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« May 2015 | Main | July 2015 »

June 30, 2015

Fantasy Fix: Closing Arguments

On the enormous crap shoot that is the market for fantasy saves, I usually have very little to say, but I have noticed a few things in the last week that I think are worth sharing, especially if losing saves every week is what's keeping you out of playoff position.

These observations include three players that don't appear to be much on the radar of most fantasy owners right now:

Fernando Rodney, RP, SEA: Well, he actually lost his job as the Mariners' closer last month, with an ERA above 6.00 as sound reasoning. However, in seven appearances primarily as a set-up man over the last few weeks, he hasn't given up any runs, and has a sizzling 0.64 WHIP. He was even given a save opportunity last weekend and aced it. I think Rodney will get his closer job back very soon, and could even get traded to a better team. Available in about 25% of Yahoo! leagues.

Brad Ziegler, RP, ARI: Ziegler has been lights-out since taking over as closer for the D-backs, a job change that coincided with a pretty good run of wins for Arizona that has gotten them almost to the .500 mark and into early wild-card discussions. His line: 12 saves 1.36 ERA, 0.94 WHIP. Available in about 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MIL: Out of 25 relief pitchers with 12 or more saves, only three have a WHIP of 0.90 or less. K-Rod is one of them, and until last weekend and his first blown save, that WHIP was even lower. As it is, he's having a stunning season, with 16 saves in 17 chances for a team that only has won 30 overall. There's a very good chance he moves to a better team before the trade deadline. While he's only available in about 16% of Yahoo! leagues, he probably also could be acquired via trade fairly easily if you make your move before Milwaukee makes its move.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Facing a day of multiple deadlines, Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday little closer to coming up with a new state budget or helping Chicago Public Schools deal with a deadline for a massive pension payment," the Tribune reports.

"Tuesday is the final day of the state's current budget year, and top officials turned to planning for a Wednesday in which Illinois government has limited authority to spend money. It's also the day a cash-strapped CPS is due to make a $634 million pension payment."

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"Gov. Bruce Rauner met privately with the four top legislative leaders Monday afternoon. But little progress was made toward ending a monthlong impasse between the Republican governor and the Democrats who control the legislature, which also has ensnarled the city's public schools.

"We are no closer today than we were a month ago," said House Republican leader Jim Durkin.

So "little" progress is not even accurate. Zero progress.

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"As of late Monday, Emanuel's office did not expect lawmakers to approve any sort of relief for the pension payment Tuesday, said a top administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

"A team of City Hall aides had started turning its attention toward what to do about the pension payment if no remedy is passed in Springfield. The Emanuel administration source said the mayor had directed his team to develop scenarios ranging from making the full pension payment, to not making any payment at all, to developing a payment plan."

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"Rauner last week vetoed the majority of a Democrat-passed state spending plan, the exception being a portion that funnels money to elementary and high schools."

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"But Rauner directed all state workers to continue reporting to work on their normal schedules and said the administration was working to make sure that employees continue being paid and receive their paychecks on time.

"Soon after the governor's memo, however, Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued her own missive saying there was no provision for state employees to be paid without the appropriation authority from a new budget."

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Non-musical bonus tweet:

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Hint: Cubs
Gee, what's missing from this press release about the Phillies hiring one-time Cubs executive Andy MacPhail?

"Andy brings an uncommon blend of old school experience and new age thinking . . . In 1986, Andy was the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when he served in that role for the Twins. The following year, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series title. When the Orioles hired him eight years ago, Andy became the first president of baseball operations in Major League Baseball. During his tenure in Baltimore, he greatly expanded the use of statistical analysis in player evaluations. That's the new age thinking."

Something happened between the Twins and Orioles, I just can't remember what . . .

Kraft Work
"The top leadership of the consolidated Kraft Heinz Co. will be ruled by former executives of H. J. Heinz Co, after it completes the merger with Kraft Foods Group Inc., indicating that they will be largely in control of the billion dollar food titan," BidnessETC notes.

"The food companies have announced that eight of the ten executives who have been tapped for the senior leadership team to head the merged entity are from Heinz."

Why does it matter?

"The companies' announcement yesterday has now raised questions about claims that the merged entity will work together at a co-headquarters in the Chicago."

Duh. This is a Heinz acquisition, not a Heinz-Kraft merger. Which means more bad news on the horizon for the locals.

"If I was a Kraft employee, I would be pretty nervous," said an equity analyst at Edward Jones, Brian Yarbrough. "This is just another play out of their playbook," he added. "It's not for sure, but with their track record of cost-cutting, I would be surprised if the company that is merging you still had two headquarters in a couple years."

Textbook. Every time.

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The non-denial:

"Michael Mullen, a spokesperson for Heinz, who was recently named senior vice president of corporate and government affairs at the merged Kraft Heinz Co., declined to respond to how the leadership appointments will pan out for operations of Kraft.

"The immediate focus for the company's senior leadership team will be to integrate the two businesses, establish the company's new organizational structure and deliver business objectives for 2015," Mr. Mullen said. "As the organizational structure is determined, more details will be shared about where key leaders will be located."

They ain't leaving Pittsburgh, folks.

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Of course, it's not the Kraft executives I'm worried about. To wit:

"Kraft Foods Group CEO John Cahill stands to take home millions once the company's sale to H.J. Heinz closes, documents filed Wednesday show," the Tribune reports.

"Other executives will also receive special payments tied to their work on the deal, and Kraft will cover an expected $16.2 million in costs for the excise taxes associated with those payments, the company said in a filing with U.S. regulators."

But what about Kraft employees?

"In a few days, thousands of employees of Kraft Foods Group will be working for a new boss whose first job includes determining how many of them he will fire," Crain's reports.

"While no one at the Northfield-based company will say how many of Kraft's 22,000 employees are likely to be out of a job after it merges with H.J. Heinz as soon as July 2, judging by what the new owners did when they took the ketchup-maker private, the layoffs will be swift, proceed in waves and cut deeply."

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Hey, here's an idea: Maybe Illinois should merge with Indiana and then fire Indiana. Wouldn't that be running the state like a business?

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American Torture Story
Chicago chapter.

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BeachBook
* Farm Waste And Animal Fats Will Help Power A United Jet.

* Illinois Drone Task Force Is Made Up Mostly Of Cops.

* Mark Kirk Makes Federal Issue Out Of Chicago's Food Truck Restrictions.

* Lady Gaga Confused A Mariachi Festival With Chicago Pride.

* Porn And Chicken Blackhawks Banger!

* Special 'Pray Chicago' TV Show.

After state leaders finally agree to a budget, they should point to the heavens and say God wanted it to go down like this.

* Willis Tower People Want To Merge With Towers Watson People; Still Sears Tower To Us.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Trumped up.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:29 AM | Permalink

American Torture Story - Chicago Chapter

"America has a torture story, ladies and gentlemen."

Organized by Amnesty International, human rights activists gathered on Friday to commemorate the International Day of Support of Torture Survivors.

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Previously:
* Doc Of Rages.

* 'Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

* They Said No To Torture.

* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

* The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

* Torture USA.

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

* Torture USA.

* The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

* Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

* Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

* Read The Fucking Torture Report, People.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:03 AM | Permalink

June 29, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"Gov. Bruce Rauner is offering to accelerate state grant payments to help cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools make a $634 million pension contribution, according to a summary of the proposal obtained by The Associated Press."

However, because the money would not be disbursed by a CPS ATM, the school district would have to pay an out-of-network service fee of one eased workman's comp rule, a clout pick to a school to be named later and a new $18 watch.

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Just in: Rahm rejects Rauner proposal.

Choo Choo Choose Chicago
"Choose Chicago, the city's taxpayer-subsidized tourism bureau, secretly gave its chief marketing officer a six-figure payout when he left after just two and a half years on the job, newly released records show," the Sun-Times reports.

So, as the city's tourism bureau is taxpayer-subdsized, that means we paid for Draft Town, right? Just keeping track of the lies.

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Has the city invoiced Choose Chicago yet?

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"Warren R. Wilkinson abruptly left the organization in July 2013. That was less than two months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed President Barack Obama's former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers as chairman of the Choose Chicago board, replacing Bruce Rauner, who stepped down to run for governor.

"Wilkinson's sudden departure caused a stir because he'd just crafted a new advertising and marketing campaign for the city.

"Choose Chicago officials won't disclose the amount of Wilkinson's severance. They say that as a private, not-for-profit organization, Choose Chicago doesn't have to explain how it spends its $32 million budget, even though 87 percent of its money comes from taxpayers."

So maybe Choose Chicago paid for Draft Town out of the other 13 percent, which totally isn't fungible.

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Maybe Choose Chicago is required by law to disclose 87 percent of its funding? Paging Lisa Madigan!

*

"A severance package was provided to Warren consistent with industry standards and funded with private dollars," says Meghan Risch, Choose Chicago's vice president of communications, who won't say how much Wilkinson got in severance.

"But documents Choose Chicago filed last month with the Internal Revenue Service indicate Wilkinson was given more than $100,000 when he left.

"Wilkinson left the payroll July 31, 2013. During those final seven months, he made more money than he did the entire previous year, according to Choose Chicago's IRS filings.

"Including the payout he got when he left, Choose Chicago paid Wilkinson $253,608 in 2013 - an average of $36,230 for each of those seven months.

"In 2012, he made $237,485 - an average of $19,790 a month for 12 months.

"That extra $16,440 a month over his final seven months gave Wilkinson an extra $115,080."

Choose me, Chicago! Damn. Privatization works. For the private.

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"Five months after he left the payroll, Wilkinson started work as an executive with a company called Mbuy, which had a $1 million contract to help Choose Chicago buy ads in key markets, city records show."

If I could have a penny each time the door revolves, I'd be richer than Rauner.

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Here's the Mbuy leadership team. You're all awful.

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"Wilkinson, who no longer works for Mbuy, did not respond to an e-mailed request for an interview."

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Wilkinson now works for MS Companies, according to his LinkedIn profile. He's the chief marketing officer there, according to the firm's website.

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"Like some other not-for-profit Chicago agencies funded by taxpayers, Choose Chicago won't divulge how it spends its money - a position that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has upheld."

Cancel that page!

Also, Lisa Madigan now part of the conspiracy.

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"[Don] Welsh is Choose Chicago's highest-paid employee, paid $526,956 for 2013, with an additional $54,866 listed as deferred compensation, according to the IRS filing and Risch. Welsh's total compensation of $581,822 - up 18 percent from the year before - is more than double what Emanuel makes as mayor. When Welsh was hired four years ago, his yearly salary was $375,309."

Well, he had a better year than Rahm.

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"Choose Chicago's government funding has soared under Emanuel, who shut down City Hall's tourism operation and gave its funding to the private agency. In all, Choose Chicago got $27.9 million from taxpayers last year, up 17 percent over the previous year . . .

"It says its efforts have increased the number of visitors to Chicago to more than 50 million last year, up 3.5 percent from 2013."

I wonder how much money those additional 3.5 percent visitors resulted in - assuming for now that they are real, which I doubt; Tourism numbers are the sloshiest around this side of economic development estimates - because we spent 17 percent more to get them.

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Meanwhile . . .

"Choose Chicago pulled the plug Friday on the last two months of its 'Chicago Epic' tourism campaign amid a state budget stalemate that threatens the nonprofit agency's funding," the Tribune reports.

"Choose Chicago had budgeted $2.2 million toward the summer campaign."

Gee, if they hadn't spent so much money on Wilkinson and Welsh . . .

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Plus, "Epic Chicago." Indeed.

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From the Beachwood vault:

Top 10 Reasons Tourism Is Up.

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Kathy, Linda & Ron
A love story as told by Studs Terkel.

The Cub Factor: Vote White Sox!
Our very own Marty Gangler explains.

Rainbows Of Flavor & Fun
They were on Chicago TV.

The White Sox Report: Failure To Communicate
Paging Anthony Bourdain.

Superheroes Meet Superkids
They are Cosplay.

Some Bloke's Chicago Town Pizza Review
Shout out to the boys at the factory.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Good Graeff, Ximena Sarinana, Night Moves, Richard Vain, On An On, Bongripper, Am I Alive, From Autumn to Ashes, Dr. John, Kay Karma, Ty Segall, Jimmy Buffett, Christopher Owens, Kindred the Family Soul, Cory Hanson, and Third Eye Blind.

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BeachBook
* Rizal Bust In Chicago Stolen.

* Fantasy Sports Now Worth Billions.

"Bob Vorwald, executive producer of WGN-TV in Chicago, is pushing his sports announcers to do more fantasy-oriented news.

* With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches In Chicago Area Address New Reality.

* 11-Year-Old Bowler With Perfect Game Coming To Chicago Area.

* Space X Rocket Blows Up With U Of C-Bound Student's Experiment Aboard.

* The NSA's Reaction To The Original Bush Warrantless Wiretapping Story.

* New Assistant Mel Tucker Explains Why Alabama Was A 'Great Fit.'

* Patrick Kane Wears Pobunlet To Jimmy Buffett Concert.

* CNN Mistakes Dildo-Covered Flag At Pride Parade For ISIS Flag.

* The Weight Of The Confederate Flag.

An outstanding piece by Evan F. Moore.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Choose Beachwood.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Good Graeff at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.


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2. Ximena Sarinana at Schubas on Friday night.

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3. Night Moves at the Logan Square Arts Fest on Saturday night.

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4. Richard Vain at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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5. On and On at the Logan Square Arts Fest on Saturday night.

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6. Bongripper at the Logan Square Arts Fest on Friday night.

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7. Am I Alive at the Abbey on Saturday night.

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8. From Autumn to Ashes at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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9. Dr. John at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Friday night.

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10. Kay Karma at Reggies on Friday night.

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11. Ty Segall at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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12. Jimmy Buffett in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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13. Christopher Owens at Schubas on Friday night.

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14. Kindred the Family Soul at Promontory on Friday night.

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15. Cory Hanson at the Empty Bottle on Saturday night.

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16. Third Eye Blind at Northerly Island on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

Some Bloke's Chicago Town Pizza Review

"Shout out to my boys in the Chicago Town factory!"


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Previously in Chicago Town Pizza:
* Chicago Town Pulled Pork Deep Dish Microwaveable Pizzas Review & Tasting.

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See also: James Kinnair's Bored.TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:33 AM | Permalink

Superheroes Meet Superkids

We Are Cosplay FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2015 at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.


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Special thanks to our friends at Dark Tower Comics and Collectibles for special ordering approved titles of this year's free comics for distribution at the hospital.

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See also:

We Are Cosplay With Make-A-Wish Illinois.

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More We Are Cosplay videos.

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Broken Starship Media.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:12 AM | Permalink

Kathy, Linda & Ron: A Love Story

"Studs Terkel recounts the story of two lesbian mothers, Kathy Fagin and Linda Gagnon, and the gay doctor Ron Sable who helped they have a family."


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See also:

From Mother Jones, 2001:

"As soon as I met those two women, Kathy Fagan and Linda Gagnon, I knew I wanted to end the book with them. Here were two lesbian women, and each of them wanted a child. And then, in 1982, this marvelous guy, Ron Sable, said, 'I'll give you my sperm.' So they each had a baby thanks to him, but they didn't know each other. Then in 1993, a few months before he died, he brought the two women and their sons together at a house on Lake Michigan. Kathy and Linda fell in love, and they eventually became a family. Ron got to watch his kids play. So that's how I end this book - that moment of heaven. I also wanted to get a lick in on those bastards who talk about family values. What's the greatest of all the family values? Love."

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"Dr. Ron Sable, the first openly gay candidate to run for the Chicago City Council, died Thursday in his home from complications from AIDS," the Tribune reported in 1994.

After narrowing beating Dr. Sable by only a few hundred votes in 1987, Hansen became a leading proponent of gay rights legislation and beat Dr. Sable by 2-to-1 ratio in 1991.

Even though Dr. Sable lost both elections, he is credited with galvanizing the gay and lesbian communities into political forces, culminating in a strong local effort for the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

He is credited with founding the Sable/Sherer AIDS Clinic at the hospital with Dr. Renslow Sherer; founded IMPACT, a statewide gay and lesbian political action committee; and was a founding board member of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

In the late 1960s, Dr. Sable served as a medic for 13 months in Vietnam, which led to medical school at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Sable became openly gay during medical school and came to Chicago in 1976 to do his internship and residency at Cook County Hospital.

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Ron Sable, Chicago Gay And Lesbian Hall Of Fame.

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The MediaBurn Archive.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

Vote White Sox!

Okay, that wasn't much of a week. And you could be one of those fans who is all mad about the lack of offense, the continued Starlin Castro issues, or a bunch of other stuff - but forget all of that. There something that Cub fans haven't had to worry about in a long while, the All-Star game. And sure, it'd be nice, I guess, to get a few Cubbies in there, but forget that too. As stupid as it sounds, Cub fans have to actually care who wins that game for the first time since, well, since whenever Bud Selig got mad about that one tie and made the game count for home field advantage in the World Series.

I am late to the party on this as it's been going on for awhile, but it's time the Cubs have even a sniffer's chance of getting to the post-season. Now, do I think the Cubs will be in the World Series, no, not really, but they are in the playoff hunt and if you are in the hunt, then you should probably care. So now, what to do? The first thing to do is make sure Castro does not get in. The most deserving Cub would be Anthony Rizzo, but Paul Goldschmidt might be a better pick to win the game. And sure, Kris Bryant has had a nice start, but Nolan Arenado is having a monster year in Colorado. So let the manager pick Jason Hammel to pitch as the Cubs' player in the game. But maybe more importantly, all Cub fans should stuff the ballot box on the AL side and vote in the worst players possible.

So I went through this process and filled out my ballot. I didn't pick any Cubs on the NL side and as it turns out a whole bunch of White Sox players on the AL side. MLB has to think I am a big White Sox fan, which I'm not. It's just kind of weird that it broke down like that. I mean seriously, the White Sox position players at a lot of positions are really the worst.

And so starts what is hopefully a yearly tradition of stuffing the ballot box in favor of the Cubs - in a roundabout way.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs split a four-game set with the Dodgers, which is fine, and then got swept by the Cardinals, which is also fine. Catching the Cardinals is already over, so it's just a wash to lose to them as they will be crushing all the other teams out there too. Not to mention they lost big-time players who they were going to count on at the beginning of the season. But it didn't matter, oh and they didn't have to tank the last three years on purpose to be good either.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs head to New York for three against the Mets and then come home for three against the Marlins. And don't look now - there are four looming next week vs the Cardinals, so, beat the Mets and Marlins.

Left Field Report: The Cubs continue to play Chris Coghlan in left - all seven games this week - and he continues to be, well, Chris Coghlan. And sure, he had a solid week, for Chris Coghlan, but he's just so Chris Coghlan. The Cubs will be much better off when he is pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan.

In former Cubs left fielder news, Glenallen Hill last played left field for the Cubs in the year 2000. He is currently the manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes, which is the AAA affiliate of the Rockies. He was apparently called "the juggler" in his playing days because he would juggle the ball, though I don't ever recall hearing that. But I do recall him being missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe got into kind of a shoving match with an umpire this week, as well as ripping the replay system. He called for MLB to get more nerds involved. Nerds! Maybe he is right, but doesn't it just seem like nerds are kinda running everything these days? What's an angry umpire with a chip on their shoulder because they were never good enough to play the game themselves to do anymore?

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) has been a three-time All-Star. He shouldn't be anywhere near Cincy for the All-Star game this year, though; well, unless Astros fans figure out my theory and vote him in . . .

Kubs Kalender: On Friday, the Cubs will be giving away Red, White and Brew tank tops to the first 5,000 bleacher adults attending the game. Which is sweet because, admit it bleacher people, you are going to throw up on at least one shirt on Friday, so you got an extra, which is nice.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of America will trade higher this week. As will shares of bandages, and blown off appendages.

East Coast Cubs: Darwin Barney is not in Japan yet; he's still in the Dodgers' minor-league system. He also seems way too happy in this photo to be there.

Over/Under: The number of starts Jon Lester will have the rest of the season that will legitimize his contract: +/- 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that The Cardinals are good at baseball.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:31 AM | Permalink

A Failure To Communicate

"Learn Spanish," wrote the celebrated chef/author/TV personality Anthony Bourdain in his best-selling autobiography Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain was spewing his advice to anyone contemplating a culinary career as a chef.

"I can't stress this enough. Much of the workforce in the industry is Spanish-speaking. If you can't communicate, develop relationships, understand instructions and pass them along, then you are at a tremendous disadvantage."

Creating a culinary experience and managing a major league ballclub might be worlds apart, but Bourdain's words may just be pertinent to the challenges facing White Sox manager Robin Ventura and his brethren.

The demise of Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez - more about him later - rekindled Bourdain's words in my mind. Alexei is joined by Jose Abreu, Carlos Sanchez, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia to comprise five members of the Sox' regular starting eight.

With pitchers Jose Quintana and Junior Guerra, catcher Geovany Soto, and utility man Emilio Bonifacio on the current 25-man roster, Spanish is the first language of nine players. That's not unusual considering approximately 28 percent of spots on big-league rosters are occupied by Latin players.

Yet to my knowledge only one major league manager, Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez, is bilingual. Many clubs have Latin American coaches such as Omar Vizquel, who manned the first-base box for the Tigers over the weekend as Detroit took two of three one-run games from the Sox.

The Sox rely on Lino Diaz, a Panamanian who played, coached and managed in the minor leagues for a number of years. I have no knowledge, but I assume that when the team's Latin players are quoted through a translator, that person is Diaz.

"He understands what you're saying and what you're trying to get across so the message and tone and everything else that goes with it is exactly the way you want it," Ventura said last year. "We're lucky to have him."

When Latin players first burst onto scene in the 1950s, they received a similar reception as the African-American pioneers. Perhaps the most blatant instance occurred in 1964 when the San Francisco Giants were in the midst of a pennant race.

Willie Mays and Willie McCovey were future Hall of Famers on that team, and Jim Ray Hart was a sensational rookie. But the Giants also had great Latin-American stars like Juan Marichal and Orlando Cepeda, who also are in the Hall. Their manager was Alvin Dark, a Louisianan and a fixture at shortstop for the Giants in the '50s.

When the club encountered a mid-season losing streak, Dark unbelievably was quoted as saying, "Negro and Spanish-speaking players on this team are just not able to perform up to the white players when it comes to mental alertness. You can't get Negro and Spanish players to have the pride in their team that you get from the white players. You can't make them subordinate themselves to the best interests of the team."

Dark later backtracked and said his comments were misconstrued. But guys like the proud Puerto Rican Cepeda knew better. Cepeda spoke out, and Dark was fired after the season. Although he was a social Neanderthal, Dark was a student of baseball who went on to manage four other teams, including winning the World Series in 1974 with Oakland. Alvin's stance on black and Latin players obviously took a back seat to his ability to call for the hit-and-run at the most opportune time.

Meanwhile, Cepeda wore out his welcome in San Francisco - why would a ballclub tolerate an outspoken Puerto Rican? - and was traded to St. Louis where he was MVP in 1967 as the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in the World Series.

Of course, those days are behind us. Or are they?

In a Bleacher Report piece written by pitcher-turned-journalist Dirk Hayhurst last year, a scout said the Toronto Blue Jays had "too many Latinos on it to win. Get too many of them together on a club and they take over. The club divides, has no sense of itself. They might not be terrible. Them boys can play, but they ain't gonna win no championship. They're too emotional to go the distance."

Of course, one broken-down, over-the-hill old-timer doesn't necessarily represent the majority, but the comments are disgusting. Avi Garcia runs hard on every ground ball. Abreu comes across as a young man who appreciates from whence he came (Cuba) and is grateful for every day he puts on a Sox uniform. Quintana, the king of no decisions, never complains.

Yet if you look into the White Sox dugout at any given moment, the Latin players sit together apart from their English-speaking teammates. That's not surprising since talking to one another in the dugout comes naturally. It's what ballplayers do. However, not sharing a language dictates that they seek out others with whom they can share a conversation.

Rarely is a Latin ballplayer interviewed after a game. Garcia is an exception because he speaks decent English and is not averse to taking the risk of being misquoted.

That risk is real. For instance, back in 1997, Miguel Tejada, a much-heralded rookie, broke in with Oakland toward the end of the season. Twenty-three at the time, the Dominican, who grew up in a home with dirt floors and an outhouse, was interviewed, and he meant to say, "My goal is to be the A's shortstop for the next 10 years." What came out was, "I'm going to be the As shortstop for 10 years, maybe more."

The next morning the writers portrayed Tejada as arrogant and cocky, as well he could have been because of his talent. For the record, Tejada wasn't Oakland's shortstop for 10 years - only seven before testing the free-agent waters and signing with Baltimore. But before leaving Oakland, Tejada led the A's into the postseason four times while being named MVP in 2002. He's still playing in Mexico at age 41 after earning nearly $100 million in the major leagues. His Florida home has many bathrooms and granite floors.

Getting back to Alexei Ramirez, in his eighth season on the South Side after defecting from Cuba. He's having by far his worst season, hitting 54 points below his career average. His defense is spotty. You hold your breath even on routine grounders, hoping that he fields the ball cleanly and makes an accurate throw to first. Since June 15, he is just 6-for-48, five of those being singles. This is a guy who has never hit below .265, and just last season, he smacked 15 home runs and drove in 74. He won the American League's Silver Slugger award for shortstops in 2014.

At 33 you question whether his physical abilities - in a matter of six months - have evaporated. Without any knowledge of the situation, you wonder what's going on with Ramirez.

"[Ramirez] is an emotional guy," said Ventura recently. "You know, when the average isn't going your way, sometimes that can pile up on you, and you feel that you are getting swallowed up."

It is convenient for those of us who are not around these guys to make assumptions. Ramirez is not injured. He is relatively young, or at least at an age when a player like him should be in his prime. How can you not conclude that his problems are psychological? He may be doubting himself. He may be bothered by a situation far from baseball. You wonder if he is at peace with himself.

Last week MLB.com's Scott Merkin asked Ventura about his shortstop.

"We had a talk, and he's good," said the Sox manager. "He's going to be ready to go."

Of course, we have no idea whether they signed, talked in Spanish, English or whether Lino Diaz was present as a translator. We do know that after particularly bad games, Ramirez retreats to the training room to elude the media. Never has he been interviewed in English. All we know is that a talented, productive ballplayer, one of the best at his position, has become a liability. And we are left wondering whether the cultural divide has contributed to his deterioration.

Sun-Times beat writer Daryl Van Schouwen wrote last week about Abreu and his role as a leader on the team. Through an interpreter (Diaz?), the Sox first baseman said, "Since this [team's struggle] started, I have wanted to say something to the guys to motivate them but sometimes I don't know how they would take it. I don't speak English. Sometimes you feel like you have to say something to motivate the guys, to change the momentum. Sometimes I feel a little shy to express my feelings about what I think."

After another week when the Sox dropped four of six, leaving them 10 games below .500, you search for reasons for the sorry showing of what had promised to be an improved team. Of course, you can point to the mental and physical errors and lack of hitting in the clutch. The numbers don't lie.

What we can't quantify is the athletes' ability to communicate, to develop camaraderie, to be a family. Maybe this is a non-issue, but tell me of another workplace that is productive when people can't talk to one another. Better yet, tell Robin Ventura.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

Rainbows Of Flavor & Fun

1. Canfield's For Everyone.

"Refreshing as a rainbow for the whole family, and perfect at parties."

This aired on local Chicago TV on Friday, December 16, 1977 during the 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. time frame.

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2. Sox Rainbow Bat.

"The White Sox are coming."

This aired on local Chicago TV on Wednesday, March 14, 1979.

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3. Special Delivery From Viacom.

"Certainly a vast improvement in tone over the grim 'V of Doom.'"

This aired on local Chicago TV on Tuesday, October 2, 1984, at a minute or so before 9 p.m.

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4. ON TV.

"[A] revolution in Chicago broadcasting."

This aired on local Chicago TV on Monday, September 22, 1980, at 7 p.m.

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See also: The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

June 27, 2015

The [Rainbow] Weekend Desk Report

Sure, the marriage equality ruling was huge news on Friday. But the media missed the bigger story: Justice Antonin Scalia thinks the Supreme Court has no role in a democracy and is subjugating the People! Congressional hearings, at least!

Or maybe Scalia ought to step down, if he thinks he's participating in a tyrannical exercise.

*

From: Steve
To: Tim
Re: New sitcom idea

Scalia!

The tales and travails of a put-upon Supreme Court judge who just can't get relief at work or at home ... where his wife and kids are moving into the modern world and he is left behind. His catch phrase:"Oh, for Jiggery Pokery!"

Sort of like All in the Family. Each episode begins with Antonin - Anti for short - walking in the door and hanging his hat on the hat rack, home from another exasperating day at work. His wife always says "How was your day, Anti?" and he always groans "Arghpfft!"

Sits down in his favorite chair, wife brings him a cocktail, and he begins that week's episode talking about some dumb new case before the Court.

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From: Tim
To: Steve
Re: New sitcom idea

Nino Knows Best!

And most of the original scripts still hold up for him.

"Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again"

"Daddy, handguns killed 10,000 people last year!"
"Would you feel any better, little girl, if they were pushed out of windows?"

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Nature Is Agnostic
I don't mean to be the skunk at the garden party, but I'd like to remind everyone on social media that a rainbow would have appeared "above" the White House on Friday even if the Supreme Court decided the other way. Sorry.

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Pride Ride
The Stanley Cup is returning to the Pride Parade on Sunday and I have nothing funny to say about it because it's so damn cool.

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Wrong-Way Rahm

Debating whether to go with Rahmcompetence or inrahmpetence.

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Later:

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Seattle, FTW

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Change
The real cynics are those who think nothing can or will ever change. Things change every single day. If things didn't change, we'd still be living in caves. The history of the world is littered with change - most of it massive. Those who say things - bad things - can't change are those who most wish to preserve the status quo they benefit so greatly from. They want you to believe things can't change; they want you to feel powerless and alienated from the political process. They don't want your participation. People have called me a cynic my whole life and I hate it, because I'm actually an idealist. You can't solve a problem if you live under illusions, though. We have to identify reality in all its horror - and then strike against it. A black man as mayor of Chicago was once nearly as unheard of as a black man as president. And yet. We went to the damn moon, for godsakes. The Cubs, one day, will win another World Series. Maybe. I mean, it's possible. Change happens every single damn day - just not always to the benefit of the public. But change for the public good can happen and is best when it is built on an appeal to people's humanity. Look at this week. The Confederate flag is coming down - and that's not just symbolic. It's a victory over revisionist history and, quite possibly, an acknowledgement in the South, finally, that the right side won the Civil War. And now, marriage equality. Both happened because of appeals to people's humanity. Real lives, not caricatures or abstracts. I hope we can soon use the same appeal to honestly address poverty and, in particular, the urban black underclass. They are people too, deserving of every right to pursue their own happiness. A lot of claptrap has been spewed about education as the next civil rights issue, but it's really much deeper than that. We have to stop separating ourselves - both by race and class. After all, that's what the law of the land calls for.

* The Devastating Effect Of Poverty On Illinois Classrooms.

* Illinois Auto Museum To Keep General Lee On Display.

* Marriage Ruling Leaves Us Free To Rejoice Or To Move On.

* Ex-Baltimore Cop: I Saw Colleagues Shit On People's Clothes During Raids.

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Party!
This is where I live and also the home of Beachwood HQ. I'll be there - everyone is invited.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Sound Opinions is celebrating its 500th episode. To mark this milestone, Jim and Greg share highlights from the show's history and look ahead to the next 500 episodes."

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BeachBook
* Adorable Teen Rappers Are Rhyming The News In Uganda.

* Illinois Barge Captain Sent To Prison For Fatal 2005 Explosion.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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*

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: The monsters are among us.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

June 26, 2015

The [Friday] Papers

The news part of the Papers will be rolled into tomorrow's Weekend Desk Report.

In the meantime . . .

How The U.S. Government Betrayed Fair Housing
Please read this amazing account of the Fair Housing Act - and the heroic but unsuccessful efforts of George Romney to actually implement it, unlike every president we've had since it was passed. Essential reading - especially for those conversations about race, segregation, urban schools and poverty. You know, like, everything.

Bulls Draft Portishead
On The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #57. Plus: Jon Lesster, Chris Not For Sale, Breaking China, Elene Della The Dream Donne, The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week, and Here Comes Chrome.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern
Old Style.

TrackNotes: Here Comes California Chrome
Welcome to the White Palace.

Stories Of The Cook County ICU
Coming soon. Plus: The book from the University Of Chicago Press that caught the NSA's attention & iconic books Lego-style.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Lydia Loveless, Nones, Mikal Cronin, Heavy Times, Obnox, Chance the Rapper & Kendrick Lamar, U2, Kataplexy, American Wrestlers, Total Chaos, Ingrid Michaelson, Bad Religion, Jaga Jazzist, and Tedeschi Trucks.

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Party!
This is where I live and also the home of Beachwood HQ. I'll be there - everyone is invited.

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BeachBook
* Jordan Lynch To Take Over At QB For Edmonton Eskimos.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Razor sharp.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:55 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #57: Bobby Bill Clinton Portis The Bull

Just call him Portishead. Plus: Jon Lesster, Chris Not For Sale, Breaking China, Elene Della The Dream Donne, The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week, and Here Comes Chrome.


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SHOW NOTES

* Olin Kreutz!

1:00: Bobby "Clinton" Portis!

* Bobby Portis.

* Clinton Portis.

* Bill Clinton.

* Bill Bradley.

* Bradley Sellers.

14:08: We Forgive You, Stan Bowman.

* No picks in the first two rounds of the NHL draft.

* Unless one materializes out of Patrick Sharp.

* Kevin Hayes Works NHL System Perfectly.

19:45 Jon Lesster.

* The Mad(don) Scientist.

29:45: Chris Should Not Be For Sale.

36:15: Breaking China.

39:54: Elena Delle The Dream Donne.

* Scored 45.

41:24: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

41:58: Here Comes Chrome.

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

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Tom Chambers:

Not only number 57, but Good Ol' Number 57, the pride of Joliet Catholic and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (ugh, but better than Chris Zorich). Played 14 or 16 with the Arizona Wranglers, took a couple days off and joined the Bears to help anchor their premier 1985 offensive line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

TOMMY THAYER ! ! !

Kreutz was a nice one, but I always see Thayer when I see 57.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: The Unforgettable Patients Of The Cook County ICU

Eagerly awaiting Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases, by Cory Franklin.

From Chicago Review Press:

An inside look at one of the nation's most famous public hospitals, Cook County, as seen through the eyes of its longtime Director of Intensive Care, Dr. Cory Franklin.

Readers will be riveted by stories of strange medical cases and unforgettable patients culled from his 30-year career in medicine that spanned the 1970s through the 1990s, including some major moments in medical history like the AIDS epidemic and the deadly Chicago heatwave of 1995.

We follow Dr. Franklin as he unravels a host of strange cases including the nurse with rare Munchausen syndrome, the only surviving ricin victim, and the professor with Alzheimer's hiding the effects of the wrong medication.

Each chapter features stories centered on a medical topic like body temperature, medications, detecting poisons, and the art of "taking a history."

Readers will come away learning how the practice of medicine has changed over the years, which will be insightful for patients, doctors, and medical students alike.

Sounds irresistible.

*

On Cory Franklin, from the Guardian:

"An editorial board contributor to the Chicago Tribune op-ed page, he writes freelance medical and non-medical articles. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Post and has been excerpted in the New York Review of Books. Cory was also Harrison Ford's technical adviser and one of the role models for the character Ford played in the movie, The Fugitive."

The Chicago Snowden Files
The only mention of Chicago in the Edward Snowden files is a reference to the 2006 book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games by Edward Castronova, from the University of Chicago Press.

From the University of Chicago Press:

From EverQuest to World of Warcraft, online games have evolved from the exclusive domain of computer geeks into an extraordinarily lucrative staple of the entertainment industry. People of all ages and from all walks of life now spend thousands of hours - and dollars - partaking in this popular new brand of escapism. But the line between fantasy and reality is starting to blur. Players have created virtual societies with governments and economies of their own whose currencies now trade against the dollar on eBay at rates higher than the yen. And the players who inhabit these synthetic worlds are starting to spend more time online than at their day jobs.

In Synthetic Worlds, Edward Castronova offers the first comprehensive look at the online game industry, exploring its implications for business and culture alike. He starts with the players, giving us a revealing look into the everyday lives of the gamers - outlining what they do in their synthetic worlds and why. He then describes the economies inside these worlds to show how they might dramatically affect real world financial systems, from potential disruptions of markets to new business horizons. Ultimately, he explores the long-term social consequences of online games: If players can inhabit worlds that are more alluring and gratifying than reality, then how can the real world ever compete? Will a day ever come when we spend more time in these synthetic worlds than in our on? Or even more startling, will a day ever come when such questions no longer sound alarmist but instead seem obsolete?

With more than ten million active players worldwide - and with Microsoft and Sony pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into video game development - online games have become too big to ignore. Synthetic Worlds spearheads our efforts to come to terms with this virtual reality and its concrete effects.

This New York Times article explains the NSA's interest in the book.

Iconic Books By Lego
From the recent Lego convention here:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:05 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Lydia Loveless at the Green Music Fest on Sunday night.


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2. Nones at the Emporium on Sunday night.

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3. Mikal Cronin at the Green Music Fest on Sunday night.

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4. Heavy Times at the Emporium on Sunday night.

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5. Obnox at the Emporium on Sunday night.

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6. Chance the Rapper & Kendrick Lamar at TIP Fest on Northerly Island on Wednesday night.

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7. U2 on the West Side on Thursday night.

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8. Kataplexy at Livewire on Wednesday night.

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9. American Wrestlers at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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10. Total Chaos at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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11. Ingrid Michaelson at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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12. Bad Religion at the Metro on Monday night.

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13. Jaga Jazzist at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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14. Tedeschi Trucks at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Here Comes California Chrome

Horseplayers tend to swim on, like sharks, looking just ahead for the next score, the big overlay.

Racing fans do much the same thing, except that if a big-name horse is still running, you keep an eye on him, perhaps nostalgically. California Chrome falls squarely into this category.

Seems there's plenty of intrigue, speculation and politics surrounding the star of the 2014 Triple Crown drive, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner who fell about two lengths short in the third jewel, the Belmont Stakes.

'Chrome is heading home to America and will land at none other than Arlington Park, for both U.S. quarantine and race preparation purposes. He'll be pointed to our own Arlington Million on August 15 at Chicago's white palace of racing, Arlington Park (What's with that home page, about 12.5% devoted to racing?)

But it ain't over 'til the stewards post OFFICIAL. Hold all tickets, and I'll say this: It will be very interesting to follow 'Chrome's health and training progress between now and then and see if he even makes it to the gate for what was the world's first million-dollar race. I don't know about medical confidentiality laws for horses, but you know trainer Art Sherman won't say 'nuthin except "he's settlin' in just fine, doin' great." 'Chrome's been ordered to say not one word to what we fondly once knew as "The Press."

Since his Belmont loss, it's been an OK up-and-down for the former America's Horse. His worst, appearance fee and all, was a dismal sixth in the Pennsylvania Derby to Bayern, whom he couldn't catch again next out in the Breeders' Cup Classic, finishing third a neck behind Toast of New York. He won his first turf race on the golf fairways of Del Mar in the Hollywood Derby after Thanksgiving and then headed off for the holidays. The very nice Shared Belief had his number in early February, back on the dirt at Santa Anita in the San Antonio Invitational. He finished a respectable second in the Dubai World Cup, taking home a boatload of money in the $10 million race.

After the World Cup, it became clear 'Chrome's connections were not all on the same page. Majority owner Perry Martin took charge of the operation and declared that California Chrome would hop to England and prep for and run in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, the prestigious Group I, 10-furlong turfer run during the big Royal Ascot meet, so big even the Queen becomes a broken down horseplayer for a bit. That's when rumors of a run at Arlington also got stronger. A globetrotter's got to come home sometime.

Is this just for the money? Is this to boost breeding fees? Is 'Chrome all of a sudden a world-class turf horse? Did he see family on Ancestry.com and go up there to find his roots? The answers are yes/yes, they hope him to be, and maybe.

At least Martin laid out his thinking in an angry tone of a press release.

Seems Martin never wanted 'Chrome to run in the San Antonio, preferring go straight to Meydan, Dubai, and get in a prep over that course.

Before setting sail for England, Martin fired off like Old Ironsides.

"Both [trainer] Art [Sherman] and [co-owner] Steve [Coburn] wanted to prep in the San Antonio against Shared Belief. The argument was that the match-up was good for racing. I did not want to disappoint them, so abstained," Martin said. He wasn't finished: "This time we will do what gives Chrome the best chance to win. This time I've got Chrome's back. Hopefully after a bit of time has passed I'll know team Chrome has my back."

Do they talk to each other? "He didn't have any training over the track. We just got here (a week ago), he had no works and only galloped the track. I'm not sure he liked it. We weren't in Dubai long enough," Coburn said almost immediately after the World Cup. Which is it?

For 'Chrome's people, money, sometime cash on the barrelhead, has always been a factor. Now they're looking ahead to 'Chromes stud career. Sure, he's got Lucky Pulpit (Pulpit) on his sire's side, but his dam side (Love the Chase[Not for Love]) was not considered strong, at least during the Triple Crown chase.

Martin explained. "Chrome's bloodlines descend from A.P. Indy. This line is known for superior dirt performance. However it is looked down on by the regions of the world dominated by turf racing. Chrome's stallion value is currently very low in these regions and we really do not have to worry about it going lower with a loss at Royal Ascot. A win would help to demonstrate that the outcrosses in Chrome's breeding have been beneficial to turf performance. Yes, U.S. turf is different from the turf at Ascot - exactly why it is important for us to go."

So, he took a shot. Except it didn't turn out well, never mind the plan. California Chrome never got in a prep for the Prince of Wales's and two days before the race assistant trainer Alan Sherman announced an injury to 'Chrome's right front foot. Soon, he was scratched from the race. It was the same foot he injured in a tangle with Matterhorn coming out of the Belmont gate.

While that was a specific race incident, I've learned 'Chrome may have had other things on his mind.

"Looking back, there were a bunch of little things not going quite right that might have added up," Sherman said. "One thing everybody noticed was that he wasn't acting the same in the paddock in New York as he did before the Derby and the Preakness."

You'll have to click through and scroll it yourself.

So, what now?

Based on Martin's strategy, the Arlington Million is a perfect race for him to make his point. Unless it stops raining tomorrow, the Arlington turf course should be a luxurious, thick track just like those in England, perfect for Martin's plan.

But you can't just throw 'Chrome into the Million after not having raced since March. Scheduled to arrive here in the first week of July, can he be ready for the July 11 Stars and Stripes? It's a the 9.5-furlong local prep for the Million. He'd be running on a surface completely new to him. I'm not sure he's a 10-furlong horse anymore and I really don't like the idea of him training on ANOTHER new surface, the crap PolyTrack of AP's main course. Re: butt soreness, they say.

He did extremely well as a young three-year-old, but he's not a super horse. Martin just wants breeders to think that, or something close. Step one would be a prep race of some kind at Arlington.

Right now, if he were to run in the Million, I have dreams of tons of money on him and a huge Show pool and pouncing on a European invader for a big winner.

But sharks don't look that far ahead, now do they?

Arlington's Fingernails
Churchill Downs Inc. is continuing its shock and awe offensive to ruin Thoroughbred horse racing, this time deploying its assets to its northwest front, Arlington Park.

Doing business as Arlington Park, it petitioned to run fewer races in July and August. The petition was denied Tuesday, but CDI and Arlington still won a major battle in being able to manipulate carded races.

"Arlington also sought emergency action to permit Racing Secretary Chris Polzin to use his discretion is replacing canceled races from the condition book from the published list of substitute races," Bloodhorse.com reports.

For example, if a race (ostensibly at a higher purse, thus counter to Arlington's desires) from the pre-written conditions book has six horses and one or two scratch, the racing secretary would have the power to cancel the race and substitute another from the substitution book, at a lower purse, of course.

So how is a horseman going to really know that a race 10 days from Wednesday, a race in the official conditions book, will be run? Why save and prepare his horse for a race that very well might not be run, even at a lower purse?

Think Illinois horsemen are hanging on by their fingernails? They were even willing to listen to yet another slow cut.

"If purses have to be cut, we will support you on that," said Glen Berman, executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association. "There is no reason to take this type of drastic action. These projections, if they are true, can be dealt with in a much more common-sense way."

CDI and its Arlington Park are not really interested in conducting actual horse races. It wants the easy-money simulcast and online account wagering revenue. Its behavior has demonstrated this for years. Their business model at Churchill Downs is to drink the Kentucky Derby cash and make itself out to be a cathedral.

It's somewhat the same at Arlington with the Million, on a smaller scale, but the reality is Arlington does not even have a dirt track in the land of dirt tracks, so its "main track" program is outside the consciousness of American racing, if you can believe that.

This is a calculated and relentless strategy by CDI and it's been successful in hurting racing at Calder, Fair Grounds and Arlington. It simply sold Hollywood Park, which has since, sickeningly, been blown up, literally. Showing no good faith in helping racing, CDI simply awaits the largesse of slots, which it got at Calder, which it still abandoned by selling it racing rights to Frank Stronach's Gulfstream crew.

You ask, what if California Chrome wants an appearance fee, say $100,000, to run in the Million? Where will the money come from? Dick Duchossois, president of Arlington, can certainly afford it. And corporate might not balk, with the profits it's making. They'll run the PR of getting 'Chrome to Arlington - just like Secretariat and John Henry - into the ground and pull out the moldy oldie about Arlington rising from the ashes back in the 80's. That's cheap for that kind of pub and perhaps even national TV.

In the toilet bowl that is Illinois racing, filled with the waste of Arlington's and CDI's sabotage, the water is swirling down, with CDI pressing and pressing and pressing the lever.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:56 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern

Old Style.

belmonttavernexpBW.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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Living Apart: How The Government Betrayed A Landmark Civil Rights Law

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the landmark federal Fair Housing Act protects Americans from discrimination in where they choose to live, even when the discrimination is unintentional. In its 5-4 ruling, the Court held that governments or lending institutions can be sued based in part on statistical evidence that certain categories of residents had suffered what is known as "disparate impact," as a consequence of housing or lending policies.

ProPublica in 2012 detailed how the U.S. government rarely enforced the many provisions of the Fair Housing Act. And earlier this year, we looked at the issues at stake in the "disparate impact" case decided Thursday.

Original story, published Oct. 29, 2012:

A few months after Congress passed a landmark law directing the federal government to dismantle segregation in the nation's housing, President Nixon's housing chief began plotting a stealth campaign.

The plan, George Romney wrote in a confidential memo to aides, was to use his power as secretary of Housing and Urban Development to remake America's housing patterns, which he described as a "high-income white noose" around the black inner city.

The 1968 Fair Housing Act, passed months earlier in the tumultuous aftermath of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, directed the government to "affirmatively further" fair housing. Romney believed those words gave him the authority to pressure predominantly white communities to build more affordable housing and end discriminatory zoning practices.

Romney ordered HUD officials to reject applications for water, sewer and highway projects from cities and states where local policies fostered segregated housing.

He dubbed his initiative "Open Communities" and did not clear it with the White House. As word spread that HUD was turning down grants, Nixon's supporters in the South and in white Northern suburbs took their complaints directly to the president.

Nixon intervened immediately.

"Stop this one," Nixon scrawled in a note on a memo written by John Ehrlichman, his domestic policy chief.

In a 1972 "eyes only" memo to Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman, another aide, Nixon explained his position. "I am convinced that while legal segregation is totally wrong that forced integration of housing or education is just as wrong," he wrote.

The president understood the consequences: "I realize that this position will lead us to a situation in which blacks will continue to live for the most part in black neighborhoods and where there will be predominately black schools and predominately white schools."

Romney, the former governor of Michigan and father of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, held his ground. Notations and memos in his private papers show that he viewed the blighted black ghettos as a root cause of the inner-city riots of the 1960s.

"Equal opportunity for all Americans in education and housing is essential if we are going to keep our nation from being torn apart," he wrote in talking points he drew up for a meeting with the president.

Romney's stance made him a pariah within the administration. Nixon shut down the program, refused to meet with his housing secretary and finally drove him from the Cabinet.

Over the next four decades, a ProPublica investigation shows, a succession of presidents - Democrat and Republican alike - followed Nixon's lead, declining to use the leverage of HUD's billions to fight segregation.

Their reluctance to enforce a law passed by both houses of Congress and repeatedly upheld by the courts reflects a larger political reality. Again and again, attempts to create integrated neighborhoods have foundered in the face of vehement opposition from homeowners.

"The lack of political courage around these issues is stunning," said Elizabeth Julian, a former senior HUD official. "The failures of fair housing are not just by HUD but by the country."

Nixon's vision for America largely came to pass and the costs have been steep. More than 20 years of research has implicated residential segregation in virtually every aspect of racial inequality, from higher unemployment rates for African Americans, to poorer health care, to elevated infant mortality rates and, most of all, to inferior schools.

HUD's largest program of grants to states, cities and towns has delivered $137 billion to more than 1,200 communities since 1974. To receive the money, localities are supposed to identify obstacles to fair housing, keep records of their efforts to overcome them, and certify that they do not discriminate.

ProPublica could find only two occasions since Romney's tenure in which the department withheld money from communities for violating the Fair Housing Act. In several instances, records show, HUD has sent grants to communities even after they've been found by courts to have promoted segregated housing or been sued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

New Orleans, for example, has continued to receive grants after the Justice Department sued it for violating that Fair Housing Act by blocking a low-income housing project in a wealthy historic neighborhood.

ProPublica submitted 41 questions to HUD about its failure to use its authority to promote integrated housing. It issued a statement which did not address that issue but said the agency has worked hard to enforce provisions of the law that bar discrimination against individuals.

Scholars have traced the history of housing segregation in several notable books and articles. ProPublica has obtained new documents and interviewed key figures in the four-decade battle over the Fair Housing Act.

Present and former officials in HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity said their attempts to enforce the 1968 law were met with indifference or opposition from the agency's senior officials.

The office has the smallest staff and budget of HUD's four major programs. Several officials in key positions said they had never been trained to enforce the law's requirement to "affirmatively further" fair housing.

In most cases, HUD does not even check the paperwork filed by cities and states about their efforts to deal with segregation and other issues that stymie integrated housing; it simply writes checks.

"People say integration has failed," said Julian, an assistant secretary for fair housing during the Clinton administration. "It hasn't failed because it's never been tried."

The Fair Housing Act was the most contentious of the civil rights-era legislation, blocked for years by Northern and Southern senators alike. It took infernos in more than 125 cities following King's assassination to force the bill's revival.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, the floor manager of the legislation as a freshman senator from Minnesota, said King's death provided a powerful but brief urgency to eradicate the nation's ghettos.

Other laws and presidential orders have integrated the military, opened opportunities for higher education and provided protections against workplace discrimination.

But despite the Fair Housing Act, levels of residential segregation have barely budged in many of the large metropolitan areas where most African Americans live.

Today, as in the 1960s, many argue that the separation of the races is a matter of personal choice. But numerous surveys show that African Americans, more than any other group, want to live in integrated neighborhoods.

Others say income disparities are behind the color-coded American metropolises, that lower-income African Americans simply can't afford to live in wealthier white areas. Yet black Americans earning $75,000 a year typically live in poorer neighborhoods than white Americans earning $40,000 a year, according to an analysis of census data by John Logan of Brown University.

Mondale, now 84, said the law "hasn't created this integrated vision that we were talking about. One of the great moral failings of our country, despite the Great Society and despite what we tried to do, is the deprival of justice for the people who have come from behind. It's something I worked on all of my life and I am very disheartened by it."

The Obama administration - prodded by private lawsuits - has done somewhat more than its predecessors. It has taken the unprecedented step of withholding money from Joliet, Ill., and Westchester, N.Y., for not meeting civil rights obligations.

But advocates say the administration has fallen far short of its promises to reform this broken system. After nearly four years, federal housing officials have yet to issue regulations that would precisely define what communities need to do to "affirmatively further" fair housing.

Perhaps the starkest measure of the law's squandered potential is how little the torrent of federal dollars released by its passage has done to integrate U.S. communities.

Over the last two decades, taxpayers have sent $400 million in HUD block grants to Milwaukee, to no discernible effect. Milwaukee remains locked in a tie with Detroit for the title of America's most segregated metropolitan area for African Americans.

New York City, home to the nation's largest black population, has reeled in $4 billion in block grants since 1993. Yet in that time, demographers say, racial segregation has eased by just 3 percent. Today, 80 percent of black New Yorkers would have to move to create a city in which they were evenly integrated with whites.

Myron Orfield, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and one of the nation's leading experts on segregation, said when the federal government abandoned Romney's efforts it turned away from a critical opportunity to reshape American life.

"Segregation would have been cut by half and possibly eliminated," Orfield said. "The country would have been very different."

Hopes Of The Great Migration Quickly Fade

In the first decades of the 20th century, African Americans began to resist the brutally oppressive post-Civil War South the only way they could - with their feet. Sneaking onto trains, they traded the tobacco and cotton fields of steamy Southern towns for the cold winters and cramped tenements of the North.

When the Great Migration began in 1910, just 10 percent of black Americans lived outside the South. Six decades later, nearly half of the country's 22.5 million African Americans called other states home. In all, six million African Americans left the South, a flow of humanity that redrew the nation's racial map.

The migrants sought jobs in booming Northern cities such as New York, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia. In the early years, they moved into white neighborhoods, rarely living in places that were more than 30 percent black, according to sociologists Douglas Massey of Princeton University and Nancy Denton of the State University of New York at Albany.

It didn't last.

Cities and towns began adopting zoning codes that designated neighborhoods as all-white and all-black. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down those laws as unconstitutional, real estate agents wrote "codes of ethics" that included bans on selling homes to African Americans outside of black areas. In some cities, white residents responded to the arrival of black families with riots, home bombings and cross burnings. They formed associations dedicated to blocking even a single black family from moving in.

White communities also embraced racial covenants - legal language in deeds that barred any subsequent purchaser from selling to African Americans.

Still, African Americans kept moving north. By 1930, the black population in Northern cities had grown by 40 percent as another 1 million left the South.

Around this time the federal government began promoting the racial division of Northern cities, primarily through New Deal loan programs.

The Home Owners' Loan Corporation, created in 1933, introduced the practice of redlining, marking in red ink swaths of cities in which it would not lend. It rated white neighborhoods as the least risky and black neighborhoods as the most. It would not lend to a black person seeking to buy in a white neighborhood, or vice versa.

When the Federal Housing Administration opened its doors a year later, it adopted the same practices. As a result, 98 percent of the loans the FHA insured between 1934 and 1962 went to white borrowers. The policies encouraged white flight as even neighborhoods with small numbers of African Americans were rated as "hazardous." White residents who didn't mind black neighbors found their home values decreasing as the government refused to insure mortgages for new buyers.

A 1938 manual for the FHA encouraged officials to avoid mixing "inharmonious racial or nationality groups" and "the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they are intended."

With the end of World War II, a grateful nation made available vast amounts of credit to returning soldiers, who could borrow money through the GI Bill to buy their dream homes in the suburbs.

But banks often refused to approve loans for black soldiers attempting to use the GI Bill to buy homes. The Veterans Administration and the FHA officially supported racial covenants banning African Americans in new suburban developments until 1950, refusing to underwrite loans that would bring "incompatible" racial groups into newly created white areas.

Federal housing and development programs worked alongside state and local governments to bulldoze black and integrated neighborhoods for redevelopment and relocate African Americans to designated city corridors.

In their place, the government built public housing towers, home to thousands and thousands of people, nearly all of whom were black.

"As the new century wore on, areas of acceptable black residence became more and more narrowly circumscribed. The era of the ghetto had begun," Massey and Denton wrote in their book American Apartheid.

As the boundaries of black neighborhoods expanded, white residents began to abandon cities altogether. Once again, federal policies accelerated segregation.

The government built highways and mass transit systems that made it possible for millions of white Americans to work in the inner city yet live in the suburbs.

It took just 60 years - not even a lifetime - to divide communities in nearly every metropolitan area along racial lines. Northern cities had become the most segregated in the country, analysis of census data shows.

LBJ Tries To Change Minds In The '60s

When the 1960s brought protests in the South against Jim Crow laws, civil rights leaders found an unlikely ally in the White House.

President Lyndon B. Johnson brushed aside the Southern leaders of his own party, pushing through landmark legislation that outlawed discrimination in voting, employment, public accommodations and public education.

One issue remained beyond the reach of Johnson's legendary persuasive skills: housing.

The president had contemplated introducing fair housing legislation as early as 1964, but his staff advised against it.

Johnson persisted, arguing that residential segregation was the wellspring of all other racial inequities. Just as Congress was passing some of the most far-reaching civil rights laws since Reconstruction, Northern ghettos erupted. In the three years before King's assassination, African Americans took to the streets in more than 100 cities. The rioting prompted Johnson to press harder for legislation to undo the nation's segregated housing patterns.

In 1966, he turned for help to Mondale, a 38-year-old senator from Minnesota not long into his first term. A former majority leader, Johnson held personal relationships with the Senate's most powerful figures. But housing was so toxic an issue, the president couldn't find anyone else to lead the fight.

"I was young and I thought I could do anything," said Mondale, now grayer but still an optimist. "I was a bit flattered that I'd get a bill that was so important."

With the help of co-sponsors Mondale and Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, then the only African American in the Senate, Johnson proposed a bill to ban discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. It went nowhere.

Mondale understood why his liberal colleagues were discomfited by the measure. If it came to the floor, pressure from constituents would force them to vote against it, making them look like hypocrites.

"A lot of civil rights was about making the South behave and taking the teeth from George Wallace," Mondale said, referring to the famously racist governor of Alabama who ran for president in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976. "This came right to the neighborhoods across the country. This was civil rights getting personal."

Johnson, who had considered the 1966 housing bill his most devastating political defeat, did not back down. In the summer of 1967, Mondale called a black veteran to testify. Decorated for his service in Vietnam, Carlos Campbell had been appointed to a job in the Pentagon. Standing rigid in a crisp white uniform, he told the Senate housing and urban affairs subcommittee how he and his wife were unable to rent an apartment in the white neighborhoods near his new post in Arlington, Va., even with the help of the Defense Department's housing office.

"Up until the spring of 1965 I was largely convinced that our racial problems were rapidly diminishing and that education, professional credibility, and financial integrity were the necessary vehicles for obtaining full rights as a citizen," Campbell said. Once off the military base, he said, he'd been forced to "re-examine my philosophy." The man who had, in his own words, been entrusted with "safeguarding the nation's most delicate secrets" told senators that he had been turned away from more than 36 apartments because of his race.

"I remember old Dick Russell, that old segregationist, said, 'I am for segregation, but how do we tell black Americans who have fought and died for us that they have to go back in the box?'" Mondale said. "That was always the Achilles' heel, and this helped bring that to the front."

Minds were slowly changing. But the bill died again.

Two developments revived it.

Johnson had asked a blue-ribbon panel to study the riots and make recommendations on how to prevent such violence in the future.

The Kerner Commission's searing conclusion - that the United States was "moving toward two societies, one black, one white; separate and unequal" - is enshrined in the history books. What is less well-remembered was the basis for that finding. The commission blamed housing segregation for the riots. "What white Americans have never fully understood - but what the Negro can never forget - is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto," the panel wrote. "White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it." The report called for a federal fair housing law.

Days later, on April 4, 1968, an assassin killed King on the balcony of a Memphis motel. Black communities again exploded in riots.

Washington, D.C., which had recently become majority black, was among the hardest hit. Mondale recalled flying over the nation's capital in a helicopter thinking, "By God, it looks like Vietnam."

"You could see the fires from the Capitol and the whole place seemed to be in flames," he said. "The city was locked down, the Capitol was under guard, and nobody knew what was going to happen. The nation came close to pulling apart."

Many lawmakers shared Mondale's fear that the horrific conditions of the nation's ghettos had set the stage for a cycle of deepening violence and confrontation.

Johnson used the shock following King's assassination to his advantage, urging Congress to pass the long-delayed housing bill as a tribute to the slain leader.

The housing legislation, Mondale said, had been the most filibustered bill in history. But when lawmakers took up the bill this time, "They didn't dare," Mondale recalled. "They didn't dare hold it up."

Just six days after King died, Congress passed Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act. As the votes in the House were tallied - 250-171 - armed National Guardsmen ringed the Capitol to protect Congress from the rioters in burning slums just a few blocks away.

Johnson signed the bill into law April 11. "We have passed many civil rights pieces of legislation," he said. "But none is more important than this."

The law banned racial discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, block busting (in which real estate agents move a black family into a white neighborhood and use it to frighten white homeowners into selling, turning the neighborhood from white to black), racial steering (in which real estate agents steer home seekers to racially distinct neighborhoods), and intimidation and coercion.

Then it went a step further. The law required federal officials to do everything possible to "affirmatively further" fair housing. This odd turn of phrase, which was not further defined, distinguished the housing law from almost all other civil rights legislation. It didn't just ban discrimination. It charged the government to act to bring about "integrated and balanced living patterns," according to Mondale's statements at the time.

To accomplish this, the law directed HUD to create a civil rights office that would enforce the new law. According to Brooke, the intent was to enable the government to "withhold funds or defer action" to dismantle segregation.

By including this provision, lawmakers were acknowledging that previous statutes and presidential orders addressing housing discrimination had been ignored. President Kennedy had signed an executive order in 1962 banning discrimination in federally subsidized housing. Nothing changed. The 1964 civil rights law banned racial discrimination by any agency that received federal money. It, too, made no difference.

Mondale and the bill's floor managers made concessions to secure the law's passage that weakened HUD's enforcement powers.

One key compromise limited HUD's ability to punish discriminatory landlords and real estate agents. The original draft envisioned a mounting schedule of fines. The final version gave HUD only the authority to seek voluntary settlements. If landlords refused, the agency could do nothing but inform those complaining of discrimination to file private lawsuits. Moreover, by capping damages for successful claims at $1,000, the act made such lawsuits thoroughly impractical.

Mondale viewed the law as a first step, envisaging a succession of bills that would address weaknesses in the Fair Housing Act.

From the start, HUD was whipsawed by conflicting mandates. Cobbled together from agencies that just a few years earlier had openly pushed segregation, HUD was supposed to transform itself into a force for civil rights. Not surprisingly, the agency's predominant focus remained on creating housing as fast as possible.

"For 40 years we tried to get interest in enforcement," Mondale said. "There have been many times that I have been disappointed with federal enforcement of this law."

Nixon's 'Serious Romney Problem'

Johnson never got an opportunity to administer the law. Battered by protests over the Vietnam War, he declined to run for re-election. Hubert Humphrey, his vice president, lost a closely contested election to Richard Nixon, a Republican whose winning coalition was built around former Southern Democrats and white Northerners.

Nixon named an avowed opponent of housing segregation as his first secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

George Romney, who unsuccessfully ran against Nixon early in the presidential campaign, had championed housing integration as governor in his home state of Michigan.

The 1967 Detroit riots, which destroyed 2,000 buildings and took 43 lives, profoundly affected Romney. On the night National Guard and Army combat troops backed by tanks finally quelled the violence, Romney delivered a "Report to the People" that was broadcast statewide.

"Some already are saying the answer is brute force such as would be used on mad dogs," the governor said. "Others are questioning present social and economic programs because they claim Negroes don't appreciate what has already been done."

"Some white people and public officials will advocate the return to state's rights as a way to legalize segregation," he continued. "As citizens of Michigan, as Americans, we must unhesitatingly reject all these divisive courses."

Instead, Romney enacted a statewide fair housing law. He called for an end to local zoning that encouraged segregation and for the creation of low-cost housing throughout metropolitan Detroit and the state.

"Force alone will not eliminate riots," Romney wrote in letters responding to angry citizens. "We must eliminate the problems from which they stem."

Romney knew his ideas went against the grain of the Nixon administration, but his papers, housed at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, show that he viewed open housing as a moral obligation regardless of political cost.

So Romney and his staff crafted a secret agenda to use HUD's powers under the 1968 act. Romney staff members debated how much to let the White House, and the public, know about their efforts.

In a memo to Romney dated Aug. 15, 1969, HUD Undersecretary Richard Van Dusen said that federal housing subsidies, along with urban renewal policies and suburban water and sewer grants, had increased segregation. Those same programs, or the threatened loss of them, could be used to integrate suburbs that counted on the money but also blocked the construction of affordable housing.

The memo anticipated opposition from Nixon, Congress, the Republican Party and mayors.

"Judgements must be made as to what steps may be taken quietly and without formal policy announcement," the memo said. "It seems probable that a frontal attack which publicly seeks to redress the ghetto problem would arouse major political opposition."

Soon after, Romney launched his Open Communities program. Separately, he ordered his staff to draft legislation that allowed the government to override local zoning that kept out federally subsidized housing.

"Romney recognized these places got a lot of stuff from the federal government," said Orfield, the University of Minnesota law professor. "And Romney said if the federal government is going to build you a new freeway and sewer systems - the government was footing about 80 percent of the cost - you are not going to build communities at the end of those freeway and sewer systems for only affluent white people."

Romney's campaign achieved some initial successes. HUD terminated grants to the Boston, Baltimore and Toledo metro areas after they rejected low-income housing slated for white neighborhoods, and won concessions.

The program could not be kept secret for long. On June 22, 1970, Nixon's most trusted domestic adviser, John Ehrlichman, sent Romney a note.

"The White House is receiving the strongest sort of representations regarding the proposed 'open communities' policy," he wrote. "This proposal has not had the usual policy review . . . May I ask the present status . . . ?"

Romney sent back a less-than-truthful reply. The department had not created a new policy, he wrote. It was merely reviewing "a range of alternatives."

A month later, the new HUD chief decided to test the program in territory he knew well - the 99 percent-white Detroit suburb of Warren. The once-sleepy town had undergone a population boom as whites fled Detroit in the '60s. Its residents were openly hostile to the idea of African Americans moving into their town. After local police failed to protect an interracial couple who'd moved there, then-Gov. Romney dispatched the state police.

Romney told Warren that HUD would withhold federal dollars if the city didn't agree to build affordable housing. Warren's mayor pleaded for leniency. Romney stood firm, saying: "Black people have just as much right to equal opportunities as we do."

Local officials in Warren complained in a letter to the White House about HUD's "integrationist misfits." The president responded immediately, denying the White House had a plan to tie HUD dollars to integration. He ordered Romney to release the money.

The confrontation over Warren marked a critical moment in the history of the Fair Housing Act. For the first time enforcement of the law collided with the political realities of a president thinking about re-election.

In the weeks after the Warren case, Southern congressmen angrily assailed Romney's plans to integrate the suburbs, particularly in metropolitan Atlanta.

Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, segregationist candidate for president in 1948, and other southern leaders took their complaints directly to Nixon. "We in the South are motivated by race," Georgia Congressman Fletcher Thompson told the president, according to notes from the session. The group warned that Nixon appeared "anti-South" because of Romney's actions. Some Southerners, they said, had derisively begun to refer to Nixon as "Mister Integrator."

Remarkably, Romney continued to press ahead with his Open Communities program. By the fall of 1970, Nixon had lost patience with his HUD secretary. A memo from Ehrlichman outlining options for Nixon's "Post-Southern strategy" for the 1972 campaign called HUD's effort to integrate the suburbs "a serious Romney problem which we will apparently have as long as he is here."

"This is no approved program," Ehrlichman wrote. "But he keeps loudly talking about it in spite of our efforts to shut him up."

Not long after, Nixon asked Romney to leave the Cabinet and become U.S. ambassador to Mexico.

Romney turned down the job. In a Nov. 16, 1970, letter, he said he understood that the president believed they were "on a collision course because of a difference in ideology with respect to the racial aspects of HUD's programs." He asked for a meeting "to discuss my views personally with you."

At the end of the letter, Romney again made his argument for integration. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the lower, middle income and the poor, white, black and brown family, cannot continue to be isolated in the deteriorating core cities without broad scale revolution." He underlined the words.

Nixon froze Romney out, refusing to meet with the HUD secretary.

Weeks later, as the year came to a close, Romney, isolated and disgruntled, prepared notes for his long-delayed conversation with the president.

"President only wants yes-man," he wrote before outlining the same concerns - suburban integration and HUD funding - that had enraged Nixon. It appears the meeting never took place.

With Romney unwilling to take the ambassadorship, Nixon decided that he, not HUD, would set the nation's policy on fair housing. The president asked his staff to figure out just how narrowly he could construe the Fair Housing Act. He began referring publicly to Romney's approach as "forced integration."

Nixon's special counsel, Leonard Garment, tried to craft a strategy consistent with both the courts' interpretations of the law and Nixon's political needs. White House aides hoped that Garment would come up with a rationale for confining the fair housing law to overt acts of discrimination. But when Garment studied the court cases, he concluded this was not possible. Again and again, federal judges had interpreted the "further fair housing phrase" to mean that the federal government had an active role to play in desegregation.

Ehrlichman shopped for another opinion, turning to Tom Stoel, a lawyer who worked in the president's executive office. Stoel argued that the government could restrict enforcement of the law to "cases of individual discrimination" and need not get involved in zoning issues or press communities to build affordable housing. This would "avoid any hint of 'forced integration'" but, he warned, "may not fulfill the Government's obligation under the law."

Ignoring Stoel's caution, Nixon ordered HUD to stop all efforts to pressure cities and states to foster integrated housing.

As the Nixon White House geared up for the 1972 re-election campaign, Romney gave up. "Developments in recent months and days have convinced me that you are no longer interested in my counsel and advice before making policy and operating decisions directly affecting the activities of the Department I head," Romney wrote to Nixon in August 1972. "Consequently, I have concluded more can be accomplished in the future if the Department is headed by someone whose counsel and advice you want."

Though Romney's formal resignation letter in November 1972 made no reference to the civil rights battle that had been his downfall, insiders may well have detected an ironic turn of phrase in the words he chose.

"I want to thank you for the privilege of serving the nation under your great leadership," Romney wrote. "The experience has been a rewarding and invaluable one that, among other things, has deepened my understanding of our country's political processes."

With that, the federal government's only large-scale effort to integrate the segregated suburbs it helped create sputtered to a close. The Fair Housing Act was just four years old.

Block Grants: Another Missed Opportunity

In the last years of the Nixon presidency, HUD officials drew up plans to consolidate the agency's array of programs into a single block grant that would automatically flow to communities. Previously, cities and states had to apply for money to pave a road or build a sewer. Under what Nixon called "The New Federalism," local officials would decide how to spend the federal aid they received.

This approach should have been a boon for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. Block grants gave HUD a single choke point to cut off money to recalcitrant communities.

But that's not what happened.

The bill drafted by the Nixon administration required localities accepting block grants to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination by entities receiving federal dollars. The draft made no mention of the 1968 fair housing act or its mandate for the government to "affirmatively further" fair housing.

This angered HUD officials charged with enforcing the Fair Housing Act. Samuel Simmons, HUD's assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, sent a memo to HUD's general counsel noting that the omission "is poor policy and will certainly be cited as evidence that the administration is not concerned with effective civil rights enforcement."

After the Watergate scandal forced Nixon out of office in 1974, Congress passed the Housing and Community Development Act as conceived by Nixon's aides.

"The zeal with which Federal officials carried out policies of discrimination in the early days of the Government's housing effort has not been matched by a similar enthusiasm in carrying out their current legal mandate of equal housing opportunity," the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote in its assessment of the fifth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. "Residential segregation, which the Federal government helped to foster, remains a fact of life in the Nation's metropolitan areas."

HUD did not withhold a block grant from a single community between 1974 and 1983.

That year Congress passed a law directing HUD to release money only to communities that documented their compliance with the requirement to "affirmatively further fair housing." It took five more years before that law became part of the regulations for block grants.

HUD could provide no records on how many times the agency has withheld grants from communities for violating the housing act since then. As best as can be determined from interviews with longtime staff, HUD secretaries used their new powers twice from 1988 to the present.

Through the 1980s, federal judges lambasted HUD for maintaining segregated housing and using its housing dollars to maintain segregation.

"It has been clear at least since the passage of Title VIII (1968) - if not from the date of Executive Order 11063 (1962) and HUD's inception as a federal agency (1965) - that HUD has had an affirmative duty to eradicate segregation," one particularly irate judge ruled in a Texas case accusing the agency of financing segregated public housing. "HUD has a duty to know how its money is spent, and in fact has known that it is supporting segregated housing in East Texas. Notwithstanding, it has continued to actively support the system in perhaps the most effective possible way - by paying for it."

In 1988, on the 20th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act's passage, Congress gave HUD the authority to impose tougher penalties on landlords caught discriminating. But on the crucial issue of what Congress meant by the phrase "affirmatively further fair housing," lawmakers made no changes.

The Wealthy County That Could

Just a few miles north of the White House, one of the nation's wealthiest and whitest suburbs charted a different course.

Without prodding from HUD or federal officials, the council for Montgomery County, Md., moved in the 1970s to enact a zoning ordinance that required developers to include affordable units in each large development.

Montgomery County seemed an implausible place for such a move. The 92 percent-white suburb bordered on 65-percent black Washington, D.C., and had desegregated its schools just a decade before. But the civil rights struggles of the 1960s brought a new generation into local government. They were shocked when a study found that many African Americans in the county lived in shacks that lacked running water or sewer connections.

"We saw the segregation," said Joyce Siegel, county housing commissioner at the time. "It was a fairness issue - that one part of the county wasn't going to have more affordable housing than another. We had to be fair."

The Suburban Maryland Fair Housing group, which had been fighting real estate covenants, joined forces with the League of Women Voters. They championed an ordinance that would ensure decent housing for African Americans and lower-income people and bar the county from concentrating its affordable housing in desolate pockets.

The proposed law said any development of more than 50 units (it has since been lowered to 20) must set aside no less than 15 percent of the housing for lower-income residents. Even more radical, the ordinance allowed the county to purchase up to a third of the affordable units for use as public housing.

No community within the county's jurisdiction was excluded.

The measure met fervid resistance from many suburban communities within the county. At one point, Siegel said, she needed a police escort. It took six years to pass the law. One advocate brought a birthday cake before the council each year to mark its failure.

When the council finally approved the legislation in 1973, the county executive vetoed it, only to see his veto overridden. The ordinance became law in January 1974, a time when other cities and towns were rushing to put up zoning barriers to keep out lower-income housing. Montgomery County's law was the first such zoning ordinance in the country, and it has spurred construction of more than 13,000 affordable housing units tucked into some of the county's most exclusive zip codes.

From the standpoint of desegregation, Montgomery County has become a model of what could have been.

Over three decades, its black population more than tripled to 18 percent. It remains one of the nation's richest counties, yet segregation has fallen well below the national average.

Committed To Change, Resigned To Concessions

Bill Clinton was 11 when President Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect black students attempting to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. He came to Washington in 1992 vowing to take a more assertive stance on civil rights.

To transform HUD, he turned to Henry Cisneros, a former four-term mayor of San Antonio committed to making full use of the powers provided under the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

Cisneros had grown up in a working-class San Antonio neighborhood of bungalows and tidy yards that he says resembled Norman Rockwell's paintings in every way but one: All the faces were brown. He remembers riding through the city with his mother as she pointed out water fountains and restrooms designated "colored" and "white."

In April 1992, Cisneros sat watching a Lakers game from his Texas home when images of burning Los Angeles neighborhoods flashed across his screen. Black residents in Watts rioted following a jury's acquittal of three white cops in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a black motorist. Cisneros immediately phoned L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley, offering to help.

The next day, Cisneros flew past the billowing smoke that darkened Los Angeles' skies, witnessing a scene similar to what Mondale glimpsed in 1968 as he flew over the nation's capital. Cisneros went on television, pleading for peace between Latinos and African Americans who were battling police and, sometimes, each other. Broom in hand, he urged people to stop destroying their own neighborhoods and start cleaning up. Fifty-three people died in the riots. Like Romney a quarter century earlier, Cisneros was deeply affected.

"It was a very profound moment for me. Anger. Pain. Desperation," Cisneros recalled in an interview. "It touched me that these emotions would be so raw in our country, that despite all of the efforts to put out programs in housing and entrepreneurship and health, that we weren't really making enough of a difference to prevent that level of desperation."

Cisneros saw HUD's failure to fight segregation as a cause of the riots. He told the senators at his confirmation hearing that if he became HUD secretary, the agency's passivity would end.

Underscoring his commitment to demolishing HUD's existing culture, he named two civil rights attorneys to lead the agency's fair housing efforts. Elizabeth Julian had spent years suing the agency for fostering segregation. Roberta Achtenberg was a co-founder of the National Lesbian Law Center and had served on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors.

Cisneros met with Massey and Denton, two scholars whose account of the government's role in residential segregation had just been published. His aides contacted others who had documented the perils of ghetto life, including Alex Kotlowitz, whose 1992 book There Are No Children Here exposed the plight of families in Chicago's segregated housing projects.

The team knew it would face political headwinds from both Capitol Hill and local government. But they were taken aback by the fierce resistance from the ranks of HUD's career officials.

"Until we got inside and started poking around, nobody realized that HUD had either been asleep at the wheel for a number of years, or in some cases some things were known about and allowed to take place because nobody had the courage to intervene," Achtenberg said. "We had problems in all our departments."

Much of HUD's staff and budget was devoted to building new housing units. Success was measured in the billions of dollars of grants and loan guarantees that flowed to cities. The civil rights lawyers looked at projects through the lens of race and the 1968 act. Their job was to say no.

"There was often conflict around whether we were enforcing the laws and regs as strenuously as Fair Housing thought we should be," said Bob Berlan, who retired from HUD in 2008 after 37 years in community development. "That was the case from the day I entered HUD to the day I left."

Robbie Herndon, who retired from HUD in 2006 as regional fair housing director based in Kansas, saw the issue from the other side of the table. Development officials in the department, she said, "would tell recipients they didn't have to comply with fair housing regulations - I know this because some of the recipients were bold enough to tell us."

Herndon joined the agency in the '70s to advance civil rights but left disillusioned. "It was a battle throughout my whole career, and it saddened me that these communities receive millions and have received millions and have not been held accountable for not serving all their constituents," she said. "We used to call it the Title VI blues. It's like you're swimming with sharks and many of the sharks were HUD people."

Some say that HUD had created its own caste system. The Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office, HUD's civil rights arm, has traditionally been more heavily African American than the other HUD offices. Currently, the office is 57 percent black and 27 percent white. By contrast, the Community Development division, which disburses grants, is 51 percent white and 32 percent black.

In conversations with HUD officials, the fair housing office is frequently referred to as a "stepchild." Achtenberg said this was evident even in the agency's pay structure, in which staffers in the fair housing office earned less than comparably experienced counterparts elsewhere in the agency.

Achtenberg said she tried to erase the disparity but was unsuccessful.

"HUD is considered the most disfavored of all agencies," she said. "And FHEO is the most despised of all."

A list of HUD employees by pay grade shows the fair housing office has a smaller percentage of employees at the highest pay grade than the agency's three other large programs. It is unclear from the data, which ProPublica obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, why this would be.

"I think it's more they weren't respected," said Manuel Ochoa, a former HUD deputy assistant secretary under President George W. Bush. "There was a lack of professionalism" and other HUD programs "didn't feel they had a capable partner."

He paused, then added, "That sounds hurtful."

When Cisneros arrived, the agency was defending itself in court against a swarm of civil rights lawsuits. HUD's standard response was to argue that law was a general statement of principles which did not require the agency to take any specific steps to foster integrated housing. Cisneros looked at the cases and concluded that the government was wrong.

"We were complicit in discrimination, and I gave instructions to fix it," Cisneros said. "That put us in the position of the department having to admit that what we had done before was inadequate, it was wrong."

One long-running confrontation over fair housing centered on Vidor, a small Texas town that had been ordered to desegregate its all-white public housing as part of a class-action suit filed against HUD. Vidor, a historic center of Klu Klux Klan activity, had defied the order for a decade.

Cisneros decided it was time for HUD to do its job. When his attempt to move in black families crumbled under threats and harassment from local residents, Cisneros called in the U.S Marshals, the FBI and police to escort four black adults and seven children into the buildings.

When he took over Vidor's public housing authority, it marked the first time HUD had ever taken control of a local housing agency for civil rights violations. Yet even in this case, HUD didn't withhold funding to the city.

Cisneros did order sweeping changes to other HUD housing programs. He oversaw the new Hope VI program, which knocked down housing projects and replaced them with mixed-income developments. He provided vouchers that allowed poor African Americans and Latinos to move to better communities. He cracked down on predatory lending and moved to expand home ownership among racial minorities.

Clinton, whose press office said he would not agree to be interviewed for this story, backed his HUD secretary, emerging as the first president to openly press for integrated housing since LBJ.

"Racial and ethnic segregation, both in the private housing market and in public and assisted housing, has been well documented," Clinton wrote in a 1994 memo to agency heads announcing a new executive order. "We can do better."

The president's executive order established the Cabinet-level President's Fair Housing Council. The council was to assess federal programs with an eye toward promoting integrated housing. Clinton ordered it to design a pilot program that would help inner-city families move to the suburbs.

Housing advocates applauded the initiatives. But officials overseeing HUD's development and housing programs often opposed them.

Many in Community Planning and Development, which administers the block grant program, viewed the agency's civil rights efforts as an irritating nuisance, current and former HUD officials say.

"CPD did not see itself as having civil rights responsibilities - they saw themselves as getting the money out and keeping the mayors happy," Julian said. "I liked those folks, but I always felt like when I walked in a room I was a thorn in their sides because I was asking them to do something that made their jobs more difficult."

The fair housing push also didn't sit well with congressional Republicans, who held a dim view of the agency. When the GOP took control of the House in the 1994 midterm elections, it slashed HUD's budget and threatened to do away with the agency altogether.

Still, Cisneros, Achtenberg and Julian pushed forward. In 1996, they released the Fair Housing Planning Guide. For the first time, HUD gave communities receiving block grants some advice on how to comply with the fair housing law. It urged local communities to prepare a report every three to five years detailing impediments to fair housing and suggested that block grant recipients set measurable goals and study the effect of local zoning laws.

The guide came with significant shortcomings. It set no requirements and provided no specific examples of actions - such as locating all affordable housing in predominantly black or Latino areas - that would lead to the withdrawal of HUD funds. It said that unless someone raised a concern, HUD would assume its grantees weren't violating any civil rights laws.

Even as the work inched forward, Cisneros was in trouble. An independent prosecutor was examining whether he had lied about payments he made to a former mistress. With his legal fees mounting, Cisneros stepped down. He ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI.

By 1997, Cisneros, Julian and Achtenberg had all resigned.

"It's hard to get anything done in a federal bureaucracy, but particularly anything fair housing and anything dealing with race," Julian said. "I never felt so ineffective at achieving things that I felt were important than when I was at HUD."

As Andrew Cuomo Steps Up, Mayors Stomp Down

To replace Cisneros, Clinton named Andrew Cuomo, the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who had founded a nonprofit to develop low-income housing called Housing Enterprise for Less Privileged.

In 1998, Cuomo proposed a regulation that defined what it meant to "affirmatively further fair housing."

The rule made clear that HUD would deny funding if it found a community's efforts "did not result in meaningful and measurable progress," or if HUD or the Justice Department had charged the community with violating the Fair Housing Act.

Local leaders, used to receiving HUD's billions with no strings attached, raised a hurricane of opposition, enlisting members of Congress and complaining vociferously to agency officials.

Three decades earlier, the U.S. Conference of Mayors had pushed for such measures, saying "for the Federal government to proceed otherwise would be to publicly sanction and perpetuate patterns of residential segregation."

Things had changed.

In March 1999, the conference sent Cuomo a letter saying the "proposed rule would have a devastating impact on a city's ability to achieve housing, economic development and fair housing goals."

"The threat of withholding critical HUD funding should not be the standard for affirmatively furthering fair housing," the group wrote.

It had taken HUD a year-and-a-half of internal wrangling to release the rule to the public. The cities and counties killed it in just a few weeks.

In a letter to the mayors' group a few weeks later, Howard Glaser, a senior aide to Cuomo, wrote, "HUD has not only heard but listened to the issues you and the USCM leadership have raised."

Hobbled by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the Clinton administration had little appetite for a public fight over integration. The President's Fair Housing Council, as far as anyone can recall, met only once. It took no action.

The election of George W. Bush once again pushed civil rights issues aside at HUD, according to three high-ranking officials who served at the agency during his administration. No one talked about what it would take to affirmatively further fair housing. Segregated communities continued to receive billions in HUD dollars without even pretending to take steps to address fair housing issues.

New Hope Under Obama, Same Dim Prospects

In 2007, a decade after leaving HUD, Cisneros joined another former HUD secretary, George H.W. Bush appointee Jack Kemp, to lead a seven-member commission assessing the enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

On the 40th anniversary of the act's passage, the panel delivered a blistering indictment.

"The current federal system for ensuring fair housing compliance by state and local recipients of housing assistance has failed," the report found. "HUD requires no evidence that anything is actually being done as a condition of funding, and it does not take adverse action if jurisdictions are directly involved in discriminatory actions or fail to affirmatively further fair housing."

The election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 raised hopes that HUD might finally assert its powers.

As his HUD secretary, Obama tapped an affordable housing advocate, Shaun Donovan, who had done graduate work on federal housing vouchers and integration. Donovan turned to John Trasvina, a civil rights lawyer and head of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, to lead HUD's fair housing office. Top HUD officials began publicly talking about segregation for the first time in years.

"The folks fighting segregation aren't social engineering. Segregation was created by social engineering," Donovan said in speeches across the country. "Far more often than not, segregation, isolation and poverty don't occur in spite of government. They happen because of government - by government dollars and government decisions made with government authority."

The issue of HUD's complicity in housing segregation hit the headlines just a few weeks after Obama took the oath of office. Ruling on a lawsuit brought by a nonprofit, a federal judge concluded that under HUD's watch Westchester, a wealthy county just outside New York City, had "utterly failed" to live up to its fair housing obligations.

Westchester moved to settle the suit and HUD agreed to oversee the terms of the deal, which required the county to attack exclusionary zoning and create housing affordable to low- and moderate-income African Americans and Latinos in its whitest communities.

The department also settled a lawsuit brought during the Bush administration that had accused HUD and the state of Louisiana of discriminating against African-American homeowners in the post-Katrina rebuilding program. It agreed to pay $62 million to 1,300 victims.

The administration made other inroads as well, nearly doubling the funding for private fair housing enforcement agencies to $42.5 million. In November, HUD threatened to cut off more than $10 million in block grants targeted for hurricane recovery in St. Bernard Parish, La. Civil rights advocates had accused the parish of trying to keep out African Americans by restricting rentals. That same month, the department rejected Texas' proposal to use $1.7 billion in block grant funds for hurricane repairs, in part because of civil rights concerns.

Meanwhile, a series of government studies documented the extent to which the law's requirements had been ignored.

A 2009 internal HUD study found that many communities were not even bothering to complete the required fair housing paperwork when they applied for block grants. In a sample of 70 applicants, 35 had not provided an "analysis of impediments" to fair housing, prompting HUD to conclude that they were "apparently not performed at all." Nearly all of the reports received were considered substandard, the review found.

A year later, investigators from the Government Accountability Office confirmed what civil rights advocates had long known: HUD's system for ensuring compliance with the fair housing law was a sham.

GAO officials reviewed documents filed by 441 recipients of block grants, a step HUD officials do not routinely take. They found that about one-third of the fair housing materials were out of date. More than one in 10 hadn't been updated since the '90s. Communities in the Midwest and Northeast - the most-segregated regions of the country - performed the worst.

The GAO dismissed the analyses of impediments to fair housing that some communities provided as worthless because of their "brevity and lack of content." Most did not offer time frames for when the communities would eliminate barriers to integration or include the required signatures of the relevant elected officials.

Investigators noted that 25 recipients of block grants had filed no analysis, "raising questions about whether some jurisdictions may be receiving federal funds without preparing the documents required to demonstrate that they have taken steps to affirmatively further fair housing."

According to the GAO, HUD staffers in seven regions had read the key documents for just 17 of 275 block grant recipients. Efforts to ensure "the integrity of the AI process . . . were not common," the report said.

The GAO made a number of recommendations. But HUD didn't even adopt the simplest one: to require that grantees submit their analysis of impediments for HUD to review.

In interviews, many HUD officials acknowledged they have no idea how to enforce the provision for affirmatively furthering fair housing. Already overstretched, they focus on what is clear: the disability accommodations provision of the Fair Housing Act. It's simple, they say, to check off whether an apartment door is wide enough for a wheelchair or if a parking lot has enough handicapped spots.

But compliance officers stumble when it comes to race and segregation. One said she received little training on how to apply the 1968 act to block grant recipients. "The one week of training I was sent to, you focus on the civil rights law as a whole," she said. "You're not focused per se on segregation."

The official said she did not review broader issues such as the impact of discriminatory zoning "because I don't even know what they are."

Rolando Alvarado supervised fair housing enforcement for HUD in New Jersey for more than a decade. When asked to define "affirmatively furthering fair housing," he exhaled and then paused. Ten seconds passed.

"That is tricky. There is no exact regulation, it's a gray area," said Alvarado, who retired in 2009. "I've never seen anything that clearly defines that in my time at HUD."

Alvarado said he relied on his staff to ensure enforcement of the mandate. But how could his subordinates enforce something he himself could not explain?

"You are right. I don't know," he said. "It was reliance on if staff had conducted enough investigations and compliance reviews they would have an inkling of what to look for."

Alvarado said he could not recall a single instance in which he challenged a community's assertions about its efforts to further fair housing. When it comes to these issues, he said, "You are basically taking them at their word."

After the Westchester settlement, in which the judge criticized the department for failing to enforce the law, the word came down from HUD leaders that there should not be a recurrence. Officials say that directive was not accompanied by any training, additional staff or instructions on what practices should be examined.

"The message is that we need to be more aggressive but absent the new rule, there is very little guidance as to what would constitute a failure to affirmatively further fair housing," said a senior fair housing official. "There's a car here and nobody knows how to drive it."

Trasvina promised Congress in January 2010 that by the end of the year the agency would release a rule requiring communities that receive money from the agency to "promote integration." More than two years later, those regulations have not been issued. HUD has declined to say when they might appear or give a reason for the delay.

The focus of HUD's civil rights work appears to have veered away from race. In March, the department issued a rule banning discrimination against gay and transgender people in HUD-assisted housing and by lenders receiving guarantees from the Federal Housing Authority.

Asked what they are doing to fulfill the Fair Housing Act's mandates, HUD officials pointed to Joliet, Ill., where HUD has withheld block grant funds over the city's attempt to demolish a mostly black federally subsidized apartment complex. HUD also has withheld block grant money from Westchester County, which the Justice Department says has failed to live up to the terms of its settlement agreement.

Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for the housing agency, said in an e-mail that HUD "very nearly" cut off block grant money for Galveston, Texas, and threatened to do so in Delaware's Sussex County.

But other communities with serious questions about fair housing continue to receive federal housing dollars, and fair housing officials say the agency still brushes civil rights concerns aside. One senior housing official pointed to New Orleans, which hasn't lost its block grant despite the Department of Justice lawsuit. "If that's not enough to reject a grantees' funding," he said. "Any finding from the fair housing office will not ever be sufficient."

Another example is Waukesha County, Wisc. HUD launched an investigation of the 90 percent-white county last year following a complaint from a fair housing group. The group accused the county of allowing its nearly all-white communities to block rental housing to keep out African Americans and Latinos from neighboring Milwaukee. African Americans and Latinos account for 57 percent of the city's population.

Yet the agency treats Waukesha County no differently from racially integrated Montgomery County, which has a 30-year track record of placing affordable housing in its most prosperous neighborhoods. Waukesha still receives its automatic influx of HUD dollars.

"It is fair to say, it is accurate to say, that the only situation in which HUD is doing anything effectively to affirmatively further fair housing are situations where there has been litigation," said Florence Wagman Roisman, a law professor at Indiana University. "Then it does as little as possible, as grudgingly as possible."

Prospects for substantial change appear dim.

Obama administration officials say that if the president is re-elected, they will complete work on the long-delayed rules defining what it means to "affirmatively further fair housing."

At a private fundraising event in Florida in April, Mitt Romney said he would consider closing down HUD if he wins the election.

"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them," he said. "Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later."

Kirsten Berg contributed to this story.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

June 25, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

"When you're on a roll, you're on a roll. Or so it seems for Denver, which in its latest jobs coup has landed United Airlines' global pilot training operations - beating out Chicago and Houston in the process," the Denver Post editorial board writes.

"Given the catastrophic public pension and budgetary bind that afflicts the Land of Lincoln, it may not be surprising that a company is reluctant to expand operations in Chicago."

Um, okay. I'm not sure what one has to do with the other; United is headquartered here and has a huge presence and, well, I suppose they could be worried about higher taxes on, um, a relatively small training operations center, but whatever.

"But the United decision is gratifying nonetheless as a marker of Denver's and Colorado's attractiveness to job creators."

My understanding is that jobs are being shifted, not created. Plus, United is cutting jobs on the whole, not creating them. But again, whatever.

"To be sure, the city and state together had to pony up $13.2 million in incentives in return for the infusion of investment and 265 well-paying jobs. And these sorts of subsidies are never ideal."

Aha! So the city and state are the job creators! And maybe Illinois' fiscal condition meant it wasn't a good time to hand out a taxpayer subsidy to a giant corporation making record profits.

"But United is hardly some fragile start-up with no track record of staying power."

No, it's hardly a fragile start-up; subsidizing that might have made sense. United, though, reported a $2 billion profit last year. Outside of being a bunch of communists, why do they need taxpayer money?

"So at least the subsidies are likely to result in significant long-term benefits, just as city officials claim."

Just as city officials claim!

Wow. Editorial boards are nonsense all over.

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Here's how the Tribune (briefly) reported the news (and yes, I get that I'm "comparing" an editorial to an article):

"United Airlines has decided to consolidate its two pilot-training centers at an existing site in Denver, instead of building a new one in Chicago, the carrier said Wednesday.

"Chicago and Houston were two other locations the airline considered as it decided to consolidated pilot training in a cost-saving move."

But look out for those significant long-term economic benefits!

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Now it's true that Denver is expected to gain a couple hundred (taxpayer-subsidized) jobs. But Denver's gain appears to be Houston's loss. America, too, loses then. And I'm not about to sit here and listen to United Airlines badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

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Politico Is Just The Worst
"Sarah Palin Is The REO Speedwagon Of Politics."

How so - did she make the greatest live record in the history of rock 'n' roll?

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Fantasy Fix: Shopping The DL
Jorge Soler for sale.

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BeachBook
* Executives Get Millions In Kraft Deal.

You'll get cheaped-out cheese! What mergers and acquisitions are truly all about.

* Wabash Lights Kickstarter Raising Funds For Beta Test.

With approval from the alpha dog?

* Jackie Robinson West Prolongs The Farce.

Evan F. Moore gets it right.

* Woman Who Cannot Accurately Describe Things To 'Report" For NYT.

Infamous corrections machine gets promoted in what must be a secret high-stakes B.F. Skinner experiment.

* Teuvo: Blackhawks Fans Horny.

Must be the uniform.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Past lives welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:50 AM | Permalink

June 24, 2015

Fantasy Fix: Shopping The DL

Picking up or trading for an injured player is always a gamble, especially when the player has been a long-term resident on the disabled list, like a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery. Yet, it also could be one way for a losing fantasy team to pursue a turnaround, or at least stake a claim on a long-term investment.

There are a number of players who have recently come off the DL, or are expected to in the days ahead. Some of them, who haven't played at all this year and largely were ignored during drafts, could provide a nice mid-season boost for a fantasy team in need.

Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA: Arguably the most anticipated return, more than a year after an injury that lead to Tommy John surgery. He is due back July 2, and fantasy owners have been picking him up like crazy in recent weeks, though he's still available in about 15% of Yahoo! leagues. Only one full season (2013) to his credit, but what a season: 12 wins, 187 strikeouts in 172 IP, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .182 BAA.

Matt Moore, SP, TAM: Another TJ surgery, though his comeback has been much quieter than that of Fernandez, even though he won 17 games in 2013. Still available in more than 75% of Yahoo! leagues. Not as much a dominant strikeout pitcher, but the Rays have somehow wandered into first place, so he could get good run support.

Matt Cain, SP, SF: In 45 starts over 2013 and 2014, he was 10-17 with an ERA over 4.00, far removed from the stingy veteran presence that led him to 16 wins in 2012. He also has looked very hittable during his rehab after an elbow injury, but a great coaching staff and organization could help him find his mojo again. Still available in more than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

Jorge Soler, OF, Cubs: He had not been delivering on expected fantasy value before going down with an ankle sprain about four weeks ago, but pre-Kris Bryant he was considered the Cubs' most viable Rookie of the Year candidate. He'll head to rehab soon, but a return before the All-Star break looks likely. Available in about 23% of Yahoo! leagues.

Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WAS: After missing the first two months of the season, he's back. It's been a quiet return so far, but he did go 4-for-4 Monday night, and his 2014 numbers - .287, 24 HRs, 83 RBI, 17 SBs - suggest he could get hot in the second half. Available in only 6% of Yahoo! leagues, but maybe a trade target if his current owner is running out of patience.

Expert Wire
* USA Today Fantasy Score has a video on using ballpark factors to fuel your fantasy decisions. It might have more impact in the increasingly popular one-day fantasy leagues, though I admit to setting my lineup occasionally based on who's lucky enough to be playing in Colorado's thin air.

* CBS Sports has something on the unexpected success of Joey Butler, OF, TAM. He's one of the reasons why the Rays as a team have surprised, though at 29 and without much of a track record, I wonder how long Butler can keep it up.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:43 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. began three months of home detention Monday and proclaimed it a 'great day' to be with family and friends," the Tribune reports.

"Jackson is now confined to his Victorian-style townhouse near Washington's Dupont Circle until September. The home was up for sale briefly in 2012 with an asking price of $2.5 million. A real estate listing at that time said the 1921 property has four bedrooms, three full baths, two half baths, five fireplaces, a gourmet kitchen, a sunroom and a rooftop deck with a Jacuzzi."

That doesn't sound like much of a hardship.

"Inmates on home detention may not consume alcohol."

Oh. What is this, Russia?

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"[Attorney Alan Elis] thinks Jackson Jr.'s job prospects are good, saying he might find work as a paralegal, consultant or a lobbyist. 'He's got connections, he has skills and white-collar offenders, they pretty much land on their feet,' he said."

Ya think? Do we really need a lawyer to tell us that? I don't think it breaks the bounds of objectivity for the reporter to write that Jackson is likely to have numerous opportunities for money-making - if that's even necessary.

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"You can't go out to a fancy restaurant, but you can have a party at home," he said. "There (are) no restrictions on the number of pizzas you can have delivered."

I wouldn't call that a party, exactly, but with Sandi set to report to prison herself in the fall, football Sundays at the Jackson house could become a thing.

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I feel like that item is kind of weak. I just just struck by the "no alcohol" thing and built everything around it.

Also: "He had about three months cut from the term because he completed a substance-abuse program in prison."

So maybe the point is moot - though some us are kind of suspicious about the sincerity of that.

But I digress - mostly because I really don't want to write about CPS and the Illinois House today. So I won't.

Toni Stroger
"Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday defended her proposal to increase the sales tax by a penny on the dollar, saying the move is necessary to prevent even greater financial difficulties in coming years," the Tribune reports.

Geez, I feel like I'm really taking the easy way out today.

Anyway . . .

"It does bring some vindication," Stroger said Tuesday. "And I really think if they hadn't made a fight about the money, the government would be in better shape now - I should say more efficient, and they wouldn't need as much money."

First, Stroger raised that tax seven years ago. A dollar today is worth about nine cents less than it was then. It's not an entirely unreasonable move.

Second, the biggest problem with Stroger's tax was the Stroger part, not the tax part. He simply hadn't taken all the steps necessary to make county government more efficient - and in fact, had made it less efficient in part by hiring his pals and in part simply being incompetent - to engender such trust with our money. Third, the idea that county government would be better now if we had just followed his prescription then is so laughable as to make us want to confine him to his home without alcohol.

Accretive Accountability
"Accretive Health reported a $79.6 million loss last year, its fourth unprofitable year in the last five years, as the company struggles to bounce back from legal and accounting troubles," the Tribune reports.

I always thought Rahm got off extremely easy early in his first term when he wrote this letter on behalf of Accretive to the Minnesota attorney general.

As a reminder:

"Accretive Health, one of the nation's largest collectors of medical debt, has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the Minnesota state attorney general's office to settle accusations that it violated a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency care, even if patients cannot afford to pay.

In April, Lori Swanson, the Minnesota attorney general, disclosed hundreds of Accretive's internal documents that outlined aggressive collection tactics, including embedding debt collectors in emergency rooms and pressuring patients to pay before receiving treatment.

Carol Wall, a 53-year-old Minnesota resident, said "a woman with a computer cart" told her she owed $300 as she was "vaginally hemorrhaging large amounts of blood" at an Accretive-affiliated emergency room in January, according to court records.

Another patient, Terry Mackel, 50, said he was asked to pay $363.55 at another Accretive-affiliated emergency room in Minnesota as he waited "alone, groggy and hooked up to an IV" waiting to see an emergency room doctor, according to court documents. Fearing that it was the only way to see a doctor, both patients paid.

Sounds like the same tactics Rahm used to kill 50 schools on life support.

*

I'm not sure that line makes much sense, but just consider the extraordinary step Rahm took on behalf of a company that did very bad things. What kind of person is that?

Fucking Golden
"A former Illinois Department of Public Health aide has been sentenced to eight years in prison for her part in a kickback scheme that defrauded the state of millions of dollars," reports say.

"Quinshaunta Golden pleaded guilty in April 2014 to bribery, theft and obstruction of justice in the kickback scheme. She was accused of issuing more than $11 million in falsified grants in exchange for kickbacks."

Previously in Quinshaunta Golden:
* Golden (D-Davis) To Whitaker Via Obama To Rezko.

* Whitaker Praises Golden.

* Obama Friend Whitaker Declared Hostile Witness.

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BeachBook
* Rahm's Clinton White House Files Due Out.

* Chicago Art Professor Creates Self-Portraits From Emojis And Selfie Stick.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:19 AM | Permalink

June 23, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Coal City officials said Tuesday morning they believe it was a tornado that tore through the town overnight, hitting the high school as it came from the west, tearing up several homes and then heavily damaging a fire station as it left," the Tribune reports.

"Several people were rescued from basements and crawl spaces and five people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, the officials said. They believe everyone has been accounted for in the town of 5,000 in Grundy County."

So it's not a disaster of global proportions, but the Red Cross is on its way. Which made me think it was a good time to post this ProPublica article about donor options in light of their investigative series about the Red Cross. If you haven't read it, now is a good time to do so.

Don't Save Ferris
"Navy Pier's Ferris wheel, an icon of the Chicago lakefront, will be dismantled this fall and replaced by a taller ride featuring temperature-controlled gondolas that will be ready in time for the pier's 2016 centennial," the Tribune reports.

Ten percent more Ferris-y!

P.S.: Calling the Navy Pier Ferris wheel an "icon" of the Chicago lakefront is a bit strong, no? More like an irritant.

*

"Pier officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were set to announce Tuesday that the new wheel will rise to a height of 196 feet, almost 50 feet taller than the current wheel. Still, the new wheel will be 68 feet shorter than the original Ferris wheel, which was built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago."

Because pension payments?

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"The Ferris wheel will cost $26.5 million, which includes construction and landscaping, said Nick Shields, a spokesman for Navy Pier Inc. Pier officials said public funds were not used to purchase the Ferris wheel, which has been privately financed by a loan from Fifth Third Bank to Navy Pier Inc."

Oh. So Navy Pier Inc. is paying for it - with interest.

And Navy Pier Inc. is . . . "the private organization that runs the government-owned tourist attraction."

Some history:

[In 2011] the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority - McPier, the government agency that owns the lakefront attraction - gave the clout-heavy operation a 25-year, $1-a-year lease that closed off public access to records showing how Navy Pier is run.

Previously, the McPier authority - overseen by a board appointed by the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois - had to make public the pier's payroll, contracts and leases. Now, Navy Pier Inc. refuses to divulge those records. Its executives say that, as a private business, they don't have to.

Private as they wanna be.

Navy Pier Inc. was created in the waning days of former Mayor Richard M. Daley's administration. Its board includes Daley's daughter Nora Daley Conroy; two former Daley City Hall chiefs of staff, John Schmidt and Roger Kiley Jr.; and Daley's former campaign chairman Terry Peterson, who also chairs the Chicago Transit Authority board under Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Another former top Daley aide, Brian S. Murphy, is Navy Pier's chief operating officer. Murphy, 48, began his career as a Chicago cop and later held top management posts with Daley's streets, transportation and water departments before becoming first deputy chief of staff. He went back to the police department shortly before Daley left office and was making about $160,000 a year when he left for a job at Navy Pier in the spring of 2012.

At Navy Pier, Murphy's total compensation in 2013 was $241,426, including a $30,450 bonus. He is one of eight employees whose total pay topped $200,000 . . .

A son of Daley's longtime confidant, former state Sen. Tim Degnan, D-Chicago, is among the pier's highest-paid workers. Michael Degnan, a senior vice president, made $229,719 in 2013, including a $32,960 bonus.

So maybe the Ferris Wheel of Clout, with each "gondola" named after a former Daley aide or relative - or a current U.S. Senate candidate!

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"McPier reimbursed Navy Pier Inc. $12.6 million in 2013 for expenses related to the ongoing makeover of the pier, which will mark its 100th anniversary next year."

The Ferris wheel loan will be repaid - presumably from Pier revenues. But let's not pretend the public isn't backstopping it.

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The press release says Rahm has purchased a "world-class" Ferris wheel. Too funny.

*

I wonder if CPS could teach classes on Ferris wheels. Not about them, on them. Put the kids on them, spin them around and save money on actual school buildings.

CPS Cash Credibility Crisis
"The Chicago Tribune published a self-recommending article over the weekend about Chicago Public Schools' pending cash crisis. Information in the article - which was provided by Ernst & Young - directly contradicts claims officials made in investor presentations and offering documents when the school system issued bonds only two months ago," expert municipal finance official and blogger Kristi Culpepper writes.

"Pledges, covenants . . . these things matter!"

Not in Chicago, Kristi.

Naive Nate
Nate Silver likes O'Hare airport, because "if you separate delays from everything else you experience at an airport, you can find the airport's underlying virtues."

Well, yes. Outside of being shot, how did you like the play, Mr. Lincoln?

The delays are the reason people hate O'Hare. Or, to put it another way, people hate the delays at O'Hare. They don't really hate the airport itself.

So Silver's premise is just wrong and weird.

But even worse is this:

"It's not O'Hare's doing, exactly, that Chicago has bad weather, or that both United and American decided to place a hub there, which substantially adds to the congestion."

These things just happen! Major airlines placing hubs at airports is as natural as high winds and thunderstorms! There is nothing to be done about it!

What Silver really misses is that the problems at O'Hare - including not the weather but how to adapt to it - derive from local politics. The $15 billion O'Hare expansion project is a boondoggle; a new runway has been built but the number of flights has not been sufficiently capped; and protecting the golden egg of clout has prevented a third airport from opening in the south suburbs that every significant policy group and editorial board supports.

Then Silver tries to back his view by using - wait for it - Yelp reviews. Which aren't so good for O'Hare! But he can explain it away.

I've never written about Silver before, but I've always thought his political and polling analysis was a wank. I was sorely disheartened to see him explode off the rocket pad; we need less emphasis on polling, not more. And his predictive data analysis is based on history, not current conditions or a future of our own making. That may work when assessing whether to employ the sacrifice bunt - though not without assessing current game conditions - but when applied to politics it is a deeply cynical exercise that merely reinforces the status quo. It's also not journalism.

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"San Diego has the 6th-best Yelp rating, but that's mostly on account of its lack of delays. In the residual (everything-but-delays) category that I call 'airport quality' in the chart, San Diego is about average, ranking 14th. The same general theme holds for Salt Lake City and Orlando. These are totally pleasant, adequate airports, but the fact that flights are rarely delayed there makes them seem a lot nicer."

The top desire of travelers at an airport is to leave on time. Silver has it backwards; it's the amenities at a place like O'Hare that can make it "seem a lot nicer" than it is - overpriced amenities to a captive audience. (P.S.: I like the Orlando airport; it's one of my favorites.) In other words, what Silver likes about O'Hare is designed exactly to exploit the fact that it sucks as an airport if your goal is to leave on time. In more other words, airport tortas are for suckers.

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"I hope people don't take the forecasts too seriously," Silver said in 2013.

As seriously as the millions of dollars you've made from them!

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"Election-Svengali Nate Silver will stop blogging if he believes that his election forecasts begin to actually affect elections," Gawker noted then.

Paging the Innocent Bystander Fable of Journalism.

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See also:
* Nate Silver's Frivolous Failure.

* What Nate Silver Gets Wrong.

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BeachBook
* The CIA Can't Keep Its Drone Propaganda Straight.

* The Outrageous DOJ Gag Order On Reason.

* McDonald's Introduces McBike.

* Reverend Billy And The Choir Visit The Largest Tar Sands Refinery In The U.S.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now more Ferris-y.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:05 AM | Permalink

5 Tips For Donating After Disasters

Earlier this month we published an investigation with NPR into the American Red Cross' failures in Haiti. We've gotten a lot of questions from readers (including on Reddit) wondering what to do next time a big disaster hits.

What should you do if you want to help? To whom should you send money?

There's no simple answer. And there is no one-stop shop that can answer those questions.

But if you're willing to put in a bit of time, you can be a more informed donor and increase the chances that your money will reach those in need.

Here are a few tips, based on conversations with experts and reporting in Haiti:

Research before you give. Take the time to read up on your group - this can be as simple as a few Google searches and checking out information compiled by various charity watchdogs. Have there been any issues with management? Has the group performed well in the past? Has it had problems? The answers to these questions can inform your choices.

If you do give, you can demand meaningful transparency. Nonprofit organizations are generally required to make only broad disclosures about their finances. (The American Red Cross' annual tax return, for example, doesn't reveal anything at all about its Haiti program.) But as a donor, you can ask the organization you're giving to to make public, detailed disclosures about their spending. As Haiti aid expert Jake Johnston pointed out in our Reddit AMA discussion, you can also ask elected officials to exercise their own oversight of charities that raise money after disasters.

Local groups or those that have deep local ties can be the best option. One issue that came up again and again in our Haiti reporting is that the American Red Cross did not have significant experience working in Haiti, hindering its efforts to operate in the country. We also heard about groups - some large, some small - that had been in the country for decades and employed Haitians in top positions. They tended to be more successful. As Francois Pierre-Louis, a political science professor and former community organizer in Haiti added on Reddit, donors can "work with local organizations that are connected with the population. Too often these groups are not even recognized." So if you're considering giving to a group, it's worth doing a bit of research to see what kind of experience it has in the country in question.

There are options beyond traditional charities. While the idea remains the subject of much debate, some in the aid world are now advocating simply giving money to those in need.

Think beyond the next disaster. Jonathan Katz, a reporter who wrote the book on the troubled post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, argues that it's the time between disasters when the most important work has to be done. From his book: "Poverty and a lack of local institutions create the shoddy conditions that make disasters deadlier than they have to be . . . Supporting efforts to give aid directly to local governments, and the goal of building local institutions that operate independently of foreign control, will go exponentially further than cargo planes of tarps and bottled water. It's true that we don't always know what locals will do with that assistance, but that's the point. It's up to them."

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:41 AM | Permalink

June 22, 2015

Special Moments In Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro is one of the most aggravating players in recent Cub history.

Consider this exchange I had with Cub Factor impresario Marty Gangler over the weekend:

Steve: (After Castro's walkoff single) Castro still has to go.

Marty: He's fearless in bigger situations at the plate it seems. And I don't know if it's bad to have a guy in the lineup that can get hits on horrible pitches. If he's your 7th batter maybe he's fine. Idk. His d is just below average too. If you have Schwarber and the left field masher to be named later in the lineup maybe you count on nothing from Castro and you are ok. He's 25 and already has 916 hits. Bryant is 23 and has 62 hits.

Steve: His WAR is -.5 this season . . .

Castro on offense: WAR is -.5
On defense, fielding percentage: 23rd of 27 in MLB
Errors: Tied for 3rd most among MLB SS's
Nighclub shootings: +2
Off-field lawsuits: 2
Bob Brenly tirades: 2

Marty: So hard to defend him. I'm not on board really at all, but those hits are impressive. He's been an over 3 WAR player in the past, I don't think it's a stretch to think he could be that good again. And if they traded him tomorrow I'd have absolutely no issue at all. And would think they'd be better off.

He makes enough money for this not to be an issue either, but how many idiot managers has he had and how many losing teams has he been on? And losing on purpose. Idk. He's an odd player.

I don't see him being moved this season. The need to let the Maddon wash over him for a while and see if that can make him taste better. Like he's a turkey or something.

Steve: Two days ago!

From: Marty Gangler
Subject: Omg
Date: June 19, 2015 at 7:24:52 PM CDT
To: Steve Rhodes

Castro. So bad.

Sent from my iPhone

Marty: I'm a conflicted man.

*

I used to be a pretty big Castro defender. For a long time I thought he should have batted leadoff, despite not being a grind-it-out, OBP kind of hitter. But he's such a bonehead, and he has a low baseball IQ. He'll win you some games, but I bet he loses you a big game in the playoffs by not paying attention, too.

But the Cubs also are not as deep in the infield as conventional wisdom seems to think they are. If you trade Castro, Addison Russell moves over to shortstop - and he is the organization's best at that position. But he's not hitting yet. And who plays second? Javy Baez? Yuk. Plus, it's not at all clear that Kris Bryant will stay at third - he has the worst fielding percentage in the NL (and the most errors) of all players at his position. So as much as I hate to say it, the Cubs should probably stay put with Castro for now. But can they put him on Ritalin or something?

*

Marty celebrated Father's Day a little too hard - he has two kids - and as his e-mails become increasingly indecipherable on Sunday, we decided I would pinch-hit for him this week.

The Week In Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Indians, with another game postponed, and took two of three from the Twins. Marty went 2-0 with his kids, even though one of them is named after former White Sock Gavin Floyd.

The Week In Preview: The Dodgers come in for four, and then the Cubs travel to St. Louis for three. Encrypt that game plan, Theo.

Left Field Report: Chris Coghlan started all six games this week in left, going an acceptable 6-for-21 to push his season average to a very Coghlanesque .252, with an equally Coghlanesque .332 OBP. Chris Coghlan is like your friend who is just okay; every once in awhile he'll say something funny, but mostly he just blends into the group. He doesn't really annoy, but he probably won't be around a couple years from now.

Mad(don) Scientist: Joe "Ricky" Maddon refused to publicly dog Castro for his big boner because he is a Renterian. We here at The Cub Factor prefer Sveumism, at least on this issue, which is a philosophy derived from Coxism. Marty's last e-mail of the weekend: "Yeah. Hammerd. Maddon shoulda pulled castor bobby cox style."

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Castro had a bumpy ride; we advise taking a pass and shorting David Ross.

Kubs Kalender: Thursday is $2 Paddington Blu-ray Coupon day for the first 10,000 fans at Wrigley, which I'd like to call the lamest promotion ever but this is the Cubs so I'd need to do some research before going out on that limb.

East Coast Cubs: Mike Olt just started his rehab stint so he should be in Japan by September

Over/Under: The number of Starlin Specials left this season: +/- 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs don't really have any outfielders.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is (usually) our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:19 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

So Rahm Emanuel was booed quite lustily at the Blackhawks rally last Thursday.

This video doesn't do it justice, according to people who were there.

I had this e-mail exchange with our very own Tim Willette after the event:

Steve: I heard about that. All I could wonder was, how the hell did he get re-elected then?

A) A bunch were suburbanites
B) A bunch didn't vote
C) Even his own voters loathe him

Tim: All of the above.

*

It's really quite remarkable how unliked this guy is - and he just got re-elected!

Of course, he should be used to it by now. He's the sort of person who has probably never been liked his whole life - and has never thought to wonder why.

*

Our very own Natasha Julius also weighed in on the strange parade route:

"So I teach at Michigan and Monroe and I've been trying to figure out why the parade is going down Monroe, which is a really narrow street. Then I remembered, it's because both Washington and Madison are dug up with the Loop BRT construction - construction that is more than a year overdue. I'm not saying this is something CDOT could've planned for, I'm just saying, if the Loop BRT had happened on schedule this wouldn't be a problem. Also, should've routed the parade further west since you're not using Grant Park for the rally anyway."

The whole thing was horked. But whatever. Moving on . . .

The David Vitale Show
"This month's scramble by Chicago school officials to find enough cash to pay the bills is the result of "an appalling situation" years in the making - a cascading financial crisis that could hit classrooms this fall when nearly 400,000 kids return to school," the Tribune reports.

"Potentially worsening the situation are unexpected bank penalty payments, the costly legacy of a series of complex financial deals masterminded by school board President David Vitale. Those deals fell apart earlier this year as the district's credit deteriorated, meaning CPS could be forced to pay $228 million if the banks demand their money. The district has set aside only $174 million to cover such costs."

We are now in Year 5 of Rahm Emanuel's mayoralty. He wears the jacket now - especially given that Vitale is his hand-picked chairman of the school board and his two picks (so far) for CPS CEO have been Jean-Claude Brizard, whom he fired, and Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who resigned amidst a federal investigation. Rahm also instigated a teachers' strike and oversaw the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Destabilize the system much?

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"The deals date back to the early 2000s, when Vitale - who will lead the board as it responds to the current financial crisis - began advising the school district on its borrowing strategy, first as chief administrative officer and then as chief operating officer.

"At the encouragement of Vitale, a former vice chairman and director of Bank One Corp., the district paired the swaps with floating-rate bonds in an attempt to borrow at cheaper rates than traditional fixed-rate debt would allow."

Oops.

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Vitale still has his job, which just goes to show the system for evaluating teachers is much tougher than the one that evaluates administrators.

Obama's America
"[Jeffrey] Sterling's battle against the government had begun more than 15 years earlier, when he was still at the CIA. After he lodged a racial discrimination complaint, he was fired by the agency and filed two federal lawsuits against it, one for retaliation and discrimination, another for obstructing the publication of his autobiography. He also spoke as a whistleblower to Congress. Soon, his savings ran out and he became all but homeless, driving around the country, lost in despair," the Intercept reports.

"Until Barack Obama was elected president, the Department of Justice rarely prosecuted leakers. Obama promised, as a candidate, to create the most transparent administration ever, but he has presided over more leak prosecutions under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence during Obama's first term, told the Times that a decision was made in 2009 to 'hang an admiral once in a while,' as Blair put it, to show would-be leakers they should not talk to the press. The Justice Department did not charge high-level officials, however; mid-level officials were the principal targets, and it appears that Sterling's all-but-shut case was brought back to life as part of the crackdown."

Emphasis mine, because who but Obama himself made that decision? Not a fan of the passive construction. Just say it.

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The Bush administration had set aside the Sterling case. Obama did this to him.

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See also: Google Reveals It Was Forced By Obama DOJ To Hand Over Journalist's Data For Wikileaks Grand Jury.

Mumford & Bums
"Advocates say a delayed outdoor rock concert in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood has created uncertainty about if and when a homeless encampment can return to the area," WBEZ reports.

"For months now, a line of nearly 20 tents in orange and blue have lined both sides of Wilson Avenue under the Lake Shore Drive bridge. That's where about 40 homeless people have been living and had formed a makeshift community. There was a similar encampment under the Lawrence Avenue viaduct. Each person or family had an unofficial space, surrounding their tents with belongings including wheeled carts, camping chairs and even a full-sized grill that some of the men took turns cooking on.

"But all of that changed earlier this week in advance of a Mumford and Sons concert that [drew] thousands to nearby Montrose Beach. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, the concert was postponed until Friday.

"On Tuesday, city workers ordered the homeless people to leave so they could clean the area. The workers also threw away many of the people's belongings, including blankets and clothing, in what advocates call a violation of city policy."

A) Use of the word "bums" in the heading is not meant to offend; I realize it might. I thought twice about using it. Three times, even. I think we can all take it in the spirit with which it is given.

B) Why can't the tents be a part of the short-term solution? Let those tents be homes for the people who need them until this country pulls its head out of its ass and finds its humanity.

C) Apparently the concert was so loud - and Mumfordy awful - that the entire North Side was in pain. Also, it appears to have been really poorly run.

There's far funnier commentary, but you'll have to seek the rest out on your own. Just put "Mumford" into Twitter, open a bag of chips and have yourself a ball.

Fuck The Confederacy
The real courage was shown by Union soldiers.

Read The Fucking Torture Report, People
Look in the mirror, America.

The Cub Factor
Can we medicate Starlin Castro, please?

The White Sox Report
Once cliche at a time.

Lego Convention Fucking Rocks
Amazing brickwork, people.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Guantanamo Baywatch, Ace Reporter, Mavis Staples, Jacco Gardner, Even The Jackals, Uh Bones, Mikal Cronin, Sweet Cobra, Reek Of Blood, Created To Kill, Against The Plagues, Putrid Pile, TON, Waco Jesus, Immortal Suffering, GutRot, Necrophagia, Asphyxiator, Disinter, Flo Rida, Mumford and Sons, and Walk The Moon.

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BeachBook
* Why Can't Illinois Be More Like Minnesota?

* Paralyzed Professor's True-Life Nurse Blowjob Story Freaks Northwestern Out.

* Inside The Mind Of Newsweek On 'Terrorism.'

* Obama's Secret Dinner With Hollywood Moguls.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Spot on, spout off.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:17 AM | Permalink

Honoring The Courage And Heritage Of A Union Soldier

"The Pritzker Military Museum & Library will host a free public reception on Wednesday to officially launch its newest original work and to unveil an accompanying exhibit on the life and times of Civil War veteran and Valparaiso, Indiana, native Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath," the museum says.

Good. Let's start celebrating the glory, heritage and courage of the Union. Fuck the Confederacy. It's time the North engaged the PR war.

Here's more:

The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. on the Museum & Library's main floor, and will be immediately followed by a formal discussion and recording for television by the book's editor and others involved in its production, beginning at 6 p.m.

The Museum & Library's third major publication, Dignity of Duty: The Journals of Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath, 1861-1898, will be released in hardcover and e-book formats and comprises three original documents assembled and edited by Gilbreath's great-granddaughter, Susan Gilbreath Lane, who discovered the papers in an archive in the late 1970s.

The exhibit includes authentic photographs and artifacts from Gilbreath's scrapbooks, hand-drawn maps commissioned for the book, additional materials on 19th Century America pulled from the PMML's collection, and a dynamic online gallery and audio experience.

"Major Gilbreath was a mid-ranking field officer and family man who witnessed much of America's 19th Century history - and he did it with a rifle and pen in hand," said Museum & Library President & CEO Kenneth Clarke. "Journals like these are very rare."

Severely wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg during the Civil War - a wound that would haunt him for the rest of his life - Gilbreath not only went on to a successful 37-year military career, but also bore witness to the coming of age of America as we know it.

In his later journals, he shares many remarkable experiences, including a hazardous 175-mile journey by stagecoach in the Texas frontier during the Indian Wars; a shipwreck off the Gulf coast; travels in a wagon train pulled by mules with pet names; the second Great Chicago Fire; and the establishment of Fort Custer in the Montana Territory, where his daughter was born in a tent with his cook acting as a midwife.

To provide context for the book and exhibit, Lane will be joined by historian Frederick J. Chiaventone for the 6 p.m. recording of "Pritzker Military Presents" - one of two long-running series produced by the Museum & library for Chicago public television. Advance registration and a separate ticket are required to attend this program.

To learn more about the incredible life of this 19th Century American soldier, the new book and exhibit by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, or the June 24 premiere event, visit dignityofduty.org or pritzkermilitary.org.

About Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath
Born in Ohio in 1840, Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath spent his formative years in Valparaiso, Indiana, where his parents settled in his youth.

Following the death of his father, Gilbreath studied law and worked to support his family until he was called upon in 1861 to assist in the raising of the 20th Indiana Volunteer Regiment.

Over the course of a 37-year military career, Gilbreath reached the rank of major twice - once as a volunteer and once with the regular Army - chronicling his experiences while serving in nearly every major battle of the Civil War; on various official assignments throughout the Indian Wars with his wife and children by his side; and finally in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-America.

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See also:
* Lincoln Assassination Blood-Stained Handkerchief.

* The War Hero's Battles.

* The Journals Of Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Lego Convention Rocks

"Lego artists from around the world displayed their creations for 10,000 visitors at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center this weekend at the annual Brickworld Chicago Expo," the Daily Herald notes.

"The convention featured a public exposition where more 400 Lego artists showcased their work. The event also featured seminars on Lego building and Lego creation judging."

Let's take a look.

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1. Timelapse Set-Up.

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2. A Taste of Brickworld.

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3. Amazing Contraption.

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4. Walkaround.

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5. Garr City.

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6. Lego Haul #106.

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7. Lego Haul #10.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:17 AM | Permalink

Read The Fucking Torture Report, People

"The U.S. Senate Torture Report revealed horrifying details of America's interrogation program. Helen Mirren will fill you in."


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Previously:
* Doc Of Rages.

* 'Incommunicado' Forever: Gitmo Detainee's Case Stalled For 2,477 Days And Counting.

* They Said No To Torture.

* The Trews: What Should We Think About CIA Torture.

* The Tortured History Of The Senate Torture Report.

* Torture USA.

* The Best Reporting On Detention And Rendition Under Obama.

* Primer: Indefinite Detention And The NDAA.

* The Senate Report On CIA Interrogations You May Never See.

* Guantanamo: If The Light Goes Out.

* Torture USA.

* The Prison That Just Can't Be Closed.

* Barack Obama's Secret Island Prison.

* Guantanamo Prisoner Lifts Lid.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:41 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Guantanamo Baywatch at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday night.


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2. Ace Reporter at Schubas on Friday night.

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3. Mavis Staples at Blues on the Fox in Aurora on Saturday night.

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4. Jacco Gardner at the Green Music Fest in Wicker Park on Saturday.

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5. Even The Jackals at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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6. Uh Bones at Bric-a-Brac on Saturday night.

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7. Mikal Cronin at Green Music Fest in Wicker Park on Sunday night.

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8. Sweet Cobra at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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9. Reek Of Blood at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

Domination Fest: Coming to brutalize the masses.

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10. Created To Kill at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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11. Against The Plagues at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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12. Putrid Pile at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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13. TON at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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14. Waco Jesus at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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15. Immortal Suffering at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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16. GutRot at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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17. Necrophagia at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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18. Asphyxiator at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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19. Disinter at the Abbey for Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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20. Flo Rida at the B96 Summer Bash in Bridgeview on Saturday night.

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21. Mumford and Sons on Montrose Beach on Friday night.

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22. Walk The Moon at the B96 Summer Bash in Bridgeview on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

One Cliché At A Time

Crash: Learn your clichés. Study them. Know them. They're your friends. Write this down. "We gotta play 'em one day at a time."

Nuke: Boring.

Crash: Of course. That's the point.

This has been a season of clichés so far for the White Sox. Chances are manager Robin Ventura and most of his players don't have the Bull Durham scene playing in their heads, but they have been well-schooled nevertheless.

"It's still early" was the mantra back in April, when the promise of a contending team was questioned due to a sluggish beginning when the team lost 11 of its first 20 games.
Back on May 3, pitcher John Danks proclaimed, "There's a lot of season left, but definitely [we] don't want to dig ourselves too deep of a hole. We've got to pick it up."

Defensive lapses and the team's much-heralded bad starts - the Sox have been outscored 57-19 in the first inning this season - led to Ventura repeating, "We've got to fix this."

Long before the eight-game losing streak that mercifully ended on Saturday with a 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers at The Cell, the theme was familiar.

"Anytime you lose a few in a row, you've got to hit reset and come back out tomorrow and do the best you can," said first baseman-designated hitter Adam LaRoche about a month ago when the Sox were just two games under .500. "It's frustrating. Individually, it's frustrating. I'm trying to figure it out. So you know, we'll snap out of it."

"One way or another, you've got to turn [the offense] around," said Ventura that same night when the club stood at 18-20.

Two weeks later after yet another loss, Robin repeated, "We have to be better."

But how to become better is the question. Clearly it's not easy.

Consider these numbers from last week's four-game sweep by the Pirates. The Sox scored a total of four runs and were shutout both games in Pittsburgh before returning to the South Side for two more against the National League club. Our fellows managed to score two in a pair of 3-2 losses. For the four games, the Sox mustered a total of 13 hits for a .112 team batting average. It's conceivable that their Class A team at Kannapolis could have performed better.

The operative word is "frustrating," and it couldn't have been more so on Friday. Thanks to the schedule-makers, the Rangers arrived at their hotel around 7:30 a.m. after losing a tough 1-0 game to the Dodgers in Los Angeles the night before. With little sleep and a long flight, the visitors then had the challenge of facing Chris Sale, who just may be the toughest pitcher in all of baseball.

After eight innings and 111 pitches, Sale departed. He had fanned 14 Rangers and walked no one, while shutting them out on two measly singles. How they got those two hits can only be attributed to luck. Sale was that dominating.

Meanwhile, his mates continued their impotent ways, accounting for a lone tally, Tyler Flowers' long home run in the fifth inning.

Ventura summoned closer David Robertson, who unfortunately simply had a bad night. Mitch Moreland's two-out two-run single doomed our lads 2-1.

However, Sale possibly hasn't seen Bull Durham. Responding to a reporter's question about having to be almost perfect because of the Sox inability to score runs, Sale bristled.

"That's kind of a crappy question to ask, really," he said. "You think I'm gonna say something bad about one of my teammates, you're dead wrong. We have a bunch of fighters in here. We have guys that come in here every single day and play as hard as they can, plain and simple.

"Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. Tonight it didn't, and it hasn't for a few games. But that doesn't mean that we're doing anything different or going to point a finger at anybody."

There have been various signs at times since the start of the season that the team was turning a corner. A six-game winning streak last month left the Sox a game over .500, but, of course, that didn't last long. And certainly Sale's run of six straight starts with at least 10 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.19 signals that every fifth day the team will be competitive.

Maybe Sale's strong words on Friday lit a spark since the club not only ended its eight-game slide on Saturday, but followed with Gordon Beckham's walkoff Father's Day home run that made it two straight as they travel to Minnesota for three games beginning Monday night. The Sox have two walkoff wins this season, one Sunday and the other on Mother's Day. Beckham's single also won that one.

Even though the ship has been temporarily righted, the Father's Day success, played before a loyal crowd of 33,668, continued to highlight an offense that can't score. The Sox were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. For the seven games last week, they were a miserable 5-for-38 in those situations. For those of you keeping score at home, that measures out to .132.

Of course, our guys will continue to play them one game at a time. The games will be played between the lines. Even though the Sox are dead last and eight games below .500, don't forget that this is a marathon and not a sprint.

And finally, if you get bored watching this team, try Bull Durham for an entertaining evening.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

June 20, 2015

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Muuy Biien at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


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2. Oscillator Bug at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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3. Destruction Unit at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.

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4. Paul Weller at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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5. Rakim at the Chop Shop on Sunday night.

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6. The Siderunners at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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7. Lower Dens at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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8. Insect Ark at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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9. Lionfight at Wire in Berwyn on Monday night.

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10. Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

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11. Rich Robinson at City Winery on Thursday night.

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12. Halsey in Rosemont on Monday night.

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13. Imagine Dragons in Rosemont on Monday night.

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14. Barenaked Ladies at Northerly Island on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:23 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #56: Dynasty Schmynasty

Blackhawks not Jordan's Bulls, but are they at least the '85 Bears? Plus: Fire Robin Ventura Already; Kyle Kub; U.S. Women's Soccer's Nostalgia Trip; The Sky's New Dynamic Duo; The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week; Springfield's Very Own NBA Finals MVP; and The Cell Is Supposedly Fun.


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SHOW NOTES

* Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak.

* Mark Buehrle.

2:27: Did The Blackhawks Just Supercede The '85 Bears?

* Coffman's column.

* Roger begs to differ!

* Blackhawks Fans Take Over Wrigleyville.

* $50,000 Bail For Man Charged With Choking Police Officer After Blackhawks Win.

* The Reality Of Bail.

* Haugh's column.

* OTAs.

24:23: Fire Robin Ventura Already.

* Alexei Ramirez, too.

* Light a fire, don't sell one.

* Enter Courtney Hawkins?

37:49: Kyle Kub.

* Just hits, baby.

* Focus Back On Defense Of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell.

* Jose Abreu, MIA.

* The disease of the casual.

* The Hot Stove Luncheon: No Pepper!

* Rangers-White Sox Betting Line For Friday.

53:38: U.S. Women's Soccer's Nostalgia Trip.

* U.S. To Play Colombia In Round Of 16.

55:50: The Sky's New Dynamic Duo.

56:25: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

56:31: Springfield's Very Own NBA Finals MVP.

* Andre Iguodala!

* Downstate Warriors at 25:24.

* Also: S/O to Steve Kerr.

58:20: Parting Words: The Cell Is Supposedly Fun.

STOPPAGE: :36

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:30 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!

Inquire within.

bandswantedvetexp3.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:14 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2015

The [Thursday] Papers

Last night was the last night of the Beachwood Inn. The sale of the greatest bar this world has known finally went through, and I sadly witnessed some of the final paperwork get signed on the pool table. I wish I could unsee that; I had to turn away during those proceedings. I was there because the outgoing owners, Bob and Jim Stepien, who changed many lives during their long, glorious run, invited the regulars to a private party for one final goodbye. We tried to drink all the remaining inventory just to punish the new owners, whom I suspect we will never meet (nor want to) and whose new establishment I suspect we will never patronize (nor want to). We didn't quite make it - there was still plenty of booze on the shelf when I stumbled out of there - but then, the Beachwood has always been more about the dream than the execution. But what dreams we had.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:46 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The rolling Stanley Cup party made its last stop for the night Tuesday at a River North bar, where several Blackhawks marked the occasion by spraying the crowd below with champagne and sometimes dropping whole bottles of the stuff down to them," the Tribune reports.

"I saw the Cup! I touched Corey Crawford!" said Angela Filippin, soaking wet outside the Rockit Bar & Grill. "They didn't want me to touch them, it was kind of weird, but I did it."

For godsakes, if they don't want you to touch them, don't touch them!

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Here's the Cup at Rockit, captured by our very own Mike Luce:

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Everyone wants to track the Cup, which is almost more fun than the actual games.

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But let's take that Cup south, boys. After all, #OneCity #OneGoal.

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"Remember when a Hawks player could walk anywhere in this city and not be recognized as anything other than a normal human?" Rick Telandersaurus writes for the Sun-Times. (I'm not providing a link; see below.)

"Now, beard or no beard, guys such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford will be mobbed anywhere. I'm guessing Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Andrew 'Scarface'' Shaw can't blend in, either."

Really? How many people would know it if Marian Hossa or Brandon Saad were standing next to them on the train?

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The main point of Telander's column, though, is that we Chicagoans now have the right to gloat because the city has been home to 10 championships since 1990. Well, yes. We were fortunate enough to live through Michael Jordan's Bulls, and now these Blackhawks. The only other championship was the 2005 White Sox.

So it's not like we're killing it across the board.

Also, why does that give us gloating rights? WE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT! Oh sure, we cheered. Watched on TV. Bought tickets - at least those who could afford to. But "we" are spectators, nothing more. Not that there's anything wrong with that - there's not! But c'mon, let's not get confused. These teams would have won whether Rick Telander lived here or in Minsk.

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I'd love to now bring you some recent news reporting from the Sun-Times, but it still FREEZES THE FUCK OUT OF MY BROWSER AND FUCKS MY SHIT UP. I've complained about this for, well, years now, and I'm not alone, according to sources close to Google.

I made the mistake of giving the website another chance this morning and I lived to regret it as I punished myself by pounding my head into the wall yelling "Sneeeeeed! She still has a job! Sneeeeeed!" So until further notice, if it appears in the Sun-Times it simply isn't news.

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Here's another media complaint: I can't listen to local sports radio anymore. First, Dan Bernstein is insufferable. And I used to be a big fan. About 15 years or so ago, when I was at Chicago magazine, I included him in a "Best of" issue as the best in local sports radio. Now I'm embarrassed about that because he's turned into such a pompous ass. In other words, what Lynn Pounian says.

His partner, Terry Boers, brings nothing to the table.

I generally like Matt Spiegel, but he's now been reduced to a supporting player on The Jason Goff Show. Goff is talented, and might be fun to listen to in the evening - and not just talking about sports - but he's totally overbearing and self-involved for a morning sports show in which I'd like to hear the other guy talk and not have him hijack every conversation and turn into something about him.

The morning guys, Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley, are meh. Hanley, in particular, is kind of like the Alan Colmes of sports radio.

And David Kaplan on WGN-AM? Sorry, I don't find a 14-year-old fanboy interesting.

I don't even know if that other channel/show with Harry Teinowitz exists.

It's too bad, because I like sports radio. I think it's mostly gotten a bum rap - mostly because a lot of people seemed to think it all sounded like Mike North. Not so. But I increasingly find myself not only listening to national shows, but to sports radio in other cities via iTunes.

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I think this is a pitch: What's Wrong With Chicago Sports Radio. Hit me up.

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And by the way, I know a lot of folks loved Doug Buffone, and may he rest in peace, but it really stopped being funny after the first three minutes of every Bears loss. Plus, the fact that he loved the Bears so much was not an admirable quality; it only marked him as an immature oaf, with all due respect.

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Fire David Brooks
"Factual discrepancies in the NYT columnist's new book raise some alarming questions about his research & methods," Salon reports. (h/t: Tim Willette)

"In 1950 the Gallup Organization asked high school seniors 'Are you a very important person?" And in 1950, 12 percent of high school seniors said yes. They asked the same question again in 2006; this time it wasn't 12 percent, it was 80 percent."

Notes Tim: "Problem was, the 'same question' was asked in 1989, not 2006. But that messes up his 'What's with these kids today' argument . . . "

My response: "Not a new problem."

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Then again, Mike Barnicle still gets work. And don't get me started on Doris Kearns Goodwin and Malcolm Gladwell.

Then there are our local journalism miscreants. You know who most of them are - though certainly not all; the problem runs far deeper than you might imagine. Journalism is in the business of holding other people accountable. But it has no interest in accountability within its own ranks, and it drives me absolutely batty.

Free Congressional Research Now!
"'Congressional Research Belongs to the Public,' declared a New York Times editorial today, and it is 'absurd' that Congress would place any obstacles in the way of public access to Congressional Research Service reports, which provide impartial analyses of current policy issues," Steven Aftergood writes for Secrecy News.

"Yet such obstacles continue to exist, and most CRS reports are not publicly disclosed by Congress."

Click through for the rest - and yes, Aftergood meant Mike Quigley, not Martin.

Fantasy Fix: Billyball
A steal.

Tonight! OpenGov Criminal Justice
From Tracy Siska of the Chicago Justice Project:

At their meetup tonight CJP will be presenting on our ongoing engagement with the Office of the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy Evans. CJP's engagement is seeking to open access to all the data created by the Court since they started collecting the data in the 1980s (the courts have told CJP they started collecting data either in 1980 or 1988). This means that when approved CJP would receive about 30 years of Court data. CJP requested all the data maintained by the Clerk's Office on each criminal case filed, appropriately de-identified. To give you some idea how much data we are talking about here are some facts about the Cook County Justice System:
  • The Circuit Court of Cook County is the largest unified court system in the US
  • The Cook County State's Attorney's Office is the largest prosecutors office in the US
  • The Cook County Jail is the largest jail in the country

This is not a onetime release! CJP is seeking an agreement that would require regular updates of court data be released on an ongoing basis moving forward removing all the current barriers to this data.

Click through to register.

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World Class Rally

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BeachBook
* Shirtless Johnny Oduya As Shiny As The Stanley Cup.

* Chicago Police Review Authority Doesn't Want Accountability Forum On TV.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Shitty Lite.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Billyball

If a guy can steal five bases in a single game, as Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN, did last Sunday against the Cubs, he doesn't need to do anything else to provide fantasy value - or so the thinking goes.

Hamilton is without argument the fastest player in baseball. After the first week of the 2015 season, he was on track to steal about 180 bases. He's cooled down since then, stealing 24 bases in 60 games played by CIN, with 19 of those SBs stretched out over a 59-game span if you discount his thievery against the Cubs (though to be fair, he missed a few games during that stretch, and entered as a late replacement in a few others). In any case, he had 31 total SBs heading into Tuesday.

I've never been a big fan of Hamilton, though I have acquired him for a couple of my fantasy teams the last two years just to use him as a lottery ticket - if my team is losing the SB category going into the weekend, I'll start him one or both days, assuming his lack of other fantasy contributions doesn't hurt me too bad elsewhere.

But therein lies the big problem with Hamilton. He owns a .221 batting average, up about 10 points over the last week or so, a .263 OBP, and only nine of his 47 hits on the season have gone for extra bases - HRs, triples and doubles all coming in at three apiece.

Hamilton's .568 OPS is one of the lowest among players with at least 200 at-bats. (The lowest I found was Melky Cabrera, OF, White Sox, at .557, and the third lowest, after Hamilton in second place, is Alexei Ramirez, SS, White Sox at .570, which tells you all you need to know about the White Sox this year.)

Hamilton doesn't even bunt very often, even though the Reds have been drilling him in the Little L.eague fundamental this season It seems like he should always bunt - who cares if the fielders know it's coming? Thinking really conservatively, he'd still probably beat out 25% of them - good for a .250 average at four at-bats per game - and could force errors almost as often.

While all this is true, Hamilton leads MLB in SBs, and his fantasy owners certainly have won that category more often than not with him on board. A lot of people believe in him - he's owned in 96% of Yahoo! leagues. It might be that fantasy owners feel there are few other options.

Except there are, and one of them is also named Billy. Billy Burns, OF, OAK, owns a .308 average, a .348 OBP and .737 OPS. He has 13 SBs in 40 games this season. However, it wasn't until the last month that Burns began starting more frequently and became OAK's leadoff man. Over the last 30 days, here's his line: .297, 38 hits, 16 runs, two HRs, 13 RBI, 11 SBs, .807 OPS (four triples probably help the latter figure).

Here's Hamilton's over the same stretch: .237, 18 hits, eight runs, zero HRs, 11 RBI, 14 SBs, .513 OPS.

You get four more SBs with Hamilton, but which player is a better overall fantasy value?

The best part is Burns is still only 47% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Expert Wire
* USA Today has a tutorial on BABIP and how to turn it into fantasy gold. I've always found BABIP to be one acronym too many for me to follow. Also, maybe I'm wrong, but isn't the basic idea behind it just to trust history? Do we really need more numbers and equations to express that? Anyway, enjoy!

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

June 16, 2015

The [Tuesday] Papers

This might be my favorite tidbit of the night:

The crew bringing the Stanley Cup to the United Center on Monday night amid road closures and flooding was given a police escort for a trip that, according to a source, reached speeds of 100 mph.

That's hockey, baby!

"The vaunted trophy arrived fashionably late, delayed by the untimely detours that were a result of severe weather before the game," ESPN reports.

"The source with knowledge of the situation said the crew escorting the Cup to the facility left its hotel in the outskirts of Chicago at puck drop, but the commute was less than ideal."

I heard a radio report that the Cup was being held at a hotel in Elmhurst, which seems odd; perhaps other reports have cleared this up. Anyway . . .

Even though the crew eventually got the police escort, it still did not arrive to the rink on time.

"Mother Nature was not a hockey fan tonight," the head keeper of the Cup, Phil Pritchard, told ESPN.com while the Blackhawks were celebrating on the ice.

You know what? Fuck Mother Nature. You're not the boss of us.

Party Cup
According to the Best Hashtag Ever, the Cup partied at the Mid last night. So fuck you, Wrigleyville!

Parade Route
"Following heavy rains Monday night, parts of Grant Park are flooded, so it's unclear whether a rally can be held there this week," the Tribune reports.

Our very own Natasha Julius: "Might I suggest . . . Humboldt Park?"

Me: "Gentrifier!"

Natasha: "FINE! Douglas Park, then."

Blackhawks Supercede Bears
"This team now stands alone both at the pinnacle of hockey and right near the top in the annals of Chicago sports," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes.

"And so the third championship in six years was won. And so the Hawks passed the mid-80s Bears in the annals of Chicago sports. The Hawks had won two championships already, of course, but even two wasn't enough to pull ahead of the glory that was the '85-'86 Super Bowl champions.

"But three in six years, well, that constitutes some sort of a dynasty and it moves the Toews/Kane/Keith Blackhawks into second all-time in Chicago behind Michael Jordan's Bulls."

Hmmm. Does this sound right?

1. Jordan's Bulls.
2. Bowman's Blackhawks.
3. '85 Bears.
4. '05 White Sox?
5. '08 Cubs?

Now Let's Go Live . . .
. . . To Drunk Blackhawks Fans.

Dino! Dino! Dino!
North Stars weigh in.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: By Stan Cup.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:29 AM | Permalink

Coffman: Blackhawks Supercede Bears

The core four led the Hawks to history.

And this team now stands alone both at the pinnacle of hockey and right near the top in the annals of Chicago sports.

Various forwards made multifaceted contributions as the playoffs went on and on for about two postseason months of hockey. They chipped in as the Hawks defeated Nashville in six, blitzed Minnesota in four and used a spectacular finishing skate to somehow find a way past the Ducks in seven. Then it was Tampa Bay and five games and 55 minutes worth of hockey in which neither team ever led by more than a single goal.

The wingers and centermen did great work but the only reason this team prevailed was the performance of defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya.

Both Kimmo Timonen and Trevor van Riemsdyk had decent-sized shifts in the second half of the second period of last night's 2-0 Stanley Cup clincher. And then that was it. They did not play a second in the third.

After about 20 minutes of post-game celebration - after everyone of note had taken a turn with the Cup and assistant marketing executive assistants were raising the trophy - and well after just about every player was asked "How does it feel?" for the 18th time, I just wanted them all to go get some rest. They deserve to sleep for about 48 hours after their epic exertions in these playoffs.

And thankfully the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP did not go to the person it almost always goes to in these situations - the goalie. Corey Crawford had a great run in the final three rounds of these playoffs. He is remarkably good at going post-to-post and his ability to do so forces opposing shooters to hurry and oftentimes miss the net even when they have glorious scoring chances.

But it was the defensemen who defined this team, who limited prime scoring opportunities, who blocked so many shots, who got the offense started.

And of course it was Keith who scored the eventual game-winning goal.

Who was surprised that Patrick Kane found a way to generate offense in the third period of a clinching game? The correct answer is no one. Kane struggled mightily to even contribute to goals let alone score them in the first five games but he found a way, like he has countless times before, to make the critical pass and the critical shot in the final period of the final game.

And so the third championship in six years was won. And so the Hawks passed the mid-80s Bears in the annals of Chicago sports. The Hawks had won two championships already, of course, but even two wasn't enough to pull ahead of the glory that was the '85-'86 Super Bowl champions.

But three in six years, well, that constitutes some sort of a dynasty and it moves the Toews/Kane/Keith Blackhawks into second all-time in Chicago behind Michael Jordan's Bulls.

What does the future hold? I wouldn't bet against Stan Bowman finding a way to keep this team competitive in the coming years in which the salary cap will loom large over a roster filled with players deserving of significant salary boosts after all this success.

But there is a great chance this is the last Cup for a while. The secret will be to savor it, all summer and, heck, all next season as well.

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Duncan Keith Opens The Scoring
Kane sets him up, then he follows his own rebound. MVP indeed.

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Kane Seals It
Watch Kane all alone waiting for it with his stick up. Set up by Brandon Saad and Brad Richards.

That's hockey, baby!

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The Cup Arrives
After a high-speed police escort.

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Toews Hands Cup To Timonen
Tells the retiring defenseman to skate it.

Memories of Handzus.

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Karaoke Champions
Forgiven.

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Follow The Cup Around The City
Best. Hashtag. Ever.

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See also:
* Blackhawks Now On Verge Of Being Worth $1 Billion.

* Game 6 Delivers Fourth-Best Overnight Ratings For NHL Ever.

* Blackhawks Start Summer Of Trade Rumors, Free Agent Uncertainty.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:21 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2015

We Should Know Better

It was just a pop foul that eluded catcher Tyler Flowers in front of the visitors' dugout last Tuesday evening. A tough play because the ball was spinning away from him while first baseman Jose Abreu was playing too deep to offer any chance of making the play.

What was a tad surprising - the play came with no one on in a scoreless game - is that many in the crowd of 18,439 chimed in with a chorus of boos once the ball bounded away from Flowers. Poor Tyler. He had made an honest effort on a ball few catchers would have corralled, yet all he got was the disapproval from fans who have expected so much more from this team thus far.

Were they booing Flowers, a .205 hitter, personally? Or was this simply frustration over a perceived defensive flub that characterizes most Sox games? Probably some of both.

The fans were in a much finer mood by the end of the night, a 4-2 Sox win over the Astros that featured another strong outing by rookie Carlos Rodon, who pitched six scoreless innings. In fact, once the White Sox knocked off the West Division-leading Astros 4-1 the next night to complete the three-game sweep, why wouldn't you feel a twinge of optimism as our athletes headed to Tampa Bay for three games over the weekend?

We should know better. Losing all three to the Rays by a total of four runs once again displayed the glaring flaws that happen daily with these guys.

Many are on defense where shortstop Alexei Ramirez blew Saturday's 5-4 decision with two misplays. Jose Abreu dropped a throw on Friday, leading to three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Flowers let two pitches elude him Friday night. He was charged with one passed ball, but neither pitch should have gone to the backstop. The lack of communication in the three games between Ramirez and second baseman Carlos Sanchez led to a couple of Rays reaching base on what should have been routine outs.

And it doesn't matter who's pitching for the other guys. Runners - if indeed there are any - are left in scoring position time after time. On Friday, rookie Matt Andriese, making his fourth start ever, picked up his first career win. On Saturday it was Chris Archer, a legitimate Cy Young candidate. The Sox nicked him for three runs in seven innings, but obviously it wasn't enough thanks to the porous defense.

Even though Chris Sale turned in another stellar performance on Sunday, pitching into the seventh inning on a yield of three hits and two runs while fanning 12, he still was tagged with his third loss. Nathan Karns gave up the lone Sox run in the 2-1 decision as Asdrubel Cabrera's unlikely two-run homer in the seventh off Sale was the difference. Karns had pitched in just five big league games coming into this season.

Pitchers of varying ability and experience must salivate when their turn comes up against the White Sox.

However, one area where the Sox have shown improvement is home attendance, which shows a 5 percent boost over a year ago. Not exactly a dazzling development since the average of 21,420 puts the South Siders 27th in MLB. The Marlins (20,512) and Rays (14,429) have drawn fewer fans. Why would anyone put a big league franchise in Florida?

Then there's Cleveland where the Indians sold out 455 straight games from June 1995 until April 2001. Winning six division titles in seven seasons will do that. Way back in their championship season of 1948, the Tribe drew 2.6 million. Not until the Dodgers moved into Dodger Stadium in 1962 did any club outdraw the Indians that season. In Cleveland - just like on the South Side - if you win, they will come.

Obviously the Indians have fallen from the heights of yesteryear. They are a mere one-half game better than our White Sox. Their fans appreciate quality. Going to the ballpark to watch a lousy team is not a popular idea in Cleveland. That's why the average attendance is 16,788 this season.

Because the Sox signed Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche while purportedly shoring up their bullpen, preseason ticket sales spiked a bit prior to Opening Day. According to Crain's, the Sox front office predicts that the team will draw approximately 1,770,000 this season. If so, the team will stop an eight-year streak of declining attendance.

However, the Sox won't have to pay a per ticket fee to the Illinois Sports Facility Authority (ISFA), the government agency created by the Illinois General Assembly in 1987. The ISFA was the brainchild of former governor Jim Thompson and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf as a way to use taxpayer money to build The Cell. Without a new place to play, Reinsdorf had threatened to move the team to Tampa, where, as previously stated, no one comes to the ballpark despite a winning team that just spanked Reinsdorf's club.

To be fair, the White Sox do pay rent to the ISFA. The tab comes to approximately what Geovany Soto is making as Flowers' backup. Soto is hitting .214 while throwing out two of 14 would-be base stealers. I'm confident the Sox are much happier about their stadium deal.

Once Sox attendance reaches 1,950,000, the team must pay a per ticket fee to the ISFA. Thank heaven that won't happen. Maybe the retained cash can sign more players like LaRoche, who was 1-for-12 in Tampa with seven strikeouts.

This is far too cynical for Monday morning coffee, but just when you think our favorite ballclub has bottomed out - like getting swept in four games by Minnesota early last month - they lay another egg like the past weekend in Florida. On the heels of sweeping the Astros no less.

Now it's on to Pittsburgh for two games before returning to The Cell on Wednesday to face those same Pirates, who have won four straight. The Bucs play with energy and enthusiasm. If the Sox don't match that approach, you're going to hear a lot more boos.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Wire at the Metro for Drill Festival Chicago on Saturday night.


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Also:

Wire with St. Vincent at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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And:

Wire and the Pink Flag Orchestra at the Metro on Saturday night.

"Wire invited Chicago's top guitarists to perform at the Metro as the Pink Flag Orchestra for Drill Festival. Pictured are Miss Alex White from White Mystery, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Bobby Conn, Brian Case from Disappears, and more."

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2. Chives at Wally World on Friday night.

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3. The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Thalia Hall for Drill Fest on Friday night.

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4. White Lung at Thalia Hall for Drill Fest on Saturday night.

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5. Heart at the Rosemont Theatre for the WDRV Birthday Bash on Friday night.

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6. Dennis DeYoung at the Rosemont Theatre on Friday night.

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7. Buddy Guy at Blues Fest on Saturday night.

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8. Syl Johnson at Blues Fest on Friday night.

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9. Skrillex and Diplo at Soldier Field for Spring Awakening on Saturday.

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10. The Dreaming at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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11. Rush at the West Side hockey arena on Friday night.

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12. Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley at the Hideout for Drill on Thursday night.

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13. The Rebirth Brass Band at Martyrs on Saturday night.

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14. Michael Zerang & the Blue Lights at the Constellation on Saturday night.

Howard Reich: Tuneful, bristling, alluring.

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15. The Great Fusilli at the Metro on Friday night.

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16. Richard Thompson at the Vic on Wednesday night.

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17. mewithoutYou at the Abbey on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"If you study the history and crunch the numbers, you start to get a clearer picture of the challenge facing your Tampa Bay Lightning," John Romano writes for the Tampa Bay Times.

"Technically speaking, the team is toast. Give or take a miracle. At least that's the pessimistic interpretation of the statistics in front of me. Since the National Hockey League went to its best-of-seven format in the Stanley Cup final, the team leading after five games has gone on to win the series 78.3 percent of the time. That's disturbing. In fact, if you're a Lightning fan, it's downright depressing. And, heaven knows, depressed and disturbed is no way to start a new week. So we're here to offer five reasons why you should tell hockey historians to go shove it today."

You'll have to click through to find out what those mildly persuasive at best reasons are.

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This Chicagoan might have a rough week.

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How New York Times writer Monica Davey bonded with her father over the Blackhawks when they were lousy.

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Cubs Bracing For Wild Night Inside, Outside Wrigley.

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In Case Of Stanley Cup Victory: Don't Break Glass.

At first I thought this read "In Case Of Stanley Cup Victory: Break Glass" and was going to honor it as an inspired headline. They went a different direction.

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Even The Stanley Cup Goes Through Airport Security.

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Tampa Tribune: Chicago Newspapers' Cup Coverage Overflows With Hope.

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The Cub Factor: Hawk-Like
Not quite. Yet.

The White Sox Report: We Should Know Better
Tyler Flowers uber alles.

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Chicagoans' Worst Nightmares
Most of ours have already happened.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Wire, St. Vincent, Chives, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, White Lung, Heart, Dennis DeYoung, Skrillex & Diplo, Buddy Guy, Syl Johnson, The Dreaming, Rush, Ken Vandermark & Nate Wooley, The Rebirth Brass Band, Michael Zerang & the Blue Lights, The Great Fusilli, Richard Thompson, and mewithoutYou.

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House Party!
At AnySquared Studio, which houses Beachwood Media.

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BeachBook
* The Sunday Times' Snowden Story Is Journalism At Its Worst.

* Exclusive: Inside Washington's Quest To Bring Down Edward Snowden.

* Six Drone Facts From New History Sudden Justice.

* Historic Chicago Subdivision In Decay.

* How The 'Black Tax' Destroyed African-American Home Ownership In Chicago.

* United To Pay Over $1 Million To Settle Disability Lawsuit.

* Passengers Aboard Diverted United Flight Spent Night In Unheated Military Barracks.

* Jury Deciding Reputed Mob Associate's Fate In Chicago Extortion Trial.

* One Day At A Time: Chicago Rendezvous.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: If necessary.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 AM | Permalink

Chicagoans' Worst Nightmares

Crain's recently published a pretty privileged list of Chicagoans' Worst Nightmares followed by a Chicagoist solicitation of its readers that we also found a bit wanting.

So The Beachwood Nightmares Affairs Desk sprung into action. The problem, though, is that most of our nightmares have already come true.

* Rahm Emanuel gets elected mayor.

* Rahm Emanuel gets re-elected mayor.

* Wrigley Field gets a Jumbotron.

* City runs out of Old Style.

* Mike Ditka continues to be a thing.

* Billy Corgan re-forms Smashing Pumpkins.

* Billy Corgan plays six hours over a book reading at a suburban tea house.

* Anyone's kids come into contact with the (unvaccinated) kids of Cutler and Cavallari.

* Michael Sneed keeps her job.

* The city decides to sell precious lakefront land to a pal of the mayor for a dollar to build a Star Wars museum.

* Dead people really are voting - and boy are they pissed.

* L.A. becomes cooler than Chicago. Which has happened.

* The city opens its books to the public - and it's an even bigger shitshow than they're saying.

* Jonathan Brandmeier, Mancow Muller and Steve Dahl return to radio.

* No turkey legs at Taste of Chicago.

* Being forced to go to Taste of Chicago.

Even this list is a bit unsatisfying, though. Wouldn't a list of real nightmares be more like this:

* Leftover nuclear material under University of Chicago explodes.

* Sears Tower falls over.

* Redmoon Theater production re-starts Great Fire.

* Asian carp mates with Canadian carp to form Super Carp.

* Beachwood Inn finally dies. Which it has.

- Marty Gangler, J.J. Tindall, Steve Rhodes

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 AM | Permalink

Hawks-Like?

I have to admit it's tough to come up with much about the Cubs right now with the Blackhawks on the verge of winning their third Stanley Cup since I've been alive.

And really, is it worth even mentioning the Cups they won way back when there were only six teams? C'mon. That barely counts. Six teams?! This championship run is the only one that has mattered in franchise history. And all you old-timers, don't break your hip trying to argue. I mean geez, they didn't even have curved sticks in 1961.

But it would sure be nice to think that the Cubs are putting together a "Hawks-like" movement by bringing in young high draft picks and then surrounding them with skilled veteran talent. And you know, maybe that is happening, but the Cubs haven't won squat yet, so no, it's not happening. Because lots of teams stink for a while, get good draft picks and then continue to stink - just pick your sport. But some teams, actually very few teams, stink for a long time while getting high draft picks and then win three championships in a short period of time.

I even thought about trying to match current Hawks to current Cubs to see who could be considered similar, but that just doesn't work. As much as the Rizz looks like a big-time baller, there just isn't enough of a track record to say he is Toews-like. Not even close. So let's just say that one could "see" the Cubs laying a Blackhawks-like foundation, but stranger things have happened, like the last 100+ years.

The Week In Review: The Cubs split two with the Tigers and then came home and won three of four from the Reds. A solid week for a solid team in the thick of things.

The Week In Preview: The Cubs stay home for two against the Cleveland Indians and then head to the happy hunting grounds for two in Cleveland. The next three will be in Minny against the upstart Twins. Should be an interesting week against teams the Cubs don't often play. I haven't heard what the road-trip theme is, maybe this?

Left Field Report: Chris Coghlan started five of the six games this week in left, with Chris Denorfia getting the lone other start. Coghlan had a very non-Coghlanese week knocking in 11 runs (five in one game) on a bunch of hits. Big Poppa Joe will ride the hot hand until it is no longer hot, so expect Double C to be in there for a bit. But probably just as a bit as he's, you know, Chris Coghlan after all.

In former Cubs second baseman news - sorry, throwing a curveball here because I could not resist. Darwin Barney was designated for assignment by the Dodgers. He was the starting second sacker for most of the season JUST LAST YEAR for the Cubs. It feels like a lifetime ago; he will be missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe might be everyone's buddy on the next bar stool, but he's also not playing favorites. Yanking Tsuyoshi Wada after barely getting into the 4th inning is kinda what I'm talking about - among other things. So weird that you can be considered one of the best managers in baseball while not coddling guys by letting them try to get the win by going five innings, or pulling them in a save situation before they actually blow the save when they clearly don't have it. It's about the team winning. And unfortunately in that vein, Junior Lake probably bat-flipped himself out of town for good. (He will be missed.)

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) had a Coghlanesque week, at least on the RBI front with eight of them for the week, on seven hits including two walk-offs. Nothing wrong with timely hitting, also nothing wrong with taking a walk - he had zero walks for the week.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Head Shaking should trade higher this week as white people in Chicago will do some stupid things if the Blackhawks win it all.

Kubs Kalender: On Sunday in Minnesota vs. the Cubs, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Minnie and Paul ceramic stein. This is infinitely cooler than any Cub giveaway all season.

East Coast Cubs: Darwin Barney should be in Japan soon.

Over/Under: The number of starts left that will make you question why the Cubs paid Jon Lester so much darn money: +/- 3.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Jesus Christ these Blackhawks are good.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:19 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

"Good quest stories start at the beginning, so let us untangle all the various narratives about the improbable birth of the Tampa Bay Lightning and begin with the bold desire of one man, a man whose life was defined by hockey, a man who got emotional when he talked about hockey, a man who would let go of his wife before he let go of hockey.

"Phil Esposito wanted a hockey team.

"That's the beginning, a man with a wish. On May 1, 1990, eight months after the NHL announced its intentions to expand from 21 teams to 28 by the year 2000, Esposito told the hockey world he was interested in bringing a team to a place most unlikely: Tampa Bay. And he had a name: the Lightning."

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #55: Do The Blackhawks Suck?
No. Plus: Downstate Warriors; Canada's Plastic World Cup; The White Sox Are Still Playing; The Cubs' Buzzy Bullpen; Cappy & Pokey; and The U.S. Men's Soccer Team Has Its Best Week In History.

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This weekend's Beachwood Radio [News] Hour is in pre-production.

CPS: Lieraq
The graduation rate fiasco is even worse than we thought and it almost certainly involves fraud.

"The WBEZ and Better Government Association looked at only 25 of 140 high schools - the ones with the largest numbers of students removed from the graduation rate calculation. A request is pending for the remaining 115.

"The errors at that small sampling of schools would lower the publicly reported graduation rate from 69.4 percent to about 67 percent. It is a conservative estimate and would likely be lowered further when all schools are factored in."

And yet:

"Despite the errors in the underlying data, CPS Chief of Accountability John Barker insists the graduation rate is even higher than it's been reported and will continue to be."

The chief accountability officer!

Previously in John Barker:

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I'm told Barker knew about problems with the graduation rate numbers at least two years ago and blew it off.

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Back to WBEZ/BGA:

Elaine Allensworth, executive director of University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research said, "There's always doubt about what the exact number is, but that doesn't mean the trends in graduation rates aren't real."

I have said the same thing about crime rates, but the difference is that no one is contesting the long-term trend and now is not the time to come to the administration's defense when it's been caught red-handed fucking with data for the umpteenth time. Also: CPS refuses to correct its numbers even while admitting they are wrong. How can that ever be accceptable to a university research project?

(Bonus question: What would happen to a student who presented data the way CPS does and additionally refused to correct the data even after acknowledging it was false? I doubt they would get an editorial in the Sun-Times aiding and abetting their effort at damage control.)

Why I Hate MSM Political Journalism
It's full of stage managers masquerading as analysts and reporters.

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See also:

* Bloomberg's Halperin Scheduled To Conduct "Sunrise Pilates" Session With Ann Romney At GOP Donor Retreat.

Halperin is just the worst.

* Mark Halperin's Sad Little Crusade For Right-Wing Blessings.

* The Journalistic Mind: Mark Halperin provides some important insight into the behavior of his colleagues.

* "Political Reporting" Means "Royal Court Gossip."

There's lots more out there about Halperin epitomizing the worst practices of what passes for political journalism these days, if you bother to pay attention.

Oops!

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "The year is only half over and already there are too many great new records to keep up with. Jim and Greg take a breath and catch you up with the Best of 2015 So Far."

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BeachBook
* Obama's Rationale For War Against Islamic State Is Secret And 'Very Thin.'

* No Rainbow Cone At This Year's Taste.

* Indiana Has First Black Bear In 144 Years.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Eight days a week.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

June 12, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #55: Do The Blackhawks Suck?

No. Plus: Downstate Warriors; Canada's House of Plastic; The White Sox Are Still Playing; The Cubs' Buzzy Bullpen; Cappy & Pokey; and The U.S. Men's Soccer Team Has Best Week In History.


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SHOW NOTES

* Doug Buffone.

* Lance Briggs.

* The Double Nickel.

* Abe Gibron.

* E'twaun Moore.

* Montanus Fermentum.

4:17: Do The Blackhawks Suck?

* No.

* Coffman: It's Not OK, Blackhawks Fans.

* Hockey Analytics Show Patrick Sharp's Scoring Dropped As Role Changed.

* Q's lines.

* The goalies.

* Jackpot! For the Wirtz family . . .

* Steve Kerr: "I lied!"

25:24: Downstate Warriors.

* Andre Iguodala.

* Shaun Livingston.

30:50: The Cubs' Buzzy Bullpen.

* Cubs Turn To Rafael Soriano For Relief - Once He's Ready.

* Razor strop.

* I am having a strop.

* Jason Motte.

* Right field sucks.

* Jim Parque.

40:20: White Sox Still Playing.

* Welington Castillo is now a Diamondback.

47:11: Canada's Tournament Of Plastic Shame.

* Soccer Stars Upset Women's World Cup Played On Fake Turf.

* Hope Solo is nuts.

54:45: Cappy Playing For Pokey.

* Elena Delle Donne Responds To Twitter Pressure To Marry Mathew Dellavedova.

* Fowles Shocks Sky With Demand To Be Traded.

56:50: The Chicago Fire Did Something This Week.

* U.S. men's team has its greatest week in history.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Pixies at the Metro on Wednesday night.


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2. Grape Juice Plus at Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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3. Matt Christensen at the Whistler on Sunday night.

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4. Hozier at Millennium Park on Wednesday night.

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5. My Morning Jacket at the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday night.

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6. Phillip Phillips at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:36 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble

Cubs-Z.

sudzbubbleexpbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:21 AM | Permalink

June 11, 2015

TrackNotes: American Pharoah's Long Strange Trip

Triple Crown champion American Pharoah wasted no time in galloping on out of Elmont, New York, and was on the road well before noon Sunday to get back to his home base, Churchill Downs.

Looking every bit the returning hero, 'Pharoah landed back in Louisville to greet a group of reporters.

After watching 'Pharoah's run-out after the wire in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday, it wasn't very surprising to hear trainer Bob Baffert talk of 'Pharoah's recovery from the race.

"He's a little tired, but we're probably more tired," Baffert said with a grin. "He's so tough, a couple days and he'll be back to normal.

In the kind of hindsight that only horse racing seems to possess, we found out that American Pharoah may have actually needed the Kentucky Derby to be in shape for the Triple Crown grind.

"The only time he came back blowing was after the Kentucky Derby," Baffert said. "He was tired. That was the one. But he spent himself on the way over there (in the walkover at the Derby) pretty good, plus he needed a nice, hard race."

As many horses have since the turn of the century, American Pharoah defied current common wisdom. On paper, he wasn't bred to get the 1.5-mile distance of the Belmont. He couldn't have been ready for the third race in five weeks. He had never had a race over the Belmont course.

As must happen in an achievement like this, everything came into place for him.

To wit:

* Learning to win in the Del Mar Futurity and the Front Runner. The Front Runner turned out to be a key race as the top three, 'Pharoah, Calculator and Texas Red all won their next races.

* Easy wins in the Rebel (getting experience in the slop as well) and Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, although we now know they might have been too easy, conditioning-wise.

* Winning the Kentucky Derby. Doing everything he had to do to win the Derby. If he had lost in the crazy Derby stampede, would Baffert still have run him in both the Preakness and Belmont?

* Getting a sent-from-heaven downpour minutes before the Preakness, giving him a sloppy course he didn't mind at all - and the others apparently did.

* Materiality running dismal races in both the Derby and Belmont, especially the Belmont where he appeared to be the only other horse with enough speed and tactical talent to challenge what turned out to be 'Pharoah's easy lead. Materiality finished last.

* Drawing into a Belmont field whose predominant strengths were not only unsuited to defeating 'Pharoah's tactical abilities, but any horse remotely like him.

* Post positions: 15 in the Derby, 1 in the Preakness, 5 in the Belmont. Only the Belmont post was perfect, but with his turn of foot, he made the other two work. And great rides by jockey Victor Espinoza, although I think 'Pharoah was in charge.

* Finding a reserve of energy and stamina that most of us cynically don't believe any horse possesses today. He surprised us on that count.

So where does this horse stand in the pantheon? Well, he won the Triple Crown, so he is on that mountaintop.

His 2:26 and three-fifths, nearly identical to Gallant Man in 1957, was the sixth-fastest in Belmont history, slightly faster than his immediate Triple Crown predecessor Affirmed. That was good for the second-fastest Belmont by a Triple Crown winner. His 13.5 combined lengths of victory in the three races also ranks sixth all-time and the best since Secretariat. And as with Citation, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed before him, 'Pharoah was in the lead at every point of call in the Belmont.

American Pharoah certainly breathes the rarefied air when it comes to winning the Crown, but as fast and impressive as his Belmont was, it doesn't touch Secretariat's; no one's does. Here's fascinating video proof.

Across the hall at The Beachwood Reporter's Broadcast Division, Jim "Coach" Coffman raised the specter of sadness, emptiness after American Pharoah's Crown win, leaving us horseplayers without mystique, hope, anything to live for, much like the pall that may engulf the ivied park on Clark when (?) the Cubs win the World Series.

I think the Coach might be right about this one vis a vis the Cubs, but I wanted American Pharoah to win the Triple Crown. I didn't think he would, given all of the conventions of horseplaying and the chances against him, but he rose above it all, proving me and a lot of other wiseguys wrong.

One reason I wanted to see a Crown is because a 38-year drought is just the kind of thing that would cause instant-gratification America to demand a change to the Triple Crown rules. Sure, they've changed before, but that was a long time ago and this format is rock solid. There are some in the industry today who prefer a change. In this age of everyone makes the playoffs or a play-in or wild card or whatever, even with losing records, arguments for changing the Triple Crown are nothing more than "I want my Maypo" for the self-esteem crowd and thinly disguised money grabs. Hopefully, 'Pharoah's win shuts these people up.

My desire to see him to win the Crown wasn't because I personally needed to see it or the game was anything less to me because of the drought. My interest in the game never depended on a Crown, as overpaid columnists often suggest. I was never "long suffering." With today's discouraging breeding practices, I just wanted to see a horse that could do it. Thoroughbred race horses are the only athletes who truly let their performances speak for themselves. It's all they do; all they can do.

Selfishly, if American Pharoah was to win the Crown, I wanted him to win the Belmont in exactly the fashion he did. No questions about it. Through the wire. Clearly the best. Deserving. There have been a lot of fluke horses, fluke races over the years. This was no fluke. He ran all three races like: a Triple Crown winner.

Greedily, I want 'Pharoah to keep running, if he's as resilient as they say he is. Unquestionable legacy is often built by what happens after the Belmont, even for Triple Crown winners. Citation ran afterwards, was out for a year with an injury and ran again after that, becoming the first to win $1 million in earnings. Seattle Slew had nearly the same story but came back after that to beat Affirmed in the Marlboro Cup and win the Stuyvesant in his last race. Affirmed won six major stakes races following his Crown, including a win over Spectacular Bid. Spectacular Bid, even after losing his Belmont, went on to win 10 major stakes races to establish himself as one of the best horses of the past 30 years.

The Jim Dandy, Travers, Haskell, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Breeders' Cup, I'd love to see starts in any three of those. If he does, they're most likely his last. If he doesn't run, "five-week wonder" might enter into the vernacular. If he wins even two of them, especially the Breeders' Cup Classic, he's a horse you talk about on a regular basis for a long time.

Trainers often wax lyrical; "the horse will tell us what he wants." I hope Baffert and Zayat Stables are listening to this one.

Not The Savior
I would never say American Pharoah will "save horse racing" by continuing to run and win this year. (Contrary to this report, Belmont Day did not have full fields in every race. The Woody Stephens and Ogden Phipps each had only six runners and no Show betting, and the Easy Goer Stakes ran only three.) The lords of the game are so boneheaded, they'll continue to screw things up.

Although television ratings this year were down slightly from last year, I'll bet many of those who did watch who might not have watched another race this year will continue to follow 'Pharoah's season. Also, a record 392,195 people, admittedly many of them civilians, attended Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont to catch the three races. It would have been even more if Belmont hadn't limited its attendance to 90,000.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to build a marketing plan along the lines of "Thought That Was Exciting? Check Out a Racetrack Near You!" And have every track use the campaign.

Yeah, right.

In The Vogue
Unlike some cheap congressman "making the rounds" to spread his heinous propaganda, American Pharoah, trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Victor Espinoza fed the media beast with joy and wonderment.

Early Sunday, the big three did the obligatory meet and greet with the morning coffee crowd from Rockefeller Center and NBC's Today Show. It was nice; no screeching tourists from Topeka behind crowd barriers with N-B-C acronym signs telling us they're from Topeka. And that 'Pharoah's a real ham with the cameras rolling.

Jimmy Fallon again mistook sophomoric smart-assedness with comedy when he put good-natured Espinoza through this exhibition of "racing." Thankfully, Victor kicked butt, just like on Saturday.

Although it seems a no-brainer, it was faithfully reported by many outlets that Sports Illustrated would feature American Pharoah on its cover. Huffington Post, however, took exception to the scene itself and I have to say I agree. If I had been there, I'd certainly be able to remember and describe everything I saw, would have saved the images via the home DVR, and would have been really PO'd at all the people with their arms up.

But stunning news came midweek when Zayat Stables said American Pharoah would grace the cover of Vogue. Production, lay off the Photoshop! Gaunt and pouty is no look for a Triple Crown winner. Baffert, maybe, but not the horse.

Bob's Burgers
We learned early on that Baffert and Espinoza will be donating much of their winnings to various causes. Baffert even squeezed $200,000 in charity grease out of the Home of the Whopper by allowing the Burger King to join him for the race and in the winner's circle. Baffert will reportedly give that money to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

Ticket Tale
This story pops every time, but this year it finally happened. Buying a ticket to win on American Pharoah and keeping it as a souvenir is one thing, but in true American fashion, entrepreneurs are taking greater advantage of the situation. I have a feeling Rick Harrison would pay . . . $2.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:48 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools admits that it mischaracterized some of its students who dropped out as 'transfers,' thereby inflating its 2014 graduation rates, but the district refuses to consider changing those graduation numbers," Lauren FitzPatrick reports for the Sun-Times.

Wait.

The district refuses to consider changing those graduation numbers. Which it admits are wrong.

CPS can't even be bothered to pretend to care about facts anymore. Not even a listening tour!

It's just gonna double-down on false data.

"At least 2,200 students from 25 district-run schools were coded as transfers out of the district between 2011 and 2014 - and therefore not factored into CPS graduation rates, according to a joint report released Wednesday by WBEZ and the Better Government Association ["Emanuel Touts Bogus Graduation Rate"]. Some 610 were listed as getting a GED - meaning, according to state law, they should have been counted as dropouts against the district's graduation rate."

Which, it turns out, is 67 percent, not 69.4 percent.

So it's a 2.4 percent lie. Worth it, Rahm?

*

"District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said that CPS has no plans to go back and recalculate the 2014 graduation rate accounting for added dropouts. Nor did he refute any of the numbers. Asked whether any of the students were miscoded on purpose for political purposes, he said, 'Absolutely not.'"

Ah, but is CPS not considering correcting the numbers for political purposes? Because why else?

*

So how will future increases/decreases be calculated - much less talked about - if CPS doesn't correct the numbers? Will unknowing reporters be made aware that the numbers are wrong? Will Rahm use the right figure or the wrong official figure in his speeches?

*

"McCaffrey said the district became aware of the problem when CPS' inspector general began investigating similar patterns at a few CPS schools. The IG reported that at one school, now known to be Farragut Career Academy High School, 'the miscoding of purported GED dropouts as transfers appears to have been done to reduce the high school's reported dropout rate,' that would have negatively affected its official school rating."

To paraphrase a business aphorism, that which gets maniacally measured gets maniacally managed. See also: Test score scandals.

*

"But McCaffrey declined to make any of the 25 principals whose schools were examined by the two media outlets available for an interview, instead proffering leaders from other schools, and a statement from interim CEO Jesse Ruiz:

"CPS takes any report of miscoding very seriously, and has already instituted additional rigorous safeguards and training to ensure the quality of its records," Ruiz said.

Thanks, Jesse Byrd-Bennett. You're doing exactly the job that's been asked of you. Were you trained by SUPES?

*

"All clerks will have to attend district-led training sessions on how to properly code transfer students and will make principals sign a document this summer taking responsibility for their school's student transfer process, according to CPS. Spot-checks at schools are ongoing, as is an internal review, and questionable activity will be referred to the inspector general's office.

"'The University of Chicago not only agrees that CPS' graduation numbers are on the rise and that progress is being made. More students are graduating than ever before, and are prepared for college, careers, and life,' mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement."

Okay, this is a distraction. Why won't you fix the numbers?

*

"The University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, which has studied graduation rates in detail, stood by its own independent findings of 'significant improvements in Chicago graduation rates,' said Consortium spokeswoman Emily Krone. But she did not dispute the miscoded students.

"That upward trend cannot be explained away by accounting errors at the school or district level," she said. "In fact, UChicago CCSR research finds double-digit improvements in graduation rates over the last several years, even using a very conservative method of calculation" that counts every students who transfers or goes to an alternative school as a dropout.

Okay, again, don't let the administration take control of the narrative. And shame on you, Consortium, for doing Rahm's PR bidding. By doing so, your credibility is now damaged.

*

"But Emanuel and the CPS officials he appointed have a history of making bold claims that either can't be verified or turn out to be exaggerated to make them look better."

Thank you, Lauren FitzPatrick!

Because it's not just about this incident - it's about a pattern that started in Rahm's first campaign and has continued apace.

Rahm is so allergic to the actual facts you'd think he was a right-wing Republican climate-change denier who never vaccinated his children and thinks Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Only worse, because he's running your schools.

*

"[T]he 2.4 percentage points might seem small, but Emanuel mentioned rising graduation rates in virtually every speech he gave on education during a hard-fought mayoral campaign dominated by education issues and his controversial decision to close a record 50 public schools."

So he was really Mayor 2.4% all along.

*

I've written this before and I'll write it again: People inside the political system - consultants, officeholders, policymakers - have said long before Rahm became mayor that he has a penchant for, well, lying. He's a serial exaggerator quick to take credit for anything in his general vicinity and not at all shy about straight-out making shit up. I know this because those people inside the political system have told me this - long before Rahm became mayor. And if I know this, reporters actually inside the system themselves must know it . . . or so you would think.

And now the little bugger has been re-elected despite a credibility gap that reporters never made an issue of in the campaign - perhaps thinking (wrongly) that it would be up to his opponents to make that case. We also now have a governor who got elected running the most disingenuous gubernatorial campaign I can remember in my lifetime. And both Rahm and Rauner - wouldn't they be good together in a remake of Running Scared, a totally underappreciated Chicago movie? - are running secret governments.

But I digress. Let's go back to the original WBEZ/BGA report.

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been talking proudly about something that is really a bit of a miracle: Even during a time of tight budgets and leadership chaos, Chicago Public Schools graduation rates have climbed to a record 69.4 percent.

"But new data obtained by WBEZ and the Better Government Association shows that number is wrong.

"CPS records recently obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act show at least 2,200 students from 25 Chicago high schools were counted as having transferred out of the district between 2011 and 2014. In reality, they were dropouts. The transfers aren't factored into CPS graduation rates, while dropouts are."

*

"Asked about all this by WBEZ and the BGA, district officials acknowledged problems with the system's accounting, but said they had no plan to go back and adjust the numbers. They insisted the numbers weren't purposely skewed to help Emanuel look better to potential voters.

"The mayor is absolutely interested in making sure we have accurate data," said John Barker, CPS' chief accountability officer.

BUT WE REFUSE TO GO BACK AND MAKE OUR DATA ACCURATE!

Paging fucking Orwell - or Dennis DeYoung: Welcome to the Grand Illusion, come on in and see what's happening!

I don't know how our city's education reporters continue to function without having totally torn their hair out by now.

"Emanuel released a statement late Tuesday that said in part: 'No one questions the facts: more CPS students are graduating than ever before, those students are more prepared for their futures and we're making huge strides in helping struggling kids graduate.'"

No, we all question the facts! They're wrong! Your team even admits it!

My God.

*

"School district officials said they did not know how widespread the problem was until contacted by reporters.

"Barker [the district's chief accountability officer] said now the district is doing a systemwide audit of what are called verified transfers. He also said school staff has been trained on how to enter information into the system, but as of Tuesday, CPS officials could provide no evidence of such trainings or audits."

Well, Barker just made that up, but he has no intention of going back and correcting his lie.

*

"WBEZ and the BGA attempted to contact several of the principals of the schools whose data we looked at. We tried to reach them through phone calls, e-mails and stops by the schools, but each declined our request for interviews on the subject. CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey also refused to make any principals available to talk about this story."

In other words, WBEZ and BGA tried way harder to contact principals than CPS tried to get their numbers right. Unless CPS tried really hard to get the numbers wrong.

*

Oh, and also:

The most transparent administration ever.

*

Wonder what the city's Rahm-loving techies think of all this data manipulation . . .

*

Next: Plow Tracker doesn't track all the plows . . .

*

"It's not just about graduation rates, said Sheila Venson, executive director of Youth Connection Charter School, a network of more than 20 alternative schools in CPS.

"We have to get a better handle on (the dropout problem)," Venson said. "You can't get a better handle on it if you're hiding it. If you're not looking at it, you're not even looking at who these kids are."

Oh yeah, there are actually kids involved!

*

"McCaffrey acknowledged that the district has a problem, but said officials don't plan to go back and adjust the rates because of the 'billion dollar deficit.'"

Bill McCaffrey, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago. Congratulations, it's been just 16 days since you last won (see item No. 7).

Previously in Bill McCaffrey:
* Item: Speaking Rahm.

* Item: Mayor Banksy.

* The [Whittier] Papers.

* On Xerox's red-light camera program.

It's disingenuity all the way down.

*

*

One more excerpt from the WBEZ/BGA report, which I hope induces you to click through and read the whole thing:

For decades, CPS has used a number system to identify where and when students are enrolled. The information is used to determine school funding, and also to track students from grade school to graduation.

In examining high school records, WBEZ and the BGA found a number of red flags.

At Curie Metropolitan High School, the third largest high school in the city, more than 100 students every year since 2011 supposedly transferred out to be homeschooled. Homeschooled students are removed from the graduation rate. But annually, most high schools only listed a handful of students as being homeschooled.

Curie Principal Phillip Perry did not respond to phone calls or e-mails. When reporters stopped by his school, they were not allowed past the front foyer and escorted out by a security guard and a woman who identified herself as a police officer, though she did not have her badge evident and was not in uniform.

Students and teachers, however, scoffed at the idea that hundreds of high schoolers were being homeschooled on the Southwest Side of the city.

Click through to read why.

*

But this might be my favorite part:

"When WBEZ and the BGA asked about the questionable practices around the graduation rate, McCaffrey and Barker continued to point to the future. They said this year, CPS is going to completely redo the way it calculates graduation rates. As of Tuesday, they had not yet provided any details about the new formula. But McCaffrey says district officials are confident that it will result in an even higher graduation rate than in the past."

Dude! You're inching into Becky Carroll territory.

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Dimon In The Rough
"JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said Wednesday in Chicago that he doesn't 'see any potholes to derail the American economy,'" the Tribune reports.

Well, it's pretty hard to see potholes from the window of a private jet.

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National Football Losers
A faithful tipster notes, in response to yesterday's Beach Ball item, that "[the city] asked the NFL for a favor eight years ago and they nixed it. But [they're] fine waiving the park fee for them."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble
Sex-Z.

TrackNotes: American Pharoah's Long Strange Trip
"As many horses have since the turn of the century, American Pharoah defied current common wisdom," our man on the rail Tom Chambers writes.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Pixies, Grape Juice Plus, Matt Christensen, Hozier, My Morning Jacket, and Phillip Phillips.

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BeachBook
* Harvard Just Made $4 Million From People Losing Their Homes.

* Charges Dropped Against Virginia Student From Chicago Bloodied In Arrest.

* Two TV Reporters Cited For Violating Rules During Hastert's Arraignment.

* Hockey Analytics Show Patrick Sharp's Scoring Dropped As Role Changed.

* U.S. Government Starting To Allow CIA Torture Victims To Discuss Their Own Memories.

* Clarke's Closed For Good.

* Work Continues On 35th Street Bridge Over LSD.

* Most Chicago Restaurants Providing Poor Delivery.

* Pouch Beverage Delivery System Patent Fight.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Withering.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:42 PM | Permalink

Discovering Katherine Mansfield

"Nearly 30 unknown poems by Katherine Mansfield have been discovered in a U.S. library, giving fresh insight into the writer's most painful and difficult period, the evidence for which she had later destroyed," the Guardian reports.

"Gerri Kimber, senior lecturer in English at the University of Northampton and chair of the Katherine Mansfield Society, made the discovery at Chicago's Newberry Library in May this year. The collection's significance had remained undetected until now because it was marked with a name similar to the New Zealand-born writer's previously published poems."

*

New Zealand's Most Famous Writer.

*

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry.

*

"Even before she died at the age of 34, Katherine Mansfield had achieved a reputation as one of the most talented writers of the modern short story in English."

*

"Katherine Mansfield revolutionized the 20th Century English short story. Her best work shakes itself free of plots and endings and gives the story, for the first time, the expansiveness of the interior life, the poetry of feeling, the blurred edges of personality. She is taught worldwide because of her historical importance but also because her prose offers lessons in entering ordinary lives that are still vivid and strong. And her fiction retains its relevance through its open-endedness - its ability to raise discomforting questions about identity, belonging and desire."

*

"This doc examines Katherine Mansfield complicated relationships with her family and homeland, her turbulent personal life, her writing (credited with changing the course of the English short story) and her early death in France in 1923, at age 34."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:26 AM | Permalink

AMCA Tells Mosquitos To "Buzz" Off During Mosquito Control Awareness Week

There is nothing worse than an unwanted house guest - especially when they do nothing but suck you dry. Mosquitoes have nasty habits of buzzing around; causing itchy bite marks and making many grab the nearest can of bug repellant. Enjoy the outdoors this summer and stop the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses by following tips from the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) to prevent mosquito infestation and control an existing problem.

"Over the last few years, the U.S. has had increased cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as the West Nile Virus and other exotic diseases such as dengue fever and Chikungunya threaten our shores," said AMCA Technical Advisor Joe Conlon. "To ensure the safety of family, friends and pets, it's extremely important to make sure you're taking the proper steps: first, reducing mosquito breeding through water management and source reduction, and second, reducing adult mosquito populations."

One of the easiest and most crucial thing to do is to remove any stagnant water you have around your property. Empty pots, tarps, tools and trash cans of any water that has collected as they are all breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

If a mosquito problem already exists, AMCA recommends controlling adult mosquitoes through mosquito traps, space sprays and vegetation management. Mosquitoes can also be kept out of the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened.

"Eliminating standing water is probably the most important thing to remember when preventing or controlling mosquito problems. Keep it in the back of your mind during all outdoor activities - even remember to irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days," added Conlon.

AMCA reminds the public to practice the THREE Ds of mosquito prevention - Drain, Dress and Defend:

Drain: Empty out water containers at least once per week.

Dress: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Defend: Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.

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About the American Mosquito Control Association

Celebrating 80 years of protecting public health in 2016, the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) is an international not-for-profit public service association. With over 1,600 members worldwide, AMCA membership extends to more than 50 countries, and includes individuals and public agencies engaged in mosquito control, mosquito research and related activities. Please visit AMCA online at www.mosquito.org and follow AMCA on Twitter @AMCAupdates.

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Mosquito Control And You

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:03 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"The shots kept ringing off the post and the crossbar for the Blackhawks - one, two, three, as the groans from the crowd at United Center grew ever louder, ever more insistent. Those clangs echoed in the second period and the third period until the puck sneaked into the net," Ben Shpigel writes for the New York Times.

"The shots kept sailing wide of the post for the Lightning - one, two, three, as the cheers from the crowd grew ever louder, ever more insistent. Those misfires in a chaotic final three minutes tormented Tampa Bay as the clock struck zero.

"The final score Wednesday was Blackhawks 2, Lightning 1, victory secured by a third-period goal from Brandon Saad, and the result validated the wisdom that had been spouting for days from each team's locker room - that these Stanley Cup finals were as tight as a subway car in morning rush hour."

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See also: Blackhawks Get A Real Shake-Up Call From Coach Q.

Presumably for SEO reasons, the Tribune writes out 'Joel Quenneville.' I don't play that game.

Bail Out
"Before Kalief Browder's story was about suicide, it was about a $3,000 bail he nor his family could afford."

vs.

Hastert posts $4,500 bail after indictment.

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See also: The Reality of Bail.

Beach Ball
"In a small protest and news conference before Wednesday night's park board meeting, some residents questioned why the Park District waived a $937,500 rental fee to use Grant Park and nearby parkland for the recent NFL draft, when that money could have helped keep the Humboldt Park Beach open this summer," the Tribune reported.

See, in this scenario, the NFL is Hastert and the residents of Humboldt Park are Kalief Browder.

*

"Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the two matters were unrelated, adding the NFL draft offered free programs and activities for people who attended.

"It's apples and oranges," Maxey-Faulkner said. "It's not a waiver. It's a partnership."

Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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"In other park board action, a $2 admission fee hike was approved for the Art Institute of Chicago, effective Monday, to offset inflationary wage increases."

Again, in a real digital operation this would be a separate blog entry, not the last sentence of an article about a completely different topic.

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Millennial Park
An online chat.

From: Steve Rhodes
To: Tim Willette
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2015 12:48 PM
Subject: Fwd: Tomorrow: Knight Twitter chat about millennial local voting

oh god, kill me.

*

Tim: You should join in and talk about nothing but Pizza Hut.

Steve: I so might do that.

Tim: Articles like that confuse me. Millennials are unlike others because they'll only buy fresh, high-quality food? I thought they're all broke.

Steve: Oh, but when we talk about generations, we only talk about the elites of that generation ... or something.

Tim: They're not voting for the same reason a lot of Gen-X people didn't vote during our recession(s) - deferring marriage/spawning/homebuying = moving around more and less likely to be registered, perceived lower stake in the system (esp. local issues - property values/taxes, school boards, etc.), more likely to work jobs/hours less conducive to voting than older salaryfolks'. Hey, I could do this one for you!

Steve: It's all yours!

Tim: I'll be too preoccupied w/slacking.

Steve: Yeah, I can't be bothered.

Tim: Next: Why aren't Gen-Xers doing Knight Twitter chats about Millennials not voting locally?

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Discovering Katherine Mansfield
Revolutionized the short story; new cache of poems found in Chicago.

Mosquitos Told To Buzz Off
AMCA reminds the public to practice the THREE Ds of mosquito prevention - Drain, Dress and Defend.

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BeachBook
* Support Access To Cook County Court Records.

* Game 6 Suite Tickets For $4,000 Per.

* Serial Plagiarist Benny Johnson's Washington Post Comeback Profile Was Written By His Friend.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: No shirt, no shoes, service.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

June 10, 2015

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. How A Reporter Opened A Closed Meeting.

"In the middle of a budget stalemate in the middle of the country, Associated Press correspondent John Hanna passes a closed conference room en route to his basement office in the Kansas Statehouse.

"Glancing through a door window, Hanna sees Gov. Sam Brownback's budget director addressing 27 Republican lawmakers.

That's interesting, Hanna tells himself - the caucus was not publicly scheduled, as would be the custom in Kansas, and the state legislature is struggling to fix an $800 million deficit mostly caused by Brownback's 2012-2013 tax cuts. A long-awaited debate on the House floor was just canceled. Why are they meeting in secret? Hanna opens the door, walks in, and stands against a wall."

Click through to see what happened next.

2. How Little Obama's Team Meant It.

"People who leave high government positions have all sorts of career opportunities and options because of the political influence they wield, and their choices about how to use that influence speak volumes - about Washington and about themselves.

"As Julia Carrie Wong put it today in a series of tweets: "It's hard to think of a political identity with *less* actual meaning than being a Democrat these days. As a proud Democrat, Gibbs will devote his time to fighting wage increases, harming the environment, and preying on poor communities. His brother in arms Plouffe will focus on the core Democratic values of deregulation and obviating the National Labor Relations Act."

The Obama revolving door has worked in the other way, too: so many early appointees came from Goldman Sachs that it was hard to keep track of them all. And, of course, the greatest enrichment of American political officials is reserved for those who are president or otherwise achieve full political celebrity. But the remarkably homogeneous post-White House career path of Obama's top tier of aides and advisers is notable in all sorts of ways.

Click through to see the deets on the most cynical crew to ever occupy the White House.

3. Steal Panther.

"Newly released FBI records reveal that Richard Masato Aoki, widely revered as a radical hero in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s, was deeply involved as a political informant for the FBI, informing on his fellow Asian activists and on Black Panther Party leaders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale.

"Going beyond previously disclosed FBI records, the documents show that while acting as a militant leader, Aoki covertly filed more than 500 reports with the FBI between 1961 and 1971 on a wide range of activists and political groups in the Bay Area."

Click through to read about how Aoki armed the Panthers, raising questions about whether the FBI fomented violence to discredit the group.

4. Fair Warning.

"A former school superintendent who paid for lavish hotels, booze and far-flung travel with public money was charged with crimes on Monday related to his jet-setting.

"The Franklin County prosecutor filed charges of dereliction of duty and obstruction of official business against Bart G. Anderson, who led the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio until he resigned in 2013. Both charges are misdemeanors and bring a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

"Anderson is scheduled to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court on Thursday and is expected to plead guilty. The misdemeanor charges, rather than felony theft charges, are the result of a negotiated deal.

"Anderson cooperated with the state auditor and prosecutor in unrelated cases."

Why should you care? Because Anderson lives in Chicago now and CPS can't be trusted to vet him should he apply for a job there.

5. Keeping Score.

On Monday, Score host Dan Bernstein lambasted a caller for wondering what impact Javy Baez's injury would have on the Cubs' plans going forward - particularly on the trade front. On Tuesday, Bernstein asked Cubs play-by-play announcer Len Kasper what impact Javy Baez's injury would have on the Cubs' plans going forward . . .

Bernstein also inexplicably agrees with the NBC sports exec who wants hockey players to shave their playoff beards so their mugs can be better marketed.

The exec is doing players a favor by offering them a path to more endorsements, Bernstein says. But not everyone wants to be marketed. And beards are the source of power for hockey players in playoffs.

6. Poetry In Motion.

As many of you probably know, the architectural boat tour is fantastic - and it's even better when our very own poet-in-residence J.J. Tindall is your tour guide. Just don't forget the sunscreen, like me and my parents did last weekend.

7. Friends In High Places.

"Senators, generals, ambassadors, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the owner of The Atlantic were in the roster of powerful voices who wrote to a federal judge to ask him to go easy on former CIA director and retired general David Petraeus, who admitted to giving classified information to his mistress and biographer."

Click through to read more about how our two-tiered justice system works.

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And:

8. The Wall.

Check out this community mural project organized in part by my roommate.

9. Class, Race & Public Mental Health Services.

"Seven of the 10 police districts with the most mental health-related 911 calls were in predominantly African-American or Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides."

Click through for more.

10. The Cute Lightning.

"So how is a hockey team in the Sunshine State - in the nation's 13th largest television market - helping attract record U.S. viewers to a sport born up north and played on ice?"

Maybe by playing Chicago!

Click through to see what Tampa thinks of itself, though.

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BeachBook
* Brookfield Zoo Acts To 'Remedy Situation' Surrounding Online Racial Slur.

I dunno, I bet those were rude-ass white people.

* Ill-Annoy: What The Hastert Scandal Reveals About Congress's Broken Rules.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Clothing optional.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:40 AM | Permalink

June 9, 2015

Coffman: It's Not OK, Blackhawks Fans

Hawk hangovers suck.

And a sizable portion of the fandom has a big one this morning.

I'll leave it up to the local TV "news" cheerleaders to tell the fans it's OK, this series Is still far from over, the Hawks trailed 2-1 against the Ducks too and look what happened there. Tune into any local newscast in the 24 hours after a Hawks loss these days and you can feel the raw determination to reassure the populace: All is not lost!

And all is not lost of course. But the Hawks lost a game they shouldn't have in large part because they failed to cash in on enough of their scoring chances in the first period.

To project what "would" have happened in a sporting event is a fool's delight. If the Hawks would have scored the goals they should have scored, say, just on the wide-open net chances that Marian Hossa and Teuvo Teravainen choked away in the first 20 minutes, no one with brain cells says "We would've won." Because who the heck knows what would have happened if the score had been that much different.

But if the Hawks had taken a two-goal lead into the second period - which they should have, minimum - their chances of victory would have been sky high. Can anybody out there tell me what the official "win expectancy rate" is (I get a royalty if that phrase is ever applied officially in this context) for playoff hockey teams taking two-goal leads out of the first intermission?

Instead, the score was tied after 20 minutes, and then after 40 as well. And eventually Tampa, led by superstar defenseman Victor Hedman (who knew? This is why I call myself a Hawks fan, not a hockey fan - because I didn't know anything about Hedman before Tampa made the Cup finals; unfortunately we're getting to know him now, eh?), set up the winner with 3:11 on the clock for a 3-2 win and a 2-1 lead.

Another reason for anxiety rather than reassurance is that it was clear all game that the line of Hossa, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews, the combo that is a giant reason the Hawks have been to two Stanley Cup finals in the last three years, was thriving. And it was doing so at least in part because coach Q was using the last line change to get the match-ups he wanted.

At this point most of us know that the home-ice advantage has been severely diminished at just about all NHL ice rinks by big-money, no passion "fans" filling the lower bowls and arena designs that put luxury suites first and push the fanatics in the upper decks further from the action. But the advantage still exists in the one critical way - the home coach's ability to decide who skates against whoever the foe has on the ice when there is a dead puck situation.

And let's be clear that it wasn't my amazing hockey observational skills leading to insights about this - it was NBC Sports analysts Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire who pointed out time and again that this was happening.

So the home-ice advantage was working! Except it wasn't (in terms of goals actually being cored) until Saad fired a perfect top-shelf wrister to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead in the third.

And then it wasn't again as the Lightning scored the equalizer before most fans had finished celebrating the Hawk tally, 13 seconds later.

In the end, the Lightning has the home-ice advantage again after at least splitting Games 3 and 4 in Chicago. The Hawks face a must-win on Wednesday.

A picture from the game on the front page of the Trib today tells a depressing story: a Lightning forward can be seen racing to join the celebration of the eventual game-winning goal. Blackhawks Patrick Kane (still looking for his first Finals point), Kyle Cumiskey (not good enough again on defense) and Patrick Sharp, who should be benched for Kris Versteeg next game, all skate away. If they didn't have helmets on, you could probably see goat's horns on their heads.

I'll bet they aren't feeling well this morning either.

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See also:

* NHL.com: Blackhawks' Killer Instinct Deserts Them In Game 3.

* ESPN: Lightning's Third Line Making Life Tough For Blackhawks.

* New York Times: Ben Bishop Helps Tampa Bay Lightning Pull Ahead In Stanley Cup Finals.

* Los Angeles Times: Ben Bishop Helps Lightning Take Control Of Series With Blackhawks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Hossa missed a mid-period shot at a net that was so open it made a 7-Eleven store seem closed by comparison," Rick Telander writes for the Sun-Times.

Okay, that's not quite how you write a line like that. The comparison ought to be inherent without a need to point out that you're making a comparison. So:

" . . . a net more open than a 7-Eleven."

" . . . a net open like a 7-Eleven at bar time."

" . . . a net more open than a cash register at 7-Eleven during a robbery."

" . . . a net more open than an alderman's hands right before the payoff for facilitating a zoning change for a new 7-Eleven."

You get the idea.

Coffman: It's Not OK, Blackhawks Fans
Ignore local media's reassurances; anxiety is the correct response.

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I'll check in with Coach this morning to reassure him anyway; suggesting that Kris Versteeg replace Patrick Sharp in the lineup strikes me as deranged, no matter how poorly Sharp is playing right now.

Please Welcome The Poet Laureate Of L.A.
Escaped the mean streets of Chicago.

The Reality Of Bail
Not that entertaining, after all.

24 Hours With Fuse
Warped as they wanna be.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Radar Eyes, Lindsey Stirling, Ben Folds and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, Kill It Again, CJ Ramone, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Steven Wilson.

BeachBook
* lll-Annoy.

* Chicago-Based Golin Is Paying An Intern To Live With The Amish And Wrestle An Alligator.

* Amphibious Pitcher Makes Debut.

* Walgreens Defends Dumping Merchandise.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Goal-oriented.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:42 AM | Permalink

Please Welcome The Poet Laureate Of Los Angeles

The Guild Complex is honored to host author, publisher and activist Luis J. Rodriquez for a reading in Chicago on Saturday from 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W Armitage Ave. The event is open to the public, and an open mic will be part of the program. Admission is a $5 suggested donation.

Luis J. Rodriguez is a co-founder (in 1989) of the Guild Complex and was active in Chicago with poetry, gangs, prisons, the homeless and migrant communities for 15 years.

He now lives in Los Angeles where in 2014 Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed him the official Poet Laureate of the city.

Rodriguez has 15 books in poetry, children's literature, fiction and nonfiction, including Always Running, La Vida Loca and Gang Days in L.A.

He is founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley.

His last book, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award.

"Luis Rodriguez was one of the inspirations for the early work of the Guild Complex, as a writer, an activist, as a publisher, and as a human being," says poet Reginald Gibbons, also a co-founder of the Guild Complex and current board member. "When Guild and Tia Chucha Press were together in Chicago, we published wonderful books by poets who have become essential to our times. Luis has been one of our great examples of how to champion the cause of youth education and cultural empowerment, and one of the great community leaders of the nation."

The Luis J. Rodriquez reading is sponsored by Poets & Writers, Inc., and is co-presented with the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC). SRBCC realizes its mission to preserve and promote appreciation of the culture and arts of Puerto Rico and its African heritage, through innovative programing and cultural events for the community. Formerly the Karlov Theater, their current space was built in 1925 and includes five retail spaces, two apartments, and a theatre area. SRBCC currently completed the conversion of the former theater into a multipurpose space.

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See also:

Meet Luis J. Rodriguez.

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Gang life.

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Escaping gang life.

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Reading.

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"His oldest son Ramiro had been sentenced to 28 years in the Illinois state prison system for three counts of attempted murder, but after a total of 15 years with three separate convictions Ramiro is now free, no longer involved in gangs or drugs, and has worked in gang prevention/intervention in Chicago."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:10 AM | Permalink

The Reality Of Bail

John Oliver explains why America's bail system is better for the reality TV industry than it is for the justice system.


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See also:
* Should It Cost Less To Get Out Of Jail If You're Rich?

* America's Peculiar Bail System.

* Bail System Creates Another Hurdle For Poor, Including Recent Protestors.

* City Needs 'Some Type Of Bail Reform,' De Blasio Says After Kalief Brower Suicide.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:38 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With Fuse

1 a.m.: Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story.

3 a.m.: All Nighter.

5 a.m.: Hit List.

7 a.m.: Pop Hits.

9 a.m.: Countdown to Bonnaroo.

11 a.m.: Warped Roadies - Toronto.

11:30 a.m.: Warped Roadies - Buffalo.

Noon: Warped Roadies - Las Vegas.

12:30 p.m.: Warped Roadies - West Palm Beach.

1 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Seattle.

1:30 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Portland.

2 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Getting Warped Up.

2:30 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Terry is an Idiot.

3 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Young and the Wrestless.

3:30 p.m.: Warped Roadies - Oh. Canada.

4 p.m.: LFL Football Night - Los Angeles Temptation vs. Seattle Mist.

6 p.m.: Got UR Number.

7 p.m.: Miami Ink - History of the Circus Sideshow.

8 p.m.: Miami Ink - A Disgruntled Yoji.

9 p.m.: Miami Ink - Von D Family Bonding.

10 p.m.: Miami Ink - The Car Star.

11 p.m.: Miami Ink - Garver's Injury.

Midnight: Miami Ink: Battle of the Apprentices.

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Previously:
* 24 Hours With QVC
* 24 Hours With Tru TV
* 24 Hours With Current TV
* 24 Hours With The Military Channel
* 24 Hours With The Hallmark Channel
* 24 Hours With TVGN
* 24 Hours With Retroplex
* 24 Hours With Penthouse TV
* 24 Hours With The DIY Network
* 24 Hours With BET
* 24 Hours With CNBC
* 24 Hours With WWMEB
* 24 Hours With PRISM TV
* 24 Hours With Al Jazeera America.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:17 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Radar Eyes at the Hideout on Friday night.


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2. Lindsey Stirling at the Chicago Theatre on Friday night.

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3. Ben Folds and the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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4. Kill It Again at Reggies on Sunday night.

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5. CJ Ramone at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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6. Graham Parker and the Rumour at City Winery on Sunday night.

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7. Steven Wilson at Park West on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 AM | Permalink

June 8, 2015

Chicagoetry: A Black Horse Grazes The Red Grass Of Mars

A BLACK HORSE GRAZES THE RED GRASS OF MARS

A black horse grazes
The red grass of Mars.
The horse is black

And the grass

Is red, red
Like the grass
In a painting called

"Vision After the Sermon"
By Paul Gaugin.

I saw the painting
On public television
And the image

Of something with wings
On the red grass
Seared into my memory.

As long as my electric bill
Was paid up,
I could get

Public television.
In Chicago, we are rich
With public TV,

With a couple/three
Stations available
If your electric bill

Is paid up.

WYCC, Channel 20,
Is affiliated with the
City Colleges of Chicago,

Thus the "'YCC"
("Your City Colleges").
Back in the day,

You could get

College credit
By following a course
On television,

Doing the assignments,
Writing the papers
And making the grade.

I learned a lot
About great art
When my electric bill

Was paid up.

It also
Eased my loneliness.

I'd momentarily enough
Become better able
To endure.

This must have been
A course about
Post-Impressionist painting.

You didn't get that
On the networks much,
Even when

Your electric bill
Was paid up.

In this painting
It looks like a group of
Amish women

Are watching these
Two dudes wrestling
On red grass,

Except one has wings.

One is an angel, apparently.
It's a Bible story,
Jacob wrestling the angel,

Symbolic, I think,
Of the eternal struggle within
Between good and evil.

At first glance,
I thought the two men
Was a horse

With wings.

So I heard
In my head:
"A black horse grazes

The red grass
Of Mars."
I felt like

I'd started
My own little saga,
A grand space epic

In verse, rich with
Romance, drama and wit,

Encapsulating the Zeitgeist
With brio and flair.
But it turned out

There wasn't any more
There there, not even
A second line.

Another one of my flops.
Just a riff
In iambic pentameter:

"A black horse grazes the red grass of Mars."

I think the horse comes
From the old Terrytoons
Television cartoon

"Luno the White Stallion."
This little kid
Had a figure of Pegasus

In his bedroom
And he'd go up, close the door
And chant:

"Oh winged horse
Of marble white,
Take me on

A magic flight,"

And off they'd go
On an adventure
Of the imagination.

Like how I feel
When I'm touched
By great art.

So this painting
On this program
On Channel 20

Was like
My "Luno,"
"Taking me away

From all of this..."
Often
I like to get away

From all
Of this.
Now:

When the hurt
In my heart
Gets heavy

I chant
A short prayer,
A spell,

A magic charm,
A recovery of face,
A projection of faith,

A summons
To my better angels.

And I finally found
That second line.
It only took twenty years.

Success!

Then my loneliness
Eases and I can
Better endure.

Momentarily enough.

"You'll see I'm right
When we conquer the stars:

A black horse grazes.
The red grass of Mars."


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

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Three Chicago police officers and a Glenview police officer have been charged with lying under oath in court during a drug case last year," the Tribune reports.

"The officers - Chicago Police Sergeant James Padar, Officer William Pruente, Officer Vince Morgan and Glenview Officer James Horn - have been charged with felony perjury, according to a statement issued early Monday by the Cook County state's attorney's office.

"The charges come after a video contradicted the officers' sworn testimony during a March 2014 court hearing on whether evidence in the drug case had been properly obtained."

See also:
* Washington Post: How Do We Fix The Police 'Testilying' Problem?

* Vice: Testilying: Cops Are Liars Who Get Away With Perjury.

* Politico: When Cops Cry Wolf.

"Police have been setting up suspects with false testimony for decades." - Frank Serpico.

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Blackhawks South
"Around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday, after the hometown Lightning surrendered a second goal to the Chicago Blackhawks to cough up Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final, a strange noise emanated from the corner of First Avenue N and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street," the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"Raucous, joyous cheers.

"The source of this out-of-place excitement? Engine No. 9, a bar and highly regarded burger joint in St. Petersburg where the Blackhawks fan-per-capita is often higher than anywhere else in Tampa Bay.

"It's designated an official Blackhawks bar by the team - the only one outside of Illinois and Wisconsin - and will be hosting Chicago fans again when Game 3 starts tonight."

You may be wondering:

"How does a bar in the middle of Tampa Bay Lightning territory end up as a destination for Chicago's faithful?

"The bar's owner is Jason Esposito, son of legendary Blackhawks goaltender Tony Esposito."

War On Walgreens
"A [Pittsburgh] woman will go to court against Walgreens later this week," CBS Pittsburgh reports.

"She says she caught the store in Murrysville overcharging her.

"Consumer Advocate Mary Bach says it was just before Easter when she bought some Milky Way and Snickers candy bars.

"She says the price tag on the package was for $1.89, but at the checkout she says she was charged $3.50 for each.

"She says she told the clerk and was given a refund, but when she went back four days later: 'They still had lots and lots of these items on the shelf, and they were all price marked just as these bags were,' said Bach.

"She bought the same items, and once again, she claims she was overcharged. So she decided to sue.

"'I just want all retailers to be held accountable,' she said."

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That might seem petty, but it seems like a pretty standard Walgreens problem.

The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Chicagoetry: A Black Horse Grazes The Red Grass Of Mars
It only took 20 years to find the second line.

The Young People's Poet Laureate
Brown girl dreaming.

TrackNotes: American Pharoah Thrills And Chills
What a thing to happen!

The White Sox Report: Try The Whitefish
Barely (not even) mediocre.

The Cub Factor: Left Out
The weakest links.

ICYMI: Last Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Begin By Gathering Supplies, Mint Mile, Refused, Paramore, Calexico, Hidden Hospitals, Will Butler, Epik High, Royal Blood, and The Very Best.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in production!

The Beachwood Radio [News] Hour #60
Is in production!

The Beachwood Radio [Sports] Hour #54
The Exquisitely Boring Blackhawks. All the drama is on the ice.

Plus: Extensive Bulls Coaching Search Turns Up Fred Hoiberg; Most Boring Manager In World Manages Most Boring Team; Cubs Make Kind Of Play They Never Make; How The Triple Crown Is Like The Cubs; and Get Sepp!

SportsMonday Programming Note
Jim "Coach" Coffman is going to follow the Blackhawks through the Finals and then take the summer off from writing until it's time to start covering the Bears again. He'll still appear on our weekly sports podcast, thankfully.

BeachBook
* If Ben Bishop Had To Poop, The Lightning Need To Just Say So.

* Chicago Lawyer Allegedly Tried To Extort Whitney Houston.

* Taco Bell With Booze Should Have Bouncer, Last-Call, Group Says.

Wade Garrett's the best, but he's getting old. Get Dalton.

* It Ain't Journalism, Folks.

The Washington Post finds great meaning in Rick Perry's wink. Out of ideas over there? 'Cause I got a bunch.

* Made In Chicago: First Defense Legal Aid.

* Bobby Bare Jr.'s 2003 Version Of 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing.'

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Let your freak flag fly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

The Young People's Poet Laureate

The Poetry Foundation is honored to announce that Jacqueline Woodson has been named the Young People's Poet Laureate.

Awarded every two years, the $25,000 laureate title is given to a living writer in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers.

The laureate advises the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people's literature and may engage in a variety of projects to help instill a lifelong love of poetry among the nation's developing readers.

This laureateship aims to promote poetry to children and their families, teachers, and librarians over the course of its two-year tenure.

jwood.png"Jacqueline Woodson is an elegant, daring, and restlessly innovative writer," said Poetry Foundation president Robert Polito."So many writers settle on a style and a repertoire of gestures and subjects, but Woodson, like her characters, is always in motion and always discovering something fresh. As she once told an interviewer, 'If you have no road map, you have to create your own.' Her gifts, adventurousness and generosity, suggest she will be a terrific young people's poet laureate."

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Woodson was born in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York.

She is the author of more than 30 books for children and young adults, including From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), which was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won a Jane Addams Children's Book Award; Miracle's Boys (2000), which won the 2001 Coretta Scott King Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Hush (2002), a National Book Award finalist; Locomotion (2003), also a National Book Award finalist; Coming on Home Soon (2004), a Caldecott Honor Book and a Booklist Editors' Choice; and Behind You (2004), included in the New York Public Library's list of best Books of the Teen Age.

Three of Woodson's books have been named Newbery Honor Books: Show Way (2005), Feathers (2007), and After Tupac & D Foster (2008).

Her recent books include the young adult novel Beneath a Meth Moon (2012), which Jonathan Demme is adapting for the screen, and Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), a novel in verse about Woodson's family and segregation in the South, which won a National Book Award and was named a Newbery Honor Book.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Woodson described how she wrote the book:

"As I interviewed relatives in both Ohio and Greenville, S.C., I began to piece together the story of my mother's life, my grandparents' lives and the lives of cousins, aunts and uncles. These stories, and the stories I had heard throughout my childhood, were told with the hope that I would carry on this family history and American history, so that those coming after me could walk through the world as armed as I am."

Woodson was awarded a Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a St. Katharine Drexel Award, and an Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature.

In recognition of Woodson's achievements, the Poetry Foundation is featuring her in a Poetry off the Shelf podcast and an interview.

Woodson currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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Beachwood Bonus Material:

Meet the Author.

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Brown Girl Dreaming.

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From second-graders in Ms. Wegley's class:

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See also:
* Woodson Tells Nashville Students To Do What They Love.

* Woodson Has Pizza With Upstate New York Kids.

* New York Times Review of Brown Girl Dreaming:

"This is a book full of poems that cry out to be learned by heart. These are poems that will, for years to come, be stored in our bloodstream."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:40 AM | Permalink

June 7, 2015

Try The Whitefish

Mediocrity. Five lifeless syllables leaving a residue of emptiness. Ten emotionless letters that connote neither high nor low, good nor bad, elation nor sadness.

A mediocre movie review of two stars elicits no buzz, but, hey, if the theater is close by on a nondescript Monday night, maybe you'll check it out. Two-and-a-half stars on a Yelp restaurant critique won't create a half-hour wait. And telling your spouse that his or her spaghetti sauce is "just OK" might land you in the guest bedroom for the night.

Mediocrity is not something to be admired. We don't strive to be mediocre. We want to be skillful, successful and confident about a job well done. Mediocrity is better than failure, but it's close.

So it is on the South Side at 35th and Shields. The White Sox arrived back at The Cell on Friday night to face the struggling Tigers, owners of a seven-game losing streak. Writing on the team's website, Scott Merkin told us that "[General Manager Rick] Hahn reiterated that he believes the White Sox are on an upswing by surviving a four-city, 11-game road trip with a 5-6 mark."

If you don't sense the mediocrity in that assessment, then maybe you should try the whitefish at Gene & Georgetti.

"Surviving" a road trip - regardless of how many cities, games, and days - is not the road to the playoffs and respectability. However, the Sox did, indeed, survive Friday night with a 4-3, 11-inning triumph over the Tigers.

The pattern was familiar. A run and two hits in the first inning before going hitless until the seventh, when Avi Garcia reached the visitors' bullpen to pull the home team to within a run at 3-2.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Adam LaRoche tied the game at 3 when his drive to right center barely cleared the barrier as center fielder Rajai Davis got tangled up on the fence (actually under the top rail) and wasn't able to make a leap for the ball. Nothing mediocre about that but, again, after scoring in the first inning, 17 of the next 18 Sox hitters (Alexei Ramirez drew a rare walk in the third inning) were retired by Detroit's Kyle Ryan.

As the 24,761 waited almost two hours between hits, Ryan baffled the White Sox. Please keep in mind that this was his first start of the season for the injury-riddled Detroit staff. Ryan had pitched exactly three innings at the big league level this season before Friday, having been called up from Toledo where he was 0-5 with a 4.67 ERA.

Did I say mediocre? Let's qualify that. The White Sox attack is frustrating, impotent and ineffectual.

Backtracking to the road trip, the Rangers' Yovani Gallardo, a genuinely talented major league pitcher with a hefty free agent contract, handcuffed our athletes on Thursday for six innings, yielding one unearned run and just three hits. Then five relievers took over and held the Sox in check until the Rangers pushed across a run in the bottom of the 11th off Dan Jennings for the 2-1 walk-off.

All this after the Sox exploded for an unlikely 9-2 victory the night before, featuring a six-run second inning highlighted by Jose Abreu's ninth home run. Abreu was returning to the lineup after nursing a sore, swollen right index finger. Chris Sale had more than enough support as he notched his fifth victory, striking out 13 over seven innings.

But Wednesday's outburst was simply an aberration for a team that has scored as many as five runs in a game just 17 times in 55 starts this season. The loss Thursday handed the series to the Rangers.

On Sunday's telecast of Detroit's 6-4 win over the Sox, talking about the road trip, Steve Stone said, "If before the trip someone asked whether we'd be happy to go 5-6, the Sox would have taken it."

That, my friends, is the definition of mediocrity. Maybe the Cardinals or Royals - capable clubs with winning records - might tolerate 5-6 because they still would be at or near the top of their divisions. But a struggling team like the White Sox can ill afford to slip yet another game below .500. Furthermore, I doubt whether those contending teams leave home with a mindset of breaking even.

While Hahn may have believed that the Sox survived on the road, the fans are beyond restless. "The bosses want to give the fans the illusion that their saddening team will rebound," wrote one fan on the team's website the other day. He was being kind. The attacks on individual players and manager Robin Ventura are pointed and angry.

After snatching Friday's extra-inning win, the situation returned to normal on Saturday when John Danks lost his magic - he was coming off a complete game shutout of the Astros - as the Tigers roughed him up for 11 hits and five runs in less than five innings. David Price allowed the Sox only five hits in the 7-1 decision.

Jeff Samardzija was handed a 4-1 lead after two innings on Sunday, but he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by coughing up a couple of home runs in the sixth inning to Yoenis Cespedes and J.D. Martinez. Detroit added an insurance run in the eighth inning while from the third inning on, the Sox mustered only three hits before 29,059, which included the usual contingent from Detroit.

Where to from here? The season is a third completed, and the Sox are on pace to finish 75-87. Not even mediocre. Last season 88 wins was good enough for a wild card berth in the playoffs. The Sox need to go 63-44 to match those heights. How they gonna do that?

In the short term - like Monday night - with Chris Sale pitching, our boys have a good chance to beat Houston. The Astros are clinging to the West Division lead despite losing their last four games including a sweep in Toronto last weekend.

However, after Sale, there are no guarantees. Sounds like more whitefish to me.

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

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1. From Mark Schaeffer:

The "Whitefish at G & G's" was your best line of the season!

Just a few thoughts . . . Samardzija will be traded by the deadline, he is not worth 1st, 2nd or even 3rd starter money. We're stuck with Danks as no one will eat that contract. (And to think we let Burlehe walk so we could afford Danks). Lastly, Melky needs to get back on the juice, 224 avg will not cut it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 PM | Permalink

Left Out

I am having a hard time remembering a season like this one for the Cubs. Sure, they've never had these types of young guys before, but it's still different beyond that. And while there is no doubt that the Cubs certainly have not had too many winning seasons moving into the second week of June, they've had a handful over the years. I think it has to be the fact that this roster is so fluid. From day to day the only thing you can bank on is Rizzo at first and Fowler in center. And even then you aren't sure where Rizzo will bat in the order.

There's a second baseman who didn't start the year at second and could be the starting shortstop, and a third baseman who looks great but could easily be moved to the outfield for the rest of the year by next week - not to mention a shortstop who could be traded, and a handful of outfielders who could be out of baseball next week, or starting every game the rest of the season. It's kind of madness.

And now with a handful of interleague games on the way, they could bring up someone completely different from the minors to play. I've mentioned a flawed and unfinished roster in the past, but maybe this is just what happens with a manager like Joe Maddon? I don't even know. Not to mention the closer role is up for grabs now. Is there even a 6th, 7th or 8th inning guy now? Does Joe even know? Is this by design? I don't know, but I do know that this isn't even close to the end of what is going to happen. It's really been an interesting season.

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The Week In Review: The Cub inexplicably lost two of three to the lowly Marlins only to come back and win three of from from the very good Washington Nationals. At least E-Jax got to pitch twice in that Marlins series (both losses).

The Week In Preview: The boys in blue head to Detroit for two and then come back home for four against the Reds. It may be time to bury the bottom feeding teams, like Cincinnati, if they want to keep this train on the right track and are serious about, you know, the season.

The Left Field Report: The left field job has almost exclusively gone to Chris Coghlan - he who started the week batting .225 and got the exact number of at-bats and hits to end the week at .225. At least he's consistently horrible. Matt Szczur got the one start last week that did not go to Coghlan in left. And Szczur went 0-4, so thanks, Matt. I literally could have done the same thing. Enjoy Des Moines. Chris Denorfia is back in the fold just in time, now that our favorite ninja is out with a foot injury. Someone from left - probably Junior Lake - will have to play right. In other words, the Cubs don't have a right or left fielder right now.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe came down hard on Junior for showboating against the Marlins. Joe is cool and all but don't take that for weakness, because he'll call you a punk when you act like a punk. All this being said, I still like Junior Lake.

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro (sorry, Fidel) had a prosperous week with six hits and six RBI. He also committed another error, and is tied for third in among shortstops in that category in all of baseball. So, yeah, really hard to know what the end game here is going to be.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Sales of Punks dipped this week on word that no one wants you to be one.

Kubs Kalender: On Sunday, the first 5,000 kids will receive a Joe Maddon (knockoff Lego) dugout set. Hopefully they get an add-on set once they re-do the real dugouts.

East Coast Cubs: Julio Zuleta last played with the Cubs in 2001. He also played six seasons in Japan where hewas called "the Samurai" by Japanese fans for his perseverance. He was also awarded a ground-rule home run for hitting the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome, which only one other person has done. He is missed.

Over/Under: Number of games E-Jax will get into this week +/- 2.0. (He got into three games this week and one was in an actual win!)

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that maybe even the Nationals are beatable.

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* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 PM | Permalink

TrackNotes: American Pharoah Thrills And Chills

I have learned that you are not really prepared for this.

Able to process it, understand the moment. Inured over 37 years that it will not happen. Armored against it, the disappointment. Smarty Jones did that to me.

Then it happened.

American Pharoah took a highly entertaining two minutes, 26 and three-fifths seconds to win a race, and to chisel his name on the tablets of history.

Victor Espinoza did his job, to be sure, but to me, it was all about the horse. Funkingly out of the gate, finding his legs, or whatever, 'Pharoah gathered it, took the lead, and never looked back.

As a possibility I dared broach, 'Pharoah quickly earned the lead and, like Seabiscuit launching his goat, tossed all challengers aside as he owned the stretch, the final furlong, the final eighth, the wire. I love you all, but not today, friends.

In logical, good, and nice fractions of 24.06, 48.83 and 1:13.41 for the first three quarters, 'Pharoah was the picture of consistency.

Materiality tried, but it wasn't there. Mubtaahij tried. Frosted showed, Keen Ice placed. That part of it was all to form. But American Pharoah was running away from them in his quest for the wire. He paid $3.50, $2.80 and $2.50, not too bad really. I didn't have him, but I'm not upset in any way.

Espinoza said 'Pharoah was backed up, on his rear heels when the gate opened. Thus the start. "Within two jumps, I was right in the lead," Espinoza said in the horseback interview with Donna Barton Brothers. Brothers to his right, outrider to his left, American Pharoah wasn't even breathing hard; no sweat foam. Doing, I think, what he's used to doing.

People who make moral judgements about others are usually going the wrong way. I'm not a huge fan of the owners Zayat, but they have invested themselves in this game. They're triers, sticking with it. They bred this horse, but they didn't make this horse. Nobody ever does. But they've worked hard at it and found themselves with a special animal. They treated him right, let him be himself.

Don't know, but old man Ahmed Zayat seemed the happy victor in a big race. I think it settles in like a ton of bricks later. Son Justin Zayat, manager of the stables, was clearly overwhelmed. What a thing to happen! They're caretakers of the legend now. They have a huge responsibility. Call Ms. Chenery, she can help.

Trainer Bob Baffert looked shaken. You could tell he knew just how important this all was, the full weight. Historical perspective. Bigger than him, although his name is all over it. A lot of people don't like him, but he's never done anything wrong by me. I dig the smart ass in people. Subtle. Wry. Pointed. He has the expertise to train and manage this horse. He has been achieving at a very high level for a long time. He got his start with the quarter horses in New Mexico. He's earned it.

I just hope we see American Pharoah run again. He's good; very good. If he recovers from this as he has shown he is capable of doing, why not take on more? Let him have fun. Thump 'em.

I'm still processing it too. I know enough of what I know to appreciate it, and that's a great feeling.

Just watched it again, and the chills are very reassuring.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:36 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Begin By Gathering Supplies at the Hideout on Thursday night.


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2. Mint Mile at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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3. Refused at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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4. Paramore at the Rosemont Theatre on Wednesday night.

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5. Calexico at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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6. Hidden Hospitals at Beat Kitchen on Tuesday night.

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7. Will Butler at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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8. Epik High at House of Blues on Thursday night.

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9. Royal Blood at the Metro on Wednesday night.

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10. The Very Best at Millennium Park on Thursday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2015

The Weekend Desk Report

I'll be on the noon boat with my parents on Saturday hearing a tour narrated by our very own J.J. Tindall.

Later, we might check out Remix Chicago, which is just outside my door on Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square, or even take a gander at the 606. I'm particularly interested to see the work of my pal Flash, whose Artistic Bombing Crew has been asked to throw up some art on those fresh new walls.

Then there's the Preakness. Our very own Tom Chambers says American Pharoah is beatable and the race itself is quite bettable.

Tonight, I'll be watching the Blackhawks game. Maybe my parents will, too; they used to go to North Stars games in Minnesota when I worked part-time for the team in the PR department and press box and got free tickets.

Our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman expects a much higher level of play in tonight's Game 2 than we saw in the series opener. Hear him set up the game on this week's edition of The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour: The Exquisitely Boring Blackhawks.

All the drama is on the ice. Plus: Extensive Bulls Coaching Search Turns Up Fred Hoiberg; Most Boring Manager In World Manages Most Boring Team; Cubs Make Kind Of Play They Never Make; How The Triple Crown Is Like The Cubs; and Get Sepp!

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy
Now fourth-generation Feliciano.

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Our Favorite Beatles Songs
Such as "Let It Be Dead."

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Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet
"The government [gathers] significant volumes of Americans' information - anything from private e-mails to trade secrets and business dealings - through Internet surveillance."

Maybe we'll be able to see our secret files at the Obama Library! Accidentally deleted an e-mail? For the small price of admission and a trip through our gift shop, you can find it here! The world would beat a path to Chicago's door.

See also: DEA Eavesdropping Tripled, Bypassed Federal Courts.

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#TBT: Hail Kwik-E-Mart!
Recalling a Beachwood field trip.

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Meet The Riverwalk!
A virtual Beachwood field trip.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Electronic artist Zola Jesus uses her powerful operatic voice to create a uniquely dark and cinematic sound. She joins Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: 2015 Ultimate Women's Power Lunch.

"Catholic social justice leader Sister Simone Campbell speaks during an event hosted by Rep. Jan Schakowsky."

Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21 and online.

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BeachBook
* As The Rich Become Super-Rich, They Pay Less In Taxes. For Real.

By the way . . . this article, from the Washington Post, opens this way:

"One of the cornerstones of American income tax policy is that taxes are progressive. People who make more money devote a higher share of their income to federal income taxes than people who make less money."

Except in Illinois, which has a flat tax that is far, far, far, far, far, far, far more responsible for our state's financial condition than items in Gov. Bruce Rauner's Turnaround Agenda such as tort reform and workman's comp. Rauner's "reforms" have nothing to do with the problem at hand and everything to do with an agenda that seeks to lessen the burden on corporations and the rich instead of increasing their accountability and asking them to share the sacrifice the rest of us are making so they can maintain their wealth.

* Gawker Media Votes To Unionize.

What are Tribune employees waiting for?

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: From the Lido Deck.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

June 5, 2015

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #54: The Exquisitely Boring Blackhawks

All the drama is on the ice. Plus: Extensive Bulls Coaching Search Turns Up Fred Hoiberg; Most Boring Manager In World Manages Most Boring Team; Cubs Make Kind Of Play They Never Make; How The Triple Crown Is Like The Cubs; and Get Sepp!


SHOW NOTES

* Is it rolling, Bob?

* Brian Urlacher: I Don't Care About Bears Fans Or The Media.

* Bears 'Settled' For Urlacher In 2000 Draft.

4:25: The Exquisitely Boring Blackhawks.

* All the drama is on the ice.

* Even In Stanley Cup Final, There's No Panic In These Blackhawks.

* Lightning Say 'Passive' Approach Cost Them Cup Opener.

* Versteeg Could Remain In Lineup.

* Play of The Game:

On NetCam!

* Stanley Cup Preview: Pressure.

* Former Green Bay Gambler Jon Cooper: The Most Interesting Coach In Hockey.

* Teuvo!

On NetCam!

* Vermette's Game-Winner.

On NetCam!

16:15: Extensive Bulls Coaching Search Turns Up Fred Hoiberg.

* He limits the hell out of minutes! He's a world-champion minutes-limiter!

22:00: Most Boring Manager In World Manages World's Most Boring Team.

27:31: Cubs Make Kind Of Play They Never Make.

* Jason Hammel's Cool WHIP:

* Paul Molitor.

* Joe Girardi.

* Uncle Lou.

36:55: Get Sepp!

42:58: American Pharoah And The Belmont Stakes: Beatable & Bettable.

* How the Triple Crown is like the Cubs.

* The Spoiler.

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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 1:00 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Deitch Pharmacy

Established in 1912, now in its fourth generation.

deitchpharmacy2.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Waiting Room.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Avondale Chicken.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Winter's End.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boyhood Buzzer Beater.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: J Date.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: International Window Lady.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Shanghai Inn.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Open For Business.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Andersonville Unplugged.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: 3-Flat.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Turkey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicagolandia.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Eat At Odge's.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

June 4, 2015

TrackNotes: Beatable & Bettable

Show me another sport where champions are determined the way they are in horse racing: by splitting the players into ages, gender, specialties and playing surfaces, and then having a motley collection of three organizations, only one of which actually counts horsemen as members, vote to see who's best.

Then gather those voters in a cheesy Florida or California hotel ballroom, where they can drink moderately expensive Champagne and, nearly all of them, with no athletic expenditure of their own, distribute trophies among themselves and take lots of credit. I say, well done, Squire!

Don't get me wrong. The nice part is a never-ending supply of fuel for debate. Take 2009, when undefeated Zenyatta was Older Female Horse of the Year and her sister-in-furlongs Rachel Alexandra was overall Horse of the Year. Much more fun than Bette Davis versus Joan Crawford, I will tell you.

This week we have the added treat of American Pharoah, who has most likely already sewn up Three-Year-Old champion honors and maybe Horse of the Year, presented with the opportunity to not only render such conversation moot, but add his name to the scrolls of racing history by winning the American Triple Crown.

Things should be looking good for the son of Pioneerof the Nile as he peers out of the five hole, a sweet spot won by lottery Wednesday afternoon. He's looking good, seemingly none the worse for wear from the grind of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. But we know that 12th furlong Saturday will turn his legs to pudding and demand the champion's proof.

He arrived Tuesday at Belmont Park, making connections from fight camp at Louisville's Churchill Downs on Air Horse One with luxury livery to Belmont Park. It was the first time 'Pharoah set his eyes on Big Sandy, a drawback to some. If you're worried about American Pharoah's unfamiliarity with the room, it's as easy as Sinatra flying in from Palm Springs, going over the set list with Quincy and the Count, pounding a shot of Jack, running the scales and just killing the show. At least that's trainer Bob Baffert's plan.

And this is just as big. So big, they even allow cameras in the locker room (SFW).

As for Baffert, the silver-maned raconteur who's either a smart ass or a cool California dude (probably both), he makes his fourth attempt at the Triple Crown after failing with Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002. In the kind of three-card monte that I guess only super trainers can play, the one time he won the Belmont was in 2001 when his Point Given was soundly beaten in the Kentucky Derby but came back to win the Preakness.

If American Pharoah wins Saturday, you're still going to have to buy the economy-size jug of context. In 1978, Affirmed's Triple Crown year, the New York Yankees won the World Series with 695 team strikeouts; Reggie Jackson accounted for 133, almost twice as many as the next guy, Graig Nettles. Last year, with 12 fewer wins, the San Francisco Giants won it with 1,245 strikeouts, with three guys in triple figures.

Veteran horse racing writer Andrew Beyer, inventor of the Beyer Speed Figures, argues nearly no horses today can be trusted to "get the distance" of the 1.5-mile Belmont because of breeding, including, and perhaps especially, American Pharoah:

The quality of horses' performances in recent runnings of the Belmont, as measured by their winning times, has been dismal. From (Secretariat's 1973) through 2009, only two Belmonts were run slower than 2:30. But in four of the past five years, the winning time for the race has been 2:30.42 or worse.

Beyer's speed figures show that as recently as 2007, Rags to Riches ran a 107, while Belmont winners since have struggled to get three figures. Tonalist had a 100 last year. That's a big difference. Since 1992, Point Given's 114 is tops. The estimate is that Secretariat's Belmont Beyer, if Beyer had been publishing them back then, would have been 139!

While winning the Triple Crown is a tremendous achievement, only a decisive romp in this race will allow American Pharoah to be nearly discussed with past greats, Crown winners or not. But still, he will have won it in the context of his generation, be known as bridles above his generation, at a distance many generations past and those of the future now know as a great anachronism.

"[American Pharoah] inherits stamina from his sire and especially from his grandsire, Empire Maker, a Belmont Stakes winner and an influential stallion. But his dam, Littleprincessemma, contributes no stamina to the pedigree; her sire, dam and siblings were quick sprinters," Beyer says.

Which means, race fans, unless 'Pharoah has a freakish ability to recharge his batteries - and he might - he will be beatable and the race will be bettable. As a 3-5 morning line favorite, anything less than that might get comical, although I could see it happening.

Then, you have the demons that jockey Victor Espinoza will face, such as last year with California Chrome.

Seemingly interested in conserving energy, Espinoza, in the 2 post, kept 'Chrome near the lead but then got stuck inside three others on the back stretch. He made a move on the turn to get free, but it required him to go four or five wide. At that point, it was over. Lacking an energy burst, he faded to a dead heat for fourth.

Espinoza has relatively little experience at Belmont, but having run the Belmont Stakes last year with the same pressure, he's bound to have some confidence stashed in his saddle bag.

Bloodhorse.com's Steve Haskin compares the ordeal to a spin on the dark side of the moon:

[M]any jockeys who don't have experience at Belmont Park, especially going 1-1/2 miles, get lost on those sweeping turns, with the far turn being what I call the turn of no return. Once you make a mistake on that turn, especially going that far, there is no recovering from it.

Roger that, Mission Control.

The annual Ask Amy is to sincerely advise the jockey to get in as many rides at Belmont as he can the week of the big race. Espinoza, as of this writing, is scheduled for mounts in six other races Friday and Saturday, including the 1.5-mile Brooklyn Handicap three hours and 20 minutes before the Belmont. Unless something untoward happens, and he can control 'Pharoah, all he should need to do is determine if he has enough horse under him.

The odds and angles that all of the other connections are playing is that he won't, not after a tough Derby and the Preakness. If you follow all of the nuances like a Star Wars geek, Yahoo Sports's Pat Forde reports this:

American Pharoah dazzled a lot of veteran horsemen with his workout Monday at Churchill Downs. But Tuesday Baffert said something that raised an eyebrow, noting that his colt 'looks like a horse that's run in two big races, but I think his energy level is good.'

Trainers are always in a good place. The horse doesn't talk. "He just didn't have it today" or "He gave us everything he had, we can't ask any more out of him" is usually all you're going to get out of the colt's spokesman. You'll never see Pharaoh act like this and Baffert never even has to say "go ask the damn horse!"

As you immerse yourself in a full day of racing - first post is 10:35 a.m. CST for the Easy Goer Stakes - from beautiful Elmont, New York, keep these things in mind:

1. Don't believe the hype in American Pharoah, just use it to your advantage. Remember, the favorite hasn't won this race since Afleet Alex in 2005 and not since Thunder Gulch in 1995 before that. And in recent years, there have been winners with odds off the launching pad. Let 'Pharoah take his money and look elsewhere. If you truly believe he's unstoppable, box it - in the money will be a lot easier for him than winning it. I've never been a big fan of buying a ticket as a souvenir for a Triple Crown, unless I would be at Belmont, and you don't get a paper ticket online anyway.

2. Watch the pools! With hype like this, there is the possibility the Place and Show pools will swell with money that says "American Pharoah CAN'T do any worse than second or third." Get bigger than the win pool. That can be easy money. Even if he wins, another horse at 10-1 or better, of which there will be many, could pay big bucks in the second or third slots, or both. Also watch the pools for the individual horses. 'Pharoah will be taking a lot of win money. The less the others take, the higher their odds.

3. If you're playing exotics like Exactas, Trifectas or Superfectas, try to make wagers that do include and do not include American Pharoah, if you believe he'll be in the money. For these wagers, if he finishes third, fourth or fifth or worse, respectively, you have the chance to win big. I will be playing an Exacta and Trifecta where both will toss him.

4. Keep an eye on the earlier races. Try to get a feeling for if the rail is dead or the middle of the track is slow. Will they be closing or will frontrunners dominate? If you're streaming, try to keep an eye out for how long the tractors are on the track before the Belmont. Just sayin'.

5. You shouldn't have to worry about the weather. Earlier forecasts of rain would have given mudder 'Pharoah a distinct advantage, but now they're calling for a very nice day. Thankfully, it should be a fair test.

6. Try to take in the Metropolitan Handicap at 3:49 p.m. It includes Private Zone, defending Belmont champ Tonalist, Wicked Strong, Bayern, veteran Pants On Fire and Honor Code.

7. Don't go by me.

In a race like this, you try to beat the favorite and start by tossing whoever you can. That would be Frammento and Tale of Verve.

Materiality (out of Afleet Alex), Frosted (out of Tapit [Pulpit]), and Madefromlucky (out of Lookin At Lucky [Smart Strike]) will be the three mutuel challengers, based on distance pedigree. However, Keen Ice, out of Curlin by Smart Strike and an Awesome Again mare, is considered to have the best pure distance breeding in the race. He'll probably be a very healthy price.

I believe the best American Pharoah will do will be an all-out, courageous second, some distance behind the winner. Keep in mind that if 'Pharoah gets a nice lead and controls a slowish pace - worst case scenario for the others - he could wire it. Espinoza will have to run a perfect race with the amount of energy 'Pharoah is expected to have, or not have. He's in the five post, ideal. He'll have Frammento inside of him and rater/closer Frosted outside of him, even better. Perhaps only Madefromlucky will challenge him early, so Espinoza should be able to do what he wants. In other words, he'll have absolutely no excuses except fatigue.

I can't wait to see what Mubtaahij and Irad Ortiz will do with all of that distance. If the pools cooperate, I'll have them all to Show. Otherwise, it will be some creative boxes. Materiality and Mubtaahij will be prominent.

Sure, I'd like to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown, but as a horseplayer, it's head over heart. You can't bet, at least not big, that he will.

Programming Pleasure
For your viewing pleasure: NBCSportsNet will sign on Friday from 2:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. from Belmont. Be there at NBCSN on Saturday from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. and on plain old NBC from 3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. The Belmont afterglow will continue over at NBCSN but NBC plans to Telstar straight down to Tampa for Blackhawks Game 2 at 6 sharp. So help me, if there's a delay at the post . . .

Our very own Eddie Olczyk has volunteered to play hookey from hockey to go to the track. He'll handle the handicapping duties at Belmont and miss Hawks-Lightning (I heard they prefer to be called "Bolts," so I won't). If the Rangers had won, he would have done both.

Stable Market
Great news. Zayat Stable has landed an endorsement deal for American Pharoah. Signage, such as it is at a horserace. But no, it's not this. Just this. With Monster girls and all the other distractions, Baffert may have to put his foot down.

Royal Losers
As with the winners, the edge-of-history Triple Crown losers have their own stories, more diverse than you'd think. Since Affirmed pulled it off in 1978, we've had a baker's dozen, some of them true stars who couldn't, or just didn't, rise to Crown glory. See if you can spot some trends.

  • 1979, Spectacular Bid, 3-10: Easily the best of these 13, the Belmont was 'Bid's first loss after 12 straight stakes wins. He lost only four of 30 lifetime races. It sure didn't help that 'Bid stepped on a safety pin the morning of the race, but supreme overconfidence on the part of trainer Bud Delp and jockey Ron Franklin probably explained why they sent Spectacular Bid in an effort to emulate Secretariat. He didn't, and finished third.
  • 1981, Pleasant Colony, 4-5: His most notable achievements were as a sire, notably Pleasantly Perfect, but he was a nice runner who got hot in the first two legs. At two, he won the Remsen after archrival Akureyri was disqualified and placed third.
  • 1987, Alysheba, 4-5: Alysheba more than held his own in battles with the likes of Bet Twice, Java Gold, Lost Code, Forty Niner and Seeking the Gold. He nearly fell in the Derby (at 2:10, second horse in the field) but stormed in for the win. An excuse or not, Alysheba ran in the Belmont without the diuretic Lasix, banned in New York at the time, and was a well-beaten fourth to rival Bet Twice.
  • 1989, Sunday Silence, 9-10: A late bloomer on the track, Sunday Silence is known as much for his rivalry with Easy Goer, and a nose victory in the Preakness in one of the most memorable races of the last 30 years. Sunday Silence and Easy Goer could commiserate: they both had foot problems. After nearly killing trainer Charlie Whittingham the day before the Belmont with a kick to the head, 'Silence was soundly beaten by Easy Goer, who ran the second fastest Belmont in history.
  • 1997, Silver Charm, Even: Silver Charm, who ran better as he aged, ran alongside the likes of Captain Bodgit, Free House and Belmont slayer Touch Gold. Jockey Gary Stevens said 'Charm ran the best race of his life at Big Sandy, in a losing effort. After champion and Derby winner Ferdinand was unceremoniously sent to the slaughterhouse in Japan at the end of his stud career, American owners began the practice of buy-back clauses, giving previous owners first right in buying back horses. Silver Charm benefitted and is now retired at Old Friends Equine in Kentucky.
  • 1998, Real Quiet, 4-5: Real Quiet and Victory Gallop had finished 1-2 in both the Derby and Preakness. But Baffert's second consecutive try at the Crown was thwarted when Victory Gallop ran down Real Quiet in the final steps of one of the most thrilling Belmonts ever. Jockey Kent Desormeaux, whose reputation I still believe hasn't recovered, was roundly criticized for sending Real Quiet out front too fast and then gunning him again at the halfway point of the race.
  • 1999, Charismatic, 8-5: Charismatic was a disrespected horse who shocked the Kentucky Derby at 31-1. Despite being a somewhat insulting 8-1 in the Preakness, he carried his form to defeat Menifee for the second time in the Crown march. He led late in the Belmont but faded to third behind Lemon Drop Kid. Jockey Chris Antley, sensing a problem, suddenly pulled Charismatic up. He had dislocated an ankle in the race. Surgery saved him that night. Long run, Antley wasn't so lucky. In December 2000 Antley, who had battled addictions for years, was found dead under suspicious circumstances in his California home.
  • 2002, War Emblem, 6-5: Yet another attempt for Baffert, who came late to this horse via a sale; we remember War Emblem for winning the 2002 Illinois Derby. I still don't know how he survived it, having been held at the old Sportsman's Park after it had been turned into the Chicago Motor Speedway. The track was nothing more than dirt on top of the car track. Singularly a frontrunner, War Emblem stumbled badly out of the Belmont gate and, while he put forth a valiant effort, couldn't recover to beat Sarava, who paid at 70-1.
  • 2003, Funny Cide, Even: The gelding was the first New York-bred to win the Derby and first gelding to win the Preakness since 1896. The charge of Sackatoga Stables, whose party-large entourage arrived at races in rented yellow school buses, Funny Cide had turned in a blazing fast workout a week before the Belmont. While some thought it may have burned him out, Funny' was rank for most of the race, run in the slop with Jose Santos trying to control him, and finished third behind Empire Maker and Ten Most Wanted. After an up-and-down career, the hard knocker returned to his home stomping ground on Independence Day 2007 and won the Wadsworth Handicap at Finger Lakes in his last race.
  • 2004, Smarty Jones, 3-10: Smarty's Belmont, specifically the ride of jockey Stewart Elliot, is debated to this day. Miraculously, Smarty' was racing in 2004 after fracturing his skull in a gate-training accident the previous July. Popularizing the Arkansas route to the Triple Crown, same as 'Pharoah's, he came into the Derby undefeated. After impressive wins in the first two legs, Smarty and Elliot got caught in a dark place in the Belmont. After gunning to the lead out of the gate and figuring to relax and be around the lead, Rock Hard Ten and Eddington forced - in what some called a mugging - a speed pace that rivaled Secretariat's 31 years earlier. Those two faded and little Birdstone, better suited for the distance, caught Smarty' in the final yards. Even now, Elliot is torched for seemingly trying to wire - or falling prey to the pace - the 12-furlong Belmont. It was his last race. Citing severe ankle bruising that some of us still don't believe, he was retired that August.
  • 2008, Big Brown, 3-10: A freaky horse in a freakish year. He could have won the Crown except for two things: notoriously bad feet and a questionable rider's decision. Tied in with a UPS deal, of course, 'Brown dominated the Derby from the 20 post! That was the race where the filly Eight Belles, who finished second, broke down just past the wire and had to be put down. Afterwards, trainer Rick Dutrow (now banned from the game) bragged about 'Brown's legal steroid regimen. After romping in the Preakness, the cover-up was on as the horse developed (another) cracked hoof on the left front. Steel sutures and even fiberglass patches were used. As they rounded the last turn, Desormeaux suddenly pulled him up and stopped. A loose shoe was later mentioned. My take? It was a rough trip and Desormeaux didn't think he had enough horse. He didn't think he was going to win, but he also didn't want to lose. He didn't have the guts to even canter the horse across the wire. The "out of gas" excuse not nearly enough, he should have been suspended for a year, at least. At 38-1, Da' Tara, who never won again, wore the carnations that day. Brown won the Haskell and Monmouth Stakes and was retired with another foot injury just short of the Breeders' Cup.
  • 2012, I'll Have Another, 4-5 morning line: Led to the Derby post by racing great Lava Man as his lead pony, the well-bred I'll Have Another, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, pulled off the 15-1 upset over Bodemeister. He repeated it to win the Preakness. On the Friday morning before, I'll Have Another became just the third horse ever to be denied a Triple Crown through a scratch in the Belmont. A strained tendon was the cause and he never raced again.
  • 2014, California Chrome, 4-5: Still running, California Chrome became as famous for his owner declaring his Belmont Stakes opponents "cowards" for not racing in all three legs as he was in contending for the crown. After a relatively easy win in the Derby, he carried that form, as many do, to a 1.5-length win in the Preakness. With the knock that he needed everything to go his way to win out, it didn't. He was stepped on coming out of the 2 post, which also meant he was on the inside. Tired, he never got free of traffic and finished a brave fourth, less than two lengths back. Despite efforts to dub him America's Horse, 'Chrome has endured more second- and third-bridesmaid finishes but did win the Hollywood Derby late last year. He's winless but competitive this year, and left a game second-place finish in the Dubai World Cup to train and run in England on the turf. America's Horse is summering in Europe.

Some of them were truly great horses; all highly favored to win the famous third leg. All kinds of circumstances conspired to keep them away.

If American Pharoah wins the 2015 Belmont Stakes, enjoy it now. It'll be awhile before the next one.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:13 PM | Permalink

Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet

This story was co-published with the New York Times.

Without public notice or debate, the Obama administration has expanded the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of Americans' international Internet traffic to search for evidence of malicious computer hacking, according to classified NSA documents.

In mid-2012, Justice Department lawyers wrote two secret memos permitting the spy agency to begin hunting on Internet cables, without a warrant and on American soil, for data linked to computer intrusions originating abroad - including traffic that flows to suspicious Internet addresses or contains malware, the documents show.

The Justice Department allowed the agency to monitor only addresses and "cybersignatures" - patterns associated with computer intrusions - that it could tie to foreign governments. But the documents also note that the NSA sought to target hackers even when it could not establish any links to foreign powers.

The disclosures, based on documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor, and shared with the New York Times and ProPublica, come at a time of unprecedented cyberattacks on American financial institutions, businesses and government agencies, but also of greater scrutiny of secret legal justifications for broader government surveillance.

While the Senate passed legislation this week limiting some of the NSA's authority, it involved provisions in the U.S.A. Patriot Act and did not apply to the warrantless wiretapping program.

Government officials defended the NSA's monitoring of suspected hackers as necessary to shield Americans from the increasingly aggressive activities of foreign governments. But critics say it raises difficult trade-offs that should be subject to public debate.

The NSA's activities run "smack into law enforcement land," said Jonathan Mayer, a cybersecurity scholar at Stanford Law School who has researched privacy issues and who reviewed several of the documents. "That's a major policy decision about how to structure cybersecurity in the U.S. and not a conversation that has been had in public."

It is not clear what standards the agency is using to select targets. It can be hard to know for sure who is behind a particular intrusion - a foreign government or a criminal gang - and the NSA is supposed to focus on foreign intelligence, not law enforcement.

The government can also gather significant volumes of Americans' information - anything from private e-mails to trade secrets and business dealings - through Internet surveillance because monitoring the data flowing to a hacker involves copying that information as the hacker steals it.

One internal NSA document notes that agency surveillance activities through "hacker signatures pull in a lot." Brian Hale, the spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said, "It should come as no surprise that the U.S. government gathers intelligence on foreign powers that attempt to penetrate U.S. networks and steal the private information of U.S. citizens and companies." He added that "targeting overseas individuals engaging in hostile cyberactivities on behalf of a foreign power is a lawful foreign intelligence purpose."

The effort is the latest known expansion of the NSA's warrantless surveillance program, which allows the government to intercept Americans' cross-border communications if the target is a foreigner abroad. While the NSA has long searched for specific e-mail addresses and phone numbers of foreign intelligence targets, the Obama administration three years ago started allowing the agency to search its communications streams for less-identifying Internet protocol addresses or strings of harmful computer code.

The surveillance activity traces to changes that began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The government tore down a so-called wall that prevented intelligence and criminal investigators from sharing information about suspected spies and terrorists. The barrier had been erected to protect Americans' rights because intelligence investigations use lower legal standards than criminal inquiries, but policy makers decided it was too much of an obstacle to terrorism investigations.

The NSA also started the warrantless wiretapping program, which caused an outcry when it was disclosed in 2005. In 2008, under the FISA Amendments Act, Congress legalized the surveillance program so long as the agency targeted only noncitizens abroad. A year later, the new Obama administration began crafting a new cybersecurity policy - including weighing whether the Internet had made the distinction between a spy and a criminal obsolete.

"Reliance on legal authorities that make theoretical distinctions between armed attacks, terrorism and criminal activity may prove impractical," the White House National Security Council wrote in a classified annex to a policy report in May 2009, which was included in the NSA's internal files.

About that time, the documents show, the NSA - whose mission includes protecting military and intelligence networks against intruders - proposed using the warrantless surveillance program for cybersecurity purposes. The agency received "guidance on targeting using the signatures" from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, according to an internal newsletter.

In May and July 2012, according to an internal timeline, the Justice Department granted its secret approval for the searches of cybersignatures and Internet addresses. The Justice Department tied that authority to a pre-existing approval by the secret surveillance court permitting the government to use the program to monitor foreign governments.

That limit meant the NSA had to have some evidence for believing that the hackers were working for a specific foreign power. That rule, the NSA soon complained, left a "huge collection gap against cyberthreats to the nation" because it is often hard to know exactly who is behind an intrusion, according to an agency newsletter. Different computer intruders can use the same piece of malware, take steps to hide their location or pretend to be someone else.

So the NSA, in 2012, began pressing to go back to the surveillance court and seek permission to use the program explicitly for cybersecurity purposes. That way, it could monitor international communications for any "malicious cyberactivity," even if it did not yet know who was behind the attack.

The newsletter described the further expansion as one of "highest priorities" of the NSA director, Gen. Keith B. Alexander. However, a former senior intelligence official said that the government never asked the court to grant that authority.

Meanwhile, the FBI in 2011 had obtained a new kind of wiretap order from the secret surveillance court for cybersecurity investigations, permitting it to target Internet data flowing to or from specific Internet addresses linked to certain governments.

To carry out the orders, the FBI negotiated in 2012 to use the NSA's system for monitoring Internet traffic crossing "chokepoints operated by U.S. providers through which international communications enter and leave the United States," according to a 2012 NSA document. The NSA would send the intercepted traffic to the bureau's "cyberdata repository" in Quantico, Virginia.

The disclosure that the NSA and the FBI have expanded their cybersurveillance adds a dimension to a recurring debate over the post-Sept. 11 expansion of government spying powers: Information about Americans sometimes gets swept up incidentally when foreigners are targeted, and prosecutors can use that information in criminal cases.

Citing the potential for a copy of data "exfiltrated" by a hacker to contain "so much" information about Americans, one NSA lawyer suggested keeping the stolen data out of the agency's regular repository for information collected by surveillance so that analysts working on unrelated issues could not query it, a 2010 training document showed. But it is not clear whether the agency or the FBI has imposed any additional limits on the data of hacking victims.

In a response to questions for this article, the FBI pointed to its existing procedures for protecting victims' data acquired during investigations, but also said it continually reviewed its policies "to adapt to these changing threats while protecting civil liberties and the interests of victims of cybercrimes."

None of these actions or proposals had been disclosed to the public. As recently as February, when President Obama spoke about cybersecurity at an event at Stanford University, he lauded the importance of transparency but did not mention this change.

"The technology so often outstrips whatever rules and structures and standards have been put in place, which means that government has to be constantly self-critical and we have to be able to have an open debate about it," Obama said.

Laura Poitras contributed reporting.

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For more coverage, read ProPublica's previous reporting on the NSA's efforts to break encryption, our NSA Programs Chart and the agency's spying operations on cell phone apps.

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ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

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Previously:
* Court: NSA Phone Program Illegal.

* The Chicago Connection To The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind The Mumbai Attacks.

* Human Rights Watch Sues DEA Over Bulk Collection Of American's Telephone Records.

* U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades.

* Amnesty International Joins ACLU, Wikimedia In Lawsuit To Stop Mass Surveillance Program.

* Stop Spying On Wikipedia Users.

* EFF Wins Battle Over Secret Legal Opinions On Government Spying.

* The NSA's "U.S. Corporate Partners."

* I Fight Surveillance.

* Illegal Spying Below.

* Smith vs. Obama.

* EFF Sues NSA Over FOIA.

* Stand Against Spying.

* The NSA Revelations All In One Chart.

* U.S. Supreme Court Limits Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF To Court: There's No Doubt The Government Destroyed NSA Spying Evidence.

* House Committee Puts NSA On Notice Over Encryption Standards.

* Which Tech Companies Help Protect You From Government Data Demands?

* Lawsuit Demands DOJ Release More Secret Surveillance Court Rulings.

* Human Rights Organizations To Foreign Ministers: Stop Spying On Us.

* What The Proposed NSA Reforms Wouldn't Do.

* Technologists Turn On Obama.

* Dear Supreme Court: Set Limits On Cell Phone Searches.

* EFF Fights National Security Letter Demands On Behalf Of Telecom, Internet Company.

* Eighth-Grader Schools The NSA.

* You Know Who Else Collected Metadata? The Stasi.

* Today We Fight Back.

* The Day We Fight Back.

* FAQ: The NSA's Angry Birds.

* Jon Stewart: The Old Hope-A-Dope.

* Four Blatantly False Claims Obama Has Made About NSA Surveillance.

* EFF To DOJ In Lawsuit: Stop Pretending Information Revealed About NSA Over Last Seven Months Is Still A Secret.

* Judge On NSA Case Cites 9/11 Report, But It Doesn't Actually Support His Ruling.

* Edward Snowden's Christmas Message.

* Jon Stewart: Obama Totally Lying About NSA Spying.

* Presidential Panel To NSA: Stop Undermining Encryption.

* The NSA Is Coming To Town.

* 60 Minutes We Can't Get Back.

* Why Care About The NSA?

* NSA Surveillance Drives Writers To Self-Censor.

* Filed: 22 Firsthand Accounts Of How NSA Surveillance Chilled The Right To Association.

* Claim On 'Attacks Thwarted' By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

* Paul Steiger: Why Reporters In The U.S. Now Need Protection.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

Programming Note: The [Friday] Papers will be rolled into The Weekend Desk Report.

Lightning City
Here's a dumb column from Tampa.

Reverse Tourism
"Explore Minnesota is asking people to leave bustling Chicago and the Rocky Mountains to visit the Land of 10,000 Lakes this summer," the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal notes.

"The state's tourism agency has a digital mural in Chicago's Wrigleyville where Minnesota photos from Instagram are on the scroll."

*

From Explore Minnesota's website:

"In Chicago, a painted mural unit will run from May 11 through June 7, featuring an Instagram photo, headline and #OnlyinMN. The wall is located along the El route, in the Wrigleyville neighborhood, with high visibility among commuters and Cubs game attendees."

*

See also, FYI: Minneapolis Is Only City On Worldwide Bike-Friendly List.

Programming Note
Just an abbreviated column today. Had a mentoring event last night and my parents arrive soon for a weekend visit. Need to get a little more sleep and recharge.

BeachBook
* DEA Eavesdropping Tripled, Bypassed Federal Courts.

* Hometown Paper: Blackhawks' Kane Chasing History.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Owner-operated.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

June 3, 2015

SportsMondayWednesday: Stanley Cup Preview

Others will provide you with the position-by-position match-ups, the careful calibrations of which team has which advantages heading into Hawks versus Lightning and finally a prediction of what will happen.

Hold on a second, I can certainly do the prediction part. Here it is: Hawks in 6. But I then have to admit, that is my prediction because that is what I want to happen.

But beware of those delightful analysts who go on and on about what is going to happen, get it wrong and then without fail come back and do it again the next week.

It all comes down to one simple truth: when the rubber hits the ice, especially when the series is on the line after we get the first few games out of the way, all of that stuff won't mean squat.

Only one question matters: How do players react to the all-encompassing pressure when the series is on the line?

This Blackhawks team just finished handling it as well as any Chicago team I can remember. When they faced elimination, the Hawks played their best five periods of the season (the second and third in Game 6 and all three in Game 7) against the Ducks.

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau was out-coached as well, and Duck goalie Frederik Andersen went south as the series wore on, but really, up and down the rosters, the Hawks found a final, extra gear throughout those last two contests and the Ducks did not.

The tricky part here is that the Lightning also reacted well to pressure in their series against the Rangers - and did so on multiple occasions earlier in these playoffs. While the Hawks did get a break from it in the second-round (the four-game sweep of the Wild), the Lightning were barely squeaking by the whole way. Then, finally, In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, they tightened the screws defensively led by powerhouse blue-liner Victor Hedman, and strangled the Rangers 2-0.

So which team will handle the pressure most effectively in the Finals? Anyone who gives a definitive answer is a buffoon. Past performance would indicate the Hawks have the edge. They have more considerably more end-of-playoffs experience after all, don't they?

But what do they say about past performance and future results? The bottom line is, great teams break eventually break through. And there is a great chance the Lightning are a great team.

So let's get back to what I would like to see happen in this final series. Well, I'd like to see Bryan Bickell score a goal. He was unfairly maligned after that Game 5 overtime loss to the Ducks and while it has been disappointing he hasn't scored in these playoffs like he has in the past, the Hawks have a whole bunch of players with more skill than he has who have an even bigger responsibility to produce offensively.

Bickell's job for these Hawks has been to be a physical presence, and he has led them in hits in the playoffs. But didn't we just get a great example of "hits" being overrated? The Ducks led every conference final game in hits and they were certain they were wearing down the Hawks. Not so much.

There is a place for being physical but, especially in crunch time games, there is a bigger place for not taking penalties and for grinding grinding grinding to set up scoring chances rather than cruising around trying to set an opponent up for a bruising.

As I sign off, the main thing I would like to see is what cannot help but happen - two great hockey teams with pleasing styles of play facing off with everything on the line. Drop the puck already.

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Official Trailer Of The Stanley Cup Finals!

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:26 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"If the Barack Obama Presidential Center is built in Washington Park, the city envisions a walking community, where visitors would step off a CTA Green Line train and stroll along decoratively landscaped sidewalks, lined with pedestrian scale lighting and seating areas," the Tribune reports.

"In Jackson Park, visitors might spend an afternoon biking from the lakefront to a well-lit, paved trail through the Midway Plaisance to the Obama center. Others might prefer to take the No. 10 CTA bus from downtown to the Museum of Science and Industry and then on to a new stop at the presidential library.

"The two ideas are among a list of proposals Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office submitted to the University of Chicago last year to strengthen its bid to place the Obama library and museum on the South Side in one of the two parks. Most of the proposals address transforming areas fraught with crime and neglect into a safe and inviting environment where visitors feel at ease - a key challenge for the first presidential center built in a low-income, urban neighborhood."

Oh, I get it. Now that those neighborhoods could be of value to elites, they will see investment. Otherwise, forget it.

*

"But while the specific plans were just proposals, Emanuel also promised in a letter to the Barack Obama Foundation that the city would make infrastructure improvements and that he would lead the way in bringing new investments to the surrounding neighborhoods, creating jobs and spurring economic growth. The documents were obtained by the Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act."

Where is the outrage, our policy makers ask. Kids shooting kids. Where are the community leaders?

I'll tell you where they are: In your face, begging for something more than neglect and shouting despair at being harvested by predatory lenders, vendors and opportunistic pols.

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"Now that the South Side bid has been selected, the mayor faces the daunting task of delivering on those promises at a time when the city is trying to work its way through a financial crisis."

Does anyone doubt that somehow, someway the city will find the task less than daunting?

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"Many of the mayor's proposals would have to be approved by the library foundation and the National Archives and Records Administration - the federal agency that oversees presidential libraries - and incorporated into the architect's design. Still, the documents offer a look at how the city envisions easing safety concerns about the South Side and making the areas near the library aesthetically appealing."

Or, to put it another way: We care more about the safety of tourists than residents.

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And to developers, "aesthetically appealing" means "whiter."

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"A study commissioned by the U. of C. last year suggested that the library and museum would have a $220 million a year economic impact on the city, primarily due to an increase in visitors. To reach that goal, the Obama center would have to draw 800,000 visitors a year - more than the combined number who visited the presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton last year and significantly higher than the 491,000 who visited the newest presidential library - that of George W. Bush."

In other words, the University of Chicago, self-proclaimed haven of intellectual dispassion, commissioned an indefensible study that produced just what they were looking for!

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"Sustaining such high attendance would also be difficult, since the number of visitors to presidential libraries tends to decline over time."

Maybe a ferris wheel?

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"Schwieterman pointed to the United Center on the West Side and U.S Cellular Field on the South Side as examples where large-scale economic development failed to follow major projects.

"It's hard to predict whether people will spend money in the neighborhood. You've got 20,000 people going to games at (U.S. Cellular Field), but we don't have a vibrant seven-day-a-week retail environment around the stadium. For economic growth to occur around the library, the city has to figure out a way to keep people from buying peanuts in the parking lot on the way and then escaping into their cars when they're done."

Yeah, I'd say the city didn't try real hard - except revitalizing Madison on the way from the Loop to the arena as a sort of adult safe passage. Otherwise, both facilities were built for commuters, with moats to protect them from the locals.

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"To spur public and private investment in the area, Emanuel said in a letter to foundation board Chairman Martin Nesbitt that he would create a citywide steering committee of business, civic, planning and government leaders to draft a community economic development strategy for the selected site."

Dear Marty: I know we've ignored these neighborhoods up 'til now, but now that we're going to want to go to them, we need to fix them up. Here are some ideas.

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"He also promised that World Business Chicago, an economic initiative that he heads, would establish an office in the neighborhood to assist local business owners and entrepreneurs develop business plans geared toward capturing the new tourism market. The city's Department of Planning and Development also will establish office hours there to help local real estate developers and retailers gain financing for new developments and refurbishments, he said."

As for the neighborhood that loses out, too bad!

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"There were signs of the mayor's growing involvement in the bid in the months leading up to the official announcement that the library would be built in Chicago. Emanuel took the helm late last year when the foundation made it known that there were problems with the U. of C.'s bid - notably that the university did not own the parkland it had proposed using."

The mayor "took the helm" only after botching the project so badly the Obama foundation dressed him down for it. Let's be clear.

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"The mayor orchestrated a plan to transfer about 20 acres of parkland owned by the Chicago Park District to the city, giving Chicago the right to enter into a long-term lease with the foundation."

Only at the last minute before public opposition could coalesce. Then he held fake hearings. Again, let's be clear.

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"In April, he helped shepherd a bill through the Illinois General Assembly in an effort to close loopholes that could have been used in a lawsuit against placing the library on parkland."

Again, let's be clear: He went to Springfield and, on the sneak, changed the law to conform with his plan rather than conform the plan to the law.

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"But City Hall documents show that the mayor's office held meetings and telephone conversations with the U. of C. months before the university presented its bid to the foundation in December. The documents also show the extent to which the mayor's staff helped to develop certain aspects of the university's bid, from proposing public school collaborations to suggesting bike lanes in the surrounding neighborhoods."

In other words, and why do I always have to put these articles in other words, the bid process was a sham and Emanuel certainly put his thumb on the scale for the University of Chicago while other bidders such as the University of Illinois-Chicago wasted time, energy and resources.

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"While the Obama Foundation is responsible for raising money to build the library before turning it over to the federal government to run, the group must negotiate financial responsibilities with the city before the first shovel of dirt is turned.

"Issues such as which entity will be responsible for clearing the parkland for construction, who pays for increased police protection around the construction site and who pays for such prep work as environmental studies must be worked out. If Chicago follows the path of other cities that have hosted presidential libraries, such costs could also fall on the city."

In other words (sigh), taxpayers are already on the hook.

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"The Obama Foundation will independently raise all of the funds needed to construct the Obama Presidential Center, and we intend to work collaboratively with the city and community to ensure that every aspect of the future project maximizes benefits to the South Side and to all Chicagoans," Nesbitt said.

And because he said it, the Tribune published it, despite its total lack of value. For example, it would be interesting to ask Nesbitt if he expects taxpayers to foot the bill for any aspect of the project, and if so, why.

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"No specific dollar amount was included in the correspondence, but the documents outlined potential partnerships with Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies."

So everyone is gonna pitch in!

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"The library project comes as the city faces a projected $1 billion budget shortfall next year and agencies such as the CTA are dealing with reduced aid from the state. Efforts to squeeze funding from the state would meet strong resistance in the General Assembly, which is dealing with the budget crisis."

It might be a good time here to do some math and see if the city will really see a return on the library - or if a few select developers and vendors will make out like bandits at our expense. Hint: It's the latter.

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"The U. of C. has offered only one financial incentive - a 6-acre swath of land between the Green Line tracks and Martin Luther King Drive. Susan Sher, senior adviser to U. of C. President Robert Zimmer, said the university has no plans to offer any financial assistance or aid in fundraising."

U of C's gonna U of C.

Obama Worst FOIA President Ever
"[D]enying requests, delaying responses, charging exorbitant fees, censoring responses and generally obfuscating records requests at unprecedented levels."

Will the library have anything to say about that? Of course not. And that's why it's a wank.

Meet The Riverwalk!
A Beachwood field trip.

Hawks In 6
That seems to be the consensus. Which means Lightning in 7.

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Kaner's hometown Buffalo News checks in on its boy.

Our Favorite Beatles Songs
Another Beachwood Special Report.

Fantasy Fix: Year Of The Rookie
Kris Bryant may not even be the best.

BeachBook
* Constitution Rock: Darwin Elementary and the State of Illinois.

* Gospel Singer Marvin Sapp Says Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Is Racist.

* Obama's Adventures In Africa.

"In this particular article, I talk about the waivers that the Obama administration put in year after year to allow South Sudan to use child soldiers . . . "

If only the University of Chicago desired to sponsor an intellectually honest Obama library to serve the nation - and the world. Instead, we're getting a propaganda palace.

* Future Of Former Finkl Steel Puts Heat On New Alderman.

* Berwyn Club Owner Removing Two-Way Mirror In Women's Bathroom.

* World's Tallest Cow Dies On Northern Illinois Farm.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Six in one hand, half-dozen the other.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

Obama Worst FOIA President Ever

On May 20, 2015, Human Rights Watch sent this letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for its hearing "Ensuring Transparency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)," on June 2, 2015, to detail the many recent problems we've encountered attempting to use FOIA in our research gathering.

May 20, 2015

The Honorable Jason Chaffetz, Chairman
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
United States House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
United States House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

RE: Freedom of Information Act requests by Human Rights Watch

Dear Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings,

The US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a critical instrument to ensure accountable government and make effective the American people's right to know information of public interest. At Human Rights Watch, we rely on the law as an essential tool to help document potential rights abuses by US agencies, as we did in our reports on the use of far and frequent detention transfers within the immigration system and the impact of US border prosecutions. However, as the Oversight Committee is aware, we are witnessing what the Associated Press has recently described as a procedural and substantive breakdown of the system. Our own recent experience using FOIA is unfortunately consistent with the Associated Press's accounts of government agencies denying requests, delaying responses, charging exorbitant fees, censoring responses and generally obfuscating records requests at unprecedented levels.

A partial list of the problems we have encountered in using FOIA includes:

Unreasonable delays

It is not uncommon for us to wait nearly a year for an initial response to a FOIA request. In our worst horror stories, the government simply refuses to provide information, or provides unresponsive information, and the resolution of a FOIA request drags on for many years. For example, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) stalled for 18 months and ultimately provided no responsive information to a FOIA request we filed in August 2012 on the numbers of people in federal prison charged or convicted of terrorism-related offenses and their conditions of confinement. Only after Human Rights Watch filed a lawsuit and the BOP was instructed by a federal judge to provide information did it begin to produce a portion of the requested information. However, even after negotiations in which BOP agreed to produce responsive information, the agency's redactions were so extensive as to make some of the information meaningless. A hearing on the litigation is scheduled for this June.

We are also currently appealing a FOIA denial from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a request filed nearly three years ago (July 2012) regarding the immigration status and criminal history of deported non-citizens.

The agencies in question have offered little justification for these delays, which can significantly undermine the potential impact of the data in our work, as the information can become so outdated as to be useless.

Arbitrary and unexplained redactions

FOIA requires the US government to share information "unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas." Therefore, FOIA responses sometimes include redactions. However, our experiences indicate redactions can be arbitrary, unexplained, and often render responses meaningless. For example, we have received data on immigration apprehensions from ICE that was heavily redacted, only to have it un-redacted after a legal appeal. In another case, the BOP provided Human Rights Watch with data, heavily redacted, and, in violation of the FOIA statute, refused to identify the statutory provision upon which it was basing some of its redactions. We recently received a 17-page document from the Air Force, of which 14 pages were completely blank, with little information provided on what types of information the pages held. In many of these cases, redactions appear to be an effort to obfuscate rather than to maintain confidentiality, privacy or security.

Data availability and poor quality of data

Human Rights Watch has spent countless hours and human resources communicating, appealing and litigating with government agencies over what data is available and how to ask for it. In one particularly jarring episode, ICE told us it doesn't keep data on the immigration status of those it deports, even though the government is legally obligated to keep this information, and even though it has willingly provided us that information (for prior years) in the past.

Additionally, we regularly receive datasets that are incomplete or include incredibly "dirty" data. Poor quality or incomplete data indicates that the data management and systems agencies are using are not suitable for fulfilling FOIA's mandate. Much of this is due to the systems used to collect data, whether a variable is mandatory or not, or whether it is an open-text variable. We have received data in which ICE staff entered the "number and nationality of children" of detainees more than 110,000 different ways - we were eventually able to determine that these could be reduced to about 1,000 unique values. We have also received data in formats that render the data incomplete. For example, rather than exporting data in a flat file format, we have received datasets where some unknown amount of the data was missing because it was exported in the Excel format, which has a row limit. In another case, the Department of Homeland Security told us that the information we are requesting exists online and then provided a broken URL that navigates to an error page. Too often the government provides us with a dataset in which the majority of cases have missing data - indicating serious deficiencies in government data management systems.

Irregular and unreasonable fees

US agencies' decisions to charge fees in response to FOIA requests sometimes appear arbitrary. For example, Human Rights Watch always documents in FOIA requests how we fulfill the fee waiver requirement. In the vast majority of cases, ICE agrees on the fee waiver; yet, very occasionally, ICE demands a fee for producing data. In these cases, we have successfully appealed the fee request.

The amount of fees quoted by agencies can vary wildly. In an extreme example, we requested identical information from each branch of the armed forces. The Air Force quoted us $168,316 in processing fees while the Army only estimated a $1,584 cost for the same request. Fee estimates appear to be generated by FOIA employees trying to determine how extensive a database query will be. In an example that highlights the arbitrariness of estimating a query, we have received a response from ICE that told us that fulfilling our request for data on deported non-citizens would cause statistical reporting by the agency to "virtually grind to a halt." Yet after appealing, it was promptly fulfilled.

In passing FOIA, the United States recognized that transparency, accountability and democratic governance are intrinsically linked. Yet if the US is to live up to these values, the US must urgently correct course, by providing the resources and training necessary to implement FOIA, and by instructing its agencies to provide accurate, reasonable, and complete responses to those who use it. The Oversight Committee has a key role in making these changes occur, including by pressing the relevant agencies to meet their obligations, as well as by ensuring that Congress is providing adequate resources for FOIA compliance.

We are available to discuss our concerns with FOIA compliance further with your staff.

Sincerely,

Brian Root, PhD
Quantitative Analyst
Human Rights Watch

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:02 AM | Permalink

Meet The Riverwalk!

A new stretch of the Riverwalk just opened, so the Beachwood Field Trip Affairs Desk took a little jaunt downtown to check it out. Here's what we found:

* An animatronic but unnamed Daley screwing everything up.

* The Old Man Daley Fishing Pier.

* Another Billy Goat Tavern!

* Throw coins in the water for luck - and to fund city pensions!

* Navy Pier? The Riverwalk has the National Guard Pier!

* The SUPES cafe, where no-bid coffee comes without receipts.

* The Tom Thibodeau Film Room.

* A Redmoon Theater re-creation of $100 million going up in smoke.

* A really nice view of the TRUMP sign.

* The Gorton's Fisherman.

* Some really cool fish.

* A fat guy and a skinny guy leading a three-hour tour.

* Bridgetenders eating chicken tenders.

* Men and their thoughts.

* The charter Riverwalk, so parents have a choice.

* Rahm's sunken infrastructure trust, lying at the bottom of the river in a tangle of seaweed, sewage and hubris.

* Express water taxi service to Wilmette.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

Our Favorite Beatles Songs

On May 29, 2015, at 4:20 PM, Tim Willette wrote:

"Black Death Bird Singing In The Dead Of Night About Killing"

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From: Steve Rhodes
To: Tim Willette
Subject: Re: Favorite Beatles song

Let It Be Dead.

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On May 29, 2015, at 4:25 PM, Tim Willette wrote:

Got To Get You Into My Iron Maiden

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From: Steve Rhodes
To: Tim Willette
Subject: Re: Favorite Beatles song

The Long and Winding Road to Death.

maybe this is a thing.

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On May 29, 2015, at 4:55 PM, Tim Willette wrote:

Didn't we do this before? I remember "I Wanna Chop Off Your Hand" but not the context.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2015

Fantasy Fix: Year Of The Rookie

Cubs fans may feel they have the market cornered on rookie fantasy studs, what with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell in the same lineup, and Bryant already a top 40 fantasy value and Russell a near must-start at a shallow position.

However, 2015 is quickly becoming the Year of the Rookie. Fantasy team owners in recent years have become more aggressive scouting and picking up top prospects before they see much MLB playing time - often before they see any. But, this year in particular, those early birds are getting . . . lots of worms. (Sorry, trying not to break my metaphor.)

Though Bryant has done extremely well since his April 17 call-up, notching seven HRs, 33 RBI, 5 SBs and a .284 average, he is no slam dunk for National League Rookie of the Year even if he keeps up that pace. Not with Joc Pederson, OF, LAD, around. Pederson hit his 15th and 16th HRs of the season this week, to go along with 30 RBI, and an OPS over .930.

In the American League, there's Devon Travis, 2B, TOR, who was a top 20 fantasy player before he went on the 15-day DL last month, and Steven Souza, OF, TB, who has managed 10 HRs, 22 RBI and seven SBs. And don't forget Carlos Rodon, SP, White Sox, who hasn't exactly been lights-out, but is gradually building his fantasy case start by start.

This week comes another young giant: Joey Gallo, 3B, TEX, who at 21, has been mashing HRs through the minors in Bryant-like fashion. Gallo made the jump from AA level this week to fill in for injured Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre. Maybe it's that big jump or Gallo's relative youth (two years younger than Bryant) or the fact he struck out 115 times in 250 AA at-bats in 2014, but a lot of fantasy team owners stayed in the dugout for this one. On Monday, news of his call-up drove his ownership in Yahoo! leagues from about 5% to near 40%, but as of Tuesday night he was not owned in more than half of Yahoo! leagues.

It's also quite possible Gallo only has a short stay at the major league level this time around, destined to be sent back down when Beltre returns.

That is, unless he plays himself into a much longer stay. Gallo started his MLB career 3-for-3 against Sox starter Jeff Samardzija on Tuesday night, with a two-run single, two-run HR and a double, in that order. He struck out with the bases loaded against reliever Dan Jennings, but we were already printing the legend. A hell of a start for the latest rookie to join the party.

Expert Wire
* Innings Eaters exemplifies the predominant fantasy attitude about Gallo - that he's certainly worth a shot if you have a need, but that you might not want to make a long-term commitment. We'll see. Even if Gallo goes back to the minors, a solid stretch of two or three weeks could make him a keeper for fantasy teams going into next season.

* Rotoworld highlights the career-high 11-strikeout performance of Jason Hammel, SP, Cubs, who has been rising up the fantasy SP ranks over the last month. Could his four wins, 69 strikeouts, 2.82 ERA and a stellar 0.90 WHIP get him traded away from the Cubs for the second year in a row? That will depend on how good the Cubs are over the next eight weeks, and Hammel has been much better as a Cub than he has been with any other team.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

Stop the news, I wanna get off.

1. What's Sepp?!

"IFA president Sepp Blatter will resign from soccer's governing body amid a widening corruption scandal and has promised to call for fresh elections to choose a successor," wire reports say.

And yet, I cannot think of a single office in Illinois that he could not win except House District 22.

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Illinois pundits defending Blatter: "Stop criminalizing politics!"

2. FBEye.

"The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country, including Chicago, carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology - all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned."

Is one of those fictitious companies named "United?"

3. Elected School Board.

"With his hand-picked school board rocked by a federal investigation into a no-bid contract it gave out and beset by an enormous budget deficit, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Tuesday that he has picked four new members to replace those whose terms are about to end," the Tribune reports.

The selections were made by secret ballot in Rahm's head.

4. Still Not Good Enough For Rauner's Daughter.

"New Trier High School celebrated the groundbreaking June 1 of a $100 million addition planned for the Winnetka campus," Winnetka Talk reports.

"The addition will include 25 core academic classrooms, three science labs, a new library, a new cafeteria and spaces for engineering, art, music and theater programs."

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And one day soon those kids will talk about how much harder they worked than the poor black kids shooting each other to earn every cent of their millions. Lesson learned!

5. Isn't Gambling Illegal?

"The mayors of Chicago and Tampa are putting a collection of their cities' treats on the line as the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning battle for the Stanley Cup," AP reports because it mistakenly believes this stale PR stunt is news.

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office says his wager with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn includes 122 slices of Eli's cheesecake. Emanuel is also offering up a case of SlapShot Brewing beer, mustard-fried catfish and peach cobbler from BJ's Market, and deep-dish pizza from Giordano's."

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Why don't we actually bet mayors? If the Blackhawks win, we get to ship Rahm to Tampa. If the Lightning win, they get our mayor.

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Btw, Buckhorn is from Evanston.

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The Year Of Maybe
In The Cub Factor.

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BeachBook
* Shatner To Travel Across U.S. On Trike; Starts Ride In Aurora.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Also, he insists on being called The Captain. At all times. All times.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Captainy.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:47 AM | Permalink

The Year Of Maybe

This week seemed like a test. And not one of those standardized tests that you can opt out of or are unfair for quite a few of the test takers. It was a test to see if this 2015 Cubs team is for real real. Sure, you can look at the standings and see that they are in the mix, but what do your eyes say when they play the division-leading Nationals and the World Series runners-up Royals? Can the Cubs truly hang? And the verdict has to be, yeah, I guess so, maybe. This truly is the Cubs' Year of Maybe. There's just no other way of answering questions like:

* Are the Cubs going to make the playoffs? And if they don't, will it be because they no longer have a third catcher?

* Is Arismendy Alcantara still Ben Zobrist? And if so, does that mean Alcantara is one of the Cubs' biggest targets?

* Will the right-field bleachers ever get done? Will right field still suck?

* Is Jon Lester a Cy Young candidate? Will Jon Lester ever get a hit? And what does he have against first base anyway?

* Will Joe Maddon's puppies-and-sunshine routine give Cubs fans diabetes?

* Will Tom Ricketts ever buy Clark Cub a pair of pants?

* Will the Cubs send Kris Bryant down soon to buy more service time?

* Will the Cubs finally put Starlin Castro on Ritalin?

* Does anyone wanna go to Junior Lake?

The biggest question of all, though, isn't Yes/No/Maybe; it's essay style. How will the Cubs blow it this time?

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Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to almost everyone's favorite to win the World Series Nationals and then split a two-game series with the equally good Royals. There was a rainout in there as well. Then the Cubs beat up on a bad Marlins team on Monday. Split against the really good teams and crush the bottom feeders really isn't such a bad thing. Maybe that continues.

The Week in Preview: The boys in blue stay in Miami for two more against the Marlins before heading to D.C. for four more with the Nats. Another tough test this weekend against what is no longer your father's Nationals. Which would technically be the Expos.

Left Field Report: As the Second Basemen Report is pretty much useless right now, it's time to look at the next position on the diamond that is completely up for grabs. Sure, Chris Coghlan has been roaming left field for most of the season, but for how much longer? The dude is batting .225 with a .299 OBP and yet started seven of the eight games since last Monday. Junior Lake started the other game, and he is certainly capable of batting .225 as well. Or maybe someone else gets in there? From the minors? From the street? From parts unknown? Time will tell, but it's hard to think it's going to Coghlan's job for too much longer. He should probably be missed.

In former Cub left fielder news, Luis Gonzalez last played left field for the Cubs in 1996. He is currently on a board to help former baseball players who need help, which is good. He is also a big-time Republican, which means he's probably the Ricketts family's favorite ex-Cub. He also cranked out 57 homers in 2001 for the D-Backs and played until he was 40. He is missed.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe likes to play dress-up. And I guess this is a good look. There's some kind of weird road trip theme thing going on with this trip to Miami - and every other road trip. I just wonder what it'll look like in 2020? And does it get more fun as you go, or does it become a PIA to have to find a yellow slicker and goulashes on the Gorton's Fisherman theme road trip next time the Cubs go to Boston?

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Our favorite Castro finally got moved down in the lineup. And then he hit a homer. And then he had another error - his 12th on the season. So, he kind of responded to the lineup change. Maybe there's a way he can be dropped in the field lineup so he starts playing the field better. I'm not sure how that would work [Editor's Note: Second base? Third catcher?], but I think Big Poppa Joe can figure that out.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Edwin Jackson did not trade at all. Because, no one wants to trade for him.

Kubs Kalender: Wine Down Day is Wednesday at Marlins Park. Fans who purchase a VIP package receive a free Marlins wine stopper. But it's the Marlins, so why would you have to use a wine stopper, just drink the whole thing.

East Coast Cubs: Tuffy Rhodes last played for the Cubs in 1995. He eventually found himself in Japan and he was pretty awesome there. In the 2001 season, he hit his 55th homer to tie Sadaharu Oh's Japanese League single season home run record, set in 1964. For the rest of the season, opposing pitchers intentionally walked Rhodes to prevent him from breaking Oh's record. He was shafted, and he is missed.

Over/Under: Number of games E-Jax will get into this week: +/- 1.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that "Edwin" is a misnomer because Ed does not win.

* Touch 'em all: The Cub Factor archives.

* Know thy enemy: The White Sox Reports.

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Marty Gangler is our man on the Cub. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:32 AM | Permalink

June 1, 2015

The [Monday] Papers

"Lawmakers left the Capitol on Sunday for an uncertain summer amid stalemate over a new state budget and pro-business changes as Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders engaged in a heated round of attacks over who is a better protector of the middle class," the Tribune reports.

I have unsurprising news for you: None of them giving a flying fuckwad about the middle class - and they give even less about the poor.

But if you want a theater review, click through and read the rest.

Express This
"Emanuel has made repeated statements recently that Chicago should try again to launch a nonstop express passenger rail service between downtown and O'Hare," Jon Hilkevitch writes for the Tribune.

Yes, please hurry me to my delay! I can't wait to . . . wait.

B3 Downgraded To Junk
Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigned and I'd like to bring you Lauren FitzPatrick's report for the Sun-Times, but I just don't have the patience this morning to suffer through browser freeze.

Rahm's Flyover
On this weekend's Beachwood Radio Hour with Natasha Julius: Trains, Trails, Rivers & Riot Fest.

Segments include: The Riverwalk Is (Sort Of) Open; The 606 Is (Finally) Here; Rahm's Flyover; Pat Quinn's Blue Ribbon Recommendations Are (Sadly) Dead, Dead, Dead; Riot Fest Got Screwed; and Confession: Maggie Daley Park Is Really Cool.

Consult our Show Notes for the segment that interests you!

Talkin' Thibodeau Turkey
Rhodes vs. Coffman. One of us defends Jerry Reinsdorf!

Segments include: How The Pundits Get The Ray McDonald Story Wrong; The White Sox Are Boring And We're Done With Them; The Cubs Are Still A Bit Clownish; and The Blackhawks Are Still Playing!

Consult our Show Notes!

The White Sox Report
Somehow hanging on.

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The Cub Factor will appear later today or tonight. SportsMonday will appear on Wednesday as Jim "Coach" Coffman previews the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Temples, Fever the Ghost, Dead Feathers, Tobacco, Porches, Saba, The Oblivians, Chronixx, Murder by Death, Pity Sex, Masked Intruder, Young Widows, The Brokedowns, Drake, Little Dragon, Bamboo, The Boris Hauf Sextet, Vance Joy, Falling In Reverse, and Future.

BeachBook
* This Is Why You Couldn't Get A Pair Of 'Chicago' Air Jordan 1s.

* Federal Reserve's Bond-Buying Program Helped Regions That Needed It Least.

* Washington Wisdom On Data Collection Shown Up By Justice Department Verdict.

* Paula Cooper Could Not Escape The Burden Of Justice.

An excellent piece by Beachwood alum David Rutter.

* Can You Tell The Difference Between Bush And Obama On The Patriot Act?

Consider how remarkable this New York Times lead is:

"For the first time since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans are again free to place phone calls - to friends, lovers, business associates, political groups, doctors and pizza restaurants - without having logs of those contacts vacuumed up in bulk by the National Security Agency."

* Are Your Health Care Premiums About To Go Up?

The cost curve does not bend toward justice.

* Cook County State's Attorney's Office Denies FOIA About FOIAs.

* Another Imprisoned Man Cleared Of Murder In Lake County.

* Matt Lauer Waits In Parking Garage For Anonymous Source On Parenting Trends.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Resigned.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:52 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You should've been there.

1. Temples at Subterranean on Saturday night.


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2. Fever the Ghost at Subterranean on Saturday night.

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3. Dead Feathers at Cobra Lounge on Friday night.

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4. Tobacco at Do Division on Saturday night.

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5. Porches at Do Division on Saturday.

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6. Saba at Do Division on Saturday.

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7. The Oblivians at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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8. Chronixx at Bottom Lounge on Thursday night.

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9. Murder by Death at Do Division on Saturday night.

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10. Pity Sex at Do Division on Saturday night.

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11. Masked Intruder at Do Division on Friday night.

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12. Young Widows at Do Division on Friday night.

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13. The Brokedowns at Do Division on Friday night.

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14. Drake on the West Side on Friday night.

Kot: Paranoia, Anxiety As The New Arena Rap.

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15. Little Dragon at the Concord on Friday night.

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16. Bamboo at Copernicus on Saturday night.

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17. Boris Hauf Sextet at the Constellation on Thursday night.

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18. Vance Joy at the Metro on Friday night.

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19. Falling In Reverse at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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20. Future on the West Side on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Somehow Hanging On

Now that Memorial Day has passed and summer theoretically is here, it's time for a road trip.

Our White Sox jumped the gun a bit, departing a week ago on the four-city, 11-game jaunt that more than a few pessimists predicted would seal the team's sorry fate before returning home this Friday. Seeing as the South Siders had dropped 12 of 19 road contests prior to this trip, those sentiments weren't so far-fetched.

Teams that can't win on the road rarely play into October. In the past five seasons, of the 46 different teams that earned a postseason berth, 38 of them played over .500 baseball on the road. A poor road team has to be a .600 team or better at home to make things interesting in late September and October.

The White Sox, after splitting eight games on the road last week to bring their record to 11-16 away from The Cell, are barely above .500 at home at 12-10. So far they don't qualify as contenders no matter where they play.

The eight games last week included a plethora of high and low points.

The nadir occurred Tuesday when closer David Robertson, who had been the answer to the Sox closer problems, met up with Josh Donaldson on Tuesday and Wednesday in Toronto. Robertson was protecting a 9-7 lead on Tuesday in the bottom of the ninth when Donaldson, who ranks fourth in the league both in home runs and RBI, took him deep for a game-winning three-run shot. Following a 6-0 loss on Monday, the trip was off to the worst possible beginning.

When Donaldson did it again to Robertson the next afternoon - this time tying the game at three with a line shot into the second deck and stymieing a superb seven-inning effort by starter Jeff Samardzija - the Sox were in danger of getting swept before flying to Baltimore for a makeup doubleheader.

But the Sox were resilient, using a Jose Abreu triple, a single by Adam LaRoche, and Gordon Beckham's double to plate a couple of runs before Robertson retired the side in the bottom of the tenth for the victory.

Talk about turning points. I'm not sure where all this will end up, but winning that game last Wednesday clearly saved what could have been a disastrous road trip.

After splitting the twinbill in Baltimore, the Sox took two of three from the division-leading Astros in which they got strong starting pitching from Carlos Rodon, Jose Quintana and John Danks, who turned in a complete game shutout Sunday against a team that previously had beaten him up for a 9.15 ERA in four games.

Danks also made news - not the kind he would desire - on the front page of Sunday's Tribune describing a sordid tale from five years ago resulting in a lawsuit because of an accident in Danks' condo. The brother of a friend remains paralyzed.

Chances are Danks didn't read the paper before taking the mound. It's not a pretty story.

LaRoche is beginning to have a reason to read the papers. He's 10-for-30 on the trip with six RBI. When the Sox signed LaRoche to a two-year $25 million deal last November, the front office had reason to think that LaRoche would fill the DH role with a potent bat, to say nothing of his Gold Glove background at first base.

So far, LaRoche has a slash line of .236/.365/.760. Hmmm. A year ago at the end of May, DH Adam Dunn's line was very similar at .227/.378/.813. LaRoche has drawn 30 bases on balls. Dunn had 38 last May 31. Dunn had eight homers and 23 RBI to six and 22 for LaRoche. Each man struck out exactly 56 times the first two months.

So we basically have Adam Dunn's clone thus far, which is just another explanation for the team's disappointing performance. LaRoche's strikeouts are followed by one of the longest walks back to the dugout. The frowning countenance, downcast eyes, slow gait and dragging feet look familiar. The next guy could have a 2-2 count before LaRoche reaches the dugout steps.

However, judging from his past performance, we have every reason to believe that LaRoche's best days lie ahead. And he did save Danks' shutout - and maybe the game - on Sunday with an all-out sprawl to collect a wide relay from shortstop Alexei Ramirez to double up Jose Altuve for an inning-ending double play in the third inning. Ventura successfully challenged the safe call, so the Sox escaped the inning still leading 4-0 instead of needing a third out in a 4-1 game.

Another piece to the puzzle of the White Sox offense that has scored fewer runs than any team other than the Phillies is the power outage of Melky Cabrera. Signed for $42 million for three years, Cabrera, who at age 30 is five years younger than LaRoche, has four doubles and one homer in 215 plate appearances. He's slugging along at .273, .136 below his career average. This is a guy who hit .301 last season in Toronto with 35 doubles, three triples and 16 home runs.

Sox broadcasters continually refer to the number of balls hit hard for outs by Cabrera, but "hang wiff 'ems" or not, Melky has lost his pop. In Saturday's 3-0 loss in Houston at the hands of talented lefthander Dallas Keuchel, Ventura had Cabrera batting fourth as Abreu nursed a swollen right index finger. If starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who yielded a single run over six-plus innings as his record slipped to 2-6, looked at the lineup and figured he had to be perfect, you couldn't blame him.

At least Melky is slapping a few singles. Meanwhile, Ramirez has just three hits in his last 33 at-bats and is prone to brain cramps in the field like a needless pirouette on a double-play ball last Monday in Toronto. He missed the bag, leading to four first-inning runs. Pitcher Hector Noesi needs all the help he can get, and Ramirez's antics kicked off the road trip in dismal fashion.

Someone who has seized on opportunity is Gordon Beckham, who now appears to be the regular third baseman. Of the eight games on the trip, Beckham started six at third and another at shortstop. He gobbles up everything hit at him as well as going to his left and right with speed and confidence. Beckham also is hitting .263 and making consistent contact.

If Conor Gillaspie was a big run producer, Ventura might rationalize putting him in the lineup. But a line of .255/.291/.682 doesn't offset his inconsistent defense. Luckily for Gillaspie, he bats left-handed, which may be salvaging him a roster spot at this point.

Even though this team can't score, and despite the defensive lapses and baserunning blunders, the Sox remain just three games from .500. It could be a lot worse. You can thank Chris Sale and Samardzija for openers. When they pitch, as they will in the first two games against the Rangers this week, the Sox have a chance to win. Toss in some decent performances by Quintana, Danks and, now Rodon, and Ventura's club is competitive.

Think what would happen if LaRoche, Cabrera, Ramirez, Adam Eaton and Abreu come even close to what they have done in the past. With three games remaining on this longest of road trips, the Sox have dodged a breakdown. Since May 3, the club is 15-12.

June has arrived. Not until August and September will the Sox have the majority of their games at home. Let's hope they enjoy their road trips this summer as much as the rest of us.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:33 AM | Permalink

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