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« June 2012 | Main | August 2012 »

July 31, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago's city council watchdog wants access to aldermen's e-mails," WBEZ reports.

At first blush, to some people, that may seem extreme. It's not. E-mails from city accounts - or from personal accounts to avoid detection but for the purpose of conducting city business - ought to be considered public documents, as they are in many other jurisdictions.

But that's not the point of this item. Read on.

"Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan made public the request in his first ever semi-annual report, released on Monday. Khan was hired late last year . . . Aldermen had long resisted watchdog oversight, ignoring calls from former Mayor Richard Daley to allow the city's inspector general to investigate city council members and staff. In 2010, aldermen created the Office of Legislative Inspector General.

"It took a year-and-a-half for them to hire Khan. He is only paid to work part-time and has no staff."

Here's an idea: Let's be his staff!

Seriously, could we crowdsource this thing for Mr. Khan? Get a Knight grant? Involve the BGA?

I'm not entirely sure how it would work, but at a minimum we could field a volunteer in each ward to field tips and complaints, couldn't we? Because where to you go now if you think something hinky is up in your neighborhood?

Think about it, people.

Cardinal Rule
"Recent comments by those who administer our city seem to assume that the city government can decide for everyone what are the 'values' that must be held by citizens of Chicago," Cardinal Francis George writes on his blog (via Capitol Fax).

"I was born and raised here, and my understanding of being a Chicagoan never included submitting my value system to the government for approval. Must those whose personal values do not conform to those of the government of the day move from the city?Is the City Council going to set up a 'Council Committee on Un-Chicagoan Activities' and call those of us who are suspect to appear before it?"

Oh, you don't have to appear before it; just look up and speak into the camera.


Cap Fax commenter P.: "And on the third day . . . someone read the Cardinal's blog."

Cubs Proposal

"In the far suburbs of Chicago, shopping centers built in anticipation of a residential and commercial boom that failed to materialize are getting increasingly desperate for tenants," Crain's reports.

"After sitting on vacant retail properties for years, owners are striking deals with nontraditional tenants like churches and medical practices that don't generate the same kind of foot traffic or sales taxes as the typical store."

Grant's Tomb
"The longest serving agent-in-charge of the Chicago FBI office announced his retirement today after 29 years of service with the agency," the Tribune reports.

"Robert D. Grant has served as the head of the Chicago office since January of 2005, according to a FBI press release."

Thank you for your service, sir. My favorite moment was when you said this:

"If Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the country, it's certainly one helluva competitor,"

And this:

"At the end of the day if we're charging politicians for taking bribes and there are business people or industries offering those bribes and we're not putting them in jail to the same tune as public officials, then we're only solving half the problem."


"Grant has accepted a position with the Walt Disney Company global security team in Los Angeles," the Tribune adds.

Jeeper Creeper
Whiting, Indiana is now home to the world's largest crawler crane.

Priceless Advice
Gal Must Choose Dog Or Dude.

Lottery Push
"The company hired to manage the Illinois Lottery fell nearly $100 million short of the profits it promised during its inaugural year as the nation's first private manager of a state lottery, records show," the Tribune reports.

"Despite not hitting its revenue target, Northstar still turned a record profit for the lottery, which has lagged other major state lotteries for years."

So Illinoisans threw more money away than ever chasing odds worse than a lightning strike but still not as much as our new private lottery overlords promised. They promise to work harder, I'm sure.

Our favorite trade tweets.

Rig Report
Alabama Music Office visits Chicago, finds guitars. Plus: A '60 strat relic and Apollo tube bass amp.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Partly cloudy, always sunny.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

Tweeting The Trades

The only place better to be for a fan on trade deadline than MLB Trade Rumors is Twitter. Start with #cubs and wait to see who trends for additional hijinks.

Our favorites so far.















Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Rig Report: Alabama Music Office Visits, A '60 Strat Relic & An Apollo Tube Bass Amp

Tools of the trade.

1. Alabama Music Office visits Chicago Music Exchange.


2. Fender Custom Shop '60 Stratocaster Relic.


3. 65 Amps' Apollo Tube Bass Amplifier Head.


* Get Your Fender Bass On
* Buried Treasure Not For Sale: An Adam Clayton Bass Arrives In Chicago
* Cobain Jaguars Arrive On West Hubbard
* Rig Rundown: Roger Waters, G.E. Smith & Dave Kilminster


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

Still catching up, here's a few lighter items and today's Beachwood offerings. Almost back to full strength, thanks for your patience.

Brand X
"State Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office is paying nearly $2 million to a Chicago consulting firm to re-brand and market a program the Pontiac Republican said just months ago was exceeding expectations," the Daily Herald reports.

"The state will pay Henson Consulting a total of $1.98 million over three years to 're-brand and market the Cash Dash program in the state treasurer's unclaimed property division,' per the state contract."

I'll do it for free right now: Change the name from Cash Dash to Unclaimed Money Could Be Yours! Done.


Here's the Henson Consulting team.

"The sprawling Chicago Vocational Career Academy is in line for a significant renovation that would include a new addition, athletic facilities and demolition of portions of the architecturally-significant campus, according to documents made public last week," Lee Bey writes on his WBEZ blog.

Click through to see what this means for the "faded architectural jewel" - and to see Bey's photos.

Beachwood Field Trip?
"If you've ever wanted to 'come on down' and be the next contestant on The Price is Right, you have a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with CBS's most popular game show," CBS2 reports.

"On Saturday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., CBS 2 will be hosting a Price is Right contestant search at Savers, at 1231 N. Gary Ave. in Carol Stream."

The Bleeding Heart Bakery Report
Going, going, gone.

Liriano Is Geico
In The White Sox Report.

See also: This preview of Liriano's first White Sox start - against the Twins.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including Chicago!

Cliches Burning
I know it's TV, but do people really live lives this, um, dramatic? And studied? And intense? I don't think even firefighters do, but maybe it's just me. Maybe my life is lacking. Anyway, Chicago Code was about the way things work in Chicago, and the characters involved. Chicago Fire is about a bunch of pretty characters who are placed in a firehouse under some quaint romantic notion that there are still, um, fires.

Or do these shows represent our fantasies of what we want life to be like? Men and women of honor! Flaws! Death that is just a dramatic device in the story of life! Everyone sort of triumphing in a grim way in the end! Yay!

The Olympics Are Ridiculous
"The Olympics cannot be about what NBC has been serving up in prime time so far," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

"Surely in this hyper-connected day and age there has to be more acknowledgement paid to the fact that events have already happened. Can't the prime time coverage be real good highlights and analysis packages?

"Instead we get swim races and gymnastics competitions in which the announcers don't know what happened but we do. This isn't working!"

Caped Crusaders
Our Cubs as the superheroes they really are, not who they purport to be. In The Cub Factor.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Working.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:19 AM | Permalink

Chicago Fire's Loose Relationship With Reality

Yeah, I dunno.


Behind the scenes.


ER in the firehouse.




Real humans - even firefighters! - are just not this melodramatic. But I suppose it's somebody's fantasy.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Olympics Are Ridiculous

There we sat at the pizzeria, transfixed by badminton.

A group of us were having lunch at a big ol' suburban pizza place (Jerseys on Barrington Road just north of I-90) Sunday with our kids after they scored a big win in a youth baseball tournament (thereby validating their parents - time to celebrate!).

And the match was playing out on a big screen mounted in a wall over the large bar in the middle of the place. There were four or six smaller screens arrayed around the big one - this would be a heck of a place to take in a football game or seven on a fall Sunday.

The main thing I know about badminton is that it is the answer to a favorite trivia question, one of the few that I can remember off the top of my head when a random conversation turns to the exchange of clever little sports facts. The question is: What is the second-most popular participatory sport in the world?

Silly me. I just posited a question when the answer is already out there (badminton is huge in China and highly populated southeast Asian countries).

Who am I, NBC? By the way, I'm guessing you guessed the first most popular participatory sport is soccer.

The Olympics cannot be about what NBC has been serving up in prime time so far. Surely in this hyper-connected day and age there has to be more acknowledgement paid to the fact that events have already happened. Can't the prime time coverage be real good highlights and analysis packages?

Instead we get swim races and gymnastics competitions in which the announcers don't know what happened but we do. This isn't working!

Finally there was something timely and topical late Sunday. There was good old Bela Karolyi, fulminating about the injustice of American gymnast Jordyn Wieber not making the all-around final even though she had the fourth-highest preliminary point total. She had the great misfortune of being on a team that is so good that two of her teammates grabbed spots in the top three. And only two of the top three gymnasts from a given team can advance to the final.

I'm not saying fill prime time with more Bela, although it is good to see the old coach who has been on the scene for how many decades now (?) is still going strong. And it was outrageous that Wieber was denied a spot in the final by a rule that was strangely added to gymnastics world meets only in the last few years. This is something Americans can rally around - righteous indignation! How dare you cheat one of our girl gymnasts out of her rightful chance at glory!

But returning now to pretending stuff is live when everyone knows it isn't. This is ridiculous! And please remember that we take the word "ridiculous" very, very seriously around here. We only bust it out at absolutely critical times.

As for the badminton match, well, Team USA took one on the chin. It must be said these guys were already fashion losers before the match even started. They were sporting yellow shirts. I think you have to keep trying to put something together involving red, white or blue, people - that is a goodly amount of choices. Make it happen next time.

The team from Malaysia rolled to a victory but the match was entertaining for the novelty and for the fact that we didn't know who was going to win until the last slam came down just inside a sideline.

One of these days the networks will know too.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Drums at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.


2. Kill Hannah at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.


3. Best Coast at the Vic on Friday night.


4. Cursive at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday night.


5. Aesop Rock at the Metro on Saturday night.


6. The Wallflowers at the Mayne Stage on Friday night.


7. Pitbull at Northerly Island on Friday night.


8. Sebastian Bach at the Congress on Friday night.


9. Logic at Reggie's on Thursday night.


10. Cinderella at the Congress on Friday night.


11. Smash Potater at Reggie's on Friday night.


12. Sonic Pulse at Reggie's on Friday night.


13. Lich King at Reggie's on Friday night.


14. Morbid Saint at Reggie's on Friday night.


15. Diamond Plate at Reggie's on Friday night.


16. Chicago and The Doobie Brothers on Northerly Island on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:14 AM | Permalink

Caped Crusaders

So, did you see that this happened last week? The Cubs dressed up like superheroes. Who knew?

We here at The Cub Factor think this is just too good to pass up. So while the Cubs did their best to be funny and hero-y, we have a few ideas for personas they should have adopted.

Geovany Soto: Made a weak attempt to be a Ghostbuster. But we think he should have gone as the Buffett Buster. From coast-to-coast no Old Country Buffett is safe!

Ryan Dempster: Thwarts trades with a single tweet, does a horrible impression of Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray, and is really making himself look like a complete jag. He is The Blocker!

David DeJesus: He dressed as He-Man but he really should have gone as Just About Average Man. Able to not really be bad at anything while while not really being that good either. Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's spaghetti with red sauce for dinner, no, it's Just About Average Man.

Tony Campana: Dressed as the Flash, which pretty much made him Predictable Man, but we think he should have come as Robin the Boy Wonder. As in Boy, I wonder how long such a one-dimensional player can stay on the roster.

Carlos Marmol: Dressed up as Zorro and as much as we'd like to come up with a funnier one, we're thinking that once the wildness returns he is better off wearing a mask. So Zorro fits.

Kerry Wood: He wasn't able to pitch well before he hung them up but now he's doing quite well as The Pitchman.

Anthony Rizzo: Superman, duh.


And don't look now good citizens, but this next superhero can dash World Series hopes with just a wave of his hand, he is Bartman. Too soon?


Week in Review: The Caped Crusaders went 4-2 for the week, taking two of three each from the Pirates and Cardinals. The team (14-9 in July) is back to being watchable again. Well, until 3 p.m. Tuesday, that is.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay home for three more with the Pirates and then head out west to play the Dodgers. And there is a chance a few Cubs on Tuesday could be Dodgers on Friday. But who knows what to believe while The Blocker is still around.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney finally got a day off this week to allow Jeff Baker a chance to go 0-for-3. But Barney responded by getting three hits the next day. By the way, Barney came up a shortstop while Luis Valbuena, who plays third base, actually came up a second baseman. Alfonso Soriano, who "plays" left field, also came up a second baseman. Throw in a first baseman playing right field and it's just like the ghost of Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Don "Pep" Johnson was a key member of the 1945 Cubs team that went to the World Series. He led the NL with 22 sacrifice hits that year. He died in 2000, and he is missed.

The Not-So-Hot Corner: Valbuena continues to play third more often than even he thinks is possible. He is now batting .198. He did get one day off last week, which allowed Joe Mather to go 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.

Weekly Bunting Report: All that spring training bunting paid off this week with a bunt win. It's just too bad it wasn't a walk-off bunt win.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z sucks. And this surprises no one. Four earned over five innings and four walks to run his record to 5-9. This makes Big Z angry. Which surprises no one as well.



Endorsement No-Brainer: Ryan Dempster for nothing. This guy's lost any goodwill he built up being here this long.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Cubs players traded down this week. Er, actually they didn't trade at all.

Sink or Sveum: 34% Analytical, 66% Emotional. Dale moves up two points on the Dale-O-Meter due to winning. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is barely Thinking Clearly.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale knows the value of old aunt Shirley's beer can collection but the swap meet is right around the corner and Shirley is looking for some action. And really, they're her beer cans.

Over/Under: The number of Cubs traded this week: +/- not enough of them.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir is on el fuego-san. Eight hits in his last four starts, it looks like anyway. Not much of a hassle.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there might not be any trades at all.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Trading Up.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:26 AM | Permalink

Liriano Is Geico

Sorry, folks, but I just can't get too excited about the arrival of Francisco Liriano.

I also wouldn't have popped any corks had the White Sox obtained the services of Zach Greinke, who pitched well yesterday but lost his debut with the Angels.

If anyone accuses me of refusing to cop to the frenzy of the Trade Deadline, I plead guilty. That's because more often than not, these late-season acquisitions appear promising but fail to bear fruit.

The scenario dictates that a guy comes in for a couple of months, smashes some homers, drives in some runs, steals a few bases, or - as in Liriano's case - wins some games to put his team over the hump and into the postseason. A shot in the arm, if you will, for the dog days of summer.

Once the season ends, he gathers up his stuff and goes off to the highest bidder, which rarely is the team that negotiated the Trade Deadline deal.

Please understand that this is not an indictment of Sox GM Kenny Williams. I'm a person who has trouble swallowing when taking a hit on 12 when the dealer has a face card showing. Williams appears fearless. He is no stranger to pulling the trigger if he thinks he can improve the Sox either in the short- or long-term. He is not always successful, but the guy has moxy, and he's pretty smart.

But these much-publicized moves in recent White Sox history tend to bring in players far past their prime like Harold Baines (2000), Ken Griffey Jr. (2008) and Manny Ramirez (2010); old players like Geoff Blum (2005); or the occasional big name like Jake Peavy (2009), who is finally paying dividends - three years later.

Unfortunately, now that Jake has approached his previous form, the Sox must pay him $22 million to stick around the South Side in 2013.

Four years ago Griffey Jr.'s biggest contribution was throwing out Michael Cuddyer at home in the Sox's 1-0 playoff win against the Twins. And in 2005, Blum hit an anemic .200 over the season's final two months, but his 14th inning home run in Game 3 of the World Series propelled the Sox to a 7-5 win.

In these contexts one might argue that the Trade Deadline acquisitions were strokes of genius, at least in two very specific instances. But those teams might have been equally successful without either of them. (Griffey hit .260 with three homers in 41 games at the end of the '08 season.)

Liriano presents an interesting situation for the Sox. He no-hit our athletes in May, entering the game with an astronomical ERA of 9.13. In his last start a week ago, the Sox pounded him for seven runs in less than two innings.

However, after being demoted to the Twins' bullpen earlier this season, Frankie has improved in the past two months, posting a 4.05 ERA over 10 starts. He has fanned a hitter an inning in his seven-year career, but he also walks people. Like 55 in 100 innings this season. I don't know about you, but I absolutely despise bases on balls.

What Liriano represents is an insurance policy. (I wrote that right before Steve Stone said the same thing on last night's telecast.) Chances are the team will go to a six-man rotation, which means that the freshly-acquired lefthander will get 10 starts between now and the end of the season, as will Peavy, Chris Sale, Gavin Floyd, Jose Quintana and Philip Humber. If any of them stumbles badly or heads to the disabled list, the team still has five starters. If that isn't Allstate, then it's certainly Geico.

In addition, the team's brass and other observers seem nervous about Sale, who has thrown 124 innings this season after working just 71 a year ago. It also appears that the talented lefty is losing a tick or two off his fastball. Quintana never has worked more than 102 innings in a season.

So everyone can get an extra day's rest with the addition of Liriano. In this Age of Pitch Counts, that extra day could make the difference. The Sox also have the pitching guru Don Cooper, who will be invested with the chore of fixing Liriano.

Gone is cherubic Eduardo Escobar, the 23-year-old Venezuelan infielder whom I wrote about four months ago after seeing him in spring training. Word has it the kid was in tears in the clubhouse as Robin Ventura broke the news to him that he was headed to the Twins.

This came after he clubbed a couple of doubles in the Sox's 5-2 win Saturday night in Texas. One of my memories of his brief South Side career was the tenth inning pinch-hit on June 24 that gave the Sox a 1-0 win over Milwaukee. The kid was swarmed by his teammates, who had since called him a "little brother."

But hey, this isn't a game. It's a business, and Escobar was quickly dispatched by the Twins to Rochester, New York, home of the AAA Red Wings. Talk about a fall from grace!

Taking his place on the White Sox roster will be the much-traveled 31-year-old Ray Olmedo, who was called up from Charlotte on Sunday. Primarily a shortstop, Olmedo - he played with the Reds from 2003-06 - and Orlando Hudson will venture forth as the Sox' backup infielders.

Going back to the Trade Deadline (and it's not over yet; Tuesday is the last day to make a non-waiver deal), there's an argument that the best end-of-July deal the team ever made was the White Flag transaction in 1997 which received as much criticism as any transaction in recent memory.

The White Sox were just 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland at the end of July when general manager Ron Schueler sent closer Roberto Hernandez and his 27 saves along with starters Wilson Alvarez and Danny Darwin to the Giants for six prospects.

The tumult was virtually universal, including comments from then-third baseman Ventura that the Sox had given up on the season. The team was only 52-53 at the time, but the division was weak and the Sox were in the race. They split 56 games the rest of the way, so the absence of three pitching stalwarts didn't make much difference in terms of wins and losses.

However, of the six prospects Schueler obtained, reliever Keith Foulke went on to pitch six seasons in a Sox uniform, amassing 100 saves. And Bob Howry pitched parts of five seasons on the South Side as an effective reliever. They also got shortstop Mike Caruso, who hit .306 in 1998, though his 59 errors over two seasons sent him packing after the 1999 campaign.

The Sox were "sellers" in 1997. They're "buyers' today. A division championship is within reach. The addition of Kevin Youkilis was almost too good to be true, and Brett Myers has been flawless since he joined the Sox 10 days ago.

What will Francisco Liriano add? I'm not expecting much, but I hope he proves me and other naysayers wrong. It's those other 24 guys that I'm counting on, and so far they're been just short of amazing. If Liriano wants to join the fun, he's more than welcome.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:55 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

Just to be clear, this isn't meant to be a full Report; rather, it's an homage to the spirit of Weekend Desk reporting.

Market Update
Cheer up, Zuckerberg. You only lost a metric shit-ton of money on paper.

Opening Night
With the 2016 Summer Olympics now officially Rio's problem, we're free to speculate on the celebration of culture that would've accompanied Chicago's Opening Ceremony. Clearly the night would've featured the senseless murder of at least one promising athlete.

Olympic Spirit
Not that the IOC would've acknowledged the killing.

Slower, Lower, Weaker
The 2016 Chicago Games also would've featured the Olympic debut of two new sports: Posturing and Evasion. The events would've extended the Games by approximately 45 minutes per day with no official explanation.

Finally this week, what's more disturbing? A blind archer or blind worship?


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Now with mayo.


Beachwood Weekend Programming Note: These pieces were added to the site late Friday.

In Honor Of The Olympics, ProPublica Presents The Best Sports Investigative Reporting. Sports builds (bad) characters.

The Last Two Weeks In Chicago Rock. Duty called. Now we're catching up.

The 1980 Dance Fever Christmas Special. That happened, and we all let it happen.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Lydia Loveless writes country songs with punk rock flair. She performs tracks from her latest release, Indestructible Machine, live in the studio. Plus Jim and Greg review new releases from Passion Pit and Mission of Burma."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

4th Ward Headlines


Ald. Will Burns discusses education in the 4th Ward with Dr. Gregory Jones, principal of Kenwood Academy, and Derek Douglas of the University of Chicago.

Saturday, July 28 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Best of Chicago Improv (aka Public Access: The Movie)


A compilation of comedy sketches written and performed by local talent putting the FUN in funny!

Saturday, July 28 at 6:05 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 20 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Centro de Trabajadores Unidos


Ana Guajardo of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos (Immigrant Workers' Project) explains their proposal for employers to follow a code of conduct that ensures fair working conditions for workers.

Saturday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
25 min


Barack Obama: The Story


Author David Maraniss discusses his biography of President Obama, which draws from hundreds of interviews and troves of letters, journals, and other documents.

Saturday, July 28 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 10 min


Getting Smarter on Crime


The Chicago Reader's Mick Dumke moderates a panel on current and future ways to divert defendants from detention safely and cost-effectively.

Watch Online

Sunday, July 29 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Shaping Our Future: Building a Latino Education Agenda


The Latino Policy Forum launches a new guide to Common Core Standards for teachers and educators with a special focus on multilingual and Latino students.

Sunday, July 29 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 45 min


CREATE: Railroad Expansion


Experts and advocates share how conservation, green building, and investment in modernizing railroads can help revive blighted neighborhoods and promote community development in Chicago.

Sunday, July 29 at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


New Initiatives for Small Business Growth


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announces new initiatives aimed at stimulating economic growth and removing barriers for minority and women-owned small businesses.

Sunday, July 29 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
15 min


2011 TIF Report


Cook County Clerk David Orr releases figures on the state of Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts in Chicagoland in 2011.

Sunday, July 29 at 5:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
20 min


Lathrop Homes Redevelopment Press Conference


Local officials and residents of a Northwest Side public housing complex discuss the impact of a planned redevelopment project on residents.

Sunday, July 29 at 6 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:14 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

Duty called. Still calling. But trying to catch up simultaneously.

* The Last Two Weeks In Chicago Rock.

Digging Blood Red Boots. Also, the shed in Tinley Park should be blown to bits. They could sell a lot of tickets to that.

* In Honor Of The Olympics, ProPublica Presents The Best In Investigative Sports Reporting.

Sports builds (bad) characters.

* The 1980 Dance Fever Christmas Special.

Why? Because the good folks at The Museum of Classic Chicago Television said so!

More catching up to come.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Dutiful

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:57 PM | Permalink

The 1980 Dance Fever Christmas Special

"Hosted by Deney Terrio (with his dance group 'Motion'), and featuring guest celebrity judges Robert Blake and his 14-year-old daughter Delinah (now known as Delinah Blake Hurwitz). Chad Everett and his 9-year-old daughter Shannon, and Connie Stevens and her 11-year-old daughter Tricia Leigh (now known as Tricia Leigh Fisher). Also features David Copperfield doing a magic segment and The Gap Band performing. Alison Arngrim, who played 'nasty' Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie also is featured as the 'Guest DJ' who introduces the songs and performers."


"Includes a partial WFLD Dance Fever bumper, sponsorship notice by Revlon Realistic Texture Curl, E-Z Kare Latex Flat paint from True Value Hardware Stores, and Popaire Hot Air Corn Popper by Hamilton Beach . . . This aired on local Chicago TV on Friday, December 12, 1980 during the 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. timeframe."


This is just one of at least seven parts; click through here for the rest.


About The Museum of Classic Chicago Television

"The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's primary mission is the preservation and display of off-air, early home videotape recordings (70s and early 80s, primarily) recorded off of any and all Chicago TV channels; footage which would likely be lost if not sought out and preserved digitally. Even though (mostly) short clips are displayed here, we preserve the entire broadcasts in our archives - the complete programs with breaks (or however much is present on the tape), for historical purposes. For information on how to help in our mission, to donate or lend tapes to be converted to DVD, and to view more of the 3,900+ (and counting) video clips available for viewing in our online archive, please visit us at:"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:28 PM | Permalink

The Last Two Weeks In Chicago Rock

Duty called. We're catching up.

1. Blood Red Boots at Plainfield Fest on last Saturday.


2. Slayer in Tinley Park on Saturday night.


3. Refused at the Congress on Thursday night.


4. With The Punches at Mojoe's in Joliet on Sunday night.


5. Jon Walker at Schubas on Thursday night.


6. El-P at the Congress on Wednesday night.


7. The Mickey Hart Band at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.


8. Furthur on Northerly Island on Tuesday night, July 17th.


9. George Watsky at Reggie's on Tuesday night, July 17th.


10. Slipknot in Tinley Park on Saturday night.


11. As I Lay Dying in Tinley Park on Saturday night.


12. Sidi Toure at Millennium Park on Monday night.


13. Scoundrel at Township on Saturday night.


14. Pink Frost at the Burlington on Thursday, July 19.


15. The Fuck Off And Dies at the Beat Kitchen on last Friday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 PM | Permalink

In Honor Of The Olympics, ProPublica Presents: The Best Investigative Reporting On Sports

The 30th Summer Olympics officially opened today in London. In honor of the Games, we've rounded up some great sports muckreads, from college sports to racetracks.

Jumping Through Hoops, Vanity Fair, June 2012: There's still disagreement about whether the Olympic games are an economic boon or a boondoggle for the cities that host them. This article looks at the lead-up to the London games, and the long - and sometimes shady - process by which cities court the International Olympic Committee.

The Kid Who Wasn't There, ESPN, May 2012: The epic story of a high school basketball star who turned out to be someone else entirely. Unraveling his identity took reporter Wright Thompson from Florida correctional facilities to Haitian voodoo priests. Contributed by @tremmsAU

Breakdown: Death And Disarray At America's Racetracks, New York Times, March 2012: This multipart series analyzed data from more than 150,000 races at tracks across the country. Among the revelations: on average, 24 horses die every week; accident rates increase when casinos open at tracks; and trainers often flout anti-drug regulations, pumping horses full of painkillers to mask injuries. See also this Times article on how a powerful Mexican drug cartel became a big player in American horseracing.

Jerry Sandusky Investigation, The Patriot-News, 2011: Pulitzer-prize winning coverage of the investigation into Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of young boys. The newspaper chronicled subsequent revelations about how university administrators, alumni, and coaching legend Joe Paterno turned a blind eye to Sandusky's crimes.

Punched Out: The Life And Death Of A Hockey Enforcer, New York Times, December 2011: In the National Hockey League, fighting is an accepted and popular part of the game. This three-part series traces the rise and descent of Derek Boogaard, once the league's "fiercest fighter" whose role was to brawl and create a spectacle for fans. Despite his tragic story and history of injury to other enforcers, the NHL hasn't banned the practice. The tradition is instilled in young players, as Deadspin's visit to youth hockey fight camps shows.

The Shame Of College Sports, The Atlantic, October 2011: Historian Taylor Branch explains how "student-athlete" has never been a simple concept. He documents cases in which players have been sanctioned while colleges profit, and instances where schools pushed back against claims for workers' compensation when athletes died or were injured.

Renegade Miami Football Booster Spells Out Illicit Benefits To Players, Yahoo News, August 2011: Over eight years, a University of Miami booster provided perks to athletes ranging from nightclub visits to prostitutes and bounty payments for plays, in an extreme example of revelations about illicit benefits doled out to student athletes which have emerged at other colleges. Contributed by David Epstein.

College Teams, Relying On Deception, Undermine Gender Equity, New York Times, April 2011: Colleges have fudged the number of women athletes on their teams in order to appear in compliance with Title IX, which since 1972 has banned gender discrimination in federally-financed educational programs. Schools have put under-qualified or non-participant women on team rosters, and in some cases counted male practice players as women.

What You Don't Know Might Kill You, Sports Illustrated, May 2009: The multibillion-dollar sports supplement industry has become fertile ground for "kitchen chemists" who lack formal education in science or nutrition but often decide what goes into products like muscle builders and fat-burners marketed to athletes. Little policing or scrutiny of these designer compounds has created the risk of untested products and bogus claims.

Expert Ties Ex-Player's Suicide To Brain Damage, New York Times, January 2007: Over several years, the New York Times covered a growing body of evidence pointing to long-term repercussions from head injuries in football. The NFL instituted stricter rules on when players could return to the field after concussions. The Times' series also investigated lack of oversight in helmet safety standards.

Bonds Got Steroids, Feds Were Told, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2004: Early revelations about Barry Bonds and other MLB players receiving performance-enhancing drugs from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, at the time embroiled in a major international doping scandal. Last year, Bonds was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice after telling a federal grand jury that he never intentionally took steroids.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:31 PM | Permalink

July 26, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

Getting closer to the end game. In the meantime, please see:

* The Ghosts of Lupe Fiasco's West Side.

* Open Books Joins Chicago Writers Conference.

* Chicago's WPA Posters.


The Beachwood Tip Line: End game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

Chicago's WPA Posters

"This is a collection of WPA posters from Chicago produced by the WPA from 1936-1943," writes generalchina22. "All images came directly from the Library of Congress digital collection."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 AM | Permalink

The Ghosts Of Lupe Fiasco's West Side

From this week's episode of MTV's RapFix Live:

Get More: Music News


* Lupe Fiasco: The Biggest Terrorist Is Obama
* Lupe Fiasco vs. Kanye West
* Lupe Fiasco's Tribute To Gil-Scott Heron
* Lupe Fiasco Talks F&LII, Chicago Hip Hop


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:34 AM | Permalink

Open Books Joins Chicago Writers Conference

A promising joint venture. Here's the announcement.

"The Chicago Writers Conference has announced its partnership with Open Books, a Chicago nonprofit organization that aims to promote literacy. 'We're very excited to partner with Open Books,' said Mare Swallow, the founder of the CWC. "It's a truly singular organization - the only Chicago social enterprise that runs a bookstore and provides literacy tutoring for students.

"In addition, the CWC will be offering a limited number of scholarships to deserving volunteers or staff members at Open Books. 'The staff at Open Books has a great impact in the local community and we want to recognize that,' said Swallow.

"'The literacy mission is the core for everything we do. We take an innovative approach in trying to make a big difference, yet keep it accessible to the community,' said Ava Zeligson of Open Books.

"Open Books is also providing volunteers for the Chicago Writers Conference. At Open Books, more than 500 volunteers seek to transform Chicago students' lives through reading, writing, and the power of books. They serve as literary coaches, mentors, and role models to show over 3,000 students annually not just how to improve their literacy skills, but why reading and writing are such essential parts of a happy and healthy life.

"The CWC aims to bring Chicago area writers together with publishing professionals and help them learn to sell and promote their work. The first of its kind in Chicago, the conference will be held September 14 - 16 at the historic Tribune Tower. More than a dozen speakers are already scheduled, along with live literary readings, panel discussions, and more.

"For further info and updates about the conference, or to volunteer, sponsor, or donate, visit:"


* Kickstarting The Chicago Writers Conference
* Keynote Genius
* The Open Books Store


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:17 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2012

Proco Joe Moreno's Stand Against Chick-fil-A Is Cheap, Hypocritical And Dangerous

"A Chicago alderman wants to kill Chick-fil-A's plans to build a restaurant in his increasingly trendy Northwest Side ward because the fast-food chain's top executive vocally opposes gay marriage," the Tribune reports.

"Ald. Proco 'Joe' Moreno announced this week that he will block Chick-fil-A's effort to build its second Chicago store, which would be in the Logan Square neighborhood, following company President Dan Cathy's remarks last week that he was 'guilty as charged' for supporting the biblical definition of marriage as between a man and woman."

But wait: Moreno had no problem supporting Barack Obama even though he had the exact same position until earlier this year - and then only went so far as to back leaving gay marriage up to the states, validating North Carolina's (and others') decision to ban it.

In fact, Illinois doesn't allow gay marriage! Get the state out of the 1st Ward!

Beyond that, how fair is it to single out Chik-fil-A when other businesses in his ward are surely run by owners who oppose gay marriage? (Will Moreno evict Domino's from the 1st Ward because of owner Tom Monaghan's well-known stance against abortion? Where does it end?)

NOTE: (It's been brought to my attention that Monaghan doesn't own Domino's anymore, but you get the idea.)

Look, I'm ferociously in favor of gay marriage, but this move by Moreno - always rationalizing his footsie with the Emanuel administration by stressing the importance of compromise - smacks of cheap political opportunism.

Worse, it's an affront to freedom of thought; people ought to be allowed to have whatever political positions they want without seeing their livelihood endangered as a result.

That's the problem with the mayor reportedly punishing the Cubs in their effort to receive city help for rehabbing Wrigley Field because Joe Ricketts is a right-wing wack-job. He's allowed to be a right-wing wack-job! One has nothing to do with the other - and there's a better reason to reject the Cubs request for taxpayer assistance: the Ricketts' are filthy rich.

(I wonder if the Cubs are not welcome in the 1st Ward.)

Now, it would be one thing if the company was guilty of discrimination. That's up to the government's workplace regulators to determine. But company executives told Moreno "they would take no stance on the issue of gay rights and would not discriminate in any fashion at the restaurant."

The Tribune reports that Moreno "dismissed any First Amendment concerns" (which is funny because he did the same when he voted in favor of the mayor's secretive infastructure trust).

"'You have the right to say what you want to say, but zoning is not a right,' he said, adding that he also had concerns about traffic in the area."

Oh, so this is about zoning. That's just so hacky.

"The alderman has the ideological support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel," the Tribune reports.

"'Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values,' the mayor said in a statement when asked about Moreno's decision."

I'm sorry, I didn't get my Chicago Values handout, but if I remember correctly they have something to do with "What's in it for me?"

More importantly, this sets a dangerous precedent: If your ideological belief isn't shared by Joe Moreno, forget about building a business in the 1st Ward.

And if the next alderman is against gay marriage and you're for it, the next alderman will have every right to reject your business too.


Comments welcome.


1. From Kevin B. O'Reilly:

First Amendment law expert weighs in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Got a column started, got waylaid. Here's what we do have new so far today:

* Proco Joe Moreno's Stance Against Chick-fil-A Is Cheap, Hypocritical And Dangerous. Moreno chickens out.

* Here's To Bobby Too Tuff. Celebrating another Maxwell Street OG.

* Telling Chicago's Stories. From the ground up.

* Fantasy Fix: Trading Up. Starring a couple White Sox.

More to come.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Bawk.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:43 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Trading Up

The MLB trade deadline is still a few days away, but we have already seen some significant deals. As of this writing, locals Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza still hadn't made highly anticipated moves to new teams, but there have been at least three trades with fantasy significance:

Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, to the White Sox: This deal has turned out to have much more fantasy impact than I first expected. Youkilis has been hitting like his old self, and though he's cooled a bit in recent games, he's already rewarded fantasy owners who had the wisdom either to acquire him or keep him when Boston shipped him to Chicago.

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, to the Yankees: No question this was the biggest deal that had been done as of late Tuesday. Ichiro was becoming a fantasy non-factor, a backup player you only activated if you were looking for stolen bases. In a more potent lineup, his numbers should be refreshed, and he might even poke a few home runs over the short right field porch in Yankee Stadium.

Anibal Sanchez, SP, to the Tigers: He was not pitching poorly for a Miami team that struggled to score runs. There's always concern about a National League pitcher getting moved to the American League, but jumping to a first-place team with a strong lineup should allow him to more than double his current five wins.

Brett Myers, RP, to the White Sox: For now, Myers' fantasy value takes a hit, unless your league counts holds, in which case you may be due for a bunch. On the other hand, closer Addison Reed has two blown saves in the last 10 days, and like any rookie could be on a short leash. Meanwhile, there could be another interesting option for Myers, though no one has mentioned it yet: He's a former starter, and if the Sox decide to stretch him out to bolster their hobbling rotation, he could return to fantasy relevance.

Expert Wire
* CBS looks at these and other trade deadline deals.

* Bleacher Report doesn't see much fantasy gain for Ichiro, for some crazy reason.

* USA Today says Tim Lincecum is still barely a buy-low candidate.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

Here's To Bobby Too Tuff

Word comes now from local blues professor Steve Balkin that Maxwell Street blues legend Bobby Too Tuff will be feted on Sunday on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

The party will be held at the Polk Street Pub from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. House band Lowreen and the Maxwell Street Market Blues Band will provide the entertainment, with "a lot of legends from the old Market sitting in."

If you're unfamiliar with Too Tuff, here's a little taste:


Plus: Photos of Too Tuff from Bill's Blues in Evanston, 2009.


And: The Polk Street Pub: Keeping The Blues Alive.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

Telling Chicago's Stories

"StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs, will record interviews in Chicago from August 16 - September 15 as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour," the organization announced Tuesday.

Before we get to the details, let's take a listen to a smattering of previous StoryCorps segments emanating from Chicago.

1. "Nineteen-year-old Noe Rueda talks to his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez about growing up poor in Chicago."


2. "Tyrese Graham remembers his first day as a teacher at John Marshall Metropolitan High School in Chicago."


3. "Studs Terkel from a 2005 interview recorded when a StoryCorps MobileBooth visited his home."


4. "Dorothy Glinton tells her son, Sonari, about becoming a manager at Ford Motor Plant in Chicago."


5. "William Haley and his brother Glen remember their father, Joseph Howard Haley, founder of Jackie Robinson West Little League in Chicago."


And now, the deets:

StoryCorps' MobileBooth an Airstream trailer outfitted with a professional recording studio - will be parked at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, on the southeast corner of the Great Lawn. Reservations will be available at 10 a.m. CST on August 3 and can be made by calling StoryCorps' 24-hour toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting Additional appointments will be available on August 17, 2012.

StoryCorps' MobileBooth interviews are conducted between two people who know and care about each other. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides participants through the interview process. At the end of each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary CD copy of their interview. With participant permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.

StoryCorps is partnering with WBEZ 91.5FM, Chicago's public radio station, who will air segments from a selection of local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth. Segments of select interviews may also air nationally on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

Founded in 2003 by award-winning documentary producer and MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient Dave Isay, StoryCorps aims to create a growing portrait of who we are as Americans. By traveling to every corner of the country, StoryCorps currently has one of the largest collections of diverse voices ever gathered, with interviews collected from nearly 80,000 Americans in all 50 states.

"StoryCorps tells the true American story - that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness, and heroism. Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten," said Isay. "By strengthening connections between people and building an archive that reflects a rich diversity of voices, we hope to build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every family in America."

"Chicago's 'story' is really the sum of its stories - the life experiences of the individuals who are our neighbors," says Chicago Public Media's Torey Malatia. "Each StoryCorps MobileBooth visit to Chicago has captured some of the most powerful and memorable accounts of everyday people in all of the MobileBooth's U.S. travel. Fellow Chicagoans have shared stories from their past that sang to their souls. StoryCorps preserves these accounts to resound in our city's future."

In addition to a traveling MobileBooth, StoryCorps currently operates stationary recording booths at Atlanta's public radio station WABE-FM and at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

To ensure the diversity of participants, StoryCorps sponsors several major initiatives: Military Voices Initiative records the stories of post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members, and their families; StoryCorps Historias collects the stories of Latinos throughout the United States and Puerto Rico; StoryCorps Griot preserves the voices and experiences of African Americans; StoryCorps Legacy provides people with life-threatening conditions and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories; and the September 11th Initiative honors and remembers the stories of those most personally affected by the events of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

I'll continue to be under red flag conditions this week as I aim to complete an intensive project on a tight deadline, but I'm going to really try to produce a column today in-between, as well as deliver some other Beachwood material.

Here are a few new offerings today so far:

* Old Days: Lost Chicago. There's a whole "lost Chicago" genre - rightfully so - and this is the latest, quick entrant, focusing mostly on roller rinks and drive-ins. Also: a link to a site worth perusing.

* The Chambers Report: Tales of Three Cities. In two books. Our man Bob Chambers contrasts Christopher Buckley's latest novel with Erik Larson's Chicago classic, Devil In The White City.

* Get Your Fender Bass On. The Chicago Bass Club talks to a Fenderland pro about the difference between guitars built in the custom shop and those built by "masters."

More later.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Custom built, masterfully.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Get Your Fender Bass On

"Bass Club Chicago sits down with Kevin from Fender to discuss the difference between a Custom Shop Fender and Masterbuilt pieces."


See also: The Bass Club Chicago YouTube channel.


* Buried Treasure Not For Sale: An Adam Clayton Bass Arrives In Chicago

* Cobain Jaguars Arrive On West Hubbard

* Rig Rundown: Roger Waters, G.E. Smith & Dave Kilminster


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Old Days: Lost Chicago

"A collection of photos depicting places we used to go for fun in Chicagoland which are things of the past," writes zeusdvm, who uploaded this video on Monday.

"I received an e-mail directing me to Craig's Lost Chicago, which had photos of bygone Chicago treasures and these were under the fun section. As I viewed them I realized a soundtrack was needed. The song choice was obvious to me, 'Old Days' by Chicago.

"I hope you enjoy the show which will definitely bring back some warm, nostalgic memories. I hope Craig also likes what I have done. I will send him this link. His website is"


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2012

The Chambers Report: A Tale Of Three Cities


Cities have been around for a long time. As ancient, entirely rural populations grew and became more complicated three millennia ago, people increasingly banded together for security and economic reasons. The earliest such gatherings would be largely unrecognizable to us today, but cities pretty much as we know them were established fairly early on in China and Europe, primarily to provide protection against marauding armies and to offer central places of trade and interaction. As they expanded, they became more complex and naturally developed both benefits and costs. Among the benefits were reduced transport expense, the exchange of ideas, the sharing of natural resources, the provision of local markets, and, later on, such amenities as sewage disposal and running water. The costs of expanding cities included rising crime rates, higher living expenses, pollution, and, in time, the replacement of the bicycle and buggy by the automobile and alarmingly dangerous high-speed traffic.

With the creation and growth of cities inevitably came the need for organizing and managing them - and thus the necessity of political systems with all their divisions, jealousies, and corruption. Bad as these could be, though, they also became the stuff of art, literature and written history. Just as The Eternal City inspired Gibbon to pen The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire and as eighteenth century Paris and London led to Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities, so, in our own time, cities have spawned an industry of political fiction and historical investigation.

One of the best American political writers today is the satirist Christopher Buckley, who has, for years, been skewering Washington, D.C., and its environs as cesspools of venality, power-seeking and lunacy. His most recent foray into the political swamp is They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, a farce about the shenanigans of politicos in our nation's capital and in Beijing, the Chinese counterpart to our Paradise along the Potomac. Throughout his many pages, Buckley describes a bizarre world that could only exist in modern cities, whether American or Asian.

With far more success, historian Erik Larson does with the development of twentieth-century Chicago much of what Buckley tries to do with Washington and Beijing; show the underbelly of a modern metropolis and the nation it represents. The main difference between Larson and Buckley, however, is that Larson also shows us the greatness of a dynamic city, its glories as well as its warts, while Buckley pays precious little mind to whatever good there might be in his two cities tale. In his great The Devil In The White City, Larson paints an astonishing portrait of a provincial and second-rate Midwestern town evolving from frightening backwardness into a progressive shining model for cities elsewhere to follow. By looking closely at both books, we can see everything from silliness to the sublime, all inspired by the venues in which most of us now choose to live. Let's look at them, beginning with Buckley and building to Larson.


Buckley's fifteenth book has elicited a broad range of critical reactions. Most reviewers (including this writer) like Buckley and want to like what he writes, but something about Puppies stops numbers of us short.

To me, Buckley, our most talented political satirist - a likable, super-articulate, Yalie Republican like his celebrated father William F. Buckley - disappoints here by being, at once, both far too cute and surprisingly mean-spirited, not to mention giving us a novel with no real conclusion. Puppies just ends . . . after 300 pages of steadily mounting and murky complexities.

Buckley's chief task in this book is to skewer virtually everything about Washington and Beijing; in neither capital does he find anything at all to admire. His D.C. is riven by greedy defense contractors, loopy lobbyists, scheming warmongers, and double-dealing politicos.

And things are just as bad in The Peoples' Republic, where the mild-mannered President is in daily conflict with constipated generals, an aggressive minister of state security, and a bickering Politburo. Buckley endeavors to pull all this together in a wandering "plot" centering on Tibet, the Dalai Lama, and an apparent attempt by the Chinese leadership to murder the world's most beloved citizen.

The novel begins with Congress shooting down a hugely expensive defense project proposed by aerospace giant Groepping-Sprunt (a predator-drone fittingly named "Dumbo") - a seeming disaster for lobbyist Walter "Bird" McIntyre, the effort's chief director. The crash of Dumbo appears to be yet another sign of a national defense system in a state of nearing collapse, with generals being "retired" left and right and no one in power anxious to fund grotesquely pricey military projects.

Not to worry, though. Wily Groepping-Sprunt CEO Chick Devlin simply steps back, regroups, and decides that renewed life might be pumped into the flagging national defense money machine in another way, through exploiting American xenophobia. Bird gets a new shot when he's charged by Devlin to juice the military-industrial complex by playing on American anger at and fear of the menacing advance of the Chinese economic juggernaut. To accomplish this, he teams with scissor-legged beauty Angel Templeton (think Ann Coulter), who, when not in someone's bed, presides over something called The Institute for Continuing Conflict - "We're not really into deterrence at ICC!" she boasts.

Angel and Bird decide to stir up national rage over "the one thing having to do with China that Americans care about . . . the seventy-five year-old sweetie pie with glasses, the sandals, the saffron robe, and the hugging and the mandelas."

Accordingly, they hatch a fake plot whereby Chinese leaders are rumored to be planning to poison the universally-beloved (everywhere but in the PRC!) Dalai Lama by manipulating reports of some mystery malady he contracts in Rome and for which he travels to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment.

As the supposed cabal moves along, Buckley jerks the action back and forth between Beijing and Washington, mixing in frenzied calls to and from Henry Kissinger, shouting matches on Chris Matthews' Hardball (Buckley and Matthews are close friends), the firing by a Taiwanese shrimp boat on Chinese gunboats, schemes to inter the sure-enough dead Dalai Lama in either Arlington National Cemetery or in a satellite permanently hovering 150 miles above Lhasa (to spite the Chinese for refusing to allow "the Lotus" to be buried anywhere in land controlled by the PRC), Civil War battle re-enactments (Bird's feckless brother Bewks wears the uniform of a Confederate soldier and brags of being a "living historian" of the War Between The States), and even a furious equestrienne (Bird's beautiful but bitchy wife Myndi, who knows all about her husband's bedroom dalliances with the sexually insatiable Angel).

The false plot to do in the Dalai Lama almost comes true (yet he spoils things by dying on his own), World War III looms in the immediate future, everything and everybody seems doomed . . . but the author, near the end, agilely averts all of this by tying up the many storylines far too neatly. With a final silly joke or two, he merely steps aside.

Too bad. Some disappointed former Buckley fans, including me, might not have the energy or patience to come back to him for the next book.


Here, to borrow fittingly from The Wizard of Oz, is "a horse of a different color." Larson's White City is an astonishingly exciting read from beginning to end. No wonder it has been a continuing best-seller since its publication in 2003.

Larson brilliantly shows in his marvelous historical recreation just how the 1893 Colombian Exposition, a spectacular achievement principally crafted by architect Daniel Burnham, in effect gave birth to modern America.

In creating the "White City," Burnham and his all-star team of fellow architects - Frederick Law Olmstead, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, et al - turned grimy Chicago into an electrified thing of beauty; before long, the incredibly ugly and stinking "Black City" of bloody streets, rotting animals, and deep darkness would evolve into a shining exemplar for other cities to follow.

Miraculously, Burnham and Olmstead (the father of American landscape architecture), in particular, did the seemingly impossible by one-upping Paris and Gustave Eiffel, whose 1889 Exposition Universelle had awed the entire planet only four years earlier.

Over a six-month period, millions of White City visitors would marvel at the sheer size of the gargantuan all-white structures (the most important of these, and the portal through which most people would enter the Fair, being the Administration Building, which was topped by a dome higher than that of the U.S. Capitol) and gape at the future as it was unfolding before their eyes.

Alternating current was invented to make massive electrification possible for the first time anywhere. The bicycles and buggies that brought tourists through sludge and muck to the Fair would soon be replaced by clean streets and motorized traffic.

Paved thoroughfares would supplant mudholes and offal, and the metropolis would emerge as a beautiful collectivity of increasingly towering buildings made dramatic by the inventive wonders of Edison and Tesla.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show would give birth to show business itself. Gail Ferris's great 264-foot-high wheel would, with the midway below it, make way for all circuses and fairs yet to come; successor Ferris Wheels have since anchored every fair, large or small, everywhere and one, The London Eye, is now among the biggest tourist attractions in the great British Capital currently gearing up to host the Olympic Games.

Beyond mass electrification and beautiful urban buildings, the Fair also pioneered in giving us parks for strolling and admiring nature; shredded wheat; cracker-jacks; belly dancer Little Egypt; Disneyland and Disney World (Walt's Magic Kingdoms were direct descendants of the White City built, in part, by his father Elias); the Emerald City of Oz was inspired by author L. Frank Baum's awe of the Fair's grandeur which he saw in person; the idolization of the American West; a right-angle turn in American architecture with grungy Chicago quickly moving ahead of everyone else, including arch-rival New York (a major goal of Burnham was to give the Big-Shouldered City some badly-needed respect and bragging rights) - all these things and countless more were brought to us by this stunning achievement, the Columbian Exposition, and the people who created it and who were inspired by it.

This was the birth of the Twentieth Century and a harbinger of what was to come, good and bad, including two horrifying world wars started by the Germans and fueled by Krupp's mighty guns, one of which was the scariest, most ominous exhibit at the Fair. Here was emerging the modern world at its best . . . and at its worst.

Mass war was not the only evil looming on the horizon beyond the drained Chicago swamp on the shore of Lake Michigan. In the midst of all the Exposition's wonderment, crime in America would, ironically, also take a nasty leap ahead with the arrival of our first mass murderer, Dr. H.H. Holmes - whose given name, Herman Webster Mudgett, was jettisoned in his young adulthood for a more glamorous handle.

Utterly sadistic and totally amoral, Dr. Holmes used the Fair to entrap single young girls into his lair, a gloomy nearby hotel where he slaughtered his many victims, flayed them, burned them in his basement oven, and then sold their skeletons for big money. Larson describes Holmes' MO this way:

Holmes did not kill face to face, as Jack the Ripper [his hero] had done, gorging himself on warmth and viscera, but he did like proximity. He liked being near enough to hear the approach of death in the rising panic of his victims. This was when his quest for possession entered its most satisfying phase. The vault deadened most of the cries and pounding, but not all. When the hotel was full of guests, he settled for more silent means. He filled a room with gas and let the guest expire in her sleep, or he crept in with his passkey and pressed a chloroform-soaked rag to her face. The choice was his, a measure of his power.

A handsome, exceptionally smooth charmer, the doctor (his degree was legitimate) seduced most of his naive victims with surprising ease. As the slaughter increased, public outcries for its stoppage led to a national manhunt and his eventual capture, trial, and execution by hanging.

Throughout this belabored process, Holmes wallowed in his escalating national celebrity - cutting out every newspaper article he could find about himself (there were thousands) and pasting them into scrapbooks- - and continued his charming ways, winning over even many of his jailers.

He even gave elaborate directions on how he - the "most dangerous man in the world," in the words of D.A. George Graham- - should be buried.

In the end, Holmes' boasts of being the devil himself went largely unchallenged. He was interred in an unmarked grave in Holy Cross Cemetery, just outside Philadelphia. By his own admission, the evil doctor slaughtered at least 27 people, though that figure, like most things about him, has long been subject to challenge.

All this creativity and carnage are vividly displayed by Larson, whose dramatis personae range from Henry Adams and P.T. Barnum, through Clarence Darrow, Elihu Root and Teddy Roosevelt, to Woodrow Wilson and Frank Lloyd Wright. Larson, in a dazzling feat of management and wordsmithing, somehow gets it all down in exceptionally entertaining fashion. Let's hope that Leonardo DiCaprio, who purchased the rights to the book,will do as well with his planned movie.


Previously in Bob's Books:
* Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy

* The Last Boy Of Summer

* Melville, Elvis And Baseball


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 PM | Permalink

Dear White Sox: My Bad

I need to accept a chunk of the responsibility for the Sox's five-game slide last week.

Being out of town in California for a few days, I figured my absence would be a good thing. I'd be away from the TV, separated from the drama of the (former) division leaders.

I tend to fear the worst when it comes to close games. I'm not necessarily a negative person, but having watched this team for a long time, there have been more heartbreaks than elixirs. My thinking was that the Sox would have a better chance in Boston and Detroit without me screwing things up.

Years ago this would have been easy. Leave town and you're out of range of the play-by-play of the games on radio and television. (You understand where this is going.)

Of course, technology today makes us accessible everywhere. Call a friend on his or her cell phone, and your pal could be standing in the street out front or in Wasilla. There's no way to know. We're so reachable.

I made an honest effort beginning Monday to not continually check my phone for the score in Boston. But how could I abandon the Sox when Dylan Axelrod was defying the odds in a 1-1 tie in the late innings? Against my better judgment I found a sports bar just in time for Leyson Septimo to walk two batters leading off the eighth. And then, BOOM!, Adrian Gonzalez parked one over the Monster.

I could have spat an oath at Septimo, but he did retire Jacoby Ellsbury on one pitch an inning earlier with a man on. I certainly might have questioned why Robin Ventura didn't bring in veteran Matt Thornton to start the eighth. But I would have been misplacing the blame. If only I had stayed away. My bad.

I'll return later to Tuesday; just know that by mid-week my addiction had kicked in with a vengeance. Thursday's heartbreaker in Boston was my sickest moment.

Following the game on MLB's Gameday, you'd have thought I had tickets next to the dugout. No sound, no video - okay, I checked the highlights as soon as they were posted - just this lame simulation that charts each pitch as if I care whether it's a fastball or curve, the speed, or the Nasty Factor, whatever that is. (I have to admit that all other data are helpful and informative.)

Jose Quintana was sailing along in fine fashion with a 1-0 lead - anyone notice the Sox haven't been hitting? - until three singles loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. That's when I should have walked away.

Puhleeze. My eyes were glued to the laptop. I tried to get a picture in my head of Q, getting the sign, checking the runners and delivering the pitch. My mind worked even faster than Quintana, he of the get it-throw it variety. Then there was a longer pause. Thank heaven for those little blood pressure pills. When Alexei Ramirez turned Will Middlebrooks' tricky grounder into a double play, I erupted. You can't beat fun at the old computer!

I figured my involvement wasn't hurting the team, so I couldn't quit now. Ventura lifted Quintana after 103 pitches over eight innings. The rookie skipper took some heat for that one, but he is consistent. This was the fourth time this season that Quintana's work ended after eight, and the Sox had won two of those previous three games. He's thrown as many as 113 pitches this season but never has he started the ninth inning.

Of course, you know the rest. Thornton got an out sandwiched between two hits. Both came with two strikes on the hitter, so no one could blame me for thinking Matt was going to get the job done.

When Addison Reed entered to face Cody Ross, I still felt confident enough to stick around. The first two pitches were relayed to Gameday in a timely fashion, but when there was an unlikely pause for what turned out to be the game's final action, my body tensed up. I can't quite explain the reaction as I saw "HOME RUN" splashed across the banner at the top of my screen. Was I dreaming? Could there be a mistake? How about a computer malfunction?

No, this was real. Or as real as it gets when one is following the Sox from afar. I stumbled away from my chair, questioning Ventura's decision to take out Quintana, asking how Boston - without Big Papi - could have done this to our guys, and already worrying about the next three games in Motown.

But the truth quickly stabbed me. If only I had taken time off. Done something else. Read about the game later. The Sox would have held on. I was to blame.

My 33-year-old son relishes in telling me that I watch too much sports on TV. I'm too invested in the teams I follow, he says. Usually it is my generation that chastises the younger folks for burying their heads in media, but we've flip-flopped on this one. I frequently do ask myself, "So what if the Sox get beat? It's not going to affect me. Why should I care?"

Then something happens like the little kid - he can't be more than six or seven - on YouTube who's crying because Brent Lillibridge was traded. If he gets that upset about parting ways with the marginal Lilli, then I surely have cause to feel the emptiness of the team's current failures.

The weekend was more of the same. Our friend Jill visited from San Diego, and she tricked me. Seems that Jill and her husband Steve have the MLB subscription so that they can watch the Brewers - her team - and his Yankees via computer. Since I had an HDMI cord handy, she soon had Verlander vs. Peavy up and running on the television.

It is very important and meaningful to note that before this technology took hold, I wasn't watching anything, and Alejandro De Aza must have known it. Why else would he have put the Sox ahead 2-0 with his third-inning homer. Moments later Jill announced, "Look, I've got it," and, needless to say, the Tigers scored three times.

I said I'd get back to Tuesday, the last time the White Sox were triumphant. I went to the movies that evening. I can highly recommend Jack Black's outstanding performance in Bernie. Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Walking out of the theater, I checked the Sox score on my phone to see that they had a 7-2 lead. Smiling and feeling a sense of security, I slipped the phone back into my pocket and went out to dinner. Long after the last pitch,I learned that the final was 7-5.

Now that's the way to watch a ballgame.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Last week's conditions will still apply this week - on a very tight deadline for a fairly intensive freelance assignment. Posting will be sporadic, but I will try - and I will try to do better than I did Thursday and Friday when I didn't get much of anything up on the site.

Today, we have some sports offerings to start you off:

* Jim Casey, Cubs Roadie. A retired Greyhound bus driver who didn't mind logging long hours following his beloved minor league Cubs teams through the sticks to watch the kids he hoped would one day deliver the big team a World Series win is drawing his last breaths, even as the organization that never seemed to love their young 'uns as much as he did finally starts to build from the ground up. In The Cub Factor.

* It's Tackle And It's Real: Chicago's Female Football Team That Doesn't Wear Lingerie While Playing Is Undefeated And Advancing To Its Super Bowl.

* How bad was that weekend of baseball? In SportsMonday.

* The White Sox Report will be posted later this morning is up and now we know who's to blame.

The Weekend Desk Report
The Weekend Desk doesn't take 2 1/2 months to not skate away from our problems.

Market Update
It seems not every initial public offering is warmly received.

Fighting Flight
A group of researchers has used the Xbox Kinect to study a cannibalistic swarm of locusts. And by "study a cannibalistic swarm of locusts," we mean play Skyrim.

Walled Mart
Speaking of cannibalistic swarms, it seems Walmart's controversial competitive practices have become so aggressive it's now putting itself out of business.

Permanent Vacation
You know who else is enjoying his time away from politics? Humanity.

Choice Cuts
Maybe we should let Gar Forman and Rodney Erickson switch places for the next 72 hours. It'd make Mark Emmert's life easier, since the Bulls got the death penalty for next season a while ago.

Open Bar
Finally this week, proof that beer really does make life better.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Locusty.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Forty years after its release, David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars gets the Classic Album Dissection treatment. And later in the show, Jim and Greg review the much-anticipated debut by R&B star Frank Ocean."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.



A semi-biographical play that explores the constructed borders between American and Arab.

Saturday, July 21 at 5:45 p.m. on CAN TV19
15 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Pilsen Neighbors Community Council


Members of the community council look ahead to the family-friendly 2012 Fiesta del Sol festival, which takes place July 26 through July 28 in Pilsen.

Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


19th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Competition


Audience votes determine the winner of this poetry reading contest featuring performances by local artists.

Saturday, July 21 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Privatization, Sale of Infrastructure and the Inherent Dangers of the Investment Trust


This community forum explores the potential impact of an Infrastructure Trust in Chicago and whether it amounts to a "privatization" of public goods like roads, schools and bridges.

Sunday, July 22 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Climate Change and Public Health Plan for Cook County


Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Dr. James Galloway speaks at an event focused on a new climate change and public health plan for Cook County that was created by Northwestern students and the Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Sunday, July 22 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Deferment of the DREAM Act


A panel of experts explains the options available to young undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in light of the federal DREAM Act's failure to pass in the U.S. Congress.

Sunday, July 22 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Karl Johnson at St. Margaret's


Local jazz trio make the piano, bass and drum sing in the halls of St. Margaret's Episcopal church.

Sunday, July 22 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Streak Freaks

How bad was that weekend of baseball?

Perhaps the haters (mostly White Sox fans but certainly some Cub backers as well) can console themselves with the idea that "at least the Cubs/White Sox were getting their asses kicked at the same time . . ." but for most Windy City baseball fans, that was just a brutal three days.

We can try meditation, repeating to ourselves "It is a looong season. It is a looong season" as a mantra for awhile, and it is certainly the case that baseball teams are going to have bad stretches no matter what (heck, the Yankees lost their fourth straight to the A's on Sunday, which was cold comfort to no small number of haters). The key is to make them as short as possible.

The White Sox are on the verge of letting this one get out of hand.

The Cubs' season essentially ended earlier this year when they just couldn't get a terrible losing streak stopped. They eventually dropped 12 consecutive games and that ensured that even when they played well later in the season, like winning 14 of 19 leading into the weekend in St. Louis, they were still looking up (several stories/games) at fourth place in the NL Central.

You could argue that the White Sox saved their season a month ago or so when they went through a bad stretch in which they lost five series in a row but prevented a sweep each time, i.e., limited the damage. When they turned it back around it wasn't long before the South Siders were riding high again.

Two of my favorite baseball maxims are "Momentum is the next day's starting pitcher" and "You can't lose a shutout." And both of them come into play when it is time to bust out of a slump.

I first heard Don Zimmer utter the second line (I think he got it from Jim Frey) and it is one of the absolute truths of baseball that if the pitching is good enough, the losing streak will end quickly.

Just look at the White Sox last week. Their best chance for a win would have stopped this five-game losing streak before it became two when Jose Quintana tossed eight innings of shutout ball at the Red Sox on Thursday. A measly one run was going to be good enough for the victory . . . until Cody Ross hit a game-winning homer for the Red Sox in the ninth.

One other thing right here - most post-game analysts talked about the White Sox bullpen blowing that game. Excuse me but the hitters scored one run! The hitters and the bullpen blew the game.

And then of course there is the "momentum . . . " line. The guy who had the best chance to be the starting pitcher who turned the momentum around was Jake Peavy. There he was with that brief little 2-0 lead on Friday and the happy possibilities were abundant. But he couldn't make it stand up (hopefully Peavy isn't going to be one of those "just good enough to lose" guys down the stretch of this season).


It wasn't just that the White Sox pitchers gave up big runs day after day against the Tigers, it was that they gave them up at the worst possible times. Three times the White Sox took leads, once in each game in Detroit, and three times the Tigers rallied for a runs of their own in the next half inning (!) to reassert command.


As for the offense, how much longer can Robin Ventura keep Adam Dunn (.204 BA) in the No. 3 spot in the order?

I know his power numbers are great and he draws plenty of walks but teams need good batting average guys in that spot because they need hits (and not just walks) to drive in the on-base guys in the first two spots.

I know they don't want to put Alex Rios in there because then you have four straight right-handed hitters to start things off, so how about moving lefty hitter A.J. Pierzynski into the three-hole?

At least he is keeping his batting average up above .280, and he has had great pop this summer (16 homers - more than Paul Konerko or Rios).


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

He Loved The Cubs

At times this column turns personal. And really, isn't that why we follow sports, and especially the Cubs? It's the personal connection. And I'm not even talking about Ron Santo. This week another lifelong fan of the Cubs, my father-in-law Jim Casey, will be passing on without seeing them win a World Series.

What makes Jim different than your garden-variety Cub fan was that he was a minor league guy to the core. The Tennessee Smokies, the Iowa Cubs, the Peoria Chiefs, he went everywhere. Even saw them on the road. As a retired Greyhound bus driver, he had no problem logging the long miles needed to literally follow his Cubs wherever they played.

And he loved the kids; always said how this guy and that guy was a good player and was going to be good. He wasn't often right, but, well, we all know that the Cubs haven't yielded much from the farm system in the last, well, forever. But he still went and still believed in the kids.

And in pure Cub fan fashion, just when the Cubs as an organization are prioritizing their farm system, the guy who valued that over everything else is not going to be here to witness it, let alone a World Series.

The timing seems even more weird as Theo and boys try to bolster the farm system as the trading deadline approaches. It's really in the process of happening and Jim isn't going to be here. Or we at least think it's in the process of happening. We believe that help will be on the way, just like Jim Casey always did.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 for the week, taking two of three from the Marlins before getting swept by the Cardinals. It's about time they lost a few games; I was beginning to think they were actually good.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh for three with the Pirates, then come home for three more with the Cardinals. But the real action will be on the trading front.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started every game this week at second again. Darwin had five hits, one walk, and a few good plays in the field - including this spectacular play.

I'm still not sold on this guy at the plate, but he makes play after play in the field and makes the game worth watching, and that means somethig. Which is just like the ghost of Jim Hendry would have wanted.

In former second basemen news, DJ LeMahieu has been shuffling back and forth between the majors and Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies this season. DJ last spun double plays for the Cubs in 2011. He was part of the Ian Stewart trade, and he is missed.

Crazy Corners Nothing to see here. Luis Valbuena continues to play third and not hit and The Riz shouldn't be getting a day off until 2027.

Weekly Bunting Report: Tony Campana got a couple pinch-hitting opportunities this week and he bunted on one. He was out, but he bunted. He walked in his other at-bat. So 100% of this balls in play this week were bunts.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z got knocked around in Pittsburgh this week and has lost five of his last six decisions. This means Big Z is Getting Angry. He also ducked out of pitching at Wrigley, which made us Angry.



Endorsement No-Brainer: The Cardinals for eggs. Because they scored a dozen runs in one inning against the Cubs. Look at that box score.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of class traded lower this week while the Marlins and Ozzie Guillen were in town.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 68% Emotional. Dale doesn't move the meter this week due to getting swept in St. Louis after winning the Marlins series. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is Not All There.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale got a little big for his britches. Literally. So he had to get bigger britches.

Over/Under: The number of mentions Andrew McCutcheon gets about being the MVP this week: +/- he deserves more.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir hasn't played much this week. Seems like some kind of Japanese hassle, or he could be hurt, or on holiday or something, but probably a hassle.

Beachwood Sabermetrics:A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Pirates are finally decent.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Stars On Thin Ice.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:43 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2012

It's Tackle And It's Real: Chicago's Female Football Team That Doesn't Wear Lingerie While Playing Is Undefeated And Advancing To Its Super Bowl

The undefeated Chicago Force eked out a spine-tingling 35-34 win over the Boston Militia on Saturday night at Lazier Field in Evanston, advancing to the Women's Football Alliance championship for the second time in team history.

The Force will face the equally undefeated San Diego Surge on Saturday, August 4, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in the title tilt. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

"It's huge for us," said quarterback Sami Grisafe after completing 14-of-16 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown against the Militia. "We haven't been to the championship since 2008. There's a stigma that we don't have what it takes to finish. We showed that we do today."

Chicago earned a trip to Pittsburgh despite a scoreless second half that saw the Militia bounce back from a 35-14 deficit.

Boston's Whitney Zelee (11 carries, 143 yards) scored on a two-yard run to cut the lead to 35-34 with 1:57 left.

All the Militia needed to do was kick the extra point to send the game into overtime, but Danielle Resha missed the PAT by kicking the football under the crossbar to seal
the victory for the Force.


Chicago ran out of the clock after a 28-yard run by Melissa Smith.

"It's a game of inches," said Smith. "It worked out for us."

Resha is "probably the best kicker in the league," said Militia coach Derrick Beasley. "I wouldn't trade her for the world."

The Militia showed why they have won two consecutive championships by opening the game with an impressive 62-yard drive ending in a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

The Force roared back, though, with its best half of the season to roll up a 35-14 lead.

Grisafe threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Trish Harper to tie the score (PAT by co-owner Tricia Charbonneau).

The Force then capitalized on a Militia turnover and two failed fourth-down gambits, as Smith racked up 163 yards en route to four touchdowns, including a 14-year scamper with 7:28 left in the first half to put her team up 28-14 and then a three-yard run with four seconds left until the intermission for the 35-14 lead.


Boston quarterback Allison Cahill completed six passes in the second half to help rally her team. Zelee scored twice including her two-yard run late that seemed like it was going to push the game into an extra session.

Boston beat Chicago last season 50-23 en route to their second title.

"It's surreal right now," said Smith, who notched a remarkable 33 touchdowns this season after taking four years off. "I came back and didn't know what to expect."

"I feel happy to win," said Force head coach John Konecki said. "We just beat a very good team."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:56 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk doesn't take 2 1/2 months to not skate away from our problems.

Market Update
It seems not every initial public offering is warmly received.

Fighting Flight
A group of researchers has used the Xbox Kinect to study a cannibalistic swarm of locusts. And by "study a cannibalistic swarm of locusts," we mean play Skyrim.

Walled Mart
Speaking of cannibalistic swarms, it seems Walmart's controversial competitive practices have become so aggressive it's now putting itself out of business.

Permanent Vacation
You know who else is enjoying his time away from politics? Humanity.

Choice Cuts
Maybe we should let Gar Forman and Rodney Erickson switch places for the next 72 hours. It'd make Mark Emmert's life easier, since the Bulls got the death penalty for next season a while ago.

Open Bar
Finally this week, proof that beer really does make life better.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Locusty.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Forty years after its release, David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars gets the Classic Album Dissection treatment. And later in the show, Jim and Greg review the much-anticipated debut by R&B star Frank Ocean."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.



A semi-biographical play that explores the constructed borders between American and Arab.

Saturday, July 21 at 5:45 p.m. on CAN TV19
15 min


Perspectivas Latinas: Pilsen Neighbors Community Council


Members of the community council look ahead to the family-friendly 2012 Fiesta del Sol festival, which takes place July 26 through July 28 in Pilsen.

Saturday, July 21 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


19th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Competition


Audience votes determine the winner of this poetry reading contest featuring performances by local artists.

Saturday, July 21 at 9:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Privatization, Sale of Infrastructure and the Inherent Dangers of the Investment Trust


This community forum explores the potential impact of an Infrastructure Trust in Chicago and whether it amounts to a "privatization" of public goods like roads, schools and bridges.

Sunday, July 22 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr


Climate Change and Public Health Plan for Cook County


Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Dr. James Galloway speaks at an event focused on a new climate change and public health plan for Cook County that was created by Northwestern students and the Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Sunday, July 22 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


Deferment of the DREAM Act


A panel of experts explains the options available to young undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in light of the federal DREAM Act's failure to pass in the U.S. Congress.

Sunday, July 22 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Karl Johnson at St. Margaret's


Local jazz trio make the piano, bass and drum sing in the halls of St. Margaret's Episcopal church.

Sunday, July 22 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:20 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2012

The [Friday] Papers


The [Thursday] Papers
I'm working on a project with a tight deadline so posting the rest of this week may be sporadic - I may try to sprinkle posts onto the site during the evenings and over the weekend, so please, dear readers, be patient and adjust accordingly.

We do have a new Beer Thinker from our man on beer, Dan O'Shea: Summer Brew.

And check out these rig rundowns from Premiere Guitar, poached from YouTube, featuring Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith, and Roger Waters' guitar tech, filmed behind the scenes at Wrigley Field before The Wall show.

A lot more in the hopper so close to postable I can taste the pixels. Stay tuned, y'all.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Ditto.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

I'm working on a project with a tight deadline so posting the rest of this week may be sporadic - I may try to sprinkle posts onto the site during the evenings and over the weekend, so please, dear readers, be patient and adjust accordingly.

We do have a new Beer Thinker from our man on beer, Dan O'Shea: Summer Brew.

And check out these rig rundowns from Premiere Guitar, poached from YouTube, featuring Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith, and Roger Waters' guitar tech, filmed behind the scenes at Wrigley Field before The Wall show.

A lot more in the hopper so close to postable I can taste the pixels. Stay tuned, y'all.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

Rig Rundown: Roger Waters, G.E. Smith & Dave Kilminster

Gear report from backstage before the Roger Waters show at Wrigley Field, featuring Dave Kilminster, G.E. Smith, and Waters' guitar tech.

1. Killer.


2. Smith, who tends to call his guitars "killer."


3. Waters tech dude, who is a bit of a buzz kill.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2012

The Beer Thinker: Summer Brew

Summer has been too hot, and it's time for cooler, foamier heads to prevail. Thursday night I'm heading to my local cooling station in Lincoln Square, only this one will by outside in the fading sunlight. Impossible, you say? Not when I'll be sampling a variety of cool beers from the many Midwestern craft breweries participating in the first Summer Brew.

Remember Winter Brew? Well, Summer Brew, sponsored by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, is its warm-weather cousin. It's also the opening night event for this weekend's Square Roots Festival In Lincoln Square, an event we have been hearing for months will feature an array of craft beers.

I'll let Josh Noel detail the full Summer Brew beer menu, but I can tell one of the featured brews I'm most interested in trying is Founders Frangelic Mountain Brown. It integrates three of my favorite things: beer, coffee and hazelnuts (Seriously, I'm a sucker for anything hazelnut).

FBM should be an interesting departure from the crisp kolsch beers or citrusy wheats that are some of my summer standards. Seasonal brews are a hallmark of the craft beer universe, though there also has been a lot of debate about whether breweries and distributors are pushing seasonals out too early for the seasons they celebrate. I've also heard some craft beer folks complain that seasonality in craft beer is a marketing creation and unnecessary - all styles and all good beers should been enjoyed at all times.

Still, production breweries have their limits. They can't produce everything they want to year-round, and observing the calendar is an obvious way to plan and manage different styles and recipes. Also, it's hard to argue the concept of limited edition seasonals when beers like those in Goose Island Farmers Market Series are one possible result.

All I know is that I usually like to drink something dark, rich and heavy when it's cold outside, and something crisp, tart or citrusy when it's warm. At Summer Brew, though, I'll make a few exceptions.

Some recent craft beer headlines:

* Girls Like Beer Too has the latest on still more new craft breweries opening in Chicago.

* Beer Pulse has more Twitter thoughts from Lagunitas founder Tony Magee on the company's Chicago brewery plans.

* Chicagoist says Colorado favorite Oskar Blues Brewery will start distributing in Chicago next month.


Previously in The Beer Thinker:
* Tapping Lincoln Square
* Size Matters
* Lagunitas Changes Everything
* Make Beer, Not War
* Collaboration Brewing


Dan O'Shea is The Beer Thinker. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:27 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The evidence that three companies gave more than $3,500 in gifts to a city worker included thank-you e-mails, expense reports and personal admissions of gift-giving, but the agency that enforces Chicago government ethics found too little proof to punish the firms in question," the Tribune reports.

"The case was part of the latest quarterly report issued Tuesday by City Hall's top internal watchdog.

"The former employee, who worked in the since-disbanded Office of Compliance, accepted sporting event tickets and meals from three companies whose contracts the employee managed, according to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. 'Despite abundant evidence to the contrary,' the city Board of Ethics concluded there was insufficient evidence that the companies provided the gifts or the employee accepted them to impose fines, Ferguson wrote."


Welcome to Chicago, where our ethics board is merely ironic.


Sources say they drink PBR at their meetings and wear I ♥ NY t-shirts.


Board members weren't available for for comment; they were too busy running from their own shadows.


Our ethics leader.


He makes $125,532 a year.


UPDATE 11:17 P.M.: It occurs to me that Mr. Berlin may just administrate; here are the board members. Investigating further.


From the inspector general's report:

An IGO investigation found that a former employee in the Office of Compliance, who had already been terminated for other reasons, accepted over $3,500 in gifts, including tickets to sporting events and meals from three City vendors over whom he/she had contract management authority, in violation of the City's Ethics Ordinance.

In the course of the investigation, one of the vendors provided false and misleading responses to an IGO subpoena.

The IGO recommended that the former employee be placed on the ineligible for rehire list.

The IGO also recommended that the three City vendors be placed on deferred debarment for a period of two years and assessed fines for violating the City Ethics Ordinance.

The IGO further recommended that four individual partners of the City vendors be permanently debarred from conducting future business with the City.

Lastly, the IGO recommended that the Board of Ethics impose fines on the former employee and the vendors for violations of the City's Ethics Ordinance.

The Office of Compliance agreed with the IGO's recommendation and the former employee was placed on the ineligible for rehire list.

DPS sent the four individuals Notices of Proposed Permanent Debarment and the three firms Notices of Proposed Deferred Debarment for a period of two years as a first step in the process to solicit a response from the contractors.

However, DPS ultimately settled with all parties short of debarment.

One firm, who had provided the least valuable of the gifts but who had initially provided false and misleading responses to the IGO, was ordered to undergo training from the Board of Ethics and to attend DPS workshops for certified firms.

The second firm, which provided the most valuable gifts, entered into a deferred debarment agreement and also agreed to permanently remove the subject partner from City of Chicago engagements.

The third firm also entered into a deferred debarment agreement and agreed that the subject partner will always be supervised on City engagements.

The Board of Ethics found the IGO's recommendations to be "insufficient to warrant a Board decision to assess fines . . . thus, it will not impose any sanctions in this matter."

Specifically, Ethics found that there was not an itemized list of specific incidents of improper gift giving, and as such, could not impose fines for gift-giving without "speculating as to which and how many offenses were actually committed, and, in effect, inferring its own conclusions from the factual record presented in the (IGO) Report."

Further, the Board found that, despite the IGO having secured (i) multiple e-mails between the vendors and the former employee repeatedly discussing the offer and receipt of gifts for specific events on specific dates, including thank-you notes and similar correspondence after the events, (ii) official expense reports reimbursement records and accounting records from the vendors showing the purchase of gifts for the former employee for specific events on specific dates at specific costs, (iii) vendors' admissions in IGO interviews of repeatedly giving specific gifts to the former employee, (iv) internal vendor e-mails that discuss providing the former employee with specific gifts on specific dates for a specific cost, and (v) the former employee admitting to IGO investigators that he/she had repeatedly received gifts from the vendors, the Board had no evidence of "either a vendor actually gave the item or service, or, that (the former employee) actually accepted it."

Except that a) everyone seems to have agreed it happened and b) as we learned in the Blagojevich trial, it only takes an offer to be illegal, not a consummated act. And thank-you notes seem to indicate a consummated act.


This is small-time stuff, to be sure, but if the ethics board can't bring down the hammer on this, how can anyone expect it to be of any consequence on the big stuff - involving big people? If the office is just going to be feckless, window-dressing - as designed - then just get rid of it and save us some money.


Final irony: The ($3.6 million) Office of Compliance was created by Richard M. Daley "to get around an inspector general who had embarrassed him."

Rahm disbanded the office, but this case was still working its way through Ferguson's system.

"A campaign treasurer for a former state senator, two Cook County corrections officers and four others were snared in an undercover FBI sting in which they paid kickbacks in the hope of securing thousands of dollars in federal grants, according to federal charges unsealed Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

The campaign treasurer is Dean Nichols; he worked for Rickey Hendon, who recounted slating him for a seat on the water reclamation board in his book Backstabbers.


Mark Brown provides the context to what otherwise seems like another low-level deal:

"The flamboyant former state senator and alderman ­- who styled himself as one of the most accessible and quotable public officials in Chicago for more than two decades - has steadfastly maintained radio silence for nearly a year and a half now since his abrupt resignation.

"He doesn't call. He doesn't write. The cell phone number that many reporters kept on speed dial has been disconnected. And nobody can remember the last time they saw him at Wallace's Catfish Corner, one of his favorite West Side haunts.

"But Hendon's fingerprints turned up all over a federal criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, where seven people - most of them with some connection to his political organization - were charged with paying kickbacks to a make-believe federal official in exchange for $25,000 government grants.

"While Hendon is not named in the complaint, among the defendants are his former campaign treasurer, Dean Nichols, of Oak Park, and three others who had been paid for doing work for his campaign committee - Reggi Hopkins, Regina Hollie and Anthony Johnson, all of Chicago. Another defendant, Elliott Kozel, had been a small-time Hendon campaign contributor.

"The criminal complaint goes out of its way to mention that Nichols was the treasurer for a campaign committee for a former Illinois state senator, which is how the U.S. attorney's office blows a kiss to somebody like Hendon to make sure he knows they're still thinking about him.

"They also mention that the nephew of this former state senator has drawn their attention. The complaint says that the senator, clearly meaning Hendon, insisted that his nephew get cut in on two grants totaling $210,000 that he helped Hopkins obtain in 2007 and 2008."

Click through to read the rest, I've pinched more than enough.

Stars On Thin Ice
Patience has its limits. In Fantasy Fix.

Chicagoetry: Red Wing, Yellow Sin
Sargent Blackbird at Navy Pier.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Birds and words.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Red Wing, Yellow Sin

Red Wing, Yellow Sin

A red-winged blackbird
landed at my picnic table
at Navy Pier

opening a great lake
in my turbulent mind.
Yes: my mind landed
on this picnic table at Navy Pier
for a cig break

between shifts.
This is how it is: Sargent Blackbird
with red and yellow stripes,
black eyes, burnt feet

straight out the top of an old god's head.
Coal black, sin yellow, rose red.
I wanted to become a blackbird

and not go back to work,
never go back to work. Lord have mercy.
I was green

with Blackbird Envy.
I begrudged him his nascent oblivion,
his life of seeds, berries, stray cats
and cig butts.

"Yes," he seemed to suggest,
"Some day this war's gonna end." Amen.

Superlative little fucker
brought the Good News
straight from the bottom of an
old god's lake!

I dug his tao

and then I went back
to work.


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 7:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Stars On Thin Ice

One of the laws of fantasy baseball is that stars who are slumping eventually will bounce back to their robust historical averages - you just have to wait, and make sure you have a player on a streak to plug into your lineup in the meantime.

Having said that, patience has its limits, and if your fantasy team is in postseason contention, the second half of the baseball season is no time to waste a roster spot on a slumping star.

I'm not talking about guys like Matt Kemp, OF, LAD; Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, BOS; or Evan Longoria, 3B, TAM; who have spent much of the first half injured and actually could rebound with a vengeance in the second half. I mean guys like Justin Upton, OF, ARI, who failed to get a hit in Wrigley Field last weekend.

Here's my list of stars skating on thin ice (You'll probably recognize a few of these names from my "Stars and Gripes" column a couple weeks ago):

Justin Upton, OF, ARI: We should be talking about him as a 30/100/30 threat, but seven HRs and 38 RBIs qualify as a lost season, and there's an ongoing mystery about a lingering injury. He's still young and does have trade value, especially in a keeper league. I'd try to find a buyer before letting him go, but too many outfielders are having better seasons.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC: Expected to be a sophomore stud, but instead has a case of the sophomore stumbles. He has great long-term potential, and even with soft hitting stats he's a stolen base threat at a position that doesn't have many, but I'd cut bait with Hosmer and try to draft him next year.

Carlos Santana, C/1B, CLE: Arguably the biggest fantasy disappoint at any position, Santana has no HRs and a total of one RBI in the last 30 days. Locally, there is talk the Indians will send him down to the minors to send him a message. You shouldn't wait that long. If you're holding Santana as a back-up catcher, dump him and go get someone like Salvador Perez, KC, or Yasmani Grandal, SD.

Mike Napoli, C/1B, TEX: With Santana's problems and Napoli's deflation to 12 HRs and a .225 average after last year's 30/.320, the top two catchers have been huge disappointments. Napoli does have more trade value, but assuming you have benched him anyway, cut him loose for whomever has the most HRs on your league's waiver wire.

Jose Reyes, SS, MIA: This is a little bit of a tough call. He's roughly on pace for his 2011 stats with one exception - his average now is .264, compared to last year's .339. If you really need the SBs, you'll want to keep him and his 20 thefts, but if you need pop in other categories, you might look at Trevor Plouffe, SS, MIN-19 HRs; Kyle Seager, 2B/3B/SS-54 RBI; or Alcides Escobar, SS, KC-.311 average.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report advises on what to do with the injured Joey Votto. (Hint: Get someone else to play first base.)

* notes how many injured stars are returning imminently.

* ESPN, meanwhile, says Votto isn't headed to the DL. The circle of life continues.

* Full Spectrum Baseball ponders about what to do about Tim Lincecum, otherwise known as the worst pitcher in baseball. I almost put him on my cut list, but I like his 108 strikeouts in 104 innings, and think he'll be at least less bad in the second half.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:30 AM | Permalink

July 17, 2012

The [Tuesday] Papers

Clown state, bro.

1. The ultimate bureaucratic bungle:

Dead so ineligible for services.

Including the service of investigating the cause of your death.

2. Failed Broadway Bank's Money Wasted On Internet Poker, Drugs.

Well, I wouldn't say wasted, but yeah, not good.

3. I know some of you are waiting for me to weigh in on the Journatic saga; the main point I want to make beyond reiterating the obvious fact that the organization is ethically bankrupt is how it's apologists misunderstand what reporting actually is by trying to sell the notion that the mundane aspects can be outsourced so reporters can be freed up - if you believe the propaganda - to do more enterprise work. Only people who have never been real reporters or worked in real newsrooms would fail to understand how important the drudgery of a reporter's daily tasks is to enterprise reporting; that's what reporting is, and where the best ideas germinate.

But my piece isn't quite ready yet. Hell, I still have a Chicago News Cooperative post on the make, among other media pieces (I support the Sun-Times decision to stop endorsing candidates!) that have yet to see the light of day. I can't do it all and right now I've got a couple outside assignments that require maximum focus, so as frustrating as it is to me, everyone will just have to be patient - or send money to make things a little easier.

4. "Over the last 22 years, during which 125 of the 140 teams in the five largest U.S. professional sports leagues have built or refurbished home stadiums - most using public subsidies - evidence shows the facilities rarely, if ever, live up to their 'measurable economic boost' billing," Danny Ecker writes for Crain's.

That's what the data shows. Study after study after study. But what's a few hundred million dollars of taxpayer money between friends?


"The Wrigley Field rehab is a case that Chicago-based SportsCorp Ltd. President Marc Ganis calls 'unlike any other situation in the nation' because of Wrigley's status as a privately held asset that has a measurable effect on tourism . . .

"'No other facility is as important an economic engine,' Mr. Ganis says of the 98-year-old stadium's role in the North Side neighborhood. According to the Cubs, about 30 percent of ticket sales come from outside Chicago."

Doesn't that really cut against public subsidies? The privately held asset is doing good for all of us just the way things are - and the Ricketts are already investing a sliver of their fortune to wring even more revenue out of the ballpark and the neighborhood. Aren't they the last people who need a public subsidy?


Joe Ricketts is one of the 500 most wealthiest individuals in America.

5. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday proclaimed his shrunken and revamped Taste of Chicago a success and said he plans to do more of the same next year," the Sun-Times reports.

"It's one of the best-attended we ever had," Rahm said.


"Overall, attendance was 1.2 million or an average of 240,000 for each of the five days. That's up 5,000-a-day from last year's draw of 2.35 million over 10 days, which was down 11 percent from 2010 and 37.5 percent from the event's 2006 and 2007 heyday."

So, no.


Also, please see: Marc Schulman, the president of The Eli's Cheesecake Company, comments on my Taste of Chicago item in yesterday's column.

6. The city "relocated" 17,000 vehicles last year, the Tribune reports.

"For many reasons, the city moves vehicles at any time of day, often with little or no notice, and afterward makes no attempt to contact the cars' owners."

I have known this nightmare more than once - before my (beloved) car was actually stolen for reals - and I'm still pissed.

7. "The University of Illinois will offer seven free online courses this fall, giving students around the world a chance to sample an education that costs thousands of dollars in tuition on campus," the Tribune reports.

"The courses won't count toward a degree, however."

They will, however, count toward a job at Journatic.

8. Headline of a Sun-Times story I refuse to read and won't even link to: "Margot Pritzker Has Idea For Curbing Summer Violence."

9. A blues museum for Block 37?

Not so sure about that, but we hear these ideas are still in the mix.

10. Obama Meets With Jerry Springer.

"I abhor your trash TV but will defend to the death my right to take campaign contributions derived from its earnings."


For the third year in a row, Obama skipped the NAACP convention and he will also skip next week's international AIDS conference.

11. More on this Crain's piece on Toni Preckwinkle that I mentioned in yesterday's column:

She seems to actually enjoy her job, attacking problems and forging consensus. Todd Stroger didn't seem to like the job at all, which could explain why he spent so much time at the East Bank Club. Preckwinkle says she's planning to run for re-election and, unlike with Stroger, it's not because she doesn't have anything better to do; it's because she wants to continue reshaping the county's operations.

Again, that's not to say there aren't blemishes on her record; there are.

Preckwinkle also doesn't seem to have much patience for the inane questions reporters often ask - or questions that demonstrate their lack of knowledge about the subject at hand. I enjoy this. At the same time, though, Preckwinkle's prickliness in this area sometimes crosses the line into an arrogance and impatience surprising for a former high school teacher.

True, competence is a low bar. Joe Berrios got the tax bills out on time! But this is Illinois, and she's not a clown in a state filled with them.


For example, back to Crain's:

"Yet: Mr. Stroger isn't impressed. 'She's fired some people who had outstanding records to replace them with 28-year-olds who never have done a thing except come from the University of Chicago and read a book,' he says."

And then he squirted water out of his lapel.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Clowny.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

July 16, 2012

The [Monday] Papers

The big local news story over the weekend was the Sun-Times's investigation into the millions of dollars the city is paying to cops on disability leave - some managing to hold down other jobs. I haven't had time to dig into it, but you can get started on the multi-story package here.

Today, the paper comes back with "10 Days In The Police Academy, 14 Years On Disability."

A Taste of Taste
"An estimated 1.2 million people visited this year's shorter, revamped Taste of Chicago this year gobbling up 17,600 slices of Lou Malnati's pizza, 30,000 Original Rainbow ice-cream cones and 4,000 pounds of Vee Vee's jerk chicken, city officials said Sunday," the Sun-Times reports.

"The five-day Taste drew mixed reviews from patrons and restaurant owners, some of whom noted smaller crowds but steady sales.

"In 2011, the event drew 2.35 million patrons over 10 days. Last year's attendance was down 10 percent from 2010 and more than a 30 percent lower than the record 3.6 million in 2006 and 2007."

Oy. Why make me do the math?

According to my calculations, this year's Taste drew 5,000 more folks on average per day than last year's - a surprise given that this year's Taste is such a slimmed-down affair (without the turkey legs, no less).

But fewer days means fewer sales for vendors, period.

"According to the 2011 sales totals for the Taste, Eli's sold 50,000 slices of cheesecake compared to about 18,000 this year, officials said."

So the lead of this story isn't very impressive.


"[Rib guru Charlie] Robinson said the five-day run meant he could save in food and labor costs."

Um, yeah. Labor costs will be down if you only have to pay your crew for five days' work instead of 10. And guess what? Sales will be down too. And unless you are operating at a loss, that means profits will be down too.


The media (and some of the vendors) seem intent on laying it on a bit thick. From the Tribune:

"We were up almost 20 percent going into (Sunday), even though it rained on two days," said Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, which has participated in 31 of the 32 Tastes. "I came out (to the Taste site) after Saturday's rain, and it was as busy as I've ever seen it. The crowd was more about food this year; people were out to eat and try things."

But in the Sun-Times article, a Malnati's district manager Mike Sterner said he noticed fewer crowds - and preferred the days of the 10-day fest.

"It's a tradition for us, and I think it's sad to see that tradition shrink," Sterner said.

And for a guy who used to sell 50,000 cheesecakes at the Taste, Eli's president Marc Schulman sounds a bit hollow saying "2012 has turned out pretty well for us" given that he only sold 18,000 this year.

This isn't to blame anyone; let's face it, the economy has been in the toilet for the last three Tastes now, and no reconfiguring is going to change that. I just don't need talking points about the bulk of items sold or vendors saying how well they think they did. There's the fun - sort of - side of Taste and the economic side, and maybe the twain shall not meet. Or at least it shall meet very carefully.


From Eli's President Marc Schulman:

Saw the column in the Beachwood Reporter about our Taste numbers. Those slices sales didn't include part of the last day . . . so yes it was far better than last year on a per day of sales. For us five days worked pretty well and Saturday was extremely busy even with the rain. Best wishes.

Summer School
"Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union this week are both expected to reject an arbitrator's long-awaited fact-finding report, which recommends a double-digit salary hike that both sides agree could force teacher layoffs and larger class sizes, according to sources close to the negotiations," the Tribune reports.

"The arbitrator is expected to recommend that teacher salaries be increased 15 to 20 percent in the contract's first year, based largely on the longer school day that begins in the fall, sources said."


A) The arbitrator thinks the union was right in demanding more pay for a longer school day - and that Rahm was wrong.

B) The arbitrator thinks teachers deserve raises far more substantial than the 2 percent offered by City Hall, even if it's not the 30 percent the union has asked for but acknowledged is essentially an opening bargaining position.

In other words, score this a win for the union even if they're rejecting the findings too, for reasons not immediately clear.

Still, the arbitrator seems to have drawn a conclusion independent of economic reality or consequence.

"The recommended raises would be devastating to a district poised to deplete its cash reserves to close an expected $665 million deficit next school year. The district also faces hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher pension payments that will come due in 2014."

Schnizzard of Oz
Ozzie Guillen talks to his valet about how the Chicago media that protected him all these is actually pretty crappy in his estimation.

The Pitchfork Papers
* Lady Gaga Kicks It With Kendrick.

* Pitchfork TV. All Pitchfork, all the time.

* The Weekend in Chicago Rock. Pitchfork plus.

Crook County
"Federal prosecutors charged a former acting director of a Cook County job-training program with ordering birth certificates and Selective Service documents to be forged so the county could get money for a summer jobs program for young people," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Defendant Brendolyn Hart-Glover, 42, was acting director of the Cook County President's Office of Employment Training (POET) during 2009-2010, a Department of Labor investigator said in an affidavit attached to the indictment.

"POET received $5.67 million in federal grants for its summer youth job program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."


"POET has been a feeding ground for corruption investigators in recent years," the Tribune reports.

"In 2008 county prosecutors charged three POET officials and five others with stealing $1.6 million in loans and federal money intended for training for the disadvantaged.

"Under then-County Board President Todd Stroger, the program lost millions of dollars in federal funding meant to train thousands of workers because it spent money inappropriately or failed to spend it before deadlines, according to state officials.

"The office was overhauled by Stroger's successor, Toni Preckwinkle, after her election in 2010, and Hart-Glover and six other employees were suspended after an internal probe uncovered wrongdoing, Preckwinkle's office said."

Preckwinkle exudes competence though her allegiance to Joe Berrios is but one of several chinks in her armor; still, wouldn't you rather see her as the mayor or governor than the current inhabitants?


From today's Crain's:

"While not afraid to make tough decisions, [Preckwinkle] favors an efficient, low-profile style that's in distinct contrast to the new occupant of the Chicago mayor's office."

Maybe because it's not all about her.


"Last year, Hart-Glover told the Chicago Sun-Times that she didn't do anything wrong," WBEZ recalls.

"In 2009, her sister-in-law, Shirley Glover, a former fiscal manager of the same office, pleaded guilty to embezzling over a hundred thousand dollars."

Obama's Rendition
Worse than Bush.

Child's Play
The Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden.

Memo To Theo
Can The Clearance Sale. In Jim Coffman's SportsMonday.

Memo To Cubs Fans
Shit's About To Get Real. In The Cub Factor.

Baseball Brother
From the same mother. In The White Sox Report.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Motherly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

The Grunsfeld Children's Growing Garden

A campus for shorties.


See more on the garden from Little Lake County.


* Designing The Children's Campus
* Teaching The Next Generation
* Official site.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Can The Clearance Sale

Let's be clear on something: the Cubs brass has a year (this year) to make major progress on the big fix (and I propose "The Big Fix" as the official name for the great Cubs rebuilding project of 2012 - we're certainly going with it around here until further notice).

I was listening to sports radio silliness yesterday during which time it was posited that it doesn't matter who the starting pitchers are for the Cubs next year because The Big Fix can't just take one year, it must take several.

Puh-lease, although the Ricketts family would love for Cubs fans to buy into that notion. That way they can continue to slash the payroll and pile up the cheap prospects while raking in huge revenues during the next year plus.

The whole idea that the Cubs need to absolutely clear the decks for some sort of historically good young player class of 2014 or '15 is ridiculous. Baseball teams win with combinations of parts. They win with veterans and young players. And no one ever really knows what a successful combination will be because no one knows who is going to have a better-than-average season and who will be a bust or who will stay healthy and who will get hurt.

All a general manager can do is try to improve the odds. Perhaps the best way to do that is to increase depth. And that is actually what the Cubs are trying to do. They are trying to set it up so that when veteran major leaguers run out of gas for their team in the next year or two they have positioned a young player or two to step into the breach. And sometimes they have to employ stop-gap measures like David DeJesus to get them through the transition.

Now a general manager can also increase the odds that his team will stay healthy by employing a younger roster. But it better not be too young because of course just about every successful team needs the steadying hand of at least a few grizzled vets.
I would imagine the folks saying it doesn't matter who pitches for the Cubs in 2013 are also people who said before the season that the White Sox were definitely finishing in last in the AL Central. And the South Siders could clearly still fall well out of first place (especially if things like Gavin Floyd's injury keep happening). But they ain't falling all the way into last.

It turns out the White Sox had much better starting pitching depth than people thought. And they have ridden it - and a resurgent, mostly veteran lineup - to success so far.

This doesn't mean that the Cubs shouldn't trade Ryan Dempster. As I explained last week, they should. And I suppose if the deal is right a trade of Matt Garza makes sense too. Then again, my perception of the "deal being right" for a late-20s potential ace (getting multiple quality prospects in return) is seemingly different than that of the folks who want the Cubs to conduct an absolute clearance sale.

One final reason why just clearing the decks for 2014 or '15 doesn't make any sense: You can't have all of your best players on the same compensation schedule. Baseball teams on successful, multi-season runs always have some players making big, veteran dollars and some earning the minimum. Some teams have better ratios (the Tampa Bay Rays) than others (the Boston Red Sox).

Of course there are also some teams that just keep paying their way out of mistakes (the New York Yankees) and given how much the Cubs take in in revenues each year, you can argue they should be one of those teams most of the time. In fact, they can start in 2013.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

ProPublica: The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

When Barack Obama took office, he banned torture, shut down the CIA's network of black-site prisons and pledged to close Guantanamo. But exactly where terror suspects should go continues to be a legal and political challenge for the administration. So we've rounded up some of the best reporting on rendition and detention under Obama. Got others? Add them in the comments.

Why Obama Hasn't Closed Guantanamo Camps, Foreign Affairs, January 2012: Miami Herald Guantanamo reporter Carol Rosenberg analyzes the combination of political, security and bureaucratic obstacles that have thwarted Obama's plans to shut down the prison. ProPublica has also covered the dilemma of indefinite detention at Guantanamo.

Terror Suspect Secretly Held for Two Months, Los Angeles Times, July 2011: Ahmed Warsame was the first known terror suspect to be held by the Obama administration outside the legal system, on a Navy ship. Administration officials said Warsame was interrogated "humanely" and not by the CIA. Wired's "Danger Room" confirmed the ship where Warsame was held, calling it the administration's floating alternative to Guantanamo.

Iraq and Afghanistan

Secret Prison Revealed in Baghdad, Los Angeles Times, April 2010: In a secret prison in Baghdad, hundreds of Sunnis were allegedly held and tortured under the jurisdiction of Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki's military office. About a year later, a second secret prison was uncovered in the Green Zone, raising concerns about human rights abuses as the U.S. diminishes its role in Iraq.

U.S. Had Advance Warning of Abuse at Afghan Prisons, Officials Say, Washington Post, October 2011: Were CIA officials aware of torture inside Afghan prisons prior to a United Nations investigation? This piece explores whether U.S. officials failed to act on early evidence of detainee abuse at facilities run by an Afghan intelligence force funded by the U.S.

2 Afghans Allege Abuse at U.S. Site, Washington Post, and Afghans Detail Detention in 'Black Jail' at U.S. Base, New York Times, November 2009: Some of the first revelations about a U.S. Joint Special Operations Command secret jail at Bagram Air Force Base emerged from these interviews with Afghans who said they had been held for months, and in some cases beaten. A few months later, the Red Cross confirmed the site to the BBC, but the U.S. continued to deny its existence.

Afghanistan Secret Prisons Confirmed by U.S., The Associated Press, April 2011: The Pentagon confirms a network of secret "temporary" detention centers in Afghanistan, but former detainees claim they were held weeks at a time. The AP also reports new details about JSOC's secret jail at Bagram, where, according to human rights groups, detainees were forced to strip naked and kept in solitary confinement in windowless cells.

Detainees Are Handed Over to Afghans, but Not Out of Americans' Reach, New York Times, May 2012: As detainees are transferred from Bagram to new, nominally Afghan-controlled prisons, Americans still have de facto control over their fate, as "no detainee can be released unless the Afghans consult with the Americans and consider their views favorably."

Reports of Proxy Detention, Mother Jones, The Nation, and The New York Times: Several individuals who were detained overseas and held by local security forces under harsh conditions allege U.S. officials were complicit in their arrests. This April, Mother Jones wrote about a Muslim-American man who claims he was interrogated and beaten by local police in the United Arab Emirates. He claims the questions were "eerily similar" to those asked by American officials when he was earlier interrogated in Sudan. In March 2010, The Nation chronicled the experience of a Lebanese man and naturalized U.S. citizen questioned by U.A.E. officials in the suspected presence of an American interrogator. In January 2011, the New York Times reported on a Somali-American teenager who claims he was held in a Kuwaiti detention cell and interrogated about contacts with terrorist suspects in Yemen. He said he was visited by American officials while in detention. In each case, the U.S. has declined comment.

The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia, The Nation, July 2011: This report describes a secret CIA counterterrorism training facility and an underground prison in Mogadishu. While the prison is run by the Somali National Security Agency, former prisoners and Somali officials say the CIA regularly conducts interrogations there and keeps local intelligence workers on the payroll.

Somalia's Prisons: the War on Terror's Latest Front, Daily Beast, June 2012: The U.S. acknowledged it has a military presence in Somalia just last month. The warden at an overcrowded Somali prison says the Americans have sent him sixteen prisoners since 2009. A Pentagon spokesman says only that the U.S. has handed prisoners "back over to where they came from."


Previously: The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 AM | Permalink

Pitchfork TV

All Pitchfork, all the time.

1. Friday: Lower Dens (33:16); The Olivia Tremor Control (1:12:15); A$AP Rocky (2:05:44); Big Krit (3:03:55); Dirty Projectors (4:01:53).


2. Saturday: Psychic Paramount (4:36); Cloud Nothings (54:54); Atlas Sound (1:28:20); Cults (2:36:40); Wild Flag (3:48:00); Hot Chip (5:55:26).


3. Sunday: Dirty Beaches; Unknown Mortal Orchestra; Ty Segall; Real Estate; Chavez; AraabMuzik; Vampire Weekend (not time-coded as of this posting; starts with a bunch of other stuff).


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:19 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Grimes at Pitchfork on Saturday night.


2. Vampire Weekend at Pitchfork on Sunday night.


3. Dirty Projectors at Pitchfork on Friday.


4. Cloud Nothings at Pitchfork on Saturday.


5. The Psychic Paramount at Pitchfork on Saturday.


6. Sublime on Northerly Island on Thursday night.


7. Cults at Pitchfork on Saturday.


8. Chaka Khan at Taste of Chicago on Saturday.


9. Sleigh Bells at PItchfork on Saturday.


10. Chromatics at Pitchfork on Saturday.

And at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.


11. The The Atlas Moth at Pitchfork on Saturday.


12. Feist at Pitchfork on Friday night.


13. Lynyrd Skynyrd at LoopFest on Friday night at the soccer stadium in Bridgeview.


14. Loverboy at LoopFest on Friday.


15. Unknown Hinson at Reggie's on Friday night.


16. Michael Franti & Spearhead at Taste of Chicago on Friday.


17. Purity Ring at Pitchfork on Friday.


18. Olivia Tremor Control at Pitchfork on Friday.


19. Rhymefest at The Shrine on Thursday night.


20. Cockney Rejects at Reggie's on Thursday night.


21. Wild Flag at Pitchfork on Saturday.


22. Johnny J Blair at Reggie's on Saturday night.


See also: Pitchfork TV.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:10 AM | Permalink

Shit's About To Get Real At Wrigley

In true Cubs fashion, the team is about to sell off just about anybody they can short of Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo now that they've won 12 of their last 16 games. Does any franchise work in reverse as well as the Cubs?

It's about to get a lot worse for this team, just as they are performing their best.


Consider this team without Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, Bryan LaHair, Reed Johnson, Carlos Marmol and Shawn Camp. Sure, we'd like to see some of these guys (Soriano, Marmol) gone as much as the next guy, but unless the Cubs get major league-ready prospects in return, they're gonna be fielding a team with, what, some combination of Casey Coleman, Chris Volstad and Randy Wells in the rotation? Will we actually be seeing more of Jeff Baker if he isn't packaged up and sent off? Luis Valbuena batting clean-up?

I get the plan, and I'm mostly behind it, but it's just so Cub to see the current conglomeration play like champs just ahead of a trade deadline that will probably result in a major league roster even worse than the one we started with this season.

The Iowa Cubs, on the other hand, are gonna kick ass.

The Week in Review: The Cubs swept the Diamondbacks 8-1, 4-1 and 3-1. So, diminishing returns.

The Week in Preview: Ozzie Guillen brings his Marlins in for three but word has it that the Cubs will miss Carlos Zambrano's spot in the rotation, which really sucks. Apparently Ozzie wants the meltdown spotlight all to himself. The Cubs then travel to St. Louis for a three-game weekend set.

The Second Basemen Report Darwin Barney is not only the first permanent second baseman the Cubs have had in recent memory, he's now being talked up by the Cubs family as a Gold Glove candidate. He's also been asked about by other teams, most aggressively (we think) by the Detroit Tigers. And he still doesn't grind enough to Theo's satisfaction, so there's still hope that this report isn't on its way to extinction.

In former second basemen news, Ryne Sandberg has the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in first place again in the International League's North division. He is missed.

Crazy Corners: After more than a year and a dozen MRIs, Ian Stewart finally had surgery to remove part of a bone from the wrist that's been holding him back, meaning he'll be really good for some other team next year. Luis Valbuena won't. Oh, and Rizzo.

The Weekly Bunting Report: Bunting will return after the Great Cubs Sell-Off, when Tony Campana and a bunch of other guys who can't hit fill out the lineup.

The Zam Bomb: We were hoping Big Z would explode on the mound at Wrigley this week and we could close the chapter on The Zam Bomb, seeing as how he is no longer a Cub. We'll have to settle for some type of clubhouse incident instead.


Similarly, we've been tracking Mount Oz due primarily - okay, only - because of his new association with Z. After all, Lou Piniella is long gone and Dizzy Dale isn't really an explosive type. Maybe we'll start a Theo Study Bomb measuring how hard Theo is studying each week. That's where we're at, folks.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Ryan Dempster for I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Lesbians are selling higher but there is turmoil in the Harry Caray Impersonation market.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 68% Emotional. Sveum's stats don't move this week due to the All-Star break followed by Jeff Baker getting a start in right-field against another left-hander Bryan LaHair wasn't allowed to see. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is Not All There.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale knows that it wasn't anything he did that got the air conditioner turned back on but he's not gonna just come out and say it, and if the family wants to believe that his tinkering made a difference, so be it.

Over/Under: The number of Cubs on the major league roster today who won't be on August 1: +/- 5.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Before there was Bryan LaHR, there was Micah Hoffpauir. But he was hassled by Hendry and now plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters, whose mascot is Cubby Bear. Oh well, it's better than giving up at-bats to future teammate Jeff Baker. Hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that shit's about to get real.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Stars And Gripes.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:11 AM | Permalink

Baseball Brother

He may not have realized it at the time, but my brother John created the model for the Excel spreadsheet almost 30 years before Microsoft unveiled it. All because of the White Sox.

The season was 1959, and because "it just needed to be done," Brother John began keeping day-to-day statistics - both hitting and pitching - for the eventual American League champions. For all 154 games, he began in the upper left hand corner of a clean sheet of notebook paper with Aparicio and Arias, ending with Torgeson and Wynn. IBM engineers may have begun experimenting with a copying machine, but it took them another ten years to market one. So John spent a part of each day re-creating his spreadsheet. Ask him today to recite the entire '59 roster, especially after a couple glasses of wine, and he'll give it to you in alphabetical order.

This compulsive behavior may have raised questions for mom and dad, but no shrink was consulted. Left to his own devices, John repeated the feat for the 1960 campaign.

Therefore, it probably will come as little surprise that my brother, who wrote a master's thesis on baseball and the antitrust laws, found employment in the game in 1969 - as a minor league executive. He began in Indianapolis, and over the next dozen years he stopped in Cedar Rapids, Wichita, Tulsa, New Orleans, and Springfield, Illinois, where he's lived for the past 30 years. When he had a chance to get back into the business in 1998, John became the general manager of an independent league ballclub in Springfield for another four seasons.

Bull Durham's Annie Savoy said, "I believe in the Church of Baseball," and that pretty much summarizes my brother's passion. Annie had lots of stories. So does John, including a few he'd like to forget.

For example, as the 28-year-old general manager of the Single-A Cedar Rapids Cardinals of the Midwest League, John leaned toward hiring a company which offered mass phone solicitations to sell tickets. His board of directors didn't share his enthusiasm for this boiler room operation.

"They didn't want to bother the people," he recalls. "They thought it was not right, and they were the bosses."

Our dad, who was a career salesman, advised John to back off. "Dad said you're going to get fired if you go ahead and do it," John says. "But I did, and I was."

Undaunted, he got back into the game after interviewing with Wichita Aeros GM Joe Ryan, a veteran of minor league front offices. Included on Ryan's resume was a stint as business manager of the Miami Marlins in the mid-50s when Bill Veeck owned the club.
The Aeros were the Triple-A farm of the Indians, boasting a lineup that included future stars Chris Chambliss and Buddy Bell, the current vice president of player development for the White Sox.

Ryan's lessons were simple. "The most important thing was to get the signature [for ticket sales and/or advertising] and get out," John says. "Once you get the signature on a contract, nothing better could happen. And keep your mouth shut, that was another good one. Don't talk too much."

I met Joe Ryan a few times, and he lined me up with great seats for the 1983 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park. When Ryan succeeded pitching great Allie Reynolds as president of the American Association, John moved up to become general manager of the Aeros.

That's when he began learning some new lessons. One concerned the clubhouse, a place he generally avoided.

"There were 25 of them and only one of me," he says. "No player ever volunteered to give me anything, but lots of them asked me for stuff. We had an infielder who asked me for some bats, and I said, 'Well, give me your broken ones.' That was the deal because otherwise they'd just take the bats and give them to kids or to girlfriends for sex and stuff like that. You'd never see [the bats] again.

"He about killed me. 'I make my living with that bat,' he said. 'I need bats.' Actually he could have had all the bats in the world, but he still couldn't hit."

Another guy who couldn't hit was Tony LaRussa, who played in Wichita in 1973 and later in New Orleans where John landed in 1977. Tony played parts of 15 seasons in the minors with a .265 average, but he hit just .199 in a brief major league career.

What kind of player was LaRussa? "Horrible," John says. "He couldn't run. He had those what I call Boccabella legs. He was a second baseman, and he just could not move."

In Tony's last season as a player in New Orleans, he was a marginal player. "He was like a Triple-A stabilizer," John recalls. "He would always ask me, 'John, have you heard anything?' He was talking about being released."

Was there any indication that LaRussa would go on to be third winningest manager in history? "I thought he might be [a manager] just because of his tenacity, his intelligence, and the fact that he was a decent human being. He treated me good. I liked him."

Two years after hanging on in New Orleans, Tony LaRussa was manager of the Sox at age 34.

Perhaps the most memorable character in my brother's baseball career was owner A. Ray Smith, a Texan who made his money in the construction business and later purchased the Tulsa Oilers. He hired John as business manager in 1975. I had lunch with Smith once, and every other sentence was filled with down-home, old-boy sayings that made those Hangover movies sound like Alice in Wonderland.

Smith tried to get the city leaders in Tulsa to build a new ballpark because the Oilers' stadium was a broken-down wood structure badly in need of repairs. One night a fan fell through the floorboards up to his armpits with his feet dangling below.

"I came into the office a few minutes later and he was in there with his pants down and his wife was swabbing his ass," John says "It was all scraped and bloody. His wife was taking care of him with a wet rag."

Being a far less litigious society in those days, no lawsuit was filed, but New Orleans wanted a big league club, and Mr. Smith's team was the next best thing. So with a decaying ballpark in Tulsa, he took his operation to The Big Easy, and they became the Pelicans for the '77 season. Drawing a few thousand - if that many- fans in the cavernous Superdome and paying exorbitant rent sent Smith looking for a new home after one season, and he settled on downstate Springfield. That was my brother's final (1978-81) stop as he and my sister-in-law Gracia felt that their three daughters needed more stability in their lives.

Before Smith relocated to Louisville, he was approached by a persistent clubhouse manager, Frank Coppenbarger, who worked for the Single-A Decatur Commodores but sought to move up to Triple-A Springfield.

"He wanted to be clubhouse manager," says John. "He kept calling and calling and calling, and one day he came by for an interview, but Smith was non-committal. Then one day - it was in February - there was a huge snowstorm. We were pretty much marooned in the office, and here comes Frank Coppenbarger from Decatur to see if he got that job. As he was walking in, [secretary] Alice Neighbors said, 'Mr. Smith, here comes that asshole from Decatur.' He just shook his head and hired him."

However, there are no seasonal jobs in minor league baseball. "To work full-time you couldn't just do a baseball job," explains John. "You had to be able to sell. He ended up being really good at that. Now he's an executive with the Phillies and has been for years. He's their travel secretary and clubhouse manager, and he's got a couple of World Series checks."

While my brother no longer works in baseball - he sells time for the NPR station in Springfield - he's maintained the contacts. Without them, there would have been no way that we could have sat behind home plate for the 2005 postseason at the Cell. Nor could he have invited me to the third game of the '04 World Series in St. Louis. As the Red Sox were en route to a sweep of the Cardinals on a cool, damp night in the old Busch Stadium, he turned to me and said, "I know this is the World Series, but I'd just as soon go to a Sox game in mid-July."

I thought about that for a moment. I thought about all the games, the ballparks, and the people he had encountered along the way. And I remembered him scribbling down those names and adding in the figures each day. It has always been about the Sox.
"Yeah, me too," I said.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:26 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

We were thinking there might be some actual news to report, but apparently the NCAA doesn't want to interfere with anyone's weekend.

Market Update
Don't worry, Jamie. We're all worth a little less this week.

Eat Your Yellows
What's the big deal? From the look of things it wasn't costing us much green anyway.

Hot Air Bubble
Too bad it won't be this hot in State College; it'd spare us further debate if the thing just melted.

Solid Footing
Tribune Company received a judicial thumbs up to begin the long process of emerging from financial bankruptcy this week. Journalistic bankruptcy might take a little longer.

Strong Suit
Wait, are we also allowed to sue for damaging our souls?

Faster, Higher, Broker
If it's any consolation to our brave athletes, we treat our brave soldiers just as poorly.

He Said It
And finally this week, duh.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Melty.


The Flying Saucer Brunch Report: The Andy Wrap is back!


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Singer Kelly Hogan visits the studio. A sought-after collaborator for the likes of Neko Case and Andrew Bird, Hogan's powerful voice shines through on her solo record, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain. Plus Jim and Greg review new releases from Emeli Sande and Hot Chip."


The Weekend Comics Report: Evil Squirrel moving into new HQ in fall.


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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.

Gil Scott-Heron: Passages, Interludes, Subtext N' Understandin'


This evening of music, poetry, and discussion reflects on the life and legacy of poet, musician, and activist Gil Scott-Heron.

Saturday, July 14 at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
3 hr


The Cost & Casualties of Silence in the Caribbean Community


This town hall meeting discusses the issue of HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean-American community, featuring keynote speaker David Robertson of the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Sunday, July 15 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 30 min


Leadership by Example Lecture Series: A Talk with Gayle Riedmann


Certified nurse midwife Gayle Riedmann shares her work on expanding safe childbirth options for women in Illinois, including establishing freestanding birth centers.

Sunday, July 15 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 30 min


Is There a Role for Progressive Education Today?


Leading education experts discuss the role of progressive education within the context of today's children, teachers, communities, and political climate.

Sunday, July 15 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
3 hr

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:13 AM | Permalink

Fiona Apple In Chicago

Tribune rock critic Greg Kot awarded Fiona Apple's new album 3.5 out of four stars in a review in which he called the recording "a raw, unsettling listen" filled with "jagged arrangements, lurching rhythms and off-kilter melodies" that lay out "tales of personal mayhem."

WBEZ music blogger Jim DeRogatis couldn't disagree more; on a recent edition of Sound Opinions he told Kot that listening to Apple was a "chore."

"You're so wrong," Kot replied.

So which is it?

Apple was in town last week at the Chicago Theatre; I've pulled some YouTube videos so you can judge for yourself - though obviously not all selections are from the new record. And if it makes any difference, here's what a couple others think.

Ryan Dombal, Pitchfork: "[T]he most distilled Fiona Apple album yet . . . Every single waveform is pierced with purpose." Nine out of ten stars.

Jeremy D. Larson, Consequence of Sound: "Apple's vocal violence is both hard to listen to and yet totally punk rock . . . succeeds in creating a singular world more daring than any of Apple's previous records and one of the most daring pop records in recent history." Four-and-half out of five stars.

Also, here's a much talked-about New York magazine feature/profile.

And now, Apple at the Chicago Theatre.

(One thing I will say about Kot's incredibly well-written - as usual - concert review: I'm not sure Fiona looks "fierce"; she looks anorexic, which is worrying when it comes to her. Only her voice seems physically strong.)


1. It's Only Make Believe (Conway Twitty covert)


2. Criminal.


3. Extraordinary Machine. (Security made christeph stop recording.)


4. Anything We Want.


5. Shadowboxer.


6. Carrion.


7. Werewolf.


8. Paper Bag.


9. Daredevil.


10. I Know.


11. On The Bound.


12. And here's a snippet from her Lincoln Hall performance in March.


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:

I didn't really give an opinion myself here because I haven't heard the new record. In fact, the only record of hers I do have (and have heard the whole way through) is Extraordinary Machine. It's a good record and the title track is, indeed, extraordinary. But DeRo makes a point in that sometimes listening to Apple can get tedious. She's immensely talented, intriguing and - at times - mesmerizing. But I wish she would learn to rock, and change up her palate a little more.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:43 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2012

The [Friday] Papers

"Moderate-to-severe drought conditions now exist in all of Illinois, according to a weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor," the State Journal-Register reports.

That would be the U.S. Drought Monitor

Apparently, because of the dry weather, corn didn't get pollinated.


And some crops have literally been cooked in the field.


A great crop when it went in is now withering away before our eyes.


We Are Illinois
"The University of Illinois handed out a $4.6 million contract to an architectural firm partially owned by the husband of a key administrator who oversees the planning of campus construction projects," the Tribune reports.

Well maybe that's just a coincidence and the firm is the best choice for the job.

"The school initially did so without asking for the blessing of a state oversight board that is supposed to review public contracts with potential conflicts of interest."


"The project in question involves renovations to the Urbana-Champaign campus's Natural History Building, where geology, biology and other classes are taught. The 120-year-old building is in such disrepair that half of it is closed, and the university considers it one of the campus's 'most critical priorities.'

"The university gave the architectural design contract to BLDD Architects, a central Illinois firm where Bruce Maxey is a principal who owns 8.9 percent of the company, records show. His wife, Jill Maxey, previously worked at BLDD and is now U. of I.'s associate director of planning. In that position, she works on the initial stages of construction projects. That includes helping draft the scope of the work, coordinating the vendor selection process and helping determine budgets."

Well maybe nobody else could handle the job.

"Bruce Maxey's firm won the initial contract over 33 others in 2010."


Well maybe their bid was obviously superior to the rest.

"BLDD scored just barely above the next two closest competitors."


Well I'm sure the Maxeys have a perfectly good explanation.

"Jill Maxey did not return a call for comment."

Well I'm sure university leaders can explain.

"[U]niversity officials responded to questions in writing."


"University officials said they thought they had procedures in place to avoid a conflict of interest and did not realize they needed to send the contract to the procurement board under the state's new rules."

So . . . they didn't do their homework?

"In addition, the university said it devised an internal 'firewall' to keep Jill Maxey out of decisions involving the contract or her husband's company."

Well there you have it.

"But during a May public hearing triggered by the procurement board's recommendation to void the contract, Jill Maxey's supervisor acknowledged that it was an informal wall, and there were 'a few slips,' according to a transcript. For example, Jill Maxey was copied on emails discussing the project's scope of work as BLDD's proposal was pending, the transcript said."

Oh for godsakes!

"While Jill Maxey said she did not participate in the selection process, she appointed her subordinate, Tony Battaglia, to the committee. Battaglia had his own potential conflicts: He plays in a band with BLDD employees and his brother-in-law works at the firm."

Lunch Bunch
And boy are their kids pissed!

21-Year-Old $102,817.90 Check Still Valid.

New And Unimproved
Rahm's Taste of Chicago.

Now And Then
Chicago 1941.

When Wrigley Last Hosted The All-Star Game . . .
. . . CBS took Chicago's historical ties to the extravaganza for a ride.

The Week In Chicago Rock
From Fiona to Fulks.

Angels, Devils & Drugs
Now with frogs. In TrackNotes.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Lickety-split.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:08 AM | Permalink

Chicago 1941

A slideshow created by bob60626 using photos from the Library of Congress' online collection. Accompanying text from The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago/Chicago Historical Society.

"The Great Depression was particularly severe in Chicago because of the city's reliance on manufacturing, the hardest hit sector nationally. Only 50 percent of the Chicagoans who had worked in the manufacturing sector in 1927 were still working there in 1933. African Americans and Mexicans were particularly hurt. By 1932, 40 to 50 percent of black workers in Chicago were unemployed. Many Mexicans returned, responding to incentives like the free transportation offered from Chicago, or to the more coercive measures in Gary, Indiana Harbor, and South Chicago. Nor were white-collar employees necessarily safe. By February 1933, public school teachers were owed eight-and-a-half months' back pay . . .

"By the early 1940s, war production orders had effectively ended the unemployment and deflation that had marked so much of the 1930s. The Great Depression, however, had left its mark. Like much of the nation, Depression-era Chicago experienced stark poverty and a reorientation toward the Democratic Party. Like much of the nation, too, Chicago neighborhoods lost such landmarks as mom-and-pop stores and low-wattage, independent radio stations. White ethnic identity, while not entirely disappearing, was reconfigured with the loss of these institutions and the growth of a mass labor movement. African Americans now looked to the Democratic Party and the national government in their battles against segregation and discrimination. Indeed, the Great Depression transformed the daily lives, economic expectations, and political loyalties of most Chicagoans. The debates and unrest it engendered continued to frame political and social movements for the next 50 years."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

When Wrigley Field Last Hosted The All-Star Game That A Tribune Sportswriter Invented

"This was the opening theme for CBS's coverage of the 1990 All-Star Game from Wrigley Field," Sportbuff99TV writes. "Greg Gumbel was the announcer."


Post-ironically, though, the first All-Star Game was held at Comiskey Park as part of the 1933 World's Fair - long before the Tribune Company bought and later sold the Cubs.

Wrigley also hosted the game in 1947 and 1962. Comiskey hosted the game in 1950 and 1983. The game returned to Chicago in 2003 at the Cell.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Fiona Apple at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.


2. Black Breath at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.


3. Rebecca and Fiona at Studio Paris on Wednesday night.


4. Johnny Clegg at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


5. Delta Rae at Schubas on Wednesday night.


6. Blitzen Trapper at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.


7. Third World at Washington Park on Sunday night.


8. Howard Jones at the Mayne Stage on Tuesday night.


9. Death Cab for Cutie at Taste of Chicago on Thursday.


10. Owl City at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.


11. Robbie Fulks and Sally Timms at the Hideout on Monday night.


12. Pepper on Northerly Island on Thursday.


13. Right Away, Great Captain! at Subterranean on Wednesday night.


14. Chris Pureka at Schubas on Wednesday night.


15. The Dear Hunter at Subterranean on Wednesday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

The New And Unimproved Taste Of Chicago

With a slimmed down Taste of Chicago winding up almost as fast as it got going, we sent our intrepid team downtown to see what Taste of Rahm's Chicago had to offer. Here's what they found.

* More realistic Chicago experience includes the Booth of Bile and the Eat Your Meal Before Your Meter Runs Out Booth.

* The Next booth serves food from the Taste of Chicago July 15, 1837. The turkey legs are served tartare.

* Bandshell headlined by the bucket boys. Buckets returned to KFC after performance.

* Eat Lead Booth sponsored by members of Chicago's gang community.

* Turkey legs replaced by (gluten-free) vegan leggings.

* Charter booths pick their own customers.

* Cubs booth serves bison burgers to fund search for Obama's birth certificate.

* Rahm fingers. Choose between Vitriol and Arrogance for your dipping sauce.

* University of Chicago Lab Booth. The only booth Rahm lets his kids eat at.

* The teacher dunk tank. Unfortunately, tickets are already sold out.

* Um, we can't get rid of the Asian Carp. Will you help us?

* Hey, everybody over to Tim McGivern's house!

* At the White Sox booth, Kenny Williams makes revenge and serves it cold.

* Downtown's TV theme song saxophone guy to open for Dierks Bentley.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:01 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Angels, Devils And Drugs

Do you ever get the feeling they're trying to take your sports away from you?

The very fabric of baseball is deeply woven with a monied laziness embodied by the pull-up, good-enough double or the touch-the-plate-very-slowly-with-your-tippy-toe (Oh, for a hidden ball here!) plays.

No less an authority than Phil Jackson calls the NBA hard to watch. NHL hockey has embraced such an absurdity of senseless violence that it's top stars are almost literally getting their heads knocked off. After years of reactionary, situational NFL legislation enforced inconsistently, a guy in a funny shirt checks under the hood and then tells us we did not see what we just saw. Never mind wagering on it.

Thoroughbred horse racing, for me, has come down to this. Do it. Don't do it. One on each shoulder.

Like bad body spray for twentysomethings, just because they make it doesn't mean guys have to wear it.

But the lords of racing, as arrogantly as the rest, depend on the idea that just because they send out the magnificent animals and provide the betting action, we will buy it.

I dig the action. Man, I really do. But I'm buying it less and less these days. Really, do I have to abandon my years of study and experience that help me identify a huge show pool, pound it, and have a profitable day as a result?

This latest Sybil moment started as I checked Saturday's stakes action and found that Arlington Park will be hosting Million Preview Day, featuring the American Derby, Arlington Handicap, Modesty Handicap, the Stars and Stripes and the Coach Jimi Lee Stakes.

As the name describes, it's the big prep card for Arlington Million Day come August 18, and the second biggest day of the Arlington season - racing-wise, not fireworks night. A real turf extravaganza right here and now, which would hold me in good stead as some of these same horses will run in the big races a month from now.

Does Arlington Park or the game itself deserve my money?

For example, the sadistic, racing-ignorant MBAs of Churchill Downs Inc. effectively emasculated the tradition and importance of Hawthorne's Illinois Derby by excluding it as an eligibility event from its new NASCAR-style point system that will determine who qualifies for the Kentucky Derby,

This is the same Illinois Derby which has produced recent Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem and Kentucky favorite Sweetnorthernsaint.

Organizationally, CDI and Arlington Park have made a higher priority of putting Hawthorne out of business (and crying for slots at the track) than providing quality racing. Arlington's annual gluttonous grab for racing dates and simulcast priority dates have made that clear.

"Churchill . . . looks petty by excluding the $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne entirely from this scheme," Daily Racing Form editor Steve Crist writes.

"The official explanation is that the race falls in April and thus would have to be a 100-point race under the rigid calendar-based system. More suspicious minds would say that it also has something to do with the fact that Churchill-owned Arlington Park just had a bitter Chicago-area dates dispute with Hawthorne and that stripping its crosstown rival's biggest race of any Derby-qualifying significance is payback."

Still, Dick Duchossois will use all of his benevolent powers to see that Hawthorne isn't harmed, if you believe an apologetic, ill-reported piece by Tribune veteran Neil Milbert.

With an odd no-quote, thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another tone, Milbert throws out a bone of hope: "Illinois Racing Board members are hoping Duchossois thus will exert his leverage as the biggest shareholder in Churchill Downs' parent company, do some arm-twisting and get the Illinois Derby on the qualifying list."

They are? Says who?

How long does the petulant Duchossois get to keep his kindly grandfather image?

* * *

Meanwhile, the saga of I'll Have Another, the Triple Crown hopeful who was scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes last month, continues to unfold.

A side benefit of the draconian restrictions put upon known cheat trainer Doug O'Neill was that thorough records of IHA's treatment in the days before the Belmont were kept.

The New York Times reports that I'll Have Another suffered from a number of ailments, including osteoarthritis, and was given a number of drugs as late as possible before the race. Normal and legal drugs, but if he's a gelding and not slated for high-priced stud duty, would they have made the same decision?

The horse turned three in April.

One thing jumped at me in the Times article, that being that despite anti-inflammatories, heat and swelling developed in a joint the day before the race.

"The fact that response was able to present itself in the face of those two powerful anti-inflammatories is just evidence that this was a very significant injury," said Dr. Sheila Lyons, the founder and director of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Naturally, the racing press accommodated industry veterinarians.

Pick a quote, any quote: "All of these treatments are perfectly normal routine care," said Kentucky-based racetrack veterinarian Dr. Foster Northrop. "All of these medications are used frequently and all are peer-approved treatments." Well, sure, they are normal in the circles you travel. That doesn't make them right.

Both O'Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam said they he didn't know I'll Have Another, who was sold to Japanese breeding interests for $10 million last week, was x-rayed soon after his win in the Preakness. Huh?

So square this: "'Your nerves are tested when you're a trainer because the horses are in your care,' said O'Neill, who prepared I'll Have Another for the Belmont with daily gallops in New York. 'I X-ray them routinely. We were coming up to the biggest race of his life, and I wanted to make sure that he was perfect.'" Yet he didn't know of the post-Preakness x-ray?

[Reddam said he knew about the x-ray but not about the diagnosis.]

So it's tough not to draw some of the same conclusions when we learned that yet another potential star, Belmont winner Union Rags, will be sidelined the remainder of the year after what his connections said was a minor tendon injury. How much you wanna bet he never races again?

* * *

Beyond the horizon, we see that some trainers have come up with yet another drug, a synthetic form of the pain killer dermorphin, the natural version of which is found on the backs of a certain South American frog species. Another challenge for any forces of good in a use-it-if-you-got-it culture. Maybe just race the frogs.

* * *

Speed figure guru Andrew Beyer also seems to have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.

In "U.S. No Longer Breeds Horses For The Belmont," Beyer writes in the Washington Post that horses today are bred for speed and not stamina, putting a big strain on their already fragile suspensions:

"As sales of 2-year-olds-in-training came into vogue, a youngster who could fly one-eighth of a mile in fast time would often be more valuable than one with the genes to win the Belmont Stakes."

Perhaps he hadn't had time to reflect when he initially dismissed concerns about I'll Have Another's scratch, essentially writing that, hey, these things happen:

"But the tendon injury that prompted the immediate retirement of I'll Have Another underscored the more banal truth: Thoroughbred racehorses are fragile and injuries to them are commonplace. They have been bred for three centuries to produce maximum speed and stamina by carrying a powerful body on spindly, delicate underpinnings. Their ankles, knees and legs are always vulnerable."

This is a mixed message and you can't have it both ways. Whenever I'm in doubt, I look at the thick, strong legs of Seabiscuit or Citation and compare them to pictures of today's horses. No wonder a kid racehorse has arthritis.

These are deeply embedded problems that linger, and not just in the back of your mind. If you're really going to get into it, and betting on horses with any success requires absolutely diving in, you know these things. You can't ignore them.

Do I go through the long day's rigmarole of jumping the train for Arlington? Do I stay and bet at home and deprive Arlington of my entrance fee and concession spending? There, take that! Or just not participate at all?

These two on my shoulders are getting mighty heavy, but one of them has to win out, if even just by a nose.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

The (sparse) announcement on Wednesday that Jesse Jackson Jr. is being treated for a mood disorder only furthered the notion that the congressman's camp is suffering from a credibility disorder.

"In keeping with the secrecy that has surrounded Jackson since his medical leave from Congress was announced, the office's statement came from a doctor who went unnamed, citing health privacy reasons," the Tribune reports.

That statement:

The congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

As the Tribune's John Kass writes:

"If the man is ill or troubled, most folks will be sympathetic. No one will pick on him or think less of him if he's ill. But that's not the problem. The problem is the awkward, unnecessary secrecy that feeds cynicism and rumors. And worse for the Jacksons, it makes them look ridiculous."


Speaking of looking ridiculous, apparently Roland Burris is still around.


But to reiterate, and I write this as well as a lifelong sufferer of a mood disorder called depression, which is nothing to joke about, although I've really never lost my sense of humor about it: Even the stinky media would have given Junior and his family the space (and respect) they should be accorded in a situation like this if the Jackson camp had just been straight from the start. That doesn't even mean revealing every last detail. The details can wait. It's the obfuscation and deception that have turned a delicate situation into an ugly feeding frenzy.

Actual Progress
Good news for a change!


Legislative tuition waivers cost the taxpayers more than $13 million. Last year. Just last year alone.

[NOTE: A faithful reader points out that even public universities aren't funded solely by taxpayer dollars, so this may not be an accurate accounting; it comes from]


And legislators went down kicking and screaming - most notably Senate President John Cullerton, but also House Speaker Michael Madigan. Consider:

"At least 40 students got some form of a tuition waiver this summer semester, according to records obtained by Illinois Watchdog through an Illinois Freedom of Information Act request. At least four lawmakers continued to hand out waivers while the legislation ending the program was being passed through the General Assembly, according to state records.

"State Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, gave out eight one-year tuition waivers this spring. Zalewski said he gave out waivers only when students approached his office."

You mean it was a walk-in service?

"[M]y view was that if we could accommodate someone and get them off to college, it was in the best interests of the students to do so," Zalewski said.


"Still, Zalewski voted in favor of ending the program."

I don't believe this program exists, but as along as it does I'm going to milk it for everything it's worth, Zalewski reportedly thought. And by reportedly I mean, what the hell was he thinking?

"In addition to Zalewski, state Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago, Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, and indicted Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, all gave out tuition waivers during the first half of 2012."

Yay, Chicago!

"At least one lawmaker is being investigated for how she distributed tuition waivers. The U.S. Attorney's office has started a criminal probe of Sen. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago."


"A 2009 Tribune analysis found that in the five prior years, lawmakers gave at least 140 scholarships to relatives of their campaign donors," the paper recalls. "Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, gave $32,000 in scholarships to a relative of a campaign contributor and circulator of petitions for the speaker's campaigns.

"The Tribune also found that lawmakers gave at least 87 free rides to relatives of people with other political ties, including three children of city of Chicago employees charged with corruption. And the paper uncovered how the scholarships came in handy when the University of Illinois became increasingly competitive and costly. University e-mails and a state report showed that some students were placed on secret clout lists after state lawmakers advocated for them and then admitted only after the university learned that they were to get a coveted General Assembly scholarship."

See also:
* The Scholarship Scam
* University of Madigan
* The University of Clout

Our Very Own (Child Abuse Enabler)
Reminder: Disgraced Penn State president Graham Spanier, cited in this morning's report for covering-up Jerry Sandusky's child abuse out of fear for bad publicity, grew up on the South Side and Highland Park, and earned his doctorate from Northwestern.

Rahm To Tourism Chief: Drop Dead!
Or, at least, STFU.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office swung into full damage-control mode Wednesday after Chicago's convention and tourism chief was quoted as saying that a 38 percent spike in the city's homicide rate and a troubling return to mob attacks downtown was hurting efforts to promote the city," the Sun-Times

"Don Welsh, president and CEO of Choose Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board that he's gotten five or six calls from meeting planners in recent weeks concerned about whether Chicago is still a safe place to hold their meetings.

"So far, nobody's cancelling any meetings just yet. But, that's a possibility if the Chicago Police Department does not get a quick handle on the problem, Welsh was quoted as saying.

"'We hope this sunsets quickly because all the good work we're doing regionally, nationally and internationally, if this is not contained in a reasonable period of time, it will have an impact,' the Tribune's website quoted Welsh as saying."

The website wasn't available for comment. But here's the article we're talking about.

"In a follow-up interview with the Chicago Sun-Times a short time later Wednesday, Welsh insisted that his remarks had been 'misinterpreted' and 'taken out of context.'"

When asked how, Welsh said "I don't know, ask Rahm!"

Nah, I just made that up. But I'm pretty sure it's the truth.

"Emanuel's communications director Sarah Hamilton said Welsh's earlier claim that crime and the perception of it is hurting tourism is 'simply false.'"

And that's just what we told Don!


The Beachwood Tip Line: Choosy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2012

Broadcasters Make Emergency Motion To Block Transparency Rule

The National Association of Broadcasters, an industry group representing television stations around the country, is asking a court to block the implementation of a new rule that will put political ad information online before it goes into effect next month.

The Federal Communications Commission announced last week that the rule will go into effect Aug. 2. It will require affiliates of the four major networks in the nation's top 50 markets to post on a new website data about who is buying political ads and how much they are paying, among other information. The data is expected to help shed light on dark money spending by outside groups as well as spending by campaigns. The information is already public but is only available on paper at stations.

In a motion filed Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the broadcasters' trade group said that if the new FCC rule goes into effect, broadcasters "will suffer irreparable harm . . . because the [rule] compels television stations to post the prices for specific advertisements to a public website immediately after the sales occur."

The motion also argues that the FCC has "engaged in arbitrary and capricious decision-making by disregarding the competitive harm that is likely to result."

The broadcasters have been fighting the new rule for the better part of a year, first mounting an aggressive lobbying effort before the FCC vote in April, then suing in May after the rule was passed, and now making an emergency request for a stay.

As we've previously noted, the commission is not requiring the files to be uploaded in a single format, which will make searching and analyzing the information a challenge.

The FCC said last week that it would "soon schedule user testing and educational webinars . . . to ensure that the uploading of materials by broadcasters can be conducted smoothly and efficiently."


* Here's The Political Ad Data Chicago TV Stations Won't Put Online

* Meet The Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

* FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won't Be Searchable

* Broadcasters Sue For Right To Hide Political Data

* New Political Ad Disclosure Rules Could Take Months

* Republicans Vote To Block Transparency On Political Ads

* Media Companies Make Yet Another Push To Defang Transparency Rule

* Republicans Back Down On Effort To Defund Transparency Rule

* Political Ad Transparency Rule Clears Another Hurdle


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Budget cuts that are often cited as a reason for failures by the state agency charged with protecting children have fallen disproportionately on front-line child abuse and neglect workers, a Tribune analysis has found," the paper reports.

"In examining staffing, spending and funding at the Department of Children and Family Services from 2006 to 2011, the Tribune found that the agency cut its investigators and caseworkers at a higher rate than administrative positions, such as accountants and human resources workers."

What's Wrong With Junior?
Now his camp is denying a suicide attempt. If he doesn't clear this up by the end of the week he'll have to fend off rumors of alien abduction.


The suicide rumor was reported by WLS-AM on its Roe & Roeper show. I don't know if the hosts did the reporting - anyone? - but Politico says the station identified its sourcing as "two high-ranking people on the Democratic side of the aisle, in both fundraising and in the legislative branch."

Also from Politico:

"I don't think he's coming back until at least September, if he comes back at all," said a Democratic source close to the situation. "I think it's all up in the air."

ABC News also reported that Jackson "will likely not return to Congress until after Labor Day," citing an unnamed source.

Feeling Moody's
"Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Chicago Public Schools' bond rating after the cash-strapped district proposed a budget that would deplete its financial reserves," the Tribune reports.

"Moody's lowered its outlook for the district from stable to negative, citing its $5.9 billion in general obligation bond debt. The agency's lowered rating means it will cost more for the CPS to issue bonds."

Reminds me of that old saying: Banks only lend money to people who can prove they don't need it.


"Today's decision underscores the grave fiscal situation facing the Chicago Public Schools," said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll. "Despite cutting more than a half-billion dollars over the last year alone, it's not enough to undo years of revenue losses and misplaced priorities that landed the district in the financial quandary it's in today."

I don't necessarily disagree, but I'd like to see reporters pin Carroll down on just whose misplaced priorities she's blaming.

Arne Duncan, after all, is the U.S. Secretary of Education. Is he to blame?

And if so, should Barack Obama really have rewarded him with a Cabinet position when he left CPS a wreck?

Or was Duncan just carrying out the orders of Richard M. Daley?


Of course, local officials aren't solely to blame - and perhaps not even mostly to blame. The fraudulently induced global financial crisis continues to take its toll on everyone but those who caused it in the first place.

Today's Worst Person In Chicago
"A medical sales representative who bolted out of town for a business trip while serving on a federal jury was spared jail today by a federal judge," the Tribune reports.

"U.S. District Chief Judge James Holderman fined Scott Enke the maximum $1,000 and ordered him to attend a legal symposium on jury service and to write up a statement about what happened that the court can use to educate the public."

The public doesn't need to be educated; Enke is the only person in the universe who thinks it's okay to leave the state for business while sitting on a jury. Instead, how 'bout sentencing him to jury duty?


Would you buy a medical device from this man?


The trial was for alleged Medicare fraud.


Enke has a bachelor's degree in history/political science from the University of Iowa.


Here's Enke leaving the courthouse.


According to the Sun-Times's account, Enke offered to write the essay. "He told the judge that he was a 'good writer' and planned to 'grab' the readers' attention by starting off the piece on legal repercussions he faced" for leaving the trial.

I'm sure Enke's essay will become required reading . . . for no one.

Financial Fraud Filing
"The PFGBest firm Peregrine Financial Group Inc. has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in federal court in Chicago," the Sun-Times reports.

"The filing Tuesday night for liquidation of the Chicago firm comes on the heels of an announcement that the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission is accusing Peregrine Financial and its founder, Russell Wasendorf Sr., of fraud."

I haven't caught up with the details of this saga, but it's not pretty.

"With more than 40 years of experience, the elder Wasendorf has been an ambassador for trading financial futures. He has authored or co-authored six books about trading strategies and organized conferences and charitable drives within the industry.

"But he now lies in a hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, after what his company and police there say was an attempted suicide Monday morning."

White Flight Fight
Residency scandal at Lincoln Park school.

Sucker Free Scene Report
Snapshots from a moment.

Global City
How the Voice of Russia sees it:

Two scandals linked with the corruption of officials have recently shaken the US. Or, probably, it would be better to say that they didn't come as a big shock, because the US public is already almost accustomed to such cases.

The fist scandal took place in San Diego. There, two border guards, whose duty was to stop illegal migrants, were found themselves transferring illegal migrants to the US territory in their police cars.

The second occurred in Chicago, which is, by the way, Barack Obama's native city. There, 5 businessmen and 2 officials have been arrested for bribes.

There is even a joke among Chicago journalists: "News that yet another official has been arrested for bribes is no sensation. A real sensation is when no one has been arrested for bribes within a whole week." Sad as it may sound, Chicago has a reputation of the most corrupt city in the US.

Bah, just propaganda.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Sucker free.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

Sucker Free Scene Report

Snapshots from a moment.

1. "The rise of Chicago's hip-hop scene has been heavily documented in the past couple of months, but MTV2 will go even deeper into the city with Sucker Free: Chicago," Hip Hop Wired reports. "Artists such as Chief Keef, King Louie, LEP Bogus Boys, Sir Michael Rocks, GLC, Young Chop and plenty more will be on display.

"The Chicagorillas invite MTV2 into their city and talk about why the city has become so popular, through the eyes of the artists themselves. Sucker Free: Chicago debuts on MTV2 on July 11th at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time."

(The show's official page says "Sucker Free is going to the ground level of an emerging scene in America's third largest city. Don't miss Sucker Free: Chicago Sunday, July 15th at 11/10c on MTV2.")

Get More: Sucker Free, MTV2


2. King Louie on point from Pitchfork TV.


3. Lupe from gowherehiphop:

"Lupe Fiasco talks with GWHH's GY312 after his kick-off show at Summerfest in Milwaukee about the upcoming album Food & Liquor II, the Chicago hip hop scene in general and Rhymefest's article on the industry and Chief Keef, and dealing with his fans' expectations and constructive criticism." [link added]


See also: Local Music Notebook: Chicago's On Fire Right Now.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2012

A.J. Pierzynski Is (Still) A Douche And Other All-Star Game Notes

A lot has been written already about A.J. Pierzynski's childish (but justified in some sad quarters) reaction to not being named to the All-Star team, but I'm not sure the utter stupidity and wrongheadedness of A.J.'s oft-quoted statement about AL manager Ron Washington has really been made clear - especially here in Hawkeroo Homerville.

Let's take a look.


"Texas Rangers and American League All-Star manager Ron Washington said the one player that he was disappointed about the most that he couldn't get on the All-Star roster was A.J. Pierznyski of the Chicago White Sox," ESPN, among many others, reported.

"I feel bad for Pierzynski," Washington said. "The guy's having an outstanding year. He's been working with a very good pitching staff over there with those Chicago White Sox for many years. I consider him a winning player because he beats you any kind of way he can. He beats you mentally, he beats you physically. So I feel really bad for Pierzynski."

Well, that's a nice - and classy - thing to say, isn't it?

Not if you're noted humanitarian A.J. Pierzynski.

"If he felt that bad, he would have put me on the team," Pierzynski responded. "He had an opportunity to do it and he didn't do it. Obviously he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad."

And then just to solidify the 5-year-old-ishness to his complaint, he added: "I'm not surprised. I know how it goes, how it works. I knew this was going to happen."

A.J. Pierzynski, everybody! The man has less class than a CPS senior.

Second, it's embarrassingly churlish and illogical. The depth of how bad Washington may (or may not) have felt has no effect upon the size of the roster. A slot doesn't open up because Wash feels bad. In fact, maybe he would feel worse about who would get left out if he picked Pierzynski. But that doesn't mean he couldn't feel bad, as A.J. implies.

Imagine a parent saying to a child, "I feel bad we can't stay at the beach longer but we have to go home."

And the child responding, "If you really felt bad, we'd stay."

Therefore, the parent doesn't sincerely feel bad.

Dear A.J.: You are the child in this scenario.

In any case, Washington reacted to A.J.'s reaction by with this: "I said what I had to say about A.J., and it came from my heart."

Too bad A.J. was speaking from his liver.

But it doesn't end there; there's the reaction of our small-minded, small-town media.

Take A.J. apologist and CSN/WGN-AM sports honcho David Kaplan. On Chicago Tribune Live, Kaplan said over and over again that he could not for the life of him see anything wrong with what Pierzynski said. "He's right!" Kaplan shouted on the show last week. "I can't imagine anyone being offended!"

But Kaplan reacted quite differently to Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto's complaint about being left off the NL team by Tony LaRussa.

"I see that I have great numbers," Cueto said. "I thought the way I pitched this year, I'd have a chance to go to the All-Star Game. I don't know what happened. I don't know if the manager of All-Star Game is pissed at me because I went out with one of his girlfriends. I don't know if they base their selection on the [2010] brawl [between the Reds and Cardinals]. That's not the way it should be . . . They should pick and choose players by their numbers."

Kaplan retweeted this from Jason Goch (I couldn't get rid of the one attached to it at the top):

And then this from Jon Heyman:

Now, retweets aren't always endorsements, but these clearly are. I sent Kaplan a tweet asking if Pierzynski shouldn't also accept his fate gracefully. He didn't respond.

Rick Morrissey wrote in the Sun-Times that "If I'm Pierzynski, I smile knowing that I won, especially against fellow major-leaguers. The All-Star snub means he has gotten under people's skin so much that they're preoccupied with him. And if they're preoccupied with him, it's probably affecting them when they play against the Sox."

Phil Rogers out-and-out lost his mind in the Tribune, writing that "I want to scream is this: No A.J., no justice! No A.J., no justice! No A.J., no justice!"

Really, Phil?

"Honestly, I want to start a movement. That's how strongly I feel about what Rangers manager Ron Washington just did to one of the toughest guys in the major leagues, one of the truest professionals, and in case you haven't noticed - and maybe Washington hasn't - one of the two best catchers in the AL."

Maybe. But neither the fans nor - more importantly - the players saw it that way.

"You can argue the Orioles' Matt Wieters is better than Pierzynski, and you can argue Pierzynski is better than Wieters. But you cannot argue that the Rangers' Mike Napoli and, at this point, the Twins' Joe Mauer are better than Wieters and Pierzynski.

"Fans elected Napoli, based largely on the popularity he built for himself during a tremendous 2011 season in Texas. That's fine. But with players and coaches electing the switch-hitting Wieters over Pierzynski, it should have been a no-brainer to put Pierzynski on the team instead of the fading wonder boy, Mauer."

Um, that fading wonder boy just might win the American League batting title this year - again. He's tied for fourth in the AL with a .326 average and is - by far - the leader in that category among catchers (A.J. is 24th). More impressive, he has a league-leading OBP of .416. (Pierzynski ranks 34th with a mediocre .338, which is also behind Napoli and Twins backup Ryan Doumit). Sure, Pierzynski has 49 RBIs. But Mauer has 44 - on one of the worst teams in the majors. And even though Pierzynski is throwing out more runners attempting to steal this season than in past years, Mauer is still the superior defensive player.

Still, Pierzynski has had an All-Star caliber half-season. So was he snubbed?

JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago did what Morrissey and Rogers didn't and took a look at the cards Washington was dealt.

"Rangers catcher Mike Napoli won the fan vote and will start, while Wieters was voted in by fellow players and Mauer was selected by Washington," Stankevitz wrote.

"Washington needed to select someone from Minnesota, with Mauer and Josh Willingham being prime candidates. But all of the AL outfield reserves - Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout - deserved their spot on the team. Willingham could've DH'd, but Kansas City needed a representative, and that went to Billy Butler. Adam Dunn earned the other DH spot.

"What it came down to was that someone from the White Sox was going to be snubbed. Had Willingham made the roster, it would've been Dunn. But with Mauer making it, it was Pierzynski."

So if A.J. wants to find someone to blame, he should start with the fans, move on to the players, stop by MLB HQ because of the size of their All-Star rosters, and then look in the mirror not only for being the most hated player in the game, but for trying to find someone to blame in the first place.


On the other side of town, there's the curious situation of Bryan LaHair, an All-Star who has lost his job to a prospect and has essentially been a platoon player. Most interesting, and noted too infrequently, is that LaHair got to the All-Star Game via the players' vote. And he seems to be back on track after a June slump.

Still, the first Cub who should have made it was nowhere near in the running, and that's Ryan Dempster, ERA 1.99, best in the NL and second-best overall. Dempster is Exhibit A for sabermetricians who have argued for years that Wins is a fairly meaningless stat.

Sure, Dempster has spent time on the DL this season, but he's still notched 86 innings - and for a team so bad that even an earned run average can be affected by bad play beyond his control.


Lastly, there is the annual debate over whether every team should be represented at the game. It doesn't seem right; the players chosen should be the best players, period. But if you're going to do that, you can't have the fans voting. On the other hand, a lot of the players don't really have a clue, let's face it. And even more importantly, everyone seems to act like if you got rid of the "every team" clause, those one or two "snubs" would be taken care of and that would be that. But in reality, more than one team would have no players at the game. And as a corollary, you might find just a few teams represented in some years. And how much fun would that be?

The debate about who makes the team and who gets left off is part of the game itself. We don't have to - and shouldn't - act like getting an All-Star nod is like getting picked by some Mount Baseball. We know otherwise. Humans do the picking, and imperfection results, just like with the Oscars and Pulitzers. It's just one reminder of how credentialism is overrated - in baseball just as in life.


Comments welcome.


1. From Joe Snipp:

I don't often send e-mails like this, but SR's essay on AJ was brilliant. The only thing that I didn't like was that it wasn't longer.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:15 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Lori Healey, who most recently ran Chicago's NATO summit committee, is leaving real estate development firm The John Buck Co. to become chief executive of Tur Partners, former Mayor Richard M. Daley's new investment firm," the Tribune reports.

Tur is a global investment and advisory firm.

It's also a genus of mites, so that's about right.

Team Rahm
"When Mayor Rahm Emanuel convenes meetings of his cabinet, the racial breakdown of those top aides hardly reflects the diversity of the city they serve," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.

"In a city in which no single racial group makes up more than a third of the population, almost two of every three City Hall department heads is white. Of 30 Emanuel appointees to the highest-ranking city government positions, only five are black, and three Hispanic, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis shows."

Governor Pat Quinn, on the other hand, "has tapped African Americans and whites to serve in top state posts at a rate that roughly mirrors the size of their communities in Illinois, though Hispanics are relatively scarce in Quinn's cabinet despite their growing population."

And Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle? "Preckwinkle has 15 whites and 13 blacks in the 34 top posts in her administration. As in the Quinn and Emanuel administrations, though, few Latinos occupy top positions under Preckwinkle. She has four Asian cabinet members and two Hispanics, even though Hispanics are four times as numerous as Asians in the county's population."

A couple other findings before I get to Rahm's cynical, disingenuous response on Monday:

* Rahm's own office, which is staffed entirely by political appointees, is about 57 percent white. "Only the Fire Department, the inspector general's office and the city's Law Department have a higher percentage of white workers, according to city records."

That would be a Democratic talking point if, say, Mitt Romney's governor's office in Massachusetts was staffed similarly (for all I know, it was).

* Only five of Rahm's appointments to the city's highest-ranking jobs have gone to blacks; just three to Hispanics.

* The top seven salaries in the mayor's office go to white people.

In today's paper, Rahm responds, saying "he's as concerned about 'diversity of experience' as he is about achieving racial balance."

That's a Republican white guy answer.

"I look at diversity of experience, diversity of race and diversity of ethnicity as well as diversity of results," Rahm told the paper.

He's got a point: If diversity of results is what we should really be looking at, Barack Obama has been a miserable failure.

As usual, though, Rahm can't just own his boo-boo. Instead, he attacks the Sun-Times.

"The mayor called the Sun-Times story 'one way of looking at it.' But, he argued that the newspaper neglected to mention several salient points that paint a dramatically different picture.

"'Sixty percent of my appointments to boards and commissions are minority,' Emanuel said, noting that, reporters can 'slice and dice' racial data in different ways."

First, the paper isn't looking at board and commission appointments, many of which are positions of little to no real responsibility, but at the most influential people around Rahm who serve in his cabinet and in other top city jobs.

Second, how else can you slice and dice the data, Rahm?

"You can also look at my staff. Of the fourteen most senior people, ten of 'em are women. That also is diversity."

Noted, though the Sun-Times also reports that "Of Emanuel's 30 department heads, 17 are men and 13 are women. But the only woman in charge of a large City Hall department is Rosemarie Andolino, his Aviation commissioner. Departments led by women represent less than 15 percent of the city's budget."

Back to Rahm:

"[O]f the three largest sister agencies, they're all run by African-Americans. And the Fire Department . . . has a Hispanic [commissioner] and the second [highest-ranking] person is African-American . . . That is one take, that story. But, it's not the whole story. And I just gave you three data points that were not in that story that are all relevant to the facts in that story."

Actually, the paper did report that African-Americans run the city's three largest sister agencies - the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges.

So Rahm is just out-and-out factually wrong, as he's been over and over and over and over.

"Instead of measuring him on the racial make-up of his City Hall cabinet, the mayor urged reporters to judge him on the impact of policies - like eradicating food deserts - that impact African-American voters who helped put him in office."

Wow. That's an embarrassing reach.

"The mayor's explanation did not sit well with African-American aldermen, who started raising concerns about the mayor's all-white public safety team two weeks before Emanuel's May 16, 2011 inauguration.

"'We've had meetings with the mayor and we've expressed our displeasure with' the shortage of blacks in policy-making jobs, said Ald. Anthony Beale."

In its first story, the Sun-Times also quoted Ald. Howard Brookins saying "We brought it up to him within the first month of his administration. That was when we started noticing a trend."

Given Rahm's rhetoric, the real question is this: Mr. Mayor, do you support or oppose affirmative action? Do you believe that government should practice affirmative action and/or seek diversity in its top ranks? Then why haven't you?

If Rahm resorts back to his talking points, this: So you side with the typically conservative position on this, the one that tends to be held by Republicans?

It's okay if he does, even if we all don't agree with it. It's not okay if he doesn't admit it.

Boffo Beachwood
* About That 100 Riffs Guy. His name, his band, his shows.

* Great Lakes Warriors. They are tugboat men.

* On The Anniversary Of The Freedom Of Information Act. Sunshine, the disinfectant.

* About That Pulitzer Fiction Jury. Epic fail.

* The Chicago International Teleport. Not as cool as it sounds.

* All-Star Game post still to come about - among other things - the douchiness of the spurned A.J. Pierzynksi.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Teleportable.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:37 AM | Permalink

On The Anniversary Of The Freedom Of Information Act

On Washington Journal, July 4th.


See also:
* Attorney General Holder's Fights Over Secrecy

* Transparent Hypocrisy

* Obama Administration Rejects Requests For 'Targeted Killing' Papers, Citing National Security

* Obama's FOIA FAIL


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

Great Lake Warriors

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead/When the skies of November turn gloomy.

HISTORY® SERIES PREMIERE about tugboat captains and their crews on the Great Lakes is called Great Lake Warriors. It premieres on Thursday, July 19 at 10P ET/9P CT on History Channel.

In the heart of America, on a deadly inland sea that has claimed as many as 6,000 vessels and 30,000 lives, a way of life exists that few ever witness. Men who breathe diesel fumes and watch every step they take on shifting decks. Men who battle the elements, wrestle with runaway vessels, fight fatigue and sometimes risk all in the struggle to make a living.

They are tugboat men, sailors in constant combat with the deadly storms and hazards of the Great Lakes - men who work against the clock, fighting thick ice forming in every direction under treacherous winter conditions - winds whip so fierce it could knock an entire crew off deck in the blink of an eye.

A new 8-part HISTORY series, GREAT LAKE WARRIORS, premiering Thursday, July 19, 10pm ET/9C, will dive into the lives of the tough crews who call 94,000 square miles of wild blue water home.

The lakes continue to be a thriving industrial highway that delivers nearly 200 million tons of cargo to the heart of America. But for the months leading up to the dead of winter, only a few courageous men dare to brave these turbulent waters, where winds can hit 70 miles an hour, and waves over 30 feet high.

For some, the tug business is the family heritage. For others, it's a lifelong dream. But for all of the GREAT LAKE WARRIORS, it's a life-on-the-line mission to get the job done and make it back home alive.

The main characters:

Captain John Selvick: Known as "The Legend" on the lakes, Selvick has been behind the controls of tugboats since he was seven when his father, Curly Selvick, took him on board in the cold waters around Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It has not been an easy life for John, now owner of Calumet River Fleeting in Chicago and Selvick Marine Towing in Sturgeon Bay. He lost his grandfather and a brother in tugboat accidents. Their bodies were never recovered.

Capt. Ted Long: A workhorse of Calumet River Fleeting, Long is known as "Capt. Nice" for his penchant for chewing out deckhands who have slacked off. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, a tug captain who dropped him off on a boat on Christmas Eve when he was 14. Ted never looked back.

Capt. Mike Ojard: A dreamer and a doer, Mike has put his money and sometimes his life on the line in Duluth, Minnesota, to start a tug company on Lake Superior, the deadliest and wildest of all five Great Lakes. He has enlisted a corps of volunteers from his circle of family and friends to carve out a piece of the tug trade on Superior. He hopes to create a new generation of sailors in his family, one that has marine heritage in its blood.

Patrick Ojard: He still has his day job, but he loves boats as much as his father Mike. So he and his wife sunk $50,000 into the operation to help buy a tug. Now a volunteer on deck and in the engine room, he is working to make sure his father's dream comes true so that tug boating will be the family heritage.

Capt. Gerry Dawson: In Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the wild north shore of Lake Superior, Gerry owns and operates a tug company that does everything - ship tows, ice breaking, salvage, and sometimes search and rescue. He once put his own life on the line to rescue crew from a foundering vessel in 15-foot waves and 70 knot winds. He and his crew were awarded medals for their bravery.

Capt. Stan Dawson: Older brother of Gerry, Stan is the wild one and claims that you "don't have to be crazy to do this, but it helps." He has been on the lakes since he was a teenager, working for his father. "I can make a tugboat dance," Stan says.


Filming was done on Lake Michigan, including Calumet Harbor, Illinois; Gary and Burns Harbors, Indiana; Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Sturgeon Bay, and Marinette, Wisconsin; and on Lake Superior, including Duluth-Superior Harbor and Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada.


GREAT LAKE WARRIORS was produced for History by Towers Productions, LLC and Compass Point Productions, LLC; Executive Producers JONATHAN TOWERS, JAMES CAMPBELL, GEORGE HOUDE and MARTY BERNSTEIN, and Show Runner/Co-Executive Producer JOSEPH BOYLE. Executive Producer for History is MATTHEW GINSBURG.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

The Chicago International Teleport

"United Video Satellite Group's subsidiary, SpaceCom Systems, Inc. had a satellite teleport outside of Chicago. It was built starting in 1982. Today (2012) it is owned and operated by DirecTV."


Additional Info via The Beachwood Added Value Desk:

* A 1992 Tulsa World article states that - at that time - the Chicago International Teleport is the country's third-largest satellite communications facility.

* From a 1998 press release:

"SpaceCom Systems' Chicago International Teleport is the premiere satellite earth station for broadcast audio and data networks in the United States. It is manned 24 hours each day, seven days a week, by a staff of experienced Operations and Engineering personnel. Uplink RF electronics systems for both C-Band and Ku-Band transmission facilities, are protected by a Two-for-N protection scheme, with video and baseband electronics protected in a One-for-One environment. For added security, a centralized control console and computer monitoring system are specifically designed to provide ultimate flexibility in signal tracking capabilities and maintenance efforts. An automatic alarm monitoring system provides real-time status and transmission quality information to station personnel to verify signal integrity, and a fully redundant power supply system provides a seamless transfer from commercial power to on-site diesel generators when needed."

* From a 1998 press release:

"On the weekend of March 7th, El Nino's influence was felt in the upper Midwest, as winter storms dumped several layers of ice and snow on the Chicago area.

"By 4:00 AM on March 9th, more than 260,000 Chicago area homes and businesses had lost their power connections, causing widespread disruption of basic services like electricity and heat.

"However, throughout the blizzard, SpaceCom's Chicago International Teleport (CIT) remained 'on-the-air' - transmitting an uninterrupted stream of audio and data signals for SpaceCom customers across the nation, even though the CIT's commercial power was cut off."


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:51 AM | Permalink

About That Pulitzer Fiction Jury

The literary world went ballistic last April when the Pulitzer people announced there would be no winner in the fiction category this year. That hadn't happened in 35 years.

The jurors, who had forwarded the names of three finalists to the 20-member Pulitzer board, went public with their anger and bewilderment.

Public sympathy clearly lied with the jury, while the board was mercifully mocked for supposing that there were no books published in 2011 worthy of their prissy prize.

Pulitzer administrator Sig Gissler would only say that "It's unusual for the fiction award to be a problem, but it was a problem this year."

Now we know what the problem was.

At least that's my reading of the "tell-all" written by jurist Michael Cunningham for The New Yorker.

While Cunningham's piece is meant to gain sympathy for the jury by describing their painstaking methods and awesome intentions, it does quite the opposite for me.


"I was, as it happened, the first of us to read The Pale King, and well before I'd finished it I found myself calling [the other two jurists; yes, there are only three] Maureen and Susan and saying, 'The first paragraph of the Wallace book is more powerful than any entire book we've read so far.'

"Consider its opening line:

Past the flannel plains and the blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust, and past the tobacco-brown river overhung with weeping trees and coins of sunlight through them on the water downriver, to the place beyond the windbreak, where untilled fields simmer shrilly in the a.m. heat: shattercane, lamb's-quarter, cutgrass, sawbrier, nutgrass, jimsonweed, wild mint, dandelion, foxtail, muscatine, spinecabbage, goldenrod, creeping charlie, butter-print, nightshade, ragweed, wild oat, vetch, butcher grass, invaginate volunteer beans, all head gently nodding in a morning breeze like a mother's soft hand on your cheek.

Really, Michael?

First, I don't know what "flannel plains" are. Plains that look like, um, flannel? Like, from above?

I'm not sure that's an entirely original description, nor a particularly new insight.

"Blacktop graphs and skylines of canted rust"? It sounds nice, the way the words in "A Whiter Shade of Pale (no pun intended) do, but what is it?

But I'm sure what really captured Cunningham's enthusiasm was author David Foster Wallace's list of vegetation and such that simmer on the shrilly fields. And it's a fine list. Well-chosen, well-paced. But a bit trite. Lists like that are old as the hills by now - not only in literature but in popular song.

It's hardly "powerful" and, besides, does a mother's hand on a soft cheek nod? I'd say it cups and caresses. Maybe it assures. It most assuredly does not nod.

Nonetheless, The Pale King was made a finalist - despite the fact that it was unfinished at the time of Wallace's suicide and stitched together in the end by his editor. In the least, it would have to be a joint award, though the jury didn't say so.


"Maureen was drawn to writers who told a gripping and forceful story. She did not by any means require a conventional story, conventionally told, but she wanted something to have happened by the time she reached the end, some sea change to have occurred, some new narrative continent discovered, or some ancient narrative civilization destroyed."

No! Nothing has to happen! Why put such constrictions on such a grand exercise? You might as well put Stewie on the jury.


"Denis Johnson's Train Dreams had been written ten years earlier and been published as a long short story in The Paris Review. It was, however, magnificently written, stylistically innovative, and - in its exhilarating, magical depiction of ordinary life in the much romanticized Wild West - a profoundly American book.

"It contains lines like:

All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he'd ever witnessed waking - the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utter still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.

Really, Cunningham? I'm not a big fan of weather reports and painted postcards.

Worse, "Train Dreams had only been published as a novel in 2012, which made it eligible, for the first time, for a Pulitzer. We checked with the Pulitzer administrator about that. He gave us the O.K."

And so it was named a finalist.


Completing the triumvirate was another problematic selection.

"Karen Russell's Swamplandia! was a first novel, and, like many first novels, it contained among its wonders certain narrative miscalculations - the occasional overreliance on endearingly quirky characters, certain scenes that should have been subtler. Was a Pulitzer a slightly excessive response to a fledgling effort?"


"One is looking, more than anything, for originality, authority, and verve, all of which Swamplandia! possessed in abundance. For instance, this memory of the narrator's mother:

Nights in the swamp were dark and star-lepered - our island was thirty-odd miles from the mainland - and although your naked eye could easily find the ball of Venus and the sapphire hairs of the Pleiades, our mother's body was just lines, a smudge against the palm trees.

Nights in the swamp were dark - just like most everywhere else! But swamp nights were also "star-lepered." In other words, you could see a lot of stars in the sky from there, right? Or was the sky diseased with stars? Who knows!


So the jury sent to the board an unfinished book completed by its editor; a 12-year-old story; and a promising debut novel star-lepered with flaws. Is it any wonder the board took a pass?

Now, sometimes a board overrules a jury in any case and makes its own selection. But in the fiction book category? Without a board that had read the 300-plus books that the jury did, it would be impossible to fairly name a winner.

So it turns out that, in the end, the jury failed, not the board. And we now know that thanks to a juror who still doesn't understand why.

Note: Cunningham writes that his post is the first of two parts; the second is supposed to go up today. I'll be watching and update this post as necessary.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:40 AM | Permalink

About That 100 Riffs Guy

His name is Alex Chadwick. His band is Chadwick. We have more.

1. This is his viral video, first posted on this site last Thursday.


2. On Sunday, NPR aired a pretty weak interview with Chadwick.


3. Music by Chadwick.


4. "Can't Figure" from a show at Martyr's in March.


5. "Civics" from a show at Goose Island in January.


6. "Town" from Goose Island in January.


7. "Device" from Goose Island in January.


8. "Virginia" from Goose Island in January.


9. "Wrecked" from Goose Island in January.


10. From a show at Martyr's in 2011.


11. From a show at the Elbo Room in 2011.


12. Teaching us how to play "Back in Black."


See also:
* Chadwick on MySpace
* Chadwick on Twitter
* Chadwick on Facebook


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 AM | Permalink

July 9, 2012

SportsMonday: Rough Trade

I usually wouldn't support trading Ryan Dempster. But in this case an exception must be made. Don't screw it up Theo!

In general, I am skeptical of trades in which the team I care about ships out a major leaguer who has proven himself - especially in pressure situations - for prospects who have only proven that they have potential.

So while pundits have enjoyed ripping Jim Hendry for the big package he gave up for Matt Garza last year, I'd rather have the proven player than hope that a prospect someday grows up to be as good as the guy you've just given up.

In Garza's case, the conventional wisdom has been that the four prospects (plus Sam Fuld) were too good to give up - and that Chris Archer in particular was a future big-time big-league starter. And he may yet achieve that status. Garza is already there.

(Archer was "good not great" earlier this season in his first major league starts. He took a couple losses for the Rays but his ERA was under 4.00 and perhaps most impressively, he struck out 14 in 11.2 innings of work. The pitcher then was shipped back to Triple A where he was most recently seen leaving a game early because of a strained oblique.)

Garza, 28, obviously had a rough first half of this season. But there is plenty of reason to believe - looking back at his history as a pitcher - that the former American League Divisional Series MVP will find his groove again at some point soon and give the Cubs plenty of good pitching in the future. More reason to believe than the hope a prospect can deliver.

Dempster's case is different, though. First, he's a free agent after the season. If you don't trade him you either lay out the dough to re-sign him or lose him for nothing, save a compensatory draft pick. Certainly a package of prospects looks attractive given those alternatives and the Cubs' apparent plan not to compete for another couple of years. Dempster, after all, is 35.

If the Cubs really wanted to keep him, though - veteran leadership and all - they could trade him and re-sign him back in the offseason. This possibility could negatively impact his trade value, but not necessarily. At least a few of the teams who could be pursuing him before the trade deadline at the end of this month could value payroll flexibility at the end of the season almost as much as having an aging pitcher signed for another couple of years - i.e., Dempster being a free agent at the end of the year could be a good thing.

Age and all, though, It isn't hard to argue that Dempster has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this summer. His 1.99 ERA is second only to Jered Weaver's 1.96.

Trading Dempster seems to be Job 1 on Theo's agenda now that the draft has come and gone and Anthony Rizzo has finally been called up. Trading Garza may be Job 2, but it's nowhere near as clear that it's the right move.

Williams World
If the season ended today, would Kenny Williams be the executive of the year?

Folks who live in Washington, Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh may not think so, but he's at least in the conversation.

On the other hand, it's really the moves that Williams made in the past - trading for Jake Peavy, signing Adam Dunn, drafting Chris Sale - that are paying off now.

So for now let's name him the slow-motion executive of the year.

If he does something dramatic before the trade deadline, we'll upgrade his status.


Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"A majority of callers to Illinois' child abuse hotline - a front line in protecting battered and neglected children - don't initially get through to someone who could dispatch an investigator," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"Instead, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services took messages for the majority of its more than 236,000 calls logged over an 11-month period ending May 31."

Well, at least Illinois is running government like a business - if the business is Comcast.


For abuse by a parental guardian, press 1.

For abuse by a neighbor, press 2.


I joke to keep from crying. It's beyond sad, and in fact, it's negligence that's really criminal.


"It's horrible," Ed Cotton, who helped set up the hotline in 1980, told the Tribune. ""That's not a hotline."


"DCFS officials said budgetary constraints, constant staff turnover and outdated technology have fueled problems . . . The investigators are mostly meeting their requirement to try to find a child within 24 hours, according to agency statistics. But in recent months, the Tribune has reported that their caseload levels are often double what they should be, and that investigations languish without resolution longer than legally allowed."

If only the state had enough money to protects its children..


There's just no money to protect our seniors, either.


Meanwhile, the retiring executive director of the Illinois Petroleum Council "concedes" to the Springfield Journal-Register that his industry has "gotten what we needed over the years" out of state lawmakers.

What Does Junior Have?
If Jesse Jackson Jr. isn't going to respect his constituents enough to be a little more enlightening about his health issues, I'll go ahead and help fill the vacuum by recalling this passage from my 2005 profile of him for Chicago magazine:

We were somewhere near the edge of Peotone when the drugs began to take hold. At least that's what Rick Bryant, Jackson's district administrator, tried to pretend when his boss launched into a series of hilarious-and dead-on-imitations of Illinois pols. "That's off the record!" Bryant interceded from the back seat of Jackson's congressional-plated black SUV, trying to protect his boss from himself. "That's the drugs talking!" Jackson was on painkillers for a back he wrenched trying to do some home plumbing - but after the laughter subsided Bryant warned his boss, "Don't personalize it!"

And what I didn't know at the time - because Jackson didn't disclose it until years later - was that Jackson had recently had gastric bypass surgery.

Which I mention not only to show that he's been dishonest about health issues in the past, but to further the rumor mill in the absence of his camp being forthcoming.

In that vein, I will also note that a Dr. Drew segment last week discussed the seeming proclivity of stomach-staplees to fall into alcoholism.

Lastly, let's note that Phil Kadner reported on Friday that "A source told me Jackson had been unable to sleep for an extended period of time." So there's that, too; whatever you can make of it to fill the vacuum.

If you haven't yet, start your office pool now.

Upside Down Cake
"In recent years, the AM Dollar store in West Rogers Park has been cited repeatedly for selling loose cigarettes to underage teens - a practice that has led to loitering and complaints that the store is contributing to nearby street drug deals and violent crimes, according to city officials," the Tribune reports.

"Looking to stem those problems, the city recently moved to revoke the store's business license, an aggressive tactic that is part of a larger effort to control a surge of crime in Chicago.

"On Monday, city officials plan to unveil a list of 37 businesses - liquor and convenience stores as well as gas stations and fast-food restaurants - that they say are magnets for neighborhood crime. Some, like the AM Dollar store, are losing their business licenses or have been temporarily shut down for repeatedly failing to correct code violations. Other businesses have been fined.

"City Hall is trying to shame the owners by publicizing their names, alleged violations and complaints about the businesses called in to 311 by neighbors."

Good idea. I'm sure we'll see some of these folks shamed and shut down - once they're done meeting with the mayor.


City workers excluded from new shaming policy.

Governor Gumby
Pat Quinn Signs Campaign Finance Bill Into Law When Nobody Is Looking Because It Reverses Post-Blago Reform.

Loophole Bill Was Rushed Through The Legislature In The Dark Too; Ruse Now Complete.

Reason Over Rahm
City Libraries Back To Regular Schedule.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
A little warped.

Rough Trade
Should the Cubs really deal Matt Garza? In SportsMonday.

The Glass Is Just Half
Megadeth at Wrigley. In The Cub Factor.

Is The Past Prologue?
Half full at the Cell. In The White Sox Report.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Unashamed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Navy Pier on Saturday night.


2. The Sights at the Aragon on Saturday night.


3. Anti-Flag at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


4. Breathe Carolina at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


5. Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


6. Polar Bear Club at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


7. Pierce The Veil at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


8. Streetlight Manifesto at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


9. Bless The Fall at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


10. Of Mice & Men at the crappy shed in Tinley Park for the Warped tour on Saturday.


11. Black Lips at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


12. Neil Diamond at the big arena on the West Side on Friday night.


13. Man or Astro-Man? at West Fest on Saturday.


14. K-Holes at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


15. Circles at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.


16. Tycho at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


17. The Peekaboos at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.


18. The Sadies at Schubas on Saturday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

The Glass Is Just Half

As we hit the All-Star break this week, it's time to sit back and reflect. What do we have here?

We here at The Cub Factor think this season thus far can be summed up in the in the immortal words of Megadeth: So Far, So Good . . . So What!

It's like, everything the new management team kinda said would happen is kinda happening. That it would be a rebuilding year, and fans have for the most part accepted it. That they are going to make moves with the future in mind and not the present, and they have. That Darwin Barney would be their second baseman, and he is.

But the present still - to quote Carlos Zambrano - stinks. The Cubs wrapped up the first half of the season tied with the Astros and Rockies with the least number of wins (33). And just like Dalton warned when he arrived to clean up the Double Deuce, it's gonna get worse before it gets better. If only Randy Wells and Chris Volstad had thrown their last pitches in a Cubs uniform; instead it's Ryan Dempster and probably Matt Garza on their way out.

So the second half of the season is more likely to look like the first two months than the past two weeks. But that still feels a little okay.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-3 splitting four games with the Braves and taking two of three from the Mets. You know, it just felt like a better week than just one game over .500. But that's all it was; they won just one more game than they lost.

The Week in Preview: Most of the Cubs get a few days off for the All-Star break while Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHR take their talents to Missouri. The Cubs get back to real baseball next weekend against the D-backs at home.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started every game, though one was at shortstop with Jeff Baker taking the call at second. Barney had four hits and two walks. The good news for The Second Basemen Report is that Coach Dale is really starting to double-switch with the second base position, which is always fun. And it's also just like the ghost of Jim Hendry would have wanted.

In former second basemen news, DJ LeMahieu has been shuffling back and forth between the majors and Triple-A for the Colorado Rockies this season. He was part of the Ian Stewart trade, and he is missed.

Crazy Corners: Luis Valbuena continues to keep a stranglehold on third base while batting just .225. If it seems like that number should be higher, maybe it's because he's batting .333 with runners in scoring position. And, um, this Rizzo kid seems to have first base locked up.

The Weekly Bunting Report: Nothing to see here. With Campy getting so few at-bats, I'm going through feigned bunt withdrawal.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is putting some of us to sleep. Big Z for Ambien? Big Z is Getting Angry.


Similarly, Mount Oz is about to erupt with such force that the tremors will be felt back here in Chicago. Some lava might also ooze its way north. Residents are advised to take precautions.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Bryan LaHR for spring flowers, because they do better in April and May.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in the Home Run Derby hit an all-time low because even the stupid baseball fans know it's stupid.

Sink or Sveum: 32% Analytical, 68% Emotional. Sveum jumps two points on the crazy meter this week due to actually trying to manage and being in some games. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is still Thinking Clearly.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale lit up when your friend from school Gene asked him about his belt buckle collection. Dale finally had something to talk about.

Over/Under: Number of mentions Bryan LaHR gets during the All-Star game about how he really shouldn't be there: +/- .5.

For some reason, everyone likes this guy and they don't really rip him much for doing nothing for close to a month now.

Don't Hassle the Hoff: Looks like Micah Hoffpauir is just spot starting and pinch-hitting for the Ham Fighters. Um, hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the real All-Star just got to town.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Stars And Gripes.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

Is The Past Prologue?

What seemed improbable at best just three months ago appears at the very least doable today. As Jake Peavy said after beating Toronto on Friday night, "This thing is just getting going. We got a big two-and-a-half months left and I think we are all in this clubhouse looking forward to that."

If history is a guide, there is good reason to look ahead with optimism.

Consider the last five times - 1983, 1993, 2000, 2005, and 2008 - that the White Sox won the Central Division to reach the playoffs; all those teams proved that their success prior to the All-Star game was no fluke.

Let's begin with 1983, a team mired in sixth place on May 26 with a 16-24 record. With Tony LaRussa calling the shots, the team surged to 40-37 by the break and then blew away the competition by winning 59 of their remaining 85 games en route to a 99-63 record.

It is interesting to note that the '83 bunch made a mid-June addition when general manager Roland Hemond traded second baseman Tony Bernazard to Seattle for Julio (Juice) Cruz. The new second baseman hit just .251 but added speed, defense and positive karma to a talented group that already included Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Ron Kittle, Greg Luzinski and a solid pitching staff.

I thought about that trade after Kenny Williams grabbed Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox. Talk about good karma. Youk already has become a South Side favorite, leading the team to a 9-4 mark since he arrived. If Juice Cruz injected a spark for the '83 team, Youkilis is capable of doing even more for this season's ballclub.

Then there were the 1993 Sox, who led the division at the All-Star break at 45-41 before adding a 49-27 ledger in the second half to go 94-68. Frank Thomas was MVP that season (41 HR, 128 RBI, .317 BA), and current manager Robin Ventura played a huge part with 22 homers and 94 RBI.

Move ahead to 2000 when soft-spoken Jerry Manuel guided the team to a stunning 55-32 record at the break. The team wasn't as hot after the All-Star game, going 40-35, but that was good enough to hold off second-place Cleveland by five games. Twenty-four-year-old Paul Konerko was just coming of age back then as his numbers were 21, 97, and .298. Paulie is one of four players from that team still active today, the others being Mark Buehrle, Carlos Lee, and Kip Wells.

The 2005 World Series champions were unheralded prior to that season, although unlike this year, Sports Illustrated didn't predict 95 losses. The team got out of the gate quickly, posting a 57-29 mark by the break. They cooled a bit in the second half, leading Cleveland by just 2 1/2 games on September 20, the night of the epic game at the Cell when Joe Crede hit two home runs - including a walk-off in the tenth - to virtually put the Sox over the hump. They wound up at 99-63 and went 11-1 in the postseason.

Finally, the 2008 team was just 35-33 following the All-Star break, but a solid start of 54-41 was good enough to earn the Sox a one-game face-off against the Twins to see who would advance. Thanks to John Danks' greatest performance, a Jim Thome home run, and Junior Griffey's perfect throw to the plate to stifle Minnesota's only threat, our guys prevailed 1-0. I dare you to recall a more exciting game when it counted ever played at the Cell.

Lest you are contemplating where you'd like to sit for the playoffs, I must point out that the antithesis to the above-mentioned campaigns was 1977, when the South Side Hitmen led the division at the break with a 54-36 record. In the last game prior to the All-Star game, Steve Stone ran his record to 10-7 by beating the Red Sox 3-2. That win kept the Sox 2 1/2 games in front of defending Central champs Kansas City.

The Sox were only 36-36 the rest of the way, while the Royals, who truly did have a splendid ballclub, surged to 51-22 after the break, 12 games better than Stoney, Richie Zisk, Oscar Gamble, and the rest of the Hitmen.

So what can we expect from here until the Sox close out the season with three games at Cleveland the first week of October?

Most observers are convinced that the challenge will not come from the Indians but from the Tigers, who now trail the Sox by 3 1/2 games. If you want to play the game I just related, simply go back to last season when the Tigers were 49-43 at All-Star time. They went 46-24 the rest of the way, and that was minus Prince Fielder, who is having a lovely time in the Motor City.

So far the Sox and Detroit have split eight games, meaning that they have ten more confrontations - six at Comerica. And, as yet, the Sox haven't faced Justin Verlander, last season's Cy Young recipient. Mark your calendar for September 10-13 when Detroit visits the Cell for four mid-week games. Those very well could be the deciding contests, and you can bet that Jim Leyland will have Verlander starting one of those games.

Leading up to that time, the Sox need to put a few more pieces into place. Most pressing is starting pitching. Danks and Philip Humber both have been shelved by a sore shoulder and arm, respectively, but that has given Jose Quintana a chance to emerge as a future star. Fate gave Quintana an opportunity, and he's shown the ability to spot the ball with pinpoint control while exhibiting a calm, professional presence.

Let assume that Quintana, Chris Sale, and Jake Peavy remain strong for the next three months. If they do, the success of this team could be placed squarely on the shoulders of Gavin Floyd. He showed Saturday in his mastery of the Blue Jays in the Sox's 2-0 win that he might be up to the challenge. Since Gavin went 17-8 in 2008, he has a mediocre 40-45 record. However, in his last four outings, he has a 1.37 ERA and has given up just 21 hits in 26-plus innings. Think where Floyd could take this team if he continues to pitch effectively.

Fifth starter Dylan Axelrod, who was shelled Sunday by the Blue Jays, is not the long-term answer, but Humber appears almost ready to return. Like Floyd, his effectiveness would work wonders for this ballclub. Imagine if Danks is able to come back to solidify the rotation.

Meanwhile, the bullpen is filled with guys you never heard of, but they have live arms, tend to throw strikes - at least until yesterday - and getting beat up a game or two doesn't seem to have long-lasting effects. Addison Reed may blow a few saves from here on out, but he represents youth, desire, talent, and confidence. Ventura's gamble was and will continue to be one worth taking.

Talking about Ventura, he makes a few moves that are puzzling, such as staying with some pitchers (namely Peavy) seemingly far too long while giving others (notably Quintana) a quick hook. Sometimes he asks relievers to pitch more than one inning - it worked successfully with Matt Thornton on Saturday - while other times a guy is gone after a few pitches. He's run into some outs with failed steals while neglecting the bunt when it seems in order.

His predecessor would have ranted about the wisdom of his strategy. When the team was winning, it was great theater. Ventura's post-game comments are about as cliche-laden and scintillating as Lovie Smith's. But that's just fine. The guy clearly has the respect of his players, he has surrounded himself with a good coaching staff, and he is even-keeled.

Outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Sox are the season's biggest surprise thus far. There are so many bright spots - Alex Rios, team defense, timely hitting, A.J. Pierzynski, Alejandro De Aza, and much more - that it's tough to picture the White Sox not remaining a contender in the second half. If history repeats itself, the first half was simply a preview of what's to come.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:31 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2012

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk is proud to say we never try to make anything look better.

Market Update
The future of the controversial Bliss Index was called into question this week when market leader Ignorance was forced to admit it had grossly overestimated its holdings.

Breaking The Wave
Apparently we'll get some relief from the excessive heat this weekend. Whether this also brings relief from the excessive coverage of the excessive heat remains to be seen.

Coffer Offer
Note to CPS: transparent and empty are not the same thing.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week announced that Afghanistan has been elevated to "Major non-NATO Ally" status. Experts believe this will be followed by the demotion of Russia and China to "uncool" and the elevation of the United Kingdom to "total BFF."

Death, and NOT Taxes
Wait a minute, is this what they mean by the ObamaCare penalty?

Actually, if this is Romney's idea of taxing, we'll take death.

Bieb Racer
Finally this week, as long as he's speeding into irrelevance we don't see the problem here.


The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Your major ally.


The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Heat wave survival guide: drink water and try the Summer Harvest Skillet.


The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg's inboxes having been filling up with new releases. Tune in as they review albums by Best Coast, Patti Smith, and Bobby Womack during our Summer Record Review Roundup. Plus, Billboard's Joe Levy talks rock n' roll cruises."


The CAN TV Weekend Viewing 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: Las Caras Lindas


Monika Black explains how Las Caras Lindas helps Black and Latina girls and women explore who they are as individuals, members of the community, and leaders in society.

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


Aerial Dance Chicago: Garden of Souls


Three world premiere pieces debut in this collection of aerial dance works that "ponder the meaning of life, question 'the truth,' and explore the lives of past creative geniuses."

Sunday, July 8 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Myths, Democracy, & Tools for Media Literacy Education


Kartemquin Films founder Gordon Quinn discusses how important student and consumer education about media is to the maintenance of democracy.

Sunday, July 8 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr


Myths, Democracy, & Tools for Media Literacy Education


Jeanette Foreman of the Prometheus Radio Project explains how to access, create, analyze, and evaluate media and media literacy curriculum.

Sunday, July 8 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
30 min


An Evening with Pulitzer Prize Winner Mary Schmich


Tribune columnist Mary Schmich relates her experiences telling Chicago's stories for more than two decades.

Sunday, July 8 at 12:00 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 15 min


Here We Are: Summer Jazz


Tune in to enjoy the summer breeze of light jazz outdoors with the Ada Park Garage Jazz Band.

Sunday, July 8 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr


Not Quite White


This documentary explores the complicated relationship of Arab and Slavic immigrants to American notions of whiteness.

Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:47 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2012

A Happy Ending: City Libraries Back To Regular Schedule

We wanted to let you know some very good news: Thanks to you and thousands of other Chicago residents who made clear the importance of your neighborhood branch, staffing and hours have been almost completely restored throughout the Chicago Public Libraries system. Over the past few weeks, nearly all of the library employees who were laid off last winter were recalled to work, and the library's "summer hours" have returned the system to its regular schedule.

As you know, last fall Mayor Emanuel proposed a budget that would have cut library hours on Mondays and Fridays and eliminated 552 library staff positions. Knowing how much Chicagoans value their public libraries, we launched a campaign that let library lovers like you push back against these cuts.

We started with "story time" in front of the mayor's office on Halloween. Hundreds of people showed up, including kids in costumes, people with handmade "I love my library" signs, and concerned library staff. Together we delivered petitions signed by more than 5,000 Chicago residents. And in the following days we made thousands of calls to aldermen and garnered citywide media coverage of this outpouring of public support. In response to the outcry, the mayor agreed to restore the funding needed to reverse some, but not all, of his planned cutbacks.

In January, the city began closing libraries all day on Mondays. Once again concerned citizens from across Chicago came together to press for full funding of the public library system. We held "People's Library Hours" with hot cocoa and colorful signs in front of the closed library branches. And once again the mayor responded, agreeing to keep the libraries open on Monday afternoons.

But he also ordered the layoff of more than 120 library pages, the system's lowest-paid, part-time employees who keep shelves restocked when materials are returned. With the pages gone, librarians struggled to keep up, taking time away from assisting patrons to restock shelves. Lines were long, and often books just piled up for weeks.

Fortunately, reason prevailed, and in recent weeks nearly all the pages have been recalled to work. Bringing them back will improve access to books and free up other library staff to serve patrons and conduct popular programs. And for now, branch libraries are open a full eight hours on Mondays.

Library staff are hopeful that CPL will maintain these hours into the fall. If not, however, we know we can count on thousands of supporters like you to again speak out in defense of their libraries.

Thank you for standing up for Chicago's vibrant network of neighborhood branch libraries.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 PM | Permalink

Pat Quinn Signs Campaign Finance Bill Into Law When Nobody Is Looking Because It Reverses Post-Blago Reform

"The co-chairs of the CHANGE Illinois! coalition on Friday said Gov. Quinn's signing of Senate Bill 3722 has damaged the state's campaign contribution limits system and opened the door to unlimited contributions in election contests where independent expenditure groups spend significant amounts of money," the group said in a statement released to the media.

Here's the rest:

"Under the new law, there will be no limits on campaign contributions in any election where spending by an independent committee (or super PAC) exceeds $250,000 in support of a candidate in a statewide race or $100,000 in an election for state legislator, mayor, judge and all other non-statewide contests.

"'This new law could open the floodgates to a torrent of special interest money surging into the campaigns of candidates seeking some of the most important offices in our state,' said CHANGE Illinois! Co-Chair Peter Bensinger. 'Those unlimited contributions will carry more opportunities for the kind of corruption that has denied Illinoisans a fair and honest representation in their governments.'

"The Illinois limits system, which was passed in 2009 in the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, became effective in January 2011. Due to the General Assembly's passage of SB 3722 last month and the signing by Quinn, the loophole will be in effect for this fall's election when all 177 House and Senate districts are at stake and in 2014 - the first gubernatorial election under the limits system.

"'This loophole bill was rushed through the General Assembly in the closing days of the legislative session and without any consideration by the Illinois Campaign Finance Reform Task Force, which was created by the General Assembly to study implementation of the 2009 law and to advise legislators and the Governor on possible revisions,' said Deborah Harrington, a co-chair of CHANGE Illinois! and a member of the task force.

"'No single reform can root out all government corruption,' said George A. Ranney, co-chair of the coalition. 'However, the state's first ever limitation on campaign contributions was a major change in the way Illinois conducts elections, and now Gov. Quinn and a majority of the General Assembly have undermined that much needed reform which their constituents pressured them to create less than three years ago.'"

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform also released a statement from executive director Brian Gladstein:

"Gov. Quinn's signature on this bill has carved a large loophole into the campaign contribution limits law. He has made it easier for large campaign contributors to buy political favors, and he has moved Illinois back toward the same kind of system that produced two corrupt governors now serving prison sentences.

"His record on reform had a promising beginning with his signature on the 2009 bill creating the state's first comprehensive contribution limits, but he took a wrong turn with his signature on this limits loophole.

"He has opened the door to a return of Blagojevich proportion contributions in the 2014 gubernatorial election."

Lest you think this is reformist hyperbole, objectivity paragon AP reported it this way: "Quinn Signs Law Ditching Caps He Championed."

GateHouse News Service opened its story this way:

"Just two years after signing a bill limiting the amount of money candidates can receive from individuals, unions, corporations and others, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill blowing off those caps in elections where third-party groups dump certain amounts of cash into the race."

Followed by:

"The legislation, Senate Bill 3722, goes into effect for the 2012 election and will be effective for a potential 2014 Quinn re-election campaign.

"But a Quinn spokeswoman said the governor wasn't being self-serving by signing the bill.

"'No. The bottom line is this is about ensuring fairness. The rules have changed,' said spokeswoman Annie Thompson."

Just coincidentally, then, the bill was sponsored by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago). We're sure she only had fairness in mind.

Quinn, by the way, is on an unannounced trip to Spain. Somehow he managed to sign the bill into law from there on late Friday afternoon of a holiday week in the midst of a killer heat wave.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"An extreme heat warning for the Chicago area had been set to expire at 6 p.m. Friday but now has been extended to 4 p.m. Saturday," the Tribune reports. "The weather service said the heat index - how it feels - could climb to 116 on Friday and will hover at 105 on Saturday."

Putting The Ill In The Illinois
"Illinois ranks in the bottom third of the country for health care quality, a reminder that access to care remains a hurdle in a cash-strapped state that has squeezed services for the poor and underinsured," Crain's reports.

"Illinois ranks 35th, according to the 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services."

Own To Rent
"Renting an apartment in the U.S. became even more expensive during the second quarter, as vacancies set a new 10-year low and rents rose at a pace not seen since before the financial crisis, according to real estate research firm Reis Inc.," Reuters reports.

Maybe it's all those foreclosed-upon homeowners flooding the market; after all, it's a trickle-down economy.

Triple J Triple Tired
More "exhausted" than he realized.

The Week In Chicago Rock
We have the video.

Red Eyes
"As of Sunday Pasadena drivers can avoid the gut-wrenching feeling motorists get when they've been caught in the flash of a red-light camera, wondering if they made it through the intersection in time," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"City officials decided not to renew a contract with American Traffic Systems Inc. for the city's seven red-light cameras, citing a lack of enforcement from Los Angeles County courts, time wasted by Pasadena police officers and questions about the cameras' effectiveness in improving traffic safety."

Look away, Chicago. City Hall certainly is.

"In the first year after the red-light cameras were installed, transportation officials noted a decline in collisions. But that may have been due to lengthening the time that lights remained yellow, said Bahman Janka, a Pasadena transportation administrator. Further studies found that the frequency of collisions at intersections with and without cameras were similar."

Perhaps this is the kind of information the Emanuel administration is hiding.

"The city of Los Angeles discontinued its red-light camera program after identifying enforcement and equipment problems."

But at least the city will take in some (of our) money, right?

"Additionally, the program - while never expected to bring in a lot of money - is running at a $4,487 deficit."

Cooked County
"When Cook County prosecutors brought Cleveland Barrett to trial earlier this year for the predatory criminal sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl, they presented the jury hearing the case testimony from the alleged victim plus the kind of evidence that long has won convictions with its scientific certainty: DNA," the Tribune reports.

Indeed, Assistant State's Attorneys Krista Peterson and Jane Sack told jurors in closing arguments that the DNA obtained from the victim after the alleged incident in July 2010 was a match to Barrett's genetic profile and evidence that corroborated the victim's trial testimony.

"Who is the major profile in the DNA that's found?" Sack asked the jury, according to a transcript from the trial. "The defendant."

But this DNA was different. It was not from semen, as is often the case in rapes; instead it came from male cells found on the girl's lips. What's more, the uniqueness of the genetic link between the DNA and Barrett was not of the 1-in-several-billion sort that crime lab analysts often testify to in trials with DNA evidence. Instead, when Illinois State Police crime lab analyst Lisa Fallara explained the statistical probabilities, she testified the genetic profile from the cells matched 1 in 4 African-American males, 1 in 8 Hispanic males and 1 in 9 Caucasian males.

Fact is, the DNA profile from the cells on the victim's lips could have matched hundreds of thousands of men in the Chicago region.

The advent of forensic DNA analysis offered a precision that older and cruder - and, now, mostly discarded - forensic disciplines did not. But experts say cases such as Barrett's, which are emerging in Cook County and in some other jurisdictions across the nation, mark a troubling return to a kind of forensic science that allows imprecision to cloud the evidence as well as a judge's or a jury's ability to weigh it properly.

As much as defense attorneys are often demonized for sometimes zealously advocating on behalf of gruesome clients, it is prosecutors who seem to pervert the cause of justice far too often.

In this case, Cleveland Barrett was convicted and spent more than a year in jail before he was set free. Several times a year we see stories of those who spend far more time in prison before their wrongful prosecutions are reversed. Can you imagine?

But the Cook County State's Attorney's Office is not apologizing.

"The office stood by Sack's statements in closing, with office spokeswoman Sally Daly saying they were 'proper and consistent with the evidence presented during trial. That is not only our position, but obviously the position of the trial judge as well, as he overruled objections made at the time.'"

That only makes the judge (not named in this article, quite unfortunately) equally to blame - if not more so. After all, the judge's job is to umpire between two sides often unrestrained by any sense of ethics.


"Barrett, 47, said he was just weeks from getting a degree as a chef when he was arrested and his life turned upside down. He said he still cannot believe that prosecutors used the DNA against him.

"The way they done me was really unfair," he told the Tribune. "That DNA didn't match me, and they knew it."

Soap Dope
"A former salesman for a postal service vendor was sentenced to nine months in federal prison for intentionally dumping truck wash soap, which is used to wash postal vehicles, down sewer drains, causing the United States Postal Service to purchase more truck wash soap than it needed, federal law enforcement officials announced [on June 27].

"The defendant, Nicholas Peregonow, who was a salesman for a company in Elgin, benefited by receiving increased commissions on his sales of truck wash soap to the Postal Service."

Maybe the postal service ought to hire him to figure out how they can increase their commissions.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Soapy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rev KM Williams at the Old Town School of Music on Tuesday night.


2. Eric Prydz at the Wavefront Music Festival on Sunday night.


3. Taproot at the Great Lakes Naval Base on Tuesday.


4. Iron Maiden at the crappy shed in Tinley Park on Thursday night.


5. Ziggy Marley at the Cubby Bear on Monday night.


6. Moguai & Tommy Trash at the Mid on Tuesday night.


7. Braceface at the Stage Bar on Tuesday night.


8. The Waco Brothers at FitzGerald's on Tuesday night.


9. Answer For An Arrow at Reggie's on Sunday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 AM | Permalink

July 5, 2012

The [Thursday] Papers

"The hottest day recorded in Chicago is 105 degrees, and we will make a good run at that mark today," the Tribune reports.

"The record was set on July 24, 1934. Forecasts show we could at least match that today and come close to it on Friday before temperatures settle down into the 80s over the weekend. On Wednesday, we matched the record high for the date, 102 set in 1911."

Which, by the way, was three years into the Cubs' rebuilding plan.

License To Ill
"It once belonged to a succession of Roman Catholic cardinals in Chicago," Dave McKinney writes for the Sun-Times today. "Then, it went to an Illinois secretary of state who would later be remembered for the shoeboxes stuffed with cash that he left behind after his death. Most recently, it adorned the car of a former Illinois first lady.

"But for the past decade, Illinois' No. 1 license plate - the most coveted of all the state's nearly 7.8 million passenger-vehicle license plates - has quietly been kept out of circulation.

"That has been the case ever since the widow of former Gov. Richard Ogilvie relinquished the showpiece plate in 2002."

Really? I did not know that. I just assumed somebody - the governor or some Combine muckety-muck had it. But no.

"It happened without any fanfare. There was no public notice by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

"Since then, few outside White's domain knew the plate was out of circulation and, in theory, available - not even Gov. Pat Quinn.

"But told that that's the case by a Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Quinn now has a plan to put passenger plate No. 1 back into circulation.

"He wants the plate sold to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to programs for military veterans."

That's not a bad idea.

"The governor has long been a proponent of auctioning off coveted low-digit and single-letter license plates, which for decades have gone to those with political clout -- including more than a few who ended up being felons.

"Four other states now allow license plates to be auctioned to the high bidder.

"No one can say for certain how much Illinois' No. 1 might draw. In 2009, though, Delaware plate No. 11 pulled in a whopping $675,000 at auction. And that was No. 11, not No. 1."

Trying to see a downside here. Can't think of one.


Click through to read the rest of the story - and to find out who owns plate Nos. 2 through 10 and A through Z.

Pocket Pool
"A Chicago man with more than 100 arrests for theft and other crimes has been arrested again in connection with a spree of recent pickpocketings at the CTA Jackson Red Line subway station," the Tribune reports.

Maybe he should be given plate No. 1. Just hang it around his neck.

And here's the thing: He's only 50. Usually these guys are, like, 96.

The man's name is Christopher Brown and he's been arrested 117 times by Chicago police. Dibs on the movie script!

"He has been identified by authorities as among more than 160 pickpockets who are actively preying on people on the CTA, at the city's two airports and downtown restaurants."

Time For Livin'
Chicago Honors MCA & The Beastie Boys.

Social Beachwood
Don't forget to subscribe to the Beachwood Twitter feed. It's pretty funny.

We're on Facebook too; it's sort of like our blog.

Closer To The God Particle
This has been up on YouTube for a month but seems to be getting particular attention about now for some reason. It has more than 1.4 million views and features Alex Chadwick from the Chicago Music Exchange.

The guitar is a '58 three-tone sunburst Fender strat, which just might be the God Particle itself. (It sells for $32,995 but ships for free.)

You can see the rest of his gear plus the full list of songs with various details here.


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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Time For Livin': Chicago Honors MCA & The Beastie Boys

At Lincoln Hall on Monday night. Proceeds to Students For A Free Tibet.

1. "Sabotage" by Dance Floor Plans/DJ Intel.


2. "Slow Ride" by Lowdown Brass with Cosmos, Greenweedz and Dan Fernandez.


3. "Brass Monkey" by Lowdown Brass with Cosmos, Greenweedz and Dan Fernandez.


4. "Jimmy James" by Marvin Tate.


5. "Gratitude" by JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound.


6. "Sure Shot" by Dance Floor Plans.


7. "The New Style" by Jesse De La Pena, Dirty MF, Mr. D, MCB.


8. "Paul Revere" by Impala DJs with Cosmos, Greenweedz and Dan Fernandez.


9. "Pass The Mic" by ShowYouSuck, MCB, Dirty MF and J-Typical.


10. "Whatcha Want" by Therm and Abstract Giants.


11. "Intergalactic" by Therm and Abstract Giants.


12. "No Sleep till Brooklyn" by BT, Keller, Kevin Marks, Jesse, Dirty, MCB and Mr. D.


13. "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" by The Right Now feat. Rita J & DJ Intel.


14. "Shake Your Rump" by Jesse, Elroy, Dirty, MCB, Mr. D, DJ Chi-Boy Caldeirada.


15. "The Biz vs. The Nuge" by Akasha at soundcheck.


16. "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" finale.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2012

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Casting doubt on an ambitious state plan to move thousands of mentally ill adults out of nursing homes and into community-based programs, a federal court monitor reported this week that many of the patients don't want to leave the facilities while others were found to be unfit for the community placements," the Tribune reports.

Hey, nobody asked them.


No, seriously. Did anyone ask them?


"As part of a sweeping package of nursing home reforms, state officials agreed in a 2010 federal court settlement to offer supportive housing and treatment to roughly 5,000 mentally ill adults who were living in two dozen large nursing homes designated as Institutions for Mental Diseases, or IMDs.

"The consent decree gave state officials five years to screen residents and move those who wanted to live in subsidized apartments or group homes where they would receive therapy and other services.

"But as of last week, only 45 patients have actually moved or signed a lease - far short of the first-year target of at least 256 people."

Forty-five people is five short of the size of the Chicago City Council - a comparatively stubborn group but not exactly a large one. Forty-five people is also exactly half the size of an NFL team's roster.

"This is a learning process for all of us," Gov. Pat Quinn's senior health care policy adviser, Michael Gelder, told the Tribune.

Really? Among the hard facts I've learned in my 20-some years as a reporter is that government officials always want to move needy people out of their (crappy) care facilities into (privatized) community settings to save money (instead of fixing the problems) though they'll always say it's out of the goodness of their hearts, and that such efforts (almost) always go bad.

Now, it's true enough that advocate Benjamin Wolf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which represents mentally ill nursing home residents, favors the move, telling the the Tribune that "The values the governor has expressed and the promises the state has made have been very positive."

But those values are rarely backed by the dollars and sense it takes to make such moves right. That's why the University of Chicago Hospitals' strategy of kicking the poor out of its emergency room - spearheaded by Michelle Obama and David Axelrod - and Rahm Emanuel's plan to somehow serve the mentally ill better by closing city clinics in favor of community care are not just fraught with peril but incredibly cynical. Now add Pat Quinn - good intentions and all - to the list.

"The problem has been implementation," Wolf told the Tribune. "Changing the way the state does business is proving harder than we hoped . . . we are hopeful that the state will . . . put its effort in a higher gear."

Hey, I thought we were all learning here?

University of Sillyinois
"The University of Illinois will pay its former president's chief of staff $175,000 to resign from her faculty post and drop unresolved wage claims, the university announced Tuesday," the Tribune reports.

Nice work if you can leave it.

"Lisa Troyer, former President Michael Hogan's closest adviser, resigned abruptly from her administrative position earlier this year amid an e-mail scandal in which she was accused of posing anonymously as a faculty leader to influence faculty debate.

"Troyer was allowed to continue working at the university as a tenured faculty member with a $109,000 salary for a nine-month appointment."

That way her allegedly fake e-mails really would be coming from a faculty member.

"The announcement Tuesday comes as the U. of I. is hoping to move beyond its latest crisis and inspire confidence in those who have grown weary of scandal at the state's flagship public university. The university has had two presidents resign under fire in the last three years."

The only confidence it inspires in me is the ability of a Big Ten university to announce such embarrassing news on the afternoon before a major holiday.

"(The separation agreement) states that any prospective employers checking Troyer's references should be directed only to Hogan."

And only through a special e-mail account known only by Troyer.

"In addition, Troyer and university officials agreed not to make defamatory statements, including on Facebook or Twitter, about each other."

Google Plus is fair game, however, since nobody will see it anyway.

"Troyer has maintained she did not write or send the two anonymous e-mails and has contended that an external investigation into the matter was flawed. During the investigation, two firms reviewed Troyer's laptop, phone records and thousands of e-mails. They concluded that the e-mails were sent from her computer and that there was no evidence that anybody else knew about them."

Maybe A Friend wrote them.

"In a news release issued Tuesday, Troyer wrote: 'I have always stated that I never sent any anonymous e-mails, and the Investigation Report never concluded that I did.'"

So true! You have always stated that you never sent anonymous e-mails. That is what you have always stated. And the report concluded that the e-mails came from your computer and there was no evidence anyone else sent them. Implying that you did. But not concluding. Bravo!

When Sheriff Andy Taylor Came To Chicago
It was 1994 - and he brought Barney with him.

Rhymefest vs. Chief Keef
Savagery and shorties.

Fantasy Fix: Stars And Gripes
First-half fabulosities and flame-outs.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Fabulous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:14 AM | Permalink

When Sheriff Andy Taylor Came To Town

It was 1994 - and he brought Barney Fife.


South Bend.


Aurora. Sort of.


RIP Andy Griffith.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

Rhymefest vs. Chief Keef

In a guest post on Analog Girl In A Digital World last week, Chicago rapper and former aldermanic candidate Rhymefest wrote that fellow hometown teen star Chief Keef "represents the senseless savagery that white people see when the news speaks of Chicago violence" and likened him to a bomb because a bomb "has no responsibility or blame, it does what it was created to do; DESTROY!"

This was Rhymefest's way of saying Keef - who just signed to Interscope Records - is being used as a tool and a fool in another man's game.

"To think of the persona of Chief Keef as a person would be the first mistake; he will more then likely come and go without us knowing much of anything about his personal pains, struggles, great loves and ambitions beyond rap," Rhymefest writes. "Major record labels always put million-dollar life insurance policies on artists of this nature so that they get paid one way or the other."

On Tuesday, Rhymefest reiterated his stance in an interview with WGCI. (He also said "To hell with that" when asked if he would run for office again.)

"It's really not about Chief Keef as much as it is about exploitation," Rhymefest said. "It's no coincidence that one of the most violent periods Chicago has ever seen, that this is what represents us musically. This is what represents us as a people . . . So if all of the diet of the music that you get is kill kill kill and we're going to glorify that, then that's what we are conditioning our shorties and they'll never end."

Here's the full interview.


* South Side 16-Year-Old Gets Shot, Blows Up.

* Rhymefest's Rap.

* Rhymefest's Run.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2012

Fantasy Fix: Stars And Gripes

One thing I noticed when picking my own fantasy baseball All-Star team this year was that many of the players who are traditionally most highly regarded - the ones we called the top 10 position players and top 10 pitchers back on draft day - for the most part didn't make the cut.

So many of those lead dogs have had disappointing seasons - or have been too waylaid by injuries to receive serious consideration. Rather than let those failures slip by without comment, I've included not only my All-Stars on this list, but also the big names who have flamed out:

C: Carlos Ruiz, PHI. Sorry, A.J. Pierzynski, you've had a great run this season but Ruiz, has been exceptional for a bad team, hitting over .350, with 30 extra-base hits and an OPS of .999.

Flamed out: Carlos Santana, CLE. Picked by most as the top fantasy catcher and among the top 1Bs, Santana is hitting .220 with just five HRs.


1B: Edwin Encarnacion, TOR. 22 HRs and 58 RBIs from an unexpected source, he could have also made my list as a 3B.

Flamed out: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS. Perhaps not even the most disappointing player on his team, but 6 HRs from a player who made the pre-season top 10 is too paltry. Albert Pujols has rebounded somewhat from a horrible start to save him from this distinction.


2B: Robinson Cano, NYY. The rare occasion where the top player at his position actually has met expectations in the first half. Cano's 20 HRs, 47 RBIs and .313 batting average overshadow Indians rookie Jason Kipnis, who has 20 SBs.

Flamed out: Dustin Pedroia, BOS. Many of the flame-outs could be Boston players. Pedroia has fought through injuries, but has not produced like the pre-season No. 2 player at the position.


3B: Jose Bautista, TOR. The Mets' David Wright really deserves this nod, with a .354 average, but Joey Bats has fought back from a horrible April with 27 HRs and 64 RBIs.

Flamed out: Evan Longoria, TAM. He hit well enough when he was playing, but has spent much of the first half on the DL, in what could have been his biggest season yet.


SS: Derek Jeter, NYY. I kept him out of my top 10 at a weak position, but the old man has been just plain impressive with a position-leading 99 hits.

Flamed out: Troy Tulowitski, COL. Another top 10 player (actually heard he was No. 1 overall in some leagues) who has spent most of the first half on the DL. Not his fault, but that won't make those who picked him in the first round feel any better.


OF: Josh Hamilton, TEX; Ryan Braun, MIL; Carlos Gonzalez, COL. Hamilton had a great first half just in the first six weeks, playing well ahead of a pre-season rank of 33. Braun is another of just a few top picks who have fully paid off, with 22 HRs, 55 RBIs, 13 SBs and a .309 average. Gonzalez is having his best season all-around.

Flamed out: Matt Kemp, LAD; Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS; Justin Upton, ARI. Kemp may be the biggest overall disappointment - Hamilton-like talent and potential, but nagging injury. Ellsbury also found himself again on the DL. Upton has no such excuse, having played so poorly he was benched for a stretch.


SP: R.A. Dickey, NYM; Matt Cain, SF. One pitched two consecutive one-hitters, and all the other could muster was a perfect game. These two are way out ahead of the pack, especially Dickey with 12 wins and a 2.15 ERA.

Flamed out: Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, PHI. This pretty much speaks to where Philly is in the standings, with Halladay on the DL and Lee still winless - not all his fault but more his fault than most people are saying, according to his 4.13 ERA. Tim Lincecum just misses this honor with a 5.60 ERA.


RP: Jim Johnson, BAL. Came out on nowhere, and has been lights out for the Orioles with 23 saves and a 1.30 ERA.

Flamed out: Heath Bell, MIA; Carlos Marmol, CUBS. Bell has blown five saves, but it feels like about 10. He's one of the big reasons Miami has been so inconsistent. I know Marmol has his job back, but even when he's saving games, he's a wreck. He could have had a nice comeback year with a crappy team and not much pressure on him, but 25 walks in 23.2 innings says it all.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has its All-Wiener team, with a few names we recognize.

* Bleacher Report eyes the top 10 rookies for the second half. Locals Anthony Rizzo and Jose Quintana make the list.

* Full Spectrum Baseball likes Tigers outfielder Quintin Barry as a hot waiver wire pick-up.


Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:25 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Hinky and winky.

Eternal Life
Scientists Glimpse Evidence Of God Particle.

Hostage Negotiation
"A Will County politician sees an opportunity in U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s misfortune," Phil Kadner writes for the SouthtownStar.

"And if there's anything likely to bring Jackson (D-Chicago) out of his medical leave, it's news that a Will County Board member is using his absence to grab control of the third airport project."

Bell Hell
"A class that claimed Taco Bell sent unwanted promotional text messages failed to persuade a federal judge that the company was directly responsible for their annoyance," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Tracie Thomas sued Taco Bell in 2009 on behalf of a class that received promotional texts from the Taco Bell Local Owners Advertising Association in Chicago.

The Association, along with advertising agency ESW Partners, approved a promotional sweepstakes campaign in 2005 that would send 'an outbound text message to 17,000 Chicagoans between the ages of 18 and 34 years of age,' the court's summary says.

"After the promotion was approved, ESW contracted with ipsh!net Inc. to procure a list of cell phone numbers.

"Thomas claimed the texts, which encouraged customers to enter a contest, violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in her complaint in California's Central District."

The judge denied the claim, but nonetheless the Taco Bell Owners Advertising Association is Today's Worst Association In Chicago.


"Chicago, Rockford, Green Bay, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing & Traverse City Taco Bell Advertising Association ('My Local Taco Bell') respects your privacy," their privacy statement says.

"Any information you give to Chicago, Rockford, Green Bay, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing & Traverse City Taco Bell Advertising Association will be held with the utmost care, and will not be used in ways that you have not consented to."

On the other hand, information like your cell phone number that we buy from third-party vendors will be unabashedly abused.

So apparently the premise was that a Counting Sheep escaped a Chicago-area Serta store with a stolen Perfect Mattress, and somehow the caper ended at Wrigley Field with the grounds crew looking on.

Put me to sleep now - forever.

Home Invasions
"A federal grand jury has indicted four people in the Chicago area on charges they fraudulently secured dozens of residential mortgage loans worth $9 million," AP reports.

"The U.S. attorney's office said in a statement Monday that the indictments are part of an ongoing bid to crack down on mortgage fraud in northern Illinois. It says around 200 defendants have been similarly charged since 2008."

Around 200. And the effort is ongoing.

Headline Of The Day
Chicago Cab Vomit Tax Passed, $50 Per Upchuck.

Cab Vomit Fee: Blowing Chunks Could Cost You Big Bucks.

Coal Hole
"With an eye toward the potential shut down of all its Illinois coal-fired power plants and a possible bankruptcy filing, the February agreement Midwest Generation made with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close two coal plants on the Southwest Side increasingly looks like a good deal for the company, and not the ideal outcome for residents who live near the facilities," Progress Illinois reports.

For example:

"Under the deal, Midwest Generation does not have to clean up the site, according to Emanuel spokesman Tom Alexander."

Just last February the mayor got a lot of mileage out of his supposed tough-guy stance with headlines like this: Emanuel Gives Coal Plant Operator An Ultimatum To Clean Up.

I guess they forgot the winking emoticon.

Scene Report
Chicago duo: This trap shit ain't a fad.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Live mas.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:37 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2012

Tribune's Clarence Page Spoke At Rally For Iranian Militant Group

Late last month, syndicated columnist Clarence Page appeared at a rally in Paris in support of the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian group that has been lobbying Washington to be removed from the U.S. government's list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.

Before a huge crowd waving portraits of MEK leaders Maryam and Massoud Rajavi as well as Iranian flags, Page called for the MEK to be removed from the official terrorist organization list.

Contacted about the appearance by ProPublica, Page said he has decided to give back his speaking fee for the event, as well as reimburse the cost of travel to and from France, which was paid for by a group called the Organizing Committee for Convention for Democracy in Iran.

"I thought they were simply a group of Iranian exiles who were opposed to the regime in Tehran," Page said. "I later found out they can be construed as a MEK front group, and I don't think it's worth it to my reputation to be perceived as a paid spokesman for any political cause."

Page said he was paid a fee of $20,000 and travel expenses and that he attended the June 23 event during vacation time. He said he just arrived back at work from vacation and has not yet given back the money. He did not have the text of the speech he delivered, but he told ProPublica he spoke in favor of the MEK being removed from the list of terrorist organizations, a move he expects to occur shortly.

The MEK, which fiercely opposes the current regime in Iran, has mounted a high-priced lobbying and legal battle to get off the terrorist list in recent years. The group was placed on the list in 1997 by the Clinton Administration, which cited its record of attacks against Iranian targets. The group also "assassinated several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran" in the 1970s when the U.S. was allied with the Shah, according to the State Department. The MEK says it has renounced violence. A federal appeals court last month ordered the State Department to decide within four months whether the MEK should remain on the list.

Groups supporting the MEK have paid millions of dollars to attract former officials and retired military officers to appear at events supporting the group in recent years. But because the MEK is an officially designated terrorist organization, it is illegal for Americans to accept money from the MEK itself.

NBC reported in March that former officials had received subpoenas as part of a federal probe "focused on whether the former officials may have received funding, directly or indirectly, from the [MEK]."

Besides Page's role as a columnist whose work is distributed by Tribune Media Services, he is also a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. Page has not written about Iran in his column recently, but the Tribune editorial board regularly weighs in on foreign policy. Last month, the paper called on the Obama administration to "ratchet up the economic pressure" on Iran in the dispute over the country's nuclear program. A spokeswoman for the Tribune did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Organizers assert that 100,000 people attended the Paris event last month, but that figure has not been independently verified. In a speech, Maryam Rajavi hailed the "unparalleled bipartisan coalition which has challenged the official policy" that labels the MEK a terrorist group.

Others attending the event last month include Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, former Bush administration official John Bolton, and several former high-ranking military officers.

"When I got involved with it, I saw the stellar list of VIPs who were also on the program, and I saw this to be another conference with another speech," Page said.

Page said the invitation to the event last month came through the Harry Walker Agency, a speakers agency which represents Page as well as others who have become regulars at pro-MEK events, including former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and conservative operative Linda Chavez. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is the promotional video produced after the event, which Page appears in around the 1:07 mark:


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

News, views and booze.

1. All evidence points to the U.S. Attorney's Office going back to an insider. It was fun while it lasted.


Can't we just have Peter Fitzgerald make the choice again? At the very least, he deserves a spot on Durbin/Kirk selection committee.

2. "A consulting company hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last summer to consolidate and overhaul city contracts has already saved the city $13.3 million, City Hall contends," the Sun-Times reports.

"Instead of buying brand-name pens, for example, the city is now purchasing generic brands and private labels."

Also, city officials will now use generic brown paper bags for stealthy transactions instead of monogrammed paper bags.


In unrelated news, Staples is threatening to leave Chicago unless it gets tax breaks coincidentally equaling the money lost in the pen deal.


Yeah, maybe not that funny. Also couldn't think of punch lines for "Scientists Find Evidence Of God Particle" even though I was just talking about this; "Illinois Bans Shark Fins Sales" even though Jimmy Buffett was just in town; "Illinois Lawmakers Defeat Flood Insurance Mandate" even in light of the Supreme Court thingy; or "Michael Jordan's Son Arrested" even though it was in Omaha.

3. "Illinoisans guzzled nearly three fewer six-packs of beer in 2011, per person, than they did just five years ago," the Pantagraph reports.

Maybe we're buying more by the case these days.

4. "Prosecutors confirmed for the first time today that three NATO protesters were caught on wiretaps as they allegedly plotted to use Molotov cocktails to blow up political targets during the recent summit in Chicago," the Tribune reports.

"According to the charges, police found four Molotov cocktails inside the apartment that the defendants - who are members of an anarchist group known as 'Black Bloc' - intended to use to firebomb targets such as police stations, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and President Barack Obama's downtown campaign headquarters."

All with . . . four Molotov cocktails? Not bloody likely.

5. Clarence Page Spoke At Rally For Iranian Militant Group.

Elsewhere On The Beachwood
* Dirty Girl Mud Run. The camaraderie of PMS.

* Melville, Elvis And Baseball. Moby-Dick author saw it all coming.

* SportsMonday: The Rizzo Stretch. Umpires and narratives.

* Tom Skilling Forecasts Coldest Day In Chicago History. It happened in 1994.

* The Cub Factor: Happy Days Aren't Here Again. Theo vs. the universe.

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

* The White Sox Report: Tales Of Yankee Power. While washing A.J. out of the All-Star game.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Knick, knack, paddywhack.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:12 PM | Permalink

Tom Skilling Forecasts Coldest Day In Chicago

It happened in 1994.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:41 PM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Hives at the Vic on Saturday night.


2. Lifehouse at Old St. Pat's World's Largest Block Party on Saturday night.


3. Average White Band at the Hyde Park Music & Arts Festival on Sunday evening.


4. Shiny Toy Guns at the Chicago Craft Beer Festival in Lincoln Park on Saturday night.


5. The Scorpions on Northerly Island on Friday night.


6. Samantha at the Ultra Lounge on Friday night.


7. Linen at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.


8. Tesla at Northerly Island on Friday night.


9. Ben Folds Five at the St. Pat's party on Friday night.


10. The Puffins at FitzGerald's on Friday night.


11. Three 6 Mafia at the Metro on Thursday night.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Rizzo Stretch

When the Cubs needed a big hit over the weekend, Anthony Rizzo came through. A two-run homer on Saturday put the squad up for good in an eventual 3-2 victory and his ground single through the right side on Sunday drove in the first run on the way to a 3-0 win.

But he also showed us a new way to loaf. Okay, so it wasn't really loafing but it was definitely evidence of casual disease. What else to call that annoying little eighth-inning sequence on Sunday when Rizzo declined to stretch for a throw from Darwin Barney on a close play at first? It must also be mentioned that he had a partner in crime (theft of an out from pitcher Travis Wood).

Umpire Paul Schrieber called the Astros' Brian Bixler safe (almost certainly in an instance of "I'll show you, you overconfident little whipper-snapper") despite the fact that he was a half-step short.

Calls like that are not difficult. Umps can make them with their ears and their eyes, with the clear sound of the ball smacking into the first baseman's glove (which in this case clearly happened first) easily distinguished from the thud of a cleat thumping down on the base (second, meaning the batter was out).

But Schrieber clearly noticed that rather than stretch to grab the throw from Barney to cap off a close play, Rizzo stood straight up and casually caught the ball near his body. As major league infielders so often do, Rizzo had successfully calculated just what was needed to get the base-runner. Except then the runner was called safe.

In youth baseball, when a fast base-runner tries to take liberties with a questionable opponent, i.e., he tries to take an extra base when the situation doesn't really warrant it, it is especially exciting for the opponent if it can then make a good throw and a good tag to get the out. You can watch umpires feed off this excitement, i.e., they oftentimes put a little more oomph into their "Out!" call in that sort of situation.

So it isn't too much of a stretch to point out that in the eighth inning on Sunday, Schrieber wanted Bixler to be safe to teach Rizzo a lesson. Bixler wasn't safe and that blown call is a strike against Schrieber's umping capabilities. But maybe Rizzo learned a little lesson in the way it played out.

I haven't found any post-game coverage in which the play was discussed, mostly because it didn't amount to anything, but perhaps, at least a little, because it didn't conform to the Rizzo narrative so far - the one where the young slugger overcomes the big-city pressure and has a successful debut.

The cool thing, though, was that Wood shrugged it off and went back to work. The pitcher who has morphed into a dominant lefty in his last three starts went ahead and recorded his final two outs before right-hander Shawn Camp came on in relief to face right-handed pinch-hitter Chris Snyder and to then finish off the eighth inning by inducing a pop-up.

But let me be the one to cap off this conversation by saying to Mr. Rizzo, even though the guy was out, don't ever play it too casual. It doesn't look good and it will cost you at some point. In other words, just go ahead and stretch next time.

One final note: Could everyone please take a step back from the idea that Rizzo is facing a ton of pressure because "the media" have dubbed him "the Savior?"

There is one small primary problem with this construct: Everyone who matters knows it totally isn't true. Rizzo's manager knows it, the team's brass knows it isn't. Sports media types in town, and fans with a few active brain cells know it. Rizzo is young player with a ton of potential who has a glorious chance to establish himself as the Cubs' long-term answer at first. It is fun to watch as he tries to take this chance and run with it.

It was classic that the Cubs won Rizzo's debut last week but then lost the next game 17-1 with him in the lineup. The message was clear - he is potentially a difference-making player but he is only one of many the Cubs will need if they are to turn their fortunes around in the next season or two.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:38 AM | Permalink

Happy Days Aren't Here Again

Finally, a good week. Was it any coincidence that as soon as the Cubs announced The Riz was coming to town their season turned upward? I think not.

It was a sigh of relief for this team to finally get their guy here and slotted into the 3-hole. The rest of the lineup could breathe a little bit easier with the lineup-for-the-future suddenly taking shape.

And with Travis Wood recovering from an awful spring training to become a rotation mainstay just as Ryan Dempster and maybe Matt Garza are about to depart, well, it's been a good week for Theo too. This thing just might work, except for one inescapable fact:

They are still the Cubs.

And in some mysterious way we may never understand, the Cub essence shall remain for all of eternity. Since 1908, it has been impossible for humans to destroy.

Thought I was getting a bit hopeful there, didn't you?

Week in Review: The Cubs went 5-1 this week, winning two of three from the Mets and sweeping the Astros. In total Cub manner, though, they actually only scored the same number of runs as their opponents in this stretch despite the overwhelmingly winning record. Why? Their one loss was by a very Cub-like score of 17-1. So in a way, the week was a push.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs head to Atlanta for four and then back to New York for three more with the Mets. I have to admit, I still like that apple. Maybe this will happen again. Get back, Jojo.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started every game this week and got six hits with no walks. He just continues to be Darwin Barney. I still expect a solid week soon for Barney, just to throw everyone off of his mediocrity. Which is just like the ghost of Jim Hendry would have wanted.

In former second basemen news, Ronny Cedeno has been starting for the Mets this year. He is currently batting .268. It amazes me that so few people in this world can play second base. "He keeps finding a job," Bob Brenly said with a bit of astonishment last week. This country has a severe second-basemen shortage. Oh, and he is missed.

Crazy Corners: I guess being named to the All-Star team, as Bryan LaHR has been, means you still can't take at-bats away from Jeff Baker against lefties. Although this is essentially a right field issue now. With the Riz as a fixture at first for the next 20 years, unless he turns into Anthony Sop Choi, all that is up for grabs now is third base. With Ian Stewart and his Mendoza-like average heading for surgery and Josh Vitters still not ready, Luis Valbuena has that spot locked up for now, but everyone knows the combination of that lock, so it's not very secure.

Weekly Bunting Report: The addition of the Riz combined with the continuing presence of Alfonso Soriano means former major-league steals leader Tony Campana has fallen behind the Dodgers' Dee Gordon in that category, having been relegated to mostly pinch-running duties. Which really puts a cramp on all the bunting that used to happen. Only the Cubs can't figure out how to get a league leader on the playing field.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z gave up five unearned runs in a loss to the Cardinals. He is Getting Angry.


Similarly, the telltale signs of a Mount Oz eruption are on display for all to see. Residents of South Florida are urged to stock up on supplies and take cover.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Anthony Rizzo for anything he wants to sell in Chicago right now.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in Victor Conte's company (whatever he calls it now) fell sharply as his only major league client just got caught and his performance was so bad he wasn't even on a team.

Sink or Sveum: 30% Analytical, 70% Emotional. Sveum jumps 10 points on the crazy meter this week due to actually winning for a change. On a scale of Bat Sh#t Crazy, (Charles Manson), Not All There, (random guy with a neck tattoo), Thinking Clearly (Jordi LaForge), and Non-Emotional Robot (Data), Dale is Thinking Clearly for the first time in a while.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale was asked the time and said it was 2:35, which was right, but his watch was actually broken, he just got lucky with the whole timing thing.

Over/Under: The number of times we see that big apple this week: +/- 1.5. I'm honestly hoping for the Over.

Don't Hassle The Hoff: Micah Hoffpauir apparently weighs 97kg. Metric weight values? What a hassle!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that I'm rooting for the guy, but LaHR is a weak All-Star selection.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: Spare Part Or New Start?.


Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

Tales Of Yankee Power

There they were yesterday. On my TV screen sitting in a golf cart. Looking, I thought, straight at me. Unsmiling. Stoic.

Whitey and Yogi. The enemy. The smug champions of pinstripes who played in what Sox broadcaster Bob Elson labeled, "The Main Arena." I didn't think I'd be affected, lo, these many decades later, but seeing Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra present for yet another of the Yankee Old Timers' Days, my psyche went into mourning. All those heart-breaking, late-innings defeats 55 years ago. They still hurt.

Okay, I'm not normal. But at least give me the benefit of once being an impressionistic teenager who kept hoping against hope that my White Sox - the Sox of Nellie Fox, Billy Pierce, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio and Sherman Lollar - could find a way to beat the Yankees and go to the World Series. It happened once in 1959, and that summer remains one of the finest in memory.

So as I sat in front of my television on Sunday waiting to see if the present-day Sox could take three-of-four from the Pinstripes, my mind wandered back many years ago when Yogi did things like hitting a prodigious home run just before a thunderstorm struck to wash out what would have been a Sox victory.

Years later I saw Yogi sitting at a table at Castelli's, a trattoria in Palm Desert, California, where he golfs during the winter. Sitting at the bar and nursing a few beers, I debated whether to make my presence known. Maybe because he ordered a cappuccino or tiramisu, I had a chance to order another beer. I blocked his path to the exit.

"Hello, Yogi. I just want to say I'm a White Sox fan, and you broke my heart so many times," I said.

His response: "Oh, shit!"

To this day I'm not sure if he was saying, "Get out of my way, Buddy" (most likely), or "I hear this everywhere," or "I sure am sorry about that" (least likely).

So when the White Sox got two in the first off Phil Hughes on Sunday, I was thinking, What a wonderful way to ruin Old Timers' Day. Send Whitey, Yogi and all the rest of those holier-than-thou former Yankees home smarting with a loss to these upstart Sox.

Of course, thanks to Gavin Floyd getting behind just about every hitter and giving up a couple of two-run homers to Eric Chavez and Robinson Cano, the Sox failed in getting victory No. 3 in the four-game set.

If you had asked me on Thursday morning if I'd be pleased with a series split, I would have been delighted. However, after winning the first two games, I, and I'm sure many fans and the team itself, was looking for three-out-of-four.

But I'm not impressed. Just because Colonel Ruppert built a stadium in 1923 to give the Babe an easy shot at the right-field bleachers doesn't mean that the modern-day team had to re-build the House That Ruth Built with the same dimensions. It's 314 feet down the right-field line, and the wall looks to be only about eight feet high. I couldn't tell for certain on TV, but Chavez's two-run homer on Sunday looked to be a routine fly ball that hit off the second-deck balustrade.

The two leading Yankee power hitters, Cano and Curtis Granderson, both left-handed batters, love playing at the Stadium. Cano hit his 20th on Sunday; 13 at Yankee Stadium. Granderson is among the league leaders with 23 home runs. Fourteen have come at home.

I'm not ignorant of the fact that guys like lefties A.J. Pierzynski and Adam Dunn also had the same shot last weekend, and A.J. took advantage by hitting two into the seats in the stirring 14-7 Sox victory on Friday.

So now New York leads the majors with 124 home runs. Terrific. Seventy have come at Yankee Stadium.

Again, as much as I look for defects in the New Yorkers, I have to bow in respect to Derek Jeter, who made a splendid play on Paulie's hard grounder in the first inning to stop Kevin Youkilis from scoring from third. (Thanks to Alex Rios, who followed with a single, Youk got home anyway for the Sox' second and final run.) It was the kind of defensive play that Jeter is famous for. With all of the Hall-of-Famers in Yankee history, Jeter has more than 400 hits more than anyone of 'em. He may be the greatest shortstop ever. I can't believe I just wrote those words.

The other news from Sunday was the end of voting for next week's All-Star Game. Konerko made the American League team behind Prince Fielder, although I'd rather have Paulie given his OBP, SLG, OPS, BA in this comparison.) And Chris Sale is an All-Star because he's one of the elite pitchers in baseball. Adam Dunn? Last season is behind him, and he's producing offense for the Sox while not hurting them when he plays the field. But a guy who's hitting .210 with 27 more strikeouts than anyone in either league does not merit being an All-Star. Go figure.

Meanwhile A.J. Pierzynski has to stomach his unpopularity everywhere except the South Side of Chicago. He's having his finest season, yet three catchers - Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters and Mike Napoli - were selected ahead of him. Napoli is the starter, a .235 hitter with 12 homers and 30 RBI. A.J.'s numbers are .285, 14 and 45. Manager Ron Washington said how sorry he was that A.J. didn't make the team. Gimme a break. It was his choice.

"If he felt that bad he would have put me on the team,'' Pierzynski told reporters, as noted by the Tribune's Phil Rogers. "He had an opportunity to and he didn't do it. Obviously, he can feel as bad as he wants, but he didn't feel that bad."

Maybe Dunn can give him his spot. At least the Sox would still match the Yankees' All-Star total.


Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

Dirty Girl Mud Run

Men came for the free mud wrestling. Women came for the empowerment of completing a non-threatening 5K obstacle course. Both groups got their wish this weekend as the Dirty Girl Mud Run came to town.

This past weekend, the Lake County Fairgrounds were transformed into a 5K track with obstacles such as One Ugly Mudder (a mud hill you had to both scale and descend), Get a Grip (a 12-foot-plus cargo net you had to climb up and down), H2OMG (a water pit you had to crawl through) and the final obstacle, PMS, which stood for pretty muddy stuff, a mud pit you had to crawl through like a snake.

As someone who has never done a 5K or obstacle course in her life, it was daunting to think about. Now that I'm done, I wonder what all the worry was for. The atmosphere was celebratory as women of all ages, shapes and sizes cheered one another on to complete an obstacle or to just make it through. There was no time limit or really even any one keeping track of time - or distance, for that matter.

Disclaimer: I was a big fat chicken and skipped the Just Get Over It (wall climb) obstacle. It was the one I had been dreading since I lack upper arm strength. What I hadn't anticipated was how high in the air it was, playing on my fear of heights. Once at the top, I couldn't for the life of me fathom how I'd get my legs over the other side without passing out, so I climbed down and went around. But at least I tried.

At the end, everyone was so mucked up, you couldn't tell your teammates from the rest of the crowd, which seems only fitting for an event that's meant to make women feel the camaraderie of accomplishment.

Here's a taste of what it was like, via YouTube user gretchin78:


Nikki Golden edits This Week in the Beachwood, which you can subscribe to over there on the right. She welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

The Chambers Report: Melville, Elvis And Baseball


Why is Herman Melville's Moby-Dick; or The Whale probably the least-read fictional masterpiece in America? Its daunting length, of course (800-plus pages in the famous 1930 Random House edition containing the celebrated illustrations of Rockwell Kent), has something to do with it. And then there are all those countless chapters on whales and whaling, reminiscent of Leo Tolstoy's hundreds of detailed pages on Napoleonic battling in War and Peace (1865, 1869), another notoriously unread classic. Who needs these pontifical chapters, after all? Just tell the story! And, finally, there is the likely, yet usually unmentionable, prospect that most readers simply do not have the smarts to take on such a lofty challenge. "I'm just not up to this!"

Despite its lamentable unread status, however, almost everybody knows about the book, about the doomed whaling ship Pequod*, about its moody skipper Captain Ahab, and about that peg-legged monomaniac's obsession with the White Whale that ripped off his appendage on a previous voyage.

It's a rare week during which we don't hear some mention of or a reference to Melville's great tale. Witness that even Elvis Presley, the Rock and Roll King himself - no reader of lengthy books, to be sure, certainly none by one so cerebral as Melville - in a heated moment during his greatest concert, his leather-featured '68 Comeback Special, lofted his standing microphone over his head and made as if to toss it, harpoon-like, into an awaiting, imaginary giant cetacean, while shouting "Moby-Dick!" at the top of his proverbial lungs.

*The Pequod was named for the once-defeated Indian tribe that now owns a highly profitable casino in Connecticut. Melville would love the irony.

In an effort to make Melville's singular novel at last available to all of us, Nathaniel Philbrick, author of several books about whaling and the sea, has written Why Read Moby-Dick?, a modest volume of only 127 small pages, that accomplishes miracles in making the saga of the White Whale accessible.

This reviewer, who once took an entire course on Melville without fully comprehending the grandeur of his greatest book, has now read Philbrick's eloquent little trot three times through, and each time with increasing rewards.

Thanks in part to Philbrick, I now have a better handle on two important questions: (1) Why baseball attracts the attention of America's most thoughtful writers. And (2) why so many of those same writers are smitten with Herman Melville. Answers to these come clearly in the best baseball novel to appear in years, The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Fielding is awash in Melvillean references, and Philbrick brings clarity and relevance to them all. So let's deal with his compact book first.


Contained in the pages of Moby-Dick is nothing less than the genetic code of America: all the promises, problems, conflicts, and ideals that contributed to the outbreak of a revolution in 1775 as well as a civil war in 1861 and continue to drive this country's ever-contentious march into the future. This means that whenever a new crisis grips this country, Moby-Dick becomes newly important.

- Nathaniel Philbrick

I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as a lamb.

- Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne

. . . a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.

Ishmael, narrator of Moby-Dick

What an astonishing achievement this tiny volume is! It is a lucid tribute by an enormously talented wordsmith of our own time to the most gifted novelist this country has ever produced.

In his earlier book, In The Heart Of The Sea (Viking, 2000), which won a National Book Award, Philbrick recounted the amazing tale of the tragic whaling ship Essex, which in 1819 was attacked and sunk in the South Pacific by a huge, angry sperm whale, thereby instantly becoming legendary worldwide and, a few decades later in 1851, the inspiration for Moby-Dick. Philbrick's Melville bona fides were also enriched in a variety of other sea studies, uniquely preparing him to pen this most eloquent of all the many commentaries on our finest novel.

In his near-worshipful portrait, Philbrick reveals how in the span of only a couple of years Melville rose from mere literary competence - his earlier South Seas books Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847) sold fairly well and brought him a degree of public recognition - to an intellectual and artistic summit reached by no other American writer before him or since.

This rapid ascension was all the more remarkable because Melville's first draft of the book that was to become Moby-Dick was a pedestrian romance of the sea containing none of the profundity that now makes it great.

The catalyst in transforming The Whale into a literary miracle was the writer's introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne, eventual dedicatee of Moby-Dick and namesake of the author of Why Read?.

Totally opposite from the boisterous Melville in almost every way - quiet, circumspect, shyly diffident - the already accomplished and celebrated Hawthorne nevertheless awed his young protege with the "great power of blackness" Melville saw in him, providing an image of forbidding depth and gloom that, in the rewrite of Moby-Dick, would evolve into crazy Ahab, a figure entirely absent in the first draft who would become the core of the second, as well as the darkest protagonist in all of literature.

With Ahab-Hawthorne on the scene, Melville quickly grew into a giant thinker capable, beyond his own understanding, of pouring everything that he knew into a true masterpiece, a novel all but unknown during his own life (Typee outsold it by a 5:1 ratio), but now admired even by those not up to reading or understanding it - a tale of leadership gone awry in the tumultuous age just prior to the Civil War, a cataclysm that continues to define America to this day. Melville saw it all coming.


To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.

- Melville, Moby-Dick

Near the beginning of his novel, author Chad Harbach quotes from another volume of the same name supposedly written by one Aparicio Rodriguez, fictional former star of the St. Louis Cardinals, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and "the greatest shortstop who ever lived." Rodriguez's The Art of Fielding is a how-to text on mastering baseball, particularly playing the infield. Among its many numbered "truths" are these:

3. "There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being."

33. "Do not confuse the first and third stages. Thoughtless being is attained by everyone, the return to thoughtless being by a very few."

Thoughtless Harbach certainly is not. Like a number of our best and most probing novelists - John Updike, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, even John Grisham most recently - Harbach is an intellectual mesmerized by our national pastime.

Yet why? To rephrase a question noted above, just what is it about baseball that so attracts serious creative writers to it? Perhaps it's the old game's stately, leisurely quality, a pace somewhere between ennui and spirituality? Whatever it is, other sports lack it.

Great baseball books and movies continue to appear regularly - The Art of Fielding and Moneyball only last year - but the same inspiration seems to be entirely missing from our other iconic games.

In his The Art of Fielding, a brilliant Harvard graduate - an English major, nonetheless - endeavors to do for/with baseball what Herman Melville did for whaling, the chief American industry of his time. In the manner of his mentor, Chad Harbach erects a mythical structure around baseball and tries to demonstrate its surpassing beauty while revealing its relevance to . . . well, to everything.

Perhaps the impossible achievement of perfection - and its inevitable wreckage on the rocks of self-consciousness and endless thought - is Harbach's real topic here?

Henry Skrimshander - his very name evoking the beauty of whalebone - is a disciple of Aparicio Rodriguez and, always religiously following Aparicio's principles, seemingly the perfect shortstop . . . until terrible circumstances cause him to start thinking about it.

When the only errant throw of his young life almost kills his Westish College roommate Owen, Henry, like Rick Ankiel, suddenly loses his god-given talent to merge with his sport without analyzing it. His natural, unthinking grace disappears, and, along with it, seemingly his chances for the lucrative major league career for which he seemed destined.

Yet all may not be lost. At book's end - 500-plus pages along - Henry, under the tutelage of his mentor, catcher Mike Schwartz (who, from page one, senses and appreciates the kid's divine gift) shows signs of rehabilitating his talent (he has decided to turn down an offer from the Cardinals and stay on at the lowly Wisconsin division III Westish College for a final year under Mike's guidance).

All this takes place in a sea of literary allusions and quotations that, far from offending the reader as pretentious, serve to enrich Harbach's novel and give it the kind of heft and depth that its models from the 19th century have in abundance.

Melville is everywhere in The Art of Fielding as well as Eliot, Lowell, Emerson, et al) as he was in Harbach's formal education: his statue adorns the Westish campus, gazing in lonely splendor out at the inland sea that is Lake Michigan; the college's baseball team that Henry and Mike bring to greatness is called the Harpooners; and the college's handsome, rakish President Guert Affenlight is named for a Melville ancestor and gains some measure of academic fame by publishing a scholarly book on his hero, who once supposedly lectured at Westish.

As the chapters roll seamlessly by, we learn a great deal about baseball, but also much about the academy, the perils of searching for love (both heterosexual and homosexual), and the brevity and uncertainty of life.

What does it all come to? What do the characters - and the reader - take away from this astonishingly accomplished first novel, which took Harbach years to complete and was continually turned down by publishers, but which eventually became a "freight train" (in the words of one critic) of rave reviews, a huge advance, and the promise of an HBO series a la Friday Night Lights?

One lesson is the value of hard work in overcoming the Prufrockian self-absorption that threatens to bog down and eventually drown all of us. Pella, the President's beautiful and rebellious daughter, goes daily to labor in the college's dining hall (even in the wake of her father's untimely death . . . maybe someday such focus will turn her into a celebrated chef?); Henry continues to field grounders, to absorb Aparicio's truths, and to try to throw accurately to first base; Harbach continued to work on his seemingly eternal manuscript. Mike will not be the Yale-educated lawyer he wanted to become, but seems born to be a successful coach, instead. Owen will go off to Japan to discover more about himself and his world.

And we, the readers? We'll continue our own quests for the White Whale at a lower, yet still worthwhile depth, with the invaluable assistance of such as Melville, T.S. Eliot, Emerson, Robert Lowell, and Chad Harbach, who, like Ishmael, survives to tell this marvelous tale.


Previously in Bob's Books:
* Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy

* The Last Boy Of Summer


Comments welcome.


1. From Steve Rhodes:


2. From Steve Rhodes:



3. From Steve Rhodes:

A Whale Of A Drink.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:47 AM | Permalink

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