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« September 2011 | Main | November 2011 »

October 31, 2011

SportsMonday: The Real Cubs' Curse

In the midst of the bye week, please allow me to be the last to weigh in on the arrival of The Savior on the North Side.

There is no arguing with Theo Epstein's credentials to run the Cubs, and it is clear he has brought in able lieutenants to assist in the procurement of maximum talent.

The big problem with Theo is the curse factor, i.e., the belief, which I'm sure has already gained tremendous purchase in Cutesy Cubbie Nation, that because Theo was able to deliver Boston from the Curse of the Bambino, he surely is the man to save the Cubs from the Curse of the Goat.


Here's Chicago comedian Jeff Garlin, best known as Larry David's sidekick on Curb Your Enthusiasm, on the rank stupidity of the Billy Goat curse:

A goat? Okay, let's get something straight. It is not a curse to not want a goat at a baseball game, all right? That is not a curse. Nobody wants livestock in baseball games, okay? That is not a curse. You sell Babe Ruth, yeah, okay, maybe that's a curse. You sell the greatest ballplayer ever, OK, I get it. But kicking a guy and his goat out of a baseball game, no, that is not a curse.

You know, this was a time when people dressed up. I mean, nobody would let a goat into a game now, and people dress like pigs. Back then people wore suits to games, they wore hats. There wasn't a team in baseball that would be like - "Sure, oh yeah, the goat's fine."

And by the way, do we know if this guy had any other successful curses? Does he have a list of curses that we can look at? If he had a whole bunch of curses that worked, okay, fine. But I'm not buying that he tried only one curse, and it worked, and it was because they did not let him bring a goat into a game.

Fucking goat.

I would add that if a local team was going to be cursed, it would have been the team that threw a World Series. And sure enough, after the White Sox lost the 1919 World Series, they went until 2005 before they won another one. When they won, that should have been the absolute end of chatter about curses in our town. But lazy sports media types and opportunist hangers-on (more about that later) keep this garbage alive.

(Just a few weeks ago the Sun-Times - again - saw fit to put a picture of a goat on its back page; no cliche is too hoary for the media.)

Of course the Cubs aren't cursed, no matter what the delightful folks who run the Harry Caray's would have you believe. (Shouldn't the statute of limitations on cashing in on a dead guy's legacy have kicked in by now?)

I suppose it must be noted that Harry Caray's is the perfect place for Cutesy Cubbie fans to theatrically lament (or is it celebrate?) the team's ongoing futility. If "fans" insist on perpetuating an affair with lovable losers, maybe it is best that they have a place to congregate - a place I can avoid like the plague.

As for the rest of us: Fight the Cutesy Cubbie crap!

(I haven't sat in the bleachers in years but if I should somehow find myself out there and if I should somehow catch an opposing player's home run, there will be no throwing it - or a replacement ball - back. I'm also not singing "Go Cubs Go" after wins. At least I will try not to; Steve Goodman can write a catchy tune.)

In the end, all we can say is "Good luck, Theo."

We're with you all the way, unless you pull a Crane Kenny - officially acknowledging that you think a bar owner trying to generate cheap publicity with a farm animal at a baseball game can somehow impact a team's fortunes for the next 60-something years.

Or by doing something like hiring a religious figure to spray holy water in the dugout when a team has its best chance to win in a long, long time despite an utterly oppressive history of losing.

The result of a Crane Kenney, we've learned, is being swept out of the playoffs in the blink of an eye.

So forget about the curse, Theo. It's Crane who has to go.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The family that owned Mutual Bank of Harvey pocketed millions in dividends, spent bank funds on a lavish wedding and held a board meeting in Monte Carlo, all as the politically wired bank careened toward failure, regulators allege," Crain's reports.

"The allegations come in a lawsuit filed last week against members of the Veluchamy family and other former officials at the south suburban bank, which failed in 2009 after what the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. describes as a spree of reckless real estate lending.

"The tales of excess add drama to a case already riveting local bankers and their lawyers. It's the biggest government suit against insiders at a failed local bank since the banking crisis began two years ago. The FDIC expects to suffer a $775-million hit to its insurance fund from the failure of Mutual Bank, which had $1.7 billion in assets at its peak."

Harvey is a long way from Wall Street, but banks (apparently) are banks no matter where they're located; dens of iniquity, you might say.

Then again, Harvey isn't that far removed from our power centers.

"Mutual was the bank that financed the purchase by the wife of political fundraiser Tony Rezko of a side lot in a deal that enabled Barack Obama to buy his dream house," the Tribune reminds readers in the second paragraph of its story.

In fact, former bank president Amrish Mahajan was a bit of a political operator.

"[He] was appointed to the Chicago Plan Commission in 1989 by then-Mayor Richard Daley," the Tribune reported in August on the occasion of Mahajan's plea deal in a different disgusting matter.

"Mahajan [also] held events for [Rod] Blagojevich and raised at least $500,000 for the former governor's campaigns. He was so well-known to the former governor and his family, Blagojevich's children called him 'Uncle Amrish.'"

Awwww. Cute.

Wall Street To Occupy Chicago: Drop Dead
"Our money was your money."

Springfield Eviction
"Several Occupy Illinois groups came together Saturday in Springfield for Occupy Your State Capital Day," Will Reynolds writes on his blog. "I've been to enough protest rallies that it gets routine, but this event had some of the most exciting, energetic moments I've seen at any grass-roots political event.

"It started with reading a proclamation from Occupy Wall Street. Then several Occupy groups from central Illinois, including Occupy Peoria, were given a chance at the mic. Bloomington-Normal brought a large delegation and had someone sing a great song on banjo.

"Next came the first reading of an eviction notice delivered to the lobbyists for the 1% and their servants in elected office who currently occupy the Illinois Capitol Building. It reflects that the same issues raised by the Wall Street Occupiers exist in Illinois state government. Rather than a request for temporary fixes, it's an indictment of a broken, corrupted political system that's largely unresponsive to the 99%."

Take a look at the whole post; Will has the eviction notice, a couple of videos and lots of images that really seem to capture the day.

Missing Link
"Alton's Historic Museum of Torture Devices isn't for the faint of heart," the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

"Displays and diagrams focus on the horrible ways people have punished, terrorized, maimed and killed their enemies over the centuries.

"There were cauldrons for boiling people alive, racks that stretched joints until they popped apart, sharp instruments for inserting in body orifices and vices that crushed hands, feet, chests and heads."

How barbaric. Good thing we've evolved from those dark ages.

Hunger In The Back of the Yards
"A survey of local residents conducted by the Illinois Hunger Coalition, finds that a majority of families surveyed were two parent households with one adult working full-time," the coalition says in a press release. "In spite of that, 51 percent of participants reported sometimes, rarely, or never having enough money for food to feed their family.

"Despite these findings, the Illinois Department of Human Services closed the local Oakland office, located in Back of the Yards, on Friday, disrupting services for local 20,524 households.

"The Latinos Organized for Justice, an arm of the Illinois Hunger Coalition, opposes the closure of the Oakland IDHS office and is calling on IDHS to reopen a facility in the community."

60 Minutes P.S.: Madoff's Chicago Ties
Chicago options traders almost blew the whistle on Madoff in 2006.

The White Girl Who Went As Snoop Dogg
It might play in Wrigleyville, but what if she took it down south?

The Week in Chicago Rock
I don't know about you, but it takes a lot more to get me to watch a video on the Internet than it does to simply click on a link. Videos don't offer quick scans the way articles and posts do.

Nonetheless, I implore you to watch the videos we post every Friday and Monday showcasing bands playing at local venues. I pick them out and, while there is sometimes a somewhat random aspect to what I choose, I do apply a certain quality standard.

It's also a great way to get introduced to bands and artists you might not otherwise.

And the music is rewarding. Trust me. So go check out today's Weekend in Chicago Rock. If you love rock, I guarantee you'll find at least a couple things you'll like a lot.

The Cubs' Real Curse
Hint: It's not a goat.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. We have giant spiders on the wall. Order our famous Monday Night Happy Meal: rail bourbon and an Old Style for five bucks. 5p - 2a.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Rock steady.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

Wall Street To Occupy Chicago: "We Aren't Dinosaurs. We're Smarter And More Vicious Than That."

A flier dropped from a financial office building in Chicago:

We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether it's a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourselves. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don't take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don't demand a union. We don't retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I'll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we're going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we're going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren't going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it's really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat asses land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply...will he? and will they?


Previously From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 28, 2011)


See also:
* Song of the Moment: Anarchy in the U.K.

* Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man

* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Future Islands at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.


2. Robert Randolph at the Park West on Saturday night.


3. Eleanor Friedberger at Subterranean on Friday night.


4. Widespread Panic at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.


5. Opeth at the Vic on Friday night.


6. Howard Jones at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


7. Chameleon World at Sylvie's on Friday night.


8. Lydia at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.


9. Murs at Reggie's on Friday night.


10. Katatonia at the Vic on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2011

60 Minutes P.S.: Bernie Madoff's Chicago Ties

It's been nearly three years since Bernard Madoff confessed to running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme - the largest financial fraud in history," 60 Minutes reported Sunday night. "Thousands of trusting clients who felt safe investing with a financial genius were swindled. He hadn't invested a penny.

While Madoff is serving 150 years in prison, his family has had to deal with the consequences of his crimes. His wife Ruth, divested of most of her great wealth - and derided by a suspicious world. Their son Mark - dead. Driven to suicide by shame and accusations of guilt. Their other son Andrew isolated - trying to live with the disgrace.

Are they innocent or were they willing partners? For the first time since Bernie Madoff's arrest, his son Andrew and wife Ruth speak out about crime, punishment and the shame of being a Madoff.


Madoff's ties to Chicago go back a long way; as far back as 1990 the Sun-Times ran a story with the headline "Midwest Mad At New Yorker Madoff."

Which was nothing compared to the Lake Forest millionaire who said "I hope they burn him" after his scheme was exposed.

Let's take a look.


"Unfair competition, a threat to the stock market. The Midwest Stock Exchange thinks the federal government should move in. If the government, that is, the Securities and Exchange Commission, won't act, the Midwest is prepared to do battle on its own.

"Charles V. Doherty, the Midwest president, is talking about the activities of Bernard L. Madoff and Madoff Investment Securities of 885 Third Ave. in New York.

"For the past decade, Madoff has been competing against the Midwest and, for that matter, against the New York Stock Exchange and the other organized exchanges. Furthermore, he has been doing very well at it.

"Madoff Investment Securities is what might be called a super discounter. His firm proposes to buy or sell stock at a price better than the market, that is, better than the investor would be accorded if the trade moved through the normal stock market mechanism, from broker to the New York or the Midwest or one or another of the regional stock exchanges.

"Currently, Madoff is making a market in 244 stocks. They are name stocks listed on the Big Board and the Midwest. Buyers and sellers can take Madoff 's price or the auction price established through the trading on the exchanges. The Madoff firm, using highly sophisticated computer programming, sets out to shave the exchange price while still generating a profit for Madoff Investment Securities.

"But that's not the crux of the matter, says the Midwest's president. 'What Madoff is doing is paying for order flow,' Doherty says.

"'Madoff will pay a brokerage firm 1 cent or half a cent a share for orders up to 2,000 shares,' Doherty says. 'That may be legal, but he's not bound by any of the rules of the regulated exchanges designed to preserve orderly and fair markets.'

"Doherty's point is that Madoff 's operation, carried on outside the rules governing the exchanges, is a destabilizing influence on the stock market . . .

"Doherty and Midwest Chairman John G. Weithers have dispatched a stiff letter to the SEC protesting Madoff 's operation. 'We are trying to persuade the SEC that Madoff presents a major threat to the liquidity of the market.'"


It turned out, as well, that Chicago options traders almost blew the whistle on Madoff in 2006.

"Options traders at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) were so angry about Madoff's scheme that they wanted the world to know he did not use their trading platforms," the Guardian reported in 2009. "However, they did not tell regulators about their suspicions.

"The comments came to light in a 700-plus page dossier filed with the SEC by Harry Markopolos, the fraud investigator who tried to blow the whistle on Madoff for eight years . . . CBOE said that Matt Moran, one of the staff named in the dossier, spoke to Markopolos many times but does not recall a conversation about Madoff."


"Markopolos thought he had his biggest breakthrough in 2006 after talking to a Chicago Board Options Exchange official and learning its traders suspected Madoff was a fraud," Government Executive reported.

"He noted the official, Matt Moran, received permission to talk to the SEC and the [Wall Street Journal], but neither organization followed any leads he provided."


In his testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services in February 2009, Markopolos said:

"Perhaps the biggest breakthrough during the year was my September 29, 2006 telephone
call to Matt Moran, Esq., Vice President of Marketing, for the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

"Mr. Moran confirmed to me that several OEX Standard & Poor's 100 index options traders were upset and believed that BM was a fraudster. Mr. Moran said he couldn't talk to either the Wall Street Journal or the SEC without permission but that if these organizations went through proper channels and got permission from Lynn Howard, the CBOE's Public Relations Head, then the CBOE staff and traders would be able to cooperate with an investigation and answer questions.

"This was exciting news! Unfortunately, neither the Wall Street Journal nor the SEC were inclined to even pick up a phone and dial any of the leads I had provided to them. It is a sickening thought but if the SEC had bothered to pick up the phone and spend even one hour contacting the leads, then BM could have been stopped in early 2006. One hour of phone calls was the difference between almost three more years of fraud and untold billions of additional investor losses. That's how close we were and how far we were from busting this case wide open in 2006."


Tell that to Patti Gerber.

"Patti Gerber probably won't find herself out on the sidewalk along with her toaster, teapots and other assorted possessions," the Sun-Times reported in 2009. "But Gerber says she's going to have to make serious adjustments after losing between $15 million and $20 million to Bernard Madoff, the New York financier accused of swindling several thousand clients out of more than $50 billion."


But David Greising reported for the Tribune in 2008 that Chicago's elite by and large seemed to avoid getting sucked into the Madoff affair - largely because Madoff's clientele was so exclusive that few Chicagoans seemed to qualify.

"So far as we can tell, Chicago investors are not among the first to emerge as victims of this mess," Griesing wrote.

"Tom Pritzker will not comment on a report that Madoff recently made a pitch to manage some of his family's money. The Crown family has offered no comment as well. The KattenMuchinRosenman law firm has set up a team to handle Madoff-related claims, but so far heard from only a few Chicagoans, none of them familiar names.

"The most high-profile Chicago victim, so far, is an immigrant-rights group that will lose most of a big donation because one of the agency's key donors got caught up with Madoff. Turns out not all of Madoff's alleged victims are among the elite."

The Tribune would report a year later, though, that "dozens of Chicagoans" were among Madoff's victims.


In February 2009, the Tribune reported:

"Howard Gottlieb, a retired partner at the former investment firm Glenwood Partners, had Bernie Madoff figured out years ago. In the end, though, it didn't matter.

"More than two decades ago, the hedge-fund manager invested with Madoff but didn't like the look of the paperwork he got back, so he withdrew the funds.

"'On close examination of the returns, the purported trading and all the rest of it, it didn't add up as being a legitimate investment,' said the Wilmette resident.

"Flash forward to a few years ago, when J. Ezra Merkin, a well-respected money manager, approached the Anne & Howard Gottlieb Foundation in Evanston seeking investors . . .

"The foundation invested some $500,000 with Merkin's Ascot Partners LP, and it had grown to $576,801 by the end of 2007, according to documents the foundation filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

"Gottlieb never knew, as has been alleged, that Merkin was as a middleman for Madoff. According to published reports, Merkin in mid-December sent his clients a letter that stated he had delegated 'substantially all' of Ascot's $1.8 billion to Madoff."


In a later report, the Trib wrote:

"'How's Uncle Bernie?'

"That phrase was an inside joke and a proud status symbol in wealthy enclaves from Chicago's North Shore to West Palm Beach, Fla. Those in the know considered themselves lucky to be clients of New York financier Bernard Madoff, whose investment wizardry seemed to defy market downdrafts.

"Their greeting has been replaced by a new mantra.

"'Can you believe he's still in a penthouse?' said William Baker of Chicago, among the thousands of investors globally who saw retirement nest eggs vanish amid Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

"As the extent of the damage Madoff allegedly wrought in Chicago comes to light, singed investors here say their anger over lost fortunes and destroyed trust doesn't compare with their rage that the disgraced former Nasdaq chairman is living under house arrest in his swanky Park Avenue digs in Manhattan . . .

"U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents released late Wednesday show that Madoff claimed dozens of victims in the Chicago area among the thousands prosecutors say he fleeced worldwide. While names include celebrities such as actors Kevin Bacon and John Malkovich and baseball legend Sandy Koufax, the list also includes Chicagoans, ranging from investment banker J. Ira Harris to Barbara Laird, who died in January at age 94 . . .

"Sharon Lohse, whose family is from the Chicago area, said that when she took over a $2.5 million investment portfolio established by her father, Harvey Van Lanen, she called Madoff's office to ask why the investment statements looked so different from others in the portfolio.

"She remembers [a Madoff representative] telling her, 'Look, if you don't want your money here, just tell us and we'll send it all back to you.'

"Lohse, who lives in Belle Mead, N.J., decided to better diversify the portfolio but said she kept $750,000 with Madoff, to her regret . . .

"Retired Chicago attorney Howard A. Weiss heard about Madoff through a friend 22 years ago and started investing some of his family foundation's funds with him. Weiss thought he checked out. So did a lot of his friends.

"Weiss declined to disclose the extent of his foundation's exposure but said he and his contemporaries are trying to put the loss in perspective.

"'Lots of friends of mine were involved in this, maybe 50 or 60 people I know,' Weiss said . . .

"Walter Greenberg's grandfather knew Madoff through Jewish charities and started investing with him in the early 1990s.

"Greenberg [a part-time Chicago-area consultant to the financial-services industry], 53, followed suit in 2003. He said he invested under $5 million with Madoff. He assumes most of that money is gone, and figures he'll be lucky to get back $750,000 . . . "


You can see all the Chicagoans on Madoff's client list here.


In the aftermath of the Madoff scandal, Multinational Monitor interviewed former SEC chairman and current Northwestern law professor David Ruder. Here is the key exchange.

MM: Do you believe the Madoff episode represents a failure by the SEC?

RUDER: One gets the impression that there were warning signals out there, that the SEC investigated, and didn't do a thorough enough job in the investigation, but we can't be certain. Apparently, Madoff had several sets of books, so that when the regulators came in they would be shown a false set of books when a private, more accurate set of books also existed.

We do not know whether the warning signals were strong enough so that an investigator should have found the fraud. Certainly, it looks like the regular complaints made by the money manager Harry Markopolos were enough that there should have been a more thorough investigation. It may very well be that whoever went up to Madoff's office was not diligent enough, smart enough or alert enough to see that something bad was going on.

On the other hand, it may be that Madoff simply outsmarted the investigators. You had a man with a tremendously positive reputation on Wall Street. He was someone known to me in the early 1990s, and I certainly found him to be reputable and trustworthy. I think the entire regulatory community felt that way about him.


Barbara Miller of the Australian Broadcast Company also interviewed Ruder.

MILLER: SEC officers were assigned to look into these complaints but their investigations, the report finds, were not thorough.

At one point unbeknownst to one another two officers were carrying out parallel investigations into Madoff's activities.

EXTRACT FROM REPORT BY SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION: Astoundingly both examinations were open at the same time in different offices without either knowing the other one was conducting an identical examination.

In fact it was Madoff himself who informed one of the examination teams that the other examination team had already received the information they were seeking from him.

MILLER: David Ruder was the SEC chairman between 1987 and 1989.

RUDER: I think that the commission was understaffed and incompetent in what they did. It boils down to that for that particular area.

What happened was that the commission did not assign people with sufficient understanding of the securities markets to investigate the Madoff matter.


Suspicions about Madoff were longstanding.

"Jon Najarian, an acquaintance of Madoff who has traded options for decades, said 'Many of us questioned how that strategy could generate those kinds of returns so consistently.'"


The New York Daily News also talked to Najarian:

"Investor Jon Najarian said he visited Madoff in 1995 in his offices in the Lipstick Building on Third Ave. to discuss a possible business deal and got an eerie feeling.

"'He sat all alone on this vast, open trading floor facing the East River with computers and trading turrets but not a single trader in sight,'Najarian said.

"'It was the middle of the day, but it was completely empty. You had the feeling of this Enron-esque place where he brought the people he was trying to dupe.'"


Najarian also stated that the media was an unwitting accomplice.


Finally, because much of the focus of the 60 Minutes segment was on Maddof's wife, Ruth, let's recall what University of Chicago cultural anthropologist Richard Shweder said in a 2009 New York Times article headlined "The Loneliest Woman in New York":

"She's perceived as the succubus to Bernie's incubus. She was inside a circle of people whose wealth has been sucked out of the system."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:23 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2011

The White Girl Who Went As Snoop Dogg

"If you acknowledge racism, then aren't you the one being racist?" she screamed at me, the underage, drunken fury leaking out of her mouth.

It was then that she shot me in the temple with an airsoft gun, before finding her boyfriend, dressed as James Dean, demanding that I be forcibly removed from the party.

"Her costume isn't racist! And you're not even black!" her friend yelled, waving her own airsoft pistol in my face.

"She's wearing black face!" I countered, trying to decide the median age of the people there.

"She's dressed as Snoop Dogg!"

Someone has been teaching a group of kids that our society is post-racial. That since we have a black man in office, that discussions of race are in-and-of themselves passé and, as the two drunk girls dressed as their favorite rappers said, racist.

These kids grew up knowing that one black kid in their class - the guy everyone wanted to be friends with so that they could openly and freely say "nigga," and if anyone gave them flack for it, could point to them and say "LOOK! MY FRIEND IS BLACK!"

Affluence breeds this idea that as long as you don't talk about something, it doesn't exist, like racism, wealth disparity, or your parent's alcoholism.

But outside of the suburbs, in a city that is racially divided, segmented by neighborhood, can a blonde, white girl dress up as a black man?

In Wrigleyville, she could get away with it. Sure, she probably got dressed at the party. Sure, she wasn't going to walk outside and find out just how accepted her painted brown skin would be, paired with her doo rag. But in a neighborhood as outstandingly white as the North Side drunk spot, she wouldn't face too hard a consequence. Would she be willing to go south, though? To get on the Red Line, sitting, waiting, as faces of all colors climbed onto the train? Would she feel their stares bore into the side of her face, as she desperately looked out of the window, trying not to see their reflections? Or would no one think anything of it?

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate decided to go as the color black for Halloween. He wore all black clothes, painted his face black, dyed his hair black, and could disappear into dark corners. It was a strange costume - just a color - but it was interesting and we thought nothing of it. Walking to Jim's Original, just south of Roosevelt and Halsted, past a congregation of weekend fast-food seekers, he ran into a bit of trouble.

The crowd, probably 30 people, mostly black, stopped their conversations, mouths agape, looking at him. The cooks in the restaurant, a mix of black and Latino, wouldn't look at him, wouldn't take his order. The security guard came over to him, looked him up and down and said "I think your racist ass should leave."

What would they think of this new drunk girl, dressed not as the color black, but as a person who is black?

Halloween has always been the holiday where people get away with dressing however they want. If girls want to be a scantily clad version of Darth Vader, fine. If boys want to dress up as an obscure reference to a children's show they watched that was cancelled after one episode, whatever. But there is always a line. I don't think acknowledging that line is in itself racist, just as I don't believe that the girl dressed as Snoop Dogg was being intentionally racist (even though I may not have accurately conveyed that belief to her).

I look at the idea of racial sensitivity in a strange light. I'm half Latino, the last name of a Puerto Rican, the complexion of a German. I know that racism exists, that my father and his family dealt with it, but that I didn't have to. But still, I recognize the deep, personal identity that comes with race, and it's something important.

So, no, drunk girl. I am not black. But I see why your costume made my friend, the black guy standing next to me, shift uncomfortably whenever you walked into the room.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Special Halloween Edition
Hey, you just managed to get poorer; you may well get fatter as well. If you're still looking for the perfect last-minute Halloween costume, here are our suggestions:

1. The One Percent
Who wouldn't want this costume, right? You can lock out anyone you want and you always get to keep the treats.

2. Greek Sovereign Debt
You won't be the most popular one at the party, but someone will feel compelled to share their candy just to keep you there.

3. Mitt Romney
Actually, you might be the most popular one at the party, but that's mostly due to attrition.

4. Illinois House Representative
If you're in the mood to hand out the treats, this one's tailor-made for you. In fact, you don't even have to be at home to open the door.

5. CPS Teacher
Just don't knock on the door of City Hall; you'll get nothing but dirty tricks.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Down and dirty.


The White Girl Who Went As Snoop Dogg
A Beachwood holiday essay.


This Weekend On Sound Opinions
"This is one of our most requested shows, so Jim and Greg are back with another installment of Scary Songs for the season."


Early Bird Special: Cheat You Fair
"On Sunday morning at 3 a.m., WTTW - Channel 11 will be showing the documentary video Cheat You Fair, about the destruction of old Maxwell Street," Steve Balkin of Roosevelt University reminds us.

"It is about the special cultural riches of this old neighborhood and how it was destroyed as a land grab for gentrification and for real estate developer pals of Mayor Daley, one of whom is facing trial right now for corruption."


The Human Micropoem
"The Human Micropoem is a call-and-response choral form utilizing the human microphone at the Occupy movements to amplify the speaker's words by those listening. The speaker says a line and then everyone who can hear repeats it.

"Bring one poem five minutes in length to be read aloud or just come and be part of the chorus - all welcome!"

WHEN: 12:30 p.m. Sunday, October 30
WHERE: The NE corner of Jackson & LaSalle


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

Perspectivas Latinas: Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement


Sergio Fernandez explains how HACE helps Latinos join the workplace through recruitment, professional development, and mentorship services.

Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
30 min


I Am the Movement: Swish Dreams


"I Am the Movement" profiles Swish Dreams, a nonprofit that helps students "bring their 'A' Game" on the court and in the classroom.

Saturday, October 29 at 10:14 p.m. on CAN TV19
11 min


American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era


Historian David W. Blight examines the impact of Americans' understanding of the Civil War 100 years after its conclusion on the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement.

Sunday, October 30 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex


Professor Ruth Wilson Gilmore offers a critique of incarceration in the American judicial system and suggests alternative methods to addressing crime in the country.

Sunday, October 30 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


In the K/now: Politics Today, Red, Purple, and Blue


Professor Michael Mezey joins a panel of journalists and political experts to examine America's political past, its deepening political divide, and possible compromises.

Sunday, October 30 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Working Productively with Board Members, Interns, and Volunteers


Jess Kaswiner of Arts Alliance IL provides insights into how nonprofits can effectively recruit, place, and retain volunteers and others who donate their time.

Sunday, October 30 at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:28 AM | Permalink

October 28, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"Proposed tax breaks for Chicago's financial exchanges, which could cut state tax revenue by as much as $110 million a year, won endorsement from a key Illinois Senate committee Thursday but still face big obstacles," the Tribune reports.

Let's focus now, people, because this is important.

"The measure continues to encounter resistance from Republicans, who are pushing for broader tax relief for all businesses as part of any package."

So the tax breaks are being pushed by the Democrats - the bill is sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton - who agree with the exchanges that it's just not fair that they don't have the same kind of tax code loopholes to exploit that other Illinois corporations do.

And while the Republicans' opposition seems noble, they're simply holding out for more tax breaks across-the-board.

"'I don't want to be part of a perception that we are cherry-picking who we help,' said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) one of four members of the Senate Executive Committee to vote present."

Among business interests, she means.

"The legislation would slice state corporate income tax bills in half for CME Group Inc., the parent of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, and CBOE Holdings Inc., parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

"The state's corporate income tax rate applies to profits resulting from in-state sales. For many multinational corporations, this means Illinois' tax applies to only a slice of their income.

"But for the Chicago-based exchanges, the tax applies to all trades, and they have said this is unfair because many trades are placed electronically by out-of-state parties.

"'This bill is an effort to correct that inequity,' Cullerton said Thursday."

It's nice to see Cullerton finally discussing income inequity!

But funny to see how the frame has changed; it's just darn unfair that they are taxed on electronic trades!

Here's what CME chairman Terry Duffy said in June when he first threatened to leave the state:

"Right now, CME Group pays the highest tax of any other company in Illinois," Duffy said Wednesday. He called "unjust" a system of loopholes that has allowed other corporations to avoid paying the full rate.

You know what else Duffy said?

"Our business is doing quite well with the strategy we have put in place the last couple of years."

If the "inequity" of the exchanges' tax scenario in Illinois is truly a problem (hey, that's life, they like to say to the rest of us when it comes to inequity), then the answer is to get rid of the loopholes and make everyone pay their fair share instead of cutting another sweetheart deal for moneyed insiders who can command our government's time, attention and energy at will.

Reinsdorf Redux
Speaking of moneyed insiders exploiting Illinois taxpayers, I spent most of Thursday's column on the Tribune's report about Jerry Reinsdorf's sweetheart ballpark/restaurant deal.

Just to give credit where it's due, Shia Kapos reported in Crain's on Monday that:

"The sweet deal Jerry Reinsdorf has at U.S. Cellular Field is prompting the state agency that runs the ballpark to re-examine its lease agreement, which requires the White Sox owner to pay $1.5 million annually in rent while keeping all proceeds from ticket sales, parking, concessions and his growing merchandise operations."

I missed that.

Here was the key, which the Trib followed up on:

"Plans to re-evaluate the contract come as the White Sox owner prepares to open a retail location across from the South Side ballpark on state-owned property.

"The store, which will sell sports apparel and paraphernalia, represents another revenue stream for Mr. Reinsdorf at the stadium he persuaded the state to build back in 1990. (He had threatened to move the team to Tampa, Fla.) Along with being permitted to retain all the income from the shop, the club owner gets to keep money from the Bacardi at the Park restaurant, which opened next door last spring.

"The arrangement with the new retail venues is an extension of Mr. Reinsdorf's lease agreement, which runs through 2029 and allows all profit on the state-owned property to go to Mr. Reinsdorf.

"The lease agreement came about when James Thompson was governor, and the additions to the agreement - the shop and restaurant - were added when Mr. Thompson was chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority."

Of course, Reinsdorf didn't return Kapos's phone call and a spokesman refused to comment. Because, you know, the public has no right to an explanation of how it's tax dollars are being used to enrich an already rich man.


On Wednesday, Kapos followed up with a report further illuminating just what a nice deal Mr. Thompson made for Mr. Reinsdorf. Hint: It's even worse than we thought.

But how nice it is to have friends in high places.

Occupy The MSM
Seems like the media still hasn't gotten their heads around the significance of the (global) Occupy movement; storylines are only limited by their small imaginations, but I've got plenty of ideas. Just check out The Week in Occupy Chicago to get a taste.

It might even occur to some folks that it has something to do with Cullerton, the CME and Reinsdorf.

Dots, People
"According to city data, there were nearly 15,000 abandoned buildings in Chicago as of Oct. 20, most of them a result of foreclosures," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "Three neighborhoods account for 20 percent of the total: Englewood, West Englewood and Austin."


"The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois is suing the City of Chicago, alleging unequal police deployment to minority neighborhoods," WBEZ reports.


"While corporations get a cut in their head tax, poor Chicagoans will see the city services they rely on - health centers, child care, workforce development, mental health treatment, library services and the like - get smaller and, in some cases, disappear," Megan Cottrell reports for the Chicago Reporter.

Ghost Votes
"Escalating his war of words with the Legislature, Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday called for an investigation into who cast votes for as many as 18 House members who were off the House floor when utility rate-hike legislation that he opposed passed in the blink of an eye," the Sun-Times reports.

"A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan insisted there were only 'a couple of instances where people may have been voted contrary to their wishes' and, in those cases, it 'was probably done by seatmates.'"

Oh, so no big deal. I mean, if someone voted for Madigan in his absence contrary to his liking, I'm sure he would have laughed it off.


"Madigan spokesman Steve Brown dismissed the governor's complaint with a chuckle."

Alternate: "Madigan spokesman Steve Brown dismissed the governor's complaint with a chuckle even as his boss once again refused to to meet his responsibilities as Speaker of the Illinois House and actually explain himself to reporters. Brown has explained in the past that the Speaker picks and chooses his media availabilities according to political convenience, even if he likes to complain about the unfairness of stories for which he has refused to comment."

"As thousands of families and trick-or-treaters celebrate Halloween, the Illinois Department of Labor recommends safety tips for those venturing into local haunted houses."

I see one missing, gleaned from the experience of the Beachwood Inn's Lt. Dan a few years ago: Don't punch one of the dudes who jumps out to scare you 'cause you might get arrested. Classic.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Good stuff, people. Check these bands out.

Black Nerd TV
Halloween Special.

Whither Giant Oak?
We'll just have to see.

The Week in WTF
Stella Foster, consummate Chicago journalist.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Consummate.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

The Week in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. Inspire the hell out of everyone.


2. Please participate with us in this hilarious farce.


3. Nurse: The Chicago police tried to break us.


4. MSM: So many issues at the same time!


5. Afghan/Iraq war veterans are the 99%.


6. Occupy DC in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, Occupy Atlanta and Occupy Chicago.


See also:
* Song of the Moment: Anarchy in the U.K.

* Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man

* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not


Also From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Warbringer at Reggie's on Thursday night.


2. Four Year Strong at the Metro on Wednesday night.


3. We Are In The Crowd at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.


4. Xoe Wise at Martyr's on Wednesday night.


5. Lights at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.


6. The Damned at the Metro on Tuesday night.


7. Kvelertak at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


8. Skeletonswitch at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.


9. Gallows at the Metro on Wednesday night.


10. Mayday Parade at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 AM | Permalink

Black Nerd TV Halloween Special: The Top 5 Dinosaurs Of The 80s-90s

"In honor of the Jurassic Park trilogy release on Blu-Ray, I countdown my favorite fictional dinosaurs from the 1980s and 1990s. I also have a mini-rant that dinosaurs should be represented more during Halloween and be seen more as scary, not cute or 'Xtreme!'"


See also: Top 5 Girls Cartoons Boys Secretly Watched


And check out: Black Nerd Comedy


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Theo Epstein, WTF?

The Theo Epstein Kool-Aid now being served is not our particular Cup o' Kool, but we are completely down with the glee Cubs fans must feel.

As with the fiscal management of the city, it will be easier to see just how poorly things had been run as the old administration recedes into the rear-view mirror.

As for the Cubs, they have been a lousy second-rate organization for decades. They were an apt doppelganger for their Tribune owners. Befuddled. Adrift. Arbitrary. Unaccountable. Just like Richie Daley.

Epstein is a classically trained modern manager of resources. He is to the Cubs what Rahm is to the city. It's an SAT question.

As for disabled quacker (lame duck?) manager Mike Quade, he was a perfect intellectual fit for the old Cubs. He picked a course that could not work and stuck with it as the propellers of the Titanic slipped beneath the waves. Iceberg? What iceberg?

Even when the club announced that young players would be called to the Bigs and field-tested for the future, he often sent them to the deepest, darkest hole at the end of the bench. He beat his pitching staff to a pulp.

The Cubs were a very bad team made marginally worse by a very bad manager. Even if Epstein were a sentimental good old boy - which clearly he is not - the chances that Quade survives for very long seem unlikely. Maybe a year. Maybe not.

2. Metra, WTF?

Why does Metra need another new $100,000-a-year chief communications and marketing officer? Have no idea. Hey, we thought you knew.

"This person will supervise approximately 168 contract and non-contract personnel in media, marketing, ticketing and GPS,'' Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said.

What does that mean? Again, you are asking us? We never knew that chief flaks also sold tickets.

And, yes, Metra has a spokeswoman to announce news about spokespeople. It's a living.

3. CTA, WTF?

How's this for great party planning: On the same say Metra is hiring a flak, the CTA is cutting a few.

The general manager of public affairs, manager of media relations and a spokeswoman waived adios. The bus folks didn't say, but this feel to be about 300Gs worth of flakdom a year.

Things are really tough at the CTA. The Veep of Com and Marketing has to actually make her own announcement that she lost half her staff. Who's left to put toner in the paper copier, for crying out loud? Oh, the humanity.

4. Jerry Reinsdorf, WTF?

"Bacardi in the Park" is a commercial restaurant freebie for White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf that taxpayers bought because, well, we're not sure why. No one else is either, least of all totally dense former Gov. Jim Thompson who OK'd the scheme but now seems totally discombobulated about what he was thinking at the time.

Listen to this key exchange that explains why you gave Reinsdorf about $7 million for his bistro:

"We said to Jerry, 'Jerry can we have part of the profits?' and he said no," former Gov. Jim Thompson, who was the agency's board chairman when the deal was made, said in an interview. "We said, OK.'

"I've known Jerry for 52 years. He's tough. He's tough."

Chicago is the city of broad shoulders and weak minds. Thompson is just a smidge less dense than osmium.

5. Stella Foster, WTF?

There are some concepts you'll never understand - why wings actually make airplanes fly; why pretty women sometimes marry ugly men; and also why the Chicago journalistic universe would honor Stella Foster as a "consummate journalist."

We never understood the fascination with her mentor, Irv Kupcinet, either.

But we rise for a point of order. What precisely is the "lifetime achievement" that Foster has achieved other than keeping her job while many with actual talent lost theirs?

If you're charmed by two-foot deep potholes as if they're a quaint Chicago localism, then you believe Stella Foster is a consummate anything.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

October 27, 2011

TrackNotes: Whither Illinois' Giant Oak? And Other Pressing Issues

Random thoughts that must find the light of day before the heavy golden doors of the monastery seal behind us as we solemnly vow ourselves to pace and speed contemplation and wagering enlightenment just a week out from the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships:

Will Goldikova add even more to her brilliant legacy with a fourth straight victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile (Grade I, turf)?

Be thankful for another visit by the truly great Irish-bred as the now six-year-old daughter of Anabaa returns to the scene of her scintillating 2010 Mile victory, the turf at Churchill Downs.

She's due to arrive in Louisville Saturday - Goldikova's certainly used to the trip by now - and trainer Freddy Head has already pronounced her "better than ever."

We'll see if that satisfies the wiseguys who contend she's lost a step as she's won "only" twice this year in five races. The other three were close seconds, and all five were Group 1s. Her last was a tough neck beat to Dream Ahead in the Quatar Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, France.

The 26-17-6-2 wonder mare should be happy to see a lot of the old gang at the gate as Courageous Cat, second in Goldikova's 2009 victory at Santa Anita is entered, two-time runner Court Vision will be there as will previous runners Get Stormy and Sidney's Candy.

Last year's runner-up Gio Ponti comes in off an impressive "comeback" victory of sorts in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland October 1. Gio ran into the hot Cape Blanco (since retired because of injury) twice, in the Man o' War three back at Belmont and on a very heavy turf in the Arlington Million August 28. This is Gio Ponti's second race off a short rest after the tough Million and the fact he came back to win is a great sign for this classy six-year-old son of Tale of the Cat.

But if Gio belongs in this race, why is he also entered with first preference in the Classic? Daily Racing Form's Mike Watchmaker surmises that Gio's connections are simply going for the gusto of the Classic. Makes sense because the Classic field may be easier for him to beat than Goldikova and a Classic win would be huge for a lot of reasons, including the $2.7 million winner's share of the purse.

The Breeders' Cup moved the Mile to the second-to-last race of the weekend, fully understanding its significance. This race alone is worth tuning in, and you might be able to brag at the bar that you saw Goldikova make history.

This year's Breeders' Cup Classic has the potential for a rather stinky field. But as with any race of this magnitude, there will be a couple of interesting storylines and that very lack of luster could also make it a great betting race.

Havre de Grace, the four-year-old daughter of Saint Liam, an old favorite of yours truly and the 2005 Classic winner, takes on the boys for the second time this year. She simply posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure of her career, 111, in beating the colts (including Classic entrant and potential post-time favorite Flat Out) September 3 in the Grade I Woodward at Saratoga.

Havre followed that up with a stunning 8-1/4-length win in the mud in the Grade I Beldame Invitational October 1 at Belmont. Her only loss this year was by a nose to archrival Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap in July.

In her only race at Churchill, Havre de Grace finished third in last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, but although she was certainly coming into her own at that time, Larry Jones took over training duties from Tony Dutrow, and she's put together a 2011 campaign - five wins in six races, including three Grade I's - that has her in contention for Horse of the Year honors. She'll lock it down with a win in this race.

Another angle is Uncle Mo's entry in the Classic when he'd probably romp in the Dirt Mile. The Indian Charlie three-year-old can run visually spectacularly, but all you're going to hear coming up to the race is "Can he get the distance?"

You'll recall that last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner was derailed on his way to the Kentucky Derby by a liver ailment that they say nearly killed him. After a "something's wrong" third in the Wood Memorial in April, his next race was a strong second in the Grade I King's Bishop at seven furlongs at Saratoga in August, and a fairly easy win at a muddy mile in the Grade II Kelso Handicap at Belmont October 1.

Not particularly regally bred for the Classic's 10 furlongs, there's no question he has the talent and attitude to win the Classic. But does he have the mile-and-a-quarter stamina? We don't know, as he's never been that far.

Mo's training well and owner Mike Repole always thinks big, so they're not backing down.

We know this happens too often in racing, but the Classic would have been that much better if Tizway had not suffered a career-ending ligament injury.

The six-year-old son of Tiznow, the storied back-to-back winner of the Classic in 2000-01, was headed for Horse of the Year honors with a win in this race after already winning two Grade I's this year, the Metropolitan Handicap in near-record time and the Whitney Invitational.

Emblematic of so many modern race horses, Tizway ran only 20 times in his life, finishing with a 7-1-5 record.

As a fan, you never really get over this kind of disappointment. Just sayin'.

Whither Giant Oak?

Here are several of his recent running lines: "Loomed 5wd, flattened; Fanned 6w into upper; Bid 7 wide, flattened; 4-5w,rzd 1/4,angl 8wd; 3w turns,5w1/4,willing; Loomed 5 w, missed".

When is this horse going to lay low a little bit and save some ground? It doesn't help him when he has to run farther than all the rest of them.

The Illinois-bred Chris Block trainee is going to need every inch of the 1.75 miles of the Breeders' Cup Marathon, and to win, that would include being able to stay somewhat inside, even if it is behind the pack, and then run down and outlast the rest.

He finished fifth as the betting favorite in last year's Marathon, forgotten after the Borel-Castellano fist fight post-race, and comes off a disappointing fifth in his Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap homecoming October 8.

As always with Giant Oak, we'll just have to see. He'll need everything to go his way.

Other Breeders' Cup horses you may be interested in:

* Caracortado, Regally Ready, Chamberlain Bridge and California Flag in the Turf Sprint;

* Jackson Bend, Wilburn, Caleb's Posse in the Dirt Mile;

* The females Midday and Sarafina and Winchester in the Turf;

* Royal Delta, Pachattack, Bobby Flay's Super Espresso and Satan's Quick Chick in the Ladies Classic.

A few things pop out when I think about all this gambling legislation sludge.

I predict the Illinois racing industry will end up getting nothing more than road apples instead of slots at the track when all is said and done, thereby hurting an industry that really is an industry: The care, feeding and racing of Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses.

But I'm also not sure racing should necessarily enter into such fealty to the shiny suits in Springfield, not that the Illinois racing overseers are choirboys.

Racing nationwide and in Illinois needs to develop common goals, innovative marketing and consistency across the sport. Just a few ideas: Get rid of the artificial surfaces wherever they are installed; require owners and trainers to race top horses against each other more often by forcing a funnel effect culminating on Breeders' Cup weekend; show the American public how great racing is (don't be afraid of trash-talking casino gambling in the process) and; along with providing a consistent product available to all through television and simulcasting, let sports fans know "HEY, there's a track, simulcasting facility or laptop computer near you!"

Why do I believe the people who run racing, to a person, are incapable of such stuff, even as the sport dies a slow death?

Wagering on the NFL becomes particularly difficult when you have teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who may or may not show up for any given game.

It was galling to see that when Tampa Bay finally did get up on an even keel (sorry about that) with the Bears, they were certainly capable of winning if not flat out the better team.

Based on that, I'll continue my disdain for the Bears, but I must embrace the idea that they continue to be one of the luckiest teams in football. A lot of conflicting handicapping next time as we'll have to take into consideration the bad records of teams coming off byes, the presence of some talent in Philadelphia and the Eagles' need to win the game. I also don't like the green QB - I won't print his name - who might be one of the most overrated quarterbacks/football players of all time.

I know it was never going to work this way but going back to the early '80s, I'm still waiting for the city and state to call Reinsdorf's bluff so I can watch the sniveling sports lord grovel at the feet of this "world-class" sports town or get on a plane to Tampa.

I'm as strong as ever in my resolve to never, ever buy a ticket to support these teams. As much as I used to love just going to the ballpark, I have to suspend too much reality to do it. So take once-every-few-years Gibson's and Bacardi rum off the list. Never liked Captain Morgan and without any car being in my consciousness, staying away from Toyota is easy. Seeing as how I prefer real beer, same with Bud Lite.

But after all that, it's still galling that I am involuntarily paying for these fat cats. About all I do have left is the amusement of watching people buy the tickets, get abused and then complain about it.

Thank the lord for the equines.

"Rebuilding" is not a dirty word and if Theo Epstein thinks it is, then it's his first step toward getting crushed by Kubbie Kulture.

In the near term, all they need to do is teach the players to hit the cutoff man, remember how many outs there are and hustle. If they can do that, the fans should also understand just how huge a first step that is.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:03 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"With the White Sox losing more than they won last season, a new restaurant across the street from U.S. Cellular Field gave fans a place where they could drink away their sorrows.

"But Bacardi at the Park was not brought to the north side of 35th Street by a generous corporate sponsor or the team's marketing department.

"Taxpayers covered the tab.

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, the government agency that built and owns The Cell, paid $3.2 million for construction of the restaurant plus just about everything inside the place, from walk-in refrigerators to bar stools, the Tribune and WGN-TV found in a joint investigation."

Say what?

"Another $3.7 million from the agency went for infrastructure upgrades for water and sewers at the Gate 5 plaza that made the restaurant possible.

Well, certainly taxpayers will get a return.

"The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority agreed with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf that the agency should not share in any restaurant profits."

Say what?

"'We said to Jerry, Jerry can we have part of the profits? and he said no,' former Gov. Jim Thompson, who was the agency's board chairman when the deal was made, said in an interview. 'We said, OK.'"

Wait. You gave him the taxpayer money and asked for a share of the profits? Who are you, Barack Obama? And after he said no you said okay? Did you strain your eyes from winking so hard?

"I've known Jerry for 52 years," Thompson told the Trib. "He's tough. He's tough."

The Trib doesn't say, but my understanding is that Big Jim was laughing his head off when he said it.


Take me back . . .

"So in 1983, claiming the old Comiskey Park was 'disintegrating,' and 'if we didn't get a new ballpark we'd go broke,' Reinsdorf again played hardball," Cigar Aficianado recalled in 1995. "Threatening to move the Sox to St. Petersburg, Florida, if Illinois legislators didn't fund a new stadium,he now explained, 'a savvy negotiator creates leverage. People had to think we were going to leave Chicago.'"

And they needed an amoral tool in the governor's office like Jim Thompson to go along with the plan.

"Reinsdorf did have one friend during the three-year imbroglio, Illinois Governor Jim Thompson. By June 1988, when it seemed certain that St. Pete would lure the Sox to its new Suncoast Dome, Big Jim twisted arms on the floor of the Illinois Senate, and the deal was done. Illinois funded a new stadium."

Except Reinsdorf was never going anywhere.

"White Sox owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn chatted privately with Gov. Jim Thompson Monday and assured him they were not going to beat feet to St. Pete, the Florida city trying to lure the team there," the Tribune reported at the time. "INC. sources say they also told the Guv that they wished the team`s end of the new stadium deal could be financially sweetened by the state, but didn`t make that wish conditional on staying put. What changed their minds? 'No comment,' said a White Sox spokesman."

Perhaps an agreeable Thompson who relished the opportunity to do a favor for a friend.


"Illinois taxpayers also got the short end of the deal. While Reinsdorf innocently insists, 'I didn't get into baseball to make money. Baseball is my religion. I'm happy to break even,' the Comiskey deal gave him free rent for up to 1.2 million in attendance each year."

Anyone living in Chicago for just a short period of time knows Reinsdorf isn't happy to break even, though he is happy to lie about it.

"The Sox pay the state $2.50 for every ticket from 1.2 to 2 million, yet the team also gets back $5 million a year for stadium repairs and maintenance. In addition, the state buys 300,000 tickets if attendance drops below 1.5 after the year 2001, so in actuality, Reinsdorf got public funds to build his stadium and subsidies to guarantee its profitability."

That's right. The state - meaning taxpayers - buys tickets if Sox attendance falls too low.

Occupy Cellular Field. If you don't, you pay anyway.


Back to today's Trib:

"Robert Baade, a Lake Forest College economist who studies stadiums, said stadium authorities should steer clear of economic development, particularly a business venture without sharing any profits.

"'This just seems weird to me,' Baade said."

Ya think?


Forbes estimates the White Sox are worth $256 million (and Reinsdorf's Bulls are worth $511 million).

Reinsdorf's net worth is estimated at somewhere around $300 million (he owns the teams with partners).

I don't know what Reinsdorf's annual income is, but his valuation easily puts him in the nation's 1%.

So by all means, let's lend him a hand by subsidizing his business ventures with taxpayer money. From the 99 percent, you might say.

The 1%'s Democracy
"A tiny elite delivers a hefty sum."

Percent of U.S. population making campaign contributions of $200 or more: .08%

Percent of U.S. population making campaign contributions of $2,500 or more: .01%

Songs Of The Occupation
First in a series: To Have And To Have Not.

Occupation Diary
The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72.

Beavis & Butt-head
This Is What It's All About.

Kitt Kops
Motorola's New-Age Police Car Features Voice Commands.

"KIck the shit out of him!"

"Shoot him in the back!"

"Use the drop gun!"

Halloween Balloon Twists
You know you wanna try it.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Twisty.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

Halloween Balloon Twists

Holiday tutorials.

1. Witch on a broom.


2. Cat.


3. Pumpkin bracelet.


4. Ghost.


See also:
* How To Make Animal Balloons
* How To Make A Christmas Wreath Balloon


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:53 AM | Permalink

Beavis and Butt-Head: This Is What It's All About

"Throughout the alternative-rock era, from humble origins in 1992 through hosting their own show from '93 to '97, two of the funniest but most insightful voices rock criticism ever produced worked as a tag team shining a needed spotlight on the fads, hypes, poses, and pretensions of the day, occasionally celebrating but more often agitating for music that was 'cool' over that which 'sucks,'" Jim DeRogatis writes on his Pop N Stuff blog for WBEZ.

"And now, 14 years after the end of their initial run, their proud creator Mike Judge - who also has given us Office Space, King of the Hill, and The Goode Family, for better and worse - is bringing those sages in worn concert T's back for round two."


"First of all, Beavis and Butt-head do more than just watch TV," Bill Wyman wrote for the Reader in 1993.

"In between sets of videos they wander across an unremarkable suburban landscape, inevitably injecting innocuous situations with terror and disaster. Between home and school and jobs they torture animals, blow up houses, hurt other people and each other, and steal. But the cartoony adventures mask a subtle commentary on adolescence in general, and the boys' responses to the music videos are particularly telling - those inane snickers contain a complex set of signifiers about the way people consume popular culture.

"At the first chord of a heavy-metal video, the response is an immediate 'Yes!' - nicely conveying the mysterious but instantaneous connection certain teens make to such music. Songs that utilize metal sounds but are somewhat more challenging - 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' is a good example - the response is positive ('Navarna is cool') but less visceral. Self-consciously arty or collegiate videos produce long puzzled silences and ultimately dismissal ('If I wanted to read I'd go to school'). And failed new-wave or old-school hard-rock bands, from Wang Chung and Loverboy to the Scorpions, are greeted with derision. ('I'm not just a hair club member, I'm the president!')"


In other words, Beavis and Butt-head are among the world's greatest semioticians, growing up at a time when media-savvy youth can read - and mock - the signifiers in an instant, like when they explain that when a band in a video all crowds onto the same couch, it means they're, like, really good friends.


"It is impossible to feel any affection for B&B," an uncomprehending Roger Ebert once wrote.


Leave it to USA Today to declare that "Beavis and Butt-Head Are Bringing Stupid Back."

Um, you're USA Today!


On Pavement: "Try harder, dammit!"


"(The cat killing) was a horrible thing, but it's a real reach to blame it on Beavis and Butt-head."


Back in stock!


Dammit, Pantera, this beer is warm! Get me another one!


This guy's under a lot of stress!




I can't believe she's talking to Snoop that way!


This is what it's all about.

*Beavis and Butt-Head Are Back

* The Glorious Return Of Beavis And Butt-Head

* Beavis And Butt-Head Are Gonna Score

* Gym, Tan, Butt-Head


Comments welcome.


1. From Lex Alexander:

When I told my friends that Beavis and Butt-head showed that Mike Judge was a genius, they laughed.

Then came King of the Hill, populated with characters people in my part of the country knew in real life. They stopped laughing and said, "Oh."


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:43 AM | Permalink

Songs Of The Occupation: To Have And To Have Not

First in a series.


Up in the morning and out to school
Mother says there'll be no work next year
Qualifications once the Golden Rule
Are now just pieces of paper

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards

If you look the part you'll get the job
In last year's trousers and your old school shoes
The truth is son, it's a buyer's market
They can afford to pick and choose

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because I dress like this
Doesn't mean I'm a communist

The factories are closing and the army's full -
I don't know what I'm going to do
But I've come to see in the Land of the Free
There's only a future for the Chosen Few

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards

At twenty one you're on top of the scrapheap
At sixteen you were top of the class
All they taught you at school
Was how to be a good worker
The system has failed you, don't fail yourself

Just because you're better than me
Doesn't mean I'm lazy
Just because you're going forwards
Doesn't mean I'm going backwards


See also:
* Song of the Moment: Anarchy in the U.K.
* Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man


Also From The Beachwood Occupation Affairs Desk:
* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)

* Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 AM | Permalink

The Chicago "L"

Greg Borzo, author of The Chicago 'L,' will discuss the history of the city's elevated trains in a Nov. 8 Society of Midland Authors program at the Cliff Dwellers Club.

Borzo's talk will explore one of Chicago's most enduring icons, a working antique that has contributed mightily to the growth and development of the city and suburbs.

Borzo conducts public tours of the "L" and local historical sites for the Chicago History Museum, Chicago Cycling Club and other organizations. For details on his book, visit


An award-winning journalist, Borzo was editor of Modern Railroads Magazine and has been a health and/or science writer for the American Medical Association, Harcourt Brace, Field Museum and the University of Chicago. His most recent book is Where to Bike Chicago: Best Biking in City and Suburbs.

Borzo will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor, Chicago. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. Reservations are not required. Admission is free, but the Society will accept donations to defray the cost of programs.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

Occupation Diary: The Horse, Keith Sweat And Cell 72


I'd had a long, productive Saturday by 10 p.m. when I parked my bike in front of the Congress Hotel. I was conscious of the dirt on my hands and clothes from working in the garden my neighbors carved out behind our house, but didn't expect any of the occupants to protest my filthy condition. The Occupation has leaned heavily on signs and symbols, both to define itself and to communicate, and the question of whether occupants should convey the appearance of our Sunday Best, Business Casual, "businessman's armor" (usually with Guy Fawkes mask) or just wear clothes we wear every other day was a point of debate. I headed for the contested Horse as I was.

A strategy police use to maintain the Horse as their turf is preventing people from establishing necessities: the usual trio, food-water-shelter, plus the socially obligatory necessity of the shitter. The Horse remains without shelter, as police clear tents when we bring them. Substantial amounts of food and water haven't been brought for fear that they'll be confiscated, and so not available at for all the hungry occupants. Finally, there are no bathrooms. I asked a cop where I might take a leak; he suggested the barroom of the Congress, from whence I came, kitty corner from the Horse, back across both the Loop's busiest street and the city's only grade-level expressway.

That meant I'd have to cross a well-defined no-man's land is patrolled by cops between those refusing to leave, in the center, and those who do not want to be arrested but are there to support those inside. A well-meaning delivery person carrying pizza caused a substantial ruckus when he found that his destination was across the police line. At first, the police refused to let our pizza go. Recognizing the plight of the hapless pizza person, the central mass rushed the line, dozens springing up at the sight of food, overwhelming and confusing the police sufficiently, allowing the pizza to travel over their heads. I hope payment and an adequate tip were equally able to travel back in the other direction. The boxes were spirited away in the direction of the medical tent, nearly empty before hitting the ground.

Serving up a mean dish of intimidation and protecting their general sense of dissatisfaction from our exhortations (appeals to the common interests of Police and Occupation such as rhythmically arranged messages like "Were Doing This For You!" and "You're Making Overtime!"), the po circle slowly, in groups, like sharks waiting for permission to swallow their prey.

Now after 11 p.m., then after midnight, fully expecting action soon. When they begin making moves on the periphery, distributing zip ties and positioning police wagons*, we sat down around our central landmark, the National Nurses United tent, interlocking arms.

I knew the woman to my right because we both attended meetings of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization and she introduced me to some of our neighbors. To my left a man introduced himself** and made it clear that he planned not to resist the police when they came for us.

We were now continually chanting expressions of our right to peacefully assemble in public ("ONE, we are the people; TWO, we are united; THREE, the occupation is not leaving!" and "WHO'S plaza? OUR plaza!"), shaming the police when they were visibly hostile (literally "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!") and proclaiming solidarity (" . . . forever, the union makes us strong . . . ").

I don't notice that the police were upon us, whisking us off***, until they've taken away the man three people to my right.

CPD policy seems to dictate that arresting officers arrest arrestees**** according to gender*****. What seems to have happened was that - having no female arresting officers immediately on hand - a male cop walked past the woman to my right, grabbed me on the shoulder and shouted over the chants, "YOU GOTTA GO NOW! OR YOU'RE COMING TO JAIL. YOU GONNA GO?"


* I've not referred to the ubiquitous police people-moving vehicle as a "paddy wagon" because of one helmeted union organizer, coincidentally named Paddy, who sat beside me en route to jail. Last week he'd grabbed the mic to scold those saying things like "the paddy wagons are here" on account of "paddy" being a racist term that we should certainly not use in our discourse.

** Though I forgot his name, I remember him as the man who later vexed my sleep-deprived mind by shouting to all of us who remained on his release from jail, "LOVE YOU GUYS NO HOMO WOOOOT"

*** For a good time, consider the coexistence of . . .

1) "extraordinary rendition (also "irregular rendition"): the abduction and transfer of a person from one nation to another"


2) The precedent that it is illegal to photograph or otherwise record on-duty police officers

**** Is this a word? Police and Occupation literature both use this language.

***** While I was arrested by a male officer and my guess is that he was probably confident of my maleness, I imagine this convention must have been problematic for several protesters.


Though the precise order of what followed was unclear, several things definitely happened quickly. I told the cop, "NO. NOT LEAVING." The cop struggled to begin lifting me. People to both of my sides let go of my arms. Zip ties restrained my wrists behind my back with none of the play afforded by metal handcuffs before I was fully on my feet. One cop pushed my back in the direction of another cop, who walked me at a leisurely pace toward a police wagon parked on Michigan Avenue.

At the curb another cop appeared in front of me and leveled a digital camera. I could not imagine for what the fuck purpose he wanted to photograph me - mug shots happen against the flat blank walls of police stations, not in the crazy confusion of crime scenes - so I stuck out my tongue to keep myself from thinking that I should spit on him******. But the camera's flash took longer than I expected and by the time it finally went off my tongue had recoiled and my hate poured exclusively from my eyes and brows.

Several people from behind the barriers made efforts to document the taking of people into the wagons. I'm was lifted up into the wagon and placed next to Paddy. An "officer of the law" stepped up to the fully loaded cargo bay, where we "criminals" sat on benches, to inform us we should not expect to receive the easy treatment given to the Occupy Chicago people the previous week, meaning a night at the District 1 jail at 18th and State. Repeat offenders would go to County at 26th and Cal this time. Several people in the wagon fell into the latter category, it turned out. The cop closed the door and we lurched north up Michigan Avenue.

Though we spoke loudly in the hold, the lack of windows forced us to rely on our tactile sense of acceleration to judge distance and balance to guess direction. There was chanting and discussion. Someone sang "The Wheels On The Bus." Somebody escaped his zip ties, but put them back on for fear of additional punishment.

At the end of the ride we felt the wagon stop and then back up slowly before coming to a stop. The door opened; we were inside a large garage. Between the truck and the entrance to the building was a serpentine path of a waiting area*******. We filed into the queue, carrying whatever we'd been able to hold behind our backs. One by one, young women in unmarked black coats cut off our zip ties and waited for each of us to remove our shoelaces, empty our pockets, uncuff our sleeves and pants, and remove our socks and turn them inside out.

We were then given a thorough patdown by male guards wearing rubber gloves while other guards sealed our belongings in airtight plastic bags. Finally we were brought into a holding cell - where everyone was glad to see a toilet.

This was the first time numbers were written on our forearms. Unprompted except by my facial expression, the cop numbering my arms with a Sharpie snickered and said, "Don't you get it? Here you're cattle to us."

One major difference between jail cells in Westerns and jail cells at CPD District 1 is that the cinematic jails have bars through which pass air, conversation and food. I imagine too that gripping the bars would feel empowering. We had no such luck. As we populated the reinforced glass-and-concrete cell, the temperature and odor rose. We successfully petitioned a guard to keep the door open for the sake of fresh air and, though I appreciated the alleviation from the hot stink, the notion of being kept in a jail cell with the door wide open was unsettling.

The cell quickly filled to standing room only density, the raucous elbow-to-elbow with the exhausted, the nervous and the outraged. Conversation fractured into unrelated directions and frequently these subplots wove back into one common dialogue: What just happened? How will we respond? We have to go back to the Horse tomorrow! Will we be out tomorrow? Have we been charged? With what? Has any of us been read their rights?

Dialogue began with a nearby cell but was made impossible when guards noticed and closed the door. Questions that we all had common interest in considering were ordered into a stack and the National Lawyers Guild phone number was disseminated and committed to memory.

I fell asleep leaning against the glass.

"VISKELLAYKUS . . . WILLIAM . . . " was the next thing I heard, waking me from my sleep only half-sure that it was my name being attempted.

"WILLIAM . . . VAYSKILLOKUST?" the guard tried again.

"What do you want?" I said trying to open my eyes, looking up at a kevlar-vested officer in maybe his thirties wearing a disgusted expression.

What the fuck is his problem? I think. Why's he staring at me? Did he expect me to jump to attention and ask "Yes, sir?" or declare myself "Present!"?

"Oh, nothing," he said. "I guess we won't process you now. You can lie on that floor and be an asshole as long as you want."

I looked around to see that the crowd had thinned. Apparently others who had communicated in a more polite fashion had been "processed"******** and moved along - hopefully released.

After a few more hours of sleep another cop along to "process" me. I did not understand why the cop operating the camera was so thoroughly frustrated that I looked angry.

"Stop buggin outcho eyes! What the hell your eyebrows DOIN?"

I tried to make my body totally malleable and that didn't work either.

"Don't let your face hang all slack!"

I still don't know what ideal mug shot he aspired to take. Luckily the fingerprint scanning machine was less subjective.

"So are we done here now, or what?" I asked the fingerprinting cop. He ignored me. I asked again and he ordered me to go stand with another cop. I asked the next cop the same question and he told me "We don't want to release anyone with a warrant and running fingerprints normally takes a couple hours." I still have no idea whether this is true.


****** For whatever reason, this is a train of thought that occurs to me with some frequency; that I might lose control of my supposed respect for a professor (or boss, or any authority figure) and spit in their face point blank and laugh so hard I fall asleep.

******* Not unlike the waiting line at Union Station or the DMV, except constructed weirdly with traffic cones instead of poles and freakily celebratory plastic pennants instead of the reassuringly seat-belt like queue dividers used by slightly more customer-friendly public servants

******** Photographed and fingerprinted.


Five a.m. was the last I saw of a clock. I'm led down a long hallway intersecting rows and rows of smaller cells. My heart sank when I saw that nobody had yet been released, but had actually just been relocated and separated, one or two in each room.

From each cell I passed other occupants looked curiously from behind small glass windows set into sliding steel doors.

The cop stopped, turned to me at the number scrawled on my left wrist and said, "SEVENTY TWO, HMM . . . SEVENTY TWO . . . "

We took a right and I was installed into Cell 72 at the very end of the hall. Many hours later I kept thinking: If only I'd known how long I'd be locked in Cell 72 I would never have entered it willingly. My crime was sitting in a park. How long can this bureaucratic bullshit take? I thought of my plans for Sunday afternoon (I'd bought tickets to the Third Coast International Radio Festival's Filmless Fest) and wondered if I'd get enough sleep to enjoy the show.

Like the rest of the jail, Cell 72 was a weapon of a room. The floor was sharp, coarse material that I imagined would probably do serious abrasive damage to knees, elbows and faces.

Along two walls a concrete slab jutted out from the wall; on the third wall was the metallic amalgamation of a sink, toilet and fountain; on the fourth wall was a door.

All the concrete was covered in thick glossy gray paint that seemed wet in the constant fluorescent light.The ceiling was reinforced metal sheeting pocked with holes.

At first there were only the small noises of the other cell doors locking. I laid down on the slab and stared at the fluorescent light through my eyelids.

From this point one, I cannot reliably recall the sequence of events. There were no clocks to be seen, and no cops or guards or anyone at all walking around, and the only other apparent living things in all the world were separately confined individuals yelling threats and demands and occasional voices of reason.

Of course, everyone was overtired now that it was morning********* but sleep was hard to come by in the cold rock-hard cells. I gathered that most other occupants had been put in cells together, and I counted having a cell to myself as something of a relief and a threat. I was glad I could relieve a sense of animal rage that was swelling in my arms in proportion to my inability to sleep by kicking the door and banging on the window without bothering a cellie. But I also wished I had company if only to be reminded of my waking, conscious humanity, because it was at this time that the hallucinations began.

Little happened all day Sunday. People screamed constantly; some vocal cords gave out. The most popular themes included "WE NEED MEDICINE IN CELL 38!" "PHONE CALL!" and "WHERE'S MY LAWYER?!" The human microphone called a mic check every so often, to decreasing effect, and usually appeals were made to be more and less vulgar to the guards.

At one high point of noisemaking I discovered that I could kick open a mailbox size slot in the center of the door. Panting in exhaustion, I bent down to look out of the slot, breathe the air outside the cell and listen to the racket as it sounded in the hall.

I alerted my neighbors that they could just kick the thing open. In the cell across from mine, two men had been locked in with a stack of vinyl records********** that helped pass the time***********.

Eventually my voice hurt to speak. I could not sleep and I began to speculate against my better judgement.

1) Are we being disappeared? Isn't this a thing that happens? The CPD has a record of violating human rights. Is this the opening salvo of a Rahm Emanuel-led fascist military coup?

2) There is some small chance that any given person may die at any time, and also a smaller, but definite, chance that every person will die at the same time. Perhaps everyone else is dead and soon we will die too.

3) Perhaps we have already died and Hell is simply jail.

4) This is the shittiest dream I've had in weeks.

Though this was the longest period of my entire dealings with the police last weekend, it's difficult to convey the extent to which it was mentally painful because it was about as eventful as a sensory deprivation tank.


********* Or so we guessed, judging by a reflection in a window that someone could reportedly see.

********** A confusing omen on its own right, aside from the confusing preponderance of Keith Sweat's Make It Last Forever.

*********** By what I imagine was midday, sliding each other the vinyl discs beneath the cell doors had developed into a full-blown pasttime. It was easy to slide them between facing cells, but I'm proud to say that I seemed to be uniquely skilled at curving the path of the discs towards cells adjacent to those facing me, putting my hours of knock-hockey play to good use. Unfortunately, I was not always successful, and nobody else was ever successful, at the more difficult shots, and so an amount of records accumulated in the hall. All of us crouched to look through the slots of our doors as one was almost retrieved with the use of a shoe, duct tape (from the shoe) and an evidence receipt.


Finally, after many hours, a guard materialized to berate us for mistreating his record collection. Everyone yelled at him about how he was evil for doing what he was doing and that he should join us and so on. His replies ("I'm old enough to be your father!"; "Don't you know I ride on the back of the bus?") seemed to confirm that this was Hell, nothing made sense here and reason was nowhere to be found.

Slowly, over the course of the afternoon, more and more of us were released. By Sunday night my perception of time and I were out of my mind. A man named Tom and I seemed the last to leave that night, or anyway, we seemed to hear everyone leave first. It had only been by a system (even if it was only in my mind) of whistle and reply, that I was sure someone else was still there with me.

My dad was waiting outside at 8 or 9 when I was finally released, and I realized when I saw him that I hardly felt human. I'd been so hungry in the cell that I found myself literally drooling at the thought of food, so we stopped at Lawrence's on the way home.

I noticed it was frightening that my roommates didn't notice that I was missing, but it didn't really bother me.


* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)

* Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

* Today In Occupy Chicago (Oct. 26, 2011)


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

There's so much villainy afoot I don't know where to begin.

So let's start with McRib.

"McDonald's McRib sandwich, despite several supposed farewell tours, is back for another limited run, serving an enthusiastic group of devotees," Phil Rosenthal writes in the Tribune on the marketing magic of scarcity.

"Hard to fathom they would be that hungry for a pork patty pressed into the shape of a small slab of ribs if it were a menu staple."

Is that so? Wouldn't McDonald's - and McRib fans - dearly love for the pressed pork patty to be a regular menu item. What prevents that from happening? Could it be . . .

. . . actual scarcity?!

It may be hard to fathom, but a friend who works as a food industry analyst and consultant once explained to me that there actually aren't enough pigs in the world to support McRib as a regular menu item.

Now, that's not what a McDonald's executive says in this story, nor a spokesperson in this one.

I believe my source.

One hint comes from the reporting done this week by Whet Moser, late of the Reader and now of Chicago magazine.

Within Whet's piece is a link to a Lincoln, Nebraska, Journal-Star article in which the "inventor" of McRib says:

"[T]he McRib comes and goes from the McDonald's menu for reasons that have to do with its intense popularity and a national supply of pork trimmings that's typically a lot more limited than the supply of beef trimmings."

That causes a rise in prices that McDonald's (and consumers) can't tolerate. If only there were enough pigs to go around! Then trimmings wouldn't be so sensitive to demand.

Seem unfathomable? Well, consider:

"Initially test-marketed in 1981, the McRib was the brainchild of McDonald's first executive chef, Rene Arend, who'd been plucked from the kitchen of a local luxury hotel and tasked with increasing the franchise's menu options," Maxim reported in 2009.

"Arend's most industry-altering achievement would prove to be the creation of the Chicken McNugget in 1979. And it was the success of the nugget that necessitated the immediate invention of the McRib.

"'The McNuggets were so well received that every franchise wanted them,' says Arend, now an 80-year-old retiree living in Chicago. 'There wasn't a system to supply enough chicken. We had to come up with something to give the other franchises as a new product. So the McRib came about because of the shortage of chickens.'"

So, yes, animal shortages exist. (We apparently also don't have enough apples to make applesauce a daily breakfast menu item.)

That's not to say that the McRib's scarcity isn't used as a marketing tool; it's just to say that the shortage is real enough.


Little did Bill Maher know when he declared a "new rule" last year that "McDonald's has to explain why it can only bring back McRib for a limited time. Are they afraid of spoiling us? Is there a global shortage of pork scrapings and smoke-flavored sugar sauce?"

Why yes, Bill, there is!

* Supermarkets Could Trigger Pork Shortage
* China's Pork Shortage Hitting Close To Home, Affecting Economy
* Supply Shortage Hikes Pork Prices
* ASF May Cause Pig Shortage In Russia
* Turkey's Pork Shortage
* There's A Shortage In Pork Bellies - So, Yes, Prices Are Rising
* Government Prods Pork Imports, Cites Shortage

Today In Occupy Chicago
Nurses vs. Rahm and other discontents.


To say the Occupy movement is getting lackluster local media coverage is an understatement; the protests aren't just nuisances but part of a phenomenal worldwide movement that is making history.

All those Baby Boomer editors pretending they were marching in the streets in the 60s - and all the more superior for it - and no clue as to what is happening and why. Get your heads around it, folks.

For a more dynamic (and global) view, just follow the Twitter feed of Occupy Chicago.


All those columns and editorials asking about the absence of outrage and imploring citizens to wake up and get involved and even take to the streets . . . empty thoughts with other agendas.


Isn't it funny, too, how suddenly the word "hippie" is back? Both because Baby Boomers apparently have no other frame of reference and also by its ironic, updated use by those formerly known as hipsters, who are now known as douchebags, who were once known as jocks.


The beauty of this movement is that it finally breaks the chokehold of the liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican, red-blue continuum.

This isn't about left-right, it's about up-down.

And not of the 50-50 variety.

Perhaps the Age of Reagan is finally coming to a close.


See also: Revolution In The Air

The Theocracy
Theo Is Here, But The Best Is Still To Come.

(And from San Diego, of all places . . .)

Drummers Advance To Chicago Regionals!
Like this dude from Kansas City!

Fantasy Fix: Match-Ups Made In Heaven
Beware Tim Tebow.

Three Chicago(land) Halloween Displays
Burying the dead.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Coffin kicks.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

Drummers Advance To Chicago Regionals!

On Tuesday, this dude (Ryan J. Lee of Kansas City) won his Guitar Center District Finals and advanced to the Regionals to be held in Chicago on November 15th.

(Video by djlee59)


Among the rules:

"Each contestant will perform on a 5-piece drum kit complete with hardware, cymbals, cowbell and throne. THE ONLY PERSONAL PIECES OF GEAR A CONTESTANT MAY USE ARE DRUMSTICKS, BASS PEDAL, DRUM THRONE AND SNARE DRUM. Yes, you're allowed to play on your own snare drum, but leave your toms and cymbals at home.

"New to this year's Drum-Off is the optional use of the Roland SPD-30, which the stores will be providing. Phrase loop recording and background loops are not allowed. If you attempt to use it in anything other than patch mode you will be disqualified. You may bring in a usb flash drive with only mapped out patches saved to it; no background or phase loops.

"Each contestant will receive five (5) minutes to set-up and three (3) minutes to perform. If you make it to the regional competition you'll receive five (5) minutes. Until then, focus on nailing your three (3) minute performance."


The Grand Finals are in January.


Drummers' comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

Theo Is Here, But The Best Is Yet To Come

Cross-posted from Swings Both Ways.


Finally, officially, Theo Epstein is joining the Cubs, not as GM, but president of baseball operations. It might be the ideal position for a proven winner with a proven system, but who might need others on his management team to balance his recent willingness to risk big deals on big free agents.

You see, the best part of this deal might be the deals to come - the likelihood that Epstein cohorts Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod could be joining the Cubs, too, as GM and assistant GM, respectively.

Hoyer would have been a good choice for Cubs GM with or without Theo, as he has recently overseen San Diego's emphasis on player development and getting top prospects in exchange for big names like Adrian Gonzalez.

Hoyer may have robbed his buddy in the A-Gon deal - we'll find it over the next few years, as the former Boston prospects rise in San Diego, and Gonzalez toils to help Boston return to prominence.

In losing Gonzalez, San Diego had to live with a losing season this year, but the youth movement there is similar to what brought Arizona a division title this year.

In any case, having a three-headed Team Theo is the best possible outcome for the Cubs, and could help Tom Ricketts make up for the debacle of Jim Hendry's departure - though of course Team Theo has to clean up the Hendry mess.

Team Theo could bring a more balanced attack than Theo would alone, decisive and aggressive, willing to take selective risks and recognizing that player development is the biggest need before getting the Cubs back in postseason shape.

It's still not clear who the Cubs will have to give up for Theo, let alone for Hoyer and McLeod, but at least we know there is new sheriff in town.

See also:
* Blame It On Theo

* Tim Kurkjian and Aaron Boone on Theo Joining The Cubs

* Michael Wilbon: Five Good Minutes With Theo Epstein

* Jed Hoyer

* 10 Questions With Jason McLeod


Dashing Dan O'Shea welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

Revolution In The Air

Haymarket Books is pleased to present:

Revolution in the Air: The Arab Spring and a World in Motion


Tariq Ali
world-renowned political writer, novelist, and filmmaker
co-author, with Oliver Stone, of Haymarket Books' On History: Tariq Ali and Oliver Stone in Conversation
frequent contributor to The Guardian, London Review of Books, and the New Left Review

Thursday, Oct. 27th
Doors 7:00 pm \\ Talk 7:30 pm \\ Free
Seating: first come, first served

Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
2433 N. Lincoln, Chicago, IL

Talk \\ Q & A \\ Booksigning \\ Bar

Please join us for an evening with world-renowned political thinker and activist Tariq Ali. From the revolts that have shaken the Middle East, to the Occupy Wall Street sentiment sweeping the U.S., mass movements have been born across the globe. Join us as we discuss this new resistance to the status quo, it's challenge to empire and the dictates of capital, and radical notions of democracy and liberation born anew.


Tariq Ali:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:51 AM | Permalink

Today In Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. From The Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism:

"Peace and social justice activists upset at Chicago police harassment of Occupy Chicago and verbal threats against those planning to protest the May 2012 G8/NATO summits will launch a non-violent action dubbed 'Occupy City Hall' beginning at 2 PM, Wednesday, October 26 at the intersection of LaSalle and Jackson. The action will include a march on City Hall.

"In light of the City's arrests of peaceful Occupy Chicago protesters exercising their 1st Amendment rights last Saturday night and the Saturday before that, activists will be demanding that the City drop all the charges against the protesters.

"During and after the arrests, senior CPD officers and other city officials repeatedly remarked that the City's arrests of over 300 were a dry run for crackdowns on anti-G8/NATO protesters next May."


Editor's Note: That's the way the media sees it too:

"The small, but growing protests by Occupy Chicago are widely viewed as a test for how the city will handle the much larger group of demonstrators expected to descend on Chicago during the NATO and G8 summits next spring," Fran Spielman wrote for the Sun-Times last week.

Note how the construction of the reporting places Fran and her newspaper within the perspective of Rahm and the "authorities" instead of the pesky protesters, who only represent a plurality of Americans.

Spielman went on to write:

"That's apparently why Emanuel is hoping to chart a path with the protesters going forward.

"'I asked our Police Department and Law Department to see if we couldn't find a way to go forward so they can continue to express themselves, which is what happens in a democracy, with also respect for the law for everybody involved,' the mayor said. 'So, the Police Department and Corp Counsel are working toward that.'"

The view from the other side, in today's press release:

"On a parallel front, since July anti-war organizers in the Coalition Against NATO/G8 War and Poverty Agenda ('CANG8') have delivered letters and attempted to meet with the city regarding respect for the 1st amendment rights of protesters during the NATO and G8 summits that will take place in Chicago in May 2012. Their first communications were met with silence, and then repeated calls to city officials in charge of the permitting process were met with a run-around and then with continued silence."

Apparently Spielman didn't ask any of them for their view in her report.


"For the G8/NATO summits, the protesters are demanding that Mayor Emanuel publicly commit to giving march permits that allow protesters to get 'within sight and sound' of the summits, and that Police Superintendent McCarthy cease making threatening statements against would-be G8/NATO protesters.

"'The G8 and the NATO military alliance are two of the institutions which bear some of the greatest responsibility for the wars and economic violence traumatizing millions of people around the world,' said Pat Hunt of CANG8. 'Previous meetings of NATO and G8 in other cities have seen massive violations of civil rights by police, resulting in millions of dollars of successful lawsuits against the host city governments. As such, the City should forthrightly commit to upholding the 1st amendment rights of protesters and rein in the verbal threats coming from police brass.'

"'In addition to dropping the charges against Occupy Chicago participants, we will also be demanding that the City allow a permanent 1st Amendment encampment for the Occupy movement, just as many other major cities now do.'"

2. From Stand Up! Chicago:

"Today, Stand Up! Chicago coalition members and members of the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United will march and rally to show solidarity with Occupy Chicago, and then gather at the Chicago Board of Trade to shine a spotlight on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's recent efforts to leverage tax breaks from the state.

"Occupy Chicago voted to support and march in the Columbus Day Take Back Chicago mass mobilization organized by Stand Up! Chicago, adding their numbers to the 7,000-person crowd calling for job creation and an end to corporate welfare. Stand Up! Chicago has since joined in multiple Occupy Chicago actions.

"Members of the Chicago and Midwest Regional Board of Workers United, a labor organization holding a convention in Chicago this week, will not only stand in solidarity with Occupy Chicago, they will also provide some winter wear and sleeping bags to help them brave the winter.

"After rallying, there will be a march to the Chicago Board of Trade to protest the CME's efforts to obtain additional tax breaks from the state.

"CME has a history of padding its profits - recently collecting $32 million in corporate welfare payouts from the city after threatening to relocate and thrust an additional 2,200 Chicagoans into unemployment.

"Today's action highlights the CME's efforts to use the same tactics to leverage tax breaks worth $75 million a year from the state legislature, efforts the CME claims are motivated by a desire for 'fairness.'

WHO: Working Chicago families including Stand Up! Chicago coalition members and members of the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United joining in solidarity with Occupy Chicago

WHAT: March and Rally at Occupy Chicago, with the presentation of union-made winter wear and sleeping bags to Occupiers, followed by a Rally at Chicago Board of Trade to Demand that CME Pay Its FAIR Share of State Taxes

"The Rally at Occupy Chicago will feature Noel Beasly, President of Workers United (an affiliate of SEIU); Richard Monje, Vice-President of Workers United; Juan Campos of Teamsters Local 705; and Susan Hurley of Chicago Jobs with Justice. Speakers at the Rally at the Board of Trade will include community leader Rev. Dan Dale, and Penny Peoples, an unemployed Chicagoan impacted by corporate welfare payouts."

WHEN: Today, Wednesday, October 26, 11:45 a.m.

WHERE: Beginning at Chase Tower Plaza at 10 S. Dearborn, then Marching to Occupy Chicago at Jackson and LaSalle, and then crossing the street to the Chicago Board of Trade

WHY: To show solidarity with Occupy Chicago in the fight against corporate welfare and to provide hats and sleeping bags to help them brave dropping temperatures.

"And to call FOUL on CME's Attempt to Obtain Additional Tax Breaks from the State in the name of "FAIRNESS." CME has already received $32 million in corporate welfare payouts from the city by leveraging threats to relocate.

"Now they're at it again at the state level, this time framing their demand for tax breaks as a request for 'fairness' since other corporations have managed to avoid paying their fair share of state taxes by taking advantage of loopholes.

"Working families are coming together to demand that the CME and the state legislature do what's FAIR to working families, and fix tax loopholes so that all corporations pay their fair share."

3. Nurses vs. Rahm.



* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

* The Week in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 21, 2011)

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (Oct. 24, 2011)


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Three Displays Of Halloween In Chicago(land)

1. Politics 'n' Sports Wilmette Halloween Lawn Display by 1hoseeman.

"The folks at 208 Lawndale in this Chicago North Shore suburb are renowned for their elaborate current events Halloween lawn decorations."


See also: The Masked Man of Lawndale Street


2. Halloween Rat Rod by Chicago Body and Chrome:


3. Where the bodies are buried: Daley Plaza. (Video by Joseph Gurerri)


Scary comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Match-Ups Made In Heaven

The three fantasy football performances people are talking about the most after Week 7:

* Tim Tebow, QB, Denver: 161 yards passing, 65 yards rushing, 2 TDs, 1 2-pt, 0 INTs

* DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas: 253 yards rushing, 1 TD

* Plaxico Burress, WR, San Diego: 25 yards receiving, 3 TDs

What these performances have in common - in addition to the fact that none of these guys had been among weekly fantasy leaders before Week 7 - is that match-ups, and how coaches reacted to them, played a significant role.

Tebow went up against one of the worst teams in the NFL - winless Miami - in a match-up made in heaven. And he looked beaten by Miami's middling defense for three quarters.

But winless teams find a way to lose, and Miami did, by playing poorly - and indecisively, if you believe Miami players' criticism of their own defensive coordinator - late in the fourth quarter.

Tebow should have excelled with this match-up. He didn't, but because of the finish, he came out a hero.

I have been bullish on Tebow recently, but Week 7's performance has me a little more concerned now than I had been before about a Week 8 match-up against Detroit, which has a psycho defense, and other upcoming match-ups against Oakland and Kansas City.


DeMarco Murray reeled off his monster game against the worst rushing defense in the NFL - St. Louis. It was the best possible match-up he could have had, and it got better when RB mate Tashard Choice was injured during the game. Dallas coaches decided to play the match-up for all it was worth, and kept Murray heavily involved until late in the game when he appeared to run out of gas.

Murray will have another decent match-up against Philadelphia this week, but Dallas probably will have to throw more, unless they can keep Philadelphia's offense on ice.

And after Week 8, things could get murky for Murray because Felix Jones will be returning from injury and he'll have to share.


Plaxico Burress' big game was an example of a coach playing against a match-up.

Not surprisingly, it was Jets coach Rex Ryan, who responded to Burress' plea for more attention by having him factor into end-zone pass plays against San Diego, which has one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. The Chargers appeared caught off guard.

All of this is not to say these guys won't continue to come up big, but it's a reminder of how week-to-week match-ups can play a big role in what otherwise seem like surprise performances.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report highlights the importance of match-ups in leagues using team defenses.

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes another young gun, Vikings QB Christian Ponder. Ponder started with a TD bomb in Week 7, though his best decision revolved around handing off to Adrian Peterson.

* USA Today weighs in on Chargers QB Philip Rivers, a once-consistent star who has hit the skids.

* finds the experts in almost universal agreement about the best, worst and most surprising fantasy performers of the season's first half.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads says Rams receiver Brandon Lloyd didn't let a trade to a mediocre team ruin his Week 7.


Dashing Dan O'Shea is one of the nation's finest fantasy sports specialists. He also writes the Beachwood's Swings Both Ways blog. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:34 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Let's take a look at the inbox this morning, shall we?


"Leaders from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an award-winning farmworker group, and from the Student/Farmworker Alliance, will be in Chicago this week for three days of workshops, events and protests calling on Trader Joe's to do its part to end human rights abuses in Florida's tomato industry by joining efforts spearheaded by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)," the coalition and alliance say in a press release issued this morning.

"The CIW and the nation's four largest fast-food companies, three of the largest food-service companies, as well as grocer Whole Foods, have all reached Fair Food Agreements, which improve pay and work conditions for Florida tomato pickers. Thus far, Trader Joe's has refused to participate in the campaign.

"Recently, the CIW released an astonishing point-by-point rebuttal to a new document on Trader Joe's website that attempts to justify the company's refusal to address farmworker poverty and abuse.

"At events in Chicago this week, allied-worker organizations, students, people of faith and consumers will learn about the part they play in forming a more just food system."

Those events:

Thursday, October 27

3PM - Presentation on The Coalition Of Immokalee Workers at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, Residents Dining Hall, 800 S. Halsted.

6:30PM - "Sweatshops in the Fields" a presentation with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and featuring "At What Cost" gallery exhibition by ART WORKS Projects. Caza Aztlan, 1831 Racine Ave.

Friday, October 28

7:00PM - Presentation on the Campaign for Fair Food at Centro Autonomo, 3460 West Lawrence Ave.

Saturday, October 29

3:00PM, LaSalle and Jackson - Teach-in about the exploitation of workers all along the food and hospitality industries. Speakers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, ROC Chicago, Unite HERE and the Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project.

4:00PM - March from the Congress Hotel (520 South Michigan Ave, 4:00) to Trader Joe's (1147 South Wabash, 5:00) for a combined protest with Unite HERE and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Now, I've been around long enough to not simply buy the charges against Trader Joe's without investigating on my own. On the other hand, I've been around long enough to know there's a pretty good chance they're true. For what it's worth.

I'm also slightly sensitive to the plight of migrant workers, particularly in Florida. I did some reporting on migrant workers there in my first newspaper job and I've never seen in the 20-plus years since people who work harder - and under such difficult conditions - and almost always just to make a better life for their kids.

And now, the obligatory Harvest of Shame reference. Unfortunately, shame is still warranted.


I worked in Polk County, Florida, which is orange country. I never thought I'd live in a town that smelled like its major industry (did you know Cedar Rapids, Iowa, smells like soggy oatmeal every day) but waking up to the smell of orange factories every morning wasn't half bad.


Speaking of the Jane Addams Hull House Museum, which hosts the first CIW event on Thursday, stop by today at noon for a lunch treat: The Soup of the Day is Sweet Potato Bug Soup. Here's why:

Speaker of the Day: Tommy Wu grew up in China, Germany, Texas, and Alabama, and is now attending the University of Chicago. He is currently working with Matthew Krisiloff, another University of Chicago student, to start a business selling de-shelled insects as an alternative sustainable protein source.

Topic of the Day: In some parts of the world, insects are just another delicious snack, but for most people in the US the idea of plate full of crickets is stomach-turning. At this week's soup, we will explore insects as an ecological animal protein and probe the idea of what makes a food (or anything else) disgusting.

Says the museum: "There will be an option for eating crickets during this week's soup."


Here's a Tommy Wu bug sandwich.


But you know what? They really might have something here.

We privilege certain animals simply because they are cute and cuddly, but what's the difference between eating a cow or your dog (vegetarian and vegan arguments excepted)?

Animal food is animal food. Maybe what Wu and his colleagues ought to do, though, is make their bugs look like McRib. Which is back by the way. Mmmm . . .

I don't care if McRib is made from asbestos and fiberglass, it's one of humankind's greatest inventions. If I had to live forever on a McRib diet, I would die happy. Maybe die soon, but happy.


From Stand Up Chicago!:

A growing coalition of community, religious and labor organizations Monday announced a campaign to derail the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's bid to obtain a massive tax break from Illinois lawmakers in the midst of a catastrophic state deficit caused in part by rampant greed in the financial industry.

The tax break CME seeks would be on top of the $32 million the exchange recently received in corporate welfare from the city.

Stand Up! Chicago, the same movement that organized the Take Back Chicago mass demonstration earlier this month against misconduct in the financial sector, called CME's proposal an exercise in pure, unadulterated corporate greed.

"Corporate greed in the financial industry is exactly what caused the economy to collapse at both the state and federal level," said Stand Up! Chicago spokesperson Elizabeth Parisian. "From stagnant unemployment to rampant foreclosures, average Illinois families - the 99 percent - are already paying the price for policies that allowed financial firms to make out like bandits. CME's proposal would double down on our pain. If Illinois lawmakers cut a tax break on gambling in the futures market, we should all make a big bet against a future recovery for Illinois families."

Stand Up! Chicago warned that already underfunded programs for average Illinois families will be further crippled if the legislature agrees to absolve CME from paying a higher corporate tax rate the state introduced this year. Without CME's $50 million share of the tax increase, average families are certain to see other state-funded programs and services diminished.

"They don't seem to get it," said Penny Peoples, an unemployed certified nursing assistant who marched in the October 10 Take Back Chicago mobilization. "There were 7,000 of us marching for jobs and for fair taxes," she explained. "We marched because we're hurting and because every dollar of corporate welfare hurts us, the folks that have to work for a living and can't find jobs."

"CME is right about one thing - this is an issue of tax fairness. But they've got the equation turned upside down," explained Parisian. "It is grossly unfair to give a tax exemption to a company like CME that is making massive profits on risky financial speculation, while everyone else in Illinois pays more to cover their tax break."

Aided by TIF payouts and city tax breaks, CME posted a profit of over $900 million last year, and broke its own record for profits last quarter. "We got into this mess because politicians gave favorable treatment to big-wigs in the financial industry," said Parisian. "We can't make the same mistake again. We call on Illinois legislature to take a stand against corporate greed - and to stand with the 99 percent of Illinois families that they represent."

Compensation for CME chairman Terry Duffy in 2010: $4,658,683.00.

You only live once, Mr. Duffy. Be a leader. Make us proud. Being a wanker is so boring and I doubt it will make you feel any better about yourself on your death bed.


From No Depression:

Now that Wilco has a new album out (The Whole Love, which dropped on Sep. 27), it seems like a good time to revisit one of our oldest, most tried-and-true forum discussions. What's your favorite Wilco album? It might be interesting to see what other people have had to say about past albums, and how The Whole Love measures up. Did they shoot the moon with this one? Or did they peak with Being There (or something else)? Chime in on that discussion, or simply keep reading for some highlights from the past week . . .

I suppose my favorite is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot because "Jesus, etc.," are you kidding me? "Ashes of American Flags?"

But . . . I do think A.M. is underrated and often tossed off as simply a collection of country-rock songs. They are great songs, of great small moments, be it riding on the passenger side because you've lost your license and need someone to drive you to your chores, or losing your money on a riverboat casino, to keeping your records from a lost love (or bromance with Jay Farrar) in a separate stack.

Like the succeeding departures Being There and Summerteeth, though, there is a certain lack of cohesion about the work - as a record. And maybe a lack of editing.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot solved that; everything came together except one flaw in a transition between songs that may or may not have been the source of tension between Jeff Tweedy and the late Jay Bennett.

The problem is that Tweedy is a poet without much to say; he's always been one of the most intriguing figures on the musical landscape but he's never really had a point-of-view or burning artistic statement besides that of Rock Fan Turned Rock Star Who Remembers What It's Like To Be A Fan.

I've got the next record after YHF, the egg one, or whatever, and it has some terribly interesting guitar work, but it also bores me - as do the too-cute song titles. After that, I lost interest. I don't think I've listened to a Wilco record since.

And then, of course, there's this, this and this.


And elsewhere in today's Beachwood:

"A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don't exist - even when they do," ProPublica reports.

Why do so many Americans hate democracy?


Chicagoetry: A Wren in a Wreath

A golem of grief.


The Best National Anthem At A Chicago Sports Event This Year

Thank you, Chicago Fire!


The Beachwood Tip Line: Golemish.




Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:28 AM | Permalink

Best National Anthem At A Chicago Sports Event This Year

By local Chicago musician Nick Vitogiannes before the club's 2011 season finale on October 22 vs. the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Government Could Hide Existence Of Records Under FOIA Rule Proposal


UPDATE: 11/4/2011: Government Cans Proposal To Hide Records


A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don't exist - even when they do.

Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what's known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.

The new proposal - part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice - would direct government agencies to "respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist."

Open-government groups object.

"We don't believe the statute allows the government to lie to FOIA requesters," said Mike German, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union,which opposes the provision.

The ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and said the move would dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government to be twisted.

The Glomar denial arose in the mid-1970s when a LosAngeles Times reporter requested information about the CIA's Glomar Explorer, built to recover a sunken Soviet submarine, and the CIA's attempt to suppress stories about it.

But the advocacy groups propose another response: You have requested "records which, if they exist, would no tbe subject to the disclosure requirements of FOIA."

They prefer such language because a last resort is to sue to obtain the records, something people requesting information might not do if they assumed that nor ecords existed.

Open government groups also contend that the proposed rule could undermine judicial proceedings.

In a recent case brought by the ACLU of Southern California, the FBI denied the existence of documents.

But the court later discovered that the documents did exist. In an amended order, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that the "Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court."

DOJ's draft FOIA rule was first published in March, but DOJ re-opened comment submissions in September at the request of open-government groups. The new comment period ended October 19.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Comment welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:11 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: A Wren in a Wreath

A Wren in a Wreath

So: there's this ghoul
in my soul,

a wren in my wreath.
In a heart full of holes

lurks a golem of grief.

A compendium of flaws,
a contraption of fate, he.
He's not everything,
he's just a part of me.

Of course, I have forged
a life mask with a modicum
of charm and finesse

(God! To get through the day!)

and crowned my fell heart
with a laureate's wreath
for endurance under duress.

Like us all, I swirl
with embattled selves.

Within croaks a ghoul
with an elephant's memory
for bleak humiliation
and roiling defeat.

I've christened him
the wren in my wreath.

He commands a gallows
of heartworn dreams, caretakes
a graveyard of botched ambition.

He embodies my Elephant Man:
swollen skull of cracked, grey leather,
hair-sprouting warts, drooling lips,
a vocabulary of phlegm-wracked slurs.

Yep: like a drunk
just a shot away.

I don't like him
but I must love him.

Because he's there.

Stress, fatigue
and crude draughts of relief

enable the guy
with the elephant grief.

Garlanded elephant
with a wren mahout
straddling his blades
and whipping his flank.

OK: not one wren
but a chime of wrens
like a murder of crows
with a case of the bends.

He's there, my wren,
my wrench in the works.

This Eve of All Hallows
I'll drag my life mask to the gallows
and for this night

I'll let the wren reign.

Yep: I'll purge the wrath
and savor compassion
for all ravens, rooks and knaves.

This night shall go judgment
to the grave.

To dawn
and the Day of All Saints
I bequeath

my shabby heart, my wren,
my wreath.


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


More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:00 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"As thousands of Illinois social service agencies, hospitals, schools and vendors were waiting months for overdue payments from the state, Gov. Pat Quinn's office pushed out a $285,000 payment to a prominent Chicago Democrat last month, just two weeks after a settlement was reached in a lawsuit, state records show," AP reports.

"Former Chicago alderman Martin Oberman and four other lawyers were the winners in a lawsuit that forced a special election last fall to fill the last 60 days of President Barack Obama's term in the U.S. Senate. As governor, Quinn was named as a defendant, and therefore the state was required to pay legal fees after a federal appeals court ordered the special vote."


Occupy Rahm
Item 5 from today's Weekend in Occupy Chicago:

"Mr. Emanuel - asked what his top priority is for the Illinois Legislature's fall veto session - answered that it's helping CME Group and CBOE Holdings Inc. cut their state income-tax load. The session begins next week.

"The firms now are treated 'not exactly in a fair way, at least in their view,' he said, and as a result are threatening to move some operations out of town. The big trading firms have made Chicago 'a worldwide leader' in the derivatives and options business, he said. 'It's important to us as a city and a state to maintain that leadership.'

"Mr. Emanuel served on the board of a predecessor firm to CME several years ago."


Emanuel's Biggest Cut: Services For The Poor.

Who's Zoomin' Who?
"Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found."


"Mayoral Chief of Staff Theresa Mintle helped enact a special early-retirement plan at her former employer - the Chicago Transit Authority - that entitled her to a $65,000 annual pension she wouldn't have qualified for otherwise.


But by all means, let's get those protesters out of the park.

Shooting Range
"A 2007 Tribune investigation of a decade's worth of shootings by Chicago police found that the department often cleared officers of wrongdoing after only cursory investigations, even when the officers shot people in the back or from behind. The newspaper's investigation found that officials repeatedly failed to interview key witnesses and consider important forensic evidence in a rush to exonerate officers," the paper notes in light of the Flint Farmer case.

"[Police Chief Garry] McCarthy told the Tribune the previous administration failed to recognize a pattern in police shootings and had no mechanism to track if officers were repeatedly involved in shootings. He also said the department did not have a system in place to monitor the emotional and psychological state of officers involved in shootings, suggesting they could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and should be kept off the streets until they are better."

Remembering Rutan
"Her name became synonymous with a historic Supreme Court decision that changed state government hiring in Illinois, but Cynthia Bard Rutan largely stayed out of the spotlight in the 21 years afterward," the Springfield State Journal-Register writes.

"Her death this month at age 62 generated virtually no media coverage outside her hometown.

"But even though Rutan didn't seek credit or adulation, thousands of state employees owe her a debt of gratitude for making state employment a more fair process. Those who have benefited from the June 1990 Supreme Court decision that bears Rutan's name - which is to say, state employees who have been hired or promoted without a quiz on their politics - shouldn't forget the long road Rutan traveled en route to her Supreme Court victory."

Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%
Making banks cool.

The Police Are The 99%
"By year's end, nearly 12,000 police officers will have lost their jobs, and 30,000 positions in county and municipal departments will go unfilled, both direct consequences of a faltering economy that has forced deep cuts in local government budgets," USA Today reports.

"The sweeping reductions, outlined in a Justice Department review to be delivered today to the nation's police chiefs meeting in Chicago, put law enforcement on pace for its first job decline in 25 years."

Big Tier, Little Tier
"I look at Occupy Wall Street, or DC or Chicago - my current home - and hope the conversation about wealth, privilege, and a decent life in America is about to start changing," hometown author Sara Paretsky writes for CNBC.

"In the 1980's, when I worked in the insurance industry, I read an op-ed piece by a health insurance executive. He said that just as Americans had learned to accept two different tiers of education - good for the wealthy and miserable for the rest - so we would learn to accept two tiers of health care. I thought this was so outrageous I wrote a book about it (Bitter Medicine), but the executive was correct: we swallowed two-tier medical care right alongside shockingly awful schools as if both were manna from heaven.

"In that same decade, as American business owners began shutting down factories here to send work to the cheapest places possible - even to slave labor camps in Burma - the Chicago Tribune chided Danville, Illinois workers who wouldn't agree to cut their pay to ten dollars an hour. The plant was moved forthwith to Mexico. Try living on twenty thousand a year, I wrote in one of my endless unpublished letters to the editor. Now support a family on that income."


By the way . . .

SportsMonday: The Bears Man Up
Special brand of mediocrity puts them in the wild-card chase.

Minnesota Nice Pottery Comes To Chicago!
A strong tradition of functional clay.

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

Occupy The Beachwood!
I'm back behind the bar tonight showing special love to Chicago Occupiers. Come for the free pizza, stay for the jukebox. 5p - 2a.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Park Place.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 AM | Permalink

Minnesota Nice Pottery Visits Chicago

Many people are familiar with Minnesota's strong tradition of functional clay, which developed with acclaimed potter Warren MacKenzie in the early 1950's. But as the master never could have imagined, an enormous and diverse community of artists, teachers, students, and collectors have emerged from the foundation that he built.


Our Minnesota Nice exhibition - which runs through November 13 - presents a fine selection of work that illustrates the continually evolving and expanding group of clay artists working in the region, including: Judith Altobell, Margaret Bohls, Richard Bresnahan, Bob Briscoe, Lisa Buck, Linda Christianson, Kelly Connole, Dick Cooter, Guillermo Cuellar, Gary Erickson, Jil Franke, Peter Jadoonath, Sam Johnson, Maren Kloppmann, Keisuke Mizuno, Mika Negishi Laidlaw, Mike Norman, Jeff Oestreich, Donovan Palmquist, Kristin Pavelka, Irene Saito, Pete Scherzer, Jo Severson, Jason Trebs, Sue Warner, and Warren MacKenzie.

Please join us for a reception on Friday, November 4, 6-8 p.m.


Beachwood Bonus Material:

1. Warren MacKenzie: A Minnesota Original.


2. NPR: Potter Warren MacKenzie's Enduring Craft


3. "As a functional potter, I make about 5,000 individual pieces of pottery every year. To think of them as works of art is foolish, but I do hope that they communicate something of what I feel regarding personal expression in pottery."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears Man Up

The Bears took advantage.

They tortured their fans all through the fourth quarter, but the team took advantage of a road game played at a neutral site, pulling out a 24-18 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to take a winning record into the bye.

The halfway point of the season arrives a week and a few days hence, so it certainly isn't too early to start speculating about a possible wild card playoff spot (especially since the Packers show no signs of allowing the Bears even a glimmer of hope for a repeat division title). And the Bears' 4-3 mark ties them for second-best among the non-division leaders in the National Football Conference, only a game in back of the top such team (Detroit).

As for the game itself, NFL officials tried to pump up the Buccaneers given that it was something of a home game for them (owner Malcolm Glazer and family also own Manchester United (which was thrashed by Manchester City 6-1 earlier Sunday). Wembley Stadium in London was a sea of Tampa Bay flags - at least early on. But there was no cheering to go with the waving, i.e., the crowd noise was never an issue for a Bear offense that has had more communications issues than most the past few seasons.

Grabbing a close victory thanks in part to an opposing home team not having a home-field advantage is the sort of result that can turn a mediocre season into a good one.

Not surprisingly, the controversy about the Bears waiting until near the end of the week to fly to London was overblown. Many believed the Bucs would have a big advantage because they had made the trip at the start of the week, but the bottom line is the flight to London just isn't that big of a deal. With just a little bit of sleep discipline (primarily avoiding an over-long nap during the day after arrival) a person can certainly either get over jet lag in less than 48 hours or even avoid it entirely. That probably won't be the case after the Bears' flight back today (the round trip does take a toll).

Some may say the Bears' poor fourth-quarter performance was due to fatigue but I would argue they just played poorly, in part because they were trying to protect a lead rather than continuing to stay aggressive.

The usual suspects the Bears have usually suspected would make big plays during the past several seasons (Matt Forte, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs) and just the past season-and-a-half (Julius Peppers) made big plays. Blockers like guard Chris Spencer created some space for Forte right from the start, and the running back's ability to wait for just the right moment to surge through an opening while making defenders miss was on display time after time.

Urlacher and Briggs continue to be the perfect linebackers for Lovie Smith's defense because of their ability to speedily drop into coverage, and they both turned such drops into big interceptions. The Bears caught a break when ref Tony Corrente saw a conclusive replay that I didn't see that convinced him to nullify Urlacher's fumble after his pick. I would argue that it wasn't just his knee that had to be down on that play but also that there had to be contact from a tackler and the contact just as the knee touched down seemed to pop the ball out instantaneously.

But the Bears had a break go against them on Briggs' pick. Chris Harris was flagged for blocking in the back during the subsequent return inside the one-yard-line, but Harris was hitting the intended receiver in the back a moment after the ball would have been arriving. It was still very much a defensive play, not a block.

Pay The Man, Jerry
Jerry Angelo will have to spend significant money on player salaries at some point relatively soon. It is estimated the Bears are more than $19 million under the salary cap for the 2011-12 season and the collective bargaining agreement requires teams to spend 99 percent of cap dollars on player compensation this year. He has waited to pay Forte, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, hoping the price would come down as the season progressed.

That clearly isn't happening. Maybe Jerry can find some time during the bye week to fork over the dough. Even if many believe teams should never pay running backs big money (they are too injury prone and every time you turn around a backup is having a big game, i.e., they are very replaceable), the Bears simply have to give it up to Forte, who is their biggest weapon by far.

Zone Coverage
I listened to a little post-game sports radio on ESPN radio and The Score and enjoyed Doug Buffone and Ed O'Bradovich as always, but also as always I could only take a few dim-witted callers pontificating about "the worst series of red-zone play calls I've ever seen."

Oh wait, the guy who said that was the guy who actually covered the game for the local ESPN outfit.

The Bears did not cover themselves in glory during the six plays they ran inside the 10 in the game's final minutes, but the second play would have resulted in a touchdown to Forte if Jay Cutler had just set his back foot a bit before fluttering a weak pass over the middle. And whatever play was called on third down had no chance.

Then the Bears caught the huge break when Aqib Talib was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the team decided to just run the ball (which is what so many "old school" fans call for teams to do anyway when they have the ball inside the 5-yard-line). I would have liked to have seen at least one play-action pass (the Bears are too often terrible running the ball on second- or third-and-short) but it was understandable the Bears wanted to keep it simple after the Ronde Barber blitz almost caused Cutler to cough it up a few plays earlier.

Graham Crackers
And finally, Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was quoted after the game as saying his team had to "change everything' about its offensive game plan after backup running back Earnest Graham hurt his ankle in the first quarter. Graham was subbing for LaGarrette Blount, who did not even suit up due to a leg injury.

Really, Josh? There's a reason Earnest Graham is a backup, and despite his having run for 120 yards the previous week, if he was the pivotal part of the Buccaneer game plan, the Bears were in better shape than they knew going into this one.

Now, one way Graham's absence definitely hurt Tampa Bay was in blitz pick-up. Bear blitzers abused third-stringer Kregg Lumpkin in the first half, wreaking havoc on the Buccaneer pocket.

They didn't pile up sacks against Freeman, who was strong enough to shrug off some of the resulting hits and skilled enough to get rid of the ball just before others. But consistent pressure certainly had plenty to do with Freeman eventually tossing four picks.

And while the pressure ebbed during the second half, Peppers finally brought the heat in the end. His powerful pass rushes on the Bucs' final two plays forced an incompletion and D.J. Moore's game-clinching interception. In other words, Peppers took advantage.


From NFL HQ: GameDay Highlights


The View From Tampa: Comeback Falls Short


Furry Bears Fans Celebrate A Rare Roy Williams TD


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:46 AM | Permalink

Jimmy Fallon (& Friends) For The 1%

Making the financial system that rips you off cool.

1. What Fallon Is Really Saying.


2. 1% Back.


3. Featuring "Be My Thrill" by the Weepies.


4. What's in your wallet, Alec Baldwin?


5. Regis & Kelly.


6. Aaron Rodgers, a poster and a bobblehead.


7. George Clooney can run, but he can't hide his overseas commercials from YouTube.


8. Yeah, things didn't really go to well in Iceland, Mr. Cleese.


9. Instant Karma's gonna get them. And we'll end up paying for it.


10. Wormwood Bayne: The Socially Irresponsible Investment Bank.


11. Dave Navarro: Citibank Is So Rock 'N' Roll!


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Deadmau5 at the Aragon on Sunday night.


2. Evanescence at the Congress on Saturday night.


3. Boyce Avenue at the Riv on Friday night.


4. Yellowcard at the House of Blues on Saturday night.


5. Amon Tobin at the Congress on Friday night.


6. Yelawolf at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


7. Duran Duran at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.


8. Black Angels at the Metro on Thursday night.


9. Yngwie Malmsteen at the House of Blues on Friday night.


10. Friendly Fires at the Metro on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. By kgosztola: "John Carlos, an Olympic athlete best known for his black power salute during the national anthem during the 1968 Olympics, and Dave Zirin, a sports writer for The Nation magazine, are touring America with their book The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World. They visited Occupy Chicago for a teach-in on Saturday."


2. "Dear Mr. Mayor: I respect you as a person. I respect your office. I also respect your Police Officers. And I love Chicago. Having laid that as groundwork, I do have to ask one question. What in the hell are you afraid of?

"Occupy Chicago is not communist. It is not Republican. It is not an anarchist group. They are Citizens who want to build community, and share their stories, and their lives with their fellow citizens of Chicago, Illinois. Why do you keep harassing them?

"The Chicago Park curfew is a remnant of the past that is so seldom enforced that is all but forgotten. You only use it when you need to bludgeon someone. So, why do you see these people, many young, many middle-aged, and a few of us gray-haired folks, as any kind of political threat?

"Mr. Mayor, as good a man as you are, you don't get talked about save for your relationship to #OccupyChi and Congress Square. You have a petition with over 9,000 signatures about that. Can you, please, do something to allow the group to camp there? Is there something in your power you can do?

"Sincerely, Cliff Potts"


3. Back to Grant Park.


4. More Than 100 Arrested.


5. Occupy Rahm.

"Mr. Emanuel - asked what his top priority is for the Illinois Legislature's fall veto session -- answered that it's helping CME Group and CBOE Holdings Inc. cut their state income-tax load. The session begins next week.

"The firms now are treated 'not exactly in a fair way, at least in their view,' he said, and as a result are threatening to move some operations out of town. The big trading firms have made Chicago 'a worldwide leader' in the derivatives and options business, he said. 'It's important to us as a city and a state to maintain that leadership.'

"Mr. Emanuel served on the board of a predecessor firm to CME several years ago."


Emanuel's Biggest Cut: Services For The Poor.

6. Occupy Madiganville.

"Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady urged 'Occupy Chicago' protesters to march over to House Speaker Mike Madigan's office to protest the many taxpayer-funded perks and privileges that he's doled out to supporters, friends and family in his 40 years in state government.

"'The 99% of Illinoisans that don't get a double dip pension, a legislative scholarship, a county or city job, an interest-free loan from the government, or special treatment on their property tax appeals should be outraged,' said Brady.

"Brady made the statement following the latest revelation about Madigan from a Better Government Association investigation that Kenneth E. Pannaralla - once a top precinct captain for Madigan - got a pension from the City of Chicago in addition to the three paychecks from his three current government jobs, including one as the executive director of the Southwest Home Equity Assurance Program, a government agency created under a law Madigan co-sponsored.

"Madigan, who is also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, also gave Pannaralla's daughter, Jennifer Pannaralla, a one-year legislative scholarship in 2003 to the University of Illinois at Chicago. And Pannaralla's son, Kenneth, is paid $24,000 a year as an aide to Madigan. Pannarella also received $25,000 in interest free loans from the government agency he oversees.

"'Occupy Chicago should Occupy Madiganville,' said Brady. 'What's a couple of bad years in the market compared to 40 years of getting it stuck to you by the Madigan Machine!'"

7. Occupy Mark Kirk.

"Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement, including the Chicago branch.

"He said it seems like a political and pharmacological event.

"'It feels like undisciplined, unfocused, unintellectual anger,' Kirk told reporters at an unrelated news conference [last week].

"He added that their demands would make for terrible public policy.

"'I think if the Congress actually followed their direction, we would have a deep depression and millions of American would be out of work,' he said."

8. Let The Pizza In!

"Police were preventing a a pizza delivery from coming through to the encampment surrounding the NNU (National Nurses United) first aid tent."


9. "Outraged by the arrest of two nurses and a union organizer volunteering at the Occupy Chicago protest over the weekend, National Nurses United is planning a protest at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office today," the Tribune reports.

"The group, the nation's largest union of registered nurses, is calling on its membership in Chicago to picket City Hall this morning to demand that misdemeanor trespassing charges against the nurses and all of the protesters be dropped."

10. Steve Bartman is Occupying Wall Street!


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:19 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Wow. When we said we needed to breathe new life into this old dog, we didn't think anyone would take it seriously.

Market Update
Well, if nothing else, Intelligence shares seem to be on the rise.

London Fooling
With the Bears headed across the pond for their Sunday tussle, we examine the NFL teams you won't see invited to London any time soon.

Up In The Heir
Remember when Princes were Charming? Rather than, you know, Geriatric? Or Feeble? Or just plain Horrid? Those were the days.

Let's Move
First Lady Michelle Obama is calling in the big guns to combat childhood obesity. While Mrs. Obama handles the food policy, Mayor Emanuel will handle portion control and appetite reduction.

And Finally . . .
. . . write your own damn punchline.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Punchy.


The CAN TV Weekend Report

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

Chinese Fine Arts Society All Chinese Music Concert


The 22nd All-Chinese Music Concert features classical music performances at the Preston Bradley Hall.

Saturday, October 22 at 6:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 30 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Centro Comunitario Juan Diego


Marta Perera of Centro Comunitario Juan Diego explains its use of services, trainings, and organizing to promote leadership and social change in the community.

Saturday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


The Peace Movement in 2012: Hope and Prospects


Activist Cindy Sheehan, known for protesting the Iraq War after her son was killed in combat in 2004, discusses the state of the anti-war movement in the U.S.

Sunday, October 23 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Improving the Education System


Chicago Public Schools teacher Jennifer Hartmann discusses flaws in the American education system, recommends reforms, and indicates ways to get involved.

Sunday, October 23 at noon on CAN TV21
1 hr


30th Anniversary of the Gerber/Hart Library . . . Making History: One Step at a Time


Brent Nicholson Earle recounts his quest to run 9,000 miles around the perimeter of the United States starting in 1986, raising $300,000 for AIDS charities along the way.

Sunday, October 23 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Public Meeting on CPS Extended School Day


Ald. Ameya Pawar joins educators, parents, and experts for an informational meeting and open forum on a recent proposal to extend the school day in Chicago Public Schools.

Sunday, October 23 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:00 AM | Permalink

October 21, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

"Hershey customers, conscientious consumers, and students will gather in front of the Hershey Store on Saturday, October 22nd, to collect petition signatures to Hershey's CEO John Bilbrey demanding that the company make a commitment to buy ethically-produced cocoa this Halloween free of forced labor, child labor, or human trafficking," the Raise the Bar Hershey Coalition and Chicago Fair Trade Coalition have announced.

Well, it's too late I'm sure for this Halloween - that cocoa is in stores now. Nonetheless, is it unreasonable to ask as consumers for products free of forced labor, child labor or human trafficking?

Who out there really feels comfortable consuming goods produced by human misery?

If the price of a Hershey bar has to go up as a result, so be it.

Or maybe there's another way . . .

Hershey CEO John Bilbrey's compensation last year was $4.2 million. Is it ethical to earn that much when, and this sounds polite to me, "Hershey currently lags behind its competitors in committing to source cocoa that has been independently certified to comply with international labor rights standards?"

What kind of people are we?

"A decade ago, Hershey signed an agreement to help fight child labor and other abuses in the cocoa industry," said Elizabeth O'Connell, a member of the Raise the Bar, Hershey! coalition. "Yet it has done far less than other chocolate companies to address these abuses. This Halloween, thousands of consumers are telling Hershey they're fed up with cocoa tainted by the abuse of children."

The protest is scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. at the Hershey's store at 822 N. Michigan Avenue.


See also: Child Slaves Made Your Halloween Candy

Fickle Trickle
"Fifty percent of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year, reflecting a growing income gap between the nation's rich and poor, the government reported Thursday," AP reports.

Let that sink in. Fifty percent of U.S. workers earned less than $26,364 last year. I wonder how many have families.

"There were fewer jobs, and overall pay was trending down - except for the nation's wealthiest."

Well, now, how can that be? Doesn't a rising tide lift all boats?

"Despite population growth, the number of Americans with jobs fell again last year, with total employment of just under 150.4 million - down from 150.9 million in 2009 and 155.4 million in 2008. In all, there were 5.2 million fewer jobs than in 2007, when the deep recession began, according to the IRS data."

5.2 million. I doubt all those folks were suddenly struck with laziness at the same time.

"The figures are just one more indication of the toll that the worst downturn since the Great Depression has taken on the U.S. economy. They were published as demonstrations rage on Wall Street and in cities across the nation protesting a widening income gulf between average wage earners and the nation's wealthiest."

Yeah, but I still can't figure out their message!

"The unemployment rate remains stuck at 9.1 percent, with more than 14 million out of work and 11 million other discouraged people who have stopped looking for work or are stuck in part-time jobs. Since 1980, roughly 5 percent of annual national income has shifted from the middle class to the nation's richest households, according to the Census Bureau."

Hippies smell.

The Week in Occupy Chicago
This is good stuff, people.

Does Anybody Really Know What Timelines Is?
A Chicago company with just five employees at 1802 West Bureau is pleading for your help in its "increasingly nasty" legal fight with Facebook.

The Money Never Occurred To Us
"It's for the children," writes the Parking Ticket Geek at The Expired Meter.

"That's the message the city was trying to sell at a press conference on Thursday where Chicago Public School CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy got behind an effort to swing public support behind utilizing the city's red light cameras to issue tickets for speeding. With very minor adjustments, Chicago's current RLC's could be used to enforce speeding violations in addition to issuing red light camera tickets.

"'One-third of Chicago children walk to school each day, and we must do everything we can to ensure they get there safely,' said Brizard at UIC College Prep High School. 'This new legislation will help us take additional steps to reduce reckless driving and enhance school environments so that they are safe for students and staff, which is vital for teaching and learning."

"Mayor Emanuel is pushing for changes to the state's red light camera legislation that would allow Chicago to begin using red light cameras to now enforce speeding violations.

"'We must do everything we can to ensure the safety of our children,' said McCarthy. 'Using Automated Speed Enforcement near schools will not only help crack down on dangerous traffic violators who put our children in harm's way as they travel to and from school, but it can also be a useful tool to utilize in violent crime investigations. This technology is about more than just cameras - it's about saving lives and preventing injuries.'"

Revenue? What revenue?

Green Acres
"The FedEx Express cargo facility at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport is now topped by a huge green roof - 175,000 square feet - the size of three football fields," Sustainable Business reports.

"The roof is plainly visible from planes as they land at one of the world's busiest airports. The only airport that has a bigger one is in Frankfort, Germany."

Maybe It's For The Children
"Chicago's Advisory Council on LGBT Issues is being merged with the city's Advisory Council on Women's Issues into a new council on Gender and Sexuality, which has a lot of people upset and concerned," Chicago Pride reports.

See also: LGBT Council Faces Uncertain Future

Pissing Match
"A policy at Evergreen Park High School allows students to leave class three times per semester to go to the restroom. After that, they have to make up any missed class time after school," AP reports.

On the other hand, the kids who made your Halloween candy aren't allowed to go to the bathroom at all . . .

Kelsey Grammer Is . . .
. . . Mayor McDaley.

At the Milwaukee County Zoo.


I dunno, I just like Milwaukee. And I wanted to say "Spooktacular!"

Monster Mash
The zombie apocalypse comes to 57th Street.

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


The Beachwood Tip Line: Spooked.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:50 AM | Permalink

The Week in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. I am a Chicago middle-school teacher and I am part of the 99%.


2. "In the end, the 30-minute nighttime conversation taught me that these folks have many of the same grievances as the tea party: They don't like the out-of-control debt, they don't like the out-of-control spending, they don't like the insider dealmaking and crony capitalism, and they don't like it that they feel like they are left holding the bag while the insiders with access to power get away with everything," John Tillman, the CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, a "free-market think tank," wrote in the Tribune on Thursday.

3. The "enemy's" encounter with a protesting rabbi.


4. Jack Higgins thinks you're all just a bunch of smelly hippies.


5. "I have degrees in economics and political science, I worked in an international bank international bank, I've worked in a state legislature. I've also studied business and philosophy and now I'm a graduate student at the University of Chicago and, honestly, the more I learn the angrier I get."


6. "You've got to make sure to keep this movement pure," former mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle told Chicago magazine. "You don't want this movement tainted by politicians. You don't want this movement co-opted by political parties, Democrats or Republicans. You don't allow union bureaucrats to come in and co-opt the movement. They can be partners in the process, but it should be kept as pure as possible, because they are what we've been waiting for: a grassroots movement . . .

"I would have allowed them to camp out - with controls, of course. This is a nonviolent movement, and we have to allow for this expression to occur. My background is in community organizing. We need to become a force. If Occupy Wall Street has taught us anything, it's that when people decide to move and move quickly and together, that things happen, good things can happen.

"Now some people might argue nothing happened yet, but the movement has gotten attention and that can set the stage and help create the climate that hopefully will lead to change.

"Maybe that change is getting more progressive types elected to office. Maybe it means doing something similar to what the Tea Party did when in the last election they practically took over the House of Representatives.

"But it shouldn't only revolve around electoral politics. There has to be grassroots organizing at the neighborhood level around issues that affect people on a day-to-day basis."


7. Talkin' 'bout my generation.


8. Occupy Naperville Holding Protest Saturday.


9. Joshua from Rock Island: "We can do better."


10. Occupy Chicago tweet 12 hours ago:

there is a single protester out at Occupy Arlington Heights. if you're in the area . . . show some love and stand in solidarity :)

11. "Interfaith Worker Justice published a Prayer Service designed to help people reflect on a moral economy within the context of their religious tradition," IWJ announced on Wednesday.

"Written for clergy and religious leaders, the prayer service is aimed for those Occupying Wall Street and other cities, and for congregational use.

"Many people of faith are seeking to understand how their tradition calls them to respond to the movement.

"Joe Hopkins, a young adult missionary of the United Methodist Church, working with IWJ's Workers' Center Network, was one of 175 arrested on Saturday in an act of non-violent civil disobedience at an Occupy Chicago site in Grant Park. The crowd chanted together, 'We are unstoppable; another world is possible.'

"Hopkins said, 'Imagine that world: families live together in their houses, the sick and elderly receive care, workers receive payment before the sun sets. I invite you to take a moment of silence to reflect on the voices so often ignored. Then when you've listened to those voices, break the silence. Join us in that possible world. We are building that world together right now, and you can build it with us.'

"Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, told the National Catholic Register, 'The core issues here are the growing inequality in the nation, the lack of responsiveness to that and the job crisis.

"'There is a growing frustration with what people have witnessed in Congress, which almost had a total meltdown this summer and couldn't get anything done at all. People are just like, What are our options right now? We've got to get attention from our policymakers on these issues.'

"The Interfaith Prayer Service is available as a free download here or at

"On Nov. 17-20, Interfaith Worker Justice and faith and labor communities across the nation are preparing for action aimed to develop an economic system oriented around Just Jobs."


* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

* The Week in Occupy Chicago

* Occupy America

* We've Got The Guillotine!

* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America

* Why No One Believes The Banks

* Occupy CNN

* RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

* The Weekend in Occupy Chicago (October 17, 2011)

* Just How Much Can the State Restrict Peaceful Protest

* Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:17 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Empires at Subterranean on Thursday night.


2. Rich Robinson at the Double Door on Wednesday night.


3. The Devin Townsend Project at Reggie's on Wednesday night.


4. Trentemoller at the Metro on Tuesday night.


5. Warren Hayes Band at the Vic on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink


Premiering tonight, 10 p.m. on Starz.

1. "He's not a bad man, but he does very, very bad things."


2. "In this city, power isn't everything. It's the only thing."


3. "The next Breaking Bad."


4. "Sex, Drugs, Chicago: Kelsey Grammer is the mayor of the Windy City in the nakedly ambitious new show Boss."


5. "A Little Macbeth With Some Mayor McCheese."


6. "Both Underwhelming And Over The Top."


7. "Boss, which begins on Friday and stars Kelsey Grammer, can't quite keep faith with its own cynicism. The series premiere is beautifully but ponderously shot: Chicago as seen through the eyes of a stylish European auteur. The story has some finely drawn characters and lots of promising material: This is, after all, politics the Chicago way. But too often the plot veers off into overwrought tangents that clash with the bleak realism of the story."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:09 AM | Permalink

Monster Mash

If you have ever wondered why the zombie apocalypse is such a hot topic in popular culture right now, sit tight because you're in for a treat.

On October 18, 2011, Scott Poole, author of Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting, sat down to have a conversation with Stephen Asma, author of On Monsters, at 57th Street Books in Chicago.

Plus, Poole and Asma get down and dirty with the topics of justice, serial killers, and the "psychology of monsters."


See also:
* Poole: Accepting The Monster In Your Heart
* Asma: Monsters and the Moral Imagination


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 AM | Permalink

The Milwaukee County Zoo's Halloween Spooktacular!

A hauntingly good time awaits visitors this Halloween as the Zoo magically comes alive with frighteningly fun activities!

"Halloween Spooktacular" takes place Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29.

On Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Zoo becomes a haunting Halloween haven, complete with all of the not-too-spooky and not-too-creepy activities that make this special event a real treat for our visitors.


Ghostly Giggles:
* Whether you're the Bride of Frankenstein or Spider-Man for the day, we invite you to march in our costume parade Saturday, at 2 p.m. Beginning in front of the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm, follow the costumed crowds to the Peck Welcome Center where you'll have the chance to win special prize giveaways!

* Enjoy Halloween entertainment specially designed for our little witches and warlocks. Activities include: A Halloween haystack maze; special entertainment by Razzmatazz; and a "meet and greet " with Jack Sparrow at our Pirate's Cove.

* New this year! Celebrate "The Year of the Bat" through special talks by our bat zookeepers. You'll learn the importance of these winged mammals, and what you can do to help save their habitats.

* Enjoy our glowing, hand-carved pumpkins in the Pumpkin Patch! Then, venture to see illuminated pumpkins, as they catch your eye against a backdrop of a musical, animated light show! The Pumpkin Patch is located in our outdoor Feline Mall, and the light show glitters along the Forest Trail at Wolf Woods Crossing.

* All aboard - if you dare! Hop on the legendary Zoo Train turned Raven's Rail as it takes guests on a spooky spin through the Zoo!

* Sweets and Treats! Visitors can gather goodies by visiting a variety of treat stops located among our animal exhibits! Venture to our new African lion cubs and lowland gorillas, as our volunteers fill your bags with goodies galore!

* Several of our animals also will take part in the Halloween fun, and receive special pumpkins prepared just for them - filled with their favorite treats! These pumpkins serve as enrichment, and allow the animals to display behaviors similar to those shown in the wild.

Don't Miss!
As you make your way through the Zoo, be sure to follow the Halloween Adventures of Harry and Fred! Your favorite rhyming storybook characters, Harry and Fred, return this year for another crazy adventure! This time, they'll uncover the mystery surrounding bats, and the huge role these animals play in preserving our natural world!

How Much Does It Cost?
Reduced admission rates apply for this spine-tingling Halloween event:

Adults: $8
Seniors: $7
Children (ages 3 - 12): $5
Parking: $11


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:35 AM | Permalink

October 20, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

I just wrote this e-mail to esteemed Beachwood colleague Tim Willette:

Re: Khadafy

(that's the spelling I still prefer and insist on)

Looks like we elected John McCain after all!


No, seriously, not like I didn't want Khadafy and bin Laden, um, dead, I guess. But Dems using it to bolster Obama's re-election makes me very uncomfortable. I'm sure Glenn Greenwald will articulate why better than I can right now.

Then again, with troops in Iraq coming home over the next few months - right? we're outta there? - foreign policy weirdly will be Obama's strength . . . even if we kill more civilians with drones than we ever have . . . and the detainment/rendition regime has been extended far beyond Bush . . .

Occupy City Council
"I absolutely support the Occupy movement." Joe Moreno, who happens to be my alderman, writes in the Huffington Post. "I believe that what these people are doing is the very definition of courageous. The people camping and marching should be admired for doing something that many people are too lazy or fearful to ever even consider . . .

"The constant media whining about the lack of message and leaders of the Occupy movement is, frankly, ludicrous. Life doesn't always fit within nice little succinct 30-second packages. In fact, it rarely does.

"Right now, this movement is more about expressing a feeling of revulsion and anger about where our society is. It's about creating a community, united by their loathing of the corporatism that has rinsed the vast majority (middle and working class) of Americans for the benefit of ultra-wealthy, over the last thirty years.

"Occupy Chicago's mission statement is that they're 'here to fight corporate abuse of American democracy in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.'

"How can anyone possibly disagree with that?"

What Is Everyone So Angry About?
Well, for example:

"Legislature Readies Corporate Tax Cuts For CME, CBOE"


"State Not Paying Bills, Social Services Struggle To Survive"


Memo to Chicago Mercantile Chairman Terry Duffy, who is angry because he thinks it's unfair that other corporations in Illinois have tax loopholes to take advantage of that he doesn't:

A) Now you know how the 99% feel!

B) The answer isn't securing loopholes for yourself but closing them for everyone else.

The Emperor Was Named Daley
And his courtiers were named Vallas, Duncan and Huberman.


Guess who his handmaidens were?


The "smoke and mirrors" weren't just in the budget.


Daley Brags About Giving Kids The Shaft On Russian TV.


To be fair (from the Beachwood last month):

"While high schools have long been considered the system's Achilles heel, the study indicates CPS high schools 'managed to accomplish a miracle,' said Barbara Radner, director of DePaul University's Center for Urban Education. Although each year of arriving freshmen showed up unprepared and not much more capable than the batch before them, high schools held on to an increasing number of them, and prodded them into improved ACT scores, Radner said.

"However, Radner said, after years of news conferences in which Daley trumpeted gains in elementary reading scores, 'in the end, the emperor doesn't have as many clothes as we thought' . . .

"Among the report's major messages is that 'publicly reported statistics used to hold schools and districts accountable for making academic progress are not accurate measures of progress.' Changes to the state tests, including changes in content and scoring , makes 'year over year comparisons nearly impossible without complex statistical analyses, such as those undertaken for this report,' Consortium researchers contended."


On the other hand, even the publicly reported statistics used by CPS officials themselves are no longer in their favor now that the system is apparently no longer being gamed.

"About half of Illinois public high school students flunked state exams in reading, math and science this year, the worst performance in the history of the 11th-grade Prairie State Achievement Examination, statewide test results show," the Tribune reports.

"The record-low results, scheduled to be released Thursday, come after Illinois closed loopholes that kept academically weak juniors from taking the exams, a practice revealed in a 2009 Tribune analysis. Some local school officials attributed their declines in part to the larger testing pool that included less-prepared students."

Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins Occupation
Chicago's Premier Punk Rock Choir scheduled to play Jackson and LaSalle on Monday night. Some performance highlights of their musical genius.

TV Starter Kit!
Featuring Walt Bodkin, Sales Manager.

(From the YouTube channel of the fine folks at FuzzyMemoriesTV.)

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Gruel 'n' Chips Edition.

In which:

"Two overrated defenses clash over the right to hold their opponent under 500 yards of total offense."

Chicago Beerfest: Last Call
Four events, one champion.

Nothing short of inspiring.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Both grueling and festive.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Chicago Beerfest: The Last Call

Four events, one champion. Will you be there?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:37 AM | Permalink

TV Starter Kit!

Here's a commercial for the WFLD "TV Starter Kit", devised to try to encourage retail sales advertising on the station. Featuring Walt Bodkin, Sales Manager. Give him a call (during business hours) at 645-0333. ;-)

Recorded in January 1975.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Gruel 'n' Chips Edition

How's The Meriweather Up There?
No seriously, how is he up there on the safety depth chart and Chris Harris is prowling the sideline in his Bears onesie pajamas? Are 15-yard personal fouls a new wrinkle in the cover two shell? The move is an active roster allegory to a Lovie-thrown challenge flag, though since it didn't cost the Bears any timeouts, you could make the argument that it was less detrimental.

Christian Ponder Looks 38-Years-Old
When did St. Paul District 19 PTA President Becky Ponder's husband get signed as the backup Minnesota QB?

During the game on Sunday night, I was convinced the rookie was older than Donovan McNabb.

To be fair to Ponder, McNabb could be anywhere from 22- to 47-years-old. Just For Men has made it nearly impossible to discern the age of black men. Frankly, I'm jealous.

If There's A Bustle In Your Heathrow
The Bears play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London on Sunday at 5 p.m. local time, so unfortunately the team will miss out on the Gruel 'n' Chips Buffet Special at Jude's Porridge Emporium.

At about $150 a ticket, good seats are still available. So if you're an air marshal, a zeppelin pilot or a double-breasted cormorant, stop on by for the footie!

Double Impact
. . . errrr, Double Team . . . or was it Double Dragon? Anyway.

Tiki and Ronde are twins separated at the death of their parents. Ronde is raised by a family retainer in Paris; Tiki becomes a petty crook in Hong Kong. Seeing a picture of Ronde, Tiki rejoins him and convinces him that his rival in Hong Kong is also the man who killed their parents.

One packs a punch, the other packs a piece!

See how much cooler Ronde Barber's life would have been if he had just followed the IMDB plot summary of a Van Damme movie*?

Kool-Aid (1 Out Of 5 Liters Of Spiced Rum)
Two overrated defenses clash over the right to hold their opponent under 500 yards of total offense.

The game itself is getting far less hype than Jay Cutler's latest viral video sensation locally and even though Tampa Bay is technically almost an East Coast team, nobody but Jean Claude Van Barber actually cares if they make the playoffs or not.

Matt Forte inexplicably gets 12 touches and the Bears lose.

Bucs 26, Bears 14.


*I could have sworn that Van Damme was in Double Dragon: The Movie, but it turns out that it was Robert Patrick, Alyssa Milano, they guy who played the T-1000, Scott Wolf and Andy Dick.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:21 AM | Permalink

Blue Ribbon Glee Club Joins The Occupation

Occupy Chicago is in for a real treat on Monday when the Blue Ribbon Glee Club performs for them from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Jackson and LaSalle.

Let's take a look.


1. At Ronny's in May 2007.


2. Playing Black Flag's "TV Party" at Looptopia in April 2007.


3. Covering Fugazi at Looptopia.


4. Performing David Bowie's "Life on Mars" at the Hideout in August 2007.


5. At the Empty Bottle in January 2008.


6. Warming up with PJ Harvey's "Dress" at WALLTOWALL Recording Studio in March 2009.


7. On Chic-A-Go-Go! in March 2010.


8. Performing Ministry's "Every Day is Halloween" at the Wax Trax! Retrospectacle last April.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:42 AM | Permalink

October 19, 2011

World Series Special: The Right Side Of The Rivalry

Let me say first that - in a sports fan kind of way - I hate the St. Louis Cardinals. Not because I follow the Cubs (I decided I was no longer a "fan" a few years ago), but because I have long found the Cardinals (like the White Sox) to be unlikable in so many ways, starting with manager Tony LaRussa. What a whack job. Truly one of major league pricks of the game and - if you read Three Nights in August you know this - sort of a psychopath (like so many "successful" people).

So it's kind of a big deal for me to admit that I finally have to give in and give LaRussa and, indeed, the entire Cardinals organization the props he and they deserve as they get ready for the opening game of the World Series tonight.

Damn. The last time the Cards won the World Series was in 2006 with an 83-win team - one of their worst teams of recent vintage. Sounds familiar. The 2011 Cardinals made the World Series? I still don't even know how they got into the playoffs, but I'm quite certain that LaRussa - and more obviously general manager John Mozeliak - must have had something to do with it.

Cubs fans gnashing their teeth at the still-undone deal to bring Theo Epstein to the North Side might want to chew over the fact that before Mozeliak the Cards had Walt Jocketty - who now oversees Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. The Reds, by the way, are closer to a World Series appearance than the Cubs. So are the White Sox, no matter how mediocre they are. As are the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL Central this year before falling to their fellow division mates, the Cardinals. As are the Detroit Tigers, who were the Cards' opponents six years ago and made a run for it this year until falling to the Cards' AL opponent, the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers? God I hate Nolan Ryan!

The Cubs are really the dregs of the Midwest; the Twins' disastrous anomaly of a lost season notwithstanding. I'll be thinking of both teams during the Series this year, though, while watching for two Cardinals whom I'm fairly sure few others will be watching for: Ryan Theriot and Nick Punto.

Theriot was eviscerated by the locals here when he was traded from the Dodgers (who acquired him from the Cubs) to St. Louis and entered Cubs lore by saying "I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry."

Who could seriously say that he's wrong?

I had to swallow hard and suck it up when Chris Rewers joined in the hazing on the now-on-hiatus Beachwood-owned Agony & Ivy blog. "You would think that Theriot would be grateful for his experience with the Cubs," Rewers wrote. "It was the organization that drafted and signed him and brought him to the majors in 2006. It was while with the Cubs, that Theriot was given the opportunity to become an everyday player in 2007 by manager Lou Piniella. Thanks to the Cubs, Theriot became a popular player on one of sports' most famous franchises. Thanks to the Cubs, Theriot became a millionaire."

Chris listens to Rush Limbaugh and supports the 1%, so I guess it's no surprise. But my recollection is that the Cubs nearly ruined Theriot. First they insisted on trying to make him a switch-hitter in the minors, contributing to lackluster stats that understated his offensive abilities. And somehow a fine fielder lost range as a Cub.

"Ryan Theriot was drafted in the third round in 2001, out of Louisiana State University," Prospect Retro noted in 2008. "He was considered a strong defensive infielder with the ability to hit for a high average, though lack of power kept him out of the first two rounds. Assigned directly to the Florida State League (big jump from college ball,) he hit just .204/.341/.252 in 30 games for Daytona, obviously not impressive with the stick, though scouts remained very impressed with his glovework."

That lack of power, despite his other attributes, really bugged the Cubs. You can start to see how he was mishandled by the organization from the start. This is why the Cubs are the Cubs.

"Theriot went back a level for 2002, playing for Lansing in the Midwest League. He hit just .252/.335/.313. He showed good plate discipline, drew 59 walks, and stole 32 bases in 40 attempts, also continuing to show good defensive skills in the middle infield. But his power didn't develop, and scouts said he needed to get physically stronger."

Um, maybe power isn't his game. Not unusual for a runty infielder. But look at the walks, stolen bases and glove . . . that's a ballplayer.

"Promoted to Double-A West Tennessee, he hit .236/.351/.270 in 53 games. Speed and defense remained assets, and he was getting on base at a decent clip, but the lack of pop remained a big issue."

Of course, the Cubs are the last team to the OBP party. As an organization they have been inexplicably and virulently against on-base percentage as a measure of a player's worth even as the rest of the world has moved on from batting average (and even "power").

Then at some point, the Cubs tried to make Theriot a switch-hitter. What?

Unsurprisingly, that didn't go well and his numbers suffered as a result.

"He took a lot of at bats from the 'wrong' side of the plate," Jeff W noted at Fangraphs. "By the time he worked his way up to AA, he finally had a talk with the coaches and told them he was not really comfortable hitting as a lefty, and they let him hit exclusively as a right-handed hitter. Hitting from the 'correct' side (for him), his average spiked and he eventually emerged as an everyday big-league player."

Right. But then he had to deal with Dusty Baker's aversion to playing young guys like himself.

And then he had to deal with the fickle nature of Lou Piniella. In 2008, for example, Theriot set the Cubs all-time record for multi-hit games by a shortstop.

The next year, though, Lou Piniella asked Theriot to drive the ball more, resulting in a surge of home runs that came and went without any long-term impact for the Cubs or Theriot except to fitz and fuddle with him further. Later, Piniella told Theriot his job was to get on base, though he didn't notice Theriot's failure to draw a walk for a month until reporters told him.

At the same time, Theriot was in and out of the leadoff spot - sometimes in favor of the declining Alfonso Soriano.

Theriot was also jockeyed between second base, where he had major league range and a major league arm. to shortstop, where he (arguably, compared to some who have manned the spot for the Cubs) didn't.

And yet, there he was in 2010 hitting .341 and on a tear when Starlin Castro was called up to take his job. Theriot moved to second and promptly slumped. Mike Fontenot, who was hitting .315, was benched and then un-benched.

Theriot was eventually traded with Ted Lilly (and cash) to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and a two pitching prospects - Kyle Smit ("I don't think we will be seeing him in the majors any time soon") and Brett Wallach (him either).

Meanwhile, Fontenot went on to win a World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants last season, while Theriot has a chance to win one this season. (The Cubs, of course, haven't won one as a franchise since 1908.)

Is Castro better than Theriot and Fontenot? Obviously.

Was Theriot the most important member of the team? Obviously not.

But the chain events illustrates the Cubs' inexplicable herky-jerky ways (paging Corey Patterson!) under the old regime.

And they vindicate Theriot's obvious - not inflammatory - statement about the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. There is a right side and a stupid side. Unfortunately, those of us who follow the Cubs are on the stupid side.

Tricky Nicky
The other Cardinals player I'll be watching is former Minnesota Twin Nick Punto. Punto was a vexing player for the Twins because his aggressive game of sliding head-first into bases (or other players) and chasing down every foul ball and running into walls often left him injured.

But like Theriot (and unlike so many Cubs, including the otherwise-awesome Castro), Punto is a gamer. Or what some baseball folk call "a glue guy."

"The terms 'team chemistry' and 'clubhouse culture' can at times be overrated in sports vernacular for their impact on games, but not every group of players can rally when their backs are against the wall with little margin for error over five weeks," Joe Lemire writes for Sports Illustrated.

"Mozeliak said that this year's team could not have made its comeback without such a strong clubhouse built on genuine friendships and harmony. He said that the acquisitions of right fielder Lance Berkman and infielders Nick Punto and Ryan Theriot were made in part because of their character."

Again, compare and contrast with the Cubs.

See also:
* 'LaRussaball' Conquers All
* Cubs, Cardinals: So Close In Miles, So Far Apart In What Matters


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Let me say first that - in a sports fan kind of way - I hate the St. Louis Cardinals. Not because I follow the Cubs (I decided I was no longer a "fan" a few years ago), but because I have long found the Cardinals (like the White Sox) to be unlikable in so many ways, starting with manager Tony LaRussa. What a whack job. Truly one of major league pricks of the game and - if you read Three Nights in August you know this - sort of a psychopath (like so many "successful" people).

So it's kind of a big deal for me to admit that I finally have to give in and give LaRussa and, indeed, the entire Cardinals organization the props he and they deserve as they get ready for the opening game of the World Series tonight.

Damn. The last time the Cards won the World Series was in 2006 with an 83-win team - one of their worst teams of recent vintage. Sounds familiar. The 2011 Cardinals made the World Series? I still don't even know how they got into the playoffs, but I'm quite certain that LaRussa - and more obviously general manager John Mozeliak - must have had something to do with it.

Cubs fans gnashing their teeth at the still-undone deal to bring Theo Epstein to the North Side might want to chew over the fact that before Mozeliak the Cards had Walt Jocketty - who now oversees Dusty Baker in Cincinnati. The Reds, by the way, are closer to a World Series appearance than the Cubs. So are the White Sox, no matter how mediocre they are. As are the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the NL Central this year before falling to their fellow division mates, the Cardinals. As are the Detroit Tigers, who were the Cards' opponents six years ago and made a run for it this year until falling to the Cards' AL opponent, the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers? God I hate Nolan Ryan!

The Cubs are really the dregs of the Midwest; the Twins' disastrous anomaly of a lost season notwithstanding. I'll be thinking of both teams during the Series this year, though, while watching for two Cardinals whom I'm fairly sure few others will be watching for: Ryan Theriot and Nick Punto.

Theriot was eviscerated by the locals here when he was traded from the Dodgers (who acquired him from the Cubs) to St. Louis and entered Cubs lore by saying "I'm finally on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry."

Who could seriously say that he's wrong?

I had to swallow hard and suck it up when Chris Rewers joined in the hazing on the now-on-hiatus Beachwood-owned Agony & Ivy blog. "You would think that Theriot would be grateful for his experience with the Cubs," Rewers wrote. "It was the organization that drafted and signed him and brought him to the majors in 2006. It was while with the Cubs, that Theriot was given the opportunity to become an everyday player in 2007 by manager Lou Piniella. Thanks to the Cubs, Theriot became a popular player on one of sports' most famous franchises. Thanks to the Cubs, Theriot became a millionaire."

Chris listens to Rush Limbaugh and supports the 1%, so I guess it's no surprise. But my recollection is that the Cubs nearly ruined Theriot. First they insisted on trying to make him a switch-hitter in the minors, contributing to lackluster stats that understated his offensive abilities. And somehow a fine fielder lost range as a Cub.

"Ryan Theriot was drafted in the third round in 2001, out of Louisiana State University," Prospect Retro noted in 2008. "He was considered a strong defensive infielder with the ability to hit for a high average, though lack of power kept him out of the first two rounds. Assigned directly to the Florida State League (big jump from college ball,) he hit just .204/.341/.252 in 30 games for Daytona, obviously not impressive with the stick, though scouts remained very impressed with his glovework."

That lack of power, despite his other attributes, really bugged the Cubs. You can start to see how he was mishandled by the organization from the start. This is why the Cubs are the Cubs.

"Theriot went back a level for 2002, playing for Lansing in the Midwest League. He hit just .252/.335/.313. He showed good plate discipline, drew 59 walks, and stole 32 bases in 40 attempts, also continuing to show good defensive skills in the middle infield. But his power didn't develop, and scouts said he needed to get physically stronger."

Um, maybe power isn't his game. Not unusual for a runty infielder. But look at the walks, stolen bases and glove . . . that's a ballplayer.

"Promoted to Double-A West Tennessee, he hit .236/.351/.270 in 53 games. Speed and defense remained assets, and he was getting on base at a decent clip, but the lack of pop remained a big issue."

Of course, the Cubs are the last team to the OBP party. As an organization they have been inexplicably and virulently against on-base percentage as a measure of a player's worth even as the rest of the world has moved on from batting average (and even "power").

Then at some point, the Cubs tried to make Theriot a switch-hitter. What?

Unsurprisingly, that didn't go well and his numbers suffered as a result.

"He took a lot of at bats from the 'wrong' side of the plate," Jeff W noted at Fangraphs. "By the time he worked his way up to AA, he finally had a talk with the coaches and told them he was not really comfortable hitting as a lefty, and they let him hit exclusively as a right-handed hitter. Hitting from the 'correct' side (for him), his average spiked and he eventually emerged as an everyday big-league player."

Right. But then he had to deal with Dusty Baker's aversion to playing young guys like himself.

And then he had to deal with the fickle nature of Lou Piniella. In 2008, for example, Theriot set the Cubs all-time record for multi-hit games by a shortstop.

The next year, though, Lou Piniella asked Theriot to drive the ball more, resulting in a surge of home runs that came and went without any long-term impact for the Cubs or Theriot except to fitz and fuddle with him further. Later, Piniella told Theriot his job was to get on base, though he didn't notice Theriot's failure to draw a walk for a month until reporters told him.

At the same time, Theriot was in and out of the leadoff spot - sometimes in favor of the declining Alfonso Soriano.

Theriot was also jockeyed between second base, where he had major league range and a major league arm. to shortstop, where he (arguably, compared to some who have manned the spot for the Cubs) didn't.

And yet, there he was in 2010 hitting .341 and on a tear when Starlin Castro was called up to take his job. Theriot moved to second and promptly slumped. Mike Fontenot, who was hitting .315, was benched and then un-benched.

Theriot was eventually traded with Ted Lilly (and cash) to the Dodgers for Blake DeWitt and a two pitching prospects - Kyle Smit ("I don't think we will be seeing him in the majors any time soon") and Brett Wallach (him either).

Meanwhile, Fontenot went on to win a World Series ring with the San Francisco Giants last season, while Theriot has a chance to win one this season. (The Cubs, of course, haven't won one as a franchise since 1908.)

Is Castro better than Theriot and Fontenot? Obviously.

Was Theriot the most important member of the team? Obviously not.

But the chain events illustrates the Cubs' inexplicable herky-jerky ways (paging Corey Patterson!) under the old regime.

And they vindicate Theriot's obvious - not inflammatory - statement about the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. There is a right side and a stupid side. Unfortunately, those of us who follow the Cubs are on the stupid side.

Tricky Nicky
The other Cardinals player I'll be watching is former Minnesota Twin Nick Punto. Punto was a vexing player for the Twins because his aggressive game of sliding head-first into bases (or other players) and chasing down every foul ball and running into walls often left him injured.

But like Theriot (and unlike so many Cubs, including the otherwise-awesome Castro), Punto is a gamer. Or what some baseball folk call "a glue guy."

"The terms 'team chemistry' and 'clubhouse culture' can at times be overrated in sports vernacular for their impact on games, but not every group of players can rally when their backs are against the wall with little margin for error over five weeks," Joe Lemire writes for Sports Illustrated.

"Mozeliak said that this year's team could not have made its comeback without such a strong clubhouse built on genuine friendships and harmony. He said that the acquisitions of right fielder Lance Berkman and infielders Nick Punto and Ryan Theriot were made in part because of their character."

Again, compare and contrast with the Cubs.

See also:
* 'LaRussaball' Conquers All
* Cubs, Cardinals: So Close In Miles, So Far Apart In What Matters

Blame It On Theo
This could be heaven, or this could be hell.

Chicago Lamely Welcomes Rosie
Dear Rosie: We suck.

ComEd Trying To Buy Votes
Pols swear ComEd is throwing their money down the toilet.

Hagfish in Chicago
A different kind of tribute to National Hagfish Day.

Programming Note
I'll return to the news this week, I swear. Bill Cellini, I know. Rahm being Rahm each and every day, I know. Sweetness, the biography; I've read it! Lots more to come unless I decide to just Occupy The Beachwood Cooler and die happy.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Disemboweling.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

Hagfish in Chicago

In observation of National Hagfish Day, we bring you . . . Hagfish!

At the Metro sometime in the mid-90s (via JBTV).


From the Beachwood-recommended Hagfish . . . Rocks Your Lame Ass.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

ComEd Trying To Buy Smart Grid Votes

Illinois' two largest utility providers have given $116,400 to the campaign warchests of lawmakers just weeks before the Legislature is expected to address a contentious rate-hike veto.

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislation last month that would have allowed Commonwealth Edison Co. and Ameren to charge customers more to pay for statewide infrastructure upgrades.

Under this proposal, Commonwealth Edison Co. customers would have seen their bill jump by $36 a year and Ameren customers by $40 more annually.

The General Assembly likely will take up the measure when it returns here Oct. 25 during the fall veto session.

Commonwealth Edison Co. and its parent company, Exelon, and Ameren have donated to 38 legislators since Quinn's veto Sept. 12, according to Illinois State Board of Election records.

"They are trying to reinforce positions, so they definitely give money to people that have supported them in the past. They give money to leaders, but they are also trying to influence votes," said Kent Redfield, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

smartgrid.jpg(Expand Image)


Nine of the 38 legislators either voted "no" or "present" on the legislation in the spring. The measure squeaked out of the General Assembly with votes of 67-47 in the House and 31-24 in the Senate. If bill proponents want to override Quinn's veto, they need 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate.

The largest chunk of cash from the utility companies - $19,000 - went to the State Senate and House Republican caucuses. The State Senate Democratic caucus received $15,000. Caucuses can divide that money among their members to help in upcoming re-election efforts.

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, received a total of $8,000, the most from the two power companies in recent weeks. The former GOP gubernatorial candidate was followed by House GOP Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, who was given a total of $6,000 from both companies.

Cross and Brady voted for the legislation earlier this year.

Lawmakers in favor of the plan insist they want what's best for the consumer and aren't influenced by money.

In fact, state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, allegedly struck fellow Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, on the Senate floor during a debate, after McCarter said Jacobs' father, Denny Jacobs, is a lobbyist for Commonwealth Edison.

Jacobs, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, has received $3,000 from both companies since Quinn's veto.

For his part, Jacobs said the measure is about upgrading an aging electrical grid.

"What does a utility company care if they build a new smart grid? They're still going to have customers (if they don't). This is going to be good for citizens, you just can't rely on a grid that was built in the 1800s," Jacobs said.

State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, agreed that the electrical grid needs to be modernized. However, he voted no on the original legislation. Luechtefeld has received $1,000 from Ameren since Quinn's veto.

"When I voted that fist time I voted no and I had mixed fillings on it. I still don't know how I'm going to vote as far as an override," Luechtefeld said. "I can't say there is any one thing I want changed. I can't say anything other than (the original legislation) was too good of a deal for ComEd and Ameren."

Luechtefeld said that Ameren's contribution to his campaign won't play a factor in how he votes.

Regardless of campaign donations, Redfield said there are likely to be changes to the legislation before a veto override is possible.

"Just running the same bill you're going to get the same results. So the critical question is are you going to get a series of changes and modifications that are agreed to that will allow people who voted against the bill to vote for the override," Redfield said.

If the measure can't be pushed through the legislature during the fall veto session, Jacobs said he would likely reintroduce some form of the legislation in the spring.


See also: Special Interests Giving To Politicians Ahead Of Veto Session


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:57 AM | Permalink

Chicago Lamely Welcomes Rosie O'Donnell To Town

Dear Rosie:

Despite our supposed, newfound world-class status, we are really still a lame cowtown with second-rate insecurities to match our obvious non-New York-, non-Los Angeles-ness.


1. We have a well-compensated, relatively popular columnist here named Mary Schmich. When not churning out her umpteenth meditation on the weather, she writes things like this:

"Welcome to Chicago! We were really psyched to read in the Tribune the other day that you are getting such a warm bienvenidos from our frosty town as you inaugurate The Rosie Show.

"But as your new neighbors, Rosie, we would like to offer you some advice: Do not go around saying things like, and I quote, "The only thing I'm afraid of is this 'snowmageddon' winter thing, but my garage is apparently heated, which is essential, I've heard."

"A heated garage? Essential? You really heard that?

"Here's what's essential in a Chicago winter: a snow scraper.

"Scraper on one end, brush on the other. Plastic. Cheap. And don't forget to do the side mirrors!

"Gloves are essential, too, Rosie. And a humidifier, at least if you don't want to scratch your skin to confetti. And a coat that covers your butt - an absolute must. Man, I cannot tell you how many newcomers - I was one once - have failed to understand the importance of the fully insulated derriere."

Oh, it's a weather column after all!

"But a heated garage?

"Rosie, the essence of living happily in Chicago is to not act too high and mighty, unless you are the mayor. And even mayors have to pretend sometimes like dey're one of da people even when dey ain't."

Because we don't have spoiled, rich people who use heated garages in Chicago.

We're just a bunch of working stiffs!

Then again, as an Urban Turf post from last winter shows, this isn't a new trope for Schmich.

"Mary Schmich's recent article in the Tribune about heated sidewalks discussed their status as a luxury item (albeit a convenient one) that belies Chicago's 'gritty soul' (after all, we're tough, we can deal with a little snow). 'Chicagoans are attached to their identities as shovelers, as people who bravely battle the beasts of winter. How soft would we grow if we let sidewalks vanquish ice and snow for us?' Schmich wrote.

"However, if you're in the market for a new home and do not necessarily self-identify as someone who handles snow with hardiness and panache, be prepared to pay for the luxury - most properties UrbanTurf has found that have heated sidewalks or driveways are in the six-figure range, like this Lincoln Park single family home at 1814 North Burling Street. With four bedrooms and ten-foot ceilings, the heated driveway is a nice extra touch."

Schmich apparently hasn't caught on to the global elite that come with a global city. In her world, we're all still a bunch of Ditkas, when in reality Chicago is comprised of an upper crust whose wealth mostly derives from inheritance, financial services and corporate professionals of a certain rank; a shrinking middle-class of upwardly mobile immigrants and downwardly mobile public service workers and corporate drones; and a rapidly expanding lost class often referred to as the "flexible" part of the labor force. Da Bears was 25 years ago when industrial relocation was first underway.

But then, which part of Chicago does Schmich hail from?

"Two of the houses across from my place have heated sidewalks," she wrote last February.

Oh. Rosie's part!

2. From The Central Lake View Merchants Association e-mail newsletter:

"Special thanks to all the businesses who donated items for Rosie's welcome basket."

A welcome basket?

It gets worse.

"Due to the overwhelming response from 81 businesses, we ended up filling an entire van full of gifts!"


Oh my Lord.

"We appreciate our PR firm Motion for setting up the contacts with her studio and allowing us to help welcome Rosie to the neighborhood."

A gift (van) rustled up through a PR firm! Maybe we're big-city after all . . .

"Rosie couldn't believe how generous all of the businesses were, and will be sending out individual thank you cards."

She just couldn't believe it!

Like, she probably got the van and went, "Are you freakin' kidding me? What is this, Des Moines?"

3. Another Schmich column!

"Follow these readers' tips, Rosie, and you're on your way to being one of us."

Or ignore these tips and maintain some sliver of respectability!

"In case you haven't noticed, Rosie," Schmich writes, and can she call you Rosie?, "the only thing Chicagoans debate more than politics and baseball is pizza. Except when they're debating whether ketchup belongs on hot dogs."

At least in media tropeville. Some of us who have lived here for at least, oh, 20 years can't recall really ever debating about pizza at all, though at least four polite discussions of the merits of various pizza places have taken place without incident.

Then again, I haven't been to the Billy Goat in a long time!

4. Rosie's new home in Chicago includes a home theater, a sports bar and a 2,000 square-foot rooftop deck.

Maybe invite your new pal Mary over and pretend you're "real Chicagoans."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Rare NFL Trades That Could Actually Affect Your Team!

The only thing less frequent than a fantasy football trade is an actual NFL trade, and we've had two big ones in the last couple days: Semi-retired/exiled QB Carson Palmer is headed from Cincinnati to Oakland for first- and second-round draft picks, and WR Brandon Lloyd is going from Denver to St. Louis for a late-round pick.

Both of these deals have some strong fantasy implications, especially the Palmer deal. It's unclear how soon he will start, and he certainly will need a couple games worth of reps to make an impact, but he's a terrific waiver wire pick-up to stash on your roster for the second half of the season - he will have at least five solid targets in WRs Denarious Moore, Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford, plus a pass-catching TE, Kevin Boss, who wasn't really on the same page as Oakland's previous, now-injured QB Jason Campbell.

Palmer was a big yardage and TD threat in his best years in Cincy, throwing to the likes of Chad then-Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but also was plagued by INTs. In Oakland, he'll be behind one of the most secure offensive lines in the NFL (tied for a league-low seven sacks given-up), which could limit the mistakes. Palmer should be a nice option for the last five or six games of the season, so he could be a difference-maker in fantasy playoffs. The numbers of all Oakland receivers might be due for a nice boost, too.

The Lloyd trade is a little more difficult to analyze. In St. Louis, he becomes the obvious No. 1 target, which can be both good and bad. He may have to deal with heavier coverage than in Denver, and St. Louis QB Sam Bradford is having a tough sophomore year, getting sacked frequently. In Denver, Lloyd stood to probably lose some catches with Tim Tebow taking over at QB and needing to throw some shorter routes, but could have picked up more TD receptions.

The fantasy winners in this deal may be Denver's remaining WRs - Eric Decker, who no longer has to share with Lloyd; Demaryius Thomas, who has been viewed as a sleeper; and even the forgotten Eddie Royal. Lloyd may be less fortunate in St. Louis.

Expert Wire
* believes another winner in the Palmer trade is Oakland RB Darren McFadden.

* Bleacher Report says Lloyd could benefit from the Rams' pass-happy ways.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads likes rookie Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray to take over for the injured Felix Jones.

* SB Nation has another clue in the mysterious disappearance of Browns RB Peyton Hillis. Hillis went from last year's surprise star to this year's dud, but now he's getting an MRI.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:32 AM | Permalink

October 18, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Things are running late as they are wont to do on Tuesdays; a really fun time at the venerable Beachwood Inn last night. Thanks in particular to Beachwood contributors J.J. Tindall, Jim "Coach" Coffman and special guest Allison Hantschel from First Draft.

Beachwood Bill, you are a hero. You and your fellow Occupiers have already changed the world.

I have to leave shortly for a meeting downtown so when I return I'll just start working on Wednesday's Beachwood and try to get to a lot of promised posts as well as items piling up for this column.

For today, here's what we have:

* Just How Much Can The State Restrict A Peaceful Protest?

"As protests supporting Occupy Wall Street have swelled in recent weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested across the U.S. This weekend, nearly 100 people were arrested in New York and 175 in Chicago. More than 100 protesters were arrested in Boston last week; a few weeks ago, 700 were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

"So, if the First Amendment guarantees the right to peaceable assembly, why do peaceful protestors keep getting arrested - and sometimes pepper-sprayed and beaten up?"

* Bears Arrive in London to NFL Fever!

Cuba Gooding Jr. on hand for a screening of Jerry Maguire. Seriously.

* The McDonald's Channel Is Here And In High Definition.

"What if," McDonald's asks, "you could launch a network for an audience that was already there?"

* George Harrison in Chicago.

With the world having a George Harrison moment, we take a look at his 1974 twi-night doubleheader at the old Chicago Stadium.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Heart and soul.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:53 AM | Permalink

Bears Will Arrive To NFL Fever in London

"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have arrived in London ahead of their NFL game against the Chicago Bears," AP reports.

And, apparently, it's insanity!

"To celebrate," the Telegraph reports, "this weekend sees a variety of NFL events occurring in London, starting with the first ever NFL Friday Night Lights Film Screening of Jerry Maguire in Trafalgar Square.

"The event will be attended by the Oscar winning star of the film, Cuba Gooding Jnr himself, who will be discussing the making of the film directly before the free screening. Also in attendance will be NFL superstar Terrell Owens, talking about the realities of NFL and its portrayal in Hollywood. "


"The last time the Bears went to London, the world was different," Rick Telander writes. (If for nothing else, click through to see the Sports Illustrated cover previewing the 1986 game there.)

"It was August 1986, and quarterback Jim McMahon ran down the concourse at O'Hare Airport to the Bears' waiting 747 charter, sporting camouflage, wearing sunglasses, trying not to spill his cup of beer, smoking a cigar.

"When the Bears checked into the Hyde Park Intercontinental Hotel, an employee asked Walter Payton, 'Are you as good as the Refrigerator?'"


The inevitable . . .

"Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie defensive end Adrian Clayborn has had his first real taste of English culture, and he's not likely to go back for seconds anytime soon," the Tampa Tribune reports.

"Clayborn partook of some traditional fish and chips shortly after arriving here with the Bucs late Monday. All his dip into one of England's most famous dishes did, though, was ruin his evening.

"'It didn't sit well with me at all,' Clayborn said Tuesday after suffering through a restless Monday night. 'It messed up my stomach bad.'"


The desperation for an angle . . .

"The first isn't that the Bears are holding a game overseas - in 1986, the defending Super Bowl champion Bears played in the first NFL contest held in the United Kingdom, a preseason victory over Dallas, and 11 years later, they faced the Steelers in a preseason matchup in Dublin," reports.

"Sunday will mark the first time the Bears will play a regular season game outside of North America, but there are a few bits of added trivia involving the Buccaneers. Both teams enter Sunday's matchup at Wembley Stadium coming off victories for the first time in the history of the NFL's regular season series in the United Kingdom, according to NFL director of media relations Michael Signora."


Another inevitable . . .

"The London game always triggers a new wave of daydreaming about an NFL team one day making London a permanent home, particularly the Bucs, who are owned by the same oddly bearded gent who owns Manchester United," Drew Magary writes for NBCNewYork.

"It's always fun to think about the NFL or the NBA reaching across an ocean and planting a franchise in Europe or Asia or someplace exotic. You hear the word 'global' a lot from the likes of David Stern and Roger Goodell, and with good reason: There's money to be had in international markets, particularly thriving markets like China. It's easy to envision a future where the NFL has teams in London, Shanghai, and Dubai, and you can jet out to games in your flying car if you feel so inclined.

"But the hard truth is that the NFL will NEVER field a team outside of North America."

Even if someone shows them the money?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:08 AM | Permalink

Just How Much Can The State Restrict A Peaceful Protest?

As protests supporting Occupy Wall Street have swelled in recent weeks, hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested across the U.S. This weekend, nearly 100 people were arrested in New York and 175 in Chicago. More than 100 protesters were arrested in Boston last week; a few weeks ago, 700 were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

So, if the First Amendment guarantees the right to peaceable assembly, why do peaceful protestors keep getting arrested - and sometimes pepper-sprayed and beaten up?

We take a closer look at the laws governing protests and how the government can limit them.

Time, place and manner restrictions

The First Amendment is not absolute. Government can make reasonable stipulations about the time, place and manner a peaceable protest can take place, as long as those restrictions are applied in a content-neutral way.

But what constitutes a reasonable time, place and manner restriction? "It depends on the context and circumstances," said Geoffrey Stone, a professor specializing in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. "Things like noise, blockage of ordinary uses of the place, blockage of traffic and destruction of property allow the government to regulate speakers."

Stone gave a few examples of impeding ordinary usage: disturbing patients at a hospital, preventing students from going to school, or, more relevant for the Occupy movement, disrupting the flow of traffic for a long period of time.

The majority of Occupy Wall Street-related arrests have been on charges of disorderly conduct. Under the New York Penal Code, that includes making "unreasonable noise," obstructing "vehicular or pedestrian traffic," or congregating "with other persons in a public place and refus[ing] to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse." Basically, the central question is the standard of reasonableness. "You have to tolerate a certain amount of inconvenience in order to make room for First Amendment activity, but not so much that it disrupts things," Stone said. Individual states' unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct statutes have to fall in line with this standard. "They can regulate it less if they want to," Stone added, "but not more."

Content neutrality Is king

Time, place and manner restrictions have to apply to similar types of protests equally, without regard for their message or point of view. Consider this year's 8-1 Supreme Court ruling that upheld an anti-gay minister's right to protest at military funerals. He and a few members of his church would picket the funerals of service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, asserting that God hates America because of its tolerance for homosexuality. As Stone has explained, under the First Amendment the government can't ban people from demonstrating because of the homophobic content of what they're saying at funerals but can set limits on how close to the funeral they can be or how loud they can be.

The case of Zuccotti Park

All of this applies to public spaces, like sidewalks and parks. But when you get into the territory of private property, it's a whole different story.

"The owner of the private property can lawfully evict [protesters] the same way you can toss someone out of your house if you don't like them," Stone said. "When police act at the request of the owner, they're not doing anything that violates the First Amendment."

Interestingly, this hasn't happened yet to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. A month ago today, they settled on a privately owned park in Lower Manhattan as their base of operations.

Brookfield Properties, the park's owner, sent a letter to the NYPD earlier this week asking for help clearing the space so it could be cleaned. But hours before the scheduled cleaning, Brookfield contacted the city to postpone it. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed that Brookfield reached its decision under pressure from other elected officials.

How is the use of force regulated?

So, what laws govern how police are allowed to respond to peaceful protesters who overstep the city's time, place and manner restrictions?

Broadly speaking, the unanimous 1989 Supreme Court ruling in Graham vs. Connor set the standard that a reasonable use of force doesn't violate the Fourth Amendment. Once again, it's all about "reasonableness," as defined from the perspective of an officer in the field:

The Fourth Amendment "reasonableness" inquiry is whether the officers' actions are "objectively reasonable" in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The "reasonableness" of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.

As The New York Times reported last month, the Manhattan district attorney is investigating an officer's use of pepper spray on two young women last month. One of the young women who was pepper-sprayed is demanding misdemeanor assault charges be brought against him. According to WNYC radio, the union representing high-ranking officers argues the officer's actions restored order at that particular protest, and were thus justified.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:46 AM | Permalink

The McDonald's Channel

"McDonald's customers will soon be able to have local school sports, movie previews and heartwarming human interest stories to go with their fries - McTV is here and in high definition," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"In one of the most unusual twists in niche programming, the global fast-food chain is launching the McDonald's Channel, a digital network of exclusive original content targeted at dine-in customers. The programming will be customized to specific communities around the individual restaurants, and will include local news and entertainment features, such as spotlights on upcoming films, albums and TV shows."

Let's take a look.


"What if you could launch a network," the McDonald's Channel asks, "for an audience that was already there?"

What if?!

"An in-restaurant entertainment network based on 'purpose built' programming focused on what a McDonald's customer is most passionate about . . . Sports, Lifestyle, Entertainment and Music. Our HDTV, web and mobile 'triple threat' communication strategy surrounds the customer and assists advertisers in effectively communicating their brand message to a captive, highly engaged audience . . . "


"Test markets have include Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Manhattan, Seattle and some communities in Oklahoma," Reuters reports.

So we already have a program guide.


Promo video:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

George Harrison in Chicago

"There has been quite the resurgence of interest in George Harrison of late," No Depression notes.

"All of which is understandable (it's the 10th anniversary of his death) and deserved (he was always seemed overshadowed by Lennon and McCartney). Harrison has been on the cover of several rock magazines, including Rolling Stone. HBO recently premiered the big Martin Scorsese-directed documentary, Living In The Material World and his widow Olivia Harrison has put together a coffee table book under the same name.

"Tied into both the documentary and the book, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has assembled an exhibit, also entitled Living In The Material World. Taking up most of the museum's second floor, it is filled with some terrific Harrison material, with Harrison songs filling the air and plenty of video footage to watch (although some of it you might have seen in the HBO documentary)."

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of video footage of Harrison playing in Chicago - namely his stop here at the old Chicago Stadium on November 30, 1974. Let's take a look at what we did find.


Harrison performed both a matinee and an evening show. Several bootlegs such as this one are floating around out there (here's one with a set list and another that seems to be relatively popular.

"Not looking unlike his Beatles' White Album period," Tony Bonyata writes, "with thick shoulder length hair and mustache, Harrison ran through the obvious solo numbers such as 'What Is Life,' which featured a new funky guitar-line, 'My Sweet Lord,' which broke into a strange middle section chanting 'Krishna, Krishna, Buddha, Buddha' in pre-rap-like fashion, 'Give Me Love' and 'Dark Horse,' as well as lesser known numbers such as 'Maya Love,' 'Hari's On Tour' and 'Sue Me, Sue You Blues.' Although he had recently strained his voice prior to this tour (leading critics to call this his 'Dark Hoarse' tour) it didn't seem to matter much to a crowd that was just happy to see a Beatle in the flesh . . .

"Billy Preston took the lead on three of his own tunes 'Will It Go 'Round In Circles,' 'Outta Space' and 'Nothing From Nothing,' while Harrison handed the spotlight over to Scott for the horn-driven jazzed up instrumental 'Tom Cat.' In a risky move for a rock show Harrison opened up the stage mid-concert for three songs which featured Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, along with a group of other Indian musicians . . .

"But the songs that this stadium full of Beatle fans wanted to hear more than any others were the gems from his former fab band. Not disappointing Harrison pulled out reworked versions of 'Something,' 'For You Blue,' and 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps,' which became even more introspective as the tempo was slightly slowed down.

"'I'd like to do a tune written by an old friend, a dear friend,' Harrison explained before tearing into an upbeat, guitar heavy version of John Lennon's 'In My Life,' which also featured a rousing organ solo from Preston."

Video highlights:


From the afternoon show:



Paul McCartney's tribute to George at Wrigley Field on August 1, 2011.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

October 17, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

1. "Five Things We Learned: Bears-Vikings.

The most salient being No. 4: The Bears aren't the worst team in the NFC North. They also aren't the best, or the second-best, and only the third-best by default.

But just like the Bears were heading to the Super Bowl after beating Atlanta to open the season and everyone needed to be fired after losses to the Saints, Packers and Lions (as well as barely beating Carolina), the notion that this team has turned it around and Mike Martz is a genius again and the defense rules and the team's problems at offensive line and wide receiver are solved is more ridiculous than Devin Hester.


By the way . . . Devin Hester Is Fundamentally Ridiculous.

2. Sun-Times: "Can 'Occupy' Protests Last Without Leaders?"

The Sun-Times has!


To be fair, it's an AP story. The Sun-Times is just following their, um, lead.


There are more leaders in this movement than in any newsroom in America. Think about it.

3. The Weekend in Occupy Chicago.


One of the beauties of it all is that the cops are part of the 99 percent.

"The Occupy movement has advanced a new math, in which the one percent has ripped everyone off," Bob Somerby writes for his Daily Howler. Most people in that large ripped-off group don't understand how we got here. If we want people to understand better, we will try to establish forums in which recent history gets explained, in simple terms, to people of various tribes.

"(Or do we prefer our favorite pastime - calling average folk names?)"

4. RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage.


"The demonstrators are now circulating their own paper now - the Occupied Wall Street Journal - which details what they are unhappy with and makes it clear that they are not rooting for one particular party. It also warns against 'political machines and their PR slicks taking control of the protest message.'


"Occupy Wall Street More Popular Than Obama."

As well as:

"Tea Party Founder Backs Occupy Wall Street."

And on that point, I refer you again to Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America, which describes the tea party's roots in anger at Wall Street as well as describing the movement as "determinedly 'leaderless.'"

Don't tell the media!

5. Occupants.

Thurston Moore joins Henry Rollins to discuss Rollins' new book from the Chicago Review Press.

6. The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

7. World Food Day 2011.

We live in a world where food is now so abundant that millions torture themselves to stay thin, even as many millions more go hungry. If only the enormous profits of the diet industry could be redirected to the malnourished.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Smothered and covered.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:26 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Occupy Chicago

Let's take a look.

1. "The Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign stood in Solidarity with different Activist groups and people of Chicago, the nation and the world for "Occupy Everywhere" on October 15, 2011."


2. Speech from The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplin).


3. Beginning of assembly.


4. Whose streets? Our streets!


5. At Congress plaza around 1 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning.


6. CPD is the 99%!


7. Occupy St. Louis shout-out to Occupy Chi.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:43 AM | Permalink

RT's Superior Cable News Coverage Continues With Its 'Occupy Wall Street' Reportage

Let's take a look at the latest.

1. "The Occupied Wall Street Journal: As some mainstream media networks continue bashing the Occupy Wall Street protests, the movement publishes its own newspaper at a secret location. RT takes a sneak peek into what the Journal is all about."


2. Occupy Wall Street More Popular Than Obama.


3. Tea Party Founder Backs Occupy Wall Street.


4. Mass Arrests At 'Occupy' Protest In Chicago.


See also: Occupy CNN


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:28 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Devin Hester Is Fundamentally Ridiculous

The key to just enjoying Devin Hester's latest, greatest game was to avoid looking at his hands.

If you looked at his hands you noticed on his 48-yard touchdown reception that they were in position to take a hand-off, not haul in a high-arching pass (and what a beautiful scoring strike that was, Jay Cutler). Hester looked like a lineman inserted into a game as a third tight end near the goal line, ostensibly to block. But then the quarterback keeps the ball and the big galoot goes out and finds himself wide open in the end zone. Instead of opening up his hands to give himself his best chance to haul in the touchdown, he forms brackets around his mid-section and hopes the quarterback can find a way to get the ball in there.

Thankfully, Hester is talented enough to make the catch (some of the time) even if one hand is coming down on the ball rather than joining the other in the classic cradling action. He probably had coaches in middle school (and definitely in high school) who told him and told him and told him that if he wanted to be a consistent receiver he couldn't have lapses like that. They grew tired of telling him at the U (Miami) and he mostly lined up at cornerback there (when he wasn't returning kicks). Then he became a receiver again for the Bears.

Hopefully at least some of those coaches had a chance to watch the game Sunday. If so, they had to be shaking their heads in exasperated appreciation

Next up was the pivotal kickoff return early in the second half right after the Vikings had scored to pull within 26-10. Hester has always been prone to moving a little too far forward as kickoffs descend. It is one of the small reasons he has returned about three times as many punts for touchdowns as kickoffs.

And sure enough, standing at the two-yard line, No. 23 had to reach up at the last second and catch the kickoff over his head rather than hauling it into his midsection. He seems to be doing that even more than usual this season. Perhaps it is because with the kickoffs having been moved up to the 35-yard-line this season he so often finds himself in the back of the end zone, trying to snatch kicks down out of the air before they fly over the back line for the touchback.

Anyway, not only is Hester more likely to muff the catch when he has to stab at it like that, he also is forced to start the return flat-footed or even moving backward. The guys who get it at gut level often have a running start as they do so.

Then again, a slow start can have an advantage. When returners bobble the ball or stumble initially, as Hester did during his record-setting punt return for a touchdown a few weeks ago, it makes it more likely that members of the coverage team will converge just a bit more as they race down the field.

When Hester then busts out laterally looking for a gap, he has a slightly better chance of finding one. At the critical moment as he went sideways Sunday, it looked like tight ends Kyle Adams (who also made a big play on the post-safety free kick when he secured possession a moment before the Viking horde descended on what could have been a loose, live ball) and Kellen Davis (or maybe Matt Spaeth) were leading the way.

They were able to make blocks to seal off the outside of a hole. And then the glorious Hester just accelerated away from the defenders pursuing from the inside. He cut back to avoid the kicker and was gone. And so was the game for the Vikings.

As Mr. Joniak described it on the radio; "He turned a crack into a canyon!"

Game Notes
* How about Julius Peppers' absolutely contemptuous sack of Donovan McNabb late in the third quarter? Part of it was that he thought McNabb was going to throw the ball away and therefore Peppers, fearing a roughing penalty, didn't want to completely wrap him up. So he just gave him a shove instead and an off-balance McNabb crashed to the turf.

* Chris Kluwe tried not to kick it to Hester. The Viking punter messed himself up in the process, but he tried. His first two punts looked good on the stat sheet, netting 45 and 42 yards. But one of them was a shank that benefited from a very lucky roll. Then the luck ran out. Kluwe mis-hit the free kick after the Stephen Paea safety (which he should have at least shared officially with Brian Urlacher - it was the sight of Urlacher racing toward him that caused McNabb to go to the turf). And that gave the Bears great field position. And he absolutely shanked an 18-yarder his next time out.

So then he went ahead and kicked a big one (over 50 yards) that Hester returned 27 yards. Finally he tried one more directional kick. It traveled all of 24 yards.

* Meanwhile, Bear punter Adam Podlesh put one punt out of bounds just inside the 10 in the first quarter and soon thereafter had another one fair-caught at the five to set up the safety. Advantage Bears special teams, as it was on placekicks and obviously in the return game. For the game, Dave Toub earns what must be about his 50th most valuable coach award.

* Matt Forte had another great game rushing the football with all of his "jump cuts" (thank you analyst Cris Collinsworth) and more broken tackles than usual. But what he doesn't do might be even more impressive than what he does. Tyler Klutts' first-half fumble, which the Vikings failed to recover before it rolled out of bounds, reminded that Forte continues to be the most sure-handed of backs. He simply does not put the football on the ground.

* And lookee here, many, many paragraphs into the column and we haven't even mentioned the Bears offensive line. And I'm sure center and captain Roberto Garza would want it that way . . . time to stop writing.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink


From the Chicago Review Press . . . Occupants, by Henry Rollins.

"For the past twenty-five years, Henry Rollins has searched out the most desolate corners of the Earth - from Iraq to Afghanistan, Thailand to Mali, and beyond - articulating his observations through music and words, on radio and television, and in magazines and books. Though he's known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to just bear witness, to be present.

"In Occupants, Rollins invites us to do the same. The book pairs Rollins's visceral full-color photographs - taken in Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and elsewhere over the last few years - with writings that not only provide context and magnify the impact of the images but also lift them to the level of political commentary. Simply put, this book is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, and resilience. Occupants will help us realize what is so easy to miss when tragedy and terror become numbing, constant forces - the quieter, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and even joy."


Uploaded to YouTube by wwwhatsup:

"Henry Rollins, author of Occupants (Chicago Review Press), discusses the book with Thurston Moore at McNally Jackson NYC on Oct 14 2011."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

World Food Day 2011

"A ceremony to mark World Food Day will be held Monday at the headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome," Voice of America reports.

Let's take a look.

1. Every day nearly 1 billion people go to bed hungry.


2. UN: Food Insecurity Threatening World.


3. Rewriting The Story Of Malnutrition.


4. Food Prices.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:47 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Portugal The Man at the Metro on Saturday night.


2. Matt Nathanson at the Riv on Saturday night.


3. Primus at the Congress on Friday night.


4. Chris N at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


5. Smashing Pumpkins at the Riv on Saturday night.


6. Testament at the Congress on Saturday night.


7. Anti-Flag at the House of Blues on Saturday night.


8. Death Angel at the Congress on Saturday night.


9. Butch Walker at the Double Door on Thursday night.


10. Neon Indian at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 AM | Permalink

October 15, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

If the money's right, we'll come out of retirement for the weekend.

Market Update
Bad news for Chicago's NFL market: S&P has downgraded Bears futures from "Credible" to "Shit Out of Luck."

Class Warfare Part 1
The monumental clash of our times may be cancelled as both CLASS implementation and Class Exclusion are completely infeasible.

Triumvirate Update
Lindsay Lohan this week vehemently denied that any minor cosmetic issues in any way undermine her long-term stability. Meanwhile, the world caught a glimpse of just how desperate Britney Spears really is, and Paris Hilton showed the lengths she will go to avoid comparisons with Kim Kardashian.

Class Warfare Part 2
The idle rich proved too idle to be bothered with the proletariat this week, choosing instead to be truly revolting for a change.

Con Man
Finally this week, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi narrowly survived a confidence vote after apparently procuring more prostitutes than facelifts. It's not too surprising; after all, you never know when you might need someone to sex up Iveta Radicova.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Revolting.


The World's Greatest College Football Report: Waffle House Week Featuring The Halfway Halfwits


The CAN TV Weekend Report

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

Prodigal Thug


Presented by Hip Hop N.F.P., Prodigal Thug is a film that tells the story of families torn apart by the street.

Saturday, October 15 at 4 p.m. on CAN TV19


Race and Education: A Look at Chicago's Public Schools


Former interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools Terry Mazany takes part in a forum on the education of minority students in CPS.

Sunday, October 16 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21


Max Frisch and His Love-Hate Relationship with the U.S.


Literary critic Dr. Barbara Villiger Heilig discusses the life and works of influential Swiss author Max Frisch.

Sunday, October 16 at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21


Protests Against the War in Afghanistan


Protesters mark the 10th anniversary of the United States invasion of Afghanistan and demand all U.S. and NATO forces leave the country.

Sunday, October 16 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21


Take Back Chicago March


Thousands of protesters, including representatives from labor unions and other groups, march in response to issues facing workers, homeowners, and schools in Chicago.

Sunday, October 16 at 5 p.m on CAN TV19

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:35 AM | Permalink

October 14, 2011

The College Football Report: Waffle House Week Featuring The Halfway Halfwits

Leading up to the seventh weekend of play in 2011, most media outlets ran stories this week analyzing the beginning of the season and looked ahead toward the remainder of regular-season play, conference championships and postseason bowl games. You can have the first half of the season hashed, rehashed, even "smothered and covered."

For example, has identified the "Midseason All-Americans," looked ahead to the "second act" and offered up "midseason overviews." CBS Sportsline joined in (and they were hardly alone) with projections for the Heisman and predictions for bowl game match-ups. And, not surprisingly, the annual "BCS Doomsday Scenario" articles appeared this week.


Our favorite bit of hyperbole on that score came from Chad Forde, who is hoping for "a total BCS meltdown that sparks coast-to-coast outrage."

Among the undefeateds, only Alabama or LSU will remain undefeated after November 5th; Boise may lose to TCU (or San Diego State); LSU could also lose to Arkansas or Auburn; Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (both 5-0) meet on December 3rd; and 6-0 Georgia Tech and Michigan will lose eventually, as will Illinois and Kansas State (5-0). For the latter, see below.

All well and good, we suppose - all this material deserves coverage. But we don't find this strain of mid-year stories compelling.

Another classic topic appeared this week as well: The 2011 "surprise teams." Any team unranked at the start of the season with a record of at least 4-1 seems to qualify for this category.

Many teams still undefeated or with only one loss going into the weekend started the season among The Other 25 and thus we don't consider them true surprises.

Examples include: Arizona State (#26), Houston (#37), Washington (#48) and Georgia Tech (#50).

We have trouble believing that a surprise team could begin the season receiving Top 25 votes and still flabbergast the pundits in mid-October.

Further, some of these so-called Cinderellas benefit from weak schedules and have beat up on cupcakes to start the season. Exhibit A: Georgia Tech, with a schedule strength ranked (as of Week Seven) at #92 in the country. Exhibit B: Houston (#96).

We consider two teams genuine surprises: Illinois (6-0, #16 in AP) and Kansas State (5-0, #17). The Wildcats boast a decent strength of schedule (#28); the Illini fall into the middle of the pack at a respectable #66. Both teams started outside The Other 25 and play in major conferences (Big Ten, Big 12) where the sledding can get rough by Week Five. While both are undefeated, K-State gets our kudos by also posting a near-perfect (5-1) mark against the spread.

Of course, it's not as if either team is flying below the radar.

Look for one or the other, if not both, to crap out in the next two weeks. Kansas State faces Texas Tech at Lubbock on Saturday and while Illinois may make it past Ohio State (3-3) and Purdue (3-2), we wouldn't want to bet on it given the Illini's tradition of collapse - especially given that Ron "I didn't know what the score was" Zook is involved.

Thus, rather than burden you with more midseason drivel, we are turning the concept upside down. (Aren't we clever?) We now present the inaugural Midseason Mishaps; alternately known (starting now) as the First-Half Follies and (to some) the Halfway Halfwits.

Spencer Keith, QB*: Kent State Golden Flashes (1-5, 0-2 Mid American Conference)

Tied with Akron for seventh (i.e., last) place in the East Division of the MAC, The Golden Flashes long to return to 1973. The Age of Aquarius saw Kent State seize its sole conference title, only to be followed by three decades of bumpy road. While Kent labors at the bottom of the standings today, the late 90s was a truly dark period. In 1998, KSU limped through a winless season.

The Flashes turned the ship around a few seasons later with the arrival of dual-threat quarterback Josh Cribbs, who boosted the Flashes' record to 6-5 in 2001.

Current QB Spencer Keith took the reins in the 2009-10 season, putting up good numbers in his first season (2,147 yards for a 126.7 rating) and continuing into his second (2,212, 111.3), but he has fallen on hard times this season.

Through six games, the junior has compiled just 505 yards, completing 44.7 percent of his attempts with more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (3).

Fed up with such poor play, former Ohio State assistant and current head coach Darrell Hazell yanked his struggling starter in the first quarter of KSU's loss to Northern Illinois last Saturday.

Suffice to say, the struggling quarterback did nothing to endear himself to Coach Hazell by throwing a pick on just his second pass. After missing on his first throw, Keith lobbed a pass into the waiting arms of NIU lineman Nabal Jefferson, who rumbled in for a touchdown.

To date, Keith's quarterback rating is 45.4 . . . which is not good. For reference, the highest rating possible in the NCAA is 1,216.6 (completing every pass for a 99-yard TD) with a basement of -731.6 (completing every attempt for a loss of 99 yards per play).

There is, in short, room for improvement.

On the other hand, things could be much, much worse. We may never know the final rating, as Hazell seems set on continuing with Keith's backup.

Note: This July, Keith joined three other Kent players on a trip to Tuscaloosa to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The players helped residents of the area recover from damage wreaked by storms in April. Keith pitched in with his teammates to help rebuild and restore houses in the community, drawing the appreciation of Alabama head coach (and KSU grad) Nick Saban. Which leaves us in the awkward position of jeering a good-hearted guy who is suffering through a tough season. Our bad, Spence. We hope you pull it together.

Bonus: Only one quarterback could conceivably approach the upper limit of the QBR. That would be the Tecmo Bowl version of Joe Montana. To max out his rating, Montana could simply heave the ball to 8-bit teammate Jerry Rice and score on every play. Ready, DOWN!

Yes, we realize Nintendo Montana played for the NFL's 49ers (or "San Francisco" in Tecmo Bowl) and thus would be technically ineligible for the hypothetical top NCAA QB rating. We don't care. We just wanted to hear the Tecmo Bowl music for the sake of old times, when the world was wide, our future ran to a distant horizon, and the code to happiness was Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.

* Somewhat arbitrarily selected from all NCAA FBS QBs (that's an acronym trifecta, for those of you keeping score) with a minimum of 100 pass attempts.

Runner Up: Tron Martinez, RB**: Marshall Thundering Herd (2-4, 0-1 Conference USA)

Tron Martinez measures only 5'-9" (less than The College Football Reporter) and weighs in at 186 lbs, so you might say he gets some leeway due to his small stature. But he has gotten the ball from the Thundering Herd 73 times to date, so you can't say he hasn't gotten an opportunity.

Also under consideration were Jawan Jamison of Rutgers (91 att., 243 yds, 0 TDs) and Brynn Harvey of UCF (61 att., 326 yds, 0 TDs).

While Martinez lags far behind most backs in total yardage, we can't help but wonder how he might look on a better team.

For example, he picked up 72 yards in nine plays versus Ohio but Marshall was playing from behind nearly the entire game and lost 44-7 to the Bobcats.

We hope Tron (not the 1982 Tron or even the 2010 Tron) realizes the potential he showed - on the field, not elsewhere - while in high school.

Major college programs, including Virginia Tech and North Carolina, heavily recruited Martinez after he won the Peninsula (Virginia) District's offensive player of the year award by rushing for 1,706 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2008.

But shortly after landing a scholarship at Old Dominion, Tron's life hit the skids. In April 2009, the Hampton police swept him up (along with 13 other suspects) in a raid targeting the so-called "36th Street Bang Squad."

Martinez faced a felony charge of gang participation along with robbery, maiming by mob, malicious wounding and others. Looking at 11 felonies and two misdemeanors in total, Martinez spent 75 days in jail in '09 before all but one charge - a misdemeanor - was dropped, resulting in a sentence of 100 hours of community service.

Martinez continues to struggle. After making his way to Marshall in 2010, his prospects improved. Yet despite being projected as the starting back for '11, he ran into trouble again in June when he was arrested for disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer.

With the charges dropped pending his completion of (additional) community service, Martinez may have one (and only one, despite the tolerant attitude at Marshall) more chance. Failing that, we doubt any program will have anything to do with him, and his college career will be over. We join with Mike Smith, Tron's former high school coach, in wishing Martinez all the best - statistics be damned.

** Also selected via a qualitative judgment of all running backs with about 60 carries and approximately 300 yards in rushing. And an interesting backstory.

The Sports Seal's Picks, Week Seven
Year-to date-record: 10-5-1

Saturday, October 15

Purdue @ Penn State (-12), 11:00AM Central
Iowa State @ Missouri (-15.5), 1:00PM Central
Kansas State @ Texas Tech (-3.5), 6:00PM Central*

* Buy the hook!

The Free Range Chicken's Picks, Week Five
Year-to-date record: 6-6

Saturday, October 15

Toledo (-8) @ Bowling Green, 11:00AM Central; Toledo by 24
Baylor @ Texas A&M (-8.5), 11:00AM Central; Baylor by 12.5
Alabama (-27.5) @ Ole Miss, 5:00PM Central; Alabama by 50.5


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:34 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Officials with the Chicago Teachers Union announced today that the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board had issued a multi-count complaint against Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for coercing longer school day votes in 13 CPS schools," the teachers union says in a news release. "The complaint found that CPS had committed dozens of different unfair labor practices."

Wow. That seems like pretty big news.

"The IELRB found that CPS unlawfully threatened and coerced teachers who participated in school votes to extend the school day, including by threatening possible school closures if they did not support it."

Holy cow!

"The Board also found that CPS offered teachers illegal inducements, such as lump sum payments, iPads, and extra compensatory days off in exchange for voting to extend the school day."


"The IELRB also ruled that CPS had barred Union representatives from speaking to teachers who were considering the extended school day. The Board also ruled that CPS unlawfully refused to inform the Union as to the details of the votes in which teachers were forced to participate."

Rahm rebuked!

"The IELRB ruled that CPS's actions interfere with employee rights, unlawfully discourage teachers from supporting the Union's leadership, and undermine the Union's legitimate role as bargaining representative on behalf of CPS teachers, violating Sections 14(a)(1), (3) and (5) of the Educational Labor Relations Act."

A clean sweep for the union!

Or a pack of lies?

Here's how the Tribune wrote it up:

"The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board announced late Thursday it will hold a hearing in December to review an unfair labor practice complaint from the Chicago Teachers Union over the contentious longer school day issue."

You mean the board simply agreed to hear the matter?

"The teachers union seized on Thursday's announcement as a victory, saying that in extending the legal case against CPS the labor board was siding with the union."

Okay, so the union said that, but did the board in fact side with the union? Please clarify! If the union is, well, lying about what the board actually did, say so!

"Meanwhile, CPS officials downplayed the significance of the board's announcement, saying it did not constitute a binding legal opinion, simply that enough legal questions were raised to require further examination."

Well, the truth must be in there somewhere! Did the board rule in favor of the union's quite serious charges about alleged chicanery at the behest of our new mayor or did the board merely agree to hear the case? This is no time for merely competing claims; the board acted in some manner!

The Sun-Times is of no help either.

"A state labor board is demanding a hearing on the Chicago Teachers Union's allegations that city public school officials unfairly pressured some teachers into adopting a longer school day," the paper reports.

Is the board merely "demanding" a hearing? Can't it order one? And if it did, is that unusual - or par for the course for a labor board? See, I'm trying to determine if this is a big deal or not. The papers obviously think not; I'm not so sure.

"The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board has issued a multi-count complaint, accusing CPS of 'coercing longer school day votes in 13 CPS schools,' the Chicago Teachers Union said in a news release Thursday evening."

That sounds serious - the board issued a multi-part complaint! I thought it was merely ruling on the union's allegations. Then again, the Sun-Times's source is the CTU's news release!

"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the board's complaint 'is not a finding that any claims brought before' the board 'are true' or even 'have merit.' The complaint is merely a finding that one or both sides have raised 'enough legal and factual questions'' to warrant a hearing, Carroll said."

True? If so, the union is lying - big-time. If the board has merely agreed to accept the case and hear the facts, the union's statements are quite disingenuous.

If not, CPS is lying.

(Carroll, by the way, "spoke" in an e-mail, so reporter Rosalind Rossi, who may or may not have initiated that kind of contact, was in no position to actually conduct an actual conversation with Carroll. So either a lazy reporter or a dodgy spokesperson.)

There must be an easy answer. I went to the labor board's website for guidance. Oops! No answers there.

I did find opinions and orders from 2005 to 2010 but nothing about the case at-hand.

And I did learn that the board "is the state agency administering the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, which establishes the right of educational employees to organize and bargain collectively. Some of the methods the IELRB employs to protect these rights are conducting secret ballot elections to ascertain educational employees' preferences regarding union representation; certifying and clarifying bargaining units; investigating, hearing and remedying unfair labor practices by educational employers and unions; and assisting parties engaged in mediation and arbitration."

I also found minutes from meetings through August.

And that bios are non-existent for two of the five board members.

And that the FAQs seem to support both CPS and the CTU:

Q: What happens after a charge is filed with the IELRB?

A: The charge is assigned to a Board Agent for investigation. The Board Agents speaks with the parties involved and reviews any written documentation provided. When necessary, the Board Agent may ask for additional documentation or witness statements. If the investigation reveals an issue of law or fact, the Executive Director will issue a Complaint and Notice of Hearing, setting the matter for hearing before an administrative law judge of the Agency. If the investigation reveals no issues of law or fact sufficient to warrant a hearing, the Executive Director will dismiss the unfair labor practice charge.

It seems a board agent has found issues of law or fact so the executive director has issued a complaint. I suppose this is like an indictment and now a trial date has been set. But does that mean the board's agent has sided with the union? (And would that be inevitable given that it's a labor board?)

During the hearing, each party will have the opportunity to present relevant evidence, question witnesses and file written post-hearing briefs. After reviewing the record and legal precedent, the administrative law judge then issues a written decision to the parties, which may be appealed to the Board.

So it is like a trial. That strikes me as significant. Or is my news judgement off? Is the board and its administrative law judge not to be taken seriously? That's the signal being sent to readers.

To remedy unfair labor practices, the administrative law judge or the IELRB attempts to restore the status quo ante; that is, to return the parties to the point they were at before the unfair labor practice occurred. Depending on the nature of the violation, some remedies could require the employer to post a notice containing an acknowledgement of the violation and a pledge to refrain from similar action in the future; rescind certain work rules or policies; reinstate employees who were wrongfully discharged, with or without backpay; and engage in good faith bargaining.

Seems to me City Hall and the CTU are heading for a showdown in front of a state agency - and the showdown involves the instruction of our schoolchildren amidst charges of "illegal inducements" and "unlawful threats and coercion."

I can't wait to see the evidence. The papers don't seem to care.

Budget Blues
Beachwood reader and contributor Astralopry writes:

"From the 2012 Budget Overview document:

Chicago will also consolidate its 12 mental health clinics to six sites and partner with community providers to offer improved mental health services at a lower cost. The focus of these clinics will be offering care to the City's most vulnerable patients by maintaining services for the 990 current uninsured patients in a more cost-effective manner and support insured patients by finding other high-quality locations for their care. These changes will be effective as of July 2012.

"What about uninsured new patients? Patients losing insurance? And in the paragraph just before that, referring to physical health clinics, the Commissioner refers to: 'high-quality, affordable care in residents' own neighborhoods.' Evidently this is considered important for physical health care but not when it comes to mental health care for the uninsured, (after the proposed consolidation of 12 CDPH clinics into six). This isn't just about 'resistance to treatment' or a little bit of inconvenience - it's also about, all too often, the lack of transit fare and either a prohibitively, or even dangerously, long walk or a missed appointment."


My focus is on this: "Chicago will also consolidate its 12 mental health clinics to six sites and partner with community providers to offer improved mental health services at a lower cost."

We're gonna do more with less! Better services at a lower cost by dumping care on "community providers"!


"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed budget cuts to mental health clinics that are already stretched in resources," Eryn Rogers writes for Medill Reports.

Hey, times are tough for almost everyone.


See also:

"Protesters who say they're angry with Mayor Rahm Emanuel for privatizing primary care at city health clinics in his new budget rallied outside his office Wednesday."



Rahm Not Tough Enough To Face Mental Health Advocates

Marred Record
The best indicator of future behavior is past performance, particularly when people demonstrate just what they are willing to do to "succeed."

I Am Not Moving
Voices of the Occupation.

May The Worst Team Win
Bears-Vikings Preview(s).

The Week In Chicago Rock
They played (softly) at a venue near you. We have the video.

The Week In WTF
Rahm's budget, the Metra, Sue and occupying Ford.

Beachwood Social
Just a reminder: The full Beachwood experience includes our Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Socialized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Tyler Ward at Schubas on Wednesday night.


2. Portishead at the Aragon on Wednesday night.


3. Zola Jesus at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


4. Sara Bareilles at the Riv on Tuesday night.


5. Saves The Day at the House of Blues on Thursday night.


6. The Swallows at the Elbo Room on Sunday night.


7. The Bangles at the House of Blues on Monday night.


8. Ion at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.


9. Lisa Hannigan at the Double Door on Monday night.


10. The Gift at the Double Door on Tuesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 AM | Permalink

Voices Of The Occupation

1. I Am Not Moving.


2. "A sample of the voices of Occupy Chicago on LaSalle and Jackson the morning after the first major protest."


3. "The media is not our voice."


4. "Video showing crowd with the camera panning up to the attendees of the international financial conference standing on the roof of the Art Institute Annex as they watch, while sipping wine, the ongoing protest (to their endeavors) from the safety of their perch. This is what plutocracy looks like."


5. "Occupy Chicago, Not Iraq."


* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.
* The Week in Occupy Chicago
* Occupy America
* We've Got The Guillotine!
* Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank Of America
* Why No One Believes The Banks
* Occupy CNN


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:20 AM | Permalink

Bears-Vikings Preview(s): May The Worst Team Win

1. SBRForum: "The Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears have both been disappointing teams on the year, due in no small part to their frustrating quarterbacks, Donovan McNabb and Jay Cutler, respectively.

"They face each other in a Sunday Night Football match-up in Week 6, but betting against one comes with the unfortunate circumstance of having to bet on the other."


2. ESPN NFL Live: "Chicago is terrible, Minnesota's worse." So, Minnesota


3. Bob Swerski: Long story short, Bears, 35-7.


4. The view from Minnesota: Vikings defense on the verge.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:35 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2011

The Week in WTF

1. Occupy Detroit, WTF?

Maybe this is a subtle sign that things are returning to dismal normalcy.

Or maybe it shows that workers won't take what seems like a good deal because of Ford CEO Alan Mulally's $26.5 million pay package.

By the way, Ford is making a new Robocop police interceptor next year which might require fleeing felons to counter with rocket sleds.

2. Sue, WTF?

Everybody is fat, even dinosaurs.

3. Rahm's budget, WTF?

The mayor's squeezing-blood-from-a-rock budget could have been even tighter without another parting gift from Hizzoner Daley. The trash collection system in Chicago costs taxpayers about $100 million more every year than it should because union contracts call for 3.25 city workers per truck (the quarter percentage is the cost of one supervisor for every four trucks). That concession was granted contractually to unions though 2016 to make sure there were no labor upheavals during Daley's Olympics. Let the Games begin. Rio is on its own.

As one Teamster acknowledged, no one who works for Chicago city government actually works an eight-hour day.

And Richie Daley? He's the gift that keeps on taking.

4. Rahm's budget, Part Dos, WTF?

There are several ways to look at a city budget that attempts to close a $600 million deficit. In one case, it's a lousy deal for Chicagoans who must pay more for less. In the other, to which WTF subscribes, how much were Chicagoans paying for simple, lousy management? If you can really cut $300 million with tighter work rules and better fiscal limits, doesn't that mean you were wasting the $300 million in the first place?

5: Metra, WTF?

Who would have thought that sticking poorer neighborhoods with higher Metra ticket prices than everybody else would make them nail-chewing mad?

This is at least the third time this year that Metra has been forced to choke on price hikes or service cuts it couldn't make customers swallow without loud screams of protest.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:58 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

The Obama re-election campaign sent out this e-mail on Wednesday:

Last night, the American Jobs Act was filibustered by Senate Republicans. There was no vote on the actual bill.

But it would have succeeded: the American Jobs Act has at least 51 votes - a clear majority - to pass the Senate. And a new poll shows that 63 percent of Americans support it, too.

Today the President recorded a message he wants you to see, laying out where we go from here in the fight for jobs.

I finally got to it this morning and I thought, Oh yeah, the jobs bill! Remember that?

The next e-mail in my inbox was this one:

This afternoon, day three of the Take Back Chicago Week of Action (Taking Back our Schools), more than 100 people marched through the lobby of Bank of America's headquarters at 135 S. LaSalle to demand that the bank renegotiate its toxic financial deals with Chicago's schools that deprive children of millions of dollars in funding annually. (Background: "Toxic Swaps Deals Sinking Cities")

Has the president ever sounded more irrelevant? The country has tuned you out, sir. You are no longer where the action is.


Also landing in my inbox: Truthdig's daily links, including an Amy Goodman column titled "A New Bush Era Or A Push Era":

While President Obama has made concession after concession to both the corporate-funded tea party and his Wall Street donors, now that he is again in campaign mode, his progressive critics are being warned not to attack him, as that might aid and abet the Republican bid for the White House.

Enter the 99 percenters. The Occupy Wall Street ranks continue to grow, inspiring more than 1,000 solidarity protests around the country and the globe. After weeks, and one of the largest mass arrests in U.S. history, Obama finally commented: "I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works." But neither he nor his advisers - or the Republicans - know what to do with this burgeoning mass movement.

That both the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement have occurred on Obama's watch is a tremendously profound indictment of his presidency; his coddling of Wall Street has enraged folks across the spectrum, and to paraphrase Loudon Wainwright III, there's nothing in the middle of the road these days but dead skunks.


Obama will not win the 2012 election, though the Republicans may certainly lose it. The president, though, is yesterday's news. The followers are now leading.


Rahm Emanuel released his first budget proposal as mayor on Wednesday. Ho-hum. Maybe they're all becoming less relevant. Here's the rest of that Take Chicago Back e-mail:

At a press conference held on the sidewalk outside the bank, Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union pointed out that the Los Angeles City Council stood up to such toxic swap deals when it passed the "Responsible Banking Initiative" last year, setting an example that Chicago could follow. The press conference also featured a special education teacher's aide who was recently laid off.

After the press conference, participants in the action marched from the bank to the Chicago Board of Education and taped pieces of paper on the building's wall with the words "I Am a Teacher and I marched today to Take Back Our Schools!"

The march culminated at the Chicago Board of Trade, where the crowd chanted "Banks Got Bailed Out, Schools Got Sold Out."

Despite Bank of America receiving billions of dollars in federal aid to weather the financial crisis, the bank only returns a portion of the money it has taken from the schools, leaving the district in continual financial crisis.

With CPS facing a $700 million deficit and Chicagoans facing cuts to parks, public safety and neighborhood services, renegotiating these toxic deals would step up efforts to help fix the financial crisis that Bank of America and other large financial institutions created.

Renegotiating the swaps would save the schools $5 million immediately and help break the cycle of school budget deficits that have led to record layoffs, ballooning class sizes and program cuts that undermine the education of more than 400,000 school children in Chicago.


And here's what's on tap for today:

Today's Take Back Our Jobs Day of Action: Struggling Chicagoans Set Up Casino to Protest Financial Industry Gambling in a Series of Actions and Press Conference Calling for Job Creation

Days after thousands of financially struggling families converged outside the Modern Wing of the Art Institute to take back our jobs, homes, and schools, the Take Back Chicago Week of Action is coming to a close with a day of action focused on Taking Back Our Jobs. Hundreds of concerned Chicagoans will protest at a series of locations throughout the city in actions calling for good jobs.

Low-Wage Employer Protests

WHAT: A series of protests at low-wage employers.

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

WHERE: Low-wage businesses through the downtown area.

WHY: To send a message - that businesses that fail to pay a living wage hurt our families and hurt our economy.


Take Back Our Jobs Rally

WHAT: A rally and series of direct actions to take back the jobs that have been lost to the greed of big banks and to corporate welfare.

WHEN: 12 to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Starting at the Chicago Board of Trade at 12 p.m., then moving on to various locations in the Loop to draw attention to big banks and corporations that have received millions in corporate welfare, but failed to create - or save - jobs.

WHY: To demand that rich banks and corporations invest in meaningful job creation and stop unnecessary layoffs.


Press Conference: Stop the Gambling, Start Investing in Community Jobs

WHAT: A press conference and action on the recently released Community Jobs Fund to put 40,000 unemployed Chicagoans back to work. Speakers include Elizabeth Parisian, researcher and author of the Community Jobs Plan report, a Chicago Political Economy Group economist who helped to shape the jobs plan, Rev. C.J. Hawking with Arise Chicago (speaking on the community needs the jobs plan will address) and an unemployed Chicagoan who would benefit from the plan.

WHEN: 3 to 3:30 p.m.

WHERE: Chicago Board of Trade at Jackson and LaSalle

WHY: To offer a solution to the jobs crisis that puts 40,000 Chicagoans back to work by enacting a negligible $.25 per transaction speculation fee to be paid by the buyer and sellers of the high risk "gambling" transactions that brought on the recession and thrust millions of Americans into poverty and unemployment

VISUALS: An impromptu casino will be set up in a high-traffic area in front of the Board of Trade, to graphically depict how financial institutions wrecked the economy with risky financial transactions that are essentially high-stakes gambling bets.


Sponsoring organizations:

Action Now | Albany Park Neighborhood Council | Brighton Park Neighborhood Council | Chicago Teachers Union | Chicago Jobs with Justice | Arise Chicago | United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) | Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) | SEIU | Stand Up! Chicago | Grassroots Collaborative | Illinois Hunger Coalition | Chicago Coalition for the Homeless | Lakeview Action Coalition | Northside Power | National Peoples' Action | Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP)


Maybe the conversation should start with those folks instead of these.

Occupy CNN
"But what about intrepid reporter Anderson Cooper?" reports RT on the lame MSM coverage of the Occupy movement. "He'll surely pitch a tent with the rest, right? After all, he went to Haiti and Japan after their major earthquakes. But alas, he's been too busy with his new daytime talk show, interviewing Paula Abdul and learning how to brush a dog's teeth."

True story. Watch the video.

Why No One Believes The Banks
"Surely no bank would be so reckless as to accept dodgy collateral these days," Jesse Eisenger writes for ProPublica. "It would hold out for something unassailable, like, say, Triple A mortgages on American homes."

Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
"If Lovie Smith ever slaps you with a glove and calls for a ten-pace showdown, accept his challenge regardless of circumstance," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes.

Because, as Bears fans know, Lovie rarely wins a challenge.

To wit:

* Smith Not Up To The Challenge

* Lovie Smith's Challenge Backfires

* Lovie Smith's Missing Challenge

* NFL Lockout Comes To An End; Lovie Smith Already Misuses Two Challenge Flags

* "Throwing the challenge flag hasn't done much but cost the Bears timeouts recently."

* Do You Think Lovie Understands The Red Flag Challenge?

* Has Lovie Ever Got A Challenge Right?

* I Challenge The Bears To Take Away Lovie's Red Flag.

* "Every part of this laughingstock seemed to synthesize on that fourth down against the Lions. The Bears couldn't get half a yard on third down, which is bad enough for the drafting and development, not to mention an offensive coordinator who never established a go-to play. But that's nothing compared to what followed.

"The Bears went for it on fourth down at the Lions' 26. They could've kicked a field goal and taken the lead on the road, but no. They were going for it. Except they didn't seem to know they were going for it on fourth down. They lined up, but were running out of time. So, they called timeout. Then they ran a play that got nothing because the sub-sub-sub right tackle got absolutely torched and should've been waived right there.

"But wait. There's more incompetence. The head coach challenged the spot. He lost his challenge and lost his last timeout. The Bears were out of timeouts before they were out of the first quarter."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Challenging.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

Why No One Believes The Banks

By almost any measure, Morgan Stanley is fine.

Look at this impressive rundown of the bank's critical numbers and ratios compiled by Paul Gulberg, an investment-banking analyst with the independent research firm Portales Partners.

Morgan Stanley has much more capital and lower leverage than it did at the height of the financial crisis, which I like to think of as 9/08. It has almost $60 billion in common equity, compared with $36 billion before September 2008, and its ratios are stronger. Its trading book - which is volatile and where any bank can take sudden, large losses - is smaller than it was. Morgan Stanley has more long-term debt and higher deposits, both of which stabilize its finances. The bank has more cash available in case there's a crunch and a smaller amount of Level III assets, which don't have an independently verifiable value and so must be estimated by the bank. Hedge funds have parked a smaller amount of assets at Morgan Stanley. That's good because in the financial crisis, they pulled them from the bank.

Yes, Morgan Stanley by any measure is a safe and solid investment bank. Except for one: The amount of trust people have in the whole financial and political system. It's just about zero.

That's why the bank's shares are down 42 percent this year. That's why all the big bank stocks have double-digit dips.

True, they start their next round of quarterly reporting in a matter of days. Morgan Stanley is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 19, and its earnings may calm fears temporarily.

But the essential problem will still be there, a slow burn beneath the global financial system that flares up at the worst moments. Banks don't have faith in other banks, investors are deeply scarred and wary, and nobody believes that the governments around the world could grapple with the magnitude of the problems, even if they wanted to.

Three months ago, the Belgian bank Dexia passed the European stress tests. By that measure, it was fine. Then it collapsed.

This weekend France, Belgium and Luxembourg swooped in to save Dexia and pledged to figure out how to recapitalize European banks as a whole.

So investors had a moment of euphoria on Monday: Governments will save institutions!

While they probably won't hesitate to wipe out equity holders in failed financial institutions and will perhaps force the value of bondholders' investments to be trimmed, they will do everything they can to protect counterparties so that the system doesn't melt down.

That's the hope, at least, and it has a rational basis. Almost universally, regulators and political leaders believe that letting Lehman fail in the fall of 2008 was a disastrous mistake. Its downfall cascaded throughout the global financial world, collapsing money markets, terrifying lenders to banks and accelerating the implosion of multiple financial institutions.

So investors and policy makers, burned by the recent crisis, are all supposed to be acting more prudently and forcefully.

Yet, the moment one examines almost any detail of the global financial system, faith falters once again. Take the uncertainty about the derivatives markets. Morgan Stanley has a face value of $56 trillion in derivatives. That's really nothing. JPMorgan Chase has more - amounting to the G.D.P. of large countries - a face value of $79 trillion in derivatives. If something goes wrong with just one-tenth of 1 percent of those trades, it's kablooie.

Now those are gross numbers. Many people would dismiss those totals as ridiculous and misleading. Anyone who brings them up is merely displaying ignorance. The banks' derivatives portfolios are full of off-setting trades that net out at a smaller number.

Derivatives can be dismissed as a popular bugaboo, but they really are just a symbol of the larger problem. A litany of daily stories reveals all kinds of reasons that banks don't trust each other. To take just one news item, almost at random: Bloomberg News reported the other day that a Danish bank was refusing French sovereign debt as collateral.

Nobody really knows how much exposure the American banks have to the European financial and political crisis, with the Treasury Department minimizing the issue while other outlets raise the specter of catastrophic problems.

So trust, naturally, is the casualty. "If you get in a period of stress, everyone starts questioning whether the hedges will hold up and whether the collateral is good enough," said Mr. Gulberg, the banking analyst.

Surely no bank would be so reckless as to accept dodgy collateral these days. It would hold out for something unassailable, like, say, Triple A mortgages on American homes. Wait, scratch that. It would accept sovereign debt, perhaps from some European realm that has been around for centuries. Whoops, no, no. Well, O.K., maybe United States Treasuries - and we'll agree to ignore that one of the country's two major political parties was willing to plunge the United States into default to achieve its aims.

So there's concern about the collateral. But what about the hedges? Of course, they wouldn't hedge with some bank like Dexia, which at year-end had $700 billion worth of loans, undrawn commitments, financial guarantees and the like. Some financial institutions have to be on the other side of Dexia's commitments. Some might even be those supposedly strong and prudent banks that were supposed to have learned so much from the financial crisis. Did Morgan Stanley learn its lesson from the crisis?

You begin to see the problem.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:20 AM | Permalink

Occupy CNN

1. "It took some time but much of mainstream media is finally showing up to report on the movement that started as Occupy Wall Street and is spreading, across the entire country and even the entire world, to what some are calling Occupy Everywhere.

"But one network seems to not have gotten the memo - CNN, also known as 'the most trusted name in news.' They have instead been covering the other 'Breaking' news, like Michael Jackson's doctor's trial, Amanda Knox's tearful thank you and Paul McCartney's wedding."


"But what about intrepid reporter Anderson Cooper? He'll surely pitch a tent with the rest, right? After all, he went to Haiti and Japan after their major earthquakes. But alas, he's been too busy with his new daytime talk show, interviewing Paula Abdul and learning how to brush a dog's teeth."


2. "While the mainstream media criticizes the demonstrators for being anarchist hippies, corporate media outlets don't actually go into the crowd that much to listen to what the frustrated people have to say.

"Reporters go live from across the street. TV satellite trucks are on stand-by for violence and arrests. The independent and foreign channels are the ones covering the important issues from within the action."


"They are going to chop up whatever you say, and they are going to leave the truth on the cutting floor, and they're going to run with whatever pushes their narrative," said protester Jesse LaGreca.


"Little interest in substance or analysis has been shown, like exploring why Americans have been driven out onto the street.

"When they're like, 'Why are you down here?' And I say, well, the name of the protest is Occupy Wall Street. I think Wall Street has something to do with it,' said Jesse LaGreca.

"Media coverage peaked when arrests started taking place.

"'After there are clashes, then there is media interest, and that's when all the major networks seem to get kicked in,' said camp volunteer Aaron Wynhausen.

"'They openly mocked protesters here as dirty hippies, uneducated fools and drug addicts and potential criminals - and they don't know what they're talking about, frankly,' said protester Chris Cobb.

"Some of the bigger networks prefer to keep their distance from the demonstrators. It's mostly the independent and foreign media who are deep in the action.

"'It's really funny. Every day at around 4.30 in the afternoon, TV trucks start arriving from every different channel. It's like when one black bird lands, they all land, and they're all here to do what used to be called SLRs - silly live remotes for their 6 o'clock broadcast,' said media critic and filmmaker Danny Schechter."


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

Even more fascinating is that the media is largely run by Baby Boomers who have come to venerate the protests of the 60s, even though the vast majority of those who now look back fondly on them and have scolded generations since for their alleged disinterest in political activism simply did not participate. Funny that.

Our protests good; your protests bad.

(And truth be told, the demos of the Occupy protests seem to skew older . . . )

Equally fascinating is how much the media venerates pro-democracy protests in foreign lands while ridiculing those right here in the good ol' U.S.A. Funny that, too.


And in Chicago, all those pundits (and editorial writers) who for years have blamed voters for political corruption and stasis, demanding that outrage become visible . . . well, here it is! No, the Occupy movement isn't protesting TIFs and Jon Burge (largely left by the dailies to the Reader anyway), but something even larger than shenanigans in the water department.

And public pensions? What about private compensation packages? This is your outrage - and I, for one, am happy to include the Tea Party in it too.

See also: Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:36 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Take The Lovie Smith Challenge. Every Time.

"I" Before EEEEK!
Recently, my daughter showed me the list of 40 prepositions she has to memorize for English class. After I told her to be quiet and slide the latest issue of Ass-Mack Weekly under the bathroom door, my first thought was: "What's a preposition?"

My second thought was: I bet Frank Omiyale feels the same way when he is told to play football.

Really? You're asking me to help you with this?

Oh crap, there goes Kyle Vanden Bosch.

Pistols At Dawn
If Lovie Smith ever slaps you with a glove and calls for a ten-pace showdown, accept his challenge regardless of circumstance.

He wins about one challenge out of five.

Avast 'Ye, Olaf Gustafson
What does a Viking yell exactly?

Arrgh, I'm here to rape your mutton leg while wearing a horny hat?

I'll ask Leif Garrett.

In any case, a lack of pressure up front puts ADP in a position to direct deposit* a pillaging as bad as we've seen since his 224-yard performance in '07. Henry Melton has been about as visible as Bill Melton lately, Peppers is hurt and did Idonije move back to Saskatchewan or something?

No penetration, no V and like my grandfather used to say: There's no "V" in lose.

Here's an awesome side note. Mark Anderson has 3.5 sacks through 5 games.

F-ing terrific.

We end up with a safety from the Patriots who, in real life, plays like he's a Madden character who runs off the screen because someone accidentally switched to him by pushing X too many times and Belichick manages to coach up the guy who between '07 and '10 looked like he couldn't sack the inflatable autopilot from Airplane.

Kool Aid (2 Out Of 5 Goblets Of Nordic Ale)
I was kind of hoping that Minnesota would be 0-5 and the Bears would have the opportunity to shoot the final flaming arrow into their metaphorical wooden canoe, but it's not to be.

In fact, the drowning Vikes are looking to take us down to the bottom of Lake Minnetonka with them.

Like a male health checkup, the Bears will win by doing what they have to do. But it will feel as satisfying as an endoscopy.

Bears 16, Vikings 10.


*Football + banking puns = funny . . . ?


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:04 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Working the phones Tuesday night, I learned some interesting nuggets regarding the Chicago Cubs pursuit of Boston GM Theo Epstein and why he would consider leaving his post as the head of baseball operations in his hometown for a team that hasn't tasted a championship since 1908," David Kaplan writes for CSNChicago.

"First, and foremost is Epstein's interest in a new challenge in his professional life and the lure of ending the longest championship drought in sports history is proving to be a tremendous magnet in attracting him to the Cubs. Second, is Epstein's quickly blossoming relationship with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

"Sources tell us that Ricketts laid out his plan to Epstein and offered him near total authority on baseball decisions with no one to answer to other than the Ricketts family themselves."

Finally, Tom Ricketts does something right. Epstein certainly wasn't perfect in Boston, but he is the kind of hire who can actually transform this franchise in a way that is always promised and never seen.

Just don't give up Starlin Castro - or even Matt Garza - as compensation. That makes no sense whatsoever.


And good for Boston too. Now they need to clean house.


As for the White Sox, well, if Robin Ventura wasn't so popular and respected as a player, the WTF factor would be ten times as loud. And the way he was perceived as a player shouldn't enter into it.


St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Cubs Woo Epstein; Threaten To Win."

Weezer Bassist
"A memorial service originally planned this weekend for the former bassist of the rock band Weezer has been postponed, his family said," CNN reports.

"Mikey Welsh, 40, was found dead last Saturday . . . In a Twitter post September 26, Welsh had eerily foreshadowed his death.

"'dreamt i died in chicago next weekend (heart attack in my sleep). need to write my will today,' he wrote. Later that day, he posted another tweet that read, 'correction - the weekend after next.'

"Darryl Baety, a Chicago police spokesman, said Sunday that officers responded at 1:45 p.m. Saturday to a call from the Raffaello Hotel regarding a guest who had been scheduled to check out, but had not."

Rock and Roll Days Inn
But ugh.

Second City
"The largest chocolate bar in the world has been made in Derbyshire," the BBC reports.

"The giant bar, weighing almost six tonnes, was created by confectionary firm Thorntons to mark its centenary.

"Guinness World Records confirmed the huge bar had beaten the previous record set by a Chicago chocolate maker in September."

World Class
"A Kuwaiti woman, maddened after she was attacked by an unknown man while returning home in the Gulf emirate, decided to take it out on the police," Emirates 24/7 reports.

"'Where do you think you are . . . in Chicago?' the woman yelled at the policemen at their center in the capital Kuwait City."

Gacy's Secrets
"More than 30 years after a collection of skeletal remains was found beneath John Wayne Gacy's house, detectives have secretly exhumed bones of eight young men who were never identified in hopes of answering a final question: Who were they?" AP reports.


See also: The One Thing John Wayne Gacy Would Never Admit

Occupation Update
The Hyatt ain't kosher and Bank of America is trashy.

Occupy Kid Rock
"The 40-year-old, who has helped his hometown of Detroit recover from economic disaster, will perform in 10 small-scale venues and will donate the money to area causes through the Kid Rock Foundation," the National Ledger reports.

"The tour begins in New York on November 16 and will hit Buffalo, Indianapolis, Nashville, Chicago, Kansas City, Denver, Magna, Boise and Spokane."

"Lice outbreaks common, harmless, experts say," the Tribune reports. "Stigma often worse than the parasites, school officials say."

Really? Ewwww!

"'I freaked out a little,' Karen Crotty, 41, said, adding that she examined her daughter's scalp after learning about a recent outbreak in her daughter's fourth-grade class in Lombard. 'There were bugs living on my daughter's head.'"

Bear Market
"The Vikings are 1-9 in their past 10 trips to Illinois. However, if you watched the mess that the Bears have suddenly become, one has to think the Vikings present a problem for Chicago," Mark Craig writes for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"Actually, two problems. The Vikings can run the ball. And the Vikings can rush the passer. The Bears spent Monday night's loss in Detroit completely unable to stop the run and pass protect.

"Jay Cutler basically starts running for his life the second the ball is snapped. The only time he's actually safe behind the line is when the officials blow the whistle for a false start."

Is Tim Tebow The New Cam Newton?
Our very own Dan O'Shea is all in.

Marathon Delivery


The Beachwood Tip Line: Post-natal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:11 AM | Permalink

Occupying The Hyatt; Trashing Bank of America

"Chicago police arrested 21 people protesting against economic inequality on Tuesday at two rallies, charging them with trespassing," Reuters reports.

Let's take a look.

1. Uploaded by TheWallwriter on Oct 11, 2011:

"This is a video of an Action organized by Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) to protest the Mortgage Bankers Association of Chicago.

"Operating on the assumption that mortgage bankers are in part responsible for the current mortgage crisis that is affecting the lives and threatening the homes of thousands of Americans, SOUL organized a group to claim space in the Hyatt so that their demands might be heard.

"This group set up a home complete with television and roof over their heads in order to underscore the fundamental nature of their protest: a widespread threat to where people live based on overvalued mortgages and a depressed housing market."


"Beneath a makeshift shelter of canvas and bamboo outside the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Tuesday, rabbis and community organizers sought to reclaim the ancient Jewish celebration of Sukkot by calling on the real estate finance industry to help families hold on to their homes," Manya Brachear reports for the Tribune.

"Activists said the demonstration, which they insisted was not a protest, served to remind participants at the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual meeting that they have a moral responsibility to protect struggling homeowners caught off guard by the nation's housing crisis.

"Organizers invited bankers to dine with them underneath the awning Jews call a 'sukkah' and hear heartfelt testimonies from those touched by the rapid decline in residential real estate.

"The location of the demonstration also underscored activists' concern that bankers and other businesses aren't upholding the Jewish value of repairing the world. In June, many of the same religious leaders declared a number of Hyatt hotels 'not kosher' for the company's mistreatment of workers and called for a boycott until conditions improved."

See also: Item 4.

2. Uploaded by jensabella21 on Oct 11, 201:

"Five women arrested after dumping trash inside a downtown Bank of America branch on Tuesday, Oct. 11. Trash was collected from abandoned and foreclosed properties on Chicago's West Side. More info here."


"[P]rotesters from Occupy Chicago joined forces on Tuesday with members of Action Now, a group concerned with vacant lots in the city's South and West Side neighborhoods," the New York Times reports.

"The combined groups piled at least a dozen garbage bags on the sidewalk in front of the Bank of America building in the Chicago Loop, along with couches and other trash that they said had been pulled from a foreclosed property. Five women, ranging in age from 56 to 80, were arrested there after they went inside the bank lobby and scattered trash."

See also:
* Bank of America Aims To Change Image With Ads


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:58 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Is Tim Tebow The New Cam Newton?

After almost engineering a second half comeback win against the Chargers, Tim Tebow is one of the hottest pick-ups in Yahoo! fantasy football this week.

He was added 21,237 times in Yahoo! leagues between Monday and Tuesday, and probably has been added a few hundred more times since you started reading this sentence.

Still, he was only about 20-percent owned as of Tuesday evening, which surprises me. Are there that many teams that need absolutely no help at QB?

I was not an advocate of drafting Tebow in the preseason, even as a last-round gamble. Denver coach John Fox just seemed so far away from even letting him on the field as a wildcat option that it seemed like a wasted pick. But after seeing him work last Sunday, and with the knowledge that Fox is now committed to start him Oct. 23 after Denver's bye week, I'm all in.

Is that too much to base on a single half of football? Maybe.

After a very slow start, Tebow threw for 79 yards and a TD, and rushed for 38 yards and another TD. You can argue that he can't - and won't be allowed to - pass for long yardage. You can argue that a defense game-planning specifically for Tebow will be a lot more effective against him than San Diego was when it got ambushed last Sunday.

However - and maybe this is not much more than a hunch - Tebow looked an awful lot like another QB who has taken the fantasy football landscape by storm this season: Cam Newton.

Like Newton, Tebow was very elusive, creating both passing and rushing opportunities after he was flushed from the pocket. Like Newton, he showed he can and will score with both his arm and his legs. Newton has 12 TDs this year, five of them rushing, and his total TD figure ranks him in the top five among all fantasy QBs - actually tied for fourth with Drew Brees, New Orleans. That dual threat more than anything else makes me like Tebow as a fantasy starter.

Like Newton, Tebow will throw some INTs, but his scores should make up for it.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade is riding the Matt Forte bandwagon. Forte and Fred Jackson of the Bills have been surprises as the most consistent fantasy RBs this season.

* Bleacher Report reports on Jackie Battle, the new RB savior in Kansas City.

* Fantasy Knuckleheads has a hot read on another surprise at WR: Victor Cruz of the Giants.

And this just in: The first two weeks of the NBA season have been canceled. Though I think we will see the NBA return before Christmas, no one seems in a hurry to study fantasy basketball stats, so I won't either. It's all fantasy football until further notice.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. The most important part of last night's Bears-Lions broadcast.

2. From Deadspin:

"What we watched: The bumbling Bears. Oh, sure, the Lions' win last night was historic, it kept them unbeaten, and it no doubt soothed the sting that resulted from the Tigers having fallen behind, two games to none, in the ALCS just hours earlier. But . . . those Bears. Nine false-start penalties? Yes, the game was indoors, but it's not like Lovie Smith found that out once the team bus pulled up outside Ford Field. Yeesh."

3. "We've Got The Guillotine!"

4. "In March 2004, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley announced a deal that promised to save taxpayer money, reduce natural gas consumption and bring 'green' jobs to Chicago.

"But taxpayers might see red when they learn how the deal turned out. More than seven years later, the initiative has been quietly suspended amid problems with some of the equipment - and acknowledgements by city officials that taxpayers will probably lose money on the deal and never realize the energy savings that Daley touted, the Better Government Association has learned.

"The arrangement centered on solar-powered hot water heating systems made by North Carolina-based Solargenix Energy LLC with technology designed at the University of Chicago.

"The city agreed to spend up to $5 million on the eco-friendly systems, and install them on more than 100 public buildings, such as firehouses and police stations, yielding an estimated $7 million in energy savings over 30 years.

"In exchange for that commitment - and an additional $1.7 million no-interest loan through the Daley administration - Solargenix agreed to open a factory in Chicago, employing at least 15 workers, and build the solar equipment there."


"More than 200 new energy-efficient streetlights installed on Lake Shore Drive have suffered outages, and Chicago is on the hook to pay for a large part of the repairs, officials said," the Tribune reports.

"About 2,140 ceramic metal-halide light fixtures were installed from late last year through this past summer on the drive from Hollywood Avenue to just beyond it at 71st Street. The streetlights are brighter and use less electricity than the sodium-vapor fixtures they replaced and will last for seven to eight years, compared with five to six years for the old system, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

"Chicago is the first large U.S. city to use the new lighting technology, which is supposed to reduce maintenance costs, city officials said.

"But almost 10 percent of the new lights have failed, officials said. In some cases, bulbs burned out and fuses blew. Other issues stemmed from the poor condition of the existing underground electrical infrastructure, officials said."




Green shoots.


Just word associating.

5. "The president's a terrific guy to work with and work for."

Right. Bill Daley works for Barack Obama.

6. "Tahrir Square in Cairo, Green Square in Tripoli, Syntagma Square in Athens and now Zuccotti Park in New York - popular anger against entrenching power elites is spreading around the world," Reuters reports.

"Many have been intrigued by the Occupy Wall Street movement against financial inequality that started in a New York park and expanded across America from Tampa, Florida, to Portland, Oregon, and from Los Angeles to Chicago."

7. "The Occupy Wall Street movement will take its protests to the New York homes of super-wealthy executives on Tuesday as Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein canceled a talk at a college in the city," Reuters reports.

"Protesters will march through Manhattan's Upper East Side on a 'Billionaire's Tour' to take their grievances about economic inequality to the homes of News Corp's Rupert Murdoch, JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and others."

8. Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man.

(Could it really be that the 1986 live version is better than the original?)

9. Coin Collecting 101.

(And no, this isn't about scams run by employees of the tollway authority.)

10. Clandestine Team Of Government Agents Protecting San Diego From Numerous Terrorist Threats Gets Renewed For A Second Season.

11. Oh wait - somebody just made another joke about how the Bears offensive line just false started again. Meta!


The Beachwood Tip Line: Balladry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:04 AM | Permalink

Song of the Moment: Ballad of a Thin Man

Something's happening and you don't know what it is, do you, Mister Jones?


Song: Ballad of a Thin Man

Artist: Bob Dylan

Recorded: August 2, 1965

Released: August 25, 1965

Length: 5:58

Album: Highway 61 Revisited

The original:



You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don't understand
Just what you'll say
When you get home

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel
To be such a freak?"
And you say, "Impossible"
As he hands you a bone

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect
Anyway they already expect you
To just give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home"

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Well, you walk into the room
Like a camel and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin' around
You should be made
To wear earphones

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

From The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall Concert:"


With Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:


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!
* Anarchy in the U.K.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Coin Collecting 101

"Highlights of Rod Gillis' numismatic lecture at the World's Fair of Money in Chicago."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:54 AM | Permalink

The Gun In Eric Hipple's Mouth

The most important part of last night's Bears-Lions broadcast.


"Monday Night Countdown looks at former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple's long journey to become the outreach specialist at the University of Michigan depression center."


See also:

* Eric Hipple Came To Ionia To Help De-Stigmatize Depressive Illness

* Telling His Story To Save Others

* Guilt And Pain: Ex-NFL QB Eric Hipple Preaches Understanding When It Comes To Suicidal Depression


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

"We've Got The Guillotine!"

1. "Max Keiser and co-host Stacy Herbert talk about Marie Antoinette's last words on a banner at the Chicago Board of Trade."


2. Uploaded by AndrewNoNumbers on Oct 10, 2011:

"This video is at Monroe and Michigan where the marches were coming together. Pretty glad I was at the right place and right time to catch all of it.

"I was taking photos at Cloud Gate today and happened to hear a big ruckus coming down Michigan Ave. It turned out to be one arm of the Take Back Chicago march (Homes). There had been police choppers over the city the entire day, so I knew something was up."


3. By eNews Park Forest: "Sights and sounds of Occupy Chicago, October 10, 2011, outside the Daley Center. Interviews with some of the protesters. Those attending the protests were pretty clear on their message: jobs, jobs and jobs."

* Story.
* Pictures.
* Video:


4. The Chicago Board of Trade: We are the one percent.


5. From "Lie to Me," the seventh episode of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Cordelia: I just don't see why everyone's always picking on Marie Antoinette. I can so relate to her. She worked really hard to look that good, and people just don't appreciate that kind of effort. And I know the peasants were all depressed . . .

Xander: I think you mean oppressed.

Cordelia: Whatever. They were cranky. So they're like, "Let's lose some heads." Uh! That's fair. And Marie-Antoinette cared about them. She was gonna let them have cake!


* Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.
* The Week in Occupy Chicago
* Occupy America


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Clandestine Team Of Government Agents Protecting San Diego From Numerous Terrorist Threats Gets Renewed For A Second Season

Adult Swim has picked up a second season of the 15-minute cop procedural parody, NTSF:SD:SUV::.

Creator and star Paul Scheer (The League) will lead the all-star cast as well as executive produce with Jonathan Stern (executive producer of Childrens Hospital). Principal photography will begin in early 2012.

"The ratings have consistently built throughout the first season and we love what we're seeing from the show," said Mike Lazzo, head of Adult Swim, "and how can you not love SUVs?"


"I'm very excited to continue to punch, shoot, stab and run people over with lawnmowers and get paid for it," said series creator and star Paul Scheer.

Currently in its first season run, NTSF:SD:SUV:: scored double-digit delivery gains throughout the month of September versus September of last year among target demos.

Adults 18-34 (593,000) grew by 12%, adults 18-49 (794,000) grew by 15%, men 18-34 (360,000) grew by 11% and men 18-49 (488,000) grew by 16%.

Encore performances of the finale of season one will continue every Thursday night beginning Oct. 13.

NTSF:SD:SUV::, also known as the National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle::, is a clandestine team of government agents working together to protect San Diego from numerous terrorist threats coming in daily from such evil countries as Mexico, Canada and Guam

This team of highly trained operatives has only one job: Saving your butt so you can drive your hybrid and see your movies in 3-D without worrying about living in a country run by no-good terrorists.

As with many other acronym-ed police procedurals that dominate the airwaves, NTSF:SD:SUV::'s episodes are ripped from the headlines and full of suspense, action, drama, cliffhangers, yelling, passionate love-making, more yelling, death and plenty of pregnant pauses.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: is created by Paul Scheer and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romijn, Rob Riggle, Kate Mulgrew, Brandon Johnson, June Diane Raphael, Martin Starr and S.A.M., the first sentient robot on television (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz).

Season 1 guest stars included Rob Riggle, John Cho, Jeff Goldblum, Jerry O'Connell, Gabrielle Union, Adam Scott, JK Simmons, Wilmer Valderama and Moon Bloodgood.


Adult Swim (, launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults. Airing nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET, PT), Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families, and is seen in 99.7 million U.S. homes.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

As I began reading Neil Steinberg's column today - it's my duty - I thought I might actually excerpt from it approvingly. His initial thoughts on the complexity of Columbus Day seemed to merit mention. And then he goes off the rails.

"And yet perhaps because I learned the 1970s history catechism, where national unity trumps the complaints of each individual group, I feel for the Italians, who just want to be part of the story and celebrate themselves without having to wipe the blood of the slaughtered off their hands every October."

Huh. I thought the notion of "national unity trumping the complaints of each individual group" was the history catechism of the 1980s, not the 70s. You know, the reaction of Reagan's America against the encroaching enlightenment of the previous two decades.

But that's the least of it.

"[T]here's a card widely posted on Facebook," Steinberg notes. "'Let's celebrate Columbus Day by walking into someone's house and telling them we live there now.' A fair synopsis of what happened, minus the genocide."

Steinberg does not like the card (which I, too, shared on Facebook).

"What bothers me most about the 'Let's celebrate . . . ' card is the casual declaration of free-floating guilt that we liberals seem to have mastered. What are you saying? You're sorry the nation was founded?"

First, I resist the notion that the sentiment expressed in the card is merely a liberal one - or that it is motivated by guilt.

More importantly, how hard is it to see that maybe we should all be sorry the nation was founded the way it was? Or that perhaps a better America could have been founded? Or that Native, um, Americans could have been left alone, or a more palatable cooperative agreement - minus the genocide - could have been arranged?

If America was indeed founded by brute force driven by hatred of supposed subhumans getting in the way of our ancestors' destiny, well, I don't see how that's a bad thing to rue.

"The Aztecs were the most violent state in recorded human history, so it isn't as if, had Columbus never arrived, the American Eden would remain to this day."

I didn't know Aztecs were in America or that Eden existed when America was Indians-only. No one is saying any such thing.

"To post that card is hypocrisy. Europe's still there. Go back if you feel so guilty about living here. I sure don't."

I don't see the hypocrisy. America, love it or leave it?

The card simply asks just what it is we are celebrating when we celebrate Columbus Day. Apparently such an inquiry is off-limits.

"My ancestors never killed an Indian or owned a slave. They were selling rags in Poland when all this was going on, and America was the golden door a handful fled through before the most cultured and sophisticated society in Europe put the rest in ovens. That still doesn't prompt me to show up at German Unity Day and wave pictures of Auschwitz. The past is a lousy place to live."

Um . . . what? I don't even know how to parse this incomprehensible passage, but I'll try:

So you should only feel guilty about Columbus Day if one of your ancestors killed an Indian? Wouldn't that make it wrong to celebrate the white settlers and those who followed and, um, built a golden door for people like the Steinbergs?

And isn't the genocidal slaughter of American Indians similar in some way to the ovens of Auschwitz?

And if you won't wave flags on German Unity Day, why would you on Columbus Day?

Perhaps somebody wrote the middle of Steinberg's column while he was in the bathroom because then he writes:

"We live in a time when heroes are ritualistically tarnished and, frankly, everybody is better off with the more accurate, though less flattering, narrative than with the pretty story. It's easier for me to grasp the current inability of the government to confront our problems when I consider that it was formed on a lie - 'All men are created equal' - that skirted the issue of slavery, kicking it down the pike to explode 75 years later. Ignoring our biggest problems is an American tradition since 1776."

Exactly! You like the card after all!

"Columbus Day is an Italian pride holiday," Dominic Di Frisco, president emeritus of the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, tells Steinberg, who approves even though he learned the 1970s history catechism.

In fact, to America the holiday has nothing to do with Italians. It's about the discovery of America. By a white man.

To DiFrisco, though, it's also about something else:

"Here's a man who planted the flag of Christianity on the shores of the new world and teachers are systemically taking the image of Columbus we all knew and they've turned him into a villain."

To which Steinberg ends his column: "Speaking of the flag of Christianity . . . but space grows short. Happy Columbus Day."

I don't know what that means, but planting the flag of Christianity on our shores was not such a happy thing either; at least to non-Christians.


"Journalist and media critic Norman Solomon reflects in Columbus Day: A Clash of Myth and History that many people choose to hold on to the myths surrounding Columbus whereas historians who deal with the evidence are frequently depicted as 'politically correct' revisionists," Wikipedia's article on Columbus Day notes.

"He quotes from the logbook Columbus's initial description of the Indians: 'They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance . . . They would make fine servants . . . With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want' . . .

"In 1495, during the Second Voyage, Indians were transported to Spain as slaves, many dying en route. 'Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity,' Columbus later wrote, 'go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.'

"Solomon states that the most important contemporary documentary evidence is the multi-volume History of the Indies by the Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas who observed the region where Columbus was governor.

"In contrast to 'the myth' Solomon quotes Las Casas who describes Spaniards driven by 'insatiable greed' - 'killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples' with 'the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty' and how systematic violence was aimed at preventing 'Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings.' The Spaniards 'thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades,' wrote Las Casas. 'My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write.'"

Happy Columbus Day, Neil.

Monday Night Beachwood
Hank Williams Jr. probably loves Columbus Day!


To my knowledge, there is no Hank Williams Jr. on the Beachwood jukebox and tonight there will be no Hank Williams Jr. on Monday Night Football, though he has written a new song "lashing out at the media."

My guess? It's owned by the Jews!

Stop in to watch the game tonight and further this fascinating discussion. I'll be behind the bar serving up cold Old Styles and, for those with a taste for the finer things in life (and the wallet to afford them), fine selections from the Bell's brewery of Kalamazoo.

We open at 5 so get your seat early.


We'll also feature our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman doing post-game commentary while drinking his customary Two-Hearted Ale.


Here's the coach in today's SportsMonday column:

"Tonight is just about the whole season for the Bears."

So there you go.

Occupy America
Columbus did!


But seriously . . .

The One Thing John Wayne Gacy Would Never Admit
His lawyer dishes on what drove the demented man.

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

Hawaiian Hula Days 2011
Presented by the Hula Association of the Midwest.

Gym, Tan, Butt-Head


The Beachwood Tip Line: Occupado.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:59 AM | Permalink

Occupy America

"The collective voices of American dissent has manifested into a movement impossible to ignore. 'Occupy Wall Street' began in the world's financial capital, but this week protests have blazed through dozens of cities nationwide."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

Hawaiian Hula Days 2011

Presented by the Hula Association of the Midwest.

1. "Arizona gets up to dance as Lehua from Mikioi sings. Accompanied by Keenan of Hoapili."


2. "A song called Koke'e."


3. "Makani sang for the beautiful dancers of Halau Hula O Puanani."


4. "Makani Girls sing Ulupalakua while braddah Keenan and hula dancers perform."


5. "Kanikapila night. Lot's of hula dancers, musicians, and singers!"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Sanity Of Bears Fans At Stake Tonight

This is it.

Tonight is just about the whole season for the Bears. Of course it is still early and of course all sorts of squads come back from rough starts to make the postseason.

But if the team doesn't knock off the Lions in Detroit tonight after losing to the Packers two weeks ago, it will find itself way, way behind two different divisional foes. It will take the rest of the season (and lots of good fortune) for the Bears to make up the resulting three-game deficits, and those huge runs would have to include even-up wins over rivals that have already knocked them off.

To venture way out into projection land . . . there would be a better chance the Bears would win the second wild card than that they would rally in the division after starting 2-3. And yes I know that would mean three teams qualifying for the playoffs from the NFC North. Skeptical? Well, let's just say the rest of the conference fails to impress at this point. Only two teams other than the division leaders (Washington, New Orleans and San Francisco) have winning records in the East, South and West divisions and both off those squads (the Giants and the Buccaneers) have two losses.

So I suppose it isn't right to completely write off the Bears playoff chances if they lose tonight. Instead, let's go ahead and make one large prediction: If they drop this game, the Bears will not win the NFC North. If they don't win the division, they won't make the conference final, and if they don't make the conference final, they obviously will fall short of last season.

Plenty of teams talk about their only goal being a spot in the Super Bowl. But if a team that only won four games last year grabs nine victories this time around and squeaks into the playoffs as a wild card, it has succeeded. On the other hand, the sad truth for a team that made the conference final a year ago is that there is only one more step to take. If the Bears don't make the Super Bowl a year after grabbing a spot in the Final Four, the season really is a flat-out bust, no matter who was hurt or whatever else happened (the Packers suffered all sorts of injuries last year - enough said about a possible injury excuse).

As for a few specifics about tonight's match-up, well, I don't do "keys to victory." More than 90 percent of stories written before games - copy that purports to break down what it will take for this team to prevail over that one, are full of it. Who knows what the heck is going to happen other than the absolutely obvious, i.e., if one team pressures another team's quarterback consistently, it will have a much better chance to win. I'm guessing you know this already.

But I will go ahead and list some "keys to not driving Bears fans crazy."

1. Throw play-action passes on first downs.

The Bears became so enamored of the running game against Carolina, they missed numerous chances to diversify the offense in the second half. In the end, the Bear offensive line wore down the Panthers and finished off the game with two great drives for a critical field goal and what was essentially a clinching touchdown. But in the third quarter in particular they had a series of three-and-outs in which it was clear a play-action pass on first down was superior to a totally predictable run.

2. Take advantage of the fact that the Lions' running game is terrible.

Jahvid Best has been a bust at running back for Detroit and they don't have anyone else. Then again, maybe Best has just been waiting for a chance to take on a defense like the Bears, who couldn't stop the Panther rushing or passing game to the tune of the unbelievable 543 yards allowed last week.

Still, Brian (Urlacher) and Lance (Briggs), several tackles for losses of the hapless Lion running back would go a long way toward helping an average Bears fan maintain at least a semblance of sanity.

3. Find a way to help Jay Cutler avoid a pass-rusher and make a play.

He used to do this all the time in Denver; move smartly around the pocket to buy a little time and then make the killer last-second throw for a first down that demoralizes defenses.

Now, I'm not saying roll him out. As has been noted before, rolling out a quarterback just diminishes the amount of field he and his receivers have to work with.

But perhaps Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz could have a heart-to-heart chat before the game about how to play quarterback in the Martz system. Perhaps the coordinator could reassure his quarterback that if he occasionally brings his eyes down from looking at receivers after going a couple reads and feeling pressure, it will be okay.

Perhaps Martz could say Cutler doesn't have to look downfield until the absolute last split second every time he goes back to pass; that every once in awhile he can focus on avoiding pressure and then return his gaze to receivers who I'm sure will have made late moves that will make possible a few of those crushing completions that come after fans were certain their team was going to get a sack.

Do it for the sake of a metropolis' mental health.


Programming Note: Watch the game tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Steve Rhodes behind the bar and Jim Coffman providing late-night commentary.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

The One Thing John Wayne Gacy Would Never Admit

John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994 but he lives on as a caricature, a talking point, and subject still in the news, perhaps because his crimes were so unfathomable but also most certainly because his life as a clown entertaining sick children and a glad-handing political do-gooder made him such a contradiction.

On television last Saturday night, for example: A showing of the 2010 movie Dear Mr. Gacy, starring William Forsythe. "A teen communicates with imprisoned serial killer John Wayne Gacy."

As a discussion point last Friday, for example, on the Springfield State Journal-Register's food blog: "When serial murderer John Wayne Gacy (below) was put to death in Illinois in 1994, his requested last meal was Kentucky Fried Chicken, fried shrimp, french fries, strawberries and Diet Coke. But since January of 2000, there has been a moratorium on executions in Illinois, so the prison cooks are no longer putting together special meals for the condemned . . . should a dying person be granted a final meal of his choosing?"

And as unfinished business, for example, still torturing the parents of murdered children: "A mother who has for decades doubted her 14-year-old son was a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy may learn the truth after a judge Thursday granted her request that the body be exhumed for DNA testing."

All of which brings to mind a book published in August that certainly taught me a lot about the Gacy saga, John Wayne Gacy: Defending A Monster; subtitle: "The True Story Of The Lawyer Who Defended One Of The Most Evil Serial Killers In History."

For example, I had no idea Gacy was so well-known in the political community; I didn't grow up in Chicago and I've never had much interest in the details of crime cases like Gacy's.

Perhaps most important, though, is the conclusion that former Gacy lawyer (and now a former Cook County judge back in private practice) Sam Amirante comes to about what drove the demented man. Let's take a look.


Gacy on the line:

"'Sam, could you do me a favor?'

"A telephone call, seven short words, a simple-enough request. That's how it all began.

"I knew the guy on the other end of the line. Everyone on the Northwest Side did. He was a political wannabe, one of those guys that was always around, talking about all the big shots he knew, hoping that the importance of others would rub off on him, a nice-enough guy - maybe a little pushy, a bit of a blowhard, telling tall tales, but still, a nice-enough guy. He was a precinct captain for the Norwood Park Township Regular Democratic Organization, and so was I. He was actually one of the best precinct captains they ever had, better than me, some might tell you. He really brought in the votes for that tiny organization.

"I had met him at one function or another. He always bought a full table at all the fund-raisers, ten tickets, which translated into a sizable contribution to the party; and then he'd fill the ten seats with kids that looked like they really didn't wear business suits very often, unsophisticated . . . that would be a kind way to put it. They were usually his employees, young kids that worked for his contracting business.

"Plus, he was on the Norwood Park Township Street Lighting District as a trustee, the secretary-treasurer, and I did some volunteer work on the side for the district. I was their lawyer. So I knew him."


"He was truly a Man of the Year type of guy. He would speak to clerks and cashiers behind counters and at desks like they were old friends. He shook the hands of middle-level politicians with smiles and jokes all around. During his visit, a man who seemed to be a good friend approached Gacy, and handshakes and backslapping were exchanged. [Surveillance cops] Robinson and Schultz could not help but be impressed. The friend was Illinois attorney general Bill Scott.

"Gacy was clearly in his element among politicians and public servants. Frankly, that was because he was one of them. Gary was a 'pitch in and help out' kind of guy, and everybody knew that about him."


"From the highest reaches of Chicago politics, including the mayor and the governor, to his neighbors and business associates, it seemed that no one in the city had more than one degree of separation from this man. You could not throw a rock in all of Chicagoland - population nine million - without hitting someone that had his or her own personal Gacy story."


An aside: Gacy meets Rosalynn Carter.


Back to Amirante:

"Suddenly, I knew that his entire medical history - with all its documented seizures, strokes, and maladies - was likely one long psychological manifestation of a man unlike any other man, a man miswired at the factory, so to speak, a good old-fashioned crazy person, a person that had a lifelong record of known, documented illnesses and hospital admissions.

"But in spite of the very impressive nature of the charts and notes regarding his health, in spite of the many diagnoses of his condition over his lifetime, I knew that many or most of those problems had originated in this man's head.

"It wasn't his body that was weak or broken, as the charts and the medical history might indicate; it was his brain that wasn't working right. His problem was in his mind. His brain was profoundly broken."


From a letter Gacy wrote to his lawyers and relatives that Amirante includes in his book:

"[T]here were other things in my life that I did that I am responsible for, and that I am the only one who can understand the feeling I got from them. Like the first time I was in charge of the largest Christmas parade in Springfield. Everyone was concerned with how big and how good it was. While in 6 degree weather I was happy when I seen the warm glowing faces of children waiting hours to see Snta Claus, and some for the first time. To know that you in a small way was in part responsible for that happening, that was my reward for over two month[s] of work. And then there was the time. I was a clown and went to the hospital to visit the children, and I went into a room by myself where a little boy was , and his mother started to cry, and after I visit with the boy I went out and asked the mother if I had did anything wrong. She said, No . . . it was just that her son who was hit by a car had been in there for six weeks and that was the first time she seen him smile. That feeling you can't put into words, and it something that no one can take from you. That's what my life has been all about. Making others happy and helping people. There are the simple things in my life which I can take with me forever.

"It's too bad that I didn't apply the same love, the same feeling to my own family. Maybe I would have never lost Carole. God knows I love her and the girls.

"My work was my life, working for others, doing things for others, weather [sic] I made money or not. I have never been able to figure out why? Why did I drive myself so hard it was almost like I was punishing me for not being better. Oh well I know that GOD understands and maybe with all the sickness I had that was his way of making me strong.

"And then there was the other side, the side that I really don't know where it fits, but it there. Why? How? What happen to make it happen in me. It doesn't fit. It doesn't belong, I hate it, yet it didn't go away, no matter how hard I worked or how many hours I stay up, to keep it from happening."


From Amirante's epilogue:

"Thirteen psychologists and psychiatrists testified during the trial of John Wayne Gacy. Each was a noted expert. Most were published authors and professors at this country's most prestigious institutions of higher learning. Yet, after hours of interviews, study and contemplation, none of these learned men and women diagnosed Mr. Gacy in exactly the same manner. Gacy was an enigma.

"After reading the Gacy story, it doesn't take a psychologist or a psychiatrist to see the tormented soul that haunted Gacy's sickly frame. Once he confessed his crimes on that eerie night in Sam's office, he began admitting his horrific deeds to almost anyone who asked. But there was one thing he would never admit. This one perceived transgression he took with him to his grave.

"He would admit to the most heinous string of brutal murders the world had ever seen, but he would never admit that which he considered his most horrendous and well-guarded secret . . . he was a homosexual.

"Gacy grew up with a father who berated him daily for not living up to preconceived notions of what a 'man' should be, school kids and neighbors who bullied and tormented him, and a society that struggled with acceptance of a lifestyle it did not understand. As a result, no one hated John Gacy more than John Gacy."


Comments welcome.


1. From De Anna:

Bet if you asked the grieving and tormented parents of those young men they would disagree. I bet they could hate him more then he could ever hate himself. Exhibited by his "self" motivated actions.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Gardens & Villa at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


2. Blue October at the House of Blues on Saturday night.


3. Cro Mags at Reggie's on Saturday night.


4. Wild Flag at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.


5. Weezer at the Congress on Sunday night.


6. Jackie Green at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


7. Dethwarrant at Cole's on Friday night.


8. Imelda May at the Park West on Friday night.


9. Dick Dale at SPACE on Friday night.


10. Danzig at the Congress on Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

Epic: Gym. Tan. Butt-Head.

All-new episodes begin Thursday, October 27 at 10/9c.

1. Epic.


2. Gym. Tan. Butt-Head.


See also:
*Beavis and Butt-Head Are Back

* The Glorious Return Of Beavis And Butt-Head

* Beavis And Butt-Head Are Gonna Score


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

In recognition of our vital role in establishing world peace, the Weekend Desk will be forced to share this update with two other pieces of furniture.

Market Update
Presidential Dignity plummeted this week to its lowest level in nine years. Analysts point out, however, that this has historically been an extremely volatile market.

Change to Believe in
President Obama used the Super Bowl Bears' White House visit to invoke his old campaign promise of hope, saying if Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan could get together, "anything is possible." So all we need is for John Boehner to open a steakhouse and Harry Reid to punch Dick Durbin in the face.

Charge Ahead
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn this week announced his plan to make the state the nation's leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles. These vehicles will of course be charged using clean coal and come with a free CTA potty break.

Fringe Benefits
Finally this week, Chicago Marathon organizers this week finally revealed who benefits when overheated runners drop extra clothing along the course. With unseasonably warm temperatures once again on-tap for Sunday, organizers have yet to reveal who benefits when runners ditch their mortal coil along the course.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Coiled.


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report

Perspectivas Latinas: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning


Ricardo Lopez of Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning discusses its GO TO 2040 plan for development in the region.

Saturday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min


The Great Recession: How We Got Here and Prospects for Recovery


Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, compares the events surrounding the Great Depression with today's recession.

Sunday, October 9 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Crashing the Tea Party


Author Paul Street explores the influence of the media, corporations, and social factors on public opinion and social movements like the Tea Party.

Sunday, October 9 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


An Evening Celebrating the WPA Murals of Chicago


Heather Becker, CEO of The Conservation Center, recounts the grassroots effort to preserve early 20th-century murals that became the largest such project in U.S. history.

Sunday, October 9 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


A Safe Haven: Champions for Recovery 2011


David Sloan and others are recognized by the Champions for Recovery Awards for their work promoting recovery from homelessness and associated challenges.

Sunday, October 9 at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:27 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2011

The College Football Report: The Shame Of College Sports And The Ol' Ballcoach's Not Unreasonable Solution

Among the swirling debates on conference realignment and other controversies in the early weeks of the 2011 season, a long-standing question about the nature of college sports has moved to the fore. Should colleges and universities compensate football players?

The issue dates back to the early days of the NCAA but only attracted serious attention as broadcast networks began drawing huge national audiences (and associated revenues) for televised college football games in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1983, legendary football coaches Hayden Fry (of Iowa) and Tom Osborne (of Nebraska) answered the question in the affirmative. Both went on record to support the idea, with Fry going further in an interview published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

"We ask kids to meet all these entrance requirements and deny them an opportunity work while they're playing. They can't even go out and have a hamburger or go out for a date. They even have to pay $10 for testing fees . . . Fifty dollars a month would be a good starting point but $500 [which equates to nearly double that figure today] would really be professional."

Other long-time supporters include civil rights activist and former Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Chambers pushed for a bill to recognize NCAA student athletes in Nebraska as state employees. The change would have bestowed the same rights, protections and benefits (such as compensation for players injured "on the job," i.e. in a game) as all other employees of the state. Chambers finally left office in January 2009, after 38 years of service, without fully realizing his vision of restoring (if it ever existed in the first place) fairness to college athletics.

But what had been a simmering pot came to full boil in a scathing article published in the October issue of the Atlantic Monthly. In The Shame of College Sports, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch condemns the ignoble history and shameful role of the NCAA in college athletics. Pronounced as "the most important article ever written about college sports" by none other than Frank Deford, Branch's article denounces the "very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves." We think Deford may have gone a step too far in anointing the article, as Branch follows a history of arguments to the same effect, but The Shame of College Sports may be the best summation of the systemic flaws responsible for the corruption in major college athletics today.

The difficulty is not in judging Branch's perspective or conclusion - the article should be mandatory reading for even casual fans who only tune in to March Madness or BCS bowls - but instead in assessing his solution. Like most who have confronted the issue, Branch seems most assured in his assault on the problem and less so about his cure. The fact remains that no one has come forward with an elegant fix to the nightmarish complexity of revenue-producing college sports.

That said, everyone involved - fans, players, parents, coaches, administrators, agents and the professional leagues - can't continue to ignore the proverbial white elephant. We have seen bloggers, commentators and sportswriters present a bevy of solutions, none of them particularly convincing. In a recent article published online by The Sports Economist, two Clemson economists (one a Professor Emeritus and BB&T scholar and the other a J. Wilson Newman Professor - important titles, we assume) present the extremes of the spectrum: full amateur (ala the Ivy League) or full professional. Branch, by contrast, argues for quasi-professionals ala Olympic athletes.

In a response, also on The Sports Economist, Brian Goff (Professor of Economics, Western Kentucky) examines the remedies along the spectrum, including increasing stipends, eliminating athletic departments, restructuring the NCAA rules on violations, and raising the penalties for violations. Goff ultimately arrives at the same conclusions as his colleagues. However, Goff also offers (in his words) a "very, very unlikely" answer to the problem, namely to "set up athletic teams as separate organizations (for profit or not-for-profit like the PGA) that pay royalties to academic institutions for use of the brand name and rent on facilities."

He wasn't kidding about the impractical nature of his argument, although from a hypothetical perspective, his point does make sense. Also: Go Hilltoppers!

Incidentally, Goff isn't alone in suggesting ridiculous solutions. During the offseason, the Ol' Ball Coach put forth a plan to pay players out of his own pocket. Despite his history of half-baked ideas, Steve Spurrier didn't seem to be joking when he described his concept: pay each player $300 per game. For a 14-game season (a likely schedule for bowl teams), such a stipend would set back a coach less than $300,000 - an amount that sounds somewhat reasonable in a world where the guy ranked #20 (Jeff Tedford of Cal) on a list of top coaches' salaries in Division I pulls down $2.3 million per season. Further, coaches might be able to set up nonprofit fundraising firms to solicit funds from boosters to pay for the stipend.

(Wait. We don't know if that's legal - it probably isn't - but if so, we have cracked the code!)

In addition to the lawsuits Branch cites as possible threats to the establishment in college sports, the seemingly unstoppable realignment into four so-called superconferences may permanently enfeeble the NCAA. Such a historic shift in the landscape of college sports - which would presumably open up the possibility of paying athletes - would change everything.

Branch notes that if the conferences could arrange a playoff for the national championship, the NCAA "would be terrified - and for good reason. Because if the big sports colleges don't need the NCAA to administer a national playoff in football, then they don't need it do so in basketball . . . [w]hich would deprive the NCAA of close to $1 billion a year, more than 95 percent of its revenue."

Thus, for all of the arguments against superconferences, and we have made some in this space previously, this one reason may justify such a drastic realignment. Amputating the NCAA from college athletics would be painful, but given time, we may not notice that it's gone.

The Sports Seal's Picks, Week Six
Year-to-date record: 8-4-1

Friday, October 07, 2011
Boise State (-21) @ Fresno State, 8:00PM Central

Saturday, October 8, 2011
Texas A&M @ Texas Tech (Under 71.5), 6:00PM Central
Missouri @ Kansas State (+4), 2:30PM Central

The Free Range Chicken's Picks, Week Six
Year-to-date record: 5-4

Friday, October 07, 2011
Boise State (-21) @ Fresno State, 8:00PM Central; Fresno State by 2

Saturday, September 31
Florida Atlantic @ North Texas (-4), 6:30PM Central; North Texas by 21
Ohio State @ Nebraska (-11), 7:00PM Central; Nebraska by 1


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

1. "Zac Efron went to Chicago . . . and all he got was a $100,000 bottle of champagne from the son of a Russian billionaire!!!" TMZ reports.

"The Russian also bought some stuff for his OWN table, including 2 magnum bottles of Grey Goose, 2 magnum bottles of Dom Perignon, 4 bottles of Cristal and 3 magnum bottles of Laurent-Perrier Brut Rose.

"The total bill - $112,550 . . . PLUS - dude dropped a $22,510 TIP for his server, Jasmine - 20%. Not bad for a Tuesday night."

2. "Today in Weird History: 1954: Following the investigation by the Federal Grand Jury on racketeering in Chicago the first indictments have been served for charges on four union agents of extortion of large sums of money from poultry dealers in Chicago's Fulton market."


This Date In Baseball:

"1908: The Chicago Cubs won the NL pennant when Mordecai Brown beat Christy Mathewson 4-2 in the playoff of the disputed game Sept. 23 when Fred Merkle failed to touch second base."

"1929: Howard Ehmke, a surprise starter for the Philadelphia Athletics, struck out 13 Chicago Cubs to win the opening game of the World Series 3-1."

3. "Chicago will be home to a new $13.75 million project that will apply data mining methods to better understand the genetic and environmental factors behind neuropsychiatric disorders," reports.

"The Sylvio O. Conte Center, a multi-institutional effort based at the University of Chicago, will combine the statistical power of pre-existing genetics, pharmacogenomics, text-mining, and clinical record databases to confront diseases that have so far frustrated researchers."

4. Family Misses Stolen Blackhawks Jersey-Clad Goose.

5. Bullshit quotient in Chicago expands by 37,238 square feet.

6. "An Upper East Side restaurant last night dished up some edible art - serving it on glitzy, gold-painted plates looted from the palaces of Saddam Hussein," the New York Post reports.

"The bizarre taste treat - venison topped with a date syrup - is appropriately titled 'Spoils.'

"Kevin Lasko, the chef for the Park Avenue Autumn restaurant - whose quirky name changes with the seasons - teamed up with New York-born and Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz, who has an Iraqi-Jewish background, to make the dish."


"Enemy Kitchen is an ongoing project begun by Michael Rakowitz in 2004 . . . in winter 2012, keep an eye out for the Enemy Kitchen mobile food truck in Chicago as part of FEAST, an exhibition that will open at the Smart Museum of Art. The food truck will feature a different Iraqi cook every day, serving cuisine from different regions of the country, and will be staffed by American veterans of the Iraq War who will act as servers and sous-chefs."

7. "Ever since the economic meltdown in 2008, the Chicago Board Option Exchange (CBOE) volatility indicator for the S&P 500 (VIX) has gained a lot of popularity among traders trying to capitalize on the wild market swings," Kevin O'Brien writes for Seeking Alpha.

8. "Wheaton's (Unofficial) Homecoming For Gay Evangelicals."

9. The legacy of REM on this weekend's Sound Opinions.

10. "You might think that Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo left Chicago two years ago with a plan in mind," Melissa Harris writes for the Tribune.

"But the truth is, the former Chicago entrepreneur and improv comic was just sick of the weather."

11. "A former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) manager at Midway International Airport in Chicago will begin serving a 46 month sentence for accepting $28,500 in bribes and immigration fraud on Oct. 28, 2011," the Examiner reports.

"In February, Department of Homeland Security supervisor William Mann pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and immigration fraud after taking bribes from foreign restaurant employees seeking to remain in the United States."

12. Beavis And Butt-Head Are Gonna Score.

13. TrackNotes: See You At The Haw.

14. The Week in Occupy Chicago.

15. The Week in Chicago Rock.

16. The Week in WTF.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Occupiable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

The Week in Occupy Chicago

This is what democracy looks like.

1. "There is fundamentally something wrong with the system."


2. "I've never felt so hopeless."


3. If you can't be there . . .


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Arch Enemy at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


2. Ladytron at the Vic on Tuesday night.


3. The Drums at Subterranean on Tuesday night.


4. Pelican at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


5. Trans Am at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


6. Jens Lekman at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.


7. Yuck at the Double Door on Monday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:52 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: See You At The Haw

If you think about it, we'll have the perfect storm in Chicago dirt racing Saturday with the 75th running of the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (Grade II, 1-1/4 miles main track) at beautiful Hawthorne Race Course.

Not a blow-you-to-Oz kind of cyclone, mind you, but a nifty little race that's quite well entered for 2011. Add predicted great weather, a nice crowd and wagering possibilities, and it's a can't miss.

Most people think Arlington when they think Chicago racing, but since AP has put so much emphasis into the Arlington Million and other high-level turf races, "dirt" racing there has gotten short shrift. There's been no shrift since they installed the artificial surface in 2007, and there are no current Grade I races on the main track.

Conversely, Hawthorne runs the Illinois Derby in the spring and this race each autumn. They're the best in Chicago dirt racing each year.

While Arlington unabashedly, thuggishly attempts to wipe out its competition in the near southwest shangri-la known as Stickney, AP's self-proclaimed status as "world-class" has got to suffer some when its Thoroughbreds are running on old tires, wax and cut up telephone wires, among other things. And some horseplayers shun its windows because of it.

Hawthorne Assistant General Manager Jim Miller and Racing Secretary Gary Duch can carve another notch in their saddles with this year's Cup field.

You've got some marquee appeal with Rule, whose name is bigger than his record, and the well-placed Headache. But the one horse who will actually put a few butts in the seats is Giant Oak, Chris Block's pride and joy of Illinois who returns home and attempts to grab the $300,000 winner's share of the half million-dollar purse after a less-than-a-length very tough beat to Redding Colliery in last year's edition.

Oak, slated to start from the 10-hole, is the class of the field, although his singular, hard-closing style is often to his detriment. He finished fifth in the September 3 Woodward at Saratoga in the company of solid Horse of the Year candidate Havre de Grace (I think a better female than Zenyatta, but that's another column) and latest wiseguy Flat Out, winner of last week's Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. Havre also won the Beldame last week on the JCGC undercard.

Giant Oak has also faced Rule, Tizway, First Dude, Mission Impazible and Pool Play; he's been running with some of the bigger dogs of 2011.

In this race, Oak is going to have to show some versatility to stay close enough to the lead and then find another gear down the long Hawthorne stretch. He's very consistent, but his last win came in the February 5 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream. He's one of those horses who needs a sustained quick pace in front of him to close into. Veteran Jesus Castanon gets the mount, replacing an injured Shaun Bridgmohan.

A 2-1 morning line favorite, his price might be higher thanks to the name recognition of Rule, the 5-2 second choice and third-place finisher in that same Donn.

Rule's claim to fame is . . . dunno. The Todd Pletcher (will we get a Toddster sighting Saturday?) trainee won the $75,000 Birdstone at Saratoga August 4, his first win since the February 2010 Stephen F. Davis at Tampa. But he's a pretty fast horse with 104 and 106 Beyer Speed Figures in his last two, so he's actually well-placed in this race. Corey Lanerie knows Hawthorne well enough, so he won't get discombobulated by the long stretch.

Michael Maker's Headache comes in slightly freshened after a fifth in the tough Whitney Invitational (Giant Oak finished third there) at Saratoga in early August. The five-year-old son of Tapit has done some of his better racing in 2011, including a win over Awesome Gem two back in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows.

The 94-97-100 Beyers in the last three for Where's Sterling have to jump out at you. Owned by local legend Frank C. Calabrese and trained by Nick Canani, the Northern Afleet colt also gets Chicago fixture ET Baird in the saddle, so you know they have the lay of the land. 'Sterling comes in off a win in the August 20 Philip H. Iselin Breeders' Cup Stakes at Monmouth.

The past performances of Mister Mardi Gras look good, with a 94 Beyer in a win over the respectable Workin' for Hops in the September 3 Washington Park Handicap at Arlington. But how do you get over the fact his races have been over turf or artificial surfaces? You look at a March 12 win on an off-the-turf dirt race at Fair Grounds, that's how.

Al Stall's Cease appears to have a chance, until you see that his wins in his two most recent came over the mud. Tommy Skilling says no rain in these parts Saturday, but at 12-1 or better, I'm game.

Worldly, Moe Man, Cherokee Lord, and Maristar round out the field.

On the undercard, there's the $60,000 The Indian Maid for fillies three and up at 1-1/16 miles on the turf. Seniga is the 7-2 morning line favorite.

The Robert F. Carey Memorial also goes 1-1/16 on the turf for males three and up. Tazz is the tepid 7-2 morning line favorite with Princeville Condo right behind at 4-1.

If you've ever wanted to experience racing in an old-school atmosphere, Hawthorne Saturday is it.

In Other Wagering News
It's a bit of a Twilight Zone these Chicago Bears have carved out for themselves, but for the time being, this kid is cruising right along in wagering against them.

Atlanta, facing a Bears team that played its usual sky-high game in the season opener, made the classic mistake of abandoning its identity in the face of adversity. Maybe they can convince the league to form a couple of dome-only divisions.

I figured if they beat New Orleans, they would rightly make me a loser. But they didn't, did they? Taking Green Bay, a team I actually respect, was easy.

Watching Carolina, the Panthers seemed like a team with a lot of pieces that has to learn to eliminate mistakes in order to win. They beat the Bears, but they didn't win the game. If he pays attention to such things, Lovie Smith looked downright sadistic when he let Carolina march down the field for the late touchdown, depriving the many Bears fans who Las Vegas knows bet with their hearts of getting the spread win too. It was a calculated gamble that lucky ducks like Smith get away with. But for a successful onside kick . . .

I was as giddy as Hester and Barber and an impishly happy Urlacher as they strutted out the NFL's de rigeur tomfoolery in taunting fashion to the Panthers. But it was a different giddy. Besides Carolina's having covered the spread, these Bears actually think they're a good team. Even when chartable and specific aspects of their roster and coaching tell us all they certainly are not. That makes it easy for me to see what these Bears really are while I'm contemplating allegiances.

The Bears continuously provide digital video ammunition for other teams to exploit, and exploit they will. So will I, all the way to the bank.

These Bears are arrogant and condescending to all of those outside their little sphere.

As The Great One, Jackie Gleason once said, you'd better be nice to the people you see on the way up, because you're going to see every single one of them on the way down.

Something tells me the Bears will never learn that lesson.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Maggie Daley, WTF?

We do not recall anyone but the lively folks at the Chicago Reader energetically chasing Richard Daley's TIF shell game, which means the news of this was largely a surprise to to many people in the MSM. As with the Jon Burge torture regime, this was a topic that local news execs thought lacked an audience because it was too wonky. It could not compete with other breaking news bulletins - like it's going to be cold and snowy this winter in Chicago.

But think of this: While Chicago government reels from supposed cash starvation, the money hidden in TIF accounts is roughly one-sixth more of what the city spends on everything.

2. Creepy cadavers, WTF?

Requiring Uncle Clarence's unclaimed body to be hauled off for medical research might make sense from a Cook County money standpoint. But gosh, excuse us for being totally creeped out. Is this not punishing poverty and a sad lonely life with the ultimate assault on human dignity - after death we treat you like a dead lab rat without even finding out what you wanted?

Yes, it's all for the general good, we suppose, although even people with money and education hardly ever vote to donate their body to science. It creeps them out, too. The difference is they get to decide for themselves.

3. Elizabeth Tisdahl, WTF?

And the entire student body of Northwestern University raised its arms in doobie-fed ecstasy at the support from Evanston's mayor.

4. Stevan Stevlik, WTF?

What sort of "rehabilitation program" is available for soliciting a hooker?

Does it cure you of horniness? And does the treatment involve electroshock of genitals?

As an intrusion of big government into personal behavior, a Tea Party bigwig should have been consistent and refused government help with his hooker habit.

5. The Ditka boys, WTF?

When anyone named Ditka gets behind the wheel out in Deerfield, sirens wail in every cop precinct in Lake County.

Odds seem pretty high - as are they - that both of them will be drunk when they turn the key. Look it up.

The fact that Da Coach's middle-aged sons are both slack-faced drunk drivers is not the greatest tragedy in the world - until they hit someone with the Lexus - but the old man still makes a handsome media living lecturing about manly virtues.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

Beavis and Butt-Head Are Gonna Score

The trailer for the premiere of the return.

MTV Shows


See also:
*Beavis and Butt-Head Are Back

* The Glorious Return Of Beavis And Butt-Head


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Yesterday, I lived in a world with a Steve Jobs in it. Tonight, I don't. That's truly how I feel right now," Andy Ihnatko wrote for the Sun-Times last night.

"We need people in technology with focus and passion who think ahead and see what's possible, if only the right pieces can be pushed into place and clicked together. He wasn't the guy at Apple who came up with those ideas, but he was the guy who created an environment that encouraged, even demanded, that kind of thinking, and the guy who would put the full might and authority of an enormous company behind you and your work if he thought you were right."

And not just in technology.


"Steve Jobs determined long ago that his imagination, and that of those working under him, far outstripped ours, and so Apple devices were introduced to do things most consumers couldn't conceive of until he demonstrated what was possible," Phil Rosenthal writes for the Tribune.

That's called innovation, a word getting a lot of attention these days but not a lot of support - particularly in the news business. Oh, the technology is growing by leaps and bounds, but Jobs realized that the technology wasn't the end but the means; what you did with the technology was the important part.

In other words, the technology was a tool to deliver . . . content. And the content, unavoidably shaped by the delivery method (as famously observed by Marshall McLuhan), is the point.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt once said that news organizations had failed to recognize that the discrete news article, or "post," had become the coin of the realm in the digital world, or, as he called it, "the atomic unit of consumption."

While that's really only partially so - brands (reputation + sensibility) still matter. But news organizations still haven't significantly broken down their old beat system or the traditional structure of stories or their way of doing actual reporting to reflect not just new realities but new opportunities.

And funders from foundations to VCs are still chasing flavors of the month or half-witted marketing notions on the cheap like the lowest level of rehashed community press release journalism that describes "hyperlocal" or so-called civic engagement models that depend on "citizen journalists" and/or cheerleading anti-journalists who have more in common with their pals on the local chamber of commerce than reporters who know how to read an indictment.

Steve Jobs is rightly being celebrated today for his iconoclastic approach, creative spirit and consumer instincts by people who will go back to doing the same old thing tomorrow. It's a shame we never really learn.


I'm a Mac guy and like many Mac guys I think anyone who uses a PC is a freakin' idiot. Elitist? Yes and no. That's the weird thing about Macs - they occupy two cultural marketing positions at once. Macs, you see, were originally dubbed "computers for the rest of us" for their ease of use and lack of techieness. They were populist.

And yet, because they were the "alternative" computer that was clearly superior, Macs developed a hipster cache that created an elitist aura.

Throw in the fact that they once were (slightly) more expensive than PCs but a far better value in the long-run, along with their favored status among art and graphic types (versus the PC's monopolistic domination of the dreary corporate world as well as the PC's butt-ugly hardware sitting on the shelves of big box stores) and you get perhaps the world's most fascinating and complicated brands.

Oh, and you don't get viruses and it takes one step to do what takes three on a PC.


But it hasn't been alll sunshine and roses in the Apple universe.

Steve Jobs was a master innovator, but not necessarily a great man. We shouldn't confuse the two.

"He parks his Mercedes in handicapped spaces, periodically reduces subordinates to tears, and fires employees in angry tantrums," Peter Elkind reported for Forbes in 2008.

"Jobs is notoriously secretive and controlling when it comes to his relationship with the press, and he tries to stifle stories that haven't received his blessing with threats and cajolery."

That might not seem unusual for a corporate executive - even one who considered himself (in Elkins' estimation) "less as a mogul than as an artist." Maybe he thought that granted him the right to be, shall we say, mercurial.

"History, of course, is littered with tales of combustible geniuses," Elkind writes. "What's astounding is how well Jobs has performed atop a large public company - by its nature a collaborative enterprise. Pondering this issue, Stanford management science professor Robert Sutton discussed Jobs in his bestselling 2007 book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.

"'As soon as people heard I was writing a book on assholes, they would come up to me and start telling a Steve Jobs story,' says Sutton. 'The degree to which people in Silicon Valley are afraid of Jobs is unbelievable. He made people feel terrible; he made people cry. But he was almost always right, and even when he was wrong, it was so creative it was still amazing.' Says Palo Alto venture capitalist Jean-Louis Gasse, a former Apple executive who once worked with Jobs: 'Democracies don't make great products. You need a competent tyrant.'"

That is, if products are society's end goal instead of producing fulfilling lives.


"When Jobs had his own illegitimate child, also at the age of 23, he too struggled with his responsibilities," Elkind reported. "For two years, though already wealthy, he denied paternity while Lisa's mother went on welfare. At one point Jobs even swore in a signed court document that he couldn't be Lisa's father because he was 'sterile and infertile, and as a result thereof, did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child."

I suppose that's his own business, but it still bugs me.


"Was Jobs himself involved in backdating stock options? At Apple, the answer is yes: In an SEC filing, Apple acknowledged that Jobs 'was aware [of] or recommended the selection of some favorable grant dates.' But Apple's investigation concluded that Jobs' involvement didn't amount to misconduct because he 'was unaware of the accounting implications.'"

That's not his own business.


Far more disturbing than greed on paper is the nagging feeling that some poor kid in China died so I could enjoy my MacBook.

"Apple has been repeatedly criticized for using factories that abuse workers and where conditions are poor," the Telegraph reported last February. "Last week, it emerged that 62 workers at a factory that manufactures products for Apple and Nokia had been poisoned by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause muscular degeneration and blur eyesight."

Jobs reportedly ignored other reports of problems with his outsourced labor pool for years. What the company found when it finally deigned to take a look was as ugly as its products are pretty.

"Last year, an employee at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that is one of Apple's biggest suppliers, committed suicide after being accused of stealing a prototype for the iPhone," the Telegraph notes.

"Sun Danyong, 25, was a university graduate working in the logistics department when the prototype went missing. An investigation revealed that the factory's security staff had beaten him, and he subsequently jumped to his death from the 12th floor of his apartment building.

"Foxconn runs a number of super-factories in the south of China, some of which employ as many as 300,000 workers and form self-contained cities, complete with banks, post offices and basketball courts.

"It has been accused, however, of treating its employees extremely harshly. China Labor Watch, a New York-based NGO, accused Foxconn of having an 'inhumane and militant' management, which neglects basic human rights. Foxconn's management were not available for comment.

"In its report, Apple revealed the sweatshop conditions inside the factories it uses. Apple admitted that at least 55 of the 102 factories that produce its goods were ignoring Apple's rule that staff cannot work more than 60 hours a week.

"The technology company's own guidelines are already in breach of China's widely-ignored labor law, which sets out a maximum 49-hour week for workers.

"Apple also said that one of its factories had repeatedly falsified its records in order to conceal the fact that it was using child labor and working its staff endlessly."

That's not insanely great.


Steve Jobs was a visionary who changed the world with his products. I admired him tremendously and often wished he worked in my profession. It's just too bad his workplace didn't embrace what would have been the greatest innovation of all: A happy workforce.

Mac Daddy
* Steve Jobs reportedly dated Joan Baez at Reed College in Portland.

* Steve Jobs contributed $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel's mayoral campaign.

Also Gone
The Ratings Guru of Winnetka: A.C. Nielsen Jr.

Bill Cellini's Peerless Jury
Neither teachers nor millionaires.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Jay Cutler's Future Is Unwritten!


The Beachwood Tip Line: For the rest of us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:48 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Jay Cutler's Future Is Unwritten!

It's Gonna Move Ya
While it had all of the creativity of an '80s Juicy Fruit jingle*, last Sunday's roughly 89-1 run/pass ratio against the Carolina Panthers got the job done and effectively moved the chains.

But don't get your skis shined up too soon, Forte.

That's probably the last time we'll see you get a chance to shine like that this season.

60% Of The Time, It Works Every . . . (thud)

Lion In Wait
Good news everyone!

Besides the propensity for pick sixes and a front four that applies consistent pressure to the quarterback, the Detroit defense matches up poorly with the Bear offense.

Similarly, aside from the whole body and face things going on, Gisele Bundchen is a real dog.

Detroit C**k City

I couldn't resist.

Along those lines, does anyone else find it weird that the last line of that song refers to a fatal truck accident?

Six Reasons Why Jay Cutler Should Marry Kristin Cavallari
* Cavalari is better looking than Clay Matthews, who is the person currently grinding him into the ground.

* It sets up a Scooby Doo/Batman & Robin-esque Hills/Hard Knocks crossover episode.

* After his appearance last week, Cutler is entitled to a small cut of the Dancing With The Stars syndication payout from the reruns that air on the TV Guide channel. It's about time that kid made a nickel.

* Jasten Cutcav sounds like Indian royalty. They'll make a mint shilling the Happy Price Menu!

* Jay is so severely concussed we should be thankful he isn't pursuing a long-term relationship with a yellow mop that kind of looks like a blonde wig on a stick.

* Do you know what most practice wives look like**? Go for it dude!

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Pitchers)
This game is actually under hyped, but don't worry. Since it's on Monday night, we'll get an extra helping of bombast from Tirico, Jaworski and this guy Gruden.

We'll hear plenty of talk about how there is no one in the history of football who long snaps better than Patrick Mannelly. Or how Matthew Stafford's nearly 11 pro games of healthiness projects out to 400 career touchdown passes.

Personally, I'm hoping that Barry Sanders shows up on the sidelines and attempts to dry hump Michelle Tafoya in an effort to one-up Joe Namath.

Bears 30, Lions 27


*There isn't a way not to interpret the lyrics of this "song" as a euphemism for road head.

**If you don't know what a practice wife is, you are a practice wife.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 AM | Permalink

Remembering Winnetka Ratings Guru A.C. Nielsen Jr.

"If you can put a number on it," Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. said his father once told him, "then you know something."

Um, not exactly. But we'll quibble a little later. First, a tribute.

"It was a lesson the younger Nielsen - who died Monday at age 92 - never forgot," Scott Collins writes for the Los Angeles Times. "His lifelong efforts remade his father's once-obscure Chicago market research firm into a sprawling, worldwide measurement giant with a brand name that, in the U.S. at least, became a household synonym for television ratings.

"Today - even after his company has undergone ownership changes, not to mention weathered near-continuous industry complaints of supposedly flawed methodology - TV executives still arise before dawn to check out the Nielsens, foretelling the fate of their shows and their careers with each ratings point. In recent years, the company has expanded into measuring online traffic and other new media.

"Nielsen, who in 1984 retired from the company that now simply bears his surname, had been suffering from Parkinson's disease. He died in the Chicago suburb of Winnetka."


"Arthur Charles Nielsen Jr. was born in Winnetka on April 8, 1919, the oldest of five children of Arthur C. and Gertrude Nielsen the New York Times reports. "While an Army engineer he met Patricia McKnew and soon married her. He was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

"An avid athlete, Mr. Nielsen played competitive tennis until he was in his 80s and had the distinction of winning the United States Father-Son Doubles Championships with his father in 1946 and 1948. He later represented the United States in senior tennis tournaments. He also won Midwest-based father-son doubles championships with two sons, Arthur III and Chris."


"Although his father started the company, Nielsen worked for A.C. Nielsen his entire adult life after a stint in the army during in World War II," Gawker writes. "And while he didn't invent the television rating system (that honor again belonged to his father) he was savvy enough to turn it - and the company's many other endeavors - into profitable and powerful institutions that we still rely on today. He retired in 1983."


"Under Nielsen's guidance, the company his father founded known for its television ratings, had grown at the time of his retirement at age 65 from a small enterprise to world leadership in five businesses with 22,000 employees and operations in 25 countries" his apparent son and daughter-in-law write for Winnetka-Glencoe Patch.

"One of the first people to grasp the commercial potential of the computer, Nielsen had the company invest in the first general-purpose computer, the UNIVAC, and leadership in the use of computers was one of the keys to the company's success.

"Nielsen's acumen was recognized by other business leaders, who invited him to serve on the boards of more than 20 major corporations, including Walgreens, Motorola and the Harris Bank."


Perhaps Nielsen's greatest feat, though, was getting so many people to believe that his company's ratings system was meaningful. I remember learning in graduate school that Nielsen's methodology was basically a joke. I don't have time to go through my files and find the research, but let's take a quick spin around the Internet and see what we can find, shall we?

"There is some public critique regarding accuracy and potential bias within Nielsen's rating system," Wikipedia says. "In June 2006, however, Nielsen announced a plan to revamp its entire methodology to include all types of media viewing in its sample.

"Since viewers are aware of being part of the Nielsen sample, it can lead to response bias in recording and viewing habits. Audience counts gathered by the self-reporting diary methodology are sometimes higher than those gathered by the electronic meters which eliminate any response bias. This trend seems to be more common for news programming and popular prime time programming. Also, daytime viewing and late night viewing tend to be under-reported by the diary.

"Another criticism of the measuring system itself is that it fails the most important criterion of a sample: it is not random in the statistical sense of the word. A small fraction of the population is selected and only those that actually accept are used as the sample size."


"Here's where things get a bit weird," John Herrman writes for SplitSider. "The press and public is interested in knowing how many people watch a show, because it's the most obvious indicator of its success. This belief drives the way we think and talk about ratings. It also happens to be wrong.

"To be sure, networks are interested in knowing how many people watch their programming, and freely tout or play down Nielsen's wider audience measurements. But the numbers that networks and advertisers actually use - to sell ads, to set prices, and to decide on the fate of a show - are commercial ratings. In other words, advertisers don't care how many people are watching a show nearly as much as they care how many people are watching their ads. Nielsen provides this number, which takes into account everything from next-day DVR viewing to fast-forwarding through commercials. If every Nielsen Family watched a show the day after it aired but skipped through all its ads, that show would probably be canceled."


"Nielsen wants to use the People Meter to generate local ratings and eventually hopes to eliminate diaries in larger metro areas," Cecil Adams wrote in 2003. "Broadcasters have resisted the new system, though, because it's told them things they don't want to hear. When introduced experimentally in Boston in 2001, Local People Meters (LPMs) showed that cable viewing was higher and broadcast viewing lower than previously thought. More importantly, TV viewing overall was 8 percent lower than reported by the old system. Upon investigation, Nielsen concluded that half to two-thirds of the difference represented TVs that were on but unwatched."


Let's end on an upbeat note.

"Being a Nielsen household brought with it some nice perks," according to Crone and Bear It. "They actually paid us. We got a check several times a year for $50. Now, that's not alot of money, but every little bit helps. Plus, the folks at Nielsen were just super nice. Someone would visit occasionally to check the equipment and sometimes they would bring goodies along - a cheesecake or a nice apple pie. And the two times I had trouble with the equipment, the technicians rapidly appeared at my door and were always courteous and friendly."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2011

Bill Cellini's Peerless Jury

If you were accused of a felony and the potential victims of your alleged crime were a specific class of people, the last thing you would want is a member of that class to sit on the jury that decides your fate. That's why the team of lawyers representing William Cellini in his federal corruption trial that got underway this week asked the judge to exclude teachers and relatives of teachers from the jury.

Teachers' and other public workers' pensions are facing growing fiscal difficulties. The politicians who have mismanaged these pensions for years have been on a media campaign since last spring to discredit the teachers and other public workers, implying that elaborate benefits are the cause of the fiscal problems. Cellini's trial will be an opportunity for teachers to expose the deceptions Illinois power brokers have played with public workers retirement funds.

Cellini, whom the Tribune's John Kass calls the Combine Boss, is being tried as part of the long-running federal investigation into the administration of convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich.

Specifically, Cellini is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. According to the indictment, Cellini, along with Stuart Levine and Tony Rezko, plotted to shakedown Hollywood movie producer Tom Rosenberg and his Capri Capital investment firm for a $1.5 million contribution to the Blagojevich campaign. In exchange, Cellini would exert his longstanding political influence over the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to invest $220 million in pension funds with Capri.

If a teacher has yet to become aware of this alleged fraud, sitting on Cellini's jury would unquestionably educate him or her.

Prosecutors, however, agreed to not allow teachers or their spouses on the jury. The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a trial by one's peers; it only guarantees an impartial jury. Teachers would most certainly be partial against a defendant who is accused of attempting to defraud their retirement fund.

If Cellini could instead have a jury of his peers, he might have a chance at an acquittal. Who would qualify as a Cellini peer? An older, politically connected white male worth somewhere between $10 million and $100 million.

In other words, not a teacher. The average Illinois educator's pension is about $41,000.

Unfortunately for Cellini, there aren't enough peers to go around; fewer than 0.8% of the Illinois population meets the criteria. Instead, the jury is likely to draw from occupations like truck driving, plumbing and nursing. Cellini better be hoping that nobody has ever messed with their pensions.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:47 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

How it began:

"Bill Cellini, a high school physics teacher by training, was elected to the Springfield City Council as streets commissioner in 1963 at age 28."

His real genius, though: Seein' his opportunities and takin' 'em.


"State contacts helped the Springfield Republican earn tens of millions from real estate, casino and even asphalt businesses, and he's held on to much of his wealth," AP reports. "The son of a policeman, he has a reputation as savvy and meticulous and a man not to be crossed.

"'He was so well connected, if he was upset with you, there was a perception he could make a few calls - and you may not get that state job or state contract you wanted,' said David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

"The trial will offer another peek at the underbelly of Illinois' scandal-plagued politics."


And add "The Puppet Master" to the list of Cellini nicknames.

Maggie Matters
Deals developers couldn't refuse.


Meanwhile, Ald. Scott Waguespack plans to introduce an ordinance today "that would return half of Chicago's unused tax-increment financing funds back to the city and 55 percent of that money to the schools," Catalyst reports.

"[Waguespack] estimates that $500 million is left over in TIF accounts; if half of that was returned to the city, as the ordinance specifies, schools would get $137.5 million. That money could help cover the school district's current deficit without further cuts. Last week, CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said he was still looking for $44 million in savings in order to cover the current year's budget."

Not GR8
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has enlisted a troika of A-list fundraisers for an extrordinarily difficult mission: coming up with $50 million or more in corporate cash to help the city stage next year's NATO/G8 meetings," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

Can't NATO and the G8 pay for their own damn meetings? Or just use Skype?


"Raising that kind of money will be very difficult in this economy, and insiders say Mr. Bryan, who has been involved in numerous big fundraising drives through the years, already has run into resistance.

"'We're all dreading getting the phone call,' one well-placed corporate official told me."

Because you're afraid to say no? Grow a spine!


"I don't think it's meeting a lot of success so far," said another. "Business people are pushing back."


"But on the line are the city's reputation and, for business, its relationship with the city's new chief executive," Hinz writes.

The city's reputation with global elites, that is.


"Though far more was raised for Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, the 1996 Democratic convention probably is more analogous to the NATO/G8," Hinz writes.

"The host committee that year raised about $36 million but had a good message, since the convention was sort of Chicago's rebirth on the national stage after the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention riots."

That's one expensive "message."

Treason Shares Up
Chicago Mercantile Exchange chairman Terry Duffy "said he is working with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, state legislators and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to find a solution that would keep CME in the city, but said he has a 'fiduciary duty' to do what is best for shareholders."

And apparently he thinks Emanuel and Quinn do too.

About That Marilyn Monroe Photo
In yesterday's column I linked to this photo/article sourced to the London Daily Mail.

It turns out the Mail heisted a Tribune photo taken by Andrew Wang without giving Wang or the Trib credit.

For my money, it's one of the photos of the year. So kudos, Andrew, and my apology for having missed it the first time around.


Of course, that's how the Daily Mail operates.

Chess Board
"Cheap Trick is the latest entity to link into the resurrection of the historic South Michigan Avenue strip that is the home of the Chess Records studio, Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) said Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The Rockford-based band is looking to open a museum and concert venue in a vacant Buick dealership at 2245 S. Michigan, he said. Chess is at 2120 S. Michigan."

Principal For A Day Off
"Chicago Public Schools is canceling its Principal for a Day program, which for years has been held in October," Shia Kapos reports for Crain's.

High School Musical Chairs
"The seven world leaders who will join President Barack Obama for the NATO/G8 summit in Chicago May 15-22 are waiting for the U.S. leader to figure out where he'll be staying before they start booking their own rooms," Kapos also reports.

My first thought was: It's just like high school!

But it turns out there's a good reason for world leaders to wait.

"For safety reasons, only two world leaders can stay in any one hotel."

I did not know that. But of course, it makes sense.

"That has the heads of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and England cooling their heels until Mr. Obama makes his choice . . . Mr. Obama has apparently narrowed it to two hotels: the Park Hyatt (owned by his loyal supporter Penny Pritzker) and the Four Seasons. He's apparently ruled out staying in his Hyde Park home."

Playboy Club Cancelled Before We Had Chance To Mock It
Ratings equaled Kent Dorfman's GPA.

Nirvana In Chicago
From Club Dreamerz in 1989 to shows at the Metro and the Aragon.

Tevatron Turned Off
Search for God Particle in suburban Chicago ends fruitlessly.


Maybe they could restart it to search for who hired Angelo Torres.

Fantasy Fix
Five reasons to love bye weeks. (1. Tony Romo can't hurt you.)

Fire Doused
"Facing steadily increased pressure throughout the second half, the Fire finally saw its defense crack," Terry Wood reports for the Tribune.

"Seattle forward Fredy Montero punched home the winning goal from point-blank range in the 77th minute and Osvaldo Alonso added another deep in stoppage time to lift the Sounders FC a 2-0 win over the Fire in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship match Tuesday night.

"The match was played in front 35,615 at CenturyLink Field, a record crowd for an Open Cup final.

"The Fire, playing in its first Open Cup title match since 2006, was foiled in its bid to become just the third team to win five Cup crowns. Seattle, meanwhile, becomes the first team to win three straight Open Cup titles since the 1969."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Flaming.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

Tevatron Turned Off

Search for God Particle in suburban Chicago ends fruitlessly.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 AM | Permalink

That Was Quick: NBC Cancels The Playboy Club Before We Had A Chance To Mock It

"0.2. That was the grade-point average of Kent Dorfman in Animal House.

"It's also the overnight rating among boys ages 12-17 for Monday's episode of The Playboy Club, and the surest confirmation that this NBC drama, canceled today, was an ill-fated venture," Jon Weisman writes for Variety.


"The Playboy Club was debuted to TV critics at the last TCA's, where the cast had an almost defensive attitude towards the dated material that seemed to want to capture a glamorous take on time in American history that was full of overt sexism and racism," April MacIntyre writes for Monsters & Critics.


"[O]ne of the most LGBT-inclusive series on network television," the Advocate reports, "The series takes place in early 1960s Chicago and stars actress Amber Heard as a Playboy bunny, and out actor Sean Maher as a closeted gay men married to a closeted lesbian and involved in the pioneering gay rights organization, the Mattachine Society."


"Set in 1961 at the eponymous Chicago nightclub, the series had been filming entirely in Chicago since mid-August, primarily from the new Cinespace soundstage complex on the Southwest Side, where producers built an elaborate set re-creating the club's interior," the Tribune reports.


"'I'm highly disappointed,' said Local 476's Mark Hogan, whose members numbered from 125 to 200 working on the show, which employed another 50 from other unions," Ruth Ratny reports for Reel Chicago. "Through episode four, 70 local actors had been hired for the AFTRA series.

"The local AFTRA office estimates the number of actors should be close 100 by the time it receives the figures for all six episodes.

"'Fox Television spent millions of dollars on the sets,' says Hogan, 'which was a beautiful showcase for our talented workers and it was mindboggling what they turned out.'"


The trailer:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

October 4, 2011

Fantasy Fix: Top 5 Reasons To Love Bye Weeks

Week 5 is the start of NFL bye weeks, which can wreak havoc on your fantasy football team if you failed to check players' bye weeks when you originally drafted them.

I don't necessarily try to make a lot of draft decisions around bye weeks, but if you draft two RBs you really like and they both have the same bye week, you shouldn't wait too long before grabbing a third and fourth who won't cause an automatic loss for you that week.

Of course, there are reasons to love bye weeks, too. Here are just a few.

1) Tony Romo can't hurt you during Week 5: The Dallas Cowboys are on bye this week. If you own Romo, I question your judgement to begin with, but if you have managed to stick with him this far, consider Week 5 your chance to experiment with your back-up or a waiver wire pick-up.

2) You can catch up if you're behind: If there are still unbeaten teams in your league, their reign of terror will likely end in the coming weeks. Let's just hope you're due for the match-up when three or four of the league leader's players are on bye.

3) You can pad your lead: If you're already ahead in the standings and you drafted carefully, bye weeks may not hurt you much. Plus, they offer the chance to be aggressive on the waiver wire, dropping guys who haven't produced much yet and have a bye coming soon for someone who's moving up the charts.

4) It's the best time to experiment: In the first four weeks of the season, you don't want to get too panicky and dump guys left and right just to pick up the flavor of the week. But bye weeks give you the chance to size up waiver pick-ups that could be long-term investments, especially if your pick-up has great matchups on deck and the player you're shipping out doesn't.

5) Bye weeks are trading time: If you're in the middle of the pack, now is your time to be aggressive, not only on the wire, but also at the trading table. Early in the week, scope out another team that has players on bye and needs alternatives. Offer a trade with obvious short-term upside for the other team but a good chance at long-term pay-off for you.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report has nifty sortable weekly schedules to help you see which teams are on bye each week.

* NFL Soup showcases a couple QBs worth picking up if you're sick of Romo. Matt Hasselbeck is still barely 50% owned in Yahoo! leagues despite a strong first quarter.

* ESPN likes Hasselbeck, too, but says it's time to 86 OchoCinco.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 PM | Permalink

Nirvana In Chicago

Upon the 20th anniversary of Nevermind, a collection of concert video and audio from Nirvana's appearances in Chicago.

1. "About A Girl" at Club Dreamerz, July 8, 1989.


2. Full show (30:04) at the Metro, September 30, 1989.


3. "Drain You" at the Metro, October 12, 1991.


4. "Breed" at the Metro, October 12, 1991.


5. "Been A Son" at the Metro, October 12, 1991.


6. "School" at the Metro, October 12, 1991.


7. "Milk It" at the Aragon, October 23, 1993.


8. "Something In The Way" at the Aragon, October 23, 1993.


9. "Endless, Nameless" at the Aragon, October 23, 1993.


10. "You Know You're Right" at the Aragon, October 23, 1993.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 PM | Permalink

After School Special: How The City Secretly Strong-Armed TIFsters Into Giving Money To Maggie Daley's Crappy Charity

"The charity founded by former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley received more than $900,000 in mostly undisclosed contributions from companies subsidized by much-criticized special taxing districts, according to a report released today by the city's top internal watchdog," the Tribune reports.

"After School Matters got 16 contributions - far more any other private, non-profit charity - found in the fine print of tax increment finance district agreements negotiated by city officials and aldermen under former Mayor Richard Daley, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson's report states.

"Ferguson, who has criticized the city's use of special taxing districts, said city officials were unable to explain exactly how and why charities received money. There is no oversight and no guidelines to evaluate the programs that got money."


"In all, companies earmarked $915,000 of their TIF money for After School Matters," ABC7 reports.

"In addition, three non-profits with close ties to former Mayor Daley were on the clout list, and some aren't exactly community-based charities.

"The U.S Conference of Mayors, of which Daley was the chairman, got $125,000. And $50,000 went to UIC for the Richard J. Daley Library.

"When the inspector general asked City Hall higher-ups how organizations wound up on the clout list, he was told no one knew."


"Neither the former mayor nor his wife will be available for questions," Crain's reports.


"Let's just try to put this whole thing into perspective," Ben Joravsky writes for the Reader.

"The mayor takes roughly $250 million a year in desperately needed property tax dollars from our nearly bankrupt public schools and feeds them into a slush fund.

"He then disperses money from that fund to well-connected developers and or corporations who don't really need a public hand out at all.

"And they in turn donate money to the mayor's wife's favorite charity, which promotes after-school programs in the arts for children whose schools are too broke to have their own art programs. Because the mayor takes $250 million a year in desperately needed property tax dollars.

"And so we go round and round in the TIF circle game.

"Then the mayor and his friends hold big fundraising parties for the mayor's wife's favorite charity where they pat each other on the back for all the wonderful art things they're doing for the kids. Yes, the kids. As if anyone anywhere in power in this town ever does anything for the kids."


"A million-dollar study, six years in the making, can't say for sure that After School Matters makes much of a difference."


From the press release issued by the IG's Office:

"Private charitable entities are sometimes named as beneficiaries in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) redevelopment agreements (RDAs) through the inclusion of 'public benefits' clauses. Public benefits clauses are terms in TIF RDAs (as well as City grant agreements and land sale contracts) which obligate the recipients of the City subsidy to make donations to specific charities or public programs as a condition of receiving the City subsidy.

"The City identified 73 RDAs as including public benefits clauses from 1985 through 2009; 27 of those RDAs directed cash contributions to private non-profits. All but one of the 27 agreements were signed in the ten-period from 2000-2009.

"The review, which can be viewed online here, found a significant lack of transparency and accountability in the City's process of choosing specific non-profit organizations for inclusion in public benefits clauses.

"The IGO's review also established that among all recipients, both public and private, a single private non-profit organization was second only to the City itself in the number of mentions. In fact, that organization, After School Matters (or its KidStart Program), was named as a recipient in 59% of the agreements directing contributions to private non-profits.

"TIF recipients interviewed by the IGO established that, in the vast majority of cases, the private, non-profit recipients of public benefits were unilaterally chosen by the City. However, City employees responsible for the negotiation of TIF agreements were unable to articulate the criteria by which non-profits are chosen to receive donations through public benefits clauses, or how such decisions are made."


"This is a specific example of the lack of transparency, accountability, and ownership the Mayor's Task Force on TIF Reform discussed earlier this summer," said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. "When the public can't see how their money is used to leverage benefits for private entities, we have a transparency issue. When the IGO can't get an answer to how those private entities are chosen, we have an accountability issue. When the City's administrators aren't able to explain the final outcomes, we all have cause for concern."


From the IG's report:

"The IGO did not review and thus does not raise any question about the value of work done by After School Matters. With that said, the lack of transparency and accountability in the public benefits process raises an appearance of preferential treatment for selected private non-profits. In the case of After School Matters, such appearances are only exacerbated by After School Matters' close ties to the City and utilization of a City employee to oversee its grant writing and fundraising."


"Of the 73 RDAs identified by the City as including public benefits clauses from 1985 through 2009, 27 agreements directed cash contributions to private non-profits. All but one of the 27 agreements were signed in the ten-year period from 2000 to 2009. The City provided the IGO with brief summaries of the public benefits clauses and could not say with complete certainty that the list reflected every public benefits clause, but asserted that the list was 'substantially complete.'

"The IGO's analysis of the data provided, however, revealed After School Matters (or its KidStart Program) as the most frequent private recipient of public benefits clauses. Of the 27 agreements requiring cash donations to private non-profits, After School Matters, an organization with close ties to the City, was named as a recipient 16 times, representing 59% of all of the public benefits clauses directing money to private entities. Those 27 agreements directed more than $3.7 million in cash contributions to private, non-profit entities, of which After School Matters received $915,000 - the second-largest total amount of all private entities.

"The Leland Apartments Development was the largest private recipient, having received a single donation of $1.25 million. Among all cash recipients both public and private, After School Matters was second only to the City of Chicago (named as a recipient 17 times). TIF recipients interviewed by the IGO established that, in the vast majority of cases, the private, non-profit recipients of public benefits, i.e. corporate charitable donations, were unilaterally chosen by the City."


"As described by City employees who manage the TIF program, public benefits clauses are intended to ensure the TIF recipient's commitment to the community and to encourage civic responsibility among recipients of public funds. Public benefits clauses are included in TIF redevelopment agreements in the body of the contract and an attached exhibit. For many RDAs, however, the actual terms of the clauses are publicly unavailable as the City has not published on-line or recorded the corresponding exhibits detailing the specific terms of the public benefits clauses."


"After School Matters or its KidStart Program were named as beneficiaries of 16 public benefits clauses, representing 59% of all of the public benefits clauses directing money to private entities and 25% of all cash donated pursuant to those clauses. No other private entity was named as frequently. Misericordia and Working in the Schools were each named twice.

"As shown in Appendix B to this report, the Leland Apartments Development, a one-time recipient of money through the public benefits clauses, received the single largest donation of $1.25 million. After School Matters received the second-largest total amount, equaling $915,000 received through 16 public benefits clauses. Although the list provided by the City may not include all public benefits clauses and paraphrased the actual contract terms, the IGO's analysis of the data provided reveals a clear predominance of After School Matters as the leading named recipient of public benefits clauses."


"The IGO interviewed representatives from ten TIF developers, all corporations that received TIF subsidies pursuant to an RDA with a public benefits clause. Nine of the ten corporations had agreed to make charitable donations to After School Matters as part of an RDA. All but one of the corporate representatives reported that the City unilaterally chose the non- profits named in the public benefits clause.

"The one corporate representative who denied any City involvement explained that the corporation chose the beneficiaries, which included After School Matters, after the representative developed tentative guidelines for the corporation's civic giving. The representative explained, however, that having previously served as a deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, the representative was familiar with After School Matters through previous partnerships with the organization."


"Nevertheless, the individual emphasized that the decision to award After School Matters a portion of the funds specified in the public benefits clause was vetted by several committees within the corporation and that the involvement of Mayor Daley's wife in After School Matters played no role in the corporation's decision to donate to the organization.

"The terms of this particular public benefits clause were also unique in that they expressly provided that if the corporation failed to donate the full amount before the TIF project's completion, the City could reduce the amount of its TIF subsidy by an amount equal to the shortfall in charitable donations.

"The IGO did not identify any other public benefits clause for which the amount of an approved TIF subsidy that was actually disbursed was made contingent upon the amount of charitable giving.

"The other nine corporate representatives, however, informed the IGO that they learned the terms of the public benefits clauses during later stages of the negotiation process, after the TIF subsidy had cleared the CDC.

"In some instances, representatives reported that the specifics of the charitable donations first appeared in the term sheets, while others reported first seeing the terms in a draft RDA. In one instance, a corporate representative claimed to have first discovered the public benefits clause in the closing costs of the City's final proposal. When the individual representative questioned the clause, a City attorney replied that the clause was a standard term included in all City RDAs and that the RDA could not be approved without it."


"The recent hiring of former Mayor Daley's last chief of staff and acting commissioner of the City's Department of Cultural Affairs to senior management positions in After School Matters after the change in mayoral administrations further strengthens the organization's close City ties, and fosters an appearance of possible preferential treatment."


"Finally, the IGO recommends that the City make full public disclosure of all public benefits clauses and the terms of each clause included in any City agreement. The City has already published many RDAs on its website. But to provide full accountability and transparency in the TIF public benefits program, the City must ensure that each RDA includes all accompanying exhibits, including those detailing the terms of public benefits clauses."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Always tough following a late night at the bar, even if it was relatively slow. Hard to get to sleep for awhile once I'm home no matter how tired . . . after all, there's catching up on Facebook and texting Bob and committing anecdotes about incidents and customers to memory for that book I'll probably never write . . . so just trying to get going here. It's not easy doing this every day! Here's what we've got so far:

* Spock's Farewell: It happened in Rosemont.

* MLS Super Tuesday: Fire vs. Sounders.

* Moo & Oink Gets The Boink: A video tribute.

More to come.


And here we go:

1. Luol Deng featured on Brixton pound notes.

2. Tribune managers finally properly incentivized. Talk about high maintenance, sheesh . . .

3. Barred from going Brazilian.

4. And by city, they mean you and I.

5. New ticket-writing system allows cops to keep hands free.

6. Steve Dolinsky vows to never eat at Trotter's again.

7. Wait, I Think The Bears Just Wasted Another Timeout.

8. Chicagoans Find Use For Awful Marilyn Monroe Statue After All.

9. "The 1980s were the beginning of the end for the T-20 on the corporate level, as production in Chicago ceased after Sunbeam was sold in the merger and acquisition boom. Sunbeam had been a great Chicago manufacturer with roots in the Stockyards and sheep shearing. It may have lost much of its culture with its move to Florida. I've found no smoking bagel, but the demise of the model's successor in 1997 points to the advent of the self-anointed 'Rambo in Pinstripes,' Chainsaw Al Dunlap as CEO in 1996."

10. "I think one of the problems with the White House is that it's been too set apart. It's been too Chicago-centric, and it needs to get out," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). "Clinton didn't just talk to four leaders, he picked up the phone and he kind of said, 'I really need your vote on this.'"

11. Unrest Grows In Land Of The Angry And Home Of The Fearful.

12. "At first, Alaa Basatneh kept quiet after receiving a threatening message to her Facebook account in mid-August, worried it would frighten her parents," the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

"A 19-year-old Syrian activist who lives outside the U.S. city of Chicago with her family, Basatneh is one of several people who administer a prominent anti-government Facebook page, Syrian Days of Rage, and coordinate with protesters to post their messages, photos and videos.

'''I was in denial,' she said. 'I was doing all this, but I thought, They can't reach me. And then the minute I saw the e-mail, I thought: there's no more denial. My name is in the watch list. I was scared.'''

Of course, if the Syrian government decided she was an enemy combatant, what would preclude them from justifiably assassinating her on American soil? Isn't that what America does now?

13. "Cans of the controversial alcoholic drink Four Loko are getting a new label," WGN reports.

"The Chicago Based company, Phusion Projects, has agreed to disclose on labels the amount of alcohol contained in a 23.5-ounce can of the malt beverage. The new labels will disclose that a can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four or five cans of beer."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Porcine.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

Moo & Oink Gets The Boink

"A tribute to the recently closed-down Chicago grocery chain Moo & Oink, best known for its delicious meat products and notorious commercials with an eerie yet memorable jingle (which went like 'moo & oink! moo moo moo!' . . .)"




BBQ Time.


Internet coupons.


Moo caught dozing at work.


Get your grill on.


See also: Photo by Helene Smith


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

MLS Super Tuesday: Fire vs. Sounders

"The Fire's late-season drive to make the MLS playoffs is still going strong, but it'll be put briefly on hold," Len Ziehm writes for the Sun-Times. "The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final is Tuesday night against the host Seattle Sounders, and plenty of history will be on the line.

"The summerlong Open Cup has been played annually since 1914 and the Fire could become the third team to be a five-time champion, joining the Bethlehem (Pa.) Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles. If Seattle wins, they would be only the second team to win three consecutive titles, along with the New York Greek-Americans."

Let's take a look.


"The U.S. Open Cup Championship will prove to be a historic day in MLS as the Seattle Sounders look to earn their third-straight trophy and the Chicago Fire look to earn their fifth title in club history."


"Chicago defender Cory Gibbs talks with Jackie Pickering ahead of Tuesday's Open Cup Final."


"Jackie Pickering caught up with Chicago forward Dominic Oduro ahead of the U.S. Open Cup Final."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

Spock's Farewell

"Leonard Nimoy has attended his final Star Trek convention," AP reports.

And it was in Rosemont. Let's take a look.


Plus: William Shatner signs an Enterprise plate upside down.


See also: Photos from the Daily Herald


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:55 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

The trial of Bill Cellini, The Consigliere of Illinois, begins today. Cellini is the ultimate guy behind the guys.

"Cellini never wanted publicity. Instead, he prided himself on 'flying under the radar,' and for decades, the news media in Illinois accommodated his desire to remain in the shadows," John Kass writes.

"There's another reason Cellini isn't very well-known: He had no real title, except maybe Combine Boss. But that's something I gave him. It's not official. It doesn't come with a blue sash and gold braid."

Indeed, WBEZ calls Cellini "The Most Influential Illinoisan You Don't Know."

But whose job is it to tell us?

AP calls Cellini The King of Clout and the Pope of Illinois.

The Springfield State Journal-Register calls him The Ultimate Insider.

Has anyone ever held such an impressive collection of titles? Maybe we should just call him The Ultimate Illinoisan.


It's not true that the media never looked at Bill Cellini; just that it mostly ignored him. You know, inside baseball - as if that's not the first place news organizations should train their eyes.

The Sun-Times, for example, republishes today an investigation it undertook in 1996.

One-and-dones, however, are fleeting. They may sometimes win big prizes - that's always been the Tribune's style - but sustained coverage better serves the public.

Governor Gumby
"Some lunatic wants to close three of the state's mental hospitals and dump their patients on the streets," Phil Kadner writes in the SouthtownStar.


BREAKING: "An arbitrator has ordered Gov. Pat Quinn to cancel his plan to lay off state employees and close several prisons and mental facilities," AP reports.

Agreements aren't merely devices of convenience.

Endorsement Perfection
Lovie Smith For NyQuil.


Which doesn't mean the sleepy coach's team is sleepy.


But wouldn't Lovie Smith for Red Bull be funnier? Maybe he turns into Mike Martz.

Time Line
Chicago firm preventing Facebook from further alienating users.

Our Man In Africa
"U.S. sailors from the Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MAREXSECRON) Two recently escorted the USS Carney (DDG-64) into the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti," the U.S. Air Force reports.

"U.S. Navy Engineman Fireman Peter Choi, originally from Chicago, Illinois, provided security during the escort by manning a .50 caliber machine gun on one of the Sea Arks."

Obama's America
U.S. Food-Stamp Use Reaches Record 45.3 Million.

The Growing Occupation
Now in Chicago.

Live Long And Prosper
Spock says farewell in Rosemont.

Moon Unit
New Rocks For Tribune Tower.

Boats And Buehrle
Big surprise: It all comes down to money.

Programming Note
I'm back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Cold beer, hot jukebox, free pizza, witty lamentations. 5p - 2a.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Lamentable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

Boats, Buehrle And The Silver Chalice

The image I prefer to remember from Ozzie Guillen's departure shows him kneeling down to eye level with Mark Buehrle's kids in the caverns of the Cell. He was having fun with the little ones, seemingly relaxed and, dare I say, likeable when the TV cameras captured him long after the final pitch of his last game as Sox manager.

The rest is bizarre. He ranted about needing enough money to buy a boat, clothe his wife properly, and travel to Spain. As if he couldn't do all that on a paltry $2 million salary amidst an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent with millions wondering where their next paycheck would come from. Ozzie was an agitated, angry man.

Hawk Harrelson implored fans to stick around after the final out of that Monday contest for an important announcement while ESPN, the Sun-Times, and the Internet already were spewing the news. Hawk read a statement from the Chairman, who - per usual - let someone else do his talking.

Now that Chairman Reinsdorf and his lieutenant Kenny Williams have solved the Guillen riddle, they can pay closer attention to the next night's celebrity, Buehrle, who pitched seven shutout innings in what no doubt will be his final appearance in a Sox uniform. Hiring a new manager - I say it will be Rays' bench coach Dave Martinez - is the top priority, but as far as the team's improvement for 2012 is concerned, the Buehrle dilemma seems more pressing.

Despite getting lit up in three of his September starts, Buehrle was the team's best pitcher this season. No one else came close to his 13-9 record and 3.59 ERA. He shows up for every assignment, and he'll be just 33 next year, which would be his 13th in a Sox uniform.

Buehrle's style is much like future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who pitched until he was 42 and won 355 games. Relax. I'm not saying that Mark Buehrle is on the same level as Maddux, but each is/was a soft-tosser, who rely/relied on hitting his spots, cunning, and know-how. Like Buehrle, Maddux pitched his usual 200-plus innings each season, often giving up more hits than innings pitched.

Maddux had won 202 games at the same point in his career while Buehrle has won 161. Greg went on to win another 153. Is it foolish to predict that Buehrle has another 100-plus victories in his future?

So - big surprise - it comes down to a matter of money, if you believe what Kenny Williams says. Much has been written about the team's 2011 payroll of $127 million, and the generous amounts of guaranteed money that Williams negotiated with underachievers Adam Dunn and Alex Rios.

The team sold slightly more than two million tickets this season at an average price of $39, according to Forbes. That adds up to $78 million, though many tickets went for reduced prices in an attempt to fill the seats.

Nevertheless, Forbes lists the Sox' revenue at $210 million. Ticket sales are simply one line item in the budget. The Chairman didn't get to be Chairman by being dumb. He has a sweetheart lease for the Cell with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, while the team exercises complete control over something it technically doesn't own. Parking, concessions, broadcast rights, and road receipts all contribute to the pie.

And in 2009 the Sox created Silver Chalice Ventures, a media company which is a subsidiary of the franchise. I know absolute nothing about this business other than that Brooks Boyer, the Sox' marketing chief, is the CEO. But I suspect that it either brings in more revenue or serves as some kind of tax shelter. Maybe both.

But let's assume for a moment that all of the revenue streams just can't cover the cost of adding in Buehrle - let alone Juan Pierre, who was 11th in hits in the American League this year. The Chairman and his investors are intelligent businessmen and a lot more responsible than those doofuses in Washington who spend far more than they bring in. They can't keep on spending, spending, spending.

Or can they? Consider that the Chairman and his group bought the team 30 years ago for $20 million. Today Forbes values the Sox at $526 million. Hmmmm. Not a bad investment. At some point the Chairman and his colleagues - or their heirs - will cash in.

Meanwhile, those of us who file through the turnstiles year after year will notice that Mark Buehrle wins 14 or 15 in St. Louis - or elsewhere - for that sourpuss LaRussa while we hope beyond hope that Dunn won't strike out yet again.

Sorry to say, but January's Sox Fest doesn't excite me. But like all loyal, addicted, longtime Sox fans, I'll be back next spring. See you then.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

Occupy Chicago. Occupy The Nation.

"Under the watchful eyes of Ceres the Goddess of agriculture, a revolution seems to be brewing. Another clip from this evenings Occupy Chicago's Federal Building protest. It should be noted that I had no idea this song was going to start playing just as started shooting.

"It's an inspirational group of people that are have come together to try and do something about what is going on in this country. It is open to anyone that wants to join and take part in the discussion. They deserve your support."

* Occupy Chicago
* Occupy The Nation
* Occupation TV


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Garage a Trois at Martyr's on Saturday night.


2. James Blake at the Metro on Thursday night.


3. Twin Shadow at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.


4. The Fleet Foxes at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.


5. Ari Hest at Schubas on Friday night.


6. April Smith and The Great Picture Show at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.


7. Avicii at the Congress on Saturday night.


8. Panda Bear at the Vic on Thursday night.


9. Chromeo at the House of Blues on Friday night.


10. AWOLNATION at the Metro on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Devin Hester And Matt Forte More Ridiculous Than A Bears Defense That Allowed 543 Yards

Devin Hester hesitated early in his big kickoff return in the first half Sunday against Carolina, and a few minutes later he stumbled after a few steps when he took a punt all the way back for a touchdown. Both actions served to concentrate the coverage team down the middle.

And then, in each case, he made what will always be his signature move: He briefly ran laterally before - at just the right instant - cutting up the field and into daylight.

Knowing the exact split-second to make that move has always been Hester's genius. And when that genius is combined with glorious acceleration - he goes from 0 to 60 almost as fast as a 2006 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 - he makes good plays great.

Hester often needs just one block as he hits top speed in the danger zone between the first line of defense and the final few stragglers between him and points. And he needs someone to cut off the kicker or anyone else who might have found a way to get an angle on him as the action moves to just inside a sideline. That didn't happen on the kickoff return, but after he took the punt back the other way, his path opened wide before him and there was no stopping the greatest return man in NFL history.

It turned out that on that play the critical moment was when Hester broke a tackle as he made that first cut up the field.

The Bears would efficiently convert the field position earned by the first big return into Matt Forte's 17-yard touchdown run. When Hester finished the deal himself on the punt return, he extended his own record to 15 career kick returns for touchdowns including a new record 11 punts hustled back for points.

And at the end of the scoring scamper, Bear radio play-by-play man Jeff Joniak busted out what will always be his signature line: "Devin Hester. You are ri-dic-ulous!"

* * *

Later in the game, Hester showed his toughness. He went high in the air trying to haul in a deep out, had it knocked out of his hands by a defensive back and then came down hard. He tried to break his fall a bit with his elbow and it wasn't surprising when he exited the field with his left arm hanging limp. Quarterbacks are the players most often seen extending their elbows that way to try to ease the impact with the turf but what it ends up doing is separating their shoulders.

* * *

Hester's Postgame Remarks:


As for the rest of the game, these Bears are nothing if not responsive. It may take a while, but if fans demand more of a running game, the Bears will give them a running game. It's too bad there can't be a bit more of a passing game mixed in with the run but if it has to be one or the other, the run game is preferable, especially until the Bears somehow manage to track down a No. 1 receiver.


In order for Lovie Smith's defense to really click, especially with multi-Pro Bowl linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs manning the short zones, the Bears need just one safety who really knows what's going on. He can make the right calls, play a strong deep zone and come up and make a tackle every once in a while to prevent an eight-yard gain from becoming (at least) 28.

And when Chris Harris is out injured, as he was for the third straight week Sunday, they don't have that guy. Sean Jensen pointed out in the Sun-Times on Sunday that Harris is an important cog in the Bear defense but he is even more than that.

Brandon Meriweather probably won't ever be that safety who makes the calls (that was a brutal breakdown on the huge pass to Steve Smith at the end of the first quarter on Sunday). But given the way he flies around the secondary looking to take someone's head off (despite the big, new rule discouraging that sort of behavior), he can be a very important player for the Bears. It wasn't a coincidence Panther receivers other than the ridiculous Steve Smith were dropping balls right and left in the third and fourth quarters.


Analyst Brian Billick was surprised when the Bears went for it on fourth down near midfield during their field goal drive in the fourth quarter. Had he been watching the Bears play defense? Lovie Smith knew his team couldn't afford to go right back on D at that point so he made the call to go for it and the left side of the line came through, opening a significant hole for Forte to convert the first down.


Lost in the Hester-Forte shuffle: Bears defense allows 543 yards!


See also:
* NFL Video: GameDay Highlights

* Marion Barber's Celebration Fail

* Matt Forte Puts It Away.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

New Rocks For Tribune Tower

"The Tribune Tower's moon rock is gone - but a new one is expected to be installed after the one displayed since 1999 was removed recently because of an outdated display, a spokesman for Tribune Co. said today," the Tribune reported last week.

"The new stone will be embedded in an acrylic compound and 'would be there for everyone to look at,' just like the more than 100 stones and other objects from historic sites across the world already embedded in the building's facade, [spokesman Gary] Weitman said.

"Other objects on display at the building include a piece of the Berlin Wall, one from Harvard College's oldest building and a piece of beam from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City."

The Beachwood has learned that these rocks are also under consideration for embedding in Tribune Tower:

* A brick that fell from the upper deck to the concourse at Wrigley Field.

* A hunk of rock that was transported by a Hired Truck, in honor of the Daley administration.

* Han Solo frozen in carbonite

* A giant stone representing rock bottom.

* The rock from which Sam Zell crawled out from under.

* A piece of Al Capone's vault.

* A rock from the head of Richard M. Daley

* A rock dug up by Bill Cellini during asphalt paving.

* A rock from each poor neighborhood the paper doesn't cover nor even distribute its newspaper to.

* A rock from the studio parking lot where Def Leppard recorded "Rock of Ages."

* A historic piece of something called a "printing press."

* Leftovers from Oprah's "Rock Diet."

* A rock Rahm Emanuel once threw at a reporter asking questions about his career as an investment banker.

* A piece of cork from one of Sammy Sosa's bats.

* The missing puck.


Contributing: Beachwood Mark, Mike Luce, Steve Rhodes


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:54 AM | Permalink

October 1, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk: Now banned in Maastricht.

Market Update
Economists this week struggled to interpret Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan after the candidate's surprise win in Florida. Most agree the proposal is a cut above some of Cain's rejected policies, including:

Myitsone is Youritsone
The nominally-thawed authoritarian leadership in Myanmar has surprisingly reversed it decision on the controversial Myitsone Dam project. Meaning there might be hope in other nominally-thawed autocracies.

Medvedev is Youdvedev
Of course, we all know most electorates like their nominally-thawed autocracies better.

Going Nowhere
So if we're doing the math right here, it means 80% of Chicago bus shelters serve 20% of riders when and where they need it least.

Middle East Peace Plan
Finally this week, it turns out talking and posturing haven't helped resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Maybe they could Tweet it out.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Thaw out.


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report

Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago's Public Hospital


Physician and author David Ansell recounts the poor conditions, high demand, and lack of resources he witnessed treating the uninsured at Cook County Hospital.

Sunday, October 2 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 2 min


Wrongful Convictions: Elizabeth Loftus


UC-Irvine professor Elizabeth Loftus explains how eyewitness memory, false memory, and other factors contribute to wrongful conviction and issues in the judicial system.

Sunday, October 2 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 13 min


The Life and Legacy of Joe Hill, American Labor Icon


Biographer William M. Adler revisits the life and controversial execution of songwriter and American labor figure Joe Hill.

Sunday, October 2 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 41 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:53 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - COVID Bowl Toteboard.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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