, you're killing me.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Pre- and post-mortems.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:26 AM | Permalink

The Privatizers Are Coming For Your Tap Water - And Any Other Public Service They Can Acquire And Sell Back To You

"Tom Tresser spoke at The Chicago Temple on August 3, 2011 on the looming threats of privatization in Illinois. The remarks were made at a forum of anti-privatization activists organized by Citizens Act To Protect Our Water (CAPOW!). Tom is organizing a new effort to stop privatization and to defend and extend the commons - Protect Our Public Assets."


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Also: "Public Radio Chicago is hosting a forum with Mayor Emanuel at the Chicago History Museum on August 24. They are entertaining questions from the public. I'd like to know if we can expect more bad deals like the recent O'Hare International Terminal concession contract."

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Editor's Note: Here's WBEZ's live-blog from that event, in which only the most basic, first-level questions that Rahm has been asked a million times were posed. Nice campaign commercial, WBEZ.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Hendry Signs Donovan McNabb

What in the world was Castro thinking when he got caught napping on national TV?
-Mac, Sac City IA

No one can be certain what Castro was daydreaming about, but my sources tell me it was Redd Foxx driving a rally car through a snow course.

Why is Quade benching Starlin when the team is finally hot?
- Billy, Bad Axe MI

I don't claim that the Cubs can have a better time losing with Castro in the lineup than without him, but why take chances?

What's next for Jim Hendry?
-John, Chicago IL

Hendry is a well-liked member of the GM fraternity so next on his agenda is participating in the 2011 Senior Baseball Executive Fantasy Football League. This is the first year the league will draft in an auction format, so expect Hendry to win aging future Hall of Famer Donovan McNabb in the first round by spending $145 of his $200 budget.

Will Randy Bush make any moves?
-Souja, Buffalo Grove IL

Mistaking him for former Cub pitcher "Stevie," Bush will work out a waiver deal with the Baltimore Orioles which nets the rights to Willie Eyre in exchange for Crane Kenney and six patio chairs from the Captain Morgan Club.

What's the worst mistake Jim Hendry made during his time as the Cubs GM?
-Matt, Toronto ON

Other than introducing the bizarre "pulled hamstring" incentive into Alfonso Soriano's contract, it was the time he entered the word "bisexual" into the search box on YouPorn.

The results were not at all what he expected* and the ensuing scramble to turn off the computer monitor resulted in Hendry's famed 2006 trip to the hospital during which he signed Ted Lilly from his bed.

Who starts at first if Pena gets sent to the Yankees?
-Billy, Baldwin IL

In order to maintain Carlos Pena's level of defensive skill at first, Jeff Baker and Tyler Colvin will play on the right side of the infield. Tony Campana will use his speed and a comically oversized mitt to play the newly created "centright" outfield position.

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* Of course, a more savvy GM would have searched "hotel," or "office" and narrowed the search to videos of five minutes or longer, thus providing him with a much wider variety of material and enough time to get the job done without any useless exposition.

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:18 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine Doesn't Care If Starlin Castro Faces The Outfield While Pitches Are Thrown, And Other Kubs Kulture Lunacies

His chat this week is just one more example of Kubs Kulture - it's not just the team that trafficks in it. Let's take a look.

Skysun Thomas: What are the chances of the Cubs getting rid of some players before the end of August?

LEVINE: Rid of, interesting way of putting it. Getting something back in return should be their objective. Would you like to get rid of Castro now? I love the fact that so many people have an opinion of this guy even though they haven't even talked to him. This is a quality young kid. He's 21 years old. What were you doing when you were 21? Think you made any mistakes. Thanks for letting me vent.

*

RHODES: Um, the question wasn't about Castro, Bruce, but let me vent anyway. Does a Cubs fan have to have talked to Castro to have an opinion about him? Does that mean only beat reporters are allowed to have opinions? We all saw the video.

Oh, and when I was 21 I was putting myself through college, working for the college newspaper as well as an off-campus job. I was also on the University of Minnesota's intramural championship softball team and let me tell you something: my mind was focused on every goddamn pitch.

*

Russell: Any chance of Bob Brenly becoming manager next year?

LEVINE: Not sure. Bob is a very good baseball man. But he didn't really get a lot of interest from teams last year for some reason. However Steve Stone is available. He's a very bright baseball guy and has been interested in seemingly every Cubs job that has come open.

*

RHODES: I don't know if Levine is being sarcastic about Stone, but Stone has clearly stated numerous times over the last few years that his neither interested in being a manager or a general manager. So Levine is seemingly wrong.

*

Darren: Castro looked bad and it was awful, no question, but didn't Bobby V go overboard saying Castro doesn't know how to play ML ball and is a cancer in the clubhouse?

LEVINE: Valentine astutely pointed out that Castro wasn't paying attention. He had the advantage of being 300 feet up but on ground level only Barney or Johnson or Ramirez would notice. When you're in the dugout you're not necessarily going to see that. This isn't Skokie youth league baseball here. I think a one-day benching and a fine is enough to get Castro's attention. Maybe he should be flogged with the noodle that used to be outside Wrigley.

*

RHODES: Um, you mean to tell me, Bruce, that the manager in the dugout can't see his shortstop? Shouldn't he be watching the game from the press box then? Of course he can see. And so can his first- and third-base coaches. And so can the players. And so can the fans, whom I will point out aren't 300 feet in the air either. Maybe you oughta go cover the Skokie youth league instead of the majors.

Besides that, Valentine didn't say Castro was a cancer in the clubhouse. He said this: "If those things are allowed to exist, then a cancer will form within the team."

Is he wrong? I mean, don't you think a player who is allowed to turn his back when pitches are thrown would create a toxic situation within a team?

*

Chad: With Quade's history of not playing a young guy in favor of getting wins (see Tyler Colvin), is there any real reason to bring up the obvious players from AAA like Brett Jackson here in September? What would be the point if they just get a spot pinch-hit or -run every other week?

LEVINE: That was former GM Hendry's point. If you bring up Jackson or Ryan Flaherty, the best thing to do would be to play them every day. Then it becomes chaotic for the manager who has to sit Byrd and Soriano. But in my mind player development comes first, but I don't have to deal with the millionaires who are upset with me except when I have to walk through the clubhouse.

*

RHODES: Okay, sort of getting the point, but in reverse. That was Hendry's point but Hendry was wrong. Your organization makes a decision and everyone has to live with it. Playing Reed Johnson - a better example, but Soriano works too because you can't seriously think he's gonna be with the team next year - over Colvin is inexcusable. Like Dusty Baker, Quade is playing out the string trying to win every game with his veterans instead of preparing the team's prospects for next year the way some other teams - such as Houston - are doing. The manager there, Brad Mills, is putting on clinics before each game, for godsakes.

Beyond that, though, what kids? They're all in Tampa.

*

Matt: Bruce, if the Cubs are going to shy away from the big free-agent contracts, who is the 1B next year? Hopefully not Pena, because then it is the same exact team on the field as this disaster season.

LEVINE: If Friedman is the GM he will let Pena go as a free agent and trade Garza. Kidding. Even though Pena has a low batting average there are other intangibles. Great defense is not to be underestimated. That depends on what he and his agent are looking for at age 34.

*

RHODES: Great defense is not to be overestimated either. John Dewan reports in his Stat of the Week that Pena is the "scoops leader" at first base thus far this year. Dewan notes, however, that Pena has mishandled nine throws from infielders this year - third most in the majors. "Pena has an 85% Scoop Percentage," Dewan writes. "That's above average, but not among the elite first basemen in 2011."

*

Jake: Do you feel Quade's response to the Castro situation has hurt or helped his chances of coming back next year? Does this situation really matter in that decision?

LEVINE: I think that's a pretty interesting question because if it was Ramirez or Soriano would the penalty have been the same as well as the commentary? All I know is that the Cubs had their best player on the bench and they scored no runs.

*

RHODES: Um, you kind of have it backwards there again, Bruce. First, the penalty should be the same. It's not that Castro shouldn't be penalized but that Ramirez and Soriano should be too. And the commentary? Well, did you just arrive on Planet Cub? The commentariot have complained for years about the lazy approaches of Ramirez and Soriano. (Also: remember a Cub named Carlos Zambrano?) Sitting Castro for one game at the cost of possibly scoring some runs is a small price to pay compared to enabling him into a career of lost potential.

*

LEVINE: We'll have more of the Castro story today, much ado about nothing.

*

RHODES: Let's have every Cub turn their back when the pitch is delivered, then. Stare at the night sky and take their glove off as the pitcher goes into his wind-up and reach for sunflower seeds as the pitch is delivered. After all, if it's much ado about nothing it can't do any harm.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Steve Rhodes:

To add . . . the excuse that Castro is just 21 is also backwards. You'd think at age 21 you'd be so thrilled to be in the major leagues that you'd be focused on every pitch. It's more understandable that after a few years in the bigs - or as an aging veteran, particularly one on too many losing teams - your mind would wander. It's a grind. But not when you're 21.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:23 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Two weeks ago, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) came to Hinsdale to raise money for Republicans to fight the congressional map drawn under the direction of state Democratic Party chief and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan," Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch report for the Sun-Times.

"The very next night, the congressman broke bread with Madigan (D-Chicago) at a fund-raiser for Boehner's leadership fund at the Lemont home of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Chairman Terry Duffy."

Oh, but wait. It gets better.

"After making the Boehner event, Madigan skipped last week's Governor's Day Democratic day at the Illinois State Fair, opting instead for an out-of-state vacation with his family. His absence drew murmurs from some Democrats about why the speaker would miss the traditional Downstate party pep rally.

"That same day, Madigan was a no-show for Obama's visits to four stops in northwestern and central Illinois and didn't attend Obama's Aug. 3 birthday fund-raiser on Chicago's North Side, which Gov. Pat Quinn, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) attended."

What in the world is Madigan thinking?

"We've said for more than a year, one of the messages of 2010 is the need for people to cooperate, and that's what Madigan's tried to do," Madigan Mouthpiece Steve Brown told the Sun-Times.

I wonder if that includes cooperating with Democrats. But I digress.

"'I don't think anybody can question the success of Democrats in Illinois since Mike Madigan has been chairman,' Brown said, referring to a stint as Democratic Party of Illinois chairman that began in 1998."

After all, Republican George Ryan was elected governor that year, followed by Democrat Rod Blagojevich in 2002 and again in 2006, before being impeached, removed from office and convicted of federal corruption charges. Good job!

"That record speaks for itself."

Unlike Madigan.

*

Maybe Madigan is thinking about changing parties. After all, he has a long history of running against Democrats.

The record speaks for itself.

Losing Traction
"Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates' investment firm now owns nearly 6 percent of equipment maker Deere & Co.'s stock," AP reports.

And so it begins.

*

But seriously, why? Maybe a global food shortage has something to do with it.

*

Gates also has also invested in the Chicago Public Schools and left them vulnerable to a destructive virus.

Sycamore Tree
"The two biggest airlines at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport route their jet fuel purchases through an outlying Illinois town, shaving millions of dollars off their tax bills but raising the hackles of Chicago officials," Kathy Bergen reports for the Tribune.

"The airlines' tax break agreements with Sycamore, which have flown under the radar for years, have allowed United and American subsidiaries each to trim as much as $12 million to $14 million off their annual tax bills in recent years, documents show."

*

"The commercial district of Sycamore is based on Illinois Route 64, and stretches about a mile down starting from the intersection of route 64 with Illinois Route 23 and ending at Center Cross Road," according to the town's Wikipedia entry. "The district is composed of 2 story shops, a bank, a small movie theater, and The Midwest Museum of Natural History."

Let's see if a proactive Wikipedian edits that to include "the post office boxes where United and American airlines collect the sales tax proceeds absconded from Chicago."

*

"The Sycamore Police Department will transition into the new Police Station on DeKalb Avenue in May," the town's website says. "This summer Hyvee will open in the completely renovated shopping center on DeKalb Avenue and Oakland Drive and City's annual street maintenance program will be underway."

Thanks, United!

*

"Sycamore is the embodiment of classic small town Mid-America, a place where smiles are a way of life."

Serving your tax haven needs since 2001.

Bee Thousands
"Here's a clever and judicious use of the open space that is required around a busy airport like Chicago's O'Hare: An apiary. There are now 1.5 million bees living in beehives in this open space," the Mother Nature Network reports.

All honey purchases are routed through Sycamore.

Schooling The Prez
"One day after the Chicago Teachers Union bailed out of talks over a rescinded 4 percent pay hike, [CPS schools chief Jean-Claude] Brizard said he would be willing to give elementary teachers a 2 percent raise worth $30 million if they agreed to work 90 extra minutes daily this coming school year," the Sun-Times reports.

The day Karen Lewis has better negotiating skills than Barack Obama is a sad day for America indeed.

Genius Bar Hiring
"United and Continental airlines are replacing pilots' paper flight manuals with 11,000 iPads, which the airlines say will reduce weight and save fuel," AP reports.

Which explains why Apple just opened a store in Sycamore.

Blu Flu
"The restaurant will be called Fellini."

*

"Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me."

Fantasy Fix
WRs are deep, but not a single Bear makes our list.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Felliniesque.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: WRs Go Deep

Unlike last week's quarterback rankings, the list of fantasy wide receivers does not have a clear No. 1, and there is tremendous value to be found as deep as the 20th man on the list. There may be no more Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens will be mired in Cincinnati's poor offense, but there should be no lack of star power.

Here are my top 20 WRs:

1) Andre Johnson, Houston: He's No. 1 for at least the third year in a row, but it's not as clear-cut as the previous two seasons, and he could easily be surpassed by the next two names on the list.

2) Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona: With Kevin Kolb settling in at QB, many are predicting a huge year.

3) Calvin Johnson, Detroit: Possibly the MVP of what should be a very exciting offense. I would be willing to gamble on him over Fitzgerald; he may get more TDs.

4) Roddy White, Atlanta: Third in yards-per-game last season at 86.8, and 115 catches led all WRs.

5) Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh: Very reliable. His yards-per-catch was a second-best 21, while yards-after-catch of 6.3 was third among receivers with 60 or more receptions.

6) Greg Jennings, Green Bay: Tied for second in TDs last season; just needs to touch the ball more frequently.

7) Hakeem Nicks, NY Giants: Had 11 TDs in just 13 games; an 80.9 yards-per-game average suggests top five potential.

8) Vince Jackson, San Diego: Only played four games last season and had 3 TDs against the terrible 49ers in one of them, none in the rest. His 2009 take of 1,167 yards and 9 TDs bodes well.

9) Miles Austin, Dallas: I am not a fan of his QB, and his numbers slipped last season, but Dallas will pass often and he should get the nod over Dez Bryant as the most frequent target.

10) DeSean Jackson: An explosive player who can also get you special teams TDs, he had a league-best 22.5 yards-per-catch last season. Could lose catches to Jeremy Maclin, though.

11) Brandon Lloyd, Denver: Why can last season's leader in total receiving yards at 1,448 be had this low? QB Kyle Orton needs to spread the wealth more, so a decline is highly likely.

12) Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: Why can last season's TD receptions leader,with 15 be had this low? QB Matt Cassel needs to - oh, just see No. 11.

13) Mike Williams, Tampa: Landed among TD leaders last season with 11; with talented young QB Josh Freeman at the helm, he should easily surpass 1,000 yards receiving this season.

14) Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis: Lower on my list than on many others, and still reliable week-to-week, but Peyton Manning's injury will be cause for concern the first few weeks of the season.

15) Danny Amendola, St. Louis: A gamble, as he had just 689 yards receiving and 3 TDs last season, but went from 44 catches in 2009 to 85 in 2010. Plus, offers bonus of return yards and scores.

16) Dez Bryant, Dallas: Big play potential and kick return chances make him a scoring threat every week, though Austin probably will get the lion's share of receiving yards.

17) Brandon Marshall, Miami: Huge disappointment last season, and he really only makes the list because he's Brandon Marshall and there seems no way he'll have two straight bad seasons.

18) Plaxico Burress, NY Jets: Big gamble on the ex-con, but he has looked fantastic in preseason, and seems to have a great connection with QB Mark Sanchez.

19) Wes Welker, New England: The Pats were maybe too cautious with him coming off injury last season, and I like him for a return to form. Though, the guy at No. 20 could take some catches.

20) Chad Ochocinco, New England: So many guys - Santonio Holmes, Mario Manningham, Steve Johnson, among others - qualify, and Ochocinco has faded somewhat, but QB Tom Brady has a way of reviving receivers.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade likes Dallas running back Felix Jones now that his former backfield mate has left for Chicago.

* Athlon Sports puts Jay Cutler on its list of sleeper QBs. I put him in my top 20, though after two preseason games, I'm not feeling great about that.

* Bleacher Report lists WRs who could be "hidden gems." Michael Crabtree of the 49ers could be one to watch.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads eyes the top five undervalued WRs, with Green Bay's Jordy Nelson making the list.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:48 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2011

The College Football Report: Rainbow Warriors, Lonesome Polecats and Carl Spackler

Welcome back to our multi-part season preview. The Associated Press poll has gone live since our last installment and congratulations are in order for . . . no one.

Not a single one of our Other 25 teams thus far cracked the AP Top 25. In fact, a few of our Other 25 teams didn't even make the list of "Other teams receiving votes," meaning they weren't even Other enough for AP. We weren't surprised.

Teams like Oregon State (#46 in the USA Today coaches poll) and Georgia Tech (#50) fall into the margins among coaches. And sportswriters in the Associated Press' poll left out North Carolina (#36), South Florida (#38) and Clemson (#40). As it happens, part three of our preview focuses on Other 25 teams ranked between #40 - #37 and there may be a few clues as to why AP voters omitted each below.

40. The Clemson Tigers (6-7, 4-4 in the ACC, L vs. South Florida: Meineke Car Care Bowl)

Comment: Two years removed from an ACC division title and a berth in the ACC championship game, coach Dabo Swinney finds himself under pressure to produce (more) results. But should Clemson fans be this demanding? Keep in mind that the Tigers have not won a conference championship since 1999 and that was before the league expanded to include Miami and Virginia Tech in '04.

To offset the discontent, Swinney took the traditional route of threatened head coaches everywhere - fire everybody! The offseason shake-up cut all but two of his offensive assistants including former offensive coordinator Billy Napier. Clemson gave Napier all of one season after elevating from the assistant ranks in 2010. At the time, Napier (age 31) was the youngest offensive coordinator in Division I. Napier faced a significant challenge as the team struggled to replace all-everything C.J. Spiller. In the wake of Spiller's departure, the Tigers' offense posted mediocre numbers in 2010. Consider for example that Spiller won ACC Player of the Year (Clemson's first since '87) in his senior season and finished his career with 7,000 all-purpose yards - only the fifth player in history to hit that mark. Clemson retired Spiller's #28 after he helped the Tigers defeat Kentucky in the 2009 Music City Bowl - the program's first bowl win since 2005. We wonder how anyone could have replaced such a weapon in one season.

Despite the gaping hole in his roster, Napier managed to help Clemson reach a postseason bowl and may have done far more. We'll never know, because Spiller's replacement (if such a thing can be said) - sophomore running back Andre Ellington - suffered a season-ending injury against Boston College, forcing him to miss the five remaining games of 2010 including the Car Care Bowl. We imagine results would have been far better with Ellington on the field, who was averaging 5.8 yards per carry and had scored 10 TDs before going down. But Swinney had seen enough and Napier found himself out on the street.

Upset Potential: Apart from two layups (against Troy and Wofford), two manageable games (Boston College, Wake Forest), and three tossups (vs. Other 25 teams UNC, NC State and Georgia) the Tigers must face a murderer's row this year - #5 Florida State, #13 Virginia Tech, #12 South Carolina and #19 Auburn. Toss in Maryland, picked by the USA Today to win the conference, and Clemson could end 2011 in similar fashion as last season. And you know what they say - karma is a bitch.

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39. The Hawai'i Warriors (10-4, 7-1 in the WAC, L vs. Tulsa: Hawaii Bowl)

Comment: When did Hawaii become Hawai'i? Well, we don't mean that exactly, but when did we change the spelling? We're confused. Oddly enough, we have seen "Hawai'i" in print but rarely online. We didn't mind when the football program, after 77 years, opted to drop "Rainbow" from the team name in favor of just "Warriors". But this is too much.

Upset Potential: This one is easy - the Warriors will beat anyone who can't defend the pass. The program returns only three starters on offense, but as long as senior (and Hawai'i native) Bryant Moniz can suit up at quarterback, we like their chances.

*

38. The South Florida Bulls (8-5, 3-4 in the Big East, W vs. South Florida: Meineke Car Care Bowl)

Comment: The break-out potential for quarterback B.J. Daniels of South Florida seems to have piqued the interest among commentators during the offseason. We can see why: the junior has a cannon for an arm, a sturdy frame (listed at 223 lbs. and standing just 6') and posts a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash. He is, in short, one hell of an athlete. But he may not be a great quarterback. Last season, Daniels threw just 11 TDs versus 13 INTs and the Bulls were forced to rely on the defensive unit (rated at 17th in the country) to win several games. No surprise then that the "under" fared well in South Florida games - the point total fell under the Vegas line eight times last season.

Upset Potential: South Florida faces Notre Dame (#16 AP, #18 USA Today) right out of the chute on Saturday, September 3rd. A number of other winnable games follow until Big East season kicks off at Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 29th. The Bulls might enter that game with a 3-1 record, and any shot at a Big East championship likely rests on that outcome, along with home games against Miami and West Virginia at the end of the season.

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37. The Houston Cougars (5-7, 4-4 in Conference USA)

Comment: We had a hard time coming up with both the nickname and the conference for the Houston Cougars. Whereas we could name the conference affiliation for nearly all of The Other 25, and the nickname for every team, somehow Houston eluded us. After some head-scratching (not the Texans . . . or Cowboys . . . Mustangs . . . Roadrunners . . . Tumbleweeds . . . ) we had to give in and resort to Google. Our bad, Cougars. For reasons we'll explain below, we want to nominate "Lonesome Polecats" as Houston's new nickname. No one would ever forget that one.

Upset Potential: The 2010 season hit the fan for the "Cougs" in a mid-September game against UCLA. Starting QB and Heisman hopeful Case Keenum (torn ACL) and backup Cotton Turner (broken collarbone) were lost for the season in a 31-13 loss at the Rose Bowl. Fortunately for Houston, the NCAA granted Keenum's "medical hardship" request for a sixth season of eligibility. The star quarterback - who has compiled 13,586 career passing yards - will again direct Houston's high-powered offense. Keenum may earn an honorable mention in the 2011 Heisman race, but Houston's conference affiliation (Conference USA is non-AQ) and low strength of schedule (in the 70s) figure to hold him back. Further, the QB has struggled to shed the "system quarterback" label throughout his career.

The system in question is the so-called "spread option" installed by offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen in 2008. A number of coaches have been credited with fathering the spread offense, but most point to Darell "Mouse" Davis as one of the first to adopt a pass-first approach to the run-and-shoot offense. Davis adapted the run-and-shoot based on a scheme pioneered by Ohio high school football coaching legend Glenn "Tiger" Ellison. After starting the 1958 season at Middletown High at 1-4-1, Ellison developed what he called The Lonesome Polecat offense. Ellison designed the Polecat to spread the offense across the line of scrimmage, positioning the center and quarterback in the middle, the offensive line at far left and two backs far right. (Under this system, a play might look like this.) He envisioned an offense that would "throw passes at will, put the football on display, give the fans something to cheer about, and have fun doing it." Ellison borrowed the run-and-shoot term from Paul Walker, his coaching counterpart for Middletown's basketball team (birthing the football cliche "basketball on turf") and eventually penned Run-and-Shoot Football: Offense of the Future, a bible for coaches and offensive coordinators.

Although the "Middies" did throw the ball, the run-and-shoot initially focused on running plays. It wasn't until Darrell Davis created a hybrid pass-first version that the "spread" system we know today began to emerge. Davis spent 15 years coaching high school ball in Oregon, eventually winning the state championship in 1973. Portland State took notice and offered Davis the head coaching job in 1975. From there, the run-and-shoot virus and all its derivatives began to spread throughout high school and college football. Davis's version also shifted play-calling from the quarterback to the head coach. His scheme still called for the offense to "read" the defense but the sidelines would send in a play after seeing the defensive alignment.

Over time, early adopters of the spread saw much success but the competition quickly caught up. For example, former Purdue coach Joe Tiller brought the spread to the Big Ten in 1997 and raised the Boilermakers to the league's top team by the 2000 season. Yet fast followers such as Jim Tressel (formerly of Ohio State), Ron Zook (Illinois), and the late Randy Walker (Northwestern) also implemented varieties of the system and Purdue finished all but one of Tiller's remaining eight seasons at fourth (or worse) in the Big Ten.

As for Holgorsen, he began his coaching career as the quarterback and running back coach under Hal Mumme at Valdosta State. Mumme modeled his style of the spread offense after BYU's LaVell Edwards. Edwards influenced a number of other spread devotees as well, such as Mike Leach (formerly of Texas Tech), Steve Sarkisian (Washington) and Norm Chow (offensive coordinator at BYU under Edwards, followed by stops at USC, UCLA and now Utah). Holgorsen spent from 2000-2007 under Leach at Texas Tech followed by a stint at Houston and a stop at Oklahoma State. Holgorsen took the head coaching job at West Virginia in 2011, a spot vacated by Rich Rodriguez (another spread coach!) in 2007.

The spread is the perfect offense for the modern game: it results in a high-scoring, high-energy game with plenty of excitement (as Ellison first noted) for the fans. The spread creates a significant advantage for offenses by stretching out the field, accelerating the pace, exposing overmatched corners and linebackers and exhausting the defense. Thus playmakers at the skill positions, and heady quarterbacks, can post gaudy numbers while overwhelming opponents who have prepared for a week at most.

We also can't help but point out that the spread (and all its variants) reinforces the myth of the genius head coach. Chip Kelly, the most recent example of this phenomenon, led the Oregon Ducks to the 2010 BCS National Championship game by installing a version of the spread that stressed lightning-fast playcalling. Much to the delight of commentators, fans and sportswriters, Kelly's system also employed enormous placards to signal plays to the offense. Kelly introduced the wrinkle, at least in part, after losing the 2009 Rose Bowl to Ohio State. Reflecting on the loss, Kelly suspected the Buckeyes were stealing signs. He developed a code of sorts using poster-boards, each separted into quadrants, containing a bizarre combination of images such as Lee Corso, a gopher and Carl Spackler. The combination of this unique system, Oregon's success on the field, and BCS berths has created an image for Kelly as a coach nearing the "pantheon of all-time creative geniuses."

Not for nothing, but the Ducks also field some exceptional talent to play in Kelly's system - talent that Kelly and Oregon may have bought by paying for access and influence through a shady recruiting middleman. Why, then, do players like Case Keenum end up at schools like Houston? What separates Keenum from a shot at a national championship and a Heisman trophy - a check for $25,000?

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Coming Friday: The next installment.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Influence peddlers who once worked for Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi's regime are scrambling to publicly sever ties with the strongman while their competitors are helping his country's rebels gain a valuable foothold in Washington," the National Journal reports.

"In March, The Boston Globe reported that Monitor Group, a consulting firm founded by Harvard professors, had received $250,000 a month between 2006 and 2008 for services intended to generate good press and 'international appreciation of Libya.'

"In July, the group terminated its relationship with Libya and reported taking in more than $6.7 million in fees and expenses between October 2006 and January 2009, according to disclosures filed with the Justice Department."

*

"The firm and the Harvard academics were hardly alone in hiring themselves out to Libya's brutal ruler, who maintained a roster of paid enablers that included major oil companies and former members of Congress," the Globe said in an editorial. "Laden with a $70 billion sovereign wealth fund and another $110 billion in its central bank, the oil-rich Khadafys drew all sorts of investors, partners, and consultants."

*

"In February 2007 Harvard professor Joseph Nye Jr., who developed the concept of 'soft power,' visited Libya and sipped tea for three hours with Muammar Qaddafi. Months later, he penned an elegant description of the chat for The New Republic, reporting that Qaddafi had been interested in discussing 'direct democracy,'" Mother Jones reported in March.

"Nye noted that 'there is no doubt that"'the Libyan autocrat 'acts differently on the world stage today than he did in decades past. And the fact that he took so much time to discuss ideas - including soft power - with a visiting professor suggests that he is actively seeking a new strategy.' The article struck a hopeful tone: that there was a new Qaddafi. It also noted that Nye had gone to Libya 'at the invitation of the Monitor Group, a consulting company that is helping Libya open itself to the global economy.'

"Nye did not disclose all. He had actually traveled to Tripoli as a paid consultant of the Monitor Group (a relationship he disclosed in an e-mail to Mother Jones), and the firm was working under a $3 million-per-year contract with Libya. Monitor, a Boston-based consulting firm with ties to the Harvard Business School, had been retained, according to internal documents obtained by a Libyan dissident group, not to promote economic development, but 'to enhance the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi.'

"So The New Republic published an article sympathetic to Qaddafi that had been written by a prominent American intellectual paid by a firm that was being compensated by Libya to burnish the dictator's image."

*

"Professors sent to visit Khadafy included luminaries such as Joseph Nye, former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Lord Anthony Giddens, former head of the London School of Economics; Francis Fukuyama political philosopher from Stanford University; and Benjamin Barber, who has written extensively about democracy," the Globe noted in its report.

So . . .

"Written off not long ago as an implacable despot, Gaddafi is a complex and adaptive thinker as well as an efficient, if laid-back, autocrat. Unlike almost any other Arab ruler, he has exhibited an extraordinary capacity to rethink his country's role in a changed and changing world," Benjamin Barber wrote in the Washington Post in 2007.

"I say this from experience. In several one-on-one conversations over the past year, Gaddafi repeatedly told me that Libya sought a genuine rapprochement with the United States . . .

"This isn't mere bluster. Gaddafi has taken grave risks in the name of change: offending the Benghazi clans that engineered the nurses' arrest; giving up his nuclear program while rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea use theirs to blackmail the West; holding open conversations over the past year with Western intellectuals, not just progressives such as Robert Putnam of Harvard and me but neocon pundit Francis Fukuyama and the tough New Democrat defense expert Joseph N. Nye."

*

"The meetings were arranged by the Monitor Group, a Cambridge (Mass.) consulting firm co-founded in 1983 by Michael Porter, the Harvard Business School management expert," Bloomberg Businessweek reported in April.

The same Michael Porter whom Newsweek, for example, talked to for its 2007 article "A Rogue Reforms."

*

"What Monitor did is no different from what K Street 'public affairs' shops do every day of the week for dubious foreign governments," Businessweek noted.

And not just for dubious foreign governments, but for interests national and local right here in the U.S.A.

This is just one way in which news and views are "manufactured."

*

"A generation of Ivy League economists was enjoying both professional esteem and financial industry paychecks until the Wall Street crisis of 2008 made them look pretty dumb, if not venal," Businessweek also noted. "The Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job offered a bipartisan parade of these men - for example, at Harvard, Larry Summers, a Democrat who opposed more oversight of derivatives, also collected generous speaking fees from investment banks, while Frederic Mishkin, a George W. Bush appointee to the Federal Reserve who teaches at Columbia, was paid to co-author a 2006 report praising the Icelandic financial system, which subsequently collapsed."

*

"Harvard University Monday named Joseph Nye, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, as the new dean of its John F. Kennedy School of Government," Reuters reported in 1995.

"Nye, a Princeton graduate and Rhodes scholar, earned a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1964. He later became professor of government at Harvard and was director of the Kennedy School's center for international studies."

*

"We are very fortunate to be able to welcome Joe Nye back to Harvard in this extremely important new role," Harvard president Neil Rudentine said at the time. "He brings an outstanding combination of personal and professional qualities to the deanship-a record of distinguished government service, scholarly accomplishment, excellent teaching, administrative skill and proven leadership."

*

"Before his present position in the Clinton administration, Nye served as chairman of the National Intelligence Council."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Soft power.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. Wow, it's getting crowded in here.

2. Starlin Castro Still Standing At Wrigley Eating Sunflower Seeds.

3. Rahm's First 100 Days.

4. "There will be no bid from the United States for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics it has been officially confirmed after the seven cities which had expressed an interest in putting themselves forward were told over the weekend to forget it," Inside The Games reports.

"The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) contacted Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City and Tulsa to tell them that they had decided if they would miss this campaign following unsuccessful bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games."

Chicago? According to other reports, Chicago had expressed interest. I'm not so sure.

*

"Ever since Chicago were humiliatingly eliminated in 2009 in the first round of voting for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, the USOC have made it clear that they will only bid when they have repaired its international relations which have been damaged by a revenue-sharing row with the International Olympic Committee (IOC)."

5. "LeAnn Rimes used Twitter to express her anger over a stranger who told her she needed to eat," ABC News reports. "The country music singer was out having dinner with her husband, Eddie Cibrian, and their sons in Chicago on Aug. 21, 2011, when a stranger reportedly approached the table and told her to eat more."

I was only trying to help. I mean, look at her!

6. "The mouse which grounded a flight from Stockholm, Sweden to Chicago in the US has still not been found," Digital Spy reports.

7. "Officials from two cities in the USA have warned Thames Water bosses not to bank on their multi-billion pound 'super-sewer' to clean up the Thames," London 24 reports.

"Experts from Milwaukee and Chicago say that similar deep tunnel schemes in their cities ran over time and over budget, and have failed to stop all sewage from overflowing into nearby rivers."

8. 70th and Western.

9. Starlin's Statue. In The Cub Factor.

10. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

11. Brought To You By The DH. In The White Sox Report.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Stop in and help stimulate the economy.

*

Also, please welcome our newest advertiser - - - >

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Venerable.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:11 PM | Permalink

Starlin's Statue

Marty Gangler is on special assignment searching his soul for naming his new son after a White Sox pitcher. He will return next week.

As many have noted, with the recent unveiling of Ron Santo's statue the Cubs don't have a whole lot of alumni left worthy of such an honor. But seeing as how these are the Cubs, worthiness is in the eye of the beerholder. Quite naturally, then, we here at The Cub Factor have some ideas:

* An animatronic Shooter with his pendulum arm swinging back and forth - it could actually be a clock too.

* An animatronic Randall Simon whacking the Italian Sausage. He became a Cub after that, after all.

* A statue of Tom Ricketts leaning up against the Noodle like the dork that he is.

* No-brainer: A statue of Tom Trebelhorn giving his firehouse chat at the station on Waveland.

* An animatronic Mark Grace bending an elbow at Murphy's.

* Moises Alou urinating on his hands. Could be moved from trough to trough and actually, um, urinate.

* A bust of Jose Cardenal's 'fro, captured in bronze.

* Sammy Sosa with his pals.

* Wrigley Gothic: Guy with a beer in hand, shirtless, cargo shorts drooping to show top of Jockey shorts and hat backwards; and big-chested bleacher nymph with a cell phone and a round mouth, signifying WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

* Starlin Castro fishing for sunflower seeds. An instant Cubs classic.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Astros and took two of three from the Cardinals. The Cubs have actually won 14 of their last 20; they are 38-19 under Mike Quade in games played in August and September. Maybe he should manage in Australia.

The Week in Preview: The Braves come in for four and then the Cubs go to Milwaukee for three. The Cubs should lose all seven.

The Second Basemen Report: Barney Darwin continued to hold down the job at second base with all six starts. This cannot last. The indispensable Jeff Baker got one start at first while Blake DeWitt pinch-hit in one game and subbed in at left field in another. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Ryne Sandberg isn't the only former Cub managing in the Phillies minor league system; Mickey Morandini is managing the Class A Williamsport Crosscutters.

The Zam Bomb: Seeing as how he's on the disqualified list, Big Z is merely Getting Angry these days. In private.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte is injecting Marlon with sedatives after he was asked to bat sixth on Friday, two spots down from Jeff Baker, and then asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the 10th with Tyler Colvin batting behind him. It was his first sac bunt as a Cub.

Lost in Translation: You're fired is Japanese for You're gonna be fired next month.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Starlin Castro for David.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 9% sweet, 91% sour. A complete reversal as Mike loses both his patron and his star young shortstop. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike appreciated when Grandpa Jim got him in down at the plant, but maybe there was a reason he was always passed over when they had a job fair.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of the University of Chicago were down as Ricketts diminished the value of an MBA from there.

Over/Under: Chances that Quade survives past the last game of the season: +/- 0%.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs are the Cubs no matter who owns them, manages them, or plays for them.

Farm Report: Cubs farm teams rank last or near last in walks at every minor-league level, Steve Stone pointed out this week on The Score.

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.

Mike Quade Status Update: Seeing as how he'll have to ask Bobby Valentine what Starlin Castro was up to during the game Sunday night, we can only surmise that Mike Quade is . . .

Well-Adjusted / Delirious / High

dazed_and_confused_smiley.jpg

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Contact The Cub Factor!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:43 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Starlin Castro Still Standing At Wrigley Eating Sunflower Seeds

Editor's Note: Jim Coffman is on special assignment investigating the psyche of a Cubs fan. He will return next week - God willing.

If Mike Quade wasn't a dead manager walking, he'd be an even bigger problem than Starlin Castro right now. Castro is 21 and still learning. Quade should know better.

In one of the most outstanding moments in Cubs broadcast history, Bobby Valentine and the ESPN cameras caught Starlin Castro last night gazing at the sky as his pitcher went into his motion; fishing for sunflower seeds out of his back pocket as his pitcher began to deliver his pitches; looking down at the ground as other Cubs fielders - or at least Darwin Barney - set up their defense; standing around with his glove off as his pitcher prepares to make a pitch; and in at least one case, turning his back on the infield and not even looking as his pitcher threw to the plate.

Quade saw none of it.

"I can't watch everything," Quade told reporters after the game. "I certainly try to. I'm managing a ballgame. I'll have to talk to my infield people about that, I don't know. The sunflower seed thing, guys stay loose with sunflower seeds or whatever."

Maybe, Quade said, he'd call Valentine to ask about what he saw.

What, you have no coaches on your staff who would have seen something?

And, um, where are the veteran Cubs?

Maybe this is what Todd Hollandsworth meant.

But really, it seems there were more Cubs than just Castro not paying attention - starting with the manager but including the whole organization.

*

Here's the priceless video. (Unfortunately accompanied by wrongheaded commentary.)

*

Could Sun-Times Cubs beat writer Gordon Wittenmyer be any more of a company man?

Sometimes it's subtle:

"'I'll have to talk to my infield people about that,' Quade said of the criticism from a broadcaster who was open about his interest in the Cubs' managing job a year ago," Wittenmyer writes.

Note that Quade didn't mention that Valentine has shown interest in the job; Wittenmyer did in a way that questioned Valentine's motives for ripping Castro. As if millions of Americans watching the broadcast didn't see for ourselves what Valentine was talking about. He didn't make it up.

Wittenmyer's recent defense of Jim Hendry was even worse; see this takedown for more.

And this morning Wittenmyer was defending slacker Aramis Ramirez on The Score, on the heels of playing stenographer to Ramirez' agent, Paul Kinzer, in the paper today.

''The Cubs are one of the best organizations in baseball," Kinzer told Wittenmyer, who uncritically accepted that preposterous statement.

But then, they were both in Hendry's camp.

''At this point, it was pretty much a slam dunk [Ramirez would return if Hendry was retained]," Kinzer said. "It would have taken something serious for us to move on. We have to see what's going on there - not only with the GM, but with the manager and everything else."

A lot of managers, including Ron Gardenhire of the Twins, whom Wittenmyer used to cover before coming to Chicago, wouldn't stand for Ramirez' bad habits for two innings, much less two games. Like Alfonso Soriano, the numbers Ramirez winds up with by the end of each year aren't worth the runs he gives up in the field and on the basepaths, nor his streaky hitting which pads his stats when he's hot and kills his team when he's cold. He's exactly the kind of guy Hendry loves, but like Steve Stone keeps saying, this is the major leagues, not a fantasy team.

*

Lost in the shuffle: Some corners of the media have asked about the timing of Hendry's firing - the fact that he was fired but allowed to stay on through the draft and trading deadline - but a comment by Hendry about that seems to have gone unexplored.

Again, leave it to Wittenmyer to defend Hendry (and by extension, Tom Ricketts), by buying the malarkey that letting Hendry go would have imperiled the signing of some of their draft picks.

"Prep pitcher Dillon Maples, who made headlines when he gave up college football to sign a $2.5 million deal as the Cubs' 14th-round draft pick, called Hendry's involvement key to him signing last week and seemed surprised by his firing," Wittenmyer writes today (same link as above).

'''I developed kind of a relationship with him because my dad was talking a lot to him,' said Maples, who toured Wrigley on Sunday before heading out to play in three weeks. ''Him being let go, it made me feel a little less comfortable, I'd say. But you've got to move forward with stuff.''"

General managers get fired. As Maples himself recognized, "you've got to move forward." Besides that, Ricketts could have waited to fire Hendry until after the deadlines. What was gained by firing him and then keeping him around? Totally nuts.

But even more importantly, what about the fact that Hendry said he was reluctant to make trades because he thought player personnel decisions should be left up to the next manager?

Maybe that's why Jeff Baker was inexplicably untouchable.

And maybe, as Stone has pointed out, a different general manager (or team president filling in; you know, a baseball man overseeing his baseball man) might have played hardball with Ramirez, telling him that if he didn't accept a trade he should realize he shouldn't expect at-bats the remainder of the season either.

Only the Cubs can do the right thing - firing Hendry - the wrong way.

The White Sox Report
Brought to you by the DH: Thome, Thomas, Baines and Dunn.

The Cub Factor
Coming soon!

The Bears Report
Three Things To Watch For Tonight.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Rahm's First 100 Days

See first: Reading Rahm: Master Media Manipulator.

*

"One hundred days is a measurement normally associated with U.S. presidents - not Chicago mayors. But then, Emanuel - who will hit the 100-day mark on Tuesday - is not your run-of-the-mill mayor," Fran Spielman writes for the Sun-Times.

"He's a Washington tornado storming through his hometown - in the first chief executive's position he has held - trying to tackle the city's intractable problems with the sheer force of his personality, energy and formidable contacts."

*

"It is rumoured that he never sleeps," The Economist writes. "In fact Rahm Emanuel wakes up around 5am to run, swim and workout before arriving at City Hall ahead of almost everyone else. All anyone talks about is his energy. The mayor of Chicago marks his 100th day in office on August 22nd, and has already put his stamp on the city with a flood of initiatives.

"Mr Emanuel began by assembling a team of professional advisers and administrators - a stark contrast to the patronage of previous regimes. He set the tone by cutting $75m from the city's bloated budget on his first day in office. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Not true. See the item Symbolic Promise Symbolically Fulfilled.] At his first city council meeting, he cut even more."

*

"Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who will mark his 100th day in the job Tuesday, firmly believes the city is safer since he took office," Frank Main "reported" for the Sun-Times.

*

"Emanuel Touts City's Savings Record For His First 100 Days," CBS Chicago reports.

*

Better:

"David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel's old friend and former White House colleague, once disparaged the tradition of benchmarking the first 100 days of a new officeholder's term as 'the journalistic equivalent of a Hallmark holiday,'" the Tribune reports.

"It is a tradition, rooted in the fever of action that defined Franklin Roosevelt's Depression-era debut as president, which has become ever more hackneyed and premature even as it has endured.

"This week Chicago's new mayor is preparing with gusto to celebrate the accomplishments of his first 100 days on the job, an artificial milestone that is mere prelude to the next 100 days that will be a far more crucial test of Emanuel's leadership mettle."

*

Best:

"Rahm Emanuel's report card so far: There's room for improvement," Ben Joravsky reported last month for the Reader. "Grades on budget, economic development, personnel, police, and schools."

*

"When Rahm Emanuel took the oath of office on May 16, 2011, he wasted little time outlining an ambitious new agenda for the nation's third largest city - and set a 100-day benchmark for many new policy and programmatic initiatives. WBEZ is covering the Emanuel administration's first 100 days through a series of stories, reports, interviews and conversations. They chronicle the early days of the first new mayoral administration in 22 years - and assess the progress toward key goals."

*

Rahm's "memo" to Chicago taxpayers.

*

David Greising of the Chicago News Cooperative on Chicago Tonight: Week in Review last Friday: "I feel like I'm getting Rahm fatigue."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

70th and Western

Think.


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See also: Painting Chicago and Indiana

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. My Chemical Romance in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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2. Incubus at Northerly Island on Sunday night.

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3. Kreayshawn at the Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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4. George Thorogood at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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5. Blink 182 in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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6. Queensryche at the Congress on Saturday night.

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7. Bush at the Congress on Thursday night.

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8. Elzhi at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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9. Kid Rock at Northerly Island on Friday night.

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10. Katy Perry in Rosemont on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2011

Brought To You By The DH

It was a feel-good moment, a warm scene for Middle America. The guy from Peoria joins Hank Aaron, the Babe, Willie, and Junior as the beacons in a club that includes Bonds, Sosa, and A-Rod, a trio who may never see Cooperstown.

As Jim Thome trotted around the bases at Comerica Park last week, the 600th time he had done so in a Major League game, the Detroit crowd rose and paid homage. His dad, wife, and kids - they accompanied the team on its road trip so as not to miss this magic moment - jogged toward home plate to embrace him, as did his Minnesota teammates.

"Anybody that's ever played with Jim is happy for him, " Paul Konerko told reporters after the game.

"Five hundred is one thing but 600, I mean, it's amazing." 

A.J. Pierzynski chimed in. "I wish he would have done it against us. It would have been cool to congratulate him in person."

"When I see his wife and his dad on the field, I almost cracked," Ozzie added.

Sure wouldn't want that to happen, Oz, but Thome's dad Chuck, decked out in a baseball hat, cargo pants, golf shirt and Nikes, said as much about Thome as his former manager and teammates.

He looks like one of us. Much larger for sure. He even towers over his son, and the big guy hasn't missed too many meals recently. But Chuck Thome simply wanted to hug his boy, share the moment, and then return to his seat to enjoy the rest of the game.

Missing from the celebration was any mention of what made this all possible. Thome, you see, has appeared with a baseball glove on his hand in just four games the last six seasons and not once since 2007. So thank you, Mr. Designated Hitter, for keeping guys like Jim Thome in the game.

Without the DH - it's been with us since 1973 - Thome, at age 40, probably would have been retired long before he had a chance to hit No. 600.

Ninety-six of Thome's homers came during the three seasons he played in the National League with the Phillies.

However, Thome's body said, "No way, man, I can't do both." In his final injury-plagued year in Philadelphia, Jim hit just seven round-trippers before coming over to the White Sox in 2006 in the Aaron Rowand deal.

Talk about an elixir! Freed from the strains of playing the field, Thome had home-run years with the Sox of 43, 35, and 34.

Now consider poor Babe Ruth, who played until he was 40. He led the American League in home runs for 12 years and managed to hit 34 at age 38 in 1933. Think the Bambino could have eclipsed his final figure of 714 if he didn't have to play the field?

Harold Baines, the quintessential DH along with Edgar Martinez, used a glove for a grand total of two games during the last nine years of his career. His knees wouldn't let him run after fly balls, but they didn't hamper him at the plate.

Once Harold was relieved of his defensive responsibilities in 1993, he hit another 143 home runs and drove in 562.

Frank Thomas, the greatest hitter in Sox history, played once in the field his last five years. His body was crying for retirement when the Big Hurt was in his mid-30s. But at age 36, playing for Oakland, Thomas had a huge year, slamming 39 homers and driving in 114 runs. He got a bunch of votes for MVP. Again, it wouldn't have happened without the DH.

Today, David Ortiz seems headed for a similar destiny. He's been in the field twice this season for the Red Sox, necessitated by interleague play. At age 35, Big Papi can keep on going thanks to the DH. He's hitting right around .300 and will hit 30 dingers and drive in 100 before the season ends.

Not only has Papi taken full advantage of the DH rule, but breaking the PED rule didn't hurt either if you look at his 2006 season: 54/137/.287. He may not make it to Cooperstown, but Big Papi figures to be a Fenway fixture for a few more years.

* * *

Needless to say, the Sox thought they were getting the next awesome DH when they signed Adam Dunn last winter. Instead he's produced like a good-hitting pitcher. Okay an average-hitting pitcher. It really is not healthy thinking where the Sox would be if Dunn was putting up DH numbers like Thome, Baines, Thomas, and Ortiz.

Yet our guys, despite another .500 week, remain in the race, five games behind Detroit. The likes of Lillibridge, De Aza, and Flowers - not the kind of guys who strike fear into the opposition - all had good weeks while Pierzynski's wrist heals, Quentin tries to escape the DL, and Dunn sits as much as possible.

The Sox looked like they have most of the season, losing twice to the Indians and the series opener to Texas. But once again they bounced back with gusto, edging the Rangers 3-2 on Saturday behind - of all people! - Alex Rios' eighth inning run-scoring double and John Danks' strong pitching. Then they thumped Texas 10-0 on Sunday. C'mon, these Rangers are the defending American League champions, and they're headed to the postseason again this October. Impressive!

The Sox are pretenders, teasers, and sirens. Just when you think it's okay to turn away and wait until next year, they do something like slaughter Texas, and the game remains on.

While the Tigers travel to Tampa Bay and Minnesota this week, the Sox play two at Anaheim sandwiched around a couple of days off before traveling to lowly Seattle for the weekend.

Detroit has easily handled both the Rays and Twins this season, winning 12 of 15 games. But the Tigers are a .500 team on the road, while our guys are 34-27 away from the Cell. No way the Sox should be five back this time next week.



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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:01 PM | Permalink

August 20, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Once again, you'll have to pardon us as we prepare for the on-coming Apocalypse. Here are the main stories for the weekend.

Market Update
The value of gold has reached record highs over the past few weeks. As it turns out, so has the value of Golden.

Fired Up
Take heart, America. It turns out you can oust your incredibly unpopular management. Unfortunately, it usually takes a couple of election cycles. And, frankly, you're still fucked in the meantime.

Open Fire
In fact, the global economy may soon prove so unstable that no one will be left with a pot to piss in.

Mission: Impossible
The central problem with these long-running blockbuster franchises is that, eventually, the plotlines get too outlandish and the aging action star with the unlikely hair isn't believable, no matter how much couch-jumping - literal and figurative - he does.

Crowned Head
Incidentally, isn't one governor with a pompadour and a tenuous grasp on reality enough?

Takes One to Know One
Finally this week, for dessert you get to write your own punch line.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Fired up.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Impact of War Spending on Social Services

31146-War-Spending.jpg

Jordan Hesterman of Becoming We the People joins a discussion of U.S. military spending and its connection to cutbacks in funding for social services.

Sunday, August 21 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 36 min

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Demanding the Right to Protest

Right-Protest-G8-summitt.jpg

Tom Burke of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression joins local activists calling on city officials to permit protests at the NATO/G8 Summit in May 2012.

Sunday, August 21 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
33 min

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Privatization of Public Assets in Chicago

31148-Privatization.jpg

Mike Pitula of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and local civic leaders speak out against efforts to privatize water and other public infrastructure in Chicago.

Sunday, August 21 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 33 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:36 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

1. "A new telephone survey from Mayor Rahm Emanuel seeks opinions from Chicago voters on public officials, what to cut, school taxes and more," the Sun-Times reports. "The survey also asks if Emanuel is 'no better than Mayor Daley.'"

Apparently measuring up to the former mayor isn't Rahm's concern.

*

That's kind of remarkable, isn't it?

*

"Tom Bowen, who manages the mayor's committee, would not comment on the survey, except to say, 'We don't comment on internal strategies.'"

Actually, the rest of the quote went "about how we plan to manipulate public opinion to further our own political goals."

2. "In the wake of protests and civil disobedience in Chicago and across the country criticizing the Obama administration's Secure Communities program, immigrant advocates called on the government to turn over remaining documents about the program sought in a Freedom of Information lawsuit and to halt the controversial program," Hispanically Speaking News reports.

"A batch of unredacted documents released by court order this week, which federal district court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin called 'embarrassing,' included acknowledgement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorneys that they would have to 'rewrite' memos on whether the program is mandatory for states and localities and revealed schisms between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on the right of states and localities to opt out of the program.

"In her order, Judge Scheindlin chided the agencies for going 'out of their way to mislead the public about Secure Communities,' and pointedly stated that the 'purpose of the [Freedom of Information Act] is to shed light on the operation of government, not shield it from embarrassment.'"

3. "In the land of draws, the Chicago Fire are kings," Major League Soccer Talk reports.

"Last night, La Maquina Roja looked well on their way to their third win of the season after dominating DC United at home for about 70 minutes. Sebastian Grazzini had given the home side the lead early in the second half and United's attack looked spent. However, two second half substitutions by DC coach Ben Olsen turned the game as the visitors were able to grab a goal and hold on for a point, etching Chicago's name in the record books. The draw was Chicago's 15th on the year (out of 24 matches), setting an MLS record for most ties in a season."

4. Exclusive: Obama's Jobs Plan!

5. "The Vatican, reeling from unprecedented criticism over its handling of sexual abuse cases in Ireland, took a pre-emptive strike Wednesday and published some internal files about a priest accused of molesting youngsters in Ireland and the US.," AP reports.

"The files published on the website of Vatican Radio represent a small, selective part of the documentation the Holy See must turn over to U.S. lawyers representing a man who says he was abused by the late Rev. Andrew Ronan. The man, known in court papers as John V. Doe, is seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the abuse."

*

"The file contains a 1963 letter written by the Chicago-based provincial of the Order of Servants of Mary to the order's headquarters in Rome detailing accusations that Ronan had abused students while he was a teacher at the Servites' Our Lady of Benburb Priory in Ireland.

"The provincial wrote that he had 'removed' Ronan immediately from Ireland after discovering the abuse accusations in 1959. Ronan began working in Chicago and was later transferred to Portland. He died in 1992.

"While the letter does not mention Vatican involvement in the transfer, it clearly implicates the Servites in placing a known child molester in a Chicago high school, St. Philip's. The provincial, whose name is illegible, wrote that after transferring Ronan from Ireland to Chicago, 'I am expecting the worst any day here at St. Philip's but much better that it occur here than in a seminary.'"

6. "[Jesse] White learned the lessons of political longevity from a master," the Tribune reports. "His mentor was George Dunne, the late 42nd Ward Democratic power broker who was Cook County Board president for two decades until retiring in his late 70s."

*

Well, that's a rather polite way to put it.

"Pushing 80 and yet enmeshed in a scandal in which he admitted having sex with female county employees who alleged they were pressured into providing sexual favors to him, Dunne did not seek re-election to the County Board Presidency or party chairmansip in 1990," Dunne's accurate Wikipedia entry notes.

*

Or, as Mike Royko put it:

"Actually, what Dunne proved is that in Chicago politics, if you live long enough, never get indicted, pick up enough dinner checks and don`t end up bent and bleary-eyed, you will be saluted as an elder statesman."

7. "There was also a public relations side benefit [to Rahm's ride-along with police]," the Sun-Times reports. "Although City Hall did not alert the news media in advance, the mayor's press office did release a photograph showing Emanuel - wearing an open-collared dress shirt and no tie - talking in an office with plainclothes gang officers wearing bullet-proof vests."

And you can see that photograph by clicking on the link. The one that goes to the Sun-Times article I just quoted from. I give up.

8. The World's Greatest College Football Report: Mormonism, The Hall 9000 And Endless Strains Of Rocky Top.

9. The Week in Chicago Rock: You shoulda been there.

10. The Week in WTF: Devin Hester vs. Joe Walsh.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A daily deal.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Exclusive: Obama's Jobs Plan!

How the president plans to get America working again.

* Put more engravers to work by demanding the Fed print more money.

* Double the number of advertising and marketing professionals working on his re-election campaign.

* Finally close that trade deal with Papau New Guinea.

* Support the service industry on Martha's Vineyard by vacationing there more.

* Put more lawyers to work by passing tax reform full of loopholes.

* Hire Groupon's accountants to turn the deficit into a surplus with the turn of a phrase.

* Switch America's garbage pick-up to a grid system.

* Expand the NFL to 60 teams.

* Create a dozen new commissions to study the economy.

* Massive subsidies to the American arugula industry.

* Fund a federal works program that will hire thousands to destroy all remnants of campaign promises from 2008.

* Convert country to the metric system.

* Start taxing churches; stop taxing booze, cigarettes and gas.

* Put all of America's cash into gold.

* Fake an alien attack.

* Fund a public works program building fake fake Chinese Apple stores.

* Fund a construction program building more prisons for corporate criminals. Just kidding!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Pentagram at Reggie's on Thursday night.


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2. Volbeat at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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3. Phish at the UIC Pavilion on Wednesday night.

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4. Eric Tessmer Band at Mayne Stage on Wednesday night.

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5. KMFDM at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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6. My Goodness at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Mormonism, The HAL 9000 And Endless Strains Of Rocky Top

In the first part of our season preview, we shared the concept of The Other 25. If you care to understand the Other 25 and why we created it, refer back to Tuesday's column. If not, here is a summary: the national media regards the teams making up the Other 25 as marginally important. We do not share that perspective.

Below, you will find the previews for Other 25 teams "ranked" between #45 and #40. We will dive right in on some of the previews and save our commentary about the Mountain West Conference realignment for a bit further down in the column. Don't worry, you will understand when you get there.

45. The Northern Illinois Huskies (11-3, 8-0 in MAC, W vs. Fresno State: Humanitarian Bowl)

Comment: The Huskies were one win away from the 2010 MAC championship but stumbled in the conference title match against Miami of Ohio. Northern Illinois entered the game heavily favored by the oddsmakers (-17) but a fluke play followed by a last-second touchdown gave Miami the win. We expect NIU to fare well on offense, especially because all but one of the offensive linemen are seniors. Defense might be another story.

Upset potential: The Huskies should return to a bowl game this season, but only have an outside shot at the conference title game and the resulting Little Caesars Pizza Bowl invite. (Speaking of pizza bowls, remember "pizza in a bucket" during the Atkins craze? Maybe the worst idea in recent memory for the restaurant industry. But we digress.) Outside of conference play, the Huskies will play in one of the best early-season games on September 17th. NIU will face #10 Wisconsin at Soldier Field in Chicago. Given that the game will take place in a pro stadium, we believe the teams can opt to allow beer sales. Here's hoping they do - even if the game is over by the third quarter, drunken Wisconsin fans should keep things lively.

*

44. The North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-4, 5-3 in ACC, W vs. West Virginia: Champs Sports Bowl)

Comment: The departure of star QB Russell Wilson dominated the offseason for NC State. Wilson posted serious numbers (8,545 yards, 76 TDs, 26 INTs) over his three-year career in Raleigh but Coach Tom O'Brien questioned his dedication. When Wilson opted to play pro baseball (in the Colorado Rockies farm system) rather than participate in spring practice, O'Brien named backup Mike Glennon the starter prompting Wilson to quit the team. O'Brien has since granted Wilson's release from his scholarship and the deposed QB landed (thanks to some arcane NCAA rules) in Madison to play for Wisconsin.

Upset potential: Glennon is no slouch - coming out of high school, he was ranked by ESPN as the third-best prospect at his position and #32 overall. If Glennon lives up to his billing, NC State could put together a good - possibly very good - season. The schedule is challenging but not impossible with only an away game against #5 Florida State as the only guaranteed "L". A few Other 25 teams - Clemson, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest - could also prove troublesome.

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43. The BYU Cougars (7-6, 5-3 in MWC, W vs. UTEP: New Mexico Bowl)

Comment: Brigham Young departed the Mountain West Conference to play as an independent team (along with Notre Dame, Navy and Army) in 2011. This marks the third time the school has changed allegiances since 1962. The Cougars, along with charter schools Arizona, Arizona State, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming formed the Western Athletic conference in '62. Arizona and Arizona State then withdrew in '78 to form the PAC-10. The WAC remained in flux for the next thirty-odd years, reaching a peak of 16 teams in 1996. The creation of the Mountain West Conference in 1999 saw eight teams defect from the WAC, including BYU. Despite MWC championships in 2006 and 2007, BYU elected to play as an independent beginning this season.

By withdrawing from the conference, BYU may have hurt the MWC's campaign to join the Big Six as an automatic qualifier for the BCS. With the 2009 agreement between the MWC and the BCS expiring soon, the conference had ambitious plans to force the BCS to grant Automatic Qualifying (AQ) status. But here's the rub: The MWC might fall short in one of the three criteria for AQ conferences. Follow the link for an explanation of all the esoteric rules, but the critical third criteria is determined by the BCS HAL 9000. Namely, that the average rank of all conference teams (as determined by the six computer polls in the BCS HAL 9000) must fall within the top six of all conferences. At the moment, the MWC trails all the other conferences to rank at #7. By clearing all three criteria, the MWC champion would (as the name implies) automatically qualify for the BCS - at least until 2013, when the current BCS contract elapses. The conference might stand better chance if the Cougars were included as a member school.

The MWC will still force the issue by petitioning the BCS for an exemption granting the conference access until after 2013 at which time the BCS HAL 9000 would compute the numbers again. The oversight committee will likely grant the exemption, temporarily including the MWC among the AQ. When the numbers are crunched again in '13, the MWC hopes that new members (as of 2012) Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii will have helped raise the overall average of the conference to at least sixth place. Falling short spells a return to the current status quo. Here at the CFR, we revel at the prospect of the MWC bumping out one of the Big Six or possibly forcing the BCS to change the rules (again!) for 2014 and beyond.

As far as BYU is concerned, all this talk about conference affiliation (indeed, gridiron action in general) takes a backseat to the school's top priority: using football as a proselytizing tool for the Mormon faith. Through a variety of media properties the school - owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - reaches millions worldwide, which is great for BYU football but even better for Mormonism. Brigham Young will broadcast most football games, and many other sports, on BYUtv. Dish Network, DirecTV and 500+ cable systems will beam BYUtv to over 60 million homes in the US.

Further, Sirius XM Radio now carries BYU Broadcasting, which will reach more than 20 million satellite radio subscribers.

Finally, anyone with web access can watch both live games and video-on-demand coverage of Cougar football via BYUtv.org. There's even an app for the iPhone and iPad. The combination of these various outlets will allow BYU to reach many Cougar fans, granted, but the chief purpose will be to increase (in the words of BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall) "exposure for the LDS church."

For a little icing on the cake, BYU signed an eight-year contract with ESPN to show a minimum of three home games per year, with the school reportedly receiving $800,000-$1.2 million per game.

Between the ESPN payouts and the BYUtv revenues, you could argue that there is a significant financial incentive behind BYU's move to independence . . . we won't, because we aren't keen to rile up the millions of people who practice Mormonism in the United States, but the argument could be made. You know, hypothetically.

Upset potential: The Cougars will get a number of chances to upset national (#24 Texas) and regional (#15 TCU, #28 Utah, #33 UCF) powers but some authorities might not consider BYU an underdog in most of those games. For example, Rivals.com puts the Cougars at #25 and Phil Steele places BYU at #27 in his preseason power rankings.

But BYU might not play such quality opponents in the future. By moving to an independent, BYU must schedule 12 games each season rather than the three or four as the remainder would be played in-conference. Next year presents a serious challenge, as many schools schedule two or even three years in advance. As of now, the program still needs to find three more opponents for the 2012 season.

While independence offers flexibility, the school must vie with Directional Creampuffs for spots on the schedule for every other team belonging to a conference. With nearly every team in Division I scheduling an automatic W against a Creampuff, BYU must find a game in one of the two or three (!) remaining slots.

On the plus side, the increase in national exposure (on ESPN especially) may extend BYU's reach in recruiting, particularly among non-LDS players. But if those games are against the likes of Idaho . . . will any star recruits care?

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42. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (8-5, 5-3 in Conference USA, L vs. Louisville: Beef 'O' Brady Bowl)

Comment: For a team that hadn't won more than seven games since 2006, last season was a big step forward. Apart from the opener against South Carolina, Southern Miss lost another three games by a total of only eight points including a one point loss in an overtime thriller against UAB. Then again, last year represented the program's 17th consecutive winning season so the Golden Eagles aren't exactly strangers to "Ws". With senior quarterback Austin Davis at the helm for his final go-around this year, and with a forgiving (ranging from #67 to #117 in strength from various sources) schedule, Southern Miss could fly under the radar all year and shock a big-name program in a post-season bowl.

Upset potential: Davis owns a few notable records at Southern Miss, such as: 23 TDs in his redshirt freshman season (eclipsing the previous record held by a certain B. Favre), completing a record 278 passes in 2010 - and he needs only two touchdowns to set the all-time school record - and 231 passing yards to seize that all-time mark as well. With only one Other 25 team (#33 UCF) representing the toughest match-up on the docket, Southern Miss might not have a shot at an upset until the postseason.

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41. The Tennessee Volunteers (6-7, 3-5 in SEC, L vs. North Carolina: Music City Bowl)

Comment: A note about the bowl games cited for each Other 25 team: we will not, if it can be avoided, list the full name of the bowl game. We would rather honor the traditional name of each bowl game than list the full name including the sponsor. In this case, we much prefer listing "Music City Bowl" rather than "Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl."

The Volunteers posted meager numbers last season, the first for new head coach Derek Dooley. Tennessee finished the season in the 58th and 56th position in all of Division I in Points Scored and Points Against, respectively. Worse yet, the ground game disappeared, averaging 109.2 yards per game - good for 105th out of 120 D-I teams. While UT qualified for a bowl game, fans expect a January 1 game at worst - an accomplishment that may be a few years off. We can excuse many of Tennessee's faults last season as the team played a very tough schedule - five of seven losses came against ranked teams including three against teams ranked in the Top 10. But Dooley must improve this year. Then again, if his team bombs again we will be spared endless strains of Rocky Top.

Upset potential: "Once I had a girl on Rocky Top, half bear the other half cat . . . wild as a mink but sweet as soda pop, I still dream about that."

Yes, indeed. Ladies and gentlemen: Tennessee fans. These are the Volunteers, with the checkered end zone, "Smokey" the mascot and a school band called the Pride of the Southland. If you have never watched a Volunteers football game, imagine 102,455 fans wearing this color. Caution: Image may cause irresistible urges for corn-cob pipes, moonshine and your cousins. A true upset would be if no one showed up for home games in hunter orange overalls.

On that note, we will wrap up the first week of our preseason coverage. Tune back in next week for more on The Other 25.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Property Taxes, WTF?

Sort of about time, don't you think?

The same principle might also be true for private universities that function the same way - Northwestern University, for example. Or maybe the Catholic Church?

2. Devin Hester, WTF?

Sometimes, even a pro athlete gets it right. Better to keep your mouth shut about old sins. None of the words will make you look better. Unfortunately for Hester, while trying to tap dance around his scummy history, he told several large deviations from obvious fact. We normally call those lies. Can't say you didn't even know the convicted king of swag at The U when Yahoo! has photos of you partying with him.

Also, though whatever Hester did at Miami seems irrelevant now, he still comes off as a grasping, cheating, self-indulgent jerk who never had to answer for his decisions. Pro athletes are just hookers with uniforms.

3. Joe Walsh, WTF?

Every time Rep. Joe Walsh opens his mouth to say something, darned if his foot isn't waiting there to leap inside and make him sound all fakey and weird.

BTW, Newt Gingrich says the president should be impeached for failing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. There is a reason the Newtster will never be president.

4. Made in USA, WTF?

Almost nothing is more revealing than your dead-sure belief in something that turns out to be hogwash. We are told the nation is a hopeless mess that's headed for oblivion. WTF's answer? You have to stop watching cable news.

5. Race to Oblivion, WTF?

Even if we bestow the "good intentions" deferment on this feel-good waste of time, is this more than a comfy resume builder? Here, let WTF help. Why is health care for minorities inferior? (Because they're poor); Why is public education for minorities inferior? (Because they are poor people who live in poor neighborhoods with bad schools); Why do minorities have a hard time finding good jobs? (bad schools). The flaw in this commission is that we already know both the questions and answers. The answers are education and jobs. We haven't got to the solution phase yet.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 PM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Tom Sizemore Edition

Aramis Ramirez says he's had a better career than Todd Hollandsworth and Hollands worth came back with "Oh Yeah, MoFo?" and flashed the hardware. Who's right?
-Jack, Chicago IL

I don't recall Hollandsworth ever turning down a trade that would have vested something on the order of $17 million, so while Hollandsworth has the ice on his fingers, I think we can safely say Ramirez has the brass in his pants.

But to answer your question, there's something to be said for having four rings like Will Purdue, instead of zero like Clyde Drexler.

What's up with Zambrano? Why did he walk out on the team?
-Johnny, Cashtown PA

He needed sleep, but he needed clean clothes more*.

He was also late for dinner with his next manager.

What did the Cubs brass have to say to Zambrano on Friday night?
-Sarah, Itasca IL

It was a closed door meeting, but sources say it was a brief exchange.

What will Carlos Zambrano's legacy be?
-Lenore, Long Grove IL

The equivalent of Tom Sizemore's acting career.

Like Sizemore in Passenger 57, Zambrano first became noticed by mainstream fans as a supporting player in an ensemble whose individual members never quite reached its potential.

*

Enjoy it folks, this is the only time in your life anyone will ever compare Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Matt Clement to Wesley "Always Bet On Black" Snipes, Elizabeth Hurley and Bruce Payne.

*

Zambrano and Sizemore would spend much of their career racking up a number of impressive performances with some good teams (True Romance, Natural Born Killers, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down), but neither would ever quite live up to the potential of their respective leading man talent.

Next stop, Zambrano will join the cast of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew along with David Hasselhoff, Amy Winehouse's ghost and the bass player from Limp Bizkit.

Are the Cubs playing kind of good right now?
-Randy, Huntley IL

You wrote this before our friend Ma** gave up the grand tater in the ninth on Tuesday night, didn't you?

It's true that 20 percent of their wins for the season have come in about the last two weeks (I really wish that was a joke), but getting excited about this stretch is like watching the Bears starting the season 2-9 and printing playoff tickets following a two-game win streak.

Unfortunately, the St. Louis Rams aren't in the NL Central so the Cubs won't be making the playoffs with 71 wins and a 2010 Seahawks-esque .437 winning percentage.

I want that Bud Light Lime commercial where the two guys walk into a gas station from the rain and turn the gas station into a beach bar with hot babes to actually happen. How do I make that happen?
-Anonymous

Drink a case of Icehouse. You'll be partying in a gas station before you know what hit you.

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*That's three Michael Ironside references in four weeks for those of you keeping score.

**Quade has shortened his name from Marmol, to Marm, to Ma. Next up is 50% of the letter "M," pronounced "eh."

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:56 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Our esteemed local newspapers still can't quite get it right when it comes to Jon Burge.

"It took many years and untold effort before Burge himself was brought to justice, but in the end the legal system did what was needed to achieve justice," the Sun-Times editorial page said on Monday.

Convicting Burge for perjuring himself about torture with which he was never charged is hardly achieving justice. Unfortunately, justice will never be achieved when it comes to Jon Burge, and the Sun-Times ought to marshal its forces to explain why - including its own failure to take the torture allegations seriously when John Conroy was masterfully laying out the indisputable facts for years in the Reader. He waited and waited and waited for his reporting colleagues to jump aboard and when they finally did, nearly 20 years after his first expose, it was too little, too late.

It would be awfully instructive to hear reporters and editors talk about the discussions that went on in newsrooms - likely very brief discussions - that led to a virtual media blackout about Burge back then. What was it that led our tough Chicago press corps to doubt the evidence that torture took place - or to dismiss it as unimportant?

Such a discussion would not just be for posterity; the problem still exists. Just consider the relative lack of interest shown by the local media in Burge's trial last year. It's bizarre.

*

"Now, we have an opportunity to do the same for those who may have suffered at the hands of Burge or his detectives, just as - as we wrote last week - we have a chance to settle the lawsuits filed against Burge, his accomplices and the city," the Sun-Times continued.

"As Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday, 'How old is this now - 30 years old? . . . It is time we end it.'

"It's time we put the disgraceful and long-running Burge saga behind us. Anything less would be the very definition of harmful error."

Agreed. But don't you see what's going on here, Sun-Times? Rahm Emanuel, who heretofore has had nothing to say about Burge over the course of his entire political career - not a single thing before this year, according to the archives - thinks it's time to settle and the end the saga just weeks before Richard M. Daley is (suddenly) scheduled to be deposed. Get it?

Settle, yes. But question Daley under oath first. We deserve answers, not another whitewash. Saving Daley from a deposition would just be the final piece of the cover-up.

*

Cover-up? Hey, don't take it from me. Here's what the Tribune editorial page said this week:

"Taxpayers are stuck with all of this not only because Burge and his crew obtained confessions from suspects by beating them, shocking their genitals and putting plastic bags over their heads, but because city and law enforcement officials turned a blind eye to the abuse."

Turning a blind eye is a willful action.

But the Tribune fails to name names. Which city officials? The former mayor you endorsed six times over two decades? At what point did you realize he was culpable - if he's one of the city officials you're referring to? Because you never mentioned Burge in your appraisal last April.

And again, what about the blind eye the media turned for so long?

*

"If a settlement is reached, Daley may not have to testify about allegations that he directed a city-wide cover-up of torture allegations," Fox Chicago News noted this week in a place safe enough to escape notice.

Isn't that kind of a big deal?

Nothing Ridiculous To See Here
"As far as the Bears are concerned, what might have happened at the University of Miami stays at the University of Miami," Brad Biggs reports for the Tribune.

"Stunning allegations of rampant NCAA violations at the school and millions of dollars in impermissible gifts from one rogue booster being lavished on student-athletes came out in a highly detailed Yahoo Sports report that names Devin Hester as one of more than 70 athletes involved.

"Hester, who is pictured with Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro in multiple photos in the Yahoo report, declined to discuss the situation Wednesday, a day after he said he didn't know the man who is serving 20 years in federal prison after being convicted of running a $930 million Ponzi scheme."

Never heard of him. Um . . .

"As for Hester's claim that he doesn't know Shapiro, the Yahoo article includes a photo of Hester sitting in Shapiro's VIP section of Opium Garden nightclub in 2003 and another photo of Hester with Shapiro at an October 2003 dinner the booster allegedly paid for at Japanese-themed steakhouse Benihana."

Well, a guy gets his photo taken with a lot of people. Doesn't mean he knows them.

"According to the Yahoo article, Hester allegedly received rims for his SUV, $3,000 for an engagement ring, cash bounties for game performances and NBA playoff tickets through Shapiro."

Did Shapiro personally deliver the rims? I mean, maybe he knew a guy who knew a guy and, hey, who knows how those rims got on my car.

"The Yahoo article says a source corroborated Shapiro's account of Hester receiving food, entertainment and lodging in the booster's home, saying Hester was having roommate problems and stayed with Shapiro for a sustained period."

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Chicago Bears' Devin Hester Wants To Inspire More Young Dads.

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"Devin Hester is now available for celebrity appearances, corporate appearances, personal appearances, casino appearances, tradeshow appearances, convention appearances, celebrity golf tournaments, coaching clinics, corporate sales meetings, autograph signings, endorsement deals, website endorsements, television commercials, radio commercials, store grand openings, VIP Meet & Greets, new product launch campaigns, spokesperson campaigns and speaking engagements. Hire Devin Hester to meet and mingle with your best corporate clients, friends and business associates."

*

"As far as the Bears and the NFL are concerned, the story is mostly a non-issue," Biggs writes.

What?

"It doesn't affect Hester's standing with the team, just as the Reggie Bush USC probe didn't involve the Saints directly. In this instance, there's no national championship team Hester was on, and he didn't win a Heisman Trophy."

So let's get this straight: As long as wrongdoing isn't exposed while a football player is still in college he can get a free pass; bonus for not being named the player of the year or winning a championship.

"That's the University of Miami's issue," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "It's unfortunate that it does go on in college. That's why they have the NCAA, and the NCAA always does its due diligence. Whatever wrongs there are, they'll find out."

A lesson for the kids: Sports build character. Er, I mean, just don't get caught too soon.

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"Hopefully, it's just a bad rumor," Angelo said.

Um, no.

*

Apparently Angelo isn't aware that Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been repealed.

*

Amazingly, Rick Telander spews a world of vitriol about the situation without mentioning Hester's name.

*

Derrick Rose is also ridiculous.

Dunk A Welfare Mom!
We check in on GOP Day at the Illinois State Fair.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Tom Sizemore Edition.

When Taste Of Chicago Was Channel 2's Biggest Party Of The Year
Partied with B96.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Coming on like a hurricane.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 AM | Permalink

When Taste Of Chicago Was Channel 2's Biggest Party Of The Year

1993 never seemed so long ago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:28 AM | Permalink

GOP Day At The Fair!

Today is Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair. Here's a look at what's on tap.

* Admissions via means testing.

* On this day only, all fair food will be uninspected.

* Unregulated bathrooms will be cleaned by the free market.

* Security outsourced to Blackwater and the Illinois Sons of Liberty.

* Take a ride on the Trickle Down Slide. Blame the Democrats when you end up at the bottom.

* Jim Thompson will guess your weight and income.

* Arizona Iced Tea on tap.

* Jason Plummer's Celebrity Skee-Ball Challenge.

* Bachmann Palin Overdrive headlines on Main Stage.

* "Gay Conversion Tent Revivals" on the hour.

* Bill Cellini signs copies of his Superseding Indictment.

* Dunk a welfare mom.

* Henry Hyde Youthful Indiscretions sold in 20-minute blocks.

* Win a stuffed animal donated by Wal-Mart but made in China.

* Take a death-defying ride on the Laffer Curve.

* Slow dance with a corporation, because they're people too.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Obama Dares Republicans To Block His Coming Jobs Package.

This can't end well.

2. Obama To Unveil Ideas For Jobs, Growth In September.

Because you don't introduce a new product in August.

3. Social Security Wrongly Declares 14,000 People Dead Each Year.

Maybe they're dead on the inside.

4. "Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard made waves when he stated during his new monthly WBEZ call-in show last week that recess would be in every Chicago elementary school by the 2012-13 school year," Rebecca Harris reports for Catalyst Chicago.

"The statement followed the district's May release of a guide to restoring recess to schools.

"However, CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says that schools will be able to opt out of the district's 'mandatory' recess policy. 'It is mandated that recess return to the middle of the day, but there is an opt-out for schools,' Carroll wrote in an e-mail.

"Communications staff did not respond to questions about what the criteria would be for opting out. Instead, they referred questions to the district's 'Developing A School Recess Plan' guide, which does not say that recess will be mandatory in fall 2012. Nor does it list opt-out criteria for schools."

5. "State Rep. Dan Burke [Ed's brother] represents a Southwest Side district where three out of four residents don't speak English and less than one in 10 has a bachelor's degree," the Sun-Times reports.

"So when it was time to hand out a free college education to someone under the century-old legislative scholarship program, whom did Burke pick?

"Not someone who grew up in the working-class district straddling the Stevenson Expressway near Midway Airport. Instead, the 10-term lawmaker chose a young, Downstate woman he described as a member of his state government 'family.'"

*

Gee, maybe the Cook County State's Attorney ought to investigate. Where is Anita Alvarez these days?

"Ald. Ed Burke and wife, state Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, hosted a re-election campaign reception for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez at their home last week," Stella Foster (!) reports. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and City Clerk Susana Mendoza attended."

Oh.

6. "Dubuque's Telegraph Herald published a front-page editorial, suggesting to the president that he could have skipped the campaign-style trip and 'sent the savings to Dubuque County and Northwest Illinois, which were inundated by flash floods less than three weeks ago' but didn't get federal assistance," Maureen Dowd writes.

*

"The headline in the Telegraph Herald Tuesday morning proclaimed 'Welcome, Mr. President' in advance of President Obama's rural economic forum nearby," USA Today reports. "It was all downhill from there."

*

Reading the editorial requires a subscription. Just think of all that traffic they just missed out on.

7. "In Cannon Falls, Minn., the president compared negotiating with House Republicans to negotiating with his wife," Dowd also writes.

"'In my house,' Obama noted, 'if I said, You know, Michelle, honey, we got to cut back, so we're going to have you stop shopping completely. You can't buy shoes; you can't buy dresses; but I'm keeping my golf clubs. You know, that wouldn't go over so well.'

"In Decorah, he said: 'Everybody cannot get 100 percent of what they want. Now, for those of you who are married, there is an analogy here. I basically let Michelle have 90 percent of what she wants. But, at a certain point, I have to draw the line and say, Give me my little 10 percent."

Um, wow.

*

"If the differences with the leading Republican candidates wasn't clear enough, Obama took them all on at once on the issue of taxes," USA Today reports. "He noted at both his stops Monday that in a debate last week, all the Republican White House hopefuls said they wouldn't raise taxes even if they were cutting spending by 10 times as much.

"'Ten-to-one ratio, and nobody was willing to take that deal,' Obama said in Decorah. 'And what that tells me is, okay, you've gotten to the point where you're just thinking about politics; you're not thinking about common sense. You've got to be willing to compromise in order to move the country forward.'"

Perhaps. Or perhaps the Republicans know, like Michelle, that there is no reason to accept a 10-1 ratio when they can easily hold out for 15- or 20-1. After all, we have a president who has never read this.

8. Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates.

9. Leader Of The Pack . . . And 19 Other QBs Worth Drafting.

10. 30,000-Volume Collection Now Open To Public.

11. Leinie's Rolling Out The Barrels.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tap us.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:40 AM | Permalink

Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has unveiled plans to make Chicago a healthier city by focusing on issues of fitness, disease control, and access to health care. But at least one part of his health care agenda has its critics and they were waiting for Emanuel at one of his public events on Tuesday.

"CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports that those critics prompted the mayor to slip in a side door at his next event.

"For the record, the mayor's office said he always uses the side door for such events, but the real reason was probably avoiding a confrontation with the protestors, or even pictures of him walking past them."

*

"[I]nstead of confronting the protestors who were waiting at the front door of the University Club of Chicago, located at 76 E. Monroe St., on Tuesday morning, Emanuel's SUV pulled up and stopped briefly while the driver conferred briefly with the head of his security detail.

"Other uniformed officers meanwhile blocked off a nearby alley and moments later, the mayor and his party drove down the alley, stopped and entered the building.

"Neither the protesters, not reporters, were allowed inside for the mayor's speech. Access to health care was one of the 12 priorities that made up his Healthy Chicago initiative, which he outlined at a news conference Tuesday morning."

*

"N'dana Carter and Southside Together Organizing for Power organized the protest [Tuesday] after the city released its report on public health, Transforming the Health of our City: Chicago Answers the Call," Megan Cottrell reports. "The mayor did not, however, answer the call of the protesters. I stood outside with them for two hours, waiting for the mayor to show and trying with the rest of the media to best plot out where he might enter - the main entrance, the back alley or even on the other side of the block.

"Shortly after I left, the mayor did arrive, but he didn't talk to Carter or any of the protestors. Matt Ginsberg-Jaekle, an organizer with Southside Together Organizing for Power, said a black SUV pulled up to the entrance, stopped, and as the media prepared to descend, pulled around to the corner. By the time the media and protesters had gotten to the corner, Jaekle said, another SUV pulled up and rushed Rahm inside.

"'It was a decoy car,' Jaekle said. 'We never got to come face-to-face with the mayor.'"

*

"The group was hoping for some answers after they were also stood up earlier this month at a mental health town hall they set up for city health commissioner Bechara Choucair. After confirming his attendance four times, the group said, he backed out just two hours before the event, leaving concerned citizens without answers on what will happen to the city's mental health services.

"Earlier that morning, Emanuel and Choucair both talked about the city's plan to work on health problems like obesity, breast cancer and cancer disparities. Emanuel emphasized that he wanted the city to focus on health goals, not delivery of services."

*

From the Tip Line:

"Commissioner Choucair didn't show up at that community MH meeting at Mercy Friday evening. According to the account I heard, one of the organizers received a text message from him a couple of hours before the meeting, saying (my paraphrase from what a consumer told me) something to the effect that the ground rules had changed."

*

Comment on the Reader's "Father, Husband, Schizophrenic," posted by Jeff Park Mom on August 12, 2011, at 10:09 AM:

"The piece tangentially highlights two critically important public services for individuals with mental illness that are currently under attack. Mr. Mailey clearly relies on the City of Chicago's Woodlawn clinic, which client and community support (and civil disobedience at the Mayor's office during the Olympic Committee visit) narrowly saved from closure three years ago. The City ducked a big community meeting on the clinics last week, leading to speculation that Mayor Rahm may be planning another round of closures.

"Mr. Mailey understandably does not speak so warmly of his time at Tinley Park state hospital, but it is a critical part of the safety net. An attempt to close the hospital five years ago met resistance from consumers and advocates, but also private hospitals in the area which said they had neither the inpatient psych beds nor the desire to serve folks who were so very seriously ill. It's no coincidence that the number of mentally ill inmates in state prisons has increased as the state has closed state mental health hospitals. While Tinley is still open, the recently enacted state budget cut its funding in half, at the same time funding for community services was cut."

*

"Dr. Bechara Choucair is Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

"Appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley on November 25, 2009, Dr. Choucair is re-shaping the department to meet the public health challenges of the 21st century."

*

A Mental Health Moment: Daley Sits Silently.

*

Choucair on Twitter.

*

Responding to (some) comments at ChicagoBudget.org.

*

In an exhaustive commencement speech he gave in May about the history and state of public health in Chicago, Choucair didn't mention mental health at all.

*

Previously:
* Dear Rahm: Save Our Mental Health Clinics!

* Mental Health vs. Daley

* The 2009 Chicago Psych Olympics

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

Leinie's Rolling Out The Barrels: Oktoberfest Back For 10th Year

For the 10th year, Leinenkugel's is rolling out barrels of its seasonal Oktoberfest brew in time for crisp, cooler temperatures. Celebrating a decade of brewing Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest, the brewer will again bring the traditional German Marzen-style flavor to bottles and draft across the U.S. beginning late-August through October.

First introduced in 2001 to honor company namesake, Jacob Leinenkugel, who came from Germany and started Leinenkugel's in 1867, Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest is brewed with Munich, Caramel and a blend of 2-row Pale malts. These barley malts give Leinie's Oktoberfest a rich, hearty character and deep amber color, while four hop varieties provide an aromatic and smooth, well-balanced lager.

"Each year craft beer fans look forward to specialty autumn brews that enhance the flavors of the season," said Jake Leinenkugel, president of the 144-year-old Upper Midwest brewery. "Over the 10 years, Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest has grown into a fan favorite and we're delighted to share our festive autumn brew with Leinie loyalists year after year."

Available nationwide in six- and 12-pack bottles at supermarkets and liquor stores and on draft at bars and restaurants, Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest pairs well not only with bratwurst and sauerkraut, but is also an excellent complement to full-flavored hors d'oeuvres and hearty soups and chili. Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest retails for approximately $6.99 - $7.49 a six-pack.

Try this brew-infused seasonal recipe that features Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest. The recipe is highlighted by spice notes from garam masala, an Indian blend of ground spices, which balance perfectly with the malty sweetness of Leinenkugel's traditional fall seasonal.

Leinenkugel's Garam Masala Chicken & Shrimp Lollipops with Curried Fall Apple Chutney and Mixed Greens (serves 4 people)

MasalaLollipopscrop054120.jpgCurried Fall Apple Chutney
* 2 cups apple cider
* 3 apples, cored and chopped
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 tsp curry
* 1/2 cup golden raisins
* salt
* pepper

Chicken & Shrimp Lollipops
* 1 lb. chicken breast, boneless and skinless
* 1 lb. shrimp (21-25), peeled and deveined
* 1 oz. garam masala
* 4 oz. Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest
* salt
* pepper
* 16 10" wood skewers

Mixed Greens
* 8 oz. mixed greens
* 2 oz. olive oil
* 4 oz. Curried Fall Apple Chutney (above)

To make the chutney, add all ingredients into a small saucepot, cook over slow heat for about an hour, until all are soft. Put in a separate container.

To make the lollipops, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 - 2 oz. strips, long and skinny. Roll up, using the palm of your hand to keep flat, and run skewer through the middle. Repeat until finished with chicken.

For the shrimp, skewer both ends of each shrimp, through the tail. Place three shrimp on each skewer. Marinate the chicken and shrimp in the garam masala beer mixture for a minimum of 2 hours, up to 12 hours. Lay lollipops on a sheet pan and bake for 5-8 minutes, until done.

To make the dressing for the mixed greens, mix 4 ounces of the Curried Fall Apple Chutney with 2 ounces of olive oil and toss with the greens. For plating, place a serving of mixed greens on each plate, top with 2 shrimp and 2 chicken skewers and garnish with more chutney.

Enjoy with a Leinenkugel's Oktoberfest!

Tip: This recipe makes a flavorful salad, as well. If you don't have time to skewer the chicken and shrimp, just marinate, bake and serve with salad and chutney.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:02 AM | Permalink

30,000-Volume Collection Now Open To The Public

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, will host an open house to celebrate the expanded hours and programs of its library. Festivities include readings by local poets of favorite poems from the library collection, poetry fortune-telling, poetry recording sessions, and a scavenger hunt. Wine and light refreshments will be served.

What: Collection and Cocktails: A Poetry Foundation Library Open House
When: Wednesday, September 7, 5:30 to 8:30 PM
Where: Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
Tickets: Free admission on a first-come, first-served basis
RSVP: www.collectionandcocktails.eventbrite.com

The Poetry Foundation Library houses the organization's 30,000-volume collection - including books dating back to 1916 - which had previously been in storage at Chicago's Newberry Library. The noncirculating collection is now open to the public at the Poetry Foundation's new home.

The first floor of the Poetry Foundation Library houses single-author volumes of poetry as well as a children's area filled with more than 3,000 volumes of poetry books written for young people. The second floor contains anthologies and prose, including criticism, literary history, and biography.

The library's special collections feature some of the most notable volumes, which include W.B. Yeats's 1939 Cuala Press edition of On the Boiler and Louis Zukofsky's 1956 collection Some Time.

"The collection contains an amazing number of first- and limited-edition titles," Poetry Foundation librarian Katherine Litwin said. "As we continue to inventory the collection, we will undoubtedly discover many more treasures."

The Californians by Robinson Jeffers, published 95 years ago, currently ranks as the library's oldest book, and a 1935 edition of The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes features Hughes's inscription to Poetry's founding editor Harriet Monroe.

More highlights from the special collections include a first edition of Delmore Schwartz's Vaudeville for a Princess, an early version of The Sleeping Fury by Louise Bogan, and a first U.S. edition of Ariel by Sylvia Plath.

The Poetry Foundation Library will extend its hours this fall and expand its children's programming. The library, now open to the general public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., will also be open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. as of September 9.

Beginning September 14, the library will be open only for young patrons and their guardians from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, when librarians will be on hand to help young people with poetry-related homework and projects.

Also on Wednesdays, and beginning September 21, the library will host Poemtime, an event introducing children age five and under to poetry through fun, interactive games.

The Poetry Foundation is open to the public from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Leader Of The Pack . . . And 19 Other QBs Worth Drafting

Anyone who reads this column knows I have been an Aaron Rodgers fan for a long time.

I predicted two years ago in the preseason that he would be that season's MVP. It didn't happen, and Rodgers even had something of a disappointing start last year before attaining post-season glory, but I think there is finally no doubt in anyone's mind who the No. 1 fantasy QB should be this year.

The decisions do get a little harder as we go down the list, and I've got a couple real gambles here that might not be for the fainthearted - and I'm not just talking about Jay Cutler.

Here are my top 20 QBs:

1) Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: A healthier JerMichael Finley at TE could help him to his best year yet.

2) Michael Vick, Philadelphia: I have been jostling around my second-, third- and fourth-ranked QBs, and this week I'm liking Vick a bit more to come close to last year's numbers.

3) Drew Brees, New Orleans: A safe bet at No. 2 if you don't want to take a chance on Vick. Loaded with targets as usual.

4) Tom Brady, New England: Also could easily be No. 2, with OchoCinco and Housh added to his list of receivers.

5) Philip Rivers, San Diego: Potential for 4,800 passing yards and 30-plus TDs makes him seem like a bargain here.

6) Peyton Manning, Indianapolis: He gets the fantasy deck stacked against him every year, and then wows out of the gate.

7) Matt Ryan, Atlanta: Another solid QB with an increasing number of viable targets, including rookie Julio Jones.

8) Matthew Stafford, Detroit: Here's where things get a little crazy. I'm probably too big of a fan of a guy who has been often injured, but the Lions will finally pile up points this year.

9) Matt Schaub, Houston: Disappointed last year when ranked higher, but he still has the best receiver in the business in Andre Johnson.

10) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Really no reason for him to be this low, except the three ahead of him have better receivers and better potential for the occasional 400-yard day.

11) Josh Freeman, Tampa: Bumping him up a spot or two, but a huge second-half last year with only one INT in the last seven weeks. He had 25 TDs and 6 INTs overall.

12) Kevin Kolb, Arizona: Has looked good in his new home so far, but he will need to hit Larry Fitzgerald early and often.

*

(picks No. 13 and later likely backup slots)

13) Sam Bradford, St. Louis: Some will say this is too high, and I wouldn't necessarily take him as a starter, but like Stafford, he gets a loaded offense and an order to throw frequently from a pass-happy offensive coordinator.

14) Eli Manning, NY Giants: 25 INTs and seven fumbles dulled a 4,000-yard passing performance last year.

15) Tony Romo, Dallas: Surprised? I'll admit this may be way too low, but he is coming off injury and I am tired of figuring out why he is so streaky and so bad in big games. He has to earn it this year.

16) Jay Cutler, Bears: I'm not buying into Mike Martz's optimism or a Roy Williams resurgence, but something has changed with Cutler - if only the O-line gives him a few seconds to show it.

17) Joe Flacco, Baltimore: The options start thinning here because with the exception of RB Ray Rice, he doesn't have many reliable receivers.

18) Matt Cassel, Kansas City: Not flashy, but very few INTs and he doesn't fumble.

19) Donovan McNabb, Minnesota: Not sure what to think except he and Percy Harvin occasionally will play catch to give Adrian Peterson a breather from running between end zones.

20) Mark Sanchez, NY Jets: Long way to go for him, but his receiver choices - Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Dustin Keller - intrigue.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report likes Sam Bradford as a sleeper, maybe even more than I do.

* ESPN puts Tom Brady as the No. 4 QB, and reminds me I left Ryan Fitzpatrick off my list. I'm fine with that.

* USA Today also likes Josh Freeman as an up-and-comer. If I don't get Rodgers, Vick, Brees, or Brady, I might seriously consider waiting a few rounds and taking Freeman.

* Yahoo! contributor Adam Sparks makes the case for Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit. No argument here.

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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 12:18 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

The Papers will return tomorrow but in the meantime please enjoy these fine offerings from The Beachwood Media Company:

* "Illinois is a state in severe financial distress-one program being slashed aids low-income seniors and disabled," AP reports. "Thousands will be left to financial and health ruin on September 1."

* The College Football Report: Other Teams Receiving Votes

* Wedding Clothes For Dogs

The [Monday] Papers
"We were going to write about something else this morning, but the big news that Google (GOOG) agreed to buy Motorola Mobility (MMI) in a $12.5 billion deal prompted us to change our plans," Footnoted reports. The WSJ live-blogged the conference call and there's plenty of other breathless coverage pointing out that this is Google's biggest deal ever.

"But we thought it was more interesting to dive into Motorola Mobility's filings. As footnoted regulars know, we like to plunge head-first into the filings, especially following a big deal. And it didn't take us long to find this severance plan that was attached to the 10-Q that Motorola filed just over two weeks ago."

*

Nice. Do we get our money back now?

*

Probably not.

Cicero Mobility
"A New Jersey dummy corporation tied to a $16 million theft provided the single largest cash contribution to Cicero Town President Larry Dominick at a critical time during his first run for office, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

"The company, Tea-Rific Beverage Inc., was allegedly used to launder millions of dollars stolen by two family members of Cicero's current town attorney, Michael Del Galdo."

World's Fair Updates
* "Fire has ravaged a massive wooden replica of a stove that was built for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and became a Detroit landmark," AP reports.

"Fire crews were called to the 'World's Largest Stove' at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Saturday night after storms moved through the area."

* "Four carved wooden panels from Japan's pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition are together again after a 118-year journey that spanned Jackson Park, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the area underneath Soldier Field's bleachers," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Art Institute of Chicago is the new home to the four ramma, which were hung together in the museum's Japanese Art Galleries earlier this month. The panels were originally the show-stopping centerpiece inside Phoenix Hall, Japan's home at the 1893 exhibition that stood out among the expo's 'White City.'"

Hot Dog Wars
"The nation's two largest hot dog makers are taking their legal beefs Monday to federal court in Chicago, where a judge will determine whether Oscar Mayer or Ball Park franks broke false-advertising laws in their efforts to become top dog," AP reports.

"Legal arguments in the long-ranging wiener war between Chicago companies pit Sara Lee Corp, which makes Ball Park franks, against Kraft Foods Inc., which makes Oscar Mayer. The case could clarify how far companies nationwide can go when boasting that their product is better than a competitor's."

Sorry, Charlie
"Governor Quinn Proclaims August 19 'Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez Day.'"

Second City Again
"The world record for the most people showering together has been broken on a British beach," Female First reports.

"Up to 152 men and women donned their swimming trunks and bikinis to set the Guinness World Record on Bournemouth beach, breaking the previous feat of 145 individuals bathing together in Chicago in 2009."

Motor City
"Somebody once said that if you stand on a street corner in Chicago long enough, everyone you've met in your life will eventually walk by," Kurt Ernst writes for Motor Authority. "We're not willing to try that particular experiment, but we'll agree that Chicago can certainly play host to the unexpected. Like seeing the BMW i3 electric car concept rolling down Wacker Drive, for example."

*

Did somebody really say that?

Sugar-Free
Wrigley Mansion Faces Foreclosure.

Common Core
"There are few in the game who have witnessed as much as Common has over his long career," Complex reports. "In his autobiography, titled One Day It'll All Make Sense, the Chicago native details his experiences and stories involving Tupac, Biggie, Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela."

Ald. Joe Moreno (D-Minor Threat)
"As this blog recently noted in a post about the Chicago City Council starting to demand a review of Lollapalooza's long-term, tax-free sweetheart deal, the 1st Ward's newly elected representative, Proco Joe Moreno, has been dubbed 'the hipster alderman,' thanks to profiles in Red Eye and the Onion's A.V. Club," Jim DeRogatis writes.

"The title isn't one that the 39-year-old council member embraces - he prefers 'contemporary' - but Moreno may nevertheless be the only elected official in America with a vinyl copy of the 1984 Minor Threat compilation prominently displayed in his office."

Snake Oil
"Despite a $7.5 million tax subsidy from the city of Chicago, Loretto Hospital hasn't created any of the permanent jobs it promised when it was awarded the money in November 2009," AustinTalks reports.

"The hospital also hasn't provided any evidence that the taxpayer-funded renovation and expansion has spurred economic growth - one of the goals of the tax-increment financing program that provides the cash subsidy."

Backup Bears Better Than Backup Bills
"The secret to preseason football success: Keep your first-string offensive line out there longer than the other team's first-string defense," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday, which also includes video from the Arlington Million and the must-see Dennis Rodman speech from his Hall of Fame induction.

Invasion of the Nerds
They Came, They Geeked Out, They Played Red Rover: Chicago Comic Con 2011.

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

Big Z Envy
What Cubs fan wouldn't like to do the same?

Kites and Koreans
Festival season in Chicago continues.

Jesus at the Ballpark
A matchup we'd like to see.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight, slinging cold Old Styles and manning the secret volume button for the jukebox. Stop by but remember: No politics, just rock. 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Blessed.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report: About Those Other Teams Receiving Votes

Most preseason polls include a footnote listing "Other teams receiving votes" and the number of votes received for each. We won't bother trying to explain the voting process, but for an example refer to the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. See all those teams listed in tiny print at the bottom?

Those teams make up what we're calling The Other 25. We'll be paying particular attention to The Other 25 this year and that's where we'll begin our multi-part season preview.

*

At press time, the Associated Press had not yet released their Top 25 but we imagine their collection of "also rans" will look somewhat similar to those in the Coaches Poll. But part of the fun in this exercise stems from the somewhat arbitrary nature of The Other 25.

We could just easily select any number of other preseason rankings (Yahoo's Rivals.com, Lindy's, Athlon Sports, etc.) to generate our list.

Yet the Coaches Poll offers a few advantages in than it is: more prominent and thus more familiar to casual fans (including, we assume, our readers), easy to find online and in most major newspapers, and easy to track over time. We find the last bit especially intriguing - how will The Other 25 fare over the course of the season?

We will monitor each team and share periodic updates. While The College Football Report will often focus on the Top 25, The Other 25 should act as a counterbalance to the obsession (for most of us, not just the mainstream media) with the big teams, big names, and big stories of the college football season.

The other intriguing aspect of The Other 25 is the possible role some members will play in influencing the outcome of the national championship. Last year, several teams finishing near the top of the final BCS standings suffered defeats to forgettable squads.

While we can't possibly know how the season would have looked otherwise and won't bother offering any "what if?" scenarios, upsets play a huge part in the BCS each season. For example, Oklahoma (#7 in the 2010 final BCS standings), lost two games - to Missouri (#12) and Texas A&M. The Sooners might have survived the road loss to the Tigers, but dropping a game to the Aggies (6-3 at the time) ruined any shot at a BCS title.

The Tigers' season took a turn after losing on the road to Nebraska (#18), which was forgivable, given that Missouri was a seven-point underdog. But any hope of a berth in any BCS game evaporated when Mizzou derailed against Texas Tech in Lubbock the following week. The Red Raiders had already lost four games by that point including an embarrassing 52-38 drubbing at the hands of lowly Iowa State. So much for that idea, Tigers.

You will note that The Other 25 contains a number of scrappy teams from outside the "Automatic Qualifying Conferences" or AQ in the modern, BCS-era parlance. The AQ represent the six power conferences whose champions automatically receive a bid to at least one of the five BCS bowl games. (The Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta Bowls followed by the BCS National Championship Game.) Despite protests from the BCS (see page 5) to the contrary, many feel that the system favors the Big Six. Teams from smaller conferences - like Houston, Utah, and others from our Other 25 - often find themselves excluded from competing in the BCS bowls.

Not only does the system cause controversy in the ranking and selection of teams for the BCS bowls (which do not necessarily have to select teams based on BCS rank but can instead choose to honor traditional conference ties - AQ conferences, that is) but the non-AQ folks get a smaller piece of the financial pie. The BCS system guarantees the AQ conferences at least $18 million in revenue each season.

Last year, the Big Six took home $145.2 million of BCS revenue. The BCS awarded less than 15 percent ($24.7 million) of the total to non-AQ conferences.

If you take another look at the USA Today Top 25 Poll, you will find only two non-AQ teams, both from the Mountain West Conference: Boise State (#7) and TCU (#15). We feel top dogs like Oklahoma (#1), Alabama (#2), Oregon (#3) and LSU (#4) already have an edge on the non-AQ teams and receive plenty of attention from the national media. If you want to know all about the stocked backfield in Tuscaloosa, the NFL prospects of Andrew Luck or the Sooners' title hopes you can go elsewhere. Here at The College Football Report, we are all about the little guys.

Below, you will find a rundown of the teams "ranked" between #50-46 with the overall record, conference record and bowl result (if any) for each team. In subsequent College Football Reports throughout August, we will cover the remainder of The Other 25.

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50. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-7, 4-4 in ACC, L vs. Air Force: Independence Bowl)

Comment: Okay, not all of The Other 25 belong to non-AQ conferences. But the Yellow Jackets aren't exactly a perennial powerhouse either. Despite a streak of 14 straight bowl games, the Rambling Wreck hasn't won a bowl game since the '04-05 Champs Sports Bowl. (Did you know that Foot Locker owns Champs Sports? But the Champs Sports Bowl probably sounds better than The Foot Locker Bowl. The former brings to mind . . . well, champions, whereas the latter evokes Odor Eaters.) Paul Johnson's crew hasn't gotten much love in the national media and won't get much here either. Another (minor) bowl game this year should be considered a successful season.

To get there, Johnson needs to develop a passing game. As we noted last year, former QB Josh Nesbitt produced some incredible plays but nearly all were on the ground. We'll see if new QB Tevin Washington and redshirt freshman Synjyn (!) Days can find junior WR Stephen Hill on third-and-long.

Upset Potential: The Wreck plays Virginia Tech on a Thursday night game on November 10. Although the Hokies might not be in the hunt for a national title, Georgia Tech could knock them out of contention for a BCS game under the lights on national TV. They probably won't, but take note that as underdogs the Jackets are 8-5 against "the number" since 2009.

Name Dropping: The defense should improve, particularly given the emergence of star linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. We hope to see plenty of defensive highlights from Jeremiah, so we can have an excuse to say "Attaboy, Attaochu!" as many times as possible.

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49. The Nevada Wolfpack (13-1, 7-1 in WAC, W vs. Boston College: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl)

Comment: The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl? How did we miss that one? See what we mean? The Wolfpack only lost one game - to Hawaii on the road - but turned around six weeks later to beat Boise State (!) in an overtime thriller. Yet Nevada had to play in a bowl so lousy it can't find a proper home - the game is played in AT&T Park in San Francisco, the home field of MLB's Giants. The goofy layout forces both teams to share the same sideline separated by a dividing wall at the 50-yard line. No wonder these non-AQ guys are so pissed off.

If you need any more reason to root for the Wolfpack, consider this: Head coach Chris Ault accepted a reduced salary when the school extended his contract to 2013. Ault released a statement citing his recognition of "the statewide troubled economy and the cuts many of our state workers" as motivation for the voluntary pay cut.

Upset Potential: The national media seems to have little hope for Nevada. We found preseason rankings as low as #72. We agree - this Wolfpack team has little hope to shock the world. An inexperienced senior (Tyler Lantrip) with all of 23 pass attempts will lead the "Pistol" offense.

But you can't say Ault's group won't have an opportunity - the Wolfpack plays #3 Oregon in their season opener. 
Making matters worse, a tragedy will break up the dynamic wide receiver duo of Rishard Matthews (56 rec, 879 yds, 5 TDs) and Brandon Wimberly (41 rec, 482 yds). Wimberly was released from a hospital in early July after undergoing surgery to repair serious injuries from a gunshot wound. Wimberly was among several Nevada players involved in a fight in downtown Reno in June and was shot in the abdomen. Our best wishes go out to Brandon, who may never see the field again.

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48. The Washington Huskies (7-6, 5-4 in PAC-10, W vs. Nebraska: Holiday Bowl)

Comment: Quarterback Jake Locker thrilled Huskies fans by returning for the 2010-11 season, despite being projected as a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Much to Washington's disappointment, Locker went on to post mediocre numbers (2,265yds, 17 TDs, 9 INTs) in his senior season. (Yet the Titans selected Locker eighth overall and will pay him $12 million. Go figure.) We can't help but wonder if Washington would be better positioned for this season had Locker not played last season.

Upset Potential: Head Coach (and CFR darling) Steve Sarkisian hopes to improve his 12-13 career record or his tenure in Seattle may come to a premature end. The Huskies may be in a position to make some noise with 15 starters returning and big games at #6 Stanford (October 22) and against #3 Oregon (November 5).

Name Dropping: This season, one or both of sophomore QB Keith Price or redshirt freshman QB Nick Montana will be under center. (Yes, Nick is the son of Joe Cool himself.)

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47. The Pittsburgh Panthers (8-5, 5-2 in Big East, W vs. Kentucky: BBVA Compass Bowl)

Comment: Some people (looking at you, Phil Steele) seem to think the Panthers might be halfway decent this year. Comparing the USA Today rank against several others shows that the Coaches Poll has them lower (i.e. worse) than several others, such as Rivals (#35), Athlon (#41), and Lindy's (#38). We realize that's not a remarkable disparity, but Pitt will return 44 lettermen this year, third most in the conference (USF and Cincinnati return 45 and 50, respectively). One member of the 2010 team will not be returning: Head coach Dave "the 'Stache" Wannstedt.

After some offseason gyrations by AD Steven Pederson, Pitt eventually reeled in Todd Graham from Tulsa. Graham immediately set about stabilizing a program that suffered a disastrous season last year: Players allegedly committed crimes ranging from aggravated assault to resisting arrest.

Then Wannstedt's initial replacement - Mike Haywood - was dismissed following his arrest during a domestic disturbance, most of the recruiting class defected, and three top players bailed early for the NFL. Ouch.

Apart from the returning lettermen, Graham can be thankful for a few things: Pitt has an inherent advantage by playing in the crappiest AQ conference. The Panthers also have a favorable schedule, with eight games at home (four in conference matchups) and only one tough conference road game - in the "Backyard Brawl" at West Virginia, in a clash of Other 25 teams!

That's right, none of the top conference teams managed to crack the preseason Top 25. The Big East, everybody! The Big East is here! The Big East and its ludicrous automatic BCS bid, everybody!

Upset Potential: Pittsburgh plays exactly one interesting game outside of the aforementioned crappy conference schedule - at home against (#18) Notre Dame. The Irish snapped a two-game skid against Pitt last season to win 23-17. While this year's game will be played in Pittsburgh, Graham may be overmatched now that ND HC Brian Kelly has had time to fully install his spread offense.

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46. The Oregon State Beavers (5-7, 4-5 in PAC-10)

Comment: The Beavers? More like the Lambs, as in "to the slaughter." Oregon State plays a very tough schedule (#4 in the country according to Phil Steele) in the brand new PAC-12.

Upset Potential: The Beavers played poorly whenever "giving points" last season, covering only one game as a favorite. Mike Riley's crew shouldn't have that problem too often this season against the likes of Wisconsin (#10), Stanford (#6), and Oregon (#3). Yet Oregon State faithful can take heart in the news that star WR James Rodgers (91 rec, 1,034 yds, 9 TDs in 2000) could return as early as the season kickoff against Sacramento State. Rodgers suffered a stomach-turning injury early last season. His return, along with a few lucky bounces, might propel Oregon State to a bowl game.

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Coming Friday: The next installment.

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Illinois' Broken Budget

"Illinois is a state in severe financial distress-one program being slashed aids low-income seniors and disabled. Thousands will be left to financial and health ruin on September 1."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

Wedding Clothes For Dogs

"Alice Lerman, owner of the pet store Barker & Meowsky in Chicago, specializes in helping couples outfit their dogs for weddings."


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From last year's Bridal Trunk Show:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"We were going to write about something else this morning, but the big news that Google (GOOG) agreed to buy Motorola Mobility (MMI) in a $12.5 billion deal prompted us to change our plans," Footnoted reports. The WSJ live-blogged the conference call and there's plenty of other breathless coverage pointing out that this is Google's biggest deal ever.

"But we thought it was more interesting to dive into Motorola Mobility's filings. As footnoted regulars know, we like to plunge head-first into the filings, especially following a big deal. And it didn't take us long to find this severance plan that was attached to the 10-Q that Motorola filed just over two weeks ago."

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Nice. Do we get our money back now?

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Probably not.

Cicero Mobility
"A New Jersey dummy corporation tied to a $16 million theft provided the single largest cash contribution to Cicero Town President Larry Dominick at a critical time during his first run for office, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

"The company, Tea-Rific Beverage Inc., was allegedly used to launder millions of dollars stolen by two family members of Cicero's current town attorney, Michael Del Galdo."

World's Fair Updates
* "Fire has ravaged a massive wooden replica of a stove that was built for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and became a Detroit landmark," AP reports.

"Fire crews were called to the 'World's Largest Stove' at the Michigan State Fairgrounds on Saturday night after storms moved through the area."

* "Four carved wooden panels from Japan's pavilion at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition are together again after a 118-year journey that spanned Jackson Park, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the area underneath Soldier Field's bleachers," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Art Institute of Chicago is the new home to the four ramma, which were hung together in the museum's Japanese Art Galleries earlier this month. The panels were originally the show-stopping centerpiece inside Phoenix Hall, Japan's home at the 1893 exhibition that stood out among the expo's 'White City.'"

Hot Dog Wars
"The nation's two largest hot dog makers are taking their legal beefs Monday to federal court in Chicago, where a judge will determine whether Oscar Mayer or Ball Park franks broke false-advertising laws in their efforts to become top dog," AP reports.

"Legal arguments in the long-ranging wiener war between Chicago companies pit Sara Lee Corp, which makes Ball Park franks, against Kraft Foods Inc., which makes Oscar Mayer. The case could clarify how far companies nationwide can go when boasting that their product is better than a competitor's."

Sorry, Charlie
"Governor Quinn Proclaims August 19 'Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez Day.'"

Second City Again
"The world record for the most people showering together has been broken on a British beach," Female First reports.

"Up to 152 men and women donned their swimming trunks and bikinis to set the Guinness World Record on Bournemouth beach, breaking the previous feat of 145 individuals bathing together in Chicago in 2009."

Motor City
"Somebody once said that if you stand on a street corner in Chicago long enough, everyone you've met in your life will eventually walk by," Kurt Ernst writes for Motor Authority. "We're not willing to try that particular experiment, but we'll agree that Chicago can certainly play host to the unexpected. Like seeing the BMW i3 electric car concept rolling down Wacker Drive, for example."

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Did somebody really say that?

Sugar-Free
Wrigley Mansion Faces Foreclosure.

Common Core
"There are few in the game who have witnessed as much as Common has over his long career," Complex reports. "In his autobiography, titled One Day It'll All Make Sense, the Chicago native details his experiences and stories involving Tupac, Biggie, Lauryn Hill, Barack Obama, and Nelson Mandela."

Ald. Joe Moreno (D-Minor Threat)
"As this blog recently noted in a post about the Chicago City Council starting to demand a review of Lollapalooza's long-term, tax-free sweetheart deal, the 1st Ward's newly elected representative, Proco Joe Moreno, has been dubbed 'the hipster alderman,' thanks to profiles in Red Eye and the Onion's A.V. Club," Jim DeRogatis writes.

"The title isn't one that the 39-year-old council member embraces - he prefers 'contemporary' - but Moreno may nevertheless be the only elected official in America with a vinyl copy of the 1984 Minor Threat compilation prominently displayed in his office."

Snake Oil
"Despite a $7.5 million tax subsidy from the city of Chicago, Loretto Hospital hasn't created any of the permanent jobs it promised when it was awarded the money in November 2009," AustinTalks reports.

"The hospital also hasn't provided any evidence that the taxpayer-funded renovation and expansion has spurred economic growth - one of the goals of the tax-increment financing program that provides the cash subsidy."

Backup Bears Better Than Backup Bills
"The secret to preseason football success: Keep your first-string offensive line out there longer than the other team's first-string defense," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday, which also includes video from the Arlington Million and the must-see Dennis Rodman speech from his Hall of Fame induction.

Invasion of the Nerds
They Came, They Geeked Out, They Played Red Rover: Chicago Comic Con 2011.

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

Big Z Envy
What Cubs fan wouldn't like to do the same?

Kites and Koreans
Festival season in Chicago continues.

Jesus at the Ballpark
A matchup we'd like to see.

Programming Note
I'll be back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight, slinging cold Old Styles and manning the secret volume button for the jukebox. Stop by but remember: No politics, just rock. 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blessed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:22 AM | Permalink

They Came, They Geeked Out, They Played Red Rover: Chicago Comic Con 2011

"After last year's obnoxiously celebrity-focused Wizard convention, I swore off future Wizard conventions in Chicago, but the surprisingly strong guest list (on the comics end; while some might flip for things like a cast reunion of the children from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I am not one of them) for this year's event proved that I am nothing if not weak-willed," Matthew Brady writes.

"There was much to see, purchase, and interact with, and as much as I may get annoyed by aspects of it, it's still fascinating to see such a huge swath of nerd culture all crammed into one location."

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The Tribune's cosplay photo gallery.

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March of the Heroes:

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Walk with us.

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More.

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And . . . "Put a bunch of nerds on the dance floor and they will . . . play Red Rover."

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Comments welcome.

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See also:
* Nerds And The Undead Clogging The Kennedy To Get To Chicago Comic Con In Rosemont!

* Chicago Comic Con: Day One

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Kites and Koreans

Festival season continues.

1. From the weekend's 7th Annual Kite Festival at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.


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2. From this weekend's 16th Annual Chicago Korean Festival.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:09 AM | Permalink

Backup Bears Better Than Backup Bills

The secret to preseason football success: Keep your first-string offensive line out there longer than the other team's first-string defense.

That was the key element during the Bears' lone touchdown drive on their way to a 10-3 victory over the hapless Buffalo Bills on Saturday as sort-of competitive professional football finally returned.

After we all flash back to Meatballs for a little while (chanting "It just doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter"), let's go ahead and break down a little bit of this ultimately meaningless exhibition game.

First of all, backup running back Marion Barber ran hard and showed some delightful shiftiness during the drive capped off by backup quarterback Caleb Hanie's scrambling score.

Barber clearly still has plenty left in his tank after a half-dozen years of hard running in Dallas. He is a quality addition and it is clear that Chester Taylor's spot on the roster is tenuous. Of course, the drawing of over-arching preseason conclusions is dangerous but Taylor, last year's big free-agent signing at running back behind Matt Forte, simply doesn't run as hard as Barber.

And an NFL team's third halfback has to be a special teams stalwart. Third-year man Kahlil Bell has shown he can fill that role. It is hard to believe Taylor would.

As for the offensive line performance, overall clearly the early sacks against weren't great. Left tackle J'Marcus Webb better be seeing Shawne Merriman in his nightmares during the coming week (and working on ways during the day to counter the speed and power flashed by the player nicknamed "Lights Out" way back in high school after he knocked out four guys in a single half). Merriman has struggled with injuries the past three seasons but he is still a young player (I was surprised to find out he is only 27 years old) with all sorts of ability.

But the line wasn't helped by situation (third-and-long during Cutler's final series) and by the quarterback holding the ball too long (Hanie during his first drop back). Then again, television analyst Erik Kramer was wrong when he said Hanie held the ball too long on his second sack. On that play the quarterback took a moment to look away from his first option before he was pounded down but the line has to give him more time than that.

Otherwise, safeties Chris Harris and Major Wright both showed a willingness to lower the boom from out of the secondary. Wouldn't it be delightful if the Bears were finally in good shape with a pair of safeties in the right positions (Harris at strong and Wright at free) after years of struggling to get it right back there.

And at least the field held up. Any truth to the rumor (the one I am starting right now) that one of the reasons the park district and the Bears haven't been willing to change the sod to artificial field turf is that Soldier Field wouldn't be able to host lucrative soccer friendlies (like the the Fire versus Manchester United game that drew 60,000-plus earlier this summer) on FieldTurf?

Actually, you have to believe the Bears when they say they are putting player safety first; that they believe players suffer fewer injuries on grass than they do artificial turf. After all, it would be much cheaper to put in the plastic stuff and never have to worry about it again. When the team is forced to bring in new sod during the season like they have the past few years, it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Let's see how this year plays out but it must be noted that last year the Packers, who play on the plastic stuff, were riddled with injuries (they may have won the Super Bowl but they struggled through the regular season, barely squeaking into the playoffs at 10-6 with two wins in the last two weeks). Meanwhile the Bears suffered relatively few season-ending infirmities. Of course the sample size is too small to draw any wide-ranging conclusions but like I said, let's see what happens this coming year.

The Arlington Million
"Finally we had a fairly normal weekend in the sport of Horse Racing this past weekend," Gerard Apadula writes for iSportsWeb. "No 20, 30 or 40-1 shots winning big races, no injuries and, led by Cape Blanco winning the 2011 Arlington Million, most of the best horses in their respective races did what they were supposed to do . . . win."

Here it is:

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Rodman Unplugged
"[W]elcome Dennis to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the most unlikely destination in what was certainly the most remarkable of journeys," Sam Smith writes on Bulls.com.

Here is his remarkable induction speech from Friday night:

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And here is a career retrospective produced by the NBA:

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Lonely Trailer at Quenchers on Saturday night.


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2. Zoe at the Congress on Sunday night.

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3. Congorock at the Mad Decent Block Party on Saturday night.

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4. Magic Child at the Elbo Room on Friday night.

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5. Curren$y at the Mad Decent Block Party on Saturday night.

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6. Shiny Toy Guns at North Halsted Market Days on Saturday night.

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7. Smash Potater at Thrasho De Geedo on Saturday night.

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8. RubyGrass at Schubas on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Jesus At The Ballpark

Meeting the person sitting next to you and enjoying a three-hour ball game together makes each trip to the ball park a unique outing.

Occasionally you have some dope in the next seat who 1) knows nothing about the game, 2) talks incessantly about matters other than baseball, or 3) simply grates on your nerves.

But far more often - at least in my experience - I meet someone who shares a passion for the Sox, actually knows that Gordon Beckham is good field-no hit, and realizes when Ozzie needs to replace Humber with Crain.

Furthermore, this random guy in the next seat could be a CEO, a teacher, or a traveling salesman. He might live on the North Side (not very likely) or in Bridgeport. One thing is certain: He (or she) won't be a carbon copy of me.

Former Sox owner Bill Veeck, after he sold the team in 1981, was a frequent visitor to the bleachers at Wrigley Field. Bill claimed that he was most comfortable sitting there amidst what he regarded as the most knowledgeable fans. He also loved to sit in the sun and work on his tan.

Bill was the kind of guy who liked to include folks, and usually an interesting mix of fans surrounded him in the bleachers. Nationality, race, and religion mattered little to him, nor was he hung up on the number in a guy's bank ledger. He was interested in qualities like civility, honesty, and reliability.

I bring this up because I've always considered a ballpark as an inclusive place. It's an opportunity to enjoy the greatest game in the world with a diverse group. While the expense has risen at an alarming rate, everyone is welcome. No one is checking your ID at the door.

So when I learned that last Saturday was Christian Day at the Ballpark at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, I took a look at the Cards' website to see if this was, indeed, the case. In fact, during previous Christian Days at Busch, players such as Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday, and Albert Pujols have given testimony to their faith for the fans who opted to remain after the game to listen.

Last year Wainwright, who won 19 games and was runner-up for the Cy Young, said, "When I'm pitching . . . I got Jesus right beside me on the mound. Who the heck am I going to be scared of?"

Apparently Wainwright assumes that the batter doesn't possess similar faith, having Jesus right next to him facing the big right-hander. That's a match-up I'd like to see.

Religious promotions by major league clubs are fairly recent phenomena and beg the question of whether separation of church and sports is appropriate.

We hear athletes in post-game interviews thank God after heroic performances. Pro football players from both teams kneel in a circle for a prayer after an afternoon of controlled violence. Some relief pitchers, upon entering the game, first walk behind the mound asking for the Lord's guidance in retiring the next batter with the bases loaded.
These are individual expressions of faith. They deserve respect even if some fans question their propriety.

I remember Tony Taylor, the Cuban second baseman, who debuted with the Cubs in 1958. He genuflected before each at-bat. I can't say it didn't help. He played 19 years and amassed more than 2,000 hits.

But I can't recall too many other athletes - possibly excluding boxers - who made public displays of faith 40 or 50 years ago.

In my view, Christian Day at the Ballpark is a different animal. For one, public money has financed a large portion of most stadia, and who's to say whether the people's teams should be promoting religious beliefs.

Being Jewish, I wouldn't be marking my calendar to be sure to attend a game on Christian Day. And I wouldn't be jumping up and down to entice my non-Jewish friends to accompany me to Jewish Heritage Day either.

USA Today reported last April that days for Christians, Jews, and Mormons were in the planning stages at a number of ballparks for the 2011 season. Upon up-to-the-minute investigation, no one was planning a Muslim or Buddhist Day at the Ballpark, let alone an Atheist Day. Don't hold your breath for any of those.

I asked my friend Doug Harris if he had heard about Christian Day. Doug is a Baptist pastor, as is his wife Carol McVetty. That's the good news. The bad news is Doug's a lifelong Tigers fan.

"We are wondering where do you stop when choosing the various faiths for having those special days?" responded Doug. "And who is really benefiting? Does the ballclub make extra money by 'segmenting' the market? Do the concessions refrain from selling pork hot dogs on Jewish Day, being willing to forgo profit in order to honor faith?

"We've had fun discussing this the last few days. Some friends from Wisconsin - one is a Methodist pastor - feel that it cheapens our faith whenever faith is used as marketing tool or a gimmick. Carol is offended by faith being exploited for profit. Baseball is uniquely an American game that should transcend our differences rather than accentuating them. We think this marketing gimmick also cheapens baseball."

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There was nothing cheap about the Sox beating up on the Orioles and Royals last week. Let's hope they're not messing with us again.

Every time the team reaches or gets close to .500 - the mark of genuine mediocrity - they suffer another tailspin.

And after yesterday's 6-2 victory over the troublesome Royals - the Sox are 5-6 against them this season - they're back to 60-60, having split the previous 36 games.

Before these latest eight wins in 10 games, most observers thought the team was on the verge of extinction.

The Sox are frustrating, puzzling, and downright impotent much too often. But they're also as resilient as Manny Pacquiao's light bag. They just keep bouncing back.

Paul Konerko has been hitting on one leg during the current rally, and with three hits yesterday, he's up to .311. Our other "gamer," A.J. Pierzynski, is nursing a bruised wrist, but A.J. being A.J., you know he'll soon return.

In the meantime, Ozzie hands Brent Lillibridge a first baseman's glove, and gigantic Tyler Flowers assumes the catching duties. Lillibridge slammed his 10th homer yesterday - just one less than Adam Dunn. No one could have predicted the kind of year he's having. And Flowers can rip the ball. He also homered on Saturday and now is 6-for-20 since being called up from Charlotte.

With 42 games remaining, the Sox can't afford to stumble yet again. Cleveland and Texas are invading the Cell this week where the Sox are a dismal 26-33. Forget about the post-season unless the boys can win at home.

The Tigers are four games ahead of the Sox, but the teams will meet six times in September. What seemed a remote possibility just a week ago now is not out of the question.

Keep the faith, baby!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Big Z Envy

Carlos Zambrano just did what the rest of us wish we could: He ditched this team.

What Cub fan wouldn't like to just clean out his locker and forget about it?

I sometimes wish I could. But we Cub fans are afflicted with the burden of growing up with this team; the games our dads took us to, the stories our aunts tell us about, the emotional investment of enduring season after pathetic season. It's the backdrop of our existence. We can't just walk away.

Zambrano could. And did.

I guess the difference is that Big Z didn't grow up watching Cub games.

He didn't show up early on a Saturday morning to stand in line to get the front row in the bleachers before a double-header.

Nope. Big Z treated his job the same way as a lot of us treat our real jobs. One day you've just had enough and you want out.

That's not an option for us. And we've worked for this team a lot longer and a lot harder than he has.

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Week in Review: The Cubs won two of three from both the Nationals and Braves. That's four series' wins in a row. If this was April, that would be awesome. But it's not.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs head to Houston for three and then come home to play the Cardinals. Expect more wins. It's almost like they're hurting you on purpose.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got five starts and Jeff Baker got the other. Barney had eight hits and two walks for the week and continues to prove that he's just as good as a Baker/DeWitt platoon. Which is actually just like Jim Hendry drew up.

In former second basemen news, Tom Veryzer lives in Islip, New York, with his wife and three daughters. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: I told you last week his success had been smoke and mirrors. This week it was more like TNT and a match. Big Z goes boom, and may never go boom again.

zam_Boom.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte continues to inject Marlon with "decent, but not great."

Lost in Translation: Reedio Johnson-san is Japanese for perfect for a contender but not a rebuilder.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Geovany Soto for Brinks home security because he knows what it feels like to be stolen on.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 91% sweet, 9% sour. Mike gains one point this week for finding a scapegoat. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike was the one who ate Aunt Hillary's pie before the picnic but he saw that Farmer Miller's goat escaped again and blamed him instead of taking responsibility.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of bronze are expected to trade lower this week on the North Side. The Cubs are running out of uses.

Over/Under: Chances the Cubs catch the Pirates and move up to fourth place: +/- 42%. The Pirates may actually catch them.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that hitting streaks are the most ridiculous records ever.

Farm Report: Only the Cubs could get an MVP season out of a Triple-A player they have no intention of ever bringing to the major leagues.

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.

Mike Quade Status Update: "Though he struggled in his last two starts, veteran Rodrigo Lopez will take the mound Wednesday night against the Nationals," Paul Sullivan reports for the Tribune.

"With Casey Coleman starting to show signs of stability at Triple-A Iowa and the Cubs playing out the string, how long is manager Mike Quade committed to keeping Lopez in the rotation?

"'I'm committed to him right now,' Quade said. 'As I look at this thing as it pans out - take it four days at a time - we're going to play Washington, who is in the hunt still, and we have contenders throughout the rest of the month. That's part of the reason I want to keep the pitching in line.'

"The Nationals began the day 19 1/2 games out of first in the National League East and 11 behind the wild-card-leading Braves."

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"I probably haven't thought much past this series as far as the rest of it goes," Quade added.

Um, maybe someone in the Cubs organization oughta think past the next series.

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Mike Quade is . . . Well-Adjusted / Delirious / High

dazed_and_confused_smiley.jpg

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Turns out our internet access isn't too much better than Steve's, but we'll do our best. Remember when we all got 14.4 Mbs and loved it? Good times.

Market Update
You could say the Dow Jones Industrial Average submitted to the whims of anxious investors; we interpret the situation more as one of mutual respect.

Haul Off
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this week that he has not yet managed to change the way garbage is collected in the city. That's perfectly understandable as he hasn't yet managed to revamp the way garbage is produced in the city either.

Big Zzzz
Responding to Carlos Zambrano's apparent spur-of-the-moment retirement on Friday, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry stated, "We will respect his wishes, honor them and move forward." Hendry then clicked his heels, turned two cartwheels and tried to sign Wayne Gretzky's other two sons.

Uh-Oh, Canada
Look out now. The last time a men's semifinal went down like this, it didn't exactly bode well for the host country.

Block Busted
Finally this week, you know how Hollywood always tries to spice up blockbuster sequels by adding a bunch of new characters or changing locations or generally just getting louder? Brace yourself. This shit show is about to get even worse.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Louder!

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Aerial Dance Chicago: UnEarthed

31145-Aerial-Dance.jpg

Aerial Dance Chicago presents UnEarthed, an environmentally-themed performance combining aerial acrobatics and dance.

Sunday, August 14 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 13 min

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Afghans Working for Peace

31141-Afghans.jpg

Peter Lems of the American Friends Service Committee highlights efforts of civilians in Afghanistan to restore peace through non-military means.

Sunday, August 14 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 18 min

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Reflections on the War in Afghanistan

31142-Windows-Mirrors.jpg

Karen Light and other artists discuss their works as part of "Windows and Mirrors," a collection inspired by the war in Afghanistan's impact on civilians.

Sunday, August 14 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
50 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:39 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

Due to service issues with my DSL service, Speakeasy, now a MegaPath brand, I only have access to a portion of the Internet, so today's items do not reflect the stories most deserving of attention but the stories I was able to get to. Enjoy!

1. Asian Carp Could Invade Great Lakes By Truck.

On the bright side, they reportedly drive Chevys.

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Alternate punch lines:

A) To make matters worse, they're driving on suspended licenses
B) To add insult to injury, they drive Toyotas
C) And to think they promised not to when they bought their licenses in Illinois

2. "Go for a bracing winter stroll in a major US city and you will be inhaling more than vehicle fumes. A new study has demonstrated for the first time that during winter most of the airborne bacteria in three large Midwestern cities come from dog feces," New Scientist reports.

"Noah Fierer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, found the high proportions of airborne dog fecal bacteria after analyzing samples of winter air from Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago."

Bull feces too.

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Alternate punch lines:

A) City Hall responded by pleading "Please beat Cleveland and Detroit, please beat Cleveland and Detroit . . . "
B) Rahm Emanuel pledged to change the way we do doo-doo
C) Samples were particularly high in TIF districts

3. "Many of us rely on reviews when booking trips or buying products online," KVUE reports. "So could you spot a fake?

"Researchers at Cornell University have developed software they say can. Researchers tested it by looking at reviews of Chicago hotels. They used 400 legitimate reviews and 400 fakes and the software detected the fakes 90 percent of the time. Those same researchers say people tend to only detect the fakes 50 percent of the time."

For example, a series of five-star ratings by "Mike Quade" were obviously fake.

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Alternate punch lines:

A) People, for example, believed that the TIF Inn was a real hotel
B) The software, for example, sniffed out fake reviewers such as Bill Fold and Jim Nasium
C) People, for example, didn't realize that no hotel would be so stupid as to turn heat lamps on picketing workers on a blistering hot day

4. And it turns out the problem has only gotten worse. Thanks, Speakeasy, now a MegaPath brand, I can't even download posts about how much the service sucks!

*

But I've been informed that support will put my ticket in with the others - apparently a problem is developing in Chicago - and as soon as enough tickets pile up, the tech staff will be forced to act. No kidding.

*

I'd check on my ticket but the Speakeasy website is inaccessible! (Earlier this week, the Speakeasy 1-800 number was down. This is Austerity America, folks. Kinda like Russia used to be.)

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The Week in Chicago Rock
Metally.

The Screamin' Wheels Roller Rink . . .
. . . aired this commercial in Chicago in 1981. And now it lives in infamy.

The Arlington Million
Take it to the window.

Wizard World
Chicago Comic Con Day One.

The Week in WTF
Mayors and manners.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Austere.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

Handicapping The Arlington Million

"Horses racing in this weekend's Arlington Million went out on the track to practice Thursday morning," Michelle Stoffel reports for TribLocal Arlington Heights.

"European and American horses will battle for the $1 million purse in the Arlington Million, the Beverly D. Stakes, and the Secretariat Stakes race. The three races together make up the Arlington International Festival. Experts are predicting a showdown between the Irish-bred Cape Blanco and the Kentucky-bred Gio Ponti, who won in 2009 and would challenge the famed John Henry's status as a two-time winner of the Arlington Million if he takes first place this year."

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"You hear a lot about the big-time guys who train racehorses, about their top-level contenders and Grade 1 conquests," Claire Novak writes for ESPN.com. "You hear less often of small-time trainers; their accomplishments aren't always as frequent or as flashy. But once in a while a horse comes along to change it all, catapulting his connections to the top of the game.

"Mission Approved is that kind of runner, one who started for a $35,000 tag last June. This week, the former claimer is the 6-1 third choice on the morning line for the Grade 1 Arlington Million, a 1 1/4-mile event on the Arlington Park lawn that could lead to a start in the Breeders' Cup Turf. "

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"Three-time Eclipse Award honoree Gio Ponti is on the grounds at Arlington Park for Saturday's 29th running of the Arlington Million. The 2009 Million winner came in from Saratoga for the 1 1/4-mile turf race," The Sports Network reports.

"Second in last year's Million to Debussy, the six-year-old champion is the 2-1 second choice in the morning-line behind 9-5 favorite Cape Blanco."

*

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:28 AM | Permalink

Wizard World: Chicago Comic Con Day 1

"After walking down the aisles and encountering assorted Batmans and Spider-Mans, a battalion of Star Wars stormtroopers and endless queues of people lined up for celebrity autographs, you start to wonder: Where are the actual comic books at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con?" writes Michael Bonesteel for the Sun-Times.

"Oh, they're there, all right, represented by fewer dealers every year but still holding their own amid the hoopla and Hollywoodization of the event, which has really become more of a celebration of pop culture."

*


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See also: Nerds And The Undead Clogging The Kennedy To Get To Chicago Comic Con In Rosemont!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:17 AM | Permalink

When The Screamin' Wheels Roller Rink In Gary Aired This Commercial

"A commercial for Screamin' Wheels Roller Rink located at 6119 Melton Road in Gary, Indiana featuring their 'All Night Ramble.' This aired on local Chicago TV on Saturday, July 4th, 1981."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:01 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.


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2. Vanna at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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3. The Black Dahlia Murder at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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4. Darkest Hour at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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5. Six Feet Under at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Daley and Burge, WTF?

Hey, Mister Mayor, funny meeting you here.

Sometimes mayors are vulnerable enough that the law attempts to bring them to heel while they still serve in office. Takes a prosecutor with chootz-paw, as Michelle Bachmann says. It happened to mayors in Detroit and Washington.

But most of the big-timers are left alone with their sins until a successor takes the chair. So Richie will have to answer under oath, finally, about the Torture Era and his knowledge of it. Those purposely and purposefully addled answers he used to inflict on a helpless local press corps won't suffice.

The Blago trial was the Cirque Du Freak.

This might be justice tapped from a deeper pool.

2. Soldier Field, WTF?

The turf at Soldier Field was so lousy that the Bears could not safely walk on it? Yep. Really.

That's some seriously dangerous grass.

That's the story, and they are sticking to it. But as anyone who has witnessed the annual Family Fest silliness knows, the Bears don't actually run plays there. They sort of walk a few steps and then stop. They moved faster when they secretly skedaddled out the back and boarded the bus for home.

It was like trying to escape a blind date.

The grass at Soldier Field has been the worst in the NFL for decades. As for the new mayor, now he has to be personally responsible for bad grass? One week he's helping to hunt bin Laden, the next he's hunting Groundskeeper Willie.

3. Jereme Richmond, WTF?

There was not a witness to Jereme Richmond's "Mr. Basketball" career at Waukegan High who did not recognize he might have been one of the state's great prep talents ever. And there were almost as many of WTF's crew who anticipated this might happen to him. There were running bets on how long it would take before implosion.

All the signs were there. Arrogant, rude, insufferable man-child of an enabling family. He was a feckless spawn of a culture that exulted in his exploits while ignoring his total lack of maturity, balance and shared values with teammates.

All he brought to the Illini in one star-crossed season were the same effortless skills and minimal human dimension. He was always missing one key cog. Some basketball Einstein convinced him to bolt Illinois and turn pro on the eve of a total NBA season lockout.

And now he is no longer a star to be coddled, but a gun-toting thug to be warehoused in prison. Waste? The word doesn't come close to framing it.

4. Prince Watson, WTF?

And speaking of punks, if this turns out to be true (presumption of innocence yada-yada-yada), we have produced a mook so indifferent to human life that he's still stealing cell phones from CTA riders even after killing one of his victims.

And he seems to have a preference for female targets. How rude.

And he's a twin. The other one is almost as bad.

We've just had a flash of insight. A caregiver relative always notes after teen skunks have been nabbed that they went bad after "falling in with the wrong crowd." There is no such thing as a wrong crowd. The wrong crowd is these two maroons.

5. Heat, WTF?

Pediatricians have suggestions, guidelines and voluntary wisdoms about how to avoid killing young football players with heat exhaustion. They suggest that football coaches must be thoughtful about this issue, apparently forgetting that, HEY, nimrods! They're football coaches!

We fine ourselves and demand legal strictures for the silliest and most arbitrary reasons - failing to come to a full stop at intersections, or tearing off the "do not tear off this tag under penalty of law" tag on mattresses - but when it comes to protecting teens from death, we're okay with guidelines.

Pediatricians are to real doctors what crossing guards are to FBI agents.

Bonus WTF
A few extra WTFs because you've been good boys and girls this week.

A. Worst suburban crook: It's a living.

B. We want insurance companies validating our lives, because insurance companies are the perfect models for integrity.

C. Mr. Sajak, I'd like to buy a bowel.

D. I guess this is true.

WTF encountered a nun as she crossed Kedzie of a recent morn. "Morning, sister," says me. "Fuck you," says her.

Nonetheless, WTF intends to remain resiliently happy and upbeat. It's the best revenge.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"I think that our new mayor has a chance to take a fresh, new look at this case," Flint Taylor tells John Kass. "I don't suppose he would continue to defend the indefensible."

*

"But Daley did," Kass writes, "and stonewalled and blustered and sneered and mocked anyone who questioned him. There was even a ridiculous whitewash report by pro-Daley judges to protect him. Taylor can't wait to have at him."

*

"If the city wants to continue to fight this, so be it," Taylor said. "The former mayor will be facing up to eight hours, and I don't think he can have the fog machine going all that time."

*

Please don't settle this case before Daley is deposed. The city deserves answers.

It's About Freakin' Time
"Gov. Pat Quinn flexed his veto power Wednesday by rewriting legislation in a way that would end the long practice of letting Illinois legislators hand out scholarships to state universities," AP reports.

"A 2009 Associated Press analysis of the scholarships and state political contribution records found that, between 2004 and 2009, at least 41 scholarships went to relatives of people who gave money to the lawmakers awarding the waivers and at least 42 more went to relatives of other politically connected people, such as donors to other politicians, lobbyists, party officials and others."

And Then Quinn Did This
Because he is the state's foremost expert on our community colleges.

Wizard World
I'm not a comic book guy or sci-fi nerd or a geek, really, but the lineup and attractions at the Chicago Comic Con are actually quite impressive. And if you click through, you'll see proof that a girl will be there.

Mmmm, DQ . . .
Buy a Blizzard today.

Bad Taste
"Berklee College of Music and Lollapalooza announced the founding of the Berklee Lollapalooza Endowed Scholarship at the 20th Anniversary of Lollapalooza in Chicago," the Music Industry News Network reports. "The four-year, full tuition scholarship will be awarded annually to a talented musician in financial need and is being endowed by Goldman Sachs Gives, a donor-advised fund."

Wow. For something that is ostensibly right, this sounds so wrong on so many levels.

The Loneliest Parking Meters
Are here.

Meter Meltdown
"A Tampa business has been raided by the FBI in a multi-state corruption investigation," WTSP reports.

"The president of Cale Parking Systems - a company that runs electronic parking meters for cities like Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Chicago - is under investigation for giving kickbacks for contracts in the Portland, Oregon area."

*

Cale's Chicago snafu.

Durbin: GOP Likes War
While Dems lack courage.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
David Lee Roth weighs in as only he can.

Maybe Removing The Name "Stroger" Would Help
Stroger Hospital Ads Try To Change Its Reputation.

The Country Club Hills Way
"Country Club Hills aldermen recently lambasted Mayor Dwight Welch for his excessive spending habits and then took away his city credit card," the SouthtownStar reports.

"But over the past two years, many of those same aldermen have spent more than $126,000 of taxpayer money on dinners, hefty cell phone bills, a gym membership, cash gifts for friends and family, and charities with which they are affiliated, according to a SouthtownStar analysis of city and financial records."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tax-deductible.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

Nerds And The Undead Clogging The Kennedy To Get To Chicago Comic Con In Rosemont!

"Geek is chic at this year's Wizard World Chicago Comic Con," Debra Lipson writes for The DePaulia.

"Gather with fellow comic book, graphic novel, movie, TV show, gaming and technology fans for four days of nerd-dom at its finest. Famous faces scheduled for the fest range from Patrick Stewart (X-Men, Star Trek), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), James Marsters (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Smallville) to Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins)."

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Presented by Wizard World, the Pioneers of Pop Culture.

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Official event Facebook page.

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"If you are thinking of dropping in on the Wizard World Comic Con this weekend and in the Chicago area, you might like to keep your eyes pealed for these amazing TeamFortress 2 characters created in Lego by Flickr member Pepa Quin."

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"When it comes to comic books, superheroes still rule the day at the Chicago Comic-Con. But there will be a few creators in attendance who don't tell stories involving capes or utility belts," the Daily Herald reports.

"Chicago cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, author of dark and excruciatingly funny comic strips, will be meeting fans and leading an art demonstration."

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"The Force Still With Chicago's Orli Shoshan."

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"Southlanders set to be a part of the event include author Nnedi Okorafor (author of Iridessa and the Fire-Bellied Dragon Frog, Akata Witch and Who Fears Death)," the SouthtownStar reports.

"Also, SouthtownStar "Beardo" cartoonist Dan Dougherty (artist and writer of Rotten and The Apocalypse Plan) will be among the guests."

*

"The Midwest Garrison of the 501st Legion - known throughout the galaxy as 'Vader's Fist,' 'The Fighting 501st or, more mundanely, the Illinois chapter of the largest Star Wars costuming club in the world - has never seen combat. Its members have never fired their guns, captured a stronghold or lost a member to the Rebel insurgency. Their guns don't actually fire. They wear the sculpted plastic armor of the Stormtrooper - the signature white plating of the Empire's disposable foot soldiers. They also wear every variation of the suit they can muster: Snowtrooper, Sandtrooper, Clone Trooper, Clone Pilot, TIE Pilot, Biker Scout, etc.," Christopher Borelli writes for the Tribune.

"If you attend the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont this weekend, you will witness a traditional show of 501st might and aggression - which generally means a couple of dozen Stormtroopers standing around, posing for pictures, brandishing very large plastic weapons."

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"Here's a sampling of some individual autograph and photo op prices," Hollywood Soapbox reports.

"Autographs: Alaina Huffman ($25), Anthony Michael Hall ($30), Christopher Lloyd ($30), Erin Gray ($25), James Marsters ($40), Lou Ferrigno ($25), Mike Grell ($1), Norman Reedus ($25) and Vivica A. Fox ($30).

"Photo ops: Christopher Lloyd ($40), Gil Gerard ($30), James Marsters ($60), Mimi Rogers ($30), Patrick Stewart ($100), Patrick Stewart and LeVar Burton ($135), Vivica A. Fox ($30) and Ray Park ($30)."

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This guy'll be there:

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This guy'll be there too:

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And this guy:

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How to talk to celebrities there:

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At least one girl will be there:

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In two different costumes:

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:21 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: AHHHHH-YAHH-YAHHH!

I tuned into the WGN internet broadcast on Saturday and Keith Moreland was talking about getting tested for hepatitis C. Long season, huh?
-Inna, Tuba City AZ

The season has effectively been over for awhile, so it isn't the first time the WGN radio team has offered up conversational filler to pass the endless minutes.

Highlights include:

* Jud Sirott's two minute tangent about male health including the need for regular "man-agrams" after 50 and an awkward exchange with Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald about the virility applications of powdered stingray.

* Pat Hughes' R-rated tirade about his dislike for giraffes during what was supposed to be a "live read" for Square D.

* That one game against the Royals where they just played the Lee Elia rant on a loop.

Did Marshall Faulk thank his wife for the "hard love" during his HOF induction speech?
-Phil, McCracken, MO

Yeah, he did.

"Thank you for loving me so hard. I wish that I could love as hard as you do."

To be fair to Mr. Faulk, baseball has had its fair share of wife-related Hall of Fame speech bloopers, including some by prominent Cubs. The first example that comes to mind was when Ryne Sandberg briefly, but audibly, thanked Joe Carter and Dickie Noles for tag-teaming his ex-wife Cindy in 1983.

Have the Cubs ever done anything as embarrassing as misspelling their own name?
-Jake, Black Snake KY

Some of the better known moments have been chronicled elsewhere, but I'm partial to a rumored trade that sent Daniel "Ol' Whiskers" McBeard to the Yankees in exchange for a package that included Fidel Castro.

McBeard went on to slay a stagecoach crew in Central Park following a heated backgammon debate and Castro went on to be an Adidas sponsor.

Are the Cubs becoming the Schneider-era Washington Redskins of baseball?
-Mack, Chicago IL

Overpriced, underperforming free agents? Check.

A loyal fan base that has been drug through the mud for decades? Check.

Occasional regular-season success overshadowed by playoff ineptitude? Check.

It's a pretty good comparison, but I'd say the chicks are better looking at Wrigley.

Is there anyone you'd like hear during the seventh-inning stretch?
-Dave, Crystal Lake IL

No question, it's David Lee Roth.

He's the only guy who could incorporate a kazoo, a jump kick and a "AHHHHH-YAHH YAHHH" into "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2011

Durbin: Republicans Like War, Democrats Lack Courage, Campaign Contributors At Heart Of Congressional Evil

Also reveals Gang of Six initiation rites.

1. Republicans Like Waging War But Don't Want To Pay For It.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Dick Durbin Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

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2. Democrats Lacked Courage To Decouple Debt Ceiling From Budget When They Had The Chance.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Dick Durbin Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

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3. Campaign Financiers Run The Joint.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Dick Durbin Extended Interview Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:22 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Thrill Jockey, Drag City, and Touch and Go (which is a catalog-only imprint these days) were among the independent labels whose stock was destroyed in a warehouse fire in north London [Monday] night," Peter Margasak reports for the Reader.

"While the Chicago labels were still awaiting details about what they'd lost before deciding where to go from here, it's clear that the pain is going to be serious. Thrill Jockey owner Bettina Richards estimates wholesale losses of £189,000 (more than $300,000), with anywhere from ten to a hundred copies of each of the label's 280 back-catalog titles destroyed."

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See also: London Riots: Independent Record Labels 'Devastated' By Fire

Song of the Moment
It's not really "London Calling," it's more Anarchy in the U.K.

How Richard M. Daley Is Like Don Rumsfeld
Yesterday I wrote about federal court rulings allowing torture lawsuits against Don Rumsfeld to go forward.

Today comes the news that torture lawsuits against Richard M. Daley can go forward too.

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See also: Daley Sarcastic About Burge Torture

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"If they require me to be deposed, I have no problems with that," Daley once said at a news conference - even as his lawyers fought and continue to fight just such an occurrence.

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See also: Twenty Questions

Torture WTF
"Former Gov. Jim Thompson, former U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson III and other legal and political heavyweights are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to order hearings into claims by prisoners that they were tortured by former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his detectives," the Sun-Times reports.

Why do I smell a rat?

Wrong Question
"Could Unspent Stimulus Money Be Mobilized to Fend Off a New Recession?" ProPublica asks.

Wait. There's unspent stimulus money?

How Barack Obama Is Like Tom Ricketts
He didn't cause the problem, but he sure hasn't done much right solving it.

Flipping The Script
"During the presidential campaign, John McCain stupidly announced that 'the fundamentals of the economy are still strong,' a statement that Barack Obama hung around his neck like a flaming car tire," John Cook wrote for Gawker in November 2009. "Today, Obama hailed the economy's 'core strengths.' Whoops."

So guess what the senior senator from Illinois said this morning?

Boon Doggle
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the [G8 and NATO] meetings will be a great opportunity for the city to showcase itself to the world," CBS Chicago reported in June.

"Emanuel laughed Wednesday when a reporter asked if just the security costs for hosting the NATO summit would be huge, given that the G8 summit has traditionally drawn demonstrators.

"Yes, Emanuel said, he realizes that just fine.

"But the mayor says he will look for help from the private sector to supplement what the city will have to do next spring. Emanuel also says he is looking at the big picture.

"'There's a bigger opportunity as it relates to both international security and the international economy. That's what's essential,' Emanuel said. 'But for us from a city perspective, this will be an opportunity to showcase what is great about the greatest city in the greatest country.'"

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"The National Confectioners Association has agreed to move its Sweets & Snack Expo to earlier dates next May at McCormick Place to avoid overlap with the NATO and G8 summits coming to town," the Tribune reports.

"A source close to the deal said the city's convention bureau offered incentives worth around $500,000 to keep the show here.

"The candy show is the second show to rearrange its timing. The National Restaurant Association agreed to move its dates last month after negotiating a one-time financial package worth about $2 million, including some noncash items, such as marketing assistance."

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See also: Economic Impact of Hosting The 2005 G8 Summit At Gleneagles; Economic Benefits of Hosting G8 and G20 Summits;

(Hint: It's like the Olympics without the fun.)

Bat Man
"Anyone who has seen a Major League Baseball game the past few years has seen the absurdity: wooden bats constantly splintering, shattering and breaking, their shards fluttering across the field and occasionally into the stands," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"But where the rest of us saw an annoyance and potentially a danger, two fans saw a business opportunity.

"Jim Cortez, an entrepreneur in Chicago, and Greg Kendra, who is a real-estate agent in Denver, came up with a process by which bats are cryogenically frozen at minus-310 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours, and then slowly allowed to come back to ambient temperature. They've had their bats tested by an independent university laboratory and claim in their patent filing that their cryogenically treated bats are 26% stronger than standard bats.

"They've filed paperwork with Major League Baseball to have their bats certified for use, but say they have heard nothing back from the league."

Top 20 RBs
Where does Matt Forte rank?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cryogenic.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:33 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 RBs

The Great NFL Lockout of 2011 put the free agent market on hold for a while, so what we've seen in recent days is a frenzied, condensed version of what usually happens over many weeks or months.

That particularly has been the case at the running back position. The Bears were not the only team to shake up the backfield with the surprise addition of a free agent - in their case Marion Barber. The most recent surprise signing was Baltimore's pick-up of Ricky Williams, just days after cutting ties with Willis McGahee.

Veteran RBs getting signed to back-up roles can have an effect on fantasy expectations for starters. For example, I ranked the Bears' Matt Forte in my preseason overall top 20, but I'm already a bit concerned that if Forte sits out some preseason action over his contract issues, Barber could earn some important carries in the first few games of the regular season. Likewise, Baltimore's Ray Rice is a no-doubt Top 5 RB, but Williams could cut into his scoring and red zone carries.

Meanwhile, my preseason expectations also are being rocked by star Tennessee RB Chris Johnson's ongoing holdout. Most of the fantasy football universe expected Johnson to be in camp by now, but it sounds from many reports like he is not anywhere near ready to end his holdout. This is a guy many of us - or at least me - ranked second overall.

Assuming his holdout persists, I've got to rethink my top 20 RBs. Here goes:

1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota: I'm still comfortable with Peterson at the top, probably even more than last week, considering how my list changes after No. 1.

2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City: I had Charles a No. 4 overall last week. At No. 2 overall, he becomes more of a gamble, but like Peterson and unlike the next two names, I don't see any real depth-chart threats (Charles' back-up is the graying Thomas Jones) or other concerns.

3. Arian Foster, Houston: I still have a lingering injury concern about him, but still think he could lead all RBs in TDs.

4. Chris Johnson, Tennessee: Even if he holds out through the preseason, he likely won't lose starts or carries once the games count, but Tennessee's offense is a work in progress, and I see him starting slowly. Plus, what if he holds out through the start of the regular season. I don't envy owners who have to pick fourth or fifth and find Johnson still on the board.

5. Ray Rice, Baltimore: Williams messes with my expectations, but his double-threat status as a great runner and receiver keeps him ahead of the rest. Maybe a few extra receptions will cancel out carries he loses to Williams.

6. Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh: No change here. Still like him to finish second or third in running TDs this season.

7. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia: Loaded with talent, the Eagles are being likened to the Miami Heat - a comparison I don't think holds because the Eagles, with a lot of yards and scores from McCoy, look like they can win it all.

8. Darren McFadden, Oakland: I talked last week about undervaluing him, so I nudged him up a spot this week. If he is motivated at all by disrespect, he may lead the league.

9. Michael Turner, Atlanta: The former NIU Huskie is slowing, but should still get most of Atlanta's carries and rushing scores.

10. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville: By the end of preseason, he may move ahead of Turner if his post-surgery performances seem convincing.

11. Frank Gore, San Francisco: See last week's column, re: "poor Frank." Nothing has changed.

12. Matt Forte, Bears: Will his performance be more affected by the addition of Barber, the O-line loss of Olin Kreutz, or caution he appears to be taking given his contract status? The right answer may be all three, but I really think Forte re-discovered his form last year, and remains his offense's best weapon.

13. Ahmad Bradshaw, NY Giants: Ranking him here is a bet that his fumble problems are over.

14. Shonn Greene, NY Jets: Ranking him here is a bet that he plays a much bigger role in the offense.

15. Peyton Hillis, Cleveland: The monster back of 2010 who not many want to believe in for 2011, partly because he too will have a free-agent signing stealing carries - Brandon Jackson.

16. Jahvid Best, Detroit: He probably benefits from the misfortune of rookie and former Illini Mikal LeShoure, who is now lost for the season to injury.

17. LaGarrette Blount, Tampa: Ran for more than 1,000 yards and eight TDs as a rookie last year. Has potential if receptions increase and fumbles decrease.

18. Steven Jackson, St. Louis: Aging, but surprisingly consistent, Jackson's stock will rise or fall on how effective Sam Bradford is in his second year at QB.

19. Knowshon Moreno, Denver: A QB controversy means the RB may be able to shine, though if Tim Tebow takes over from Kyle Orton at some point, expect fewer touches for Moreno.

20. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo: this is a totally out-of-the-blue sleeper bet. Fast as hell and reportedly more muscled than last season, Buffalo management wanted to feature him last year, but he wasn't ready. This year, he could be the team's best offensive threat.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! fantasy football experts deliver their preseason top 100, featuring a downgrade for holdout Chris Johnson.

* Bleacher Report has its top five fantasy football sleepers, including new Arizona QB Kevin Kolb.

* Fantasy Football Jungle sizes up where Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona, is being drafted. The rookie RB in Arizona, Ryan Williams, is getting a lot of hype, and Kolb's arrival may indicate a pass-happy offense.

* Fox Sports' Mike Harmon surprisingly ranks Jamaal Charles as the top RB and top pick overall. Maybe he's onto something, but I think Peterson is a one-man team.

Fantasy Baseball Trade Deadline Recap
Fantasy baseball league trading deadlines usually fall one or two weeks after the MLB deadline on July 31, so you can have a few games to size up whether or not outfielder Carlos Beltran getting traded to San Francisco increases or decreases his fantasy value.

In Beltran's case, his fantasy numbers went immediately south, while two other traded players - Hunter Pence, OF, Philadelphia, and Michael Bourn, OF, Atlanta, who were both traded out of Houston - have seen an immediate stat boost.

Pence, in particular, was someone I was looking to unload from a fantasy team prior to his move to the Phillies. He was hitting well and driving in a lot of runs, but home runs and stolen bases were down from last year. He now has two home runs in the last week since joining Philly, and I'm keeping him.

For more on the fantasy implications of deadline moves:

* Sporting News has this trade deadline analysis.

* Bleacher Report examines the value of Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Cleveland as he moves to the American League.

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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 12:41 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Anarchy in the U.K.

Anarchy reigns and a nation struggles to understand why

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Artist: The Sex Pistols

Recorded: October 17, 1976

Released: November 26, 1976

B-Side: I Wanna Be Me

Album: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

Wikipedia:

* Originally issued in a plain black sleeve, the single was the only Sex Pistols recording released by EMI.

* In the documentary The Filth and the Fury, John Lydon described the composition of the song's opening lyrics, explaining that the best rhyme he could devise for the first line, "I am an Antichrist," was the second line, "I am an anarchist."

* The lyrics endorse a particularly sensational, violent concept of anarchy that reflected the pervasive sense of embittered anger, confusion, restlessness, economic frustration and social alienation which was being felt by a generation of disenfranchised youth amidst the repression and squalor of British life in the 1970s.

* Covered by Megadeth, Motley Crue

Songfacts:

* Sid Vicious had not yet joined the band. Vicious replaced original bass player Glen Matlock after this was released.

* John Lydon told Mojo magazine July 2008 about writing this song: "It flowed quite naturally to me. These are just long, long-term motivations that are there and you can't, can't, can't ever underestimate the sheer driving energy poverty will bring you. Being denied everything and access to everything. Government, schools, the lot, tell you that you don't count. You are scum. Go with flow or else. That's an incredible driving energy, to be better than their estimation of you."

Lyrics:

Right now! ha ha ha ha ha

I am the antichrist
I am an anarchist
Don't know what I want but
I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passerby, 'cause

I wanna be anarchy!
No dogs body

Anarchy for the U.K it's coming sometime and maybe
I give a wrong time stop a traffic line
your future dream is a shopping scheme, 'cause

I wanna be anarchy!
In the city

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best I use the rest
I use the enemy I use anarchy, 'cause

I wanna be anarchy!
The only way to be!

Is this the M.P.L.A
Or is this the U.D.A
Or is this the I.R.A
I thought it was the U.K or just
another country
another council tenancy

I wanna be an anarchist
Oh what a name
Get pissed destroy!

YouTube:

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Comments welcome.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Rahm Emanuel issued a no-new-taxes pledge as he formally announced his candidacy for mayor in a speech at a public school on the North Side," the Chicago News Cooperative reported last November.

"This is no time to even talk about raising taxes," Emanuel said at Coonley Elementary School.

*

"Rather than leave Chico commanding the news cycle all by himself, Rahm decided to slap together a news conference. I'm told reporters were hurriedly summoned so he could talk about taxes," John Kass reported in January.

"Yes, taxes, with Chico getting ready to accept that political hug from the FOP.

"Rahm admitted that his tax idea was somewhat incomplete - some 'back of the envelope' figuring.

"The plan? He wants to impose a sales tax on so-called luxury services, like dog grooming and tanning parlors. As those taxes go up, the over-all rate can come down, he promised. It'll make businesses and consumers happy.

"'I'm making my proposal,' Emanuel said. 'The first step toward bringing change is you've got to propose an idea, so I've proposed an idea on how to do something, I think, different. I think, ultimately, given the reaction over the days, that there'll be an interest now in Springfield on how to bring some tax reform and tax cuts and here I've made an idea that I think I can advocate for.'"

*

"Emanuel also said he won't raise taxes on Chicagoans who feel 'nickeled and dimed' until the city's financial structure gets reformed," the Tribune reported on July 29.

"I can't ask people to pay more into a system that needs to be fundamentally restructured," he said.

*

"Chicago property taxes that fund schools would be raised to the maximum allowed by law for the first time in four years - costing the average homeowner an extra $84 a year - under a proposed Chicago Public School budget released Friday," the Sun-Times reported last Friday.

"To fill a $712 million deficit, the first budget outlined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new school team would hike property taxes by $150.3 million, cut spending by $320.7 million, and use $241 million in reserve dollars to keep the system in the black."

*

"I think they've made the tough choices," Emanuel said this morning, the Sun-Times reports.

"Emanuel has promised to erase a $635.7 million city budget shortfall without raising taxes, arguing that he cannot, in good conscience, ask taxpayers to put more money 'into a system that hasn't been reformed.'

"On Monday, some aldermen made the same argument about the Chicago Public Schools after attending a series of 45-minute briefings on the record property tax increase at City Hall."

*

"[Some people] point out that much of the TIF money was diverted from public schools, parks, libraries and other taxing districts and was instead put into accounts that Daley controlled and kept shrouded in secrecy," the Chicago News Cooperative reported on Sunday.

*

And . . .

"Students in Chicago's public schools will spend an extra hour or hour and a half in school each day once new legislation makes it out of Springfield, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel said Friday," the Sun-Times reported in April.

"Emanuel said the issue of how much more teachers will get paid is open to negotiation - but not the question of whether the school day will be longer. It will be, Emanuel said.

"'We're not going to negotiate or discuss whether children get more instruction - we will work together so that gets done. I'm not deviating from that. I was clear about it,' Emanuel said after speaking at a South Side charter school."

From the Sun-Times account today:

"Despite Emanuel's public lobbying for a longer school day and year, the budget trims money for afterschool clubs and reduces by half the money allocated to 'community schools' that offer after-school programs to both students and community members. In addition, it provides no additional money to pay for a longer school day or year."

Torture Times
"A federal judge has agreed to allow an Army veteran who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld," the New York Times reported last week.

"The [Obama] Justice Department, which has represented Mr. Rumsfeld, argues that he cannot be sued personally for official conduct. The department also asserted that wartime decisions are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president, not the courts. The department also said the case could disclose sensitive information and claimed that the threat of liability would impede future military decisions."

*

"A lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of personal responsibility for U.S. forces allegedly torturing two American whistleblowers who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm will be allowed to move forward, a federal appeals court ruled Monday," CBS News reports.

"The ruling from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes just days after a similar decision by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that gave the green light to an Army veteran - who also alleges he was tortured in Iraq - to sue Rumsfeld for damages.

"Monday's ruling rejected arguments that Rumsfeld should be immune from such lawsuits for work performed as a Cabinet secretary."

*

"It can't be emphasized enough that this 'state secrets' tactic was not ancillary to the Bush abuses; it was central to them," Glenn Greenwald wrote for Salon in April 2009 in Obama's Pretty Words On Secrecy And Torture. "Secrecy is the linchpin, the key enabling weapon, of all government abuses. That's why Obama's embrace of the radical Bush position has been so deeply troubling. And the excuse Obama gave last night for why he has been doing this is simply inaccurate and misleading."

*

February 4, 2009: Obama Endorses Bush Secrecy On Torture And Rendition.

April 21, 2009: "U.S. lost its moral bearings over torture, says Obama - and warns Bush officials could be charged."

December 1, 2010: "In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A 'confidential' April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department - one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks - details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution."

July 1, 2011: "Over 100 detainees died during U.S. interrogations, dozens due directly to interrogation abuse. Gen. Barry McCaffrey said: 'We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.' Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the official investigation into detainee abuse, wrote: 'there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.'"

July 22, 2011: Obama Rejects Probe On Bush-Era Torture: "Need to look forward not backwards."

Chicago Alderman Mad As Hell
Says the super-wealthy have hijacked our country.

Mini-Ditka At Bears Training Camp
With Mini-Sweater Vest.

Cubs Pinball!
Triple Play circa 1985.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Super mini.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

Mini-Ditka At Bears Training Camp With His Mini Sweater Vest

"Hey, I'm mini-Ditka. Can you bench press me?"


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

Chicago Cubs Triple Play Pinball!

Vintage pinball machine by Gottlieb circa 1985.

More information about the model.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Alderman Joe "Proco" Moreno: The Super-Wealthy Have Hijacked Our Country

From the alderman's August 4 e-mail newsletter (all bolds are his):

Reading this article in Chicago magazine yesterday made me angry.

At the last City Council meeting we passed the Vacant Buildings Ordinance, which Alderman Dowell sponsored. This Ordinance has a simple purpose, as the article says, it's "designed to get mortgage lenders with a financial stake in vacant foreclosed properties to help keep them from falling into disrepair."

Everyone knows that vacant properties are a magnet for crime; a blight, which has a detrimental effect on all the other buildings around it.

The 1st Ward has around 60 of these buildings. Some of these buildings are secure and maintained, but some are not. My staff and I work with the police and the relevant City Department to secure or, in extreme cases, demolish these "problem" buildings.

City-wide our vacant building problem is nowhere near as bad as many south and west-side communities. Regardless, I don't want even one vacant "problem" building in our community.

A representative of Moody's Investment Service, argued in this article that banks may now lend less because they have to spend money on maintaining vacant properties. This is outrageous.

This argument belies a larger problem with the dialogue happening nationwide about where we're going as a country. The recent debt ceiling fiasco was absolutely shameful. Austerity can work, but the burden and the pain must be shared and, once again, it wasn't.

Personally, I don't think we should even be talking about deficit reduction during such a tepid economic recovery. I'm no populist. I like to think of myself as a realist, but the way the super-wealthy seem to have hijacked our country in recent years is deplorable.

As a municipal legislator, I'm going to continue to support and introduce laws to hold banks accountable. If they don't want to be a good neighborhood partner; tough. We'll pass laws that force them to be responsible.

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Meanwhile, from the same newsletter:

Last year, my office-mate Representative Berrios and I were able to help over 2,000 students go to school with a backpack full of school supplies.

266.jpg

We want to top that number this year. It's more important than ever that we do what we can to help out the children in our community.

You can help by directly purchasing supplies for these children using this website, where you can see exactly what you're buying.

All donations are highly-appreciated.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"A Polish woman will step off an airplane in Chicago on Monday afternoon with a legal visa in her hand, coming back to live in the United States four years after her deportation sundered her family, in a rare case of the return of an immigrant who was expelled," the New York Times reports.

"The woman, Janina Wasilewski, was deported in 2007 after living for 18 years in the Chicago suburbs. Several applications she had filed to become a legal resident became hopelessly tangled in the immigration courts and were finally denied. She left behind her husband, Tony, also a Polish immigrant, but with his agreement she took their son, Brian, an American citizen, who was 6.

"The Wasilewski family became one of the nation's most visible examples of the impact of deportation, just as the pace of removals has accelerated under the Obama administration, to nearly 800,000 over the last two years. Images of the scene when Mrs. Wasilewski left from O'Hare Airport in June 2007 were circulated widely, with her husband gripping her and their son and weeping as he begged them not to cry."

*

"In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers," the Washington Post reported a year ago.

"The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office."

*

"A researcher at the University of Chicago has words of caution regarding the Illinois Dream Act," KMOX in St. Louis reports.

"Roberto Gonzales, a professor in the School of Social Service Administration, studied students who immigrated to the U.S. illegally as children with their parents. Those who went to college did fine academically, but job prospects that make use of their degrees are dim without legal status . . .

"Gonzales says the solution is the federal DREAM Act, which confers legal status to individuals who came to the country with their parents before age 16 and either enroll in college or enlist in the military. It has been debated in Congress for 10 years, but has not passed."

Jackson on Obama
"In an interview with SPIEGEL, civil rights activist and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson discusses Black America's frustration with Barack Obama and the president's failure to anticipate the Republicans' tenacious will to 'destroy' him."

Catching Up With Lukas Verzbicas
"Less than a month ago, former Sandburg High School runner Lukas Verzbicas joined a short list of American athletes to run a sub four-minute mile while still in high school," WTTW reported in July. "He's the only Illinois high schooler to have ever done it."

The Chicago Way
"This is Chicago," Mr. Quigley said, "and when you are flying blind with hundreds of millions of dollars, bad things can happen."

Lolla Dollas
"Two aldermen with close ties to Chicago's music scene are demanding that the City Council investigate the tax-and competition-free sweetheart deal that keeps Lollapalooza in Grant Park through 2018," Jim DeRogatis reports.

Chalk Talk
"The Nosek family behind Keson Industries didn't think that starting the business in their home in Berwyn more than 40 years ago would one day save the lives of our troops in Afghanistan in the 21st century," the Daily Herald reports. "But chalk has a way of doing that."

Cup Canvas
"Sharpie's latest campaign features coffee-cup artist Cheeming Boey and his masterpieces," DesignTAXI reports.

Recession, Inc.
"The foreclosure crisis has meant billions lost, lives devastated, and neighborhoods perforated with vacant homes. It's also meant boom times for some businesses," Dan Weissmann reports for WBEZ. "Like the ones that clear out foreclosed houses, board 'em up, and keep the grass cut."

Hell's Kitchen
"When Chicago's Edenic Soy and Tofu needed a kitchen to shoot a "how-to" video last June, it turned to its Twitter followers to find one," Food Safety News reports. "And no wonder, considering the state of its own plumbing."

Ridiculous Bears
Come on, Bears. Acknowledge the obvious!

U.S. Treasurer To Sign Currency in Rosemont!
Get it while it lasts.

Straight Outta Naperville
Bookstore of the Year.

Even Winning Is Losing For The Cubs
Screwing up in reverse.

Lolla Plus
The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

Are White Sox Fans Pathetic?
I would tend to say Yes, but our very own Roger Wallenstein argues they are merely "discerning."

Programming Note
Seeing as how it's Monday, I'm back behind the bar at the venerable Beachwood Inn tonight, slinging cold Old Styles in a downgraded America. Our jukebox, however, is still AAA.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Discerning.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:31 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Arctic Monkeys at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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2. White Lies at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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3. 16bit at Logan Square Auditorium on Saturday night.

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4. Lissie at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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5. Naked Raygun at the Cobra Lounge on Saturday night.

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6. Mountain Goats at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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7. CJ Ramone at the Abbey on Friday night.

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8. Sade at the hockey arena on the West Side on Friday night.

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9. Disturbed in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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10. The Cool Kids at Reggie's on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: How Devin Hester Can Be Even More Ridiculous

Come on, Bears. Acknowledge the obvious! The local media's Bears coverage on Sunday zeroed in on the status of the team's wide receivers. There was some chatter about Johnny Knox no longer being a starting wide receiver; that Roy Williams had so far taken his spot in the starting lineup during practices. Say it ain't so! (and stop forcing me to use so many exclamation points.)

"The obvious" is that Knox, who has the speed (and the receiving skills) the Bears absolutely have to utilize on the outside, must start at wide receiver opposite Williams.

And this means the Bears are required to suck it up and acknowledge once and for all what a decent number of commentators who are paying at least a little bit of attention have stated numerous times in the past year:

Devin Hester is the perfect slot receiver in Mike Martz's offense. The Bears have resisted this reality because Hester is paid like a star wide receiver and they have been determined to show he can be stellar out wide. But he could be the greatest slot receiver of all time (to go with being the greatest return man of all time - not a bad combo) if the Bears would just position him between the wide receiver and the tight end the majority of the time and give him a simple set of plays to remember.

The most sensible starting lineup for a Bears offense that must usually use the pass to set up the run (because their by-far strongest player is their passer, that Jay Cutler guy) is a one-back set featuring Matt Forte off-set to one side in the backfield. New physical tight end Matt Spaeth then covers the tackle on the other side, giving the team perfect balance in protection - if defenders blitz from the one side, Spaeth handles it, from the other (or up the middle), Forte steps up. If they don't blitz, Spaeth and/or Forte head out on delayed receiving routes.

This is assuming Spaeth beats out returning fourth-year man Kellen Davis for the starting tight end spot - and that shouldn't be a sure thing. When he's had the chance, Davis has shown a knack for finding the end zone the last few years (and then he has shown his athleticism by blasting off and easily dunking the football over the crossbar despite weighing in at almost 270 pounds). With Greg Olsen gone, Davis should definitely get more chances, if not in the starting lineup then in multiple tight end sets.

Of course the team works a zillion variations off the basic set, but that is where they start, and that means they line up with three receivers. Knox sets up wide on one side, Williams the other and Hester must be inserted in the slot on whichever side. Earl Bennett sneaks in and subs for one of these guys reasonably frequently, especially on third-downs when Cutler needs his old security blanket from way back at Vanderbilt.

In fact, because tight end Greg Olsen is gone, Hester is even more perfect in the slot spot than he was last year.

We'll always remember that awesome 58-yard touchdown catch against Seattle in the playoffs last year (one of the best things about Martz, which was so on display in that game, is that he starts thinking about going for the touchdown before his team even reaches midfield).

Thanks for the memory, Greg. But this Bears fan is just glad the Bears managed to turn you into a third-round pick. The only way the Bears could get the ball to Olsen in Martz's passing offense was when he was a sort of hybrid slot receiver/tight end. As long as the Bears could set him up in a spot where he wouldn't get jammed up by a linebacker at the line of scrimmage and/or get blanketed by a strong safety in the secondary, they were all set.

Except that doesn't end up happening very often against decent NFL defenses and that's why Olsen's stats were less than impressive last year to say the least (41 catches for 404 yards and five touchdowns). In a given game he was much more likely to be a non-factor than he was to give a defense something to really worry about

Martz would rather fill the field with as many wide receivers as possible (with the Bears, that number will continue to be held down by the fact that extra guys will frequently be needed to help with protection) than waste time dreaming up special ways for the tight end to get open. So Olsen was never going to make maximum sense. Hester in the slot does.

The Starlin Castro Show
A bit off advice: Even if you've stopped paying attention because the team is so bad, don't forget to at least keep checking in on the Cubs every once in a while to monitor Starlin Castro's amazing season. The second-year shortstop just wrapped up a remarkable week at the plate.

In seven games against the Pirates and Reds from Monday to Sunday, Castro piled up 17 hits. And for once this season, his teammates then helped him turn those hits into runs, totaling 10 of them in the same span. Two of the hits were doubles and two were home runs. It must also be noted that Castro only managed two walks during that time.

The surge put Castro well atop the National League in total hits, with 150. The Mets' Jose Reyes is the only player within 12 of that number, having totaled 144 so far.

But a discussion of Castro's hitting must also take into account his primary shortcoming. And that is thrown into stark relief by the fact that while Castro is now eighth in the league in hitting at .314, he is 33rd in on-base percentage (.342) and 35th in on-base-plus-slugging (.779). The bottom line is, the guy is worth the price of admission . . . well . . . he's definitely worth the price of upper deck reserved admission.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Are South Side Fans Pathetic?

The train wreck of a homestand that ended mercifully last Thursday was no surprise to anyone following the White Sox this season. Maybe it's arrival came later than one might have figured, but sooner or later our beloved athletes were destined to plummet in a strikingly similar fashion to the stock market last week.

It wasn't complicated by unemployment, the debt ceiling, or trouble with the European economy. This crisis is plain and simple: The boys have an offense that's broken. For months the sublime message to the starting pitchers has been, "Okay, guys, there's your one or two runs. Now go out there and try to be perfect."

It's a poor formula. In six straight losses to the Red Sox and Yankees, the Sox bats continued their season-long slumber by scoring just 16 times. But the pitchers - think they feel any pressure?- stumbled and yielded 49 tallies to the Eastern Division's elite tandem. It wasn't pretty.

None of the Yankee games drew 30,000, feeding the second-class status image that seems to dog the Sox. The Tribune's Eric Zorn blogged that Sox fans are "pathetic." Across town, the Cubs and Astros, arguably the two worst teams in civilization, drew 120,000 for their three-game set two weeks ago.

Sox fans aren't pathetic; they're discerning. Build a good product, and they will come. Most of them are not impressed by the between-inning promotions, the fireworks (unless the occasion is a home run), the $70 seats, and the failure to score runners from second base with no one out.

Don't misunderstand: Management shouldn't be chastised for trying to be all things to all people. A crime isn't committed by attempting to provide as much entertainment as possible; for trying to devise ways to put fannies in the seats.

However, unlike on the North Side, it's not the overall experience. It's primarily the baseball experience which captures the heart and soul of Sox fans. When that features four or five hits a game, they stay away.

That being said, we were at The Cell for Games 1 and 4 against the Yankees. One figured that beating C.C. Sabathia was a near impossibility on Monday, but the 3-2 loss was as close as the Sox would get in the series.

You can thank Jake Peavy, who pitched seven strong innings, while the offense - despite 10 hits off Sabathia - sputtered as usual. In a new twist, Gordon Beckham and A.J. Pierzynski each were doubled-off second base on Brent Morel's medium-hit line drives in the infield.

But we had a lot fun. In the second inning, I noticed on the Jumbotron that Jake Leinenkugel was being interviewed at the Leinenkugel beer kiosk behind Section 534 on the upper deck concourse.

Whaddya know? We were seated in Section 534, so I bolted down the steps to meet Jake.
Jake Leinenkugel.jpg

Let me explain. I spent 20 summers in the North Woods of Wisconsin working at and directing a summer boys' overnight camp in the hamlet of Lake Nebagamon. I first quaffed a Leinenkugel pint in 1975 in a roadside bar when the brand was known solely by cheeseheads.

So I had to introduce myself to Jake, tell him how great he looks in those Leinie ads - the campfire is such a nice touch - and ask him whether he, in fact, lives in Chippewa Falls.

Turns out he does, and he has fished many times in Lake Nebagamon. He even informed me that the black flies this summer on the Brule River are especially fierce.

Jake may be a beer magnate, but he's also a regular guy just as the ads depict. But that's not all. I returned to the seats but sat in the empty row - many rows in the upper deck were sparsely populated - in front of a friend in our group so we could talk. Within a couple of minutes a man and woman climbed the steps toward us. He looked familiar but I couldn't place him. I was sure I had seen him on television, and my brain was in full throttle trying to identify this guy.

There were two empty seats to my right. The woman went past, and this fellow sat down beside me. As soon as he did, the light went on. I was sitting next to the governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn. Having consumed a couple of Jake Leinenkugel's finest lager, I debated whether to strike up a conversation with the Guv.

"Hey, Governor, looks like the Sox might get to C.C., wouldn't you say?" I'm dialoguing in my head. It also occurred to me that I had as good a seat as the governor this August evening. (Later I discovered that Quinn has been an upper deck season-ticket holder for a number of seasons.)

I decided to cool it. If the guy wanted to be seen or talked to, he probably would have been sitting near the Sox dugout, the usual location for politicians and celebrities. He also had a bodyguard sitting two rows behind us and another stationed below at the exit.

Besides, he was sitting next to the White Sox blogger for the Beachwood Reporter. Why shouldn't he have initiated the conversation?

After an inning or so, the holder of the seat next to the governor showed up so I watched the remainder of the game in my seat, wishing beyond hope that the Sox could score more than two runs.

* * *

The largest crowd of the homestand was the Monday night game against Detroit. Half-price tickets swelled the gate to 37,000, all of which tells us what we already knew: People won't pay upwards of $50 to watch this team.

Management seems well aware of this fact. For instance, we received a flyer in the mail last week advertising cut-rate prices for the September 13 game against the Tigers. It just happens that this is a game for which my wife Judy already had purchased 16 seats behind the plate in the upper deck for $27 apiece.

She is a hard-working board member for Camp of Dreams (COD), a non-profit organization that takes kids from North Lawndale to a Michigan camp for three weeks in the summer while offering enrichment activities - both academic and recreational - two Saturdays a month throughout the year. The Sox-Tiger game will be a mini-fundraiser where folks pay $100 per ticket with the balance supporting COD.

Then the mailing arrived offering the same seats for $13.50!

She called the Sox ticket office and eventually was connected to John Margelewski, Manager of New Business Development and Online Sales. Judy wasn't expecting much, but, boy, was she mistaken. John wanted to make this right.

"If you're having a silent auction, we can give you an autographed jersey," Margelewski said, "or we can comp 10 tickets in the row behind the ones you already have."

Needless to say, each of those additional 10 tickets will bring in the full $100 for Camp of Dreams. If you'd like to join us, simply e-mail Judy here.

Now that the Sox swept the Twins over the weekend, that September 13 game against the front-running Tigers just may mean something. And you never know who you'll see in the upper deck behind the plate.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 AM | Permalink

On The North Side, Even Winning Is Losing

I wrote last week that the Cubs were the worst team in baseball. And they out and proved it all over again.

Sure, they went 6-1 for the week but they didn't get any better in the process. They actually got worse.

You may ask yourself, how is that possible? Well, it's possible because when a team is completely out of it for the season they need to make changes that will get them better for next season.This means you shouldn't play the guys that you know, you should play the guys that you don't know. You should play the guys that will help you next season. Unfortunately no one has explained this to Cubs management.

These bozos still seem to be playing for this season. I mean, remember when they traded Kosuke Fukudome for a bag of balls just so they could get Tyler Colvin some playing time? Well, Colvin didn't start two games last week and was yanked during two others.

How does this tell you if this guy has what it takes to play everyday? By definition, if you want to know if someone is good enough to play every day you have to um, play him, I don't know, maybe, every day?

Am I bleeping crazy here? Is there a reason to showcase Reed Johnson now? So playoff teams can look at him and think, boy, I wish the Cubs would have traded us that guy because he is valuable.

Does this make Jim Hendry sleep better at night?

And winning six of seven only means these buffoons will keep things going the same way. They are going to get even worser.

For the love of god let all the kids play all the time and see what they got so the next management group knows what they have to deal with.

I swear, if these guys think that they are still managing (and general managing) to keep their jobs I really hope they are delusional.

Although, the more I think about it, the more I'm becoming to realize that this might just be what Mike Quade is good at - winning meaningless games at the end of a wasted season. He did it last year and appears to be doing it again.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 6-1 for the week, winning sweeping the Pirates in four and taking two of three from the Reds. If only it was April and it mattered.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for three more when the Nationals come to town and then head to Atlanta for three against the Braves. I'm not really sure how, but the Cubs will find a way to make real fans angry this week once again. They always find a way.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started five of seven games this week and left fielder Blake DeWitt got the other two. Looking into the numbers, Blake is having pretty much the same season as Darwin but has just half the at-bats. I mean, maybe Barney has a higher ceiling (they're both the same age) but maybe he doesn't. And the more I think about it, he probably doesn't. Which is just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Eric Patterson was designated for assignment from the Padres in June, when he was missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is apologetic this week as two wins in his last two starts make the big guy happy. But three runs, 10 baserunners, smoke, and some mirrors in his last win show that there is anger on the horizon.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "milestone." Congrats on getting his 1,000th hit.

Lost in Translation: Tylerio Colvin-san is Japanese for gross mismanagement.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Mike Quade for Parker Brothers. Because he doesn't have a Clue.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 90% sweet,10% sour. Mike gains two points for false hope and winning. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike always knew his hog was going to win first prize at the fair, but he only got the ribbon because of scheduling conflicts, traffic issues, and a bitter divorce effecting the other pig owners.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of gold doubloons traded lower this week due to a Pirate ship running aground.

Over/Under: Number of seasons Dusty Baker took a contender and ran it into the ground: +/- another one.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that even the Cubs can screw up a 6-1 week.

Farm Report: "Sometimes, winning becomes a habit," Iowa Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair said. "Losing can become a habit, too."

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.

Mike Quade Status Update:

Well-Adjusted / Delirious / High

happy_face_happyface_smiley.jpg

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2011

U.S. Treasurer To Sign Currency In Rosemont

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) will attend the American Numismatic Association's (ANA) World's Fair of Money Convention, August 16-20, 2011, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

The BEP is very pleased to announce the attendance of the Treasurer of the United States, Rosie Rios, at the ANA's World's Fair of Money on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.

Treasurer Rios will participate in the official "Ribbon Cutting Ceremony" at 8:45 a.m. and hold a "Public Forum" at the Mint Stage at 11:00 a.m. to take questions from audience members and to discuss issues that pertain to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, United States Mint, and Department of the Treasury.

Treasurer Rios will be available to sign currency at the United States Mint's booth #1777 from 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. and at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing's booth #121 from 3 - 4 p.m.

The BEP will proudly showcase its Billion Dollar Exhibit which features more than $1 billion of rare and antique currency including sheets of $100,000 currency notes, Treasury Bonds, and Gold and Silver Certificates. Additional exhibits include: currency face plates representing the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; Series 1934-B, 12-Subject $10,000 plate; and, a Series 1934-C, 12-Subject $5,000 plate.

Additionally, an antique 19th Century Spider Press will be on display at the convention. A technical expert on currency production will conduct printing demonstrations on this Abraham Lincoln-era press and answer questions. Live demonstrations will be conducted during show hours throughout the convention by a member of BEP's Mutilated Currency Division.

The BEP is excited to offer the following new product for sale:

* "Franklin Commemorative Series - Postmaster" Intaglio Print. This collection is dedicated to the life and accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin and features an exquisite compilation of unique engraved vignettes focusing on the age-old art of intaglio printing. This card is the third and final card in the "2011 Franklin Commemorative Series."

mint.jpg

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 AM | Permalink

Celebrate The Bookstore Of The Year That Is Straight Outta Naperville

Anderson's Books, which includes Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville and Downers Grove, IL, ABC Book Fairs, a school book fair company in Aurora, IL, and Two-Doors East gift shop in Naperville, IL, was recently named Publishers Weekly 2011 Bookstore of the Year.

"This prestigious honor celebrates one bookseller in the nation and cited Anderson's, a fifth-generation family bookstore, for its role as a community leader and literary destination. Anderson's, co-owned by recently elected American Booksellers Association president Becky Anderson and her three brothers, traces its roots back 136 years to the founding of W.W. Wickel Pharmacy (now Oswald's Pharmacy), which sold books and other items before launching a separate bookstore in 1964.

In celebration of this accomplishment and the independent spirit emerging from the western suburbs of Chicago, Naperville-based publisher Sourcebooks will sponsor a Celeappreciation Event on Wednesday, August 10, from 4-8 p.m. at Anderson's Bookshop (123 W Jefferson, Naperville, IL, 60540). There will be activities, raffles, refreshments, and fun to celebrate being named Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year and to show appreciation to the local community of readers.

Todd Stocke, Vice President and Editorial Director at Sourcebooks, will be speaking at the event about the importance of independents and making a presentation to Anderson's owner Becky Anderson on behalf of Sourcebooks.

"The independent spirit goes well beyond just having vibrant storefronts," Stocke said. "Anderson's deep roots bring authors, artists, and diverse voices into our classrooms, our auditoriums, even our concert halls. Those are experiences that have real value to our community and that other cities envy."

Anderson hopes the event will spark a community dialogue about the future of independent stores and publishers. She will also be announcing the next Naperville Reads author at the event.

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Straight Outta Naperville

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:30 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Why would anyone swap Carlsbad for Carlsbad when you could make the easy upgrade?

Market Update
So it happened. Our nation's credit rating has been downgraded from AAA to AA+ with a negative outlook. Analysts have pointed out a possible silver lining, however. If we are further downgraded to the rare AB+ rating, we can be universal plasma donors.

Pizza Blanch
We've already found the silver lining. With all this economic falderal, no one outside a Quad Cities Pizza Ranch parking lot is listening to Michele Bachmann anymore.

Driven Off
Tiger Woods declared Friday he is thisclose to "putting the ball on a string," which might mean something if anyone still liked golfers.

Whither the Ponies?
Meanwhile, are we sure Ron Huberman's not still in charge? Because with all this talk of sky-high fees and reduced services, it's beginning to look a lot like Doomsday.

ABCs,
Finally this week, the answers are yes, hell yes and duh.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Duh.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

For those who struggle . . .

31138-Struggle.jpg

This short documentary profiles Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been incarcerated since the 1980ss for his involvement with the Puerto Rican independence movement.

Sunday, August 7 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
12 min

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Bicycle political advocacy: The next four years

31139-bicycles.jpg

Margo O'Hara of Walk Bike Transit and local activists deliberate the future of biking and transit in Chicago following the 2011 municipal elections.

Sunday, August 7 at 9:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 12 min

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Barrel of Monkeys Presents: "That's Weird, Abuelita"

31140-Abuelita.jpg

Performed in both English and Spanish, this comedic play is based on sketches and songs written by Chicago Public School students.

Sunday, August 7 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
57 min

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Renaissance Society Concert Series: "Six"

RenaissanceSociety-WEB.jpg

Dorothea Schurch plays the musical saw during "Six," the first performance in a five-part series of avante-garde music recorded live by the Renaissance Society.

Sundays at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21 starting August 7

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:25 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"Obama calls for end to 'partisan games' at 50th birthday bash," CNN reports.

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"Working mainly behind the scenes, the Obama campaign, which does not need to worry about a primary challenge, is already at work planting seeds of doubt about his potential opponent, whomever that may be," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Dozens of staffers, including a rapid-response team at party headquarters in Washington and researchers at the president's Chicago campaign office, monitor statements by leading Republican candidates and strike back, often within minutes. Their work is supplemented by a new Washington-based 'super PAC,' American Bridge 21st Century. It employs 15 video 'trackers' who record Republican campaign events around the country and ship the results to a war room in Washington that employs 25 people and can provide the footage to other pro-Obama organizations.

"Super PACS are groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts on behalf of a candidate, as long as they don't coordinate directly with the campaign. One such group, Priorities USA, created by two former Obama White House aides, has already run TV attack ads against Romney."

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"Republicans have used the new rules to pump millions in untraceable funds into elections," Talking Points Memo reports. "President Obama has attacked the ruling, and Democrats have sought to make it a campaign issue. At the same time, Priorities USA seeks to level the financial playing field by engaging in the same sort of anonymous unlimited spending the Democrats publicly deride."

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"We can't expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down," Obama said in a speech in May 2010 as well as throughout the 2008 campaign when he promised a different kind of politics.

Obama's Wars
"Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 75 countries, up from 60 at the end of the Bush presidency," Nick Turse writes for Salon.

"By the end of this year, U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. 'We do a lot of traveling - a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq," he said recently. This global presence - in about 60 percent of the world's nations and far larger than previously acknowledged - provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world."

Beachwood Tweet
Left calls for original birth certificate; believes Obama was really born a Republican.

How Obama (And Rahm) Blew It
Stimulus bill was a sign of things to come.

Mark Kirk's Spotless Mind
From our junior senator's interview on Monday with Fox News's Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: How and why did it come to this brink and the credibility both sides have suffered in the interim?

KIRK: I think this was a 40-day, very tough battle that changed 40 years of overspending and borrowing. It may stretch back to when LBJ decided to run the Vietnam War without a tax increase, then exploding under both the Bush and Obama administrations with the catastrophic failure of stimulus. And so I think we need to make a change, but it's 40 years of culture we're changing just in 40 days here.

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Um, Senator Kirk, the federal government had a $128 billion surplus when George W. Bush entered office in 2001. So no need to go back 40 years. Eleven will suffice.

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The Sun-Times, though, thought Kirk put it well.

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From that editorial:

"Between now and Thanksgiving, as the debate rages over spending cuts vs. revenue increases, let's remember what we're really arguing about:

"Should the wealthy be asked to pay their fair share?

"And do we still want a middle class?"

Funny how the poor have disappeared from our discourse even as their ranks keep growing.

Emerging Narrative
"On healthcare, for instance, Obama passed a Heritage Foundation-inspired bailout of the private health insurance industry, all while undermining other more-progressive proposals," David Sirota writes for Salon. "On foreign policy, he escalated old wars and initiated new ones. On civil liberties, he not only continued the Patriot Act and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects but also claimed the right to assassinate American citizens without charge.

"On financial issues, he fought off every serious proposal to reregulate banks following the economic meltdown; he preserved ongoing bank bailouts; and he resisted pressure to prosecute Wall Street thieves. On fiscal matters, after extending the Bush tax cuts at a time of massive deficits, he has used the debt ceiling negotiations to set the stage for potentially massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare - cuts that would be far bigger than any of his proposed revenue increases.

"As hideous and destructive as it is, this record is anything but weak. It is, on the contrary, demonstrable proof of Obama's impressive political muscle, especially because polls show he has achieved these goals despite the large majority of Americans who oppose them."

Obama Pals Around With Economic Terrorists
Grassroots not really his thing.

BET.com: In a recent NPR interview, President Obama was asked if he has a special responsibility to Black people and he gave his standard he's the president of everyone answer. Do you think that he does, given that community's economic state?

Cornel West: I think that every citizen in a democracy has a moral obligation to be concerned about the weak and vulnerable and the president of the United States is a citizen. When he says he has the exact same responsibility to every member of society, I just say it's not true, he's lying. It's clear that he has more commitment to investment banks than he does to poor people.

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Welcome aboard, Cornel! Took you a long time to get here . . .

Richard Roeper Demands "K-Cav" Put On Bra
"In the meantime, Cavallari was caught on camera walking her dog and flipping off the paparazzi, bouncing around braless, wearing a short skirt to a popular L.A. club - you know, the usual things a girl does right after the engagement has been called off," Richard Roeper wrote this week.

First, her dog isn't going to walk itself. And second, I didn't know that there was something inappropriate about a heartbroken woman not wearing a bra and going out with her friends.

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Roeper Index: 8.9

The Roeper Index is an algorithm created by Google engineers that estimates the time he has spent writing each day's column while waiting at an airport gate for a flight or perhaps dictating via Bluetooth while driving to a poker game multiplied by the staleness of each item's theme and the lack of originality commenting thereupon. The resulting number is then divided by the lameness level of his jokes and subtracted from his salary.

Why The Cubs Stood Pat
Each Cub, in his own way, proved indispensable.

The Week in WTF
Ahem, ComEd, we can hear you . . .

The Week in Chicago Rock
Wasn't that great, frankly.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bouncing braless.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field on Monday night.

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

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3. The Naked and the Famous at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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4. Alkaline Trio at the Metro on Monday night.

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>Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:47 AM | Permalink

Why The Cubs Stood Pat At The Trade Deadline

Each Cub, in his own way, turned out to be indispensable.

* Geo Soto's connections too important to Mike Quade's well-being to trade away.

* Koyie Hill bonded with Rahm over loss of finger; could come in handy.

* Tony Pena the left-handed .227 hitter Hendry always wanted.

* Darwin Barney Bobblehead Day already on next year's schedule.

* Starlin Castro's Uncle Raul nixed deal to send his talents to South Beach.

* Aramis Ramirez is already committed to his kids' carpool in September.

* Alfonso Soriano dropped pen to waive no-trade clause, bumped head on table after retrieving it, deal withdrawn.

* Marlon Byrd Bobblehead Day with jaw-protecting helmets already on next year's schedule.

* Tyler Colvin deserves chance to hit .240 in the bigs.

* Reed Johnson: Nickname "Big Swinging" too funny to give up.

* Jeff Baker: Indispensable utility man is the first building block for 2012.

* Tony Campana: As a 14-year-old, not eligible for trading yet.

* Blake DeWitt: Someone has to mentor infielder DJ LaMahieu in how to play the outfield out of position next spring.

* Carlos Zambrano: Package deal with Ramirez to White Sox fell apart when Hendry learned Scott Podsednik was no longer on the South Side and therefore unavailable.

* Ryan Dempster: Bookings for his Harry Caray impersonation too important a revenue stream to Cubs.

* Matt Garza: Refused to go because he thinks team is still in it.

* David Wells: Hendry working on time machine to retrieve him from rookie year.

* Rodrigo Lopez: Visalia unwilling to throw a hundred hot dogs into deal for a dozen baseball bats.

* Carlos Marmol: Hendry hung up phone on Yankees when they refused to take him straight up for Rivera.

* Sean Marshall: A set-up man is the building block for you whole team. Setting up losses is one of the most important jobs in baseball.

* James Russell: As the team's pitching scapegoat, Hendry was worried that trading him would put a curse on the team.

* Kerry Wood: Team still has 100,000 We've Got Wood t-shirts in stock.

* Jeff Samardzija: Under a deal Hendry made with Notre Dame, the school controls one roster spot for an alum for the next 75 years.

* Ramon Ortiz: Has photos of Jim Hendry pleasuring himself with stacks of no-trade clauses.

* John Grabow: Nickname of John Grabass too funny to give up.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:00 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2011

How Obama Blew It

"The likely loss of unemployment benefits for 3.71 million Americans in a few months will only add to an economy edging ever closer to recession, according to analysis that puts the chances of another downturn at better than 1 in 3," CNBC reports.

Ever closer to recession? The only way that statement could be true would be if we were on our way back up from a depression.

Another downturn? We're still down. I don't understand this talk of a double-dip recession because we're still in the first dip - and it's a lot deeper than a dip. In fact, it's a lot worse than our experts thought.

"Two years ago, Commerce estimated the decline of the US economy at -0.5% in the third quarter of 2008 and -3.8% in the fourth quarter," David Frum notes. "It now puts the damage at -3.7% and -8.9%: Great Depression territory."

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"As to that first question on mistakes made, Obama allowed that his administration had underestimated the severity of the recession, and so he did not prepare the American people 'for how long this was going to take' and the tough choices that lay ahead," AP reported last month. "Obama also said the problems in the housing market were more stubborn than expected, and he'd had to revamp his assistance programs several times."

It's quite clear now that Obama simply blew it upon taking office amidst an historic economic crisis. The man who campaigned on changing the country had his big shot and blew it. And Rahm Emanuel helped.

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"The most important question facing Obama that day [in December 2008] was how large the stimulus should be," Ryan Lizza reported for the New Yorker in October 2009. "Since the election, as the economy continued to worsen, the consensus among economists kept rising. A hundred-billion-dollar stimulus had seemed prudent earlier in the year. Congress now appeared receptive to something on the order of five hundred billion. Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate, was calling for a trillion.

"[Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christina] Romer had run simulations of the effects of stimulus packages of varying sizes: six hundred billion dollars, eight hundred billion dollars, and $1.2 trillion. The best estimate for the output gap was some two trillion dollars over 2009 and 2010. Because of the multiplier effect, filling that gap didn't require two trillion dollars of government spending, but Romer's analysis, deeply informed by her work on the Depression, suggested that the package should probably be more than $1.2 trillion.

"The memo [sent] to Obama, however, detailed only two packages: a five-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar stimulus and an eight-hundred-and-ninety-billion-dollar stimulus. [National Economic Council director Larry] Summers did not include Romer's $1.2-trillion projection. The memo argued that the stimulus should not be used to fill the entire output gap; rather, it was 'an insurance package against catastrophic failure.' At the meeting, according to one participant, 'there was no serious discussion to going above a trillion dollars.'

"There were sound arguments why the $1.2-trillion figure was too high. First, Emanuel and the legislative-affairs team thought that it would be impossible to move legislation of that size, and dismissed the idea out of hand. Congress was 'a big constraint,' Axelrod said. 'If we asked for $1.2 trillion, it probably would have created such a case of sticker shock that the system would have locked up there.'"

Or Obama could have been a leader. Instead, he listened to Rahm.

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"The problem for Obama, he wasn't as lucky as Roosevelt, because when Obama took over we were still in the middle of a free fall," former Wisconsin congressman David Obey recalled to The Fiscal Times. "So his Treasury people came in and his other economic people came in and said 'Hey, we need a package of $1.4 trillion.' We started sending suggestions down to OMB waiting for a call back. After two and a half weeks, we started getting feedback. We put together a package that by then the target had been trimmed to $1.2 trillion.

"And then Rahm Emanuel said to me, 'Geez, do you really think we can afford to come in with a package that big, isn't it going to scare people?'

"I said, 'Rahm, you will need that shock value so that people understand just how serious this problem is.'

"They wanted to hold it to less than $1 trillion. Then [Pennsylvania Senator Arlen] Specter and the two crown princesses from Maine [Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins] took it down to less than $800 billion. Spread over two-and-a-half years, that's a hell of a lot of money, but spread over two-and-a-half years in an economy this large, it doesn't have a lot of fiscal power."

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Rahm's opposition, it was widely reported, to a trillion-dollar package was simply based on the aesthetics and politics of the word "trillion" - not the economics of the situation.

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And even at the smaller size, Obama seemed to object to the size of his own plan instead of giving it a hard-sell. Obama moved in exactly the wrong direction.

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Lizza in the New Yorker:

"[Summers], like Romer, was guided by an understanding that in financial crises the risk of doing too little is greater than doing too much. He believed that filling the output gap through deficit spending was important, but that a package that was too large could potentially shift fears from the current crisis to the long-term budget deficit, which would have an unwelcome effect on the bond market. In the end, Summers made the case for the eight-hundred-and-ninety-billion-dollar option.

"When the meeting broke up, after four hours of discussion, interrupted only briefly when the President brought out a cake and led the group in singing 'Happy Birthday' to Orszag, there was still indecision about how big a stimulus Obama would recommend to Congress. Summers, Romer, Geithner, Orszag, Emanuel, and Jason Furman huddled in the corner to lock down the number. Emanuel made the final call: six hundred and seventy-five to seven hundred and seventy-five billion dollars, with the understanding that, as the bill made its way through Congress, it was more likely to grow than to shrink. The final legislation was for seven hundred and eighty-seven billion dollars."

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Paul Krugman, January 2009:

"This really does look like a plan that falls well short of what advocates of strong stimulus were hoping for - and it seems as if that was done in order to win Republican votes. Yet even if the plan gets the hoped-for 80 votes in the Senate, which seems doubtful, responsibility for the plan's perceived failure, if it's spun that way, will be placed on Democrats.

"I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we're talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says 'See, government spending doesn't work.'"

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David Leonhardt, February 2009:

"The odds that, a year from now, Mr. Obama and Congress will regret not having been more aggressive seem bigger than the odds that they'll think they overdid it . . . Today, the Obama administration can still blame the Bush administration for the economy's condition. Next year, fairly or not, that won't be so easy."

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The next year, Geithner "steered Obama away from jobs focus" and "pushed austerity," the Washington Post reported.

*

It wasn't just the size of the stimulus, but it's shape. It wasn't a jobs bill.

"More than one-third of this bill is dedicated to providing tax relief to middle-class families, cutting taxes for 95 percent of American workers," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said at the time.

"[The bill] includes Obama's signature 'Making Work Pay' tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year - or $800 for married couples. It would begin showing up in most workers' paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January."

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At the time, I wrote this:

"I'm not against a stimulus bill, mind you, but I think John Dickerson has it right. And if this was a jobs bill and/or an infrastructure bill that would be great. Various other agenda items could be handled down the road, like the Green Deal. Instead, we have a mess . . .

"I've always been of the belief that FDR's New Deal was crucial in providing a social safety net that saved lives and provided a framework for a modern nation, but that it was really Hitler who got us out of the Great Depression. Wartime spending combined with rations that created pent-up demand resulted in a postwar boom that, like the Big Bang, spread far and wide until dissipating in the 70s in the face of changing global economic conditions - including the energy crisis - and the result of Vietnam war spending that wasn't backed by a tax increase, throwing the federal budget out of whack.

"I wish it weren't so, but does that mean FDR's spending wasn't massive enough? My hunch is that it wasn't targeted enough toward investment in technology, medical research, education and other non-consumer areas of the economy that pay the biggest long-term dividends. (Including job retraining for both skilled and unskilled workers, as well.) I'm glad the federal government offered grants to writers back then; I wish they'd give me one now. But make-work jobs aren't nearly as beneficial to the economy as jobs with long-term spinoff benefits.

"The sad irony is that we've actually been spending gazillions on a war for the last six years and our economy had nothing to show for it but huge deficits even before the financial meltdown.

"We could have stood to get a smart stimulus bill through quickly for immediate relief and then spent just a little bit of time thinking about what the hell we were doing before spending an ungodly amount of money on projects Ray LaHood can't wait to get his hands on."

Because, you see, it was a crappy bill full of non-stimulative pork and Rahm was its architect.

*

That was Obama's moment. His chance to save America. To be FDR. Instead, he was Obama. And he's been Obama ever since.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 PM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Chicago pot, WTF?

In a rare moment of civic fuddyduddyism, WTF recently stated doubts (see No. 5) about the wisdom of giving everyone in Chicago a free toke. We want to reconsider that harsh, judgmental position against pot because it started to sound like WTF's father. We like this position much better.

A marketing plan - let's make pot free, but charge 100 bucks in tax for each Bic lighter. WTF claims shotgun for the drive to Hammond to buy cheap Indiana lighters.

Reporteth the Tribune: "Police officials are at this point only considering changing the marijuana policy, according to (police chief Garry) McCarthy. 'It's not cooked yet,' he said."

McCarthy was mixing his drug metaphors. Meth is still a bad thing.

2. Mangoes, WTF?

Pakistan gives us mangoes.

We give them sidewinders fired from drones.

Sure, you blew up my cousin Aziz and his entire family by accident, but at least you bought our mangoes; so everything is just fine. "Kha woraz walary." That's Pashto for "Have a nice day."

3. ComEd, WTF?

Our neighborhood electricity producer continues to flog the regally, legally deceased equine about ComEd's superb reliability. Hey, ComEd, we're right here in the room. We can hear you.

ComEd apparently has found a way to slice, dice and dissect statistics to show it is a paragon of efficiency and not the village idiot. A neat trick.

We normally take no serious notice of PR flackery - like lawyers, they'll say whatever they're paid to say - but being sent out from behind the corporate curtain to pitch this silliness must be a tough way to earn a buck.

We did note that Tabrina Davis didn't hold a press conference to make the case. She sent an e-mail. Luckily for her, the power was still on when she hit the "send" button.

4. Emmett Till, WTF?

There is something vaguely creepy about Mississippi turning a gas station linked to Emmett Till's murder into a tourist stop, but whatever Mississippi's odd cognitive dissonance in cultural retrospectives, it sure beats Illinois, which can't find a way to even bury the young man with dignity.

5. Doofus and the toll roads, WTF?

Do you get the feeling that Gov. Pat Quinn (D-Doofus) is perpetually surprised by every major initiative from the rest of state government - some of which reports to him?

So now the Toll Road commanders want to double the take for a new massive construction plan, but Quinn cannot say one way or another what he thinks. He's pondering. Really Deep Thoughts.

Just as he could not tell what he thought of the gambling expansion or the permanent ban on capital punishment.

Either he really doesn't know what he thinks (a sad but distinct possibility), or he's waiting for the people who tell him what to do to tell him what to do. In either case, being in a coma is not deep contemplation.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:58 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Never give up on the White Sox!" Richard M. Daley said last night at The Cell in a pregame ceremony honoring his mayoralty. "Have faith in the White Sox!"

*

"I just told the coaching staff Mayor Daley never will forget his day here, it was very special," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He left in the third inning. Wow."

(h/t: The Score)

Rahm's Confession
"[Obama] is willing to do unpopular things, the necessary things to keep this country moving forward. I have great admiration for his determination, his grit, his willingness to not do the politically easy thing, to do the tough things," Emanuel said. "Sometimes I would advise him to do the politically easier thing and he rejected that advice because it was not good for the country in the long term."

Let's just take this at face value for the moment. Didn't Rahm just confess to choosing politics over the good of the country? Why should we expect anything different from him as mayor?

Birthday B.S.
"When I come to Chicago," Obama said last night, "when I travel across the country, I know we can't be stopped."

Until I get back to Washington.

Pivot Play
Obama has pivoted to jobs so often they had to refloor the Oval Office.

"[A]fter seven swivels, I'd say you are no longer pivoting," Derek Thompson writes for the Atlantic. "You are spinning in place."

Bunny Boy
"The SEC complaint said that Mr. Marovitz traded in Playboy stock despite being warned by his wife and Playboy's general counsel not to do so," Crain's reports.

"'In 1998, Hefner made clear to Marovitz, both personally and through Playboy's general counsel, that she expected him to keep any information he learned from her confidential and not use the information to trade shares of Playboy," papers filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in Chicago show."

So Christie Hefner had to not only tell her husband personally but through her company's lawyer not to use their pillow talk for illicit financial gain. Huh. I wonder what that marriage is like.

*

"Mr. Marovitz has no comment on the settlement, but he wishes to note that he lost a substantial amount of money on his investments in Playboy stock over the years," his lawyer said.

My wife's company sucks!

*

In other criminal justice news, John Doe pleaded for leniency on Wednesday arguing that he actually lost money ripping off that 7-11 because there wasn't enough money in the register to cover the cost of his gun, mask and gas to get there.

*

Better than parody: "Emanuel: Firing Won't Solve Fire Prevention Bureau Corruption"

Make sure you steal just a little less from taxpayers than it would cost to lose your job.

*

Memo to Rahm: Isn't firing people for egregious misdeeds the best way to change the culture? Geez, are you taking lessons from Cubs management?

*

Maybe Rahm would like teaches more if they padded their expense reports. Oh wait, they don't have expense reports. They just go buy school supplies for their students on their own.

Valerie's Song
"Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett said she is among the aides making phone calls to Democrats to rally support," the National Journal reports. "Many of the members of Congress she has called were basing their initial opposition on early, incomplete reports of what is in the deal, she said. They were 'initially skeptical,' Jarrett said on MSNBC, 'but when they see the details of the package, they're becoming increasingly comfortable.'"

So she's saying that the Democrats who voted on the bill don't even know what's in it? They're just becoming aware of the salient details now?

*

"A senior administration official who asked not to be named made the same point to reporters at the White House. Much of the initial criticism, he said, was based on 'a very inaccurate version of the deal that was reported by a lot of folks.'"

So the public doesn't know what's in the bill?

*

"He added, 'As we make the case to Democrats there will be a very different view of us.' On Sunday night that official said, 'Every quote you have from a Democrat today is based on most likely very inaccurate information.'"

Again, the votes of Democrats were based on inaccurate information?

*

Deeds vs. Words: "It takes a special kind of political courage - and a different kind of politician - to stare down the possibility of being a one-term president and not blink," Carol Marin writes.

"In 2008, Barack Obama pledged he was that different kind of politician."

And despite a record that showed otherwise, the media believed it.

*

Posted 8/1/2011, 2:36:26pm by Komondorok:

A better title would be The Humbling of The New Yorker. It wasn't so long ago that the New Yorker and other Obamaphiles were drinking the Kool-Aid and parading their virtue, trumpeting the Battle Hymn of the Republic, while suppressing urgent caveats and alarms, that the midst of financial crisis and botched wars was not the moment for a feel-good exercise, and that this callow freshman senator would be lunch for the mandarins of Congress, not to mention the despots of the world. Well, it's come to pass. That fawning cover, depicting the Lincoln Memorial under the light of the "O" moon, was hard to stomach for this Democrat. Equally hard to stomach are the likes of Cassidy and Hertzberg, who share responsibility for putting in office the guy they now piously excoriate.

*

Welcome aboard, everyone!

Democrats Hate Democracy
Conventional wisdom: Obama holds the left hostage. They will have no choice but to vote to re-elect him.

Perhaps. But boy have the Democrats constricted democracy.

Why can't there be a primary challenge? After all, primaries aren't cancelled for parties with incumbent presidents. The process is there for a reason.

But no, no room for democracy here! Don't you dare!

Only one name allowed on the ballot.

*

This reminds of Democrats - and their pundit pals - who couldn't understand why Hillary Clinton remained in the race when the math seemed so difficult during the 2008 primary. As if multiple candidates have never gone to the convention and fought for the nomination. That, too, is part of the process. Democracy!

Let it flow.

Cubs Shrubs
"It's crazy that Rodrigo Lopez or Ramon Ortiz are on the roster," Adam from the Loop asks ESPN's Bruce Levine. "Both have pitched ok, but at this point in the season, shouldn't Coleman and Carpenter be getting these innings in preparation for 2012?"

Levine: "Just had the same discussion with a member of the Cubs. Probably same answer I gave you on Quade with Colvin. He's torn between player development and keeping the team from losing 100 games. Some direction from the top again would be beneficial."

There's no good reason why avoiding 100 losses should take precedence over preparing this team for next year. Cubs fans understand, believe me.

*

Paul Sullivan on Tom Ricketts: "He's seldom available to talk."

So much for a face of the franchise and a fan as owner.

*

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: You Have Herpes

The Truth About Paywalls
They don't work.

Burke's Bill
"The tab to Chicago taxpayers for providing a Chicago Police Department bodyguard detail to Ald. Edward M. Burke? Almost $600,000 per year," the BGA has found.

Maybe it's time privatize Ed's security detail.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Public-private.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:15 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: You Have Herpes

Derrick Lee Homers Twice As Cubs Beat Pirates. Is it 2005?
-Evan, Evanston IL

Not to worry, Evan. If it were, the headline would read Murton Electrifies Crowd With Standing Double In Loss.

Or The Most Interesting Man In The World Faces Trial For '82 Dujail Massacre.

Sunday was the trading deadline and the Cubs made a big splash by trading . . . Fukudome for a guy that might be related to Bobby Abreu? What the hell?
-Jesus, Bible Grove IL

You're selling the organization short. Jim Hendry spearheaded a deal with the Texas Power Rangers that brought a pretty good Japanese guitar player in exchange for Paul McCartney tickets and also traded one of Michael Brenly's shoes for the head of the Chicago Sting mascot.

Quite the power surge on Tuesday. I didn't watch the game after the third. Did Wells give up 16 runs in the 5th?
-Jim, Chicago IL

Surprisingly, no.

Up to his usual hijinks, Ryan Dempster spiked the Gatorade cooler with grain alcohol, which got Randy Wells so drunk that he forgot who he was.

What kind of season would Matt Garza be having for a better team?
-Matt, Chicago IL

We're going to find out. He's the player to be named later in the aforementioned trade with the Chicago Sting.

Four in a row! Suck it, Redbirds!
-Matt, El Paso IL

Matt's not really that excited about Wednesday's win in Pittsburgh. He just beat his Native American friend at a board game.

This streak is the baseball equivalent of suppressing a recent herpes flare-up.

The good news is, for the moment it doesn't look like you have herpes.

The bad news is, you have herpes.

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:39 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration will shut down its overnight emergency services shift for the homeless and lay off 24 employees in the city's Department of Family and Support Services," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

The city lost some state funding and just doesn't have the money itself to keep its services intact.

Or does it?

*

"Chief Financial Officer Lois Scott and Budget Director Alexandra Holt each are making $169,992 a year, compared to $164,952 for former CFO Gene Saffold and $163,656 for Daley's last budget director, Eugene Munin," CNC reports.

"At an annual salary of $169,500, new Transportation Commissioner Gabriel Klein is paid almost $13,000 more than the last department head, Bobby Ware.

"Matt Hynes, the Emanuel campaign operative who now leads the mayor's lobbying efforts in Springfield and at the City Council, will receive a salary of $168,996 a year, about $10,000 more than Daley intergovernmental affairs director Joan Coogan."

And so on.

*

Likewise . . .

Dear Rahm: Save Our Mental Health Clinics

World-Class City
Of America's largest cities, Chicago has the highest black poverty rate and the highest black unemployment rate, Megan Cottrell reports.

Channel 2 Doesn't Like Black People
Station Refuses To Discuss False Portrayal of 4-Year-Old Black Boy.

Too Perfect
"A middle-class south suburb whose mayor has been attacked for high spending is also home to a highly paid City Council with big expense accounts to pay for everything from margaritas to wedding gifts, the Tribune has found.

"Country Club Hills' 10 aldermen represent just 16,500 people, but they are paid roughly $31,000 a year and given an unusual $9,000-a-year expense account.

"The Tribune found those individual funds are essentially used as walking-around money. They have paid for hundreds of meals - including an outing with an intern to Hooters, an upscale Christmas Eve dinner and two meals to discuss 'high taxes.'"

Yodeling
Through Swiss National Day in Chicago.

Fantasy Fix
Pigskin Primer.

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That's it for now, something unexpected has come up. Will return later.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Prime.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:03 AM | Permalink

Yodeling Through Swiss National Day In Chicago

"The 2011 Swiss National Day Reception was hosted on Monday by Martin Bienz, Consul General of Switzerland, and Martin von Walterskirchen, Minister & Regional Director, Swiss Business Hub USA. Members of the New Glarus Yodel Club provided the authentic Swiss entertainment."

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Bonus video:

Yodeling With Milk Bowls in New Glarus, Wisconsin

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Channel 2 Refuses To Discuss False Portrayal Of 4-Year-Old Black Boy

"Attempts to contact the news director and the general manger were not answered," the Maynard Institute reports.

"More than half a dozen employees at the station were also contacted, but each either refused to comment on the story, with some saying they feared reprisals, or did not respond to repeated requests. Several said they were not authorized to speak about the incident and referred inquiries to management."

*

See the raw video and the edited version:


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

Dear Rahm: Save Our Mental Health Clinics!

Clip, sign and send - or download your own letter.

And come to our Town Hall Forum this Friday at Mercy Hospital, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., in the Joyce Auditorium (2nd floor) at 5:30 p.m.

-

Dear Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

I write you as a taxpayer and voter in the City of Chicago who is very concerned about the sparse mental health services in our city and the constant threats of closure and privatization. As you prepare to balance the City's budget, we need you to know that closing our clinics because of budget difficulties or any other reason would be dangerous, irresponsible, unnecessary and immoral.

Two years ago, advocates saved four South Side mental health clinics threatened with closure and Mayor Daley's staff committed to continue working with patients, advocates and workers towards keeping and improving our services. The city council appropriated $2.5 million in CDBG funds to hire the necessary staff to keep our clinics sustainable but then hired only a few people. Though the City finally fixed the billing errors that caused the mess in the first place, billing still fell short by $3 million.

Closing or privatizing clinics will not save the city money, because the clients who fall through the cracks will cost the city, county and state far more money when they show up at emergency rooms, jails and morgues. 46% of the population will suffer from some degree of mental illness during their lifetime and the current economy is only making things worse. The chronically mentally ill, in particular, have nowhere else to turn as both private and public services are shutting down.

Providing quality services to the mentally ill is the responsibility of government and a necessity for strong communities. Nearly every family has somebody with some form of mental illness. Closing clinics will increase unemployment, increase depression and mental illness and a lot of families will suffer.

These services cannot be sacrificed; they are as important to a stable Chicago as police, fire and other front-line responders.

Those of us who care about this issue pay taxes and vote. We want our tax dollars used to help out those who most need them. We urge you to do everything in your power as Mayor of the City of Chicago to save our clinics and show that Chicago cares about its most vulnerable residents.

Sincerely,

Name: ___________________________

Address: ___________________________

Disclaimer: My address is included to show you that I am a resident of Chicago, but may not be shared or saved.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Pigskin Primer

I was starting to wonder what I was going to write about when fantasy baseball had played itself out. With football and basketball both in lockout mode, I was facing the distinct possibility that I'd have to learn how fantasy NASCAR works. No one wants that.

So I was as glad as anyone that the NFL lockout ended, and we will have fantasy football after all (as well as the real thing, of course). You may find yourself with a little less time to plan your draft this year, so let's get to it:

Top 20

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: The top pick could go to any of the first three, but even with the Donovan McNabb signing at QB, Peterson will live up to his nickname, getting the ball "All Day." Fumbling used to be his only weakness, but just one last season shows he really is the best back.

2. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee: A great double-threat with more than 2,000 rushing yards and more than 500 receiving yards in 2009 saw both numbers dip last year. A likely rookie QB (Jake Locker) won't help matters with the latter, but because of that, his rushing totals are headed for a rebound.

3. Arian Foster, RB, Houston: His numbers from 2010 - more than 2,200 total yards, 18 TDs - say he should be No. 1, but I think those numbers will deflate a bit. Plus, he revealed he played through a knee injury all last year, which makes him a tough guy, but makes me wonder about his health entering this season.

4. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City: I wouldn't be surprised to see him work his way into the top three in some drafts. He came on strong in the second half of 2010, with two monster 170-yards-plus outputs getting everyone excited for this year.

5. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore: This up-and-coming double-threat actually took a step back last year from a stellar 2009, but at 24 he's still capable of improving on 2009's 1,339 rushing yards and ridiculous 702 receiving yards.

6. Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh: He's more one-dimensional than everyone ahead of him, but 13 rushing TDs was second only to Foster.

7. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia: With Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, he completes Philly's triangle of insane athletic ability. Last season, he proved to be the perfect complement to Vick, and I like him to run more and score more this year.

8. Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta: He had a rebound year last season after a 2009 injury when many were expecting a decline. 85.7 rush yards per game made him a consistent threat, though like Mendenhall, he will not catch many passes. Also, at 29, he could be ready to slow down.

9. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay: Hard for a Bears fan to admit, but Green Bay will have another long stretch with the NFL's greatest QB talent. Early season problems last year mostly were due to offensive line mistakes and receiver injuries. Just missed 4,000 passing yards and 30 TDs last year. He'll get both this year, plus maybe 400 rushing yards if his pattern holds up.

10. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston: Andre the Giant is again the top-ranked receiver, and let's hope he doesn't miss any games this season after just eight TDs in 13 games last year. Houston's offense was messy last year, and needs to be better for him to score.

11. Larry Fitzgerald, WR. Arizona: The Kevin Kolb signing is great news. I may have him ranked a bit higher than most, but relatively low numbers last year - 1,137 yards and six TDs - were due to Arizona's QB shortcomings.

12. Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland: I may be undervaluing him. With six games of more than 100 yards rushing and with more than 500 yards receiving total last year, he could easily get the nod ahead of Turner.

13. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit: A slight disappointment last year despite 12 TDs because his weekly receiving yards outputs were either feast or famine. A healthy QB and a resurgent offense could get him close to Andre Johnson and Fitzgerald.

14. Maurice Jones Drew, RB, Jacksonville: How does he drop from top 3 in 2010 to No. 14? He's coming back from knee surgery, and was a slight letdown last year with only five rushing TDs. His 94.6 rushing yards per game makes up for that, but with the surgery issue, I wouldn't risk taking him in the first round.

15. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco: Poor Frank. He saw every stat plummet in an injury-shortened season playing for a terrible team, but check out his average yards after catch: 10.4. The double-threat aspect makes him a great No. 2 RB, particularly if you get a grinder like Mendenhall or Turner in Round 1.

16. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia: A lot of people will argue he belongs at the end of the first round or earlier in the second, but all six of his INTs came in the last six weeks of the season, and defenses started to figure him out during that period. He should still be ridiculously productive in terms of passing and rushing TDs, but I see lower yardage games and more INTs in his future.

17. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis: The mighty are falling, at least a little. He can't match Vick's or Rodger's running games, but proved the last two years he can throw TDs to a body-less pair of hands if necessary.

18. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta: He caught more than 100 passes last season for the first time and 1,389 receiving yards were a career best. TE Tony Gonzalez may have stolen a few scores from him, which is why he's at this end of Round 2.

19. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans: Fumbles (nine last year) and INTs are his big problem, but I'm kind of buying that the Saints are back with a loaded offense, which could mean another 5,000 yards passing like he had in 2008.

20. Matt Forte, RB, Bears: is it Jay Cutler's redemption year or another season in which Forte will have to rescue a poorly stacked offense? His contract status and his willingness to show up for training camp anyway may indicate his best season is ahead. Prediction: 1,350 rushing yards, 600 receiving yards, 15 TDs.

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Next week, a trip to the fantasy football expert wire, and a fantasy baseball trading deadline post-mortem.

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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 8:03 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Due to the new austerity in America, the Beachwood is required to take a furlough day today, though I may tempt fate and post later on. Also, American dollars will no longer be accepted as tips at the bar; we now prefer gold bullions. Other little-known clauses in the debt ceiling bill:

* Chicken McNuggets will now only come in the six-piece size.

* McRib won't be back until 2013; and even then, only if the Super Congress trips the right trigger.

* All light beers will become even lighter.

* The NHL and NBA will no longer have a regular season, though the playoffs will now last about six months.

* Engines for cars sold separately.

* Batteries now never included.

* Tax credits for all butter churn purchases.

* Ed Burke's security guards no longer available for non-PGA caliber courses.

* South Side baseball managers must pay a luxury tax per every mile away from their home stadium they move.

* Lady Gaga will now be known as Lady Ga.

* Five-dollar footlongs now only six inches.

* Happy hour now only thirty minutes.

* Health care will be rationed. Er, wait . . .

* Text rates will now apply to U.S. mail.

* Twitter now just 70 characters.

* Month of April eliminated.

* A baker's dozen will now consist of 11.

* Marshall amps will now only go to 10.

* 7-11 now 6-10.

See you later today or tomorrow.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now 50% more austere.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"Right after he became the second closer in Marlins history to record 30 saves in two different seasons, Leo Nunez was summoned into the office of manager Jack McKeon and told he was traded," Clark Spencer writes for the Miami Herald.

"'Good luck,' McKeon told him. 'You're going to Chicago.'

"'The Cubs?' Nunez asked, his face turning pale.

"At that point, McKeon and Nunez's teammates could hide the joke no longer and broke out in laughter."

*

"Rival executives are puzzled by Hendry doing nothing except opening a spot for Tyler Colvin," Phil Rogers writes for the Tribune.

Maybe he was being held hostage by the Tea Party.

Debt Deal
Jim Hendry's negotiating skills vs. Barack Obama's negotiating skills. Discuss.

*

"Obviously, there are some things that need to change. (It's) not so much moving a piece here and there will make a huge difference. I'm talking more about our culture, our way of being, (our) way of thinking, our energy."

Barack Obama or Tony Pena?

*

"Republicans will surely be emboldened by the way Mr. Obama keeps folding in the face of their threats," Paul Krugman writes for the New York Times. "He surrendered last December, extending all the Bush tax cuts; he surrendered in the spring when they threatened to shut down the government; and he has now surrendered on a grand scale to raw extortion over the debt ceiling.

"Maybe it's just me, but I see a pattern here . . . Make no mistake about it, what we're witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels."

*

"I have got to clear this up," Joe Scarborough says. "Mika heard two days ago on Capitol Hill Democrats all saying the same thing. And that is, this president has been invisible, he is not a leader. They said this all behind closed doors. Democratic leaders, Democratic rank-and-file. In fact, 40, 50 of the most powerful Democrats on the Hill. I will just stop right there. The complaints were all the same. The president has vanished. He has left us here alone again like he did with health care. Where is he? Now, they didn't call him a loser, but they sure as hell didn't call him a leader."

LollaVanecko
"[I]f Lollapalooza wasn't already enough of a financial bonanza for its promoters, who grossed more than $21 million last year, City Hall and Cook County government officials are doing their part to boost the festival's bottom line, even as they struggle with their own budget crises, which threaten to result in layoffs of city and county workers," the Sun-Times reports.

"For a seventh straight year, the city and county are exempting Lollapalooza from paying the amusement taxes normally imposed on arts and athletic performances and even movies.

"That will save the promoters - Austin, Texas-based C3 Presents LLC - more than $1 million in taxes on the 270,000 tickets sold for this years's festival, which opens Friday.

"Lollapalooza got its latest waiver from the city's 5 percent amusement tax in the waning days of the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose nephew Mark Vanecko has been a lobbyist and lawyer for the festival promoters, helping to negotiate their current 10-year contract with the Chicago Park District."

*

See also: Lollapalooza, Liquor Sales, and The Mayor's Nephew.

And: Rahm Emanuel's Cozy Ties To Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Lollapalooza

*

Back to the Sun-Times:

"The promoters declined a request for an interview, saying in an e-mail: 'Thank you for your inquiry. At this time, we are completely focused on producing the best festival possible.'"

We are just so focused on producing the best festival possible that I could barely compose this e-mail! But thanks for asking!

Wasting Away Again In Vaneckoville
"When Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville landed a 10-year lease at Navy Pier last fall, it needed a liquor license from City Hall," the Sun-Times reports.

"So the bar and restaurant turned to attorney Mark Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley who had helped other bars and restaurants get liquor licenses from City Hall."

And, of course:

"Neither Vanecko nor other representatives of Margaritaville returned calls seeking comment."

It's none of our business.

*

Just a reminder to readers: Mark Vanecko is the subject of these stories, but his brother Richard is the one who punched David Koschman. His other brother, Robert, is also feeding at the trough.

World-Class Competition
"Toronto and Chicago both have a little less than 3 million residents," WBEZ reports. "Toronto has 60 murders a year. Chicago has 450."

Turn Up The Volume . . .
. . . and you can hear McCartney's second show tonight. (Tip from Astralopry.)

Every Chicago Team Officially Cub-Like
* SportsMonday: Spencer For Kruetz Is Offensive.

* The White Sox Report: Exit Edwin, Enter Alejandro

* The Cub Factor: Spoiler Alert

Water Balloon Challenge 2011
At the Chicago Okaniwans' Picnic.

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

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Beyond revenue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

The 2011 Water Balloon Challenge

At the annual Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai Picnic on Saturday.


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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. Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field on Sunday night.


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2. Johnny Winter at Taste of Lincoln Avenue on Saturday night.

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3. The Arrivals at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival on Saturday.

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4. Bartel and Kevin Chamberlain at the Co-Prosperity Sphere on Saturday night.

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5. Hollows at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival on Saturday.

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6. Taking Back Sunday at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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7. The Flat Five at the Old Town School on Saturday night.

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8. Snoop Dogg at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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9. Gunner's Daughter at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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10. Owl City at the Aragon on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Spencer For Kreutz Is Offensive

Two years ago, I would have been delighted to hear the Bears had dumped Olin Kreutz. I had watched the Williamses (huge Viking linemen Pat and Kevin) and other physical defensive tackles cave in the interior of the Bear line way too many times. It seemed as though Kreutz, who at that point had played in the NFL for more than a decade, simply couldn't hold the point any more against powerful foes.

But last year was different. Amid reports he was healthier than he had been in a while, Kreutz seemed to have found more ways to use veteran guile to at least achieve stalemates against his strongest foes. The Bear offensive line was a train wreck early on but after the disaster against the Giants (almost a dozen sacks allowed) in the middle of the season, the team finally found a combination at guard and tackle that wasn't a mess. Kreutz then led the way back to some semblance of respectability and the playoffs.

This offseason, if the Bears had brought in a stud interior lineman to give Kreutz and the team's guards some competition with an eye on replacing the veteran in the middle at some point, it would have been understandable. But for the Bears to have dumped their forever center at this late date, over what amounts to a pittance in the NFL (less than a million bucks) is mind-boggling.

From the reports I've read, former Seahawk center Chris Spencer (signed as Kreutz's potential replacement on Sunday) sounds like a smart enough and big enough guy to be a decent piece in the Bear offensive line puzzle. But the absolute first thing that has to happen as the team goes forward is Roberto Garza moving in at center. Garza has by far the most experience in the middle of the Bears line and knows all the calls.

He has played some center but it has been awhile (he has played guard exclusively for about a half-dozen years). And if he can't hack the snapping, then Spencer is obviously the man.

Of course for Garza to move over, the Bears need to bring in another free agent - someone who can be a physical presence at guard (which in an understandable local NFL world would have been the second priority this offseason after re-signing Kreutz). If Spencer wasn't physical enough to play center for the Seahawks it is hard to imagine he will be strong enough to make an impact one spot over for the Bears.

And if the Bears are busy trying to track down another guard, they almost certainly won't be addressing the situation at tackle. If there are no more changes at that position during the preseason, the Bears will probably start the season with a rookie on one side (Gabe Carimi) and second-year seventh-round pick (J'Marcus Webb) on the other. Yikes.

Another troubling thing about Spencer is that he was drafted by Tim Ruskell, the former Seattle GM who is now Jerry Angelo's right-hand man. Going into the 2005 draft, Spencer was seen as, at best, a late-second round pick. But the Seahawks had a need in the middle of their line and Ruskell reached to take the former Ole Miss standout in the first round. Spencer had what must be described as a mediocre career in Seattle, culminating in his recent release by that team.

This has a little of the feel of former Blackhawk GM Dale Tallon trading for Brian Campbell earlier this summer. Just about everyone believed Tallon overpaid for Campbell a couple years ago when the former Hawk GM signed him to a huge, eight-year deal averaging more than seven million per. And sure enough, when Campbell didn't grab a spot in the Hawks' top defensive pairing and wasn't the first guy the team went to in short-handed situations, it became clear that his large salary (biggest on the team) was going to be a problem.

Except Tallon, who is now generally managing the Florida Panthers, went out and got Campbell again this off-season, taking him off the Hawks' hands in a trade for a couple nobodies. It was a transaction current general manager Stan Bowman must have been thrilled to make.

Now Tallon can see to it that Campbell gets his big chance to be the No. 1 defenseman for the Panthers. And Ruskell and Jerry Angelo can show just what a good first-round pick Spencer was in the middle of the last decade.

Double yikes.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

Spoiler Alert

The Cubs are the worst team in baseball.

Sure, the Orioles and Astros have fewer wins. They also have - or at least had right up to the trade deadline on Sunday - players that playoff teams coveted.

The Astros dealt Hunter Pence and Jason Bourne and the Orioles moved Koji Uehara and even ex-Cub Derrick Lee.

The Cubs gave away Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians to make room for Tyler Colvin and otherwise stood pat.

See what I mean?

That's not to say the Cubs didn't have any players that drew interest from contenders, but the fact that bad contracts and/or Jim Hendry's delusions shut down trade talks before they even got started just proves the point.

"Between no-trade clauses, contracts that acted like no-trade clauses and low-energy under-performance from so many guys on this roster, the Cubs headed for the auction stand with almost nothing they could sell, other than Kosuke Fukudome," ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. "And once Fukudome was gone, that's exactly what they did get moved:

"Nothing.

"'Now that,' said one scout, 'is a deadline loser if I ever saw one.'"

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 1-5, getting swept by the Brewers and losing two of three to the Cardinals. Whoever has the most games against the Cubs left will probably win the division.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for four and then come home for three against the Reds. Whoever has the most games against the Cubs left will probably win the division.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney continues to get the keys to the second-base job. Darwin had four hits, one walk, and zero RBIs for the week. He also has just one homer for the season, which is just one homer more than I have this season. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Manny Alexander is out of baseball now, but he did play in Italy for a few years. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is getting angry this week thinking about the changes he thinks this team needs.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with a little bit of Tracy.

Lost in Translation: Fukudome is Japanese for Abner Abreu.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Jim Hendry for Let's Not Make A Deal.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 88% sweet,12% sour. Mike stands pat this week as even losing can't really get him off his game. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike still goes to church every week and prays for aunt Trudi to come home so they can be together again even though it's been three years and she's engaged to Ronnie who owns the hardware store in town. It's just not going to happen.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of TC (Tyler Colvin) were expected to trade higher this week but they didn't. No one really believes in this stock

Over/Under: Number of homers for Tyler Colvin the rest of the season: +/- 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 even Jim Hendry can't believe he hasn't been fired.

Farm Report: Abner Abreu is 1-for-8 with two strikeouts so far for Daytona. He is projected to arrive in the major leagues about the same time the national debt is paid off.

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.

Mike Quade Status Update:

Well-Adjusted / Delirious / High

dazed_and_confused_smiley.jpg

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:07 AM | Permalink

Exit Edwin, Enter Alejandro

So long, Edwin. We hardly knew ye!

Three days short of his one-year anniversary as a member of the White Sox, Edwin Jackson was dispatched to the Blue Jays last Wednesday. In turn, the Jays dealt Edwin to the Cardinals, Jackson's sixth team in his nine years in the big leagues.

Luckily, Jackson has long been accustomed to moving around since his father was a military man. Edwin actually was born in Germany, although he attended the same high school in Columbus, Georgia, as Frank Thomas.

So what's wrong with this guy? He gets swapped almost as often as Big Papi spits on his batting gloves.

In the past, Jackson's problems throwing strikes diminished his value. But not this time. Try an $8 million-plus salary and a contract that makes him a free agent after the 2011 season. That's for a guy with a 56-58 lifetime record. So the Sox cut some payroll, and, what the heck, they had six starters anyway.

In his short stay with the Sox, Edwin posted an 11-9 record and a very respectable ERA of 3.67. Lately he had been especially effective. Friday night in St. Louis he picked up right where he left off on the South Side, hurling seven innings of one-run baseball to beat the Cubs. Okay, it was only against the Cubs, but as the adage says, "It's a line drive in the scorebook."

In addition, this innings-eater threw only 95 pitches, which, for him, means Edwin barely broke a sweat, even in the miserable Missouri heat. I wouldn't be surprised to see Tony LaRussa bring him back on three days' rest.

What is appealing about Jackson is his approach. He's a gamer. His famous July 3, 2010, no-hitter, while pitching for the Diamondbacks, required 149 pitches. Edwin walked eight on that memorable evening. But that's who he is.

His control improved - perhaps Don Cooper gets some credit? - with the Sox. But regardless of the situation, Jackson would keep battling. In my view, he was unflappable as he kept challenging hitters whether the bases were full (somewhat often) or empty.

Hindsight, being what it is, makes us wonder whether Kenny Williams should have stood pat a year ago when he dealt for Edwin. Granted, Jackson did a solid job for the Sox. But the pitcher whom Williams swapped for Jackson - Daniel Hudson - has been little short of outstanding for Arizona.

Hudson had pitched just 34 innings for the Sox, though he owned an astounding 44-18 record over parts of three seasons for White Sox farm clubs. In the past year in the desert, Hudson, just 24, has a 17-8 record, including 10-7 this season. His ERA for the D-backs is a sparkling 3.07.

In addition, Hudson gets to do something in Arizona that he never could have done in Chicago: He gets to bat!

Daniel is hitting .318 this season, second only to - who else? - Carlos Zambrano's .324 among NL pitchers. He's also homered once and driven in 12 runs.

Jackson's departure brought over Jason Frasor, an effective middle reliever who will take pressure off Jesse Crain, from Toronto. But don't underestimate the roster spot that opened because Mark Teahen was part of the deal.

Enter Alejandro De Aza from Charlotte. All he did in his White Sox debut Wednesday was crack a two-run, game-winning homer to nip the Tigers 2-1 behind John Danks' stalwart pitching.

De Aza has big league experience - he played with the Marlins in 2007 and 2009 - and he was hitting .322 at Charlotte with 22 stolen bases. At 29, De Aza is no young phenom, but the guy brings speed and desire since he must understand this could be his last shot at sticking on a major league roster.

Couple that with the guy (Alex Rios) he's replacing - or at least platooning with - and the center field situation immediately improved. I firmly believe that De Aza can more than match Rios' .207 mark, and De Aza can go get the ball in the outfield. (Kindly hold your applause at my daring, extravagant prediction that De Aza can outhit Rios.)

De Aza is hitless in the seven at-bats since Wednesday's heroics, and yesterday Rios had an RBI single - he was his usual one-for-five - in the 5-3 loss to the Red Sox.

Wouldn't it be nice if lightning struck twice with the addition of De Aza? On June 15, 1983, the Sox traded second basemen with Seattle. Julio (Juice) Cruz came to Chicago and Tony Bernazard headed west.

At the time the Sox were 28-36. Cruz hit only .251 that season, but his defense, energy, and speed - he was one of the league's top base-stealers - seemed to be contagious as the team won 71 of its final 98 games to run away with the division by 20 games.

Cruz was an established major leaguer while De Aza is a former prospect turned suspect. But the Sox needed something new, something refreshing. Let's hope that De Aza surprises us.

After dropping the series to the Red Sox over the weekend and facing a four-game set with the Yankees, the four-game gap between our athletes and the first-place Tigers looks huge.

This team simply doesn't hit enough to scare anyone. In 14 games since the All-Star break, they've scored 51 runs. Meanwhile, Sox pitching has limited the opposition to a stingy 41 runs over the same span. That includes the Red Sox' 10-run barrage on Saturday. The result is a mediocre 8-6 record.

With the Sox' pitching, they ought to be miles ahead of the division. However, now that 106 games are in the book, the same old refrain continues, "If the Sox just begin to hit . . . " I can't see it happening. I hope I'm wrong.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
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POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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