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« March 2013 | Main | May 2013 »

April 30, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have done the impossible," the Parking Ticket Geek of The Expired Meter reports.

"He may have actually made Chicago's reviled parking meter lease deal even worse."

When the Parking Ticket Geek talks, I listen. No one knows more about the byzantine laws, policies and all-around chicanery of parking-related issues in this city than he does.

So pay heed:

"Initially, it sounded like the city had indeed arm twisted some mild improvements to the universally despised deal out of CPM.

"But as details of the proposed settlement emerged over the course of the day, Emanuel's allegedly new and improved parking meter lease deal looks like it could make things even more challenging and expensive for Chicago drivers."

Click through to find out why.

*

The Geek wasn't the only one who didn't play along with the mayor's narrative, which to my way of thinking became inoperable the second he left Monday's news conference without taking questions. If the deal was such a triumph, why didn't Rahm wanna talk about it?

Rahm did score a handful of early headlines crediting him with renegotiating the despised meter deal, but the tone of the coverage changed as reporters let the new parameters settle in.

Emanuel's evasions didn't help.

"The mayor refused to provide the proposed settlement of the disputed charges with Chicago Parking Meters LLC or the draft amendment to the parking lease, pending introduction to the City Council next week," the Trib account reports. "That made it impossible to fully determine what the bottom line would be for drivers, how the city calculated its savings and why the firm would agree to a deal that Emanuel said could save taxpayers up to $1 billion over the life of the lease."

Hint: There will be no $1 billion savings. Of this I'm sure.

And so is just about everyone else.

Still, some of the coverage has been quite odd. Take Mark Brown, for example.

"Rahm Emanuel has been saying since he was a candidate for mayor that if elected he would do what he could to make the city's hated parking meter privatization deal better for its residents," Brown writes.

"As I always suspected, there wasn't much he could do."

Because Rahm says so?

"It was a bad deal, but we're stuck with it, sorry to say, and anyone who tells you different is either fooling themselves or trying to fool you. Unfortunately, you can't challenge a binding contract on the basis of political malpractice."

Right. There's nothing you can ever do when a binding contract is involved. Just ask the Wrigley rooftop owners or Chicago's teachers.

Or ask Ald. Scott Waguespack, who tends to pay attention to detail and eschews overblown rhetoric.

"[Waguespack] called on the Emanuel administration to join a lawsuit seeking to overturn the contract," the Trib reports.

"(Emanuel) should be standing side by side with the citizens, with corporation counsel, even if it takes a little bit of time, a little bit of effort and saying, 'We'll stand up and we'll try to find a way to fight this through court' at a minimum, and see if that works first, instead of saying 'We're not even interested. I'll go negotiate on the side,'" Waguespack said.

Rahm could also be more forthcoming; without doing so, he loses the benefit of the doubt.

Instead, he's playing games.

"I literally have millions of dollars of unpaid bills sitting on my desk that I have refused to pay," AP quotes Emanuel saying. "The company now knows that I'm a different type of mayor, this is a different administration and Chicago has a different way of doing business."

Then he left so he wouldn't have to say "Richard M. Daley" out loud.

"Emanuel only heightened City Council skepticism by reading a statement, but refusing to answer questions about the changes he made to improve a 'badly negotiated' deal he called a 'straitjacket on the city' that allowed meter rates to go up 'too much, too quickly' with no cap on the company's profits or reimbursements," the Sun-Times reports.

"In a follow-up conference call with the Chicago Sun-Times, Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton and World Business Chicago vice chair Michael Sacks explained how the mayor calculated the projected savings.

"They said the company's reimbursements claims of $50 million over the last two years for metered parking spaces taken out of service because of policing actions have been settled for $8.9 million.

"Since similar claims would have been made in each of the next 71 years - and won't be now that the company has agreed to accept the city's reimbursement formula going forward - the savings over the life of the contract will top $1 billion, they said."

Wow. That's like me getting $10 knocked off my phone bill this month and bragging that I've just saved $120 this year and $8,520 over the next 71 years because I was likely to have that same dispute with every forthcoming bill.

That's Groupon accounting.

But the first question I would have asked Patton and Sacks had I had the opportunity would have been: Why am I talking to you? Why did the mayor dodge questions? How long did it take you guys to come up with this media strategy?

*

"I expect the City Council to take time to review this proposal and ask questions, time not provided the first time around," Emanuel said.

A) You mean the time for negotiation isn't through?

B) As much time as the council had to consider the infrastructure bank?

C) But not the media - no questions from them. At least of me.

*

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to let people park at meters for free on Sundays comes at the expense of parkers in River North, who will have to feed their meters until midnight," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"And that was news to the neighborhood's alderman, Brendan Reilly, who said he found out about it from a press release."

For further questions, please schedule an appointment with said press release.

*

See also: Rahm's Tweaks Change None of What Chicagoans Abhor About The Meter Deal.

--- ELSEWHERE ON THE BEACHWOOD TODAY---

* Straight Outta Hyde Park: Our Assassin.

* Local Music Notebook: Dennis DeYoung vs. Johnny Marr.

* Our Bipolar Politics: Extreme Political Attitudes May Stem From Illusion Of Understanding.

* Bulloney: Season Apparently Comes Down To Kirk Hinrich.

* Double Decks O' Fun: Rebuilding The Wells Street Bridge.

* 24 Hours With WWMEB: Blaxploitation TV.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Unmetered.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

Rebuilding The Wells Street Bridge

"Workers connect the new northern section of the Wells Street Bridge over the Chicago River to the older remaining part on April 29, 2013," ardee1980 reports.

"The new section is on a barge and a tug boat is positioning it to hook up. This is a double-deck bridge with vehicle traffic crossing on the lower portion and the 'L' tracks serving the Brown Line on the top portion. The precision was amazing and I was lucky to be there right at that moment."


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Here's the city's promo video.

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And the city's video illustration of the project.

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Wells Street Bridge Wikipedia Entry.

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The project is expected to be finished on May 6.

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"Cool stuff."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:38 AM | Permalink

Extreme Political Attitudes May Stem From An Illusion Of Understanding

Having to explain how a political policy works leads people to express less extreme attitudes toward the policy, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The research suggests that people may hold extreme policy positions because they are under an illusion of understanding - attempting to explain the nuts and bolts of how a policy works forces them to acknowledge that they don't know as much about the policy as they initially thought.

Psychological scientist Philip Fernbach of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder and his co-authors were interested in exploring some of the factors that could contribute to what they see as increasing political polarization in the United States.

"We wanted to know how it's possible that people can maintain such strong positions on issues that are so complex - such as macroeconomics, health care, foreign relations - and yet seem to be so ill-informed about those issues," says Fernbach.

Drawing on previous research on the illusion of understanding, Fernbach and colleagues speculated that one reason for the apparent paradox may be that voters think they understand how policies work better than they actually do.

In their first study, the researchers asked participants taking an online survey to rate how well they understood six political policies, including raising the retirement age for Social Security, instituting a national flat tax, and implementing merit-based pay for teachers. The participants were randomly assigned to explain two of the policies and then asked to re-rate how well they understood the policies.

As the researchers predicted, people reported lower understanding of all six policies after they had to explain them, and their positions on the policies were less extreme. In fact, the data showed that the more people's understanding decreased, the more uncertain they were about the position, and the less extreme their position was in the end.

The act of explaining also affected participants' behavior. People who initially held a strong position softened their position after having to explain it, making them less likely to donate bonus money to a related organization when they were given the opportunity to do so.

Importantly, the results affected people along the whole political spectrum, from self-identified Democrats to Republicans to Independents.

According to the researchers, these findings shed light on a psychological process that may help people to open the lines of communication in the context of a heated debate or negotiation.

"This research is important because political polarization is hard to combat," says Fernbach. "There are many psychological processes that act to create greater extremism and polarization, but this is a rare case where asking people to attempt to explain makes them back off their extreme positions."

In addition to Fernbach, co-authors include Todd Rogers of the Harvard Kennedy School; Craig R. Fox of the University of California, Los Angeles; and Steven A. Sloman of Brown University.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Bulls Season Apparently Comes Down To Kirk Hinrich

"For all of the magic Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has been able to coax out of his battered roster, this was one body blow too many," Chris Mannix writes for SI.com.

"With Joakim Noah hobbling around on one foot, Taj Gibson operating on one good knee, Kirk Hinrich battling through a severe calf strain, and Derrick Rose still sitting in a suit, Chicago had built a 3-1 series lead through punishing defense and efficient offense, through the sheer will and determination of a team wired to refuse to quit.

"The loss of Hinrich though, the team's level-headed floor general, it's pesky perimeter defender who was ruled out Monday morning after his left calf worsened in the hours after grinding out 60 grueling minutes in the Bulls triple overtime win over the Nets on Saturday, proved to be too much.

"A physically taxed team had become too overextended. And with the clock winding down in Brooklyn's 110-91 Game 5 win, there was Nate Robinson (44 minutes) and Jimmy Butler (32) hunched over at halfcourt, hands on their knees, too tired to stand up, a visual that spoke volumes."

You can watch the official highlights here.

The series returns to Chicago on Thursday. If a Game 7 is necessary, it would be back in Brooklyn on Saturday.

See also:

* Daily News: Brooklyn Nets Steal Chicago Bulls Game Plan, Now Need To Steal Game 6.

* Times: For Nets, No Overtime And No Surrender.

* Post: Little Nate Can't Come Up Big Again.

* Newsday: With Kirk Hinrich Out, Deron Williams Flourishes.

Captain Kirk
* AP: No Hinrich, Not Enough Rebounding For Bulls.

* ESPNChicago: Bulls Clearly Felt Hinrich's Absence.

Hinrich A Dick, Though
"Two former NBA teammates of Jason Collins, who announced Monday that he's gay , had very different reactions before tip-off of Game 5 at the Barclays Center," Sean Jensen reports for the Sun-Times.

"Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich called it a distraction, while Nets forward Jerry Stackhouse insisted the news is bigger than basketball.

"All three played together with the Hawks during the 2011-12 season.

"Asked about the significance of Collins becoming the first athlete to come out in a major sport, Hinrich said: 'It's really not significant to me. It surprised me, but it's just a big distraction right now. It doesn't really change what kind of person he is or anything. It's just who he is.'

"Hinrich added that Collins 'was a good teammate, good guy. That's about all I have to say about it.'"

Sorry for distracting you with other people's lives, Kirk. You're in a freakin' walking boot! Not even playing! Way to meet the moment.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:45 AM | Permalink

Our Assassin

From Steve Coll's "Drone Delusion" in the New Yorker:

"The Way of the Knife (the title comes from a national-security adviser's remark that the United States needed to fight terrorism with 'a scalpel not a hammer') offers the brisk pace, inside-the-White House scenes, and opaque sourcing of a Bob Woodward procedural.

"In one Situation Room meeting early in Obama's first term, General James Cartwright, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is said to have asked why the United States was 'building a second Air Force' in the form of the C.I.A.'s swelling armed-drone fleet. [Author Mark] Mazzetti quotes Obama's reply: 'The C.I.A. gets what it wants.'

"By 2010, according to Mazzetti, Obama's own Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, 'wondered whether the pace of the drone war might be undercutting relations with an important ally for the quick fix of killing midlevel terrorists.' Munter soon discovered that, under President Obama, 'it was what the C.I.A. believed that really counted.'"

*

"[Dirty Wars author Jeremy] Scahill weaves into his larger narrative the most detailed biography of Anwar Awlaki yet published. It is a riveting account. Awlaki, who was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in 1971, was certainly the most enigmatic radical the C.I.A. has killed since its operatives helped Bolivian forces finish off Che Guevara, in 1967.

"Awlaki preached for nearly a decade at mosques in San Diego and northern Virginia. After the September 11th attacks, he initially condemned the hijackers.

"Later, he returned to Yemen to live with his extended family, was imprisoned, and, outraged by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke in favor of suicide bombing.

"A 2009 shooting rampage by a U.S. Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Hasan, who had corresponded with Awlaki, and the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day that year by a Nigerian youth, who had trained in Yemen among jihadists linked to Awlaki, seemed to connect Awlaki's hate speech with specific acts of terrorism.

"Awlaki's e-mail exchanges with Hasan do not indicate that he was aware of the Major's plans, but after the shootings he called Hasan 'a hero' and 'a man of conscience.'

"Around this time, the Justice Department composed a memo in which it argued that President Obama had the right to kill Awlaki."

*

"The document has never been published, but it reportedly contains intelligence that Awlaki had gone operational in Yemen, and had been involved in multiple plots to kill Americans.

"The Obama Administration's position, explicated mainly through anonymous leaks to journalists, is that, because this secret information showed that Awlaki had betrayed the United States and had become a leader in an enemy force, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Justice Department memo was enough to justify his assassination.

"The Fifth Amendment asserts that no 'person' shall be 'deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,' a statement that the Supreme Court has usually interpreted as requiring, among other things, that American citizens receive a fair trial and the right of appeal.

"The Obama Administration has never made clear why it thought that capturing Awlaki and bringing him to trial was infeasible. Nor has it described the specific standards it used to approve Awlaki's execution.

"As things stand, Obama will bequeath to his successors a worrisome precedent: without trial, the President has the right to kill any U.S. citizen who is judged, on the basis of unpublished criteria, to have become an enemy combatant."

*

"But Awlaki's case, troubling as it may be, raises a broader issue: the Administration's refusal to disclose the criteria by which it condemns anyone, American or otherwise, to death. The information used in such cases is intelligence data rather than evidence; it is not subject to cross-examination or judicial review."

*

"Without judicial review or informed public debate, the potential for abuse and overreach is vast. In one of the most disquieting passages in his book, Mazzetti notes that, as the death toll in Pakistan mounted, Obama Administration officials at one point claimed that the increased drone strikes in Pakistan had not led to any civilian deaths.

"'It was something of a trick of logic,' Mazzetti writes. 'In an area of known militant activity, all military-age males were considered to be enemy fighters. Therefore, anyone who was killed in a drone strike there was categorized as a combatant.'"

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Scahill: The Secret Story Behind Obama's Assassination Of Two Americans In Yemen.

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Scahill: Obama's Global Battlefield.

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Mazetti: Obama's Assassination Squads.

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Mazetti: NPR Interview Transcript.

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See also:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

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

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds & Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Age.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:56 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: International Pop Overthrow Still Exists; So Do Dennis DeYoung & Johnny Marr

1. International Pop Overthrow kind of came and went this month and, well, like so many things, it ain't what it used to be. Still, here are some highlights.

The Intimate Machines.


*

The Pralines.

*

Certain Stars.

*

Mike Vanderbilt & The Suburban Garage Sound.

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2. Dennis DeYoung is still singing "Suite Madame Blue," one of the all-time great Styx songs - and yes, there is such a thing. Here he/it is in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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3. Rockers continue to cover "I Fought The Law" even though the law always wins. Here's Johnny Marr doing it at the Metro last week.

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4. Remembering Earl of Old Town.

5. "South Side rapper Lil Reese's Sunday arrest on a felony warrant is tied to a 2012 videotaped incident in which he purportedly beat and stomped a woman in her Champaign home, police said Monday," the Tribune reports.

"Video of the attack went viral late last year, with thousands of people voicing outrage on social media over Lil Reese's actions.

"The rapper, whose real name is Tavares Taylor, 20, was arrested on the Champaign County warrant about 4 a.m. Sunday, when Chicago police found him sleeping in a car on the 4400 block of South Wells Street, according to Cook County court documents. The warrant charges him with felony trespass and mob action and misdemeanor battery."

*

See also:

"[Chief] Keef exists at the intersection of the prison industrial complex and the commercial rap business," Prison Culture writes in "Unpacking 'Chiraq' #1: Chief Keef, Badges of Honor, and Capitalism."

Click through to see how Reese fits into the picture.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:25 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With WWMEB

Blaxploitation TV.

5 a.m.: Adventures of Fat Albert

5:30 a.m.: Adventures of Fat Albert

6 a.m.: Soul Train

7 a.m.: B. Smith With Style

7:30 a.m.: B. Smith With Style

8 a.m.: Forbidden Fruits

10 a.m.: Summer Movie Preview 2013

10:30 p.m.: Uptown Comic

11 a.m.: Dirty Laundry

1 p.m.: Penitentiary

3 p.m.: Penitentiary II

5 p.m.: Bait

7 p.m.: To Be Announced

8 p.m.: Off the Chain

8:30 p.m.: Uptown Comic

9 p.m.: Senseless

11 p.m.: Off the Chain

11:30 p.m.: Uptown Comic

Midnight: Greased Lightning

2 a.m.: To Be Announced

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

April 29, 2013

Avoiding Relegation

Just because the Cubs took three of four from the Fish doesn't mean they are somehow "back on track."

It just means Miami would be in line for the demotion to AAA this week if the majors had such a thing. It's nothing to be proud of.

Has Kevin Gregg "stabilized" the bullpen? My god, no.

Is Anthony Rizzo "emerging?" Sure - he'll be hitting .281 in no time!

Did the Cubs answer a "wake-up call?" Please.

Are the Cubs happy to have Darwin Barney back? Yes, but enjoy him while you can.

Don't forget: You're not supposed to even care for a few more years.

Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Reds before taking three of four from the Fish to go 5-4 for the week. Enjoy it now because it might not happen again until 2016.

Week in Preview: The Padres come in for four and the Reds come in for three. Yippee.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney is back and flashing more leather than Freddie Mercury at the Manhole.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Cody Ransom got three starts to Luis Valbuena's four - Valbuena also got a start at second - and went 3-for-9 with an RBI and a walk. If the Cubs were smart, they would trade Ransom now while his value is at the highest it will ever be for the rest of his career.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is still "on track" to open his season at Des Moines any month now.

The Guns of Navarro: Dioner hit his third home run in 30 ABs this week - his first hit as a starter.

Dale Fail: Daytona manager Dave Keller benched star prospect Jorge Soler for not hustling this week, while Sveum kept writing Soriano and Castro into the lineup.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana stole second, third and home for Reno this week. He is missed.

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Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Fish may have slumped this week but history tells us they are still a better long-term investment than Cubs.

Sveum's Shadow: 6 p.m. Dale Sveum's Shadow returns to Chicago in the 7:30 p.m. position, a 30-minute gain from its darkest days. Dale Sveum's Shadow is easy to fool.

Shark Tank: Jeff Samardzija is 1-4 with a 3.03 ERA and learning what it means to be a Cub.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of 15-year veteran Alfonso Soriano neglecting to throw to the cutoff man - again.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Sveum admits Kevin Gregg is his closer: 1.5, depending on when Kyuji Fujikawa returns.

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 Marlins have replaced the Astros as the only team the Cubs can beat.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:29 AM | Permalink

Freaks And Geeks: C2E2

Comic Con 2013.

1. In A Nutshell.


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2. Sights And Sounds.

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3. Superdawg, But Also Spy of Spy vs. Spy In The Background.

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4. People Watching.

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5. The Booze, Pony Art And Bomb Sniffing Dogs.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Mathis Judges Chicago & We Judge Poland

Our very own Andrew Kingsford was once on Judge Mathis, though we don't have the video at our disposal to prove it. But we're assured it's true.

We thought of that upon reading the news that this week's shows will all feature Chicago litigants.

Here are some other locally related TV doings we came across this morning:

1. The Voice of Poland is even worse than The Voice here.

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2. "This is the sound from the TV show Chicago Fire that plays when the station gets a call. Enjoy!!"

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3. Channel 32's PM Magazine 1980: "Machines That Talk Back."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Dodging Brooklyn

No way Derrick Rose could be watching this series - and he has had a great seat - and not be playing if he thought it was possible.

With Rose still on the shelf, the Bulls, led by indomitable center Joakim Noah, have scored some amazing wins against the Nets on their way to a 3-1 series lead and will try to close it out this evening in Brooklyn.

Doubts are unavoidable. The worst started to creep in in the aftermath of the Bulls star's brother/adviser Reggie's ill-advised comments about the Bulls not having done enough to upgrade the roster not long after the trade deadline in February. He went on to say that perhaps his brother wouldn't come back from his knee injury this season at least in part because the team didn't have a good enough chance to win a championship.

And suspicion persists that former Bull B.J. Armstrong, who was an assistant general manager to John Paxson before becoming the agent who now represents Rose, has an ax to grind. Armstrong was passed over when Paxson moved upstairs, with fellow assistant GM Gar Forman moving up to the general manager job.

The fear is that Armstrong is advising the Bulls star to sit out not because he isn't fully recovered from knee surgery but because he is disappointed with Bulls management.

There's no way that's happening. A fan can see Rose, during every timeout of the games with the Nets, right there exhorting his teammates and giving advice. Rose is nothing if not ultra-competitive. He is down in the basketball trenches, experiencing the highs and lows right along with the fans.

If Rose could play without what he believes to be unreasonable risk of re-injury, he would be playing, no doubt. His seat at the end of the bench is too good. His teammates' maximum effort is all up in his face.

And this isn't just about Rose; it is about human, competitive nature. If Rose could somehow relocate to a luxury box to take this all in, perhaps something else other than his health and recovery could come into play as he envisioned his return. But he's on the bench and he has refused to rule himself out for the playoffs.

And that's enough about the guy who isn't playing.

As for the guys who are, well, they stand on the cusp of an awesome playoff triumph. Noah continues to amaze. If he can play 40 minutes and amass a double-double despite playing in obvious pain on Saturday afternoon, who knows what else might be possible. The center, who has been hobbling around on an injured foot for months now, is true grit on the basketball court, as his 15 points and 13 rebounds would attest.

The Bulls pulled out the triple-overtime, 142-134 victory (the 276 combined points almost doubled the total from the previous contest, a Bulls 79-76 slog of a win a few days prior) thanks in largest part of course to the heroics of Nate Robinson. It has been well-reported that he scored 34 huge points in only 28 minutes of playing time but what was almost better were a couple huge assists he contributed down the stretch.

The Bulls will almost certainly need to return to their lockdown defensive ways tonight if they are to finish off the Nets. It will be especially difficult to do if Kirk Hinrich can't go - it appears that the only part of his body that wasn't injured during the regular season (I exaggerate, but only a little) is now barking something fierce and he may or may not be able to return to action this evening.

But does anyone want to bet against them?

Empire State of Mind
* Times: After Triply Hard Loss, Nets Must Find Heart To Stay With Bulls.

* Post: Three Adjustments Nets Could Make For Game 5 Against Bulls.

* Daily News: Brooklyn Nets Skip Tape Session From Game 4 Against Chicago Bulls.

* Newsday: On Brink Of Elimination In Game 5, Nets Remain Confident.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Ghostface Killah at the Abbey on Friday night.


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2. Gotay Autentiko at the Martini Club on Thursday night.

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3. Danny Brown at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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4. I Love Polish Dance Vol. 1 Mix By DJ Thomas Chicago.

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5. The Summer Set at KISS-FM on Saturday.

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6. The Nick Peay Band at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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7. Killing Joke at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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8. Carly Rae Jepsen at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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9. Ghost House at the Mid on Friday night.

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10. Chrissie Dickinson's Memories of George Jones.

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11. The Romeros at the Red Line Tap on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

Underutilized

If the White Sox were a Chicago public school, they very well might find themselves on the list of 54 schools slated for closing because of low achievement and an empty building.

The Sox rank 26th - out of 30 major league teams - in runs scored, 28th in batting average, and dead last in on-base percentage. After Sunday's 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay, they had outdrawn only three other franchises at home (and they are the league's worst draw on the road).

However, things are not as bleak as they might appear.

Apparently the team's marketing efforts, characterized by cheaper tickets and parking - $10 for yesterday's game - along with accommodations for families, are paying dividends. After 14 home dates, the Sox average attendance is 20,105, compared to 18,282 a year ago. That's an increase of nearly 10 percent.

And the fans coming out to the ballpark have been having a grand time despite a mediocre 7-7 home record.

Take last Wednesday, for example. The announced attendance was 16,765, and at least a quarter of those were school kids enjoying a day off. When the PA system instructed "everybody clap your hands," kids in the bleachers and the corners of the upper deck immediately obeyed. When the Jumbotron pleaded for noise, the boys and girls promptly complied, and the Cell came alive.

When Alex Rios hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning for what turned out to be the deciding blow in the 3-2 Sox victory, some of the kids - obviously the few who were actually watching the game - cheered. However, it was way cooler on the four occasions when Cleveland manager Terry Francona changed pitchers in the late innings since dancing was permitted, and the kids rocked to the pop tunes as the new pitcher took his warm-ups.

"We had a blast," said Barbara Rasinski, the principal at St. Bede the Venerable School on 83rd Street, which had about 300 students at the game.

One, Adam Sanchez, threw out the first pitch and got his full-page photo - the kid has great form - in the Sun-Times on Thursday.

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Adam is being treated for cancer, and his schoolmates all had green t-shirts dedicated to Adam as they cheered, danced, and partied in the left field bleachers.

"He's an amazing kid, a fantastic guy," said Rasinski. "He comes to school every day [during his treatment]. We have a great family atmosphere here. We're very supportive of each other."

So why not go to a museum or the Art Institute for a field trip in support of Adam? "We do that as well," said Rasinski, "but Adam is a big baseball fan."

As is his principal, who added, "I'm absolutely a Sox fan, and I'm a Northsider, by the way."

Last week was somewhat unique in that the Sox had day games both Wednesday and Sunday, when the crowd was 22,677. Again, there were plenty of kids in the seats with their parents and grandparents. Like me, the older folks tended to come out to see if the Sox could somehow defeat Cy Young winner David Price - they couldn't - while many of the younger set were there simply to have fun.

And the focus seems to be on the younger fans. The scoreboard in centerfield now informs us of the music which greets each Sox hitter. Groups like Metallica and AC/DC - the only ones I ever heard of - Rick Ross, Rebelution, Nortec Collective, and Needtobreathe introduce each Sox batter.

I will say that the song "Keep Your Eyes Open" by Needtobreathe, which is the Tyler Flowers' introduction, is sound advice for the young catcher.

The Sox made a valiant effort yesterday against Price, finding themselves in a 3-3 tie going into the top of the eighth. However, the strangest fan behavior occurred as reliever Nate Jones was giving up two hits and two walks, resulting in a 4-3 Rays' lead. I'd estimate that 90 percent of the crowd was staging a wave of which the Dodger Stadium faithful would have been proud. Personally I was heart-broken, especially after the usually sure-handed Rios couldn't catch Ryan Roberts' pop fly, upping the lead to 6-3. The majority of fans were having a ball.

While no one would be harder on Jones than Jones himself, Nate had a shining moment during the lunch hour on Friday as he and fellow reliever Matt Lindstrom along with broadcaster Ed Farmer greeted fans at the food court in the Thompson Center to publicize the state's organ donor program. Secretary of State Jesse White also was present hyping his prize program.

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Farmer and the two pitchers signed baseballs and photos for folks who stood in line and then registered to be organ donors.

Meanwhile, back at the Cell, Adam Dunn began to emerge from an April snooze by first walking three times on Wednesday - whoopee! - and then following up the rest of the homestand with a 5-for-14 binge, a couple of homers, five RBI, four more walks, and just two strikeouts. Tampa Bay is the only team I remember that does not use the usual shift when Dunn is at the plate. Maybe that helped the big fella, but he clearly has begun to make contact.

Gavin Floyd went on the DL on Saturday, but let's wait and see how Hector Santiago does as his replacement. Floyd has a 5.18 ERA so far this season. Santiago should be able to improve on that.

Regardless of whether Dunn begins to hit and Santiago is a suitable replacement for Floyd, the Sox are going nowhere unless the bottom of the order - yesterday it was Conor Gillaspie, Flowers and Dewayne Wise - starts to produce and the defense reverts to its 2012 form.

I'm reminded of the story my brother tells of a little kid walking out of Comiskey Park after a doubleheader loss in 1960, looking up at his dad, and saying, "The Sox better play a lot better in the World Series if they expect to win it."

That team won 87 games and finished third. This team won't come close to that if things don't change. Oh, well, as long as we can do the wave and listen to Needtobreathe, who cares?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

Yeah, The [Monday] Papers aren't gonna happen.

Elsewhere on the Beachwood today:

* The Cub Factor: Relegation Avoided.

* The Political Odds: Updated.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock: It went to 11.

* Local TV Notes: Mathis Judges Chicago.

* The White Sox Report: Like CPS.

* SportsMonday: Empire State Of Mind.

* Freaks And Geeks: Enough With C2E2.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Freaky but not geeky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 AM | Permalink

April 27, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk is on a seven-hour delay today to avoid profanities from accidentally reaching the public.

Governor Gumby
Pat Quinn released his 2012 tax returns on Friday at 3 p.m. In PDF format.

Well, you can't say he's not transparent.

Winning The Internet
The Chicago Teachers Union with this meme.

Red-Light District
Kind of like the time Jerry and Elaine had to have sex to save the friendship.

Gumbification
"Gov. Pat Quinn isn't saying whether he'd support legislation boosting the speed limit on Illinois interstates and tollways," the Springfield State Journal-Register reports.

But he'll let us know one Friday afternoon in PDF format.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: To protect and serve.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Desk Listening Report: "Decades after his death, UK songwriter Nick Drake gets his due. Jim and Greg talk legacy and tribute albums with Drake producer Joe Boyd. And later, they review the new album from Canadian shoegazers The Besnard Lakes."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Secret specials menu this weekend available only in person.

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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: Puerto Rican Culture & Music- AfriCaribe

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AfriCaribe performs traditional song and dance influenced from Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultures.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Watch online.

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Race & Chicago Politics: From Harold Washington to Today

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Panelists explore Harold Washington's historic election and time as mayor, and examine the influence of race in politics in Washington's time and today. Moderated by Laura Washington, panelists include Will Burns, David Axelrod, Michael Dawson, and Jackie Grimshaw.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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New Directions in the Struggle for Social Justice in South Africa

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Civil rights attorney and African National Congress member Albie Sachs reflects on the end of apartheid in South Africa two decades ago and strategies for promoting basic rights and social justice there today.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Hate Crimes involving Race, Gender, & Sexual Orientation in Chicago

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Paul Schewe and Alicia Phoenix Matthews of UIC, shed light on the rates of hate crimes committed against different communities, including racial minorities, LGBTQ individuals, and women.

Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Poet Kwame Dawes

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Ghanaian-born Jamaican poet Kwame Dawes shares his latest works during the Presidential Lecture Series at Northeastern Illinois University.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Taking it to the Streets: Principal Hobson

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Demetrius Hobson, principal of the Matthew Alexander Henson School, shares his approach to managing a CPS school where 92% of the students are from low-income families.

Sunday at 4:30 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:44 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"State officials have temporarily halted funding to the United Neighborhood Organization, contending the large charter school operator violated terms of a $98 million grant by hiring contractors who are related to one of the group's top executives," the Tribune reports.

"A source inside the organization said the board is being reconstituted because some believe [UNO CEO Juan] Rangel had gained too much control over the current board, which is when the problems started to flourish."

Hmmm, Juan Rangel . . . I'm certain I've heard that name before.

Oh yeah, he's the one who wrote this defense of patronage in the Tribune.

At least he warned everyone.

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But someone please remind me, how on earth did Rangel land a $98 million state grant given our dire fiscal situation?

Oh yeah, Michael Madigan wired it up and Pat Quinn went along.

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But why do I have this nagging feeling that there's another leg to this stool?

Oh yeah, the CPS school closings:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel 's word - and possibly his political future - is riding on his ability to safeguard 30,000 students displaced by his decision to close 54 elementary schools and follow through on his promise to improve their new schools," the Sun-Times reported a few weeks ago.

"That's apparently why he's leaving nothing to chance. Emanuel has ordered the Chicago Public Schools to funnel through the Public Building Commission he chairs all of the construction projects that must be completed by fall for what he calls 'welcoming' schools for new students."

Emanuel is leaving nothing to chance - he's sending those lucrative school construction projects through the PBC instead of the CPS, who usually handle their own business.

And guess who Emanuel's main man on the PBC is? That's right, Juan Rangel.

It's really a thing of beauty, if you don't stop to think too long about the horror.

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But isn't Emanuel all reformy and all about change from the old way of business done by one his oldest, dearest political allies?

Oh yeah, this is Chicago:

"Rangel endorsed Emanuel for mayor over two Latino opponents in the 2011 mayoral campaign, earning him a spot as campaign 'co-chairman," the Tribune reminds us.

"Emanuel later appointed Rangel to the Public Building Commission, which oversees millions of dollars worth of construction deals."

And where did Rangel come from?

"Rangel's status at City Hall began to rise under then-Mayor Richard Daley as UNO quickly grew to become one of the city's largest charter school operators. Rangel aligned himself with Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, the longest-serving alderman and the Finance Committee chairman.

"The organization became a counterweight to a more independent bloc of Latino officials, including former City Clerk Miguel del Valle, 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz and Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia.

"UNO also allied with some of the forces from the former Hispanic Democratic Organization, which helped Daley turn out the vote but later saw one of its leaders convicted in a City Hall job-rigging scheme."

So Rahm made a choice by aligning himself with the old way he rails about in his rhetoric while shunning those who are actually reform-minded.

What was it Karen Lewis said? Oh yeah: Rahm says one thing in public and another in private.

And sometimes nothing at all.

"Emanuel's office declined comment Thursday."

Pity, but Rahm is a busy man, what with all the scolding he has to do of parents who can't parent and teachers who can't teach. Don't even ask him about inspector generals who insist on inspecting.

Life's not easy for a mayor who doesn't want to mayor. When's the next flight to Utah?

Welcoming Kyle Long To Chicago
Surprise first-round pick started only four more games than I did in college. Twitter reacts.

What Oprah Misses About Chicago
Svengoolie, Stella Foster.

The Week In Chicago Rock
It went to 11.

Sister Souljah vs. Kat Von D
In Local Book Notes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Soul, but no soldiers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 PM | Permalink

Twitter Welcomes Kyle Long To Chicago

Surprise first-round pick only started four more games in college than I did. Twitter reacts . . .

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Sister Souljah, Shining Chicago Girls & Michael Jordan's Trainer

Over the transom and through the woods.

A Souljah, Not a Soldier
"Sister Souljah once rapped with the trailblazing hip-hop group Public Enemy and was denounced by then presidential candidate Bill Clinton for what he called extremist comments on racial violence," Rashard Zanders writes for DNAinfo Chicago.

"To the more than 200 fans that came to see her speak at a South Side library over the weekend, she is better known as a beloved best-selling author who has written eloquent coming-of-age novels such as 1999's The Coldest Winter Ever, which sold more than 1 million copies.

"Appearing Sunday at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library at 9525 S. Halsted St., Souljah - who was born in the Bronx as Lisa Williamson - openly spoke about her career as an activist, musician, public speaker and literary powerhouse. Her resume now includes another book, A Deeper Love Inside: The Portia Santiago Story, a sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever, which was released earlier this year."

Here's Souljah in February with Sway.

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Here's Souljah from way back yonder.

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Shining Chicago Girls
"Shining Girls is the story of a serial killer named Harper Curtis, a savage psychopath who hunts the alleyways of a stinking Hooverville in Depression-era Chicago," Cory Doctorow writes for Boing Boing.

"Curtis is your basic remorseless nutcase who reels from one act of callous violence to another. Until he happens upon a boarded-up house where he seeks refuge from the people he's wronged and a chance to rest up and lick his wounds from an unsuccessful encounter. And that house isn't just a house, it's the House, an unexplained and inexplicable haunted place that slips through time back and forth between the Depression and the early 1990s. In this house is a room, filled with the trophies of murdered girls and their names, written on the wall in Curtis's own handwriting. Curtis learns that his destiny is to travel through the ages, killing the girls he's already killed, taking the trophies he's already taken.

"One of Harper's victims is Kirby Mazrachi, but unlike the rest (and unbeknownst to Harper), Kirby survives his vicious attack. As Kirby matures, her obsession with the man who nearly killed her takes over her life, and she wrangles a job interning for the Chicago Sun-Times reporter who covered her attack all those years ago. She wheedles him into helping her pick up the details again, and slowly they begin to unravel the weird and awful truth."

The teaser:

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Gravedigger's Daughter
"Minnesota author Rachael Hanel will be in Chicago for an event for her new memoir, We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter (April, University of Minnesota Press)," the Press says.

Thursday, May 9th
7 p.m.
The Book Cellar
4736 N Lincoln Ave #1
* Co-event with author Barrie Jean Borich

"This book presents the unique, moving perspective of a gravedigger's daughter and her lifelong relationship with death. It is also a masterful meditation on the living elements of our cemeteries: our neighbors, friends, and families and how these things come together in the eyes of a young girl whose childhood is suffused with death and the wonder of the living."

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Jordan's Trainer
"Star basketball trainer Tim Grover shares insider stories about Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and others. He joins [Chicago Tonight] to discuss his new book, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, and explains what separates his superstar clients from the mere stars. Read an excerpt from the book."

And watch the interview:

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Skokie Ink
A fan meets Kat Von D at a Barnes & Noble book signing last weekend in Skokie.

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Here she is talking about her new book.

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Jay Far, Far Away
Jay Farrar's (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, Jeff Tweedy) new book is not being well-received.

* Jay Farrar Reveals Too Little In Frustrating Memoir.
* Farrar gets a "D" from the A.V. Club.
* Esquire also thinks it sucks.
* Brief excerpts from the Riverfront Times

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Freaks and Geeks
The 10 Best-Selling Chicago Business Books Of The Past 10 Years.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

What Oprah Misses About Chicago

She tells it to Steve Harvey today but the Beachwood got an early look through its Chikileaks program. To wit:

* Her ratings.

* The limo ride in from the airport.

* The obsequious press.

* Steve Harvey.

* Those good vibrations emanating from Rahm Emanuel's City Hall.

* A servile workforce willing to sign mind-bending confidentiality agreements.

* The ease of pulling off a smug sense of superiority.

* That time Rosie O'Donnell did a show here.

* All those kids she gave up on.

* Stella Foster.

* Steak and martinis at Gibson's with John of God.

* Private weather briefings from Tom Skilling.

* Those days when she paid to have Millennium Park all to herself.

* Svengoolie.

* Snorting coke with Billy Dec.

* Hanging out at the Division Street baths with the Jacksons and Neil Steinberg.

* Being halfway to both Los Angeles and New York.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:12 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Death at the House of Blues on Sunday night.


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2. Spray Paint at Permanent Records on Monday.

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3. How To Destroy Angels at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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4. The Warlocks at Subterranean on Sunday night.

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5. Kaskade at Smartbar on Wednesday night.

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6. The Nuchez's uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.

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7. Xylem Custom Basses uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday.

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8. Johnny Marr at the Metro on Thursday night.

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9. The Doors Radio Spot Live In Chicago 1969 Uploaded To YouTube Today.

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10. Trailer For The Big Star Documentary Nothing Can Hurt Me, Which Screened In Chicago Last Friday.

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11. Remembering Artie "Blues Boy" White, Who Died Saturday In Harvey.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:24 AM | Permalink

April 25, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"According to multiple sources at Chicago Public Schools, [GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce] Rauner in 2008 picked up the phone and called [then-CPS CEO Arne] Duncan on behalf of his daughter, who was trying to get into Payton [College Prep]," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

"There only was one problem, the sources say: Her test scores, academic record and other factors weren't good enough to get her into Payton.

"According to a report by CPS Inspector General James Sullivan that has not been released to the public, the younger Ms. Rauner had good scores, very good scores. But not quite good enough. Her application was denied. So dad called Mr. Duncan, a Duncan aide called the Payton principal and she was admitted, graduating last June."

Great story. But guess what? It's backwards. If true, the story really ought to be about Duncan. After all, he's the U.S. Secretary of Education. And he's been caught cheating. Rauner is just a two-bit hustler on a pretend "listening tour" as he "explores" a run for governor in which he's likely to spend millions and not come close to even getting out of the primary.

The tale told here - and it sounds awfully familiar to what we already know - is that clout admissions seem to have been a standard way of doing business under Duncan. How does he square that with his testing and standards rhetoric?

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"A spokesman for Mr. Duncan says he 'doesn't recall' any such conversation," Hinz reports.

That is what we call in the business a non-denial denial. Duncan can't just deny the allegation outright - and notice that he doesn't - because there are witnesses and other participants. (Note that Rauner also doesn't deny the charge.)

Duncan is also dodging - you don't just leave such an explosive charge up to a spokesperson to answer.

I'm sure Duncan has been busy with his advisors crafting a "better" response in which, oh, he just passed along the name of Rauner's daughter, you know, all innocent-like. He knows better - and we do too.

"Mayor Richard Daley called it 'unacceptable' Friday for his nephew to contact Chicago Public Schools on behalf of a politically active neighbor who wanted to get his daughters into an elite high school," the Tribune reported in 2010.

"The mayor's criticism and call for changes in enrollment policies came just hours before the CPS aide who maintained admissions-related VIP lists resigned his post.

"David Pickens quit Friday following a series of Tribune reports in which he confirmed that he kept the logs at the request of then-schools chief Arne Duncan, who is now the U.S. secretary of education.

"The Tribune revealed earlier this week that Duncan ordered admissions requests tracked over several years, creating a lengthy and detailed compilation of politicians and influential business people who intervened on behalf of children during his tenure."

Here's how Duncan handled that revelation:

"Through a spokesman, Duncan declined to comment."

A spokesman did spin a doozy for the New York Times, though: Duncan was trying to reduce clout by maintaining a clout list, as I went into here at the time. (That claim is easily blown away here as well.)

Now, one might ask why the story, then, should really be about Duncan when the new player is Rauner. Because Hinz has Duncan directing an aide - that's the inference, anyway - to call Payton and get the kid admitted; previous alibi about absorbing clout calls to keep pressure off principals quashed. (And don't try to tell us, Arne, that you merely asked for a second look or review of the Rauner application; everyone knows what that means in this town.)

As for Rauner, what is most disgusting is the fact that his daughter could have gone to New Trier; the family lived in Winnetka (which explains the curious recent revelation that Rauner also claimed a home exemption in Chicago, apparently - we know now - to qualify his kid for a city school.)

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Clout is a cradle-to-grave welfare program in these parts.

Our elites will always take care of themselves, even as they scold those left behind for, oh, say, their inability to parent.

See also:
* The Lottery

Related:
* Harvard Legacy Admit Rate At 30 Percent
* Legacy Admissions Favor Wealth Over Merit

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President Obama ought to be asked about the actions of his education secretary. Does he find clouting kids into schools acceptable? Just the way it is? In line with administration policy?

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Since Hinz seems to have good CPS sources, I wonder if they could actually find the person who lost their spot at Payton to Rauner's kid.

Dear Airport Whiners And Your Myopic Media Friends
Tracking The Sequester Cuts On Illinois's Poor And Working Class.

Homeless Chicago Man Goes Viral
Inspired public television series; picked up by Reddit and Gawker.

Pigeon Poop
Paging James Cappleman: Meet our national urban bird.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The full poop and nothing but the poop.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

The Urban Pigeon

"There's nothing shy about pigeons - they're too busy surviving to worry about what people think. And most people don't really think anything about pigeons. But if you know what to look for, you'll find a tough bird built for surviving, and thriving, in the urban wilderness.

"In the premiere episode of The Biopolitan, we trace Columba livia's path from cliffs to cornices, explore the dangers of city life, and make a case for the pigeon as a no-nonsense beacon of adaptability."


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Among the narrators: New York University's Colin Jerolmack, who published The Global Pigeon through The University of Chicago Press just last month.

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See also: Cappleman Critics Say They've Been Blocked By Alderman On Twitter

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 AM | Permalink

Homeless Chicago Man Who Inspired Public Television Series Goes Viral

"Big Questions is in the news again," South Bend public television station WNIT says on its Facebook page.

That's because Redditors discovered this 9-month-old video this week and then Gawker discovered that Reddit had discovered it and issued a challenge.

First, the video:


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Now, the backstory, via WNIT:

Kim Clark teaches media ethics at the College of Communication at DePaul University. As part of an assignment a few years ago, Clark wanted to combine ethics and media. He sent the students out to get to know an individual they had never met and most likely would never speak to outside of the project. The beginning rule was "you need to ask the individual if you could have permission to tell the story of their life." Subjects were to be approached with dignity and respect. The video was the result of the observation of one team of students in downtown Chicago.

The assignment was so successful that an entire class was created around the concept of using ethics and documentaries to tell stories. The idea for a television program came from the the insight of stories from honestly asking and listening to individuals. "We never stopped making Ronald Davis. We kept looking for the honest truth in people everywhere we went," Clark tells.

Clark came to WNIT Public Television with the idea of a 13-part series looking at the way people try to solve problems in unusual ways. Sometimes the solution is traditional and sometimes counter-cultural, sometimes illegal. It's the insightful way people manager their lives against insurmountable odds.

Big Questions airs on Monday nights at 10 on WNIT, but in a better world it would air every evening at 5:30 instead of the network news - or at least on Sunday mornings in Meet the Press's time slot. It takes real people to make the news real.

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See also:
* Reddit thread
* Kim Clark
* Big Questions
* More about Big Questions
* Nearly 2,000 YouTube comments

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:02 AM | Permalink

April 24, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

Just a couple brief math lessons today.

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More State Poverty Grants Go To Rich Schools.

"At the same time, Chicago Public Schools' share of the poverty money has declined, while still representing $796 million of the roughly $1.8 billion in poverty grants offered this year. Two dozen of the state's most impoverished districts also saw drops in poverty funding."

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Penny Pritzker's TIF.

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CPS May Find School Buildings Difficult To Sell: Some neighborhoods with slated closings already have too many vacant buildings.

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Always, always, always follow the money.

P.S.
Parent Mentor Program At Risk Of Losing Funds.

Daley Math
Daley Giving $540,000 In Remaining Campaign Funds To Charity.

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Koschman Special Prosecutor Bills Come To $1 Million.

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I have an idea . . .


* * * Elsewhere on the Beachwood * * *

Local Music Notebook
Battle Of The Blues Fests, Urge Overkill Underwhelms & R. Kelly Still Not Amusing (It Will Always Be Too Soon)

Plus: Spencer Tweedy, Jimmy Langford & Coco Gordon-Moore.

And: Billy Bragg, Nicki Bluhm And The National Pork Producers Council.

Local TV Notes
Tom Skilling Was A Boyhood Weather Geek & Lovie Smith Is A Schmuck.

Plus: A Chicago Fire Spinoff And Local Casting Calls.

And: Northwestern writes a soap opera.

Random Food Report
Unhappy Meals, A Bird Flu Bet & The Chipotle Affair.

Plus: Bacon Is So Played Out.

And: Green Airport Food.

Fantasy Fix
Catching Up With The Catchers.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Catch the fever.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Unhappy Meals, A Bird Flu Bet & The Chipotle Affair

And green airport food.

1. Hot Slut of the Day.

Yes, yes, omigod yes!

2. McDonaldland.

* McDonald's Fined In Brazil For Pushing Happy Meals To Children.

Of course, Happy Meals are expressly designed for children, but everyone is supposed to participate in the theater in which we ignore how some of our captains of industry get rich. Stop flipping the script, Brazil!

* Wall Street Journal Misses On McDonald's.

* And:

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3. Chick-fil-A Offers Behind-The-Counter Tours In Transparency Push.

Even the secret sauce?

4. Not even linking to Baconfest Chicago 2013. So played out.

Better:

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5. Chipotle Hiring Investigation Expands.

6. Yum! Brands: The Bird Flu Bet.

7. Four Seasons Baltimore Executive Pastry Chef Wins Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition.

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8. "The city of Chicago is calling on concessionaires at its two major airports to adopt several environmentally friendly standards at all of their on-site restaurants by the end of 2013."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Tom Skilling Was A Boyhood Weather Geek & Lovie Smith Is A Schmuck

And Northwestern writes a soap opera.

1. Harry Volkman in the Daily Herald:

"When [Tom Skilling] was 13, he came to see me at Channel 5. He said, 'I want to have the same job you have and do it the same way you do."

2. Lovie Smith is . . .

". . . the latest hypocritical coach or player who decries the working press until he becomes a part of it."

And ESPN is complicit by working as an employment agency for those same hypocrites.

"[I]f Smith didn't think offering his opinions on camera could benefit him professionally one day, he wouldn't have bothered going to Bristol, Conn.

"Smith understands landing a television job next season could give him a chance to make a weekly impression on NFL executives looking for a head coach."

Which makes his "analysis" unlikely to be anywhere near truthful.

3. "Casting is already underway on the as-yet-unnamed Chicago Fire spin-off."

Chicago Wire, please.

4. Speaking of casting . . .

* The Quest Reality Show Hosts Casting Call For Sci-Fi Fans In Wicker Park.

* Chicago Casting Call Set For GSN's New The Chase.

5. Northwestern Students Write For All My Children.

Plot line about admissions legacies?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:49 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Battle Of The Blues Fests, Urge Overkill Underwhelms & R. Kelly Still Not Amusing (It Will Always Be Too Soon)

And Billy Bragg, Nicki Bluhm and the National Pork Producers Council.

1. Buddy Guy (and others) choose Aurora over Chicago in the Battle of the Blues Fests.

2. From the publicity machine:

"Coming off of their critically acclaimed and fan-beloved first new album in over a decade, 2011's Rock&Roll Submarine, Urge Overkill is thrilled to be sharing the stage with Glassnote Records' Phoenix. The 90's Chicago rock-punk power band did not perform in the Southeast on their last tour and are looking forward to reconnecting with their fans in Atlanta and Orlando. Also, check out this link to the new music video for 'Effigy.'"

We checked it out so you don't have to. Absolutely rote.

3. Speaking of Phoenix . . .

"Phoenix were recently joined on stage by R. Kelly at Coachella in the U.S. with the R 'n' B singer performed his track 'Ignition' over the French band's song '1901.'

"However, Thomas from the band has told Xfm it came very close to not happening.

Apparently the band are big fans of R. Kelly and it was guitarist Laurent's wife who came up with the idea of involving the singer in the band's headlining set.

"He doesn't fly so he had to drive from Chicago which took three days - he took his bus. He got stuck in traffic and when we got on stage he was still stuck in traffic, which is why we are exhausted right now because of the tension."

What an amusing anecdote. Now check yourself, Phoenix.

4. "Coco, their only child, is now a freshman at a Chicago art school."

5. Chicago Maroon Spring Album Roundup.

5. From the Lancashire Evening Post:

"U.S. doom metal merchants Bongripper made their first ever European shows just last year, alongside Conan.

"Now the Chicago band is back and renunited with Liverpool's thunderous trio, Conan, who played with them, for a show at Preston's New Continental on Wednesday 24 April."

6. Fortunate Sons.

"The Blisters (featuring Spencer Tweedy, son of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy) and the UnGnomes (featuring Jimmy Langford, son of the Waco Brothers Jon Langford) - who've already snagged gigs at the Beat Kitchen and Martyr's (the Blisters even played at Lollapalooza in 2006) - are among the bands scheduled to appear Friday evening."

7. Billy Bragg visiting WBEZ.

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8. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers kick WGN's Robin Baumgarten out of the van.

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The Gramblers perform on WGN this morning at 8:50.

9. From the National Pork Producers Council:

"The spotlight will shine on MusicFest at World Pork Expo on Thursday, June 6, as the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) presents world-class entertainment by Transit Authority and Little Texas.

"What has become the social highlight of World Pork Expo, MusicFest will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. along Grand Avenue on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

"While music fills the air, attendees can enjoy free roasted pork and refreshments, as MusicFest is included in the price of admission to World Pork Expo.

"'While the days at Expo are filled with seminars, shopping the trade-show floor, pig shows and much more, MusicFest allows producers and exhibitors to take time out to relax and enjoy some networking and plenty of mouth-watering barbecue,' says Doug Fricke, NPPC's director of trade-show marketing. 'Sharing an evening of friendship and good music is a welcome addition to the already-rich 25th-anniversary World Pork Expo experience.'

"Transit Authority, the premier tribute band to the iconic music group, Chicago, will kick off MusicFest at 4:30 p.m. This eight-piece ensemble features some of the Midwest's most talented musicians, including the brass and strings that are so aligned with Chicago's music."

10. Speaking of Chicago . . . they play the Fargodome this Friday.

11. "[T]he most exciting young performer on the roots scene in St. Louis."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:00 AM | Permalink

April 23, 2013

Fantasy Fix: Catching Up With The Catchers

Avid readers of Fantasy Fix may have noticed that I skipped ranking catchers earlier this spring in my pre-season fantasy baseball draft guide. Aside from RP, the big C is my least favorite fantasy position. After the top two or three or gone from the board, you might as well wait until the last few rounds to pick up a catcher.

After the season starts, you can also keep an eye on the waiver wire to see which catchers are starting the season strong, and if you're quick enough you might just be able to pick up the best fantasy performer at the position.

That's how the Mets' John Buck has become one of the hottest waiver wire pick-ups overall in the early going.

Buck had seven home runs and an NL-leading 22 RBI going into Tuesday. He probably was not drafted in even the deepest fantasy leagues, where guys like Buster Posey, Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer were predictably among the first catchers drafted.

Buck may not remain the top-ranked fantasy catcher for long after we're out of the first month of the season, but his success shows that the position can be full of surprises.

Now that the season is underway, here's how I would rank the catchers going forward:

1. Joe Mauer. Looking almost like he's back to MVP form, hitting .375 for a surging Twins team.

2. Carlos Santana. Highly overrated in recent years, Santana is hitting .350 with four HRs and looks ready to break out.

3. Buster Posey. 11 RBI is the only bright spot for the reigning NL MVP so far, but he should get in a groove soon.

4. Wilin Rosario. Trying to show he was not a fluke last year, with four HRs, 13 RBI and three stolen bases so far.

5. Mike Napoli. Having an even better season than Buck, and maybe an even bigger surprise, given his injury issues. Leading all of MLB with 25 RBI.

6. Yadier Molina. Often underrated offensively, he's hitting .319 like clockwork, and could use more teammates getting on base in front of him.

7. A.J. Pierzynski. Trying to make the White Sox look bad for putting him out to pasture, and succeeding, hitting .310 with four HRs and 10 RBI.

8. John Buck. Like I said, he'll fall back to Earth, but should at least be worth owning and starting in fantasy leagues all year.

9. J.P. Arencibia. Prolific HR slugger who could do nothing else seems to be hitting better for average so far, giving him a chance to break 30 HRs this year.

10.Francisco Cervelli. Tied for second among all catchers with 11 runs scored. For fantasy purposes, more of a back-up right now, but could increase in value as the Yankees get more lineup starters back from injury.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report lists prospects to pick up in keeper leagues. (Yahoo! leagues also have started allowing an "NA" category, enabling you to stash a minor leaguer on your roster without using an active roster spot.)

* SI.com has fun with a mock draft from the future. Nice to see Starlin Castro rising up the ranks (I wonder if SI assumes a lengthy trip to the minors before 2015).

* Fantasy CPR examines possible pick-ups among starting pitchers.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"U.S. airports are now seeing furlough days because of the sequester. But some social service agencies felt the pinch weeks ago," WBEZ reports.

"Over the next few days WBEZ will bring you portraits of how poor and working class people, and the agencies that serve them, are being impacted by the government spending cuts."

Good - and I hope they're not the only ones. So far the general media focus has tended to be on middle-class annoyances (per usual) instead of boring life and death issues.

Torture USA
We did it, it didn't work and we may still be doing it. USA! USA! USA!

Charter Turf
"Cast by critics including the Chicago Teachers Union as villains in the ongoing school closings controversy, privately run charter schools and their advocates are fighting back with efforts that include plans for a downtown rally by a newly formed parents group," theTribune reports.

Here we go.

"'It's not fair how we're being treated, and we decided we need to have our own voice,' said one of the group's organizers, Mariana Chavez, whose children attend a charter operated by the United Neighborhood Organization."

UNO doesn't have a voice. Poor UNO.

"Many of the larger charter networks have helped Charter Parents United pay for startup costs such as the development of a website. The parent group is also getting public relations help from ASGK Public Strategies, a firm founded by political consultant David Axelrod."

Why am I not surprised.

Rahmocrisy
Emanuel Takes Shot At Texas Gov's Attempt To Lure Illinois Business.

"Emanuel noted, in the two years since he took office, 14 companies have decided to locate their corporate headquarters in Chicago."

Yes, and something like 13 of them came from the suburbs, meaning Rahm is just reshuffling the deck in Illinois to the detriment of taxpayers and workers. Even if he's just being sarcastic, he doesn't exactly have the higher ground.

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Texas: Not As Stupid As You Think It Is.

Breaking News!
The Tribune embedded a tweet in a story!

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With audio and video!

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Using multimedia, digital tools changes the narrative structure of the way stories are - or ought to be - presented. Pyramid style and even traditional feature style will become even less frequent in use; Storify gets to but doesn't quite execute a new approach to informing readers. At some point as well, I envision rollover tools in which audio and video and maybe even tweets and so on activate when readers scroll over key parts of a story - if those tools are turned on. Or they may pop up . . . and data viz and images will appear in 3D, making my long dream (you know who you are, people) of pop-up newspapers and magazines essentially come true on the screen.

The Cub Factor
Cubs bullpen now blowing two leads per game instead of just one.

The Coke Factor
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday announced his latest partnership with Coca-Cola: The soft drink giant will pay for 50,000 blue recycling carts for Chicago homes and in return gets to put images of Coke products on the lids of the familiar bins," the Tribune reports.

The part about the imagery went unmentioned at the mayor's press conference, the paper says. Embarrassed, Rahm?

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"Asked then whether he could do more for children's health by limiting their access to sugary drinks, Emanuel said Coca-Cola's contributions were complementing his efforts to improve kids' lives. Emanuel's predecessor Richard Daley sits on Coke's board of directors."

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"The mayor has said a small number of city workers with often manageable or preventable health issues are driving up costs for the whole city," the Tribune reported in 2011 when Emanuel touted his wellness program.

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Also a non-starter; think of the lost tax revenue. (Translation: It's not all about the children.)

Rahmification
"Emanuel signed a series of executive orders banning political giving from lobbyists and contractors doing business with the city, part of his campaign pledge to move City Hall beyond the pay-to-play culture that has earned Chicago a national reputation," the Tribune reports.

"Government can no longer be an insider's game, serving primarily the lobbyists and well-connected," Emanuel said on the campaign trail.

"Yet as mayor, Emanuel is taking in campaign donations from business interests who need his administration to provide crucial approval for major real estate developments, including high-profile hotel projects in some of the city's biggest tourist areas."

Just another Chicago Coincidence.

"The mayor has instituted the highest ethical and transparency standards and does not accept contributions from entities that do business with the city," Emanuel communications director Sarah Hamilton wrote in an e-mail response to the Tribune.

Just entities seeking to do business with the city.

(And, oy, again with the e-mail. Really, Tribune?)

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"A top political consultant to Emanuel said those donations do not influence the mayor."

So contributors are wasting their money?

"He does what he believes to be in the best interests of the city as a whole," said Emanuel adviser John Kupper. "He does not get involved in individual issues before the Landmarks Commission or other independent bodies."

He doesn't get involved in issues like Prentice Women's Hospital or Wrigley Field? Huh.

And tell me, Mr. Kupper, which bodies in Chicago are independent?

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Bonus: Kupper is from AKPD, the sibling of ASGK.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Be the baller.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

Torture USA

Among the news that ended up being buried in the events last week: A nonpartisan think tank, the Constitution Project, released a scathing, 577-page report on the U.S.'s treatment, and torture, of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11.

The investigation began in 2009, after President Obama opposed creating a "truth commission."

With a Senate investigation of detainee treatment still classified, the report from the bipartisan task force is the most comprehensive public review to date.

The 11-member panel interviewed more than 100 former military officials, detainees and policymakers. Among their findings: There is no compelling security reason to keep classified details about the CIA's now-shuttered black prisons.

The task force hopes their report will spur more government transparency on the treatment of detainees, starting with the release of the Senate investigation.

Here's a rundown of previous claims skewered by the report:

Claim No. 1: The U.S. didn't use torture

"Perhaps the most important or notable finding of this panel is that it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture," the report concludes.

The task force says that despite overwhelming evidence of torture, both government officials and many in the media have continued to present the issue as a two-sided debate.

The task force measured confirmed reports on detainee treatment against several international and domestic legal definitions of torture. The U.S.'s tactics unequivocally amount to torture, they found, under definitions the U.S. itself has used to accuse other countries of the same crime.

Still, former UN ambassador John Bolton rejected the task force's findings, telling the Associated Press the report is "completely divorced from reality." Bolton said a team of lawyers scrutinized the policies to ensure interrogation never crossed the line.

Claim No. 2: When torture happened, it was because of a few low-level "bad apples."

The report details how the decisions to use "enhanced interrogation" techniques were not rogue entry-level soldiers, but rather came from decisions made at the top of the administration.

As a former Marine general told the task force, "Any degree of 'flexibility' about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone - the rare exception fast becoming the rule."

Claim No. 3: Only three terror suspects were waterboarded by the CIA.

The task force's findings support and elaborate on a Human Rights Watch report, which detailed how the CIA tortured at least two Libyans with water and abused several others to "win favor with el-Gaddafi's regime," the task force found.

The testimonies of the two Libyans undermine the Bush administration's repeated claims that the CIA only waterboarded three people.

Claim No. 4: Torture definitely worked.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and others have claimed that abusive treatment saved "thousands of American lives."

But the report found no evidence that torture itself was actually useful.

As Obama's former National Director of Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair wrote, as quoted in the report, "There is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means."

The movie Zero Dark Thirty, which gets a shout-out in the report, has fueled the debate about whether torture ultimately helped the U.S. find Osama bin Laden. Officials have pointed to the tips provided by one detainee, Hassan Ghul, who was beaten and deprived of sleep while held in a secret CIA prison.

But the report is skeptical of the connection. As the report notes, Senator Dianne Feinstein and other officials said key information Ghul provided was "acquired before the CIA used their enhanced interrogation techniques against the detainee."

Claim No. 5: A third of released Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorism.

Many lawmakers have used the supposedly high rate of detainee recidivism to justify keeping detainees at Gitmo. The government has claimed that nearly a third of released detainees returned to terrorism.

But the report noted that Gitmo prisoner shouldn't be counted as "returning to the battlefield" if they were never there in the first place.

A former Guantanamo commander told the panel that up to half of detainees "were mistakes."

Government stats also include both confirmed and suspected reports of "re-engagement." Nor, the report notes, does the government have "firm guidelines" on what counts as a return to terrorism.

Claim No. 6: It's all behind us.

"We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards," Obama said in 2009.

But the report details how the ongoing lack of transparency and oversight leaves the door open for abuse.

The CIA's prisons have been closed, but the report notes that the current Army Field Manual on Interrogation contains amendments made in 2006 allow for sleep deprivation, separation and stress positions to be used in interrogation.

The bipartisan task force also concluded that current treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, such as force-feeding hunger striking inmates and keeping them in indefinite detention, could qualify as torture under international law.

The committee couldn't come to a consensus on whether the prison at Guantanamo should be closed.

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Previously:

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Under Obama Administration, Renditions - And The Secrecy Behind Them - Continue

* Obama's Torture Test

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You Might Never See

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

* Update: Obama's America

* Hunger Strikes And Indefinite Detention: A Gitmo Rundown

* Obama's FOIA Fail

* Torture And Obama's Drone Program

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

April 22, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"The Rev. Jesse Jackson is leading a group of community leaders in calling for an infusion of $7 million from the Quinn administration to keep Roseland Community Hospital running without dramatic cuts to patient care," Crain's reports.

"The Far South Side safety-net hospital has a backlog of about $8 million in outstanding bills older than 90 days that it must pay, or else it will have to significantly reduce services. The hospital hasn't been able to generate enough cash flow to pay its expenses because it serves a primarily poor population that often doesn't have any health coverage, including Medicaid, hospital executives say.

"But cutting health care services will only exacerbate a desperate situation for a community devastated by unemployment, housing foreclosures and street violence, said Rev. Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, who has scheduled a press conference at the 110-bed hospital [Monday] morning.

"There is a health care desert in the Roseland, Englewood and South Chicago area," he said in an interview. By cutting already-scarce services, 'you're compounding the effects of poverty.'"

Says Jackson:

He is presumably referring to this.

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Sure is.

"Chicago-area gunshot victims who are shot more than five miles from a trauma center have a higher mortality rate, according to a new public health study released on Thursday," WBEZ reported last week.

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About That Flood Plan
"Days after heavy rains swamped hundreds of homes in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood leaving many without power and gas, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the construction of a $55 million underground pipeline he says will alleviate future flooding," the Sun-Times reports.

The 11th of 12 paragraphs:

"The new pipeline has been in the planning stages for about a year."

In other words, Emanuel simply re-announced something that had already been announced. He has a habit of doing that.

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Does that mean Emanuel shouldn't have mentioned the pipeline project? No; it's worth reminding Albany Park residents help is on the way.

But reporters didn't have to go along with the spin. Alternate lead:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel reminded Albany Park residents still bailing out their flooded homes that help is on the way - a pipeline designed to alleviate the effects of heavy rains in the Northwest Side neighborhood has been in the works for almost a year."

Follow The Money
UNO has been very, very good to the d'Escoto family. There's a lot of money to be made in charters and school "reform."

CPS: Calculating Prime Stupidity
"Student enrollment at several Chicago Public Schools could balloon over capacity if the district closes 54 schools as planned, data shows," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"As many as nine elementary schools would exceed 100 percent capacity if every closure and consolidation is approved by the Board of Education next month, an analysis by DNAinfo.com Chicago shows. CPS classifies schools with 30 students per homeroom as being at 100 percent capacity."

Now they do.

"Pegging calculations to a 30-student class allows the mayor and school officials to drive the public debate with attention-grabbing statistics," the Tribune reported last month.

"It has enabled the Emanuel administration to declare nearly half of all elementary and high schools underused, leaving 100,000 desks empty."

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Back to DNAinfo:

"CPS, though, doesn't consider a school 'overcrowded' until it is at 120 percent of its ideal capacity, or up to 36 students per homeroom."

I'd hate to have to teach math in Chicago.

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"By combining smaller, underutilized schools, principals will have more resources to hire needed staff and be better positioned to avoid the larger class sizes that we often see in our under-enrolled, under-resourced schools," CPS spokeswoman Becky Orwell said.

Er, I mean Becky Carroll, who said something quite different last month, per the Trib:

Becky Carroll, a CPS spokeswoman, argued that big classes don't necessarily hamper learning.

"It's the quality of teaching in that classroom," Carroll said. "You could have a teacher that is high-quality that could take 40 kids in a class and help them succeed."

To retranslate, Becky Carroll is claiming that the larger class sizes that will result from the CPS school closings plan are irrelevant if teachers do their job better but that smaller class sizes will also result from CPS school closings if you like that answer better because "underutilized" schools have classes that are too large, which is why more resources that didn't previously go to alleviate those alleged large classes will be directed to "welcoming" schools whose larger class sizes are irrelevant because it's all about teacher quality but now will somehow become smaller class sizes because that's how CPS is going to better serve its students.

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See also:
* Rahm's Class Size Wars
* Class sizes in this edition of The [Wednesday] Papers

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Most Transparent, Reformy Mayor Ever
IG To Rahm: Stop Blocking City Hall Investigations.

The Week The Blackhawks Wish Wasn't
Nothing good can happen for them in the next six days, our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

Fans File For Divorce
Theo Epstein is a little bit Hendry and a little bit Williams. The bad bits, I write in The Cub Factor.

Sacrificing Bunts
The White Sox need more of 'em, not less, our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in The White Sox Report.

It Went To 11
The Weekend in Chicago Rock, including Rebelution, Tortured Soul, Wax Trax!, Edward Burch, Get Set, Their/They're/There, Bonobo, Lydia Loveless, Laurie's Planet of Sound, Reckless Records, Permanent Records, The Stockyards, Jay Farrar, Bob Dylan w/Wilco, Dolly Varden, and Luke Winslow-King (with Esther Rose).

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Size matters.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Week The Blackhawks Wish Wasn't

Time to crank up the time machine - we have a hockey team in town that really needs to travel a week into the future.

Nothing good can happen for the Blackhawks in the next six days. Sure, they can clinch the President's Trophy (awarded to the NHL team with the most regular-season points) with one more win, but even that has a dark side.

Two more points in their final four games ensures the Hawks, who have already clinched division and conference crowns, will finish ahead of Eastern Conference leader Pittsburgh. It would be the Hawks' second President's Trophy and their first in more than two decades.

The problem is that teams that win the Trophy often don't win the Cup.

The last team to do it was the Red Wings. They piled up the most points in the league in 2007-08 and then rolled through the playoffs as well. But in the seasons since, trophy winners have been far more likely to lose in the conference quarterfinals than they have been to even make the Cup finals.

The San Jose Sharks, Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks suffered that fate in '09, '10 and '12. And while the Canucks managed to win a few playoff series in '11 but then went down in the finals against the Bruins. All totaled in the 26 years since the league began awarding the President's Trophy, only seven teams have won both it and the Cup.

When the Hawks earned the trophy in 1990-91, they went on to fall in the good old Norris Division semifinals to a team that doesn't even exist anymore. The Minnesota North Stars (who not long after re-located to Dallas and dropped the "North") pulled out that series in six games. The loss was especially aggravating because the North Stars had won only 27 games during the regular season against 39 losses and 14 ties.

The Hawks' regular season total of 49 pre-playoff victories didn't matter in a series in which they lost in overtime to start it off, bounced back to win the next two but then scored all of two goals in the final three games; 3-1, 6-0 and 3-1 losses. Part of it was North Star goalie Jon Casey standing on his head and part of it was that teams that were coached by maniacal Mike Keenan, as the Hawks were that year, were always prone to collapsing under the weight of the pressure he put on them.

As it stands now, the eighth spot in the conference (which will be matched up against the No. 1 Hawks) is currently the Columbus Blue Jackets. But the Red Wings are lurking. They trail Columbus by three points but have two games in hand, i.e,. they will have four more games to try to pile up points while the Blue Jackets are down to two.

Here's a reason not to despair: The Hawks haven't had to totally wear themselves down to finish with the top record in the league because it is of course a shortened season. And what a record the Hawks possess by the way - 34-5-5 going into tonight's game in Vancouver.

But now the Hawks face the age-old quandary of "Do they rest their veterans during their final four games or would doing so doing run the risk of not being at their competitive best when the post-season starts?"

Recent sports history is littered with examples of teams have have rested, including the Canucks last year as they headed into a first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings. It was the Kings who triumphed in that conference quarterfinal and then all they did was go on to win the Stanley Cup.

If anyone can strike the right balance between maintaining veteran health and not losing the competitive edge, it is veteran Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. Still, I'm sure all Hawks fans will breathe a sigh of relief when next Sunday morning finally comes around. That will be when the Hawks, having wrapped up the regular season in St. Louis the night before, can finally focus on the road to the Cup.

Bulls Beat
In case you missed it, the Bulls are already in the playoffs and some might be inclined to blame maniacal Tom Thibodeau both for getting them there and for getting them there exhausted.

Or someone else.

Baseball Beat
* The Cub Factor: Fans File For Divorce.
* The White Sox Report: Sacrificing Bunts.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

Fans File For Divorce

"In less than seven months of regular-season baseball since Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Sveum took over, the Cubs have gone from 101-game losers to simply laughable," Gordon Wittenmyer writes in the Sun-Times

"Certainly, there's lots of time left. But whether that's a good thing is in serious doubt the way the team has looked, especially considering that the 5-1 loss to the Brewers, which included three more errors and four unearned runs, was played in maybe the best playing conditions of the season.

"No blaming the cold or the rain or the wind or the facilities at Wrigley or baseball gods, bogeymen or gremlins."

As if those were ever acceptable excuses.

Let's face it, folks: The honeymoon is over.

What Theo & Company promised in return for patience was a young, hustling team that would at least execute the fundamentals. Instead, we're in Year 2 of Hendry Lite, a churn of players from other teams' scrapheaps who aren't even B- or C-listers. They are the dregs.

There is also a bit of Williams Lite going on here with Theo attempting to outsmart the league by claiming underperformers he thinks can be fixed either through rehab (Ian Stewart) or vengeful pride (Kevin Gregg). They can't be.

Theo and first mate Jed Hoyer keep trying to get lucky with other team's injury/head cases and washouts. The latest? Julio Borbon. He's 27 - the same age as Prince Fielder when Fielder went on the free agent market last year. We'll just wait for Borbon to hold down the fort though until Jorge Soler is ready - if he's not suspended for life by then.

And guess what? The Daytona Cubs (7-10) aren't exactly the Ft. Myers Miracle (14-3).

And neither Theo nor Jed is Frank Wren. Which is why the Cubs aren't the Braves. Hell, they're not even the (10-8) Pirates.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 1-4 and narrowly avoided a fifth loss when Wednesday's game with the Rangers was postponed due to weather.

Week in Preview: The Cubs have three in Cincinnati and four in Miami before returning home to close out April against the Padres. That's right, we're still not a month in.

The Second Basemen Report: Brent Lillibridge was designated for assignment but unfortunately that assignment wasn't waiting tables at Denny's, so he's still wearing a Cubs uniform, albiet in Iowa. At guess who is there with him? Alberto Gonzalez was also designated for assignment but his whereabouts are currently unknown. Darwin Barney honored his fallen comrades by going 1-for-17 to open his season upon his return from injury, though he drew two walks to lift his OBP to .158.

In former second basemen news, Bobby Hill was promoted to the Cubs on May 10, 2002. Don Baylor liked his swagger. He is missed.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Luis Valbuena got just one start more than Gonzalez last week, yet Valbuena is the Cubs' designated third baseman. Valbuena is hitting just .217, though his OBP is .345 thanks to a team-leading eight walks. Luis Valbuena, everybody. Meanwhile, the Cubs claimed utility infielder Cody Ransom off waivers and he'll fit in nicely, given that he opened his season 0-for-11 in San Diego. That's right, the Cubs are now taking Padres discards. Also, Dale Sveum told the rehabbing Ian Stewart that he shouldn't hurry back, heh-heh.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters hoped to finally open his season in Des Moines this week but apparently is still not healthy enough to suck in person.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana is hitting .130 in Reno but you just wait and see. Michael Brenly is in extended spring training. Dad Bob is having a lot more fun with Steve Berthiaume than Jim Deshaies is with Len Kasper. Erstwhile Cub Randall Delgado has a 10.80 ERA in Reno, but you just wait and see. Former Cubs draft pick Eric Hinske is hitting .188 for the big-league club.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Theo starting to slump while Hopelessness and Alternate Summer Activities pick up steam.

Sveum's Shadow: 6 p.m. Dale Sveum's shadow is already 3 hours past its 5 o'clock start position; we estimate the thousand-yard state of Baylor, Baker and Piniella to kick in by June. Telltale early signs of dementia appeared this week as he seemed to indicate that Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo could be sent down to Iowa because for some reason they aren't getting the kind of development they need up here with the big-league coaches. Ahem.

Shark Tank: Smardge threw 99 pitches in seven innings this week as he saw his record fall to 1-3, albeit with a 3.38 ERA. He is easily the Cub most likely to destroy the Gatorade machine first this season - if Sveum doesn't beat him to it. Take our ace's at-bat in the fourth inning against the Brewers on Friday with two outs, bases loaded and the Cubs down by a run. He doesn't get cheated! He does, however, swing for the fences at exactly the wrong time instead of just trying to make contact. The result was predictable except that he took the third strike looking after two grand slam attempts. A ground out is better than a strike out in that situation because at least you've given your team a chance to score a run.

Jumbotron Preview: Six thousand square feet of everything you want to know about your 100-losses-a-year Cubs.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Old proposition: Games until Carlos Marmol is returned to the closer's role: 12. Which was Under. Way Under. New proposition: Games until Carlos Marmol loses the closer's role again: Kyuji Fujikawa's return +1.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that five-year plans went out with the Soviet Union.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You should've been there.

1. Rebelution at the Congress on Saturday night.


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2. Tortured Soul at the Shrine on Friday night.

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3. Wax Trax! The Iconic Punk and Industrial Label's Soiree Musicale at the Logan Theater Lounge for CIMMFest on Sunday.

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4. Edward Burch & The Grand Ennui at Laurie's Planet of Sound for Record Store Day on Saturday.

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See also: Burch, Luke Winslow-King (with Esther Rose) and Dolly Varden at Laurie's as featured by Robert Loerzel's photography on his Underground Bee site.

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5. Get Set at Permanent Records for Record Store Day on Saturday.

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6. Their/They're/There at Reckless Records for Record Store Day on Saturday.

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7. Bonobo at Gramaphone Records for Record Store Day on Saturday.

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8. Lydia Loveless at the Rose Bowl in Urbana on Saturday night.

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9. The Stockyards at Subterranean for CIMMFest on Thursday night.

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10. Jay Farrar Reveals Too Little In Frustrating Memoir.

See also:
* Farrar gets a "D" from the A.V. Club.
* Esquire also thinks it sucks.
* Brief excerpts from the Riverfront Times

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11. Bob Dylan to play with Wilco and My Morning Jacket in Bridgeview this summer.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

IG To Rahm: Stop Blocking City Hall Investigations

To the Mayor, Members of the City Council, the City Clerk, the City Treasurer, and the residents of the City of Chicago:

Enclosed for your review is the public report on the operations of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) during the first quarter of 2013, filed with the City Council pursuant to Section 2-56-120 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.

As in prior Quarterly Reports, we provide a brief snapshot of our office activity, which cannot fully reflect the total picture of our activity, or the challenges we face. The Mayor has stated that he considers the IGO to be a key partner in ferreting out waste, fraud, and abuse, but maintains that the IGO does not need more power. As I have stated previously, we consider the IGO ordinance to be a promise by the City to ensure effective government oversight, and this office seeks only the baseline standards and authority for that to occur.

Thus the fundamental issue is not one of power, but of independence - the independence necessary to fulfill this promise.

To meet its mission of detecting and deterring waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in City government, the IGO investigates, audits, and reviews a vast array of City programs, policies, procedures, and processes. These encompass every operative function of City government, including procurement, hiring, public safety, licensing, and residential services.

Including state and federal grants, the City spends more than $8 billion annually, employs more than 30,000 people, and is a critical public service provider to millions more.

To do this job well, we need three things. We need talent, access, and City leadership that supports the mission not just with words, but with deeds.

I am proud of our efforts to recruit, train, and retain talented auditors, investigators, attorneys, and support staff. The diversity of our collective experience is integral to the accomplishment of our mission, and I will continue to consistently strive to improve it with every hire I make.

However, all of the talent in the world cannot overcome a lack of access to City information, records, and documents.

Throughout the course of our work, we seek access and have been granted access to information in various forms. But there have been times when such access has been denied.

A public example of that dispute is provided in the Ferguson v. Patton lawsuit recently decided in the Illinois Supreme Court. In that case we were forced to seek judicial enforcement of a subpoena for information held by the Law Department, for which it claimed attorney client and work product privileges - in short, we sought to overcome a public official's refusal to provide the public's information to the public's oversight body investigating possible misconduct by public officials. The Circuit Court's dismissal of this action was reversed by the Appellate Court, and the action came before the Supreme Court.

Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the IGO's enabling City ordinance does not give the IGO the statutory authority to enforce its own subpoenas. Based on the Court's reading of the law, the IGO must go to the City's Corporation Counsel to enforce its subpoenas. When the Corporation Counsel chooses not to, or has a conflict of interest (as the Court found to be the case in the very investigation underlying this lawsuit) the IGO's only recourse is to appeal to the Mayor, even when the investigation involves, or is directed at, the Office of the Mayor, or even the Mayor himself.

The Supreme Court observed that the City could provide a resolution to this issue by amending City law, but has yet to do so.

In light of this decision, I have formally asked the Mayor to provide the information sought by subpoena which is necessary for a complete investigation of this matter. The Mayor did not respond to the request.

Accordingly, the investigation will proceed to disposition on the basis of the information that is available, as we do in all cases. But the public should know that such an investigation will be significantly hampered by a continued refusal to provide the very information that the City Council has promised our office should be able to access.

The investigation underlying the lawsuit is not an anomaly. The IGO has been denied access to relevant City records in a number of other investigations.

Moving forward, we therefore will make it standard procedure to ask the Mayor to provide the access to which we are entitled by City ordinance when that access is thwarted. When access is expressly denied or, as in the matter litigated to the Supreme Court, no response is received to our requests, investigations likely will be closed and the lack of access will be reported publicly. If it involves hiring, it will be duly reported to the Shakman Monitor.

As I noted when the Supreme Court issued its decision, Chicago residents and taxpayers should be aware of the IGO's jurisdictional limitations and what that can mean for our operations, be they investigations, audits, or oversight of the City's employment practices governed by the Shakman accord.

In sum, a lack of full access results in less complete investigations and less complete analysis - in short, less than the complete oversight mandated and promised by ordinance - and deserved by Chicago citizens.

This office does not seek special authority or treatment; rather, it seeks that which inspectors' general with similar statutory mandates have - complete access to documents and records under its jurisdiction and the power to enforce its subpoenas without the approval and permission of the very subjects of the subpoenas. But not in the City of Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:12 AM | Permalink

April 21, 2013

Sacrificing Bunts

"The hardest single thing to do in sport is to hit a baseball," Ted Williams once famously wrote in Sports Illustrated, which, coming from someone who was exceptionally proficient at the act, either was the truth or simply a proclamation that fed his ego. Probably both.

While not all of us agree with Teddy Ballgame, we can concur that hitting a sphere moving 90 miles an hour - often dipping, spinning, or curving- with a round club while standing 60-feet, 6-inches away is a specialized skill mastered by a minuscule percentage of our citizenry.

So doesn't it make sense that a stationary round stick in the hands of a batter who simply is trying to make contact would have a much greater likelihood of success with that elusive orb than lumber in motion?

Yes, folks, we're talking bunting here, something the White Sox, along with many other clubs, disdain and ignore. This from a team that swings at most anything - the Sox have drawn just 31 walks in this young season, the fewest in the American League - and frequently comes up empty, as evidenced by its 7.5 strikeouts a game.

Pity the occasional baserunners, somehow finding themselves on first or second base with no one out and thirsting to advance.

Consider last Monday, in what eventually would be a 4-3 loss in Toronto, a victory that went to our beloved Mark Buehrle.

It's the top of the fifth, Jays lead 4-2, but Tyler Greene and Alejandro De Aza lead off with base hits. Jeff Keppinger, a man reputed to make contact but hitting a measly .153 after yesterday's loss to Minnesota, steps to the plate with Alex Rios on deck and Paul Konerko in the hole. The same Jeff Keppinger who has 29 sacrifice bunts on his career resume. Unfortunately and predictably, Keppinger swings away and hits into a double play.

Possibly manager Robin Ventura had Keppinger in swing mode because of the memory from three days prior. Alexi Ramirez totally screwed up a sacrifice bunt attempt in a 1-0, 10-inning loss in Cleveland. This time it was Conor Gillaspie doubling to lead off the top of the eight in a scoreless duel. Attempting to sacrifice, Ramirez fouled off the first pitch before popping up to the catcher on the next offering.

Laying down a bunt has a poor reputation. Years ago Baltimore's Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, said, "On offense, your most precious possession are your 27 outs." He wasn't willing to sacrifice any of them, a belief echoed by the philosophy of Oakland GM Billy Beane in Moneyball, adopted by the sabermetric community, and professed by some local sports commentators who have been pounding Ventura mercilesslly over the matter.

However, when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, they successfully used the sacrifice bunt 53 times during the regular season. Way back in 1959, before the days of the DH, the American League champion Sox moved runners over 84 times by bunting. This season the Sox have executed exactly one sacrifice bunt even though they are impotent when it comes to advancing runners.

Not surprisingly, the Sox, owners of a 7-11 record after two weekend losses to the Twins, not only don't advance runners, they don't score them either. In 14 of their 18 games, they've scored four runs or less. At least a bunt here or there would require the opposition to make a play rather than have Sox hitters trudge back to the bench after striking out or popping up.

De Aza dragged a bunt - not a sacrifice, but at least a bunt in an attempt to do something different - to the right of the mound in the sixth inning yesterday, and, sure enough, Twins pitcher Scott Diamond made a miserable throw past first base. De Aza wound up on third and jogged home on Keppinger's sacrifice fly, giving the Sox a short-lived 2-1 lead.

Another case in point: On Saturday in the top of the 11th inning in a 3-3 tie in Toronto, the first two batters for the visiting Yankees reached base and Ichiro Suzuki, who is a good bunter, strolled to the plate. He laid down a decent - not great - bunt to the third base side of the mound. Pitcher Aaron Loup, heeding the misguided advice of his catcher, tried to nail the runner at third. Unfortunately for the Jays, his throw was wild, both runners scored, and the Yankees won 5-3.

Part of the reason we see less bunting today is that players simply aren't equipped to square around and deaden the ball 30 to 50 feet from home plate.

A few years ago I found myself driving on I-44 in the area where Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas abut one another. Pulling off the highway for gas, I realized that I was just three miles from Commerce, the birthplace of Mickey Mantle.

Curious to see where the Mick grew up, we easily found his childhood home in the quiet village. The clapboard house was what you might have expected from a family where Mickey's dad Mutt supported the family as a laborer in the area's lead and zinc mines.

It wasn't the house that attracted our attention, it was the corrugated metal out-building where the rusted wall still displayed the dents from all the pitches that Mutt threw to Mickey as he was growing up.

Mickey's Out Building.JPG

Not only did Dad teach his son to be a switch-hitter, but - and this is my feeling - he taught him how to bunt, especially from the left side.

Mantle was arguably the premier power hitter of his era, but the record book also shows that he had 14 sacrifice bunts and 25 bunt hits in his 18-year career.

In 1956 Mantle hit .353 with 52 home runs and 130 RBI. He won the Triple Crown and was MVP. Yet, in the season's second game with the Yankees leading 6-1 in the top of the fourth inning and Jerry Lumpe on third base, Mickey laid down a squeeze bunt to pad the lead. Imagine Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols doing something like that.

The vast majority of today's big leaguers were the best players on their youth teams. When they took batting practice with two bunts - one down third and the other down first - and five or six swings, if these budding stars didn't get the bunts down, it didn't matter. The coach was likely to say, "Ah, that's okay. Just hit away."

Meanwhile, the kid who hit eighth or ninth would keep bunting until he did it right. So these kids who were high school and college superstars rarely - if ever - were asked to "lay one down." Judging by the lack of effective bunters in the major leagues today, once they entered pro ball, they still weren't trained in the art of bunting.

That's not helping the Sox much these days.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 PM | Permalink

April 20, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Life in Watertown can return to normal now that the danger has passed. If only "normal" were the same everywhere in America.

Market Update
Hey, look at that. Substantial parts of Illinois are now under water, just like Springfield.

Dance With The Devil
You know the perfect way to thank Vladimir Putin for whatever "help" he's provided? Let him deport all of Chechnya to Gitmo.

Up Chuck
On behalf of literally millions of peaceful, law-abiding immigrants to this country - including, presumably, Chuck Grassley's ancestors - shut the fuck up, Chuck Grassley.

World Gone Mad
Oh great, now Alcohol and Firearms are fighting. Please, will no one think of Tobacco, caught up in the middle?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: A return to normalcy.

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Today Is: Record Store Day.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Philly-based guitar wizard Kurt Vile is live in the studio and ready to shred. Later, Jim and Greg review Bankrupt!, the new album from Sound Opinions alums Phoenix."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: "Covering some new ground here!" says Andy Pierce.

saucer.jpg
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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.

Issues and Artists: Ceremony for Kosovo

4-15-Kosovo.jpg

This celebration of the 5th Anniversary of Kosovo Independence includes the raising of the Kosovo flag at Daley Plaza and performances of music typical to the region.

Saturday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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The Life & Work of Rev. Addie L. Wyatt

4-15-AddieWyatt.jpg

Friends, family and contemporaries commemorate Rev. Addie L Wyatt and her work fighting for civil rights, women's rights, and labor. Speakers include the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Calvin Morris of the Community Renewal Society, and; professor Timuel D. Black, Jr.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Women & Girls Inspiring Change

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This awards program by Global Girls recognizes individuals and organizations for empowering women in the U.S. and abroad. The program includes cultural traditions from around the world, including Capoeira, African, Kuttu and ballet.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Irresistible Revolution: A Discussion of the Contemporary LGBT Movement

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Community organizer Urvashi Vaid outlines today's movement for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and argues activists should work towards a broader social justice agenda including race, class, and gender.

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.


Posted by Natasha Julius at 3:34 AM | Permalink

April 19, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

I've been tweeting some media criticism of this morning's coverage from Boston. It's entirely predictable. It's an institutional problem. It's a mindset. It's not new - just read A.J. Liebling's The Press. I just wish it would stop.

(From the top review: "In this book Liebling talks about the newspaper industry, publishers, and the shenanigans publishers-newspapers pull to further their ends. Most of the stories were written in the 40s-50s and compiled in the 60s, but are as true today as they were then.

("Newspapers ignore the obvious and important, make-up much of what they do report, and lines of advertising sold & circulation is always the bottom-line. News is the last thing any publisher wants to pay for, so they economize by making it up or hire experts to make it up (that is, the expert is here NOT where the news is happening, and provides an opinion of events they know nothing about). Experts don't require expense accounts and costly travel. Liebling cites several events where the press was totally in the fog but had plenty to say; Stalin's death and his replacement are the best example of this phenomenon. And you get a sense of what sort of bums our government leaders are, or were. Liebling spills the beans on some of these people.")

And, of course, TV news is worse by a magnitude of thousands compared to print.

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If I ever ran a news shop I would assign weekly reading to my reporters and editors, including Liebling, The Boys on the Bus, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, On Bended Knee and so on, as well as pertinent articles and media crit columns with Post-It notes saying things like "Learn, dammit!"

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Maybe we would even have newsroom discussions of the topics discussed. I know it sounds like management-speak, but I'm a big fan of W. Edwards Deming's notions of quality and continuous improvement.

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I think that would be a fun newsroom to work in - and productive as hell.

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Possible marketing slogan: Reporting That Doesn't Suck.

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Already used by someone else: No Guts, No Story.

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Also assigned reading: old SPY magazines.

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And a select group of must-read websites, blogs, Twitter feeds etc. delivered to every reporter and editor daily. Mindsets of the old must be re-shaped. Mindsets of the young are still moldable.

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It's not so much telling staff what to think as how to think - like law school. That's one of the great purposes of undergraduate journalism programs, which I zealously support.

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ProPublica is the gold standard of digital journalism right now; no one is using new media tools with as much smarts.

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The key for most organizations will be managing a portfolio of sites and products (forgive me that word) on multiple platforms. That might sound not sound insightful, but few are truly doing it. Geographically based operations - newspapers, for example - must also play in national arenas with niches, channels, verticals . . . and going macro must be paired going micro to mine obsessives in business sectors, hobbies, esoterica . . .

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But business sides now need to be innovative and create as well working with editorial; can't just sit back and take ads or service clients or jump on fads (banners, retargeting, native).

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Funding still sketchy, though; for legacy media, it's the debts they incurred (on top of their blindness) that put them in such deep holes; must not be forgotten in assessing viability of business models and current profitability, nor continuing need for investment; for VCs, it's not just about tools and tech; for foundations, too much wasted millions on citizen journalism, hyperlocal, "engagement," and other dry veins that don't solve the biggest and most important problems/issues in media.

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My Tuesday column was briefly reposted on the Crain's website this morning until it was wisely yanked given current events.

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I don't much feel like writing about the local news today. It's really just more of the same, trust me.

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Schmidt's Artist Lofts in St. Paul.

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Press release:

"Hello,I hope you are doing well. I wanted to introduce you to Crabtree & Evelyn's beautiful new fragrance collection, Somerset Meadow. This new fragrance is launching in Crabtree & Evelyn stores and www.crabtree-evelyn.com on May 1, 2013, just in time for Mother's Day."

Response from our very own Rebecca Gleason:

"We have no need for these scents. The official Beachwood scent smells mostly like old newspapers, with hints of sarcasm, and a dash of despair."

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What in the world is going on at Gitmo? Here's a primer via ProPublica.

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The Week in Chicago Rock.

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My Walgreens has been selling PBR talls for $1.99 each. That's like a dollar a beer.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Tall.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:02 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Shuggie Otis at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


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2. Her Bright Skies at Reggies on Sunday night.

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3. The Black Crowes at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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4. Alicia Keys on the West Side on Thursday night.

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5. Parkway Drive at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

Hunger Strikes And Indefinite Detention: A Gitmo Rundown

It's been 11 years since the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo Bay. But the future of the prison, and the fate of the men inside it, is far from certain. With 59 detainees at Gitmo currently on hunger strike, by the military's count, here's a primer on what's going at the island prison.

What started the hunger strike?

It began after guards allegedly mishandled detainees' Korans in a cell search in early February - but it's certainly become about more than the holy books.

The military says detainees have previously hidden "improvised weapons, unauthorized food and medicine" in the spines of the Korans, and that the February searches were standard, conducted by Muslim translators. (Koran searches had set off hunger strikes before, in 2005.)

Attorneys for hunger strikers say the detainees have offered to relinquish their Korans rather than have them searched. The military initially would not accept that option, but now says, "if they choose not to have one, they choose not to have one."

In any case, just about everyone - from the International Committee of the Red Cross to the general in charge of U.S. Southern Command - agrees the strike comes out of growing frustration and hopelessness among detainees.

As we detail below, there are few indications that Gitmo will be shuttered or detainees transferred in the near future.

The last detainee to leave Gitmo, last fall, was dead.

General John Kelly, of U.S. Southern Command, said last month that detainees had watched President Obama's State of the Union address, and heard no mention of Guantanamo.

"That has caused them to become frustrated and they want to . . . turn the heat up, get it back in the media," Kelly said.

In an account published in the New York Times last weekend, a Yemeni hunger striker named Samir Moqbel said he hoped "that because of the pain we are suffering, the eyes of the world will once again look to Guantanamo before it is too late." (Moqbel had recounted his story by phone to his lawyers.)

Another detainee, a Saudi Arabian named Shaker Aamer, also recently wrote an op-ed. Calling himself "a bit of a professional hunger striker," Aamer said "this one is a whole lot different."

Lawyers say the strike is far more widespread than the military's count. According to the military, two detainees have attempted suicide since the strike began.

Have there been clashes between guards and the prisoners?

Yes, most recently last weekend. In an early-morning raid on Saturday, soldiers in riot gear moved about 60 of the detainees from their communal living camp into individual cells. Guards fired four "less-than-lethal" rounds; they say some prisoners wielded makeshift weapons, constructed from broken broomsticks and plastic water bottles filled with rocks.

Military commanders told the Miami Herald that the once "compliant" detainees had been ignoring orders for months, "covering cameras, poking guards with sticks through fences, spraying U.S. forces with urine and refusing to lock themselves inside their cells for nightly sweeps."

In January, there was an altercation on the facility's new soccer field, which ended with guards shooting "one non-lethal round" at a group of detainees.

In a statement earlier this week, the military said the detainees were being placed on lockdown to allow for "round-the-clock monitoring." In recent years, the communal living arrangement had been redone to "feel more like a dorm."

Now, the Miami Herald reports, those men are confined to their cells, without TV, legal documents, and the other things they were previously allowed.

In turn, detainees' lawyers have said that prison guards became stricter in recent months, and that mail and personal items have been confiscated in cell searches.

An attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Omar Farah, told ProPublica that he and other lawyers feared that the move to individual cells would cut off information about the strike. "The primary way we've been getting information is through prisoners' accounts of one other."

Are the strikers being mistreated?

At least one detainee has alleged that the hunger strikers are being punished, by being forced to drink potentially unsafe tap water and cold temperatures in their cells. The military disputes that, saying the tap water is safe and bottled water is available. On Monday, a federal judge ruled he did not have jurisdiction to weigh in on the prisoner's treatment.

What about force-feeding?

As of Wednesday, 15 detainees are being force-fed nutritional supplements through tubes inserted into their noses. The military says strikers "present" themselves for the procedure, though it also says passing out counts as consent.

Others have been tied down for feedings. Moqbel, in his account in the New York Times, said he was once tied to a bed for 26 hours last month. Now, he wrote, "Two times a day they tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come."

The Red Cross and other groups oppose force-feeding; they say prisoners have a right to choose whether they eat.

The U.S. military position is that it would be inhumane to let prisoners starve. A spokesman told the Miami Herald that allowing a detainee to harm himself "is anathema to our values as Americans."

How many prisoners are left at Gitmo?

166. Since 2002, a total of 779 people have been held there. No one has been brought to Gitmo under President Obama. The last people to leave were two Uighur Muslims from China, who were resettled in El Salvador last spring.

Adnan Latif, a Yemeni, died in an apparent suicide in September. He was the ninth detainee to die.

Does the U.S. consider the detainees still there all dangerous terrorists

No. In fact, about half the detainees have been approved for release. Here's the government's categorization of people held at Gitmo, as of last November:

  • 56 have been cleared for transfer to their own or a third country. Last fall, the State Department made 55 of those names public.
  • 30 Yemenis have been cleared to be sent back to Yemen, but are being held because of an unstable security situation there.
  • 24 people have "possible prosecution pending."
  • 46 are being held in indefinite detention under the 2001 authorization for military force: they've been deemed too dangerous to release, but are not facing prosecution.
  • Seven are facing trial by military commissions. That includes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
  • Three were convicted in military commissions and are serving out their sentences or fulfilling plea bargains. (Four others were also convicted but transferred to their home countries.)

The U.S. won't release the names of those it considers hunger strikers, and it's not always clear which category detainees fall into. Some of those who have spoken through their lawyers are on the cleared-for-transfer list (Moqbel, of the New York Times op-ed, is not, though he claims he is among the group of Yemenis who may be transferred.)

Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald says she has been told that the 9/11 defendants and the rest of the 16 "high-value" detainees, who were brought to Gitmo from the CIA's black-site prisons, are not participating in the hunger strike. They are held in a separate, secret section of the camp. (See the Herald's "prison-camp primer" for descriptions of where the detainees are held.)

Why haven't the people cleared for transfer been released?

Over the past few years Congress effectively prohibited bringing detainees to the U.S. and made it difficult to send them to other countries, by requiring an assurance that the individual would never pose a threat to the U.S. in the future.

Difficult, but not impossible - there are waivers in the legislation that allow the president to get around the restrictions in certain cases. Human rights groups are pushing the administration to use those waivers, but Obama has yet to do so.

Four detainees have been sent abroad since the law on overseas transfers went into effect, but in each case, it was to fulfill a court-ordered release or a military commission plea agreement, which Congress allowed. (The Supreme Court has ruled the men at Gitmo have the right to challenge their detention in federal court.)

As for the Yemenis still at Gitmo, Obama announced a moratorium on transfers to Yemen after the attempted Christmas Day bombing of 2009.

There are also fears about recidivism - a report this year from the Director of National Intelligence estimates that 16 percent of released detainees have "re-engaged" in militant activities. (Most of them were released under President George W. Bush.)

Other countries have also called for the release of their citizens. The president of Yemen, which has worked closely with the U.S. on drones and counterterrorism, recently referred to Gitmo as "clear-cut tyranny."

Britain has also reportedly lobbied for the release of one of the hunger strikers, Shaker Aamer, who has British residency.

The UN commissioner for human rights has said that "indefinite incarceration" at Gitmo "is in clear breach of international law."

Why hasn't Obama closed Gitmo?

The White House says he "remains committed" to closing Gitmo, but those plans have stalled in the face of congressional opposition.

One of Obama's first acts in office was an executive order to shut down the prison within a year. He didn't rule out continued military detention or trial in military commissions, but temporarily suspended the commissions and required a review of the status of the Gitmo detainees.

In a speech a few months later, Obama said that "the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained," and had "set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world."

Since then, lawmakers have passed restrictions and the administration has dropped many of its visible efforts to shut down Gitmo.

This January, the State Department shut down the office responsible for detainee resettlement.

Even if transfer restrictions were loosened, it's not clear what would happen to the prisoners who are being held indefinitely. A new periodic review process for the detainees was created in 2011, though it still hasn't actually begun.

Military commissions started up again, with some changes - though still plenty of controversy, including questions about government censorship and surveillance.

What can outside observers see at Gitmo?

Not much beyond what the military wants them to see. The competing claims about water quality, numbers of strikers, and the Koran searches underscore the limited, often one-sided, information that gets out. Detainees communicate mostly through their lawyers. The military controls access to the prison. It recently stopped commercial flights to the base, a decision met with anger from attorneys and quickly reversed.

For a few weeks recently, reporters were shut out of the prison. A Reuters photographer recently recounted his tightly-monitored visit, and what he was and wasn't allowed to shoot (totally fine: signs saying "No Photos." Not fine: detainees' faces.)

The Miami Herald's Rosenberg, also recently described the restrictions on reporting from Gitmo, which she's been doing for 11 years. She's never been allowed to speak to a detainee.

The Red Cross has access to prisoners and has been to Gitmo during the strike, though its findings are rarely made public. Last week, the group's president called the legal situation of prisoners there "untenable."

How much does Guantanamo cost?

A lot. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office said the prison costs, on average, $114 million per year, not including military personnel.

A 2011 analysis put the annual cost per prisoner at $800,000 - as much as 30 times what it costs to keep someone in federal prison.

The Pentagon has proposed a $150 million overhaul of the facility this year.

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See also:
* ProPublica: The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out

* ProPublica Primer On Indefinite Detention And The NDAA

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:12 AM | Permalink

April 18, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

Yup.

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North Side Sinkhole.

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Parochial School
This is what I mean. You messed with the wrong city! Should've bombed Portland!

Accountability Sector I
When Stanley Moore was chosen by local Democrats to replace the prison-bound Bill Beavers on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, he and aldermanic patron Howard Brookins pooh-poohed the stain on Moore's record: As a state employee he was fined for campaigning for a General Assembly seat when he should have been working for taxpayers.

The low-grade infraction also quickly came and went by an apparently bored media; the Tribune placed this quote from Moore at the very bottom of its story announcing he had won the county board position:

"When the situation arose, we just weren't in a position financially to be able to defend ourselves," Moore said. "I did not do it. I said I respectfully disagree with the committee's findings."

A look at the state Executive Ethics Commission's actual decision, though, reveals behavior on Moore's part more troubling and sinister than merely mixing up dates, events and timecards.

From the commission's "Conclusion of Law:"

Stanley Moore intentionally obstructed and interfered with an investigation . . . when he made false statements to an Executive Inspector General concerning his attendance at work-related meetings . . .

And from the commission's "Analysis:"

On three occasions, respondent Stanley Moore engaged in political activity during compensated State time when he left his workplace to solicit contributions for his political campaign. Respondent is free to engage in political activity outside compensated time, and so long as he does not misappropriate State property and resources to do so. Respondent, however, chose to engage in this activity during compensated time. This activity was substantial in nature, and could in no way be described as inadvertent.

Respondent continued to make poor choices when he chose to be untruthful during his interviews with an OEIG investigator. Furthermore, as a high-ranking State employee, respondent was responsible for setting a positive example for the other employees in his office.

If Moore's infraction really was inadvertent - or non-existent - he wouldn't have lied (repeatedly) to investigators.

And lying to investigators contradicts the notion that he simply decided not to contest the allegations and, even more incredulous, couldn't afford a lawyer to defend himself. Telling the truth doesn't cost a dime.

Moore also decided he could afford to be "let go" from his $86,388-a-year job a month before the ethics investigation even began - and to later pay a $3,000 fine.

*

From a previous Tribune report:

"The probe of Moore by the state executive inspector general's office led to an October 2010 finding that Moore clocked into work on three days when he was elsewhere soliciting campaign donations during his failed 2008 Democratic primary run against Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago.

"Moore told investigators that on two of those days he went to IDOT work meetings, but the sign-in sheets did not show he attended, according to the finding by the state Executive Ethics Commission."

Given the standards for acceptable forms of graft around here, Moore could have easily admitted a mistake and moved on with little penalty. Turns out that's what he was able to do anyway, though. Without ever apologizing to taxpayers (who also had to pay for the probe) or investigators.

*

"Moore later went to work for the county as a capital planning manager and now owns and runs Judy's Grill, a restaurant in the Wal-Mart in Ald. Howard Brookins' 21st Ward. Brookins has the most weighted votes and heads the committee that will pick Beavers' replacement."

It all worked out for Stanley Moore.

*

And for that reason, we've added Moore to our updated Political Odds as the Cook County official most likely to be indicted besides Joe Berrios.

Accountability Sector II
"The Chicago Police Department declined to discipline an officer who improperly used the job to generate business for a friend's firm, according to a quarterly report released Wednesday by the city's inspector general," the Tribune reports.

"Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said his investigators determined that while serving court summonses for building violations, the officer sought to drum up business for a friend whose company offered to resolve such violations.

"The officer visited homes with 'an official city summons in one hand' and a 'friend's business card in the other,' according to the report. The report did not identify the officer."

And once again, here's the most maddening part:

"Ferguson's office, which also accused the officer of lying to investigators, recommended that the officer be fired."

Just admit you did it! You didn't think it was a big deal! You made a mistake. Lying - to investigators, no less, of which you are also one - reveals something deeper about a person's character and fitness for a job of immense power involving truth-seeking.

*

And then there's two-tiered justice shrouded in bureaucracy:

"The Police Department said its contract with the Fraternal Order of Police prevented it from disciplining the officer in a noncriminal case because any complaint - even one from the inspector general - must be filed by a 'firsthand witness,' according to the report. The city's Law Department agreed . . .

"Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said the city recommended no action against the officer because Ferguson did not conduct his investigation properly and any discipline could have led to a union grievance or unfair labor practice complaint.

"Drew said Ferguson's office should have presented the accusations to the officer in writing before investigators conducted a formal interview."

Finally, there's Rahm:

"The case is the latest example of the inspector general's reach being thwarted.

"The Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously last month that Ferguson cannot independently go to court to enforce a subpoena for documents from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration. Ferguson said he has asked the mayor to turn over documents despite the ruling but that Emanuel has not responded.

"'The IG has the same power and capability that the state IG and federal IGs have,' Emanuel said Wednesday. 'I don't think they're not capable of doing their job, and I think he's a good IG. Therefore, I think he can do his job.'"

And I have no interest in seeing that he can do a better job!

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If Rahm submitted that answer to a logic assignment at his kids' school, officials there would demote him to CPS so he didn't drag their test scores down.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Washed and dry.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

April 17, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

A faithful reader sent me a note in response to this section of yesterday's column:

Obama: "Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people." Some towns aren't tough? If this happened in some places, would the president say, "Too bad this town isn't tough enough to survive"? It's just empty and narcissistic to me. Kandahar isn't tough enough to survive?

The note:

I mean, what I wouldn't give to see the POTUS on TV saying, "My fellow Americans, if only the terrorists hadn't attacked our weakest spot. The wussies in [YOUR TOWN HERE] just don't have the spine, the gumption, or the balls to keep it together after the walloping the baddies delivered. So I'm going to call upon the good, strong people of [SOME OTHER TOWN] to help out the poor distraught bastards of [YOUR TOWN HERE], and hope that the Marines can take care of what we used to call justice.

My response back:

Exactly!

"Great cities survive, which is why it's a good thing this happened in Boston. Can you imagine if this was in St. Louis? Game over!"

Just a lot of nonsense in our public discourse - starting from the president who was supposed to be above it all; the one who "talked to us like adults."

*

Oh dear lord, again, I just can't read it.

*

These gestures are pretty cool, though.

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*

"'Sweet Caroline' also was played at Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Marlins Park, Safeco Field, O.co Coliseum, Great American Ball Park, and at Cleveland's Progressive Field," the Sporting News reports.

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At Wrigley:

*

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CPS: Channeling Putrid Subterfuge
Could it get any worse for CPS flak Becky Carroll, whose reputation has been stained even worse through the school closings debacle than even Barbara Byrd-Bennett's and Rahm Emanuel's, whom we already knew were disingenuous operators?

*

Taxpayers fork over $165,000 a year to Carroll. I wonder how much that is per lie.

*

See also: School Closings Notebook I: Debt Truth Deficit. Starring Carroll's double-speaking assistant.

Hollywood's Mayor
"Now halfway into his four-year term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel again has been able to attract major campaign contributions from Hollywood stars, thanks to his super-agent brother Ari Emanuel," the Sun-Times reports.

"More than 55 percent of contributions reported by the mayor's political fund since the start of the year have come from out of state, according to documents filed this week with the Illinois State Board of Elections."

See also: The item "Steven Spielberg Has More Votes Than You Do."

That's Pat!
Authored disastrous cutback amendment that reduced the state House by a third but wants to save the lieutenant governor's office.

Fix Channel 11 . . .
. . . And Chicago's Ugly Yards.

Chicago Pulp And Blues
Sterling Plumpp and Windy City Malaise.

Kool-Aid Man And Crackers
Oh no. Oh yeah.

The Arms Of April
Whose got 'em?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Oh yeah.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:54 AM | Permalink

CPS's Debt Truth Deficit

"To help sell their plans for a district shakeup, CPS leaders have touted a variety of school improvements," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"But paying for those improvements will mean taking the district deeper into debt at a time when the district is already facing substantial debt service obligations."

It's also counter to the rationale that school closings are necessary to close a (supposed) $1 billion deficit. Projected savings, if they materialize (and that's a big "if" given the well-documented history of how much closings actually cost), remain off in the distance.

*

"CPS leaders have repeatedly said schools had to be closed because of a projected $1 billion budget deficit. Yet one of the reasons CPS is facing such a large deficit is its already-existing debt: In the upcoming fiscal year, the district's payment on principal and interest is scheduled to go up by about $100 million to $475 million.

"Some of the expenses that CPS is categorizing as capital spending also are a bit curious. For instance, CPS leaders want to spend $40 million on new textbooks aligned to the Common Core. However, textbooks are commonly considered operational expenses, says Bobby Otter, education and fiscal policy analyst with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

"[CPS spokesman David] Miranda, however, says that textbooks are used over the course of several years and therefore can be considered a long-term investment."

Like I said, CPS closings only make financial sense if you use Groupon accounting.

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CPS debt was downgraded last fall.

*

Linda Lutton at WBEZ previously reported that "Chicago Public Schools will save less money by closing schools than the district originally indicated. The difference has to do with the way CPS plans to finance building upgrades at receiving schools."

Lutton is being generous to say "save less money," which presumes money will be saved in the first place. Nonetheless . . .

"CPS officials have said they will save $43 million annually in operations by shutting down 54 schools. That's just under 1 percent of the total operating budget.

"But the cost of debt service on the new bonds is $25 million annually for 30 years, CPS says. A district spokesperson confirmed CPS did not factor in debt service costs when calculating savings to be achieved by closing schools."

They didn't count the debt service!

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It gets better:

"But he bristled at the suggestion that the estimated savings from closing schools should be lowered."

Stop doing math!

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It gets better:

"'It wouldn't be accurate to say that if we weren't consolidating underutilized schools, that we wouldn't have any of these costs,' the spokesman said."

Excuse me, I speak CPS:

"It wouldn't be accurate to say that if we weren't closing schools we wouldn't have all of the costs associated with closing schools. If by 'accurate" you mean the consensus definition of something that is true."

*

It gets better:

"He said he is authorized to speak to media but not to have reporters print his name."

To save him from embarrassment.

*

Best guess: It's David Miranda.

*

Also, Curtis Black notes in his "Reality Check: Closings Schools, Saving Money?" that a Pew study found that "found that districts across the country consistently overestimated savings and underestimated the costs of closings. "

It's become clear that this isn't about saving money or increasing student achievement or more efficient utilization - the rotating rationales used by Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett depending on which one is most convenient - but about Emanuel pursuing a political agenda which he hasn't kept secret but seems to be forgotten by a mainstream media afraid to just say it: reducing the footprint of CPS while increasing the number of charter schools in the city.

That's not an agenda I agree with, but folks have a right to believe that's the right way to go, though it's not at all clear that Rahm's motives are purely in the interests of the children. The real problem is shrouding that agenda in a cavalcade of lies. Then it's not a fair fight. But then, this is Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:11 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Kool-Aid Man & Crackers

Mmmm.

1. We Can Change the Food System Chicago!

Food Tank Event Gathers Leaders in the Chicago Food Movement

Wednesday, April 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

From obesity to malnutrition, the food system has many challenges. Food Tank: The Food Think Tank's We Can Change the Food System Chicago! [Piazza Bella Restaurant in Roscoe Village] will highlight some potential solutions to these issues and many others.

Hosted by Food Tank co-founder Danielle Nierenberg, the event will feature more than a dozen Chicago-area food policy analysts, chefs, food activists, entrepreneurs, and others who have unique perspectives on food, nutrition, and agriculture issues.

Wine/beer included as well as food provided free by Piazza Bella. $25 in advance/$35 at the door. Buy tickets here.

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Speakers include:

Cortney Ahern, Slow Food Chicago
Roland Calupe, Spiagi
Stephen Clark, Kitchen Community
Greg Christian, Green Chef
Lisa Eakman, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Allison Forrer, Cooking Matters
Shayna Harris, MARS
Todd Jones, Every Last Morsel
Karen Lehman, Fresh Taste
Felipe Tendick Matesanz, Restaurant Opportunities Center (Chicago)
Sheelah Muhammed, Food activist
Dan Schnitzer, Academy for Global Citizenship
Alan Shannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture´╗┐
Claire Tinley, Real Food Real Jobs / UNITE HERE Local 1

2. Why Triscuit Is Putting Rice, Potatoes And Beans In Its Crackers.

3. Kraft To Juice Up Kool-Aid Man Look.

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Jug Life.

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Oh yeah.

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Oh no.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:31 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Chicago Malaise, Windy City Pulp & Sterling Plumpp's Blues

Over the transom.

1. Chicago Malaise.

"The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream" has an elegant, unflinching, non-nostalgic clarity about Chicago that you rarely see in books about Chicago," the Tribune's Christopher Borelli writes.

We haven't read, so can't say.

See also: The Publishers Weekly summary.

2. "First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley is now available on the Kindle."

We haven't read yet, but we're skeptical that this is the treatment that Daley fils really needs.

3. The Windy City Pulp And Paper Convention Is In The Books.

Here's a preview in review:

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4. New Books On Baseball.

5. Talkin' Sterling Plumpp Blues.

"You are cordially invited to our the Guild Literary Complex's (GLC) fourth annual benefit, 'Talkin' Blues,' honoring Sterling Plumpp, renowned Chicago-based Blues poet, on May 14.

"The Guild Literary Complex will pay tribute to his Plumpp's decades-long achievement on stage at Rosa's Blues Lounge in Logan Square (3420 W. Armitage) with a program beginning at 7:30 p.m.

"Plumpp willth be joined on stage by writers Jeffery Renard Allen, Duriel Harris, and Tyehimba Jess, and musician Fernando Jones.

"Plumpp is one of the last original Mississippi Blues artists who came north with his grandparents during the Great Migration. His poetry combines the red-clay roots of his Mississippi youth and his experiences living for years on Chicago's West Side with the raw, emotional intensity of a life fully lived. Join us for an electric evening of food, music, and poetry as we celebrate the life of Sterling Plumpp. All tickets include food.

MORE ABOUT STERLING PLUMPP

"Sterling D. Plumpp - blues poet and essayist - is the author of fourteen books including Velvet Bebop Kente Cloth, Ornate with Smoke, and Blues Narratives. He is the editor of two anthologies, Somehow We Survive, a collection of South African writing, and Steel Pudding: Writing from the Gary Historical and Cultural Society Writer's Workshop.

"Plumpp is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois Chicago where he served on the faculty in the African American Studies and English Departments and most recently served as a visiting professor in the Master of Fine Arts Program at Chicago State University.

"In 2009, Valley Voices produced an entire issue of its journal, The Sterling Plumpp Issue, focused on his poetry, interviews, and critical explorations of his work. He is the recipient of numerous awards as a blues poet and African American cultural storyteller. His most recent book of poems, Home/Bass (forthcoming, Third World Press), was inspired by the life of blues artist Willie Kent."

See also: Plumpp's Poetry Foundation Bio.

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The Black Arts Movement In The Broader Civil Rights Movement: Sterling Plumpp Talk.

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6. "Fifty-three students from across the country will converge in Washington, DC, on April 29-30, 2013, at the end of National Poetry Month, to compete in the National Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest, the nation's largest youth poetry recitation competition.

"These young competitors advanced from a field of some 375,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:42 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Fix Channel 11, Chicago's Ugly Yards & Local Stuntman To The Stars

Because it's on.

1. And how.

FixChannel11.com.

2. Chugly.

"Got an ugly yard? The DIY Network's reality show Desperate Landscapes wants to fix it up. The show is still looking for 'tragic front yards' in Chicago to feature in the show."

3. Chicago's Go-To Stuntman.

4. Oak Park 13-Year-Old On Chic-A-Go-Go.

5. No Chicago Housewives.

"While on a promotional tour for his tell-all book, Most Talkative, Andy Cohen dished on whether he thinks his mega-popular Real Housewives franchise will ever make its way to the Windy City.

"I don't think so, but you never know," said Cohen.

6. Can You Still Pick Up Chicago TV Stations In Milwaukee?

7. Buffalo Wild Wings Big TV Giveaway!

8. Wicker Park on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2013

Fantasy Fix: The Arms Of April

April has always seemed to me a great month to be a pitcher. In a lot of MLB cities, it's still pretty darn cold outside. Position players in the field, wearing ear coverings and dancing in place, looking as if they would rather be anywhere else, while hitters, dressed like they're going outside to build snowmen, act like they're still working on their swing timing and afraid of getting a stinger if they actually connect with the ball.

In the middle of all this is the often bare-armed pitcher, generating so much heat from the torque of his motion that it looks like he's actually very comfortable. Part of what's making him feel that way is probably the thought that his arm will never feel for the rest of the season as good, as strong, and as un-sore as it feels in April.

Here's a quick look at a few of the best arms of April 2013:

Matt Harvey, SP, NYM: He was ranked a little too high for my blood in pre-season draft guides, but that shows how much I know: 3-0, 25 strikeouts in 22 innings, a 0.82 ERA and 0.55 WHIP thus far.

Paul Maholm, SP, ATL: He was still available in almost 20% of Yahoo! leagues when I last checked, despite having not given up a run yet in 20.1 innings, with a 3-0 record. Good thing the Cubs got rid of him though.

Addison Reed, RP, CHI: I thought he was poised to be much more consistent in the closer role this year, and he's starting well: With five saves and one win, he has figured in all six of the Sox victories, and has not allowed an earned run yet.

Justin Masterson, SP, CLE: Seems like he is always pretty good in April, but this year has been dazzling, with a 3-0 record, 0.41 ERA and a complete-game shutout. Still available in about 17% of Yahoo! leagues.

Hisashi Iwakuma, SP/RP, SEA: One of my sleeper favorites in the pre-season, he has a 0.48 WHIP with a 16-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, plus he's a starter who can be plugged into the RP slot if you're into that. Still available in 25% of Yahoo! leagues.

Clay Buchholz, SP, BOS: A lot of pre-season buzz that this would be his breakout year, and he has delivered so far, with a 3-0 record and 0.41 ERA.

Jason Grilli, RP, PIT: A 36-year-old journeyman who probably wasn't noticed much in fantasy drafts has collected five saves without an earned run yet.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says don't believe the hype about Masterson.

* SI.com thinks you should pick up Evan Gattis and Shelby Miller this week.

* CBSSports.com features two home run-hitting catchers for your consideration.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:45 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Here's something that may be a bit odd: I can't watch or read coverage of tragic events like the one at the Boston Marathon yesterday for a good 24 to 48 hours after they happen. And even then, I only do so out of civic duty.

If I still worked in a newsroom, of course, I would do so out of professional responsibility - and obviously I've covered murders, plane crashes and even followed the trail of the Unabomber and the Versace killer as part of Newsweek's reporting team back in the day.

But as a quasi-civilian, I just can't do it.

It's not that I'm queasy. It's not that I've ever known someone who has been killed or even injured in such an event that brings some sort of repressed trauma to the surface. I just can't.

In fact, I still can't watch that video of those planes going into the Twin Towers. All those people in those buildings . . .

This may surprise people. I don't wear yellow ribbons. I'm not a rah-rah, wave-the-flag kind of guy. I didn't react to 9/11 by thirsting for revenge or hungering for torture or desiring to invade whatever the hell countries we wanted to. Quite the contrary.

But these sorts of things can be too much. It's one thing to be properly reflective; it's another to dwell oneself into despair. That doesn't do anybody any good.

The media's soap opera treatment - rife with speculation and overdosing on emoting - doesn't help. I'll read the straight news reports in a day or two to get the facts. I don't need to participate in what has now become a national ritual of mourning led by some of the densest people on the planet who somehow have jobs on TV.

I'm also greatly annoyed on an intellectual and political level by the response to these sorts of things, particularly the routine empty rhetoric from presidents about how resilient we are as a nation and from governors and mayors about how a particular city or state is tough enough to survive. Really? Some states and cities aren't?

(Obama: "Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people." Some towns aren't tough? If this happened in some places, would the president say, "Too bad this town isn't tough enough to survive"? It's just empty and narcissistic to me. Kandahar isn't tough enough to survive?

(Ald. Joe Moreno tweet: "#Boston will cry, endure and recover...Great towns can't be defeated." America's lesser towns can, though? Name them.)

Too much political and media opportunism by people who feel like they have to say something to be counted, or who think everything is about them - or can be.

Too little context, especially in a global sense. Pakistanis and Afghans and Yemenis love their children too. We are killing them. Imagine how they feel.

(See Glenn Greenwald's "The Boston Bombing Produces Familiar And Revealing Reactions.")

And then there are the weird hopes and wishes some of us have about the outcome, like hoping the perpetrator is a deranged American instead of a purposeful foreigner. We're already essentially living in a police state, the exact opposite of what 9/11 could have wrought if our leaders had more vision and as much confidence in the American people as they profess. We should have unleashed the grandest, boldest expressions of democracy ever seen on the planet, a riotous explosion of freedom to show that we not only would not be deterred, but we would reaffirm. Instead, we have been deterred. Badly.

But at the same time that I hope the Boston bomber was a nutjob who just wasn't wired right, I'm at a loss about the indiscriminate nature of the thing. An 8-year-old kid, jesus. At least target a corporate villain or politician . . . not that I'm advocating that. The wages of mental illness are unjust too.

There's just competing impulses between a "rational" explanation that would carry unfortunate political consequences versus an "irrational" explanation that would mark this as an isolated incident without much broader meaning.

And I know I'm far from the only one whose first thoughts included a wonder about what civil liberties and human rights will be rolled back now. Let's not do that.

Let's be solemn, not histrionic.

Let's buckle down and not continue to destroy that which we are trying to preserve.

We've done too much of that already.

*

I don't like this column very much. I just couldn't focus on Wrigley and school closings. Same old stuff. People in power are lying to you. MSM, with few exceptions, doing half-assed job surfacing the facts against narratives they feel compelled to reinforce. Dingbats in control of your information supply, lacking self-awareness and wallowing in ignorance while asserting arrogance. Learn, dammit.

*

Also, now would be a good time.

*

What if those were drone strikes at the Boston Marathon from a country hunting bad guys in America? That's how other countries feel about us.

*

The first question at the Boston governor Deval Patrick's press conference was from a representative of Alex Jones, asking if this was a false flag operation. Thought it would be a good time, then, to remind everyone that Billy Corgan is a huge Alex Jones fan.

*

ICYMI: From Fleetwood Mac to Acid Mothers Temple: The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Takes comments too.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

April 15, 2013

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

They played at a venue near you.

1. Fleetwood Mac on the West Side on Saturday night.


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2. George Lamond at the Congress on Saturday night.

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3. Acid Mothers Temple at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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4. The Men at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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5. Ace Hood at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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6. Widespread Panic at the UIC Pavilion on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:50 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Finding that the Chicago prosecutor's office has a conflict of interest, the top criminal judge in Cook County, Ill., said on Thursday that he will appoint a special prosecutor to review the cases of at least five jailed men, and perhaps dozens of others, who say they were tortured into confessing years ago on the watch of a former city police supervisor," the ABA Journal notes today.

Now, what about a special prosecutor for Gitmo?

Rahm Knows Best
"Buried in a recent Fox TV report was this tidbit: multiple City Hall and CPS sources said that Barbara Byrd-Bennett had determined that the district could handle closing 40 schools this year," Curtis Black notes in Newstips.

"But Mayor Emanuel overruled his new schools chief and insisted on upping the number to over 50."

In other words, Rahm just picked a number out of thin air.

*

"An official spokesperson denied the report."

That spokesperson is the now-infamous Becky Carroll, so you can believe her or multiple CPS and City Hall sources.

*

"It wasn't the first time warnings about overreaching have been overruled. In January, someone on Byrd-Bennett's advisory commission on closings let it be known that they were considering recommending no more than 20 closings - perhaps as few as 15 - in one year."

Unfortunately, Rahm's advisory committee - consisting of himself - has more votes.

"Something happened to change their minds by March 6 - perhaps a fiat from the mayor's office - when the commission's final report recommended 80 closings, based on its assessment of the district's capacity to move students safely to better performing schools.

"Even then, the commission suggested the option of staging the closings over two years, noting the risks of moving too quickly.

"'The quick turnaround may make community members feel that CPS's engagement with them was inauthentic and undertaking just for show"' - and 'the compressed timeline may lead to the district making avoidable mistakes' in handling the vast logistics of moving dozens of schools and thousands of students, according to the commission's final report."

Thousands of students? More like the entire population of Biloxi.

Plus, make sure our fake engagement looks authentic!

*

"This language echoes that of the Broad Foundation's School Closing Guide, which recommends taking 18 months - 12 months max - to plan and implement school closings, a timeline which only starts after a decision-making process including evaluating capacity and developing school closing criteria and lists of schools to close with community input.

"The Broad Foundation, of course, is the school reform outfit financed by billionaire Eli Broad that trained Byrd-Bennett and J.C. Brizard, and where Byrd-Bennett is still a paid consultant. The group recently hosted Emanuel on a panel of 'education mayors'; Eli Broad gave Emanuel $25,000 when he ran for mayor, according to Gapers Block."

So, with 54 school closures, twice the value for their money than they expected.

So Transparent
"It's a battle that pits President Barack Obama against whistleblower advocates, against some of the largest federal employee unions, and against a bipartisan contingent in Congress," Politico reports.

"The fight, over the rights of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of federal workers, has even divided Obama's own administration.

"The White House - which has repeatedly pledged to be the most transparent in history and to embrace whistleblowers - has sided with the Pentagon and the intelligence community, but agencies charged with protecting whistleblowers and officials who investigate discrimination complaints have loudly dissented.

"'This is an administration at war with itself. It's Obama versus Obama,' said Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project."

It always is. And Obama always wins.

Tom's Town
Last night's 60 Minutes feature on Marfa, Texas, included our very own Chicago ex-pat Tom Michael, who brought public radio to the tiny town.

Digital Divide
CTU new media guru Kenzo Shibata notes that a recent Huffington Post piece he wrote is being taught in library science classes at the University of Illinois.

On Second Thought, Rosemont Can Have Them
"What is the point anymore? If you take away everything everyone loved about the Cubs, all that's left is a loser franchise so bad that it's unwatchable. Then you'll be advertising to no one," I write in The Cub Factor.

New Cubs Way Same As Old Cubs Way
"Let's be clear about one thing: when a team doesn't care about winning, everything deteriorates quickly," our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

Crazy Carlos Quentin
"Quentin's behavior last week wasn't the first time he's visited the bizarre," our very own Roger Wallenstein writes in The White Sox Report.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cued up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:46 AM | Permalink

On Second Thought, Rosemont Can Have Them

It's not even fun to watch out of spite anymore.

Not when you're being fed Brent Lillibridge and Alberto Gonzalez and - still - Alfonso Soriano and Scott Feldman.

Not when a minor-league catcher starts at third and ends up on the DL because he swung too hard in the game's final play.

Not when the fastest guy on your team bats second and doesn't have a walk in his first 54 at-bats.

Not when your $52 million off-season signing is a well-traveled journeyman opens the season 0-2 with a 6.06 ERA and can't hold a 4-1 lead.

Not when you set a major league record with five wild pitches in one inning, as well as a balk and one of five walks on the day to go with one hit batsman.

Not even when Dioner Navarro hits two pinch-hit home runs in consecutive at-bats over two games, He's no Hank White.

We didn't send that goat's head to Tom Ricketts, but we appreciate the sentiment.

How about putting a winner on the field first, then "improving" the field? This may just be Theo Epstein's second season with the Cubs, but it's Ricketts' fourth. In 2009, the Cubs lost 78 games. Ricketts took control after that season. In 2010, the Cubs lost 87 games. In 2011, the Cubs lost 91 games. In 2012, the Cubs lost 101 games. So far this year, they are on pace to lose 108.

Did I mention (again) that the Cubs are baseball's most profitable team? And that the Ricketts' are one of America's richest families? And that the White Sox have a higher payroll by slightly more than Joe Ricketts spends on right-wing politics, which is also more than what the family spends on all but one player on the Cubs roster? And that player is Soriano?

Maybe they should move to Rosemont after all. Because they aren't our Cubs anymore. While the team was the sinister plaything of the Tribune Company, there were at least enough spiritual forces like Harry Caray - look at the rooftops! - and Steve Stone and Mark Grace and (for some, not me) Kerry Wood and Bob Brenly and even Jim Hendry miscues like Lou Piniella. Now the ad creep at Wrigley has become an ad avalanche while Scott Feldman gets $6 million to not cover first.

What is the point anymore? If you take away everything everyone loved about the Cubs, all that's left is a loser franchise so bad that it's unwatchable. Then you'll be advertising to no one.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-4 last week with their best performance coming in Wednesday's postponement against the Brewers, because even when this team wins they look really bad doing so.

Week in Preview: The Cubs have today off, then welcome the Texas Rangers into Wrigley Field for a three-game set sure to deliver highlight reels of embarrassments. Then they set out on a 10-day road trip, starting in Milwaukee. By the time they come back, they will have clinched next year's No. 1 position for the draft.

The Second Basemen Report: Brent Lillibridge started the week 0-for-6 and the season 0-for-24 before finally knocking in two runs with a single against the Brewers to finally do something productive, then found himself on the bench the following day. He returned a game later at third base and went 0-for-3. Alberto Gonzalez also hit a 2-run homer in what was a Suck Off to see who would lose their roster spot upon Darwin Barney's return from the DL, but with Steve Clevenger now out for six weeks after hurting himself striking out to end a game, the mediocrity will just be more evenly distributed.

In former second basemen news, Darwin Barney is expected back on Tuesday. He is missed.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Clevenger actually got the start at third base the day he hurt himself. See what happens? Meanwhile, Luis Valbuena is hitting .188 with more walks (8) than hits (6), which also means his OBP is .350. Leadoff man David DeJesus's OBP is .326.

Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters remains on the DL for back soreness; he is 0-for-1 in Des Moines.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana has two stolen bases and three walks to go with just two hits in Reno. The Diamondbacks added Michael Brenly to their organization via a minor league contract. Dad Bob is doing great in the booth. Erstwhile Cub Randall Delgado is 2-1, albeit with a 7.45 ERA. Former Cubs draft pick Eric Hinske is hitting .333.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in Deals slid amidst analyst warnings that long-term prospects for related Frameworks remain shaky.

Sveum's Shadow: 6 p.m. Dale Sveum's shadow is already 2 hours and 30 minutes past its 5 o'clock start position upon his realization that this is a very, very, very, very bad team.

Shark Tank: Another 100 pitches in six innings gives Jeff Samardzija 205 in the 11 2/3 innings of his last two starts. An ace has to be more than a six-inning guy.

Jumbotron Preview: Highlight reel of Harry Caray extolling the virtues of the rooftops.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Carlos Marmol is returned to the closer's role: 12.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that neither Kevin Gregg nor Kameron Loe is the answer, unless the question is how the Cubs can make their bullpen even worse than it already is.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: New Cubs Way Same As Old Cubs Way

You didn't think it was possible, did you? You didn't think this Cub season could be even worse than you projected.

Behold! They lost on Sunday at the end of a game featuring a new sort of trifecta - the opponent scored on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a balk. The wild pitch was one of five in one inning uncorked by Cubs pitchers Edwin Jackson and Michael Bowden. A new Major League record!

That 10-7, 10-inning contest capped off a 1-3 series against the World Champion Giants the Cubs started by blowing a 5-0 lead. There were many reasons that 7-6 loss went goofy last Thursday, but my favorite was that at a critical juncture, pitcher Scott Feldman failed to competently cover first on a ground ball to first for the third time this season - three times in two starts!

Feldman plays for a rebuilding team that has professed to only caring about teaching young players to play the game the right way. The preseason featured an extended spring training due to the need to make allowances for the World Baseball Classic. Practically the only drill they do in spring training on certain days is the "pitchers covering first" drill.

I wonder if Feldman realizes his inability to make this play is an embarrassment to every last member of the Cubs organization. In addition, it is hard to feel good about the core competence of said organization when gaffes like Feldman's are actually routine. They happen every, single, day.

A little more than a week ago, for the first time in Major League Baseball history, brothers hit solo home runs to tie and then win a game in the bottom of a ninth inning against a former closer (Carlos Marmol) that everyone in Chicago knew was over-matched except for the Cubs' manager. Then one of the team's top prospects was suspended for five games after he menaced an opposing team with a bat (another wonderful episode in the ongoing series, "Teaching young players to play the right way!").

And there is plenty of fun stuff off the field as well. A twisted Cutesy Cubbie fan tried to deliver a goat's head to the owner. The season is barely two weeks old for gosh sakes!

Let's be clear about one thing: when a team doesn't care about winning, everything deteriorates quickly.

When Vince Lombardi said "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," what he was actually saying was that "pursuing winning is the only thing."

And what he meant by that was that competitive enterprises don't work unless the people running the show are doing absolutely everything they can to win.

(Lombardi wasn't the first to utter that quote by the way. UCLA football coach Red Sanders came up with it first in about 1950. But Lombardi adopted it and repeated it on numerous occasions.)

The Cubs have made it clear for the second season in a row that they don't care about winning. And now they are reaping the rewards.

Team president Theo Epstein announced before the season started that he didn't care if his team improved from last year to this one.

He made the ridiculous assertion that it doesn't matter if a team wins 78 games instead of 73.

Of course, this Cubs team can only dream of winning 70 games, let alone the 78 that could actually put them within a decent winning streak of contention (repeat after me: "Less than a decade ago, the Cardinals won the World Series after winning 83 games in the regular season. Less than a decade ago . . . ").

Epstein and his cohort can continue to pretend that by being terrible right now, they are putting the Cubs in position to win in the future. Smart fans know that's a crock. By being terrible right now, the only thing the Cubs are teaching their young players is how to be terrible.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Crazy Carlos Quentin

As kids, we watched a lot of Westerns on television. Not infrequently our father would pass through the room, gaze at the TV where the cowboys and Indians were going at it, and say, "Those Indians are so mad, they're mad from another movie."

Apparently former Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin is mad from another league.

The Indians had every reason to be angry, both in those outlandish films and obviously in real life. I'm not so sure about Quentin.

After being hit with a pitch by Zack Greinke in the sixth inning of a 2-1 game last Thursday, Quentin, now playing for the Padres, charged the mound - a Wikipedia "vandal" called it a "psychopathic rampage" - leveling the Dodgers' $147 million man with a body block and breaking Greinke's collarbone.

Quentin's explanation: He has a "history" with Greinke and after being hit on the left shoulder on Thursday, Greinke's shouting at Carlos was the "last straw."

Unlike conferences on the mound today when pitchers put their gloves in front of their face so that no one can read their lips, Greinke's comments to Quentin were bare-faced. Yet only Carlos and maybe Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis know what Greinke said. My guess is that Greinke blurted a homophobic or ethnic slur or maybe he questioned Quentin's manhood. Whatever he said, no one is talking. Maybe the misused "in the best interest of baseball" has been invoked.

The history that Q referenced was recorded in 2008 to 2010 when Carlos played on the South Side and Greinke pitched for the Royals where, among other things, he won the Cy Young Award in 2009. During those three seasons, Greinke was a pedestrian 6-5 against the Sox with a 4.30 ERA. And Carlos went 6-for-24 against Greinke with three homers and 4 RBI. Twice Greinke hit Quentin with pitches. That's more of a draw than a straw.

Of course, at issue here is Quentin's contention that Greinke intentionally threw at Carlos. Just like he did three years ago.

And are we to ignore that Greinke hits an average of six batters a season while Quentin has been hit 95 times the past five seasons? He led the American League in 2011, getting hit 23 times, and last year - despite playing in just 86 games because of injury - he was tops in the National League with 17.

Sox fans are well-aware of the way Quentin would crowd the plate and make little or no attempt to evade an inside pitch. A guy like Alexei Ramirez, for example, looks more like a Joffrey dancer than a ballplayer on any pitch that invades his personal space.

Quentin never gives an inch. The delivery that hit him last week was typical. He made no attempt to escape the 3-2 pitch.

Paul Konerko, who as far as I can tell is the only one supporting his former teammate, has been hit no more than 10 times in a season, and this is a guy who has 424 career home runs. Paulie may not be too agile on the bases, but he's not too shabby at dodging close pitches.

Konerko claims that while Greinke actually hit Quentin just twice when Quentin was with the Sox, Greinke tended to throw in the vicinity of Sox players' heads.

"Stupid" was most often applied to Quentin's violent charge to the mound. Dodger manager Don Mattingly thinks Carlos should sit out until Greinke is able to pitch again, and LA centerfielder Matt Kemp questioned how a Stanford guy like Quentin could be so dumb. Of course, Kemp wasn't displaying much of an IQ when he confronted Q under the Petco Park stands an hour after the game ended. The duo needed to be separated by teammates.

A few of those Padre teammates anonymously also questioned Quentin's attack on Greinke.

Quentin's behavior last week wasn't the first time he's visited the bizarre. Who can forget 2008 when he was in the MVP conversation until, in a fit of frustration, he smashed his hand against his bat after striking out? The result was a broken wrist, sidelining the Sox's best hitter the rest of the season including the 3-1 playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

So Carlos Quentin has been suspended for the next eight games, beginning with tonight's series opener at Dodger Stadium.

However, the Padres will be back in Los Angeles in June, and his reception will be less than cordial.

Sox Summary
The Quentin-Greinke confrontation was a timely diversion from the first road trip of the season for the White Sox. After looking lively and capable in winning the first two series at home, five straight losses opened the road schedule until Jake Peavy stopped the Indians yesterday, using homers from Konerko and Alejandro DeAza to beat the Indians 3-1.

After 12 games, here's how things look for the Sox:

The Good

* Alex Rios has continued where he left off in 2012, hitting .362 with four home runs.

* Newcomer Conor Gillaspie, a virtual unknown, came over from the Giants and is leading the team with a .444 average while playing a decent third base.

* Peavy has had two good starts in three outings, and Jose Quintana bounced back on Saturday to shut out Cleveland for seven innings on one hit. Peavy and Quintana recorded 18 strikeouts without walking anyone over the weekend.

* Closer Addison Reed has been near-perfect, having saved four games in as many opportunities and giving up a lone hit in six innings. Veteran Matt Lindstrom looks like a solid addition to the bullpen. Over his first six innings, he has allowed just three hits and no runs.

The Bad

* Adam Dunn, batting fourth, is hitting .136 and has fanned 15 times in 11 games while walking just twice. So far Dunn is most responsible for a team that averages just 3 1/2 runs a game.

See also: Adam Dunn's Failed Experiment.

* After hitting a game-winning homer on Opening Day, catcher Tyler Flowers has just five more hits, and he's struck out as often as Dunn.

* Dayan Viciedo swings at everything and misses most of the time. He's fanned 13 times. The Tank's walk-off home run a week ago to beat the Mariners was nice, but since then he sat the bench for two games in Washington before going oh-for-Cleveland.

* Dylan Axelrod got lit up in Washington for six runs in less than four innings after being impressive in his first start. Meanwhile, John Danks is working toward throwing a fastball in the 90s. He's not there yet.

The Ugly:

* Gordon Beckham's broken wrist will sideline him until June. Beckham was off to a good start and seemed much more comfortable and confident at the plate. His defense will be missed.

* Chris Sale couldn't finish the fifth inning on Saturday, giving up eight runs, including a grand slam to Mark Reynolds.

* The Sox have made nine errors in their first 12 games. At that pace, they'll have 121 by season's end. Last year they committed 70.

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

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1. From Steve Corman:

Ah, Carlos Quentin. What a total, colossal jerk he's become in such a short time.

I first heard about him as a phenom at Uni High School in San Diego; then as he breezed through Stanford in three years and starred on the Cardinal baseball team.

When the White Sox acquired him from Arizona, I was thrilled and loved the way he hit the cover off the ball. But after costing himself the MVP award, followed by other bouts of stupidity, I was just as glad our boys traded him.

And I've heard nothing good about him from San Diego friends and contacts. I think his career will continue to head straight south from this point in time.

As for our assortment of alleged players, I became very concerned over the horseshit way they played over the final 2 1/2 weeks of spring training and it's basically continued.

I've never seen a team with not two (that's bad enough) but three players very likely to strike out. Dunn, Viciedo and Flowers are the terrible trio and I don't see that changing.

This team desperately needs at least two firestarters very quickly to make things happen.

I hope they give serious thought to bringing up Jared Mitchell and letting him play - either center or left.

And where are the supposed can't-miss pitchers they acquired, namely Simon Castro (for Quentin) and Nestor Molina (for Santos)?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:52 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

They played at a venue near you.

1. Living Colour at the Park West on Thursday night.


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2. Jerry Joseph & The Jackmorons at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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3. Implodes at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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4. Acteurs at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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5. Population at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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6. C2C at the Metro on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:42 AM | Permalink

April 13, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is having a momergency. She promises to return next week.

Hermit Kingdom
North Korea's latest threat.

At Least He Didn't Blame Underutilization
Caribou Owner Blames Chicago Closures On Poor Sales.

More Than Academic
Professor Not Doing It Right.

Old Habits Die Hard
Too easy.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Doing it well.

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Weekend Music Special Report: Remembering Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg remember a friend and critical hero: Roger Ebert. In 2006, the three critics sat down to talk music movies and Ebert's own rock 'n' roll past. (Including a hilarious sit-down with Sid Vicious.) Later, Jim and Greg look past the creepy album art and review the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' latest, Mosquito."

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The Flying Saucer Weekend Brunch Report: Tell Andrew that Jim Nasium sent you.

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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.

Chicago Teachers Union: Stop School Closings

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The Chicago Teachers Union revisits the teachers' strike and its ongoing campaign to prevent the closure of 54 public schools in Chicago.

Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Perspectivas Latinas: Mexico's Regional Folk Music Styles

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Chicago's Sones de Mexico performs traditional Mexican music, highlighting the country's different musical instruments and regional styles.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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10 Years Since Iraq

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Following the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, speakers from the American Friends Service Committee, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and other anti-war organizations discuss the changing nature of conflicts and the domestic impact of defense spending.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Exploring Issues of Civic Responsibility - Violence Prevention

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Homicide is the leading cause of premature death for young African-American males. Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith of Harvard School of Public Health argues that violence is a public health issue and highlights methods for creating safer communities.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Studs Terkel Awards

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Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Awards honor local media professionals who tell the stories of Chicago's diverse communities. This years honorees included Megan Cottrell, Chicago Reporter; Fernando Diaz, Hoy Chicago, and; Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Women's Advancement Over the Last 40 Years

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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Women Employed, an intergenerational panel looks back at women's economic advancement, equity, and activism over the past four decades.

Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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The Clarice Mason Show: The Life & Legacy of Mayor Harold Washington

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On the birthday of the late Mayor Harold Washington, four distinguished guests who worked with him discuss the obstacles and achievements of his political career: Former aldermen Dick Simpson and Jesus Garcia; former chairman of zoning appeals Lawrence Kennon, and; former community relations director Jane Ramsey.

Monday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:20 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2013

Remembering Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins

"Chicago bluesman Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins, known for his excellent guitar playing and mellow singing voice, has died. He was 76," AP reports.

"Dawkins was born in Tchula, Miss. An only child, Dawkins taught himself to play guitar before moving to Chicago in the 1950s."

Dawkins was "generally considered a part of the 'West Side Sound' of Chicago blues," according to his Wikipedia entry.

"Dawkins would just as soon leave his longtime nickname 'Fast Fingers' behind," AllMusic says.

"It was always something of a stylistic misnomer anyway; Dawkins' West Side-styled guitar slashes and surges, but seldom burns with incendiary speed. Dawkins' blues are generally of the brooding, introspective variety - he doesn't engage in flashy pyrotechnics or outrageous showmanship.

"It took a long time for Dawkins to progress from West Side fixture to nationally known recording artist. He rode a Greyhound bus out of Mississippi in 1955, dressing warmly to ward off the Windy City's infamous chill factor. Only trouble was, he arrived on a sweltering July day! Harpist Billy Boy Arnold offered the newcomer encouragement, and he eventually carved out a niche on the competitive West Side scene (his peers included Magic Sam and Luther Allison)."

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The music:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

News you can abuse.

1. Oh dear lord.

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Awarding Mary Schmich a Pulitzer Prize is like awarding Barack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize.

2. Fill in the blank on this evergreen headline:

"Emanuel ___ Changes Save Less Than Touted."

Today it's garbage pickup.

3. Rahm consolidates underutilized O'Hare assets.

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Welcoming site gets LED upgrade.

4. Quinn: Illinoisans Want Stronger Gun Laws.

Also, stronger governor.

5. Rahm Riddle:

Question: When is a Chicago elementary school with 23 kids in a classroom not considered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be an "underutilized" school?

Answer: When it's his kids' school.

6. Taste of Chicago adding drive-by shootings.

7. And it says "Baaaa!"

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All tweets are Goat Head's own.

8. Neither a lieutenant nor governor. Discuss.

9. Theo reviewing the tape.

10. Class action libel suit in the making.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Call us sometime when you've got no class.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:03 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

If Fran Spielman's analysis is to be believed - and that's a big "If," given her tendency to channel City Hall sources used to using her to message their own agenda - Tom Ricketts has nobody to blame but himself for the morass the Wrigley Field negotiations have become.

Ricketts, it should be remembered, has racked up a horrible track record as a deal-maker since day one with the Cubs. Whatever skills he might have had as a stock broker tutored by his rich daddy ("Ricketts spent one summer early in life working at TD Ameritrade, giving customers stock quotes over the phone. This was his only work experience with the company before being invited to join as a director later in life," his footnoted Wikipedia entry says) clearly have not transferred to the tricky management challenge of running one of the most storied (and unique) franchises in sports history - in one of the trickiest political environments in the country.

(Tom isn't the only bumbler in the family - who can forget brother Todd's classic performance on Undercover Boss, in which he actually dumped a bunch of hot dogs that he couldn't sell into the trash - while on camera - and then lied about it to his manager for the day, whom he ultimately employs.)

In this case, it's almost as if Tom Ricketts has no business training at all.

"Every constituency group is gonna have to give a little bit. The city is gonna have to give. The neighborhood's gonna have to compromise. The rooftops are gonna have to compromise," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Wednesday. "But the specifics keep changing and the asks keep changing. So, how do you pin down what are we agreeing to when those [requests] change all the time?"

To be clear, the "asks" are those coming from the Cubs. How do you negotiate with moving targets?

Pressed to identify the changing demands, Tunney said he thought he had an agreement with the Cubs to lift the 30-games-per-season ceiling on the number of night games, only to be told that Major League Baseball could override the new limit.

This is quite astonishing; lifting the night-game cap is a really, really, really big deal. Night games only started at Wrigley in 1988 and God was pissed.

Day baseball is one of those things that always made the Cubs special - one of the elements (like the rooftops) that created a phenomenon so cool it made a crappy franchise of losers worth a billion dollars. Now Ricketts is slowly eliminating everything about the team that gave it its value.

There's also the issue of a giant video scoreboard in left field that would partially obstruct the view from at least two rooftops and another sign in right field that, rooftop club owners fear, might be three times bigger than the see-through Toyota sign in left field.

Again, part of Wrigley's charm was its timeless nature. Lack of a Jumbotron was a point of pride, not a deficiency.

And let's not forget that in a letter to Cubs fans in 2010, Ricketts whined that "Most other MLB teams also receive substantial public subsidies; we do not. In our case, we have asked for one sign in the outfield."

Sources said Tunney was trying to broker a deal to compensate rooftop club owners for any loss of revenue tied to stadium signage. There was even talk of eliminating the right-field sign altogether in exchange for an increase in the revenue-sharing agreement that calls for the clubs to share 17 percent of their annual take with the team.

But the rooftops apparently threw a monkey wrench into that plan when they threatened to file a lawsuit and demanded an extension of the agreement, with 11 years left to run, that Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts can't wait to get out from under.

The rooftop owners have come under a lot of fire from our local sports media, but they have a contract. Why should they negotiate at all? Then again, they say they haven't been asked.

Ryan McLaughlin, a spokesman for rooftop club owners who have not had a seat at the bargaining table, would say only, "The rooftop owners have never been presented any details whatsoever formally or informally by the Chicago Cubs , their legal partners. Any insinuation otherwise is false."

By "insinuation," let's say "leaks to friendly media." (See Kaplan, David.)

There's also the issue of a new 300-space parking garage the Cubs were planning to build at Clark and Grace to satisfy Tunney 's demand for more parking to replace the 400 spaces that were supposed to be part of a "triangle building" adjacent to the ballpark.

Ah, yes, the famed triangle building. Whatever happened to that? Nothing. Never built and now not part of the plans, after years of negotiation. You can see why the Cubs have as much credibility as their woebegone lineup.

In recent days, scores of residents have signed an online petition against the new parking garage. They fear it would make traffic even more "unbearable" than it already is and turn their neighborhood into a "parking lot."

By all means, let's turn Wrigley into U.S. Cellular! Attendance will be similar.

Ricketts has offered to bankroll a $300 million Wrigley renovation without a public subsidy - and build a $200 million hotel development on McDonald's property he purchased across the street from the stadium - if the city agrees to lift restrictions on outfield signs and night games and opens Sheffield Avenue for street fairs on game days.

Ricketts has offered to bankroll a Wrigley renovation without public subsidy? Out of the goodness of his heart? Just for us? I'm confused: Should we "just let him run his business" or are we supposed to help one of America's richest families pay for the honor of getting even richer? (And don't forget where those profits are going.)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel desperately wants to deliver a deal that could generate 2,000 jobs and $20 million in annual tax revenue for the city and state.

History - and the experience Spielman is supposed to have gained by this late point in her career - tells us we'll be lucky to get half that.

But he has not been willing to roll over Tunney or agree to details that mean millions, but must go through a planned development process that involves the politically active Wrigleyville community.

"The problem is, each decision has a financial impact on the plan, and the team needs specifics on how big the video board can be and how high the hotel will be," said a source close to the negotiations. "Some of the decisions have to be done through the planned development process. But it makes it tough to have a plan all wrapped and tied up with a bow when there are things that need to be figured out. Some of these issues the mayor and the aldermen would rather keep at a broader level. But the Cubs need these issues buttoned down. It's difficult to say we definitely will be starting construction in the fall unless all the numbers work."

Maybe just one thing at a time, Tom. Baby steps.

Ricketts didn't exactly help his own cause when he issued a joint statement on Opening Day pledging to continue negotiating exclusively with Chicago.

With both his April 1 and home opener deadlines blown, the Cubs chairman could have hired an architect to draw up plans for a Wrigley replica in Rosemont, where Mayor Brad Stephens has offered 25 acres of free land with no restrictions on signage, night games or street fairs.

After all, the White Sox got their deal through the Illinois General Assembly, only after threatening to move to St. Petersburg, Fla. The Bears made similar threats to move - including to Gary, Ind. - before finally getting Soldier Field renovated at taxpayers' expense.

So Spielman is advising that Ricketts should have duped the public into believing he was serious about moving the team - a deception Spielman no doubt would have participated in by hyping the threat.

And she's praising the past deceptions by the White Sox and Bears that royally screwed taxpayers. Bravo! she bellows. Do that!

Also, threatening all parties involved with fake deadlines - unquestioned by reporters -doesn't build credibility. Neither does starting with a demand for public money that Ricketts now acknowledges isn't needed (but would have been granted if the wishes of friendly media types were heeded).

Instead, Ricketts acted like the loyal Cub fan that he is - he met his wife watching a game in the bleachers at Wrigley.

We've heard that origin story so often I've started doubting it's true. He's also proven more loyal to the money the team generates than the wins they don't. Don't forget his pitch to daddy to buy the team for him: "I'll tell ya dad, they sell every ticket, every game, win or lose."

Asked why Emanuel hasn't sealed the deal, City Hall sources would only say that the "proverbial goal posts keep moving" because of the Cubs ' ever-changing requests.

Which is where we started: With Tom Ricketts. There is no one else to blame.

Wilco Down Under
And Chief Keef Downstate.

Jay Levine Tweets The Apocalypse
And a reminder that local TV "reporters" are rich.

The Man, The Moment, The Movement
Memorializing Harold Washington.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Memorialized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:24 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Jay Levine Tweets The Apocalypse

Because it's on.

1. Oprah Tells Ad Buyers OWN Is Making It.

Really? Network only averages 350,000 viewers in prime time.

2. Echo Valley Meats didn't get an investment on Shark Tank last week, but just appearing on the show has goosed sales for the Peoria area firm.

3. Joe Cari, a key player in the Blago scandals, is a consultant to The Good Wife.

4. Fox News Prankster Was Senior Class President At New Trier High School.

5. Tom Skilling's Brother May Get Out Of Jail Sooner Than Expected.

6. The 'Pocket Guide To Hell' History Project Salutes Classic Chicago Children's Television.

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7. Jay Levine's Last Three Tweets.

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8. Former Fox Chicago News Reporter Mark Saxenmeyer Fired From Minneapolis TV Station For Gay Joke. Irony: He's Gay.

9. Depressing Reminder Of How Much Money Local News "Reporters" Make.

10. A French TV crew stopped by Chic-a-Go-Go last weekend.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Wilco Down Under & Chief Keef Downstate

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Wilco Down Under.

"It's been ten years since Wilco - the Chicago band who have become standard bearers for rustic American art-rock - first popped into town," Russell Baillie writes for the New Zealand Herald.

"Back then, they were way down the bill on a secondary stage at the 2003 Big Day Out. From memory, frontman Jeff Tweedy was not in the best mood that: 'We went to Waiheke yesterday,' he deadpanned to small crowd before him, 'that's our anecdote.'

"But now on their fourth New Zealand visit - fifth if you count the time Tweedy and three bandmates spent in 2008 on Neil Finn's second Seven Worlds Collide project - here was Wilco in front of a packed Auckland Town Hall finishing off the Down Under tour for 2011 album The Whole Love and having an infectiously good time. Their past NZ shows had been intense sit-down chamber-rock affairs. With a big standing huddle down the front, and the galleries filled above, this one felt sweatier, friendlier and more celebratory. A chatty funny Tweedy sure had more than one anecdote, and even made friends with the security woman standing at his feet."

2. Alkaline Out West.

"Alkaline Trio's ninth album, in stores Tuesday, dispenses with the Chicago band's usual goth/horror imagery and replaces it with driving, streamlined tracks powered by refreshing blasts of undiluted pop/punk," Sam Gnerre writes for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

"Alkaline Trio's playing has an energy and a focus throughout that some of its recent work has lacked, and all its tracks are built upon strong, carefully constructed melodies. These songs explode out of the speakers, bassist Dan Andriano and drummer Derek Grant forming an unshakable foundation for lead guitarist Matt Skiba's soaring guitar riffs."

3. Dagger Swagger.

"On Record Store Day (April 20), Thrill Jockey will be releasing the final album by visceral (and sadly no longer active) Baltimore punks Double Dagger, 333," The Quietus reports. Here's "Heretic's Hymn":

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4. BR5-49.

5. Redd Kross.

6. Who Needs Critics?

7. Implodes, Acteurs, Population.

8. Lupe Fatigue.

"Last week Harley Davidson announced the initial acts for their 110th anniversary celebration, taking place on the Summerfest grounds, August 29 - August 31," Geraud Blanks writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"Boasting 60 performers, there are still many artists yet to be confirmed. However, the preliminary list of hip-hop acts looks like this: Chicagoans Lupe Fiasco and Common. That's it, that's the list.

"Really? Lupe Fiasco, again?"

9. Chief Keef To Play Peoria.

10. CIMMfest.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 AM | Permalink

Harold Washington: The Man, The Moment, The Movement

The charismatic late Mayor Harold Washington is noted for transforming Chicago's political environment and creating an open all-inclusive government that represents Chicago's rich diversity.

Citizens, civic, faith and political leaders are launching an effort to ensure that the memory of Harold Washington's legacy is not forgotten on Friday at the Ramada Lake Shore in Hyde Park where the former mayor announced his candidacy.

The 30th Anniversary commemoration is being presented under the title: "The Man, the Moment, the Movement."

The committee will announce a month-long series of events coordinated in collaboration with various community based organizations, academic and cultural institutions that highlight Harold Washington's impact and influence culturally, politically and economically. In addition, a Harold Washington Scholarship Fund will be initiated for students pursing public service careers.

This effort to memorialize the emergence of Harold Washington as Chicago's first African-American mayor in the city's, then, 149- year history is led by the Harold Washington Tribute Committee. The committee represents a diverse group of citizens who believe Harold Washington's transformative accomplishments and legacy should be recognized, preserved and perpetuated for future generations.

Honorary co-chair, the Honorable Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois and a Harold Washington contemporary said, "Harold Washington will be remembered as a giant in the history of America's big-city mayors. Not content to be a trailblazer, he was transformational, profoundly changing the way Chicago governs itself."

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Editor's Note: Washington didn't feel quite the same way about Quinn.

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Committee convener, political activist and Chicago socialite Josie Childs said, "Chicago leads the nation in producing profoundly iconic leadership examples and Harold Washington ranks among the best for breaking racial and gender barriers while advancing progressive urban policies."

Childs points to the success of Harold Washington's campaign in mobilizing unprecedented numbers of non-traditional voters and benchmark administration accomplishments including:

* Created the Ethics Commission

* Issued an executive order increasing minority business contracts

* Opened government with a Freedom of Information executive order

* Led fight for ward redistricting; more black and Hispanic representation

* Fought for equal provision of public services; neighborhood street, curb and gutter repair

* Opened the city's budget process for public input and participation

* Encouraged neighborhood festivals and projects

* Led movement for Illinois' Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Bill

Schedule of Events

April 12: Opening Kick-off Press Conference and Reception, 10 a.m., Ramada

April 12: Commemorative Election Reception, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., the Marmon Grand

April 16: The Harold Washington Legacy panel discussion, Chicago State University

April 19: Harold Washington's Progressive Jobs, Economic, and Neighborhood Development Policies: Lessons Learned for the 21st Century, DePaul University

April 22: Spiritual Reflection/Faith communities across Chicagoland are encouraged to acknowledge Harold Washington during their respective services and gatherings. Reflecting on how the former mayor was an ambassador for peace in reducing violence in our communities.

April 27: Harold Washington Youth Summit 2013: Youth Celebration and Civic
Engagement Project, Northeastern Illinois University Center for Inner City Studies

April 26: Know Your Harold!, DuSable High School

April 28: Remembering Mayor Harold Washington, DuSable Museum of African-American History

April 29: Closing Celebration featuring the Chi-Lites, Harold Washington Cultural Center

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

April 10, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

From Linda Lutton's Facebook page:

"Michelle Obama is stopping by Harper High School today!! I can't get press credentials to go, and neither can Alex Kotlowitz."

Lutton and Kotlowitz, of course, were reporters on the WBEZ project that brought Harper High to the nation's attention.

"Just the White House press pool and some preselected local reporters," Lutton writes.

She's not mad about it, but I am.

The chosen few should go to bat for their colleagues, whose work inspired the visit.

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On the other hand, I'd be damn proud not be a preselected reporter.

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P.S.: Let's hope this visit goes better than the last one.

CPS: Creating Phony Statistics
"Just how many students will see their lives changed by the proposed Chicago school shake-ups? Way more than 'over 30,000,' the number CPS officials say will be affected by proposed school mergers this summer," the Sun-Times says in an editorial, citing a UIC analysis.

The number, it turns out, is more like 47,500.

Has CPS made a claim yet supported by the facts?

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"Increasingly, we are convinced that there are schools on the closure list that don't even belong there," the Sun-Times says.

"Last week, for example, we profiled Garvey, a beloved Washington Heights school that puts nearly every room to good use in its supposedly under-used building and, on raw test scores, outperforms the school that is to absorb it."

Garvey isn't the only school that fits that profile, as has now been amply documented by local reporters as well as organizations/sites/partnerships such as Raise Your Hand, Apples2Apples, Every School Is My School and School Cuts.

"Other mistakes are coming to light as more complete pictures of schools emerge - far more complete pictures than what CPS has put out," the Sun-Times says.

"In its sales pitch for closing specific schools, CPS often deliberately paints an incomplete picture."

Welcome to the party.

*

Here's yet another one:

Last night WTTW held an online "chat" about the district's plan to ensure safety to students traveling to new schools.

Becky Carroll, $165,000-a-year communications chief for CPS, typed this:

"Regarding Aldermen Fioretti's claim on walks: On average students will walk less than 2 blocks more to their welcoming school then they currently walk to their existing school."

Simply not true.

"Using Mapquest, Catalyst also analyzed the walking distances between the closing and receiving schools. Twenty-nine of the 54 schools are more than half a mile apart. Nine are more than 0.8 miles apart - the length at which busing will kick in.

"The nine schools are Bethune, Bontemps, King, Overton, Lawrence, Canter, Kohn, Ericson and Trumbull.

"There's a big caveat about busing, however: Transportation is only guaranteed to the children who are currently at closing schools, not future students who will be assigned to the receiving schools from the old attendance areas of the closing schools."

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Michelle Obama, by the way, is in town in part to help Rahm Emanuel's private-sector anti-violence initiative.

"Emanuel said he's arranged for public accounting of the effort," Crain's reports.

"I've asked the University of Chicago to help evaluate their impact," he said. "We want some real academic vigor."

That's funny; why would he start now?

The Toppling
How The Media Inflated The Fall Of Saddam's Statue.

Breastaurants Are A Thing
In The Random Food Report.

Upton vs. Upton
In Fantasy Fix.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rigorous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Random Food Report: Breastaurants Are A Thing

1. Downsizing Deception.

"Various brands of popular snacks like potato chips and tortilla chips have just been downsized," Mouse Print reports.

"In these cases, the price remained the same, but the new packages contain less. In other words, it is a hidden increase."

Click through for revealing photos of the guilty parties, including Lay's, Doritos, Ruffles and Pringles.

2. Game Over.

"KFC Says New Boneless Chicken Is A 'Game Changer.'"

Sure are a lot of those these days.

* Allergy To Husband's Sperm Was A 'Game-Changer' In Marriage.

* Oil Execs Say Tax Bill Is A 'Game-Changer.'

* Israeli Skylark Drone A 'Game-Changer.'

In fact, the term has become so ubiquitous that Bloomberg News is cracking down.

So, no, boneless chicken isn't a game-changer.

*

And this, from the Los Angeles Times article whose headline is at the top of this item, is laughable:

"Trying to tear meat off a chicken skeleton is an annoyance for many Americans, especially younger ones."

The day drumsticks become an annoyance is a day when the game has truly changed. That day ain't here.

3. Boston Market Game-Changer?

"Boston Market is expanding beyond its well-known rotisserie chicken offering for a new meat: ribs," AP reports.

Didn't Boston Market expand beyond its well-known rotisserie chicken years ago, precipitating the name change from Boston Chicken?

Also, click through to see a photo: the ribs include bones.

4. Chicago Food Blogger Escalates Her Battle With Kraft Over Food Dyes.

5. Quaker Oats Survey Finds It Is A Perfectly Ridiculous Company.

"What is the definition of a perfect mom? According to a survey by The Quaker Oats Company, a subsidiary of Pepsi headquartered in Chicago, more than 90 percent of moms say there is not one definition of the perfect mom or that it means different things to different moms.

"Whether it's balancing work and family life or deciding what to serve during mealtime, today's mom creates her own kind of 'perfect.' And now Quaker is providing a new option to help her customize the perfect breakfast for everyone in the family."

Because making the perfect breakfast is still women's work.

6. "Crazy Smart or Over the Edge? Doritos To Bag Locos Tacos Tortilla Chips."

Quite possibly a game-changer.

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The laughable lead:

"This is enough to make your head spin, and maybe your heart burn. PepsiCo's Frito-Lay is about to put Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos in a bag."

We're dizzy already.

7. Breastaurants.

"While the casual-dining segment has experienced sales pressures at many brands, it has been augmented by growth in the so-called breastaurant category," Nation's Restaurant News reports.

"Among the growing number of players is Twin Peaks, owned by Addison, Texas-based Front Burner Restaurants LP.

"Twin Peaks opened in Chicago in February, Las Vegas on March 4, and will throw open the doors April 1 to its 32nd restaurant in Olathe, Kan."

From the Q&A with Front Burner CEO Randy DeWitt:

How do you view the increasing competition in the so-called breastaurant segment?

We like the fact that the segment is having a kind of renaissance.

The perfect breakfast and the perfect breasts; the game hasn't changed at all.

8. Random Food Report Mail Call:

"I just wanted to quickly follow-up on my note about the Creamette Comfort Food Recipe and Essay Contest!

"The contest is now in full-swing and families from the Midwest region can submit their favorite comfort food recipe made with Creamette Pasta along with an essay explaining what makes the dish so comforting until May 30, 2013 at Creamette.com. After an online vote in June, one grand prize winner will receive $10,000 and nine first prize winners will receive $500 to continue creating their favorite mouth-watering dishes.

"To help celebrate their 100th anniversary, Creamette has teamed up with cookbook author, Midwest-native and 'Hot Dish Queen' Ann Burckhardt to encourage families to share the comfort. Ann has shared several of her favorite recipes with us such as Four-Layer Macaroni Casserole, Meatball Stroganoff Casserole, Penne 'n Chicken Casserole Italiano and Southwest Macaroni, Tomatoes and Cheese."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:43 AM | Permalink

The Toppling: How The Media Inflated The Fall Of Saddam's Statue In Firdos Square

On April 9, 2003, Lieutenant Colonel Bryan McCoy, commander of the 3rd Battalion 4th Marines, awoke at a military base captured from the Iraqis a few miles from the center of Baghdad, which was still held by the enemy. It had been 20 days since the invasion of Iraq began, and McCoy had some personal chores to take care of - washing his socks, for one. Afterward, he walked over to a group of marines under his command who were defacing a mural of Saddam Hussein. As I watched, he picked up a sledgehammer and struck a few blows himself. The men cheered. Then he began preparing for the serious business of the day: leading the battalion into the heart of the city. He expected a house-to-house brawl that would last several days.

The battalion's tanks were followed by Humvees with the barrels of M-16s pointing from every window. But only a few potshots were fired at the marines, and small groups of Iraqis and their children were on the streets waving. On the radio, McCoy's men told of being served tea. "We're not getting resistance, we're getting cakes," McCoy remarked.

As the battalion neared the center of the city, Colonel Steven Hummer, the regimental commander, ordered it to the Palestine Hotel. The hotel was in Firdos Square, but neither the hotel nor the square was labeled on McCoy's map. All he had was a grid coordinate for an area that was a square kilometer.

The hotel was filled with international journalists, and by three in the afternoon some who had remained in Baghdad during the invasion were probing the city, freed of government minders who had controlled their movements until then. A few of them ran into McCoy as he was examining his map. McCoy turned to Remy Ourdan, a reporter for Le Monde. "Where is this damn Palestine Hotel?" he asked. Ourdan indicated the road to take.

Not far away, Captain Bryan Lewis, the leader of McCoy's tank company, spotted a car with "TV" scrawled on its side and shouted from his turret, "Is this the way to the Palestine?" A German photographer named Markus Matzel pointed down the avenue - they were heading the right way. Lewis motioned for Matzel to come along, in case further directions were needed. Matzel hopped onto the turret and led the tanks to Firdos Square.

After the marines arrived, a small group of Iraqis gathered around a statue of Saddam Hussein in the middle of the square and tried to bring it down with a sledgehammer and rope. More photographers and TV crews appeared. An American flag was draped over the statue's head. Eventually, a Marine vehicle equipped with a crane toppled the statue. The spectacle was broadcast live around the world.

Some have argued that the events at Firdos were staged, to demonstrate that America had triumphed, the war was over, and the Iraqis were happy. After all, the marines had seized the only place in Baghdad where a large number of foreign reporters could be found - at least 200 were at the Palestine. And U.S. officials were suspiciously quick to appropriate the imagery from Firdos. A few minutes after the toppling, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, "The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad are breathtaking. Watching them, one cannot help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain."

Propaganda has been a staple of warfare for ages, but the notion of creating events on the battlefield, as opposed to repackaging real ones after the fact, is a modern development. It expresses a media theory developed by, among others, Walter Lippmann, who after the First World War identified the components of wartime mythmaking as "the casual fact, the creative imagination, the will to believe, and out of these three elements, a counterfeit of reality." As he put it, "Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond." In the 1960s, Daniel J. Boorstin identified a new category of media spectacle that he called "pseudo-events," which were created to be reported on. But Boorstin was theorizing primarily about political conventions and press conferences, not about events on a battlefield.

The 2004 documentary film Control Room featured Al Jazeera journalists who argued that the toppling of Saddam's statue was merely "a show . . . a very clever idea," and that Iraqis had been brought to the square like actors delivered to the stage. Skeptics have also questioned whether the crowd was as large or as representative of popular sentiment as U.S. officials suggested. Might it have been just a small group of Iraqis whose numbers and enthusiasm were exaggerated by the cameras? Did the media, which had, with few exceptions, accepted the Bush administration's prewar claims about weapons of mass destruction, err again by portraying a pseudo-event as real? And were lives lost as a result of this error?

I had followed McCoy's battalion to Baghdad for the Times magazine. I was what the military called a "unilateral" journalist, driving unescorted into Iraq on the first day of the invasion in an SUV rented from Hertz in Kuwait. A few days into the war, I happened to meet McCoy at a staging area in the Iraqi desert north of Nasiriya, and he agreed to let me and a number of other unilaterals follow his battalion to Baghdad. On April 9, I drove into Firdos with his battalion, and was at his side during some of the afternoon.

My understanding of events at the time was limited. I had no idea why the battalion went to Firdos rather than to other targets. I didn't know who had decided to raise the American flag and who had decided to take down the statue, or why. And I had little awareness of the media dynamics that turned the episode into a festive symbol of what appeared to be the war's finale. In reality, the war was just getting underway. Many thousands of people would be killed or injured before the Bush administration acknowledged that it faced not just "pockets of dead-enders" in Iraq, as Rumsfeld insisted, but what grew to be a full-fledged insurgency. The toppling of Saddam's statue turned out to be emblematic of primarily one thing: the fact that American troops had taken the center of Baghdad. That was significant, but everything else the toppling was said to represent during repeated replays on television - victory for America, the end of the war, joy throughout Iraq - was a disservice to the truth. Yet the skeptics were wrong in some ways, too, because the event was not planned in advance by the military. How did it happen?

A Marine For The Media

Three days earlier, Marine Regimental Combat Team 7, under the command of Colonel Hummer, arrived at the Diyala Canal, which loops around eastern Baghdad. The center of the city was less than eight miles away, but the regiment did not have orders to seize it. The plan was to stay along the Diyala and send small units on quick raids into the city.

The task of planning the raids was given to two majors on the regiment's staff, John Schaar and Andrew Milburn. Until Diyala, they had not even examined a map of the city, but they quickly concluded that the raids were a bad idea. "We did a little study and thought this was really stupid," Schaar told me not long ago. Raiding units risked becoming trapped in the city, creating an Iraqi version of Black Hawk Down. Schaar and Milburn also concluded that Iraqi forces could not withstand a direct assault by the regiment; for nearly three weeks, the regiment had blasted through every Iraqi unit in its path.

They then divided central Baghdad into 27 zones, with each battalion responsible for occupying four or five zones (several low-priority zones were unassigned). Schaar and Milburn had received from divisional headquarters a list of about 30 sensitive sites - a hodgepodge that comprised embassies, banks, detention centers, potential nuclear facilities, and hotels, including the Palestine. The most important targets were in four central zones across the Tigris River from the Republican Palace, which the Army had already seized. Schaar recently sent me a photograph of the 27-zone invasion map. The map has six thumbtacks marking key targets. One of them, in the central zones, was the Palestine Hotel.

According to Schaar, there was never any doubt about which battalion would be assigned the central zones. "Three-four" - 4McCoy's battalion - "got tagged to that because they were the sharp guys," he told me.

Bryan McCoy, who has a stocky build and a blunt Oklahoma manner, became known as the regiment's toughest battalion leader. During the drive to Baghdad, McCoy mentioned Sherman's famous dictum that war is cruelty. "My idea of a fair fight," he said, "is clubbing baby harp seals." When McCoy returned from Iraq, he disdained the well-equipped fitness center at the regiment's training base, in California, and built a prisonlike gym that had no air-conditioning or fancy exercise machines, the better, he believed, to accustom his men to the rigors of battle; they weightlifted with sandbags.

The Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the U.S. military and the most precarious, because one of the key missions it fulfills - amphibious landings - does not require a separate branch. The Army knows how to conduct amphibious landings, and has done more of them in the past century than the Marines. Moreover, the future of warfare is not likely to revolve around landings on the shores of Tripoli. As McCoy remarked to me one day, "Our existence is always threatened."

This circumstance makes the Corps particularly aware that it must be successful in the halls of Congress as well as on the fields of battle. For that reason, perhaps, marines tend to be friendlier toward the media than other branches of the military; they recognize the value of good stories and images. It is not surprising that the most famous war photograph in American history - the flag-raising at Iwo Jima - depicts marines.

McCoy, who has written a monograph on military leadership, The Passion of Command, understood the importance of the media. That was one reason he had agreed to let me and 10 other unilateral journalists follow his battalion, which already had four embedded journalists. The reporters worked for, among others, the Times, Time, Newsweek, the Associated Press, and several photography agencies. McCoy occasionally joined us for coffee in the morning, giving us briefings about the battles along the way to Baghdad, and he made it clear to his men that we were to be welcomed. When he threw a grenade at an Iraqi position one day, a photographer was at his side, and the photograph was widely disseminated.

McCoy heard about the Palestine Hotel from the journalists in his battalion. One of the photographers, Gary Knight, of Newsweek, had mentioned it to him on several occasions, because a colleague was having a hard time there; Knight's editors wanted McCoy to know that journalists at the hotel were in peril. "As we got closer to Baghdad, it got ramped up," Knight recalled last year. "It was, like, 'Can you try and persuade the marines to get to the Palestine Hotel?'"

The photographer Laurent Van der Stockt, working with me for the Times magazine, also mentioned the Palestine to McCoy, often while sharing his stash of Cuban cigars with him. Van der Stockt would tell the colonel what he was hearing from Remy Ourdan, with whom he spoke almost every day on his satellite phone. Ourdan had stayed at the Palestine throughout the invasion, hiding his phone behind a ceiling panel and using it surreptitiously at night or in the early morning, when he would crouch on his balcony and talk in whispers to his editors in Paris.

On the morning of April 9, as McCoy was washing his socks, Van der Stockt wandered over while talking to Ourdan on the sat phone. Ourdan told Van der Stockt that Iraqi forces had abandoned the center of Baghdad. For the first time, there were no security forces at the Palestine or in the area around it.

"Colonel, my friend at the Palestine Hotel is saying there is nobody in front of us - the city is empty," Van der Stockt said.

McCoy nodded but said the battalion wouldn't get to the center so fast. The Army had met fierce resistance in the western part of the city. The next few hundred yards were of far greater importance to him than a hotel several miles away. Besides, marines do not take orders from French journalists.

Van der Stockt told Ourdan that they wouldn't be seeing each other that day.

"But tell the colonel that Baghdad has fallen!" Ourdan said. "There is no more resistance. The city is open!"

The battalion moved out, and, to McCoy's surprise, faced little opposition. Simon Robinson, a reporter for Time, was in the back of McCoy's vehicle when the regiment's commander, Colonel Hummer, ordered the battalion to the Palestine. Robinson vividly recalls the order, because it prompted him to lean forward to remind McCoy that reporters were there. When he did, he saw a satisfied expression spread over McCoy's face.

"He was fully cognizant that he was about to move into an area where there were a lot of journalists and there were going to be opportunities," Robinson told me.

The Strategic Corporal

In 1999, Marine General Charles Krulak wrote an influential article in which he coined the term "strategic corporal." Krulak argued that, in an interconnected world, the actions of even a lowly corporal can have global consequences. "All future conflicts will be acted out before an international audience," Krulak wrote. "In many cases, the individual marine will be the most conspicuous symbol of American foreign policy and will potentially influence not only the immediate tactical situation, but the operational and strategic levels as well."

At Firdos Square, it was a 35-year-old gunnery sergeant, Leon Lambert, who bore out Krulak's thesis. Lambert's background was typical of that of many youths who enlist in the military. His father was a car mechanic with five children. Leon had to get a dishwashing job when he was 12. One of his brothers joined the Army, another the Air Force. Lambert went for the Marines. By 2003, after almost 16 years of service, he commanded an M-88 Hercules, a tow truck for tanks that is equipped with a crane.

At 4:30 p.m., as the M-88 rumbled into Firdos not far behind the lead tank, Lambert noticed the statue of Saddam. Installed a year earlier to celebrate the leader's 65th birthday, it was the sort of totem that American troops had been destroying across Iraq. On the first day of the invasion, I had watched in the Iraqi border town of Safwan as a Humvee dragged down a billboard of Saddam. Erasing the symbols of regime power is what conquering armies have done for millennia.

Lambert radioed his commander, Captain Lewis, whose tank was carrying the German photographer.

"Hey, get a look at that statue," Lambert said. "Why don't we take it down?"

"No way," Lewis responded. He didn't want his men distracted.

There was no hostile fire, or even hostility, other than some shouts from American and West European "human shields," who had remained in Baghdad to symbolically stand in the way of the invaders. The Iraqi forces had fled. Lewis's tanks blocked the streets leading to Firdos while armored personnel carriers disgorged the infantry, which fanned out. Within minutes of the marines' arrival, Firdos had been secured.

When McCoy's Humvee stopped in front of the Palestine, he was surrounded by reporters. In addition to the journalists at the hotel, others who had followed U.S. troops to Baghdad began pulling up in their dusty SUVs. One of the reporters, Newsweek's Melinda Liu, introduced McCoy to the hotel's manager, who nervously greeted his new boss and led him into the hotel. Striding inside, McCoy held his M-16 at the ready.

Outside, a handful of Iraqis had slipped into the square. Lambert got on the radio and told Lewis that the locals wanted to pull down the statue.

"If a sledgehammer and rope fell off the 88, would you mind?" Lambert asked.

"I wouldn't mind," Lewis replied. "But don't use the 88."

Higher authorities were unaware of these developments. McCoy, Hummer, Rumsfeld, President Bush - they hadn't a clue about the chain of events that Lambert had triggered with a wink, a nod, and a sledgehammer.

One after another, Iraqis swung Lambert's sledgehammer against the statue's base. In a much photographed moment, a former weightlifter got into the action, but only a few inches of plaster fell away. The rope, thrown around the statue's neck, was not sufficient to topple it, either.

"We watched them with the rope, and I knew that was never going to happen," Lambert told me recently. "They were never going to get it down."

Finishing The Job

At the Palestine, McCoy briefly talked with reporters in the manager's office. Then he walked outside to Firdos Square and saw Lambert's rope flopped around the statue's neck as various Iraqis futilely wielded the sledgehammer. Cameras were everywhere. "A military operation was developing into a circus atmosphere," McCoy recalled when I interviewed him last spring at his home in Tampa, where he serves at Central Command.

Other commanders had already concluded that toppling the dictator's likeness might help get the point across and had tried it elsewhere. A few days into the war, British tanks mounted a raid into the heart of Basra, in the south of the country, where they destroyed a statue of Saddam. The Brits hoped the locals, seeing a strike against a symbol of regime power, would rise up against Saddam. As the British military spokesman, Colonel Chris Vernon, told reporters, "The purpose of that is psychological." The statue was destroyed, but the event wasn't filmed and drew little attention. Similarly, on April 7, after Army soldiers seized the Republican Palace in Baghdad, their commander, Colonel David Perkins, asked his men to find a statue that could be destroyed. Once one was found - Saddam on horseback - a nearby tank was ordered to wait until an embedded team from Fox News got there. On cue, the tank fired a shell at the statue, blowing it up, but the event had little drama and did not get a lot of TV coverage. No Iraqis were present, and just a few Americans, and the surrounding landscape was featureless.

The situation at the Palestine was different. "I realized this was a big deal," McCoy told me. "You've got all the press out there and everybody is liquored up on the moment. You have this Paris, 1944, feel. I remember thinking, The media is watching the Iraqis trying to topple this icon of Saddam Hussein. Let's give them a hand."

McCoy also considered the "buzzkill," as he phrased it, of not helping. "Put your virtual-reality goggles on," he continued. "What would that moment have been if we hadn't? It would have been some B-reel of Iraqis banging away at this thing and eventually losing interest and going home. There was a momentum, there was a feeling, this atmosphere of liberation. Like a kid trying to whack a pinata and he's not going to get it with a blindfold on, so let's move the pinata so he can knock it. That was the attitude - keep the momentum going."

Captain Lewis, the tank commander, walked over to McCoy and asked whether the marines should finish the job for the Iraqis. McCoy asked if the Iraqis had requested help; Lewis told him they had. A marine asked whether the battalion was authorized to tear down statues; McCoy responded that it would not be a problem.

He got on the radio with Colonel Hummer, who had set up a regimental command post behind the partially destroyed Information Ministry, to update him on the events. Hummer did not have aerial reconnaissance from Firdos, or even a TV. While the rest of the world was watching the scene in the square, the colonel who authorized its climax was blind to the event.

Hummer, in a phone interview recently, explained what happened: "I get this call from Bryan and he says, 'Hey, we've got these Iraqis over here with a bunch of ropes trying to pull down this very large statue of Saddam Hussein.' And he said, 'They're asking us to pull it down.' So I said, 'Okay, go ahead.' And I didn't think much of it after that."

Before signing off, Hummer instructed McCoy to make sure no one got killed by falling debris.

McCoy then issued a brief order to Lewis: "Do it." He also told Lewis not to get anyone killed in the process.

The M-88, with its crane, was the perfect tool. Lambert, who had started everything by handing out the sledgehammer and the rope, was told to finish the job.

Switching Flags

Before dawn on Sept. 11, 2001, a 21-year-old second lieutenant named Tim McLaughlin arrived at the Pentagon, where he was a general's assistant. After taking care of some paperwork, he went down to the gym, changed into running clothes, and jogged across Memorial Bridge, along the Jefferson Memorial, until he heard a deep, soft thud. He rushed back to the Pentagon. As people streamed out of the building, McLaughlin made his way into it. The corridors were deserted and were filling with smoke; he could barely see his hand.

A few days later, as a personal token of appreciation for his service in the military, a congressional staffer who worked for Senator Charles Schumer and was a friend of the McLaughlin family presented McLaughlin with a flag bought at the Senate stationery store. Two years later, when McLaughlin was packing to leave for Iraq under McCoy's command, he put the flag in his duffel.

During the invasion, McLaughlin tried to raise the flag several times. On the first attempt, he was preparing to hoist it on top of a building but realized that there was too much shooting going on. Another time, Lambert's M-88 rolled over the flagpole that McLaughlin was about to use. McLaughlin's efforts became an inside joke in his tank company. When McCoy ordered the toppling in Firdos Square, Captain Lewis told McLaughlin to fetch his flag for the mother of all flag pictures. Soon it was handed up to Corporal Edward Chin, who had climbed atop the M-88's crane and was hooking a chain around the statue's head.

"I remember thinking, What am I going to do?" Chin told me. "I didn't want to just wave the flag." At that moment, the wind blew the flag and it stuck to the statue's head. "That worked for me. I later realized the flag was upside down. That is actually a symbol of distress."

McCoy, too busy to keep an eye on the statue, wasn't looking when the flag went up. People watching TV from their sofas in America saw it before he did. When he finally looked up, his first thought was Oh, shit! An American flag would seem like a symbol of occupation. He instantly ordered it taken down.

Around this time, McCoy's superior, Colonel Hummer, got an urgent order from his commander, Major General James Mattis, who had apparently received an urgent order that Hummer assumes originated at the Pentagon.

Get the flag down. Now.

With the breeze keeping the flag in place, Chin had returned to his rigging work. As he was finishing up, he took the flag down of his own volition. It had been on display for just a minute-and-a-half. There had not been time for the orders to reach him.

One of the battalion's lieutenants, Casey Kuhlman, had also realized that the American flag would not be a welcome symbol for Iraqis and other Arabs. Kuhlman had acquired an Iraqi flag during the invasion. "I grabbed it and started going up to the statue," he recalled. "And I didn't get but 10 or 20 meters when an older Iraqi man grabbed it from me and it sort of got passed through the crowd and then went up. I thought, My souvenir is gone. But this is a little bit better than a souvenir."

His flag helped create one of the Firdos myths.

Staff Sergeant Brian Plesich, the leader of an Army psychological-operations team, arrived at Firdos after the sledgehammer-and-rope phase had begun. He saw the American flag go up and had the same reaction as Kuhlman: get an Iraqi flag up. Plesich, whom I interviewed last year, told his interpreter to find an Iraqi flag. The interpreter waded into the crowd, and soon an Iraqi flag was raised.

Plesich assumed that the Iraqi flag had got there because of his initiative, and in 2004 the Army published a report crediting him. The report was picked up by the news media ("Army Stage-Managed Fall of Hussein Statue," the headline in the Los Angeles Times read) and circulated widely on the Web, fueling the conspiracy notion that a psyops team masterminded not only the Iraqi flag but the entire toppling. Yet it was Kuhlman who was responsible for the flag. Plesich's impact at Firdos was limited to using the loudspeakers on his Humvee to tell the crowd, once the statue had been rigged to fall, that until everyone moved back to a safe distance the main event would not take place.

By the time it was over and the sun was setting at Firdos Square, Sergeant Lambert and his M-88 crew had become so famous that even Katie Couric wanted an interview. Lambert had to hide from the spectacle he had unleashed.

"God's honest truth," Lambert told me. "We went inside the 88, we locked the hatches, and the only time we would come out was when we were directed to."

The Palestine

The Palestine was built in the early 1980s for tourists, who were then visiting Iraq in large numbers, and it was run by the Meridien hotel chain. After Iraq invaded Kuwait, in 1990, and was slapped with international sanctions, the Meridien got rid of its outlaw franchise. The Palestine, with more than 300 rooms and 17 floors, stayed open under state control but was outclassed by the Al Rasheed Hotel, which stood on the other side of the Tigris and was surrounded by government ministries and presidential palaces. For years, the Al Rasheed was favored by foreign journalists who wanted to be close to the action, but they moved out just before the invasion, to get away from the bombs that would presumably destroy the government district. When the Shock and Awe campaign began, a couple of hundred reporters watched from their balconies at the Palestine.

Like everyone else, Pentagon officials viewed TV reports from Baghdad which often noted that the Palestine was the point of broadcast. It was at the hotel that the Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, known as Baghdad Bob, held many of his extravagant press conferences.

During the aerial bombardment of Baghdad, the Palestine was not hit, and, once ground troops had moved into the city, most commanders in Baghdad were made aware of the Palestine's do-not-bomb status. But the commanders failed to convey the information to the soldiers in every unit, and this caused the casualties that contributed to the dispatch of McCoy's battalion to Firdos Square.

On April 8, the day before McCoy's battalion arrived at Firdos, an Army tank that was on the Al Jumhuriya Bridge, over the Tigris, fired a shell at the Palestine, killing two journalists and injuring three others. The tank's crew mistakenly thought that a camera aimed at them from a balcony was a spotting device for Iraqi forces. Journalists at the Palestine were outraged; some thought it was a deliberate attack on the media. Subsequent investigations by the military and reporters found that although key officers on the ground, including brigade and battalion commanders, knew that the Palestine should not be fired on, they did not know the hotel's precise location, because, as McCoy was to learn, it wasn't marked on their maps. The tank's crew did not know that journalists were in the building.

The killings increased media pressure on the Pentagon to insure the hotel's safety; calls and e-mails to Pentagon officials reached a furious pitch, and at a Pentagon press conference a few hours after the attack the Palestine was a major topic. The media demanded that the Pentagon see to it that no further harm came to the journalists at the Palestine.

Some journalists considered the hotel to be a death trap. When the photographer Seamus Conlan came across American troops in the hours before McCoy's battalion showed up, he asked for a rescue mission. "I was sure that today was going to be the day that we got killed by Saddam's enraged and retreating militiamen," Conlan later wrote. "A Marine officer assured me that every journalist in Baghdad was telling him the same thing."

Manufacturing A Victory

The media have been criticized for accepting the Bush administration's claims, in the run-up to the invasion, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The WMD myth, and the media's embrace of it, encouraged public support for war. The media also failed at Firdos Square, but in this case it was the media, rather than the government, that created the victory myth.

Because the world's media were based at the Palestine, television networks had the equipment to go live the moment the marines arrived there. It was certainly a legitimate and dramatic story - proof that Baghdad was falling under American control. But problems with the coverage at Firdos soon emerged, including the duration, which was non-stop, the tone, which was celebratory, and the uncritical obsession with the toppling.

One of the first TV reporters to broadcast from Firdos was David Chater, a correspondent for Sky News, the British satellite channel whose feed from Baghdad was carried by Fox News. (Both channels are owned by News Corp.) Before the marines arrived, Chater had believed, as many journalists did, that his life was at risk from American shells, Iraqi thugs, and looting mobs.

"That's an amazing sight, isn't it?" Chater said as the tanks rolled in. "A great relief, a great sight for all the journalists here . . . The Americans waving to us now - fantastic, fantastic to see they're here at last." Moments later, outside the Palestine, Chater smiled broadly and told one marine, "Bloody good to see you." Noticing an American flag in another marine's hands, Chater cheerily said, "Get that flag going!"

Another correspondent, John Burns, of the Times, had similar feelings. Representing the most prominent American publication, Burns had a particularly hard time with the security thugs who had menaced many journalists at the Palestine. His gratitude toward the marines was explicit. "They were my liberators, too," he later wrote. "They seemed like ministering angels to me."

The happy relief felt by some journalists on the ground was compounded by editors and anchors back home. Primed for triumph, they were ready to latch onto a symbol of what they believed would be a joyous finale to the war. It was an unfortunate fusion: a preconception of what would happen, of what victory would look like, connected at Firdos Square with an aesthetically perfect representation of that preconception.

Wilson Surratt was the senior executive producer in charge of CNN's control room in Atlanta that morning. The room, dominated by almost 50 screens that showed incoming feeds from CNN crews and affiliated networks, was filled with not just the usual complement of producers but also with executives who wanted to be at the nerve center of the network during one of the biggest stories of their lives. Surratt had been told by the newsroom that marines were expected to arrive at Firdos any moment, so he kept his eyes on two monitors that showed the still empty square.

"The climax, at the time, was going to be the troops coming into Firdos Square," Surratt told me. "We didn't really anticipate that Hussein was going to be captured. There wasn't going to be a surrender. So what we were looking for was some sort of culminating event."

On that day, Baghdad was violent and chaotic. The city was already being looted by swarms of people using trucks, taxis, horses, and wheelbarrows to cart away whatever they could from government buildings and banks, museums, and even hospitals. There continued to be armed opposition to the American advance. One of CNN's embedded correspondents, Martin Savidge, was reporting from a Marine unit that was taking fire in the city. Savidge was ready to go on the air, under fire, at the exact moment that Surratt noticed the tanks entering Firdos Square. Surratt vividly recalls that moment, because he shouted out in the control room, "There they are!"

He immediately switched the network's coverage to Firdos, and it stayed there almost non-stop until the statue came down, more than two hours later. I asked Surratt whether, by focusing on Firdos rather than on Savidge and the chaos of Baghdad, he had made the right call.

"What were we supposed to do?" Surratt replied. "Not show what was going on in the square? We did the responsible thing. We were careful to say it was not the end. At some point, you've got to trust the viewer to understand what they're seeing."

The powerful pictures from Firdos were combined with powerful words. On CNN, the anchor Bill Hemmer said, "You think about seminal moments in a nation's history . . . indelible moments like the fall of the Berlin Wall, and that's what we're seeing right now." Wolf Blitzer described the toppling as "the image that sums up the day and, in many ways, the war itself." On Fox, the anchor Brit Hume said, "This transcends anything I've ever seen . . . This speaks volumes, and with power that no words can really match." One of his colleagues said, "The important story of the day is this historic shot you are looking at, a noose around the neck of Saddam, put there by the people of Baghdad."

A visual echo chamber developed: rather than encouraging reporters to find the news, editors urged them to report what was on TV. CNN, which did not have a reporter at the Palestine because its team had been expelled when the invasion began, was desperate to get one of its embedded correspondents there. Walter Rodgers, whose Army unit was on the other side of the Tigris, was ordered by his editors to disembed and drive across town to the Palestine. Rodgers reminded his editors that combat continued and that his vehicle, moving on its own, would likely be hit by American or Iraqi forces. This said much about the coverage that day: Rodgers could not provide reports of the war's end because the war had not ended. But he understood the imperatives that kept CNN's attention pinned on Firdos Square. "Pictures are the mother's milk of television, and it was a hell of a picture," he said recently.

Live television loves suspense, especially if it is paired with great visuals. The networks almost never broke away from Firdos Square. The event lived on in replays, too. A 2005 study of CNN's and Fox's coverage, conducted by a research team from George Washington University and titled As Goes the Statue, So Goes the War, found that between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. that day Fox replayed the toppling every 4.4 minutes, and CNN every 7.5 minutes. The networks also showed the toppling in house ads; it became a branding device. They continually used the word "historic" to describe the statue's demise.

Anne Garrels, NPR's reporter in Baghdad at the time, has said that her editors requested, after her first dispatch about marines rolling into Firdos, that she emphasize the celebratory angle, because the television coverage was more upbeat. In an oral history that was published by the Columbia Journalism Review, Garrels recalled telling her editors that they were getting the story wrong: "There are so few people trying to pull down the statue that they can't do it themselves . . . Many people were just sort of standing, hoping for the best, but they weren't joyous."

Gary Knight, the photographer who followed McCoy's battalion to Baghdad, had a similar problem, as he talked with one of his editors on his satellite phone. The editor, watching the event on TV, asked why Knight wasn't taking pictures. Knight replied that few Iraqis were involved and the ones who were seemed to be doing so for the benefit of the legions of photographers; it was a show. The editor told him to get off the phone and start taking pictures.

Robert Collier, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter, filed a dispatch that noted a small number of Iraqis at Firdos, many of whom were not enthusiastic. When he woke up the next day, he found that his editors had recast the story. The published version said that "a jubilant crowd roared its approval" as onlookers shouted, "We are free! Thank you, President Bush!" According to Collier, the original version was considerably more tempered. "That was the one case in my time in Iraq when I can clearly say there was editorial interference in my work," he said recently. "They threw in a lot of triumphalism. I was told by my editor that I had screwed up and had not seen the importance of the historical event. They took out quite a few of my qualifiers."

British journalists felt the same pressure. Lindsey Hilsum, the Baghdad reporter for Britain's Channel 4 News, was instructed by her editors to increase her coverage of Firdos even though she believed the event was trivial. She told the authors of a study titled Shoot First and Ask Questions Later that the toppling was a small part of a nine-minute story that she transmitted to London on April 9; in her view, it was "a small, symbolic event for American television." As she put it, "In London, where they had been watching, they said, 'No, you have to make that section much larger.'"

View Behind The Lens

Robert Capa once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough," and generations of journalists have followed his maxim. But the opposite can also be true: the farther away you are, the better you can see. At Firdos Square, the farther from the statue you were, the more you could understand.

Very few Iraqis were there. If you were at the square, or if you watch the footage, you can see, on the rare occasions long shots were used, that the square was mostly empty. You can also see, from photographs as well as video, that much of the crowd was made up of journalists and marines. Because of the lo-fi quality of the video and the shifting composition of the crowd, it's hard to give a precise number, but perhaps a quarter to a half consisted of journalists or marines. The crowd's size - journalists, marines, and Iraqis - does not seem to have exceeded several hundred at its largest, and was much smaller for most of the two hours. The Iraqis who were photogenically enthusiastic - sledgehammering the statue, jumping on it after the toppling - were just an excitable subset of all Iraqis there. "I saw a lot of people watching with their arms crossed, not at all celebrating," Collier noted.

Closeups filled the screen with the frenzied core of the small crowd and created an illusion of wall-to-wall enthusiasm throughout Baghdad. It was an illusion that reflected only the media's yearning for exciting visuals, and brings to mind a famous study carried out more than half a century ago, when General Douglas MacArthur, who had just been relieved of his command by President Truman, visited Chicago for a parade and a speech that were expected to attract enormous public support. The study, conducted by the sociologists Kurt and Gladys Lang, found that the Chicago events, as experienced by people who attended them, were largely passionless. But for television viewers the events were dramatic and inspiring, owing to the cropped framing of what they saw.

The Lang study illuminates another distortion that occurred in Baghdad: the extent to which listless crowds lit up when cameras were turned on. In Chicago, the Lang researchers saw crowds shift to the places that cameras pointed toward; people were taking their cues from the lenses. "The cheering, waving, and shouting was often but a response to the aiming of the camera," the study noted.

Just after 5 p.m. local time, Fox News showed about a dozen Iraqis walking into the empty square; these were the first civilians on the site. They were followed and surrounded by an increasing number of journalists; within a minute of the Iraqis arriving at the statue's base, journalists appear to nearly outnumber them. In the first act of iconoclasm, two plaques on the statue's base were torn off by the Iraqis and hoisted in front of the photographers and the cameramen, in much the same way that a prizefighter raises a championship belt above his head as pictures are snapped.

Would the Iraqis have done the same thing if the cameras hadn't been there? At key moments throughout the toppling, the level of Iraqi enthusiasm appeared to ebb and flow according to the number and interest of photographers who had gathered. For instance, when Lambert's sledgehammer made its first appearance, photographers clustered around as one Iraqi after another took a few shots at the base. Not long afterward, many photographers and cameramen drifted off; they had got their pictures. The sledgehammering of the statue soon ceased, too.

An hour after the first Iraqis entered the square, the toppling was at a standstill, because the rope and the sledgehammer were useless. Neither Iraqis nor journalists cared any longer. Many of the Iraqis had moved into the street and gathered around the Humvee that carried Staff Sergeant Plesich and his psychological-operations team, because loudspeakers on Plesich's Humvee were broadcasting in Arabic. These were the first words in Arabic that the Iraqis had heard from their occupiers, and the Iraqis were indeed cheering.

But the area around the base of the statue was virtually empty. Though TV anchors talked excitedly about the statue, Iraqis at the square were no longer paying attention to it. Then Lambert's M-88, having received a green light from Colonel McCoy, lumbered into view, entering from the left of the television screen. On Fox, journalists can be seen hurrying toward the M-88 and the deserted statue. Iraqis do the same, like bees returning to a hive. By the time the M-88 reached the statue's base, the crowd of Iraqis, journalists, and marines had reassembled for the next act. As the Lang study noted of the MacArthur celebrations, "The event televised was no longer the same event as it would have been if television had not been there."

The journalists themselves, meanwhile, were barely photographed at all. The dramatic shots posted on websites that day and featured in newspapers the next morning contained almost no hint of the army of journalists at the square and their likely influence on events. One of the most photographed moments occurred when the statue fell and several dozen Iraqis rushed forward to bash the toppled head; there were nearly as many journalists in the melee, and perhaps more, but the framing of photographs all but eliminated them from view.

"It's one thing if you don't want a photographer in the picture and there's one photographer in a crowd of a thousand," Gary Knight, who now directs the Program for Narrative and Documentary Studies, at Tufts University, told me. "But when you've got 300 journalists sitting on vehicles, sitting on tanks, it's really important contextually to include that information. Most of the imagery that was published didn't have that context, and so it was misleading."

War Coverage Decreases

At the square, I found the reality, whatever it was, hard to grasp. Some Iraqis were cheering, I later learned, not for America but for a slain cleric, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, whose son Moqtada would soon lead a Shia revolt against American occupation. I met an apparently delighted Iraqi who spoke English, and he told me that his name was Samir and that he felt "free at last." About an hour later, after the statue came down, Samir was cornered by a group of men who accused him of being a spy for Saddam and were shouting, "Kill him!" A marine had to intervene to save his life.

The subsequent years of civil war, which have killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people, have revealed the events at Firdos to be an illusional intermission between invasion and insurgency. For instance, one of the stars of the spectacle - the weightlifter who sledgehammered the statue - was Khadim al-Jubouri, a motorcycle mechanic who had worked for Saddam's son Uday but had fallen out of favor and spent time in prison. When he heard that American troops had arrived, al-Jubouri went to Firdos Square. As anniversaries of the event come around, he gets interviewed by journalists. In 2007, he told the Washington Post that, since the toppling, seven relatives and friends had been killed, kidnapped, or forced to flee their homes. Al-Jubouri was happy when the sledgehammer was in his hands, but since then his life had deteriorated. "I really regret bringing down the statue," he told the Guardian. "Every day is worse than the previous day."

Among the handful of studies of Firdos Square, the most incisive was George Washington University's, led by Sean Aday, an associate professor of media and public affairs. It concluded that the coverage had "profound implications for both international policy and the domestic political landscape in America." According to the study, the saturation coverage of Firdos Square fueled the perception that the war had been won, and diverted attention from Iraq at precisely the moment that more attention was needed, not less. "Whereas battle stories imply a war is going on, statues falling - especially when placed in the context of truly climactic images from recent history - imply the war is over," the study noted.

The study examined CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, and NBC from March 20 to April 20, cataloguing the footage used each day, what the footage showed, and what was said by anchors and reporters. The study focused particular attention on Fox and CNN, because they broadcast non-stop news. It found that, in the week after the statue was toppled, war stories from Iraq decreased by 70 percent on Fox, 66 percent on ABC, 58 percent on NBC, 39 percent on CBS, and 26 percent on CNN, even though, in that same week, 13 U.S. soldiers were killed and looting was rampant.

The George Washington University study and other examinations of Firdos - like Ugly War, Pretty Package, a book by the Boston University associate professor Deborah Jaramillo - suggest that the bullishness of the post-Firdos era stemmed, at least in part, from the myth created at the square. Without the erroneous finality of the statue falling, this argument goes, the notion of "Mission Accomplished" would have been more difficult to assert; the Bush administration would have had a harder time dismissing an insurgency that, for a fatal interlude, it all but ignored. Conventional wisdom blames the failure in Iraq on the Coalition Provisional Authority, which has been heavily criticized for its inept management of the occupation. But if the CPA inherited a war rather than a victory, the story of what went wrong after Firdos needs to be revised.

In a way, statue topplings are the banana peels of history that we often slip on. In 1991, when pro-democracy forces led by Boris Yeltsin stood up to a coup by Soviet hard-liners in Moscow, a crowd outside KGB headquarters forced the removal of a statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who had led the KGB's notorious predecessor, the Cheka. The statue was lifted off its pedestal by a crane; its demise seemed to symbolize the end of Soviet-era oppression. Yet within a decade a KGB functionary, Vladimir Putin, became Russia's president, and former KGB officials now hold key political and economic positions.

Throughout the 1990s, Svetlana Boym, a Soviet-born professor of comparative literature at Harvard, visited the Moscow park where Dzerzhinsky's statue was left on its side, neglected and stained with urine. But over the years, as the power of the security state revived, the statue became the object of fond attention; eventually, Dzerzhinsky was raised to his feet and placed on a pedestal in the park. By studying a statue at not just a dramatic moment but during the course of its existence - construction, toppling, preservation - one can sometimes trace a nation's political evolution, but it takes patience. In The Future of Nostalgia, Boym's book on history and memory, she described Soviet-era monuments serving as "messengers of power . . . onto which anxieties and anger were projected." The Princeton architectural historian Lucia Allais, who has examined the destruction of monuments during the Second World War, mentioned to me one of the most famous topplings ever - of the statue of King Louis XV in Paris, in 1792, during the French Revolution. The action was portrayed by its authors as a liberation from the power of the monarchy, but they put in its spot a symbol of a new sort of power: the guillotine. These monumental destructions "are usually acts of monumental replacement, which hide continuities of power . . . behind the image of rupture," Allais wrote to me in an e-mail.

War Icons Of Flesh And Blood

Not long ago, Tim McLaughlin, the officer whose flag was placed on the statue at Firdos, unpacked a wooden trunk that stored his military gear after he left the Marines to attend law school. We were at his childhood home, in Laconia, N.H. McLaughlin is tall and large, but his head seems small for his frame, like a child's on a grownup's body. He majored in Russian at Holy Cross, and his favorite story, by Chekhov, is about a widowed carriage driver who can find no one to share his sorrows with; at the end of a cold night, the driver pours out his heartache to his loyal horse.

In the trunk, McLaughlin found a copy of the U.S. Constitution that was on his Pentagon desk on Sept. 11, 2001; it was stained with ash from the fire. He pulled out a sealed envelope that had a Marine Corps insignia on the front. Inside was a letter to his parents, to be opened in the event of his death during the invasion. It was a reminder of the dread that gripped the McLaughlin household in those days.

McLaughlin had kept a list of notable events during the invasion. One day's entry said, "Killed lots of people." Another day: "Drove through house." Yet another: "Lunch w/ villagers."

He opened a diary from which silty grains of sand sprinkled out. On one page, exhausted from fighting and lack of sleep, he had written "disoriented" or "disorienting" four times.

The flag that McLaughlin carried to Iraq lay on the bed, folded in the military manner, crisp and tight. It was returned to him after it was taken down from the statue at Firdos Square; his parents had fetched it from a safe-deposit box at the local bank for my benefit.

"It's just a flag," McLaughlin said, unfolding it. "A whole lot of fuss has been made over it, but it's not the most important thing to me."

The diaries explain why:

Company volley into buildings. Killed 4 soldiers trying to run away . . . My position is good to cut off back door exit. Kill dismounts in grove (3-7?) then 1 swimming across canal. 2 just about in canal . . .Covered canal w/.50 cal2014killed 2 more.

McLaughlin also wrote of shooting at a fast-moving car that he considered suspicious. After his bullets killed the driver, McLaughlin realized that an innocent man had perished. A few days later, wishing to avoid the same mistake, McLaughlin didn't fire when he spotted a group of suspicious Iraqis just ahead of the battalion. Moments later, the Iraqis got off the first shots in an ambush that killed a marine.

The war icons that McLaughlin cares about are not made of metal. They are made of flesh and blood.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2013

Fantasy Fix: Upton vs. Upton

The Upton brothers - B.J. and Justin - have always been hard to value fantasy-wise.

They both have all the talent in the world, but both of them tend to be streaky in both the best and worst ways. You might not get a really great, balanced season out of either one, but you could get a great half season, or at least an outstanding month.

An outstanding week is what Justin Upton had to open the season - six home runs in his first seven games, nine runs scored and a 1.640 OPS. B.J. Upton is playing his streakiness in the other direction - three hits in his first 25 at-bats, including an 0-for-14 spell to start the season. His three stolen bases provide some solace, but for those of us who though B.J. would be the better Upton to own this season, it's not enough.

My main reason for passing on Justin this year was a prolonged slump last season that left him with 18 HRs after 31 the previous year. I thought this season would be about him finding his way back, but with one-third his HR total from last year in the opening week this year, maybe that task is done.

B.J., on the other hand, saw his HRs tick upward last season to 28, from 23 in 2012. But SBs are B.J.'s biggest fantasy contribution, and while he slipped in his SB totals from 42 in 2010 to 31 last year, SBs are harder to come by in fantasy baseball than HRs.

So who is the better Upton to own this year? The jury is still out. Justin will come back down to Earth at some point, and B.J. will hit at least moderately better as the season goes on.

If, at the end of the slate, Justin has 35 HRs and 20 SBs, and B.J. has 20 HRs and 35 SBs, B.J. might still be my first choice.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report says to drop Carlos Marmol ASAP. Duh.

* Rant Sports says to patient with Pedro Alvarez. True, Alvarez started 2-for-25 this season, but he was practically 0-for-April/May last year and still hit 30 HRs when things were all said and done.

* Fake Teams keeps tabs on two-start pitchers for Week 2.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday told more than 1,000 people that good parenting and aggressive policing are key to solving Chicago's gun violence problems," the Tribune reports.

"At the annual conference for the Council on Foundations, a nonprofit association of more than 1,700 foundations, Emanuel said police officers will be saturating high-crime areas of Chicago, and the city will help expand a mentoring program for young minority men.

"I say it's the four P's ... policing, prevention, penalties and parenting," he told the crowd as they ate lunch at the Hilton Chicago. "You're going to be as strong as the weakest link in that chain."

A faithful Beachwood reader thinks Rahm meant to say the six P's: policing, prevention, penalties, parenting, pensions and privatization.

Assassin-in-Chief
Amazing that we have to ask.

Can the President Kill U.S. Citizens in Secret?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 5:30 p.m.
Chicago-Kent College of Law
565 W Adams St., Room 590

Join the ACLU of Illinois and the American Constitution Society (Chicago Lawyer Chapter and Chicago-Kent College of Law Student Chapter) for a presentation by Georgetown Law Professor David D. Cole on "Can the President Kill U.S. Citizens in Secret? Targeted Killing and the Obama Administration's War on Terror."

If only constitutional law professor Barack Obama would show up and participate.

See also: Obama's Regressive Record Makes Nixon Look Like Che

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Script-O-Rama
Same charter wait list "mistake" in Boston.

See also: The Tribune editorial board doubles down on disingenuousness.

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Rahm More Bossy Than Daley
And city council more rubber stampy, new study shows.

She Designed The Doomsday Clock
Chicago artist created one of the age's mot potent symbols.

Gitmo & Us
Chicago teachers, terror courts and the erosion of American democracy.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A minute to midnight.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:52 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Chicago Teachers, Gitmo & The Erosion Of American Democracy

Over the transom.

1. Why Chicago Teachers Struck.

"Luis Gabriel Aguilera, the author of Gabriel's Fire: A Memoir, reminds us that the Chicago teachers strike of 2012 was not about salaries or benefits. It was a counter-attack against the brutality of corporate school reforms," John Thompson writes for This Week In Education.

2. The Terror Courts.

"Last month, just minutes into a pretrial hearing for the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, David Nevin, the lead defense attorney, asked the judge to stop the proceedings," Dina Temple-Raston writes for the Washington Post.

"His concern: A third party, possibly the CIA, might be listening to privileged conversations between the defense attorneys and their clients. 'This is not something we made up,' Nevin told the judge. 'This is a genuine concern that we have. And as officers of the court and as lawyers, we have to get to the bottom of it before we can go forward.'

"Had the allegation been made in a federal court, it would have seemed, at best, a little paranoid. But in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, there is an oasis of space for such accusations. The special terrorist courts, which were set up by the George W. Bush administration to deal with foreign prisoners accused of terrorism, have been fighting allegations of second-tier justice and double standards since their inception. The Supreme Court weighed in and found the Bush-era commissions unconstitutional. Congress has reformed the commissions twice - in 2006 and again in 2009 - making them into a kind of hybrid of military courts and federal ones.

"Even so, there is still a general sense that something is just not right with the courts at Guantanamo Bay. For most Americans, the specific problems are difficult to recall - something about rough interrogations, hearsay evidence and indefinite detention. The details have remained sketchy. Until now, that is, thanks to the Wall Street Journal's Supreme Court reporter, Jess Bravin, whose new book anchors the criticisms in detailed facts.

"The Terror Courts is a comprehensive accounting of the creation of the commissions in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks. It is a book that pulls no punches. It names names. And in so doing, it is a gutsy, finely wrought narrative that explains how a small group of Bush-era political appointees managed to develop a parallel justice system designed to ensure a specific outcome."

See also:
* Guantanamo Is America's Moral Failure

* U.N. Official Calls For Closing Guantanamo

* Obama Plans $195 Million In Renovation And New Construction At Guantanamo

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And:

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3. Taking Liberties.

"National ACLU president Susan N. Herman, winner of the 2012 IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberites Prize, will speak on Thursday, April 11, on her winning book entry, Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy, at this year's Palmer Prize Lecture.

"Herman is a constitutional scholar and chaired professor at Brooklyn Law School, and she is co-editor of Terrorism, Government, and Law and the author of The Right to a Speedy and Public Trial.

"She was elected ACLU president in 2008 after 10 years as general counsel. The lecture is free and open to the public. RSVP to alums@kentlaw.iit.edu."

Time: Noon to 1 p.m.
Location: IIT Downtown Campus - Chicago-Kent College of Law
Room: Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Courtroom

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

Rahm Emanuel: Bosser Than The Daleys

In his first two years in office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has enjoyed more support from the city council than his predecessor Richard M. Daley or Boss Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Emanuel had more total control over the council than even Mayor Edward J. Kelly, who was a co-founder of the Cook County Democratic Machine, according to a new study of aldermanic voting patterns.

The study, authored by Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Melissa Mouritsen Zmuda, a UIC graduate researcher, analyzed 30 divided roll call votes since the current city council began in May 2011. By definition, divided roll call votes are those on which at least one alderman opposed the Mayor's position.

According to the study, 21 aldermen voted to support Mayor Emanuel's position 100 percent of the time and 18 aldermen voted with him over 90 percent of the time. Only seven of the 30 issues drew six or more dissenting votes.

"Mayor Emanuel presides over a more compliant 'rubber stamp' city council than any mayor in recent history," said Simpson who served as 44th Ward Alderman from 1971 to 1979.

"The average level of support for Mayor Emanuel was 93 percent on all divided roll call votes, an increase from the overwhelming 88 percent Richard M. Daley enjoyed in his last term. It was also greater than the 83 percent achieved by Richard J. Daley in his first two years in office, 1955-56, or the 85 percent support the 'Boss' received in 1971-72. Emanuel even topped Mayor Edward J. Kelly's 88 percent support earned in 1939-40."

Rookie Alderman John Arena (45th) voted with the mayor 40 percent of the time and Nicholas Sposato (36th) 67 percent. Three other incumbent aldermen comprise the core of the opposition: Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd) supported the Mayor on only 53 percent of the contested issues; Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd Ward) 63 percent; and Leslie Hairston (5th) 73 percent.

The voting patterns of the 32 re-elected aldermen did not change much under the new mayor except for Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who were both previously seen as independent and progressive.

"Their support for the mayor skyrocketed," said Zmuda. "Munoz voted only 65 percent of the time with Mayor Daley but voted 87 percent with Emanuel. Moore too reversed course, voting 51 percent with Daley but 97 percent with Emanuel."

Another anomaly was former 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson, who recently resigned after pleading guilty to tax charges related to the use of campaign funds to buy personal luxuries and household items. Jackson voted with Daley only 53 percent of the time but gave Emanuel 90 percent support when she voted. She was absent for nine divided roll call votes in 2012.

In Emanuel's first two years, the issue that drew the most dissent was the mayor's proposal to place cameras in so-called "Children's Safety Zones" around schools to catch speeders. Some aldermen questioned the necessity since speed humps and other traffic-slowing strategies had already been employed. Other aldermen said the plan was just a way for the city to collect more revenue. Emanuel agreed to a few modifications to appease some of the critics. In the end, 14 aldermen voted against the ordinance, three were absent and 33 voted for passage.

The six other issues that garnered the most dissent and the number of "no" votes were:

- The appointment of Faisal Khan as Legislative Inspector General (9 no votes)

- A new re-districted ward map (8 )

- Motion to table Ald. Fioretti's substitute ordinance to the proposed Infrastructure Trust (9)

- Motion to table Ald. Waguespack's substitute Infrastructure Trust ordinance (8)

- Final vote establishing the Infrastructure Trust (7)

- Ordinance to grant to one company a 30-year lease for 34 digital billboards (6)

A city council development that could affect voting patterns in the current and future terms, is the splitting of the "progressive" or "independent" caucus, an informal group of aldermen who met occasionally to introduce their own ordinances or oppose or modify legislation pushed by the mayor.

Nine aldermen decided that the caucus needed more structure so they formed the Progressive Reform Coalition and announced on March 11 that their priorities were a moratorium on new charter schools, a privatization ordinance and a responsible bidders ordinance. The members and their wards are: Robert Fioretti (2nd), Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Toni Foulkes (15th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nick Sposato (36th), John Arena (45th) and Ameya Pawar (47th).

A day later, a group of 10 aldermen formed the Paul Douglas Alliance, named after the late former U.S. Senator and former alderman Paul Douglas. The Alliance said it wanted to abolish the Legislative Inspector General and give its power to the City Inspector General. Members of the Alliance are Proco Joe Moreno (1st), Pat Dowell (3rd), Will Burns (4th), Rey Colon (35th), Brendan Reilly (42nd), Michele Smith (43rd), James Cappleman (46th), Ameya Pawar (47th), Harry Osterman (48th) and Joe Moore (49th). Pawar belongs to both groups.

Members of the Paul Douglas Alliance on average voted 92.5 percent of the time with Emanuel while the Progressive Reform Coalition averaged only 73 percent support for the new Mayor. Thus, Simpson said, "the Alliance supports the mayor and Reform Coalition provides much of the opposition to the mayor. The split in the progressive ranks, however, makes the mayor's control more complete."

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See also:
* The Yes Men: Why Chicago's Spineless City Council Just Can't Say No

* The Five Holdouts

* The Regressive Caucus

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

She Designed The Doomsday Clock

"Martyl Langsdorf, an artist married to a nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, created the widely known Doomsday Clock for the first cover of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," the Tribune reports.

"That June 1947 magazine put the clock, meant to depict how close the world is to nuclear holocaust, approaching 11:53 p.m., with midnight being the zero hour.

"She understood the deep anxiety of the scientists in 1947, and the urgency of preventing the spread or use of nuclear weapons," said Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin since 2005. "With the clock design, she gave the world a symbol that is even more potent today."

"Mrs. Langsdorf, 96, died Tuesday, March 26, at a rehabilitation facility near her home in Schaumburg, after a lung infection."

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Here's an article I wrote for the Baltimore Sun in 1998 about the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

CATCHING UP WITH . . . THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK

Keeping Track Of The End Of Time

While the Doomsday Clock continues to tick, its keepers at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists strive to prevent us from ever reaching the final hour.

When international affairs reach a certain level of tension - nuclear testing, border wars, instablility inside a major power - the phone in Mike Moore's office inevitably rings. Journalists on the line have one simple question: "Are you going to change the clock?"

Moore, a former newspaperman himself, is editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and thus the public keeper of the Doomsday Clock, which, since 1945 has served as a symbol of how close the world is to nuclear disaster.

At its best, in the optimism after 1991's arms-control agreements, the clock has stood at 17 minutes to midnight. At its worst, after both the United States and the Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs in 1953, it's ticked all the way to two minutes to midnight. The changing hands of the clock, which are approved by the bulletin's board of directors, have become a media staple. The most recent reports came in June, after nuclear tests in India and Pakistan moved the hands of the clock from 14 to just nine minutes before the doomsday hour.

But resetting the clock isn't exactly a full-time job. Between crises, Moore edits the Bulletin. The bimonthly magazine carries the clock on every cover, but rarely gets much attention outside wonkish public-policy circles despite its steady reputation within the peace, security and arms-control communities.

"We like to think we're influential," says Moore. "All the ideas that have been accepted in bilateral arms control, or in international arms control, were pioneered by the kind of people who write for the Bulletin."

Started 'to save the world'

The Bulletin was founded in 1945 by the scientists and engineers who invented the first atomic bomb and were grappling with the moral implications of what they had wrought. Their initial goal was to create what became the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"They really believed if there was some kind of international atomic-control agency that weapons would fade away and the peaceful uses of atomic energy would flourish," says Moore. It was an idea, he adds, that "may have been a little bit naive."

Even the original atomic scientists could not comprehend the world they were ushering in. The aftermath of the nuclear detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki only quickened their concern.

"We were stunned almost to a state of disbelief by the magnitude of the destruction accompanying the birth of the new age," John Simpson, the first chairman of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago, wrote in the Bulletin in a 1991 reminiscence.

In the Bulletin, science was able to document its misgivings. The first issue, a six-page newsletter, appeared in December 1945 as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago. It was edited by a former soccer reporter for Russia's Pravda who had escaped to the West.

"It was started - and I don't know how to make this sound less grandiose - to save the world," Moore says.

The original Bulletins were no-gloss, simple typographical affairs without covers. That changed with the June 1947 issue, fronted in a brazen orange with a 7-by-7-inch clock face indicating a countdown to doomsday of seven minutes to midnight.

The stories, by and large, remained without color, however. Take these offerings from the May 1948 issue: "The Dispersal of Cities as a Defense Measure," "A Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution," "The Exposition of Truth, Isotopes and Their Application to Peacetime Use of Atomic Energy."

Not just for scientists

Today's Bulletin is much broader in scope. "We bring you international reporting on global security - new voices from every corner of the globe," the magazine states. "Timely stories on nuclear issues and international affairs . . . and powerful ideas for creating a safer world."

Recent issues have featured cover stories on Mexico's conflict with Zapatista rebels in the state of Chiapas and on a controversial new jet fighter; the September/October issue will feature a story on Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program, based on interviews with an Iraqi defector the magazine has been working with. And, of course, today's magazine has a Web site - www.bullatomsci.org.

[Editor's Note: Now thebulletin.org]

"The name of the magazine is very counter-intuitive," Moore says. "The name of the magazine not only does not communicate what the magazine is about, it suggests very clearly that whatever it is, it's going to be technical: Atomic Scientists, that's the bulletin for rocket scientists, or something like that.

"But it's never been a terribly technical thing. It's always been about public-policy issues. We've always been oriented toward peace and security issues. We say it with a straight face - we're against war."

The Bulletin deals not just with nuclear war, but border conflicts, arms trading, biological weapons - any and all types of security issues.

"We look at the possibility that people are doing the dumb thing," Moore says. "Everybody has the capability of doing the dumb thing."

Which isn't to say the Bulletin is a lily-livered, tree-hugging, all-you-need-is-love operation, although it has often been accused of a liberal bias.

"Look at Chiapas," Moore says. "The Mexican government is doing the dumb thing. But that doesn't let the Zapatistas off the hook. Everybody has the capability of doing the dumb thing."

The Bulletin also has a dose of atomic-scientist humor in New Yorker-like cartoons sprinkled throughout (guy in lab coat says: "And, of course, I'm nominating Johnson's paper on anomalous magnetic fields in interstellar clouds for the booby prize").

Victim of its own success?

Peace has not been good for the Bulletin's circulation. It hit 23,000 in 1984, the peak of Ronald Reagan's rhetoric about the Soviet "evil empire," but stands at just under 10,000 today. And that's without any real competitors, although Arms Control Today and a Federation of American Scientists newsletter overlap somewhat.

"We're all broadly in the same business," Moore says, "the business of trying to bring a little order and reason to a really, truly mad situation. Within minutes, the world as we know it could be gone.

"It's a low-probability event," he acknowledges, "with high consequences . . . The Bulletin is keeping some focus on problem that has not gone away, even though most people think it has, and which may resurge in the next century. And it could resurge with a vengeance."

While the magazine remains known mostly within a small community, its Doomsday Clock's reach is much larger.

A University of Michigan business professor once demonstrated that Americans spend more in uncertain times by finding a correlation between the clock and savings rates. International relations and political science students have used the clock to track the rise and fall of international tensions. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a one-time presidential candidate, titled his 1990 book Five Minutes to Midnight.

Hawks, doves, even religious fundamentalists see value in the clock. Todd Strandberg, an Air Force supply sergeant, runs a Rapture Index Web site that tracks how international affairs correspond with the end times described in the Bible. In a recent interview with Mother Jones magazine, Strandberg said:

"The Rapture is an important event that's going to transpire soon and rivet the world's attention, and I think that putting some sort of numeric evaluation on it is extremely important. You know, like the atomic scientists thought the danger of a nuclear holocaust was important enough to create their Doomsday Clock."

According to Moore, it was never the intention of the magazine's founders for the clock to overshadow the publication. But after more than 50 years of reminding us just how close we are to oblivion, the Doomsday Clock has become pre-eminent. For the general public, anyway, the Bulletin will likely continue to be something to keep Moore and his staff busy in between moving the clock's hands.

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See also, from the Reader:
* Artist Martyl Langsdorf, Mistress Of Schweikher House And Creator Of The World's Scariest Logo.

* More About Martyl Langsdorf, The Chicago Artist Who Designed The Dooomsday Clock.

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And:
* Martyl.com.

* Oral history of Martyl Langsdorf.

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Finally, from the Bulletin:
* An Open Letter To President Obama: It's Five Minutes To Midnight.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:13 AM | Permalink

April 8, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

Where have you gone, Lee Elia? A lonely Cubs fan turns his eyes to you.

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The Final Cut
Roger Ebert On Meryl Streep As Margaret Thatcher.

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Elvis Costello On Margaret Thatcher vs. Barack Obama On Margaret Thatcher.

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Learning Garden
"Five years ago, Pilsen resident Sallie Gordon wanted to start a community garden that would unite her neighborhood around farming and other activities," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"Ald. Danny Solis (25th) pointed her to vacant land near 21st and Sangamon streets, and in 2009, she and others started the GrowingStation, a space where residents gathered to plant everything from lettuce to jalapeno peppers in pots and large planting beds.

"But in December, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency found lead levels of nearly 26,000 parts per million - an incredibly dangerous level - just 10 feet from the garden that now has Gordon and other community members frightened about their health."

Seems like we can never have good things.

Illinois To Make Bar Exam Tougher
Cull that herd!

Save This Date
On Tuesday, May 28, the Chicago Justice Project and Union League Club of Chicago are co-sponsoring "Documenting Violence Against Women: Justice Begins with Truth."

Sexual assault and domestic violence are complicated issues that must be reported on carefully, with attention to fairness and sensitivity. Headlines today hit hard on the impact of gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods despite the fact that domestic violence cases are significantly more frequent. Investigative reporters who attempt to tackle the topic collect brutal photographs, intimate narratives and harrowing tales but often struggle to find outlets for reporting on these difficult news events that dominate the Chicago's calls to 911 for services.

Join Steve Edwards, from the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, as he moderates a discussion among journalists, advocates for survivors, and criminal justice leaders, on a discussion about violence against women, its news coverage, and the potential for increased data access to impact the public discussion

The media plays a vital role in shaping how society understands and confronts social issues. News organizations, daunted by budget constraints, shrinking staffs and reader interests, strive to cover violence against women in a responsible manner but challenges remain.

After watching a small number of high profile, ultra-violent domestic violence cases monopolize news coverage in recent years, journalists, law enforcement and judicial leaders recognize the need to assess better ways to tell the full story.

The public benefits from coverage of these sensitive crimes. Criminal justice agencies collect vital data that can be aggregated to protect privacy and to identify patterns and trends. Taxpayer-funded services generate valuable evidence in the data they collect that can be used to inform communities, aid victim advocates, and improve services. We invite you to join our public discussion on the role data access can have on violence against women in our city.

The program will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Including: Tommy & The High Pilots, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Michael Nesmith and Bob Seger.

Hearts, Minds And Dollars
Condolence Payments In The Drone Age.

The Political Odds
Slightly updated.

The White Sox Report: Sale's Speeds
Precociously crafty.

SportsMonday: Ridiculously Cub
The good news: The White Sox, Blackhawks and Fire.

The Cub Factor: Abandoned Hope
Wait 'til next year 2016.

Still Going Strong
J.J. Tindall's Interpretive Dance To The Match Game Theme.

For Roger Ebert
J.J. Tindall's Interpretive Dream.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Red-eyed and blue.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 PM | Permalink

Abandoned Hope

Here's the sad truth about today's home opener: We've already been instructed to wait 'til next year. Or the year after that. Or, realistically, the year after that. If all the tumblers click into place. And every other franchise gets worse - or even remains stagnant.

And therein lies the problem with Theo's Plan. Hope deferred wasn't always hope denied for Cubs fans because we at least had until June before we could adjust our modest expectations. A few times we even had until October. These days our seasons are over before they get started.

Hope is dead. Or at least in a deep-freeze. But good luck with your new billboards, Mr. Ricketts!

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The Ghost of Wrigley Future is on the South Side.

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Eddie Vedder channeling Lee Elia when Cubs fans were true.

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Week in Review: The Cubs opened the season with a 2-4 road trip that resembled last season's start in the way the bullpen buried the team early. Carlos Marmol has already been demoted - in favor of the guy who gave up more runs than he did in Saturday night's disaster.

Week in Preview: The Cubs open a seven-game homestand at Wrigley today with three against the Brewers and four against the Giants on tap. Look for Rafael Dolis to be the closer by the end of it.

The Second Basemen Report: Brent Lillibridge went 0 for his first 11 before Dale Sveum replaced him with Alberto Gonzalez, who went 2 for his first 11. So, progress. Darwin Barney isn't due back for another week.

In former second basemen news, Jeff Baker struck out in his only appearance thus far this season as a Texas Ranger utility man. He is missed.

The Not-So-Hot Corner Luis Valbuena is 2 for his first 16, though one of those hits was a home run. Prospect Joshua Warren Vitters is 0-for-1 in Des Moines.

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana is 0 for his first 14 in Reno. Bob Brenly is doing much better - this Arizona Republic dispatch illustrates why he never really fit in around here:

The start of this year's baseball season has brought more than new players and a fresh start for the Arizona Diamondbacks. This year, both team and fans have a new restaurant, as well.

Game Seven Grill held its grand opening during the D-Backs home opener on April 1. The sports grill, which is operated in partnership with Levy Restaurants, took over the former Sliders location outside Chase Field in downtown Phoenix.

Located in the plaza directly outside the stadium's main entrance, the restaurant serves slow-smoked barbecue, salads, burgers, sandwiches, dessert, beer and wine. It was designed to be more of a family-friendly restaurant than a sports bar.

The large restaurant is decorated in sports memorabilia such as game-day jerseys, baseball bats, a replica scoreboard and a photo of former coach (now broadcaster) Bob Brenly holding the World Series Trophy after the D-Backs won Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

Endorsement No-Brainer: U.S. Cellular Field for Wrigley Field: You'll love the ads, parking garage and empty seats!

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in Deadlines sunk to lows not seen since the last CTA Doomsday budget crisis as the Ricketts' drop-dead date came and went without a Wrigley renovation deal. That's okay, though; the ivy removal company is booked until July anyway.

Sveum's Shadow: 6 p.m. Just one week into the season and Sveum's shadow is already one hour past its 5 o'clock start position. Can an ironic mustache be far away?

Shark Tank: Jeff Samardzija's performance on Sunday was classic Cub: He blew a game in which he struck out 13 of the 17 batters he faced. He also walked four and gave up four hits with most of the damage done in a three-run sixth that chased him from the game. Nonetheless, he was hailed in all quarters of Cub punditry for demonstrating that he was a true ace. Not so. What happened to Samardzija is what happens to pitchers who don't ever pitch to contact; you throw 105 pitches in 5 2/3 innings and burn three guys out of the bullpen.

Jumbotron Preview: Donnie Navarro and his .100 average 60-feet high.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016.

Over/Under: Games until Carlos Marmol is returned to the closer's role: 18.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it's just not any fun anymore.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:27 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Tommy & The High Pilots at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.


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2. Jamie Lidell at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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3. Michael Nesmith at the Old Town School on Saturday night.

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4. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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5. Bob Seger at the hockey arena on the West Side on Saturday night.

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6. Maroon 5 in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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7. A Day To Remember at the Congress on Saturday night.

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8. Kerli at Hydrate Chicago on Saturday night.

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9. Modestep at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:40 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Good, The Bad & The Ridiculously Cub

You may have noticed we take the word "ridiculous" very seriously at Beachwood Sports. There is ridiculously good and ridiculously bad and, inspired by the classic Jeff Joniak call, we keep an eye peeled for both.

And that's what we found, in spades, over the weekend. Let's review.

Could Dale Sveum have had anything but a ridiculous reason for sending Carlos Marmol out to pitch the ninth on Saturday in the Cubs' fifth game of the season?

Marmol had already given up half of the runs the Cubs' entire pitching staff gave up in their first three games and finished spring training by actually getting booed off the mound. Sveum must have a short memory; last year Marmol's April struggles helped bury the team early.

And yet, there was Marmol standing on the mound to start the ninth on a night when the Cubs should have cruised to victory against the Braves. True, Kyuji Fujikawa is the one to blame for giving up four hits and a walk in the eighth to turn a 5-1 lead into a 5-4 lead. Only a fortuitous bases-loaded double-play saved Mt. Fuji from further eruption.

Then came Marmol.

Recently a statistician estimated the odds against a person correctly filling out every line of an NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket at something like 5.4 quadrillion to one.

The odds of brothers both hitting solo home runs in a ninth inning to tie and then win a major league baseball game must be much longer than that. Unless Carlos Marmol is on the mound. Then the odds are quite likely. And that's just what happened.

B.J. and Justin Upton, you are both ridiculous.

Dale Sveum and Carlos Marmol, you are both ridiculous too.

See how that works?

What's really killer about it is that the Cubs only needed to win just one of three in Atlanta to return home at break-even after opening the season taking two of three from the Pirates in Pittsburgh. A .500 road trip behind them would have been a nice way prelude to today's Opening Day at Wrigley.

But these are the Cubs, so not only did Fujikawa and Marmol blow a 5-1 lead, but new ace Jeff Samardzija somehow managed to blow a game in which he struck out 13 of the 17 batters he faced. He also walked four and gave up four hits with most of the damage done in a three-run sixth that chased him from the game.

Jeff Samardzija, you are ridiculous.

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Oh by the way, Fujikawa is the new closer.

Cubs, you are ridiculous.

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Now The Good News
Let's not let the bad news Cubs (and the Bulls, a 99-85 loser to the Pistons) overshadow the good news Sox, Blackhawks and Fire.

The White Sox pulled themselves up to 4-2 on the season with a 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, giving them two out of three for their second-straight season-opening home series.

Highlights:

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And the Blackhawks again provided fans with something ridiculously good. Ridiculous rookie Brandon Saad scored the game-tying goal and assisted on another yesterday as the Hawks defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 and became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot. Saad now has 20 points in his last 19 games. The Hawks survived a ridiculous stretch of schedule that saw them play the always nettlesome Predators three times in six days (with a game against the Blues thrown in in the middle) and came out of it with three wins and a shootout loss.

Highlights:

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It would have been break-even on the day in our town if the Fire hadn't been in action. But the local soccer team took to the Bridgeview pitch and pulled out their first victory of the year against three losses and a tie. They defeated the New York Red Bulls 3-1 to give Chicago a 3-2 record on the day.

Highlights:

Our sports cup runneth over . . . ridiculously.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Sale's Speeds

I attended a recent luncheon where someone asked Al Rosen, the former third baseman for the Indians in the 1950s - he was MVP in '53 - about the differences between the game today and his era.

"For one thing," he began, "if a pitcher threw you a changeup, you knew the next pitch was going to be a fastball. Today they throw two or three off-speed pitches in a row."

That certainly was Chris Sale's pattern in his stellar performance on Opening Day a week ago. Perhaps "pattern" is the wrong description because the Royals' hitters had little idea what pitch Sale was going to throw throughout the frigid - we sat in the shade of the upper deck - afternoon.

Judging from the seven singles Sale yielded until being lifted with two outs in the eighth inning, the Royals couldn't be sure whether Sale was going to unleash a 91-mile-an-hour fastball, a slider or the changeup he had been working on during spring training.

He continued his varied repertoire yesterday over seven innings against the Mariners on a yield of three runs. Had Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales not turned a couple of mistakes into home runs, Sale would be almost perfect in his two starts.

As a hard-throwing relief pitcher in 2011, Sale frequently hit the mid-90s. But he didn't approach that velocity last Monday until he reached back toward the end of his 104-pitch stint to hit 93 on the speed gun. A hint of Verlander, if you will.

Changing speeds early and often highlighted his first Opening Day start in a White Sox uniform. He consistently had hitters way out in front with pitches in the 76- to 81-mph range. You don't have to blister the ball at 95 if you're able to deliver the slow stuff and get it in or near the strike zone.

At the tender age of 24 with a new five-year $32 million contract, it appears that Sale is developing into a smart and crafty pitcher and not simply a young arm who relies on blowing the ball past the opposition.

Sale's different approach wasn't the only change we noticed during what was billed as Opening Week at the Cell. Gone from the left field wall are the likenesses of Fox, Baines, Aparicio, Minoso, Fisk, Appling, Pierce, Lyons and the Big Hurt. No longer is "The Catch" noted, marking the location of Dewayne Wise's gem to save Mark Buehrle's 2009 perfect game.

They've been replaced by Jimmy John's, State Farm and Comcast. Tom Ricketts must be green with envy.

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However, you can't begrudge Sox fans if they don't share that sentiment since the retired numbers are now displayed in non-descript white circles adorning the fa├žade of the Stadium Club down the right-field line. They have joined Jackie Robinson's 42 along with a sign for some guy named Hyundai whom I don't recall ever wearing a Sox uniform.

A healthy contingent of the announced crowd of 39,012 enjoyed a Bears-like tailgate celebration hours before Sale's first pitch on Monday. Many arrived on buses from south suburbs such as Homer Glen, Orland Park and Tinley Park. I didn't notice any coaches from Winnetka or Glencoe.

Included were 55 Sox fans from the Stoney Point Grill in Mokena. While the Beachwood Reporter may not be regular reading at The Point, once I identified myself, general manager Nick Kahoun made sure that I had a plateful of shrimp, burgers and his lake perch specialty.

"We were here at 11," said Kahoun. Starting time was 3:10, so the group had plenty of time to properly prepare for the season's inaugural. "This is our ninth year [at Opening Day]. There's probably 15 of us who have been here every year. We start planning about a month-and-a-half ahead of time. We marinate everything at the grill and then cook it all here."

Stoney Point's owner Jim Burke, a Sox season-ticket holder, is a perennial optimist when it comes to his favorite ballclub.

"I predict them going to the World Series every year," said Burke, whose prognostication, of course, was on the money eight seasons ago.

No one expected much from that team, and even less is expected from this year's crew.

However, four wins last week, characterized by solid starting pitching, effective relief - not withstanding Nate Jones's rocky start - and lots of homers including yesterday's walk-off from Dayan Viciedo have piqued our interest.

Give Doby His Due
In addition to describing how pitchers today differ from their counterparts of 60 years ago, Al Rosen was asked about Larry Doby, his teammate at Cleveland and the first African American to play in the American League. Doby made his debut on July 5, 1947, 81 days after Jackie Robinson started at first base at Ebbets Field.

The question was asked in the context of Friday's scheduled release of the movie 42, which purportedly tells Robinson's story, although the trailers I've seen indicate that true events may be incidental to Hollywood's version.

Rosen said that Doby, who played for the White Sox in 1956-57, had it even tougher than Jackie since he was even less prepared to break the so-called color line.

"Jackie Robinson was a college guy [UCLA], and he played a whole season in the minors before coming up with Brooklyn," said Rosen. "Doby went right to the big leagues."

Furthermore, Robinson was 28 in 1947 and had served in the army. His minor league season was spent in Montreal, and the furthest south the team played was Baltimore.
Doby was just 23 when he joined the Indians, and he was fresh from the Newark Eagles of the Negro National League.

Let's be clear that all of the early black players suffered hateful and cruel indignities which would have broken the players and fans from whence they came. But from my perspective Larry Doby, being the second pioneer, has never received the attention or appreciation which he deserves. Rosen's comments back that up.

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

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1. From Tim Gowen:

Two co-workers and I were at Stoney Point last Friday afternoon for 18 holes of Golden Tee. Also, just an FYI, "The Catch" is still noted on the wall in left-center field. My dad and I were at Opening Day in our 27-game package seats in the front row of section 101 and one of the things I noticed as well were that the retired numbers had been moved, but I did notice that "The Catch" was still there. It was a cold Opening Day, but a quick and great game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

April 6, 2013

The Weekend Desk Report

Sorry for the delay, the Weekend Desk computers are also in a permanent slow zone.

Market Report
Apparently the last 100 years of scientific and social progress has also been sequestered.

Hustle And Go
You know, this whole plan to shut down a more than 40-year-old train line for a complete overhaul seems like a pretty good idea . . . until you realize the temporary replacement is more than a century old and has coughed up three derailments in the past five years. No wonder they're burning the midnight oil now.

On Message
By the way, President Claypool, you may want to take the "Two teams, one thing in common" promo off the homepage of your website.

A Horse Is A Horse?
Finally this week, if a moose can be a pig and a cow can be a horse, seems reasonable that a butt can be a major U.S. city.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Porks and butts.

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Weekend Politics Special: Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

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Related: Anti-Drone Protest Targets Boeing Company

Saturday, April 6th, 12:30 p.m.
Washington & Wacker

From: Joe Iosbaker (Links provided by The Beachwood Added Value Affairs Desk.)

Boeing CEO McNerney Wants to Make Next Killer Drone
When Boeing came to Chicago, most thought the city was gaining a company that made domestic airliners. The sequester brought out the real Boeing: The second-largest arms manufacturer in the U.S., and a corporation dependent on government contracts.

Boeing CEO W. James McNerney is competing with the other top arms manufacturers for the growing budget for unmanned aircraft for the military. This year, the Navy is asking for designs for a new combat drone. Boeing is expected to propose its "Phantom Ray."

To keep its stock in the black, and to absorb his 20 percent raise this year, McNerney has sought every advantage, including becoming a leader in the lobbying effort called "Fix the Debt."

Claiming to have a "comprehensive plan to fix our long-term debt and deficits," the aim of Boeing (with $25.1 billion in defense contracts) is to maintain the spending on wars, estimated at $700 billion in the 2013 budget, or 60 percent of discretionary spending.

In addition, to safeguard their share of domestic spy drone spending, this week Boeing helped kill a Republican proposal in Washington State to regulate drones.

Boeing the corporate welfare recipient gets help from Chicago politicians, as well. To move to Chicago, $63 million in tax breaks were offered up.

Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made the Riverside Plaza where Boeing resides a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. As a result, taxes paid on their building don't go to the benefit of the children in the Chicago Public Schools.

In April, a coalition of anti-war groups across the US.. is holding a month of actions against drone war. Drones became highly controversial because the Obama administration has sent drones to assassinate American citizens in Yemen, for example; and because their use is officially a secret kept from Congress and the people of the U.S.

According to Kait McIntyre of the Anti-War Committee, "In Pakistan where they have been most heavily used, the majority of their victims are not combatants on the U.S. 'kill list,' but civilians, including many children."

Looking at the current crisis of school closings in Chicago, McIntyre added, "We need to cut the Pentagon and the war budget in order to have money for schools, jobs and healthcare; and Boeing is our poster child for military spending."

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "She played the Olympics opening ceremony, and now Emeli Sande takes her soulful pop to the Sound Opinions studio. Jim and Greg talk to the UK songwriter about breaking it big in the U.S. And later in the show, Jim and Greg review the new Jeff Tweedy-produced album from Low."

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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.

My Guest Ain't Guessing! Rhythm, Blues And Funk Foundation

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Dena and Claude Spivey, founders of the Rhythm, Blues, and Funk Foundation, pay tribute to the artists from the '60s, '70s, and '80s and perform some of their favorite R&B songs.

Saturday at 12 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Community Forum: Fukushima Lessons Learned

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Following the second anniversary of the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, author Cecile Pineda reflects on its lasting impact on local communities.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Combating & Preventing Social Isolation

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Experts share how libraries throughout the U.S. are reducing the social isolation of older adults through programs promoting learning, the arts and community service.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Deconstructing Homelessness: The Face, Culture & Stories Of The Unseen

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Homeless individuals and representatives from organizations including the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Night Ministry and the Broadway Youth Center provide personal insights into the lives and experiences of people facing homelessness.

Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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A Discussion About The Freedom Of Information Act

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Panelists Terry Pastika of the Citizen Advocacy Center, Joe Germuska of the Northwestern University Knight Lab, and Dan O'Neil of the Smart Chicago Collaborative discuss efforts to improve access to public records through policy and technology.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Illinois Pension Reform

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Panelists Ann Lousin of the John Marshall Law School, state Sen. Daniel Biss and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin explore why Illinois' pension plans face an unfunded liability of about $96 billion and examine potential solutions including taxes, reducing benefits and increasing employee contributions.

Sunday at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21.

Watch online.

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Seniors Rally to Stop Cuts To Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid

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Seniors kick off their campaign urging members of Congress to prevent any deep cuts to Social Security and instead get more money for the program by "Scrapping the Cap" on the amount of income that is eligible for federal taxes.

Sunday at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19.

Posted by Natasha Julius at 11:03 AM | Permalink

April 5, 2013

Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age

The U.S. drone war remains cloaked in secrecy, and as a result, questions swirl around it. Who exactly can be targeted? When can a U.S. citizen be killed?

Another, perhaps less frequently asked question: What happens when innocent civilians are killed in drone strikes?

In February, during his confirmation process, CIA director John Brennan offered an unusually straightforward explanation: "Where possible, we also work with local governments to gather facts, and, if appropriate, provide condolence payments to families of those killed."

There's little documentation of where and how such payments are being made.

The government has released almost no information on civilian casualties sustained in drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the military in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Officials maintain they have been "in the single digits" in recent years, while independent researchers put the total for the past decade in the hundreds.

Certainly, though, drone strikes and condolence payments make for a striking match: The technological apex of war combined with an age-old method of compensating loss.

Such condolence payments featured prominently in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are now embraced by many military commanders and by human rights advocates, some of whom are pushing for a system to govern what had been an ad hoc practice for most of the 20th Century: recognizing the dignity of life, even during war, and even with what might seem like a mere token acknowledgement.

The History of Condolence Payments

Condolence payments may be rooted in ancient custom, but they are a relatively recent addition to the terms and conduct of modern warfare. Neither U.S. nor international humanitarian law requires them, and they aren't, in technical terms, an admission of wrongdoing.

In fact, the Army regulation on such payments (which are also called solatia) describes them as "an expression of sympathy toward a victim or his or her family," in keeping with local custom.

According to Center for Civilians in Conflict, an advocacy organization, the U.S. tradition of such payments dates back to the Korean War.

Foreign civilians have long had some recourse for compensation through the Foreign Claims Act, which permitted payments for damages caused by U.S. troops.

But the law doesn't cover anything that happens during active combat - a significant exception in situations where U.S. troops are on the ground, intermingled with civilian populations. The line between combat and non-combat isn't always clear. And even when soldiers feel their actions were justified, it is often to their advantage to recognize the harm done.

"Under the law of war, you can kill civilians, as long as their deaths are proportional to immediate military gain," said Gary Solis, a professor at Georgetown Law. "But as a nation, we recognize it's important to gain the trust of the people. As the complexion of war has changed, the significance of these payments has too."

Condolence payments came to be seen as a key part of the battle for "hearts and minds" in Iraq and Afghanistan. But their implementation began slowly, and was marred by inconsistency.

The U.S., after pressure from military lawyers and other advocates, allowed payments fairly early on in the Iraq War. But in Afghanistan, they were not approved until 2005.

"It wasn't always popular with the soldiers, who would say, 'We're at war,'" said retired General Arnold Gordon-Bray, who led the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in the first months of the invasion of Iraq. "But I would say, 'We are going to leave, and the only thing that's going to remain is the perception of America.'"

Gordon-Bray described scraping together cash for informal payments before they were officially approved, and before Congress funded a cache of spending money for condolences, humanitarian assistance, and other "goodwill" projects.

(In Afghanistan, the military continues to distinguish between those congressionally funded "condolence payments" and "solatia," which come out of a unit's operating funds.)

Even once the payments were officially authorized, the policy for implementing them wasn't clear or standardized and not all units paid them. For the local Iraqi population, there was often a lack of awareness about such payments and confusion about how to receive them.

Gordon-Bray said his team sometimes sought out surviving family members after a death. Soldiers also left cards behind after operations explaining how families could make claims. Other times, the onus was on the victims to identify the unit that had caused the damage, to collect evidence, and to bring it to the military's attention.

A military lawyer who served early on in Iraq told Congress in 2009 he occasionally had to turn down claims for lack of funds. He also said "two Iraqis who suffered substantially the same harm in different areas of the city would be treated very differently depending on what office they went to inside Baghdad to file their claim. [The] lack of standard rules really caused a lot of heartache."

There is little public documentation of condolence payments, though some batches of claims have been released. The details in those claims are scant, but often revealing about the relationship between soldiers and civilians.

One record, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, authorizes $1,000 for "a Solatia payment for a lady whose son was killed by coalition forces." He had been shot in downtown Kabul when troops fired to disperse a crowd. An email noted the mother had been given "a complete runaround" in tracking down compensation.

In 2006, soldiers fired on a taxi that did not slow down at a military checkpoint in Iraq, killing a woman inside. The military determined the checkpoint wasn't adequately marked, and her family received a large payment, of $7,500.

"It's hard to digest that the value of a human life is a few thousand dollars," said Gordon-Bray, the general in Iraq. "But you know that in their economic situation, it is the equivalent of much more, and you feel better."

Today in Afghanistan, according to a Pentagon spokesman, condolence payments can be up to $5,000 for a death or injury, or $5,000 for property damage. Greater amounts can be approved in certain cases. In fiscal year 2012, the U.S. made 219 payments, totaling $891,000, according to a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. (Solatia are not included in those figures.)

"The people we meet don't talk about the money so much as how they felt when they shook someone's hand - the recognition," said Erica Gaston, a senior program officer for the United States Institute for Peace, who works on Afghanistan issues.

According to Gaston and other advocates, it wasn't until 2008 that payments became commonplace among U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, as part of a new emphasis on counterinsurgency.

Marla Keenan, managing director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict, said that that year saw a "strategic shift to 'hearts and minds,' which started to change the way commanders viewed condolence payments. It was a tool they could use to deal with populations."

In 2007, General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. forces in Iraq, described the tactical element of condolence payments: "The quicker you can do it, the more responsive you can seem to be . . . the more concerned you are, the more valuable it is, and the more helpful it is to your operation."

General James Conway, of the Marine Corps, was a bit blunter: "It doesn't make anything right. It does make it a little better from a public relations perspective."

Despite this embrace by military commanders, the payment systems can still seem improvised and imperfect.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has tried several times to create a permanent set of rules and dedicated source of funding for condolence payments.

"Senator Leahy believes we need legislation to authorize it which gives discretion to field commanders and includes guidelines so the wheel doesn't have to be reinvented every time the U.S. military is deployed in combat," said Tim Rieser, his foreign policy aide.

Beyond Afghanistan

Should condolence payments become more codified, it is unclear how many, if any of those rules and requirements would apply to the world of targeted killings off the traditional battlefield. To date, the U.S. has yet to acknowledge any particular instance where a civilian was killed as a consequence of a drone strike outside Afghanistan - let alone if that person's family was compensated.

Pentagon spokesman Bill Speaks said that "the Department of Defense has not made solatia payments" in Yemen or Somalia, where the U.S. has acknowledged military action. The CIA's drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen remain officially secret.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon would comment further on Brennan's statement about condolence payments. The CIA also declined to comment.

There are occasional reports of condolence payments in Yemen and Pakistan, but the U.S. role in those payments - if there was one - remains unclear.

In Pakistan, officials paid roughly $3,000 to the families of more than 30 people killed in a March 2011 strike. Last September, after a drone strike in Yemen killed as many as 14 civilians, families of the victims blocked roads and demanded compensation.

According to the Washington Post, the Yemeni government publicly apologized and offered "101 guns to tribal leaders in the area as a symbolic gesture."

al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reportedly sent its own offers of condolence.

(The embassies of Yemen and Pakistan did not respond to questions about condolence payments.)

In recent months several former military and diplomatic leaders have expressed concern about reliance on drones to target terror suspects, and potential "blowback" from the program. A focus on targeting militants overlooks broad resentment of U.S. military actions, they said, echoing the issue that strained U.S. missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. also sends vast amounts of aid and provides counterinsurgency training to countries where it is hunting al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Foreign aid to Pakistan includes earmarks for assistance to civilians harmed by military operations. That's in part to acknowledge the impact of the U.S. presence in the region, said Rieser, Senator Leahy's aide.

"But of course there is a limit to what we can do in a country whose government with which we often disagree, in a remote and dangerous region where implementing any program is difficult," he said.

The Obama administration is reportedly planning to shift control of the targeted killing campaign to the military, which officials said could bring greater transparency and accountability (with a notable exception for strikes in Pakistan, which the CIA will continue to handle.)

Brennan has also said recently the U.S. "should acknowledge it publicly" when civilians were killed.

The pace of drone strikes has dropped off drastically in recent months, with just two reported in Pakistan in the past month. How civilian deaths will be handled in a more transparent future remains to be seen.

"The U.S. could open up the ability to make these payments in any theater," said Keenan, of Civilians in Conflict. "But in order to do it effectively, the U.S. has to engage on the ground. The whole point is acknowledging the harm."

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

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

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

His late turn to political commentary notwithstanding, Roger Ebert was someone we could all agree on. Last of the giants in Chicago journalism.

Our very own J.J. Tindall gives tribute in his own, inimitable way.

Rahm's Wrong
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed his public schools chief Thursday amid charges that the plan to close 54 schools is racist, and leveled criticism at the Chicago Teachers Union for what he said was its inability to articulate an alternative to continuing with a failed status quo," the Tribune reports.

That's just false.

Just a year ago, for example, the CTU put forth "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve," its own vision of reform subtitled "Research-based Proposals To Strengthen Elementary And Secondary Education In The Chicago Public Schools."

And that's just one of a myriad of plans the CTU has devised, though it's not really their job to do so; plans such as the Bronzeville Global Achievers Village, "an aligned, community driven plan for Dyett High School and the following feeder elementary schools; Mollison, Price, Fuller, Reavis and Jackie Robinson."

And so on.

In fact, the union has done nothing but present alternative visions for the district for the last 20 years - and they aren't the only ones. Where the hell have you been, Rahm?

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"Emanuel also said Thursday he 'won't accept when people are asked What's your alternative, what's your idea? and there's silence. The status quo cannot handle silence."

No wonder people feel like they aren't being heard. All Rahm hears is silence.

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"We must continue to challenge the status quo."
- Karen Lewis, March 27, Rally To Save Our Schools

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The fact is that Rahm has put the status quo on steroids. His plan is merely an extension of the Daley plan before him, with an extra dose of his trademark aggression.

Bus Tour Blues
"The CTU says people do not understand how disruptive and possibly dangerous the plan to close 54 under-performing CPS schools is," ABC7 Chicago reports.

"They filled up a bus with their supporters, as well as elected officials, who joined them in their call for a moratorium on school closings in Chicago."

Unfortunately, ABC7's idea of "balance" is also to repeat falsities instead of vetting them.

"But, nearby a non-profit says there's little vitriol on the footsteps where they're explaining block-by-block how the school consolidation will unfold."

Right. The parental anger at community events, this week's school board meeting, this week's city council hearing and in the mediasphere is just an illusion.

"What they're most pleased about is that their school that their child is now leaving a failing school and going to a school that's either a Level 2 or a Level 1," said Stand for Children's Donna Hardy.

Patently not true

"Late Thursday afternoon, CPS put out a statement, saying, the school-closing plan is about getting kids out of the trap of bad schools."

Patently not true, besides the fact that Barbara Byrd-Bennett said repeatedly over the last year that no schools would be closed because of performance but only "utilization."

"They stressed, any kid who has to move is going to be going to a better school."

Again, total media malfeasance to let this statement stand.

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Meanwhile, Fran Spielman objectively "reports" that Byrd-Bennett "turned the tables on Lewis by saying what's racist is to refuse to challenge a status quo that's failing African-American students."

Spielman didn't ask Byrd-Bennett if she was therefore calling U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan racist since he was in charge of the status quo when it was failing black kids. Or Ron Huberman, who is black, and therefore, in Byrd-Bennett's estimation, cannot participate in policies with racist effects. Or Richard M. Daley, a close friend of her boss, the current mayor.

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"The mayor also ridiculed Stacy Davis Gates, political activities director for the Chicago Teachers Union, for being dead silent when an aldermen asked her what concessions the union was willing to make in order to keep some of the 54 schools open."

Maybe Gates was confused by the question. I am.

In other words, the mayor suggested the status quo could be maintained if only the union would make concessions.

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One concession the union supports is the mayor giving up his TIF slush fund and returning that money to the schools.

Mumbo Jumbo
No pun intended, but the parties involved in Wrigley Field renovation negotiations have done a remarkable job of hiding the ball. Ever since the Tribune Company began "updating" Wrigley by installing lights, the third rail of renovations has always been a Jumbotron. A hulking electronic scoreboard has always been considered the unacceptable point of no return. You might as well rip out the ivy and put a dome on the thing. The fact that it's on the way has been buried because, well, that's how the sources leaking to the media want it.

The city is missing Blair Kamin just about now. (He's at Harvard on a fellowship.)

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"According to data from [our] Influence Explorer, MLB organizations pumped in over $24 million to politicians, PACs and independent expenditure groups throughout the 2012 election cycle," the Sunlight Foundation reports.

"Our survey, which looked at contributions by club employees and members of ownership groups, showed five clubs surpassing the million dollar mark for campaign contributions in the 2011-2012 political cycle: the Chicago Cubs blew the rest of the teams away with a staggering $13.9 million, followed by the Baltimore Orioles with $1.8 million, the San Francisco Giants with $1.5 million, the Boston Red Sox with $1.3 million and the Milwaukee Brewers, whose employees gave slightly more than $1 million."

So, yeah, the Ricketts' need that Jumbotron dough.

"The Cubs organization, whose billionaire owner Joe Ricketts went on an 'ending spending' spree, maintained the highest overall donation rate to Republicans with an astounding $12.7 million, mostly going to super PACs."

That's where your money is going, Cubs fans.

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And let's not forget: The Cubs are the most profitable team in baseball.

How did a franchise with one of the most dismal records in sports history become so valuable? Just spitballin' here, but maybe it had something to do with a timeless Wrigley Field and a phenomenon created by fans now priced out of the one-time baseball Eden.

In the Ricketts' estimation, though, they just haven't wrung enough out of the ol' ballpark. It must be bled dry, until it dies.

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Remember when Tom Ricketts just wanted his one Toyota sign?

I do.

"Ricketts said the family has no intentions of installing other signs along the outfield," the Tribune reported back then in 2010.

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"[Ald. Tom] Tunney agreed to support the sign because the team has no other plans for outfield advertising within the next four years, and owners agreed to work with the alderman on a master plan for future advertising at the park, the alderman's spokesman said," Crain's reported.

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""I respect the fact that people like Wrigley the way it is," Ricketts told AP. "I really do. And we are honestly more committed to preservation than anyone."

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Reminder: MSNBC Helped Lie Us Into War
And the Chicago press didn't care when an erstwhile Chicagoan suffered collateral damage.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Nick Cave, Sigur Ros, Garbage, The Joy Formidable, Lianne La Havas and Alexz Johnson.

Remembering Patty "Big Hair" Miller
Chicago loses a rocker.

The Political Odds
Slightly updated.

Steinberg, Captain Flint And The Zombie Makers
Welcome to the Midland Authors awards.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: All thumbs.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

Midland Authors Awards: Neil Steinberg, Captain Flint & The Zombie Makers

The Society of Midland Authors will present its annual awards May 14 in Chicago, honoring its choices for the best books by Midwest authors published in 2012, in the LaSalle Room at Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.

The master of ceremonies will be Steve Bertrand, a morning anchor on WGN-AM radio and host of the video podcast "Steve Bertrand on Books," which features his interviews with leading writers.

Tickets are $75 each. A cash bar opens at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Reservations can by made by PayPal or check at www.midlandauthors.com.

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ADULT FICTION

(Two winners in this category.)

WINNERS:

Nick Dybek, When Captain Flint Was Still A Good Man, Riverhead. (Dybek grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich.; his father, Chicago author Stuart Dybek, is a two-time winner of the same award.)

Jack Driscoll, The World of a Few Minutes Ago, Wayne State University Press. (Author lives in Interlochen, Mich.)

FINALISTS:

Peter Geye, The Lighthouse Road, Unbridled Books. (Author lives in Minneapolis.)

Richard Babcock, Are You Happy Now, Amazon Publishing. (Author lives in Chicago.)

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ADULT NONFICTION

WINNER: Neil Steinberg, You Were Never in Chicago, University of Chicago Press. (Author lives in Northbrook, Ill.)

FINALISTS:

Mark Binelli, Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis, Metropolitan Books. (Author was raised in the Detroit area and now lives in New York City.)

Benjamin Busch, Dust to Dust: A Memoir, Ecco. (Author lives in Reed City, Mich.)

Gregory Harms, It's Not About Religion, Perceval Press. (Author lives in Joliet, Ill.)

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BIOGRAPHY

WINNER: David Von Drehle, Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year Henry Holt and Co. (Author lives in Mission Hills, Kan.)

FINALISTS:

Steven Lubet, John Brown's Spy: The Adventurous Life and Tragic Confession of John E. Cook, Yale University Press. (Author lives in the Chicago area.)

Rich Cohen, The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Author grew up in Glencoe, Ill., and now lives in Ridgefield, Conn.)

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CHILDREN'S FICTION

WINNER: Shelley Pearsall, Jump Into the Sky, Knopf Books for Young Readers. (Author lives in Silver Lake, Ohio.)

FINALISTS:

Polly Carlson-Voiles, Summer of the Wolves, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. (Author lives in Ely, Minn.)

Tim Shoemaker, Code of Silence: Living a Lie Comes With a Price, Zonderkidz. (Author lives in Rolling Meadows, Ill.)

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CHILDREN'S NONFICTION

WINNER: Mary Losure, The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World, Candlewick. (Author lives St. Paul, Minn.)

FINALISTS:

Rebecca L. Johnson, Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead, 21st Century. (Author lives in Sioux Falls, S.D.)

Ann Bausum, Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Hours, National Geographic Children's Books. (Author lives in Janesville, Wis.)

*

POETRY

WINNER: Dan Gerber, Sailing Through Cassiopeia, Copper Canyon Press. (Author grew up in Fremont, Mich., later lived in Traverse City, Mich., and now lives in Santa Ynez, Calif.)

FINALISTS:

Joe Wilkins, Notes From the Journey Westward, White Pine Press. (Author lives in Forest City, Iowa.)

John Koethe, ROTC Kills, Harper Perennial. (Author lives in Milwaukee.)

*

JAMES FRIEND MEMORIAL AWARD FOR LITERARY CRITICISM

WINNER: Jonathan Messinger, former books editor at Time Out Chicago.

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The Society, founded in 1915 by a group of authors including Hamlin Garland, Harriet Monroe and Vachel Lindsay, has given out annual awards since 1957. The juried competition is open to authors who live in, were born in, or have strong ties to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota or Wisconsin.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

Reminder: MSNBC Helped Lie Us Into War

"I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place," Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.

"The descent was gradual - a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq."

"Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft - MSNBC's founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war - were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a 'difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,' the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves."

*

Reflecting on the failure of pundits and journalists who were dead wrong about the Iraq war to suffer any consequences, I wondered how the Chicago media covered this depressing episode. Not very well, it won't surprise you.

Phil Donahue's landmark talk show was produced in Chicago from 1974 to 1985, but the normally parochial local press barely paid attention to his MSNBC debacle.

The only non-AP article I found in the archives was a column by Phil Rosenthal, then a TV critic at the Sun-Times, now a business columnist at the Tribune, that complained Donahue was boring and preachy. After all, it's just war!

"When MSNBC hired Phil Donahue last summer, it thought it was bringing in the firebrand who instinctively sensed not only what would interest viewers but how to frame complicated, controversial issues in a way they would find provocative but not off-putting," Rosenthal wrote in February 2003.

"What it got was the preachy old guy who, while campaigning for the media to take Ralph Nader seriously in the 2000 presidential race, found he kind of liked being on TV again."

Let the marginalization begin.

"Its last edition is set for Friday, leaving unsolved the mystery of how Donahue seemed to forget almost everything he once knew about making compelling television in the six years between the end of his pioneering syndicated talk show and the launch of his sleepy, short-lived and little-watched cable show last July.

"Come on. Even CNN's mediocre Connie Chung has been kicking his butt, more than doubling the paltry 446,000 viewers Donahue has been averaging this month."

Little-watched and paltry, true enough. But not the whole story, as we shall see.

"Now Donahue's on the way out and struggling MSNBC, in preparation for war, has expanded Lester Holt's Countdown: Iraq, one of its stronger shows, to take Donahue 's place."

One of its stronger shows? It had worse ratings than Donahue. Rosenthal missed the real story here: MSNBC was replacing a show that questioned the war - a journalistic show on news network, in other words - with a show pumping the war.

"MSNBC probably should have pulled the plug after Donahue drew a measly 0.1 rating - or just 137,000 households - for a discussion on embryo adoptions one Friday night in August.

"Even if you could overlook how close a 0.1 is to having no viewers at all, it begged the question of just what the hell Donahue thought he was doing that night.

"Was this some kind of act of Nader-esque corporate rebellion against General Electric, which owns MSNBC, or did Donahue actually think a straight-on discussion of embryo adoptions was a great topic for a warm summer evening as the weekend beckoned?"

Again with Nader. Nevermind that his corporate rebellions are in the right. Then with the Friday night programming. It's a news network! Plenty of entertainment up and down the dial.

"Donahue was a scold - and a boring one at that."

Mission accomplished!

*

In response to Rosenthal's column, John Butler of Morton Grove wrote this letter to the editor, given the headline "Donahue Was Classy Voice In Trashy Milieu":

I found Sun-Times television reporter Phil Rosenthal's scathing attack on Phil Donahue highly offensive. It is true that the recently cancelled Donahue show did not do well in the ratings, but to me that is a horrible reflection of America's television viewers, who obviously prefer watching trash shows like Joe Millionaire and Jerry Springer than Donahue's well-researched, highly informative show.

The Donahue show showed far more objectivity, balance and fairness than most TV talk shows. Phil treated his guests with respect, and he was always scrupulously fair in making sure that all of his guests were given a fair opportunity to express their usually very divergent views. In fact, on one occasion when a conservative guest abruptly left the show because he thought he wasn't being given a fair chance to express his opinion, the Donahue show gave this disgruntled guest an entire hour on a future show so that his conservative views could be expressed. In stark contrast is Chris Matthews on Hardball, who consistently interrupts his guests and cuts off people who are expressing opinions he disagrees with.

I strongly disagree with Rosenthal's description of Donahue. By openly expressing his liberal point of view, Donahue was never the boring, preaching scold that Rosenthal perceives. Despite the fact that many of his more conservative guests frequently made insulting remarks about Phil's liberalism ("bed-wetting liberals"), Phil Donahue handled these insults with far more class than his offending guests when they were on the receiving end of criticism about their conservative views.

It is a sad commentary about the "dumbing down" of America when MSNBC can cancel a classy show like Donahue's while hiring Michael Savage, a radio talk show host noted for his unabashed bigotry.

Even Donahue defenders like Butler, though, didn't know the full truth.

*

From a footnoted Wikipedia entry - we'll get to the original sources, don't worry:

"The facts: In 2002, Phil Donahue returned to television to host a show called Donahue on MSNBC. Its debut Nielsen ratings were strong, but its audience evaporated over the following months. In late August 2002, it got one of the lowest possible ratings (0.1), less than MSNBC's average for the day of 0.2.

"On February 25, 2003, MSNBC cancelled the show, citing low viewership. However, that month, Donahue averaged 446,000 viewers and became the highest rated show on the network.

"Other MSNBC shows, including Hardball with Chris Matthews and Scarborough Country, averaged lower ratings in 2005.

"Later, the website AllYourTV.com reported it had received a copy of an internal NBC memo that mentioned that Donahue had to be fired because he would be a 'difficult public face for NBC in a time of war.'"

*

"Mr. Donahue's show had been growing slightly over the past few months, and he was actually attracting more viewers than any other show on MSNBC, even the channel's signature prime-time program Hardball With Chris Matthews," the New York Times reported.

"Mr. Matthews's show has averaged 413,000 viewers over the last month."

*

"Although Donahue didn't know it at the time, his fate was sealed a number of weeks ago after NBC News executives received the results of a study commissioned to provide guidance on the future of the news channel," Rick Ellis of AllYourTV.com reported that March.

"That report - shared with me by an NBC news insider - gives an excruciatingly painful assessment of the channel and its programming. Some of recommendations, such as dropping the 'America's News Channel,' have already been implemented. But the harshest criticism was leveled at Donahue, whom the authors of the study described as 'a tired, left-wing liberal out of touch with the current marketplace.'"

The marketplace that made Donahue more popular than Matthews and Scarborough - who still have shows.

"The study went on to claim that Donahue presented a 'difficult public face for NBC in a time of war . . . He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, anti-Bush and skeptical of the administration's motives.'

"The report went on to outline a possible nightmare scenario where the show becomes 'a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.'"

NBC News decided instead to help lie us into war, which it did not deem a nightmare scenario.

*

"An e-mail from a network executive, also leaked to All Your TV, suggested that it would be 'unlikely' that Donahue could be used by MSNBC to 'reinvent itself' and 'cross-pollinate our programming' with the 'anticipated larger audience who will tune in during a time of war' by linking pundits to war coverage, 'particularly given his public stance on the advisability of the war effort.'"

War as a marketing opportunity to exploit.

*

The Tribune paid even less mind to the Donahue imbroglio than the Sun-Times. First, there was this AP report by David Bauder:

"MSNBC fired Phil Donahue on Tuesday, abruptly ending the veteran talk show host's return to television after six months of poor ratings."

No mention that his ratings were the network's highest. Bauder slightly corrected that oversight in his follow-up story, though he put the ratings facts in a Donahue claim instead of outright stating its truthfulness:

"Phil Donahue struck back at MSNBC on Wednesday for his firing, suggesting the network was too quick to pull the trigger and that it might be trying to 'out-fox Fox' with conservative voices.

"Donahue's political talk show, a distant third in the cable news ratings for his time slot, was abruptly pulled from the air after Monday's show. The show premiered July 15.

"The legendary talk show host said his show's ratings were better than anything else in struggling MSNBC's prime-time lineup."

*

A Tribune news quiz that March simply stated that the show was cancelled for lack of interest.

*

In 2008, in a piece about a film Donahue helped produce, Body of War, the Tribune reported that "Donahue, who at 72 has lost some of the bounce but none of the passion that he brought to his talk show, opposed the Iraq war from the start. He's convinced the anti-war tone of his MSNBC talk show, which aired for a little more than six months, contributed to its demise. An NBC memo that was leaked after the cancellation noted that his show presented a 'difficult public face' as the nation prepared for war."

It was in the 17th paragraph.

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See also: When Bill Moyers Probed Media And Iraq.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:44 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: The Magic Bus

THE MAGIC BUS

For Roger Ebert

Cue: Aaron Copland's
"Fanfare for the Common Man"...

I first heard it
On "Love You Live"
As the intro music
For the Rolling Stones

On their '75
And '76 tours.

The theme was already
In my head.
I'd spent my 52nd birthday
In Naperville,

With my family,
Staying at my mother's,

And she digs
That tune, and it
Was in her car CD
For the two days

We hung out.

My mom: here's me
Using my forefingers
To make a "square"
In the air.

She's a triumphantly
Unabashed square.
But I'm glad that tune
Got stuck in my head.

As I prepared to hop the Metra
Back to Harlem Avenue
In Berwyn (I HEART
Harlem Avenue in Berwyn!)

The Twitterverse announced
The death of Roger Ebert.
It really struck
A note in me.

We'd known he'd been sick
A long time now, but fucking
Cranking out the superlative work
All along.

Fighting cancer, lost
His goddam jaw, couldn't even EAT
For some years now.
He'd just announced a recurrence

Of the cancer
But said he would merely take
"A leave of presence."
Poetic enough for me!

But if, like me,
You watch the right
Morning TV news,
The residence doc noted that Roger had said

He wouldn't fight anymore.
Hats off to him.
It was my birthday
So I had gone home to see my mom,

But just this past Easter Sunday,
Her best friend had died, nearing 85,
Having refused dialysis in the last
Couple of weeks

After a slow decline
That included a recent breaking
Of her hip.
These last few weeks

Had been especially harsh.
But now she was free.
She'd decided
Not to fight anymore.

Hats off to her.
Birthday aside,
I was glad to be there
For my mom,

As she had been
For me
In this circumstance
Too many times.

The Twitterverse
Was abuzz,
Tributes coming in from
Everywhere.

My phone chirped again
And it was my boy Rod
Out in L.A., noting the loss,
Sad for the news.

Back in the '70s
And '80s, he and I
Would rarely venture out
To the theater

Without grabbing
A Sun-Times to see
What Roger was raving about,
Good or bad.

I would say
"Good, bad or indifferent,"
But Ebert was never
Indifferent.

Not only in the newspaper,
But also on television.
Let's don't forget the role
He and Gene Siskel played

In revolutionizing
The medium in terms
Of evaluating, in depth,
The movies of the day.

So I'm off the train
At Harlem Ave. when
Rod's text message
Comes in.

We loved Ebert,
As we love the Stones,
Rarely missing them.
They're still kicking it.

Then, the Harlem Avenue bus
Pulls up.

The double doors open
And I step up in.
"Hi!" says the middle-aged male
Driver, startling me

Slightly.
"307 bus," he says,
"Going all the way north." Wow!
"Sounds good to me," I reply.

Having only solid singles
I ended up paying
An extra quarter for my ride
And he goes

"Need a transfer?" JESUS!
"No, man, I'm good. Thanks."
And, lo and behold,
As we begin to head north

Towards my crib
In Oak Park,
This BEAUTIFUL BASTARD
Is not only

Calling out the stops
On his mike, regardless
Of the now-ubiquitous
Plasticene Porter-

Computer voice
Calling out the stops,
But noting significant
Destinations at each stop,

Including the CVS (!),
"open 24/7!", the Catholic church,
The post office and
And the McDonald's

For Cry Fucking Pete!

And he also calls out
To ask if anyone would prefer
To get out on the south end
Of the intersection

Rather than crossing over
To the official bus stop
On the north side.
This guy is KNOCKING ME OUT!

Sometimes you get this
On a CTA train, old-timers
Calling out the stops and the
Nearby destinations:

"Metra, Amtrak, Greyhound...
Daley Center, City Hall, County Building..."
These guys kill me
And make me want

To write a poem about it.
Then it fades.
Rarely, though, do you get it
On a bus.

But this Pace driver
Was at the right place
At the right time
In my vale of tears.

I mean that literally,
Too, because news of
Roger Ebert's death
Struck a note in me

And I know well
Enough by now
That it's just that last hit
Which brings on

All kinds of other,
More personal stuff
Banging around in my brain,
More personal hurt

I'm "bravely"
(read: "IDIOTICALLY")
Stuffing back down
In order to "stay cool."

Going home to Naperville

Is wrought enough with
Emotional hazards, as going
Home is
For any of us,

And this Great Man's
Passing, after a long,
Truly brave and public
Fight to KEEP KICKING IT

In the meantime
Kinda finally
Brought it all out,
The hurt we all carry

Every goddamn day
As we fight
To KEEP KICKING IT,
Keep kicking it out.

But just often enough
To be almost annoying,
Every once in a great while,
The Bus gets Magic.

When my time comes,
I'll fight like
A motherfucker
But then

Y'all gotta
Let me go.
Like my mom's great friend
Lillian, and like Roger Ebert,

At some point
You gotta move.
Let me move.
My way.

So you don't have to
Struggle, or worry,
It's right here
In black and white.

"It's not personal, Sonny.
It's strictly business."

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

-

More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at the Chicago Theatre on Monday night.


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2. Alexz Johnson at Schubas on Monday night.

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3. The Joy Formidable at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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4. Lianne La Havas at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

-

5. Sigur Ros at the UIC Pavilion on Tuesday night.

-

6. Garbage at the Riv on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

April 4, 2013

Remembering Patty "Big Hair" Miller

I'm proud to say that Patty Miller cut my hair dozens of times in the 20 years I've been in Chicago (don't blame her for its unfixable unruliness; she worked with it as well as anybody). She was a fixture in Roscoe Village. And now she's gone.

The news first came, of course, via Facebook.

"I found out today that the woman who inspired me to do hair passed away last week, Patty Miller owner of big hair in Chicago," Maggie Stumpf of the Hairitics Salon wrote on March 22.

"I don't know the details, but did want to express that my sister, mother, and I all got our hair done by Patty since the early 90s. She was the person who encouraged me to go into hair and told me where to go to beauty school. Her free spirit and style was contagious and fun... and to a young awkward teenager (me) she was the success I wanted. Though I never worked with her or got the chance to thank her for starting me on my path she will be forever honored in my heart. I am so thankful for this career!"

The official obituary via the Sun-Times:

Miller, Patricia "Patty" (nee Bekker), 47, passed away March 14. Born in Chicago, November 10, 1965, she graduated from Waters Elementary School and Lane Technical High School. Patty left her modeling career in 1990 to start Big Hair, a rock 'n roll hair salon that became a Roscoe Village anchor. She made her diverse clientele look good and feel good. In 1994, she married Bruce Miller and they settled in Rockwell Gardens. A member of Luther Memorial Church, Patty supported local charities, local businesses and the Lincoln Park Zoo. She introduced her children to many places in Chicago special to her. She was the beloved mother of Gwendolyn, Luke and Scott; daughter of Marles and Josef Bekker; sister of Teresa Bekker and her partner Zbigniew "Adam" Grzegorczyk; Anne and James Jaeger, all of Chicago; and many nieces and nephews.

A memorial was held at Big Hair on March 30th. Sorry I'm so late with the news.

See also:
* The guest book.

* Memorial window display.

* Memorial photo.

* Patty in the New York Times in 2007.

* BigHair.com.

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Condolences to friends and family.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

The Tribune editorial board is doubling down* on disingenuousness. It's not a good look.**

Having already been called out for its faulty handling of data in an editorial pushing - yet again - the expansion of charter schools, it is now denying the irrefutable facts reported (most extensively and impressively by WBEZ) elsewhere that destroys their major premise: that 19,000 Chicago Public Schools students are on charter school waiting lists. The reported truth: Not even close.

Faced with such an epic fail*** in the midst of a heated debate**** ripping apart the city*****, the Tribune could have responded with class and magnanimity befitting its gothic gray tower and simply apologized for letting its enthusiasm for advancing a position outrun the facts.

"An honest mistake," the edit board could have averred, "fueled by our zeal to see that every child in Chicago get the quality education they deserve. We know others disagree with us on how to get there, but we can't get to the result we all do agree on - serving our kids - if the debate is skewed by institutional propaganda (be it from CPS or CTU) and falsities. So let's restate our case."

That would have been refreshing.

"We have been chastened, and we will double our efforts in the future to make sure our arguments - which we still believe wholeheartedly - are backed by fact and not airy estimates designed to serve an ideology instead of the truth."

Then the Tribune could have refashioned its argument in light of the facts put before it. Maybe that argument would have taken on a new shape that would have advanced the ball for all sides. After all, isn't that the way the Tribune itself is trying to persuade others - by asking, in part, for readers, activists, policy makers and politicians to reconsider their views in light of the facts presented instead of mere argument, talking points and spin? And to adjust those views accordingly each time new information is brought to light? Isn't that the rational world that editorial boards, and in fact, journalists on principle, plead for?

The Tribune is not taking that course of action, presumably because it just cannot bear what the facts say. Instead, it is excusing the facts as unimportant in light of the "larger truth" it is divinely endowed with, perhaps unaware that "larger truths" are so often deployed in defense of fiction parading as non-fiction.

The Tribune's "corrective" editorial, then, begins with a premise badly undermined by the reporting at hand. The headline: "The Thirst For Charter Schools."

WBEZ's reporting, in fact, illustrates that there isn't any particular thirst for charter schools, at least not one that outstrips the thirst for CPS schools. Parents mostly thirst for a quality neighborhood school accessible by their children. Who runs it is a secondary concern, though affordability puts private schools at the bottom of the list.

"It's no secret that this page strongly supports charter schools," the Trib continues. "That support is based on the outstanding performance of the best charter schools, on the growing demand from parents and students for more education options and on the vast potential for innovation at these schools."

First, the Tribune itself has reported that even the best charters could not crack the top seven performing high schools in the city.

Further, in 2011 the paper reported that "Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders have long heralded charter schools' innovative approach to education, but new research suggests many charters in Chicago are performing no better than traditional neighborhood schools and some are actually doing much worse."

The Tribune editorial goes on to say: "Many charters generate impressive results where it matters most: in student performance."

Again, that claim is just not supported by a myriad of data.

And that mysteriously measured parental demand for more choice? "A report to be released Wednesday by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution ranks CPS second among large urban districts in providing choices for parents aside from traditional neighborhood schools," that same Trib report says.
···
"Is there demand?" the Tribune editorial asks. "You bet. Statewide enrollment in charter schools has surged from 6,152 students in 2000 to 54,054 this school year - with most of them in Chicago - according to the Illinois State Board of Education. The first charter school in Illinois opened in 1996. Now there are 132 campuses operating under 58 charters."

Yes, well, coincidentally, CPS has closed 100 schools in the last decade. The demand is for schools, not charters. Kids have to go somewhere.
···
"Illinois has seen that growth even though state law limits how many charter schools can operate here," the Trib says.

So? They obviously aren't at the limit!
···
"There are still not enough top-quality charters to meet demand. That's why there is powerful and widespread support - among parents of CPS students and among other Chicagoans - for more charter schools in Chicago."

Really? And what is the evidence for that?

"A recent Joyce Foundation-Chicago Tribune poll of 1,010 Chicagoans found that 63.7 percent favored making it easier for charters to expand in neighborhoods where there are waits for admission to charter schools, and 67.9 percent said it should be easier for charters to open in neighborhoods with underperforming schools."

Oh, I see: The Tribune manufactured the evidence.

"In addition to the skewed sample, a look at the actual survey shows that the Tribune's analysis of the data in its accompanying editorial is highly selective - a textbook lesson in cherry-picking details (and intentionally leaving out others) to suit one's agenda," Chicago teacher Gregory Michie writes in an extensive takedown of the Joyce poll on Huffington Post.

(See also Diane Ravitch's "Did The Chicago Tribune And Joyce Foundation Do Push Polling?" Hint: The answer is Yes.)
···
"This page and other charter supporters have cited one other piece of evidence of demand: an estimate that 19,000 Chicago students are waiting to enroll in a charter school," the Tribune editorial continues.

Finally, to the heart of the matter.

"That figure has come under challenge."

Oy. That figure has been reported as false. Coming "under challenge" spins the reporting into advocacy.

"In a Tribune oped last week, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said the argument for more charters is 'based on an unsubstantiated, discredited waiting list of 19,000 students.'"

Yes, by all means, start with a "claim" by Lewis to undermine the validity of the reporting.

"A report by WBEZ-FM this week said the estimate 'significantly overstates demand"' because it 'counts applications, not students, meaning if a student applies to four schools, he or she is counted four times. It includes kids who have turned down charter seats and are now enrolled in other schools.'"

Link, please. Let readers see the depth of WBEZ's reporting.

"The estimate of 19,000 students waiting for a charter school slot comes from Andrew Broy, president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, a charter advocacy group."

We just took the estimate of an advocate as fact.

"The figure is largely based on State Board of Education data on the number of student applications for charters and the number of charter seats available in the 2010-11 school year. The difference between those numbers is an 'estimate . . . of students who were seeking slots at a charter school who were not served in that school year,' Broy says."

That makes no sense at all, for all the reasons WBEZ reports.

"He acknowledges that the calculation does not account for how many students file applications to more than one charter school. That would lower the number of students waiting for a charter school."

Significantly.

"But the calculation also does not include statistics from several Chicago charter schools that have opened or expanded since the last state assessment was completed. It does not include several charter schools that did not report figures for the 2010-11 school year. It does not include applications that came in after the end of the spring lottery period, in which students are either admitted or wait-listed for the next school year. Those factors would raise the number of students waiting for a charter school."

Barely.

And the figures not included in Broy's estimate that would make it considerably lower considerably outweigh the invisible data the Tribune cites to make up for its lack of diligence.

"Broy stands by his calculation. 'We feel the 19,000 number is strongly supported and is likely a conservative estimate,' he says."

Given the facts, there is now way this figure can be taken seriously. Unless you are an editorial board on the defensive.

"It is an estimate, made in good faith, and open to question and challenge."

No. It is an estimate made by an advocate with an agenda. And reported facts are not simply "questions" or "challenges;" they are the facts.
···
"Does anyone question the astonishing growth in charter school enrollment in Chicago, in Illinois, in other states?" the Tribune concludes."

No. Why do you ask?

"Take a look at the yearly ramp-up in Illinois, according to the chart with this editorial. Some 2.3 million students are attending charters nationally in this school year, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools."

And?

"Demand for great charters - for more and better choices across the public school system - shows no signs of flagging. That's why the Chicago Public Schools system continues to authorize more charters. And why we strongly encourage that growth. No child should have to wait for the opportunity."

Again, WBEZ's reporting shows astonishingly long wait lists for non-charter CPS schools. The demand is for schools - kids have to go somewhere. The city has closed 100 schools and opened more than 100 charters. The only conclusion one can draw from that is that demand has been created by fucking with the supply. If charters opened without CPS schools closing, then we could begin to see which schools parents chose. My guess? The one in their neighborhood, if possible.

-



-

*Sorry for using that overused phrase, I'm exhausted.
**ibid.
***ibid.
****ibid.
*****ibid.

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See also:
* More Whoppers From The Tribune

* Despite Promise, Not All Schools On CPS Closing List Sending Kids To Schools With Better Scores

* What A 'Half-Empty' School Really Looks Like

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Sex Slaves, Jeopardy & Cubs Fans
In Local TV Notes.

Algren: The Movie
Coming this fall.

Beware Spring Fever
In Fantasy Fix.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Significantly speaking.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:17 AM | Permalink

Algren: The Movie

From Montrose Pictures:

"Algren is the first feature-length documentary that spotlights the creative legacy of one of the most underrated American writers of the twentieth century, Nelson Algren, recipient of the first National Book Award for Man With a Golden Arm (1950); Simone de Beauvoir's 'Chicago Bohemian' lover; a Beat writer before the Beats; a forerunner of the Gonzo movement. Through interviews with internationally known artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers, Algren will re-establish Algren's huge impact on countless literary and artistic champions, while defining American urban fiction."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:38 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Sex Slaves, Jeopardy! & Cubs Fans

Because it's on.

1. Dr. Michael Fauntroy: Shed No Tears For Roland Martin.

Previously: Local TV Notes: Roland Martin Threatens To Not Go Away.

2. Protect The Public From AT&T.

"Members of the Keep Us Connected Coalition are urging the Illinois Legislature to protect public, education and government (PEG) access channels in the 2013 renewal of the Illinois Cable and Video Competition Act of 2007 ('the Cable Act').

"Since passage of that law, AT&T has refused to follow key provisions that would result in equitable treatment of PEG access channels."

Previously: AT&T Is Back For More.

3. Lame On So Many Levels.

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4. MSNBC premieres Sex Slaves: Windy City on Sunday, an exploitive piece of trash masquerading as a documentary.

"[P]roducers document Cook County's Human Trafficking Task Force as they pursue the criminals that solicit young women and girls selling themselves on the streets of Chicago," the network says. "Leading these efforts is State's Attorney Anita Alvarez along with Cook County Sheriff and Chicago PD, who collaborate to identify and convict the criminals who exploit the vulnerable, including the homeless."

5. Jeopardy! Seeks Black Women.

"America's favorite quiz show is coming to the Chicago Black Women's Expo, sponsored by ABC7Chicago, in search of the next Jeopardy! champion," the station says.

"Who will represent Chicago on the next season of JEOPARDY!? That's the question America's Favorite Quiz Show and ABC 7 Chicago hope to answer at the Chicago Black Women's Expo at McCormick Place on Saturday, April 6.

"Attendees will have the opportunity to see if they have what it takes to become a JEOPARDY! champion by participating in an exclusive contestant search held on-site at the convention, which features a wide range of seminars, workshops, and entertainment.

"Prospective contestants will take a 50-clue written test; those who pass will be selected for the second part of the audition process, which includes practice game play and a brief interview."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Spring Fever

Having participated in four fantasy baseball league drafts in the last few weeks, I've noticed certain players getting drafted by other team owners well ahead of where I had them ranked. To a large degree, I think these owners were drafting aggressively on spring training numbers, a strategy all of us find tempting. But you need to be careful and selective about relying on spring numbers, or you will end up with a team full of minor leaguers and journeyman.

Here are a few player whose draft stock rose in recent weeks on dazzling spring training numbers, and whether I think those numbers are to be trusted:

Ryan Howard, 1B, PHI: Seven home runs this spring helped convince many people he is fully recovered from the leg injury he suffered in the 2011 playoffs. I didn't have Howard among my top 20 first basemen, though I did see him as a sleeper candidate. Upon further review, I'd move him up to No. 17 or 18, but I still wonder how durable he'll prove to be at 33 years old as we get into the second half of the season.

Michael Morse, OF, SEA: Nine HRs in Arizona from a young power hitter who changed venues from Washington to Seattle this off-season. Seattle's park has always been friendly to pitchers, but the fences have been moved in this year. Morse also started the season well, hitting two HRs in the second game of the year, including a mammoth 446-foot shot, and adding a third in Game 3. If you got Morse late in your draft, I think you will be very happy.

Brandon Belt, OF, SF: Another slugger who went yard eight times this spring. Yet, unlike Howard and Morse, Belt has yet to have a solid season in the majors. I don't think he was worth a draft pick this year, though the 24-year-old could be someone to put on your watch list as the season plays on.

Julio Teheran, SP, ATL: The Braves' fifth starter was a hot late-round choice in every draft I was in. Thirty-five strikeouts in 26 spring innings may be the biggest reason, but Teheran has appeared in only seven regular season games over the last two years. With youth and inexperience, you often see a lot of walks coming with impressive strikeout numbers, and you have to think the Braves will watch his pitch counts and innings, too. I see a half-season worth of returns in this investment.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, LAD: I saw a lot of fantasy team owners digging deep into the Dodgers' starting rotation to draft this Korean rookie. No doubt they noticed his 0.91 WHIP this spring. He only walked eight in 27 innings in Arizona, but a control pitcher with no MLB experience may find himself getting hit hard by the big bats early on if he's unwilling to go outside the strike zone occasionally.

Expert Wire
* RealGM says White Sox closer Addison Reed's slider could deliver a fantasy payoff.

* Fantasy CPR takes a look at some early-season sleepers. Jean Segura, anyone?

* Rant Sports examines why Yu Darvish owners aren't happy after an almost-perfect game.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

April 3, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

Sorry, no column today. But I encourage you to follow the school closings debate on Twitter - CPS board meeting today as well as city council hearing. I'll be making witty and trenchant remarks there.

New on the rest of the site today:

* Local Music Notebook: Hip Hop For Peace, Crawdaddy & Calendar Guys.

* Sports: The Wolves Held A Wine Tasting.

* Local Book Notes: Feeling Fabulist & Fat Vikings.

* The Political Odds: Slightly updated.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a good neighbor.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Feeling Fabulist & Fat Vikings

Over the transom.

1. Poetry Nominated.

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is proud to announce that the magazine is a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the category of "General Excellence, Print." Poetry shares distinguished company with fellow finalists MIT Technology Review, Mother Jones, The New Republic, and The Paris Review in the group classified as "Literary, Political and Professional Magazines."

Congratulations to Poetry, but the oddity of that grouping illustrates the futility (and incompetence) of most awards-giving.

2. Chicago Folk Laureate.

Edward Hirsch, poet, critic and president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, will speak at a Society of Midland Authors event on Tuesday, April 16, at the Cliff Dwellers Club in Chicago. Booklist senior editor Donna Seaman will introduce Hirsch.

A native of Chicago, Hirsch has published several books of poems since 1981, including 1986's Wild Gratitude, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. His most recent book is The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, published in 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf. His prose books include the 1999 best-seller How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love With Poetry and Poet's Choice, a 2007 collection of essay-letters from the Washington Post Book World.

"It takes a brave poet to follow Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton into the abyss," poet Dana Goodyear wrote about Hirsch in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. "Hirsch's poems (are) compassionate, reverential, sometimes relievingly ruthless." Hirsch, who has a doctorate in folklore, has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hirsch will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the newly renovated Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. Reservations are not required. Admission is free, but the Society will accept donations to defray the cost of programs.

3. Feeling Fabulist.

Kevin Brockmeier, an American writer of fantasy and fiction and one of the nation's best known practitioners of fabulist fiction, will read from his work at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 10 in Roosevelt University's Gage Galley, 18 S. Michigan Ave.

Brockmeier is an Arkansas writer who has published three novels, The Truth About Celia, The Brief History of the Dead and The Illumination; two story collections including Things that Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer; and children's books including City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery.

A three-time winner of the O'Henry Prize and recipient of the Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction, the Italo Calvino Short Fiction Award, several Booker Worth Literary prizes and the Porter Fund Literary Prize, Brockmeier is widely acclaimed for his vivid imagination and masterful use of figurative language in stories combining reality with fantasy.

His work has been translated into 17 languages and his stories have appeared in such venues as The New Yorker, McSweeney's Zoetrope, Tin House, The Oxford American, The Georgia Review, The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and New Stories from the South.

Brockmeier also was recently named one of the nation's Best Young American Novelists by Granta magazine.

The reading is part of the Creative Writing Program's Gage Gallery Reading Series, which is free and open to the public. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

4. Never Trust A Thin Viking.

Author Eric Dregni will be in Chicago for events for two of his books, Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy's Culinary Capital and Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America.

Events for Vikings in the Attic:

Saturday April 13th
1:00 PM
Minnekirken Norwegian Lutheran Church
2614 N Kedzie Ave.

Sunday, April 14th
1:00 PM
Svithoid Sons of Norway Lodge
Svithoid Hall
5516 Lawrence Avenue

*

Event for Never Trust a Thin Cook:
Monday, April 15th
6:00 PM
Italian Cultural Institute
500 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1450

5. Chicago Group Sends Female Inmates Books.

While there are several projects that send books to prisons generally, this is one of only two in the country that cater specifically to female inmates and to transgender women in male prisons, who sometimes have unique requests.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:55 AM | Permalink

The Wolves Held A Wine Tasting

"Think the daily grind of the hockey season wears down Chicago Wolves players and coaches? Think again. On March 20, the Wolves took over Harry Caray's in Rosemont to share wine and conversation with dedicated fans, all in the name of raising funds for Chicago Wolves Charities."


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Wolves Wire
* Wolves Dig Rampage A Hole They Can't Escape
* Wolves Likely To Be In Market For New Parent Team

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:38 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Hip Hop For Peace, Crawdaddy & Calendar Guys

A loose collection of whatnot.

1. Peace Rap.

"Join the Universal Zulu Nation as we usher this initiative into our communities to have a SAFE, PRODUCTIVE AND FUN Chicago Summer for our Children and Teens!

"We are pleased to invite you to participate in Chicago's first annual Hip Hop For Peace: Youth Against Violence Month, designated for Monday May 6th, Tuesday May 14th, Friday May 17th, and Friday May 24th, 2013 at the historic landmark Chicago Cultural Center in downtown Chicago, and Saturday May 18th at the Gary Comer Youth Center."


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2. First Rock Critic Ever.

WBEZ's Jim DeRogatis on Paul Williams, who died last week:

"[H]is greatest trait as a writer: the ability to unleash a relentless, persistent, but always convincingly argued tidal wave of passion about the music he loved. His prose made resistance futile, dragging you along in its wake, and almost always for the better."

*

And . . .

*

WGN-AM's Turi Ryder talks to Williams' wife, Cindy Lee Berryhill.

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3. Chicago-bred Indie Glam Britpop.

Pitchfork catches up the Smith Westerns, whose upcoming third album is due in June.

Here's a teaser:

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4. Black In The Saddle.

"Brooklyn black metal outfit Liturgy have seemingly been M.I.A. since issuing their 2011 Thrill Jockey debut Aesthethica, but vocalist/guitarist Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has announced he'll be delivering an LP for the [Chicago] label with his other band Survival," Exclaim reports. "The outfit's self-titled debut arrives May 14."

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5. Chi-Cal Power Country.

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray drop by Quenchers on April 14th in support of We're From Here.

From the press kit:

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray is an Americana rock band blending well-traveled vintage warmth with the exuberance synonymous with rock & roll. Known for the intensity of their live show, hauntingly emotive songs and evocative imagery, Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray has an almost impossibly large and dynamic sound.

The duo set out from Chicago at the beginning of 2011 with dreams of the open road, and spent the year living in their Honda Element playing shows everywhere their travels took them. The adventure continued with the release of their debut album, We're From Here in September 2012. This expansive record garnered praise for its well worn familiarity combined with its imaginative exploration of the genres that make up American music.

Miss Shevaughn is often compared to Emmylou Harris and Joni Mitchell, not only for her effortless shimmering vocals, but for authenticity of performance and intimacy of storytelling. Yuma Wray weaves these tales into dynamic guitar-driven sonic magic with splashes of Ennio Morricone and bursts of Jimmy Page inspired power.

Together they trade off on lead vocals, harmonies and a wide array of instruments, giving the band the versatility of Fleetwood Mac and the overarching musicality of 1960's California Country and Rock. Their songs are at once eerie and heartfelt, honest and compelling, tying the gothic storytelling of Miss Shevaughn's Deep South roots to Yuma Wray's windswept, mystical desert soundscape.

Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray recently released a live album, Live@DC9 on Bandcamp for name your own price, and will tour the United States in spring 2013. They are working on a new album.

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6. The Men of Chicago Music Exchange Calender Shoot.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:17 AM | Permalink

April 2, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Charter schools are expanding in Chicago, even as the district is closing schools due to declining enrollment," WBEZ reports.

"Chicago Public Schools officials explain the seeming contradiction by citing a large demand for charter schools. Charter advocates and even the Chicago Tribune editorial board say 19,000 kids are on charter school waiting lists in the city.

"There's just one problem with that number: it's not accurate. It significantly overstates demand."

Significantly.

Click through for the rest of this excellent examination of the false claims trumpeted by the Tribune editorial board and how the numbers really work.

*

CPS: Credibility Patently Sapped.

···
On The Move

*

Hope they're better at logistics than websites: Their last two news entries were from 2010 - one of them introducing their new website's mission to "provide timely delivery of information."

···
Mind The Gap

True enough. CPS says it won't fully realize the savings from closing schools until 10 years out. Besides the fact that budget projections that far into the future are less accurate than palm readings, how does that solve the alleged $1 billion deficit in FY2014?

···
Crooked Numbers

"The Chicago Police Department radically underestimated the number of protesters that marched against the closing of dozens of public schools.

"The department and its chief spokesman, Adam Collins, said Wednesday after the march that the number of protesters was between 700 and 900.

"But a Chicago Sun-Times analysis Thursday found that number could not possibly be right, counting 2,750 people in a photo of the protest at Daley Plaza."

*

CPD: Credibility Patently Destroyed.

···
With A Bullet

These Are Your Schools Chicago: Tell 'Em What To Do, G.
···
Coinkydinks Anonymous

Conspiracy or just the way things work in Illinois?
···
Dictionary Definitions

Seeking Bigger Library, Montclare Residents 'Check Out' Hundreds of Books.

CPS might say their library is way bigger than they think.

Dispensa is the Senior Manager of Business Optimization at CPS.

*

Also:

···
It Won't Get Any Better Than This . . .

. . . For Chicago Baseball This Season.
···
Monkeys By Candlelight

An Art Institute special.
···

The Beachwood Tip Line: Monkeyfied.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

Monkeys By Candlelight

"[These videos were] created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago's galleries."

1. Enameling Glass.

"Enameled glass, which is created by painting and firing colored powders onto the surface of glass, was very common in German-speaking lands in the second half of the 17th century. Popular decorations included family coats of arms and symbols of guild affiliations; other images reveal popular subjects such as biblical tales, folk wisdom, hunting, and politics."


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2. Stenciling Techniques.

"A stencil is a flat sheet of metal or thick paper into which letters or patterns have been cut. Stenciling, the process in which ink or paint is applied through the perforations and which allows multiple reproductions, became a popular technique in the 19th century. Much of the decoration in Sullivan and Adler's 1893 Stock Exchange Trading Room, now installed at the Art Institute, was made using stenciling."

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3. English Center Table.

"Folding tables were invented long before Ikea started selling them. This one, with its elaborately carved border on all four sides, was made in England over 250 years ago. It has a very unusual form. When not in use, the concertina support underneath was collapsed and the hinged leaf was folded down, allowing it to be placed against a wall. But to fully extend the table - it is six feet long and three-and-a-half feet wide - required at least three people: one to hold the hinged leaf and two others - one at each end - to move the back legs outward by pulling them just below the ornate ram's head."

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4. Chinoiserie Secretary Cabinet.

"As a result of the series of trade routes known as the Silk Road, Europeans had long been fascinated with goods from East Asia. Trade in Chinese and Japanese silks, porcelains, and lacquer, which had begun in the Middle Ages, grew to massive proportions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Western craftsmen responded to the vogue for Asian luxury goods by producing objects inspired by the East. This scarlet lacquered cabinet, decorated with exotic figures and landscapes in gold and silver leaf, was probably attributed to the English furniture maker Giles Grendey in the 'chinoiserie' style."

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5. Monkeys By Candlelight.

"We don't usually think of monkeys and candlelight in the same sentence, but in this video we see how the two come together quite beautifully. A monkey orchestra 'performs' amidst the soft glow of candlelight as they might have during a dessert course in the 18th century. The mirrored surface the musicians stand upon captures the flickering light, further enhancing the charm of their performance."

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For more in the series, see the Art Institute's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

It Won't Get Better Than This For Chicago Baseball This Season: Scenes From Opening Day

Enjoy it now, because it's gonna be a long season on both sides of town.

1. Our very own Cubs-fan-in-exile Dan Sheahan checks in from St. Louis:

cubswin.jpg

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2. Similarly, this Cubs fan raises the flag on Cardinal Street.

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3. Oh, Harry.

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4. He's just sayin'.

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5. Wethinks that rosin bag was meant for Jeff Samardzija.

*

Or that A.J. Burnett is supposed to be in a Cubs uniform.

*

Burnett struck out 10 Cubs but took the loss. See?

*

A.J. Burnett, honorary Cub. If Theo was cool, he'd make it real. Alas . . .

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6. Comcast SportsNet's White Sox Intro Video Is One Of The Worst Things Ever Put On Television And Possibly Harmful To Your Health.

7. An Opening Day Nod To Bill "Moneyball" Veeck.

8. Broadcast families pass for celebrities in Chicago.

9. Oh, Hawk.

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10. Kubs Kulture.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 AM | Permalink

These Are Your Schools, Chicago: Tell 'Em What To Do, G

Progressive poseur
Walkin' bulldozer
Union bustin'
Grade-school closer


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"It's Time To Fight Back!"
(words and music by Matt Farmer)

Nine times six
Fifty-four
Schools gettin' closed
Like never before

It's the most school closings
In history
But it ain't no
Scooby-Doo mystery

Gonna clear out
The neighborhood
Keep people movin' out
To Harvey and Maywood

Rippin' out
Community anchors
Push out the poor kids
Bring on the bankers

Where was Rahm
When the deal got done?
Out skiing
In the Utah sun

These are your schools, Chicago
And it's time to stand up

CHORUS
You've got to stand up
And show him who you are
It's time to fight back
Rahm has gone too far

Progressive poseur
Walkin' bulldozer
Union bustin'
Grade school closer

9.5
Landed a quick jab
South Side, West Side
It's a land grab

Lookin' for a tax base
Maybe a white face
All-out crisis
That he won't let go to waste

Runnin' schools
With the help of the fat cats
Treatin' poor kids
Like they were lab rats

These are your schools, Chicago
Tell 'em what to do, G

CHORUS
You've got to stand up
And show him who you are
It's time to fight back
Rahm has gone too far

Mad about the strike
So now he's strikin' back
Bully with a big stick
Hittin' the brown and black

Movin' kids
Like Monopoly pieces
Same old games
Class size increases

When you fight back
Rahm's like a rich dad
Tryin' to buy you off
With a brand new iPad

Air conditioning
For when you get hot
Got his fingers crossed
That you don't get shot

These are your schools, Chicago
Tell 'em what to do, G

CHORUS
You've got to stand up
And show him who you are
It's time to fight back
Rahm has gone too far

REPEAT CHORUS 3x

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Previously:
* Rahm: Too Big To Fail.
* Radio Blago.
* Good King Rich b/w Pay To Play and Crawl Back To Crawford.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

April 1, 2013

The [Monday] Papers

"Disgraced Chicago Police torturer Jon Burge has had his appeal against a perjury conviction rejected," the Sun-Times reports.

"And the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals noted the 'irony' of the 65-year-old former cop complaining about his conviction - calling him a 'liar' responsible for 'decades of abuse that is unquestionably horrific.'"

*

"In a unanimous ruling on Monday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says no errors were committed by the lower court and that Jon Burge got a fair trial," AP reports.

"Dozens of people - almost all of them black men - claimed for decades that Burge and his officers tortured them into confessing to crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder.

"It was decades before anyone in power in Chicago believed the stories that activists say were common knowledge in the city's poorest neighborhoods."

*

"On Friday March 3, 2013, former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley filed his opposition to Chicago police torture survivor Ronald Kitchen's motion for a court order compelling him to sit for a sworn, videotaped deposition," the People's Law Office says.

"This is the latest skirmish in a nine year long legal battle to force Daley to answer about his central role in the police torture scandal and its cover-up.

"This involvement began with his refusal, while the elected State's Attorney of Cook County, to prosecute Jon Burge, the mastermind of a now notorious police torture ring, when damning evidence of Burge's sadistic brutality was first presented to him in 1982; continued on his watch as scores of African American torture survivors were subsequently prosecuted and wrongfully convicted on the basis of tortured confessions; and culminated with his role in the cover-up of the scandal after he became mayor."

*

Will Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy plead with Daley to break the no-snitch code?

*

Previously: City Settles Burge Torture Case, Avoids Daley Deposition.

"The former mayor has cooperated in all aspects of this case. He was prepared to give his deposition had that been necessary," Daley spokesperson Jackie Heard said in a statement.

Let's just go ahead with these depositions anyway, then.

*

"Cover-up is a powerful term," Carol Marin writes for the Sun-Times in another case. "Inflammatory even."

"But the headline of Tim Novak and Chris Fusco's meticulously reported story on Monday leaves little doubt. It read: 'LOST' KOSCHMAN FILES WEREN'T LOST AFTER ALL.

"For more than two years, the Sun-Times has papered the offices of police and prosecutors with Freedom of Information Act requests. Asking for the files that led law enforcement in 2004 and again in 2011 to dismiss the case as a simple matter of self-defense. A case in which Koschman, not Vanecko, was portrayed as the aggressor.

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office claimed it could not find a single shred of paper or electronic document even though its top felony review prosecutor was brought into the case. The cops couldn't find critical files either.

"Judge Michael P. Toomin, in appointing Webb last year, derisively dubbed it 'missing file syndrome.'

"Miraculously, after repeated requests from Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson in 2011, some files magically were discovered. And revealed troubling inconsistencies with what CPD had originally claimed. Scratched out - but still readable - were the words "very aggressive" to describe Vanecko. Not Koschman. And a notation was scrawled on the back of another document reading, 'V Dailey Sister Son.'"

*

Will Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy plead with the Daley and Vanecko families to break the no-snitch code?

*

R.J. Vanecko has refused to speak to police since day one. But Bill Daley says he's "basically a good kid."

*

Let's not forget the performance of Megan McDonald.

*

They were probably all yukking it up over the weekend celebrating the 10th anniversary of this.

*

Richard M. Daley, God's special creature.

-

Opening Day
* Letter From St. Louis: Letter From Spring Training
* The Cub Factor: Spite TV
* The White Sox Report: Cold Open To A Mediocre Mystery

-

Dunks, Hat Tricks & Big Blue
In SportsMonday.

Bone, Thugs, Brando & Braver
In The Weekend in Chicago Rock.

Handcuffs, Tomahawk & German Beer
In One Dude's Reviews.

First Rahm Came For . . .
Hint: Not the rich.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Throw the first pitch.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

One Dude's Reviews: Handcuffs, Tomahawk & German Beer

Reviews you can use.

1. The Chicago Model 1000 Handcuff.


*

Unboxing the handcuffs.

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2. United Cutlery M58 Yellow Rescue Edition Tomahawk.

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3. Warsteiner German Beer Review.

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For more, see patdud1979's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:47 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony at the Metro on Saturday night.


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2. Brando at Exedus II on Thursday night.

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3. Alex Aiono at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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4. R5 at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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5. Braver at the Underground Lounge on Friday night.

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6. Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rockettes at Reggie's on Saturday night.

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7. Jesus of Suburbia in Rosemont on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Spite TV

The Cubs are gonna stink again this season and it's not alright.

There is absolutely no guarantee that Theo's rebuild will quadruple lap the rest of the league's franchises in, say, oh, 2016, justifying our continued pain, and there is absolutely no excuse for the most profitable team in baseball owned by one of America's richest families one year away from another huge jackpot to not try to win a the major league level on a parallel track to reshaping the farm system.

And a Jumbotron doesn't make things better, it makes things worse.

The desecration of sport's most uniquely special franchise, intimately tied to its uniquely special ballpark, is nearly complete.

Some of us only watch in anger these days.

Week in Review: The Cubs went 1-4-2 (yes, there are ties in spring training) in their last week of the exhibition season. They went 16-19 on the whole. They are terrible.

Week in Preview: The Cubs open today in Pittsburgh, whom they will battle all season long for last place in the NL Central, with the winner (loser) being relegated to Peoria to replace the departing Rivermen, who play hockey. Two more against the Pirates after the requisite Tuesday break will be followed by three losses in Atlanta over the weekend.

The Second Basemen Report: Just as we were ready to retire The Second Basemen Report, Darwin Barney goes and lacerates his knee and lands himself on the DL. That puts White Sox refugee Brent Lillibridge in line to be a Cubs Opening Day starter, which should make this kid very happy - or very sad. Someone should check in with him.

Meanwhile, Alberto Gonzalez is expected to be called up from Triple-A to fill Barney's roster spot, and the team revealed that Opening Day third baseman Luis Valbuena - imagine seeing that advertised 50-feet tall at Wrigley - is also capable of playing second. So we're not done with this feature just yet.

In former second basemen news, Mickey Morandini is in second season managing the Phillies' Class A Lakewood (N.J.) BlueClaws, and in his third season overall in the organization. He is missed.

The Not-So-Hot Corner: Luis Valbuena has a career WAR of -0.3. Which is better than I thought it would be. Oh, Cubs.

(His WAR last year was 1.4, but that must take into consideration that his replacement player was former hotshit prospect Josh Vitters. Meanwhile, Junior Lake is adapting to the Cubs Way quite nicely.)

Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana tripled and drove in two runs on Wednesday - just a week after a cut on his hand earned while stealing a base and requiring eight stitches re-opened - but was optioned to Triple-A Reno to start the season.

Meanwhile, Bob Brenly is in a better booth.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Tom Ricketts for Wall Street: Insatiable greed on wheels that destroys everything sacred in its path.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares in Rosemont refused to move higher as only David Kaplan and David Haugh bought in to a short-sell play so ridiculous that authorities won't even bother to investigate. Shares of Bullshit, however, continued to do well.

Sink or Sveum: 50% Analytical, 50% Emotional. Dale Sveum proved to be nothing more than Mike Quade with a five o'clock shadow last year. 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 starts the season as he left it: Bat Sh#t Crazy and Thinking Clearly.

manson.jpgneck.jpg jordi.jpgdata.jpg

And just like your thought-to-be level-headed uncle, Dale put his seeds in the ground knowing that it was too early and the cold would kill them but hoping that somehow, someway, he could cheat the laws of gardening.

Over/Under: Number of losses in 2013: +/- 99.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Theo Epstein gets more free passes than The Funny Bone hands out for open mic night.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

Cold Open To A Mediocre Mystery

The last few crystals from that pile of snow in my backyard were making a valiant attempt over the weekend to hold on until Chris Sale's first scheduled pitch on Opening Day this afternoon on the South Side.

On Friday, winter's final vestige appeared to be a cinch to survive the beginning of the baseball season. The seasons' transition grabbed my attention as spring made an appearance the past couple of days. By Sunday, however, the crystals were gone, and our prospects for a comfortable opener appeared possible.

Still, the forecast predicts "unseasonably cold" temperatures today. Let's face it, our city is just plain cold at the beginning of April; the word "unseasonably" is neither necessary nor accurate.

Just two years ago, when the Sox beat Tampa Bay 5-1 in the opener, the thermometer reached a high of just 39 degrees.

Then again, a year ago, when the Sox opened at home (beating Detroit 5-2) on April 13 after five road games, the thermometer hit 64 degrees.

Not only was the game memorable for a Sox win over the eventual American League champion, but this was the day Miguel Cabrera - batting in the first inning - pointed out to the home plate umpire that Roger Bossard's chalk lines for the batter's box weren't in the proper place. Cabrera claimed that they missed by a few inches.

Bossard has performed this work since 1967, so he's had some practice. However, the umps concurred with Cabrera, whose expert perception and eyesight helped him go on to win a Triple Crown.

That Bossard and his crew didn't quite get it right a year ago is less surprising than what the entire field will look like this afternoon. How can the grass be so green and luxuriant when just a couple of days ago I had snow in my backyard?

I know about hot-house tomatoes. This must be a hot-house baseball park. The grass in our neighborhood won't be this green until Memorial Day, yet the field at the Cell will be in mid-season form.

Today's crowd will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 38,000. It is listed as a sellout. Not since 1999 - when the Sox drew 26,243 - has a opener drawn less than capacity. So every home opener this century has been a sellout.

Last season, the announced attendance was 38,676. The unfortunate aspect - at least for the team's sales department - is that none of the other 80 home dates drew as many fans as Opening Day.

Not only have the Sox been successful from an attendance standpoint on Opening Days since 2000, but they've given ticket-buyers plenty to cheer about. They've won 11 of 13 home openers in the 21st Century. They'll be looking for their sixth in a row today.

If last season's miserable performance against the Kansas City Royals - 12 losses in 18 games - is any indication, our athletes will be mightily tested when Sale inaugurates the season at 3:10 p.m.

He'll be facing James Shields, a stalwart on the Tampa Bay pitching staff for the past six seasons who was traded to Kansas City over the winter along with pitcher Wade Davis for minor league Player of the Year Wil Myers. Myers, who will begin the season with the Rays' Triple-A affiliate, slammed 34 homers in 2012 and drove in 109 runs.

Of course, none of these came at the big league level, so theoretically the Royals gave up very little to get two legitimate big league pitchers.

Kansas City has hit the ball all over the park the past few seasons, but they've been sabotaged by poor pitching. Now they think they can make a move up in the standings because they still have guys like Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer, and emerging start Salvador Perez in the lineup.

Most of the prognosticators have already given the division to the Tigers while predicting that the Twins will finish fifth. The Royals with their improved pitching and the Indians with Terry Francona at the helm are expected to battle the White Sox for the middle three positions. The consensus is that the Sox will finish third or fourth.

How can you argue with that? The Sox are basically the same team that finished 87-75 last season. Sure, they led the division for 117 days before stumbling in September. But let's be honest - the Tigers were the superior team.

Therefore, how can the White Sox be better with the addition of a third baseman, Jeff Keppinger, who has been more or less a utility man his entire career, and the subtraction of A.J. Pierzynski, who hit 27 home runs last year with a .278/.326/.826 line?

The other guys simply have to play better. Adam Dunn can't hit .204 again, nor can Gordon Beckham have another season at .234. The outfield of Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios has to produce at the same or higher levels than a year ago. Paul Konerko needs to show at age 37 that he has something left in the tank. Tyler Flowers needs to be a productive replacement for Pierzynski.

All of which says nothing about the pitching which the front office deems to be the Sox's strength. Can the young pitchers of last year - Addison Reed, Jose Quintana, Nate Jones, Hector Santiago and Sale - continue to mature and improve? Will Jake Peavy ever come close to his Cy Young level of six seasons ago? For that matter, will Gavin Floyd come close to the pitcher he was when he went 17-8 in 2008?

I've hit the question mark so often in this article that I may have to get the keyboard repaired. The Sox are gambling that Robin Ventura and his coaching staff will be able to put all the pieces together into a contending team, which is improbable but certainly not impossible.

And it all begins this afternoon in front of a chilled full house. The good news today is that the air will be slightly colder than my refrigerator, which means the beer will stay cold. The bad news is that infamous coldophobe Alexei Ramirez may call in sick. But if the Sox win, we'll soon forget about the temperature we endured.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Dunks, Hat Tricks & Big Blue

Happiness is Stacey King describing a replay of a big Bulls dunk. And the home team threw down just enough of those and dropped in just enough three-pointers to squeak by the Pistons 95-94 on Sunday night.

It was a victory that is admissible as powerful evidence on my side in an argument I have too damn frequently: The pro game, even between mediocre teams in the midst of a long and grinding season, is far more enjoyable to watch for true basketball lovers than the college game even at tournament time.

In this case, the Bulls-Pistons match - a game both teams could have mailed-in - was 10 times more exciting than any of the Elite Eight games over the weekend.

Consider the play of Jimmy Butler. His big dunk came in the fourth quarter off of one of his game-high five steals.

It certainly wasn't flashy, and it certainly was uncontested, but it generated well-timed momentum. And the Bulls needed every last bit of momentum (and every last point) down the stretch against an extremely pesky Pistons squad.

Butler's slam was actually the only one of the fourth quarter for the Bulls. Fortunately for the fans, they did have at least one other big dunk earlier - Carlos Boozer's baseline throwdown - that was a big part of the home team staying close to the Pistons throughout the third quarter. They did so despite ever-present player absences due to injuries and the fact that they were playing far from their best ball.

Here are the highlights:

The win was especially satisfying because it came on the heels of an infuriating loss to Dallas on Saturday. The Bulls led by double-digits late in that one thanks to Nate Robinson's awesome display of distance shooting. The big little man shot seven times from beyond the arc during the first 47 minutes and made all seven.

But a fatigued Bulls team - in part because of injuries and in part because Tom Thibodeau refuses to accept that if he doesn't get his stalwarts a little rest early on they won't play well in the closing minutes - gave that lead away and then watched as Dirk Nowitzki drained a game-winning three with less than three seconds left.

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Hawk Tawk
The Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators tonight and guess what? It's Floppy Hat Night! Pray for a hat trick.

It's certainly possible. The Hawks are coming off a satisfying 7-1 win over the Red Wings on Sunday. Here are the highlights:

*

Patrick Sharp has not returned, as I expected, and Marian Hossa remains out. Here's Patrick Kane talking about the team's injuries:

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Big Blue Blues
Michigan advanced to the Final Four over the weekend so we'll all have to suffer while the city's many Big Bluers smugly go about their business until Syracuse sends them home on Saturday.

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For Openers
* Letter From St. Louis: Letter From Spring Training
* The Cub Factor: Spite TV
* The White Sox Report: Cold Open To A Mediocre Mystery

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:25 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
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POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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