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« August 2014 | Main | October 2014 »

September 30, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

"I have it on good authority that Bruce Rauner the GOP candidate for governor, is outsourcing part of his campaign to Michigan," Bernie Schoenburg writes for the Springfield State Journal-Register.

"That's because when I was at home Thursday, I got a call from a woman who said she was with the Rauner campaign. My clue that she was not from here was that she did not know how to pronounce 'Blagojevich' and even messed up the name 'Cullerton' on the first try."

If she was really "with" the Rauner campaign, she'd know you pronounce those names "Quinn."

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Let's pause right now to note that the URL for this article contains the word "Obituaries."

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Back to Schoenburg:

"[W]hen I asked, say that she was calling from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and worked for what she called Victory Phone Lines."

At least Rauner merely outsourced instead of offshored this one, though I'd love to hear "Blagojevich" pronounced with a Cayman accent

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"It turns out the Rauner campaign has spent, in the GOP primary and the current race leading to Nov. 4, a total of more than $295,000 with Victory Phones, records filed with the State Board of Elections show."

I'm not sure that's a lot of money, but here's the important part:

"The script the caller was trying to follow . . . talked of improper hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation and 'Pat Quinn's early release program,' which she said included 'murderers.'

"The Associated Press, in reviewing a TV ad Rauner's campaign is running about that 2009 early release program that included 230 offenders who had been convicted of violent crimes or those involving weapons, reported that nobody among those released early was serving a sentence for murder."

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See also: Bruce Rauner's Fact-Free Rhetoric Losing Its Punch.

AKA, Raunocchio.

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Rahm's Phone Follies
Wonder if this was a Victory poll too.

AKA, Rahmocchio.

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Local Book Notes: Gangstanomics
Plus: The Little Wetback & The Secrets of the Southwest Suburbs.

Dairy Queen vs. Sandwich
This offer may vary in Texas.

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BeachBook
* Oberweis & Cain Together At Last.

* Best Police Chief Ever?

* CIA: Cost Of A Personal Computer In 1987 Is A Secret.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Always ideal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Gangstanomics

1. Gangstanomics.

"Former OG Harold 'Noonie G' Ward is set to release his second book with a foreword written by 50 Cent and an afterward by Diddy," HipHopWired reports.

"With Gangstanomics, Ward wants to educate his readers on how politicians, the corporate world and street world work hand in hand. Ward explores the parallels between the street world and the corporate world and explains how the two segments of society cannot exist without the other."

True enough. But here's the payoff:

"Ward is running for office as the Representative of the 29th District of the Illinois State House, as well as Alderman of the 9th Ward."

2. The Secrets of The Southwest Suburbs.

"While Nevien Shaabneh's new novel may be a work of fiction, it includes depictions of bigotry familiar to her and other Muslims in the Southland and the Chicago area," the SouthtownStar reports.

"Secrets Under the Olive Tree"is the debut novel for Shaabneh, 35, of Tinley Park, who teaches English at Stagg High School in Palos Hills."

3. "The Littlest Wetback: From Undocumented Child To U.S. Federal Judge."

And Metra board member.

4. Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the most Famous Tiger in the World.

By a native South Sider.

5. The Godfather Of Soul Was Also A Dad.

"James Brown was, of course, the Godfather of Soul and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. But all that he worked to grab those titles over decades seemed to come crashing down through much of the '80s and '90s," Bob Ruggiero writes for the Houston Press.

"That's when he derailed into years of drug and domestic abuse, erratic behavior, weapons charges, a carousel of women, and questionable business deals. His name became more of punchline for comedians than pillar for music writers, the low point being a crazy-looking mug shot and an actual stint in a South Carolina prison (remember the 'Free James Brown' T-shirts?).

"But his crash and burn was no laughing matter to some members of his family, especially daughter Yamma.

"Reconciling the competing personalities of James Brown as loving and attentive father, worldwide celebrity, musical genius, abusive husband, and drug addict, all come together in Yamma's brutally honest memoir, written with Robin Gaby Fisher, Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me (Chicago Review Press, 208 pp., $24.95.)."

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Yamma Brown Interview:

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6. House Of Debt.

"Congrats (!) to House of Debt authors Atif Mian and Amir Sufi for making the shortlist for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year," Kristi McGuire writes on the University of Chicago Press blog.

"Now in competition with five other titles from an initial offering of 300 nominations, House of Debt - and its story of the predatory lending practices behind the Great American Recession, the burden of consumer debt on fragile markets, and the need for government-bailed banks to share risk-taking rather than skirt blame - will find out its fate at the November 11th award ceremony."

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A Talk With The Authors:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

Dairy Queen Vs. Sandwich, Illinois

SANDWICH, Ill. - Will the city of Sandwich, Ill., change its name to "Wrap?"

That's the request posed to the City by the Dairy Queen system, a Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A and BRK.B) company, as part of the launch of its new value blockbuster Chicken Wrap $5 Buck Lunch.

To sweeten the deal, the DQ system delivered Chicken Wrap $5 Buck Lunch value meals to Sandwich Police.

"In the Dairy Queen system, we are fans of a good sandwich and certainly are fans of Sandwich, Ill.," said Barry Westrum, executive vice president of Marketing for American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ).

"But with other cities in the U.S. named Sandwich, we are offering an opportunity for the city to break away from the pack and be the first in the nation to be named Wrap.

"We hope they'll consider our request. In the spirit of goodwill, we also are making a contribution in the city's name (Wrap, Ill.) to the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital and donating blankets to the city to help the needy stay wrapped up and warm this winter."

Still no word on whether the city is considering the request.

The Chicken Wrap $5 Buck Lunch includes not one but two crispy or grilled chicken wraps, topped with melted cheddar cheese, creamy ranch dressing and crispy lettuce nestled in a warm tortilla and is served with fries, a beverage and a signature DQ sundae.

The DQ $5 Buck Lunch is available daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at participating locations.

In addition to the Chicken Wrap Lunch, fans have a choice for their $5 Buck Lunch of a Bacon Cheeseburger, 3-piece Chicken Strip or a Chili Cheese Dog, which are all served with fries, a beverage and choice of a sundae.

For just $1 more, fans also have the option to upgrade their small sundae to a small Blizzard Treat, such as Pumpkin Pie, the featured Blizzard of the Month for October.

This offer may vary in Texas.

For more information about the Dairy Queen system, visit DairyQueen.com.

Connect with the DQ system on Twitter using #LOVEmyDQ and follow the system at twitter.com/dairyqueen.

Visit the DQ Facebook fan page, which has more than 9.4 million friends and become a friend at facebook.com/dairyqueen.

About ADQ
American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), which is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., develops, licenses and services a system of more than 6,300 Dairy Queen stores in the United States, Canada and 25 other countries. ADQ is part of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies led by Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

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Editor's Note: The DeKalb Daily Chronicle makes sure the offer isn't real. That's legacy newsroom culture, folks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

September 29, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

I'm not as quick to acquit Jay Cutler for his role in Sunday's debacle as our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman and many of his sports media brethren, but you have to wonder why the Bears had absolutely no answer for at least mitigating Aaron Rodgers.

Coffman has more in SportsMonday: The Rivalry Is Dead.

Coffman also talked Bears on WBEZ this morning; we'll bring you the audio on Tuesday as it isn't available yet.

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Bears kicker Robbie Gould just said on The Score that their onside kick attempt near the end of the first half was a great call because the Packers weren't expecting it. But if you read SportsMonday, you'll learn that that isn't true - the Packers saw it coming.

The Beachwood Radio Hour #25!
Beat Up On Brucey Week.

Just Another Empty Carhartt Jacket. Including: Nursing Homes On Trial. The Cross-Purposes Of Tax Avoidance. Ghost Killers On The Run. The Political Odds. Lovable Losers. Memoir Of A Skinhead.

The College Football Report Top Ten: Army To Amway
Multi-level marketing at its best.

Ode To The 2014 White Sox
The problems are many,
The holes need filling.
Start with the bullpen.
Their 4.38 ERA is chilling
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The Cub Factor
Will appear later this week.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Coves, The Raveonettes, A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Sebadoh, Enforcer, Hag Face, The Minor Ninths, Lemaitre, Porter Robinson, Cage the Elephant, The Black Keys, Lake Street Dive, Alice Boman, and Mount Erie.

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BeachBook
* Unemployment Isn't A Bug, It's A Feature.

Sadly, this is exactly how Federal Reserve policy-making works. The Fed will raise interest rates - squeezing the amount of money available to companies - when the unemployment rate starts to trend "too low." It does this ostensibly because it fears inflation, which happens to lessen the value of assets that rich people (who don't really make their money on wages) hold. Even worse, the rock-solid relationship between inflation and unemployment isn't even rock-solid upon inspection (look up NAIRU). Of course, these days corporations are sitting on unprecedented amounts of cash which they are hoarding instead of investing. Meanwhile, lives are destroyed.

* Fact-Checking Conservative, Latently Racist 'Black-on-Black' Crime 'Outrage' And Concern Trolling.

See (and listen to) also: The Beachwood Radio Hour #20: The Outrage Is In Your Face.

* Alderman Believes Online Poll Is Valuable Policy-Making Tool.

Get it together, Tunney.

* Say 'No' To The Iliana Expressway (Again).

I want to believe in the Iliana, but the policy geeks are in consensus and make a persuasive case.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Onside and off.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:27 AM | Permalink

Ode To 2014

The curtain came down,
The Cell now is dark.
Rack up another 89 losses.
You think the Sox missed their mark?

Attendance keeps dipping
For the seventh straight year.
Fewer fans, less revenue,
No free agents I fear.

The problems are many,
The holes need filling.
Start with the bullpen.
Their 4.38 ERA is chilling.

Petricka, Putnam and Webb
It's like kicking the tires.
While Belisario, Lindstrom and Cleto
Simply poured gas on the fires.

Dunn now is history,
Beckham is gone for good reason.
Say good-bye to De Aza.
They're all playing in the post-season.

Saturday was special
As we bid Paulie adieu.
And now Sox fans can look ahead
To the Age of Abreu.

You have to love Eaton
He's a hustler without thunder.
The guy patrols centerfield
And he hit an even .300.

The future is Avi Garcia.
Watching him will be fun.
Can he hit 30 dingers?
Well, his arm is a gun.

Viciedo is puzzling,
He's a hunk and he's sturdy.
But the guy swings at anything.
That's why he hits .230.

Do we now have a catcher?
Is Flowers still suspect?
Has Conor Gillaspie
Now earned our respect?

The questions are many
We need the Chairman to do his part.
One hole could be plugged
If he allows Hahn to sign V-Mart.

We have lefties galore
Chris Sale has earned our esteem.
With any support
Quintana would win at least 15.

Danks now is healthy,
He's learning a lesson.
Keep his change-up down low
And he'll win more than 11.

Noesi, Carroll and Bassitt
Want to be part of the rotation.
Throwing strikes with regularity
Is enough motivation.

Ramirez was solid,
What a season he had.
Finding a regular second baseman,
Could Sanchez be the lad?

Ventura will lead them
That seems so clear.
After all, Sox fans
They won more than last year.

But the Tigers and Royals
Posted so many more wins.
The Sox finished fourth
Thanks to the Twins.

The mistakes, the errors,
Has this team no pride?
Just 73 wins,
The same as the North Side.

The winter will be long,
The days will be short.
But once February arrives,
Pitchers and catchers will report.

The slate will be clean,
Could this be our year?
That's why we're Sox fans
Aside from the beer.

It all will start over,
The long, long campaign.
Wouldn't it be lovely
If it ends with Champagne?

20140928_151154.jpg

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Rivalry Is Dead

We can stop calling it a rivalry.

With the arrival of Marc Trestman and a promising 2013 season that ended with a down-to the last-play showdown, it appeared the Bears-Packers thing might be revived as a legitimate battle of equals. But that died again on Sunday.

No matter what the hype-meisters would have you believe, you can't have a rivalry when one team sucks, year after year after year. Aaron Rodgers is now 10-3 versus the Bears - following Brett Favre's 22-10 run with Green Bay (and I must admit I find it hard to believe the Bears actually posted double-digit wins during that run) - after the Packers' latest, a 38-17 victory.

All of that stuff about Jay Cutler playing at Aaron Rodgers' level seems pretty silly this morning, doesn't it?

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Still, we can't pin this on the Same Old Jay.

"In eight games as the Bears starter, against defensive coordinator Dom Capers, Cutler is a meager 1-7," Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted before the game.

"He has posted brutal passer ratings of 43.2, 74.9, 82.5, 43.5, 78.9, 28.2, 72.5 and, last year, 103.0 with 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

"Yet there is that 103.0, a sign that this is a new Cutler under head coach Marc Trestman. Cutler was not the problem in Chicago's Week 17 loss to Green Bay last year. He's been more efficient and disciplined with Trestman. In his 14 games with the Bears' second-year head coach, Cutler has completed 274 of 476 passes for 3,371 yards, 27 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions. In other words, not the same-old Jay."

Except for the result. And the two interceptions - even if one appears to have been Brandon Marshall's fault.

But look, those interceptions weren't primarily to blame for the loss; you have to put it on a defense that didn't stop the Packers once. As you may have heard by now, this was only the second game in NFL history without a punt.

If the Bears' defense didn't look so hapless from the start, Trestman may not have felt it so imperative to attempt an onside kick when he did - and which the Packers were ready for.

"We knew it was a possibility just because of the situation of the game and then they line up 6 by 4," Packers special teams star Sean Richardson said about how the Bears set up their coverage team. "We were kind of aware, 'Hey, look for the onsides kick.'"

"The Bears had just scored to take a 17-14 lead in the second quarter when kicker Robbie Gould popped the ball into the air on a beautifully executed onside kick that end Cornelius Washington nearly gathered off the bounce," Tom Silverstein writes for the Journal-Sentinel.

"As it popped out of [Cornelius] Washington's grasp and past the Packers' first line of defense, four different Bears were in a position to pounce on the ball. But Richardson beat all of them to it, fell on it at the Packers' 39 and then withstood a wave of Bears pursuers trying to strip the ball out of his arms."

Four different Bears were in a position to pounce on the ball.

Another special teams failure.

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That was one turning point. And another was certainly Cutler's first interception (the game was lost by the time he threw his second). But each came as the defense was being sliced and diced like so much soft cheese.

I will never understand why defensive coaches prefer slow torture to tearing the Band-Aid off quickly, i.e.. why they are willing to let star quarterbacks drop back and pick them apart rather than doing whatever they have to do to create pressure.

The Bears didn't appear to blitz a single time on Sunday.

This time David Haugh has it right: "Bears Deplorable Defense Behind This Debacle."

Hub Arkush similarly writes: "Don't Pin This One On Cutler."

"[I]t's pretty hard to fault an offense that put up 33 first downs, 496 yards, rushed for 235 and was 7 of 11 (64 percent) converting third downs," Arkush notes.

Sure, Cutler isn't Rodgers, as Arkush points out. But what the Bears put out on the field Sunday wasn't a defense, either.

And this isn't a true rivalry any more than Cubs-Cards. Geography alone isn't enough.

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See also:
* Biggs disagrees: It Starts With Cutler.

* Morrissey: Cutler Could Only Keep Up With Rodgers For A Half.

* Finley: Bears Rush For Most Yards Since 1988 - And Still Lose.

* Potash: Bennett, Morgan 'Non-TDs' Prove Costly.

* Jahns: Bears' Pass-Rushers Come Up Empty, Record Zero Hits On Rodgers.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:29 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Coves at the Double Door on Friday night.

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2. The Raveonettes at the Double Door on Friday night.

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3. A Great Big Pile of Leaves at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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4. Sebadoh at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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5. Enforcer at Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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6. Hag Face at Permanent Records on Saturday night.

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7. The Minor Ninths at Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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8. Lemaitre at the Aragon on Friday night.

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9. Porter Robinson at the Aragon on Friday night.

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10. Cage the Elephant at the big hockey arena on the West Side on Sunday night.

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11. The Black Keys at the big hockey arena on the West Side on Saturday night.

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12. Lake Street Dive at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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13. Alice Boman at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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14. Mount Erie at the Co-Prosperity Sphere on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:30 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Top Ten: From Army To Amway

1. Yale.

Yale and Army played for the 46th time in a series that dates to 1893 and the Bulldogs pulled a 49-43 upset in overtime to beat the Black Knights for the first time since 1955.

First, if you beat the United States Army shouldn't you be ranked No. 1 in the country?

Second, the United States Army's team name is the Black Knights. We thought it was the Army.

2. Ohio State strength coach Anthony Schlegel.

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3. Georgia RB Todd Gurley.

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4. North Carolina State.

The Wolfpack nearly upset #1 Florida State thanks to great plays like these by QB Jacoby Brissett.

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5. LSU.

The Tigers covered a 43-point line - by 13 points - in a 63-7 win over New Mexico State.

(Then again, NMSU owns the nation's longest active streak of losing seasons (11), the worst record in the FBS since 2004 (28-94), and have had only four winning seasons since 1968.)

6. UMass QB Blake Frohnapfel.

Frohnapfel racked up 589 yards passing and five touchdowns for UMass. Those are some serious numbers for a Frohnapfel.

7. Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown.

Brown earned the inglorious record of being the first coach in NCAA history to lose 200 games following a 50-7 loss to Northern Iowa. He must be one helluva engineering professor to keep his job.

8. Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong.

Strong dismissed junior offensive lineman Kennedy Estelle last Tuesday for unspecified violations of team rules, becoming the third starter and ninth player overall Strong has booted this season. Apparently, Strong takes discipline and drug testing, very, very seriously. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, an average of 104 tests were given annually to football players from 2010 to 2013, but Strong has administered 188 tests in his first eight months on the job.

9. Ole Miss kicker Gary Wunderlich.

The only player ejected after a fracas with Memphis.

10. The Amway Top 25 Coaches Poll.

A) In the shape of a pyramid.

B) Votes are collected door-to-door.

C) The top of the poll makes out like bandits; the bottom not so much.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:11 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #25: Beat Up On Brucey Week

Just Another Empty Carhartt Jacket. Including: Nursing Homes On Trial. The Cross-Purposes Of Tax Avoidance. Ghost Killers On The Run. The Political Odds. Lovable Losers. Memoir Of A Skinhead.

SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:02: The Paul Collins Beat at Bric-a-Brac on Tuesday.

2:05: Beat Up On Brucey Week.

* Monday: Nursing Homes On Trial.

As Bruce Rauner enters the home stretch of his run for Illinois governor, 1,000 miles away in Tampa, Fla., a federal bankruptcy trial opens Monday to weigh allegations that the investment firm he ran participated in a fraudulent scheme to avoid liability for a string of deaths at nursing homes.

8:09: Frantic Flintstones at Reggies last Saturday night.

8:34: Rauner At Dartmouth.

13:52: Beat Up On Brucey Week.

* Tuesday: The Cross-Purposes Of Tax Avoidance.

20:14: La Luz at Bric-a-Brac on Tuesday.

20:46: Parent Power?

* District of Rahm's choice.

* Exolocal culture.

28:00: Absolutely Free at the Empty Bottle last Saturday night.

29:00: Beat Up Brucey Week.

* Wednesday: Just Another Empty Carhartt Jacket.

42:15: Havok at Subterranean last Saturday night.

42:49: Beat Up Brucey Week.

* Thursday: Ghost Killers On The Run.

45:13: Yuna at the Old Town School last Friday night.

47:05: The Political Odds.

* Wally Podrazik.

56:05: Local Music Notebook.

* Dimebag Darrell.

* The Cubs And The Replacements.

* The Cub Factor: Wrigley Wrecking Ball.

* Alt-Conformity.

1:04:37: NE HI At Thalia Hall last Saturday night.

1:06:05: Memoirs Of A Chicago Skinhead.

1:09:16: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #19: Rodgers Playing At Cutler-Like Level.

* The College Football Report:The Fighting Costanzi!

* TrackNotes: When Handsome Ain't Enough.

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Welcome Back To Point "A."

STOPPAGE TIME: 11:58.

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For archives etc., see: The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:47 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Taking care of all your weekend needs.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #25: Beat Up On Brucey Week is here:

Just Another Empty Carhartt Jacket. Including: Nursing Homes On Trial. The Cross-Purposes Of Tax Avoidance. Ghost Killers On The Run. The Political Odds. Lovable Losers. Memoir Of A Skinhead.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #19 is here:

Rodgers Playing At Cutler-Like Level.

Segments include: Mel's Bells! It's Tucker Time. Jared Allen Is Not MIA. A Case Of The Mundys. Keeping Forte Fresh! Is Jay Cutler Bored? Leave The Black Unicorn Alone. The Verdict On Ventura. Wrigley Wrecking Ball.

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The College Football Report is here:

The Fighting Costanzi!

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TrackNotes is here:

Not So Super Saturday: When Handsome Ain't Enough.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock is here:

The Paul Collins Beat, Absolutely Free, La Luz, Frantic Flintstones, Deaf Wish, Pain of Salvation, Freeman, Clean Bandit, Child Bite, Spray Paint, The Rebel, Ty Segall, Andy Stott, and Wand.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Is here.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jim and Greg review some of the season's biggest new releases by U2, Interpol, Leonard Cohen and more."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Reinventing Democracy.

Former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso delivers a lecture on the evolving nature of citizenship around the world, calling on institutions to adapt to changes in society and technology.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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BeachBook

* Eric Holder Was The Worst Attorney General For The Press In A Generation (At Least).

* Eric Holder: Creator Of The 'Too Big To Jail' Bankster.

* How To Call A Team's Bluff On Stadium Subsidies.

* One Incredible Entrepreneur Saved This Struggling Neighborhood By Replacing Everyone In It With Affluent Twentysomethings.

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TweetWood

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The Chicago Way.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Paul Collins Beat at Bric-a-Brac on Tuesday.


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2. Absolutely Free at the Empty Bottle last Saturday night.

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3. La Luz at Bric-a-Brac on Tuesday.

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4. Frantic Flintstones at Reggies last Saturday night.

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5. Deaf Wish at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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6. Pain of Salvation at Reggies on Sunday night.

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7. Aaron Freeman at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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8. Clean Bandit at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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9. Child Bite at the Burlington on Thursday night.

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10. Spray Paint at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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11. The Rebel at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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12. Ty Segall at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

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Loerzel: "Ty Segall played a rousing rock show Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Thalia Hall, culminating with an encore that paid tribute to David Bowie. It happened to be David Bowie Day in Chicago, with the opening of the David Bowie Is exhibit at the MCA, and Segall played a medley of Bowie songs, kicking off with 'Ziggy Stardust.' As I predicted in my Newcity preview of the show, there was moshing. Segall's latest album, Manipulator, is one of his best, and in concert the new songs sounded terrific, if a bit more blunt than they are in the studio version."

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13. Andy Stott at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

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14. Wand at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

September 26, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #19: Rodgers Playing At Cutler-Like Level

R-e-l-a-x. L-i-v-i-n. Plus: Mel's Bells! It's Tucker Time. Jared Allen Is Not MIA. A Case Of The Mundys. Keeping Forte Fresh! Is Jay Cutler Bored? Leave The Black Unicorn Alone. The Verdict On Ventura. Wrigley Wrecking Ball.


SHOW NOTES

1:30: Mel's Bells! It's Tucker Time.

* The View From New Jersey: The Jets' Red-Zone Offense Sucks.

* Paging Chris Ivory.

* Jared Allen Is NOT MIA.

* Kyle Fuller: MVP! MVP!

* A Case of the Mundys.

* A Case of the Mornhinwegs.

* In Tresty We Circumspecty?

* Where have you gone, Chris Conte? A lonely secondary turns its eyes to you.

* Jay Cutler: Not Hurt Yet!

* Keeping Forte Fresh!

* R-E-L-A-X.

* Leave The Black Unicorn Alone!

* Bored Jay Cutler.

vs. Sad Keanu.

* Trestman the Tailor: He makes adjustments!

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Welcome Back To Point "A."

* Is There Reason For The Packers To Be Concerned?

* Bizarro Haugh: Cutler Playing At Rodgers-Like Level.

* Coffman: "In the NFL, if there isn't a significant disparity in talent levels, the desperate team wins. And at 1-2 so far, Green Bay will be the more desperate team going into Sunday."

41:40: Robin Ventura vs. Jimmy Dykes.

* The Verdict On Ventura.

* The hot seat starts next spring.

47:15: The Cub Factor: Wrigley Wrecking Ball.

* The first nail in the Jumbotron is the last nail in the coffin.

* Ricky Renteria's Romper Room.

1:01:15: The Blackhawks Are Back.

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More at: The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:55 PM | Permalink

The College Football Report: The Fighting Costanzi!

We are finally getting into the meat of the season. Teams spent the opening four weeks warming up against the likes of Hawaii, South Dakota State (actually a state!), Troy (not the Greeks, the school; the school has fraternities and sororities but few actual* Greeks - let's call them Greek-Greeks - as it's in Nowheresville, Alabama**), Lamar***, and Illinois.

This week should separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

We will be closely monitoring three in-conference games this weekend. This early in the season, it's difficult to gauge the quality of teams like Washington and Missouri. UW's biggest win came against FCS representative Georgia State. We say this because the Huskies' only win to date against a Power Five team was . . . Illinois.

Yes, that's how little we think of Illiniwek & Co.

As for Mizzou, the Tigers beat South Dakota State, Toledo and UCF but fell to Indiana last weekend. (That must have hurt.) During that stretch, SC played Texas A&M (#21 at the time) and Georgia (#6). To their credit, Arkansas faced some legit opponents, losing to Auburn but winning easily over Texas Tech and Northern Illinois.

Arkansas (3-1, 0-1 SEC) vs. #6 Texas A&M (4-0, 1-0)
Our pick: We don't love it, but the Hogs look frisky enough to cover the +9 spread.

Missouri (3-1, 0-0 SEC) vs. #13 South Carolina (3-1, 2-1)
Our pick: South Carolina is -5, which should pose no problem for the Gamecocks.

#16 Stanford (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Washington (4-0, 0-0)
Our pick: Is Stanford good? We can't tell. The trends point to the Cardinal (Wash was 1-3 as underdog in 2013) but the idea of getting more (+8) than a touchdown as a home 'dog looks intriguing. Tempting, but we'll pass.

Fourteen of the Top 25 teams enter Week Five undefeated with all but one in the Top 10 boasting perfect records. (#9 Michigan State is the lone exception at 2-1.) While conference play begins in earnest for many schools this weekend, most of those batting 1.000 have a bye week.

The few biggies in action don't face much risk of dropping a game: In addition to the Aggies (vs. Arkansas, above), #1 Florida State is heavily favored (by 19) against NC State, and 4-0 Nebraska takes on Illinois. Jameis Winston**** returns for FSU on Saturday, so you can bet the Seminoles will be fired up. Nebraska will face a U of I squad still spooked from last week's near-disaster against FCS opponent Texas State. Illinois surrendered 475 yards and 35 points in a narrow win, and only a breakout game from RB Josh Ferguson (190 yards, 2 TDs) prevented the upset.

Nebraska and Illinois have met just once in Big Ten conference play, a convincing 39-19 W by Nebraska last year. Very little points to an Illinois upset, much less a cover: the Huskers are 11-6 in recent games as the "chalk" in Lincoln, and 9-5 when laying double digits. Meanwhile, the Illini are a Zook-esque 1-8 as road 'dogs under head coach Tim Beckman. Which is why we're taking . . .

Illinois (+21) and the points!

Why? We don't know!

Call it a Costanza Moment.

Next week, look for the first edition of our postseason bowl projections, including the Pecan Bowl, Cashew Bowl, Macadamia Bowl, Walnut Bowl, and the Peanuts In The Bottom Of The Bowl Of Mixed Nuts Bowl.

Chick'n Pickin'
The College Football Free Range Chicken has a record on the season. We don't know what that record is, because the Chicken can't count. Suffice it to say, there have been some wins and losses.

Baylor (-21.5) vs. Iowa State, 12:30 p.m.
Wake Forest vs. Louisville (-21.5), 2:30 p.m.
Texas vs. Kansas (+13), 3 p.m.
Rice vs. Southern Miss (+8), 6 p.m.

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* Not to be confused with fake Greeks.

** Real name: Troy, Alabama. Fun fact: Troy was the home of Clarence "Pine Top" Smith, inventor of American boogie woogie and best known for his hit song "Pine Top's Boogie Woogie." The name of the song clinches it: no one can argue against Smith having invented boogie woogie. It's right there in the title! Alexander Graham Bell should have called it "The Bellophone." That would have shut up Antonio Meucci.

*** Lamar celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the 1964 Southland championship this weekend. The Cardinals went undefeated in '64 in large part due to a stout defense, led by Southland Defensive Player of the Year Vernon McManus, allowing more than 20 points in only one game. Lamar went on to face Northern Iowa for the Midwest Region National Collegiate Small Conference Championship***** in the inaugural Pecan Bowl, losing 19-17 in a nail-biter.

**** If you're interested, and we won't be offended if not, this article details the latest chapter in the Winston drama.

***** We capitalized this to make it look more impressive. Also: can we footnote a footnote?

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques

And the chairs of Lincoln Square.

pennantiqueswesternbw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

This column is in production!

And now, not so much. I've been waylaid - waylaid! - by a bunch of other stuff, so the material I was working on will have to hold - and it will - for the weekend or Monday.

Meanwhile . . .

Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques
And the chairs of Lincoln Square.

The College Football Report: The Fighting Costanzi!
Doing the opposite on a boogie-woogie weekend.

TrackNotes: Not So Super Saturday
When handsome ain't enough.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #19
Aaron Rodgers Playing At Cutler-Like Level.

Plus: Mel's Bells! It's Tucker Time. Jared Allen Is Not MIA. A Case Of The Mundys. Keeping Forte Fresh! Is Jay Cutler Bored? Leave The Black Unicorn Alone. The Verdict On Ventura. Wrigley Wrecking Ball.

The Week In Chicago Rock
In pre-production!

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent events.

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Programming Note
If you sent us a note via the Tip Line from June to last week and never got a reply, well, it was broken and we didn't know it! Now fixed. Just so you know we weren't ignoring you.

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BeachBook
* Reporters Say White House Sometimes Demands Changes To Pool Reports.

Are you fucking kidding me?

* How Former Treasury Officials And The UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists.

The truth is under assault on all fronts.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Producing.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:15 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Tarnished Chrome, Not So Super Saturday & Game Off For Dude

In the horseplaying world, "Which horse do you like?" in its literal meaning, and "Whodoya like?" are two entirely different queries.

Handicapping Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby was a prime example.

Answer 1: I like California Chrome. He almost won the Triple Crown and he tries his hardest and has won a lot of races. He's handsome too.

Answer 2: 'Chrome? "NAAHHHH! I'm tossin' 'im."

The most recent true great horses were Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Curlin. Two of them are a couple of my all-time favorites. But from a wagering standpoint, I did not like them. If you'd bet, you had to include them based on their immense chances of winning, but because of those chances, their prices were rock bottom, would not pay and would drag down any exotic they placed in. It got to the point with those three that you sat out the dance and just enjoyed watching them run. Not bad at all. Rachel even gave me chills a couple of times.

But there are no great horses these days, and it was clear at Parx Racing that the wagering world was betting with its hearts as 'Chrome went off at 4-5 - bet down from a reasonable morning line of 3-1.

Bayern snatched the lead from 'Chrome a few strides from the gate and never looked back, setting a new track record. 'Chrome finished sixth, so far off the TV screen it took me a half hour to figure out where he was. There was a dead heat for fourth.

I figured he needed the race to prepare for the Breeders' Cup, and coming off a layoff of more than 100 days (!) Victor Espinoza was not going to fire the afterburners in this race. They'll save that for the Breeders' Cup. There's also the plain possibility that California Chrome, career-wise, could be fried after his exploits earlier this year. (Speaking of which, a correction from last week: 'Chrome's connections received $200,000 in bonuses to appear in the Pennsylvania Derby; $100,000 each for winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness)

Modern wagering pools are not dominated by on-track handle anymore. Even though the 16,000-plus announced fans at the track - man, they looked like they were literally hanging from the rafters - looked like a civilian bunch who would bet 'Chrome just because, it's hard to believe those of us in the off-track cumulus hammered the horse so hard. I didn't touch him for nuthin'.

While the one-post figured to be an issue for 'Chrome, it ended up moot. The races all day were started one gate position out from the rail, so 'Chrome really broke from the two-gate.

He got a nice - not great - start and had the lead two strides out. That was it. Bayern and Martin Garcia, from the four-post, immediately bullied to the lead, deposited 'Chrome behind them and smoothly dropped to three feet from the rail - the yellow brick road all day - and the race was over before the first turn. Meanwhile, 47-year-old Edgar Prado punched C J's Awesome from the eight-hole to Bayern's right-rear blind spot and stayed there. California Chrome was trapped. He stayed that way until they turned into the stretch, but he was never going to catch Bayern, even though he had holes to his left on the rail and to his right. That would have been a tremendous turn of foot - one that I've never seen from 'Chrome.

Watch out for 'Chrome's post position if he runs in the Breeders' Cup. It will be important as he now seems fairly one-dimensional. He ran nearly identical races in both the Derby and the Preakness, from the five- and three-post positions, respectively. In both, he rated just off and just outside the early leaders, never with anybody directly in front of him, made his move on the turn and ran away. In the Belmont (two-post), it was General A Rod and winner Tonalist who did the boxing in, and after going wide, no way 'Chrome had the energy to finish the 12 furlongs in front.

As for Espinoza, I believe he lacks the ability to keep 'Chrome on the lead and in the open as the horse craves. Bayern hates being eyeballed and Espinoza did not show he could or wanted to do that Saturday. He had a stranglehold on 'Chrome, as if it would be one late run. He should have shot his horse to the lead, challenged Bayern, tried to control a slow pace, as Bayern did, and then hope to get 'Chrome a breather in the backstretch. If Espinoza was riding to instructions, they were lousy - unless 'Chrome's connections were not interested in winning. If he was improvising, trainer Art Sherman should seriously consider a jockey change.

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Daily Racing Form's Dick Jerardi and NBC anchor Laffit Pincay III couldn't stop moaning after Untapable gallantly held off Sweet Reason and Jojo Warrior to grind out a win in the Cotillion.

Sure, it wasn't by open interstate as many of her wins earlier in the year. But if they'd been paying attention, they'd have known Untapable and Rosie Napravnik (Last week, I mistakenly identified Untapable's jockey in the Haskell; it was Rosie) battled against the bias of the 1-2 lanes' golden road and won by a length and a tail down the 4-5 lanes, a much tougher part of the course. It was a gutsy win by my account and all the hand-wringing may improve her price on Breeders' Cup Friday.

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Super Saturday (4:30 p.m -7 p.m., NBCSportsNet), the menu of five Grade Is and a Grade II at Belmont, and two Grade Is at Santa Anita Saturday is not really "Super" if you want to use the superlative sense.

Only Superman is super, and I think the hacks at TVG just gave up and settled for the forgettable and generic hook line. So much for maximizing the naming rights.

Breeders' Cup is more super and more important, as this week's races, once the highlight of Autumn, now serve as preps for the big weekend. But we've got a lot of quality horses in big races for big purses with lots of green passing to and fro through the teller cages. When the horseplayer gets paid, is that toing? Or froing? I'm guessing fro, and that's the one for me.

There's plenty of drama:

  • Will I have enough time to handicap them all in the 12-horse 96th Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (Grade I, 10 furlongs, $1,000,000, three and up)? How will I choose between Wicked Strong (3-1 morning line favorite and Jim Dandy winner), Tonalist (Belmont winner), V.E. Day (Travers winner) and Moreno (Whitney winner)? I don't know, but I'll also be planting some beans on Micromanage and Zivo.
  • What will my prices be in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (Grade I, 12 furlongs turf, $600,000, three and up)? It's a talent even-steven including 5-2 favorites Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution, coupled for wagering purposes, United Nations and Sword Dancer winner Main Sequence, new long-distance dabbler Medal Count, still only three years old, and the up-and-down Imagining.
  • Can anybody beat Palace (2-1 morning line favorite) in The Vosburgh Invitational (Grade I, 6 furlongs, $400,000, three and up)? The likely characters to land the coup de grace seem to be Happy My Way, the in-and-out Private Zone or Coup de Grace.
  • Did Stopchargingmaria trainer Todd Pletcher make the right decision in scratching out of last week's Cotillion and entering her in the 76th Beldame Invitational (Grade I, 9 furlongs, $400,000, fillies and mares three and up)? Everything on paper says yes, but they run the race on dirt.
  • What are the chances of Whatsdachances closing into the extra furlong in the Flower Bowl Invitational (Grade I, 10 furlongs turf, $600,000, fillies and mares three and up)? If Beverly D. runner-up Stephanie's Kitten gets the softer ground she enjoys so much, not much.
  • Out in La La Land, Santa Anita to us big-shoulders types in the Midwest, will Shared Belief extend his boffo run in his quest for kudos in the category Best Horse in America Even Though He Didn't Run This Year Before May 26? The cameras will love him in the Awesome Again (Grade I, 9 furlongs, $300,000, three and up). If you're nitpicking, he didn't beat much in his one race on dirt in the Los Alamitos Derby, he's never run at Santa Anita and he trains and has raced mostly on the fake stuff. Will he bounce after the 115 Beyer Speed Figure in the Pacific Classic and the 47-and-3-fifths drill on Tuesday? Hold the phone, Watson! Are you going to try to beat the other Michael (Smith) and the finest steed in the land? Yep, and I'm gonna use Bird E House (50-point Beyer improvement in his last) to do it.
  • Can anybody beat Beholder in The Zenyatta (Grade I, 8.5 furlongs, $300,000, fillies and mares three and up)? Well, tiz possible if you're willing to use Tiz Midnight.

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One of the big problems with racing is that the horses don't really run for any great number of years. If they're any good, they make a splash and then head directly to the baby-making barn. Except for the geldings, of course.

There have been a number of retirements lately worth noting.

Will Take Charge, last year's three-year-old champ, was retired after some wear and tear was detected. In a highly respectable campaign last year, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee won in order, the Smarty Jones, Rebel, Travers and Pennsylvania Derby. His Breeders' Cup Classic last year was simply thrilling. In a patented, dramatic dash from the second pack, he swung outside, put his head down and poured on the coals, finishing a diminishing nose to Mucho Macho Man, who I don't think even saw him. Twenty more yards, and . . .

The Unbridled Song colt out of the Dehere mare Take Charge Lady took best-man money in the Donn, Santa Anita Handicap, Stephen Foster and Whitney Handicap this season.

One horse who did run for years, was the gelding Game On Dude, the Left Coast runner who did truly historic things.

Seven years old now, trained by Bob Baffert and partly owned by interests including baseball's Joe Torre, 'Dude won the Santa Anita Handicap three times, the only horse ever to do so. The Awesome Again colt out of Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure is the only horse to win California's big three races in one year (2013): Santa Anita Handicap (The Big 'Cap), Pacific Classic and Hollywood Gold Cup (twice winner). He won 14 graded stakes races, eight of them Grade Is.

Just this spring, he broke the Big 'Cap race record, previously held by the legendary Affirmed, by one-fifth. Will Take Charge and Mucho Macho Man finished second and third.

Baffert said 'Dude has had a target on him for awhile. "It's gotten to the point where there is always going to be some horse who is going to be sacrificed by running with him and forcing him into ridiculous fractions." He said this was particularly true in this year's Pacific Classic, where he finished fourth.

This 'Dude knows where his car will be parked: the Hall of Fame.

Princess of Sylmar had one big year, but what a year it was. The Majestic Warrior mare out of the Catienus mare Storm Dixie, swept the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama Stakes and Beldame Stakes in 2013. She came down with thumps, spasms of her diaphragm.

In a racing double-take, we hold out hope we'll see Palace Malice in the starting gate next year.

After being announced September 5th as retired because of a leg bruise, it was then revealed that Three Chimney Farms bought a 50 percent stake in the horse and has been told by vets that he may be able to run next year, after some rest.

The son of Curlin, 'Malice won the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy in 2013 and was rolling this year with wins including the Gulfstream Handicap and Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile). His disappointing sixth in the Whitney in August as the favorite raised a red flag on his health. Here's hoping.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

September 25, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

Rahm Emanuel finally admits a mistake and he apologizes for the wrong part of it.

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"Emanuel said that he will likely try to name a library after the president," DNAinfo Chicago reports, "saying: 'My goal is to have a library named after him in the city of Chicago.'"

Isn't Obama already naming a library after himself here?

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I'm stunned this statement isn't the lead of these stories and getting more attention:

"We're gonna continue to meet the needs of the city, all the students, and probably in that area, because that's where the resources are."

When I first saw that quote on Twitter, I thought, "Did he really say that?"

First, what does he mean by "that's where the resources are?" Aren't CPS resources supposed to spread equitably throughout the city?

Or does he mean that's where the rich parents are?

Second, does that mean poor and even middle-class neighborhoods will get nothing going forward?

Third, does that mean the city will just pile school upon school - and development upon development - only where "the resources" are?

Oh, wait. I just realized he merely reiterated the status quo.

Raunocchio Strikes Again
"A secret program allowing the early release of Illinois prison inmates nearly sunk Democrat Pat Quinn's first run for governor four years ago. Now it has resurfaced in his bid for re-election," AP reports.

"With each candidate attacking the other on their management records, Republican Bruce Rauner has aired a 30-second television spot about the 2009 policy that Quinn terminated after it was reported by The Associated Press."

You should read the whole thing - it's a fact-check - but here's all you really need to know.

"For example, [Rauner's ad] refers to a sexual assault charge that was never formalized, and wrongly suggests that inmates serving time for murder were released early."

That's a big meatball.

"The AP found no one released early was serving a sentence for murder."

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Rauner's ad is obviously timed to distract from this.

Vice Squad
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday ridiculed Chicago Teacher's Union President Karen Lewis for suggesting that marijuana be legalized and taxed because it's a 'great revenue source,'" the Sun-Times reports.

"I do not think you should balance the budget by promoting recreational smoking of pot," the mayor said.

But he's dying to balance the budget by promoting rigged gambling.

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I say "rigged" because the play is set far enough in the house's favor to ensure billions of dollars in profits. So, yeah, let's promote that as a better way to cadge revenue out of taxpayers.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
"Unfortunately, I don't think leaving the ball in Aaron Rodgers' hands during the last possession leads to an overthrow in the end zone like it does with Geno Smith," our very own Carl Mohrbacher writes in this must-read!

The Cub Factor
My favorite moments from this season's celebration of Wrigley Field's 100th birthday.

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TweetWood

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That's John Barker, Chief Accountability Officer at CPS.

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Like.

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At Wednesday's school board meeting.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Same bullshit, different year.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Welcome Back To Point "A"

There's No "L" In NYC
Considering that the Jets rushing attack was averaging about four more yards per attempt than New York quarterback Geno Smith was throwing for, I was a bit surprised that Jets offensive mastermind Marty Mornhinweg (seen here sweating through a poncho on his way to initiate a class-action lawsuit against Bing Images) tried to beat the Bears though the air.

Granted, by the end of the game the Bears had sustained so many injuries in the secondary that Phil Emery hastily re-signed former wideout Earl Bennett and instructed him to "just take this $8,000 and run around in centerfield like a damn crab you have to."

As my grandpappy used to say, "It's Uter-US, not Uter-TEAM." Which I believe translates to "the Jets look like a team that wants to giftwrap victories for their opponents" in Hungarian.

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

Welcome Back To Point "A"
If you had told me that Chicago would start out the season 2-1, I would have been stunned.

Not because of the Bears' record, but rather that someone reading my work on the internet had been able to reach through the veil of space and time to speak directly into my psyche, or that my steady slide into madness had picked up unexpected steam and lurched over the edge into an utter freefall.

No, it turns out that I'm still sane enough to be barely employable, and it also turns out that the Bears are exactly who we thought they were.*

An offense so certain that running it up the gut will fail that quarterback Jay Cutler throws it deep to Alshon Jeffery whenever a drive stalls, or when down-and-distance is anything greater than 2nd-and-8.

This habit that has extended to the point that whenever Cutler has to dispose of dinner leftovers or clothes that his child has outgrown, he simply heaves them in the direction of the nearest sideline after giving cursory looks to the garbage can or nearest Salvation Army.

To be fair, the last four times he tried this with dinner, Jeffery did haul in the mostly finished plate of lasagna twice and Kristin Cavallari was called for pass interference on the third attempt.

Play along at home!

Simply huck anything under 15 pounds into the air and watch No. 17 appear out of nowhere to bail you out.**

Next ACL Up
Like its predecessor, the 2014 squad features an injury-prone defensive backfield that is so comfortable in the proverbial "next man up" mentality that this week's 53-man roster will include Defensive Quality Control Coach Chris Harris and certified gold Red Label Music recording artist, Shufflin' Crew vocalist Gary Fencik.

Sure, we beat this theme into the ground last season, but who could blame us?

The only thing that most Bear defenders where guarding in 2013 was a chair in the crowded reception area of Dr. James Andrews' office.

Fortunately, six members of the 2014 draft class came with eight game warranties for their ACLs, so depth won't be an issue for another few weeks.

Pack Attacks
The last meeting with Green Bay finished with one of the great season-ending heartbreaks in recent memory, but it wasn't the worst atrocity that the Packers committed during the rivalry's 93-year history.

  • Albeit accidental, Green Bay kicker Tiny Engebretsen aids in the creation of a false pretext for war by farting on a Nazi tank. Hitler uses the excuse to invade Poland in 1939.
  • During the 1967 offseason, Packers running back Donny Anderson sets off the Milwaukee race riots by responding too loudly to a friend's inquiry regarding the size of the bass he caught the prior weekend. Turns out there were many people in the late '60s who, due to an understandable level of agitation, might be prone to misinterpreting the word "BIGGER."
  • Coach Bart Starr tops the charts in 1975 with "Disco Cheese (Better Cheddar Boogie All Night) Featuring Donald Duck."
  • Brett Favre celebrates his wife's cancer diagnosis in October of 2004 by spending $22,000 at "Asian Invasion Massage and Credit Union."
  • May 13, 2012: Aaron Rodgers rapes a baby elephant at a zoo opening.

Kool Aid (5 of 5 - New Glarus Hometown Blonde)
You'll pay for the whole seat but you're only going to need the edge of it.

Actually, you should really use the middle of it, if nothing else to muffle the sound of your farts, because it's a noon game and you'll likely be in the company of friends and eating a lot of greasy snack foods.

When the Bears take on the Pack at Soldier Field, throw out all the record books, especially the recent records, and most especially the ones with Jay Cutler's last eight performances because you absolutely do not to want to look at that garbage.

But speaking of garbage, this iteration of the Packers is still squarely in the midst of its annual early-season mediocrity. The Packers are playing poorly and the Bears are a-RIDIN' HIGH on a lofty two-game winning streak.

Unfortunately, I don't think leaving the ball in Aaron Rodgers' hands during the last possession leads to an overthrow in the end zone like it does with Geno Smith.

Late in the fourth, the Packers pull out a road win.

Packers 28, Bears 27.

* Other than pondering his career 10-45 head coaching record at Northwestern, being unpaid for his last year with the Sacramento Mountain Lions, or scheming a way to litigiously wrest controlling interest of the Minnesota Vikings from the Wilf family, I wonder what Denny Green is up to these days.

** WARNING! Alshon Jeffery will NOT receive the following sub-15 pound items when you throw them into the air: drywall nails, Prussian helmets, unwanted children, incorporation papers for LLCs operating in the state of Delaware, Sunny D, purple stuff, refurbished hard drives, Tales From The Crypt Season 2 VHS Box Sets, his wife's purse or that Chinese kid named Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2014

Local Music Notebook: Freaks, Geeks, Misfits & Losers

"Former Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott says that he has 'found peace 10 years after witnessing the murder of his brother while they were both playing at a club in Ohio," Blabbermouth reports.

"Dimebag was shot dead on December 8, 2004 while performing with his band Damageplan at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The shooting that night claimed three other lives and seven more were injured as the mad gunman opened fire on the crowd at the small club north of downtown Columbus."

Abbott:

"I remember the last show we ever played together with Damageplan, we played in Buffalo, New York, and I wanted to . . . Actually, we wanted to go to the casino in Niagara Falls and he was really smoked. We had two more shows left. We were gonna do Mancow's show in Chicago the next day. And I said, 'Dime, man, let's go to the casino, man.' And he was, like, 'Man, Vinnie, I'm really, really tired. I wanna kill these last two shows. I'm gonna go home and make the next Damageplan record. I wanna kill this.' He goes, 'You go have a good time, man. I'll see you in a little bit.'

"So me and Mayhem, our security guy that got killed that night [in Columbus], went with me, and we went to the casino and we had a great time. And the bus pulled up about 3 o'clock in the morning to get us, and I came on the bus, and there was a full party going on in the front lounge. And I'm, like, 'What is going on in here?' It was Dime and there was, like, 12 people I'd never seen in my life. And I said, 'Dime, I thought you were [tired].' And he goes, 'Dude, I couldn't let these people down, man. They wanted to party tonight, man.' And that's how my brother was. He just would not let people down."

Lovable Losers
"Back in the day, being a Replacements fan was like rooting for the Chicago Cubs," Hugo Lindgren writes for Billboard.

"You didn't actually want them to win. Ritualized self-abuse was central to the appeal. If you went to a show and they were dicks or too drunk, or half the band seemed to be playing a different song than the other half, well, that's why you were there: to identify with them as unrepentant screw-ups. Because that's what they were, and that's what Paul Westerberg wrote beautiful, wrenching songs about (and a few other things, to be fair). Then he buried them in feedback and booze and bad attitude."

Guyvillelandia
"At one point we had felt like misfits or we had felt like 'others,'" Carrie Brownstein recently said of the time she shared with Phair - in her case, in her own indie-rock community, in Olympia, Washington.

"It was supposed to be come one, come all, you know? Freaks gather round and we'll provide you with shelter. And you get in these scenes and you realize, no, I've gone from one set of rules and regulations and codifications of how you should dress and what you should know to another . . . What should have been inclusive felt very exclusive . . . there were times when I felt very flummoxed by the rules, very alienated, and I was trying way too hard to figure out not just what band to like, but am I liking the right album from that band. And then, am I liking the right band member in that band? Am I liking the right song on the right record? Have I picked the right year to stop liking the band?"

Radio Wasteland
WXRT has a "partnership" with U2.

Murder Metal
"Chicago's murder metal trio, Macabre, is set to rampage across the U.S. on a headlining twenty-four city slaughter spree this October," Metal Underground reports.

"Joined by openers, Panzerfaust, and with direct support from the mighty Ringworm, Macabre will spread grisly tales of terror across the country from October third through Halloween night. The trek includes participation in Philip H. Anselmo's second annual Housecore Horror Film Fest in Austin."

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This is also a Chicago band. Just sayin'.

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New GWAR Star
Vulvatron made her debut at Riot Fest here.

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Museum Piece
The Hudson Branch meets the Field Museum.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:48 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Kiddie Quarterbacks

At least three rookie QBs got significant playing time in Week 3, and none of them was named Johnny Football.

Derek Carr started for Oakland, as he has done all season (not that anyone cared because . . . Oakland), but we also got to see Teddy Bridgewater, MIN, and Blake Bortles, JAC, in the pocket when starting QBs for their teams went down with injury.

Nobody ever wants to start a rookie QB on their fantasy teams (the most recent exception being Cam Newton, Version 2011). Even their good outings are usually marred with mistakes that in the real world we chalk up to part of the learning process, but in the fantasy world we call 5.5 points, thanks to three INTs and a lost fumble.

That said, with six teams on bye in Week 4, and Carr, Bridgewater and Bortles all slated to start, a lot of fantasy teams will be starting rookie QBs this week. So, who has the edge? Or. at least, who is likely to make the fewest mistakes?

* Bridgewater has wheels in his favor, and even though he'll face a fairly stingy Atlanta defense, he has the most potential to do something fantastic, like scoring a rushing TD or hit WR Cordarelle Patterson with a short pass that Patterson turns into a long TD. Minnesota has a decent offensive line built for a star rusher and alleged child abuser who shall remain nameless, and that could make all the difference for Bridgewater.

* Carr and Bortles are not without their charms. Bortles has young but flashy receivers to aim for, and Carr has a whole three games of experience to draw upon, and while he hasn't been terribly impressive, he also hasn't been impressively terrible. Bortles is probably on a lot of fantasy teams already, since he came close to being named the Jaguars' starter before the season began, and might even be the best of the three to own long-term.

* What else did we learn from Week 3? Kirk Cousins, QB, WAS, who is not a rookie, but is new to starting, threw for 427 yards, three TDs and one INT, and pretty much stole the starting job from Robert Griffin III. RG-3 won't be back from injury for at least another five weeks, but how can you not start a guy who threw for more than 400 yards? Fantasy team owners should be asking themselves that same question.

* Pittsburgh had two RBs - Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount (can we start calling them Le-Le?) - rush for more than 100 yards in the same game. Starter and obvious fantasy baller Bell totaled 147, while Blount, who has enjoyed a few brief shining moments on the fantasy stage, ran for 118. Bell is now second in the NFL in rushing yards this season, though Blount is a really valuable handcuff and goal-line vulture. If you have Bell, you might want to pick up or trade for Blount. It's the best RB partnership since last year's Bush & Bell combo (Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in Detroit.)

* Something of note for PPR leagues: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, DEN, is the surprising new leader in receptions through the first three weeks. He has 25, after hauling in 11 catches in Week 3. He's also now third in receiving yards with 334, yet he's still probably not better than the third - possibly even fourth - target on his own team most weeks. He benefited some from the Seattle defense swarming around Peyton Manning's other favored options. That doesn't mean Sanders won't have fantasy value ongoing, but I would be careful of fellow fantasy owners trying to trade him away this week while his value is higher than it ever has been.

Expert Wire
* SB Nation likes Bortles, but is wary of his supporting cast.

* Bleacher Report remarks on the failure of first-round fantasy RBs to find the end zone.

* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto on what passes for fantasy value during a big bye week.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

September 23, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

"GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner yesterday declined to offer Crain's editorial board many new details on how he'd get Illinois back on track, giving himself wiggle room on just about every major financial challenge he would face as governor," Crain's reports.

In case anyone hasn't noticed by now, Rauner is running a personality-based campaign based on one notion: I'll shake up Springfield because I'm one special guy.

How?

Just elect me and you'll see.

But why should we trust you?

Because I'm not a politician, I'm just a rich guy who hates government unions.

That's the sum total to this effort.

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"In an afternoon interview with Crain's editorial board, the Chicago private-equity mogul time after time repeated the mantra that he wants to lay out only general outlines of how he would proceed if elected, leaving specifics to negotiations with what is likely to remain a Democratic-dominated Legislature," Greg Hinz writes.

So he'll be a deal-maker. With the very people he says have failed Illinois. How will that shake up Springfield?

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"Mr. Rauner described Illinois as overtaxed and overregulated, with a particularly hostile attitude in government toward business."

Every rich guy's lament - in a state with a flat income tax that doles out corporate tax subsidies like they were Chicago parking tickets. At least you can see where his priorities lie.

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"Mr. Rauner also left plenty of bargaining room when asked about his signature proposal to ban any property tax increase that had not been authorized by voters in a referendum.

"Asked specifically if he was advocating a freeze on the property tax rate or gross levy - over time, the difference could be dramatic - he replied, 'It could be either or both.'"

And will wind up being neither. But it makes for good ad copy.

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"Mr. Rauner said his experience as the former head of Chicago's convention and tourism bureau proves he can work in a bipartisan manner with others."

Thank God he ended those bitter ideological battles in the tourism sector!

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"Already he is 'well on the way' to being on 'a first-name basis' with most members of the Legislature, he said."

I doubt it.

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"But in answer to a question about reform of environmental and other regulations that he said are costing the state jobs, Mr. Rauner said he's prepared to enact 'as much as I can' by administrative fiat.

"The Rauner campaign has assembled a team that is examining exactly what is possible, he said. 'They're doing a lot of research.'

"Asked how much he could do on his own without lawmakers, Mr. Rauner replied, 'Our detailed research is not done, but it is a fair bit.'"

I'm skeptical that's so, but here's another question, then: Are you gonna tell voters before the election what you intend to decree all by yourself?

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"The candidate also would not commit himself on two south suburban projects pushed by Mr. Quinn, the proposed Illiana Expressway and a third regional airport at Peotone. Both matters are being reviewed by his staff, he said."

Just by coincidence, those reviews won't be done until after the election.

Earlier & Oftener
First, if you need to refresh your memory about the Kathleen Myalls mystery, read the item "Early, Often, Early, Often" from The [Tuesday] Papers.

Good. Now here's an update: She's lying.

According to MyVoteWisconsin, which is run by the state's Government Accountability Board, Myalls voted in Wisconsin via an absentee ballot in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. In the 2012 Scott Walker recall, she voted in person at the Fontana (Wisconsin) Village Hall.

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P.S.: Her voter registration in Wisconsin is now canceled.

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Fantasy Fix: Kiddie QBs
And their Cousins.

Freaks, Geeks, Misfits & Losers
Dimebag Darrell, The 'Mats, Guyvillelandia, Murder Metal, New GWAR Star and more. In Local Music Notebook.

The Cub Factor: Tommy Boy
It's so close to being done - just like the Cubs rebuilding!

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BeachBook
* Frank Luntz Is Working With The Bears.

Chase that story!

* Best Practices For Editors-In-Chief To Avoid NSA Spying.

Who'd have thought we'd need a headline like that?

* Spin Meter: Those Changing Health Law Numbers.

What if we extended perjury laws to everyone in government?

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Trust us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:17 PM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: In Tresty We Trusty, With A Dash Of Lovie

In less than 10 days, the Bears have gone from "was 8-8 too optimistic?" to "beat the Packers and establish yourselves as a leading team in the conference."

How did that happen?

Well, one big answer is that the coach, and the quarterback, remained steadfast.

Despite his postgame sulk after the season-opening loss to Buffalo, it appears that Jay Cutler did (mostly) learn the lessons he needed to learn from that game. Actually there was one lesson in particular he needed to get through his thick skull (and thank goodness it's thick considering the hits he's taken during his career).

That lesson was: one stupid turnover can be the difference between a passable win and an embarrassing loss. The Buffalo game was right there for the winning before Cutler threw the brutal pick that gave the Bills the critical second-half boost that turned the game in their favor.

So against the 49ers and again versus the Jets, Cutler, with significant assistance from Mr. Trestman, he has avoided the huge mistakes that could have doomed his team's chances. And sometimes that's the most important thing a quarterback can do.

Now, he did catch a huge break in that regard at the end of the first half. It seemed clear he was actually trying to do something with the football (rather than just tucking it away) when he fumbled it on the Bears' last possession of the second half. And only an incompetent bit of refereeing (whistling the play dead) prevented the Jets from turning that turnover into a momentum-shifting defensive touchdown.

Early on against the Niners, Cutler needed to stay the course and accept that he couldn't turn the game around all by himself. During that time, a few three-and-outs were okay because the Bears just needed to weather the storm caused by incompetent special teams play. And a few three-and-outs in the third quarter last night were okay too. Cutler was actually at his best on a few sacks. Those were plays where he reined himself in, tried to move up in the pocket and when a play wasn't there, he went down.

You might say Cutler "managed" the game. Somewhere Lovie Smith was smiling. Meanwhile, the Bears really won the game on turnovers (Kyle Fuller could get elected mayor right now) and defense.

Of course, the Jets helped, inexplicably going away from powerhouse running back Chris Ivory after he was kicking Bear ass in the third quarter. The guy might be the toughest tackle in the NFL (announcers Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden were quick to tell us he led the league last year in yards after contact).

Clearly the Jet plan was to bring him in for a stretch of plays in the second half and then go back to starter Chris Johnson down the stretch. But when a running back is doing damage like Ivory was, it seems obvious that you should stick with him. At least it was obvious to everyone but the Jets, who not only went back to Johnson but also stopped handing the ball to Ivory in the red zone on a big third-quarter drive in particular.

And it was the red zone where the Jets ultimately lost the game. From Daryl Slater at NJ.com:

The ball dropped out of the night sky and landed in Jeremy Kerley's hands after he ran across the goal line and reached up for it. The one catch, to this catch, was that Kerley also happened to cross the end line, and glide out of bounds, before securing the ball on the Jets' final play in Monday's 27-19 loss to the Bears.

The moment typified an evening on which the Jets' offense got plenty of push, teasing their fans as they marched toward the Bears' end zone, only to grind to a halt.

On that potentially game-tying final possession - even after all their stunning miscues - the Jets had four shots at the end zone. On first-and-10 from the 14-yard line, Geno Smith threw an incomplete pass. On second-and-10, some progress - a 5-yard completion. Then, back-to-back incomplete throws on third-and-5 and fourth-and-5 from the 9.

For a moment, in the waning seconds of an unsightly game, everyone in MetLife Stadium was standing, gripping and waiting, as they had waited all night. Then Kerley caught the ball well out of bounds, leaving them all waiting for another week.

This was the Jets' red-zone offense at its worst, on a night when it failed time and again. Six times, the Jets moved inside the Bears' 20-yard line. Before the final turnover on downs, the previous five red-zone trips resulted in a 19-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Kerley (the Jets' lone touchdown of the game), three field goals and a Smith interception. Six red-zone chances, on Monday night's grand stage. One touchdown.

The red zone has been a problem for the Jets all season, but let's also give credit to Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker and Trestman, who, in a very un-Lovie-like way, made key adjustments at halftime that worked, just like they did in San Francisco.

And now they're 2-1.

Game Notes
* Kyle Fuller not only had the huge pick (although what in the world was he thinking when he tried to bring that sucker out of the end zone?), he also punched out not one but two fumbles. MVP! MVP!

* Jon Bostic didn't just drop a potential late interception, he dropped it twice. Otherwise, not a bad game for the second-year linebacker out of Florida, who led the team with 13 tackles (six solo, seven assisted; D.J. Williams lead the team with eight solo tackles). Bostic is starting to get himself up to NFL speed and that is an extremely good sign for this year's Bears defense and for Bear defense in the foreseeable future.

* Chris Conte seems to get hurt on about half of his tackle attempts these days, but I sure won't fault him for bowing out after suffering significant damage trying to chop down Ivory.

* That Danny McCray hit on the Jets only touchdown - how the hell was that a personal foul? The zebras called it "a hit on a defenseless receiver." I am serious here, is the rule now that defensive backs are just supposed to allow receivers to ease themselves down to the turf without contact when they run across the middle and expose themselves?

It would be great to get an explanation on this. The explanation would start with what McCray was supposed to do. He led with his shoulder and aimed for the relatively tiny torso target presented by a receiver who is mostly horizontal after stretching out to make a catch. There was helmet-to-helmet contact, but it was completely incidental - something that couldn't be avoided if McCray was even going to attempt a tackle. Hey NFL, if defensive backs simply aren't allowed to hit guys on those plays anymore, please step up and let us know.

Finally, one note of caution regarding the coming contest with the Packers. In the NFL, if there isn't a significant disparity in talent levels, the desperate team wins. And at 1-2 so far, Green Bay will be the more desperate team going into Sunday.

See also:
* Morrissey: Bears Making Their Own Lovie-Like Luck.

* Potash: Bears Defense On Upswing.

* Arkush: Bears Doing Just Enough To Win.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:07 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Kickstarting A Skinhead Memoir

"In his memoir Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, Chicago author and former right-wing extremist Christian Picciolini shows readers how a well-loved 14-year-old kid from an immigrant Italian family became a leader of the early American racist skinhead movement," according to a press release from Picciolini's Goldmill Group.

"He was the lead singer in the first white power band from the United States to perform in Europe. He attended KKK rallies and cross burnings, was kicked out of four different high schools - some twice - and stockpiled weapons so, if necessary, he'd be ready to fight the United States government to protect the white race from annihilation.

"In his book, Romantic Violence: Memoirs of an American Skinhead, Christian Picciolini, now a music industry veteran and peace advocate, faces his past with brutal honesty in the hope that by exposing his own crimes, others may live in peace.

"Picciolini has also committed to providing free copies of his book for all 16,000 United States public libraries if the 30-day Kickstarter campaign for Romantic Violence garners over $100,000 in pledges. Currently, the initial goal of $7,500 was exceeded within 48 hours of the campaign's launch.

"Picciolini left the American racist movement in 1995 before earning a joint degree in international business/international relations from DePaul University in Chicago and co-founding the peace consultancy Life After Hate."

The pitch:


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Bookman Down
"Stephen Cogil Casari, founder of Denver's fabled Tattered Cover Book Store and the agent who shepherded Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It to publication, died Sept. 15 in Grand Rapids, Mich., due to complications from cancer," the Denver Post reports. "He was 66."

Casari was a Chicagoan after he was a Denverite.

"After the sale [of the Tattered Cover], Cogil Casari moved to Chicago, where he was an owner of the 22-store Book Market chain that sold to Walden Books in the 1980s. He then became a retail consultant, helping coach bookstore owners."

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The People Of Paper
"Salvador Plascencia, author of the acclaimed novel The People of Paper, will kick off Roosevelt University's Creative Writing Fall Reading Series with a reading and discussion at 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 29 in the University's Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave.," the university says.

"In addition to his novel, Plascencia has published fiction in a variety of journals, including McSweeney's and Tin House. In 2008, he was awarded the Bard Fiction Prize.

"Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Plascencia was raised in El Monte, California and later studied at Whittier College and Syracuse University. T.C. Boyle called Plascencia's debut 'firmly grounded and soaring at the same time,' and Bookslut's Angela Stubbs likens his work to 'a mental carnival ride.'"

Here's an oral history Plascencia gave to the Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:29 AM | Permalink

Colleges Let Taxpayers Help Poor Students While They Go After Rich

In what it calls "an elaborate shell game," universities and colleges are shifting their financial aid from low-income students to high-income ones to bolster their prestige and raise them up the rankings, a new report says.

Meanwhile, according to the report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan New America Foundation, universities are leaving their poorest families to vie for a piece of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Pell Grants.

Because of this, the federal government continues to spend more and more on Pell grants, which now total more than $32 billion, yet the lowest-income students end up borrowing more money than ever to pay for their higher educations.

To substantiate its argument that universities and colleges are substituting Pell grants for their own financial aid, the report relies on previously published research.

But it also cites new data showing that the proportion of private, nonprofit universities and colleges that now charge the poorest families $15,000 or more in tuition and fees - even after financial aid and discounts are accounted for - is rising sharply. That means the neediest students are paying an amount that equals at least half of their families' annual incomes.

The universities, the report says, "with their relentless pursuit of prestige and revenue," are using their financial aid not to help low-income students, but to attract affluent students with good grades who can improve their positions in the U.S. News and other rankings, and whose families can afford to pay the rest of the tuition.

Ninety-five private colleges with endowments of more than $250 million charge low-income students an average net price of more than $10,000 apiece, the report says, while 60 charge more than $15,000. Another 33 charge more than $20,000 and 11 charge more than $25,000 each to students whose families earn $30,000 or less.

The trend is not confined to private institutions. Forty percent of public universities and colleges also now charge $10,000 or more a year to students from families in the $30,000-or-less income bracket.

"This is one reason why even after historic increases in Pell Grant funding, low-income students continue to take on heavier debt loads than ever before," the report says.

Not all colleges and universities are following this trend, the report says. It says low-income students make up a comparatively high 15 percent or more of the enrollment at 24 private, nonprofit institutions - some very wealthy, others small, and others religiously affiliated with missions of serving low-income students - that still manage to charge them $10,000 a year or less.

Courtesy of The Hechinger Report.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:46 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Mirages Of Matchstick Men

MIRAGES OF MATCHSTICK MEN

Like the winged seeds
Of the maple tree whirling
Down unto a suburban

Cul-de-sac
In early autumn, riffs
And licks from my songs

Of innocence

Clutter my mind
Upon revisiting. Like
The vaguely Scottish

Swirl (like electric bag-pipes)
Of the opening phrase of
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"

By the Status Quo
Digging into my inner ear,
Getting stuck there,

Conjuring a kaleidoscope
Of mirages and memories.
There, beneath the blue

Suburban skies:
Winged seeds dot the cul-de-sac,
Electric chimes float

From the nearby church,
Fireflies flash
In the purple dusk.

Maple, lilac, birch,
Willow; fresh-mowed
Grass, evergreens,

Tulips, roses.

The twirl
Of a vinyl 45 rpm
Record, the adapter

For the large hole
To accommodate the
Thin phonograph spindle,

The label of
The Cadet Concept
Music Corporation.

Transported by the
Song - and sound effects
I would later recognize

As wah-wah, flange,
Echo and phasing -
From experience

Back to innocence.
In the music,
An encapsulation

Of the time for a
Seven-year-old, now mirages
Of comfort,

Safety,
Freedom
And joy.

This is "Matchstick Men"
By the Status Quo
But a similar warmth

Is conjured too
By the Lemon Pipers,
The American Breed,

The Strawberry Alarm Clock
And the Seeds.
Whirling miracles

Of space and time,
Evidence of the fact
Of a cherished past.

I hear that Scottish riff,
I see the winged seeds,
Like single paisley

Swirls pirouetting
Through the breeze, or two seeds
Enjoined,

Wings above,
The image - the mirage -
Of a perfect

Broken heart.

I see a child,
Leaning by the phonograph,
Musing out the window,

There,
Beneath the blue
Suburban skies:

The song ends,
And I see him play it
Again.

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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 AM | Permalink

September 22, 2014

Wrigley Wrecking Ball

What was your favorite part of the Cubs' season-long celebration of Wrigley Field's 100th birthday?

I know the Ricketts' favorite part: The end, when they begin putting the final nail in the coffin of the only untraded long-term asset that kept this franchise not only viable, but in tall cotton at the bank for decades.

Here are some of mine:

* Theo's 100th flipped player.

* The team's 100th version of its renovation.

* The 100th rerun of the Undercover Boss episode where Todd Ricketts throws away a bunch of hot dogs - on camera - and then lies to his boss (actually, his employee) about it by pretending he sold them.

* The 100th time Ricky Renteria said a player "did a nice job."

* The 100th time Javy Baez struck out.

* The 100th article about Arismendy Alcantara's chances of being the team's leadoff man next season that showed no concern for his .267 OBP.

* The 100th assurance that The Plan was working and soon would prove so brilliant that it would vault the Cubs not only over the four teams ahead of them in the division and their Plans, but the 29 other teams in the major leagues and their Plans.

The Week In Review: The Cubs swept the Reds for some reason, then dropped three of four to the Dodgers.

The Week In Preview: The Cardinals are in for three, then the Cubs end the season with three in Milwaukee.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: Is that still going on?

Mad Merch: Big Ten Rivalry Week continues!

Prospects Are Suspects: Albert Almora is hitting .234 in Tennessee, which at least is better than Javy Baez and Arismendy Alcantara are hitting in Chicago.

New Dale: Rick Renteria was still pleased with how his young team performed against the leaders of the NL West during an 8-5 loss Sunday.

Laughable Headline Of The Week: "In Lieu Of Speed, Renteria Will Take Smarts.

Like every manager before him, he's got neither.

Kubs Kulture: "Watch Arismendy Alcantara Play His Way Into The Plan."

I'm watching and the only Plan I see him playing into is the Plan to tank another season for a top draft pick.

"Add it all up and you can see why the Cubs will be counting on Alcantara in 2015."

Add up what - his .215/.267/.379 slash line?

Next Year's Model: Add the Dodgers to the list of teams the Cubs should model themselves after, along with the Cardinals, the Astros, the Rays, the Orioles, the Royals, the A's, the Pirates, the Nationals and the Braves.

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Billy is a kid's name. Clark is a dork's name.

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Dude's .214/.249 is way better than Javy Baez's .171/.233.

Mustache Wisdom: To honor retiring Paul Konerko, Carlos will also be known as Paulino.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Jorge Soler's five walks has helped drive up the price of the rare event, at least in the Chicago area.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Jon Lester not pitching in a Cubs uniform.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021.

Over/Under: Number of fans who attend the season's last game at Wrigley: +/- 8,000.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that you get the feeling you've been cheated.

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Hashtag Cubs

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

The White Sox Report: The Verdict On Ventura.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Six of Illinois' biggest companies hold a combined $100 billion in profits overseas, a strategy that keeps those earnings from being subject to U.S. corporate income taxes," the Tribune reports.

CEOs of those companies should not be allowed to complain about government, nor run patriotic advertising.

"U.S. corporations face income taxes as high as 35 percent on income earned both domestically and abroad. However, there is one important caveat: Companies aren't required to pay the U.S. taxes on foreign profits that they say are 'indefinitely' reinvested overseas and not brought back, or repatriated, to the U.S."

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Stating that "U.S. corporations face income taxes as high as 35 percent" is pretty disingenuous, though.

I'd like to know how many U.S. corporations pay 35 percent - and how their CEOs keep their jobs if they do.

To wit:

"The reality is very different, as a new paper by a law professor at the University of Southern California, Edward D. Kleinbard, says," R.C. Longworth writes on The Midwesterner, a blog on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, in an entry picked up by both the Sun-Times and Crain's.

"According to Kleinbard, the big American corporations - the global corporations which are threatening to pick up and move - actually make out like bandits at tax time.

"As any sophisticated corporation knows, there are various tax loopholes to keep that nominal rate nominal. One of the biggest, Kleinbard says, is the practice of keeping much of their income overseas and out of reach of the IRS. Altogether, he said, American corporations paid an effective tax rate of 12.6 percent in 2010, the last year for which figures are available.

"Kleinbard said it isn't the tax rates themselves that are tempting American-based companies to move their headquarters, if not their operations, to relatively low-tax venues such as Switzerland or Ireland. Instead, he said, they want to be able to use that money parked abroad without having to pay taxes on it. He estimates this hoard at $2 trillion: taxed at 35 percent, this would bring in $700 billion, which is more than the total U.S. government deficit.

"This discrepancy between appearance and reality is an old story in Illinois, where major corporations such as Caterpillar regularly threaten to move to other states unless the state trims its 9.5 percent corporate tax. In fact, the state's biggest corporations pay an average 3 percent in taxes and some pay nothing at all."

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To be clear, even without parking income overseas, American corporations hardly pay burdensome taxes - if they pay at all.

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"Many of the most profitable U.S. corporations paid little or no federal income tax from 2008 to 2012, according to a five-year study issued on Tuesday by a left-leaning tax activist group," Reuters reported in February.

(Dear Reuters: The study may have been conducted by "a left-leaning tax activist group," but were they right? I have yet to see their figures refuted.)

Mystery Parents
"A new parent group is holding a school fair this fall that promises to offer something unprecedented: a one-stop place to shop for all schools, whether it be neighborhood, charter or private schools," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"CPS has endorsed the Oct. 4 fair and is requiring all district-run high schools to have a display. CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent a letter to parents encouraging them to come and district officials are organizing buses for seventh- and eighth-grade parents and students.

"Also, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools and the Archdiocese of Chicago are co-sponsors."

If alarm bells aren't going off yet, they will.

"ParentPowerChicago has raised suspicion among some parents who are concerned that the people behind the effort have an agenda. They also wonder why CPS would be so heavily involved in an effort that could draw students out of public schools and into private ones."

Yeah, that seems weird. Then again, the Emanuel administration backs a "district of choice" with a smaller CPS footprint - eventually even smaller than it just got last year with the closure of 50 schools.

The mayor and his team are making ideological choices far more than budget choices - and it's not a secret. It just seems to get blurred in the debate.

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And who is behind this CPS-endorsed new parent group aiding the effort?

"[ParentPower head Chris] Butler was the outreach and advocacy director of New Schools for Chicago, which provided private funding for charter schools and is now in the process of reorganizing. Also, the IRS lists the address of the organization as the same as Old World Industries in Northbrook. Old World Industries was founded and is run by J. Thomas Hurvis, who served on the board of New Schools for Chicago.

"Other well-connected pro-charter philanthropists, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, served on the board of New Schools for Chicago."

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner.

"ParentPower is a not-for-profit organization and, as such, will have to file public tax returns, called 990s. But because it is only a year-and-a-half old, those returns are not yet available. The Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Database indicates that ParentPowerChicago had $800,000 in income in 2013 and $90,000 in assets.

"Richard Sanderson, a brand-marketing executive who runs the administrative side of ParentPower, says he and Hurvis are the two major donors. He and Butler declined to provide the names of any other donors."

Early, Often, Early, Often
"Republican Kathy Myalls is urging voters to elect her to a seat in the Illinois State Legislature," Natasha Korecki reports for the Sun-Times.

"But will she vote for herself? It's a fair question since records show Myalls has voted in both Illinois and Wisconsin in recent years."

I think the question, then, is: Can she vote for herself? Or is she registered in Wisconsin?

"In one case, she cast a vote in a primary election in Illinois. Then just three months later, records show she voted in Wisconsin to cast a ballot in the state's recall election. The effort was aimed largely at recalling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - someone with whom Myalls is pictured on her Facebook page. Myalls then voted in Wisconsin's presidential general election in 2012 before returning to Illinois to vote the following spring."

That is just fantastic.

"When asked about her vote in the Walker recall, Myalls said in a phone interview:

"No. I don't think I did," she said. "I don't think they canceled my registration up in Fontana. And that may be what you're seeing. They didn't automatically cancel it."

Wait. Do the records show she voted or not? Myalls appears to be saying the records merely show her registration still active. My experience with voting records is that they show someone actually voted. If that's the case, you have to make that clear - to Myalls and the reader.

"Illinois voting records show that Myalls has been registered to vote from her Wilmette address from 2005 to the present. By her own admission, Myalls was registered to vote in a second home located in Fontana, Wisconsin, since 1996."

I wonder if she takes homestead exemptions at both.

"Records show she voted in separate elections in both states in 2008 and 2012."

So she's a liar. Right?

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In Tresty We Trusty . . .
. . . With A Dash Of Lovie.

Chicagoetry: Mirages Of Matchstick Men
Beneath the blue suburban skies.

Kickstarting A Skinhead Memoir
Plus: A Bookman Down & The People Of The Paper. In Local Book Notes.

The Cub Factor: Tommy Boy
In production!

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BeachBook
* McDonald's To Trademark McBrunch.

Just stay away from McBeachwood.

* Privatized Indiana Toll Road Goes Bankrupt.

If only they ran it like a government.

* We Drink More Alcohol On Gym Days.

Speak for yourself; some of us don't have gym days.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Live and let van.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:19 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

1. Disagree. Fingers-in-the-pie should be our state dessert.

2. The Beachwood Radio Hour #24: Pussy Riot, Rahm & Rauner.

Plus: The Congestion That I Get, Bimbo Roles de Canela, Duck Sex, Chicago Transit By Howard Jones, Depression, and Chicago Media Folk Confused About Hitting Kids.

3. SEO headline.

4. The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #18: Return To Bear Mountain!

In Tresty We Trusty. Plus: Brandon Marshall And Gloria Allred Grind Coach Coffman's Gears, No Tears For Lovie, and California Uber Alles! Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.

5. "As Bruce Rauner enters the home stretch of his run for Illinois governor, 1,000 miles away in Tampa, Fla., a federal bankruptcy trial opens Monday to weigh allegations that the investment firm he ran participated in a fraudulent scheme to avoid liability for a string of deaths at nursing homes," the Tribune reports.

"It represents a central dilemma for Rauner's candidacy: He touts his financial acumen at GTCR while repeatedly professing little knowledge about the inner workings of companies built by his firm that later faced accusations of mismanagement, fraud or worse.

"Rauner critics have sought to tie him to the nursing home deaths in campaign ads, and his Democratic opponent, Gov. Pat Quinn, has accused Rauner of dodging accountability for companies his firm owned.

"A campaign spokesman for Rauner declined to make him available for an interview."

It's not up to a campaign spokesperson to make a candidate available; the candidate makes that decision. Just say Rauner refused to comment - or better yet, Rauner refused to defend himself and his company, leaving the allegations hanging out there at a time when voters need to know if their potential governor is a monster.

6. Kanye West Plays Surprise Set At Common's Festival In Union Park That Only Ranks Fourth On The Beachwood's Weekend In Chicago Rock Roundup.

7. The College Football Report: The Oakland Raiders Select Jameis Winston!

8. The White Sox Report: The Verdict On Ventura.

9. The Cub Factor will appear on Tuesday.

10. SportsMonday will appear on Tuesday, and when that happens, we call it SportsMondayTuesday.

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BeachBook
* Clock Ticking For Illinois To Form State-Run Health Insurance Exchange.

Also, scores of Illinoisans who qualified for Medicaid under Obamacare now in ninth month awaiting promised coverage.

* Americans Know Surprisingly Little About Their Government, Survey Says.

First, is it really surprising? Second, do they know what they don't know?

* Old Chicago by The Uglies.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Deport your mind.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

The Verdict On Ventura

The hiring of managers can be lumped together with closers, set-up men, five- and six-man rotations, and defensive shifts when it comes to ways in which the game of baseball has changed the past few decades. Robin Ventura is a prime example.

Ventura is just one of a number of skippers - St. Louis's Mike Matheny, Colorado's Walt Weis, Detroit's Brad Ausmus, Cincinnati's Bryan Price are in the club - who had zero managerial experience prior to being hired to lead their respective teams.

Robin never was so much as a minor league coach before following Ozzie Guillen for the 2012 season. Same with Ausmus, who had been considered for managerial jobs with the Red Sox, Marlins and Astros before being hired to succeed Jim Leyland. Ausmus at least had the auspicious, sought-after position of managing the Israeli national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Times clearly have changed from the middle of the 20th century when managers were recycled as often as pop cans. A string of losing seasons usually dictated that a manager's tenure was about to end, but once a skipper got fired, more often than not he would emerge somewhere else.

Jimmy Dykes managed more games (1,850) in a White Sox uniform than anyone in the team's history. Starting in 1934 as a playing manager - Dykes directed the team as an infielder when playing managers were not uncommon - Dykes kept the position until 1946. Of his 13 seasons at the helm, the Sox finished in the second division of the eight-team American League seven times. His winning percentage was a sad .477.

Dykes never had to worry about his next job, though. Fifteen years later in 1961 at the age of 64, he was still at it, managing Cleveland, the last of the six teams that hired him. Jimmy must have been a great guy. Or perhaps he was agreeable to work for a reduced salary because in 20 seasons, his teams never won anything.

However, Dykes doesn't hold the record for futility. Gene Mauch, a respected manager from 1960 until 1987, never won a pennant in 26 years. The collapse of his Phillies in 1964 remains one of the most remarkable choke jobs on record: the team had a six-game lead with 12 to play. Then they lost 10 straight before winning the last two games, finishing in a tie for second! Nevertheless, Mauch went on to manage the Expos, Twins and Angels before retiring after almost 4,000 games in the dugout.

Not all of the managers who jumped from team to team were losers. Billy Martin guided five clubs between 1969 and 1988 and finished first with four of them. The unpredictable and volatile Martin is most remembered for being hired and fired five times by George Steinbrenner, but he also had success in Minnesota, Detroit and Oakland.

More recently, Tony La Russa - he ranks fourth in Sox history in games managed behind Dykes, Al Lopez and Guillen - never had trouble finding employment since he won divisions, pennants and World Series' in Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis.

So what makes a successful manager? Why was Tony La Russa a winner while Jimmy Dykes was a loser? More than anything, good players make good managers. La Russa's first three seasons on the South Side produced a won-loss percentage of .472. He had bad players. However, once Carlton Fisk, Greg Luzinski, Ron Kittle and Rudy Law joined Harold Baines, LaMarr Hoyt and Richard Dotson, the Sox core was set, and they won 99 games in 1983.

Please understand that La Russa - a hard-nosed, sour, intelligent man - created new ways to use his bullpen which most managers have since copied, and his diligence and thorough preparation resulted in his Hall of Fame credentials. But he still couldn't have done it without Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson, Dave Stewart, Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Chris Carpenter, and many other talented players.

His Hall of Fame managerial brethren Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were not notably successful with less talented rosters until they landed with the Yankees and Braves, respectively. Torre's career began with the Mets for five years when they won barely 40 percent of their games. Cox's first stint in Atlanta lasted five seasons when he never finished higher than fourth before going to Toronto for four seasons. Of course, he then returned to Atlanta where he won five pennants and the 1995 World Series. Just goes to show what Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine can do for you.

While we're at it, Casey Stengel, prior to leading the Yankees to 10 pennants and seven World Series titles in 12 years (1949-60), never had a team finish better than fifth in nine years managing the Dodgers and Braves.

All of which brings us back to Ventura, who's about to complete his third season with a 219-260 record as the White Sox skipper. It's painful to note that this percentage is even worse than the aforementioned Jimmy Dykes.

Does the record reflect a lack of leadership and expertise on Ventura's part, or has he been handed a bunch of stiffs who can't play? Anytime a club loses as often as the White Sox, criticism of the manager is heard early and often.

A few weeks ago Beachwood reader and Sox fan Jameson Campaigne e-mailed, "He is not a demanding manager, meaning he's allowing maybe half his players not to play up to their potential. He's soft, expecting 'professionals to be professional' and leaving it at that. That's not what managing a listless team is all about."

Ventura, who was signed to what ESPN Chicago described as a "multiyear contract extension" last January, is nothing if not an even-keeled, no-nonsense, bland individual whose so-called press conferences are devoid of any indication whether the team has won or lost. Campaigne is correct. This is not a rah-rah kind of guy. He is similar to most managers. They stoically watch the game, decide whether to change pitchers (often), bunt (rarely), or challenge a call (boring).

What makes the game enjoyable and fun involves fans being able to think along with the manager and critique whether his decisions make sense. I'd love to see the Sox bunt and hit-and-run more often. A team that has had difficulty scoring runs too many times this season needs to stir things up, put pressure on the defense, and take a few risks. My take is that Ventura is too conservative.

But the real test of a manager is whether he has his athletes ready to play. Every time they miss a cutoff man or throw to the wrong base or get picked off, the manager must bear part of the responsibility. Mental mistakes are a sign of lack of preparation and knowledge of how the game should be played. The Sox make too many of these mistakes.

On the other hand, a guy like Conor Gillaspie is a better third baseman now than he was a year ago. I have to think that Ventura, an All-Star third baseman in his own right, gets credit for some of that. He's also been extremely patient with catcher Tyler Flowers, and Flowers is a better hitter and receiver than he was last season.

Jose Quintana, who beat the Rays 4-3 Friday night, has turned into one of the best lefthanders in the American League.

Hector Noesi, not one of the league's better pitchers, still has had a career-saving year. Noesi had a typical outing last Saturday in St. Pete, leaving after six innings on the short end of a 3-1 score which turned out to be the final. For the most part, Noesi has kept his team within striking distance in his 26 starts this season.

Two facts about Ventura are clear: he's a work in progress, and he's going to be around for at least another season and probably more. Another fact is that no matter how effective he is, if the White Sox don't shore up their bullpen and the back end of the starting rotation, as well as play tighter defense, then neither Tony La Russa, Casey Stengel, Joe Torre, nor Bobby Cox could win with this team.

Show me a successful manager, and I'll show you good players.

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

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1. From Eric Roth:

Too generous, Roger. Ventura's not up to the task. I agree with giving him credit for Conor's development; so he'd probably be a good first base and infield coach for a competent manager. He seems to split his choices between current baseball orthodoxy and bonehead moves. In WAR, he'd be in negative numbers.

Look at the job Girardi's done the past two years in NYC with a negative run differential for each! Texas couldn't win the big one with Wash at the helm making bonehead moves (defensive positioning with the game on the line, letting Pujols beat them with the bat!) in the World Series.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Yuna at the Old Town School for the World Music Festival on Friday night.


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2. NE HI at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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3. Havok at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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4. Kanye West at AAHH! Fest in Union Park on Sunday night.

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5. Nik Turner at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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6. Lupe Fiasco at AAHH! Fest on Sunday night.

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7. Twista at AAHH! Fest on Sunday night.

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8. Common at AAHH! Fest on Sunday night.

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9. The Black Lips at Logan Square Auditorium on Friday night.

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10. King Khan & BBQ Show at Thalia Hall on Saturday night.

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11. Fishbone at Martyrs on Friday night.

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12. Youssou N'dour at the Vic on Saturday night.

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13. Boban and Marko Markovic at the Constellation for the World Music Festival on Friday night.

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14. Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita at the Chicago Cultural Center for the World Music Festival on Sunday night.

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15. GBH at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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16. The Lemonheads at Wire in Oak Park on Friday night.

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17. The Kongos at the Metro on Saturday night.

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18. Unlocking The Truth at Park West on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Top Ten: The Oakland Raiders Select Jameis Winston!

1. Florida State.

Beat #24 Clemson 23-17 (OT).

Florida State pulled out a win without star quarterback Jameis Winston. The sophomore served a one-game suspension after reportedly screaming obscenities in the quad. The game gave Winston time to research the next hot internet trend and, presumably, reflect. Or whatever.

(As a further result, Winston is also being accused of ruining a perfectly good (NSFW) internet meme. Winston, along with these Florida State fans, apparently didn't know that the meme itself was based on an elaborate hoax.)

NFL wags bemoaned Winston's immaturity, claiming the latest incident will torpedo his stock in the NFL draft. We doubt it. We look forward to Oakland making Winston a top five pick. He would look great in a Raiders jersey.

2. Oregon.

Beat Washington State 38-31.

Oregon's Heisman-hopeful Marcus Mariota avoided the dreaded Sports Illustrated jinx by racking up 329 yards passing and 5 TDs. Mariota added on 58 rushing yards just for good measure.

3. Alabama.

Beat Florida 42-21.

Emmitt Smith has seen enough of Florida QB Jeff Driskel. The former Gator tweeted his displeasure during Driskel's forgettable outing against 'Bama: 93 yards passing, two interceptions and only one touchdown. But Driskel's performance was moot. The feeble Florida defense surrendered a record 645 yards of total offense and allowed the most points since 2007.

4. Oklahoma.

Beat West Virginia 45-33.

The Sooners are legit. West Virginia faced #2 Alabama on a neutral field in Week One and nearly pulled off a huge upset. The Mountaineers welcomed Oklahoma to Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, an intimidating environment at any time, much less at night after the infamously rude fan base has been pregaming all afternoon. No matter, OU shrugged off a 24-24 tie at half and ground down the Mounties, led by freshman running back Samaje Perine' 242 yards. (Of the Pflugerville Perines, as you know.)

5. Auburn.

Beat #20 Kansas State 20-14.

The Tigers, possibly aided by stealing K-State's playcalling signals, avoided an upset on Thursday night. You might say Auburn stole the game. (Ho, ho.)

6. Texas A&M.

Beat Southern Methodist 58-6.

A&M pulled Heisman candidate Kenny Hill at halftime after a 38-3 start. Smart, very smart. Even the A&M mascot, or rather his handler, got in on the action.

7. Baylor.

Had the weekend off. Took the opportunity to study. Heh-heh.

8. LSU.

Lost to Mississippi State 34-29.

Score one for the "teams we like" from the preseason! The upset vaulted Mississippi State into the Top 25 (to #14) and sank LSU to #17.

9. Notre Dame.

Had the weekend off. We'll resume hating them next week.

10. Pistol Pete.

Happy birthday!

Others receiving votes:

The Brady Hoke Death Watch has started in earnest in Ann Arbor. Now even his lieutenants aren't listening to him . . . The Kansas Twitter feed favorited a tweet calling for KU to fire head coach Charlie Weis . . . Diehard Gator and Tide fans squared off in a battle of who can look more ridiculous . . . Tim Tebow blasphemes . . . After a shocking win over #18 Missouri, Indiana makes a rare appearance in Big Ten bowl projections . . . the Nebraska student section is terrifying . . . The Big Ten rebounded, going 12-1 on the weekend . . . Even Northwestern scored a victory . . . And finally, our props to Northwestern State. The Demons bucked the 23-point spread and not only covered, but won straight up over Louisiana Tech 30-27.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:22 AM | Permalink

September 20, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #24: Pussy Riot, Rahm & Rauner

Rascals & Robber Barons. Plus: The Congestion That I Get, Bimbo Roles de Canela, Duck Sex, Chicago Transit By Howard Jones, Depression, and Chicago Media Folk Confused About Hitting Kids.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:48: The Congestion That I Get.

1:27: Spoon at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

* It's not Spoon that I'm a fan of, it's Sponge. Sorry, I got confused. Sponge's big songs are "Molly" and "Plowed."

* Walgreens Cold & Flu.

* Bimbo Roles de Canela.

* Duck Sex.

13:41: So Cow at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

14:47: The iCloud Sucks.

17:23: Chicago Transit By Howard Jones.

21:23: Depression.

27:02: Rascally Rahm & Bongripper Brucey.

33:03: The Descendents at Riot Fest on Sunday.

33:47: Rauner's IDOT.

36:25: One In Five.

37:54: Sham 69 at Reggies on Thursday night.

38:52: Pussy Riot Was Here.

45:32: Punk Prayer.

47:42: Plague Vendor at the Empty Bottle last Saturday night.

48:12: Windy City Live Co-Host Confused About Hitting Her Kid.

* John Kass wants government to stay out of child abuse.

55:02: Brandon Marshall & Gloria Allred Really Grind Coach Coffman's Gears.

56:31: TrackNotes: Four Quarters And The Perfect Grift.

58:49: Superchunk at Riot Fest on Sunday.

1:00:00: I Come To Your Country, Name Me.

STOPPAGE TIME: 3:28.

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For archives and more Beachwood Radio, see The Beachwood Radio Network.
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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:12 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Spoon at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.


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2. Shonen Knife at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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3. Enrique Bunbury at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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4. Sonata Arctica at Mojoes in Joliet on Wednesday night.

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5. Hassan Hakmoun at Mayne Stage for the World Music Festival on Sunday night

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6. Nicolae Feraru and is Romanian Gypsy Band at Millennium Park on Sunday.

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7. Michael Chapman at Permanent Records on Thursday.

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8. Steve Gunn at Permanent Records on Thursday.

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9. Sham 69 at Reggies on Thursday night.

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10. Delain at Mojoes in Joliet on Wednesday night.

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11. A Day To Remember at the UIC Pavilion on Thursday night.

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12. Söndörgõ at Mayne Stage for the World Music Festival on Monday night.

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13. J. Roddy Walston & The Business at the Metro on Thursday night.

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14. The Descendents at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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15. Superchunk at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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16. So Cow at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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17. Scott and Charlene's Wedding at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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18. Plague Vendor at the Empty Bottle for a Riot Fest aftershow last Saturday night.

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19. Samhain at Riot Fest last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:32 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Old white man to replace even older white man. Details at 11.

Market Update
The Status Quo looked pretty good in early trading. Then it imploded.

Excuses, Excuses
To review, Ignorance is not a suitable excuse. Incompetence, apparently, is.

Filling In The Details
You know what? Maybe Bruce Rauner could appoint a committee to figure out how his big talk on education can be fulfilled. Maybe, like, by the time the Super Bowl rolls around, maybe.

Red Ribbon
Oh come now, no way would the Russian firm that's buying Pabst tinker with "the quintessential American brand." Although, if they do decide to shake things up, the pink ribbon should be available.

Drawn And Quartered
Not to completely dismiss this obviously nutty poll result, but it would appear 1 in 4 Americans can be convinced of just about anything.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Unravel the mystery.

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #24: Pussy Riot, Rahm & Rauner.

Rascals & Robber Barons. Plus: The Congestion That I Get, Bimbo Roles de Canela, Duck Sex, Chicago Transit By Howard Jones, Depression, and Chicago Media Folk Confused About Hitting Kids.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #18: Return To Bear Mountain!

In Tresty We Trusty. Plus: Brandon Marshall And Gloria Allred Grind Coach Coffman's Gears, No Tears For Lovie, and California Uber Alles! Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Spoon, Shonen Knife, Enrique Bunbury, Sonata Arctica, Hassan Hakmoun, Nicolae Feraru and his Romanian Gypsy Band, Michael Chapman, Steve Gunn, Sham 69, Delain, A Day To Remember, Sondorgo, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, The Descendents, Superchunk, So Cow, Scott and Charlene's Wedding, Plague Vendor, and Samhain.

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TrackNotes: Four Quarters And The Perfect Grift
As a wagerer, you have to have at least some faith it's on the up-and-up, square, game. I don't.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Jeff & Spencer are 'Tweedy.' The Wilco frontman and his son join us for a special recording in front of a live audience at Chicago's Lincoln Hall."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Celebrating the Life of Les Orear.

The Illinois Labor History Society commemorates the life and legacy of its co-founder, journalist and activist Les Orear, who passed away on May 30, 2014.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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BeachBook
* Tourism Turns Its Back On Illinois Production Houses.

* Berkeley J-School Students Asked To Pay $10K More A Year Two Days Before University Officials Give Themselves A Raise.

* Wanted: Hershey's Retail Sales Mechandiser - Elmwood Park, Oak Park & Logan Square Only!

* Shonda Rhimes Educates The New York Times On 'Angry Black Women.'

* Loyola Frat Suspended For Three Years.

* Inventor Of Slush Puppies Dies At 74.

"Radcliff had spotted a slush machine at a 1970 Chicago trade show and saw the possibilities of icy sweet drinks that could be made for a few pennies. He thought the sound of icy crystals hitting the cup, the smell and taste of flavorings and the texture pleased all the senses."

* Groupon Buries Horrible Diversity Report Hoping Media Won't Notice How White Male It Is.

* 8 Ways The Obama Administration Is Blocking Public Information.

Here's one:

"Day-to-day intimidation of sources is chilling. AP's transportation reporter's sources say that if they are caught talking to her, they will be fired. Even if they just give her facts, about safety, for example. Government press officials say their orders are to squelch anything controversial or that makes the administration look bad."

* Indicted Commander Has Community Support, McCarthy Says.

The evidence of that claim is specious, but even if true, a lot of folks the CPD arrests have "community support" too.

* Kerry's Pretentious Scolding Of CODEPINK For Protesting Escalation Of War In Iraq & Syria.

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 3:53 AM | Permalink

September 19, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #18: Return To Bear Mountain!

In Tresty We Trusty. Plus: Brandon Marshall And Gloria Allred Grind Coach Coffman's Gears, No Tears For Lovie, and California Uber Alles! Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.


SHOW NOTES

* The (Jane Byrne) Circle Interchange.

2:00: Return To Bear Mountain!

* Scotland Sucks!

* Fantasy Fix: Reality Intrudes.

* In Tresty We Trusty.

Watch how candid Trestman is - he just tells the truth, and it works! Also, his habit of telling the media he'll give them some "content.

* He's not a bullshitter like Lovie.

* Special teams are still special.

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: The Incredibly True Stories Of The Bears' San Francisco Feat, Kyle Fuller's Childhood & Jets Fans In The Wild.

* The Fuller Family.

* Olympic Siblings.

* No Tears For Lovie.

* A Forensic Study Of Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

* The Bortles Conundrum.

* Hester vs. Cutler.

* Leave Josh McCown Alone.

* Brandon Marshall And Gloria Allred Really Grind Coach Coffman's Gears.

* Jets Preview: Plenty of opportunities for the Bears!

* Trestman: Working on run defense first.

34:28: California Uber Alles! Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.

* Cubs Ditch Kane County.

Theo's a genius either way!

* Ricky Rentamanager.

* Robin Alwaysanadventura.

* A Good Guy Who Wore Black.

* Sylvia Fowles Out, Elena Delle Donne Questionable For World Championships.

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For more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:54 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Four Quarters And The Perfect Grift

A calendar year in horse racing can be divided into four quarters:

- Two-year-olds, who may have gotten a taste of the bigs in their limited rookie seasons swing into the Spring shakeout and jump onto the Triple Crown trail. Or not.

- Several survivors go to the Kentucky Derby, and perhaps the Preakness and/or Belmont after that. If "selfie" can make it to Webster's Dictionary, so can "elusive Triple Crown."

- The Summer season, where the green and gawky three-year-olds and the experienced horses at four come into their respective own, sometimes crossing paths.

- The Fall season, where trainers look to get their charges ready for the big wrap party, the Breeders' Cup Championships (Oct. 31 - Nov. 1, Santa Anita Park), where it's the most serious kind of racing, no goofin'.

The concept isn't mine. We retain the four-quarters paradigm from the shrewd battlefield tactician Lovie Smith, who was capable of, like Chuck Norris, taking it more than one game at a time.

Breeders' Cup and the month-out preps leading up to it are like the best Batman costume, best sausage stuffing and best Norway pine you ever had. And the 2014 holiday season begins Saturday as we say hello to old friend California Chrome, already checked in at Parx (formerly Philadelphia Park and before that Keystone Racetrack, names that kinda told you where it was) hoping to conquer the nine-furlong, $1,000,000 Grade II Pennsylvania Derby.

Good thing he's a horse. He doesn't know about the $1200,000 bribe his connections are taking to bring him to the outer-ish suburbs of The City of Brotherly Love. 'Chrome's too young to ask how he feels, but "Rippin' the breezes, hey dude?!" would be a perfect bon mot. He's been training faithfully since early August, with two bullets (best of the day workouts at that distance) at his Los Alamitos HQ, including a 1:10-1/5 over the longer six furlongs.

'Chrome should have plenty of bottom from a highly active spring and Triple Crown campaign, but this A-list star will still have to get his dancing legs back under him. It's a tall order to win the Classic with only one prep and against many older horses, and may well illustrate the curse a horse bears when he's expected to run in the Belmont after winning the Derby and Preakness.

Also, he'll be starting from the one hole, difficult to begin with but made tougher by the presence of speed merchant Bayern over in the four post and need-the-lead knockabout C J's Awesome on the outside.

Bayern put on his Pirellis and needed only a rearview mirror in running away in the Haskell Invitational on July 27 by more than seven lengths in what was supposed to be a boy-versus-girl battle royale with three-year-old filly Untapable, more on her later. But then Bayern threw in a bonafide clunker in the Travers Stakes, finishing last. You tell me, but the conversation will start with the opening topic: distance.

Candy Boy could figure, but our finger-tapping gets louder as our patience wanes.

Tapiture comes in off two wins, the Grade III Matt Winn at Churchill Downs and the Grade II West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer. That last score came against Candy Boy and Vicars In Trouble, who later notched an easy victory in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

'Chrome can't read bulletin board material but his trainer Art Sherman can. Tapiture owner Ron Winchell ticked off two of his reasons 'Chrome is up against it: the transcontinental plane flight and nine furlongs off an extended break. On the same conference call, Sherman countered the jabs, "Really, where does he want us to run, in the (Grade I) Awesome Again Stakes? I guess they don't believe in Shared Belief." A Peabody-esque observation by Sherman that he doesn't think 'Chrome can beat 'Belief, at least not now. That's some straight talkin'.

It says here 3:30 p.m. on Comcast Sports Net Chicago HD, but check that because CSNCHD isn't exactly known as a go-to portal of TV racing. They may be patching in to the Philly Comcast feed.

Shared Belief, owned by sports gasbag Jim Rome, runs in the Awesome Again next week after taking the Los Alamitos Derby and crushing the Pacific Classic in August. The undefeated two-year-old Horse of the Year is arguably the best three-year-old in the country. Sherman figures if they butt heads in the Classic, so be it. And whatever equine pheromones of Shared Belief 'Chrome hasn't smelled won't hurt him.

Untapable returns in the co-feature, the 8.5-furlong $1,000,000 Cotillion (Grade I). Silver-maned Bob "No Problemo" Baffert says that when it was clear Untapable was done in the Haskell, and it was always clear, jockey Martin Garcia Rosie Napravnik eased her up and saved her for another day. That's good to hear, because she'll be taking on Sweet Reason, stretching out in distance (could be a problem) after wins in the one-mile Acorn (Grade I) at Belmont and the seven-furlong Test (Grade I) at Saratoga. Second favorite is Stopchargingmaria (an inside joke about owner Mike Repole's wife's spending habits), who comes in with haute couture victories in the Black Eyed Susan (Grade II, Pimlico), Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama (both Grade I, Saratoga). Little Alexis is an up-and-comer at a morning line 20-1.

Next week is Super Saturday at Belmont with the - breathe deeply - Beldame, Flower Bowl, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Joe Hirsch Turf, Kelso and Vosburgh. It becomes even Super-er with the Awesome Again and Zenyatta Stakes from Santa Anita later in the day.

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Let's throw kudos to some other Summer winners: Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy, Palace in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt and the Forego Stakes, Moreno in the Whitney Stakes (one of three straight exactas for me that day), The Big Beast in the King's Bishop, Artemus Agrotera in the Ballerina Stakes, V. E. Day in the Travers (boy, was that sweet, and with Wicked Strong in the exacta), and Itsmyluckyday in the Woodward, capping off a very "enjoyable" August. We must also congratulate Hardest Core, earlier beset by serious health problems, for his impressive and stylish win in the Arlington Million, over the higher class Magician and Side Glance.

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Rest in peace to 16-year old Street Cry. After winning the Dubai World Cup (!) and Stephen Foster in 2002, he sired Shocking, winner of the 2009 Melbourne Cup (that's a national holiday in Australia!); Grade I winners Street Boss and Street Hero; Street Sense, the only winner of both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby, and the 19-and-1 super mare, Zenyatta. Zenyatta has foaled three times and Street Sense has already sired a two-time Grade I winner, the aforementioned Sweet Reason.

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As Fearless Leader said on The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, it seems everyone with a forum feels compelled to explain to us once and for all the complex issues now confronting the National Football League. Not here. All I'll say is that spanking or beating your kid with a belt or switch is not the answer. Believe me.

And I'll add that I am turning away from all interest in the NFL and most certainly have stopped wagering on its games.

The NFL has ceased being a sport and is now an institution, an insidious institution that acted completely predictably in these events. These problems became inevitable because of the too-big-for-serious-scrutiny, too-big-to-be-wrong, too-much-money-to-be-made leviathan the NFL, and sports in general, has become in this country.

The NFL is now an opiate of the masses, dulling the senses to the point where people mindlessly spend a couple hundred bucks on a Cade McNown jersey, continue to wear a Ray Rice jersey, or bring a switch to a game. I used to chuckle at Wisconsin, where I once lived long ago, as media coverage of the Packers evolved into a 365-days-a-year proposition.

Now, this disease is in every NFL city, including witty and urbane Chicago, A Bears Town. It's become a mindless cult, an indoctrination, a worship of "warriors" whose faces we don't see and whose hearts and souls we won't ever know, garbed in clannish colors. Displays of machismo, bodies breaking, brains scrambled.

With all of this going on, a breaking point was Jay Cutler and Marc Trestman, in various degrees, of their unique and polished degrees of passive aggressiveness, telling the people of the city of Chicago to fuck off after yet another one of the hundreds of bumbling losses their team has inflicted upon its fans to open the season.

This ingrained, pathological insult has persisted acutely for 11 years, through Lovie Smith and now Trestman. How's this, Jay and Trest and Lamborghini 55 and good ol' Number 54? FUCK YOU! And take your mediocrity with you when you slither away. I see the numbers these guys wear and remember the gentlemen who imbued in them true excellence and sportsmanship.

As for the wagering, these are no longer games. They are television shows, plot lines, shoehorned between thousands of commercials, fixed and scripted to give the viewers what they think we want.

It's 11 minutes of actual play in a four-hour black hole of wasted time. It's the perfect grift. A vehicle for consumerism.

It is no longer two groups of professional football players hitting the field and seeing who's best, fair and square. A mysterious force we see, the officials, and one we don't, the video black hand, exert their own special influence. So many things are not what they seem. What you just saw is not what you saw, because we said so. Don't ask, it's complicated. Trust us.

This season, it is woefully obvious that these squads have not even bothered to practice together to be prepared for the season. Why should they? Pigeons, along with their money, will keep roosting. They're starting to get more and more dishonest with injury reports. And now we learn that we may never know who's really going to play any given week. Defense, the spiritually satisfying aspiration in any sport, is not allowed. So they don't play it, won't play it, can't play it.

The cultural stupidity of the Detroit Lions or the New York Jets, the arrogance of the Chicago Bears, the thuggishness of so many of the teams is certainly distasteful. But from a gambling point of view, it's not a game, not a true contest, not a best-foot-forward in a true sporting sense. As a wagerer, you have to have at least some faith it's on the up-and-up, square, game. I don't.

Don't need the action that bad.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:41 AM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

Congestion City: Population One.

I felt something coming on for about a week. Well, it's here!

Not the biggest deal in the world, but one of those "colds" or whatever that just makes one miserable, and life pretty annoying. I often wonder how I would hold up with a real sickness.

That reminds me of a song.

(Of course, depression is real. See how that works? Even those of us preaching about it sometimes discount it.)

Anyway, Beachwood photographer-in-residence Helene Smith asked me on the phone last night if I was delirious and I think I just mumbled something like "The czar is dead!"

Also, way to wimp out, Scotland.

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #18: Return To Bear Mountain!

In Tresty We Trusty. Plus: Brandon Marshall And Gloria Allred Grind Coach Coffman's Gears, No Tears For Lovie, and California Uber Alles! Cubs And White Sox Under Alles.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour.

Slated for a Saturday go.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Yeah, that's in pre-production too.

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The College Football Report
Funny story. Our man on campus, Mike Luce, notified me overnight that his laptop containing the CFR crapped out on him. Attempts to revive it have so far failed.

This sad turn of events is compounded by the fact that Luce is on a business trip Out East and as I type this quite likely giving a PowerPoint presentation he had on a flash drive to high-level executives of a recognizable brand which I will not name due to, um, proprietary reasons.

Win that account for daddy!

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park
Helene Smith is the only one who's come through for you today.

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I Come To Your Country, Name Me
I did manage to add value to this press release from the Chicago Literary Guild.

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How Health Insurers Are Screwing You Now
As long as it's a for-profit system . . . includes Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

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Actually, thinking about that song, I've been tested plenty. I guess I just haven't had cancer yet. But I'm sure it's coming!

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Late add from our man on the rail:

TrackNotes: Four Quarters And The Perfect Grift.

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BeachBook
* "Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists' work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide."

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TweetWood

Amirite?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sinusy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

A New Way Insurers Are Shifting Costs To The Sick

This story was co-published with The New York Times' The Upshot.

Health insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away patients because of their pre-existing conditions or charge them more because of those conditions. But some health policy experts say insurers may be doing so in a more subtle way: by forcing people with a variety of illnesses - including Parkinson's disease, diabetes and epilepsy - to pay more for their drugs.

Insurers have long tried to steer their members away from more expensive brand name drugs, labeling them as "non-preferred" and charging higher co-payments. But according to an editorial published Wednesday in the American Journal of Managed Care, several prominent health plans have taken it a step further, applying that same concept even to generic drugs.

The Affordable Care Act bans insurance companies from discriminating against patients with health problems, but that hasn't stopped them from seeking new and creative ways to shift costs to consumers. In the process, the plans effectively may be rendering a variety of ailments "non-preferred," according to the editorial.

"It is sometimes argued that patients should have 'skin in the game' to motivate them to become more prudent consumers," the editorial says. "One must ask, however, what sort of consumer behavior is encouraged when all generic medicines for particular diseases are 'non-preferred' and subject to higher co-pays."

I recently wrote about the confusion I faced with my infant son's generic asthma and allergy medication, which switched cost tiers from one month to the next. Until then, I hadn't known that my plan charged two different prices for generic drugs. If your health insurer does not use such a structure, odds are that it will before long.

The editorial comes several months after two advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Health and Human Services claiming that several Florida health plans sold in the Affordable Care Act marketplace discriminated against H.I.V. patients by charging them more for drugs.

Specifically, the complaint contended that the plans placed all of their H.I.V. medications, including generics, in their highest of five cost tiers, meaning that patients had to pay 40 percent of the cost after paying a deductible. The complaint is pending.

"It seems that the plans are trying to find this wiggle room to design their benefits to prevent people who have high health needs from enrolling," said Wayne Turner, a staff lawyer at the National Health Law Program, which filed the complaint alongside the AIDS Institute of Tampa, Fla.

Turner said he feared a "race to the bottom," in which plans don't want to be seen as the most attractive for sick patients. "Plans do not want that reputation."

In July, more than 300 patient groups, covering a range of diseases, wrote to Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, saying they were worried that health plans were trying to skirt the spirit of the law, including how they handled co-pays for drugs.

Generics, which come to the market after a name-brand drug loses its patent protection, used to have one low price in many insurance plans, typically $5 or $10. But as their prices have increased, sometimes sharply, many insurers have split the drugs into two cost groupings, as they have long done with name-brand drugs. "Non-preferred" generic drugs have higher co-pays, though they are still cheaper than brand-name drugs.

With brand names, there's usually at least one preferred option in each disease category. Not so for generics, the authors of the editorial found.

One of the authors, Gerry Oster, a vice president at the consulting firm Policy Analysis, said he stumbled upon the issue much as I did. He went to his pharmacy to pick up a medication he had been taking for a couple of years. The prior month it cost him $5, but this time it was $20.

As he looked into it, he came to the conclusion that this phenomenon was unknown even to health policy experts. "It's completely stealth," he said.

In some cases, the difference in price between a preferred and non-preferred generic drug is a few dollars per prescription. In others, the difference in co-pay is $10, $15 or more.

Even small differences in price can make a difference, though, the authors said. Previous research has found that consumers are less likely to take drugs that cost more out of pocket. "There's very strong evidence for quite some time that even a $1 difference in out-of-pocket expenditures changes Americans' behavior" regarding their use of medical services, said the other co-author, Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, a physician and director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design.

Fendrick said the strategy also ran counter to efforts by insurance companies to tie physicians' pay to their patients' outcomes. "I am benchmarked on what my diabetic patients' blood sugar control is," he said. "I am benchmarked on whether my patients' hypertension or angina" is under control, he said. Charging more for generic drugs to treat these conditions "flies directly in the face of a national movement to move from volume to value."

If there are no cheaper drugs offered, patients might just skip taking their pills, Fendrick said.

The authors reviewed the drug lists, called formularies, of six prescription drugs plans: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Massachusetts; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois; Geisinger Health Plan in Pennsylvania; Aetna; and Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska. They wanted to see how each plan handled expert-recommended generic drugs for 10 conditions.

The conditions are not all high cost like H.I.V. and Parkinson's. They also include migraine headaches, community acquired pneumonia and high blood pressure.

Premera and Aetna had preferred generic drugs for each of the 10 conditions the authors examined. Harvard Pilgrim, a nonprofit often considered among the nation's best, did not have a lower-cost generic in any of the 10 categories.

Four of the six plans had no preferred generic antiretroviral medication for patients with H.I.V.

In a statement to ProPublica, Harvard Pilgrim said it charges more for some generics because they are more expensive. The cheapest generics carry a $5 co-payment for a 30-day supply. More expensive generics range from $10 to $25, or 20 percent of the cost for a 30-day supply. The health plan said its members pay less for their medications than the industry average.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois said that its preferred generics had no co-payment at all, and that non-preferred generics cost $10. "We historically only had one tier of generic drugs at a $10 co-pay," the spokeswoman Mary Ann Schultz said in an e-mail.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan spokeswoman Helen Stojic said the editorial looked only at its drug plan for Medicare patients, which the government closely regulates. Under Medicare, patients can appeal a drug's tier and seek to pay a lower co-payment, she said.

Geisinger did not respond to questions.

Health plans that participate in Medicare's prescription drug program, known as Part D, have been moving rapidly to create two tiers of generic drugs. This year, about three-quarters of plans had them, according to an article co-written by Jack Hoadley, a health policy analyst at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. The practical effect of such arrangements probably varies based on the difference in cost, he said.

Dan Mendelson, chief executive of Avalere Health, a consulting firm, has studied the way in which health insurers structure their benefits. He said the increasing number of drug tiers in some plans was confusing for patients.

"Consumers often don't understand which drugs are where," he said. "They don't understand the purpose of tiering. They just get to the pharmacy counter and it gets done to them."

Have you experienced price confusion at the pharmacy? E-mail Charles Ornstein to let him know about what happened.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

I Come To Your Country, Name Me

Diverse voices lead to stronger communities, and the Guild Literary Complex is dedicated to featuring Chicago's varied chorus. The Guild continues our 25-year legacy by piloting a new series featuring Asian-American authors and themes. I Come To Your Country, Name Me, the first of this series, takes place Wednesday, September 24, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's LeRoy Neiman Center (37 South Wabash Avenue, first floor). Similar to our monthly Palabra Pura reading series, this event will kick off with an open mic reading, beginning at 7 p.m.

This reading features three Chicago authors whose works address themes of identity, home, and the immigrant experience: Rachel DeWoskin, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Deepak Unnikrishnan. It is held in conjunction with (and co-presented by) the Kriti Festival - a three-day festival of literature from authors of Desi background and of the Asian Diaspora. The event is also co-presented by Master of Fine Arts in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"This event will be a creative exploration of Expatriation and Migration in the Asian diaspora," says curator Dipika Mukhergee. "Asia has many communities and languages and cultures, so we will speak in anecdotes instead of reductive generalities.

"Rachel DeWoskin will read from her life as the megastar of a Chinese soap opera in Beijing, then read from her new book based in Shanghai.

"Mary Anne Mohanraj, in her memoir, discusses bisexuality, taboos and going home to a discontented Sri Lanka, which is no longer home.

"Deepak's writing is grounded in Abu Dhabi where he grew up as the son of Indian expatriates, but home has been America for more than a decade.

"All three readers live and work in Chicago."

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

* Rachel DeWoskin's fourth book, the critically acclaimed Blind, was published by Penguin in August 2014. Her novel Big Girl Small (FSG 2011) received the 2012 American Library Association's Alex Award and was named one of the top three books of 2011 by Newsday.

DeWoskin's memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing (WW Norton 2005), about the years she spent in China as the unlikely star of a Chinese soap opera, has been published in six countries, optioned first by Paramount for a feature film and then by HBO to be developed into a television series, for which DeWoskin co-wrote the pilot episode.

Her debut novel Repeat After Me (The Overlook
Press, 2009), which follows the unexpected romance between a young American teacher and her Chinese student, won a Foreward Magazine Book of the Year Award.

She has written essays and articles for Vanity Fair, The Sunday Times Magazine of London, Teachers and Writers, and anthologies including Found: Requiem for a Paper Bag, and Wanderlust.

Her poems have appeared in journals including Ploughshares, Seneca Review, New Delta Review, Nerve and The New Orleans Review. She teaches fiction and memoir at the University of Chicago.

See also:
* Our Babe In Beijing.

* On Blind.

* Asian Jewish Life.

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* Mary Anne Mohanraj is author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and ten other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change is a Lambda-award-finalist science fiction novella.

Previous titles include Aqua Erotica and Wet (two erotica anthologies edited for Random House), Kathryn in the City and The Classics Professor (two erotic choose-your-own-adventure novels, Penguin), The Best of Strange Horizons, the collection, Without a Map, Aqueduct Press, co-authored with Nnedi Okorafor, The Poet's Journey (picture book), and A Taste of Serendib (a Sri Lankan cookbook).

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and serves as editor-in- chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary journal.

She was Guest of Honor at WisCon 2010, will be Guest of Honor at Maneki Neko Con, received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, and won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose.

She serves as Executive Director of both DesiLit and the Speculative Literature Foundation and directs the Kriti Festival of South Asian arts and literature.

Mohanraj has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is Clinical Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

See also:
* Bookslut Interview.

* Salon: My Feminist Revolution At 40.

* BookDragon: Literotica.

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* Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His first set of short stories, Coffee Stains in a Camel's Teacup was published by Vijitha Yapa Publications (Colombo, Sri Lanka). His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Drunken Boat, Himal Southasian, Bound Off, The State Vol IV: Dubai, the art project Autopoiesis, and in the anthology Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana (Zubaan Books, India).

He has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where on scholarship he completed the manuscript for his first work of fiction set in the Gulf, excerpts from which are forthcoming in Guernica. He is the winner of the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award.

Listen:

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ABOUT THE CURATOR
Dipika Mukherjee is a writer and sociolinguist. Her debut novel, Thunder Demons (Gyaana 2011), was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize. She lives in Chicago and teaches at Northwestern University.

ABOUT THE KRITI FESTIVAL
Kriti is the Hindi word for "creation."

Chicago's Kriti Festival was launched in 2005 to celebrate South Asian and diaspora literature and arts. In 2005, 2007, and 2009, more than 30 writers, artists, performers, editors and agents came to Chicago to share their work with the general public, through panel discussions, readings, theatrical, music, and dance performances, workshops and more.

The festival returns in September 2014, and will be hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Asian Studies Program and the Asian American Studies Program.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:48 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Intersecting West Rogers Park

And shipping.

gandhielectronics14bw.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:26 AM | Permalink

September 18, 2014

The Incredibly True Stories Of The Bears' San Francisco Feat, Kyle Fuller's Childhood & Jets Fans In The Wild

The San Francisco Feat
Well golly-gee, we have ourselves a winner!

It came at the expense of Jay Cutler's sternum, Chris Conte's shoulder, Jeremiah Ratliff's brain and Charles Tillman's career, but a win nonetheless.

Or nonethemore. Whatever you call it when you lose three starters on defense for some amount of time/forever and your quarterback nearly has a pizza-sized hole punched in his chest.

That said, the value of this victory simply can't be understated; this was a season-saving win for the Chicago Bears and a wildly entertaining 32 minutes of football.

Nevermind that accepting penalties against the 49ers was easily the second-most effective offensive weapon at the Bears' disposal.

Nevermind the fact that the win obfuscated some truly awful decisions on Cutler's part, including several throws to a hobbled and double-covered Alshon Jeffery (I love you Jay, but if I can see him limping from back in Chicago, I'm sure you can see it twice as good on the field).

Nevermind that the majority of this game was televised well after Al Michaels' bedtime and we had to listen to the words that came out of his mouth hours after his brain went to sleep. (Did I hear both a Flag and Arbor Day joke dropped into the mix during the broadcast? Ouch.)

The point is that it's safe to become excited about 2014 again.

At least until we find out that Matt Forte is going to be suspended indefinitely for stealing money from the elderly.

The Tall Tales Of Kyle Fuller
As fans, part of our job this season (aside from calling up The Score at 3 p.m. to drunkenly insist that Jimmy Clausen is a better option at both Bears quarterback and White Sox catcher) will be to assess Phil Emery's level of success in the last two years of the draft.

The jury is still out on many of this year's selections (Editor's Note: the jury is not out on quarterback David Fales and the verdict is "We don't get it."), but rookie Kyle Fuller performed so well in Week 2, and the editorial voice I write in is so utterly biased, that it makes sense to start with the Bears' 2014 first-round pick.

The positive attention Fuller has been getting this week is nothing new. He's been enjoying notoriety since the time of his birth.

The details of his early years are unclear, mostly the stuff of myth and legend.

Some say he was such a strapping baby boy that it took five storks to deliver him to the Fuller family log cabin outside of Baltimore.

Others claim he leapt from his mother's womb to return a Brad Johnson pass 41 yards during a 1991 game between Virginia Tech game against Florida State*.

What we do know about him is that after digging Lake Michigan as a watering trough for his blue ox, and successfully defending Baltimore from Rodan in 2010, Fuller attended Virginia Tech and played primarily in nickel packages as a true freshman.

During his sophomore year, Fuller broke a longstanding record for ACC prospects by felling 27 white ash trees at the combine; a key measurable that led to the Bears selecting him in the first round.

Since joining the Bears, his teammates have been singing his praises; most notably All-Pro wideout Brandon Marshall.

"I told him it's not about starting, it's not about making the Pro Bowl," Marshall told reporters after Sunday night's win. "For him, he needs to have Hall of Fame on his brain - because I saw him arm wrestle [Bears mascot] Barry at practice on Friday, and win."

Marshall continued.

"The outcome was never in doubt. It wasn't even like the suspense you'd find in, say, the last scene of Over The Top. You know, the movie in which custody of a young boy is awarded to a man who is a long-haul trucker and part-time professional arm wrestler?"

Something suddenly appeared to dawn on Marshall as local reporters racked their brains trying to remember anything specific about that movie. Was that the one where Stallone wore sunglasses into a grocery store meat locker?

"Come to think of it, given his two vocations, the guy probably can't afford either the afterschool care, or provide the personal time necessary to responsibly parent that kid. What are the hours like for a trucker, let alone a guy who works mostly in bars at night afterwards . . . like 6 a.m. to one in the morning? I mean, he's pulling in, what, 42 grand a year? It's enough to live off of, but at what cost to their relationship?"

Marshall shook his head.

"So yeah, my point is that I saw Kyle Fuller beat a live Bear at competitive long-haul trucking. Next question."

J-E-T-S: Jets! Jets! . . . uh, PETS!
Absolutely true story.

The wife and I were in Milwaukee last weekend drinking (surprise) and we happened across a large group of Jets fans at one of our favorite haunts, Mader's Restaurant. Apparently, they had flown into what I assume is the only other city in Wisconsin, besides Green Bay, that anyone outside of the cheese state has heard of.

Now that they had arrived from New York, their plan was simple.

Step 1: Stare at my wife's ample bosom. Step one went on for about 40 minutes.

Step 2: Get drunker.

Step 3: Repeat steps one and two.

Step 4: Arrange a cab from their hotel . . . in Milwaukee . . . to the game . . . in Green Bay.

They had no friends in the area, and they did not seem to think there was a shuttle running from Milwaukee to Green Bay.

They planned to cab it.

They indicated to us that this was such a trivial aspect of their cross-country excursion that it was merely an afterthought.

"So now that wuh here's in Milwaukee, we hop in this fuckin' cab and BOOM, we're at the stadium. Fuhggetabotit!"

Some more fuhggetabotits where bandied about before we shook their hands (it was like watching a living cartoon; I didn't think they actually talked like that), wished their Jets luck for the next 24 hours and moved onto another drunken adventure.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Jet fan, nature's third-smartest primate.

Ahead of dolphin, but behind human.

Kool-Aid (3 of 5 Fingers - Canadian Club)
Thought I might go in a different direction there?

Manhattan is in New York. The Jets play in New Jersey.

Borrow a buddy's "HBO Go" login if you haven't seen Boardwalk Empire yet. It's worth the 60 minutes a week.

If the Wonderlic scores of their fans are any indication, we can assume that the actual Jets football team is similarly hindered by a variety of learning disabilities.

Based on their coaching staff's propensity to call the kind of timeouts that ruin football games, I might be onto something.

The thing us Bears fans are counting on is that the football squad can't find a way to finish football games any better than their fans can find a map via the elusive creature known as Google.

There's some legit talent on the defensive front of this team and the Bears' banged up O-line is going to have to buy Cutler enough time to attack the soft secondary with his banged-up receiving corps.

I don't think the Jets will have ironed out any of the kinks between their ears between last Sunday and this Monday (Sheldon Richardson is listed as questionable this week with actual iron burns on his head), so while their running game may run roughshod over the Bears D, it shouldn't be enough.

Bears 24, Jets 20.

* This was of course a gross exaggeration. The pre-natal Fuller was called for a holding penalty when his umbilical cord prevented Seminoles running back Edgar Bennett from attempting a tackle, thus making the official return negative 10 yards.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:10 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Following a trend seen around the country, the percentage of people in Chicago living below the poverty line didn't nudge from 2012 to 2013, according to new data," the Sun-Times reports.

"About 14 percent of people in the Chicago metropolitan area, or more than 1.3 million people, lived below the poverty line in 2013, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. That's nearly unchanged from 2012.

"For children, the poverty rate is significantly higher. One in five children in Chicago lives in poverty."

One in five.

Rauner Can't Handle The IDOT
"If elected governor, [Bruce Rauner] said he would request a federal hiring monitor at the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is facing a federal lawsuit over patronage hiring," the Sun-Times reports.

Huh? Is Rauner saying that IDOT patronage would be even beyond his control if he were governor? Doesn't that let Pat Quinn off the hook? Shouldn't Rauner, if elected, clean up IDOT himself?

Bruce Rauner: I'll Bring In The Feds To Shake Up Springfield.

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"He also would back a one-year revolving-door ban to prevent senior executive officials from having served as lobbyists in their preceding 12 months or from becoming a lobbyist within 12 months after they leave their government positions, he said."

To be fair, I have to say that generally answers a point I made in Wednesday's column. But it still has nothing to do with medical marijuana licenses.

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"Rauner, a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said he has not talked with anyone from the Steelers regarding the National Football League's handling of the cases of domestic abuse against Ray Rice and child abuse against Adrian Peterson.

"I am working here in Illinois to win an election and transform our government so it's run for the people," Rauner said. "That's 100 percent of my focus."

Okay, that was stupid. Why not just say that as a minority owner, you don't have anything to do with policy-making and you rarely talk those who do - but that you obviously are as disgusted with everyone else with those cases?

Wouldn't you feel it in your bones to say something like that?

My only guess is that any emotion he may have felt was instantaneously squelched by the political calculation that any comment he made on the matter might step on the ethics plan he wanted out front in media coverage.

Too bad - and an incorrect calculation. His campaign later issued a statement lambasting Quinn for cutting funding for domestic violence shelters by 15 percent (see Update 2), which is interesting and fair. It would also be fair to ask Rauner how he would restore funding to social service budgets as governor, given that what he's proposed so far is either "pure fantasy," a "lie,"doesn't add up," and a "mathematical impossibility."

Believe me, Quinn cutting funding for domestic violence shelters - if true - is noxious. Quinn's priorities, sadly, are as upside down as every other pols. But Rauner would surely make things worse, not better.

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P.S.: First he came for the college journos, then . . .

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That's Donne!
"State Sen. Donne Trotter took $2,000 in cash from a convicted felon who got the money from an undercover FBI agent posing as an Indian businessman, lawyers for a South Side man allege," the Sun-Times reports.

Uh-oh.

"Trotter did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday afternoon, but prosecutor Barry Jonas told the judge that Trotter 'cannot recall' receiving the cash."

Right.

"I vaguely remember a brown paper bag, but I'm not really sure what was in it. I've been really busy!"

Signs Of The Times
No garish signs on the river or along Michigan Avenue but inside Wrigley Field? Bizarro Chicago.

Journalists Criticize White House Secrecy Again
"Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists' work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide," AP reports.

"The AP's Washington chief of bureau, Sally Buzbee, said the Obama administration's efforts to control information extend even to agencies not directly involved in intelligence gathering. Some sources, she said, have reportedly been warned they could be fired for even talking to a reporter.

"Day-to-day intimidation of sources is also extremely chilling," she said.

Buzbee said she's frequently asked if the Obama administration, when it comes to transparency, is worse than the administration of President George W. Bush.

"Bush was not fantastic," she said. She added, "The (Obama) administration is significantly worse than previous administrations."

Okay, that's already been well-established. But when is the media gonna do more than just complain? Some possible actions off the top of my head include shaming the fuck out of Obama with a steady stream of screaming headlines about how chilling his policies are - maybe the network newscasts coordinate lead stories about it for a week; ever more intensive strategies to completely ignore the president's press conferences and photo ops and tilt coverage significantly toward the subjects where secrecy is at its heights; and a flood of FOIA lawsuits or even one big one - or, come to think of it, all three of these and more. This is the core of democracy.

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"White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Obama is committed to transparency."

"Over the past six years, federal agencies have gone to great efforts to make government more transparent and more accessible than ever, to provide people with information that they can use in their daily lives, and to solicit public participation in government decision-making and thus tap the expertise that resides outside of government," Schultz said in a e-mailed statement.

Here's another idea: No more e-mailed statements, fer chrissake. And no more spokespeople. Just stop with it all. Time to completely overhaul White House reporting - and all the rest.

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P.S.: Gwyneth Paltrow has more access to Obama than James Risen . . .

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
The Incredibly True Stories Of The Bears' San Fransciso Feat, Kyle Fuller's Childhoold & Jets Fans In The Wild.

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BeachBook
* Naperville Bans Major Beer Discounts.

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TweetWood

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Commas are typos, btw.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Walk the high-wire.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:36 AM | Permalink

September 17, 2014

Reckoning At Eagle Creek

A harrowing historical journey, a poignant family memoir, and an ardent case against Big Coal, by an award-winning writer.

"This is a world-shaking, belief-rattling, immensely important book. If you're an American, it is almost a patriotic duty to read it." - Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"Part historical narrative, part family memoir, part pastoral paean, and part jeremiad against the abuse of the land and of the men who gave and continue to give their lives to (and often for) the mines, [this book] puts a human face on the industry that supplies nearly half of America's energy [and] offers a rare historical perspective on the vital yet little considered industry, along with a devastating critique of the myth of 'clean coal.'" - Publishers Weekly

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Set in the ruins of his family's strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, award-winning journalist and historian Jeff Biggers delivers a deeply personal portrait of the overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation's dirty energy policy.

Beginning with the policies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, chronicling the removal of Native Americans and the hidden story of legally sanctioned black slavery in the land of Lincoln, Reckoning at Eagle Creek vividly describes the mining wars for union recognition and workplace safety, and the devastating consequences of industrial strip-mining.

At the heart of our national debate over climate change and the crucial transition toward clean energy, Biggers exposes the fallacy of "clean coal" and shatters the marketing myth that Southern Illinois represents the "Saudi Arabia of coal."

Reckoning at Eagle Creek is ultimately an exposé of "historicide," one that traces coal's harrowing legacy through the great American family saga of sacrifice and resiliency and the extraordinary process of recovering our nation's memory.

The trailer:


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Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning author of The United States of Appalachia, In the Sierra Madre, and State Out of the Union.

His award-winning stories have appeared on National Public Radio and Public Radio International, and in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Nation, and Salon, among others.

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See also:
* JeffBiggers.com.

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Also by Biggers:
* Big Coal Owns Illinois.

* Illinois Fracking And Coal Rush Is A National Crisis.

* Illinois Shamelessly Lies To Children About Coal.

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Vs. Obama In Two Parts

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 AM | Permalink

Pussy Riot Was Here

1. From RedEye:

"Watch snippets of the 2014 'Riot Fest Speaks' panel discussion. The panel included Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, Bad Religion's Greg Graffin, Rise Against's Tim McIlrath, feminist writer Marcelle Karp, and Riot Fest founder Mike Petryshyn, along with moderator Henry Rollins."


Note Rollins calling punk one of history's great humanitarian movements.

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2. The panel in full courtesy of Pond Tube and in two parts.

"Masha and Nadya got to speak to a big crowd about fighting misogyny in Russia, the U.S., and in punk music . . . but had to contend with Henry Rollins and some of other dudes blathering at their panel at Riot Fest in Humboldt Park."

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See also:
* Dan Mihalopoulos: Pussy Riot's Conduct A Sacrilege To Democratic Ideals.

* Whet Moser: Pussy Riot vs. Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:42 AM | Permalink

September 16, 2014

Fantasy Fix: Reality Intrudes

I'm beginning to think that there are so many criminals, degenerates and questionable characters in the NFL that perhaps teams should just go with the flow and start drafting guys who are already in prison. All the games could be played within the confines of various "yards," and at the end of the games, we could all rest assured for another week that pro football stars wouldn't be running around among the rest of us committing their crimes.

As it is, however, we seem to be getting fresh news every week of another player who has gotten himself into trouble, and will miss games, and in general become a major distraction. For fantasy football gamers, trying to predict who will have a breakout year and who will stay healthy is no longer enough - we need to start studying police reports and rap sheets, too. Our Week 2 review discusses the latest troublemaker, and more:

* Maybe it's time for a Fantasy Felon of the Week feature. For last week, it would have been Adrian Peterson, one-man team, superstar and alleged child abuser. Peterson was deactivated last week amid his arrest and indictment. It's looking like he may play this week, though don't be surprised if the Vikings or possibly the league rules him out for Week 3 at the last minute. I guess the good thing about owning your own fantasy team is that you don't have to wait for anyone else. Bench him.

* Antonio Gates is not dead yet. The veteran TE for San Diego hauled in three TDs in Week 2 against the vaunted Seattle defense. Coming into the season, hype around teammate Ladarius Green and Gates's own ongoing decay made him a backup pick for many fantasy teams. After two weeks, it's clear he's holding off Green, and the Chargers' lack of top-tier WR talent means we may see more of Gates in the end zone.

* Dallas is running a lot more than expected - great news for owners of DeMarco Murray, though less great for owners of Tony Romo. Through two weeks, Murray has the league's second-most rushing attempts (51) and the most rushing yards (285), while Romo has turned in two lackluster games. Maybe Romo won't wear his arm out after all. Too bad his fantasy value pretty much relies on him doing just that.

* Can you guess who has the most completed passes of any NFL QB through Week 2? Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers maybe? No. Try Jay Cutler. His 57 completions (out of 83 attempts) is one more than even Drew Brees has mustered. Cutler's owners can thank his absolute flurry of activity during Chicago's shocking second half comeback against the 49ers last week. Is this a sign of things to come? We've all been burned too often by Cutler to believe that, but ESPN currently is forecasting him as one of the top five fantasy QBs for Week 3. So we'll take this thing one week at a time.

* Should fantasy owners of the Seahawks defense panic yet? Seattle, as noted above, was scalded by San Diego in Week 2, and now have a Super Bowl rematch against Denver set for Week 3. In these kinds of games, I almost always like the Super Bowl losers to earn some payback against the winners, and it's worth noting that Seattle's secondary is a little thinner of talent than last year. Sounds like something Peyton Manning can exploit? In any case, several defenses - Houston, New England, Buffalo, for example - are looking like the fantasy defenses to own in 2014.

Expert Wire
* SB Nation has advice on replacements for the growing list of injured stars.

* Bleacher Report is predicting 325 yards passing and two TDs for Cutler this week.

* Yahoo! Big Board is buying into DeMarco Murray's big year - if he stays healthy, which for Murray is a big if.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel declined Tuesday to back up his campaign's accusation that Ald. Robert Fioretti has no political backbone, choosing instead to outline his own record for tough decisions without ever mentioning the name of his latest rival for the 2015 mayoral election," the Tribune reports.

"Shortly after Fioretti announced his mayoral bid Saturday and blasted Emanuel as an ineffective leader, the mayor's campaign released a statement from spokesman Steve Mayberry saying the 2nd Ward alderman 'has shown no backbone for making tough choices and little respect for Chicago taxpayers' pocketbooks.'

"Called on today to explain why he thinks that's the case, Emanuel instead ticked off a litany of the 'tough decisions' he said he has made in his first term, from finding the money to finance longer school days in Chicago Public Schools to making the city more attractive to businesses."

This is what he'll do the whole campaign - leave the dirty work (that he used to perform as an operative) to surrogates while keeping himself above the fray. It's a strategy, imported from Washington, D.C., that is wholly disingenuous in that he avoids accountability for his campaign even as he touts accountability in his mayoralty.

"Pressed on whether he was saying Fioretti stood in the way of those decisions, Emanuel told reporters to 'draw your own' conclusions."

No, we want to hear the words come from your mouth. Say it. Say it!

"Emanuel declined to be specific in his criticism of Fioretti. 'I just addressed the question, you guys can draw your own,' he said."

Rahm asking the media to draw their own conclusion might just be a first; he's made a living out of drawing conclusions for us and trying to ram them down our throats. If only he truly meant it.

Bongripper Brucey
"Republican Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said if he were governor, he would have vetoed Illinois' medical marijuana law - but now that it's law he called for the state to scrap the way it's giving out licenses to grow and sell the substance," the Sun-Times reports.

Geez, not much of a fighter. He could've vowed to try to overturn the law if elected. Instead, he wants to make a mockery of it.

"The former venture capitalist said the lucrative licenses should go to the highest bidders. Rauner proposed having an auction for medical marijuana licenses."

Democrats are right to point out that awarding licenses based on wealth instead of competence is a spectacularly bad idea.

"But Rauner said he feared the business of medical marijuana in Illinois was secretive and ripe for corruption. State officials are now accepting business applications for those seeking to grow and sell the medical marijuana. The process opened up Sept. 8 and closes Sept. 22. Right now, there is a competitive application process for 22 licenses for cultivation centers and 60 licenses for dispensaries.

"Thanks to Pat Quinn's secret, insider process, there are a lot of questions left unanswered," Rauner said, reading from prepared remarks at a news conference. "But there is something we know for sure: Something stinks, and it's not the marijuana."

First, leave the jokes to us. Second, it's hardly a secret, insider process. It's regulation. Applicants are being vetted. Background checks and medical know-how might be a little more important in this case than net worth.

(I was gonna write "background checks are a little more important than checkbooks" but I wanted to get the medical bit in. Besides, bidders would presumably have to meet the same set of criteria as current applicants, so the same "secret" process would remain intact, unless Rauner wanted to compel the state to simply choose the highest bidder regardless of any other factors.)

The names of those applying are not public, nor would the rejected applicants become public once the licenses are given out, according to the new law.

A chief sponsor of the legislation said the application process was designed to be secretive, so licenses aren't given out on the basis of politics.

State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said the law was written so that the names and any identifiers of the applicants are not known to the state agencies making the licensing decisions.

That seems to make sense, though I hope that information becomes available to the public afterwards.

Rauner, however, pointed to former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin, as an example of a danger of political inside dealing. While on the governor's staff, Lavin worked to pass medical marijuana. One month after it was signed into law, Lavin left the governor's office. Earlier this spring, Lavin signed on a client seeking a medical marijuana license.

And we know all about it! How is that an example of a secretive process? What it really is is yet another dismaying example of the revolving door - which has nothing to do with marijuana licenses per se. What limits would you put on former government officials lobbying their former colleagues, Bruce? That's the issue there.

But here's the real kicker:

When asked if he was just not happy with the current bill or whether he opposed medical marijuana, Rauner said: "Medical marijuana is something I've not supported. It's not a big issue for me either way."

Nothing is! The dude really doesn't seem to have a social agenda, though that's half the job. Bills like this are going to cross your desk. And why would you veto it if it's not a big issue for you either way?

Finally, why do you want to be governor? I can only identify one issue you really care about: destroying government unions. You're spending an awful lot of money to get the chance to ultimately not achieve that.

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It's not even about the pot. Rauner is calling a press conference a day now proclaiming major policy positions as a media strategy for a candidate who has fallen behind. At least try to think this stuff through, though.

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Pussy Riot Was Here
Masha and Nadya explained it all in Humboldt Park.

Reckoning At Eagle Creek
The secret legacy of coal in the heartland.

Fantasy Fix: Reality Intrudes
Adrian Peterson, Jay Cutler.

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BeachBook
* Ex-Banker Gets Prison For Raiding Lincoln Park Garages.

Eight years - and then deportation.

* Sometimes You Owe Your Kids An Apology.

Nicely done; recommended.

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TweetWood

See also:
* Rauner Camp Denies Columbia Journalism Students Press Conference Entry.

* Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidate's Rep Tells J-Students They're Not Welcome At Presser.

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Maybe only the highest bidders get into Rauner press conferences.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: With a choice of sides.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A group of Northwestern University professors and researchers have developed a blood test to diagnose depression in adults, the school revealed in a study set to be published today," the Tribune reports.

"The new study found that adults with depression have biological markers of the illness, said Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine who helped develop the test."

A "side effect" of such a test is the way it illustrates that depression is a biological disorder, like kidney disease or diabetes, and not simply an "emotional" issue, though emotions are impacted.

Here's an admittedly blunt example: You know how you feel when you have a hangover? Now, think if you felt that way all the time. That's depression, for some of us. The chemicals in your brain aren't properly in sync - and it's bringing you down, man! Bringing you down so far that sometimes you are incapacitated no matter how strong your desire to move. Your brain starts circulating repetitive thoughts, you dwell on traumas, you have absolutely no energy . . . because the chemicals in your noggin are out of whack.

Now, to all the professionals out there, I know that's maybe not the best technical description of depression, but that's the best general way I can explain it quickly to the non-depressives out there.

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"If we had an objective, laboratory-based blood test just like a cholesterol test or glucose test, we could reduce the stigma of depression," Redei told the Trib.

Because it would prove once and for all that depression is real - and not just in one's mind.

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When I was a kid, I was convinced I had leukemia because, as I used to say, I felt like I had lead in my blood. My blood tests, of course, came back normal. Now I know that was depression.

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"To develop their test, Redei and the other scientists examined 32 patients ages 21 to 79 who had been independently diagnosed as depressed. They also tested the blood of 32 adults who weren't depressed. After studying all the patients' blood work, the researchers found common markers in the patients who were depressed and those who were not.

"The researchers also tested the patients after they underwent 18 weeks of therapy. The tests were able to determine which patients had benefited from the treatment and which ones remained depressed.

"I would really like to see if the test can predict which antidepressant would be beneficial for which patient," she said.

Bingo.

Finding the right antidepressant can be an arduous journey. The first time I took antidepressants, I went on Prozac and it seemed to work somewhat decently, if not great. At some point - I can't even remember when - I went off it. Oops!

I went back on antidepressants about 10 years ago and when I did, Prozac was ineffective - and just made me tired. I then spun through just about every antidepressant out there - for weeks at a time - including various combinations including Paxil and Ritalin. That sucked. I finally landed on Lexapro and that did the trick, if not greatly. I've been on it ever since.

Apparently different antidepressants interact differently with everybody's individual genetic structure, so finding the right one can sometimes - but certainly not always - be difficult. Doctors aren't even sure, as far as I understand, how antidepressants work exactly, but some are matched for particularly "varieties" of depression - Paxil, for example, is prescribed if you also have anxiety issues, for example, if I remember correctly. Others are chosen because you are basically deciding which side effects you are willing to endure.

Anyway, it seems to me the ramifications for a blood test that can diagnose depression are pretty big for not only treating depression but possibly even preventing it if you are found to have pre-existing markers for it.

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Chicago Media Figures Confused About Hitting Kids
Windy City Live's Val Warner falls apart on-air; Mitchell, Kass also baffled.

I recommend they read at least these two pieces in the Trib:

* Adrian Peterson Case Proves It's Time To Outlaw Physical Punishment.

"It's time to outlaw physical punishment. It's a barbaric, unconscionable, counterproductive practice that has no place in a civilized society. We have endless research proving its ill effects and zero evidence that it works as a corrective. We have books and blogs and educators and social programs and therapists and our hearts - our hearts - telling us better, more humane ways to respond to a misbehaving child. We know better.

* What Kids Really Learn When Parents Hit Them.

"You're not an instructor. You're a model . . .Study after study documents this pattern. It suffuses every interaction between adults and children: love, cooperation, exploitation, violence. The strongest predictor of whether a child thinks it's OK to hit kids, and whether he'll grow up to do so, is how often he's been disciplined that way. Light spanking isn't as bad as wielding a tree branch. But it's part of the continuum. Researchers call this the 'hidden curriculum:' Corporal punishment teaches itself."

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That's exactly right. Those defending "corporal punishment" were corporally punished themselves. Abusers become abusers. Violence begets violence. And it doesn't "work."

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Won by a non-Riot Fest band playing in Joliet.

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Common Core Adds Up To Big Money For Ed Companies
There are even flying robots that vendors say could help children learn the new standards.

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BeachBook
* Thousands Charged With Drug Possession Walk Free, Leaving Taxpayers With The Tab.

Another outstanding story from Angela Caputo at the Chicago Reporter. Highly recommended.

* Help Prove That Average Baseball Fans Are The Best Scouts In Baseball.

Um, not so sure about that, but . . . "Whether or not you know it, if you're a baseball fan, you probably appreciate or enjoy the game a little bit more because of Tom Tango. The pseudonymous saberist, currently a consultant for the Chicago Cubs, has had a hand - often the most important one - in developing many of the most interesting and useful statistical tools developed over the last decade or so, including some of the best-known, like WAR and FIP. Even better, as befits someone who's maintained a vigorous internet presence even when working for major league teams, he's put them out there for everyone to use and tinker with."

* Chris Sale Does Not Have Bones In His Body.

No, no he doesn't.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cure for the common core.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:22 AM | Permalink

Windy City Live Co-Host Confused About Hitting Her Kid

"The only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child," Mel Robbins writes at CNN Opinion in the aftermath of the Adrian Peterson saga.

"Hit your partner, and you'll be arrested for domestic violence. Hit another adult, and you'll be arrested for assault. But hit a 4-year-old, and you can call yourself a 'loving father.' That's completely screwed up.

"It should be against the law for a fully grown adult to slap, hit, spank, punch, switch, whoop, whip, paddle, kick or belt a defenseless child in the name of discipline. But it is legal, and new research in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests that the average 4-year-old is hit 936 times a year.

"If study after study conclusively proves that hitting your kids doesn't work as a disciplinary method, and worse, it has long-term damaging impact to their psychology and makes your kids more aggressive, why do we as a society allow it?"

That's a good question for Windy City Live co-host Val Warner and her band of apologists, including Tribune columnist John Kass.

After all, Warner just admitted that she smacks her kid - because she doesn't know what else to do to keep him from "running the house."

Maybe take some parenting classes?

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Meanwhile, Kass is concerned about the government interfering in family business. How so? Should we abolish the Department of Children and Family Services and its caseworkers who investigate allegations of child abuse? Should police officers also no longer consider child abuse within their purview? Just where is the government overreach, John?

Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell is equally confused. Could an editor perhaps have demanded she be clear about whether she was defending Peterson, because she's all over the map. Maybe the decisive verdict is her headline: "Charge Against Peterson Redefines Child Abuse."

Really? Stuffing leaves in a 4-year-old's mouth and then leaving his body - including his scrotum - cut and bruised from a whipping hasn't been child abuse heretofore? Bear in mind, as well, that this wasn't a one-time event. According to the child, Daddy Peterson likes his belts and switches and has a whooping room.

No, this looks pretty much like the textbook definition of child abuse - right down the abuser's own history of being abused.

So let's end the confusion right here: You don't hit your kid. Period. Clear?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:12 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Avatar at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.


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2. Netherfriends at the Cobra Lounge for a Riot Fest aftershow on Saturday night.

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3. Billy Bragg at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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4. Social Distortion at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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5. Slayer at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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6. The Cure at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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7. Die Antwoord at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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8. The Murder City Devils at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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9. Modern Baseball at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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10. Patti Smith at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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11. Stiff Little Fingers at Riot Fest on Friday.

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Stiff Little Fingers at the Concord for a Riot Fest aftershow on Friday night.

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12. Anti-Flag at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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Anti-Flag at the Double Door for a Riot Fest aftershow on Friday night.

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13. Cock Sparrer at the Concord for a Riot Fest aftershow on Friday night.

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14. Clutch at Riot Fest on Friday.

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15. The Menzingers at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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16. Tegan and Sara at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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17. Television at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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18. GWAR at Riot Fest on Friday.

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19. Beach Slang at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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20. Negative Scanner at Mousetrap on Thursday night.

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21. Birthday Suits at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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22. The Blind Shake at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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23. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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24. Team Spirit at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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25. The National at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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26. The Flaming Lips at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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27. Wu-Tang Clan at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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28. The Offspring at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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29. Bouncing Souls at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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30. Saosin feat. Anthony Green at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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31. NOFX at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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32. The Buzzcocks at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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33. The Blue Meanies at Bottom Lounge for a Riot Fest aftershow on Saturday night.

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34. Oumar Konate at Willye B. White Park for the World Music Festival on Sunday.

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35. The Hold Steady at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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36. Lucero at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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37. Naked Raygun at the Double Door for a Riot Fest aftershow on Sunday night.

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38. Bad Religion at the Double Door on Friday night.

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39. All That Remains at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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40. The Afghan Whigs at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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41. Cheap Trick at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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42. The Orwells at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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43. Streetlight Manifesto at Riot Fest on Saturday.

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44. Primus at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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45. Mineral at the Double Door for a Riot Fest aftershow on Saturday night.

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46. Sete Star Sept at Mousetrap on Friday night.

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47. Hot Snakes at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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Hot Snakes at the Empty Bottle for a Riot Fest aftershow on Saturday night.

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48. Weezer at Riot Fest on Sunday night.

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49. Dashboard Confessional at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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50. Rise Against at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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Rise Against at the Aragon for a Riot Fest aftershow on Thursday night.

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51. The Used at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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52. Skaters at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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53. Nostalghia at Riot Fest on Saturday night.

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54. Jane's Addiction at Riot Fest on Friday night.

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55. ShowYouSuck at Riot Fest on Sunday.

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56. Seun Kuti at Millennium Park for the World Music Festival on Saturday.

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57. Banyan at the Emporium on Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

Common Core Math Standards Add Up To Big Money For Education Companies

When thousands of math teachers descended on New Orleans earlier this year, two words proved more seductive than chocolate. Or sex. Or even quadratic equations.

Common Core.

The teachers were in town to attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference. The exhibit hall featured endless booths stocked with Common Core textbooks, Common Core legos, Common Core geometry sets, Common Core MOOCs (which stands for massive open online courses). There were even flying robots that vendors said could help children learn the Common Core.

"We sometimes laugh and say that Staples is going to make a lot of money on a rubber stamp that says '100 percent Common Core-aligned,'" said Linda Gojak, the council's former president.

Gojak chuckles when I ask her if vendors feel pressured to put the Common Core stamp on their products.

"If they want to sell it," she says.

A few companies are using the Common Core craze as a reason to sell more stuff and make more money. Stacy Monsman, a math coach in an Ohio school district, noticed a glut of products almost immediately.

"When Common Core comes out, literally within a few weeks you saw materials with that sticker on it and there's no way, the Common Core just came out," she said. "There's no way that a good thorough job could have been done to truly incorporate everything into some kind of material."

But Gojak and others say most vendors really want to align their products with the Common Core - whether they are textbook publishers who are rewriting lesson plans, or the creators of MOOCs aimed at explaining the standards to teachers. But all this change takes time.

So in the short term, at least, teachers need to be cautious consumers, said Greta Anderson, the chair of the math department at New Orleans' Dibert elementary school.

"Everything is saying right now that they are 'Common Core-aligned' and some things are really top notch and others aren't," Anderson said. "It takes deeply knowing the standards. It takes looking at the whole package and not just the best sample unit that's out there."

One red flag that Anderson and Monsman have spotted? Math programs with too many gimmicks and shortcuts. The Common Core calls for students to grapple with challenging math on their own, writing out the steps. So a math program that promises to teach students math by having them memorize simple rhymes? It's probably about as legit as . . . diet deep fried ice cream.

"We don't want shortcuts," says Anderson. "We don't want gimmicks to get kids through a year of standardized testing. We want them to deeply understand the math."

In Louisiana, state officials are trying to help schools and districts sift through all the new curricula and textbooks. Two years ago, the state was hoping to purchase new textbooks aligned with the Common Core. Officials conducted an extensive review of existing materials. The results were discouraging, says Rebecca Kockler, the assistant superintendent of academic content at the Louisiana Department of Education.

"We didn't feel as if there were any programs that were submitted to us that were fully aligned to the standards or would support a teacher to teach the standards," she says.

Kockler helped create a team to assess curriculum materials as they come out, ranking them based largely on how well they align with the standards. A few are in "Tier 1," which signifies the best alignment and quality, but most do not meet that bar. They might use those inappropriate math gimmicks, for instance, or include reading samples that are too easy.

"Districts have been making these decisions for a very long time," says Kockler. "We're just trying to help give them the information they need to make the most informed decision."

Not surprisingly, Louisiana districts have flocked to the few Tier 1 vendors. But Kockler says the department, which has been focused on grading textbook and curriculum programs, is just starting to grade other products. That means schools are largely on their own when deciding what legos to buy or which MOOCs to sign up for.

"It's like going on the Internet," says Gojak. "There's some cool stuff you pull down and there's some junk you pull down. And you have to know what you are looking for."

Louisiana officials are not only ones to start ranking curriculum materials. Just last month, an organization comparing itself to Consumer Reports said it would begin posting free reviews written mostly by teachers of textbooks and other materials.

The exhibition hall at the math teacher conference was, as Gojak put it, like Toys 'R' Us for teachers.

"These are very popular," one vendor told me. "They currently sell for $13.95. These are usually used in pocket charts in front of the classroom. We have a lot of teachers looking to grab these."

The vendor sold laminated placards with Common Core standards written on the front, and the words "I can" written on the back. That way, students can keep track of which standards they have mastered. But before that happens, their teachers must master the standards and become savvy shoppers. Otherwise, they might find themselves stuck with a whole lot of useless gadgets and a bad case of buyer's remorse.

Courtesy of The Hechinger Report.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

September 15, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

1. The Beachwood Radio Hour #23: Chicago's Orange Revolution Is On!

Fioretti Is In. Plus: Pseudo-Coverage Of A Pseudo-Debate, The War On Illinois' Kids, and Friends Of The Empire Strike Back.

2. Bears' Season Back On!

As I said, turnovers are the only way to beat a superior team.

After all, look at the box score - the 49ers absolutely dominated.

Also as I said, the Bills are 2-0.

Just sayin'.

3. The College Football Report: Go Blue Hose! Boo Charlie Weis! Why Not Pitt?

Why the Blue Hose? Tune in Friday.

4. New Dale Exposed.

Ricky Rentamanager still using training wheels.

5. A Good Guy Who Wore Black.

Paul Konerko was the voice of reason when Ozzie Guillen, Kenny Williams, Hawk Harrelson and Jerry Reinsdorf were not.

6. The Weekend In Chicago Rock (Including Riot Fest) will appear on Tuesday.

7. Chicago Transit System Dysfunctional, Depressing.

"A new study by an international economic organization paints an uncomplimentary portrait of the Chicago area's transportation system, saying it suffers from too many transit agencies and fragmented local governments," the Tribune reports.

"The current state of transit ridership in Chicago is relatively depressing," concludes the report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based research agency whose backers include the world's richest nations, among them the U.S.

"The report found a lack of coordination among the four transit agencies and their four separate boards as well as insufficient accountability. Those issues intensify the economic impact of congestion on Chicago, estimated at over $6 billion in 2011 by the Texas Transportation Institute, the report said."

Cue Howard Jones - no one, no-o one, no one ever, is to blame.

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Who wants to help me record that parody song?

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You can take the Metra but you can't transfer,
Last leg of the journey but you just can't make it work . . .

Radio says the Blue Line is back on the tracks,
But California station's closed and no Divvys in the racks

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See the international rankings that put us behind Philadelphia but ahead of Los Angeles, which barely has mass transit.

8. Rauner Renews Call To Change The Subject Back To The One Thing He Can Hold Against Quinn.

9. Arriving This Morning At O'Hare: 200,000 iPhone 6s From China.

10. Rahm's Kids Go To A Cleaner School Than Yours Do.

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Wouldn't it be interesting if every policy enacted at CPS was required to also be imposed on the University of Chicago Lab School where the mayor's kids go?

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BeachBook
* No Books For You, City Colleges Of Chicago Students!

* Streetwise Looking For A Publisher.

* Let's Make A New Lakefront Museum About This Lucas.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: You can have all the transfer orders you want.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:49 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Top Ten: Go Blue Hose! Boo Charlie Weis! Why Not Pitt?

What did we learn in Week Three? We like to think that, for those who pay attention, some less-than-obvious teams and players surfaced.

1. The Pittsburgh Panthers (3-0, 1-0 ACC).

Pitt leads the ACC Coastal division with one conference win (over Boston College in Week Two) and an overall 3-0 record including a 42-25 foregone conclusion victory over Florida International on Saturday. With games ahead at home against Iowa and Virginia Tech, and on the road at North Carolina and Miami, the Panthers look like a contender to reach the conference championship game.

Elsewhere in the conference, Virginia Tech returned home after a huge upset win in Columbus last weekend over Ohio State and promptly fell flat in a 28-21 loss to East Carolina. Preseason darling Clemson (#16, now #22) sits at 1-1 and will face the wood chipper that is the Florida State Seminoles next week. In the Week Four rankings, both Va. Tech and Louisville dropped out of the Top 25 . . . but unheralded Boston College posted a huge upset win over USC on Saturday, so . . . why not Pittsburgh?

2. More (Potential) Surprise Teams.

Baylor (3-0), Penn State (3-0, 1-0 Big Ten), Nebraska (3-0), Marshall (3-0) and Northern Illinois (3-0) look like bowl teams in the early going. The latter two will face an uphill battle given the short list of bowl tie-ins for Conference USA and the MAC but could play spoiler against second-tier teams from the Power 5 in the postseason.

Then again, most of those wins came against the likes of McNeese State, Rhode Island and Presbyterian. Yes, Presbyterian College fields a football team. You can learn all about the Blue Hose at GoBlueHose.com. Yes, the Blue Hose. Why the Blue Hose? We have no idea. Tune in Friday.

3. Charlie Weis Is a Fraud.

People in Lawrence are not happy with head coach Charlie Weis after a 3-41 blowout at Duke (Duke!) on Saturday. One local reporter gave Coaching and Offense an F. But hey, Special Teams scored a B, especially Senior Trevor Pardula, "one of the best punters in the country." He certainly gets plenty of exposure.

Weis landed a five-year contract with Kansas in 2011 guaranteeing him $2.5 million annually, plus perks like two free cars, a country club membership, and 50 tickets to home football games. Now Charlie won't be able to give those tickets away. The loss takes his record to 5-21 overall and 1-17 in the Big 12.

4. Syracuse Crushed The Chips.

Can we get a mulligan? We liked Central Michigan (+9) against the 'Cuse, but the Chippewas were again without WR1 Titus Davis (injury) and RB Thomas Rawls (some vague issue, presumably a discipline problem). Rawls had topped 100 yards in each of Central Michigan's first two games. Final Score: Syracuse 40, Central Michigan 3. Oh, Chips.

5. Iowa (-10), Florida (-18), Michigan (-31) and Penn State (-3.5) Fail.

Michigan, Penn State and Florida needed the second half to put away opponents that should have been overmatched while the Hawkeyes lost on a last-second field goal to relinquish the Cy Hawk Trophy to rival Iowa State.

6. Purdue (+28), Ohio State (-32) and Boston College (+17) Deliver.

Purdue played #9 Notre Dame tough in the last meeting between the two until 2020; #23 Ohio State smoked (66-0) hapless Kent State; and BC won outright in a huge upset against the visiting USC (#17) Trojans.

7. Northwestern Neither Won Nor Lost.

Errata.

8. Arkansas Ran For A Quarter Mile Against Texas Tech.

We wish the Arkansas rushing stats from the 49-28 were published in feet. The Razorbacks rushed 68 times for 1,284 feet. Arkansas' second drive in the third quarter was a 13-play march for a touchdown, all on the ground. (Well, technically every football play occurs on the ground, but you know what we mean.)

In another eye-popping rushing stat, Boston College outgained USC 452-20, averaging 8.4 per attempt compared to a 0.7 yards per each futile rush for the Trojans.

9. The Scarlet Knights Can Jump.

Rutgers blocked two kicks (one punt, one field goal) bringing the team total to four for the season. The Scarlet Knights lead the FBS in blocks since 2009.

10. A Study In Contrasts.

The Big 10 is 1-10 against Power 5 conference teams on the season. The SEC boasts eight teams ranked in the Top 25 and five in the Top 10.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bears' Season Is Back On!

Sports fans admire toughness, but more importantly, sports peers revere it.

If a leading athlete can find a way to demonstrate his grit in the right way - if he can show his teammates that he can fight through significant pain and continue to play hard - the sky is the limit.

That enduring truth was on display Sunday night as the Bears pulled out a 28-20 victory and, more importantly, exorcised the demons that had haunted them for almost 30 years. It had been that long, since the Super Bowl championship regular season for goodness sake, since the Monsters had won in the San Francisco area.

And they did so primarily because the highest paid guy on the team, the guy who plays the most high-profile position in any major American sport, took a brutal shot, took a few moments to gather himself, and then got back up and did the job. Before Jay Cutler was speared by 49er Quinton Dial, the Bears trailed 17-0 and were trying to somehow, some way get something on the board before halftime. Afterward, they outscored their foes 28-3.

At this time let's say thank you to the creator of the flak jacket. Quarterbacks used to wear just shoulder pads on their torsos like their teammates, but at some point in the past decade or so, the flak jacket rib protector became part of the standard protective gear. If Cutler isn't wearing a flak jacket Sunday night, there's a good chance Dial's hit breaks his sternum. Even with it on, he struggled mightily to regain his breath after the assault.

But all through his Bear career, Jay Cutler has redeemed himself with displays of grit. He'll drive you crazy by taking ridiculous risks in one game and with his unwillingness to accept accountability after the next. But then he takes a huge punch and somehow finds a way to soldier on.

And soldier on he did. After that hit, everything changed.

In the span of what, an hour-and-a-half (?), we went from hoping the Bears wouldn't completely embarrass themselves to thinking, it is a miracle they have pulled within a score, to questioning how can we possibly be winning this game to . . . Bear down, Chicago Bears! Da da da da, da da da, da da da da!

Every once in a while, sports rewards fans in this fashion - with absolutely unlikely wins featuring absolutely glorious stuff. In this case, an inventory of that stuff starts with Bear toughness.

In addition to Cutler's efforts, credit must be given to wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. They refused to accept what would have been a very reasonable response to significant injuries suffered last week, i.e., that they take at least a week off to further recover.

They were clearly limited but as the game went on, Jeffery and Marshall and Cutler and most importantly coach Marc Trestman figured out a set of routes that would still work. Trestman had an awesome second half of play-calling after he essentially went into the game blind in terms of what his two biggest offensive playmakers would be able to do.

And talk about toughness again - this catch for the ages would be sick (to use the most popular description on social media) - even if Marshall were healthy.

It also helped that the final two touchdown drives were about as short as could be thanks to the awesome play of rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller, he of the two huge picks. Of course, one of the reasons Fuller had the opportunities to make those plays was an improved Bear pass rush in the second half that was highlighted by Willie Young's two gigantic sacks and the huge fish he caught after one of them.

Next Sunday the Bears go trolling in New York against the Jets. The season is back on.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:11 AM | Permalink

New Dale Exposed

"A season of questionable in-game decisions by first-year Cubs manager Rick Renteria found another spotlight in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 11-1 loss," Gordon Wittenmyer reported this week in a sort of first crack of the shield around the Cubs' hapless rookie skipper.

"That's when a quick succession of pitching changes in a three-run game, early in the inning, turned into a five-run inning, with Kyuji Fujikawa left in to take the brunt of the beating and face seven batters.

Renteria's bullpen use - which includes a penchant for frequent changes combined with an apparent paranoia over how much he uses a guy - has drawn criticism and head-shaking throughout the season from within the organization as well as among baseball people outside the team."

Whoa. And we're just hearing about this now?

Another piece of evidence illustrating our argument that the local sports media is largely giving Theo Epstein a pass - and the Cubs' kid-glove treatment.

After all, for all of Epstein's alleged talent evaluating acument, he chose wrong with his first manager, and doesn't look great with his second.

"Epstein seemed to refer to it last week when asked by a doting member of the local media about how well Renteria has performed in his first season as manager."

(Name that doter!)

"The No. 1 challenge we gave him was to provide an environment for the young players to continue to develop and thrive at the big-league level, and that's easier said than done," Epstein said. "He's lived up to everything that we had hoped for, especially the priorities that we gave him.

"As for the X's and O's and the in-game stuff, he's growing into that, and it's kind of nice that he can grow with this team."

Um, wow?

Renteria isn't supposed to be learning, he's supposed to be teaching. Epstein, though, is essentially saying that Renteria, too, is a minor-league prospect in a major-league uniform.

Wittenmyer returned to the topic a couple days later:

"The rookie-development program the Cubs are running at the big-league level has conspicuously included first-year manager Rick Renteria, whose game management has been called into question by longtime baseball people inside and outside the organization," he reported.

Renteria has been handed organizational mandates on the use of first-year relief pitchers and guidelines for how to use young players in general, but he also said he has been given the daily freedom to manage.

"They've allowed me my ­flexibility," he said.

His predecessor, Dale Sveum, was allowed even more freedom. And after Sveum's first year, team president Theo Epstein - who hand-picked the former Red Sox third-base coach to become his first Cubs manager - raved about Sveum and suggested his quickly developing reputation already had become a recruiting tool.

"Dale's making a name for himself as a manager that players want to play for," Epstein said. "Free agents recognize that we had a good clubhouse [in 2012] despite the difficult season that we had."

A year later, Sveum was fired, and Epstein said it was because the manager was too hard on young players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, despite players in the clubhouse almost universally expressing respect and support for Sveum privately.

Renteria was hired from the Padres' coaching staff with a reputation for having a good bedside manner with developing players and strong, bilingual communication skills.

But several players questioned his daily-affirmation methods as early as spring training, and by early in the season, his occasional head-scratching moves, quick hooks for starters and inconsistent communication had worn thin with many.

Again: And we're just hearing about this now?

In August, I coined the nickname Rick Rentamanager for Renteria. It seems clear he's not going to be managing this team should it become a contender. Like Wittenmyer says, he's basically in charge of running player development right now. Once players develop - or don't - he's out.

And it's hard to see how much developing he'll be responsible for; he's on a tighter leash from the front office than Sveum ever was. His job is really more like self-help guru.

That's why I also started calling him New Dale; he's frighteningly similar to Family Guy's New Brian - who ended up in the garbage.

Dale was a disaster. Ricky is just oblivious.

The Week In Review: Got swept by the Blue Jays and lost two of three to the Pirates. Here come the kids!

The Week In Preview: The Reds, Dodgers and Cardinals come in for the final homestand of the season, followed by a trip to Milwaukee.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: The Cubs have 100 problems, and 99 of them are Tom Ricketts.

Mad Merch: Monday's game against the Reds kicks off Big Ten Rivalry Week. Really.

Prospects Are Suspects: Remember how excited the Cubs - and their kiss-ass media colleagues - were about pitcher Jacob Turner? A former first-round draft pick of the Tigers (ninth overall), Turner was acquired from the Marlins for two no-name pitchers and immediately anointed the Next Big Thing. Well, after Sunday's loss he now has a 6.20 ERA on the year; he's given up 136 hits in 103 innings.

New Dale: Renteria Sees Progress In Cubs' Seventh Straight Loss.

One better than eight!

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Is Welington Castillo Part Of Cubs Core?

Well, at .244/.302/.392 he certainly fits in, but no.

Kubs Kulture: "The Chicago Cubs' century-plus failure to win the World Series will go on for at least one more year."

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Clark has already moved on to football.

Advantage: Billy. Er, no, Clark!

The Junior Lake Show: Dude's .210/.241 is way better than Javy Baez's .174/.229.

Mustache Wisdom: "I am particularly fond of concrete, symbol of the construction progress of a whole century, submissive and strong as an elephant, monumental like stone, humble like brick."

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Jorge Soler is at his highest value.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Theo Epstein announcing his third managerial pick.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021.

Over/Under: Number of remaining games the Cubs win: +/- 4.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Rick Renteria is a terrible manager.

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Hashtag Cubs

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

The White Sox Report: A Good Guy Who Wore Black.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Panic At Bear Mountain.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

A Good Guy Who Wore Black

To play or not to play? That was the question last winter when Paul Konerko toiled with his decision about one last year with the White Sox after Rick Hahn opened the door for a swansong season at a reduced salary.

Of course, Paulie chose to return for his 16th season albeit in a defined role where his responsibilities have included mentoring Jose Abreu and other young players along with pinch-hitting, DHing against left-handers and playing an occasional first base.

So how has the plan worked out? It depends on how you look at it.

From a performance point of view, not very well. The 38-year-old Konerko, nursing a broken hand, although indicating that a few more at-bats will be in the cards in the season's final 13 games, has been a non-entity on a ballclub sporting a 68-81 record. A 279 lifetime hitter with 439 home runs, Paulie is chugging along at .220 with five homers and a modest 22 RBI.

The one place he's excelled is pinch-hitting, where he's 8-for-26 for a .308 mark.

At the risk of heresy, Konerko has been on a downward trend since two months into the 2012 season, On the lovely Sunday afternoon of May 27 of that season, when Paulie went 2-for-4, driving in four runs, in a 12-6 win over Cleveland, Konerko was leading the American League with an apoplectic .399 average.

Konerko has been a .243 hitter since - he finished at .298 in 2012 and hit .244 last season - while adding just 31 home runs and 118 RBIs in the past two-plus seasons. Clearly, his skills have eroded.

No, this arrangement to bring Paulie back for the 2014 season was anchored in sentiment and love, emotions that most often have minimal influence in the pure business decisions of the world of sport and elsewhere. This being the age of downsizing and inversions, management everywhere tends to consider the bottom line ahead of loyalty and allegiance.

No one has been more loyal to the White Sox than Konerko. Twice - after the glorious 2005 season and again in 2010 - Konerko was a free agent who re-signed with the Sox even though he probably could have negotiated a more lucrative deal with the Orioles or Angels.
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No one, including Paulie, denied that his days as one of the most clutch, fearsome hitters in the American League were over. But having him on the 2014 roster wasn't going to make much difference on a non-contending club. As it's turned out, the team is 19-24 in games when Konerko has been in the starting lineup, which isn't much different than when he isn't.

Konerko is making $2.5 million for eight months' labor this season, akin to fantasyland for most of us. However, considering that someone like Ronald Belisario and his 6.29 ERA make $3 million, Paulie agreed to play for cheap.

Furthermore, Sox management wanted to get this one right after botching so many other departures in the recent past.

Hall of Famer Frank Thomas, who also played 16 years on the South Side, left town in 2006 after two injury-plagued seasons stung by comments from GM Kenny Williams, who labeled him "an idiot" and "selfish." Williams said the Sox wouldn't miss the Big Hurt. Williams softened the blow by trading for a productive Jim Thome. However, big Frank slugged 65 homers the next two seasons while driving in 209 runs in Oakland and Toronto.

Then there's Mark Buehrle. At age 32, after 12 years in a Sox uniform, Williams opted not to offer the lefthander a long-term contract, unlike the Marlins, who signed him for four years and $58 million. "I'm happy for Buehrle, but we have to move forward," said Williams at the time.

Well, Buehrle continues to win his 13 or 14 games a year - he's 12-9 with a 3.40 ERA with Toronto this season - while pitching his usual 200 innings. What a weird move forward!

Another hero of 2005 and a veteran of eight seasons with the Sox was A.J. Pierzynski, whose 27 home runs, 77 RBI, and .278 batting average in 2012 at the age of 35 weren't enough to propel Sox management to offer A.J. another contract. Pierzynski had another solid season last year in Texas, while Sox catchers Tyler Flowers (.195 BA) and Josh Phegley (.206) flailed. Pierzynski finally looks like he's petering out, having been bounced out of Boston this season, but he's now on the Cardinals' roster and likely headed to the playoffs.

While only playing five seasons with the Sox, World Series hero Jermaine Dye was cast aside in 2009 at the age of 35 after a solid season of 27 HRs and 81 RBI. He never played again. Did I mention that this is a business?

So the Sox should be commended for bringing back Konerko for one final campaign. In that regard, the season has been splendid. He has received warm receptions each time he's stepped onto the diamond at The Cell. This month the scoreboard tidbits have recounted the highlights of Konerko's career.

And there have been multitudes of great moments, although none so electrifying as his grand slam home run in 2005 against Houston in the second game of the World Series. It came in the bottom of the seventh on a cool, damp night at The Cell, erasing a 4-2 Houston lead and forever cementing Paulie's legacy in White Sox annals.

Aside from being a consistent and reliable hitter and a gifted first baseman, Konerko's steady demeanor and respectful approach to teammates, opponents, media and fans have characterized his career. I can't recall him ever being tossed out by the umpires. In fact, attempting to picture him arguing a call is fruitless. In a clubhouse dominated by the rants of Ozzie Guillen, Konerko always seemed to be the go-to guy when the beat reporters sought the voice of reason.

And he played hurt and never used an injury as an excuse for striking out or popping up. Konerko has made almost $130 million playing the game, but if he thought he could help the team, he was on the field.

Apparently it's been a two-way street for Konerko as he's appreciated what Chicago has to offer as much as he is admired and loved by the people who live here.

"I know it's the right time to retire," Konerko said last week. "Just doing all the math, it's the right thing to do. I don't have much emotion about that . . . [But} there's so many things you get connected to, the people, the restaurants, and all that stuff . . . To just be done with the city of Chicago because you're done playing, that's probably the toughest thing."

Finding another athlete with Konerko's skills both as a player and a person won't be so easy either.

Winding Down
As Konerko waited for his hand to heal, the White Sox had a nice week at The Cell, taking three of four from Oakland and two of three from Minnesota.

There were plenty of highlights, beginning with the Oakland opener when Tyler Flowers homered with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 4 and then slugging No. 14 in the 12th inning to win the game.

Rookie Chris Bassitt pitched six strong innings on Wednesday, and Avisail Garcia stroked a clutch two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth to beat the As 2-1 before Chris Sale shut out Oakland for eight innings on Thursday in a 1-0 Sox win. Sale stretched his record to 12-3 and lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.99.

The heroics on Saturday in a doubleheader against Minnesota - rain and cold forced postponement of Friday's night game - belonged to Dayan Viciedo, whose two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth of the second game gave the Sox a 7-6 walkoff win. All this after Sox pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts - a franchise record - in the 5-1 victory in the opener. Jose Quintana, who fanned 13 Twins, picked up his eighth win of the season.

In addition, Jose Abreu started hitting home runs again, collecting one on Saturday and another on Sunday in a 6-4 loss. Abreu hadn't homered in 18 games until Saturday.

So now it's off on a nine-game road trip to Kansas City, Tampa Bay and Detroit before returning home for the season's final four games against the Royals. If the Sox run the table, they'll finish .500. That won't happen, but it sure would be nice to close out the season by playing like they did last week.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:24 AM | Permalink

September 13, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #23: Chicago's Orange Revolution Is On

Fioretti Is In. Plus: Pseudo-Coverage Of A Pseudo-Debate, The War On Illinois' Kids, and Friends Of The Empire Strike Back.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

1:19: Wray at the Empty Bottle last Saturday night.

2:45: Chicago's Orange Revolution Is On.

* Fioretti Is In.

* Weekend Desk Exclusive!

4:08: The Dismemberment Plan at the Hideout Block Party last Saturday night.

* The Week in Chicago Rock.

* Fioretti's hair.

6:31: The Political Odds.

* Karen Lewis's benchmarks.

14:03: Hushdrops with Nora O'Connor at the Hideout on Thursday night.

14:52: Pseudo-Coverage Of A Pseudo-Debate.

* Quinn vs. Rauner in The [Wednesday] Papers.

* Who's hair should we be talking about now?

* Tax Return Politics.

29:44: The War on Drugs at the Hideout Block Party last Saturday night.

30:51: The War On Illinois' Kids.

* The [Friday] Papers.

* Our budgets are upside down.

* Our journos are upside down.

43:05: Rat Columns at Mousetrap on Thursday night.

43:51: Friends Of The Empire Strike Back.

* The [Friday] Papers.

46:46: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #17: Panic At Bear Mountain.

* Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues.

* The College Football Report: Chips & Chalk.

Don't call it a comeback, but we're calling for the Big Ten to royally vent against a series of tomato cans this weekend.

* The Cub Factor: The Ricketts' Sticky Ticket Wicket.

Paying more for less - again.

* The White Sox Report: Be Like Mike.

An idea for Robin Ventura, whose job is surprisingly secure.

(Big Daddy At The Big A.)

* Fantasy Fix: Devin Hester Is Ridiculous Again, Jay Cutler Is Jay Cutler Again.

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For more podcast pleasure, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:14 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Exclusive: The Weekend Desk has learned that Rahm Emanuel picked up the orange phone at his Ravenswood Manor residence this morning and said in a stern growl, "It's go time" before slamming down the receiver and ordering that someone be fired. Project Destroy Bob Fioretti is on.

The Orange Revolution
The financially strapped Fioretti campaign saved money by using his hair dye to paint his signs.

Actually, orange may be Bob's natural color. And actually, a clever move to use it in the campaign's branding.

The Political Odds have been updated to reflect this development.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Orange you glad you called?

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The Beachwood Radio Network

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #23: Chicago's Orange Revolution Is On.

Fioretti Is In. Plus: Pseudo-Coverage Of A Pseudo-Debate, The War On Illinois' Kids, and Friends Of The Empire Strike Back.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #17: Panic At Bear Mountain.

Including: Jay is for Jerk, The Bills Were Due, Carl's Wild Card Weekend Fishing Trip Is Back On, How To Not Talk About Ray Rice, and The Sky Is Falling.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "As film audiences Get On Up, Jim and Greg look back at James Brown's classic album Live at the Apollo."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Mystic Vibes.

Community Producer Zezel McKenzie presents up close and personal coverage of Ethiopian Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie's historic royal visit to Chicago.

Saturday at 7 p.m. on CAN TV19.

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Reproductive Justice Rally.

Speakers including congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, congressman Mike Quigley and Cook County board president Toni Preckwinkle call for more support for low-income women's reproductive healthcare.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21 or watch online.

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BeachBook
* Who's Paying The Pro-War Pundits?

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TweetWood

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Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:51 AM | Permalink

September 12, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #17: Panic At Bear Mountain

Jay is for Jerk, The Bills Were Due, Carl's Wild Card Weekend Fishing Trip Is Back On, How Not To Talk About Ray Rice, and The Sky Is Falling.


SHOW NOTES

* Alshon Jeffery is No. 17.

1:10: Panic At Bear Mountain.

* Carl's Wild Card Weekend Fishing Trip Is Back On.

* Here come the Niners.

* The Bills were due.

* Jay is for Jerk.

* SportsMonday: Cutler Flinched.

* Josh McCown's Rough Debut Showcases More Backup Than Starter Material.

* Devin Hester Is Ridiculous Again.

* In Trestman we trust?

* Lance Briggs Wants Bears To Rekindle Old Us-Vs.-World Attitude.

* Lay off Chris Conte.

* The Bears' best defensive lineman is not a starter.

26:40: How Not To Talk About Ray Rice.

* Telander: Ray Rice Learned Cameras, Social Media Are Always On.

* George "Jetson" McCaskey supports Goodell.

* Bobby Hull Is A Known Abuser.

* Hull has a statue outside the United Center, the hockey arena sponsored by United Airlines, which I am now associating with that statue just to see how they like it.

40:00: Cy Sale.

* In The Thick Of The Race!

* The Ricketts' Sticky Tickets.

54:25: The Sky Is Falling.

* Can Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky Rally In WNBA Finals?

* No.

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More at: The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:13 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Wray at the Empty Bottle last Saturday night.


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2. The War on Drugs at the Hideout Block Party last Saturday night.

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3. The Dismemberment Plan at the Hideout Block Party last Saturday night.

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4. Hushdrops with Nora O'Connor at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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5. Tarnation at Wally World last Saturday night.

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6. Rat Columns at Mousetrap on Thursday night.

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7. Bombino at Millennium Park on Thursday night.

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8. Rise Against at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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9. Trombone Shorty at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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10. Sole and DJ Pain 1 at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Nearly one year after Illinois child welfare officials revealed under pressure that more children had died from abuse or neglect than earlier reported, new state statistics show the disturbing high rate has continued," the Tribune reports.

"The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services reports that 87 of the 210 child deaths investigated during the fiscal year that ended June 30 involved credible evidence of abuse or neglect. With 29 similar fatalities still awaiting an official ruling, Illinois appears likely to again tally one of the highest totals since the state began tracking the statistic in 1981."

I suppose DCFS had to be pressured to release such data because it was embarrassed by its performance, but you'd think the horrific numbers would help build a case for additional funding for its historically overloaded case workers.

I mean, if it really is about the children, pols would be jumping all over each other to deliver more money and other kinds of support to DCFS.

And wouldn't it be refreshing to see a gubernatorial candidate put forth a Children First budget? Let's ask Pat Quinn, under whose watch this has occurred, and Bruce Rauner, who wants to gut the state's payroll even further than it's already been gutted, about this.

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"The information was released this week after repeated requests from the Tribune, which sought the child death data after the agency removed it last winter from its online statistical summaries."

Even in (pseudo-) democracies, public officials have a predilection towards secrecy. I'll never understand it.

"DCFS removed the information 'temporarily' after launching a review 'to address concerns surrounding data collection and the efficacy of our accounting system,' according to a statement Thursday from spokeswoman Karen Hawkins."

That's former AP reporter Karen Hawkins, and that's hardly believable.

"Benjamin Wolf, assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said there's 'no excuse' for a child welfare system not accurately tracking and disclosing such important records.

"I think the department has suffered from a revolving door of leadership in recent years," said Wolf, who monitors DCFS under a federal consent decree. "It remains a problem."

That's true - and that's on Quinn.

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See also: The Sad Saga Of Arthur Bishop.

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"The blackout on child death data followed a heated Illinois Senate committee hearing last year during which DCFS officials said they had underreported 11 fatalities over a five-year period. The revelation prompted a call for resignations from one stunned lawmaker."

I'll provide the link to the Tribune article about that that the Tribune won't: Senate Panel Grills DCFS Over Child Death Data.

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"The continued public scrutiny of the state agency comes during a hotly contested gubernatorial race, repeated budget cuts and abrupt leadership changes at DCFS, which has had four different directors since November 2013."

Again, that's on Quinn.

*

Go read the rest. It's behind a paywall, but you can get to it through Google.

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Friends Of The Empire Strike Back
"A group calling itself 'Friends of the Lucas Museum' has formed to 'outline the potential benefits Chicagoans can expect from the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art coming to Chicago' ahead of upcoming public hearings on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial decision to give Star Wars film maker George Lucas lakefront land to build a structure to house his collection of movie memorabilia and artwork," the Tribune reports.

"With open-space advocates Friends of the Parks threatening a lawsuit to stop the museum from being built south of Soldier Field, Friends of the Lucas Museum says it will work to point out "the tremendous impact" the museum will have on the city's 'arts and cultural scene, surrounding educational institutions and the region's tourism and economic climate.'"

I think we all know which "Friends of . . . " group is the Death Star and which is the Rebel Alliance.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #17: Panic At Bear Mountain.

Jay is for Jerk, The Bills Were Due, Carl's Wild Card Weekend Fishing Trip Is Back On, How Not To Talk About Ray Rice, and The Sky Is Falling.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #23 is in pre-production!

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master
Out of Dodge.

The College Football Report: Chips & Chalk
Don't call it a comeback! No, really. Don't call it a comeback. But we're calling for the Big Ten royalty to vent on a series of tomato cans on Saturday.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Wray, The War on Drugs, The Dismemberment Plan, Hushdrops with Nora O'Connor, Tarnation, Rat Columns, Bombino, Rise Against, Trombone Shorty, and Sole and DJ Pain 1.

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BeachBook
* Cardinal George Compares Forcing Of Sexual Agenda To Sharia Law.

* Fear And Loathing In America.

9/12 By Hunter S. Thompson.

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TweetWood

Prince!

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Keep affiliation with Carrot Top, though.

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The Beachwood Reporter Tip Line: Read your vegetables.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:50 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Chalk & Chips

In a weekend lacking any marquee match-ups, let's look at some interesting trends among otherwise uninspiring games. If you aren't sold on the ho-hum nature of the weekend, check out this visual. That's right, only one of the seven experts polled by USA Today predicted an upset in #6 Georgia vs. #23 South Carolina (everyone else picked the Bulldogs) and one of seven selected Central Florida over #22 Missouri. Otherwise, it's chalk all the way.

Syracuse (-6.5, down from -9) vs. Central Michigan, 11 a.m.
We can't figure out why the money likes the Chippewas. Central Michigan boasts a not-so-illustrious 1-7 record as a home underdog since 2011. Oh, wait. The 'Cuse can't handle giving the points. Dating back to 2012, the Orange have a 4-7 record as a favorite.

Our pick: We'll follow the herd. Take the Chips and the points!

Iowa (-10) vs. Iowa State, 3:30 p.m.
The Cy-Hawk trophy is at stake on Saturday in the 62nd meeting between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. Even the Iowa and Iowa State campus police have gotten involved this year. Let's do this.

Our pick: Iowa. Remember, the Hawkeyes were one of our picks among the "Teams we like" in the preseason. So they have that going for them, which is nice.

Purdue (+28) vs. Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m.
We see the Boilermakers covering an inflated line in the wake of a classic "not as good as they looked" (Notre Dame) and "not as bad as they seemed" (Michigan) result last weekend.

Our pick: Purdue.

Penn State (-3.5) at Rutgers, 7 p.m.
The NCAA lifted sanctions on Penn State on Monday, unexpectedly granting the Nittany Lions an early reprieve from a four-year bowl ban and five-year scholarship limitation imposed in 2012 following the horrific Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Effective immediately, Penn State regains bowl eligibility and a share of the Big Ten's revenue from bowl games. The timing is curious at best; the ruling comes two days following a disastrous day for the conference last Saturday and flies in the face of precedent. In 2011, the NCAA hit Ohio State with sanctions for far less severe infractions that the school is just now exiting. Also: Is it too cynical to note that the NCAA released the news in the midst of the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell firestorm?

The historical trends point in both directions for this game: Since 2011, Rutgers is 12-5 as an underdog and 16-5 straight-up at home. Yet the Scarlet Knights struggle to cover the number in the High Point Solutions Stadium, having gone just 2-7 against the spread in the last nine home matches. The Nittany Lions play well on the road, with a 15-8 overall record in the last 23 conference games, but just 1-4 straight up and against the number in the last five.

Our pick: Penn State, riding an emotional high. Also: Rutgers isn't very good.

#9 USC vs. Boston College (+17), 7 p.m.
We like the Golden Eagles in this one. BC is 9-4 against the line at home since 2012 and Southern Cal is only 8-19 as a road favorite since 2008. Boston College won't win, but both teams will focus on the run and 'SC may be flat following last weekend's slug fest with Stanford.

Our pick: We won't waste time watching the game, but we'll take the points.

Kentucky vs. Florida (-18)
Time to resurrect the always-bet-against-the-Kentucky-Wildcats-in-SEC-games strategy this week. Call it the Free Money Plan. As if the Gators needed extra motivation, Kentucky running back JoJo Kemp predicted an upset on Wednesday. We call this "bulletin board material" in the business.

Our pick: Florida.

The Big Ten vs. Everyone
Don't call it a comeback! No, really. Don't call it a comeback. We're calling for the Big Ten royalty to vent on a series of tomato cans on Saturday, as if that will distract us from the conference's woes. Michigan State would join in the fun, but has the week off.

Our picks:
* Kent State vs. #22 Ohio State (-32), 11 a.m.
* Miami-Ohio vs. Michigan (-31), 2:30 p.m.

Northwestern vs. Bye
The Wildcats can neither win nor lose - maybe the best NU fans can hope for this season.

Our pick: Toss-up.

The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken
You can't cage him, you can only hope to contain him. Or something.

The Chicken's picks:

* Massachusetts vs. Vanderbilt (-16), 11 a.m.
* Louisville (-6.5) vs. Virginia, 11:30 a.m.
* Mississippi State vs. South Alabama (+14), 3 p.m.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Wagon Master

Out of Dodge.

DSCF0039.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:03 AM | Permalink

September 11, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"Some aldermen have said a hoard of money at the Chicago Housing Authority is evidence someone needs to keep a closer watch on the agency," WBBM Newsradio reports.

"WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) is one of at least 15 aldermen backing an ordinance that would give the City Council more oversight over the CHA.

They're hoarding this money while we have citizens out there looking for housing. How dare they? How dare they?" Moreno said.

Moreno couldn't talk more because he was late for his meeting chairing the city council's TIF oversight committee.

Oh, wait. That doesn't exist.

*

"In a statement, CHA officials said Chief Executive Officer Michael Merchant already has taken steps to make the agency's dealings more transparent."

Like issuing statements instead of simply not commenting.

*

"On Tuesday, the CHA announced it would make quarterly public progress reports."

And by quarterly, they mean every 25 years.

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The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Wild card weekend fishing trip back on.

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BeachBook
* Lakeview's Cheesie's Apologizes After Tweet Offering Ray Rice 'Knockout Discount.'

Next: Going out of business sale.

* Jay Carney Joins CNN.

So predictable, but geez, his lies aren't even cold yet.

* Rauner Reverts Back To Earlier Version Of Payton Story.

Provably lying.

* Pac-Man Getting His Own Restaurant In Chicago.

Here's a working version of the menu.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Indicting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Wild Card Weekend Fishing Trip Back On

Ouch. My hopes and dreams.

Thanks to this latest/earliest setback, I'm going to have to downgrade the likelihood of the Bears making the playoffs from "possible" to "leaving town during Wild Card weekend."

For those of you who didn't receive the magnet in the mail, here is the scale:

BAOKAR_Chart.jpg

If Sunday's loss left you scratching your head (and the newly formed scabs covering the slash marks across your wrists), you're not alone. There are a lot of "what-ifs" lingering.

  • Is stopping the run against Mel Tucker's religion?
  • Is that really Jared Allen or was Phil Emery fooled by a fast talking long-haul trucker?
  • What is the name of the medical condition that prevents Chris Conte from making open-field tackles?
  • Can I come up with an excuse for that pick in the fourth quarter other than "Jay Cutler thought it was Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams' birthday?"

Mysteries abound, but there is one certainty - the number of tallies in the "Win" column for our favorite Chicago-based football crew stands at a goose egg.

Post-Turnover Stress Disorder
"We just kept stubbing our toe on certain things throughout the game . . . " said star quarterback Jay Cutler, in response to the initial volley of post-game questions.

"Things like that friggin' end table we put in the hallway, some toys my kid left on the field, and Brian de la Puente's ballsack."

Then it went like this.

"I mean, Garza's no slouch in the testicle department, but Brian - jeez. Those things are prodigious. Like, even in uniform this guy's scrotum is just scraping along the turf. Leaves a trail of tilled soil behind him. His sack must have been exposed to cosmic radiation during a space voyage. And I bet they're super smart. His balls must be named 'Reed' and 'Richards.' It's just - what's the word? Incredible. Unbelievable . . . "

[Reporters regroup.]

"Can you tell us about those to picks?"

"Did you and Santonio Holmes have any miscommunications late in the game?"

"How is Alshon doing?"

Cutler sits motionless, sporting a thousand-yard stare.

The room falls quiet. A long silence is finally broken by veteran beat reporter Jeff Dickerson.

"Would you say his sack is a member of the Fantastic . . . Foreskin?"

Cutler slowly turns to Dickerson, eyes him for a few moments, and issues a deadpan response.

"What the hell are you talking about, Jeff? Balls don't have foreskin."

Cutler shakes his head in genuine disbelief.

"No more questions," he says, looking at no one in particular.

The press conference is over.

Wagons West!
Next up, it's off to San Francisco, land of Bears ineptitude. And bread bowls. But mostly Bears ineptitude.

Now, I'm not known for putting a lot of "thought" or "facts" into these things (when reading this, please picture me stretching out my suspenders and speaking in a Foghorn Leghorn-like drawl), but the Bears' road record against the 49ers signifies such a hilariously bad run that there's no need to step on the joke so deftly provided by [insert deity of choice here].

The 1985 Bears road win against the 49ers remains the only one since 1979, which is to say accurately, that it is the sole instance of this outcome within the scope of my life.

So what's going on here?

It turns out that George Halas lost a bet with 49ers founder Tony Morabito that the United States would begin military operations in Vietnam by March of 1957, and the Bears have traveled to San Francisco by Greyhound bus (named Silver Dog Wagons at the time) ever since, despite Morabito's death months after the agreement.

Halas' daughter Virginia, being a woman of equal character, has honored the debt for nearly 50 years.

So when your grandkids ask you why the Bears are 2-46 all-time in 'Frisco and they don't have any cheerleaders, simply explain that the franchise has been suffering under the strong moral compass of the Halas/McCaskey family for generations.

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Pints - Anchor Steam)
I'm not much for predictions (why am I doing this 17 weeks a year?), but for those of you playing fantasy football, I'd go ahead and put Frank Gore in your starting lineup.

Hell, if you're in a PPR league put Garrison Hearst in your starting lineup; this game could get so out of hand that they'll bring him back for some third-down work.

Now, with all of that levity out of the way, let's get down to brass tax.

The Bears, though they are likely to get absolutely throttled, have not yet technically lost the contest.

That's why it's worth getting your hopes up (read: distorting your sense of reality with mescaline), at least until 7:48 in the first quarter when turnovers, bad run defense and questionable special-teams tackling lead to a 17-0 San Francisco lead.

Until that point, get excited as if the playoffs are on the line - because unless you think the Bears can close out the season 10-4, they absolutely are.

49ers 31, Bears 17.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:43 AM | Permalink

September 10, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

Not only did the "debate" between Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner on Tuesday take place inside the confines of the Tribune's editorial board offices, but one of the Tribune articles about the debate is behind a paywall.

The privatization of political journalism. Yay, democracy!

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This one is free, apparently:

"Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner hammered each other on ethics, education and budget plans today during a free-wheeling face-off during a joint appearance before the Chicago Tribune editorial board," the paper reports.

"Sitting side by side, Quinn and Rauner repeatedly interrupted each other with sharp political attacks. Quinn slammed Rauner over business dealings at Rauner's private equity firm that have gone bad and questioned how Rauner could pay for his education proposals. Rauner lashed out at Quinn over a patronage-style scandal at the state's transportation agency and what he said has been a failed governorship."

Okay, here's where the traditional structure of news articles breaks down. Instead of a back-and-forth including such pre-written quips such as "The only difference between Pat and Rod is the hair," why not restrict the article to a fact-check? After all, you're supplying video, so you don't need to describe tone or demeanor or even, um, repeat what the video shows. The actual reporting should simply vet claims, and in so doing, really advance the story instead of repeating meaningless "barbs" - especially given that the attacks are almost wholly attacks we've heard repeatedly before.

For example:

Quinn argued Rauner engaged in "pay to play" as his former firm GTCR got pension business in Pennsylvania and gave political contributions to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who said earlier this year he once put in a good word to help Rauner's private equity firm win pension business following Rauner's $300,000 donation to Rendell's campaign fund.

Rauner contended he never talked to Rendell about anything but education.

Now you're gonna make me do your job by Googling the Rendell story to see what we do, in fact, know about it.

And:

Rauner contended that Illinois' credit rating has been cut 13 times "under your leadership," saying Quinn was "perpetrating the fraud of the people."

Is that number correct? And if so, how does it compare with other states over the same time period - and in other Illinois governors' administrations?

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You can even fact-check claims like one candidate calling out another for issuing a series of vague proposals and always dodging details. It's just a fact that Bruce Rauner has done that. That can be a fact - because it's observably, reportably true.

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By the way, the Tribune called Tuesday's event an "endorsement session." The Sun-Times called it a "pseudo-debate."

Get Off Rick Telander's Lawn
Um, like, elevator security cameras are social media and young hipsters with their parties are to blame for Ray Rice losing his Nike contract? Help me out, people.

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At the time of this writing - 6:15 a.m. - Telander's column is the featured item on the Sun-Times's website.

In Illinois, Preschool Access Worst For Latinos
"Illinois was a state celebrated when, in 2006, it set a goal of providing free quality preschool to any 3- or 4-year-old whose parents wanted it," according to the Hechinger Report.

"But that never quite happened, the program title Preschool for All notwithstanding. Funding peaked at $327 million in 2009, with 95,000 children from low- and moderate-income families enrolled. Since then, budget cuts have wiped out the gains, and enrollment statewide dropped to 70,000 kids, targeting the neediest. Last year, the budget was down to $241 million. Annual spending per child declined from $4,018 in 2009 to $3,153 in 2013."

Devin Hester Is Ridiculous Again
And Jay Cutler is Jay Cutler again. In Fantasy Fix.

Bears Are Ridiculous Again
Our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman explains on WBEZ.

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BeachBook
* Too Much Corn Is Bad For Deere.

Markets are perverse; in a world filled with hunger, "too much" corn shouldn't be bad for anyone.

* CNN Thinks 4chan Is A Person.

Among other recent inanities.

* New York Times: A President Whose Assurances Have Come Back To Haunt Him.

"President Obama has been undermined by his own statements, like the one where he said Iraq was 'sovereign, stable and self-reliant' with 'a representative government.'"

Also, when he lied about Tony Rezko.

* Apple PR Insider: 'You Have To Be Able To Control The Journalist.'

PR people, including those in politics, spend a helluva lot more time developing strategies to keep journalists from doing their jobs than journalists spend strategizing how to do their jobs despite the efforts of PR people. Journalists need to think more strategically about their interviews, their beats, and the way they do what they do. Or just be the chumps they usually are.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: You, me and not Dupree.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:53 AM | Permalink

In Illinois, Preschool Access Worst For Latinos

How to break the vicious cycle of poverty and academic failure is one of the most troublesome questions of our time, but this much we know: High-quality preschool helps children from poor families prepare for kindergarten and beyond. Yet as the child poverty rate is climbing, those are the kids least likely to attend such programs.

A new report by the research and advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children provides insight into the extent of the disparities in that state, along racial and economic lines. The findings are particularly stark for Latino children, only 40 percent of whom attended preschool in Illinois at most recent measure, compared with 58 percent of white children and 55 percent of black children. In Chicago, preschool enrollment was lowest on the Northwest and Southwest Sides, both predominantly Latino, and highest on the affluent North Side.

National surveys of Latino parents found the most common reason they didn't enroll their children in preschool was that they didn't know what programs were available.

Given national concerns about Latino preschool access, "it wasn't a surprising finding, but it's important that people be aware of it," said Larry Joseph, one of the report's two authors.

He and co-author Lisa Christensen Gee write that Latina mothers are in the workforce less than other groups, and children are more likely to live in households with extended family to care for them. That might be a reason they stay home at a time when research shows it would be beneficial for them to be in school.

Other barriers include inconvenient program locations and immigration-related problems. Nonetheless, the authors note national surveys of Latino parents saying the most common reason they didn't enroll their children in preschool was that they didn't know what programs were available.

Children who are native Spanish speakers particularly benefit from the language exposure in preschool, they say, but among Latinos, those with American-born parents are more likely to enroll than children of immigrants. State officials have been trying to provide more opportunities with new preschool construction and bilingual programs, but outreach is still needed and budget cuts are blocking progress.

Also in the important-but-not-surprising camp: Forty-four percent of young children in low-income Illinois homes attended preschool in 2012, compared with 60 percent in wealthier households. When the authors looked at different geographic regions, the gap extended across the entire state.

And that's just access. Quality is another matter entirely, one much harder to measure, and not quantified specifically in the new report. But a national rating scale estimates that only about a third of preschool programs anywhere, public as well as private, qualify as "good." Once again, look at class and race, and children from wealthier homes are more likely to attend good programs. African-American children are least likely to attend quality programs.

Illinois was a state celebrated when, in 2006, it set a goal of providing free quality preschool to any 3- or 4-year-old whose parents wanted it. But that never quite happened, the program title Preschool for All notwithstanding. Funding peaked at $327 million in 2009, with 95,000 children from low- and moderate-income families enrolled. Since then, budget cuts have wiped out the gains, and enrollment statewide dropped to 70,000 kids, targeting the neediest. Last year, the budget was down to $241 million. Annual spending per child declined from $4,018 in 2009 to $3,153 in 2013.

Grim though the situation may be, Illinois fares better than the nation at-large in a few key areas. Fifty-four percent of all its 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in school in 2012, versus 48 percent nationally. The state's 44 percent preschool enrollment rate in low-income families is better than a national rate of 37 percent.

When Joseph and Christensen Gee compared the 12 largest states, Illinois also did well in terms of its policies to promote preschool quality: the maximum class sizes and minimum teacher qualifications mandated, for instance. How closely those mandates are followed in practice, particularly in times of budget cuts, again is another matter. (The state is using federal Race to the Top money to improve quality control.)

And Illinois got low marks for cutting its preschool budget the past few years, rounding out the bottom of the 12-state rankings for per pupil spending with Florida and Texas. Those two states did poorly for both their preschool-friendly policies and funding while New Jersey topped both categories. In New Jersey, reform was spurred by a lawsuit. In Illinois, advocates are still asking for change.

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Courtesy of The Hechinger Report.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Devin Hester Is Ridiculous Again, Jay Cutler is Jay Cutler Again

The opening week of the NFL season started with the Green Bay Packers getting thrashed by the Seattle Seahawks, and ended with Ray Rice being banned indefinitely. Some observations on the fantasy relevance of those book-end events, and a few other things that happened in between:

* In the opener, Aaron Rodgers turned in one of the worst fantasy stat lines of any QB in Week 1: 189 yards passing, one TD and one INT. Not exactly terrible, but certainly not Rodgers-like. But don't worry too much if you own Rodgers - Seattle's defense looked like it picked up where it left off last year.

* Devin Hester is ridiculous again, but for a team other than the Bears, who, of course, let him walk in the off-season. We already knew he was going to run back kicks and punts for Atlanta, but the Falcons also seemed to figure out how to use him on offense to a degree Chicago never did. Hester's eight catches for 99 yards was one of the more surprising lines of the week. He could be worth picking up, or at least keeping an eye on. Atlanta has a lot of possible targets, so it's not clear Hester will do this every week, but QB Matt Ryan threw for 448 yards in Week 1, and if he stays on fire, Hester will surely benefit.

* And just like that, Ryan, who we suspected could have a big comeback season, has put himself in the Tier 1 QB conversation. I like his chances to maintain fantasy MVP-like stats all season, considering that, including Hester, he has four quality WRs, and even two of his RBs caught TD passes in Week 1.

* Jay Cutler looked more like the Cutler of old than a guy with talent at every possible pass-catching position. Yet, fantasy-wise, he wasn't all that bad, thanks to 349 yards passing to go with his two TDs and two INTs. Only three QBs had more passing yards last week. Still, it looks like Cutler's fantasy value has its limits until further notice, and it's doubtful he'll start on many fantasy rosters in the weeks ahead with tough defenses in his face.

* As long as we're talking about current and former Bears, how about another? Carolina tight end Greg Olsen managed one of his better fantasy weeks in recent memory with first-string QB Cam Newton on the sidelines with an injury. Eight receptions for 83 yards and a TD sounds could be an indication that the Panthers will target Olsen more this season with lack of depth at the WR position. Still, I'd like to see him have a similar week with Newton in the lead before I bet too much on that.

* Finally, it turns out that even waiting several rounds into the draft to pick Ray Rice - longer than anyone logically should for a guy who was suspended for just two games - then suffering through the snide comments of your league-mates for drafting a wife-beater, still won't bring you any fantasy value whatsoever. Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after video of the incident in which he beat his wife was made public. If you own him, pick up Justin Forsett and Bernard Pierce immediately, though you probably know that already, along with everyone else in your league. Forsett had a great Week 1, though it wouldn't be surprising to see the long-hyped Pierce get more action in the weeks ahead.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week likes Forsett and a few others.

* ESPN's Talented Mr. Roto sees Vikings RB Adrian Peterson atop his Week 2 rankings despite a pedestrian Week 1 performance.

* Bleacher Report has 12 takeaways from Week 1.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

September 9, 2014

The Ricketts' Sticky Ticket Wicket

"The Cubs' biggest prospects have barely started paying dividends on the field, but the club has decided to raise ticket prices for some of the most popular sections at Wrigley Field in 2015," the Sun-Times reports.

Barely.

* Javy Baez is hitting .164 after all that hype. His OBP is .209. He has 62 strikeouts to go with eight walks. And he isn't even hitting home runs anymore.

* Arismendy Alcantara is hitting .207. His OBP is .261. He has 69 strikeouts to go with his 15 walks.

* Mike Olt is hitting .157. His OBP is .237. He has 87 strikeouts to go with his 20 walks.

* Jorge Soler is hitting .378 in 37 at-bats, which is just how the rest of them started. He has 10 strikeouts to go with his two walks.

* Kris Bryant is not in a major-league uniform.

* Albert Almora may never be in a major-league uniform.

Luis Valbuena was the DH on Monday night in Toronto and batted third. Chris Coghlan, Logan Watkins and Chris Valaika aren't real prospects, no matter what anyone tells you. (And thank god!) Former prospect Welington Castillo is hitting .234 with a .293 OBP; he has 93 strikeouts to go with his 22 walks. Oh yeah, Matt Szczur is here! (.219/.286.)

Just what are these guys selling?

Back to the Sun-Times:

"Season-ticket prices will increase an average of 6 percent in the club, field and lower terrace reserved sections of the park. That increase will affect 20 percent of season-ticket holders, while the other 80 percent will have no change or a price drop."

That's little comfort for the 80 percent, who didn't see ticket prices fall while the team spent three seasons tanking games.

"According to Team Marketing Report, the Cubs had the third-highest ticket price in baseball this season at $44.15."

Now, let's pretend that it's worth it because of the beautiful vista you get at Wrigley Field. The Ricketts' are blocking that with billboards next season.

The one reason why the Cubs were able to sell so many seats while losing was Wrigley Field. Now they will lose what makes Wrigley Wrigley, and the Ricketts' will learn a big lesson - at our expense.

The Week In Review: The Cubs swept the reeling Brewers and the local lame-ass media took that to mean Theo's Plan was coming to fruition, statistical evidence to the contrary. The Cubs got swept by the Pirates and - oh look, Jay Cutler!

The Week In Preview: The Cubs have already started the week dropping the opening game of a series against the Blue Jays 8-0. The Cubs have 18 games left and they won't be a favorite in any of them (how could they be?) so ending the season on a 23-game losing streak is entirely possible.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: Leadoff man of the future Arismendy Alcantara will join Javy Baez in the .100 club, though without the 100 home runs.

Mad Merch: The Cubs had their Oktoberfest celebration on September 3rd, which is tradition seeing as how they're never playing in Oktober.

Prospects Are Suspects: Albert Almora, Theo's first draft pick for the Cubs, just finished his season in Tennessee (AA) with a slash line of .234/.250/.355. Including his first 89 games in Daytona, his 2014 totals include 69 strikeouts against 14 walks. But he's got great makeup!

New Dale: "I like the National League, honestly. But I don't mind the American League game. I think both sides have pros and cons."

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Castillo Hopes To Be Cubs' Catcher When They Turn Corner.

When? How about If.

Kubs Kulture: Cubs A Work In Progress, Sometimes Painfully.

Has a timeless quality about it, doesn't it?

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Clark catches bear-handed.

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Dude's .213/.239 is way better than Javy Baez's .164/.209.

Mustache Wisdom: He exposed the scandal, now he's out of a job.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Soler Energy should have a brief run but sell short on Soler Power.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Mike Ditka not singing the seventh-inning stretch.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021.

Over/Under: Number of games Jorge Soler will be healthy enough to play in next year: +/- 81.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs business plan actually isn't aligned with performance on the field at all.

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Hashtag Cubs

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

The White Sox Report: Be Like Mike.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: Double Nickel On The Bears' Dime.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:32 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. Quinn, Rauner Rip Each Other On Ethics, Budget In Face-Off At Tribune.

More like rip each other's faces off.

I hope to bring some analysis tomorrow; we'll see.

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See also: The Political Odds. Updated to reflect recent events.

2. Hoffman Estates Teens Accused Of Smashing 53 Mailboxes In Schaumburg.

Here's an image captured by surveillance video.

Suspects.

Teenage pranks.

Of course, what passes for a prank in the suburbs is a crime in the inner city. Same with the dope-smoking.

I happen to favor teenage pranks, for the most part. But something to think about; none of the kids in Dazed and Confused ever thought for a moment that they'd wind up in County - or worse. Perhaps that's what some people call "privilege."

3. Rauner Education Plan Light On Specifics.

Why should it be any different than any of his other plans?

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Santa Rauner is a bigger pander bear than Blago.

4. Majority Of Americans Say Obama's Presidency Has Been A Failure.

Including Joe Biden.

5. The Cub Factor: Ricketts' Sticky Ticket Wicket.

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BeachBook
* Ditka Laments Ray Rice Suspension: "His Earning Power Is Destroyed."

Guess we won't be seeing his endorsement ad for Rauner again.

* Like Rauner, Ditka Loves Scabs.

How's that for loyalty?

* Disabled Kids Are Not Bruce Rauner's Problem.

Nor Rahm's.

Here's an idea: Rahm, Rauner and Ditka retire to a dove-hunting farm.

* Jay Cutler Was The Most Catastrophic Quarterback Of Week One.

The metrics don't lie.

* STATS LLC Buys Bloomberg Sports.

Northbrook buys New York.

* Rent For Romance.

All kinds of creepy.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Liberate yourself.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

September 8, 2014

The [Monday] Papers

I have business to attend to today so the Papers will return tomorrow.

Meanwhile, though . . .

The Beachwood Radio Hour #22: Bruce Rauner Loves To Shoot Doves Dead

And then pair them with a nice fine wine.

Plus: High School Culture Still Sucks, I Don't Care About The Weather, and The Tribune Company Reporter Who Let The CIA Edit His Stories.

SportsMonday: Cutler Flinched
Surly Jay is back!

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Beachwood Radio: Tune in to WBEZ today from 2:20 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. to hear our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman talk Bears.

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ICYMI: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #16: Double Nickel On The Bears' Dime.

You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win! (Oops.)

Plus: The Sky Is Flying; The Derrick Rosercoaster; The White Sox In The Thick Of The Race; and The Pageantry Of College Football: Bring On The Creampuffs.

The College Football Top Ten: The Ballad Of Pat Fitzgerald And The Big Ten's Last Stand
Bringing a butter knife to a gunfight.

The White Sox Report: Be Like Mike
An idea for Robin Ventura, whose job is surprisingly secure.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in production!

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BeachBook
* Obama Disappoints, Again.

Are there any promises left to break? Only the new ones he keeps making.

* Chicago's Shifting Grocery Landscape Mirrors City's Changing Economics.

We're now an Aldi's town.

* FOIA Shaming Tumblr.

Let's start one of these just for Chicago.

* Chicago-Based Gambling Company Has History Of Labor Strife.

Rush Street Gaming, which is Gambling.
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TweetWood

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Hint: America's ally.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Just like the white-winged dove.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:22 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Cutler Flinched

The biggest worry a Bear fan has in the aftermath of Sunday's season-opening 23-20 overtime loss to the Bills is Jay Cutler's discomfort in the pocket. Maybe a few old-time Bears fans are primarily concerned with the run defense first, but most of us are zeroed in on the QB.

Early on Sunday, Cutler was almost perfect. Can you remember back, back to when the game was young and hope was springing all over the place, back when Cutler threw that glorious long ball to Alshon Jeffery to put the Bears in the red zone and then hit Martellus Bennett a little up the seam for a touchdown as quick as could be?

Cutler was about as good as can be in the first quarter, but in the second nervousness in the pocket began to rear its ugly head. Cutler was concerned about the rush right before launching his ill-advised pass to Bennett that turned into the first interception. Sure, if Bennett had looked back for the ball at the time when you would expect a receiver to look back for the ball, he could have at least contested the pick.

But it also looked like Bennett was neither the first, second nor fourth receiving option on that play. It looked like his job was to go hard, straight up the field from the slot, clearing a zone for other receivers to possibly make catches underneath. In other words, there was blame to go around on that one. And it happened before the Bear receivers started suffering injuries right and left.

Eventually there were the several second-half occasions when you could see Cutler flinch when he thought he sensed pressure. And at least twice he did so when there was quite simply nothing to flinch at. Overall, the Bear line did a fine job of protecting the passer - despite losing key components guard Matt Slauson and center Roberto Garza to injury less than halfway into the game.

This all climaxed in that brutal second half interception that a jittery Cutler threw back across his body to defensive TACKLE Kyle Williams (who we were quickly told had never before had a pick during his nine-year NFL career).

And of course at the end you had that "What on God's green earth was that?" throw from Cutler right to a Seattle defensive back at the end of the Bears' only overtime possession. The Bears caught a huge break when what should have been an easy interception and an easy return into field-goal range was dropped.

At least he wasn't imagining pressure on that play; there was plenty of real pressure. But it was a throw he never should have made in a million years. The final word at this point about Cutler's agitation is that it is at least partly his team's fault. Just about anyone would be edgy when his team had failed to protect him properly during his first several years on the job.

But the protection was much better last year and it was much better for the majority of Sunday's game. If Cutler can't start to settle in more, or at least, finally learn to just throw the ball away when things get sketchy rather than trying to force throws that should never leave his hand, it is going to be a long season.

Defensive Lowlights
Which was your favorite? Was it Lance Briggs inexplicably going for the fake quarterback keeper and vacating a hole with the Bills backed up in their own territory, allowing Anthony Dixon to bust out for about 50 yards?

Was it linebacker Shea McClellin delivering his one hit of note - on teammate Charles Tillman as they both tried to tackle the same ball carrier in the second half?

Or was it everyone in the universe knowing the Bills were going to run the ball when they were right on the cusp of field-goal range toward the end of their overtime possession and the Bears still allowing a gaping hole and a Fred Jackson run inside the five-yard line?

There was one actual defensive highlight: Chris Conte's impressive interception. He did what Bear fans have been imploring Bear defensive backs to do since the start of the Lovie Smith era. He was playing zone but after a few seconds, he zeroed in on an open receiver and raced forward to cover him rather than worrying about staying back to cover for other defensive backs.

And he got there just in time to make what could have been a pivotal pick. Too bad his quarterback couldn't take advantage.

Same Old Jay
"'You guys are going to be as negative as possible,' a surly Cutler said. 'But we've got a lot of games left, we did a lot of good things. Obviously we made mistakes today and we've got to clean them up and got to keep it going.'"

Chris Conte Watch
* Conte Defends His Play On Fred Jackson's Big Run.

* Fred Jackson's Stiff-Arm Against Conte Has Bills Players, Coaches Talking.

Coffman Radio
Tune in to WBEZ today from 2:20 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. for more Coffman on the Bears.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:31 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Top Ten: The Ballad Of Pat Fitzgerald And The Big Ten's Last Stand

1. The SEC.

The most dominant conference in college football has five teams in the AP Top 10 (#3 Alabama, #5 Auburn, #6 Georgia, #7 Texas A&M, and #10 LSU) another three (#14 Ole Miss, #20 Missouri, and #24 South Carolina) in the Top 25 and a chance to add one more in the near future, as Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Florida look solid. We believe the new playoff structure should automatically award the #1 overall seed to the winner of the SEC championship game, and the #4 seed to the loser. Seems right.

2. Any Ranked (and Some Unranked) Team Versus the Big Ten.

As we noted on Friday, Week Two presented an opportunity to score wins on the national stage against #3 Oregon and #16 Notre Dame. (Rolling Stone went so far as to declare the MSU-Oregon game the "last stand" for the Big Ten as we know it.)

Michigan State (#7) failed to reign in the Ducks, 27-46, and Michigan fell to the Irish 0-31. The only other ranked team in action, #8 Ohio State, fell to unranked Virginia Tech. Michigan State and Ohio State plummeted in the AP poll, to #13 and #22 respectively.

A post-mortem put the train wreck in historical context: Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State hadn't lost on the same Saturday since 1988. (Another bleak stat: Ohio State hadn't lost to an unranked team in Columbus in 32 years. THIRTY TWO. That's a long time.)

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Northwestern's one-time darling head coach continues to implode. Pat Fitzgerald, two years removed from a 10-3 record, but fresh off a 5-7 (1-7 in conference) campaign in 2013, kicked off the season with a loss to lowly Cal. In the fallout from Week One, Fitzy (bizarrely) blamed his failure to prepare for Cal's two quarterback system on the media - and bloggers. In a separate incident, he admitted (after being outed by Inside NU) to starting the game with the wrong playcards for the defense in the first half. The Wildcats followed up Week One with a loss on Saturday to Northern Illinois, despite "giving" a touchdown in the Vegas sportsbooks. No word yet on Fitzgerald's explanation.

A final number: the Big Ten fared just as poorly at the window, posting a 2-11 record against the spread in Week Two.

3. This.

4. Playoff Committee Conspiracy Theorists.

Controversy marred the win by #14 USC over rival #13 Stanford when Trojans athletic director Pat Haden descended to the sidelines to argue (or "discuss," depending which version you believe) a USC penalty with the head referee. USC head coach (and CFR favorite) Steve Sarkisian summoned Haden via text, violating an NCAA rule that only permits "voice communication with the press box," ruling out texting, faxing and telepathy. Involving the AD in a game is highly unusual - and looks a bit like calling in a parent to settle a dispute. Breaking an unwritten rule and a technicality may not fuel much controversy in another situation, but Haden sits on the Playoff Committee and while the bylaws prohibit him from voting for USC, there's nothing to prevent him from voting against Stanford. Here we go.

5. Notre Dame.

Following a messy who-dumped-who breakup in 2012 that effectively ended the Michigan rivalry by dropping the Wolverines from the schedule, the win in Week Two silenced (for now) the haters. Postgame reaction to shutting out Michigan can best be summed up by Irish defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder:

6. Citadel 12 vs. #1 Florida State 37.

Teams from the Big 5 conferences continue to struggle against representatives from the FCS, i.e. Directional Creampuffs.

7. Florida Atlantic 0 vs. #2 Alabama 41.

In a laudable show of good sportsmanship, the teams agreed to call the game with 7:31 remaining, with Bama threatening to cover the 41-point spread. Yet games must go at least 55 minutes to be official in Vegas, and this one fell short by 151 seconds.

Texas A&M (#9), Baylor (#10) and Clemson (#23) each posted 70+ points on Lamar, Northwestern State and South Carolina State. Bettors willing to give huge margins must have been pleased.

8. #20 Kansas State 32 vs. Iowa State 28.

The visiting Wildcats wrecked any hopes of Iowa State covering the money line by scoring 12 points unanswered in the fourth quarter. Ticketholders saw a $367 payday vanish as the Cyclones failed to hold on down the stretch.

9. BYU cracks the Top 25 - at #25.

The road has been kind to the Cougars, who have started the season with two victories away from home including last weekend's quality W over Texas, 41-7. (The Longhorns did not appear in the AP rankings, but entered the game at #25 in the USA Today poll.)

10. Under The Radar Convincing Wins.

We coined a new term following the results from #4 Oklahoma and #5 Auburn. The Sooners traveled to Tulsa and bested the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (note: singular) 52-7 and Auburn soundly defeated San Jose State at home, 59-13. Neither game sounds notable, but consider that San Jose State finished 2013 at 6-6 including a win over #16 Fresno State to close the year. Tulsa entered a rebuilding year after a 3-9 record last season, but isn't unaccustomed to success, having notched 11 wins in 2012.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sylvan Esso at the Hideout Block Party on Saturday night.


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2. The Handsome Family at the Hideout Block Party on Friday night.

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3. Hannah Frank at Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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4. The Big Mess at Bric-A-Brac on Saturday.

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5. Harebrain at Bric-A-Brac on Saturday.

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6. The Pack A.D. at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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7. Lil Bibby at Mojoes on Thursday night.

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8. Man or Astro-man? at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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9. Bad Luck Jonathan feat. Jon Langford at the Hideout Block Party on Friday night.

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10. Death Cab For Cutie at the Hideout Block Party on Friday night.

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11. Hamilton Leithauser at the Hideout Block Party on Friday night.

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12. Joyce Manor at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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13. The Big C at Martyrs on Thursday night.

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14. Lords Of The Drunken Pirate Crew at the Abbey on Thursday night.

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15. The English Beat at SPACE in Evanston on Friday night.

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16. X at City Winery last Tuesday night.

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17. The Moody Blues at Ravinia on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

Be Like Mike

In what has been billed as the beginning of spring training 2015, this month - at least from a won-loss standpoint - looks ominously familiar.

With the trades of Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza and Adam Dunn, the White Sox front office cleared space so that we could get a look at the likes of Carlos Sanchez, Michael Taylor, Andy Wilkens, Chris Bassitt, and Scott Snodgress while observing the progress (or lack thereof) of Jordan Danks, Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley.

This all appears reasonable since the Sox, while interesting to watch prior to the All-Star Game, have truly never been in contention since Opening Day. No one puts much stock in a team's spring training record - the Sox were 9-14 this year - but our fellows were joined by Boston, Texas and Minnesota at the bottom of the American League last March, and all four teams reside at the bottom of their respective divisions as we painfully trek toward the end of another losing season.

Were we foolish to think that the Sox could finish at .500 or better back on August 1st when the team was 54-56? I mean, isn't 110 games enough to determine the caliber of a major-league ballclub? Apparently not.

So what's gone wrong? As the Sox have lost 23 or their last 32 games, they've scored three runs or less in 21 of those games. Only eight times have the South Siders put up as many as five or more runs during this pathetic streak. Half the time - 16 games - Sox pitching and defense have yielded at least five runs to the opposition. That's what's gone wrong!

When the pitching has been decent - like it was over the weekend in Cleveland - the bats have been silent, resulting in three losses: 2-1, 3-1 and 2-0. This is the anatomy of a bad ballclub.

So manager Robin Ventura, whose job surprisingly appears secure, can trot out the prospects and wannabes for the next three weeks, beginning tonight when Oakland visits for four games. The A's have faded mightily the past month with an 8-18 record, morphing from contenders to pretenders. Metra could drive a commuter train through The Cell this evening without threatening anyone.

Wouldn't it be lovely if Ventura could experiment not only with new, fresh faces, but also with his approach to the game? I'm thinking specifically of what Angels' manager Mike Scioscia did back on August 30th.

The Angels' once-formidable starting rotation had been compromised by season-ending injuries to Tyler Skaggs followed by ace Garrett Richards. This was even more devastating that the Sox losing Felipe Paulino (injury) and Erik Johnson (lack of ability) from their Opening Day rotation.

(Obviously I'm joking. But, looking back, depending on those two right-handers going into the season indicates just how much the Sox were grasping at straws as the season commenced.)

Scioscia's club was facing Oakland, over whom it held a three-game lead in the American League West. Needing a starting pitcher to face the A's and Jeff Samardzija, Scioscia opted to use a starter by committee, as opposed to a closer by committee, which has been tried on a number of occasions. He plucked reliever Cory Rasmus out of the bullpen to hurl the first three innings before trotting out seven other pitchers.

How'd that turn out? Samardzija pitched a complete game, but it wasn't enough as the Angel octet shut out the A's for a 2-0 victory.

Using eight pitchers for approximately an inning apiece sounds like, well, spring training. But isn't that what the Sox purportedly have entered for the last month of the season? And why not try to copy something - even for just one game - from a guy like Mike Scioscia, who's managed one team for 15 seasons, with a .548 winning percentage, going on six division titles, and a World Series winner in 2002?

Just about every other day Hawk and Stoney talk about pitching staffs heading toward a six-man rotation, which apparently will provide more rest for guys like Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. It also will mean that a team like the Sox would have to find four other starters when they've had trouble locating anyone other than Hector Noesi for most of the season.

Going back to Scioscia's idea, what if the notion of a starting pitcher becomes a part of baseball history like the spitball or having the pitcher bat in the American League? Take a guy like Sale who, barring injury, is capable of pitching 200 innings a season. What if he became not a six- or seven-inning pitcher, but, say, a four-inning pitcher? He could appear in 50 games a season instead of 30 or 32. Same with Quintana.

And the four innings could come at any time during the game - beginning, middle or end. The assumption with closers is that the most important outs occur in the ninth inning, but most games are decided in innings other than the last one. So a manager could spot his best pitchers at the most crucial times, provided that he is smart and perceptive.

Of course, we're dealing with humans here and not chess pieces. How would someone like Sale adapt to a situation when he's not sure at what point in a game he would be used? What would his routine be like if he pitched every third game? Would the Sox be more successful with their best pitchers participating 50 games a season for shorter stints rather than 30 games for six or seven innings?

Other than Scioscia's successful move more than a month ago, this approach has never been tried outside of spring training. You can't really count the no-hitter turned in by the Phillies a week ago when manager Ryne Sandberg used four pitchers with starter Cole Hamels going the first six innings before three relievers pitched an inning apiece. However, Sandberg just may be leaning in Scioscia's direction.

In addition, we all know that spring training doesn't mean anything - although, as mentioned, record-wise 2014 was a portend of things to come - and Sale and Quintana had a combined ERA of more than nine last spring. However, each knew the games meant nothing.

The A's have announced their starters - Sonny Gray, Samardzija, Jon Lester and Scott Kazmir - for this week's series at The Cell. The Sox will go with Noesi tonight, John Danks tomorrow, and Sale on Thursday. Ventura hasn't named a starter for Wednesday. Wouldn't this be a perfect time to experiment with a starter by committee? At least we'd have something to talk about other than Jay Cutler's snippiness and Derrick Rose's knees.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:46 AM | Permalink

September 6, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Hour #22: Bruce Rauner Loves To Shoot Doves Dead

Plus: High School Culture Still Sucks, I Don't Care About The Weather, and The Tribune Company Reporter Who Let The CIA Edit His Stories.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

:53: Operators at Schubas on Saturday night.

2:20: The Lemons at the Empty Bottle last Wednesday night.

4:05: I Don't Care About The Weather.

6:18: Cecile McLorin Salvant at Millennium Park for Jazz Fest on Sunday night.

7:10: Tribune Company Reporter Let CIA Edit His Stories.

* Jack Fuller: News Values: Ideas for an Information Age.

* I hated that book.

* Juvenile Court: Michael Brown Had No Most-Serious Felony Convictions Or Pending Cases.

20:40: Reigning Sound at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

21:58: Bruce Rauner Is Immensely Wealthy. So What?

* Bruce Rauner's 'Wine Club' Is More Like A Wine Dude Ranch.

* Was wearing $18 watch when he wrote that $100,000 check.

* Bruce Rauner Loves To Shoot Doves Dead.

* But let's not privilege doves.

* How many journalists are "out of touch" with "regular" people? Almost all of them.

35:05: The Floozies at the Concord for a North Coast Music Festival aftershow on Sunday night.

* Wild Belle.

* Dr. Dog.

37:18: Lay Off The Activities, Nicole Bankowski!

* See item No. 3.

* I worked in college, too. And in graduate school. Many did not.

* Plus, M*A*S*H reruns kept me up a lot.

* Democracy, unlike other forms of government, demands an informed citizenry. That's why education in a democracy is supposed to be about something bigger than job preparation; it's about citizenship, humanity and intellectual capabilities including most importantly critical thinking.

* High school culture is still insane.

* "I don't see part-time job on that resume."

* The problem with working at McDonald's.

* They need more than minimum wage; they need better jobs.

* Are you picking up what I'm putting down?

* Tim's not an old man. He's in his 40s - and way younger (in the best way) than that in his soul.

* Even college has been gentrified.

* See the item Job Fair.

1:07:28: Sweet Talk at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

1:08:11: The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #16: Double Nickel On The Bears' Dime.

* The Beachwood Radio Network.

1:09:00 Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life.

1:09:15: Local Book Notes: Portraits Of Chicago, The Walmart Republic & Unknown Americans.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:50 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

The Weekend Desk: Not suspended, but not really not suspended either.

Market Update
Sorry, Bears fans. Studies show that when Americans try to tackle Bills, they lose.

Blonde Ambition
We've seen this sort of unnecessary change undertaken before. It often doesn't end well.

PR Wars
Before you rush out to get your iPhone 6, just remember that God's representative on Earth is apparently an Android guy.

Tangled Up And Blue
Huh, so we're not the only ones seeing a bunch of bloated whales looming on the horizon.

Pot Luck
Finally this week, the choice is yours whether to laugh or cry.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Laugh or cry.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
* The Beachwood Radio Hour #22: Bruce Rauner Loves To Shoot Doves Dead.

Plus: High School Culture Still Sucks, I Don't Care About The Weather, and The Tribune Company Reporter Who Let The CIA Edit His Stories.

* ICYMI: The Beachwood Radio Hour #20: Federal Judge Rules The Koschman Conspiracy Worked.

Plus: Super PAC vs. Daley PAC; He Worked At A Tastee-Freez; The Queen Bee Of Wicker Park; Feasting On Human Tears.

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Beachwood Weekend Sports Package

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #16: Double Nickel On The Bears' Dime.

You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win!

Plus: The Sky Is Flying; The Derrick Rosercoaster; The White Sox In The Thick Of The Race; and The Pageantry Of College Football: Bring On The Creampuffs.

Listen now! Share widely!

* The College Football Report: Bring On The Creampuffs, Including The Big Ten.

Good cluck!

* The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win!

A frantic Lance Briggs is seen hurling a pulled pork sandwich over his shoulder and yelling "Oh shit, that was today???" into his cell phone while fleeing the The Double Nickel Smokehouse at 9:20 a.m. Pacific Sunday morning.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Desk Listening Report: "After a relaxing Labor Day, Jim and Greg get back into the swing of things by playing the best songs inspired by work."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Chicago Climate March & Rally.

"Demonstrators demand action to address climate change, joining activists who are walking from L.A. to Washington, D.C. as they come to Chicago. The march ends at Daley Plaza, where local activists will speak out on environmental issues and call on others join their cause."

Live on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on CAN TV27 and cantv.org/live.

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Speakers include: Ed Fallon, founder of the Great March for Climate Action; Kimberly Wasserman, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization; Mike Nowak, Chicago Recycling Coalition; Olga Bautista, Southeast Side Coalition To Ban Petcoke; and moderator Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green.

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BeachBook
* The U.S. Government's Secret Plans To Spy For American Corporations.

Obama caught lying again.

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:13 AM | Permalink

September 5, 2014

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #16: Double Nickel On The Bears' Dime

You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win! Plus: The Sky Is Flying; The Derrick Rosercoaster; The White Sox In The Thick Of The Race; and The Pageantry Of College Football: Bring On The Creampuffs.

SHOW NOTES

1:15: The Double Nickel Smokehouse.

* Now taking applications.

* Does Lance Briggs have permission from the NFL to wear that uniform on that website?

* Lance Briggs Defends Taking Personal Day For Opening Of Restaurant.

* Lance's Lamborghini.

* Lance's Lamborghini should have it's own Twitter feed.

* Lance Briggs Is The New Shawn Kemp.

* The Doom Of Athlete Restaurants.

* Briggs attended high school in Elk Grove, California, so maybe he is a local celebrity there.

11:05: The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win!

* Mohrbacker: 10-6.

* Coffman: 11-5.

* Rhodes: 9-6-1.

* The Bears finish 10-6, which is not enough to make the playoffs and Lovie Smith is fired by the Bucs.

* Seahawks Whip Packers, Make Bears Feel Better About Their Whipping.

* Corny clever Carl.

* Bears Re-Sign Kelvin Hayden, a rare CPS kid in the NFL.

20:26: The Sky!

* It's not just the uniform; it's the stories they tell.

* Still under .500.

* Friends in Low Places.

* Elena Delle Donne.

* Sylvia Fowles.

* Jessica Breland.

* Best game in Sky franchise history.

* Allie Quigley.

* Pokey Chatman.

* WNBA Finals Preview.

* Brittney Griner.

* The best player in the WNBA.

31:07: The Derrick Rosercoaster.

* Held to two points.

* Struggles again.

34:37: The White Sox In The Thick Of The Race!

* Paul Konerko Day.

43:24: Oh, The Pageantry.

* The College Football Report: Bring On The Creampuffs, Including The Big Ten.

* Rutgers is in the Big Ten.

* USC, everybody.

* "Bring on the Creampuffs: most ranked teams take the field on Saturday in uninspiring matches against the likes of Citadel, Florida Atlantic, Lamar, Northwestern State, and McNeese State. To clarify: McNeese State hails from Louisiana, not McNeese. Further: Murray State is in Kentucky, not Murray. Finally: Northwestern State is in Louisiana, not Northwestern. As we all know, Northwestern is in Illinois, which is a state, which Northwestern is not."

* Illinois sucks.

* Northwestern sucks.

* Preview: Northwestern vs. the best college football team in Illinois.

* College football has no parity mechanism like the NFL draft.

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For more Beachwood Radio, see the Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"A large financial piece of the Chicago Cubs' $375 million renovation of Wrigley Field remains unsettled after the team made significant revisions to its plans this year, including more outfield advertising," the Tribune reports.

"At stake is up to $75 million in federal tax credits the Cubs are counting on to upgrade the 100-year-old ballpark.

"But the National Park Service, which manages the tax program with the IRS, has not approved key elements of the project, including the controversial five additional outfield signs the team has proposed."

Little Tommy Ricketts, everybody.

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"In a memo to the Cubs obtained by the Tribune, the agency expressed concern about advertising overkill at Wrigley, which is known for its ivy-covered outfield walls, hand-turned scoreboard and intimate dimensions as opposed to typical corporate billboards at every other baseball stadium."

In other words, Ricketts wants to destroy the only asset that has kept the bumbling franchise not only solvent, but more profitable than any other in major league baseball.

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The National Park Service also expressed concern over Theo's Plan, and wondered why Kris Bryant is in the majors yet, according to sources close to my imagination.

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"In a statement, the Cubs said that it is 'normal for there to be changes to design and construction as a project evolves and we are working with' the Park Service to finalize approval for those changes."

There is nothing normal about the ineptness of a rehab and real estate development plan that has stalled more times than a metaphorically horrible car on the Kennedy, but the statement wasn't available for follow-up questios.

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"The Cubs applied for federal historic-preservation tax credits last year."

This would have been a good place for the Tribune to remind readers that "Joe Ricketts is sick and tired of wasteful [government] spending . . . But Ricketts' time with the Chicago Cubs tells a different story."

Stop making me do your job.

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Remember: The Cubs weren't required to submit their plans to the park service until they applied for the tax credits. They could have not applied and just gone ahead with their plan.

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"A Park Service spokesman said the review of the additional signs and other proposed changes the Cubs made this year is on hold pending receipt of additional information from the team."

It's almost as if Tom Ricketts has no experience in business at all.

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"'The National Park Service decisions on each amendment await review of the additional information and will take into account whether the overall project continues to meet the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, spokesman Michael Litterst wrote in an e-mail."

The e-mail wasn't available for follow-up questions, like, what additional information are you waiting on?

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Do reporters talk to real humans at all anymore? Every article these days is less he said/she said than statement said/e-mail said.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
Weekend podcasts are almost in production! As if you care.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life
Not dead yet.

Bring On The Creampuffs, Including The Big 10
Dating back to 2007, the Big Ten is 17-41 against ranked opponents. Will it get worse this weekend?

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Reigning Sound, the Floozies, Thumpers, Klingande, Garth Brooks, Sweet Talk, and Space Raft.

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BeachBook
* Club Foot Closes Due To Massive Rent Increase.

Pour one out this weekend for yet another victim of gentrification; an eclectic, beloved bar with a passionate owner to be replaced by coffee and condos. Our city becomes less interesting by the day.

* Los Angeles Times Reporter Let CIA Edit His Stories.

What did his Tribune Company editors know and when did they know it?

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* When Can The FBI Use National Security Letters To Go After Reporters? Sorry, That's Classified.

Worse than Nixon.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dovish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:35 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Bring On The Creampuffs, Including The Big Ten

Dating back to 2007, the Big Ten is 17-41 against ranked opponents.

The conference can start the turnaround on Saturday. In games with postseason implications, #7 Michigan State travels to #3 Oregon, Michigan travels to #16 Notre Dame, and #8 Ohio State hosts Virginia Tech.

Our picks: Oregon -12.5 , Michigan +3.5, Ohio State -11.

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Elsewhere, perhaps the best game of the weekend will be #14 Southern Cal at #13 Stanford. Stanford is favored by 2.5 or 3, depending where you look.

The spread equates to the standard three-point margin to account for home field advantage. In other words, Vegas doesn't know what will happen in this game. We don't either. Tune in (2:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday) to find out which squad may represent the Pac-12 in the playoffs should Oregon falter.

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Bring on the Creampuffs: most ranked teams take the field on Saturday in uninspiring matches against the likes of Citadel, Florida Atlantic, Lamar, Northwestern State, and McNeese State.

To clarify: McNeese State hails from Louisiana, not McNeese.

Further: Murray State is in Kentucky, not Murray.

Finally: Northwestern State is in Louisiana, not Northwestern. As we all know, Northwestern is in Illinois, which is a state, which Northwestern is not.

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The College Football Report Sacred Free Range Chicken went a middling 1-2 last week.

Here are the Chicken's picks for Week Two:

  • State University of New York-Buffalo (+3.5; the Bulls, getting the points!) at Army, 11:00 a.m.
  • Northern Illinois (+7) at Northwestern, 2:30 p.m.
  • Eastern Michigan at Florida (-38), 3:00 p.m.
  • Michigan at #16 Notre Dame (-3.5; down from -6, which probably doesn't bode well for the Irish), 6:30 p.m.

Good cluck!

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:05 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Reigning Sound at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

Loerzel: "[T]he set felt like a nonstop hit parade. Fans packed the floor in front of the stage, dancing, swaying and singing along with one song after another . . . There's something matter-of-fact about the way [Greg] Cartwright performs his songs in concert. There's plenty of passion in his voice, but he doesn't bother jumping around and making any rock-star gestures. He just delivers the songs. And what songs they are."

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2. The Floozies at the Concord for a North Coast Music Festival aftershow on Sunday night.

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3. Thumpers at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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4. Klingande at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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5. Garth Brooks in Rosemont on Thursday night.

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6. Sweet Talk at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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7. Space Raft at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Dumpster Still Life

Not dead yet.

dumpsterstilllife.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Listen to Helene talk about Photo Booth; starts at 57:54.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Irving Park Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Pigeons.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Lanagan's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: For Rent.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Pizza & Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mori Milk.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: American Breakfast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A Chicago Christmas Postcard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Harold's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Family Fun.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snow Bike.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nativity Scene.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Warsaw.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deluxe Cleaners.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Marie's Golden Cue.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Die Another Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sears Key Shop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jeri's Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Barry's Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Liberty.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Kitchen.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Specials.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: We Won The Cup.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bartender Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Plane Blues.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Finest Quality.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Family Guy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Girls Wanted.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skokie Savanna.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Signpost.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Old Man And The Tree.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Street Fleet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Citgo Story.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fantasy Hair Design.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Garage.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Clark Stop.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Pole Position.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Dressing.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Geometry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Found Love.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fill In The Blank.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vacuums Of The Night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:42 AM | Permalink

September 4, 2014

The [Thursday] Papers

"In this interview, Bruce acknowledges - as he has repeatedly - that his past statements about the minimum wage were a mistake and he supports a federal minimum wage increase that would raise Illinois' minimum wage and he supports raising the state minimum wage in conjunction with pro-business reforms," Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf told Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times online political portal."

The portal could not be reached for comment.

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Do Sun-Times reporters let interview subjects know when they are wearing their portal hats?

"Okay, first a question from our portal, and then one as just the Sun-Times . . . "

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Sun-Times reporter grilling candidate: "Is it true you told our portal earlier today that . . . "

I mean, grow up. It's not even a portal. It's a section on a website with a different design than the other sections. And the branding is a muddle - as illustrated by clumsily inserting a ridiculous marketing motif into actual, real news stories.

Mug Shot Mania
NBC Chicago Makes Fun Of Woman Whose Alleged $140 Crime Is Far Less Shameful Than NBC Chicago's Coverage Of Woman's Alleged $140 Crime.

Let's just publicly humiliate every poor schlump we come across for clicks. My God.

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NBC Chicago, ethical paragon.

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Never forget.

Check Mate
"Emanuel had his banker cut two checks from his personal account totaling $14,623.78."

He doesn't even write his own checks.

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Rauner would've paid in cash.

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FTW:

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Job Fair
Continuing our discussion of Buffalo Grove senior Nicole Bankowski's schedule, I replied to Tim Willette's reply thusly:

"Even in my relatively affluent suburb, almost all my friends (and I, of course) had part-time jobs in high school, not necessarily because their parents were not of wealth, but because their parents didn't spoil them. Want spending money? Get a job! Want your own car? Get a job!

"Not so much when the burb became richer and the truly rich kids, whose parents owned companies and such, bought their kids cars for their 16th birthday, etc., while the rest of us were forced to wear those dumb-ass uniforms to work at Wendy's (well, I never worked a service job, fortunately, but I worked since 8th grade; a friend worked at Wendy's and looked like a dumb-ass in that hat! other friends worked at Target, etc. interestingly almost all service jobs ... ) (also, you couldn't just do what you wanted whenever because sometimes you had to, you know, go to work ...)"

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Now, here's something else about this that I think about when I see campaigns to raise the wages of, for example, fast-food restaurant workers. I'm all for raising those wages, of course. But when I read about how much a full-time worker makes in one of those jobs, and how it's impossible to raise a family on such a wage, we're missing an important part of the discussion: Those jobs were never meant to support raising a family. Those jobs were once held almost wholly, to my knowledge, by teenagers, senior citizens, housewives and others intending to merely supplement their income. The fact that those jobs now constitute actual, real full-time jobs for so many people is as much the problem as the ridiculously low wages those employers get away with paying. Those workers need more than a higher hourly wage - they need better jobs!

Medicaid Mess
It's now been eight months since I qualified for Medicaid under Obamacare, and like what I understand to be something like 200,000 others, I still have not received my coverage. That's right - coverage that was supposed to start January 1st still has not begun. That means I've been paying out-of-pocket for an expensive, monthly prescription I cannot do without and I've been at risk for worse because I have no health insurance. Thanks, Obama!

I'm sure this would be an outrage of a story if gainfully employed reporters (and even more so, their editors) were impacted, but because this is simply a problem for poor people, it goes under the radar, like most stories about poor people outside of the familiar scripts of gangs and drugs.

(I'm reminded of being told by my Chicago magazine colleagues that people just didn't want to read about the poor. They should just be disappeared, I guess. I mean, the magazine was called Chicago, not Lincoln Park and North Shore. That's an old argument, but still pertinent today - and applicable by degree to news organizations chasing affluent readers instead of chasing news.)

Sky High
We'll talk about the Sky on this weekend's Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, as we have almost every week.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
You Better Bill-ieve It's Is A Must-Win!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: To the gates of hell.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:04 AM | Permalink

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: You Better Bill-ieve It's A Must-Win!

Crystal Ball Edition.

Week 1: vs. Bills.

In a proverbial must-win Week One game, Donte Rosario explodes for three special teams tackles. During the second quarter, a mic'd up Mel Tucker is overheard muttering "Who the hell is playing quarterback for these assholes . . . " on the live Fox broadcast. A frantic Lance Briggs is seen hurling a pulled pork sandwich over his shoulder and yelling "Oh shit, that was today???" into his cell phone while fleeing the The Double Nickel Smokehouse at 9:20 a.m. Pacific Sunday morning. Not to worry, Bears win 31-10.

Week 2: @ 49ers.

Expectations are forcibly shat back to Earth as the 2014 Bears continue a proud franchise tradition of forgetting how to play football in clammy, 61-degree environments. Hoping to avoid future such calamities, CEO Ted Phillips opts not to return Roger Goodell's phone calls regarding a potential 2016 Chicago/Arizona match-up in foggy London town. Bears lose 37-6.

Week 3: @ Jets.

Two weeks after the word "assholes" is broadcast on regional television, Goodell suspends the Fox Network for six games for violating the NFL's ever-expanding conduct policy. Eric Decker shaves his weird mustache just prior to kickoff because Michael Vick convinced him that looking like Freddie Mercury increases your chances of getting AIDS by 57%. Unclear as to whether Vick was just messing with Decker or was legitimately concerned. Bears win 20-17.

Week 4: vs. Packers.

Julius Peppers returns to Chicago for the first time in over one home game. Randall Cobb inexplicably scores a 95-yard touchdown on a screen pass in which 14 tackles are missed, including one by that live bear we put on the sidelines. Dammit Barry, pretend he's a salmon! A late touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery not enough as Bears lose 24-17.

Week 5: @ Panthers.

Cam Newton and Jonathan Stewart combine for 265 rushing yards in a game that feels like a total regression to last season's defensive woes, but it turns out the Panther defense isn't anywhere near as good as anyone thought they were going to be. Ron Rivera is seen crumpling up a wooden clip board like a piece of paper after failing to convert a 4th-and-16 on the Panthers' 22-yard line late in the final quarter. He later explains to a reporter that he doesn't like the nickname "Riverboat Ron" because he already named his penis "Steamboat Willie." Bears eke out a road win 37-35 in an unexpected shootout.

Week 6: @ Falcons.

Devin Hester and Eric Weems greet their former team by jointly returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, then wiping it out by committing a needless taunting penalty. Falcons QB Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan stuns alcoholics everywhere by officially endorsing Red Dog, the beer that garnered such crowdsourced reviews as "a trip down memory lane in the worst way;" "it is not safe for rat consumption;" and "takes the edge off of a stressful morning at work." Bears win 27-23.

Week 7: vs. Dolphins.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the Dolphins, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and his entire staff become locked in the bathroom after the first series, forcing his 10-year-old nephew Dwight to call the plays. Assuming actual football is just like Madden '07, Dwight calls only Hail Marys, bootlegs and sweeps - a strategy the Mel Tucker sniffs out just before the end of the third quarter. An edge in the turnover battle lifts the Bears to a 28-17 win.

Week 8: @ Patriots.

Nope, Bears linebackers can't keep up with Gronk, so Tom Brady just keeps friggin' throwing it to him. Bears lose 38-24.

Week 9: @ Bye.

As part of a cruel trick by the Bears coaching staff, Kelvin Hayden is "promoted" from the practice squad and told he will be on the team's active roster in this week's match-up against Tennessee. Hayden travels to Memphis by bus, arrives early in the morning and, undeterred by the fact that he is not a member of the Titans organization, dresses for the game. Inexplicably, Hayden is permitted to play in nickel packages in place of second-string corner Coty Sensabaugh because they share the same number, despite wearing a Bears uniform and knowing none of the defensive scheme.

Week 10: @ Packers.

The story of the game is that Shea McClellin knocks a Green Bay quarterback out for the majority of the season for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, it's because he overpursues Jordy Nelson so badly that he tackles an unsuspecting Matt Flynn from behind while the back-up is reading political humor on an iPad* while standing on the sidelines. Bears lose 28-27.

Week 11: vs. Vikings.

Surprising absolutely no one, Adrian Peterson rushes for 212 yards. Surprising some, the Bears win the game thanks to five touchdown passes by Jay Cutler, including one to Barry the Bear, who thinks he's people after eating a Snickers. Bears win 41-20.

Week 12: vs. Bucs.

Former head coach Lovie Smith makes his triumphant return to the Windy City and nearly gets out of town with another win. However, the classic flaw in his signature defense is exposed once again; having a two-point lead late in the fourth and refusing to play anything but a super soft Cover 2 shell. Robbie Gould's foot is true and the Bears pick up a big 21-20 win.

Week 13: @ Lions.

From a statistical standpoint, the Chicago defense does an excellent job of preventing Detroit's big skill players from getting off**. Poor special-teams play, though, finally catches up to the Bears and really bites them in the ass. Jeremy Ross averages 37 yards per kickoff return and takes a punt to the house. Bears lose 34-31 despite the fact that Calvin Johnson misses the game for personal reasons . . . namely that he is ravaging Earth's supply of Energon Cubes.

Week 14: vs. Cowboys.

Not to be outdone by Chicago or Seattle, Jerry Jones opts to include his mascot on the trip north to show the Second and Emerald cities how to showboat. It turns out that the live version of the Dallas mascot looks a lot less like Tim McGraw, and a lot more like some guy in a dress shirt spray-painted silver with a gun and some rope. He is arrested immediately upon entering the stadium. Fortunately for Dallas, Barry is already asleep for the winter, having gorged himself on the contents of the concession stand Dumpsters while the rest of the team was out of town. Unfortunately for the visitors, it is December, this is the Cowboys we're talking about, and nobody can give me a reason to believe that Chicago's receiving corps can be covered by the Dallas secondary. Bears win 38-10.

Week 15: vs. Saints.

Drew Brees and company visit the lakefront with their playoff hopes on the line. Eager to kick the city of Chicago right in its juevos once again, Mother Nature deals the Bears a ridiculously balmy December night. Brees even manages to shoot a Tide ad*** early in the second quarter, which the Bears do not contest because even with a film crew on the field, conditions are still better than most Week 15 home games. At the end of the night, we get a shootout at the Chi-Town Corral. Problem is, the Bears end up on the wrong side of it, losing 48-41.

Week 16: vs. Lions.

A late touchdown grab by Megatron is wiped off the board when replays "confirm" that he did not control the ball while crossing the plane of the goal line. In the offseason, the NFL will implement the widely unpopular "Calvin Johnson Rule 2 (The Re-Johnson-ing)," which stipulates that handing the ball to the ref after taking four strides into the end zone does not constitute the completion of the catching process. Bears win 24-20.

Week 17: @ Vikings.

The Bears light up a bad Vikings defense and finish the season 10-6. However, the win is not enough to make the playoffs and Lovie Smith is fired by the Bucs.

Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Bombers - Blood Of The Unicorn)
We're opening at home, so let's kick things off with one of my favorite local brews from Pipeworks.

In all honesty, the excitement of this match-up is mostly driven by the fact that this is the first real Bears game in nearly nine months, even though both teams are in first place (by virtue of having city names that start with "B" and "C").

Let's face it, some of the most mundane things in life are made enjoyable by not having done them for half a year (see - "Men" comma "Married" comma "Missionary").

By all accounts, the Bills are a slated to be a pretty bad squad, so the Bears should pull away as the game progresses and won't be in much doubt after the third quarter, so make some good snacks and warm up the Red Zone channel.

Bears 31, Bills 10.

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* Dick Durbin sleeping with a dead horse. HA! Where do these guys come up with this BLAARRRGGG!!!

** By forcing them to think about baseball.

*** Hi, I'm Drew Brees. I may be a man of average height with a weird birthmark on my face, but I'm still one of the best players in NFL history and I nabbed a hot blonde wife. So given my history of success, trust me when I say I can devise a method for getting that guacamole stain out of the crotch of your size 48 sweatpants.

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 AM | Permalink

September 3, 2014

The [Wednesday] Papers

Either nobody noticed that I mistakenly called yesterday's column The [Monday] Papers, or nobody bothered to tell me. Come on, people! Engage!

Anyway, the best thing to come out of Monday's Tuesday's column was this response by our very own Tim Willette to item No. 3:

"She is taking four AP classes, along with serving as editor of the school newspaper, treasurer of the student council and member of the show choir."

Nothing new here, but forever I've read stories like this and thought, "I don't see part-time job on that resume." This student is not lazy. She's so busy with activities that she often doesn't begin homework until after 10 p.m. But it bugs me that college admissions people appear to rank participation in the choir higher than the real-world experience of being an employee. (I assume they do, otherwise everyone would take a job at 7-11 to pad the ol' resume, right?)

I know it's a hell of a lot harder today for a high school kid to land any job than when we were their age. Nonetheless, if you believe these stories a lot of parents don't put a priority on having their college-bound children balance school activities with work, once known as "saving money for school" (although granted often also earning money to take girls out, buy records, etc.)

I'm not just being an old man here, although I am one. I think the Protestant work ethic often has been a scam to separate workers from the fruits of their labor. And if anything the Millennial+ generation is doing a hell of a lot more charitable work than ours did. But to volunteer you don't have to do much more than show up. To get a job at Wal-Mart you have to interview with one person, get called back to interview with someone else and maybe talk with the store manager and possibly take a piss-test, psych exam, etc. On the job you deal constantly with customers who consider you beneath them, management that under pressure from upstairs "encourages" you to work off the clock lest they be required to pay you overtime, and so on. I've done both - people generally treat volunteers differently.

However as an employee you will rub shoulders with adult coworkers who will educate you about how small every one of you is in the company's eyes and learn the lesson of the nail that gets pounded.

I also am a great fan of when kids who excel in the classroom learn that, in fact, there are carpenters and furniture movers and shopkeepers who are a hell of a lot smarter than they are and will ever be. That lesson blessedly I didn't need to learn from a job, but it was a great thing to have it reaffirmed.

More practically: I once worked with a young lawyer whose first job was attorney-making-six-figures. She treated everyone "below" her like shit and kissed ass to everyone "above," some of whom came from real poverty. (She once remarked that she didn't know anyone that didn't have a maid.) She didn't last, because she became hated by staff and attorneys alike.

Otherwise, re h.s. starting time - they should begin at 11:00. I'm serious.

Amen.

Unknown Americans Of The Walmart Republic
Shadows and freedom, people. Connect the dots in this particularly good installment of Local Book Notes.

Also included: The Tribune is about to come out with Chicago Portraits. We've embedded the preview, which basically shows you all the photos.

Matt Forte & The Futures Market
In a particularly fun installment of Fantasy Fix.

When The San Diego Chicken Came To Chicago TV
And totally broke character - so much so that we're not sure it is a character.

Talks about: Why he legally cannot be called a chicken in San Diego and why he turned down Ted Turner's $100,000 offer.

Bonus video segment: Check out the commercials preceding the interview.

The Cub Factor
May not appear this week. We'll see.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring . . . Operators, The Lemons, Corrections House, Chase, Sun Ra Arkestra, Cecile McLorin Salvant, The Chinese Professionals, STS9, The Chicago Afrobeat Project, The Motet, Lettuce, Riff Raff, DJ noDJ, Tweens, Snoop Dogg, Kid Cudi, Bassnectar, Showtek Music, Alesso, Adventure Club, DSmith, Emancipator, Nicky Romero, Griz, Dada Life, Dan Deacon, Environmental Encroachment, Billy William Patrick Corgan, Capture The Crown, Anna Fermin & Trigger Gospel, Consume The Divide, Unwed Sailor, Cashmere Cat, Talib Kweli, Slightly Stoopid, Ralph Covert & The Bad Examples, Zed's Dead, 30 Seconds To Mars, Scott Stapp, and Blessthefall.

I've particularly fallen in love with Operators and The Lemons.

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Open Studio Day!
Today and every Wednesday at AnySquared Studio, also housing the laptop that is The Beachwood Media Company.

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BeachBook
* Logan Square's Worst Apartment [Doubtful] Wants $1,100 A Month.

I dunno, the place is a dump but I've seen far worse for around that much. That is in no way a justification for the landlord's shameful neglect; I just find it odd that Curbed finds this so noteworthy. Perhaps a sister site called The Worst Apartments In Chicago And The Slumlords Who Rent Them.com.

* Mr. Let's Paint Is Coming To Chicago!

Possibly inside a box.

* Recent Stock-Market Surge Supported By Record Profits.

Obama has no comment outside of meekly (again) suggesting that raising the minimum wage a smidge might be a good idea, I mean, if y'all want to. But I'm good either way!

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TweetWood

Right.

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Look, I'm sure everyone was gonna make this connection, but I'm pretty sure I got there first and then everyone else acted like they thought of it on their own.

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Dude's worse than Nixon. Only one reporter in America had him pegged: Me. Because I simply went by the record and the factual reporting, instead of engaging in fairy tales. My reward? Bupkis. Story of my career . . . and I'm sick of it.

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This one could've been crafted a little better, but gets to something deeper: Quinn's haplessness.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Cheese, crackers.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Portraits Of Chicago, The Walmart Republic & Unknown Americans

1. Chicago Portraits from the Tribune due out September 15th.

From the press materials:

"For more than 100 years, the prize-winning photographers at the newspaper have been documenting life in Chicago. Along the way, they've amassed an unmatched collection of photos of the city's denizens and visitors. The resulting photo archive is a priceless assortment of the famous, infamous, and otherwise fascinating subjects who have lived in - or just passed through - Chicago.

"For the first time, the finest Tribune portrait photographs have been collected in one comprehensive volume. The collection comprises a rare accounting of the innumerable images and faces we may encounter every day but unwittingly skim over.

"From black-and-white photos of Chicago flappers to a young Oprah Winfrey; iconic Chicago sports figures to notable politicians; from everyday Chicagoans to the famous artists and musicians who have visited the city, Chicago Portraits captures the individuals who people the Windy City in all its complexity.

"But the book isn't just a fascinating and colorful look into daily life in Chicago; it also serves as a unique showcase for the unsung photographers who, day after day for over a century, have produced this remarkable collection of indelible portraits."

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"Notable subjects include Jim Belushi, Oprah Winfrey, Studs Terkel, Rev. Jesse Jackson, John Malkovich, Harold Washington, Walter Payton, Billy Corgan, Vince Vaughn, Gillian Flynn, Tavi Gevinson, John C. Reilly, Tracy Letts, members of the Chicago Blackhawks, Barack and Michelle Obama, and many, many more."

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Comment: Yeah, I bet those are the least interesting photos of all! Also, as it's been said a million times, Chicago needs a better brand of celebrity. At least, hopefully, no Bill Kurtis!

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Here's a digital look-see:

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2. Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins.

"Join the Poetry Foundation for a performance of Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins, an oratorio for solo voice and electronics by Douglas Kearney and Haitian-born experimental musician and sound artist Val Jeanty on September 20th at 6 pm. This event takes place at the Poetry Foundation building located at 61 W. Superior Street."

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Background:

* Terry Adkins' obituary in the New York Times.

* Terry Adkins' Artworks.

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Kearney in the forthcoming October 2014 issue of Poetry:

"Early in 2013, I started a granted collaboration with installation artist, musician, sculptor, etc. etc., Terry Adkins, Only a year later, Terry died of a heart attack. Following his passing, I chose to proceed and continue with work in tribute to his art and its impact on mine - but focused on remembering Terry's alter ego, a figure named 'Blanche Bruce' (after the first black U.S. senator elected to serve a full term). That work - an oratorio for voice and digital turntables - is called Freedom of Shadow."

More from the Poetry Foundation:

"As a companion piece to the September 20 performance of Freedom of Shadow, Berlin-based schriftkunstler (writing artist) Drury Brennan takes over the Poetry Foundation gallery wall to compose ulteriori ombre (further shadows), a massive calligraphic reaction to Kearney's original text. The exhibition will be up from September 18 through October 24. Both the exhibition and performance are free and open to the public. Space is limited. A reception follows the performance on September 20."

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Preview: Douglas Kearney and Val Jeanty perform "Blanche Bruce Does the Modernism" from the oratorio.

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3. The Walmart Republic.

"The Guild Literary Complex has teamed up with the University of Chicago's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts for a night of dancing, poetry, and general revelry to celebrate Quraysh Ali Lansana and Christopher Stewart for their most recent collaboration - a collection of individual poems - entitled The Walmart Republic (Mongrel Empire Press).

frontcover-2.png

"This free, open-to-the- public party takes place Saturday, September 13th from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. at the Logan Center for the Arts - Performance Penthouse (915 East 60th Street, 9th floor, Chicago)."

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From the Poets' Quarterly review:

"The Walmart Republic: a land where chain megastores not only crush smaller shops but also take on a civic role: town hall, meeting place - shopping as public entertainment and engagement. The Walmart Republic is the America that Quraysh Ali Lansana and Christopher Stewart's poetry crosses, telling the stories of their separate journeys from the Bible Belt to Chicago, yet these poems do not mock the landscape or its inhabitants in the manner of People of Walmart. Instead, empathy underwrites and counterpoints absurdity, even as the stories of a black man and a white man build, through contrasts and points of connection, a novelistic view of the U.S. in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

"In these poems, characters who often might be treated as stereotypical figures of fun are given dignity."

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From the Poetry Foundation:

"Ali Lansana is from Enid, OK; Stewart was raised in Dallas, small Texas towns, and Chicago neighborhoods. A white man and a black man born in post Kennedy, post-King southern and Midwestern USA, though both disagree with those geographical tags.

"Through these poems, the poets assert that their births, their ways of seeing, and their pains are rooted in what Ali Lansana's OU film professor termed 'the Walmart Republic,' a land where shopping center is community center; where the failures of the father are re-learned in the lessons of the son."

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"Not just a night of readings, the evening's program also celebrates Ali Lansana's 50th birthday and will be a full house of voices and grooves - featuring Angela Jackson and Elise Paschen, as well as performances by In the Spirit and Team REBIRTH. avery r. young will present an original performance in response to the provocative writing in The Walmart Republic.

"Hosted by Mario Smith, Vocalo DJ Ayana Contreras will facilitate dancing and good times, with beverages by Tastings.com. Informal hors d'oeurves and cake will be provided. Copies of The Walmart Republic will be for sale at the event by Women and Children First."

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4. Unknown Americans On The North Shore.

Cristina Henriquez and Rebecca Makkai: Two Chicago novelists in conversation.

Tuesday, Sept. 9th, 6 p.m., at the Harold Washington Library, sponsored by the Society of Midland Authors.

"Henriquez's new novel, The Book of Unknown Americans, was chosen by Amazon as the best novel from the first half of 2014, and it was a recent 'Book of the Week' selection at Oprah Winfrey's O magazine website.

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Kakutani, New York Times: "'We're the unknown Americans,' says a character in Cristina Henriquez's second novel, 'the ones no one even wants to know, because they've been told they're supposed to be scared of us and because maybe if they did take the time to get to know us, they might realize that we're not that bad, maybe even that we're a lot like them.'

"That declaration bluntly articulates the theme of The Book of Unknown Americans, as does the novel's choral structure - made up of first-person reminiscences from an array of characters from Latin American countries including Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Paraguay, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all of whom talk to us directly about their reasons for coming to the United States.

"These aspects of Ms. Henríquez's novel may make it seem like a timely story, given the current debate over immigration and the surge of young illegal immigrants now crossing over the border into the United States. But they also emphasize the novel's more schematic and tendentious aspects. In fact, Unknown Americans is at its most powerful not when it's giving us a documentarylike look at immigrant life in one Delaware (yes, Delaware) town, but when it's chronicling the lives of its two central characters: a beautiful Mexican teenager named Maribel Rivera and her admiring friend and neighbor, Mayor Toro. It is Maribel and Mayor's star-crossed love that lends this novel an emotional urgency, and it's the story of their families that gives us a visceral sense of the magnetic allure of America, and the gaps so many immigrants find here between expectations and reality."

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Makkai's second novel, The Hundred-Year House, is set on Chicago's North Shore.

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Gentry, Tribune:

"'What is the opposite of memory?' asks a character near the end of Rebecca Makkai's second novel, The Hundred-Year House. 'What is the inverse of an echo?' Fate, of course, is the answer; history spelled backward, with the causality swapped to make past events contingent on future ends. Whether we see this as magical or sinister depends, of course, on the ends.

"In a romantic comedy, fate is taking the wrong jeans home from the laundromat and finding the love of your life's phone number in the pocket; in a tragedy, it's taking the wrong jeans home from the laundromat and inadvertently destroying an entire family. But what if the charming meet-cutes of today required just such sacrifices from the past? What if you could feel yourself being yanked through life on the puppet strings of someone else's happy ending?

"The Hundred-Year House explores this disquieting premise under the guise of a metafictional comedy of manners, and succeeds by treating its subject with a deceptively light hand. Without the fine writing of an A.S. Byatt or the cutting wit of a Mary McCarthy, indeed without much sentence-level panache at all, Makkai has written a novel that reads almost like early Muriel Spark - clever, competent, and concealing an unsettling and skewed reality under the straightforward genre piece it initially presents itself as."

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The discussion begins at 6 p.m. sharp, followed by a book signing.

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5. Hyde Park Book Sale Wants Your Donations - And Will Even Come Get Them.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

When A Chicago TV Show Interviewed The San Diego Chicken

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television continues to kick butt, painstakingly unearthing gems like this interview with the San Diego Chicken and presenting them to the world. In three parts, plus a bonus segment.

1. Lawsuit.


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2. Turned down $100K from Ted Turner.

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3. Impressions.

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4. Bonus: Check out the commercials preceding the show.

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See also:
* The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's YouTube Channel.

* The MCCT's Fuzzy Memories website.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Matt Forte And The Futures Market

Most decisions we make in fantasy football are based on the historical record. We say we balance the stats we have in hand with the ones we envision for the future, but when it comes time to draft, smart decisions are more like 90% based on fact and 10% based on what we see as the likely future course.

Call yourself a gambler if you like, but when it comes time to draft a running back, are you really going to go with the growing hype around Giovani Bernard over a proven top tier RB? Not likely. The numbers have been established, and they don't lie. The future is fun to talk about, but a scattershot investment.

Still, the ability and the willingness to take chances is part of what makes fantasy sports so much fun. It's why we make predictions, track potential sleepers and, every once in a while, draft Cordarelle Patterson over Victor Cruz.

And if you don't even like taking mid-round or late-round chances, you can still let loose your inner gambler by participating in mock drafts. That's how I stumbled onto the idea for this little exercise: Forget the numbers, and draft a team mostly based on future prospects and hype (though as I found out, you can't entirely forget last year's numbers). Anyway, this is what I ended up with through the first eight rounds in a mock draft when tried to think only about future potential.

Round 1, Pick 2: Matt Forte, RB, CHI.

I wanted to get the first pick in this mock draft, and still would have chosen him first if I did, but someone beat me into the waiting room. Popular No. 1 picks Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy are now encumbered by very good backups: Knile Davis in KC and Darren Sproles in PHI. Forte, meanwhile, sees more receiving action than the other possible NO. 1, Adrian Peterson, and probably still has not had his best season. That could come this year.

Notable players I passed on: Charles, McCoy, Peterson.

Round 2, Pick 23: Giovani Bernard, RB, CIN.

The most hyped young RB this season got another boost when the Bengals cut BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Almost every game Bernard plays offers highlight reel material, and a very positive outlook (and not necessarily realistic) for this season would have him finishing with Forte among the leaders at RB in rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards and TDs.

Notable players I passed on: Arian Foster, Brandon Marshall, Julion Jones, Andrew Luck.

Round 3, Pick 26: Cordarelle Patterson, WR, MIN.

This one is hard to explain. A lot of WRs were going early in this mock, and I quickly had to adjust my vision for him - a possible high-ceiling WR-2 - to a definite WR-1. Best case scenario, he develops a rapport with Matt Cassel that turns weak Cassel lobs into double-digit TDs with league-leading yards-after-catch.

Notable players I passed on: Andre Johnson, Victor Cruz, Andre Ellington.

Round 4, Pick 47: Shane Vereen, RB, NE.

Picturing him for the RB/WR slot. He's one of three RBs in the mix in New England, which doesn't sound great, but he should be the one getting the majority of short passes - it's here that I found it hard to ignore his numbers from 2013. However, since the Pats had an off year in 2014, with injuries and inexperience affecting the receiving corps, I may need to lower my high ceiling just a bit.

Notable players I passed on: Cam Newton, Ben Tate, Matt Ryan.

Round 5, Pick 50: Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF.

If Bernard was the most hyped RB this preseason, Watkins was the most hyped WR. Still, this is far earlier than I ever would recommend taking him - in two of my actual leagues, he went right around Pick 100. But I'm buying futures here, and the rookie Watkins is a rare combination of size and breakaway moves.

Notable players I passed on: Russell Wilson, Vernon Davis, Jeremy Maclin.

Round 6, Pick 71: Andy Dalton, QB, CIN.

I was targeting Russell Wilson, but he went before my spot came up. Dalton doesn't entirely fit the profile of someone with potentially giant numbers ahead of him. Nor has he been much hyped for this year, but with top WR A.J. Green, Bernard and others among targets, he could be a very unlikely candidate for 40 TDs if everything goes just right.

Notable players I passed on: Ryan Mathews, Bishop Sankey, Seattle Defense.

Round 7, Pick 74: Michael Crabtree, WR, SF.

After the early run on WRs, he fell farther than I would have expected. In some ways a much safer bet than Patterson or Watkins, Crabtree mostly has been held back by a conservative offense, but could be poised for a breakout year if Colin Kaepernick looks his way a little more often.

Notable players I passed on: San Francisco Defense, Jordan Cameron, Tom Brady.

Round 8, Pick 95: Coby Fleener, TE, SD.

There were a number of young TEs available, and I chose the one I felt had the best QB. Fleener seems like the prototype of a pass-catching TD, and in a robust offense should be able to collect 700 yards and 8 TDs from the table scraps in Indy.

Notable players I passed on: Antonio Gates, Eric Decker, Steven Jackson.

There you have it - a gambler's fantasy draft. It's a little bit exciting, and also a little bit ugly (The kicker I ended up drafting later, Ryan Succop, has since been cut by KC - and signed by Tennessee). It doesn't look much like a first-place fantasy team, but I'll plan on checking back in on these picks as the season progresses, and we'll see how the futures market plays out.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Operators at Schubas on Saturday night.


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2. The Lemons at the Empty Bottle last Wednesday night.

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3. Corrections House at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.

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4. Chase at Reggies on Friday night.

Ward: "For the first - and possibly the last - time in four decades, Chicago once again will echo with the blare of the hard-hitting trumpets that propelled the band Chase into the musical spotlight in the early 1970s.

"Back then, bandleader and trumpeter Bill Chase headed up a group that freely mixed rock and jazz but whose sound was prematurely silenced 40 years ago this month when Chase, 39, and other group members died in a plane crash.

"Surviving members of Chase, joined by other musicians, will play tribute concerts Friday and Saturday at Reggies on South State Street, returning to the city that served as the Grammy-nominated band's adopted hometown in its heyday.

"We looked like hippies, but we weren't hippies," original bassist Dennis Keith Johnson said recently. "The band was all about musicianship."

"Johnson's bass work provided the low end for 'Get It On,' the group's biggest hit, which came on its debut album in 1971 and featured the four-trumpet attack that was Chase's trademark."

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5. Sun Ra Arkestra at Millennium Park for Jazz Fest on Sunday night.


Reich: "This year's festival has been honoring the centennial of jazz visionary Sun Ra, the high point of the celebration arriving with the event's finale, a performance by a latter-day version of the Sun Ra Arkestra. The set began surprisingly tamely, considering the mayhem - musical and otherwise - that Sun Ra typically wrought onstage. Eventually, though, the band got lustier and more raucous, with screams and squeals from the saxophone of 90-year-old Sun Ra veteran Marshall Allen. None of this quite matched the frenzy and hysteria of Sun Ra at his best, but at least it gave listeners a hint of what once was."

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6. Cecile McLorin Salvant at Millennium Park for Jazz Fest on Sunday night.

Reich: "One of the most accomplished and promising young singers in jazz, Cecile McLorin Salvant, followed Zenon on the Pritzker stage, and though her balladry and mostly medium-tempo music lowered the emotional temperature of the evening a few degrees, her instrument remained a joy to behold. Bending notes way up in the stratosphere, producing uncommonly rich and husky tones down low, Salvant conjured a seemingly endless array of vocal colors, drawing much of her repertoire from her WomanChild album of 2013.

"You could hear plenty of Betty Carter in the way she stretched phrases and elongated words, Carmen McRae in her depth of rhythmic accent and, of course, Sarah Vaughan in her quasi-operatic way of delivering a line. But Salvant's idiosyncratic song interpretations - which often involved constant changes of tempo and direction - utterly rewrote classics such as 'Guess Who I Saw Today' and 'What a Little Moonlight Can Do.'"

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7. The Chinese Professionals at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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8. STS9 at the North Coast Music Festival in Union Park on Sunday night.

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STS9 at the House Of Blues for a North Coast aftershow on Sunday night.

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9. The Chicago Afrobeat Project with Tony Allen at the Double Door for a North Coast aftershow on Saturday night.

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10. The Motet at North Coast on Saturday.

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11. Lettuce at North Coast on Friday night.

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12. Riff Raff at North Coast on Sunday night.

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13. DJ noDJ at the Double Door on Friday night.

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14. Tweens at Schubas on Saturday night.

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15. Snoop Dogg at North Coast on Sunday night.

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16. Kid Cudi at North Coast on Saturday night.

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17. Bassnectar at North Coast on Friday night.

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18. Showtek at North Coast on Friday night.

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19. Alesso at North Coast on Friday night.

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20. Adventure Club at North Coast on Saturday night.

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21. DSmith at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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22. Emancipator at North Coast on Sunday night.

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23. Nicky Romero at North Coast on Saturday night.

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24. Griz at North Coast on Sunday night.

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25. Dada Life at North Coast on Sunday night.

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Dada Life at the Mid for a North Coast aftershow on Sunday night.

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26. Dan Deacon at the big West Side arena last Wednesday night.

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27. Environmental Encroachment at Phyllis' on Friday night.

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28. Billy Corgan at Ravinia on Saturday night.

Gendron: "The rock star inside Billy Corgan refuses to be tamed, even at a solo show advertised as acoustic. Saturday at Ravinia, the Smashing Pumpkins leader began his first career-spanning concert unaccompanied before being joined by the group's guitarist, Jeff Schroeder, for the remainder of the 150-minute set. But even before a bizarre finale - that witnessed Corgan invite dozens of personalities from his pro-wrestling league onstage - the duo ballooned into a sextet and succumbed to excess."

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29. Capture The Crown at Mojoes on Friday night.

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30. Anna Fermin & Trigger Gospel at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn on Friday night.

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31. Consume The Divide at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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32. Unwed Sailor at Schubas on Friday night.

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33. Cashmere Cat at North Coast on Saturday night.

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34. Talib Kweli on the Spirit of Chicago for a North Coast aftershow on Saturday night.

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35. Slightly Stoopid at the North Coast Music Festival in Union Park on Sunday night.

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36. Ralph Covert & the Bad Examples at Mayne Stage on Friday night.

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37. Zed's Dead at North Coast on Sunday night.

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38. Ookay at North Coast on Sunday night.

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39. 30 Seconds to Mars in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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40. Linkin Park in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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41. Scott Stapp at Mojoes in Joliet on Thursday night.

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42. Blessthefall at Mojoes in Joliet on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

September 2, 2014

The [Tuesday] Papers

1. The Beachwood Radio Hour #21: Federal Judge Rules The Koschman Conspiracy Worked.

Plus: Rahm's Super PAC vs. Daley's Family PAC; He Worked At A Tastee-Freez; Remembering The Queen Bee Of Wicker Park; Feasting On Human Tears.

You don't have to listen to the whole thing; just use our handy Show Notes to guide you to the segments of your choice!

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2. Beachwood Fall Fundraising Drive!

It's underway! To those who have contributed in the past, I hate to ask you again, so I won't. To those who haven't, c'mon! Feed me and keep me out of debtors' prison! Go here for donor options.

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Also, with the arrival of fall I have some outside projects coming to a close and others starting anew. I'm still seeking new revenue streams Beachwood-related and not, though, so feel free to contact me if you're finally ready to get on the Beachwood Media bus and turn this company into a money-making monster, or if you simply have freelance work for me.

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3. "On a typical school night, Nicole Bankowski averages about five hours of sleep," the Tribune reports.

"She is taking four AP classes, along with serving as editor of the school newspaper, treasurer of the student council and member of the show choir.

"It's probably not the healthiest way to live, but it's the only way to get everything done," said the Buffalo Grove High School senior, who typically doesn't start her homework until 10:30 p.m.

"With the school year just underway, students like Bankowski are already sleep-deprived. Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued what it hopes will be a wake-up call to the nation's educators: Push back school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later."

Okay, these calls for later start times aren't new, but I've always been in full agreement with them, especially given that every morning that I was in high school began in excruciating pain when that alarm clock went off. I'm very much about punctuality, but I was late to school often enough that I once got double-secret detention. And I had a '75 Camaro! I wasn't waiting on no bus!

Of course, I wasn't late - and basically sleepwalking until lunch - because I was holding down a schedule like Nicole Bankowski's. I wasn't exactly an activities person, though I did work on the high school newspaper, natch. I also got hopped up on all the free Coke I could drink working the press box of Minnesota North Stars games back then, which didn't help in the sleep department on school nights.

And true enough, I suffered undiagnosed depression that often meant no amount of sleep was enough. I tended to get 10 hours a night back then - twice as much as Nicole!

But come on! I can only guess school starts as early as it does because somehow it's convenient for the adults, though I have no idea why they would want to get up so early either. Or maybe it's left over from the agrarian calendar. And yes, some of us worked after-school jobs which might not have been available with a later start. But geez, we're just killing our kids. And what with the AP classes and testing madness. Starting your homework at 10:30 p.m.? I don't even remember ever doing homework! And I was basically a straight-A student attending a well-regarded suburban school. It's all too much, and the real reason behind it is disgusting as hell: It's all about turning out corporate-compliant zombies whose only value as humans is their economic output. Education wasn't always about preparing people for jobs; it was about preparing people for life (and democratic citizenship). When journalists do articles asking if college is worth it if it doesn't result in a high-paying job, I want to tear their eyes out and puke into their dead skulls. Is that really the right question to ask? I don't accept the premise.

Likewise, we shouldn't be preparing elementary school kids simply for getting into a selective high school, and then preparing high school kids for getting into a selective college, in order to ensure a selective job that almost certainly has deceit at its core. That's a system that's designed to produce - or protect - a few winners and make losers of everyone else. It's also a competition that breeds selfishness, anxiety, greed, ego and psychopathologies. I have a better idea: Let's just all be cool, y'all!

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By the way, I never took an ACT or SAT in high school. I rebelled even back then against a testing regimen that now seems quaint. I just saw madness all around me, from spending hundreds of dollars on Stanley Kaplan courses (I didn't understand why they were even legal; even studying for tests seemed a bit like cheating to me because tests are supposed to determine what you have learned and carry around in your everyday life, not what you managed to memorize the night before) to college application embellishment (like the friend of mine who worked one day as a photographer - one day! - on the yearbook staff so he could add yearbook staff to his list of extracurricular activities) to ensure acceptance into an Ivy League school to just the generalized agitated state that envelops a class of teenagers made to feel that every move they make is momentous (as if high school doesn't already feel that way) - and that a mistake could ruin their entire future.

All of which was just to set up this clip:

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4. Mayor Rahm Emanuel Discusses School District He's In Charge Of That's Good Enough For Your Kids But Not His, Who Go To A School With Policies Diametrically Opposed To Those That He, As A Noted Education Expert, Is Autocratically Imposing On Everyone Else.

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5. I'm really not gonna get things cranked back up until Wednesday. Sorry.

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The College Football Report Top Ten
Remember kids, keep your head on a swivel out there.

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Swivel. That word looks funny to me right now.

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SportsMondayTuesday: Chris Conte Lurks
And Manny Ramirez shirks.

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Hey, that's pretty good.

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Here's the note I sent to Coffman after posting his column:

1. 11-5? No way. I might have predicted that if the defense grew the way I expected it to, and if the special teams didn't look so iffy, but no. In fact, I'm thinking of downgrading my 10-6 to 9-7. I put the Over/Under at 9.5!

2. Holy cow on Manny! I did not know that. I love all those stories about what a changed man Manny was that the media bought hook, line and sinker - just because Theo said so! If his main job was to be a coach, well, WTF! Maybe he was there strictly to work with Baez . . . what's interesting is how it looks like he won't be back with Iowa next year. So another FAIL.

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The White Sox Report: In The Thick Of The Race!
Fascinating account of how the White Sox are potentially the most impactful non-playoff team in baseball right now.

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The Cub Factor
Should appear on Wednesday.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Should appear on Wednesday.

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BeachBook
* Are Airlines' Making Money By Fleecing Customers?

Hint: Yes.

* Taxes Aren't The Only Thing Bruce Rauner Dodges.

I should get a job as a headline writer. I learned, really, from Gawker and the Onion. The old days of stupid puns are over, though the old days of boring as fuck remain because it works so well with SEO. But the real prize in the digital headline writing is boiling down a story to its real, absurdist nub.

* Artist Trading Cards Exchange.

By Chicago's Jennifer Hines.

* Huge Consolidation In The Mattress Industry.

Where dreams come true.

* PBA Moves Administrative Headquarters To Chicago.

That strikes me as big news.

* Lessig To Lecture On Corruption At University Of Chicago.

Good. Start with the University of Chicago and work outward.

* How Big Business Buys The Right To Dodge U.S. Taxes.

When they - and people like Bruce Rauner - say they are only playing by the rules, they neglect to tell you they paid for the rules to be written that way in the first place.

* U.S. Supreme Court Just Making Shit Up Now.

Related: Seeking any old idiot to start cranking out Beachwood amicus briefs; salary negotiable.

* PR Firm For Putin Now Walking A Fine Line, According To The Scrupulously Even-Handed New York Times.

Alternate: Hideous People Willing To Work For Anyone To Make A Buck.

Key Passage: "In the filings, the company said it worked with Time magazine to have Mr. Putin named the magazine's Person of the Year in 2007."

* Prisoner Exonerations At An All-Time High - And Not Because Of DNA Testing.

Our prisons are full of innocent people because they don't pay as well as Putin.

* ADM Selling Chocolate Business To Cargill.

Cargill has a sweets division?

* Locally Laid Partners With Amish Farmers.

Too easy.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: The tip line that works.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Chris Conte Lurks

I have no clue. Surely you're not claiming you have one either. And yes, I'll stop calling you Shirley.

I have no clue how good the 2014-15 Bears defense can be. Nor am I aware of the existence of any sort of comprehensive metric convincingly breaking down how bad they will be. I'm trying to say that in a "the glass is half full and half empty" sort of way. This defense could be good, certainly. It could also be very, very bad. And no one knows how it will play out - no one.

That makes predicting a record for the Bears a fool's errand at this point. But I won't let that sort of trivial detail get in the way of a fearlessly bold and in-the-end entirely inconsequential prognostication!

On the plus side, the defensive line obviously has all sorts of potential. And there is reason to believe the Bears have three above-average cornerbacks (at least they do as long as Charles Tillman can stay healthy - which becomes significantly less likely each year in the twilight of his great career). But then there are the other position groups.

We hope Reggie Herring is such a good linebackers coach that he brings third-year man Shea McClellin and especially year-two Jon Bostic along quickly. Herring is in his first year with the Bears, but he has plenty of experience coaching NFL linebackers; he had two stints doing so with the Texans and one with the Cowboys in the last decade.

Bostic was a real good linebacker in college at a big-time program (Florida). If the Bears can't develop him into at least an above-average NFL linebacker, one has to fear whether their overall program on that side of the ball is good enough. Either he will get the most snaps at the third linebacker position this Sunday against the Bills or . . .

McClellin, who played college ball at a slightly less proficient football factory (Idaho State) is more of a long shot - which makes his story especially compelling heading into the season. He has to be the primary reason the Bears, and specifically general manager Phil Emery, brought in Herring.

McClellin was Emery's first draft pick after he took the job in 2012 and by now let's hope the GM has at least acknowledged to himself that he botched it. He saw McClellin's raw speed and size and projected him as a potentially perfect pass-rushing defensive end. McClellin did show flashes at that position last year. And we will always remember that glorious day last fall when he smashed into Aaron Rodgers and ended up breaking Rodgers' collarbone as he pounded him down to the turf.

But the third-year man wasn't ever strong enough to set anything approaching an assertive edge along the line of scrimmage, and was easily overwhelmed by strong offensive linemen when the opposing team ran the ball. So the Bears decided to move him to linebacker this year. Hopefully when Emery acknowledged the aforementioned mistake to himself, he also concluded that he needs to avoid overthinking and overreaching at the draft in the future. A successful team does not waste first-rounders on projects who switch positions immediately upon arrival in the NFL unless they are spectacularly athletic. McClellin is definitely not that.

A fan will always suspect that McClellin would be best as a linebacker in a 3-4 scheme (that's what he played in college). And if he fails this year, perhaps he will get a shot at a spot on a defense that runs that scheme - after the Bears release him.

Veterans Lance Briggs (who if anything is even less likely to stay healthy than Tillman) and D.J. Williams return as the starters at weak side and middle. They both joined their teammates in looking terrible against the Seahawks in the second-to-last preseason game. There is more reason to believe that that didn't matter for veterans than it would be for younger players, but who the heck really knows.

At this writing, the Bears' starting safeties appear to be free agent signees Ryan Mundy and Dan McCray. They also sucked against the Seahawks. Chris Conte lurks, and while he was awful at safety last year, I think the Bears know that when he fully recovers from what appears to be a less-than-catastrophic concussion suffered in his only bit of preseason action, he is still their best bet on the roster to come through with above average play at the position this season. It is hard to see that as a positive sign in any way shape or form.

I'm going with the Bears finishing 11-5 and making the playoffs as a wild card behind the Packers. I am doing that in part because I'm a sap who allows what I hope will happen to leak into my analysis of what I predict will happen.

And heck, at this point no one can say that 11-5 is less likely than 5-11. That's as good a reason as any to go with 11 victories

Manny Time
Attention Chicago sports media! There was a big story in the notes in the sports section I read Saturday morning. But I fear it will not receive proper attention. And that is because it is a big story that puts Cubs management in a bad light and somehow those stories just keep getting underplayed.

The Cubs acknowledged that the 2014 Manny Ramirez minor league player/hitting coach desperation move ended atrociously. Manny apparently hurt his knee last week and couldn't hit anymore. So rather than finish the season as a coach, which would have required that he work all of four more days until the last Triple-A game scheduled for today, Manny instead insisted on leaving immediately on Friday.

That apparently was fine with the Cubs. That's pathetic.

Remember that this is the organization that still refuses to get over the fact that in his last season with the club, Sammy Sosa was removed from his final game and then left the clubhouse before the game ended. So Sosa leaving a last game in which he was no longer playing was a sin punishable by open-ended banishment. Manny bailing four games before season's end is A-OK.

No matter how many prospects they pile up by trading the assets left to them by the previous general manager or by tanking season after season to ensure great first-round draft pick after great first-round draft pick, the Cubs are still the laughingstock of the National League. Way to go Theo!

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, and Tuesdays after holiday weekends. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report Top Ten: Kenny Football Edition

1. The He-Could-Go-All-The-Way Award Winner: Jake Longenecker.

Auburn wide receiver Melvin Ray stands 6'3" and can run 40 yards in 4.55 seconds. Jake Longenecker, the team ball boy, has got that beat. In (#6) Auburn's 45-21 win over Arkansas on Saturday, Ray hauled in a 49-yard pass in the first quarter, streaking down the sidelines to score the first touchdown for the Tigers. In the highlight reel, Ray makes the grab and breaks for the end zone when suddenly Longenecker enters the frame, sprints after Ray and . . . appears to be making up ground as Ray crosses the goal line. Get that boy a uniform!


2. The Ron Turner Award Week One Winner: Ron Turner.

Former Illinois coach Ron Turner rejoined the college coaching ranks at Florida International University last year, where he promptly returned to form with a 1-11 record in his debut season. Turner, who compiled a 35-57 record with the Illini and finished his career in Champaign-Urbana with back-to-back losing seasons (1-11 in 2003, 3-8 in 2004), somehow landed the FIU head job despite his 43-73 mark as a college coach.

Thus, it was somewhat surprising to catch a sense of optimism from Miami Herald beat reporter David Neal in his piece last week previewing "Turner, Year Two." Apparently, the school deemed Neal's coverage as insufficiently positive. Two days following, FIU yanked his press credentials, shutting him out of the season opener against Bethune-Cookman. Neal wasn't on hand to witness FIU's 14-12 loss, fittingly capped by a botched field-goal attempt in the final seconds.

Bethune-Cookman, a Football Championship Division team, has two wins over the lofty Football Bowl Division. The Wildcats broke into the record books just last season with a 34-13 rout over FBS member . . . FIU. Led by Ron Turner. Ron Turner, everybody. Ron Turner.

3. Eastern Michigan 0, Brick Wall 1.

Maybe Styrofoam next year, guys?

4. Score One For The Directional Creampuffs.

Final score: North Dakota State (another FCS team) 34. Iowa State (in the FBS) 14. Iowa State surrendered 503 total yards (while gaining only 253), mostly to NDSU running back John Crockett, who racked up 138 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The win over Iowa State marks the fifth consecutive victory over FBS opponents for NDSU, part of a 25-game undefeated streak, and the Bisons have captured three consecutive FCS titles. No wonder USA Today named North Dakota State "the scariest team in football." We should create a new category as NDSU clearly doesn't belong among the other Creampuffs. Directional Davids? Pretty clunky. We'll work on it.

5. Dramatic Finishes.

Jackson State shocked Florida A&M with a Hail Mary pass while Albany stunned Holy Cross on a bizarre fumble return for a touchdown as time expired. Crazy endings are part of why we watch college football, yet witnessing injuries, such as the concussion suffered by the Holy Cross player who fumbled the ball, should give even the most casual fan pause*.

6. Saturday Was A Big Day For Trampling.

Taking the field proved hazardous even to fans in Week One. The Baylor Bears unveiled the new McLane Stadium and the excitement over the $260-million edifice proved too much for some fans. In the headlong rush onto the field for a pregame ceremony, Bears fans trampled the unwary and uncoordinated. Elsewhere, a New Mexico State coed fared as poorly against Pistol Pete and his trusty steed Keystone. During a pregame ceremony, the NMSU mascot galloped down the field, wheeled through the end zone, and steamrolled through the unwitting Aggie staffer.

Remember kids, keep your head on a swivel out there.

7. Just Goes to Show . . . You Should Never Delete E-Mails. Ever.

We still don't understand what happened in the Vanderbilt-Temple game. For sure, Vandy got crushed (37-7) by the lowly Owls, but that wasn't the most notable part of the match-up. To celebrate the season opener, the Commodores replaced the names on the back of the new team jersey with the school slogan "Anchor Down." While a neat idea on the PR drawing board, the NCAA deemed the jerseys a violation of the "thou shalt not wear silly slogans on thy garments" rule. The NCAA determined Vandy would be assessed a penalty each quarter, but the school produced an e-mail that seemed to approve use of the slogan. Upon review, the head referee "interpreted the correspondence to mean the slogan had been approved" and the jerseys were legal. Upon further review, following the game, they weren't, but the whole thing has been chalked up as a "miscommunication."

Elsewhere in jersey snafus, the NCAA disallowed Mississippi State's "Hail State" unis.

We want to know: Who greenlighted these ideas? Where were the marketing majors?

8. The Ron Turner Award Waiting List Starts With Charlie Weis.

The corpulent Kansas head coach has been dozing off in team meetings. Weis looks like he's in a food coma on the sidelines as well; Kansas has gone 4-20 in his two seasons there.

9. Kenny Football Is The New Johnny Football.

Freshman Sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill shattered most of Johnny "Football" Manziel's single-game records for Texas A&M in an upset win at #9 South Carolina. Manziel anointed Hill as "Kenny Football" in a tweet during the game, a 52-28 romp. Hill, on his new nickname: "I don't really like 'Kenny Football.'"

After the game, in which Hill led the #22 Aggies with 511 passing yards and three touchdowns, A&M offensive coordinator described his cool-as-a-cucumber performance as "awesome" and "kinda creepy." We like this kid already.

10. Selection Committee Protocol.

In all its indecipherable glory. Can we have the BCS back, please?

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* On the Report's reading list: Against Football: One Fan's Reluctant Manifesto.

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Mike Luce is our man on campus - every Friday and Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

September 1, 2014

In The Thick Of The Race!

Jazz great Mose Allison wrote a song more than 50 years ago that could serve as the theme for the surprising turns the American League pennant races have taken since the July 31st trade deadline: "It Didn't Turn Out That Way."

Did anyone think then that neither the A's nor the Tigers would be leading their divisions a month later, heading into the season's final turn?

The White Sox are doing their part in the drama, having just split a four-game series with Detroit, whom they will see for three more games this month, and consummating a trade with Oakland, whom they will see for four. (They also have seven left against the division-leading Royals, including the last four of the season at The Cell.) If things had gone as planned, those games could already be scratched off as meaningless. Not now.

First, the A's.

When Billy Beane not only won the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes but nabbed Jason Hammel as well in a blockbuster trade with the Cubs back on July 5th, the A's were 54-33 record and had a 3 1/2-game lead over the Angels. Beane insisted he was only trying his damndest to win the division, but the pundits were penciling them in for the World Series. You never saw so many stories written about how a team was "all-in." Then Beane added Jon Lester and the engravers started inscribing his name on the General Manager of the Year award.

Play it, Mose!

After the Angels - whose big move was acquiring Gordon Beckham - 8-1 pasting of the A's on Sunday completed a four-game sweep, the A's record since Samardzija and Hammel donned the green and gold stands at 25-25. Oakland now trails Anaheim by five games in the division, and suddenly finds itself reduced to protecting a four-game lead in the race for the first wild card.

What happened?

Samardzija has pitched decently, but not dominatingly; his ERA with the A's is 3.57, which puts him behind 24 other pitchers in the AL, including Jose Quintana.

Hammel (1-5, 5.77) has simply been a disaster.

Lester's ERA is 2.66, but his record is only 3-2. Like Samardzija (4-4), Lester obviously misses the run support of an offense fueled by Yoenis Cespedes, whom the A's gave up to get him.

In a move to bolster that sagging Oakland attack, Beane took Adam Dunn off Rich Hahn's hands in a deal that should be good for both sides.

Dunn doesn't replace Cespedes, but the truth is the A's haven't had a genuine DH all year; Alberto Callaspo filled the role Sunday, the third DH that Oakland used in their weekend series against the Angels. Dunn's ability to take a walk while hitting a home run approximately once every five games just might help.

In return, the Sox get minor-leaguer Nolan Sanburn, a 2012 second-round draft pick who has already crashed and burned but appears to be on the return. You couldn't reasonably have expected to get more for Dunn - which just goes to show what a disappointment his time here has been.

No, things really didn't work out as planned when the White Sox signed the Big Donkey for $56 million as a free agent four years ago. For every hit (371) he delivered, the Sox got almost two strikeouts (720).

Dunn's initial season here in 2011 was as painful to watch as any we've seen in these parts; Dunn managed to produce a batting average (.159) lower than his strikeout total (177) and, for some strange reason that doesn't seem quite attributable to adjusting to American League pitchers, he seemed as wildly overmatched as a Double-A player called up too soon.

To his credit, Dunn returned to form, as it were, in 2012, when he launched 41 home runs and drove in 96 while making the All-Star team, despite a .204 batting average. The Sox led the division most of that season before finishing second with an 85-77 record.

For the most part, though, Dunn (and his contract) was an albatross.

And yet, the A's find themselves in such a state that they hope he can help save their season before he slinks off into retirement.

As for the once high-flying Tigers, the White Sox handed them a 6-2 loss at The Cell on Sunday to send them off with a measly split that leaves them a half-game behind the Royals.

Who would've thought we'd be writing that line after the Tigers acquired ace David Price from the Rays on the trade deadline as a sort of one-upsmanship with the A's? Suddenly the Tigers' rotation boasted the last three Cy Young Award winners and a date with the A's in the AL Championship Series seemed inevitable.

Now, not so much.

Price, the 2012 Cy Young winner, is 1-2 with a 4.41 ERA since arriving in the Motor City; the Tigers have won only two of Price's five outings.

Max Scherzer, the 2013 Cy Young winner, has won 15 games and has a 3.26 ERA, but he was ultimately outdone by Chris Sale on Saturday despite being staked to a 3-0 first-inning lead; the Sox bats woke up to pummel Scherzer for six runs (five earned) before he departed with two outs in the seventh inning. After that ugly first inning, Sale limited the Tigers to just three hits over the next six innings while striking out 13 as the Sox triumphed 6-3.

Justin Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young winner, displayed some of his old form Friday night as he easily mowed down the Sox 7-1, but that leaves him with just a 12-11 record with an ERA of 4.68, which are not exactly Cy Young numbers.

The White Sox contributed to the playoff picture in another way on Saturday, dealing Alejandro De Aza to the Orioles for two minor-league pitching prospects. Like Dunn and Beckham, De Aza now has a chance to play in October.

De Aza performed here about as well as anyone might have expected. Because no one else could do it, he played a lot of centerfield a year ago and batted leadoff on a team that lost 99 games. When you consider the upgrade this season with Adam Eaton in center and hitting leadoff, you realize just how inadequate De Aza was.

De Aza hustled and got the most from his ability, but the last hit he got for the Sox on Friday night was a good illustration of his South Side career. With the Sox leading 1-0 in the bottom of the second, De Aza led off and ripped a Verlander delivery into the right-field corner. Torii Hunter retrieved the ball and fired a strike to Ian Kinsler who in turn fired a strike to Nick Castellanos to cut down De Aza foolishly trying for a triple.

Without question, De Aza was giving 100 percent. However, when Eaton lined a double an out later, it didn't take a sabermetrician to understand that the Sox could have had an early 2-0 lead if only De Aza had better judgement. Friday's gaffe was fitting. Mistakes - on the bases, in the field, and at the plate, where he struggled making adjustments - characterized De Aza's tenure here.

Nonetheless, we wish Beckham, Dunn, and De Aza the best. Each of them is now in a better place than being stuck on a team that completed August losing 18 of 27 games.

And truly, the Sox won't miss them. They are the (disappointing) past. The future will be built around Sale and Jose Abreu, who is remarkably in the Triple Crown hunt, as he leads the league in RBIs, is second in HRs and is fifth in batting average. If Eaton can stay healthy, he, too, will be a key piece. Alexei Ramirez remains stalwart and now we can finally see what Avisail Garcia can do, having come off the DL just in time to slide into the OF. Also, Paul Konerko's ceremonial roster spot will open up 30 days from now.

So it's onward for the White Sox.

In another song, Mose Allison sings that he doesn't worry about a thing because he knows everything will not be alright. You couldn't fault Sox fans for feeling just that way for the last month. Now, though, we can at least feel a little better knowing that next year has just begun and maybe, just maybe, sometimes plans do come together.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
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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