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« January 2015 | Main | March 2015 »

February 28, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

Oh, hey, wow, nothing unusual to see here at all.

Market Update
Geez, kick a guy while he's down why don't you? Moody's sons of bitches.

A+? Baa!
OK, so it may seem a little weird that one agency is pounding Chicago's credit while another is all, "A+!" Here's how you, too, can look at the unreasonably bright side:

1. Just assume that everything will sort of get done, maybe, eventually.

2. Assume all those people are asking questions because they really want to get to know you better, not because they fundamentally mistrust you.

3. Tinker. With children's lives.

4. If someone points to flaws, rail against the whole, rotten system.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Listening.

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Beachwood Sports Radio: West Side Stories
Soap opera switches teams: Bulls Window Re-Opened! Blackhawks Window Slams Shut! Plus: Post-Combine Bears; What Kris Bryant's Status Will Tell Us; White Sox Infield By Committee; Dismembering Ricky Renteria; and The Legend Of Theo.

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Weekend Beachwood
The Week In Chicago Rock and The Beachwood Radio Hour are in production!

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has been the only constant member of the band throughout its entire history. He speaks with Jim and Greg about his half-century with the pioneering psychedelic rock band and their highly anticipated reunion. Later, a review of the surprise new mixtape from Drake."

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:20 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Bloom at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.


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2. Brendan Buckley at Park West on Tuesday night.

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3. Milk at Midnight at Livewire on Sunday night.

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4. The Tornaparts at Livewire on Sunday night.

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5. Felix Martin Band at Reggies on Monday night.

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6. The Jayhawks at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove on Wednesday night.

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7. The Paramedic at Mojoes in Joliet on Thursday night.

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8. Robyn Hitchcock at SPACE in Evanston on Sunday night.

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9. Ryan Beatty at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.

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10. Jackyl at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:54 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #40: West Side Stories

Soap opera switches teams: Bulls Window Re-Opened! Blackhawks Window Slams Shut! Plus: Post-Combine Bears; What Kris Bryant's Status Will Tell Us; White Sox Infield By Committee; Dismembering Ricky Renteria; and The Legend Of Theo.

SHOW NOTES

* Gale Sayers.

2:48: Bulls Window Re-Opened!

* Derrick "Gale" Rose?

* Four to six weeks.

* Jason Goff.

* Meniscus.

* Meniscectomy.

* Tom Thibodeau, Coach of the Year.

19:50: Blackhawks Window Slams Shut!

* Sheldon Brookbank.

* Patrick Palmeiro.

34:16: Post-Combine Bears.

* Trading Matt Forte?

* Going Cubs?

40:04: What Kris Bryant's Status Will Tell Us.

* We could all be dead in six years.

* Third base by committee?

45:10: White Sox Infield By Committee.

* Being Steve Stone.

* How 'bout some loyalty to the fans, Reinsdorf!

* Conor Gillaspie.

* Dan Jennings.

* Bourbon County Stout.

* Anti-Hero IPA.

* Lagunitas IPA.

* On the big handles!

* Chris Sale's throwing motion.

* Melky Cabrera.

55:02: Dismembering Ricky Renteria.

* "I think it's going to be a really good experience for us to play with a manager that knows how to win games," said Starlin Castro. "[Renteria] just maybe needs more time to learn more."

56:30 The Legend Of Theo.

* Theo fired his first two managers here in three and has similarly gone through a few batting coaches, in part because he bungled Bill Mueller's situation. Then he hired Manny Ramirez.

* Manny Ramirez Arrested For Battery.

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:17 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Two major insurers are charging much more than others for several common HIV and AIDS medications in Illinois, drawing complaints from AIDS advocates that the companies may be trying to discourage high-cost patients from choosing their plans on the federal health insurance marketplace," the Tribune reports.

"Several standard treatments cost more than $1,000 per month on many Coventry Health Care and Humana plans, while some of the same drugs cost as little as $35 on plans other insurers sell on the exchange, according to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago analysis."

Wow. What does Coventry and Humana have to say for themselves?

"Our goals are to help our members be healthy and access the care they need by assisting with the strict patient compliance that these specialty medications require while keeping our health plans affordable," Coventry spokesman Rohan Hutchings said in an e-mail.

The e-mail was not available for further questions.

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When are reporters going to stop doing this? And shouldn't their editors prohibit it? I know that would make journalists even bigger hypocrites than they already are when they issue e-mail statements instead of facing questions about their work, but still.

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"A recent Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found evidence that insurers were adversely tiering HIV and AIDS drugs on 12 of 48 plans sold on the federal exchange in 12 states. People with midrange 'silver' plans that were adversely tiered would pay about $3,000 more per year for their drugs than those in other plans, according to the study."

Isn't that insurance terrorism? It certainly is the face of evil.

Problematic Problem Landlords List
"The 25-unit apartment building that hugs a corner in Chicago's West Garfield Park neighborhood failed almost 50 inspections during a nine-year period. In late January, the building and its owner landed on the city's first list of 'problem' landlords," the Tribune reports.

"But a few weeks before being included on the much-touted list, one that was initially going to label landlords as 'bad' before the city's Law Department stepped in, the building changed hands. The new owner, Pangea Properties, is undertaking a $1 million-plus renovation of the now-empty property and wants to know how to get its building off the list."

Well, that's gonna happen, isn't it?

"A Tribune review of city and county records tied to the 45 landlords and properties on the list found a quarter of the entries to be questionable or contain outdated information."

Oh.

"Some of the buildings are long vacant. A few are in demolition court, meaning the city is asking to tear them down. One functions as a single-room occupancy building. Others have tenants but the buildings have changed owners, and not recently."

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A bad landlords list is probably a good idea, but I just assumed when the city put this one out that was done with the mayoral campaign in mind.

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Rahm's Next Job
Because he's on the verge of unemployment, we have a few suggestions.

Rahmfeld
If Rahm wrote Seinfeld.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room
Reading corner.

Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide Pt. 1
Rizzo vs. Abreu vs. LaRoche vs. Bryant.

Palm Desert Dispatch: The Hot Stove Luncheon
No pepper; too many strikeouts.

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Weekend Beachwood
* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #40: Rose vs. Kane is in post-production.

* The Week In Chicago Rock is in pre-production.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #46: The Homan Chronicles is in pre-production.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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But the Tribune editorial board wanted him to level with us!

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The answer is Yes; follow the TL.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: To be real.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:22 PM | Permalink

Rahmfeld

If Rahm ran Seinfeld.

* "Why do they call it Ovaltine? The mug is round. The jar is round. They should call it Fucktine."

* "You know how to take the fucking reservation, you just don't know how to hold the fucking reservation."

* "You're an anti-fuckite."

* "No, I can't spare a fucking square."

* "Fuck you, Newman."

* "Why don't you just tell me what fucking movie you want to see?"

* "For I am Costanza, lord of the fucking idiots."

* "Yada, yada, yada, I fucked him over. Fuck him."

* "These fucking pretzels are making me fucking thirsty."

* "That is one magic fucking loogie."

- Tim Willette, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:13 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room

Reading corner.

speedwash.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:45 AM | Permalink

Rahm's Next Job

Given that he's on the verge of being unemployed, we've got some suggestions for his next gig.

* Fishmonger.

* Arby's. He's a legacy.

* Uber driver. They seem to like creepy characters.

* Next Celebrity Apprentice host. So he can fire people every week.

* Emo band leader. Alienated white guy from the suburbs - perfect!

* Host of Meet The Press. Where, for the first time, he will actually meet the press.

* Ditch digger. Because he'd probably get some sort of twisted glee out of it.

* Speed camera lens polisher. Because he'd probably get some sort of twisted glee out of it.

* Divvy tire inflator. He's used to inflating things - stats, his ego, his accomplishments . . .

* Reality show star. "Follow one man's journey In Search of Chicago's Infrastructure Trust!"

* Information broker. He's got all your data via Ventra.

* Head groundskeeper, Obama Library.

* Contestant, Tiny Dancing With The Stars.

* Taylor Swift's boyfriend. Then she can write "Meaner."

* Insult comic. He's halfway there. The first half.

* Craps dealer. Tons of experience.

* Sitcom writer.

- Tom Chambers, Tim Willette, Mike Luce, Nick Shreders, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

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1. From Ed Hammer:

* Greeter at Walmart. He can use the same "people person" skills he used as an investment banker at Wasserstein Perella.

* CPS primary teacher. Payback time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2015

Palm Desert Dispatch: The Hot Stove Luncheon

"Good hitters don't strike out," said Ron Fairly, the featured guest last Wednesday at the monthly Hot Stove Luncheon in Palm Desert, California.

Fairly should know. In 21 big league seasons, including 12 with the Dodgers, the most times he went down on strikes in a season was 72. He averaged 58 strikeouts per year. After his playing days, Fairly spent 27 years as a broadcaster for the Angels, Giants and Mariners. In parts of seven decades, he's either played in or broadcast more than 7,000 games.

Much of the lunch discussion dwelled on the stars of the '50s and '60s. Guys like Ted Williams, who averaged just 50 strikeouts a year. He fanned 64 times as a rookie in 1939, the most of his 19 big league seasons. Yet Teddy Ballgame hit 521 home runs to accompany a .344 lifetime average. No one today comes close in comparison.

Joe DiMaggio was famous for making contact. Like Williams, his highest strikeout total came as a rookie in 1936. Yet he struck out only 39 times that season while hitting .317 with 31 homers and a league-leading 145 RBI. Joe played only 13 seasons - he missed three while serving in World War II - and averaged just 34 strikeouts a year.

Because of the Steroids Era, many people feel that Hank Aaron remains the all-time home run king with 755. Fairly mentioned that Aaron never struck out 100 times in a season - his average was 68 over 23 campaigns - while closing with a batting average of .305.

Willie Mays played 22 years and hit 660 homers. When he was 40 years old in 1971, Willie fanned 123 times, the lone season he whiffed more than 100 times.

Stan Musial averaged just 37 strikeouts a season during his 22-year career. Yet he still bombed 475 homers to go with his .331 average.

These were the guys Fairly played with and against, so he witnessed hitters who could hit 30 or 40 home runs in a season and still make contact, hitting for a high average and making life miserable for pitchers.

Last season there were 110 major league hitters who struck out at least 100 times. In 1960, there were seven.

Predictably, one of the old guys having lunch asked Fairly how he could explain this huge discrepancy between today's game and baseball of his day. The answer was a complete surprise: pepper.

No, not what the octogenarians were shaking onto their potato salad last week, but the long-forgotten game that major leaguers used to play during batting practice and pre-game preparation.

Those of us who were around when ballparks were named Shibe, Forbes, Briggs, Crossley and Sportman's remember the neatly-painted lettering on the walls behind home plate which said, "No Pepper."

Pepper was a game when one guy wielded a bat while four or five others faced him in a line maybe 30 or 40 feet away. One would toss the ball and the hitter would take a short swing and chip the ball back toward his teammates. If someone booted the ball, he went to the end of the line. If someone caught the ball on the fly, he would change places with the hitter. The game was intended to move quickly, and it was a lot of fun.

Fairly claimed that ballplayers learned how to handle the bat through the playing of pepper. They learned how to react quickly and make contact. If the pepper hitter got an inside toss, he adapted by shifting his body, opening up and getting his hands out in front to deliver a ground ball to one of the fielders. Basically it was a game of bat control where players of all ages and abilities worked on making contact and putting the ball in play.

Why was there no pepper behind home plate? Because balls hitting the wall tended to chew it up, and the repeated use also was tough on the grass. Fairly said that the disappearance of pepper was due to a few factors, one being the wear and tear on the field as well as too many balls winding up in the stands. Infield and outfield pre-game practice belongs to by-gone eras, as well as batting practice - today a gloveless pitcher tosses lollipops from 45 or 50 feet - where someone threw from the mound and mixed in a few curveballs with a heater or two. Pepper has suffered the same fate.

The disappearance of pepper isn't the only factor affecting hitting today, according to Fairly. The home run hitters make the big bucks, so it's tempting to swing for the fences and the lucrative contract. Fairly talked about the upward path of the swing today where the hitting zone is extremely small compared to his day when hitters were taught to hit down on the ball.

That reminded me of my college days when a coach tried to get us to hit "the top half of the ball." This created line drives and ground balls rather than pop-ups. I was grateful simply to make any kind of contact - top, middle or lower half. Even nicking the seams was fine by me. But Fairly mentioned Wade Boggs, a notorious low strikeout Hall of Fame hitter with a .328 lifetime average over 18 seasons (1982-99). Never a big home run threat - Boggs hit 118 career homers - Boggs had that high-to-low swing while averaging just 49 whiffs a season.

Some observers might argue that the stars of long ago never faced a hard-throwing pitcher four or five times a game. Relief pitchers in those days were guys who weren't talented enough to be starters while today's specialists appear in the late innings with their high-90s heat.

Fairly countered that thesis by talking about the superstar starting pitchers that most teams possessed, fellows who didn't need a bullpen since they pitched primarily complete games.

"We had four starters with the Dodgers [in 1966], and three of them [Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, and Don Sutton] went to the Hall of Fame," recalled Fairly. "But the fourth guy, Calude Osteen, pitched 40 shutouts in his career."

A few stories followed about the pitching greats of the time, Juan Marichal, Drysdale, Koufax, Bob Gibson and others. While Fairly played in an era where hitters tended to make contact, Koufax was in a league of his own. Today a 200-strikeout season by a pitcher is a notable accomplishment. Just 13 pitchers reached that plateau in 2014.
However, Fairly pointed out that in 1965 Koufax struck out 311 more hitters than he walked with 382 strikeouts and only 71 bases on balls! Numbers like that aren't going to come along again anytime soon.

Like most luncheons, this one ended with a few stories from the old days. Koufax was famous not just for his pitching but also for observing Yom Kippur rather than playing in the World Series which in 1965 began on the Jewish holiday. While Sandy was preoccupied at his synagogue, Fairly recounted how manager Walter Alston handed the ball to Drysdale, who didn't get out of the third inning as the Twins exploded for a 7-0 lead en route to an 8-2 victory.

According to Fairly, who was playing right field, Alston came to the mound to relieve Double-D, who was standing there flipping the ball up and down in his glove. As his skipper reached for the ball, Drysdale said, "Bet you wish I was Jewish," and he walked off to the showers.

Eight days later, the Dodgers were champions, edging the Twins four games to three with Series MVP Koufax pitching complete-game shutouts in Games 5 and 7.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the hot stove league. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:04 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

We are now approaching Peak Tribune.

I'll start with two examples this morning. More to come later - and from other outlets too.

First, the Trib's editorial, titled "Level With Us, Mayor Emanuel."

Now, on first glance, one might think, Hallelujah, they're finally demanding our serial liar of a mayor tell the truth!

Um, no.

"Now what to do? The more you blanket the city with TV ads, the more you invite the very image that Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia and his allies want to impose: You've taken care of the wealthy people, the clout crowd, so they would give you as many millions as it takes to win. Or lose."

Do not let Garcia and his allies impose that image! The fact that you and your Super PAC raised an ungodly $30 million from the precincts of Hollywood, Wall Street and Washington, D.C.? Don't let that be imposed! Or that you spend most of your time meeting with millionaires? Don't let them impose that "image!"

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Does the edit board read its own paper?

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"There's another way, Mr. Mayor. No, not changing your personality (demanding), or your point of origin (suburbia), or your personal style (let's generously go with 'self-confident'). Too late for that. You are who you are - which is precisely why a lot of Chicagoans are happy to see you scramble for their votes.

"But if this runoff race is all about Rahm Emanuel, you can lose it. So make this about Chicago, for better and worse: Level with us.

"Tell us the whole truth, the way you did four years ago."

Well, at least the Tribune is acknowledging that Rahm hasn't told the truth since he was elected.

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"Help us face that truth. And make your opponent face it. He's a good man. Don't rip him down. But draw a distinction: You have a realistic vision of a Chicago that can survive and thrive. He has an unrealistic vision of a Chicago that can spend ever more enormous amounts of nonexistent money, if only we, like numerous Greek governments, deny reality."

I guess even the Trib got tired of scaring everybody with the specter of Detroit, so we get Greece.

*

"Chicago, Mr. Mayor, is full of smart people who can understand why you've closed schools and focused on city overhead costs - if only you would stop boasting about hard decisions and . . . explain . . . what . . . Chicago . . . faces."

The Trib edit board just called everyone opposed to the school closings stupid. The irony? The edit board seems to be the only ones in the debate who haven't read the research that shows school closings not only barely do not save money, if at all, but generally cost money.

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"You can do this. You've never been better than when you endured long hours of hectoring over your residency (Chicagoan? Washingtonian?) four years ago. You listened, you answered, you didn't always change the subject to whatever canned message you wanted to project."

He was being questioned by the election board - he couldn't exactly answer residency questions by talking about his uncle the cop instead.

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"Resurrect that Rahm Emanuel. He explained why this city's finances threaten this city's services. He talked with us, not at us. He was compelling. He convinced us to accept the inevitable economizing. He energized us for the fight to keep Chicago out of bankruptcy. And, in a four-way race, we gave him 55 percent of our votes."

By "us" accepting economizing, you mean "other people," right? Certainly the suburbanites running the edit board didn't have to accept economizing.

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"Somewhere, though, that guy let his legendary focus drift . . . to national party politics, to fundraising for his next campaign, to a thin-skinned defensiveness that grates on Chicagoans."

He is who he is. You said it yourself.

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"One example among many, Mr. Mayor: When people learned that red light cameras were cheating them systematically, you didn't man up. You didn't take ownership. You didn't fire one bureaucrat a day until you could give Chicagoans answers about who cheated them, how. Instead you lawyered up. You stonewalled reporters. You breezily said the camera system needs fixing. Is that so."

True. And this isn't just one example among many, it's the mayor's very modus operandi. That's a big part of what makes him bad for the job.

*

"You have six weeks, Mr. Mayor, to level with us."

Well, he had four years. And you, Tribune, endorsed him anyway.

*

"Except this time show us - not with blame but with candor - how Mayor Richard M. Daley stretched city finances to the breaking point, then watched helplessly as the Great Recession finished the rupture."

The same Richard M. Daley you endorsed every single time? See, this part always confuses me.

*

"Daley's failure wasn't the recession; those come and go. Daley's failure was the stretching, the spending, the pretending that nothing bad would ever put Chicago on the road to Detroit."

Boom! There it is!

*

"Because many of us who want you to win this runoff expect that you'll retreat into a cubbyhole with media buyers and campaign pollsters and political advisers and message makers, and emerge with some sweeter, humbler brand of Rahm Emanuel to peddle in the runoff race."

Um, isn't that what you've just recommended?

*

"Don't do that, Mr. Mayor. Go against that grain, your grain. Go back to Candidate Rahm Emanuel of late 2010, early 2011. You were bracing, but you were authentic. You told us how we could help you rescue a city that you and we love."

Okay, now I'm confused again. Which is the real Rahm now?

Also, we were supposed to help him "rescue" the city?

I thought he was supposed to help us.

*

"Your opponent now, Commissioner Garcia? He loves Chicago, too. He also has the wind at his back: On many streets he'll be a source of great pride - with enough votes, 'Chicago's First Latino Mayor!'

"That's a powerful force, Mayor Emanuel, and you may not be able to beat it. But you can beat a candidate who offers promises but no way to pay for them. Who has no way to pay for his pipe dreams."

I can't disagree that Garcia has basically promised everything to everyone. That's one reason why I haven't really liked his campaign. But that's not really the point. The point is that each of these candidates seems to have reverse priorities. Rahm is essentially a supply-side Republican who believes that making life even more comfortable for the wealthy while cutting social services and ignoring everyday Chicagoans is the best approach - not to saving a city, but building his national profile. Garcia - whom we know isn't going anywhere - seems to put a priority on everyday Chicagoans living in everyday neighborhoods. That's what will inform his budgets when he has to face the reality that many of his promises will be difficult to fulfill.

*

"Wake up all those smart Chicago voters."

Maybe take your own advice, Tribune, and drop the (unwarranted) arrogance and talk with us, not about us like we're not in the room.

*

"Explain what's wrong, and what's right, with the road Chicago is on. Explain not just why, but how, you won't let that road take us all the way to Detroit."

Boom! A two-fer!

*

"On Tuesday, Campaign Emanuel didn't do well. On April 7, a more candid, less programmed Candidate Emanuel just might."

Just for the next six weeks. Then you can go back to being a dick.

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From a member of Beachwood Nation:

"I don't know if you look at the hard copy, but there, a box on the front page pointing to the editorial says: 'You have six weeks, Mr. Mayor, to resurrect the candid, authentic Rahm Emanuel of four years ago.' Wow. Authentic? Do they mean, not pretending he isn't an asshole?"

I would add: He's had four years. He can't fix who he is in six weeks.

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Now let's take a look at editorial board member Kristen McQueary weighing in with her own bit of weirdness.

"Emanuel is in trouble," McQueary writes.

"Why? Many reasons, but one is this: Voters aren't realistic about the financial tsunami this city faces."

I'm not above calling voters dumb - they put Rahm in office in the first place - but geez!

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"If they were, they would not have galvanized around Garcia, who wants to reopen closed schools that for decades failed to properly educate kids. Where was the outrage over the schools' failure year after year to teach kids to read? Chronically underperforming schools in neighborhoods with the greatest population loss, in a school district teetering on bankruptcy, needed to close."

I'll tell you where the outrage was: In your face! Nobody has been more outraged about CPS for decades than its teachers and the parents who send their kids there. Where has the Tribune been?

To close "chronically underperforming" schools in neighborhoods with the greatest population losses is the exact opposite thing to do if your interest is in serving those kids. Maybe ask yourself: Why are these schools chronically underperforming and not others? Why are these neighborhoods losing population and not others? And why is a school district in a city with as much wealth as Chicago teetering - forever, so let's be clear - on the brink of bankruptcy? You can't run a school district successfully in a city that isn't invested in that school district - and this city isn't. If it was, Rahm and his pals would send their kids to public schools just like the rest of us. The fact is, CPS is for "other" kids. And those without a real stake who issue their moral proclamations from the sidelines are the biggest hypocrites of all. Hate to break it to you, but Rahm sends his kids to a school that opposes virtually every policy he has backed for CPS. But maybe the folks at the University of Chicago Lab School are just dumb, like the rest of the masses.

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"If voters were concerned about the city's finances, they would understand that Garcia's knee-jerk proposal to hire 1,000 more police officers would not automatically decrease crime."

Voters are concerned about their own finances - because their political leaders obviously are not. That said, I agree that Garcia's policing proposal is nonsense. But then, so was that "authentic" pledge Rahm made four years ago to . . . hire 1,000 more police officers.

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"If voters worried about economics, they would not have voted for a candidate who wants an elected school board - essentially putting the Chicago Teachers Union, whose mission is to protect pay and benefits of the adults in the system, in charge of the schools."

First, an elected school board is about accountability. Second, why would an elected school board put the CTU in charge? Rahm and his Super PAC - and his Super Friends like the Rauners and Griffins and Pritzkers and Spielbergs - wouldn't have candidates in the races? If the CTU was that good at electoral politics, the progressive caucus of the city council would have reached double digits by now.

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"In fact, Garcia - a nice guy who promises the moon but has no realistic means to pay for it - is the prototype of the very politician teachers scream about who underfunded their pensions for years."

Really? I thought it was Machine politicians who did that. And if you know anything about Garcia, you know that he has spent his career opposing the Machine. That much is true.

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"Left-leaning Democrats in Springfield and nice guys on the City Council are the people in charge who passed budgets, year after year, that borrowed against the retirements of government workers."

First, there are very few "left-leaning" Democrats in Springfield. Second, there are Republicans down there too, last time I looked. Republicans have even been governor!

Second, nice guys in the city council? Again, the nice guys have always been in the (extreme) minority. You are blaming people like Garcia for the sins of the Burkes and Mells (and Daleys and Emanuels).

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"But none of that mattered Tuesday. Voters showed they care more about potholes, red light cameras and personality."

There we are again: Voters are stupid!

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"Don't misread me: Those aren't insignificant concerns. They're exactly why Emanuel got shoved into a runoff and why Garcia might win. Most voters don't want to digest the stark math of the city's financial peril. They are turned off by Emanuel. And they're addicted to fairy dust."

You mean the fairy dust the Tribune sold us for 22 years of Daley?

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Speaking of fairy dust, the Trib also endorsed Bruce Rauner.

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"As for Emanuel's personality, his arrogance and his tone-deafness, I get it. I didn't vote for Emanuel on Tuesday for many reasons, including his dismissiveness toward the city's most vulnerable neighborhoods."

WHOA! YOU JUST SPENT AN ENTIRE COLUMN BASHING VOTERS FOR DOING WHAT YOU NOW ACKNOWLEDGE YOU DID YOURSELF!

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Truly, I am . . . just . . . WTF.

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"But against Garcia in a runoff, I might have to reconsider and hold my nose."

So, you voted for Fioretti. So did I.

Here's a tip: Fioretti's positions are virtually the same as Garcia's.

Fioretti's positions are opposite of Emanuel's.

I might have to hold my nose to finish reading this column.

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"Because for all of his shortcomings, for all of his overpromise and underdeliver, Emanuel has tried to reform pensions. He has slowed the growth of controversial tax increment financing districts. He has tried to reduce the burden on taxpayers who subsidize city workers' health insurance. He does not support an elected school board. He hasn't caved to immense pressure to hire more police."

Even though he promised to hire more police four years ago when the Trib says he was being real, and he promised to reform TIFs and hasn't come close, and his pension reform solution is to wait on Springfield.

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"As smarter people than I often say: You can't lead from a position of bankruptcy."

I've never heard anyone say that in my entire life.

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"So will I come around for Emanuel by April? I don't know."

After all that, she still might vote for Chuy!

You know what that tells me? And I say this for the first time: Chuy is going to win.

Because if Kristen McQueary still isn't sure about Rahm after writing a column like this, then all those dumb voters out there certainly aren't going to vote for him.

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TrackNotes: A Lo-Res Horizontal Squeeze
I'll keep saying it: Even if you have no interest in horse racing, reading Tom Chambers is a pleasure. He's just so wiseguy horsey.

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BeachBook
* Former FBI Assistant Director: To Keep Budgets High, We Must 'Keep Fear Alive.'

* NYT Public Editor: More On Bullshit Anonymous Sources.

* Luna Carpet Alternate Spanish Jingle.

* Chicago Tuba Player In Empire.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

See the full @BeachwoodReport feed for real-time dispatches from 2012 in which detainees and lawyers complain about being "disappeared" to the "black site" that is Homan.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hat tip.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

The 2015 Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide Pt. 1: The Corner Men

When you're drafting the corner infield positions, you're drafting for power and not much else. There are a few .300 hitters, and a handful of guys who might steal a handful of bases if the mood strikes, but in general you will only find a few five-category producers here.

What you also will find, heading up position rankings at both first and third, is a guy they call Miggy, who is still money in the bank. Probably.

1B

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET.

A .313/25/109 season is a down year only for Triple Crown winners. Cabrera showed some creakiness in 2014, which makes this ranking less of a slam dunk than in years past. He could miss a few games early in the season, but at 32 (as of this April), he's still the best pure hitter in the game. Key 2014 stat: 53 doubles. A few of those were HRs the year before.

2. Jose Abreu, WHITE SOX.

Bested Miggy in average and HRs on the way to winning Rookie of the Year. Should have more stamina for the long season this time around, and a better Sox lineup this year will make it hard for teams to pitch around him. Key 2014 stat: 80 runs. He's a 100-run season waiting to happen if he takes his walks and gets help from other hitters.

3. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI.

On paper, his 2013 season and a partial 2014 season suggest he's equal to or better than Abreu. His broken hand from last year reportedly is healed, but that might be what gives me an ounce of caution. Key 2014 stat: .396 OBP kept Miggy comparisons alive.

4. Jose Bautista, TOR.

Nice comeback season in 2014 when some of us thought his power had faded. Can he reach 35 HRs, 103 RBI again? Key 2014 stat: .286 average was a shocker after .241 and .259 the previous two seasons.

5. Anthony Rizzo, CUBS.

After a 32/78/.286 season, Baseball Prospectus lowered its projections for 2015, but seems to me he learned how to hit more and strike out less last year. The Cubs lineup could be feast or famine for his RBI potential, but I don't see why he can't repeat as a 30 HR guy and hit close to .300. Key 2014 stat: 116 strikeouts. I say he comes in under 100 this year.

6. Edwin Encarncion, TOR.

Bautista's Bash Brother destroys the ball. His HRs, RBI, walks, average and SBs all have been trending down for three seasons, but he was in track for a better year last year before missing a month's worth of games. Key 2014 stat: 34 HRs in just 128 games.

7. Freddie Freeman, ATL.

My 2014 breakout pick failed me. His 18 HRs last year were fewer than 25 other 1Bs, but his 93 runs and 175 hits were good for third and fourth in those categories, and at 25 years old, the HRs could still rise. Key 2014 stat: 145 strikeouts were a career high.

8. Buster Posey, SF.

The catcher eligibility helps his ranking, but the numbers are pretty good, too. HRs. RBI and average all rose in 2014, getting him back toward his 2012 MVP form. 25/100/.320 is not a stretch for this year. Key 2014 stat: 27 - his age this season is the hitter's prime.

9. Todd Frazier, CIN.

Surprising 2014 campaign saw his HRs surge from 19 to 29, while RBI and average also were up. Hey 2014 stat: 20 SBs was the biggest surprise, and led the position.

10 Adrian Gonzalez, LAD.

His days as a .300 hitter are over, but 27 HRs and 116 RBI last year marked his high in both categories since 2011. Key 2014 stat: .335 OBP his lowest since 2006.

11. Albert Pujols, LAA.

Can't believe 28/105/.272 represents a rebound for Pujols, but things looked pretty dire after 2013. That he skirted 30/100 still puts him in the territory of a starting 1B, though just barely. Key 2014 stat: 159 games played suggest the stamina and will are intact.

12. Carlos Santana, CLE.

Awful first half left him hitting .207, but he did have a better second half and the resulting 27 HRs and 85 RBI were strikingly similar to his impressive 2011 rookie campaign. Catcher and 3B eligibility give extra value. Key 2014 stat: .231 average needs help.

13. Victor Martinez, DET.

He hit .335 with 32 HRs and 103 RBI, and would have gone past 200 hits if not for mid-season injury. Hard to imagine him topping his best season at age 36, but even a modest drop will leave him with starter stats. Key 2014 stat: Career-high .974 OPS led all 1Bs.

14. David Ortiz, BOS.

The 39-year-old DH barely qualifies at 1B. He survives as a fantasy asset by maintaining a .500-plus slugging percentage year-in and year-out, but can't have many of those years left. Key 2014 stat: 35 HRs was his most since 2007. I'll have what he's having.

15. Chris Carter, HOU.

Truly one-dimensional, but that one dimension is huge. 37 HRs make him the guy you draft late when you realize you don't have enough HRs on your team. .227 average isn't likely to improve. Key 2014 stat: 182 strikeouts were 30 fewer than the year before.

16.Prince Fielder, TEX.

Fielder slimmed down and promptly stunk up the fantasy baseball universe until he lost most of last season to injury. His HRs were trending down before that, too. Past rep will get him ranked higher elsewhere, but not here. Key 2014 stat: only 150 at-bats.

17. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.

More value as a catcher, and his 13 HRs make him barely worth back-up status at 1B. However, his 53 doubles and .301 average make him worth consideration. Key 2014 stat: 176 hits tied him with Abreu for third place among 1Bs.

18. Joey Votto, CIN.

Like Fielder, hard to trust after a couple years of decline and a large part of 2014 lost to injury. Still seems to have potential for 25/80/.300, but he rates a gamble at this point. Key 2014 stat: .390 OBP in 62 games hints that maybe he can return to form.

19. Chris Davis, BAL.

Another formidable talent shipwrecked by slump and injury. 26 HRs and 72 RBI sound okay, but his .196 average marooned him on fantasy benches. No lefthander seemed more affected by the defensive shift. Key 2014 stat: 60 walks in 127 games almost career high.

20. Lucas Duda, NYM.

Numbers-wise, looks a little like Carter, with 30 HRs being the standout figure, though 92 RBIs provide further hope. Key 2014 stat: .253 average caps his fantasy value.

Sleeper: Adam LaRoche, WHITE SOX.

Not a sleeper in the traditional sense, but the new addition could easily improve on his 26 HRs of last season by batting on either side of Abreu and playing 81 games in the bandbox otherwise known as The Cell. Key 2014 stat: 92 RBI provide even more hope.

3B

1. Miguel Cabrera, DET.

In Yahoo! leagues, he still has 3B eligibility, though I've heard that is not the case elsewhere. If he's got a 3B next to his name, he's the clear No. 1 at the position.

2. Anthony Rendon, WAS.

Went from nobody to somebody with this line: 21 HRs, 83 RBI, 17 SBs, 111 runs, .287 AVG. Also 2B eligible. Interesting 2014 stat: 613 ABs. He's durable.

3. Adrian Beltre, TEX.

HRs declined three straight years, RBI down four straight years. He's 35. Yet, His .890 OPS was second among 3Bs. Interesting 2014 stat: .324 AVG his highest since 2004.

4. Josh Donaldson, TOR.

I was down on him last year, but he went on to lead 3Bs in HRs with 29, and came in second in RBI with 98. Interesting 2014 stat: .255 AVG down 46 points from 2013.

5. Todd Frazier, CIN.

See above. His numbers get him more value at 3B. Those 20 SBs makes him tops in that category at both corner positions.

6. Nolan Arenado, COL.

Injuries broke up a great year. Extrapolate his 18 HRs, 61 RBI, .287 AVG in 111 games to a full season, and buy in. Interesting 2014 stat: .500 slugging percentage at age 23.

7. Kyle Seager, SEA.

No longer a sleeper, he had the third-most RBI among 3Bs with 96.

8.Evan Longoria, TAM.

Played his first full season in years, and gave back only average numbers. Interesting 2014 stat: 91 RBI is better than average.

9. Carlos Santana, CLE.

At 3B, his 27 HRs are good for second highest. Good strategy might be take him at 3B, but draft a lower-ranked 3B later in case you want/need to play him at 1B or catcher.

10. Daniel Murphy, NYM.

No, not David Wright. All Murphy's stats were down after his 2013 breakout, but he's a five-category man. Interesting 2014 stat: .289 AVG slightly up from 2013.

11. Chris Davis, BAL.

Honestly, I don't feel great about having him this high, but those HRs are worth more at 3B, and certainly worth a gamble if you need to dig this deep to draft your 3B.

12. Josh Harrison, PIT.

Ex-Cubs draftee is a five-category super-sub. 18 SBs were second among 3Bs, and he's just getting started. Interesting 2014 stat: Free-swinger had .315 AVG, just 22 walks.

13. David Wright, NYM.

Bad shoulder sapped his power, shut him down early. Should do better than last year's eight HRs, but how much better? Interesting 2014 stat: .269 AVG worst since 2011.

14. Pablo Sandoval, BOS.

Another off-season of over-eating. Free-swinging fat guys hitting .315 get a pass, but not at .279. Interesting 2014 stat: 32 - walks in 2014, or hot dogs eaten in one sitting?

15. Matt Carpenter, STL.

Breakout 2013 led to so-so 2014, though with 99 runs he remained a top scorer thanks to the rest of the Cards lineup. Interesting 2014 stat: .272 AVG down 46 points.

16. Manny Machado, BAL.

Injury shut him down, but 12 HRs in 327 ABs was promising. Still, 14 doubles was well off pace of 51 in 2013. Interesting 2014 stat: 21 - his age to start last year.

17. Ryan Zimmerman, WAS.

Great potential, but a fantasy failure three years running.

18.Kris Bryant, CUBS.

If there are Cubs fans in your league, rank him 10 spots higher if you really want him. Not that you should, because the Cubs will keep him off the April roster for contractual reasons even if he hits 1.000 this spring. Still, light tower power makes him worth drafting even if he doesn't show up until July. Interesting stat: 85% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

19. Xander Bogaerts, BOS.

Most of us were expecting more than 12 HRs, 46 RBI, .240 AVG last year, but he was only 21. Nice buy-low candidate. Interesting 2014 stat: 138 strikeouts.

20. Aramis Ramirez, MIL.

One of the most consistent producers at 3B wound down the last two years, but could still make a solid back-up. Interesting 2014 stat: 37 - the age he turns in June.

Sleeper: Alex Rodriguez, NYY.

Because why not? Nothing is certain, but if he makes the team and his hip holds together it could be an interesting year. Interesting 2014 stat: Zero ABs.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:41 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2015

TrackNotes: A Lo-Res Horizontal Squeeze

There's not a weight allowance in existence for this kid, but it was back in the saddle again as the Fountain of Youth, a prep for a prep (Florida Derby) for the Kentucky Derby was run Saturday at sunny Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, Florida.

But let's be clear. It was this saddle, not this one.

I don't really pay much attention to two-year-olds and betting them in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile is more like pub darts. But once they turn the corner into the new year, you start looking in. Always keep in mind the three-year-old coming out party happens when the calendar turns, not because they're three years old. Derby buzz boy Upstart won't really be three until April.

It started with a chronic irritant as I turned on the Television Games Network (TVG) and found a weird distortion in the picture's aspect ratio, which, also, to add insult, is low resolution. The jockeys looked like basketball players and the horses had a horizontal squeeze going on. Why proportion a lo-res picture? Wasted effort. Also noticed that the Gulfstream turf course was really beat up.

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I didn't win on the day, but it started well in the Gulfstream Park Sprint.

Mean Season was a 9-5 favorite, but I didn't like what I saw. Although five years old, he had only run three races, registering triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in his last two, but they had come off of layoffs of nearly three months and 51 weeks coming into Saturday, and they were merely optional claiming races. Huge time off and no stakes experience? Nope.

C. Zee had won two stakes races at Gulfstream last year and showed heart after a bothered clunker at Saratoga last summer to run respectably in his season finale at Keeneland in October and a $100,000 claiming race - usually just a cobweb cleaning - in his first start of 2015 at Gulfstream.

Happy My Way won three of five at Gulfstream from late 2013 to March 2014 and comported himself well in heady company at Belmont and Saratoga last summer. Horse for the course.

Mean Season gave it a try but C. Zee and Happy My Way were always at the front. Irad Ortiz wisely eased up Mean Season and he finished last. C. Zee and Happy My Way finished 1-2 and I had 'em both.

If you want to see a great turn of foot, and then classic ground saving, and then total heart at the wire, take a look at Ekati's Phaeton, the 25-1 winner of the Grade II Davona Dale for three-year-old fillies. She put herself firmly in the very early conversation for the Kentucky Oaks on Derby Friday.

Luis Saez took the No. 10 horse (red silks), untouched, directly to the rail and stayed there in the two path. She was never headed and there came Eskenformoney next to her and Birdatthewire on the outside. Ekati's Phaeton just would never yield and beat Bird' by a long neck, who bested Esken' by just a nose. It was also impressive because 'Phaeton had beaten what had been a negative bias on the inside part of the track; the middle was the place to be before that.

To answer your question: No. And EP paid $55.60 to win.

I came into Saturday to see which three-year-old might impress and Ekati's Phaeton was the first one.

But it's also fun when the experienced veterans bring it, as Main Sequence did in the 11-furlong, Grade II turfer, the Mac Diarmida.

Here's a six-year-old gelding who came to the U.S. in late 2013 after a mediocre-at-best string of races in Great Britain. After an eight-month hiatus, all he did last year was be perfect in winning the United Nations, Sword Dancer, Turf Classic Invitational and the Breeders' Cup Turf. It garnered him Eclipse Awards as Champion Turf Horse and Older Male Horse of the Year.

The 3-5 prohibitive favorite, coming out of the one post, started slowly, Rajiv Maragh content to trail the field. He was able to keep clear sailing in front of him as he sized up the field on the backstretch. Maragh took him wide on the turn and Main Sequence positioned like a chess piece. Money Talker looked like he might bear out on 'Sequence, but MS downshifted and the afterburners kicked in right at the eighth pole. Main Sequence accelerated all the way to the wire and won by a full length, minus his tail. Wow.

In the big one, the 8.5-furlong, Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes, Upstart (5 post) came in the darling after a 106 Beyer and impressive win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in January. But with horses this tender in age, you have to at least look elsewhere and I'm glad I did.

I liked Itsaknockout (7 post), the Tapit colt out of the Deputy Minister mare Fast Cookie. Grandpappy was Pulpit. Trained by Todd Pletcher, known for getting and winning with young horses, 'Knockout came in off of two nice wins at Gulfstream and was on the improve. This is a point-to race and Pletcher does that all the time.

I also like Frosted, runner-up in the Holy Bull.

But there was controversy this day. Jose Ortiz worked Upstart to get him to third on the turn behind the dueling tandem of Frosted and Bluegrass Singer. Frosted cruised around the turn, Upstart dispatched Bluegrass Singer and there was Itsaknockout chugging outside like a locomotive.

I believe Irad Ortiz fell asleep on Frosted and Jose Ortiz on Upstart made him pay and snatched the lead just into the stretch. Itsaknockout still coming, Upstart floated inside and then outside, ever-so-subtly causing 'Knockout to slow a bit. He came back out again, putting his hindquarter in 'Knockout's face and then maintaining for the win.

But wait! Stewards' inquiry and jockey objection light up the board. In this day and age of the copout "It is what it is," I never thought they'd take down Upstart. Certainly, the head-on video looked a lot worse than the side view. But the DQ came out and I was happy with the $12.80/$5.00 win and place. These things are always hotly debated and although there was minimal, if any, contact, Upstart was like the guy in front of you on the elevator swerving and walking just slightly slower than you so you can't get out in the clear.

Then it was a flip over to Fair Grounds - thank goodness for online streaming - to watch the three-year-olds in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra and the Grade II Risen Star, the start of the Louisiana road to Kentucky.

Using every foot of the 8.5 furlongs, Florent Geroux sat patiently on I'm a Chatterbox and reeled them in to win by more than two in the Rachel. A 21-point Beyer improvement in her last race had my money on her nose.

I was digging on International Star, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus, in the Risen Star, 8.5 furlongs on the main track. He came in with a win in the Lecomte at Fair Grounds, was generally on the Beyer upswing, and threw in a bullet workout a week before.

Near the rear early, 'Star saved ground on the rail. With just a peek of daylight, he scooted up the rail and drew away to win by just more than a length. The win vaulted him to the top of the Kentucky Derby points standings. As with all of them, we'll keep an eye on him, but there's no reason he can't impact this year.

TV Stew
Good news, bad news. Nah - it's bad news.

TVG has purchased Horse Racing Television Network (HRTV) and will probably have operations merged before the Derby.

TVG is carried on DirecTV, and the smaller-reach HRTV is on the Dish Network. Either or both are available on some cable systems. Satellite subscribers of either service have not been able to see key tracks or races at various times of the year because they were being shown on the other one. Like having either the National League or American League, but not both.

I have spot subscribed to HRTV streaming online in the past and found it to be very informative, concentrating on racing news and more pure handicapping.

TVG is the laughingstock of the game and its fans. Begun as an adjunct to its betting platform (where it once cost 25 cents per bet to wager!!), TVG, based in Los Angeles, is an assemblage of on-air clowns with a subversive agenda. Rather than handicap for winners and contenders, its blatant emphasis on gimmicky Pick 3s, Pick 4s, and Pick 6s is clearly meant to drive those higher-cost tickets to its betting arm. Watching, you wouldn't know there were any other kinds of bets.

Being Left Coast, it would rather show you the post parade from the first race at Santa Anita, saving a stakes race from Saratoga for video replay later.

While TVG may have one or two analysts who are alright but not over the top, HRTV includes Laffit Pincay III, former jockeys Richard Migliore and Zoe Cadman, once a major player on the Chicago circuit, and TVG defectors Frank Mirahmadi and Christina Blacker, who looked like she couldn't wait to get out of TVG in her final days there. HRTV is also much stronger in developing feature pieces and analysis besides the racing.

I can't figure out how this merger is going to work. Many important races go off at the same time, especially in the summer. If both networks try to show the premier tracks it blacked out to its viewers in the past, what will happen to the smaller tracks, like Hawthorne, and even Arlington Park? Even if the new entity works to get both the old HRTV and TVG pipelines to coexist on all cable and satellite platforms, you can't merge all of the races they each used to run on one channel. Seems I'll need a mini-OTB type setup with multiple monitors to see all the races. I'm pretty much doing that now, streaming the majority of the quality races on the iBozoputer and filling in with TVG.

By being located on different programming platforms, neither really had to compete with the other to be better. TVG chose to go with cheap yucks and questionable handicapping approaches, seemingly to attract newbies; the better to ingrain the multi-race bet culture on the unsuspecting. HRTV chose to be good.

Will the new organization somehow blend the strengths of both to build a true go-to for both new and veteran fans? Dream on, Seabiscuit.

Snow Show
You had to wonder why they were running in a blizzard at Aqueduct Saturday.

aqualores2.jpg

It could be that all the snow they've had has insulated the track to keep the base from freezing. Besides, if it gets bad, the jockeys will complain and stop riding, making the decision themselves. They ran the full card of nine.

Stoppage Time
It's zero minutes to post, but on Saturday you could count on getting an extra five or seven. Gulfstream is pretty notorious for that, but Fair Grounds did the same, so is that going to be a trend this year?

Monday Night Horseball
Why did TVG change only a few notes and develop its own militaristic drama music coming out of the breaks, just like the NFL? Can't we ever get away from the NFL? If I see a horsebot, it's over.

College Bowl
DirecTV has what, 325 channels? Why was Butler-Xavier on 80 of them Saturday?

Meow Meow
One of my cat's names is Storm Cat. Long story. So when there was a breeding commercial for Sharp Cat, "PROGENY OF THE LEGENDARY STORM CAT," my Stormy did a Curly Howard double-take. He likes to watch the horses.

The 'Biscuit
Speaking of Seabiscuit, they'll be celebrating March 7 the 75th anniversary of his famous, epic win in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap, the Big 'Cap.

A new statue, this one including jockey Red Pollard, will be unveiled, to complement another statue of the 'Biscuit just standing by his lonesome. It will be one of many nice touches.

If you haven't read Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit: An American Legend, pick it up. It's authoritative, you'll be a horse racing expert by the end, it's way more than just a sports story, and Ms. Hillenbrand's copy just sings. If not, catch the movie. It's terrific and it syncs with the book beautifully.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

It's 4 a.m. and I'm wide awake so, in case I do fall asleep and rise late, here's what we have on the boards so far.

Tweeting Election 2015
Highlights from the Twitterverse.

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See @BeachwoodReport for all my real-time tweeting, not only about the election but, in particular, a debate about the local media's response to blockbuster reporting by the Guardian.

Garth Brooks vs. The Dead
Plus: Rahm and Chuy's Walk-Off Music. In Local Music Notebook.

Graham Crackers, Malcolm X & Cubs Fans
Plus: A Hot Publishing Job & Writers To Watch. In Local Book Notes.

Really Bad Liar Gets A Promotion
Meet the White House's new communications director.

Cool Weird Dumb Stuff From The Auto Show
Not just cars.

The White Sox Report: Speed The Plow
Now with a good comment!

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BeachBook
* Veterans Affairs Secretary Admits He Lied About Special Forces Service.

* Giuliana Rancic Says Zendaya's Hair Must Smell Like Weed.

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Bonus Tweet

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Smells like victory.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:00 AM | Permalink

Tweeting Election 2015

Highlights from across the Twitterverse.

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There's never an egg-timer around when you need one.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 AM | Permalink

Cool, Weird, Dumb Stuff From The Auto Show

Not just cars.

1. New MEDEX Ambulance.


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2. Ford Pneumatic Simulator.

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3. Toyota Future Mobility Concept.

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4. Hank The Robot.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:06 AM | Permalink

Meet The White House's New Communications Director

Watch how well she doesn't communicate.


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Bonus report.

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See also: Obama Administration Comes Out Against Right Of U.S. Citizen To Meet With Human Rights Organizations.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:53 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Graham Crackers, Malcolm X & Cubs Fans

Sugar Gamers at Graham Crackers Comics.


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Malcolm X E-Book
"One of the last major digital holdouts, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, should soon be available as an e-book, the attorney for the late activist's estate told the Associated Press.

L. Londell McMillan said last week a digital edition will likely be out by May 19, what would have been Malcolm X's 90th birthday, and the estate expects to self-publish it. Last Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm's assassination.

"Malcolm X was a fervent advocate for self-help, self-reliance and self-respect," McMillan said in explaining why the estate favored self-publishing over releasing the e-book through the publisher of the paper editions, Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Um, ok.

"Today's technology allows for innovative means to share content and add to it for educational, cultural and commercial purposes. Malcolm X did not grant all rights to a publisher in perpetuity. The works and rights of Malcolm X belong to his children and the community, not a publisher."

Background:

"McMillan said that the estate, X Legacy LLC, also hopes to release an audiobook and to self-publish other works by Malcolm, including speeches, letters and diaries. In November 2013, the estate sued to prevent a Chicago-based publisher from releasing a diary Malcolm X kept near the end of his life."

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Hot Job
Director, University of Illinois Press.

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Cubs Fans
"Jeremy Rodriguez, 31, of Cedar Rapids, launched a Kickstarter to fund his book about Chicago Cubs fans," KWWL.com reports.

"Provisionally titled 81 Perfect Days, Rodriguez will interview 81 Cubs fans, during the 81 home games of the 2015 season.

"The book will attempt to answer several questions: Who is the average Cubs fan? What do the Cubs mean in their fan's lives? How do Cubs fans cope with loving a team that has not won a championship in over a century?"

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Here's the Kickstarter.

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You gotta admit, no one ever writes books like this about White Sox fans. Or just about any other fans.

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Writers To Watch
"Last year, in celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Guild Literary Complex assembled a list of '25 Writers to Watch' - a who's who of Chicago's most promising literary talents, encompassing playwrights, poets, novelists, and journalists. This year, those same writers will present their work in a series of themed readings that showcase the vibrancy and vitality of the city's literary community," the Guild says in a press release.

"Chicago is a city of storytellers and poets. Our list is a way to honor the work of individuals while celebrating the dynamic intersections of identities, cultures, generations, educational experiences, and artistic visions that nourish - and challenge - the soul of this city," says current Guild Director John Rich.

On February 25th, four writers from that list - Eric Charles May, Coya Paz, Roger Reeves, Kathleen Rooney - will be presenting their work at Schubas Tavern (3159 N Southport) from 7:30-9 p.m.

The theme of the reading is "uncharted." Expect stories about adventure, crossing boundaries, visiting unfamiliar locales, and more. The event is pay-what-you-can ($5 suggested donation). There will be door prizes, and authors will also have their books available for purchase. Audience members need to be at least 21 years of age.

ABOUT THE WRITERS
"All four writers are established voices in Chicago's literary community. Eric Charles May is a fiction writer and journalist who teaches at Columbia College; Coya Paz is the Artistic Director of Free Street Theater, an Assistant Professor at DePaul, and holds a PhD from Northwestern; Roger Reeves is an assistant professor of poetry at University of Illinois-Chicago whose work has appeared in numerous anthologies; and Katherine Rooney is the founding editor of Rose Metal Press as well as a novelist, poet, and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The Believer."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:14 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Garth Brooks vs. The Dead

"Rosemont paid country superstar Garth Brooks more than $1 million to launch his comeback tour last year at Allstate Arena, records show, but officials say the village made twice that much," the Tribune reports.

"According to an agreement between the municipality and the singer's longtime promoter, Brooks received $1,050,000 as a 'rebate' for holding 11 kickoff shows at the arena. The disclosure ended the village's five-month legal battle to keep secret the financial details surrounding Brooks' record-breaking concert stand, which sold more than 183,500 tickets.

"Under the deal, Rosemont agreed to pay Brooks $100,000 per sold-out show and a prorated sum for shows that didn't sell out. The village also slashed the arena's rental fee in an effort to lure Brooks' September 2014 performances, records show."

Sure, but what about the rider?

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"Town spokesman Gary Mack defended the deal, saying the village still made more than $2 million from the concert stand after the rebate. The village, however, did not provide documentation to support that figure."

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"The Tribune and the village have been at odds over the contract since September, when the newspaper submitted an open records request for documents related to Brooks' concert run. The village initially offered the Tribune a chance to review the contract and other financial documents if a reporter signed a confidentiality agreement and agreed not to write about them. The Tribune declined."

If Rosemont made out so well in the deal, why were they so afraid to release the paperwork?

Click through and read the whole thing.

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Fare Thee Well
"After receiving a deluge of more than 60,000 envelopes seeking tickets for three nights at Soldier Field on the Fourth of July weekend, the band's ticketing office announced Tuesday that Deadheads have only a 1 in 10 chance that their requests will be honored," the Seattle Times reports.

"About 90 percent of the Grateful Dead fans hoping for mail-order tickets to the band's 50th anniversary reunion shows in Chicago are in for a bummer."

Yeah, you could spare me the bummer language - it's not clever. Ultimately, it's a bit of a surprise that tickets aren't even harder to come by. See, it's all how you frame the story.

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Announcement: Bloodshot Yard Dog SXSW

Bloodshot-Records-SXSW-2015.jpg

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Speaking of Bobby Bare, Jr., sit through this gem to get to Bobby's pa at the end.

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Joe McPhee
"It's hard to believe Joe McPhee is 75 - and not just because he keeps turning out several albums a year, with no falloff in quality. The multi-instrumental improviser has the energy and unpredictable, erudite-to-juvenile sense of humor he had when he made his international rep in the 1970s," Kevin Whitehead writes for Wondering Sound.

"McPhee's second American home turned out to be Chicago. Tenor from '76 had turned saxophonist Ken Vandermark on to creative music, and in the '90s he started pulling McPhee in for various projects, ultimately including Brotzmann's Chicago Tentet. Suddenly McPhee found himself with a whole new set of North European contacts, to go with old French allies like Django-meets-Jimi guitarist Raymond Boni.

"In 2013 Vandermark released Impressions of Po Music, disarmingly lovely settings of (and fantasias on) McPhee compositions, played by an animated octet including the composer. It's a reminder of what lovely tunes he's written; about the only thing to grumble about is the lack of rhapsodic McPhee solos on same. He defers to his younger Chicago colleagues, lets them run with the material."

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About Last Night

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:23 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago voters head to the polls Tuesday and will decide whether Mayor Rahm Emanuel collects a majority and quickly wins a second term or faces six more weeks of campaigning and a politically risky runoff election," the Tribune reports.

If it goes to a runoff, I wonder what the line in Vegas opens at.

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"Such an extended campaign has never occurred in a Chicago mayoral race since the law was changed ahead of the 1995 election. The city switched from its old setup, where candidates ran as Democrats and Republicans in the primary and then squared off in a general election, to the current nonpartisan system, where a majority of the vote in late February seals the deal."

About that:

"It all sounds so calm, so sensible, so un-Chicagoan. But don't be deceived. However virtuous the system may look now, it wasn't put in place because of saintly considerations. Rather, it was meant to ensure that an electoral outcome a lot of people weren't too happy with never happens again," according to Straight Dope, which has been fighting ignorance since 1973 (it's taking longer than they thought).

"The idea of a nonpartisan mayoral election with a runoff if no one got a majority was first bruited in 1986, during the run-up to the 1987 mayoral contest. The intent clearly was to avoid splitting the white vote again and letting Washington be re-elected. Richie Daley among quite a few others supported the plan, but an attempt to put it up for a city referendum failed.

A 1988 effort to push nonpartisan elections through the state legislature died, but the idea came up again in 1995, when Republicans took control of the General Assembly and the governor's office for the first time in 25 years. They used the opportunity to push through a long list of cherished measures that had gone nowhere while the Democrats were in control, one of which was nonpartisan mayoral elections in Chicago.

Public discussion of the change as it wended its way through the legislature was muted by local standards. Some black political activists hated it and threatened legal action; Daley remained neutral. Pretty much everyone else was in favor, and how could they not be? David Axelrod, who had worked for both Washington and Daley, told the Tribune, "It forces you to appeal to a broader constituency than to one ethnic or racial group."

Hard to argue with. Governor Jim Edgar signed the measure into law, and it's what we're using now. Is it fair? Yeah, it's fair. The fact remains that had nonpartisan elections been the rule in 1983, Harold Washington wouldn't have been elected, and breaks like the one that enabled him to become mayor are precisely what the system is intended to prevent.

So today should be called (Not) Harold Washington Election Day. Subtitle: How to keep black people out of the mayor's office.

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Chicago: Where even the election system itself is rigged and racist.

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"Cook County Clerk David Orr, who calls the switch to a nonpartisan mayoral election a 'blatant racist attempt to hurt the black vote,' sees a possible irony coming this year," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

"If Chicago still had a Democratic primary, Emanuel would be the likely winner in this current field and the April general election a foregone conclusion, says Orr, who is backing Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia. A runoff poses an entirely different threat to the mayor."

I'm not so sure about that. Under the previous system, the Fioretti and Chuy forces might have united to provide a single challenger, and Willie Wilson might not even be in the race so as not to act as a spoiler. Or they might have all backed a different single candidate. There's no way to know how things would have played out under a different dynamic.

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There are other ways of holding an election. Minneapolis, for example, moved to Ranked Choice Voting in its last mayoral race - and it's been seen as a tremendous success.

Betsy Hodges, the eventual winner, describes the impact on the race with great effect:

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Here's the transcript.

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My favorite part:

You know, making the phone calls and saying "Hi, I'm Betsy and here's why I'm great...I'm not the first person you think is great, well how about second? Can I be your second choice?" Now, asking to be someone's third choice......[pause, crowd laughter]..... is exactly like you think it is, the first five or six times. After that you realize, we're just having a conversation and this person is still on the line. This person is still on the phone. We are still talking about the future of Minneapolis and the values of the future of Minneapolis.

That is an incredibly valuable thing to be able to do when you are eager to represent the city of Minneapolis. And it's an incredibly valuable thing to do if you are a fan of small D democracy and deepening democracy. Because you get to have the conversations that you otherwise would really not be having because they wouldn't be worth your time as a candidate, and it wouldn't be worth the time of the voter to have that conversation because their mind would've been made up. It [ranked choice voting] offers options. It offers a wider array of options.

There are other systems too. Maybe the way we're voting today in Chicago is the best one. I doubt it, but who knows. The point is that we - the people - never discussed it. There was really very little debate (aside from the political, strategic implications). Given that this was a system foisted on us by Richard M. Daley and his pals, my inclination is to believe that it's not in our best interests. Because when has that ever been on their minds?

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Follow my real-time Election Day commentary on the world's wittiest Chicago-centric news and culture Twitter feed, @BeachwoodReport.

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Speed The Plow
How baseball is going to save you 10 minutes. In The White Sox Report.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Koffin Kats, Brooke Fraser, Rochelle Jordan, JMSN, Beth Hart, Into It Over It, Mikal Cronin, Swami John Reis & The Blind Shake, DATSIK, Charlie Parr, Greensky Bluegrass, Tink & Timbaland, CoCoComa, Dumpster Babies, The Runnies, Pitbull, Wayne Wonder, Andrew Belle, Fit For Rivals, Flyleaf, and Mr. Big.

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BeachBook
* The Media - And The President - Got The Pullman Story Totally Wrong.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is a quality issue in our media across the board that few recognize and fewer want to address. The truth is that the media gets the vast majority of stories it covers wrong, in one way or another. The media generally makes people stupider, not smarter.

* Ken Silverstein, formerly of First Look Media:

"When we were all at Racket, we joked that we should have the courage to write whatever we wanted and not worry about whether FL liked what we did or whether we offended potential future employers. And at bottom, that is the true formula to produce fearless, independent journalism. You will never produce fearless, independent journalism if you live in fear of angering your media boss and pull your punches to please him/her, or to please your sources or even your friends."

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

* Our New Politics Of Torture.

Perhaps the best piece I've ever read on the subject.

* Rauner Wants To Seize Utility Funds For The Poor To Help Balance Budget.

Because the deficit is the poor's fault; they insisted for years that they not freeze to death. Illinois can't afford that any longer.

* Consumers Lousy At Estimating Airfares, Study Shows.

And political candidates.

* McDonald's "McJordan" Special.

It was no McRib, let me assure you.

* Quad Cities Barber To Appear On TV Show.

Is there anyone left in America who hasn't been cast in one of these?

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Quite possibly the most emblematic tweet of the Emanuel administration ever.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Please make it stop.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

Speed The Plow

At long last. Relief.

Why be concerned whether D-Rose can lead the defense-less Bulls deep into the playoffs or whether the Blackhawks can turn it on when it counts? Finally we have an alternative to hearing about the status of Brandon Marshall and quarterback whatshisname. No longer do we have to wonder, "What in the world?" about the coverage of a future NFL millionaire who runs a measly 40 yards faster than other potential millionaires or bench presses more weight more times than other sculpted Adonises.

The mundane now fades into the background because pitchers and catchers have reported. The biting chill of minus-zero temps and carving out a curbside parking space have been assuaged since Chris Sale is throwing off a mound, and David Robertson - a genuine, true-blue closer - is in the building. Melky Cabrera can spray hits from both sides of the plate, and no one is overly concerned whether new utility man Gordon Beckham regains his rookie form. Single game tickets go on sale Friday.

Meanwhile, the buzz on the other side of town is refreshing. There, I've said it. But how else is one to react to the bubbling enthusiasm of Joe Maddon, an intelligent, interesting man who represents a step up from Bud Light to Scottish Ale for our friends on the North Side. However, bleacher seats at the Friendly Confines will not go on sale Friday since there will be no place to sit until June.

Amid the euphoria is the report out of the commissioner's office that something needs to be done to speed up the game. The one game that doesn't have a clock. A game that more often than not is played in warm weather under blue skies or moon-bathed cloudless nights with a unique pace in a world where schedules and deadlines create unhealthy blood pressure, tension and lunacy.

The average big-league game last year lasted three hours and two minutes, or about 10 minutes less than an NFL game of which there are 11 minutes of action. An NBA game goes on for approximately 2 1/2 hours, although the rap against pro basketball is that nothing important happens until the fourth quarter.

Nevertheless, baseball leads all other forms of entertainment when it comes to paranoia. The game continually is tinkered with by the powers-that-be because of a feeling of inferiority when compared to their pro sports brethren.

This spring's focus centers on making the games shorter by adapting rules like a hitter keeping one foot in the batter's box except in cases of wild pitches, foul balls or passed balls. The Arizona Fall League tried this and other ideas - a 20-second clock for pitchers' deliveries and limits on trips to the mound by catchers, managers and coaches - and found that the games lasted 10 minutes shorter. What an earth-shaking success!

My wife had a predictable reaction to this news. "If people want a shorter game, then they can leave in the seventh or eighth inning," she observed, "and that's basically what they do." In the ballpark that draws more fans than any other, Dodger Stadium, fans arguably spend the least amount of time in their seats. Of the nearly 3.8 million faithful who filed through the turnstiles in Chavez Ravine last season, many came late and left early. But they still showed up.

In Arizona last fall, a hitter leaving the batter's box had an automatic strike called. Nothing that harsh has been proposed for MLB. Instead a fine of $500 seems reasonable to these idiots who are so concerned about getting us home - or into a local watering hole - 10 minutes earlier.

Well, we'll have to see how that works. One of the players who takes his sweet time at the plate is the Red Sox's David Ortiz. Big Papi made approximately $25,000 every time he came to bat in 2014. You read that correctly. Ya think he'll miss that 500 bucks every now and then if he decides to step out, spit on his batting gloves and smack his hands together before ripping the next offering inside Pesky's Pole. He could step out after every pitch and still enjoy a luxurious retirement.

Of course, all this comes on the heels of last season's introduction of replay review, which, obviously, requires a stoppage in the action, making games last longer. New rules stipulate that a manager must challenge from the dugout which should speed things up by a minute or two. Last season's longest challenge took more than six minutes in a game in Miami.

That was an aberration, but sitting at The Cell last season and watching the umpires stand around waiting to discover whether a call was correct was never the highlight of any game. Does it seem weird or disingenuous for the commissioner's office to initiate time-consuming replay review one season and then get uptight the next spring because they want shorter games?

Not only that, the pitcher, not the hitter, controls the pace of the game. Former Sox darling Mark Buehrle takes about 17 seconds between receiving the ball from his catcher before throwing the next pitch. That's about six seconds faster than the major league average. Buehrle can throw 100 pitches in 28 minutes. When he pitched on the South Side, if you showed up late, chances are you missed an inning or two.

Buehrle schooled Chris Sale, so our current left-handed star is also a fast worker. In 16 decisions last season - Sale had a 12-4 record - Sale's games averaged 2:47:30. Back on June 1, he dispatched the Padres in 2:08. In only three of his decisions did the game go longer than three hours. When pitchers like Buehrle and Sale take their turns, the games are shorter. Simple as that.

The other factor keeping us at the ballpark for three hours is television, and only a fool would expect Major League Baseball to tell the networks to air fewer ads between innings. In fact, MLB has to check with the TV guys just to find out what time to start a game. Billions of dollars will do that.

Nowadays there is a lull between innings after the team just retired takes its time to go out to their positions. There's no hurry since the folks at home need to sit through a few minutes of advertising. And that's not about to change. Not ever.

Maybe the commissioner's office should rule that only so many pitching changes can be made. The mid-inning summoning of yet another reliever from the bullpen has become de rigueur thanks to people like Tony LaRussa, who also was instrumental in introducing the boring, tedious replay review. During his Hall of Fame managing career, LaRussa usually was the first one to arrive in the clubhouse and the last one to leave. So spending more time at the ballpark never has bothered him.

Of course, every manager looks for favorable match-ups, seldom hesitating to call in a pitcher for just one hitter. That move can be countered by the opposing manager who uses a pinch hitter. All of which takes time.

High school and college baseball adopted measures long ago that sped up the game: courtesy runners for pitchers and catchers, no throwing of pitches for intentional walks, players sprinting onto and off the field between innings, and games ending because of the slaughter rule. High schools play only seven innings.

That's fine for schoolboys but would never fly for the professionals. Years ago in the days of two-hour games before television and relief pitchers were invented, pace of play rarely entered into discussions about baseball. The sport had an entertainment monopoly. Tampering with the rules was out of the question.

Today baseball is just one of many options for our free time. Yet total big league attendance in the past 15 years has remained between 72 and 79 million, TV contracts have mushroomed, 52 million people turned in to part or all of Game 7 of last fall's World Series, and overall revenues never have been higher.

Shortening games by 10 minutes doesn't figure to change anything.

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

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1. From Bill Blackwell, former general manager of the Charlotte Knights:

Your most recent column is spot-on. Although I will appreciate a quicker game, I don't think speeding the game up will create one new fan in and of itself. Real baseball fans don't want the games to drag but those that don't watch games now will not start watching because games are over 10 minutes quicker.

If we are trying to reach younger fans why not put at least weekend World Series games on when kids are available to watch? For over 30 years now the most important games of the year - our Super Bowl of Baseball - have started at 8:30 Eastern time to accommodate the networks. I understand that television is paying the freight but offering at least some of the World Series at a reasonable time would allow the baseball hierarchy to promote itself to those millions of kids that haven't watched the most exciting parts of the season in their lifetime.

The networks themselves and the media covering baseball are the only ones I hear crying to speed up the game.

Calling more strikes, not throwing seven or eight pitches per batter and shortening the time needed to get replay rulings will cut most of the time to reduce the average time of game by five or 10 minutes. Let's not introduce a clock to the most beautiful game on the planet.

Abner Doubleday (or whomever invented baseball) would roll over in his grave to hear what suggestions are floating around to improve his product.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2015

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Koffin Kats at Reggies on Friday night.


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2. Brooke Fraser at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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3. Rochelle Jordan at Subterranean on Sunday night.

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4. JMSN at Subterranean on Sunday night.

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5. Into It. Over It. at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Mikal Cronin at the Prairie Center for the Performing Arts in Schaumburg on Saturday night.

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7. Beth Hart at Park West on Saturday night.

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8. Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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9. Datsik at the Concord on Saturday night.

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10. Charlie Parr at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Friday night.

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11. Greensky Bluegrass at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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12. Tink & Timbaland at the Metro on Saturday night.

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13. CoCoComa at the Empty Bottle on Sunday.

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14. Dumpster Babies at the Empty Bottle on Sunday.

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15. The Runnies at the Empty Bottle on Sunday.

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16. Pitbull in Rosemont on Friday night.

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17. Wayne Wonder at the Shrine on Sunday night.

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18. Andrew Belle at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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19. Fit For Rivals at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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20. Flyleaf at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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21. Mr. Big at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:16 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Chicago's Real Draft Kings

Many fans and commentators in this town believe the Cubs brass has what it takes to draft and develop the team into contention for a title. And all those folks have to be loving the first few days of spring training, where we can all fawn over the prospects without having to worry about those pesky things known as results.

Because of course there still aren't any positive major league results of note for Cubs hitters who have come up from the minors in the past few years other than Jorge Soler hitting reasonably well in his 24 games at the end of the 2014 season. Unfortunately, Soler, like so many of the team's prospects, isn't exactly an on-base machine. Happiness about his .292 batting average (with five homers and eight doubles) during his almost-month in the majors is tempered by his .330 on-base percentage.

But if people really want to admire drafting and developing in this town, they should forget the North Side. Go west, young sports fans, all the way to the United Center. Because, particularly in light of Tony Snell's recent surge, it is clear that the guys doing the best drafting and developing around here are Bulls general manger Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau.

Even with role players getting better and better, this Bulls team still relies so much on its centerpiece. When Derrick Rose plays reasonably well, the team has a chance and it posts results like Saturday's 112-107 victory over the Suns. When Rose struggles, results happen like the dispiriting loss to the Pistons the previous night.

But the ongoing contributions of those supporting stalwarts must be noted. And their production is all the more impressive given where they were drafted.

Whereas the Cubs will draft in the top 10 for the fourth year in a row this summer, the Bulls haven't had a top 10 draft pick since 2008, when the Bulls of course took Mr. Rose.

In the year after that, the run of late first-round draft picks who would eventually develop into big time contributors for the Bulls began. Taj Gibson was selected 26th overall in 2009 and was last seen making all the gritty gutty plays, and hitting five of five shots from the field, in the fourth quarter against the Suns. Gibson has also played through a hand injury injury of late that would have sidelined plenty of his NBA peers for at least weeks.

Two years later, Jimmy Butler was selected even further back, with the 30th and final pick of the first round. Butler put the capper on two years of progress (after he essentially sat out his rookie season, watching and learning) by earning All-Star status earlier this month.

Shortly thereafter, the Bulls worked the deal (again operating without top 10 picks) that earned them the right to sign European prospect Nikola Mirotic, who didn't arrive until this season and was last seen hitting a huge three against the Suns on Saturday. Mirotic also starred during All-Star weekend, although not in the actual All-Star game. He scored 16 points for the victorious "World" team during the Rising Stars game that pitted first- and second-year players from America against their counterparts from elsewhere.

And finally there is Tony Snell, who was the 20th pick in the first round in 2013. When the Bulls needed him most before the All-Star break with Butler hampered and then held out due to a sore shoulder, Snell dropped in 24 and 22 points, respectively, versus Sacramento and Cleveland. With Butler back in the lineup against the Pistons and Suns, Snell's minutes dropped back to 15 and 18, respectively, and his contributions were far more modest.

The main thing is, Snell is coming along, just like Butler and Gibson before him. The Cubs should be so fortunate that any of their prospective hitters do so well.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:11 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

More stuff on the way . . .

The Chicago Oscars
And the Beachwoody goes to . . .

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent events.

The Beachwood Radio Hour #45: Chicago's Fictional Campaign
A brainwashing battle for your mind.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #39: Rahm's Lips Are Moving
Pols pander; Ponce punts

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BeachBook
* The One Misstatement A Scribe Can't Make!

* Cop: Planting Evidence, Lying Part Of The Game.

* Chicago Real Estate Developer Buying Worthless Photos.

* Elmhurst College Paper Reacts Appropriately To Proposed Budget Cuts.

* Report: Miserable Old Man Michael Jordan Wants A Private Golf Course.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Hope for change.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:04 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #45: Chicago's Fictional Campaign

A brainwashing battle for your mind. Including: The Chicago Oscars; The Political Odds; How Rahm Did It; National Media Malpractice; The Super Lies Of Rahm's Super PAC; Deb Mell Wins Patti Blagojevich's Endorsement; and Bruce Rauner Attempts Murder.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #38: What Pundits Are Getting Wrong About Jackie Robinson West.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #39: The Jackie Robinson West Charade Continues.

2:02: Sleater-Kinney at the Riv on Tuesday night.

* Selling out still exists. And it's still wrong.

8:22: And The Beachwoody Goes To . . .

* The Chicago Political Oscars.

* Hollywood fake liberal assclowns.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #44: David Carr, Brian Williams And Journalism's Discontents.

16:26: The Political Odds.

23:18: Lucid Empathy at Mojoes in Joliet last Sunday night.

25:18: How Rahm Did It.

* The psychology of the electorate.

* Progressive farce.

* Reality vs. political brainwashing.

* Hillary 5.0.

* Chuy's fake movement.

35:57: Anvil at the Red Line Tap on Wednesday night.

36:50: Politico Poops On Truth.

* Assertions backed up by . . . press releases.

* Doubly wrong - in reverse.

* Newsrooms without adults.

48:12: Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.

49:35: The Super Lies Of Rahm's Super PAC.

* Rahm's Super PAC is attacking Ald. John Arena for voting in favor of Rahm's first budget.

53:36: Deb Mell Wins Patti Blagojevich's Endorsement.

55:25: Bruce Rauner Attempts Murder.

* More Blagojevich than Ryan.

* Budgets kill.

1:01:30: John Mellencamp at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

STOPPAGE TIME: 5:40

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For archives and other Beachwood Radio shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 PM | Permalink

Chicago Political Oscars 2015

And the Beachwoody goes to . . .

Best Actor: Rahm Emanuel, as someone who cares.

Best Actress: Toni Preckwinkle, as someone who just wants to finish the job at County.

Best Supporting Actor: Rahm Emanuel's bankroll, in a close win over Luis Gutierrez, Bobby Rush and the city's editorial boards.

Best Supporting Actress: Susana Mendoza, as one of two Emanuel campaign co-chairs (with Gutierrez) who just happen to have Hispanic names.

Best Director: Barack Obama, who by total coincidence chose the Thursday before the election out of eight years as president to come to Chicago and compose that unforgettable scene at Pullman.

Best Producer: Ari Emanuel, whose very presence in Los Angeles delivered more out-of-state money than any other location. Plus, he threatened to break our kneecaps if he didn't get this award.

Best Screenplay: The national media, despite controversy that they've simply ripped off their scripts from the Emanuel campaign themselves.

Best Set Design: Chicago Public Schools, for providing the Emanuel campaign with impeccable classroom settings that in no way resemble the ugly scenes we see from the documentary category.

Best Costume Design: Willie Wilson, clad so well as a serious candidate that the media has been afraid to disembowel him for fear of being called racist.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:55 PM | Permalink

February 21, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

Geez, if you want to see some frozen shit just wait a couple of weeks.

Market Update
For some context, $1 billion spread across half a million people works out to $2,000 per head. Don't spend it all in one place, especially not Walmart.

Oscars Edition!
Hollywood's big night is this Sunday. Let's take a look at the contenders for the marquee categories.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Will it be: the troubled millionaire, the unconventional man being legislated out of existence, the free thinker facing terrible odds, the dead-eyed sniper or, you know, that guy?

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Could it be the one no one supports, the one who won't stop running, the long-suffering partner, the one who's losing it or the dangerous fraud?

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Really, this comes down to a choice between the fading champ or the imperious educator.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Would it surprise anyone if somebody's useless daughter won again?

Best Picture
It definitely won't be anybody's Theory of Everything, unless you really want to fuck with Boyhood.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: You're all winners.

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Weekend Beachwood
* The Beachwood Radio Hour.

In pre-production.

* The Political Odds.

Updated to reflect recent developments.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #39: Meghan Trainor vs. Rahm Emanuel.

Pols pander; Ponce punts. The Jackie Robinson West charade continues. Plus: Let The Combine Begin! And: Blackhawks Sit Tight While Rest Of The NBA Goes Trade Crazy; A Pall Over The Blackhawks; Baseball Players Report To Work; and Illini Golf Beats The Cold To Lead The Nation.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Sleater-Kinney, Lucid Empathy, Anvil, Robbie Fulks, John Mellencamp, Well Yells, Stick To Your Guns, The Amity Affliction, and In Hearts Wake.

* Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln.

With the finally restored Beachwood Radio Hour #3: What The FBI Director Saw In Chicago, which includes an interview with our photographer Helene Smith.

* The Beachwood 2015 Election Guide.

In pre-production.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Sound Opinions gasses up the byplane and makes its next stop on the World Tour: Cuba. Later they review the posthumous release from gospel icon Pops Staples."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Election 2015.

Meet the candidates, watch the forums; ward-by-ward.

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BeachBook
* Another State Secrets Case Ends In Dismissal.

Paging Joseph Heller!

* You Pay A Lot More To See The Doctor With Obamacare Than Job-Based Health Insurance.

Just the way they wanted it.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:59 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2015

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sleater-Kinney at the Riv on Tuesday night.

Kot:

"A few minutes into Sleater-Kinney's concert Tuesday at the sold-out Riviera, a rarity occurred: guitarist Carrie Brownstein smiled. Just behind her, Janet Weiss was shaking her head like a Muppet while battering her drums. To Brownstein's left, Corin Tucker was in full wail. The fans packed in up front were way into it - shaking fists, shouting back the words to 'Price Tag - and who could blame them?"

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2. Lucid Empathy at Mojoes in Joliet on Sunday night.

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3. Anvil at Red Line Tap on Wednesday night.

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4. Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.

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5. John Mellencamp at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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6. Well Yells at the Burlington on Sunday night.

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7. Stick To Your Guns at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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8. The Amity Affliction at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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9. In Hearts Wake at Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #39: Rahm's Lips Are Moving

Pols pander; Ponce punts. The Jackie Robinson West charade continues. Plus: Let The Combine Begin! And: Bulls Sit Tight While Rest Of The NBA Goes Trade Crazy; A Pall Over The Blackhawks; Baseball Players Report To Work; and Illini Golf Beats The Cold To Lead The Nation.


SHOW NOTES

* Curtis Enis.

* Newsweek: God On The 50-Yard Line.

7:05: Phil Ponce Punts On JRW.

* JRW lawyer Victor Henderson says tentacles stretch to Las Vegas, Indiana and Pennsylvania, but then say no boundary violations have been found in any of those places. That's just where games were played and decisions were made. No follow-up.

* Mistakes made! This was a purposeful scheme including backdated, forged maps and a cover-up! Ponce lets it go.

* If everybody does it, why hasn't anyone else been caught?

* "I can't say race played a role, but I can't say it didn't either!"

* "After all, this team is named after Jackie Robinson!"

* Henderson is a clown; Ponce lets him be.

* Henderson doesn't want race to be an issue. Has he told Jesse Jackson and Michael Pfleger that?

* Unasked: What would be the appropriate penalty for half a team of ineligible players poached from both city and suburban districts followed by forged and backdated maps and engaging other officials to enact a cover-up?

* Somehow Jon Burge enters this discussion.

* Thanks for stopping by and bullshitting while I just sat here like a lump!

* Danny Almonte Defends Jackie Robinson West: Everybody Does The 'Same Thing.'

* Punishment doesn't fit the crime? At least six of the team's 13 players didn't live in the district.

* Multiple cheating schemes, including fraud and forgery. A backdated forged map! Enlisting other officials in the cover-up!

* Hometown heroes! (Shhhh!)

* It was the scheme involving city kids, not suburban kids, that rung them up.

* Meghan Trainor!

16:30: Let The Combine Begin!

* Is there anything too mundane for the NFL to turn into an event?

* The real event is behind the scenes.

* Surprise! Cutler's contract has a loophole.

* Brian Hoyer's played for three teams, but that's not the point.

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* NFL Will Hold Veteran Free Agent Combine In March.

Will it be televised?

* One of Jerry Angelo's worst draft picks.

* One of Jerry Angelo's best draft picks.

* Rashaan Salaam, pothead.

* Sam Hurd, pothead and felon.

39:17: Bulls Calm In Eye Of NBA Trading Storm.

* What The Hell Just Happened? 2015 NBA Trade Deadline Roundup.

* Kobe Bryant as Jiminy Cricket.

* Briggs and Tillman are done.

49:46: Epiphanny Prince Out, Cappie Pondexter In, Pokey Chatman Still Here.

* Cappie played for Marshall.

52:03: Blackhawks Pall.

* NHL trade deadline is March 2.

* Cliff Reif committed suicide.

56:44: Baseball Players Report To Work.

* Poor Tony Campana.

59:01: Illini Golfers Ranked No. 1 In Country.

* Mike Small.

STOPPAGE TIME: :22.

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:49 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Snowy Lincoln

The world will little note, nor long remember what we see here.

lincolnavepinksunsetsnow.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:20 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

I've got a lot of campaign material I hope to post between now and Election Day on Tuesday, so there will be more, better stuff coming. For now, though, a quick run through the day's news.

Patti's Back
"Patti Blagojevich is making calls to her Northwest Side neighbors on behalf of her sister, Ald. Deb Mell (33rd)," the Sun-Times reports.

Do they really think that's a good idea?

She's not at all concerned that the calls may backfire with voters who remember Patti Blagojevich's profanity-laced plotting with her husband and how close she came to being indicted herself.

"When I go out knocking on doors in our neighborhood, people ask me how [Rod] is doing and how the family is doing and the girls. They say, `We're thinking about them.' I'm not saying every door, but many of them," Deb Mell said, of the former governor now serving a 14-year sentence after his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Well, maybe not many of them, but some of them.

Well, maybe not some of them, but one of them.

Well, Patti's door. When Deb knocked on Patti's door, all she talked about was Rod . . .

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If I were one of Mell's opponents, I'd be thrilled with this development.

Crocodile Tears
Wouldn't it be great if Bruce and Diana became a don't-invitem-item?

Then again, Diana, you helped put him in office with those cynical commercials. You knew what this was about.

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Bruce Rauner's budget will not be passed by the General Assembly. It is his starting point in the negotiations - though the supermajority Dems could just write their own budget. They won't, though, because they want the Republican governor to take ownership of both spending cuts and higher taxes, fees, fines or however they will raise revenue. There is no doubt, though, that if Rauner were to enact the budget he wants, he would literally be killing people. And the budget that does pass will probably kill people too.

I mean, my god, cuts to kids on ventilators?

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See also: Critics Slam Rauner's Budget Over 'Morally Reprehensible' Cuts.

Rookie Dookie
The Tribune editorial board considers Rauner's hiring of the sister of a top aide a "mistake." Perhaps even a "rookie" mistake.

Really? How is that a "mistake?" Like, "Oops, I didn't mean to do that?"

And how is Rauner a rookie when it comes to hiring when hiring was his private equity specialty?

Further, is it really a surprise that the man who clouted his daughter into Payton Prep and lied about it through the campaign even as he moaned about patronage - yet got the Tribune's support - would hire the sister of an aide?

I'd like to call the Trib's editorial a mistake, but I'm not that naive. And neither are they.

See also the item "Clamp Clout."

Free Rauner
"More than a few Statehouse types have been wondering aloud for weeks what Gov. Bruce Rauner is up to with his almost daily attacks on organized labor. Just what, they ask, is the end game?" Rich Miller writes in his syndicated column.

"His people say that the governor feels 'liberated' since the election to speak his mind about a topic that stirs great personal passion in him."

I though Rauner spoke his mind about organized labor pretty clearly - and loudly - during the campaign. I also thought Rauner tried to persuade voters that he wasn't a politician, and therefore he was already liberated to tell them what he really thought - remember, the guy nobody sent?

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See also: When Preckwinkle Met Rauner.

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Weekend Beachwood
Everything that is not on the site yet will be later.

Heh-heh.

All in pre-production: The Week In Chicago Rock, Beachwood Photo Booth, The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, The Beachwood Radio Hour and more.

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BeachBook
* New York Times Public Editor: Why A Reporter's 'Epic Rant' On Twitter Gets No Argument Here.

* The Cubs Are Awful People.

* Jesse Jackson Jr. Still Needs Accounting Help.

* Brian Williams' Vienna Sausages.

* A Writing Lesson: Everyone Please Stop Doing This.

* Breaking: Elites Get Away With Corporate Crime.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No static at all.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:07 AM | Permalink

February 19, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

Late night, late morning, late lunch, late afternoon. The Papers return on Friday.

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BeachBook
* The Chicago Police Used Appalling Interrogation Tactics For Decades.

* Wanda The Weather Bunny.

* Poland's Complicity In CIA Torture Program Confirmed.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Late.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 PM | Permalink

February 18, 2015

Media Opportunities At The Deer & Turkey Expo

* Wild Mushroom Cooking: How to cook morel mushrooms, something that is popular with a lot of people.

* Wild Game Cooking: How to butcher venison and make jerky.

* Flint-Knapping: See Stone Age arrowheads, knives and spear points made; products are utilitarian and works of art.

* Chainsaw Carving: Hand-carved wood art with a chainsaw.

* Trophy Big Game Contest: Can show lots of big buck mounts and also talk about what a "score" is for a mount. We have official measures available to show how to properly score a deer and what exactly it all means.

* Seminar Speakers: - Lots of good topics (check out our website)!, can talk about land management or how to call a deer. Just a few examples of good interview topics.

* Archery Trick Shooting: - World-famous Byron Ferguson will perform Sat. & Sun shooting moving targets through the air, blindfolded. Shooting two arrows at once and more!

* Shoot Like A Girl Shooting Simulator: A 40-foot trailer that includes an archery range and a digital simulator with air powered handguns and rifles, all available to try out with instructors by your side.

What's New at the 25th Annual Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo
Television outdoor program hosts Melissa Bachman of Deadly Passion and John Dudley of Nock On TV will be in attendance

deerturkey.jpg

SPRINGFIELD IL, January 28, 2015 - The 25th annual Field & Stream-Outdoor Life Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo will return to the Prairie Capital Convention Center (PCCC) in Springfield, IL, from February 20-22, 2015. The expo has made several upgrades for attendees that will make it easier for everyone to tour the expo exhibit floor, see the trophy deer contest display and enjoy all the how-to deer and turkey hunting seminars that the weekend has to offer.

Modifications and expansion at the Prairie Capital Convention Center are now complete, resulting in a larger lobby, more exhibit space on the street-level floor, more available space on the lower-level floor for exhibits, trophy deer display, and other activities. With an expanded floor plan, more than 285 exhibit booths of hunting products, accessories and more outdoor lifestyle products will be sold.

An 'Ask the Experts' Info Center will be available to attendees, allowing any and all questions to be answered. Outdoor Life will hold a trophy whitetail deer contest, where entries can be taken from noon on Friday, to 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Seminars will be held all three days, ranging from how-to's on hunting topics, to food plot development and habitat improvement. New products will have a specialty display area, an Outdoor photo contest will be open to amateur photographer attendees, a Trail Camera photo contest is open to everyone, and chainsaw carving demonstrations will be held daily, along with flint knapping.

Other highlights include an Optics hands-on tryout area with expert help, hands-on shooting with archery, airguns, bow tryout area, archery range and exhibitor shooting booths in the Archery Pavilion. Attendees can learn to shoot a longbow on Friday night, with an instructional session from Byron Ferguson. The Illinois State Turkey Calling & Owl Hooting Championship will take place on Saturday, February 21.

Dozens of Door Prizes will be given away with drawings daily at the Field & Stream - Outdoor Life booth, plus spin-and-win for prizes at the booth. As a bonus, a free one-year subscription to Field & Stream or Outdoor Life is included with paid admission. Home defense readiness and demonstrations will be present. Wild game cooking demonstrations will also take place during the weekend's festivities.

The expo opens Friday, February 20, at 2 p.m. and closes Sunday, February 22, at 4 p.m. Daily hours are: Friday, 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Free on-site parking will be provided for advance ticket buyers, plus detailed maps can be found on the expo website to help guide visitors to the convention center around the show floor. On-street signage will guide attendees to 3,000 parking spaces located within five blocks of the expo.

For advance ticket purchase information and all expo details, go to www.deerinfo.com/Illinois and click on Tickets. The website includes a downloadable $3 ticket discount coupon on adult and military admission prices. Yamaha, Lucas Oil, Remington and Dick Cepek are official sponsors of the event.

About Deer and Turkey Expo
Reaching 80,000+ active, spending and influential outdoorsmen from 40 states, the 2015 Field & Stream and Outdoor Life Deer & Turkey Expo series offers brands the opportunity to get their latest products in the hands of true outdoorsmen in a setting dedicated to the outdoor sports they love.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink

Willie Wilson Sings

"For years, Mr. Wilson had created something of a stir in Christ Temple Baptist Church with his singing efforts," the Wall Street Journal once reported.

"Tone deaf, he concedes he 'couldn't hold a note.' His pastor, the Rev. Princeton McKinley, nonetheless let him sing - solo. He would gently admonish the congregation: 'Listen to the words, not how it sounds.'"

1. At the St. John The Baptist Orthodox Church in Villa Park.

Date unknown.


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2. Singsation 2008.

Date unknown.

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3. At the Singsation International Gospel Humanitarian Awards 2007, Chicago Theatre.

"Watch the amazing performance of Dr. Willie Wilson singing 'Through it All' with the late Rev. Baker. Enjoy the gospel music of Melvin Williams singing 'Great Day' and various choirs at the Chicago Theatre. Executive Producer: Dr. Willie Wilson. Producer/Director: Sarah Tucker Fisher."

Wilson comes in at 3:30. Also, he's not really a doctor.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:40 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel touts his education reform agenda as one of his greatest achievements as he campaigns for reelection," Stephanie Simon reports for Politico.

"It may also be his greatest vulnerability. Emanuel is facing an unexpectedly tough challenge in his bid for a second term."

Wrong. Emanuel is hardly facing an unexpectedly tough challenge. He's facing far less of a challenge than expected. This is a mayor whose approval rating once dropped to 19 percent and polled behind a succession of two major potential challengers, Toni Preckwinkle and Karen Lewis.

Few politicians can recover from those kind of numbers - no matter how much love Emanuel's pals in the national media gave him at the same time he was alienating nearly every constituency in the city back here at home.

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"Polls suggest his four opponents could pull enough votes in the Feb. 24 election to force a runoff. That would be a political shocker, and it could reverberate far outside Chicago."

Wrong again. For the same reasons I've just outlined, it would hardly be a shocker if Rahm was forced into a runoff. In fact, it will be more shocking if he isn't sent into a runoff, given how vulnerable he was and is.

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"On the surface, Emanuel would appear to have plenty to boast about when it comes to education."

Perhaps on the surface, if the surface means according to CPS press releases and his campaign website, which is where the following links Simon uses in her story lead to.

"He appoints the board that runs Chicago Public Schools. And the sprawling district, once labeled the worst in the nation, has been on a winning streak.

"The graduation rate has soared 11 percentage points since Emanuel was elected, hitting a record 69.4 percent last year."

Now let's go beyond the press release.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett are basking in the latest graduation and on-track rate numbers, saying the five-year cohort graduation rate is now nearly 70 percent," Catalyst reported in August.

"Instead of holding a press conference and taking questions, though, Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett announced it in an editorial in the Sun-Times. They credit full-day kindergarten, the longer school day and better programs in neighborhood high schools, such as International Baccalaureate and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

"Of course, these initiatives probably had little effect on the graduation rate, as they are too recent to have had any impact on the cohort of students in question, who entered high school in 2009-2010. The Consortium on Chicago School Research has another theory: In 2005, the consortium put out a study stating that freshmen who earn at least five credits and no more than one 'F' in a semester in a core course are 3-1/12 times more likely to graduate in four years. The findings prompted CPS to hire on-track coordinators to stay on top of freshmen, though many of those support positions have vanished due to budget cuts."

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Back to Politico:

"The attendance rate is at a record, too."

The attendance rate has been trending up for years - as has the annual, manic push for first-day attendance.

Still, we all want higher attendance rates. I would just suggest caution, especially regarding any figures coming out of CPS. If you don't know why already, you will see so by the end of this column.

Oh, and:

"The wrongdoing laid out in the latest report from the inspector general for Chicago Public Schools includes cases of school administrators faking data, a problem the district watchdog said has been a particularly troubling development in recent years," the Tribune reported last year.

"'We do have a concern about CPS data as evidenced by the cases we had this year,' said Jim Sullivan, who's been the district's inspector general for nearly 11 years. 'The system has incentivized how performance is evaluated based on data, and much of that data is created and can be manipulated at the school level.'

"Sullivan's latest annual report, issued earlier this month,revealed that a high school principal and her programmer created 'ghost students' to pad enrollment so the school would be eligible for an assistant principal and additional non-teaching staff. Also uncovered was an elementary school principal who changed grades to allow children to graduate."

And from the Tribune: "'F' In Attendance For City Schools."

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Moving on . . .

"So is the average ACT composite score: At 18, it's still far below the benchmark that indicates a student is ready for college, but it's been slowly, steadily improving."

Just as it was before Rahm took office.

Also:

"CPS did not have a major announcement about this year's state test scores - and it turns out the scores remain exactly the same as last year's, with 52.5 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards," Catalyst reported last fall.

"Whatever the caveats, the figures and the lack of upward movement don't look good, especially with the district about to move to a new, more difficult exam aligned to the tougher Common Core standards.Also, the achievement gap widened: average scores for black and Latino students fell slightly, while white and Asian students posted tiny gains."

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"In his campaign literature, Emanuel talks of 'a rising tide of achievement' in Chicago Public Schools, which is the nation's third-largest district, with 600 schools serving 400,000 students."

Actually, CPS enrollment dropped last fall below 400,000 students for the first time in at least 20 years - something CPS tried to bury when finally announcing figures.

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"Emanuel has also enacted populist education programs with wide appeal: He's making pre-K and full-day kindergarten widely available, for instance. And he has promised free community college tuition - and even free books - to any student who passes math and reading tests and graduates a public high school with at least a 3.0 GPA."

Pre-K: The CTU points out - and the administration does not dispute - that pre-K enrollment has declined by 1,600 kids during Rahm's tenure.

See also: How Investment Bankers Are Set To Profit From Rahm's Preschool Plan: The Mayor's Latest Funding Scheme Could Cost Schools Millions.

Full-day kindergarten: From the union: "He ordered principals to provide full-day kindergarten to all students without providing funds to pay for additional teachers necessary to staff the program. Principals cut librarians and arts and music programs and increased class sizes to make ends meet his unfunded mandate."

Free community college: "The mayor has yet to explain the cost of this initiative - saying only that City Colleges will absorb it through 'reforms and efficiencies,'" the Sun-Times reports.

"It is yet another pre-election bone to black voters who helped put Emanuel in office but abandoned him in droves after he closed 50 public schools, most of them in impoverished neighborhoods on the South and West Sides."

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Back to Politico:

"After a long and bitter tussle with the teachers union, Emanuel even succeeded in getting an agreement to lengthen the school day and extend the year - something his predecessors had talked about for years but never got done. Over the course of their K-12 education, students will receive the equivalent of two full years' worth of additional learning time thanks to the schedule change."

Emanuel's decree lengthening the school day - instead of negotiating an agreement with teachers like his predecessor did - was one cause of the teachers' strike. In the final agreement, the school day was indeed lengthened - and 477 teachers added to help cope with it. That was not a win for the mayor.

Also, the union didn't oppose a longer school day - they opposed a longer school day without more pay and without an instructional plan for what to teach during the extended hours. See "To Close Achevement Gap, Extra Hours In School Have To Be Better Hours."

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"Emanuel, by contrast, has raised some $13 million and has been on the air for weeks with upbeat TV ads."

Try $30 million.

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Finally, it would have been nice if Politico had even hinted at the fact that CPS has a reputation in town among reporters as well as parents, teachers and the union of being the crudest evaders of truth around.

Just for starters, see:
* Rahm And His Administration Have Trouble Telling The Truth.

* BGA, NBC Sue CPS For Violating Open Records Law.

And, of course, the latest:
* CPS CEO Caught Lying In Print About Pulling Persepolis From Classrooms.

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Separately, but also from Politico:

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Willie Wilson Sings
And we've got the video!

DJ Lego's Tragic Traffic Record
Plus: Lupe's new Mural & Dr. Dan, unlike Willie Wilson, is a real doctor. In Local Music Notebook.

Coffman: Let The Combine Begin
Twenty-six analysts covering four dozen hours over six days.

Chicago: Heaven And Hell
Plus: A Public Historian's Hegewisch & Abandoned Rockford. In Local Book Notes.

Data Geek vs. Data Cynic
First of an occasional series.

Media Opportunities At Deer & Turkey Expo
Trick archery and cooking mushrooms.

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BeachBook
* Former Chicago Accountant Chronicles One Year On Tinder.

* NFL Draft Crashes Into Roosevelt University's Commencement.

Haugh says it's worth it.

* This Week On Today Now!

* How Brian Williams Got To The White House.

* River North Bar Owner Apparently Unfamiliar With Reality Show She Signed Up For.

* The Health Law, In The Real World.

* Our Party-Hardy Presidents.

* George Washington, Slave Catcher.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Be well.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 PM | Permalink

SportsMondayTuesday: Let The Combine Begin

Have you enjoyed your break from football? Because it is about to end.

The NFL Network will air the first of nearly four dozen hours of live coverage of The Combine on Wednesday starting at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time with an introductory press conference. I won't be watching any of it but hey, it's out there.

Large athletes will don the traditional skin-tight workout clothes that provide us with too much information about their physiques, and they will engage in activities such as the shuttle run. They will have their vertical leap measured and their 40-yard dash timed. And of course, plenty of weight will be lifted and drug tests will be conducted.

And it will all mean virtually nothing; especially during the marquee rounds of the draft (let's just say that's the first three rounds).

Just to dive right into one pet peeve right off the bat: Why in the world do they have anyone other than receivers run the 40? And even for receivers, the 40 speaks to their potential running one play - the bomb. So much other stuff (route-running, speed in the first few yards after a break, footwork) is so much more important.

That being said, raw speed is certainly a plus for a receiver and obviously it is for a running back as well. But still, why the heck is the 40-yard dash thought to be so important? Isn't speed over a shorter distance more critical in terms of getting into and through holes or in terms of getting outside on sweeps?

I suppose if you are looking for that running back who can sprint away from a tackler 20 yards down the field, then the 40 speed is of interest, but isn't the stuff he does to get to that point a slightly bigger deal?

In my book, drafting players, especially early, has to be about 90 percent video study. The only thing that matters is, what has the guy done in games? The other 10 percent is mostly interviews with teams. Is the guy a leader? The Bears certainly need a few of those.

Now, of course it gets a bit more complicated with guys who haven't played against the toughest of competition in college - the kind of guys teams should be looking to draft beyond the first three rounds. So if someone wants to put together a list of impressive combine performances by guys from places like Abilene Christian, I'm interested.

Then, in the aftermath of the combine, the guys who write mock drafts will move a few guys up based on good performances therein, and move a few guys down. That movement will have no correlation to reality, in terms of real teams' draft boards, but hey, we all need some things to do until the draft in the spring.

And the mock draft guys will predict that teams like the Bears will fill a need with their first-round draft pick. The early debate is between a safety and a quarterback. This Marcus Mariota guy will probably receive a bit of attention before the draft, eh?

The mock draft guys will do that despite the fact that people like new Bears general manager Ryan Pace make it a point (he made it at his introductory news conference) to say that they are determined to find ways to not draft for need, especially in the first three rounds. The best teams find a way to draft the best players available. There is always the chance that, by coincidence, the best player available will fill a need, especially with a team like the Bears that has a whole bunch of needs.

It will all be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in delightful Indianapolis, perhaps the most walkable city (at least in terms of getting from a hotel to sporting venues to at least decent restaurants) in the country. But don't head across the border to try to snag a seat at this event. It is closed to the public.

So you'll have to be satisfied with the NFL Network. Offensive linemen and tight ends work out on Friday. Quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers go on Saturday. Linebackers and defensive linemen hit the field Sunday, and defensive backs get their turn on Monday.

The network says it will employ 26 analysts during its coverage. I guess there is a bright side there. If the NFL gets much bigger, it may just have to take on unemployment in this country all by itself.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is usually our man on Mondays, but sometimes shit happens. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: DJ Lego's Tragic Traffic Record

"Rafael Rodriguez, the Chicago DJ whose crash on a frozen lagoon in Lincoln Park last month led to the death of his passenger, had 13 convictions for traffic violations dating to 2007. Two years ago, the state revoked his license. It was suspended twice before that," the Tribune reports.

"It was about 1:40 a.m. Jan. 19, when Rodriguez, 42, known as DJ Lego, was traveling south at 90 mph on Lake Shore Drive, authorities said. He lost control of his Lexus and crashed through a guardrail near Diversey Harbor.

"Killed was passenger Claudia Beruben, 37, of Calumet Park. Rodriguez, who prosecutors said had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.17, more than twice the legal limit,is in Cook County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail. His next court date is Feb. 17.

Cook County Court records show he received supervision in 2012 for a drunk driving arrest in December 2011. In addition, Rodriguez' two-page driving record from the Illinois secretary of state's office lists five speeding convictions, starting with one in 2007 for driving 15-25 mph above the limit. His latest, in 2012, was for driving 40 mph or more over the limit.

Rodriguez also had convictions for making an improper turn, following too closely, disregarding stop signs and failing to pay traffic fines.

Before the state revoked his license in 2013 for repeated convictions of traffic violations, Rodriguez received two license suspensions - one for three or more convictions on moving violations and another for driving while on a suspended license.

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From DJ Lego's website:

"Growing up in Chicago's Humboldt Park and Logan Square communities, Rafael 'Légo' Rodriguez dedicated himself to a career in music at a very early age. He landed himself a DJ residency at the well-known Chicago nightclub Kaboom by the age of 19. His notoriety and growing fan base in 1992 led to a now 17-year residency at Chicago's Legendary Boom Boom Room, the longest running club night of any kind. Drawing from a wide spectrum of musical tastes as a DJ, Légo began producing his own music . . . "

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DJ Lego Summer Mix 2014.

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Lupe's New Old Mural
"The Lupe Fiasco Foundation has gotten a name change," the Source reports.

"The organization's announced today that they changed their name to M.U.R.A.L. The acronym stands for Magnifying Urban Realities and Affecting Lives.

"Coined as one of the 'Top Organizations to Save Chicago' in XXL magazine, M.U.R.A.L., has served hundreds of youth throughout the city of Chicago. The impact the organization has made in the city has created and supported youth empowerment organizations such as Project Orange Tree, launched food & liquor neighborhood campaigns, coat drives and more.

"The organization's original mission to provide warm meals and coats to families in need quickly expanded to include music education, curriculum and a host of other arts-based initiatives in Chicago inner-city communities."

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Dr. Dan A Real Doctor
"Few things give Daniel Ivankovich more satisfaction than responding to what might be called 'Code Blues,'" William Spain writes (badly) for USA Today.

"Ivankovich, known locally as 'Dr. Dan' or 'Chicago Slim,' is a musician and spinal surgeon who dedicates much of his time and effort to helping the aging crop of local blues stars navigate the health system, often providing free care through his non-profit One Patient Global Health Initiative."

Link added because newspapers are stupid.

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Dr. Dan on Today.

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Other media appearances.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:43 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Chicago - Heaven And Hell

"Life in the big city can be exhilarating and terrifying, fulfilling and exasperating," according to the Guild Literary Complex.

"In Urban Realities/Realidades urbanas, February's installment of "Palabra Pura," Puerto Rican poet Luis Tubens and students from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School will share stories about their daily lives in the Windy City.

"The program will take place at La Bruquena Restaurant (2726 West Division Street), from 7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., on Wednesday, February 18. As always, it will begin with an open mic. Palabra Pura is open to the public (all mother tongues welcome), and is pay-what-you-can ($5 suggested donation).

"Curated by Mary Hawley, a poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, February's "Palabra Pura" will examine the perils and triumphs of those who live in the inner city - the dualities that make Chicago a heaven for some and a hell for others.

"Luis Tubens, a Chicago native, is no stranger to both sides of the city. His poetry centers on the daily grind of urban living, and on the struggles he and other Latinos face to survive and prosper in a major American metropolis.

"Joining Tubens will be several students from Humboldt Park's Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, who will bring a younger perspective to the issues facing urban communities.

"With its combination of rising and established voices, Urban Realities/Realidades urbanas promises to give attendees a compelling and candid glimpse at contemporary urban life."

ABOUT THE FEATURE
"Luis Tubens (Logan Lu) is a Chicago born Puerto Rican poet. His narrative poems depict the gritty ambiance of the inner-cityscape while describing reflective personal experiences. He draws inspiration from the urban realities of the developing Latino diaspora and from his observations of proletarian struggles. His interactive style and hyper performance invite the crowd to be active participants in his performance.

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ABOUT THE CURATOR
Mary Hawley is the author of Double Tongues, a poetry collection, and co-translator of the bilingual poetry anthology Astillas de luz/Shards of Light, both published by Tía Chucha Press. She works as a freelance writer, editor, and translator, and has been involved for many years with the Guild Complex's "Palabra Pura" bilingual reading series. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as The Bloomsbury Review, Mudlark, contratiempo, Notre Dame Review, and Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry from Chicago's Guild Complex.

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Note: Links and video provided by The Beachwood Value Added Affairs Desk.

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Public Historian's Hegewisch
"With several local history books already to her credit, historian Cynthia Ogorek has her sights set on Hegewisch," Paul Czapowicz writes for the Northwest Indiana Times.

She settled on her current topic while sorting through her parents' papers after their passing. She had hoped to write biographies as a memorial to them.

"Then I got into the history of Hegewisch, and there's a story there," Ogorek said. "So I kind of pushed the biographies off to the side."

Her parents had grown up in Hegewisch, and Ogorek lived there as a small child before moving to Calumet City, where she has spent most of her life.

Ogorek holds a master's degree in history from Purdue University Calumet and offers programs on various local history topics.

She figures she is only about half way done with her current book that has a working title of Hegewisch: Chicago's Last Company Town.

"I'm somewhere around four or five years into the project," she said.

You'll have to click through for the rest.

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Ogorek's website: The Center of Known History.

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Hegewisch.

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Abandoned Rockford
"A Rockford author unveils his latest creation set to hit shelves in just a couple weeks," Christie Nicks writes for MyStateline.com.

It sounds like something in an action packed movie like Armageddon.

"He walks right in the middle of a conspiracy to take down the electrical grid in the United States and also take over all of our weapons' systems," said Paul Dale Anderson, author.

But instead of an out-of-this world feel, Anderson's book hits very close to home.

"The adversaries try to destroy Rockford with a hydrogen bomb our heroes are able to change the course of the missiles," describes Anderson.

Yes, the Forest City is at the center of Anderson's latest thriller novel, "Abandoned". He made the intentional choice after a disheartening drive through the city he calls home.

"It's the state of Rockford right now," said Anderson. "I drove down the street and saw a number of places that were obviously abandoned."

You'll have to click through for the rest.

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From the author's website:

"Set in the ordinary town of Rockford, Illinois, the seats of power in Washington, D. C., and Beijing, and in the majestic Meili Snow Mountains of China and Tibet, Abandoned is more than a horror story. It is also an action thriller, a contemporary romance, and a modern myth. Many of the characters are derived from world mythologies, and readers may recognize archetypes of some of their favorite heroes and villains: the Lone Ranger, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, along with Manjusri and Samantabhadra, the boogeyman, Angra Mainyu, Ah Chuy Kak, and Babalu."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:28 AM | Permalink

Data Geek vs. Data Cynic: On Becoming A Parent

First in an occasional series.

Kiljoong Kim is the Beachwood's sociologist-in-residence. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago and works as a policy analyst at Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. He believes all data has a story to tell. Natasha Julius has nothing against data, she just doesn't want to hear any data stories when she's trying to get her kid to bed.

Data Cynic: I have no idea how long your baby will sleep.

Last spring I started receiving messages from a friend. His wife was expecting their first child and he had questions. The most specific - and persistent - questions revolved around sleep. How much sleep did my child get when she was a baby? When did she start sleeping through the night? On average, how much sleep did I get per night during the first six months of my child's life? Was I exhausted all the time, or could I function normally? Ha ha, that's funny, but seriously, how fucking miserable were the first three to six months of my child's life, sleep-wise?

Having a child is a uniquely unsettling experience, and freaking out about the anticipated lack of sleep is a lot easier than freaking out about the crushing inadequacy you feel at the prospect of guiding another human being through life. It is completely natural to feel anxious, and completely understandable to seek out information that might quell your anxiety. It is also completely useless. Because, as I told my friend, nothing I can tell you about my child's early sleeping patterns will reveal anything about your child's early sleeping patterns.

How much a baby sleeps is influenced by a complex web of factors, some of which you can control and others you can't. Do you breastfeed or bottle feed or a little of both? Are you feeding on a schedule or feeding on-demand? Does one parent handle all the feeding duties or do you take it in turns? Is the baby sleeping in a crib in a separate room? In a bassinet at the end of your bed? In a basket in the rushes down by the old canal? Are you co-sleeping? What sort of diapers do you use? How often do you change them? Do you swaddle or let it all hang out? How much leave are you taking from work? How much leave is your spouse taking? Are you both taking it at the same time? Will you be using a nanny or daycare when you both return to work? Do you plan to soothe your child or let your child cry it out?

All of the above choices, and countless more, form part of the context that informs your child's sleeping behavior. The chance that my answers to these questions and yours will overlap in any meaningful way is extremely slim, and even if they did we have no idea what other genetic or environmental factors might come into play. You're not going to know how long your child is going to sleep until you can observe your child doing the sleeping. Even if you've assembled a comprehensive list of soothing strategies from every person with a child you know, none of this information is likely to be of any practical use if your child isn't sleeping well. Why? Because when your child isn't sleeping well, no one in your household is sleeping well, ergo no one is making rational decisions anyway. In that moment, you have to focus on what your child needs, not what your friend's child needed three and a half years ago. That's the meat of parenting. All the shit you worry about and prepare for doesn't matter. Your child does.

There's one other reason to forgo the futile exercise of surveying your friends: parents lie. They lie because parenting is a competitive sport. If you say your child slept like a dream from day one, then you executed your parenting strategy to perfection and you win. If you say your child didn't sleep a wink for five months, then you are an unparalleled parenting martyr and you double win. No one wants a boring, middle-of-the-road sleeper because that's not what scores the big points in parenting conversations. Accuracy is for losers.

Parents also lie because by the time your child has made it out of toddlerhood, you honestly can't remember how your child slept or how tired you felt. Unless your child is particularly colicky, changing your sleeping habits becomes as mundane and unremarkable as changing a poopy diaper. I've seen friends stumble zombie-like through the first 18 months of their child's life only to blithely remark two years later how lucky they were said child was such a good sleeper. No one remembers what it was like because in most cases it doesn't really matter.

So if you want to know how long your child will sleep, wait a few months and find out. Here's what I will share from my own experience: we all slept. We all lived. We all still like each other. That's all you need to know.

Data Geek: Sleeping hours = 24 - non-sleeping hours. Let's start there.

Before we begin the debate, I would like to clearly define data. In my world, data is simply a set of information - whether numbers, letters, artifacts or what have you - that has been gathered but not yet aggregated, analyzed, interpreted and understood. Scientific research is the process that does all the work using data. As a quantitative professional for the past 21 years, five months and two-plus weeks, not a week goes by without someone telling me how much he or she loves data. To my dismay, an overwhelming number of those who confess their love for data simply mean they like looking at pretty charts, maps and tables. In fact, most of them have no interest in quality assurance, rigorous and challenging but sophisticated statistical methodologies, or ever-changing software packages that take months and years to learn. What I refer to as data in this piece would be better described as science and scientific research rather than a mere set of numbers or letters, or pretty charts and maps.

This debate about usefulness of data in everyday life is an age-old battle between those who believe that science is all around us versus those who believe that there are realms of our world science simply cannot reach. Yes, having a child is a uniquely unsettling experience and can be a frustrating one. But then, so is battling a brain tumor or HIV, being homeless, or being severely beaten by a spouse. In each one of these challenges, there are hundreds and thousands of scholars and researchers dedicating their careers to solutions just as there is a similar level of interest, if not more, in child-rearing.

I completely agree, Data Cynic, that freaking out and scrambling to gather information are understandable reactions (note: I would not consider them "natural reaction," which implies that being a parent is instinctive. If being concerned about children was a natural reaction, we would not have parents who neglect or abuse). But can data help us be less irrational when it comes to child-rearing? This question in and of itself is a very good sociological question we have yet to explore (unless someone has done the research already).

All the attributes listed by our Data Cynic as possible factors in determining how much a baby should sleep, I have no doubt, have been studied already. Science is often a process of accumulating knowledge over years and decades. Sometimes scientific findings are proven wrong and we have to start over (see the benefits of egg white and egg yolk for the past 50 years). And for these sets of knowledge to be disseminated the public and used in everyday life takes even longer. Advancements in communication, particularly the prevalence of the Internet, has made the process much faster than it once was. Still, there is a very large gap between scientific findings, which are written in professional journals, and the general public, most of whom do not have the access or technical training to read such journals.

Despite this gap, the signs are everywhere that we think and wonder about our everyday questions scientifically. For example, Data Cynic's friend began the sleeping question with "on average . . . ," which is not an unusual way of posing a question. That is because most of us find points of reference, or in this case "what others do," valuable. Knowing what has happened to others in the past allows us to seek certainty in uncertain tasks.

Through cumulative knowledge, we do have those reference points when it comes to sleeping behaviors of infants. Most scientists would agree that the ideal amount sleep for most little children is sporadic but long (15-17 hours) at first and then should settle at around 8-12 hours for healthy development. I'm sure some readers would say they already knew that without having to look up scientific studies. I would argue that, yes, they didn't have to look them up because some scientific knowledge and findings have become so prevalent that they became embedded into most people's belief systems and then reaffirmed by experiences, and not because they are common sense or intuition.

I do not expect all parents to raise their children based on scientific research or practice data-driven child-rearing, just as I do not expect everyone to adhere to one religious belief. Diversity, and ultimately inequity, occurs largely because of varying degrees of access to information but also because we all have different belief systems. If we all raised our children in identical fashion with the same values, how boring would that be? And more importantly, what would researchers who make careers out of measuring inequalities do for a living?

Essentially, my point is that we care about numbers because we are social beings who crave information about others and constantly validate ourselves against what we know about others. Asking others, and lying to others, is all part of that craving.

Data doesn't make a person wiser or smarter. Nor does data provide absolute certainty in life. Data, however, has the ability to predict those events that are most likely based on what has happened in the past. Scientific knowledge and data do not make many aspects of parenting easier. But hundreds of years of data-gathering and analysis have led to low infant mortality and healthier babies in large parts of the world. And such grandiose results over time are worth losing sleep over.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

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I'll be back on Wednesday. Meantime, you can find me on Twitter.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Back tomorrow.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

No column today. Plenty of other stuff:

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #44: David Carr, Brian Williams And The Discontents Of Journalism.

The case against this generation's greatest media reporter and his pals - and what it says about the way we think about journalism. Plus: Adults continue to behave badly in the wake of the Jackie Robinson West scandal - including Rahm, Sneed, Kass, Jesse and Pfleger. And: Why J schools are important.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #38: What Pundits Keep Getting Wrong About Jackie Robinson West.

Almost everything. Plus: Bulls Take Midterm: Blackhawks Slackhawks; The Cubs Are Still A Last-Place Team Until Further Notice; Blue Demons Down; Illinois Up; and Loyola Rambles On.

* Fantasy Fix: How I Won My League.

* The Motorcycle Show Was Here.

* The Weekend In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Rectal Hygienics, The Jeff Austin Band, The Nubile Thangs, Loverboy, Fleetwood Mac, Barry Manilow, G. Love & Special Sauce, the B-52s, and Syleena Johnson.

BeachBook
* The Careless, Astonishing Cruelty Of Barack Obama's Government.

* Secret Tapes Reveal JFK's Duplicity In Cold War, Civil Rights.

TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: How long?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

What You Missed At The International Motorcycle Show

Just held in Rosemont over the weekend.


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Favorites.

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Stunt show.

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See also:
* New Indian Motorcycles Echo Harley Models.

* Ride For Kids Honda CB1100 Raffle Bike Makes The Rounds.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Rectal Hygienics at Permanent Records on Friday night.


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2. The Jeff Austin Band at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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3. The Nubile Thangs at Emporium on Friday night.

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4. Loverboy at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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5. Fleetwood Mac in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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6. Barry Manilow at the big West Side arena on Saturday night.

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7. G. Love & Special Sauce at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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8. The B-52s at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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9. Syleena Johnson at the Shrine on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: How I Won My League

Many weeks before Marshawn Lynch should have been handed the ball to bring the Seattle Seahawks their second straight Super Bowl win, I handed him the ball to help me win a fantasy football championship - and he promptly threw up all over it.

A tummy ache. Marshawn Lynch has a fucking tummy ache. This is how my fantasy football season ends?

That is what I was thinking at a little after 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21. I had managed to navigate my ESPN fantasy league team Irish Car Bombs to a 10-4 regular-season record in a very competitive 12-team league. My ticket to the playoffs was not even punched until the final minutes of my last regular-season game, when it became clear I was going to win a close match-up against a team I'd lost to earlier in the season.

When Lynch didn't start that Sunday nighter against the Arizona Cardinals, amid reports he was vomiting just before kickoff, I figured my title chances were screwed. I was already fearful the Cardinals defense would slow him down. Now, it looked like he wasn't even going to play.

But he did. At first, it still seemed like he wasn't going to be much help, but he somehow overcame his tummy ache and had a typically huge night, including a ridiculous 80-yard TD run during which it seemed like the Cardinals defenders were assuming he would eventually just take a knee from exhaustion. Just like that, he went from goat to potential savior.

But, of course, Lynch was not a one-man fantasy team. Here's the rest of my starting lineup for my fantasy championship week, along with their point totals:

* QB Russell Wilson: 36 pts

* RB Marshawn Lynch: 27 pts

* RB Shane Vereen: 4.5

* RB/WR Josh Gordon: 6

* Dez Bryant: 15.5

* WR Jarvis Landry: 6

* TE Heath Miller: 9.5

* K Conor Barth: 4

* DEF Patriots: 7

The final score was 115-77. That sounds lopsided, but the other guy had A.J. Green, CIN, and Emmanuel Sanders, DEN, going into Monday night, and all I had left was Barth, so during that stretch of better than a half-hour when I thought Lynch was sidelined, I was guessing my final tally would be no higher than about 75 points. All of this blinded me to a fact I only realized recently: As it turned out, I didn't even need Lynch's 27 points. Russell Wilson was my true savior (he'd appreciate that choice of metaphor more than Lynch, by the way).

In any case, I'd like to claim I won that final match-up with the lineup I had set in stone from Week 1, and that I only used the guys I was brilliant enough to draft, without any waiver-wire swaps. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I made 16 waiver-wire moves during the season, which may not sound like as many as you see in some leagues, but in this league each waiver-wire swap, right from the beginning of the season, carried a $5 fee. Here's a little more detail on how the stars became so aligned, despite my fussing with them:

QB: Mr. Goody Two Shoes was probably the most pleasant surprise of my fantasy season. I drafted him in the fourth round, earlier than I had planned. I ended up not warming to him until late in the season, and actually used a different QB - Teddy Bridgewater - during two weeks of the regular season, one of which I won, the other of which convinced me to drop Bridgewater and start Wilson for good. About one-third of his 306.5 fantasy points were collected in just three weeks, but fortunately for me, championship week was one of them.

RB-1: Lynch was my first-round pick, though he almost wasn't. I knew going in I might be in a position to land him, but was also thinking that in a 12-team league that deep into the first round, maybe I should take a WR or QB and even Jimmy Graham, TE, NO. Say what you want about Lynch (and he'll say nothing back), but Beast Mode delivered in a bigger way than I could have hoped. With apologies to Wilson and Bryant, he gets my vote for MVP.

RB-2: I drafted Vereen much higher than I should have in Round 5, and he really had only two great weeks. He was never supposed to be my RB-2, an honor that went to Andre Ellington, my Round 3 pick, who turned in solid points every week and seemed on the verge of greatness before a season-ending injury. I used Vereen more often in the flex RB/WR slot because I stubbornly remained convinced in his PPR league value. Vereen proved to be a good emergency fill-in though.

FLEX: The flex spot was occupied during the season by everyone from Vereen to Pierre Thomas, RB, NO; Ben Tate, RB, CLE (and later MIN); Chris Johnson, RB, NYJ; Riley Cooper, WR, PHI; and a few others. Don't even get me started on Gordon. I picked him up off the waiver wire halfway through his suspension, convinced it would be the genius move that would help me into the playoffs. He had exactly one good week - a week when I ended up not really needing him. Yet, I continued to start him because how could I not? This was Josh Gordon we're talking about. That was my thinking anyway, and the thinking of many fantasy experts. Ultimately, I was lucky he didn't cost me the championship.

WR-1: Bryant was my most consistent high-scoring player. He scored 278 points overall on the season (3.5 fewer than Lynch), never scored fewer than seven fantasy points in any week (and that came in Week 1), scored in double digits 12 out of 16 weeks, and scored 20 or more points seven times. He and Lynch were to only two players I went wire-to-wire with, starting them every week, but even Lynch had a couple sub-par efforts. Despite Bryant's sideline hijinks and potential to alienate even his own teammates, he was fantasy gold.

WR-2: My WR-2 slot was as much a revolving door as my RB-2 slot. I started with Reggie Wayne, IND, who I thought might have a great comeback year, but turned out to be inconsistent, even in a prolific passing offense, not to mention often injured. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, who I drafted on the possibility Wayne wouldn't perform, gave me a handful of fantastic weeks until his team suffered a major power outage at QB. I stumbled onto Landry late in the season as his targets and catches sharply increased, and decided I had to go with him for the final, thinking at least his absolute bottom contribution in a PPR league was better than Hopkins' high risk/potential high reward. I was right about Landry getting a lot of catches - he got eight that final week - but tallied an infuriatingly low 31 yards.

TE: I did draft Miller, but as my back-up TE to starter Jordan Cameron, CLE. Miller came in handy early on when Cameron was injured, but I should have used him more, as Cameron proved to be unreliable with a sputtering offense, while Miller, between short-yardage TD passes and pure reception points, at least consistently provided value. My most embarrassing waiver-wire sequence was dropping Cameron, picking up Kyle Rudolph, MIN, who scored a total of nine points for me over two weeks, then picking up Cameron again off the waiver pile. The whole time I had Miller. Ironically, when I started Miller that final week, he was outscored by Cameron, who lucked into an 80-yard TD pass while sitting on my bench.

K: I spent most of the season with Blair Walsh, MIN, after taking him in the final round of the draft (a habit of mine I will only break if I feel particularly underwhelmed by my early-round selections). Walsh averaged 7.8 points per week, which certainly helped, but I dropped him for his Week 10 bye and had a couple other kickers on staff until I decided to go with Barth on the likelihood that with Denver, he could do no worse than three or four extra points and a field goal every week. He didn't help much championship week in a Monday Night Football match-up, but by then I was pretty sure I wouldn't need him.

DEF: I'm pretty proud of drafting New England because I waited on drafting a defense specifically to choose a young squad I thought might deliver turnover points (I used the same logic later in the season to pick up the Minnesota defense as my backup). The Pats did have some bad defensive games, especially early on, but they were great when playing at home.

So there you have it. I've always tried in this column not to brand myself as an expert, and not to brag on any success I might be having because offering fantasy sports advice is a precarious business. I'm not a player or a coach, and ultimately I'll never have absolutely all the information I need to make the most educated opinion. Like everyone else, I do the best I can, but in the end, I'm going to need an awful lot of luck. This time around, I got it. We'll see next year if it sticks.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #44: David Carr, Brian Williams And Journalism's Discontents

The case against this generation's greatest media reporter and his pals - and what it says about the way we think about journalism. Plus: Adults continue to behave badly in the wake of the Jackie Robinson West scandal - including Rahm, Sneed, Kass, Jesse and Pfleger. And: Why J schools are important.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

* The Beachwood Radio Network.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #38: What Pundits Are Getting Wrong About Jackie Robinson West.

4:35: Machine Head at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

8:44: About David Carr.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #43: The Endorsement Charade.

* Carr on Brian Williams.

* "From 2006 to 2011, [Brian Williams] appeared at least 146 times on programs such as Late Show With David Letterman, The Tonight Show, Ellen and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, according to a Washington Post analysis."

* "Williams' former boss at NBCUniversal, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying, quote, 'He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn't question if we're spending too much.'"

* C.J. Chivers.

* The Real Brian Williams Problem Is That The Network News Sucks.

* It's always about the business of media, but rarely about what media actually produces.

* Following Suspension, Brian Williams Probably Wishes He'd Gotten The Tonight Show Job He Wanted

* Pleased To Meet Me.

* James Risen.

* The NSA on Beachwood.

* Ken Auletta.

* Is David Carr Just An Industry Shill?

* "[W]hat kind of 'community' really exists between people like Williams, who may perhaps be telling his tales in pursuit of fame and massive wealth, and the millions of regular people who may get conned in the process?

"Brooks never asks that question. Neither did David Carr in yesterday's mealy-mouthed column, in which he performed his standard function at the Times - giving readers the (false) impression that the New York Times plays a watchdog role with respect to the press as a whole."

37:20: Napalm Death at Reggies on Tuesday night.

38:35: The Best Thing David Carr Ever Did Was Crack.

* It's not like he was a crackhead on Friday and working at the New York Times on Monday.

* Carrie Brownstein for American Express.

* I Dated Monica Lewinsky.

* Jake Tapper Is A Tool.

* That guy with the Hat Cam covering the Oscars.

* Barlett & Steele.

* If David Carr says he loves you, check it out.

* Mentoring careerists.

* Old Style at the Two Way.

57:32: Bad Suns at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

58:30: Carr's Grand Caper.

* "Being a journalist, I never feel bad talking to journalism students because it's a grand, grand caper. You get to leave, go talk to strangers, ask them anything, come back, type up their stories, edit the tape. That's not gonna retire your loans as quickly as it should, and it's not going to turn you into a person who's worried about what kind of car they should buy, but that's kind of as it should be. I mean, it beats working."

* Carr vs. VICE.

* Also in this, Carr seems to not understand why a grand brand like CNN would be interested in partnering with VICE.

* Was Google wrong to invent a way to find things on the Internet?

* This isn't all just about David Carr.

* The U.S. Media And The 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Whom Obama Burned To Death With A Drone.

1:12:18: G. Love and Special Sauce at the House of Blues on Friday night.

1:13:30: Carr And Me.

* Live like a legend.

* Carr was not interested in this story.

1:30:38: Willie Dixon, Chicago House Rent Party.

1:32:07: Adults - Including Journalists - Continue To Behave Badly.

* Rahm, Sneed, Jesse, Kass, Pfleger, JRW.

* Sneed Exclusives! Here and here.

* The real racism of Jackie Robinson West.

* The flip side of race: White media afraid to call out Willie Wilson as the clown that he is.

* Fran Sneedman.

* Legends tear shit down.

* Why journalism schools are important.

* United States vs. Progressive, Inc.

STOPPAGE TIME: 59:10

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For archives and other shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:12 PM | Permalink

February 14, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

This edition of The Weekend Desk Report brought to you by the $2 ($1 on Mondays and Thursdays) 10 oz. mugs of Old Style from the tap at the Two Way, frosted and refrigerated for your enjoyment and always served with the possibility of violence in the general vicinity.

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Actually there was a skirmish last night, which isn't unusual. It happened during "The Best of Times," followed by "Good Vibrations." I just stayed put and sang louder.

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This weekend's Beachwood Radio Hour is still in the works. Topics will include David Carr, Jackie Robinson West and the mayoral campaign. Most depressing yet?

Speaking of Jackie Robinson West - and I hope we stop doing so soon - I consider this weekend's edition of The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour a must-listen for the clarity Jim "Coach" Coffman brings to facts of the case most people seem unaware of and misconceptions that keep getting repeated. Also: Great stuff on the Bulls and Blackhawks - and more!

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Desk Listening Report: "Killer Mike and El-P of Run the Jewels talk about their unique brand of hip-hop and perform songs from one of the most highly acclaimed rap albums of 2014. Later Father John Misty takes a new stab at the classic love song."

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BeachBook
* Roger Goodell's Pay In 2013 Was $35 Million.

But the NFL demands free Wi-Fi when it comes here for the draft.

* Yale Bans Evanston-Based Fraternity, Citing Sexual Misconduct Rules.

Everybody breaks the rules; you're still champions, Sigma Alpha Epsilon!

* Crain's New York Lays Off 40% Of Editorial Staff.

You're still champions too! Everybody lays off people!

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: It rules.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

I thought my column on Thursday told you everything you needed to know about Jackie Robinson West, at least from a punditry point of view, seeing as how I didn't delve deeply into the reporting details, but it turns out I was wrong - and for just that reason.

In this week's Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman brings some of that reporting to light that seems to have escaped most commentators - facts that make a big difference in how one might perceive what has happened. I encourage you to listen.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done
Our very own Helene Smith took a photo of Penn-Dutchman Antiques in Lincoln Square in September. She was back there last week and found it was closed. Now we have two photos of Penn-Dutchman Antiques.

The Week In Chicago Rock
The winter doldrums, admittedly. Still, we've got Machine Head, Napalm Death, and Bad Suns.

The Beachwood Radio Hour
Is in pre-production. I'm going to talk about David Carr this week, among other things. The most common word I see and hear from Carr's old Minnesota friends to describe their relationships/friendships with Carr is "complicated." Somehow, I never crossed paths with Carr, even though we shared part of the same orbit in Minneapolis back in the day. My feelings about Carr are complicated too, though - for other reasons. I hope you'll give it a listen over the weekend, once I get it posted.

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BeachBook
* The U.S. Media And The 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Obama Burned To Death By Drone Last Month.

* Vintage Airline Posters Used To Lure Tourists To Chicago.

* Chicago Mold School.

* Out Of Town Stupid: Massachusetts Transit Agency Looks At 'Success' Of CTA During Storms.

* Aspiring 'Jackass' From Alsip Found Guilty In New Year's Day 7-11 Trashing.

Great lead.

* U.S. Escalating A Secret War In Afghanistan.

* The Barrett Brown Review Of Arts & Letters & Prison.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Loose booty.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:21 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #38: What Pundits Are Getting Wrong About Jackie Robinson West

Almost everything. Plus: Bulls Take Midterm: Blackhawks Slackhawks; The Cubs Are Still A Last-Place Team Until Further Notice; Blue Demons Down; Illinois Up; and Loyola Rambles On.


SHOW NOTES

* Danieal Manning.

1:35: Josh McCown Is Available!

2:18: What Pundits Are Getting Wrong About JRW.

* Positive Coaching Alliance.

* Lower the stakes; no more ESPN.

* Coach Butler has a new gig.

* JRW poached city players, not just suburbanites.

* Forged and backdated map.

* Eric Zorn not getting it.

* Telander.

* Patrolling the pundits. In The [Thursday] Papers.

* Rosenbloom.

* Half the team.

* Screwed: Kids who lost their spots on JRW to ineligible players; kids from neighborhoods who had their best kids poached; kids on other teams who played by the rules.

* White sportswriters feel cheated.

* Race reversal.

* Welles Park Parents Association Youth Baseball.

* This was entirely too much.

* JRW is a longstanding powerhouse, not an underdog.

* Sneed Exclusive: Rahm Emanuel Asked Little League International To Reverse Decision To Strip JRW Title.

26:55: Bulls Take Midterm.

* They passed.

* The Gar Man.

* Garbodeau.

* John Paxon has one job.

* The Snellycat.

* Eight days a week!

39:35: Blackhawks Slackhawks?

* Causes for concern.

* Atlanta Flames.

* California Golden Seals.

48:16: The Cubs Are Still A Last-Place Team Until Further Notice.

* There is no credit for trying in baseball.

* No more excuses.

* San Diego market vs. Chicago market.

53:30: Blue Demons Down.

* DePaul Men Can't Hold Off St. John's.

* But: DePaul Women Play For First Place.

56:38: Illinois Up.

* Illini Go On 21-0 Run To Rally Past Michigan In Overtime.

59:35: Loyola Rambles On.

* Defending men's volleyball champs still nation's top-ranked team.

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For archives and other Beachwood podcasts, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Machine Head at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.


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2. Napalm Death at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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3. Bad Suns at Lincoln Hall on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Is Done

After 40 years, Penn-Dutchman Antiques in Lincoln Square has closed up shop.

The photo on top was our Photo Booth on September 26, 2014.

The bottom photo was taken last week.

penndutchmanantiquecoll2.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

"Ultimately, the rules took down Jackie Robinson West," John Kass writes for the Tribune, once he's done complaining that some people insist on seeing everything through the prism of race.

And by some people, he means blacks, not whites.

Even though it's whites who have been so fanatical about race that not long ago we had separate drinking fountains, separate entrances to schools and separate seats on buses so as not to mix icky germs and such. White people did that. They saw everything through race. But I, like Kass, digress.

Kass writes:

Ultimately, the rules took down Jackie Robinson West.

And a particular kind of rule that Chicago's rulers know all too well, a residency violation; and a suspect, perhaps cynical map, drawn up to allow certain players to be on the team even if they didn't rightfully belong.

If Chicago knows anything, it's about residency and maps.

Residency rules cannot be violated, and residency maps must be respected, or you can't be a Little Leaguer. We know this now.

But you can still become a mayor. Or you can be elected congressman of a convoluted district, with a cynical map that can snake for miles down one lane of highway to grab some voters and cut out others.

If you're a powerful politician, your friends draw the maps, or you have lawyers interpret the rules.

For example, Rahm Emanuel was living and working in Washington, D.C, as President Obama's chief of staff. But outgoing Mayor Richard Daley wanted a caretaker.

And even though Rahm lived in Washington - and the rules were clear that you had to be a resident of Chicago to run for mayor - an amazing thing happened.

The courts ruled that Rahm was actually a resident of Chicago even though he lived in Washington. There was a wedding dress in a crawl space of the Emanuel home in Chicago.

But that's politics.

Interestingly, many of the finger waggers didn't wag their fingers in outrage over Rahm's residency. But it's a good thing he wanted to be mayor, and not a Little Leaguer.

But rules, like laws, are to be enforced against the little people and bent to the will of the powerful.

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I'm not condoning what those who organized the Jackie Robinson West team did, but I do find it interesting in the same way Kass does. The media very much wanted Rahm to be on the ballot four years ago. Here's why he shouldn't have been allowed the privilege.

Then there's Bruce Rauner. He shifted his residency to and fro - among other strategies - in order to get his daughter into Payton Prep (and to illegally claim two homestead exemptions). And he repeatedly lied about it. Now he's governor.

Or, say, Deb Mell. She had the good fortune to grow up in a household with a very good address - her father's - in order to inherit a city council seat. And she still had to be forgiven for not meeting a residency requirement.

Maybe the Jackie Robinson kids should have just gotten a residency waiver - like CPS chief administrative officer Tim Cawley, who, to my knowledge, has still not moved into the city despite pledging to do so. Then again, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett still claims residency in Cleveland.

Also, Byrd-Bennett was just caught telling the latest in a series of tall tales to which she has never been held to account.

Dishonesty is nothing new to our mayor, who hasn't even made it an art because he's so blatant about it, but he knows a thing or two about maps as well. Take the way he and his boys drew Ald. Bob Fioretti's ward out of existence, replacing it with this atrocity.

I'm not excusing what Jackie Robinson West did. I'm just asking that we direct our outrage properly. It's Rauner and Rahm and a few others who should be stripped of their positions first. Instead, our political culture admires their ability to win by deception. For some reason, the Jackie Robinson folks don't get the same admiration.

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Our sports culture, too, is about bending rules, not adhering to them. Athletes are worshipped for a pathological competitiveness that drives them to do "anything" to win.

Cheating is encouraged. If you can step on a guy's ankle while the ref isn't looking, do it. If you can pretend you caught that ball that really hit the ground first, do it. Anything to gain an edge.

Even getting caught isn't a deterrent.

It isn't much different in business. Don't even get me started about Wall Street.

There's a real mix of messages out there right now. The kids shouldn't be punished for the adults' bad behavior. Rules are rules. Everybody cheats. Sour grapes. I really can't keep it straight. Meanwhile, there's a mayoral campaign going on that, sorry, is far more important, and doesn't seem to draw the same outrage and moralizing; our mayor is held to lower standards than a Little League coach. In fact, so is our governor and the woman who oversees the education of Chicago's schoolchildren.

Are we getting mad about the right things? Is the media? We have stone-cold liars in our midst - objectively, provably - and we keep rewarding them for their deceptions. If Jackie Robinson West was the mayor, they'd be applauded for its deft manipulation of the maps at hand. If Jackie Robinson West was the governor, we'd just shrug and say everybody does it - and we'd do it too if we could. If Jackie Robinson West's father was an alderman, we'd say Jackie Robinson West ought to be an alderman too. If Jackie Robinson West was Wall Street, they could have indebted the entire Little League and come out richer than ever for it.

The organizers of Jackie Robinson West shouldn't have cheated. But you can kind of see where they got the idea from.

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To those who say that the kids shouldn't be punished, I get it. But I can only think of the kids on those other teams hearing this news. How do you think they feel knowing they had to compete against a team full of ringers? There are other kids involved, too. Do they not count? What lesson would they be learning if JRW was allowed to keep its championship?

I liken it to Rauner clouting his daughter into Payton: What about the kid who didn't get in?

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When you need a patsy, Michael Sneed is always willing to comply.

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Exclusive! Sources Tell Sneed Rahm Loves Mom And Apple Pie; Will Fight To Keep Both Safe.

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"Sneed has learned that Emanuel has personally gone to bat to reverse Little League International's decision to strip the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars baseball team of their 2014 national championship.

"Sneed is told Emanuel pulled out his battering ram during a 10-minute conversation Wednesday with Little League International President and CEO Stephen Keener in hopes he would rescind the league's decision based on findings the team falsified boundaries to field ineligible players.

"The mayor, a huge JRW fan, said: 'Every home run was real. Every great catch was real. The passion they brought from Chicago to Williamsport was real. And the character they showed on and off the field was real.'"

First, Rahm could easily find the source of this leak - it must have been someone in the room at the time of the phone call.

Second, every home run and catch may have been real, but the players making them were ineligible. So that's not a real compelling argument.

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"As someone who covered a high school that won a city title and then lost all of their wins in a week's span last winter, I'm not surprised something like this happened," ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg writes. "If you cover competitive amateur sports, from Little League to college, you shouldn't be surprised by anything.

"Me, I'm pragmatic about a certain amount of chicanery in amateur sports. It doesn't make it right, but we all know it happens. My baseline for outrage might differ from yours."

I've never understood this line of thinking. The fact that cheating happens a lot should make us more angry, not less.

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Also, it turns out this wasn't Chicago's team, because the ineligible players were from the suburbs.

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I mean, forged maps, c'mon.

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"I know folks want to throw race into the mix, but many of the black Little League teams around town have complained about JRW for years," Evan F. Moore writes for RedEye.

Also: "Some of you may not know this, but Evergreen Park and JRW have butted heads for years."

Evergreen Park is where the complaint arose from.

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Um, apparently the Sun-Times's Rick Morrissey was still an innocent. And now that's been obliterated.

Is it 1951?

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This is, as Bob Dylan might say, a little overcooked.

"What's left to believe in?" Morrissey asks.

Um, puppy dog tails and smiles?

"There have been few stories that have captured the country's imagination the way JRW did last summer."

Ever? In history?

"Whatever deep racial divisions there might be in the United States, most people, regardless of skin color, could agree that this was awesome. We all believed. We believed in something more than a baseball team. We ached for the possibility of more."

Somehow, like Kass, Morrissey believes that JRW healed racial divisions. I don't see how. It's easy to root for a bunch of black kids playing baseball while still hating on their parents. Besides, those doing the rooting probably weren't racially troubled to begin with. I don't understand this. It almost makes me think that Kass and Morrissey are saying, "Here are some black folk I like!"

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"Shame on all of us who swallowed the tale bait hook, line and sinker because of the innocence and excellence it represented at a time we yearned for both," the Tribune's David Haugh writes.

The same David Haugh who just wrote that no conditions were too demanding in Chicago's quest to host the NFL draft here. Do whatever it takes, he said.

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Also: So much yearning from these guys. They must have terrible lives.

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"I want you to be proud of what you accomplished on the field! Championships are kept in the heart and mind, not on a shelf," Jon Lester tweeted, according to Haugh.

"Earlier in the day, White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams echoed the support many felt necessary to express to the kids caught up in the poor judgment of adults.

"'They're still champs in my mind,' Williams said."

I get trying to support the kids, but I don't get the message: Be proud that you won with ineligible players!

To me, the message ought to be different: It wasn't your fault, but the adults cheated and it wasn't fair to the other teams. So we can no longer claim this championship.

As the Trib's Steve Rosenbloom writes: "Why Are So Many People Afraid To Tell JRW Kids The Truth?"

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LATE MORNING ADDITION: Likewise, I've just been directed to this Rex Huppke column in the Trib, which makes the same point.

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Finally, to all those repeating over and over that it's the adults who are to blame, I don't know who thinks otherwise. I would also say, look around. There are adults all around you. Behaving badly. Right now. In your workplace, on the campaign trail, in the White House. Have you spoken up lately?

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BeachBook
* The Government Can Read Your E-Mails Once They Are Six Months Old.

Just for the record, I don't blame the children for this. I blame the adults.

* Why Was Brian Williams In Iraq In The First Place?

He was an adult behaving badly. He was rewarded - immensely - for it.

* Chicago-Based Restaurant.com Criticized Elsewhere Besides Great Falls.

* Weather Channel Accused Of Pro-Weather Bias.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Talk about the end of innocence . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Still the champion.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2015

Local Book Notes: Barbara Byrd-Bennett Caught In Another Big Fat Lie

"When all hell broke loose two years ago over the yanking of Persepolis from the Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Emanuel's press handlers wrote it off as a misunderstanding. They said some bureaucrat in the bowels of the central office misunderstood what he or she had been directed to do and things got out of control," Ben Joravsky reports for the Reader.

"The message got lost in translation, but the bottom line is, we never sent out a directive to ban the book," Becky Carroll, the CPS spokeswoman at the time, told reporters.

"Well, guess what? It didn't really happen like that at all."

Click through to Ben's story to see the definitive proof that Carroll - and CPS superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett - lied.

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Will reporters go back and affix an amendment to what they reported at the time?

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Will the media call out Byrd-Bennett for her serial lying?

(The most recent episode was published in the Sun-Times.)

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Will the media finally call out Rahm Emanuel for running the lyingest administration in city history?

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It's congenital. Everyone in the political system has long known this about Rahm Emanuel. Now we know it about Byrd-Bennett. And Becky Carroll? The worst - and now running Rahm's Super PAC.

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From now on, reporters should file FOIAs for every single story they work on. The pattern cannot be ignored.

The Traffic Stop
"President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law 50 years ago, yet recent police killings of young black men have many Americans wondering if society has really changed," Melanie Zuercher writes for Bethel College.

"Charles Epp, professor of public affairs and administration at the University of Kansas, came back to his alma mater, Bethel College, to give two presentations on police treatment of African Americans and Latinos in a specific situation: the traffic stop.

"Epp co-authored, with two KU colleagues, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (University of Chicago, 2014). The book's publication coincided with a dramatic rise in awareness nationwide of the frayed relationships between police and minority communities, revealed by the deaths while in police custody of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both young African-American men.

"However, Epp began the research that resulted in Pulled Over about a decade ago. He was spurred by the stories he kept hearing from his African-American and Latino students."

*

Those who were listening knew this was an issue a long time ago. Those who weren't have been learning about it in recent years.

Largely white newsrooms fall mostly in the latter camp.

*

Here's how the University of Chicago Press describes the book:

"In sheer numbers, no form of government control comes close to the police stop. Each year, twelve percent of drivers in the United States are stopped by the police, and the figure is almost double among racial minorities. Police stops are among the most recognizable and frequently criticized incidences of racial profiling, but, while numerous studies have shown that minorities are pulled over at higher rates, none have examined how police stops have come to be both encouraged and institutionalized.

"Pulled Over deftly traces the strange history of the investigatory police stop, from its discredited beginning as 'aggressive patrolling' to its current status as accepted institutional practice."

Vigilante Press Ends Its Run
The press release:

"Comic book retailer Vigilante Press will be closing its doors for business on Saturday, February 28th. Customers can expect to find hundreds of items up for grabs, and discounts of 10% - 60% now through the end of February.

"Vigilante Press will have one last blow out party on Saturday, February 21st, and all are welcome to attend.

"Sean and Lily, the owners, have also said that inventory, fixtures and equipment will be up for sale. The owners also expect to keep weekly comic book titles 'fully stocked for a limited time' and that they will be discounting everything on store shelves.

"Vigilante Press is located at 1931 W. Chicago Ave. in East Ukrainian Village, and has established itself as a friendly neighborhood comic book store."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:40 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Little League International stripped Chicago's Jackie Robinson West baseball team of its national title following a boundary remap that Little League International now says allowed the team to bring in star players from outside its boundaries," Mark Konkol reports for DNAinfo Chicago.

"Officials from the Williamsport, Pa.-based league awarded the title to the Nevada team Jackie Robinson beat in the championship game, suspended manager Darold Butler from Little League activity, and removed Michael Kelley, the top administrator from Illinois District 4, which oversees several leagues on Chicago's South Side."

*

Thanks to Anthony Spano for reminding me of this tweet from last August:

*

I haven't caught up with the coverage yet, but our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman, who is deeply involved in youth sports including the Positive Coaching Alliance, sent in his initial thoughts:

"One thing we can take away from the Jackie Robinson West fiasco is that it is way, way past time to stop over-hyping the Little League World Series. Just because ESPN devotes an insane amount of prime-time coverage to the event every year doesn't mean it is more important than thousands of other big youth sports events held in the USA every year.

"It will also be fascinating to watch how this story plays out. i believe it was obvious back in August that District 4 had cheated but when it was only neighboring suburban Little Leagues raising a ruckus, Little League believed they could call it sour grapes and just ride it out.

"Someone else must have ratcheted up the pressure in the last month (maybe the folks from Las Vegas?).

"Also, Jackie Robinson sure wasn't shy about running up the score against those neighboring Little League teams (they beat Evergreen Park 43-2) so maybe there's a little karma there (although holding down scores is tricky in baseball - you can't tell kids to strike out on purpose)."

Debating Rahm
For my real-time commentary on Tuesday night's mayoral debate, check out @BeachwoodReport; most of the tweets use the hashtag #cbs2mayor.

Now, on to the coverage . . .

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday coolly defended his record on crime, unemployment, education and contracting issues pivotal to black voters who put him in office but abandoned him in droves after he closed a record 50 public schools," Fran Spielman reports for the Sun-Times.

Once again I must wonder: Is she watching the same debates I am?

I've been awarding Rahm debate victories - despite my vehement disagreement with the content of what he's been saying - so don't get me wrong. I believe I'm observing objectively here.

What I saw last night was Rahm stumbling badly for the first time in the campaign, even losing his cool enough to equate the three reporters doing the questioning to his three teenagers at home.

*

Also weird: how Spielman reports on some of last night's direct attacks on Rahm.

"You've amassed a $30 million campaign war chest to rewrite history. Every ad that you've shown has been repudiated by the very groups you claim to help. What do you say to the people that your ads brag about and they say to you that you've screwed them?" Fioretti asked as live audience let loose a chorus of oohs and aahs.

Emanuel coolly and calmly stuck to his scripted talking points about his signature education initiatives.

"Four years ago, half the kids in the city of Chicago used to get a half-day of kindergarten . . . The kids paid the consequences because a lot of elected officials were complicit with their complacency. They allowed our kids to get a half-day of kindergarten," Emanuel said, apparently referring to Fioretti.

"Every child now . . . has a full-day of kindergarten, regardless of where they live. Every child no longer has the shortest school day or the shortest school year. Our community colleges are finally focused on giving people both jobs and careers. And we're gonna make sure that families do not go in the poor house trying to provide for their children a college education and a career that comes with it."

If you'll notice, Rahm didn't answer the attack. I don't know why he should get credit for that. And Spielman doesn't fact-check and clarify the attack - which is true in that groups like those who got the city's coal plants shut down are angry that the mayor is taking credit - or Rahm's response. She just prints his claims without vetting. Why not just hire stenographers instead of reporters, then? Might save some money.

*

"A lot of elected officials, including the one whose endorsement I just gladly received as well as the sitting U.S. Secretary of Education in the administration I once served, were complicit . . . and I also said nothing while supporting those gentlemen," Rahm added in an alternate universe in which he tells the truth.

*

And then this:

Four years ago Mr. Mayor, you promised to make Chicago a safer city. Four years later, there have been 10,000 shootings in Chicago, 1,800 homicides. Do you feel any personal responsibility at knowing that all of these things happened on your watch and you failed to keep your promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers?" Garcia asked.

Once again, Emanuel stayed cool and stuck to the script.

"Too many kids in the city of Chicago have had their childhood stolen because of gun violence when they should hear the sounds of laughter," the mayor said, using a line he repeats often.

"We are fighting gun violence. It's been part of my life, my whole life, fighting to make sure I take on the NRA gun lobby and make sure that our streets are safe. And I do bear, and everybody bears who's an adult, an accountability to give our children back their" childhoods.

Rahm may have stuck to the script, but he looked anything but cool when he did so - and the restless live audience wasn't having any of it. Then again, Rahm's audience wasn't the South Shore denizens at the debate site but those watching at home.

And oh, he didn't answer the question again. That's supposed to be a demerit in our business, but Spielman has apparently never gotten the memo.

*

Oy:

The Emanuel campaign is confident the mayor managed to get through five debates - all of them crunched into a tight, two-week window - without allowing his opponents to draw blood or prove themselves to be a viable alternative at a time when Chicago faces enormous financial challenges.

"The other candidates have shown themselves to be without ideas or solutions," said an Emanuel campaign adviser, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Fairly obvious to anyone watching. At some point, you have to say more than, 'Rahm stinks.' None have done that."

Did the adviser ask to remain anonymous because they were so embarrassed they were allowed to get away with saying something like that to a major metropolitan newspaper while remaining anonymous?

Or was the adviser really Spielman? Because it might as well have been.

*

The Tribune's account is weird in its own way, giving away the top of its story to a lame mayoral campaign attack on Chuy Garcia that came in a press release - and isn't new.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is lodging pay-to-play allegations against a challenger over a $1,500 campaign contribution even as the mayor has faced sharp criticism for raising millions of dollars from a pool of elite donors who have received some form of benefit from City Hall.

Before the final debate of the campaign Tuesday night and at two recent candidate forums, Emanuel and his campaign aides have taken aim at Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for accepting the contribution from a red light camera company the day before Garcia voted to allow suburban River Forest to install one of the firm's cameras near county Forest Preserve land.

Given the Tribune's massive investigation of the nexus of Rahm's donors and City Hall actions, this attack is a laugh. Also, $1,500?

And the Trib does note:

Emanuel's hammering of Garcia's $1,500 contribution comes after a Tribune investigation found that about 60 percent of the mayor's roughly 100 top donors who have contributed $14 million to his campaign have received some form of benefit from City Hall. The benefits have ranged from city contracts and city approvals for massive developments to pension and legal work and help with federal regulators.

But it's hard to see how the paper allowed Team Rahm to not only put the Garcia attack - which Garcia has repeatedly defended pretty persuasively - not only into the bloodstream of its coverage as if it's valid or has some equivalency to the paper's findings about the mayor's administration, but as the lead to its debate story when Rahm tried everything he could to avoid raising the charge himself. He couldn't even look Garcia in the eye when he finally did, forced by moderators to ask a question of another candidate instead of looking at the camera and addressing the viewers at home.

That's when Bob Fioretti had the line of the night, and really, the campaign; Team Fioretti quickly memorialized it on Twitter due to the response:

That line does not appear in the Tribune article.

*

Irony:

"We made sure we changed the culture in city government," said Emanuel, who left the forum without taking questions from reporters afterward as the other four candidates did.

After a debate last week, Emanuel twice was asked to discuss the Tribune's findings, but he would not directly answer the questions.

Rahm may have actually bled ordinary patronage hiring from city government, but he sure amped up the kind of secrecy we've seen for decades.

*

More.

Emanuel did speak to an issue raised in the Tribune investigation that showed how the mayor has used his influence in Washington, D.C., to boost his campaign fundraising. In that story, the Tribune detailed that Emanuel flew on a private jet with trading firm executives who have donated nearly $370,000 to his campaign to meet with federal regulators and lobby against regulations that would have cost the firms millions of dollars.

"The decision being made was going to determine whether the industry that's here in Chicago would leave and go to New York," Emanuel said of the meeting with federal regulators. "That industry is worth about 30,000 jobs and huge economic opportunity to the city of Chicago."

Emanuel did not answer whether it was appropriate for him to fly on the private jet with the trading firm executives or accept campaign contributions tied to the companies.

Right. Rahm missed - purposely so - the point.

Also, he's blasted Fioretti - rightly though ironically so, in my book - on supporting TIF funds for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Fioretti's response: They were going to leave.

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett Caught In Another Big Fat Lie
Remember the tale CPS told about pulling Persepolis from its bookshelves? About as true as a Brian Williams account of flying over Iraq. In Local Book Notes.

Meet Chicago's Worst Deadheads
Plus: Lydia Loveless remembers Shania Twain. In Local Music Notebook.

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BeachBook
* The World's Largest, Most Beloved Laundromat Is In Berwyn.

* The $10 Home In Geneva That Nobody Wants.

* China Man Pawns 283 Pairs Of Jordans.

* Brian Williams Was Never A Field Reporter And Wanted Jay Leno's Job.

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TweetWood
A non-debate sampling.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Operators standing by.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:05 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Meet Chicago's Worst Deadheads

"For years, Paulette Lanzoff tried to keep her passion for the Grateful Dead a secret from fellow employees," Shia Kapos reports for Crain's

"I used to work at a straight-laced company. I was 35 or 40 and trying to be an up-and-comer in my career and play the political game," recalls Lanzoff, 60 and a Dead fan since high school. Now technical director at Synergy Flavors in Wauconda, Lanzoff isn't hiding anymore. "You get this senior statesman status and people think you're kooky anyway, so it's OK."

I've got news for you, Paulette Lanzoff: You don't understand the first thing about the Dead.

*

I can't even with the rest of this piece.

*

Here's the Dead's heretofore last show, at Soldier Field. They start out shaky, but "Shakedown Street" is a definite highlight, and "So Many Roads" is one for the ages. Boy, Vince Welnick, who replaced the estimable keyboardist Brent Mydland, was terrible.

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Man! She Feels Like A Woman
Lydia Loveless Remembers Shania Twain.

King Cotton
Poco dude grew up in small-town Illinois.

Justin Townes Earle Still Pissed
"After going from a wonderfully easy working relationship with Bloodshot to a bunch of prenatal nitwits that don't know what they're doing - it put quite a rush on this record," Earle says.

Background: Justin Townes Earl Battling With Record Label.

Lupe Fiasco Is Back
That's the critical consensus.

An example from Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis on a recent Sound Opinions:

"Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco was written off by some after battling his label for years and earning notoriety for his outspokenness on Twitter. According to rumor, it even took threats from hackers for his new album to be released. But according to Jim, Tetsuo & Youth is Lupe at his lyrical best.

"The deft pop culture references are wonderful, of course. But ultimately it's the tragic evocation of life in poor black communities that moves Jim to tears.

"According to Greg, the density and poetry of Lupe's rhymes is matched by the adventurousness of the music, filled with unconventional jazzy rhythms. He calls it the rapper's best work since his debut.

"That makes it a double double-Buy It in a single episode."

Chief Chief Keef Keef
"A new list says rappers are recycling rhymes left and right," BET reports.

"Kid Cudi, Azealia Banks and Chief Keef all made it to Top 10 of the '23 Most Repetitive Rappers' posted by RapAnalysis.com.

"The tally measures which artists 'repeat the same words the most' based on anywhere from 20 to 426 songs from each particular artist (some had a larger catalog to pick from than others), but bends the definition of what is considered a 'rapper.'

"For example, Lil Jon is more of a DJ and pretty much expected to hype the crowd with some form of repetition; he landed at No. 3 on the list.

"will.i.am and Pitbull are in first and second place, while Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj fall at 11, 12, and 13."

Doing Des Moines
"As the hub of interstate highways 80 and 35, Des Moines is a crossroads for bands traveling from Chicago to Omaha and Denver, and Minneapolis to Kansas City."

Omaha?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

February 10, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

I've long been on record as opposing early voting because of the interceding events that could - and do - happen between the start of such voting and Election Day. The campaign season isn't over until it's over, and the full facts of what will be known during a campaign aren't fully delivered until it's time to punch the ballot. A scandal may erupt, a gaffe may be committed, or something worse may occur. In the case of the 16th Ward, something worse has occurred.

In this case, only a day of early voting has been completed. Next time that may not be the case.

*

With all due respect. I realize a death has occurred and I tried to write that item with the requisite sensitivity.

Clamp Clout
"One of the first hires in Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is the sister of a top aide," AP reports.

"Emily Clamp has been hired to a $70,000-a-year position with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. She is the sister of Sarah Clamp, who is the governor's director of special projects and was political director for Rauner's campaign.

"Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says Emily Clamp's degree from Cornell University and experience 'make her well-suited for the position.'"

I didn't know a degree from Cornell carried so much weight.

*

At least the degree is potentially relevant.

"Her degree from Cornell University in environmental engineering and experience in corporate sustainability, and environmental engineering make her well-suited for the position," Kelly said in an e-mail to Lee Enterprises reporter Kurt Erickson.

The e-mail did not respond to questions such as who else was considered for the job and how Clamp compared to other candidates, if there were any.

*

Her other experience?

"Prior to working for Rauner, Sarah Clamp, 27, worked for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C."

*

Look, a guy who picked up the phone to Arne Duncan to get his daughter into Payton Prep shouldn't be expected to behave any other way, regardless of his rhetoric. That's what always made his attacks on Quinn administration patronage such a laugh.

*

Here's Clamp's LinkedIn profile, which actually isn't terrible. Doesn't mean she should've gotten the job.

*

I never had a desire to attend a school that had a Headmaster.

Daley Double Take
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent the last four years criticizing the financial shape predecessor Richard M. Daley left Chicago in, though rarely mentioning him by name," the Tribune reports.

"On Monday, Daley endorsed Emanuel for a second term."

*

Of course he did; the train's left the station and he doesn't want to be left on the tracks.

*

Here's my favorite part:

"[Emanuel campaign spokesman Steve] Mayberry declined to answer a question on whether Daley's backing will help or hurt Emanuel."

Ha.

*

*

"Last August, the Tribune asked voters who was more responsible for the city's current financial problems. Fifty-four percent blamed Daley and 21 percent blamed Emanuel."

So 75 percent of voters are unhappy today.

Rush Job
"U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush on Monday endorsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel, months after condemning Emanuel's decision to close 50 schools and the mayor's insider-deal appointment of City Treasurer Kurt Summers," the Sun-Times reports.

"Rush said he still believes Emanuel made a huge mistake by closing 50 schools all at once. But he's prepared to move beyond that two-year-old controversy and work together with Emanuel to solve Chicago's daunting problems.

"I disagree with the mayor. However, the total is greater than the sum of its parts. My point is this: If there are 10 items on the table and we agree on eight of the 10, why would we bicker about the other two?" Rush said Monday.

Fine. What are the eight issues you agree on?

"We've got so many issues out here in my community. It's not intelligent for me to focus on the things [where we disagree]. If the mayor and I can agree on economic development and the strategy to create jobs and begin to pursue bringing better transportation and a trauma center to the South Side, why would I allow points of disagreement to get in the way?"

Um, last time I checked, Bobby, you and the mayor were not on the same side when it came to economic development and a trauma center on the South Side. Try again.

"When the leaders of my city, when the mayor stands proudly and takes credit for closing 54 public schools that are mostly on the South and West sides of the City of Chicago, there is nothing but a continuation of the decades-long disinvestment in good-quality schools."

That's what I thought. That was last summer, though.

What changed?

*

I suspect Rahm called Bobby and not the other way around. I suspect it went something like this:

RAHM: Bobby, your mayor needs you.

RUSH: Um, okay. What's up?

RAHM: I want your endorsement.

RUSH: [silence]

RAHM: It would be to your benefit to endorse me.

RUSH: [silence]

RAHM: Know what I mean?

RUSH: [silence]

RAHM: [silence]

RUSH: Okay.

*

Bobby Rush on Rahm Emanuel, 2011:

"I have served with him in Congress directly and the image you see in these slick TV spots is not the real Rahm Emanuel."

*

"[He also said] the Rahm Emanuel that he served with in Congress clearly showed that he is only concerned about the elite, not the common people, and definitely not Black people, and Rahm specifically led a Congressional delegation to vote against The Congress Black Caucus OVER 120 TIMES, including The Red Line Extension that he voted against yesterday and now tell the Black community he supports today; he voted against funding for Chicago State University yesterday and today now wants to visit; and he voted against humanitarian food aid to South Africa, and over 100 more votes against Congressional Black Caucus legislative efforts for Black and poor communities."

Charlie Brown
"I think a lot of people expected Rauner to move back to the middle after the election so he could govern as a pragmatic and moderate businessman," Mark Brown writes for the Sun-Times.

Have I used up my allotment of "Really?s"?

After all, it was the Sun-Times itself in its endorsement of Rauner that said "State government is the plaything of union bosses . . . "

(By the way, everyone's link to that endorsement is broken; way to go, digitally savvy Sun-Times! Pretty much every link to the Sun-Times is broken - and if it isn't, it will be soon.)

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #43: The Endorsement Charade
Watch the Tribune and Sun-Times pretend the script wasn't already written.

Plus: Chicago Whines; Fire Brian Williams; Journalism Under Attack From The Inside; The Lyingest Administration In Chicago History; and Me And My Medicaid.

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David Haugh Is Just The Worst
Tribune's Lead Sports Columnist Says We Should Be Grateful To Shut Down Congress For The NFL And Deliver Blue M&Ms To Roger Goodell.

See also: Exclusive! Inside Chicago's NFL Draft Bid.

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BeachBook
* Brian Williams And The 'Gangs' That Terrorized The Ritz-Carlton During Katrina.

* New Premium Uber Service Lets Users Commandeer Any Car.

* Wisconsin Lip Balm Maker Builds Giant Theater Pipe Organ.

* Rich School, Poor School.

* Cathy CK.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Back and never went away.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 AM | Permalink

Tribune's Lead Sports Columnist Says We Should Be Grateful To Shut Down Congress For The NFL And Deliver Blue M&Ms To Roger Goodell

"Chicago cannot embrace being called a football city and bristle at meeting the conditions to stage the 2015 NFL draft," Tribune sports columnist David Haugh writes in response to his paper's revelation of said conditions.

To which I say: Why not?

Are no conditions too demanding, too absurd, too expensive to bristle at and embrace being called a football city at the same time?

Does embracing being called a football city require prostrating ourselves to perhaps the richest and most amoral enterprise in sports history?

Have we not given enough already?

Oh, and why is it important to "embrace" being a "football city" anyway? What does that even mean? Is there some sort of daily ritual I'm not aware of? Is that even something grown men and women do? Am I supposed to sleep with a football or hug a cardboard cutout of Jay Cutler every morning?

*

"The most popular sports league in America views moving the event out of New York as a goodwill tour that fans should feel fortunate to see, a long-term community impact worth any short-term inconvenience. And it's hard to argue."

Oh, we should feel fortunate that the NFL is bringing its draft here! Let me adjust my emotions.

Of course, 99.9% of fans here - at least those obsessed enough to do so - will still only be watching the event on TV. And a long-term community impact? ROTFLMAO.

*

"Even if many Chicagoans still might think the NFL combine is a type of tractor, the draft can do more for our city than our city can do for the draft."

Ha, ha, ha, ha! A type of tractor! Get it?

Even funnier? The idea that the draft can do anything for our city. As reported endlessly here and elsewhere, the economic development promises of such events rarely if ever - well, let's just say never - come to fruition. That holds for taxpayer-subsidized stadiums, mega-events like the Olympics, and everything in between. Oh sure, they're a grand old time for civic elites who get inside access to a huge party - with the little people footing the bill - but other than that, the only ones who benefit are, wait for it, the sportswriters all agog at their good fortune. Will everybody please stop ruining their good time?

*

"We should consider hosting the draft more boon than burden, an opportunity more than albatross, and worth paying attention to every detail. If the NFL were a diva, it would be Mariah Carey, but if Commissioner Roger Goodell insists on having blue M&Ms in the green room, so be it. It will be worth the effort."

I'm not sure I've ever seen a columnist from a metropolitan newspaper suck dick harder than this.

Plus, Roger Goodell?

This Roger Goodell?

Yes, by all means, let us all - as a city - hand-deliver blue M&Ms to the worst commissioner of a professional sports league ever.

*

"A fascinating Tribune report Friday unearthed evidence of NFL heavy-handedness in a five-page list of requests the league wants honored, but no smoking gun. The documents revealed the NFL seeks - gasp - to close a busy stretch of Congress Parkway between Michigan Avenue and Wabash Avenue for nearly three weeks. Better start rationing food now, commuters."

The only thing that would count as a smoking gun to Haugh is an actual smoking gun. And maybe not even then if the video was never retrieved from the hotel elevator in which it was found. Close Congress between Michigan and Wabash for nearly three weeks? Are you nuts? Three days, maybe. Tops. But why at all?

Start rationing food, indeed. It may be hard for Haugh to understand this, but a vast amount of Chicagoans, football city or not, do not give a flying fuck about the NFL draft. They have their own lives to live.

*

"Not surprisingly, the NFL also wants commitments from 13 hotels and free use of the Auditorium Theatre from April 19 to May 6, including free Wi-Fi - oh, the nerve. Other stated desires include free police escorts for prospective draft picks, free parking for NFL dignitaries and enough outdoor space to hold youth clinics and parties as part of the festival that gave Chicago the edge over Los Angeles during the bidding process."

Oh, the nerve. Guess what? Free Wi-Fi isn't free. Somebody has to pay for it. The NFL can't afford to pony up? Free police escorts? Not free. Somebody has to pay for it. Free parking? Not free. Somebody . . .

*

The draft was never going to LA. They don't even have a football team there. They don't embrace being a football city, like we do.

*

"Unless the league stipulates noted ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. needs a personal hair stylist or potential No. 1 pick Jameis Winston wants catered crab legs, nothing on the NFL's wish list sounds excessive or surprising."

Huh. Those things wouldn't bother me.

*

"Not to diminish the scope of the NFL's requirements, but there were no dealbreakers. You can't get in bed with the NFL and then object if the league tries stealing the covers."

First, I'd like to know just what would have been a dealbreaker to Haugh. Maybe not issuing him a credential?

Second, you can't get in bed with the NFL and expect a little fair play and reciprocity? Geez, I'd hate to get in bed with Haugh.

It's not just giving the NFL special dispensation to steal the covers, either. It's paying the NFL for the privilege of having the covers stolen from us.

*

"The biggest imposition will be if the NFL bans advertising of any product in the vicinity that competes directly with sponsors Pepsi and Anheuser-Busch, as it did in Phoenix at Super Bowl XLIX . . .

"At Mother Bunch Brewery, a 10-minute walk from the Super Bowl Experience, manager Julie Meeker reluctantly altered her outdoor signs to advertise Bud Light instead of the restaurant's craft beer.

"Nobody asked local businesses either, they just told us,'' Meeker told the Tribune. "We saw a little more business, but overall I don't think any of us downtown felt we had the economic impact that everybody promised us.''

"Perhaps not, but restaurateurs and small-business owners expressed similar concerns after the Phoenix area hosted the Super Bowl seven years ago. Yet city officials still bid for the big game again. Why? They concluded the benefits outweighed the costs and inconvenience. Such is the NFL's allure."

Who are you going to believe, city officials or your lying eyes?

The naivete is astonishing. City officials love having the Super Bowl! It's awesome for them. That's who gets the benefits. Everyone else gets the costs.

"[I]t wasn't long before optimistic staff projections of increased sales tax receipts and new economic development proved to be wrong," a former Glendale city council member writes for Time.

"Then came the national recession, just as we hosted our first Super Bowl in 2008. The big game, was supposed to draw new development to the city, but didn't. Instead, it left the city with bills. The city spent $3.4 million on the event and recouped a little over $1.2 million in sales tax and fees."

See also:
- Super Bowl's Arizona Host May Be On The Hook For Millions.

- Super Bowl Host City Still Reeling Over Sports Deals.

Do your homework, Haugh.

*

"The only similarity between hosting the Super Bowl and the draft will be how the league flexes its $9 billion muscles. But, in Chicago's case, the appeal comes more in exposure than economic impact that could be in the tens of millions, according to one sports economist."

Just one? And they were too embarrassed to be named?

*

"Holding the draft in Chicago represents a nationally televised 72-hour commercial, whether it's recurring shots of the skyline or cutaways to Grant Park and the lakefront that leave an impression on potential vacationers and conventioneers in the audience."

Please. Football fans have never seen those shots of Chicago before? Convention managers are unaware of what our lakefront looks like?

*

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel maintains hosting the NFL's marquee offseason attraction for the first time since Dec. 2, 1963, will cost taxpayers nothing."

Well, if the mayor says so.

*

"A spokeswoman said the NFL and Choose Chicago, the nonprofit agency organizing the event, will cover costs associated with city services. Choose Chicago also plans to pay $125,000 for technology upgrades to the intimate 3,900-seat Auditorium."

Choose Chicago is the name of the city's tourism bureau. Just how does Haugh think that bureau is funded?

*

"Practically the only thing the city hasn't guaranteed is the Bears drafting the best available player when the team makes the seventh overall selection."

Stop, you're killing me.

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I was inspired to write this after reading the following e-mail exchange between Haugh and our very own Tom Chambers.

On Feb 7, 2015, at 5:41 PM, Thomas Chambers wrote:

You've been reasonably harmless lately.

Every point of your argument is factually wrong.

The NFL is NOT taking this draft on the road "as a goodwill tour." They can't use Radio City Music Hall because that theater has a commitment to some other show. Your condescending premise is wrong at the start.

When are you highly paid hacks going to understand that any events like these, from the Olympics to the Super Bowl to this draft have absolutely no positive economic impact on the communities in which they are held?

The city of Glendale, Arizona spent up to $2 million dollars they didn't have to host the Super Bowl. It went all in on the stadium and the arena for the Coyotes and nearly had to declare bankruptcy. Super Bowl attendees, participating in an obscene event if ever there was one, stayed in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe or elsewhere. Glendale did not realize any positive dollars on that event.

Close down Congress from Wabash to Michigan for THREE weeks? Do you understand how vital a route that is? Do you not understand the gall of even asking for such a thing? No, because you don't get south of Madison Street.

Do you usually lie down and take it? The arrogance of the NFL has reached new levels! They currently have no credibility. They have a wide receiver who "shits" the ball out of his ass after a touchdown.

I believe you are a fairly intelligent person. So why on earth do you become a pawn to this shit? Fuck the NFL draft. In the grand scheme of life, is the NFL so important, and so right, that you contradict your own gut intelligence to defend these people? The NFL deserves nothing, as it has demonstrated in the last two years. Is Chicago that desperate?

Are you just a spokesman for the two-horse parochialism this town is so known for?

The NFL draft is a television show. Nothing more. You will not get a true reading of life in Chicago, or a real slice of us by watching the NFL draft. Why not have it in Oprah's old studios?

The NFL does not deserve our respect. And the more it doesn't deserve it, the more the NFL screams it demands. Do you get it? I don't need the NFL draft in Chicago to make me feel better. Maybe you do.

I don't believe you yourself are so desperate for the self-esteem, but to condescendingly pander in your column to what you perceive as some sort of populism is cheap and cynical. Enough so that you don't deserve the column.

Are you so blind that you don't see?

No, you DON'T want to get in bed with the NFL. You'll end up under the bloody sheets.

I don't need the NFL draft in Chicago to make me feel better. Maybe you do.

And don't you DARE talk down to me or any other reader.

Tom Chambers
Chicago

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On Feb 7, 2015, at 5:46 PM, Haugh, David A. wrote:

Yeah, pretty much ignore any rebuttals in which writer is at such a loss for words that he feels compelled to use profanity. Weak.

Thanks for reading.

DH

David Haugh
Chicago Tribune
Sports Columnist
@DavidHaugh

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From: Thomas Chambers
Date: February 7, 2015 5:56:24 PM CST
To: "Haugh, David A."
Subject: Re:

I KNEW you were going to say that. Predictable. But your currency is supposed to be facts, and you didn't get these straight. Slapdash is not good.

Challenge me on the facts. I can take it.

Pompous, condescending and consistent. I know what I'm dealing with and credibility is not part of it.

Don't look now, but you're IN the industry you purport to "cover."

Sleep well.

Tom Chambers
Chicago

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On the most recent edition of The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour, our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman also objected to Haugh's column (at 1:01:24). It's the trifecta!

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See also: Exclusive! Inside Chicago's NFL Draft Bid.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Hour #43: The Endorsement Charade

Watch the Tribune and Sun-Times pretend the script isn't already written! Plus: Chicago Whines; Fire Brian Williams; Journalism Under Attack From The Inside; The Lyingest Administration In Chicago History; and Me And My Medicaid.


SHOW NOTES

:00: Strawberry Rock Show.

* A Beachwood Radio Special Edition: Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #37: The Big Gloom.

3:55: Alestorm at Mojoe's in Joliet on Saturday night.

* Pirate metal.

6:25: The Endorsement Charade.

* Tribune: For Mayor, Rahm Emanuel.

* TribNation with Rahm Emanuel.

* Romenesko: Tribune Spends Huge Sums To Investigate Rahm Emanuel - Then Endorses The Guy.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #27: Endorsements Are Bullshit.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #28: The Sun-Times Is A Hot Mess.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #29: The Sun-Times Is An Even Hotter Mess And Endorsements Are Even Bullshittier.

* Sun-Times: Rahm Emanuel Has Earned Your Vote.

18:56: Low Swans at Subterranean last Wednesday night.

21:05: Grab Bag.

* Dear Chicago: Stop Whining About Your Fucking Side Streets.

* This Is How They Do It In Minneapolis.

* Fire Brian Williams.

* David Carr: Brian Williams, Retreading Memories From A Perch Too Public.

* The integrity of journalism remains under attack - sadly, from within.

* Maureen Dowd: Anchors Aweigh.

* Variety: NBC Execs Had Told Brian Williams To Stop Telling That Story Years Ago.

37:24: Crybaby at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

39:15: The Lyingest Administration In Chicago History.

* Barbara Byrd-Bennett Lied In The Pages Of The Sun-Times.

* The School Project.

* Mayor Rahm And His Administration Struggle To Tell The Truth.

* Reversing Rahm.

* Which Side Are You On, Eric Zorn?

1:00:50: Jonny Craig at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

* The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Park West on Friday night.

* Robbie Fulks and Lydia Loveless at the Hideout on Monday night.

1:03:35: Me And My Medicaid.

* This is me trying to tell the Medicaid redeterminer that someone can now qualify for Medicaid based on income alone, without kids or a disability:

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When I worked in phone rooms, whoever was available was the "supervisor." You'd yell out "I need a supervisor," and the next person to end their call would walk over. Rarely was it anyone with managerial power or special expertise. - Tim Willette

STOPPAGE TIME: 20:48

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For archives and more, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:25 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bulls Take Midterm This Week

There was nothing wrong with the Bulls that a little luck couldn't cure. If they get a little more, they might just go into the All-Star break feeling slightly better about themselves than they have in over a month.

Okay, so it took a lot of luck for the Bulls to sweep their weekend trip to the Southeast with victories over the New Orleans Pelicans and the Orlando Magic. But the Bulls have had plenty of the other kind of fortune so far this season so they were clearly due for some breaks. And they benefited from about a half-dozen of them in the last 36 seconds early Sunday evening as they rallied from an ultra-late six-point deficit to eke out a one-point win.

Going forward, it is natural for everyone to set their sights on the Cleveland contest at home on Thursday, the team's last game before the break. The Cavaliers have been red-hot, winning 13 of their last 14.

But Tuesday's game against Sacramento will be more telling. Will the Bulls, led by inconsistent point guard Derrick Rose, fail to rise to the occasion again against a team they perceive as inferior? So far this season the Bulls have been extraordinary in only one way: their ability to play down to the level of competition in game after game after game. And many of the worst of those games have been played at the United Center.

The Kings contest is the ultimate trap. Not only has Sacramento struggled mightily to compete on most nights this season but it will also be the Bulls' first game at home after a long road trip. The Kings are also in the midst of off-court drama. George Karl was reportedly in talks with the team over the weekend to take over as coach. Some reports had Karl's hiring was being held up because star center DeMarcus Cousins had raised objections. Stay tuned.

Sounds like a team ripe for the picking, eh? Then again, the Kings posted a thrilling victory of their own on Sunday with Cousins tossing in a buzzer-beater to beat Phoenix.

And even during the Michael Jordan era, the home team always struggled in the first game back after an extended run on the road. But the big difference was that back then when the Bulls were struggling, they would almost always find a way to turn up the defensive pressure late and Jordan would take over at the offensive end. Many was the night when no one else was scoring efficiently but Jordan's clutch production and team defense would add up to a win.

So far this season, Derrick Rose has made clutch shots in several situations. But he hasn't seemed able to spark surges at the defensive end.

Finally, there is the question of whether any of this matters at all in the end. Sunday's victory left the Bulls with a 32-20 record, good for a tie with the Washington Wizards for third in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers lurk all of a game back in the loss column.
So the Bulls have played just well enough to be in position to claim home-court advantage at least in the first round of the playoffs if the season ended today.

The main focus has been being ultra-careful with injuries, except of course with the ones suffered by Joakim Noah. Where players other than Noah may have pushed to return to the court before they were completely healthy in previous years, the Bulls have clearly made it their first priority this season to hold guys out, and maybe more importantly to limit them at practice, when they have suffered even the whisper of an injury.

The point is clearly to eventually marshal the forces for a final push to the playoffs and to be in the best possible shape heading into the postseason.

The exception to this is, of course, Noah, who always wants to come back from injuries as quickly as possible no matter how much another week or two off might help. And the guess here is that Noah has earned so much respect from the Bulls for his determination, toughness and dedication to the team that they give him free reign to decide whether he plays or not.

He'll probably have the first crack at Cousins on Tuesday night. Maybe he can slow the emerging center (one of the five best in the league at this point) and the Bulls can take an early lead on the Kings and limit their confidence. But it probably won't happen. And the Bulls will probably be looking to Rose for leadership in the end of the game and, eventually, as the end of the regular season.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:58 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"[B]y endorsing and expanding the complex new policies promoted by the health care industry, [Obamacare] may in some ways be undermining its signature promise: health care that is accessible and affordable for all," Elisabeth Rosenthal writes for the New York Times.

I'd say she's putting it charitably. It's a disaster.

*

"Officials at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services say they have tried to avoid disruptions of care as the state shifts 2.2 million of its 3.1 million Medicaid patients to managed care, a system in which the state pays a fixed amount for each patient instead of reimbursing providers for each test and treatment," the Tribune reports.

"But some patients are reporting difficulties keeping their doctors and confusion navigating plans as they try to make the shift.

"The reports include wrong information on websites for insurance plans and hospitals; hours on the phone with insurers, hospitals and a state contractor who helps with enrollment; conflicting letters in the mail; changes to prescriptions, and other frustrations . . .

"Some doctors say the state is reassigning their patients to new offices and has created new administrative requirements that burden their practices, delay care for patients and slow payments from insurers."

*

I qualify for Medicaid in Illinois under its expansion through Obamacare. I was supposed to have coverage starting January 1, 2014. I still don't have a plan. My favorite part of the bureaucratic odyssey was when I got a "redetermination" letter in the mail saying I had to be verified all over again for Medicaid. Oh, so you're going to double-check that I qualify for the health care that I never got in the first place? Go for it!

As I was instructed to do, I called up the redetermination people, only to be told that I would no longer be redetermined because they determined that I wasn't enrolled in Medicaid. It wasn't for lack of trying!

Instead, they said, I had County Care, which is offered through Cook County. This was news to me. It was also news to County Care, who told me that, no, I just had straight Medicaid.

In reality, I had neither. Or, nothing, to be more exact.

*

The redetermination folks, by the way, are a third party - yes, it was outsourced - who don't know what the hell they're doing. A customer rep there insisted to me that expanded Medicaid had nothing to do with Obamacare. After failing to reason with him, I called back and asked to speak to a supervisor. Guess who I was handed to? The same dude!

ME: So now you're a supervisor?

HIM: Yes.

ME: But when I talked to you a few minutes ago, you were just a customer service rep.

HIM: Yes.

ME: So if I had asked you to hand me to a supervisor, you would have handed the phone to yourself?

*

He also insisted that one had to be elderly or disabled to qualify for Medicaid. I explained to him that one could qualify by income - and that the Obamacare expansion expanded the range to include more people, like me. He insisted this wasn't true. I read him a paragraph from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

HIM: Where are you reading that from?

ME: The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services' website.

HIM: Well, anyone can put anything they want on a website.

*

The only upside is that I discovered my Medicaid "card," which finally arrived in the mail a year late and isn't really a card but a scrap of paper, actually works for getting prescriptions at Walgreens, even though it's not supposed to work until you actually choose a plan.

Previously, I had called up one day and said, Hey, I still don't have my Medicaid card. The woman on the line took my information and said she pushed all the right buttons to have it sent out. It arrived about six months later, and not at her behest, I'm fairly certain. I think the County Care guy sent it out. Anyway, then this conversation ensued:

HER: Now you have to choose a plan.

ME: Okay.

HER: I'm going to go through for you 16 different plans to choose from.

ME: You mean you're going to read to me 16 different plans right here over the phone?

HER: Yes.

ME: I don't think so.

That's when I asked her to just mail out the information instead. It never arrived.

*

My view is that everyone should be automatically enrolled in health care when they are born - just like Social Security. You start out on your parents' plan, or a plan for those whose parents aren't covered, and at 18 or 26 or whatever, you choose your own plan. Some might call that . . . Medicare-for-all.

*

I think I also might have said something at some point about "redeterminating your ass!" but I also think I had hung up the phone by then.

*

By the way, Get Covered Illinois has been equally as maddening and worthless.

*

I'll return to city politics tomorrow. Or, actually, later today as I complete this weekend's Beachwood Radio Hour.

Speaking of which . . .

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #37: The Big Gloom.

The Post-Super Bowl, pre-baseball depression. Plus: The Gloomy Bulls; The Sunny Blackhawks; Bears Draft Mockery; Mocking The NFL Draft; and Joe Maddon vs. Kris Bryant.

* Beachwood Radio Special Edition: Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy.

At the conclusion of our series last week, I spoke to our very own Natasha Julius about both the experience of a lost pregnancy and the experience of writing about it.

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A Ruinous Rule
How the filibuster may have just killed 1,000 of our veterans.

By the author of the forthcoming Unlock Congress: Reform the Rules - Restore the System, due out by WhyNotBooks on April 15.

I assisted in the editing of the book. To learn more, go to UnlockCongress.com.

They Said No To Torture
True American heroes tell their stories.

ICYMI: The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Low Swans, Robbie Fulks, Lydia Loveless, Steve Dawson, Steve Earle, New Orleans Suspects, and Periphery.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Alestorm, Crybaby, Jonny Craig, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Sleeping With Sirens, PVRIS, and Pierce The Veil.

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BeachBook
* Avondale Neighbors Come Together To Fight 'Disgraceful' Dibs.

* Some Other Tall Tales Brian Williams Might Want To Apologize For.

* Did Rahm Emanuel Kill Helen Morley?

* Former Bear Alan Page Plans Life After The Minnesota Supreme Court.

* Coffee Shop-Looking Cafe Casinos Take Hold In The Suburbs.

You know what are sure-fire ways to make money? Gambling and credit. The mob knew that a long time ago. Also: sex, drugs and war.

* For Most Of Us, There's Not A 'Recovery.'

* ESPN's Dan Dakich Gets In Twitter Fight With Mayor Of Champaign.

* Big Crowds Cause Al's Italian Beef In Texas To Run Out Of Food.

'Semis of beef' on the way.

* Hockey City Classic At Soldier Field Full Of Problems.

* Chicago-Area Company To Sell Iconic Hospital Blankets To Public.

* Kanye's Mom Wouldn't Let Him Ride The 'El' Because People Were Getting Killed Over Sneakers.

* Wisconsin Firefighters Return To Finish Shoveling Heart Attack Victim's Driveway.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Daddy, tell me the story again about who paid for our baseball field . . .

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Once upon a time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Alestorm at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.


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2. Crybaby at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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3. Jonny Craig at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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4. The Chris Robinson Brotherhood at Park West on Friday night.

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5. Sleeping With Sirens at the Aragon on Friday night.

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6. PVRIS at the Aragon on Friday night.

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7. Pierce The Veil at the Aragon on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:24 AM | Permalink

They Said No To Torture

"We will never know the names of so many of the CIA officers who spoke out against torture. They were among the brave men and women throughout the government who challenged the brutality approved at the highest levels of government, and they are responsible for bringing to light what so many wanted to keep in the shadows."


So far, though, our official history has honored only those who approved torture, not those who rejected it.

By refusing to acknowledge the courage of those who said "no" to torture, we betray the public servants who risked so much to reverse what they knew was a disastrous and shameful course. Honoring these people would encourage the best in our public servants, now and in the future.

*

Take Action: Tell President Obama to Honor Those Who Said No To Torture.

*

Acts of courage.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

A Beachwood Radio Special Edition: Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy

On September 17, 2014, Natasha Julius went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing she would do for more than two months. During this time, she e-mailed a small group of people. Those e-mails - 11 in total - became the basis of the series Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy. At the conclusion of that series last week, we talked about both the experience of a lost pregnancy and the experience of writing about it.


The series:

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 10: Steve The Cat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11: My Final Goal Was Survival.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Postscript: Here Is What I Suggest.

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For more from The Beachwood Radio Network, see The Beachwood Radio Network!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2015

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Low Swans at the Subterranean on Wednesday night.


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2. Robbie Fulks & Lydia Loveless at the Hideout on Monday night.

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3. Robbie Fulks & Steve Dawson at the Hideout on Monday night.

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4. Steve Earle at City Winery on Monday night.

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5. New Orleans Suspects at SPACE in Evanston on Thursday night.

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6. Periphery at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:39 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #37: The Big Gloom

The Post-Super Bowl, pre-baseball depression. Plus: The Gloomy Bulls; The Sunny Blackhawks; Bears Draft Mockery; Mocking The NFL Draft; and Joe Maddon vs. Kris Bryant.


SHOW NOTES

* This Bears Cornerback Bares All.

:56: The Big Gloom.

* Post-Super Bowl, pre-baseball.

6:10: Super Bowl Wrap-Up: The Game Is Still The Thing.

* Bill Belichick choked.

* Matt Bowen: How NFL Teams Cheat.

* NFL Didn't Log The PSI Of Each Patriots Football.

* Video Shows Employee Taking 24 Balls Into Bathroom.

* SI: Roger Goodell Finally Speaks, But Shows He Still Doesn't Get It.

* Roger Goodell Refuses To Answer NBC's Questions.

* Snyder Communications.

* Tagliabue Rips Goodell.

* Protect The Shield? Or Cover His Butt?

* Steve Rosentroll.

29:32: The Gloomy Bulls.

* Mike Dunleavy, MVP!

* Anthony Davis Injures Shoulder In Loss To Bulls.

* From Wikipedia:

"Davis is from the South Side of Chicago and played high school basketball for Perspectives Charter School, where he had attended school since sixth grade. The team plays in a division of the Chicago Public High School League, known as the Blue Division, that is ignored by the media because of its lower level of competition. Perspectives is a charter school that operates as a math and science academy with high academic pedigree, but minimal athletic success. The school had no gymnasium and Davis' middle school basketball teams practiced at a nearby church. In junior high school, he was known as "the little guy who would shoot threes from the corner."

* Tony Snell Nears Career High In Winning Effort.

* LeBron James And Cavs On A Roll.

* Deal With It: The Atlanta Hawks Are The Class Of The NBA.

* Thibodeau Defends Defense.

* Date-O-Rama: Russell Wilson vs. Tony Snell.

44:39: The Sunny Blackhawks.

* All About The Kaners In Blackhawks' 2-1 Overtime Win Over The Jets.

* Patrick Kane Making Strong Case For MVP.

51:10: Bears Draft Mockery.

* Adam Hoge Grades Every 2014 Bear - And There Are Surprises.

* Adam Hoge's Mock Draft 1.0 Has The Bears Taking Marcus Mariota.

* 'Guppy' Jeff Fisher.

1:01:24: NFL Draft Mockery.

* Documents Shed New Light On Chicago's Plans To Host NFL Draft.

* Haugh: NFL Draft Will Be Worth The Inconvenience For Chicago.

* Beachwood Exclusive! Inside Chicago's NFL Draft Bid.

* Boston Globe: Bid Documents Put Cost Of 2024 Games At $10b.

* Allen Sanderson.

* Time: Why Nobody Wants To Host The 2022 Winter Olympics.

1:05:27: Joe Maddon vs. Kris Bryant.

* Joe Maddon Crusades To Save His Hometown.

1:10:50: Bonus Babies.

* Ron Yary.

* Mike Hartenstein.

* Alan Page Plans For Life After The State Supreme Court.

STOPPAGE TIME: 12:46.

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For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

A Ruinous Rule

Clay Hunt was a 28-year-old U.S. Marine veteran who served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Anbar province, under ambush, Hunt watched more than one of his friends die on the battlefield - images that would replay over and over in his mind's eye through countless sleepless nights. In 2007, a sniper's gunshot narrowly missed Hunt's head, wounding him in the wrist instead. He was treated for the injury in California and also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet after recovering, in 2008 this brave soldier returned to the fight - this time in southern Afghanistan. There he watched two more of his friends lose their lives.

When Clay Hunt came home, he began another courageous fight. He started working with other service members to help them try to defeat the mental demons that he, himself, knew all too well. Hunt lobbied Congress on behalf of veterans and appeared in public service messages geared toward educating Americans about mental health and the unseen wounds of war. But in the end, the depression and guilt he felt for having survived when so many others did not, proved to be just too much. Clay Hunt shot himself to death on March 31, 2011. On the wall inside his apartment in Sugarland, Texas, he left behind a shadow box with photos of the four friends he'd lost in the wars, and the medals he'd earned fighting for his country. Clay Hunt is far from alone. Every year, thousands of proud yet tortured U.S. veterans suffer the same, suicidal fate.

This week, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate voted unanimously in favor of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. The legislation requires the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) mental health and suicide prevention programs to be independently evaluated and to identify best practices. The law also provides incentives to attract more psychiatrists to work at the VA and mandates the creation of an interactive website that will make suicide prevention resources more accessible for veterans and their families. The cost of the bill is $22 million, in the context of an overall VA budget that was $154 billion in 2014.

So on the face of it, this unanimous vote to pass the Clay Hunt Act seemed like a rare positive moment for a flailing U.S. Congress. After a year of appalling VA health scandals, our lawmakers at least took some action to take better care of the warriors who take care of us. But it's not quite that simple. In matters of life and death, time can be an incredibly precious commodity. And due to the ridiculous rules in the U.S. Senate, the time Congress wastes can carry a heavy human cost.

The Clay Hunt Act was introduced in November of last year, and sponsored by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a war veteran who endured more than five years as a P.O.W. in Vietnam. The bill had bipartisan support and was also endorsed by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

But on December 15th, one U.S. Senator used the filibuster rules in the Senate to stop the Clay Hunt Act from coming up for a vote. In a country of more than 315 million people, represented by 535 elected members of Congress, a single no-vote in the Senate can grind the entire nation's business to a halt. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) blocked the bill because he didn't like the $22 million price tag and didn't think the legislation would be effective. Coburn certainly has a right to his opinion and his vote. After all, he was elected statewide to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate, and voting his conscience is part of his job - even if every other member of Congress might disagree with him.

But when our U.S. Congress is operating under a scenario where a single objection in the Senate can turn back the will of an overwhelming majority - or even more egregious, a unanimity - then our government is no longer operating under the principle of majority rule. There were measures taken when our Constitution was written and ratified to protect the rights of the minority. But the filibuster was not one of them. It has never been in our Constitution. It was a procedural accident of U.S. history - and one that has now reached a record level of abuse by both political parties in recent years.

In this specific case, one might wonder what's the big deal? It only took another 50 days to pass the legislation in both chambers (after Coburn retired and a new Congress was sworn in). What's the harm?

Every day, on average, 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide. Approximately 8,000 per year. Yes, eight thousand - including an estimated one thousand over those extra 50 days. It is difficult to even wrap one's mind around these numbers. After the Clay Hunt Act was blocked in December, Hunt's mother, Susan Selke, spelled it out clearly: "I am grieving thinking of those young men and women who will be delayed receiving help because of this inaction. The VA's mental health system needs urgent change as more veterans die from suicide than on the battlefield, and Senator Coburn's action today just delays that reform."

Certainly, the tragic story of Clay Hunt's death and a lone senator's push-back on a popular bill to prevent more such deaths gives a heightened sense of drama to the use and abuse of the filibuster. But to be clear, the filibuster is now a ubiquitous presence in the U.S. Senate. In the 113th Congress, with the GOP in the minority, a record high 167 cloture votes to break filibusters was reached by the end of July 2014 - more obstruction tactics in eighteen months than all of those the Senate had seen between 1917 and 1980! By the end of that congressional session, the total number of cloture motions hit yet another record - 253.

Coburn's straight-arm tactic in December on the suicide prevention bill coincided with an exit interview he gave to CBS on 60 Minutes. When he was asked his opinion on Congress's record low approval rating of seven percent, the answer he gave might seem ironic: "Who are the seven percent of the people who actually think we do a great job?" But if it's ironic, it's not because Coburn himself was necessarily a "bad" Senator due to one lonely, unpopular position he used to glue up the Senate. It's because the system itself permits that single vote against a single idea to freeze the entire legislative branch.

Tom Harkin (D-IA) served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years until he retired in January, 2015. In an interview near the end of his service, Harkin offered a cold, hard truth: "A senator has his or her power not because of what we can do - but because of what we can stop." The backwards filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate now allow for a massive distortion and skewing of our system. But the filibuster is not etched in stone. It is merely a rule that can, and should, be reformed. It is time to put a stop - to all of the stopping.

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Noted:
* A Misunderstood Statistic: 22 Military Veteran Suicides A Day.

* Why Suicide Rate Among Veterans Might Be More Than 22 A Day.

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Michael Golden is the author of Unlock Congress: Reform the Rules - Restore the System, due out by WhyNotBooks on April 15. Beachwood editor and publisher Steve Rhodes assisted in the editing of the book. To learn more, go to UnlockCongress.com.

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See also: U.S. Reps Run For Re-Election From Day One.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:35 AM | Permalink

February 7, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

Sweet Jeebus, just in fucking time, right?

Market Update
Huh, turns out Talk really is cheap.

Throwback Edition!
It happened again! You went to sleep in 2015 and woke up in 1920. Here's how you can cope:

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Better than Western Union.

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Beachwood Weekend Programming Guide

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #37: The Big Gloom.

The Post-Super Bowl, pre-baseball depression. Plus: The Gloomy Bulls; The Sunny Blackhawks; Bears Draft Mockery; Mocking The NFL Draft; and Joe Maddon vs. Kris Bryant.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour.

In pre-production.

* Special Radio Hour: Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy.

In post-production.

* A Ruinous Rule.

The filibuster may have just killed 1,000 of our veterans.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

Featuring: Low Swans, Robbie Fulks, Lydia Loveless, Steve Dawson, Steve Earle, New Orleans Suspects, and Periphery.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "As Aimee Mann once sung, 'Hush Hush, keep it down now, voices carry!' But despite that plea and desire for secrecy, musicians have been coming clean about their loving feelings since the beginning of the rock era. So to celebrate Valentine's Day this year, Jim and Greg reveal their favorite 'Secret Love Songs.' These could be admissions of an illicit romance, expressions of forbidden emotions or professions of a secret crush. Enjoy (but keep it on the down-low)."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: Get Ready To Vote!

Early voting in Chicago starts Monday, February 9th. Learn more about the candidates by visiting cantv.org/election, where you'll find 30 hours of aldermanic and mayoral forums that you can watch anytime.

Mayoral Candidates' Forum
CAN TV brings you a mayoral candidates' forum hosted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago.

Sunday at 2 p.m. on CAN TV21 and online here.

Public Affairs
Longtime political analyst Paul Green joins host Jeff Berkowitz to look ahead at Chicago's mayoral race and what Gov. Rauner will do in Springfield.

Monday at 8:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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BeachBook
* Tribune Spends A Ton To Investigate Rahm, Then Endorses Him.

* Tallahassee Democrat Will No Longer Endorse Candidates.

* Chicago-Based Shirley Rodrigues Wins Zee-TV's Super Moms North America.

* Shutting Down Harassment On A Chicago Train.

* Kansas City Was Crucial To The Eternal Sunshine Of Ernie Banks.

* Sports Build Character Pt. 1,324,973: How NFL Teams Cheat.

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TweetWood

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:18 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

I went downtown today to get fingerprinted.

The urban journalism program I work with has worked with the Spark mentoring program this year, and Spark in turn works with CPS.

I always wondered if CPS did background checks on folks like me. I've been in their schools and working with their students for two years and I don't recall anything about a background check. Maybe my boss just vouched for me.

But now, CPS is not only doing a background check but requiring fingerprints of everyone working with Spark.

So I went today to comply.

*

I don't know why it kind of bothered me to offer up my fingerprints. Maybe because we're in such a hyper-surveillance state, it just kind of rankled.

But anyone working with public school children should go through a background check. I get it. They should check to make sure I wasn't a creep with a shady past who might be there to prey on children. I get it.

I did wonder, though, where my fingerprints would end up. In a national criminal database? Nah. Probably not. But what if they did? What would be wrong with that?

Well, I thought to myself, if I ever commit a crime, it would be easier for the cops to catch me.

So was that my objection? That giving my fingerprints would make it harder to commit a crime?

I couldn't think of a reason not to give my fingerprints.

*

Then I recalled when the Chicago Police Department started fingerprinting journalists. That was wrong. This was not that.

*

What gave me bigger pause was being required, for the first time, to sign a release indemnifying CPS for any liability under the sun. I signed, but told the Spark folks they might want to reassess that: What if, for instance, we're having our big end-of-session celebration in the lunchroom at Chavez Elementary and the roof caves in and CPS had been warned to fix the roof or close the school and now we're all crippled for life? Did I just sign away my right to sue? I think I did.

A friend tells me, though, that what I signed is meaningless. He says those kinds of clauses assume that the institution involved will behave with due care. Any good lawyer, he says, will get around what you signed. I hope he's right. Or, let's say, I hope I never have to find out.

*

Then I almost got stuck in the building I was in. I'm sure this isn't uncommon. I stepped into an elevator on the 5th floor and pushed "L" for lobby. Nothing happened. The light did not stay lit. The overhead lights were off. The doors did not move. So I got out and saw another open elevator and stepped in. There was a mail lady in there with her cart and I said hello and realized I was in the service elevator. She said it was okay, she was going down. But she got off the 4th floor. I got off at "L" but I wasn't in the lobby at all; I was in the building's nether-most regions. I got back in and pushed "2" and that was just a regular floor. So I took the stairs that said "Re-entry L/1st floor" and found myself outdoors in a small wire cage of sorts quite quickly. I went back inside fearing this could be it. I recalled to myself the time I almost got stuck in the stairwell of the Cook County Jail. I wondered if I had at least a chocolate bar on me if I wasn't found until Monday.

I took the stairs back up to the second floor and got in a different elevator full of regular ol' folk, and went down to "L" with them and this time when the doors opened I really was on "L."

And that's what I did today.

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By the way, they didn't use an ink pad, which really disappointed me. You just stick your fingers on a screen thingy. Totally not as much fun.

I mentioned this to one of the Spark folk, and said, you know, I wanted to black up my hand! Like in that Snow song!

He didn't know the song.

I won't turn informer!

*

I asked for a lie detector test too, but they didn't have one and said it wasn't necessary. I know, but I thought it would be fun.

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Beachwood Photo Booth
Men On Vans.

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The Beachwood Radio Network
Coming this weekend:

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #43.

Debates, endorsements and more!

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #37.

Bulls, Bears, baseball!

* A Special Edition Of The Beachwood Radio Hour.

A talk with Natasha Julius about her series Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy.

It's really good.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Is in production!

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BeachBook
* Brian Williams Is A Jagoff.

* Grading Rahm On Crime.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Codebreaker.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Men On Vans

Why hello there!

menonvans.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Penn-Dutchman Antiques.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cow Patrol.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Backstage Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skully Bungalow.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Francisco Frankenstein.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Long Cool Heat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Smokers' Mast.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Big Fat Phone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Happy Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alley Men.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Show!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You've Got Mailbox.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Broken Window Theory.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Dali Logan.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Svengoolie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Horner Park Hot Dogs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cubs Rehab.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 20th Century Schizoid Man.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

"Moody's Analytics has a different take on the state of the state of Illinois than the one Gov. Bruce Rauner [offered Wednesday]," Tom Kacich reports for the Champaign News-Gazette.

"Its newly released economic forecast for the state, delivered in dry, nonpolitical tones, doesn't demonize organized labor or state employees for the poor financial condition of the state government.

"In fact, when it addresses what it calls the state's 'failed' fiscal policies and its 'precarious' financial condition, Moody's puts the onus on the taxing and spending of previous governors and legislatures.

"The state's budget has been unbalanced and unsustainable for many years," Moody's said in a 41-page analysis to the Legislature's bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. "The state's fiscal condition has deteriorated for two principle reasons.

"First, for decades it has balanced its annual cash budget by not putting aside sufficient funds to cover the increase in future pension benefits, causing unfunded liabilities to increase. Second, when the state economy was performing well from the late 1990s into the mid-2000s, Illinois expanded government services but did not raise taxes or put away cash reserves.

"The state's fiscal condition was poor going into the Great Recession, which had a devastating effect on revenue and increased demand for services."

If we're going to use words like "accountability," let's hold those responsible accountable for this mess - instead of punishing once again those who have already been harmed.

*

"In another section, Moody's takes a look at 'right to work' laws, a legislative initiative that Rauner has promoted as a local option, but not on a statewide basis. With right to work, employees in unionized workplaces can't be forced to pay union dues, although they enjoy union benefits. Eventually, a union's finances and influence erode.

Right to work laws reduce union membership, Moody's notes, but less clear is whether they actually contribute to economic growth.

"Since laws that hurt unions shift the balance of power from employees to owners, they tend to erode wages and lead to a more uneven distribution of the gains of economic growth," Moody's said. "Consequently, even if the impact of right-to-work laws is positive in the short run, it can diminish over time because of the downward pressure on incomes."

Gangsta Moody's, y'all. Goin' right after Rauner.

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"In another blow to the Rauner narrative that Illinois is a bad state for business - he showed a chart last week that ranked Illinois 48th among the states - Moody's concludes that 'Illinois' business climate outshines its regional rivals,' although it acknowledges that 'the state's shaky finances have some firms questioning whether they want to expand in the state or elsewhere.'

Moody's says that while the fiscal crisis and the possibility of higher state taxes "are expected to subtract modestly from growth, Illinois is unlikely to lose its appeal for corporate headquarters and companies that need highly skilled workers and are willing to pay for the top talent."

Paying for top talent is something Rauner understands.

That might also explain the labor cost part of this segment:

Further, business costs in Illinois "are only marginally higher than they are nationally," concludes Moody's. "Costs are now lower than those in Wisconsin and Ohio but higher than those in neighboring Missouri and Indiana. Firms in Illinois tend to pay less in taxes, and their utility costs are below average, but labor is on the expensive side. By and large, though, business costs are pretty favorable and lower than those in states that have similarly high metropolitan areas with unique features that appeal to businesses such as California and New York."

That reminds me of this section of my 2004 article on McCormick Place for Chicago magazine:

For all the talk of high labor costs in Chicago, convention officials still use wage rates as a selling point. A Web site dedicated to the McCormick Place West expansion boasts of average hourly pay that is lower than that in several other cities, including New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, San Jose, and Atlantic City.

"We honestly don't believe Chicago is out of line with its labor costs," says McAvoy. "We do believe that some of the work rules need to be reworked to make it easier to exhibit, but that's no different than any of the other cities."

Not only that, but McCormick Place's labor force, as mobbed up and ghosted-payrolled as its been over the decades, has also had a reputation of being the best in the business - so much so that crews are sometimes flown in to out-of-state locations to handle other folks' business. So maybe paying for top talent - and getting top returns - is indeed a counterintuitive selling point for Illinois (and by Illinois I mean Chicago, because that's where the bulk of the talent resides).

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Please click through for the rest of Kacich's report.

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Because Kacich works for a newspaper, there is no link to the Moody's report he is quoting from. Because I don't, here it is.

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Bonus Moody's:

"The state's tax burden has been consistently below that of the Midwest since the early 1980s and has been lower than the national average since the late 1980s. Illinois' tax burden is also lower than those of its neighboring states, with the exception of Missouri and Indiana. The state has been able to keep its tax rates low by deferring its commitments for employee compensation."

Will the media report it this way?

*

More Moody's

"Right-to-work laws weaken labor unions by eroding the power and influence of organized labor - they tilt the balance of power so that workers reap fewer of the gains from growth. The laws create what is known as a free-rider problem - by making the payment of union dues voluntary, workers are able to benefit from union bargaining efforts without having to pay for it. With fewer employees paying for the cost of representation, the financial resources of unions get eroded and their influence and power suffers."

That's surely what Bruce Rauner wants, but it's hard to see how Illinois becomes more compassionate and competitive - the new governor's slogan - by furthering economic inequities.

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Decorating Illinois Pols' Offices
Inspired by Aaron Schock.

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I'm Begging You, Fix The Debates
Last night's mayoral debate on WTTW was the latest in a long line of media fails; you can check @BeachwoodReport for my real-time commentary (most appearing also at the hashtag #ChicagoTonight).

Every debate fails in its own way, it seeems, and Chicago Tonight's was curious in its own respect.

First, moderater Phil Ponce raced through the questions like he had a plane to catch. Second, Ponce hadn't appeared to do his homework, showing unfamiliarity at times with both the previously stated positions of the candidates and, in the case of the mayor, reported facts that contradict the carefully prepared spin. Third, a bunch of the questions - about dogs in Maggie Daley Park and dibs, for example - weren't worthy of wasting time on.

I just don't get it.

Every debate is like the first one that's ever been had in all of human history. Lessons aren't learned. Campaign themes aren't built on. Time is wasted. Hosts are ill-prepared.

What did anyone learn from last night? How was that exercise helpful to voters?

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I'm not sure which debate the Tribune's folks were watching, but "Emanuel Goes On Offensive" sure wasn't the one I saw.

In fact, Emanuel, whom I'm pretty sure was the one sniffling throughout the show and (I'm told) had two cold sores on his lower lip, was not in top form. Chuy Garcia - to his benefit - was the most assertive I've seen him, and Bob Fioretti and Willie Wilson seemed frustrated most of the time with the division of airtime.

"Emanuel appeared more confrontational than in two previous face-to-face meetings before newspaper editorial boards," the Trib reported.

I didn't see it that way. To me, Emanuel was relatively low-key and seemed particularly frustrated with questions about the city's red-light camera program, as well as questions undeserving of airtime regarding his motorcade running red lights and apparently including a chase car.

*

Fran Spielman's account for the Sun-Times found a different focus:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel was attacked Wednesday for the well-oiled fundraising machine that has put nearly $31 million in his campaign coffers since 2010, with mayoral challenger Bob Fioretti declaring, "If that's not pay-to-play, I don't know what is."

"The nexus between Emanuel's heavy-hitting donors and the mayor's public appearances and official actions was center stage during a live mayoral forum on the WTTW-Channel 11 program, Chicago Tonight."

I guess there were three debates last night! I didn't see that as "center stage," and I found the (truncated) discussion about it confused, with the mayor left off the hook as neither Ponce nor Fioretti, who was the chief aggressor on the topic, clearly articulated the problem as outlined in the Tribune's current investigative series.

(Our journos are not adults. Rather than crediting the Trib, whose work led to the topic being raised last night, the Sun-Times felt compelled to only note instead that "Both major newspapers have written articles about Emanuel's fundraising." That's just outright deception. And God forbid you should help your readers by actually linking to the Tribune's work.)

*

Clarification: I did learn something last night. With a sample size now of two - the first being this defense of a long-ago property tax increase vote - I learned that Chuy Garcia is at his best when he's attacked. That's when he becomes animated and articulate and forces an argument. As told by the Sun-Times:

Before the spotlight was turned on his legendary fundraising, Emanuel tried to put County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia on the defensive for a comparatively miniscule contribution Garcia once received from a red-light camera operator.

"Chuy, right before the County [Board] voted on a red-light operation, you took $1,500 the night before and then, you were the swing vote the next day," Emanuel said.

Garcia was livid.

"I took a $1,500 contribution from a 30-year friend who does no business with the city, and you know that, so you're lying about that. And we weren't approving a red-light camera. We were responding to a request from a suburb that wanted to install a red-light camera. The county hasn't installed any red-light cameras. That's the truth.

"You're distorting, and you're lying, and you know it. And that's the reverse Robin Hood right there: Robbing from the poor to give to the rich," Garcia said.

I'm not sure the Robin Hood bit makes sense in that particular spot, but so be it.

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If the media doesn't understand itself, it will never reform. And it never understands itself. Take this analysis by Spielman, who obviously thought the debate was awesome.

Thanks to Ponce's deft and fast-paced questioning, Wednesday's forum was a lively affair that touched on a host of subjects. Topics included police manpower, legalizing and taxing marijuana, school closings and charter openings to the Lucas museum, the notorious dibs system and the favored snow-removal treatment paid to the dead-end street where Ald. Edward Burke (14th) lives.

That's not a debate, it's a game show.

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Spielman: "The third debate was all over the map. And it was fun to watch."

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The Trews About Those Super Bowl Ads
Budweiser and Nissan tell touching - if confusing - stories preaching about values neither company demonstrates in real life.

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Postscript: Here Is What I Suggest
The term that seems to fit my situation most closely is "missed miscarriage," a horrible amalgam of negligence and incompetence; you fucked up your pregnancy and you didn't even notice.

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BeachBook
* FBI Put Anonymous 'Hacktivist' Jeremy Hammond On Terrorism Watchlist.

* Help Wanted: Chicago Reader Seeks Editor.

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TweetWood
My three favorite debate tweets.

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This one must've been too insidery, 'cause it got no play. Maybe needed a polish.

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A few non-debate tweets.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: At your disposal.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

The Trews About Those Super Bowl Ads

Budweiser and Nissan tell touching - if confusing - stories preaching about values neither company demonstrates in real life.


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Previously:
* The Trews About That Budweiser Commercial (Part 1).

* The Trews About Coca-Cola's Christmas Commercial.

* The Trews About Sainsbury's Chocolates' Christmas Commercial.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:37 AM | Permalink

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Postscript: Here Is What I Suggest

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the postscript to those 11 messages.

February 4, 2015
Dear Friends,

I promised to write an ending to this story, but it turns out I don't know how. Because every story starts with a question, it is expected to end with an answer. I haven't got one.

When I began writing in September, the question seemed straightforward: How am I going to get through this? What I've discovered in the past few months is that I'm not. There is no "through this" to get. My second pregnancy contains a void, the contours of which are unknown and unknowable. While the crisis is over, the potential for questions will always exist and I will always find myself lacking for answers.

The question now seems to be, how do I live with this? This story has to become a part of my life, something I can carry with me that fits and makes sense. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer. It starts with finding a way to talk about it.

There are a few names for what I went through - "anembryonic pregnancy," "spontaneous abortion" and the wonderfully Dust Bowl-chic "blighted ovum." Most of these only work if you know when the embryo stopped developing. The term that seems to fit my situation most closely is "missed miscarriage," a horrible amalgam of negligence and incompetence; you fucked up your pregnancy and you didn't even notice. It's a wonderful tool to make you feel worse in an already painful situation.

Terms like "miscarriage" let us separate the failures from the successes, maintaining a specific idea of what pregnancy should be. Pregnancy ends with childbirth; anything else gets siphoned off into a different category. Fear, grief, sadness and shame - all of which might be part of any viable pregnancy- get siphoned off as well. This narrow definition of "normal" doesn't reflect the truth anymore than the narrow expectation that we'll "get through" our grief. My first pregnancy was a wonderful experience, but it was also terrifying and sometimes maddening. My second pregnancy was a tragedy, but there were times when I felt stronger, more loved and more loving than I ever have before. If we can't accept that every pregnancy contains that complexity, we set ourselves up for failure no matter the outcome.

This experience was profoundly isolating. Some of the isolation was self-imposed; I lost more than whatever came out of my uterus. I lost confidence, in my body as a safe and functional tool and in myself as a socially desirable person. I lost the lubricant that allows us to move in the world without exploding at the horror of it all. I truly felt - and still sometimes feel - unable to bear the sadness and soldier on.

Still, much of my isolation stemmed from the perception that no one would want to deal with me. I wasn't a proper pregnant woman anymore; I was a something broken and dangerous. No one wants a reminder that biology is not a meritocracy. I can recover much of what I lost, but to claim this story fully I'll have to keep dragging out the laundry and proving that it's clean.

What you have read over the past three weeks is my testimonial. I don't know if I could tell you this story face-to-face, but I wanted others to know. From July 23rd to October 10th of 2014, I was pregnant. It didn't work out the way I'd hoped and I'll carry the disappointment for a very long time. But I've learned that deep sadness can exist alongside humor and joy. It's complex and uncomfortable and frequently a mess and I'm getting used to it.

Many of you have asked if there's something you can do to help. Here is what I suggest: Share this story. Don't worry what other people will think of you for sharing it. Find a way to share your own stories. If you can't find the words, make new ones. Identify all the missing answers before you forget the questions. Fall to pieces when you need to. Be a mess and let everyone know it. Don't be afraid to laugh or get angry. Do both at once and then have a good cry. Find help if you need it. Trust someone.

All of this may or may not make me feel better, but it will make you feel better. And that helps.

Love,
nj

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Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 10: Steve The Cat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11: My Final Goal Was Survival.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy: The Podcast.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2015

Local Music Notebook: Buy A Piece Of JBTV

"Jerry Bryant has put up for sale his massive, one-of-a-kind JBTV archive of 30,000 remastered, first generation digibeta music videos from the '80s, '90s and 2000s in order to capitalize the expansion and resources of his live music show," Reel Chicago reports.

"The painstakingly preserved vault of 1,100 one-inch tapes is a cultural mother lode of Smithsonian proportions. The storage devices alone are worth $125,000. Bryant has 'no idea' of the content's value.

"It's a one of a kind collection that nobody has," he says. "It's got some of the best and some of the worst of all the music videos ever released, sort of a history of rock and roll since 1984."

Does it come with the hyperbole?

But no, seriously, this is a pretty good collection.

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This JBTV promo reel kind of gives you an idea of what we're dealing with.

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See also: The JBTV Music Television YouTube Channel.

New Kid In (Sorta) Town
Introducing Jay Storm, the Charlotte-Based Beatmaker Who's Making Waves in Chicago.

Noise Porn
"Leo Kidd, the electronic duo based out of Chicago, just made their debut in December with their very first single, 'Pretty.' The talented bedroom producers' haunting single perfectly showcases Leigha Crumbley's stunning vocals and Will Lidke's outstanding production ability."

And for that, Leo Kidd is Noise Porn's Artist of the Month.

Hot For Blue Island Rockabilly Teacher
"The people who are successful in country music tend to be open and honest about their personal shortcomings," Evan Moore writes for the Daily Southtown, which is now owned by the Tribune.

"That type of honesty resonates with fans of the genre.

"Oak Forest native JoEllyn Moroney, a music teacher by day and a rockabilly singer nicknamed 'Pearls Mahone' by night, hopes that proves true as she's looking to breakout."

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Here she is at Reggies last spring.

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Over Yonder Way
"As a kid growing up just outside of Chicago with a talent and passion for musical theater, Jeff Austin was headed for Broadway. But going to see bands like Phish performing live during his student years changed that plan, sending him down a different musical track," Colorado Public Radio reports.

"The mandolinist and singer was so taken by the energy on stage, that he moved to Colorado, took up the mandolin and started singing and playing bluegrass songs as a founding member of The Yonder Mountain String Band."

And now he's going solo.

Local H Lives
"Local H have announced that they will be releasing their 8th studio album, Hey, Killer, on April 14th and will be playing a special hometown record release and 25th anniversary show," AntiMusic reports.

"The new album was produced by Andy Gerber and is the two-man band's first album to feature drummer Ryan Harding. Hey, Killer will be issued on CD, vinyl and digitally.

"On April 19th the band will perform the special hometown show at the Metro in Chicago to celebrate the album's release and mark the 25th anniversary of their very first live show at the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater on April 20, 1990."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

Uber Claims Credit For Drop In Drunk Driving Accidents. But Where's The Evidence?

Last week Uber revealed another way the ridesharing service is revolutionizing travel: Cities that use Uber see a reduction in drunk driving accidents among young people, a company report showed.

"When empowered with more transportation options like Uber, people are making better choices that save lives," the company declared.

David Plouffe - President Obama's former campaign manager who is now filling the same role for Uber - e-mailed millions of users to share the astounding news.

"Since we launched uberX in California, drunk-driving crashes decreased by 60 per month for drivers under 30," Plouffe wrote. "That's 1,800 crashes likely prevented over the past 2 1/2 years."

What is Uber's evidence that they "likely prevented" so many crashes?

Not much.

Indeed, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which co-authored the report, cautioned us against connecting the rise of Uber to a drop in drunk driving.

"Nobody is saying that there is a causation relationship here, this is a correlation relationship. Purely correlational," said Amy George, senior vice president of marketing and communications for MADD.

(MADD took a less cautious stance in a press release last week: New Report from MADD, Uber Reveals Ridesharing Services Important Innovation to Reduce Drunk Driving.)

Uber's report has two key graphics: The first shows alcohol-involved crashes in California markets where Uber operates. The second shows the same, but in cities where there is no Uber service. Each graph compares accidents between under-30 and 30-and-over drivers. The charts actually show, in general, a downward trend of drunk driving accidents in both Uber and non-Uber markets.

But Uber and Plouffe are hanging their assertion on another facet of the analysis: Drunk driving crashes for those under 30 have dropped more in cities that have Uber versus those that don't.

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California: Alcohol-Related Crashes in Markets Where Uber Operates
20150203-uber-drunk-driving-uberchart-630.jpg Darker line is 30 and over, lighter line is under 30. (Source: Report co-authored by Uber, MADD)

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California: Alcohol-Related Crashes in Markets Where Uber Does Not Operate
20150203-uber-drunk-driving-nouberchart-630.jpg Darker line is 30 and over, lighter line is under 30. (Source: Report co-authored by Uber, MADD)

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"We believe there is a direct relationship between the presence of uberX (Uber's lowest-cost option) in a city and the amount of drunk driving crashes involving younger populations," the report says.

That could be. But we don't really know, and neither does Uber.

Uber does not provide evidence in its report that Uber users and those under 30 are the same population. A methodology shared with us by Uber asserts that their users are generally younger and more technologically savvy. MADD's George said they sent the data analysis to an outside research group for extra vetting. She declined to name the group because they were not formally part of the report.

Michael Amodeo, an Uber spokesperson, sent us a statement in response to questions about the analysis:

"We believe the results of the study are an encouraging step in the right direction and provide evidence that ridesharing services like Uber are making a meaningful and positive impact on mindsets and the rate of drunk driving. We attempt to deal with other factors in our study by breaking out the under 30 and over 30 groups, and we're comparing them against each other."

Uber's report credits an analysis by Nate Good, who is chief technology officer for an online ticketing company as well as an amateur statistician and self-described ridesharing proponent. Uber's report reads: "Inspired by Nate Good's analysis - which demonstrated a clear downward trend in alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania's youngest cohort once ridesharing was available - we decided to replicate that study in California at large using data procured from the State."

However, Good's study had nothing to do with "alcohol-related crashes." Good analyzed DUI arrests.

"That was a poor choice of words on Uber's part," Good told us.

Good was careful to note various caveats of his analysis. No 1 on his list: "Correlation does not equate to causation." No. 2: "I am a computer science professional and a data science enthusiast, but by no means a statistician."

Good said he attempted to analyze alcohol-involved crash data but could not find a reliable data source.

We've also reached out to Plouffe, but haven't heard back yet.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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See also: Uber Gave Money To MADD Last Summer, 6 Months Before A Glowing Report.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: MLK The Funkmaster & Tales From A Snowed-In Librarians Convention

"This past Sunday, students and community members alike braved the snow to hear Cornel West discuss his new book The Radical King at Rockefeller Chapel. Notwithstanding the talk's title, West spoke on issues ranging from to Hollywood to Wu-Tang Clan to President Barack Obama," the Chicago Maroon reports.

Here's a snippet.


On Monday, West gave the keynote address at the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance and Sunrise Celebration, held by the American Library Association at its midwinter meetings . . . see next item.

Conference On Ice
"While the American Library Association (ALA) conferences held in Chicago commonly see some of the highest attendance thanks to the association's hometown's central location, winter weather hitting Sunday of this year's Midwinter Meeting made that something of a mixed blessing - more than 19 inches of snow fell between Saturday night and Monday morning," Library Journal reports.

"While many locals stayed home (and perhaps watched the Super Bowl) and a few out-of-towners were able to beat the storm by departing early, many librarians and vendors were snowed in. Some 1,500 flights arriving and departing Chicago's airports on Sunday and Monday were canceled, forcing conference-goers to stay one, two, or even three days longer than originally intended - including much of the LJ staff.

"Before the blizzard, though, Friday and Saturday saw robust traffic and a bumper crop of news."

You'll have to click through to get it.

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Publishers Weekly also reported on the snow storm's impact on the conference.

"The majority of Albert Whitman's staff was able to get to McCormick Place for meetings there on Monday, while a few stayed home to work. And at IPG on Chicago's North Side, publicist Caitlin Eck reported that while many employees worked from home on Monday, Triumph Books' staff was at the office in full force, working on its instant Super Bowl book, due to hit stores in the Boston area this weekend, commemorating the New England Patriots victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

"Things were just as mixed-up at local bookstores. The Book Cellar closed early on Sunday afternoon, but had a normal day on Monday, including two book groups meeting at the store. Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville both closed on Sunday and cancelled Monday evening's author event with Irvine Welsh (The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, Doubleday). The Seminary Co-op hosted an offsite event with Cornel West on Sunday afternoon that drew 1,200 people. While sales at the store on Sunday were slow, due to the combination of the Super Bowl and the weather, $3,500 in sales of West's book, The Radical King (Beacon Press) more than made up for the shortfall."

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About Triumph's instant sports books . . .

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More news from the ALA meetings:

* Newsweek: Libraries Dust Off Quiet Innovations.

* Survey Of Digital Resources.

* Newbery Medal Goes To: "A Story In Verse About Middle-School Basketball Players."

* Newbery Honor Awarded To A Cartoonist For First Time.

That would be Cece Bell, for El Deafo.

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Vaccinating America
"Robert D. Johnston, a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is working on a book about the controversies over vaccination in U.S. history."

You, professor Johnston, have just won the Beachwood Good Timing In Publishing Award.

Is It A 'How To Make Them?'
Brian Urlacher wrote a children's book.

999: Ten Stories
"Author and former Leo Burnett CEO Richard Fizdale shared details from his latest book, 999: A History of Chicago in Ten Stories, at the Wilmette Historical Society on Jan. 25," the Wilmette Beacon reports.

"Designed by Wilmette's Benjamin Marshall, Fizdale revealed how the development of the historic building was accompanied by greed and corruption during a critical period in Chicago's history."

Downstate Guy Reads A Lot
"Peru resident reads 5,000 books in 8 years."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11: My Final Goal Was Survival

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the last of 11 such messages. They have been edited to remove identifying information and inside references, but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

November 25, 2014
Dear Friends,

The decrease of hormones in the blood tends to follow a logarithmic progression, meaning that as time passes and the level approaches zero, the actual amount of reduction slows. My quantitative hCG levels over the past few weeks have moved from 78 to 26 to 13 to 7, so I went into Friday's blood draw with closely guarded optimism that it might be my last. The results came in yesterday: 4.8. It is, by the slimmest margin, below the threshold for a negative pregnancy test. It is enough. By every definition, my pregnancy is now over.

It seems like there should be a way to quantify this experience. After spending almost 10 weeks trying to make peace with the situation, I should be able to tally the losses and gains, to give some kind of final accounting. But no analysis I've come up with accurately describes what this has been like.

No matter how I try to tell this story, it never seems to be weighted correctly. It's like trying to tell someone what you look like; it should be an objective exercise, but how could it be? This is the story of a tiny thing that didn't work. How that came to consume so much of my time and warp my perception so thoroughly defies logic. It was a tiny thing. It caused a lot of pain. It hurt and hurt and then it stopped. I'm not sure if that's what ought to happen, or if subjective judgments even apply. I observed once during my first pregnancy that the absence of pain doesn't guarantee the presence of comfort. Sometimes we just are and there's nothing we can do about it.

Let me at least take stock of what I know. It has been my goal for more than four years to have another child. In the pursuit of that goal, I failed. I hoped the pregnancy would end naturally; it ended in failure. I wanted to avoid surgery; I failed. I wanted to walk away from the surgery into a normal life, to be released from any further testing, to lick my wounds before they scarred over. That was six weeks ago. My final goal was survival. Somehow, the significance of that success seems greater than the long string of disappointments.

I also know that I was extremely lucky. I had the full support of my community. I was given time and space to make difficult decisions, and those decisions were consistently respected. I was not lied to, manipulated or impeded. Something inside me broke, but the system I relied on did not. It was at times unpleasant, but never designed to rob me of my dignity. The course of my treatment was motivated solely by the desire to safeguard my health and support my physical and emotional recovery. I felt no shame, nor was that ever demanded of me. There are many, many women living not so far away who cannot say the same thing.

I remain today an extremely fortunate person. I have a family that is not only loving but deeply respectful. I have a beautiful child who fills my life with laughter and frustration. And I have you. In trying to tell this story, I have learned a great deal about the quality of compassion. None of you asked to be party to this, but each of you took time to offer your support. You let me be honest, open, a shaky leaf and a sleepy Maserati and, I'm sure, a complete pain in the ass. You let me be messy. You listened, and if you stopped listening you were tactful enough not to mention it. You cared deeply and let me know it. You helped me understand in a small, deep way how truly lucky I am and for that I shall forever be grateful.

Best,
nj

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Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 10: Steve The Cat.

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Thursday: Postscript.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

I know everyone is frustrated about unplowed side streets, but my God, can y'all stop whining?

This is Chicago. It's winter. We just had the fifth-highest snowfall in our city's history - ever.

It might take a little time to get it cleared away.

People here like to think they're tough, but I rarely see evidence of that. Mostly, I see a city of cowards willing - and wanting - to be bullied by their mayors and taken by the rest of the political class. I see a city full of people so insecure to be here and not in New York or LA that they have to convince the planet we are "world-class." I see a city of weaklings cowering from potholes and snow drifts, unable to handle hot or cold.

Schmucks. Chumbolones.

In other words . . .

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Does that mean the city's performance clearing streets should not be evaluated? Of course not. I just don't see anything so far that indicates the city's performance is any different than it's been in the 23 years I've lived here - or really much different than I saw growing up in Minnesota, though the rules (formal and informal) are a little different there.

If the reporting comes to show that the mayor made some bad plowing decisions, so be it. I haven't seen it yet. If we come to find that the streets and san commissioner blew it somehow, great. I haven't seen that yet either.

It's hard to plow a big city quickly. There is a protocol, and I happen to believe it's the right one: Clear the main streets first and don't plow the side streets until it stops snowing.

The city owns something like 300 plows. Unless you want a massive tax hike, we can't afford a plow for every street. Be patient. People are working as hard as they can. They want their streets plowed too.

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Is that to say there aren't shenanigans going on? Of course not. It's Chicago. Shenanigans are the default here.

For example, a closer look at the streets that qualify for plowing first might show that downtown and parts of the North Side have more "main" streets than other parts of the city. The process of plowing side streets in order of the days of garbage pick-up could be re-evaluated, although it seems sound so, um, the garbage can be picked up. Ald. Bob Fioretti called on Tuesday for the city to go to plowing by grids instead of by wards - just the way garbage pick-up was changed in recent years to the opposition of a lot of aldermen.

And yes, at least some aldermen seem to have their own plow fairies who magically appear in the night - sometimes five times - to clear their streets.

But I mostly see selfishness in the complaints - not, for example, a concern over citywide inequities.

And I mostly see myopia.

For example:

* Boston Mayor Urges Patience As City Tackles Roads. (Also: Boston Side Streets Clogged.)

* Buffalo Residents Unhappy With Storm Response.

* More Snow On The Way Could Leave Cleveland Side Streets Unplowed Until End Of Week.

* Crews Continue Working To Clear Michigan's Roads.

* Davenport Side Streets To Be Plowed Last.

It's tough everywhere - just like our potholes.

Let's blame Rahm for the stuff he deserves blame for - the heavy stuff. Side streets and potholes? Believe me, he wants those inconveniences taken care of more than you do, because he knows if he does, the city will largely forgive him for the things that really matter.

That's the way a king rules a weak city.

Double Trouble
I can only think of two times the city's snow response has been genuinely horrible: The Bilandic affair, of course (and can we please get over it?), and letting all those people get stranded on Lake Shore Drive in 2011.

In fact, some aldermen were grumbling just last month that Rahm was so sensitive to election-year snow politics that he was calling out the fleet - and costing taxpayers money - any time a flake appeared anywhere in the continental U.S.

First he's pulling the trigger too soon, now he's caught with his snow pants down.

Even I have to say that sometimes you just can't win.

DIY: Punk Winter
"As Mayor Rahm Emanuel earnestly promises us that he and city crews are doing all they can to clean up after the snowstorm, he should add a reminder that many of us have shovels, snowblowers and able bodies," the Tribune's Eric Zorn writes.

I have to agree.

"If we dig out an extra spot along the street and spend a little time clearing off the alley, we can all but eliminate the tired and ugly aftermath of deep snow in Chicago."

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See also: The item "Community Spirit Whips Dibs."

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If you don't have a block club, form one and have everyone pitch in for a snowblower. Create a shovel brigade. Pay your neighborhood kids to shovel - they had a day off school. Dibs is the privatization of public property writ small. It's the Ditka and Daley part of Chicago we should leave behind.

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See also: Humboldt Park Woman, Sick Of Dibs, Shovels Entire Block.

That was from 2014 but she hasn't changed a bit.

To wit:

Jamie Lynn Ferguson, you are Today's Best Person In Chicago.

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Buy A Piece Of JBTV
Archives for sale. Plus: Hot For Rockabilly Blue Island Teacher & Local H Lives. In Local Music Notebook.

Funkmaster MLK
Cornel West in Chicago on Radical King. Plus: Tales From A Snowed-In Librarians Convention. In Local Book Notes.

David Plouffe Making Shit Up Again
This time for Uber.

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 11
This is the story of a tiny thing that didn't work.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Dibsy doodle.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:27 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A baby, a bozo, a jerk, a firebrand and a stiff," Neil Steinberg wrote on Friday.

"Or, if you prefer, Willie Wilson, Bob Fioretti, Rahm Emanuel, William 'Dock' Walls and Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia."

Or, if you prefer, Neil Steinberg, 'cause he's pretty much all those things.

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"Wilson is a political novice . . . " Steinberg writes, which I guess is how he comes to call him a "baby." Rookie, I suppose, isn't incendiary enough. Ignoramus too much so. But baby?

" . . . a millionaire running for mayor because he's missing whatever gene keeps you or me from doing embarrassing things that we aren't capable of accomplishing half well."

Let me fix that: "He's missing whatever gene keeps you or me from doing embarrassing things that we you aren't capable of accomplishing half well."

Like political analysis.

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"Fioretti - well, 'clown' is a harsh assessment, especially since he dialed his hair color back, though his smile is still a chilling, facial appliance that walked off from American Horror Story."

Um, okay. I'll let Fioretti advisor Michael Kolenc handle the response:

(Follow the rest of the conversation here.)

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"He was a competent, block-by-block alderman before his ward was redistricted away. Now he is hammering away below Emanuel's belt, dragging the mayor's son into the campaign for getting mugged, hoping for a miracle. He continued his unfair flailing Friday, tossing everything that comes to mind into the blender, from Emanuel's spearheading Bill Clinton's hugely successful rollback of welfare - he seemed to think that was a bad thing - to blaming him for the assault rifle ban expiring. Oh, and wrecking the city."

First, Fioretti may have been a "competent block-by-block alderman," though I've never really heard him described that way, and I doubt Steinberg actually knows that, but he's best known for - and in the race because of - his role as the most vocal member of the council's progressive caucus.

Second, a singular ill-prepared set of questions about how the mayor handled his son's mugging hardly qualifies as "hammering away."

Third, hugely successful rollback of welfare?

Finally, few, if any, members of America's political class have hammered away below the belt as much as Rahm Emanuel.

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"The mayor needs no explanation."

Really? Okay.

"We all know."

We all know what? Apparently that he's a jerk. But that's okay.

"He seems to have sincerely believed his high opinion of himself would simply be imparted to the voters by osmosis and is hurt to discover otherwise (though $30 million of TV ads ought to do the trick)."

By osmosis? Yes, Rahm has never tried very hard to manipulate his media message! And yet, he needs just, say, $30 million of TV ads to get voters to believe him and not their own eyes!

"He did not actually say anything jerkish Friday. He was the same as always, reptilian, his voice a little softer, which to me seemed restrained fury, an I-spend-four-years-trying-to-save-this-frickin'-city-and-THIS-is-the-thanks-I-get? seething resentment."

Rahm has been trying to save the city. Without him, we'd be . . . that one city we dread being.

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"But unlike the others, he actually has a record."

Right. No one else in the race has a record, say, a record of three decades of work right here in lil' ol' Chicago.

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"In the last four years, we've presented four balanced budgets without a property, sales or gas tax increase," Emanuel murmured. "Four years in a row we increased our investments in after school, summer jobs and early childhood education."

Um, every mayor of Chicago has presented a balanced budget every year. It's the law.

Plus:

And those investments? Well, there are 50 fewer schools with after-school programs, for starters!

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"Walls was the surprise. In my mind he dwelled, in the realm of perennially ambitious street hustlers trying for a legitimate score - I wasn't 100 percent sure he was a different person than Wallace 'Gator' Bradley before now. But he came on strongest of the five."

Because all those black guys yabbering about race seem like the same guy.

"'There's two Chicagos,' Walls said. 'There's a world-class Chicago and and there's an underclass Chicago. The world-class Chicago is beautiful, safe tourist-friendly robust, full of resources and unlimited opportunity for Rahm Emanuel and the other 1 Percenters. That's the Chicago the media loves to brag about. Then there's the underclass Chicago that nobody wants to talk about: decaying neighborhoods, unsafe streets, people dodging potholes and bullets.'

"Too true, and well-put . . ."

And the same thing every other candidate is saying. And the same thing every opponent of Richard M. Daley said. But apparently a new observation to Steinberg.

" . . . though he jumps to a surprising conclusion.

"'Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago is the most racially segregated city in America,' Walls said.

Why is this surprising? To be fair, I would have said "Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago remains the most racially segregated (big) city in America," but this, too, isn't news. Steinberg doesn't tell us why he finds this surprising. Maybe he's in too much of a hurry to slur Chuy Garcia.

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"Garcia carries himself like a man balancing phone books on his head, like the profile off a coin, a minor bureaucrat in a small country who should be wearing a red sash and applying wax seals to official documents while ceiling fans slowly turn overhead."

You know, like an apparatchik in a Latin American banana republic, because, see, Garcia is Latino.

Racist much?

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"All except the mayor discussed schools as if we had all the money in the world, and Rahm just hates to spend it on poor folk."

If you're Rahm, or his base, you do have all the money in the world for school - say, 30 grand a year, per kid, like at the Lab School where the mayor sends his children. Rahm won't spend even close to that on poor people's kids - he once told Karen Lewis he wasn't going to waste money on 25% of 'em - instead, he shuts their schools. So yeah, I'd say that's about right.

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"I can't vote in this election, not living in Chicago - as I'm sure you'll point out, trying to undermine the plain truths outlined here. But watching the sorry spectacle, I kept thinking, 'Rahm may be a jerk, but he's our jerk.' Walls speaks a good piece but has done nothing to make anyone suspect he could do the job. The others have neither the language nor the experience."

So Dock Walls is his second choice?

As for experience, Garcia has been an alderman, state legislator, county commissioner and community organizer. I'm disappointed with many aspects of his campaign, but he clearly has the experience - you might say much more relevant experience than Rahm did when he first ran for mayor.

And Fioretti, as a "competent" alderman among a council of fools, knows the city's issues intimately, and has eight years of opposing Rahm's policies while proposing his own.

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"Voters seem resigned that Rahm Emanuel will win. Looking at his opponents, I can say with confidence: not only he will win, but he should win. God help the city if he doesn't."

Would the city fall apart if Garcia or Fioretti - the only serious challengers - were elected mayor? The city is falling apart right now! I suspect the leadership of Garcia or Fioretti would be less exhausting, more honest and far less polarizing than the leadership of Rahm.

But Rahm's a jerk, and people tend to like candidates who are just like them, which makes him perfect for Steinberg.

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The version of this column on Steinberg's blog is even worse. From the intro:

"If this piece seems a tad sharp, it's because of the unpleasantness of contemplating what passes for political discourse in this city."

Lacking self-awareness much?

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"Everyone hates him - his personality makes that easy, I'm not fond of him either, but knee jerk contempt overlooks that he's making all these hard choices for a city that was busted long before he got here."

All these hard choices! Tell us he's tough, Neil. You know you want to.

As for a city "busted long before he got here," busted by who? Like Rahm, Steinberg doesn't utter the name. Maybe because he once wrote "I would have voted for Daley, warts and all. I always did. The corruption doesn't bother me - what city doesn't have corruption?"

Now we need the guy behind the guy to fix what the first guy busted with the help of the second guy and without either guy the city would have or still will fall apart.

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"People seem under the delusion we have vast resources, that Emanuel's closing mental health clinics because it's his idea of fun."

Closing those clinics was estimated - by the mayor - to have saved $3 million. The mayor is spending $30 million in TV ads during this campaign to tell you why that was necessary.

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"How anyone can pretend to care about the city yet back one of the crew of misfits running against him is beyond me."

Written by someone who pretends to care about the city by living in Northbrook.

Also, if it's beyond you why someone would support one of the other candidates, you ought to seek another line of work. Even the most fervent supporters of Rahm's challengers fully understand why some folk back the mayor. It's not hard to figure out the motivations of any voter.

Plus, did you live through the school closings?

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"Bob Fioretti I knew; I drove around his ward with him once - and see his campaign as the standard end-of-career lunge."

End-of-career lunge? The man is 61. He was going to run four years ago until he was stricken with throat cancer. Now his ward has been decimated by Rahm's remap. Why shouldn't he run? Far less lunging than this column.

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"Jesus Garcia I've been trying to shadow for a column for the past month, but arranging it seems beyond his press secretary's ability."

Therefore I will speak ignorantly about him.

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In the comments, Steinberg writes:

"There's a sad tendency to want to infantalize people who have had a hardship. Fioretti wasn't disfigured by cancer - he looked clownish before. Nor is that my central criticism of him but an aside."

There's a sad tendency to want to criticize people's appearances. It's something most decent people get over by the time they've left high school.

It's also the first thing Steinberg says about Fioretti; hardly an aside.

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A baby, a bozo, a jerk, a firebrand and a stiff.

If a firebrand for idiocy will suffice, I'd say Neil Steinberg is all those things.

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That's a clown column, bro.

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Maybe Steinberg is just angling for another Divvy ride with Rahm.

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Noted: In the blog version of his column, Steinberg calls Clinton's welfare reform "[T]he most successful social change the federal government initiated in the past 25 years."

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He also cites Walls' "One Percent" rhetoric as true even as he criticizes "Occupy Chicago rhetoric."

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He also castigates the candidates for their platitudes while praising Rahm for his.

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When I used to write more about Steinberg, a few people asked me if I had something personal against him. I do not. He's just so aggressively wrong so often in his facts and logic, not to mention consistently boneheaded about race as well as an ethical nightmare, that I am offended he has a job in this profession every time I read him.

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To wit:

"[B]eing nudged off your beat for a week is not, in itself, a big deal," he wrote last October.

It isn't?

I'm pretty sure every reporter in the universe would disagree.

"I was suspended for a week last year for what struck me as a truly tenuous reason. But I didn't tell anybody and few noticed (sigh) making it a whole lot easier to come back and start doing my job again, which is the route I wish Dave [McKinney] had chosen to take since while it is courageous to make a stand for journalistic integrity, you can only self-immolate once, there's a dramatic flash and then ashes but what have you accomplished? The bottom line is, D) I sincerely believe that had McKinney managed to just step around this mess and gone back to doing his job, an important life skill in journalism, instead of pouring gasoline over himself, and the paper, and striking a match, the whole thing would be over by now and he'd be back to kicking Rauner's ass."

Steinberg misses the point here: McKinney didn't feel like he could go back to doing his job because he was being pressured to lay off Rauner.

And it wasn't McKinney that poured gasoline on the paper, it was Michael Ferro, assisted, seemingly, by Jim Kirk.

But if the goal, as Steinberg writes, is to stay at the paper no matter what the cost, then you keep your mouth shut and live as a hypocrite, calling out others for behaving exactly as you do. I guess for Steinberg, that strategy has worked.

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BeachBook
* Rahm Lied About Families Moving Back To Chicago.

* Teen Unemployment Continues To Rise In Chicago.

* NFL Gets Billions In Subsidies From U.S. Taxpayers.

In an era of scarce resources.

* Privileged White Kids Get To Grow In Their Troubled Years; Black Kids Go To Prison.

* Molly Crabapple's FBI File Is 7,526 Pages Long.

* Barrett Brown: My Post Cyberpunk Indentured Servitude.

* The Aaron Shock Story Everyone - But Him - Is Talking About.

* Lakeview's Panera Cares To Close.

* MadMobster Chicago 2015 Convention.

* Appraising Single-Family Homes In Englewood.

* Tribune Football Writer Wishes Marc Trestman Was Still Here.

* Second City Skilling Up Workforces.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Back to clown school.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 10: Steve The Cat

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the 10th of 11 such messages. They have been edited to remove identifying information and inside references, but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

November 16, 2014
Dear Friends,

Some of you know about this already, but back in August, just as I was beginning to wonder if I might be pregnant, my cat died. She'd been sick most of the summer and I'd been spending my free time nursing her; sticking drops in her ears, feeding her special food, giving her shots of Pedialyte in one of those baby syringes used to dose kids' ibuprofen. She rallied for a while and we decided to take a little weekend getaway. When we returned, there was Steve the cat, dead on the floor by our back deck.

It was the first time my daughter had seen me cry. She earnestly asked me, with more than a little worry in her eyes, "Mommy, what's wrong with your face?"

Somehow, I managed to find a wonderful, compassionate pet cremation service. Not only was the guy willing to pick up on a Sunday, he was at our house within the hour. It was a tough hour, knowing that our sweet little kitty was sitting in a garbage bag, but the guy who took her was so kind and understanding. He answered all of my daughter's questions (to be fair, most had to do with what he looked like, so all he had to do to answer them was show up), honored our wish that Steve be kept wrapped in the towel we'd used to cover her, and - crucially - brought her remains back to us the next day. We still haven't decided where to scatter them, but at least that part of the process is over. We can get back to cleaning up after our remaining cat and wondering, on occasion, why the pet gods couldn't have spared the less vomity one.

I think I would feel differently if the guy who handled my cat's body had returned her ashes one tablespoon at a time, once a week, for two months running. At first I'd feel grateful for all the time and energy he was expending to bring my pet back to me. I'd probably see him as a tragic figure, forced by some obscure regulation to dip into my private life time and time again. But after a while, I'd just be sick of the sight of him. I'd probably tell him to stick his sincere apologies up his well-intentioned ass and leave me alone.

Worse, I'd lose sight of my cat. I wouldn't be able to associate the little piles of ash with any sort of loving or meaningful tribute; I'd just see a mess.

I did a blood draw on Friday and, as expected, the level of hCG had roughly halved to 7.2 - just outside the upper limit for a negative test. The results don't usually come until the following Monday, but a new midwife was on duty Friday and got the news to me right away. It turns out this is an excellent way to ruin a weekend. She included a note saying how sorry she was that I have to go through "weekly reminders of [my] loss." This is an extremely kind thing to say that makes me feel like punching a baby seal. I try to think of those weeks back in August and September, how nervous I was to take a pregnancy test, and how excited to see the positive result; how much I looked forward to everything from telling my wider circle to watching my daughter grow into a big sister. I'd like to honor that somehow, maybe just scatter some ashes in my heart, but I can't because an endless series of well-intentioned people gently ruin my life each week.

If the pattern holds, I'll be under 5 next week and the blood draws will be over. Then I can express my true gratitude and appreciation for the compassionate support I've received over the past two months. Right now, I've got another mess to clean up.

Best,
nj

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Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers.

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Wednesday: My pregnancy is now over.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:12 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2015

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. COIN at Schubas on Thursday night.


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2. Alex G at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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3. The Cell Phones at the Burlington on Thursday night.

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4. DRMWPN at the Hideout on Saturday night.

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5. Cryptic Oath at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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6. Night Jogger at Phyllis' Musical Inn on Friday night.

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7. Skillet in Rosemont on Friday night.

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8. Eden's Fall at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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9. Acracy at Bobby McGee's in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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10. Vinnie Moore at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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11. Uli Jon Roth at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9: Show Stoppers

On September 17, 2014, I went for a routine 8-week prenatal check-up. It was the only routine thing I would do for more than two months.

During this time, I e-mailed a small group of people. Some were aware of the pregnancy, some had plans with me that would need to be broken, and still others simply asked after my health on the wrong day. This is the ninth of 11 such messages. They have been edited to remove identifying information and inside references, but otherwise remain largely unchanged.

November 12, 2014
Dear Friends,

My last blood draw registered a quantitative hCG level of 13.9, which is considered "indeterminate" for a pregnancy diagnosis. As I noted last week, less than 5 is considered a negative result. I've been told, of course, that I'll have to keep getting tested "down to zero." I've also been told I'll have to test until "the levels are negative," which made me wonder if there was some magical way to have less than no hCG in my bloodstream, like, I'm so un-pregnant I could actually leach hormones out of my pregnant friends. Anyway, having come so very close to not being chemically pregnant anymore I finally felt brave enough to request a clarification.

It turns out that, rather than going all the way to zero, I simply have to register a negative test - less than five - in order for the ritual bloodletting to end. If you consider that the level roughly halved last week, that could mean I'll be under the acceptable threshold in another week or two.

There is more reason for tepid optimism, though, as my period returned Monday morning. Via e-mail, the midwife assured me this was "great news!", which seems a stern indictment of how low the bar has been set. For those in the audience who have never menstruated, imagine being told "congratulations - you can flush the toilet now!"

Weirdly, I had circled Monday in my mind as the likeliest day my period would return. This was based part on timing - it was a month to the day after the D&C - and on the fact that I could've sworn I'd ovulated two weeks earlier. That's physically impossible given the amount of hCG in my blood, but maybe my ovaries were doing a test run? That seems like just the sort of thing those egg-crazy little bitches would do.

I crossed another milestone in my struggle to come to terms with this experience over the weekend. I talked about it, in public, to people who were not previously aware. All of you have been party to this incessant rambling from fairly close to the start. I don't have to give the whole chapter and verse at once. Plus, communicating by email allows me total control over the narrative. I can say what I need to say at the time and just assume it's been read and understood. But talking about it in a spontaneous, organic conversation is a completely different animal.

First, there's the question of context. There really aren't many situations in which one can casually mention one's on-going catastrophically failed pregnancy and not mark oneself as tragically, even perversely, special. It's like the worst possible trump card, a rock-solid guarantee that all other conversation will stop. Stressed out about your personal life? That's nice. I have no idea when my pregnancy will end. Work getting you down? Let me tell you about the abortion I'm having next Friday. Think I look sexy in this outfit? Must be the dead embryo in my uterus.

See what I mean? It's a show-stopper.

There's also the issue of what I want to communicate. I've thought deeply about this pregnancy, and worked hard to understand its impact on my family and my personal beliefs. I've carefully measured my capacity and learned a great deal about myself in the process. None of that shows when I'm sobbing hysterically. All anyone sees at that point is the destruction, not the careful planning to contain it.

Underlying all this anxiety about discussing my second pregnancy is the nagging fear that, despite my best efforts, I haven't fully assessed the damage yet. It's been a live event for so long, it's hard to know if I'm through the worst or not. The nature of the damage also makes it difficult to tally. When something makes you question your deepest understanding - and please know that giving birth, being a mother, is the closest I feel I've come to objective truth - it throws everything else into uncertainty. If I can fail so catastrophically at something that seemed so simple and clear, what else am I capable of spectacularly fucking up?

It's easy enough to avoid the topic while I'm working. If I have a job to do or an objective to achieve, there's no reason to consider any larger philosophical issues. It's different with friends, people who might ask how I'm doing and mean it. It feels dishonest not to mention something so big and unwieldy. At the same time, once you've not told someone about it, you can't change your mind mid-stream. You've got to commit. It's like planning a surprise party for everyone in your life, only the surprise is horrible. So, yeah, like a surprise party.

I told a few people with whom plans had to be altered or canceled that I was having minor surgery. If they pressed - which few did - I would describe it as routine and corrective. It was the minimum amount of information needed to communicate why I had to break a commitment. I figured they'd either forget about it or I'd tell them when it was all over. It just never seemed to be over.

It's only recently that I've started to socialize again. I went to a Halloween party, had drinks with some colleagues, and went out for a date night. I even scheduled a haircut for the first time since the summer (to be fair, this had as much to do with general ambivalence as with the current crisis). It started to seem like a normal life again.

Then this Sunday we went out with friends. I had mentioned the surgery in passing to them as I had to cancel an outing that weekend. We were chatting about our respective daughters and they asked whether we were planning to have any more kids. I shot my husband a quick glance to make sure he felt comfortable and then I told them. I simply said that the surgery had been to terminate a pregnancy. They asked why. I said the embryo had stopped growing. They asked if I was OK. I said it had been difficult, but I was doing alright. Then they said nice things, the kinds of things most people think I want to hear. About how I can try again, how I still have time. It didn't matter. I had told them and I hadn't cried and I hadn't broken in two. I had talked about it in the way it should be discussed, as a painful thing that I have survived. As an ordeal that is, in some way, finally, over. Then the conversation moved on to other things.

Best,
nj

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Previously:
* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 1: No Fetal Heartbeat.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 2: Firing Squad Or Hemlock?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 3: Remember The Challenger.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 4: Mommy, What Does Bupkes Mean?

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 5: D&Cs Suck.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 6: The Garage Doors Of Fresno.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 7: Like A Pelvic Game Of Asteroids.

* Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 8: Zero Is The Target.

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Tuesday: Mommy, what's wrong with your face?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: The Game Is Still The Thing

Non-football fans ask, "Given all of these scandals and with so many participants at risk of suffering serious consequences to their short- and long-term health, how is this game still so popular?"

The latest, bestest answer: "Did you watch Super Bowl XLIX?"

In fact, the whole of the 2015 NFL playoffs featured one amazing game per week, with Detroit suffering a drama-packed loss to Dallas to start things off, Dallas then falling to the Packers in similar fashion and then the Packers absolutely blowing it against the Seahawks in the NFC championship.

The game is still the thing.

Despite controversies large and small (it says here the deflated football issue will eventually be remembered as a small kerfuffle that seemed large for a little while due to timing - in other words, absolutely nothing compared to the Ray Rice fiasco) and terrible leadership, the NFL still has one, ultimate trump card: Spectacularly compelling competition.

Take Sunday's drama: The game was tied at the half but then one team took command. When the fourth quarter began and the Seahawks led by 10, the Patriots experienced the big gloom identified in "how-to" screenwriting books as essential to maximizing the eventual climax.

The Patriots rallied to take the lead but Seattle wasn't dead yet. Echoes of history (remember David Tyree) were bouncing around as the Seahawks caught a massive break on a long pass that put them in scoring range. But an unlikely hero (rookie free agent defensive back Malcolm Butler) rushed forward to save the day with a magnificent interception.

No matter how many "reality" television series they come up with, nothing will ever compare to the original reality programming: Sports, led in America by the biggest dog, football. Sport entertains far better than anything else on the planet.

And of course in the aftermath, there has to be a massive scapegoat (we know a little about that up here on the North Side, don't we Mr. Bartman?). Post-game analysts can start by celebrating the achievements of the victors but they don't. Instead they find the biggest goat and pile on so much they deserve a blizzard of late-hit flags.

Let's be clear about something: Even though Pete Carroll took responsibility for the play call (the one that didn't involve sending Marshawn Lynch up the middle), this sucker was on offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Carroll may have the final say in this sort of a situation, but a great leader, like Carroll has become as he has coached the Seahawks so well the last three years, simply doesn't question his key subordinate at a time like this.
Bevell's calls had put Seattle in position to gain one more yard and win their second straight Super Bowl win. Had Carroll questioned even one of those calls earlier in the game? I'll bet he hadn't. A leader can say "The buck stops here!" until he's blue in the face but we know how this process works on successful NFL teams.

One of the reasons Bevell, one of the best offensive coordinators in the league, works for Carroll is because Carroll allows him to do the job with minimal interference. So sorry, Darrell, you wear the horns.

And oh by the way, Bill Belichick not calling timeout before that play was a significant blunder as well, and that was all on the head coach. A precious 25 seconds ticked off the clock as Seattle prepared to run their second-and-goal play from the one. There was a great chance those 25 seconds would have been the difference between New England rallying for a tying field goal or not had the Seahawks taken the lead with a touchdown.

In all, it was nothing short of another epic game for the NFL. And now we can take, what, a week or maybe two off before starting to obsess about free agency and the draft?

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:29 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"As another storm flung snow at Chicago, Alexandra Clark wondered how she'd get to work. Like an increasing number of snowbound city dwellers, she had a ready tool at hand: an app that tracks hundreds of city snowplows in close to real time," AP reported last month.

But something seemed out of whack.

"Plow tracker said my street was plowed an hour ago - Pull the other leg," the 31-year-old video producer tweeted to the mayor's office, including a photo of her snowed-in street.

Longtime readers know I think the city's Plow Tracker is useless, despite the media's unquestioning love for it. Even the headline of this story is "Snowplow Tracking Apps Hold Cities Accountable For Cleanup," despite the conclusion of the reporting, which is just the opposite.

Across the country, local leaders have made plow-tracking data public in free mobile apps, turning citizens into snow watchdogs and giving them a place to look for answers instead of clogging phone lines at city call centers to fume. Chicago and New York introduced apps in early 2012, and Seattle has gotten into the game, as have some places in Maryland and Virginia.

Look for what answers? Is my block plowed? Look out the window.

Boston briefly experimented, too, though their site was so popular it crashed during a February 2013 storm, hampering the response effort. The city hasn't made another attempt.

Not sure how the site going down could affect the actual plowing, but the site must not have been that popular if the city hasn't relaunched it.

The apps tap into GPS data already collected by the city to direct plows, so no extra money is spent in the creation. It's a politically deft move by cities where bungled storm responses have cost officials their jobs, and a way to show skeptics that plow drivers are working hard - and not just clearing the streets of the wealthy and well-connected.

If that indeed is what it shows. I'm not sure it does. Every time I've looked at, I've struggled to find its utility.

But in New York and Chicago, in particular, the tech savvy have scrutinized the sites. Armed with the ultimate proof - the cities' own data - they've needled public officials about snow-cleanup shortfalls on social media.

"It puts a lot of pressure on everybody involved to be more responsible and to be more accountable," said Priscilla Dixon, a Chicago lawyer who has used the app and is a believer in engaging the city via social media.

Like what? The city not getting to side streets as quickly as everyone would like? Happens every snowfall.

Clark remembers peering out the window of her Wicker Park apartment on the city's West Side in a January 2014 storm. A pair of heavy truck tire tracks suggested a GPS-equipped plow might indeed have passed, but with the blade up.

"No joke, the next week when it snowed overnight, a plow had come through and taken off the side mirror of my car," the Redondo Beach, California-native recalled with a laugh. "It's probably coincidence but after that I really didn't tweet much to the City of Chicago any more."

Um, okay. So Clark is now afraid to tweet to the city because of something that is probably - let's say undoubtedly - coincidence. I mean, how would they know which car was hers? Go to the trouble of looking up her license number? I mean, really?

Mayors in Chicago and other cities where snow is frozen into local lore know that storms can doom political careers. A botched response to a 1979 blizzard in Chicago is said to have cost then-Mayor Michael Bilandic re-election.

More recently, a 2011 blizzard entombed cars and buses and stranded hundreds of people for 12 hours overnight on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive, and a December 2010 blizzard did much the same in New York City. Those debacles prompted both cities to create plow trackers. Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked of wanting to fix the disconnect between what NYC officials were saying and what people were seeing.

I don't get how cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive prompted the city to create a plow tracker. So we could all see when the Drive was finally plowed? I'm pretty sure TV handled that.

In the lead-up to one of the first storms this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel exuded confidence.

"We're going to bring all of the assets and strengths of the city to bear to make sure that people are safe, secure and that our streets are safe, plowed and passable," he told reporters on Jan. 5.

And?

The app drew more than 2,500 visitors in the hours that followed, Department of Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Molly Poppe said.

That doesn't strike me as a lot.

The city is not bothered by the extra scrutiny, says Poppe, who engages residents via the department's Twitter account. A typical exchange involves her explaining that blowing snow can make a freshly plowed street look like it's been skipped.

Last February, residents in the Albany Park neighborhood on Chicago's Northwest Side contended their block had not been cleared all season, forcing them to attack the street themselves with shovels and snowblowers.

The app seemed to back them up, but Poppe pointed out that narrow streets require smaller plows, which last year were not feeding tracking data. In any case, the story appeared on a local TV newscast, and the next day, the snow was gone.

I just don't get it. Instead of complaining to the city that the tracker shows your street has been plowed but it really hasn't, why not just complain to the city that the view out your window shows the street hasn't been plowed yet? Now you've got two things to complain about - the tracker and your street! Next: A snow plow tracker tracker!

Web developer Derek Eder has crunched three years' worth of plow data with his own app, ClearStreets, and is convinced Chicago generally deploys plows fairly throughout the city. But that hasn't dispelled all suspicion to the contrary.

Generally. Ha.

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Related: Rahm's Fake Transparency.

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Sunday Funday
As always, check @BeachwoodReport for the world's wittiest real-time commentary on the Super Bowl and the blizzard.

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Beachwood Radio: Debating Race & Rahm
White-on-white crime is out of control. Starring Ernie Banks, Hub Arkush and Laura Washington. Plus: More false frames! And: Pretenders and contenders take on Rahm.

SportsMonday: The Game Is Still The Thing
"The NFL still has one, ultimate trump card: Spectacularly compelling competition," our very own Jim Coffman writes.

Diary Of A Lost Pregnancy, Part 9
Show Stoppers.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: COIN, Alex G, The Cell Phones, DRMWPN, Cryptic Oath, Night Jogger, Skillet, Eden's Fall, Acracy, Vinnie Moore, and Uli Jon Roth.

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BeachBook
* U.S. Plan To Track Drivers Bigger Than Previously Thought.

* If 1871 Won't Help Women In Tech, Give The Funding To Someone Who Will.

* Rare Mayor Washington Films At Black Cinema House.

* Rauner Faces Immediate Test As State Runs Out Of Day Care Money.

* How Great Was The Gong Show?

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Play your trumpet.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 PM | 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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