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« January 2016 | Main | March 2016 »

February 29, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"Apparently learning that science does not always come naturally - even to geniuses - helps children succeed," Quartz reports.

"Students who learned that great scientists struggled, both personally and intellectually, outperformed those who learned only of the scientists' great achievements, new research shows.

"Ninth- and 10th-grade students in low-performing New York City schools who read about Albert Einstein's struggles, including multiple school changes and trouble convincing others that gravity from a large object like a planet could actually bend light, performed better in science than a control group who learned only about what the scientists achieved."

Now, Quartz's idea of Einstein's "struggles" as a kid avoids simply declaring the popular notion that he was a failed student, but here's the truth: Einstein Actually Had Excellent Grades.

Or, as the New York Times reported in 1984:

"Contrary to a popular legend that has given comfort to countless slow starters, young Albert Einstein was remarkably gifted in mathematics, algebra and physics, academic records recently acquired from Swiss archives show."

Sorry, everyone!

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Hull's House
"A name from the past has been leading the charge for Jason Gonzales' Democratic primary campaign against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan," Rich Miller writes in his weekly syndicated column.

"Blair Hull, the hugely wealthy but unsuccessful 2004 Democratic candidate for US Senate, directly accounts for $100,000 of the $300,000 which the Illinois United for Change PAC has raised since late January (and maybe double that, because it's unclear who controls a company responsible for another $100K). The independent expenditure committee has so far reported spending money only on Gonzales.

"I was able to reach Hull through an intermediary to ask him why he decided to get involved against his fellow Democrat Madigan in the primary. He would only communicate by e-mail, and didn't respond to a follow-up question."

I had been wondering about this in recent days. That Blair Hull? I thought. Yes.

You can click through to see what he told Miller, but I also thought this was interesting (emphasis mine):

"Madigan has unleashed the hounds on Gonzales, dredging up some long ago arrests and a felony conviction and even finding a letter from Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez that strongly argued against a gubernatorial pardon, which Gonzales eventually received. Gonzales' campaign originally claimed Madigan had 'lied' and the Alvarez quote was 'faked,' but relented when I showed them the actual letter."

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Reprise:

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The Hurt Locker Room
"Yesterday's story from John Perrotto that MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark was miffed at the way the media handled the Dexter Fowler Orioles/Cubs saga included something of greater interest and applicability in the world of baseball media: news that the union wants to ban reporters from the clubhouse both before and after games in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement," Craig Calcaterra reports for NBC Sports.

"Rather, Clark would prefer that three players from each team be made available in an interview room after games."

1. I don't know what the media did wrong in the Dexter Fowler case - a Baltimore Sun reporter said the deal had been confirmed to him by a high-level person in the Orioles organization.

2. I wouldn't be bothered at all to have the locker room cut off to reporters. As I've written before, I felt terribly uncomfortable when I was covering sports doing locker room interviews. It felt like a gross invasion of privacy - athletes are coming out of the showers naked, trying to relax after a game, maybe just find a few minutes alone to cool down, whatever. And what does it get you? Sportswriters will tell you they value the raw emotions they get immediately after a contest, but mostly what they get instead is content-free cliches. I think the writers just like being close to their heroes - being one of the guys.

3. Clark's idea of making three players available after a game ought to be a non-starter - though it's not that different from the post-game interview room set-ups we get now. Every player (and coach, general manager, president and owner) should be available. Maybe open the locker room after a prescribed time, or create a locker room-sized interview area where reporters can talk to everyone.

Locker room access is not, to me, an issue of great journalistic importance. It exists now because the leagues want it to exist in order to get the free marketing and promotion that results, not because of some journalistic principle. Turn the equation around the other way.

h/t: @jmart181.

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Meet Chicago Airman Dominique Williams
Says his captain: "Airman Williams always delivers!"

Let Wikimedia Fight The NSA!
Urging the continuation of their lawsuit.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Video, Wolfmother, Meat Wave, Spits, Black Lips, Timmy's Organism, Wolf Eyes, AudioDamn!, Animal Collective, Lil Bibby, Resin Himself and MJP, The Weeks, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Migos, Pepe Aguilar, Armitage, Coheed and Cambria, I the Mighty, Mya, Dan Andriano and Anthony Raneri, Wavves, Neko Case, and Eight Bells.

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BeachBook

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I haven't read any critiques yet, but on first blush this seems like a remarkable reporting job on the kind of thing we...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, February 28, 2016

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Cubs wins set at just 89.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, February 28, 2016

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Carpet bomb.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:19 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Video at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.


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2. Wolfmother at the Metro on Thursday night.

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3. Meat Wave at the Empty Bottle's Music Frozen Dancing festival on Saturday.

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4. Spits at Music Frozen Dancing on Saturday.

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5. Black Lips at Music Frozen Dancing on Saturday.

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6. Timmy's Organism at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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7. Wolf Eyes at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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8. AudioDamn! at the Double Door on Friday night.

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9. Animal Collective at the Concord on Saturday night.

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10. Lil Bibby at the Tree in Joliet on Friday night.

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11. Resin Himself and MJP at the Tree in Joliet on Friday night.

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12. The Weeks at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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13. Cannibal Corpse at the Metro on Saturday night.

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14. Obituary at the Metro on Saturday night.

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15. Migos at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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16. Pepe Aguilar at the Rosemont Theater on Saturday night.

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17. Armitage at the Cubby Bear on Saturday night.

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18. Coheed and Cambria at the Aragon on Friday night.

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19. I the Mighty at the Aragon on Friday night.

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20. Mya at Promontory on Thursday night.

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21. Dan Andriano and Anthony Raneri at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Wavves at Thalia Hall last Wednesday night.

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Neko Case at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove last Wednesday night.

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Eight Bells at Reggies last Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:49 AM | Permalink

EFF Urges Appeals Court To Allow Wikimedia And Others To Fight NSA Surveillance

The Electronic Frontier Foundation urged the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last Wednesday to permit Wikimedia and other groups to continue their lawsuit against the NSA over illegal internet surveillance. A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Wikimedia v. NSA would follow the lead of the Ninth Circuit, which allowed EFF's Jewel v. NSA to go forward despite years of stalling attempts by the government.

In Wikimedia, the American Civil Liberties Union represents nine plaintiffs, including human rights organizations, members of the media, and the Wikimedia Foundation. A federal district judge in Maryland dismissed the case last fall, ruling that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. In EFF's long-running challenge to NSA spying, Jewel, a separate appeals court rightly rejected a similar argument in 2011, and the case is ongoing in federal court. In fact, a week ago Friday, after eight years of litigation in Jewel, a judge authorized EFF to conduct discovery - meaning, for the first time, EFF can begin to compel the government to produce evidence related to the NSA's surveillance of the nation's fiber optic Internet backbone.

"We're well past the point where the government can simply utter 'national security' and get these cases dismissed at their outset," said EFF staff attorney Mark Rumold. "We battled back these arguments in Jewel, and now we are asking another appeals court to do the same thing in Wikimedia."

In the amicus brief filed Wednesday, EFF urges the Fourth Circuit to recognize standing for allegations of harm based on actual past and ongoing surveillance, like those alleged in both Wikimedia and Jewel.

"Jewel, and our recent order allowing us to move forward with discovery, is all the evidence the Fourth Circuit needs to know that cases challenging NSA surveillance can and should go forward," said Rumold. "The government makes litigating these cases as difficult as possible, but that difficulty doesn't mean the courts should turn their back on violations of people's constitutional rights."

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* The full amicus brief.

* More on Wikimedia v. NSA.

* More on Jewel v. NSA.

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Previously:
* U.S. Government Reveals Breadth Of Requests For Internet Records.

* What's The Evidence That Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much.

* Why The Close Collaboration Between The NSA And AT&T Matters.

* First Library To Support Anonymous Internet Browsing Effort Stops After DHS E-Mail.

* EFF Sues For Records About 'Hemisphere' Phone Call Collection And Drug Enforcement Program.

* Snowden Documentarian Laura Poitras Sues U.S. Government To Uncover Records After Years Of Airport Detentions And Searches.

* Obama Secretly Expanded NSA Spying To Internet.

* 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 1:56 AM | Permalink

Meet Chicago Airman Dominique Williams

Airman Dominique Williams from Chicago, serving aboard the USS Green Bay (LPD 20), earned Selective Restricted Availability (SRA) Sailor of the Week.

The Sailor of the Week Program recognizes superior performance of enlisted personnel emphasizing exemplary personal conduct and military bearing, and demonstrated initiative in the performance of duty.

"Receiving this award and knowing that my work ethic was noticed out of all of the other hard workers on this ship, means a lot to me," said Williams. "It gives me a new level of appreciation for the different things people do here and gives me the motivation to continue, if not, excel in my line of work."

domwms.jpg

As an Aviation Boatswain's Mate, Williams supervises the operation and servicing of fuel farms and equipment associated with the fueling and defueling of aircraft ashore and afloat. Aviation Boatswain's Mates play a major role in launching and recovering naval aircraft quickly and safely from land or ships. This includes preparing and fueling planes prior to takeoff and after landing.

"I'm Green Bay's Air Department's pump room operator, currently assigned to the engineering repair division," said Williams.

Williams, a graduate of North Chicago Community High School, enlisted in the Navy after high school and has since served for three years.

"Serving in the Navy, has helped me appreciate the smaller things in life and the obstacles put in front of you along the way, only makes you a stronger," said Williams.

William's commanding officer said she's proud of the hard work and dedication that Williams has exemplified within the command.

"Green Bay's Sailor of the Week program has been in place for 21 weeks now and Airman Williams is the first Sailor to be nominated and then selected in consecutive weeks," said Capt. Kristy McCallum, USS Green Bay's commanding officer. "His performance onboard has been that strong! I trust him with the most important work onboard - maintaining the firefighting equipment and overseeing the safe refueling of helicopters. Airman Williams always delivers!"

Located in Sasebo, Japan, USS Green Bay (LPD 20) is a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet. She is the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the city and bay of Green Bay, Wisconsin. This ship is designed to deliver a fully equipped battalion of 800 Marines.

The ship's name has resulted in a close connection to the people of Green Bay, Wisconsin and their professional football team, the Green Bay Packers. The ship's flight deck is named "Lambeau Field" after the name of the Packers' stadium. Green Bay businesses and residents even presented the ship with a truckload of Packerland memorabilia for its 2009 commissioning.

"Green Bay is the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious transport dock ship," said Capt. McCallum. "Whether teamed with our sister ships of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group or operating independently, Green Bay conducts the full spectrum of operations necessary to support amphibious and humanitarian assistance missions in the dynamic Pacific region. The integrity, toughness, and initiative of outstanding Sailors such as Airman Williams are critical to Green Bay's and the Navy's success in operating forward."

Serving on Green Bay and in the Navy, has given Williams an opportunity of a lifetime.

"Serving in the Navy, has given me the opportunity to travel around the world, meet new people and embrace new cultures in different regions," said Williams.

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Why Being There Matters
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world's oceans give the Navy the power to protect America's interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world's oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America's finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.

Thank you very much for your support of the men and women in U.S. Navy, deployed around the clock and ready to protect and defend America on the world's oceans.

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Note: Links added by Beachwood.

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Previously:
* Chicago Navy Commander's Continuing Promise.

* Meet Chicago Sailor Joshua Johnson.

* Meet Chicago Quartermaster Seaman Maribel Torres.

* Meet Chicago Navy Commander Chad Hennings.

* Meet Chicago Navy Seaman Desmond Cooke.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

February 27, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

Situation Normal All Fucked Up.

Or, as Big Audio Dynamite said, situation no win.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #74: Untitled
Is in pre-production.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #91: Cubundant™
The only fans sadder than the ones in Baltimore today are the ones on the South Side, because Cubs.

Plus: Blackhawks Deal Tops Cubs Deal; Follow The Bouncing Bulls; Mocking The Bears; and Up The Toffees!

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Weekend Politics: The Washington Insiders Who Work To Get China Deals Done.

"A spate of proposed Chinese takeovers of U.S. companies, from the Chicago Stock Exchange to makers of high-end semiconductors, has created a vibrant business for a small circuit of Washington insiders who advise on how to get cross-border deals approved by the U.S. government."

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Famous for its instrumental virtuosity and heady, sci-fi influenced lyrics, the Canadian prog-rock trio Rush has amassed an obsessive cult following. Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush join hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot to discuss the band's remarkable 40-year career. Then they review the latest album from polarizing rapper Kanye West."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: State of Chicago Neighborhoods

The League of Women Voters of Chicago and the Union League Club host a discussion about the state of Chicago neighborhoods and how people can help improve the city as a whole.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21 and online.

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Also:

Detention and Deportation Policies

The interdisciplinary work of artists and activists documents and exposes detention and deportation policies as part of an exhibition curated by Human Rights Watch and Weinberg/Newton Gallery.

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21 and online.

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Looking ahead . . .

Free Speech & the Transcendent Journey of Chris Drew

Producer Nancy Bechtol documents the tenacious and unflagging commitment of street artist and activist Chris Drew. Chris challenged Illinois' eavesdropping statute as part of his lifelong quest to protect free speech and artistic expression.

Monday at 10 p.m. on CAN TV21 & Thursday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Weekend BeachBook

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That would be Thornton Township, Illinois.

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Late fee notices suspended to save money; result is huge surge in fines for paying late.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, February 27, 2016

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A little insight into new Cub.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, February 27, 2016

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Snagalicious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

The Washington Insiders Who Work To Get Chinese Deals Approved

A spate of proposed Chinese takeovers of U.S. companies, from the Chicago Stock Exchange to makers of high-end semiconductors, has created a vibrant business for a small circuit of Washington insiders who advise on how to get cross-border deals approved by the U.S. government.

Several former U.S. officials have in recent years joined the ranks of lawyers, consultants and lobbyists who have emerged as key brokers in trying to get Chinese acquisitions or investments in U.S. companies approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes deals for national security concerns.

Because this interagency panel, comprising 16 U.S. government departments or agencies and chaired by the Treasury, does not publish its decisions or its reasoning for them, advisers say inside knowledge and connections are important to navigate what outsiders often see as a "black-box" review process.

There have been 22 M&A transactions announced in the United States so far in 2016 involving Chinese acquirers, worth a combined $23 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. That is a massive increase from 88 deals worth $13 billion for all of 2015, and 88 deals for $7 billion in 2014.

1T4e6hF.jpg

It has all boosted corporate demand for former officials who served on CFIUS or have knowledge of the inner workings of the agency, several lawyers, consultants and lobbyists involved in the advisory work told Reuters.

"We're just completely overwhelmed," said one lawyer involved in advising on the CFIUS process, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak with the media.

China's aggressive, often state-backed overseas buying spree has set off alarm bells among some politicians in Washington who are already on edge as China's armed forces expand their presence in the South China Sea and because of high-profile hacking attacks against U.S. government agencies and corporations, which U.S. officials and security software companies have blamed on China.

Adding to the tensions are attacks on China's trade policy, and in particular its surplus with the U.S., by Donald Trump, who is leading the race to be the Republican candidate in November's presidential election.

Among the former officials who use their CFIUS experience in advisory work are Anne Salladin, who reviewed some 500 deals that went to CFIUS during her 20 years at the Treasury. Her role at law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan has included advising a Chinese private equity firm on the acquisition of some semiconductor-related assets.

Other officials include former U.S. Treasury deputy assistant secretary for investment security and policy Nova Daly, now with the law firm Wiley Rein, and former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for policy Stewart Baker, now with law firm Steptoe & Johnson, according to the websites of their employers.

Baker worked on the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Chinese PC and smartphone maker Lenovo Group in 2014, while Daly advised U.S. hard-disk maker Western Digital on a proposed investment by China's Unisplendour that was abandoned this week amid CFIUS concerns.

All three of the former officials declined to comment for this story.

Whitney Smith, a Treasury spokesperson, declined to comment on CFIUS's relationship with company advisors.

GAUGING SENTIMENT

Before a deal is announced, the advisors will often seek to gauge its chances for CFIUS approval by holding a preliminary meeting with key officials. If the initial reaction is hostile, then this can avoid the embarrassment and cost of announcing a deal that is later scuppered, said Mark Plotkin, a CFIUS expert with the law firm Covington & Burling.

A good CFIUS advisor will figure out what issues might crop up in a certain deal - such as cutting-edge chip technology or Pentagon contracts - and discuss how to best handle these with the agencies most likely to be concerned, said Plotkin.

"The CFIUS process is going to be a full-body X-ray of the target," he said.

Another lawyer involved in CFIUS work, who spoke privately, said that he gives a 45-minute presentation to Pentagon officials and then carefully examines the questions asked, as well as body language, to judge their level of discomfort with a particular deal.

It is not unlike a preliminary meeting that antitrust lawyers might request with the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission about an antitrust review of a merger, the lawyers said.

Not all CFIUS advisors are hired to help a deal go through. Some are brought in by corporate competitors to lobby against a deal, while others are tapped by investors making bets on whether a transaction will be cleared by CFIUS.

For instance, Mario Mancuso, a partner at law firm Kirkland & Ellis who formerly sat on CFIUS as undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, now typically advises companies. But he also represented some investors in pork producer Smithfield Foods when China's Shuanghui International made a successful bid for the company in 2013.

MORE WILLING TO HIRE

This CFIUS advisory business is also benefiting from Chinese companies' new willingness to spend on advisors.

Traditionally, Chinese companies had been mistrustful of advisors, or unwilling to pay for them, some investment bankers and lawyers say. But the Chinese government's encouragement of outbound deal-making has spurred many of the country's companies to spend on advisors, including CFIUS experts, these people say.

A CFIUS review typically lasts between one and three months and can cost from as little as $50,000 to as much as $1 million for more complicated or controversial transactions, according to a CFIUS expert who has shepherded deals through the process.

China led the pack of countries whose planned U.S. acquisitions and investments in 2014 were probed for U.S. security implications, making it the most scrutinized country by CFIUS, according to the latest CFIUS annual report, which was released last Friday. No official data is available for 2015.

Chinese bids for technology and chip makers get particular scrutiny, CFIUS experts say. Semiconductors form electronic cores for a long list of military systems, including drones, guided missiles and bombs.

To be sure, even with expert advice, companies can get it wrong. In the case of Western Digital, the company had told investors that it believed Unisplendour acquiring a 15 percent non-controlling stake would not be subject to a CFIUS review. But CFIUS informed Western Digital it would review the transaction nonetheless, prompting Unisplendour to pull out.

CFIUS concerns also killed other semiconductor deals in the past few weeks. Fairchild Semiconductor International earlier this month rejected an acquisition offer from China Resources Microelectronics and Hua Capital Management, over concerns that CFIUS would stop the deal. Last month, Philips scrapped a $3.3 billion deal to sell a division which makes LED lights to Chinese investors also because of CFIUS concerns.

U.S. politicians have also began to agitate over some of these deals. Last week, a group of 46 U.S. lawmakers urged CFIUS to take a hard look at a bid by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange because of concerns that China would gain access to information about U.S. companies.

COTTAGE INDUSTRY

The cottage industry that has developed around CFIUS includes a wide array of actors.

Law firms such as Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Covington & Burling offer to provide insight into how CFIUS will view a deal, tapping into their working relationships with CFIUS officials at several government departments. Skadden declined comment for this story.

Lobbying firms, including Podesta Group and BGR Group, both of whom boast CFIUS experts on their websites, seek to persuade lawmakers and U.S. officials that a transaction is not threatening, as any concerns they harbor can trickle down to CFIUS officials, according to industry sources. BGR declined to comment, while Podesta did not respond to requests for comment.

Management consulting firms, such as Accenture and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, offer to help companies address national security risks identified by CFIUS. So-called "mitigation measures" can range from asset sales to ensuring that only U.S. citizens perform certain tasks. Deloitte declined to comment.

Sorting out who among the advisors have connections and insight into CFIUS is not always easy.

"Some of the law firms specializing in this stuff are excellent, while others sign companies on for terms that are utterly unimplementable," said Accenture consultant Andrew Walker, who helps companies comply with conditions imposed by CFIUS.

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Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts. Links by Beachwood.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

February 26, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #91: Cubundant™

The only fans sadder than the ones in Baltimore today are the ones on the South Side, because Cubs. Plus: Blackhawks Deal Tops Cubs Deal; Follow The Bouncing Bulls; Mocking The Bears; and Up The Toffees!


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SHOW NOTES

* Brad Richards.

(He's a Red Wing now.)

:59: Cubundant™.

* Pour one out for Chris Coghlan.

* Theo in a gorilla suit.

* FanGraphs: "Fowler's defensive numbers have been pretty bad over the last few seasons, but his UZR figure was close to average in his only year with the Chicago Cubs. Determining change in skill from small sample size can be difficult, but it does not seem likely Fowler greatly improved his defense last season."

* Fox Sports: Dexter Fowler's Fiasco With The Orioles Raises A Lot Of Questions.

* Wrigley McDonald's Closing March 1, Getting Razed To Make Way For Hotel.

* The Robin Ventura Heart Monitor Meter.

* Texts from Marty "Cub Factor" Gangler: "Radio and Twitter kind of way too excited about the Fowler deal. He was a 2.2 WAR guy last season (and most of his career) and Coghlan was a 1.9 WAR guy last season. Not much of a change overall from this morning . . . Cogs had more versatility. But I like th emoe for depth. The have a legit starting OF if any of the other three goes down. And help in center, which was the issue . . . Heyward was a fill-in CF; these guys are smart."

* Aaron Brooks.

* John Hickey, Bay Area News Group:

The A's already had what seemed to be a full outfield before adding Coghlan, who played 99 games in left field and 21 in right for the Cubs last year, contributing 25 doubles, 16 homers and 41 RBIs in 440 at-bats with a slash line of .250/.341/.443.

The A's have returning starters Billy Burns in center and Josh Reddick in right and a new left fielder in Khris Davis. In addition, Mark Canha, who was a candidate to play left before the Davis trade, is coming off a strong rookie season, and Coco Crisp is healthy after elbow, wrist and neck injuries a year ago. He'll be attempting to claim a starting job in left or center.

Coghlan is versatile. He made 15 appearances at second base and three at third last season. But the A's infield appears set - third baseman Danny Valencia, shortstop Marcus Semien, second baseman Jed Lowrie, first baseman Yonder Alonso - and backups Eric Sogard and Tyler Ladendorf.

There's always the designated hitter spot. Davis, who doesn't have a strong throwing arm, could move there, opening up playing time for Crisp or Coghlan. But the A's have a DH, too, in Billy Butler, intent on coming back from an unproductive first season in Oakland.

Thursday's deal could suggest another trade in the offing.

* Cubs also sign Shane Victorino.

* Matt "Mittens" Murton.

* To Jim's point:

* The Jason Hammel Makeover.

* Bernstein: 2 Missed Chances For The White Sox On Dexter Fowler?

41:14: Blackhawks Deal Tops Cubs Deal.

* Jets Ship Andrew Ladd Back To Blackhawks.

* Stan Bowman vs. Theo Epstein!

* Winnipeg Free Press Pre-Trade: The Pros And Cons Of Trading Andrew Ladd.

* Where's Winnipeg?

* Post-Podcast Move: Scuderi Dealt To Kings For Ehrhoff.

50:36: Follow The Bouncing Bulls.

* Dougie McBuckets; Derrick McFuckits.

56:10: Mocking The Bears.

* They feel the need for need.

58:51: Up The Toffees!

* Russian Set For Everton Takeover.

* BBC: FIFA Presidential Election: Gianni Infantino Succeeds Sepp Blatter.

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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 2:27 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

I'll have a bunch of Papers-type stuff in The Weekend Desk Report.

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #74: Untitled
Is in pre-production.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #91: Cubundant™
The only fans sadder than the ones in Baltimore today are the ones on the South Side, because Cubs.

Plus: Blackhawks Deal Tops Cubs Deal; Follow The Bouncing Bulls; Mocking The Bears; and Up The Toffees!

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire
Night soul.

Sandwich, Illinois Native May Be Messiah
For immediate release.

It's Primary Season For Golf
The Bernie Sanders Package would allow everyone to play for free, stay for free and eat a free breakfast - but the new tax on the Best Golf Package Ever program would be $139/person so that others can play for free.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Best Coast, Roy Ayers, St. Lucia, Vektor, Eleanor Friedberger, Ruth B, LANY, Troye Sivan, and Jason Isbell.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Expand your horizons.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Sandwich, Illinois Native May Be Messiah

Hello,

One Cedar Rapids man believes that he has been given God's message for the world and has published his ideas for a new world order.

In his new book, Scott Chally also discloses a diagnosed mental disorder and asks readers to decide for themselves: Is this the Second Coming, or are Chally's visions mere delusions, brought on by mental illness?

Chally has a detailed plan for world peace, a new financial hierarchy and explains his plans, as well as his battle with mental illness in Do You Believe, Is it Real or Fiction?

Would you like me to connect you with Chally for an interview? I am happy to send you a complimentary copy of Chally's book, if you are interested.

Best,
Lindsey Gobel
317.435.2116
lgobel@bohlsengroup.com

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Could Scott Chally Be The Messiah?
Bipolar Patient Shares Struggles With Satan And Messages From God

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Scott Chally has lived a fairly ordinary life. He had a relatively uneventful childhood, joined the Army, met a girl and started a family of his own. But Chally is not an ordinary guy. Chally believes he is the "Chosen One," picked by God to deliver a message to His people. But are his visions God's plan for the world, or is his self-named identity the result of a diagnosed mental illness?

In Chally's new book Do You Believe, is it Real or Fiction? he offers readers a recommendation for a new world order. He proposes a new financial hierarchy, as well as solutions for other world problems and conflict.

Chally takes readers on the journey of his life, leading up to his hospitalization and diagnosis with bipolar affective disorder/schizo affective disorder. He shares his struggle with mental illness, as well as his idea for a new world; the kind of world which, he believes, God wants.

"This true-life story takes you on a journey," Chally said. "I fight against Satan, himself, which makes me believe that I may be the Antichrist, if I don't do the right thing, in order to save the world."

Chally wants people to read his message and decide for themselves whether he is the Second Coming and whether he could really be delivering God's message. Or is this a product of delusional visions, brought on by mental disorder?"

"This is an in-depth look at my life," Chally said, " . . . the good and bad . . . clear up till I lost it."

For more information, and a video from Chally, visit: www.scottchally.com.

DO YOU BELIEVE IS IT REAL OR FICTION?
By Scott Chally
ISBN: 978-1-4990-3148-5
Available in softcover, hardcover, e-book
Available on Amazon and Xlibris

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About The Author
Scott Chally was born in Sandwich, Ill., and moved to Iowa with his parents and six siblings. He is the youngest of the family. He served eight active years in the service and is a disabled veteran. He lives in northeast Iowa with his wife and six children. This is his first book.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 PM | Permalink

It's Primary Season For Golf

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Golf primary season is upon us - when duffers up and down the East Coast and across the country hit the links and get back into the game.

In this diverse and opinionated land (and potential "swing" state), Kingsmill Resort asked the more pressing question on hand:

"If the leading contenders vying to be the President of the United States talked golf programs, what might they say about the resort's just-unveiled Best Golf Package Ever ($139/person for one round of golf, AAA Four Diamond accommodations and breakfast overlooking the historic James River)?"

  • The Bernie Sanders Package would allow everyone to play for free, stay for free and eat a free breakfast - but the new tax on the Best Golf Package Ever program would be $139/person so that others can play for free.
  • The Donald Trump Package would be the Best Greatest Golf Package Ever, and your game will be so amazing that you'll want to pay an extra $139 to make your golf game great again. Just don't ask for any details on the package.
  • The Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Package would be tempting; the resort will keep golfers' scores electronically on a computer server in the pro shop's bathroom and if you don't like your final score, it can just be wiped clean. But you must wear a same-color pantsuit to get into this game.
  • The Marco Rubio Package would allow you to play with anyone under 46-years-old for free, which is ideal for people traveling with kids.

You have the right to ask, to know and to say: What does Kingsmill Resort know about presidents, golf and political debate?

Well, the resort is located on the actual land where the Jamestown settlers first set foot on American soil and where skirmishes in the American Revolution and War Between the States were fought.

That sacred land is now part of a championship golf course (the Par 3 17th hole on the James River to be exact), where President William Jefferson Clinton (don't ask and don't tell your score) and President George W. Bush (you have to have a "strategery" in this game) have played.

Even President Barack Obama headquartered at Kingsmill Resort to prepare and practice for his second debate against Mitt Romney in 2012, though he did not hit the links.

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About Kingsmill Resort
Kingsmill Resort is an AAA Four Diamond condo resort and member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Located on the James River off I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk the property is within minutes from Williamsburg's numerous destinations including Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, The College of William & Mary, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.

Kingsmill_Golf_course_Aerial.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:56 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Best Coast at Thalia Hall on Thursday night.


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2. Roy Ayers at Promontory on Wednesday night.

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3. St. Lucia at Thalia Hall on Tuesday night.

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4. Vektor at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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5. Eleanor Friedberger at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday night.

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6. Ruth B at Schuba's on Wednesday night.

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7. LANY at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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8. Troye Sivan at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Jason Isbell at the Chicago Theatre last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:47 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire

Night soul.

esquiremoteletcbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 AM | Permalink

February 25, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Hours after a police officer shot and killed two people on the West Side on Dec. 26, the new leader of the city agency responsible for investigating such incidents was on the scene," the Sun-Times reports.

"But even as Sharon Fairley oversaw interviews and the collection of evidence, she was in communication with top aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel - who had tapped her less than a month earlier with vows that the Independent Police Review Authority would truly be an 'independent arbiter.'"

No doubt, Fairley shouldn't be part of the City Hall team. But I was even more appalled by the second half of the story, in which Emanuel and his team pimp out one of the victim's family for public relations points.

The e-mails confirm that Emanuel and his aides tried to shape the narrative after the shooting.

That evening, Rountree suggested that Emanuel get in touch with Jones's daughter, passing on contact information provided by police.

The next morning the mayor texted Rountree to say he'd written a note to Jones's family. "Rush it over to them," he texted. "I said her mother would always be remembered for her kindness and when called by a neighbor in need she answered."

"Note sounds perfect," Rountree wrote.

The note was delivered that afternoon and Emanuel also spoke with Jones's family - a fact his aides were quick to share with the media.

"Did I mention the Mayor spoke with the family of Ms. Jones today to offer his personal condolences?" Collins e-mailed a Tribune reporter.

A few hours later, Emanuel asked another aide if the Sun-Times and Tribune had written about "my talk with family." The Trib had.

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Race Bait
Jimmy Butler and local media outlet reinforce the pernicious stereotype that dark-skinned people can jump higher than white-skinned people.

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Strategery

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Now, it's true, as some have reported, that Chuy has his eye on the Cook County clerk's office, which David Orr is rumored to be retiring from soon. There is a third piece to the rumor: Ald. Ricardo Munoz would then replace Chuy on the Cook County board, which is also sort of a retirement move. Whether Madigan would help facilitate all that, I don't know.

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Trauner Ticket

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Queer Clout
Plus: Hitler, Hoodies & A South Sider's Staten Island. In Local Book Notes.

The Best Recent Reads On Race In America
"Here's a guide to some of the best recent reporting we've seen that shines a light on the issue of racial injustice and celebrates the resilience of black Americans."

Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: OF
Cubundant.

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BeachBook

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She left Chicago guy behind; now let's all judge everyone involved.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, February 25, 2016

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TweetWood
A sampling.

The new Greatest Generation.

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Also a graphical representation of local media coverage of the topic at hand.

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Or when your dad has threatened to smear the president.

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Seriously, let's make this happen.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Here all night.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:30 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Queer Clout

"The political mobilization of gays and lesbians in Chicago relied in part on a fragile alliance with the city's black community," Hunter Clauss writes for WTTW.

"That's just one of many fascinating revelations captured in the book, Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics by Timothy Stewart-Winter, a University of Chicago alumnus who currently teaches history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.

"Queer Clout follows the political rise of Chicago's LGBT community, from fighting against police raids of the city's gay bars to being courted by the city's first African-American mayor, Harold Washington."

You can read an excerpt at the link. Here's the author on Chicago Tonight:

From the publisher:

"In postwar America, the path to political power for gays and lesbians led through city hall. By the late 1980s, politicians and elected officials, who had originally sought political advantage from raiding gay bars and carting their patrons off to jail, were pursuing gays and lesbians aggressively as a voting bloc - not least by campaigning in those same bars. Gays had acquired power and influence. They had clout.

"Tracing the gay movement's trajectory since the 1950s from the closet to the corridors of power, Queer Clout is the first book to weave together activism and electoral politics, shifting the story from the coastal gay meccas to the nation's great inland metropolis. Timothy Stewart-Winter challenges the traditional division between the homophile and gay liberation movements, and stresses gay people's and African Americans' shared focus on police harassment. He highlights the crucial role of black civil rights activists and political leaders in offering white gays and lesbians not only a model for protest but also an opening to join an emerging liberal coalition in city hall."

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Latina/o Poetry Off The Shelf
"The poetry of Roberto Bolaño, Gabriel García Márquez and Eduardo Galeano is among the most vivid and haunting in contemporary literature," the Poetry Foundation says.

"Watch some of Chicago's finest actors bring to life some of the outstanding writings of these three uniquely Latin American artists. In conjunction with the upcoming premiere productions of José Rivera's Another Word for Beauty and Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (adapted for the stage by Robert Falls and Seth Bockley), Goodman Theatre presents an in-depth look at the remarkable range of contemporary Latina and Latino writers working in theater with 'A Celebration of Latina/o Artists.'"

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BeachBook

Chicago developer.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, February 25, 2016

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Chicago South Sider.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Thursday, February 25, 2016

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:32 AM | Permalink

The Best MuckReads On America's Troubled History With Race

There have been several events throughout American history that have, for some, signaled the beginning of a post-racial society. The election of Barack Obama to the office of President of the United States is the latest milestone. But the reality is, many believe that racism is still a big problem in the U.S.

To sort through America's troubled history of inequality, here's a guide to some of the best recent reporting we've seen that shines a light on the issue of racial injustice and celebrates the resilience of black Americans. See any we missed? Share in the comments.

The Past And The Present

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, PBS

From police monitoring to rallying against mass incarceration, this documentary explores some of the radical views of the 1960s Black Panther Party that have become mainstream.

The Radical Origins Of Free Breakfast For Children, Eater

In 1966, the federal government began testing a radical idea: free breakfast for students. The resulting program, which served 12.9 million children free breakfast in 2012, is now "one of the U.S. government's largest welfare programs."

Eater examines the roots of our nation's free breakfast program, which some activists say was inspired by the Black Panther Party.

Long A Force for Progress, A Freedom Summer Legend Looks Back, ProPublica

Civil rights icon John Lewis has represented Georgia's 5th congressional district in the U.S. House since 1987. In 2014, he spoke with ProPublica about his role in the Freedom Summer of the 1960s and whether there is a current need for that kind of activism.

Unpublished Black History, The New York Times

On Feb. 14, 1965, Malcolm X's home in Harlem was bombed. The following day the New York Times ran an article about the bombing and included a picture of Malcolm X stepping out of his car in front of the house. What they didn't show was the devastation the bomb caused inside. That photo, and several others included in this project, remained unpublished 2013 until now.

Education

Segregation Now, ProPublica

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation of U.S. public schools unconstitutional. But this investigation finds that school integration never fully occurred - and has actually reversed in many cities in recent decades. In fact, U.S. public schools are more segregated now than they were in 1968.

More: Timeline: From Brown v. Board to Segregation Now

The Rise, Fall And Improbable Comeback Of Morris Brown College, BuzzFeed

As some debate the ongoing need for historically black colleges and universities, Georgia's 135-year-old Morris Brown College is an HBCU that has made the case for a comeback. Its story is one of a celebrated history muddied by financial issues - and ultimately bankruptcy - and its fight to survive.

A Rallying Cry For A Second-Chance School: The Fight to Save Chicago State, Seven Scribes

The fight to protect HBCUs from closing or consolidating due to financial strain is a topic of national discussion - so much so that the White House has an initiative to preserve them. But for schools like Chicago State University, which serve a predominantly black population but don't get the HBCU designation, concerns over their closing don't gain the same traction.

School Segregation, The Continuing Tragedy Of Ferguson, ProPublica

Few places better reflect the rise and fall of school integration efforts than St. Louis and its suburbs. This examination of two school districts situated just five miles apart helps explain the disparity in resources and expectations for black children in America's stubbornly segregated educational system.

More: This American Life's The Problem We All Live With

Wealth & Housing

The Color Of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods, ProPublica

In 2015, the median white household held 16 times the wealth of median black households; our investigation looked at the impact of debt collection on some of those minority families. This first-of-its-kind analysis found that, even when adjusting for income, black neighborhoods were hit twice as hard by debt collection lawsuits than white neighborhoods.

More: Why Small Debts Matter So Much To Black Lives

Race Best Predicts Whether You Live Near Pollution, The Nation

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan - a majority black community - is not an anomaly. In fact, a 1987 report found that race is "the most significant predictor of a person living near hazardous waste," and when communities try to report issues, the cries often fall on deaf ears. According to a Center for Public Integrity review of Title VI cases, more than 90 percent of the time communities turned to the EPA for help, "the civil-rights office has either rejected or dismissed their Title VI complaints."

More: How The EPA Has Failed To Challenge Environmental Racism In Flint - and Beyond

Living Apart: How The Government Betrayed A Landmark Civil Rights Law, ProPublica

The 1968 Fair Housing Act required that the government "affirmatively further" fair housing. But despite efforts made to integrate communities,"levels of residential segregation have barely budged" in the four decades since.

Police Brutality And Community Policing

A Black Police Officer's Fight Against The NYPD, The New York Times

Edwin Raymond joined the NYPD in hopes of fixing a broken relationship between the community and police, but what he found was a system in dire need of top-to-bottom reform. Now, he's risking his career to fix the system.

More: Deadly Force, In Black And White

The Black Cop In Baltimore, BuzzFeed

Baltimore's police force is nearly 40 percent black, making it one of the more diverse departments in the nation. But a 2013 survey found that many black people in Baltimore have a negative view of the police. This is a look at why many believe - beyond a change in the racial make-up of police departments - a change in the system of policing is necessary.

More: Yes, Black America Fears The Police. Here's Why.

Plus: The Guardian and the Washington Post monitor people killed by police and fatal police shootings, respectively. The Post wrote about what it learned from a year of tracking police shootings here.

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:35 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: OF

The outfield is the position where a lot of fantasy owners look to satisfy needs for multi-stat depth. You may buy based on power at the infield corners and on speed up the middle, but the outfield is where you find the best athletes capable of feeding any different stat needs.

1. Bryce Harper, OF, WAS.

After he broke free of the hype, character questions and injury concerns (well, for the most part), what we got was a phenomenal MVP season. This year, I think he's got a real chance at the batting triple crown - along with 120 or so runs scored.

2. Mike Trout, OF, LAA.

Ranked ahead of Harper elsewhere. The slight decline in all major stats over the last three years bothers me, yet he's still in the MVP discussion. His 79 extra-base hits in 2015 were second only to Harper.

3. Andrew McCutchen, PIT.

He will turn 30 at the end of the 2016 season, and his career-low 11 SBs and career-high 96 RBI in 2015 may show he's becoming a different player. Yet, someone who still can flirt with 20 HR/20 SB, 100 RBI, .300 BA is a rare enough to deserve this rank.

4. Kris Bryant, CUBS.

I will take plenty of heat for this ranking if he doesn't deliver a huge season. After 26 HRs, 99 RBI last year, the power looks real to me, and the arrow is pointed upward on those stats, though I fullt admit streakiness and sophomore-slump potential also look real.

5. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA.

A lot of drafters will take his 27 HRs in just 74 games over Bryant's 26 in 151, and I totally understand. But while the risk with Bryant is streakiness, with Stanton it's potential days and weeks lost to injury.

6. A.J. Pollock, ARI.

Really looking forward to seeing which amazing 2015 stat is for real: the 20 HRs, 76 RBI, 111 runs, .315 BA, or 39 SBs. I don't think all of them are, but I'll take three out of five. Seems like a very easy bet to be a 20/20 man, which is what I like from a top-tier OF.

7. Mookie Betts, BOS.

Another seemingly safe bet for a 20/20 season after 18 HRs and 21 SBs last year, though the power did catch some by surprise. Beyond that, he has a real shot at 100 or more runs scored after 92 last year.

8. Jose Bautista, TOR.

Will his new contract demands prove distracting? If anything, he may be determined to have one of his best seasons, even at age 35, to show he deserves $150 million. With the loaded lineup around him, 35 HRs, 100 RBI, 100 runs may not prove so difficult.

9. Charlie Blackmon, COL.

Aside from Pollock, Blackmon was the biggest surprise source of SBs among OFs in 2015. After a surprising 28 SBs in 2014, 43 last year were shocking. Whether he gets that many in 2016, his 17 HRs last year help make him another serious 20/20 threat.

10. George Springer, HOU.

Let's continue a theme: 20 HRs, 16 SBs last year in just 78 games show us another clear 20/20 threat, although has yet to prove he can hit for average as high as some of the others above, and we need to see him healthy for a full season.

11. Nelson Cruz, SEA.

Career-high 44 HRs were second in all of MLB last year, and while he is definitely not a 20/20 threat, being a 40 threat in one stat area where only four or five player will get that many is definitely worth consideration.

12. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM.

35-HR power without much speed makes him, like Cruz or Bautista, someone you want if you're not drafting enough power at other positions. If the Mets prove a contender again, he could be a 100 RBI/100 runs candidate, too.

13. Starling Marte, PIT.

Yet another 20/20 candidate, with 19 HRs and 30 SB last year. His 81 RBI and 84 runs are nice, too, though maybe a notch below some of the names above. Would love to see more walks than the 27 we got last year because it would mean even more SBs and runs.

14. Ryan Braun, MIL.

20/20? He actually did it last year for the first time since 2012. 25 HRs, 84 RBI, 24 SBs in 2015 might be the best to hope for this year from a 32-year-old on a lousy team, but certainly could have another 20/20 year in him.

15. Carlos Gonzalez, COL.

554 ABs last year were the most since 2010 for this injury-prone, former 20/20 man, and he made the most of it, with his first 40-HR season. 97 RBI, 87 runs helped, too, though he doesn't really steal bases anymore.

16. Chris Davis, BAL.

How does the MLB HR king of 2015 land this low after 47 dingers, 117 RBI, 100 runs? You won't get SBs out of him, and his .262 BA, though not bad for a slugger who struck out 208 times, is about the highest you can expect from a guy prone to binges, then slumps.

17. J.D. Martinez, DET.

If you dropped him after the first six weeks of last season, there seemed justification: His six HRs and 20 RBI through then were okay, but he was mired in a huge slump. A big June of 11 HRs, though, reversed his course and sent him toward a 38-HR, 102-RBI season.

18. Adam Jones, BAL.

Once a rising young hitter and 30/20 candidate, has seen BA, HRs, RBI and SBs decline the last two seasons. He went for 27 HRs, 82 RBI last year, which is what earns him this rank, but only three SBs have us wonder if he'll deliver double digits again anytime soon.

19. Justin Upton, DET.

Fell one SB short of 20/20 with 26 HRs, 81 RBI, 19 SBs. HRs were his fewest in three seasons, and his overall streakiness, which usually leads to a pile of HRs early in the season and not a lot later, always bothers me, though clearly some multi-stat value here.

20. Jason Heyward, CUBS.

I've nudged him a little higher in my rankings than elsewhere, mainly thinking that he can nudge his own stats at age 26 to something like at least 15 HRs, 75 RBI, 30 SBs, 100 runs, .295 BA - up from last year's 13 HRs, 60 RBI, 23 SBs, 79 runs, and .293 BA.

21. Kyle Schwarber, CUBS.

I actually have this instant Cubs hero a little lower than most, mainly on my doubts about his ability to hit higher than .250 for a full year and face lefties with frequency. Still, 16 HRs in 252 ABs last year suggest 30+ this year, even if he sits for a few lefties.

22. Lorenzo Cain, KC.

Career highs in 2015 included all of the following: 16 HRs, 72 RBI, 28 SBs, 101 runs, .307 BA. I think 16 HRs and 28 SBs (the latter actually tied the career high he set in 2014) represent his ceiling for both stats. He's still a good multi-stat threat, though, at this ranking.

23. Carlos Gomez, HOU.

After two years of 20+ HRs and three years of 30+ SBs, his 2015 stats - 12 HRs, 56 RBI, 17 SBs, .242 BA - left us wanting a lot more. Injury was a factor both before and after his trade to HOU. Still seems like a pretty decent bet as a 20/20 threat.

24. Yasiel Puig, LAD.

This ranking feels too high, but I guess I'm buying into his alleged new attitude and prospects for better health this year than last, when he had only 282 ABs. Can he finally be the 20-HR, 15-SB, .900-OPS guy he's supposed to be?

25. Matt Kemp, SD.

Started slow last season, but managed 23 HRs, 100 RBI, 12 SBs and 80 runs. It was an 11-RBI improvement over 2014; his first year of double-digit SBs since 2011, when he had 40; and one HR short of going 40/40. No longer a top fantasy player, but still has value.

26. Michael Brantley, CLE.

Didn't go 20/20 in 2015, unlike in his breakout season of 2014, and pretty much every stat declined, but 15 HRs, 84 RBI, 15 SBs, .310 BA aren't far off the mark, and a nudge back upward could make him a top 15 fantasy outfielder again.

27. Adam Eaton, WHITE SOX.

His breakout year took a while to get going, but he had a solid second half, remarkably scoring 98 runs for a team that had a hell of a lot of trouble scoring. 14 HRs, 56 RBI, 18 SBs, .287 BA suggest there's a chance he can be a 20/20 man in his age-27 season.

28. Hunter Pence, SF.

Universally mocked, which is to say universally adored, Pence was limited by injury last year to nine HRs, 40 RBI, four SBs and just 207 ABs. If he's healthy, he still has 20-HR, 15-SB potential, and has shown great consistency as a clutch RBI and run-scoring machine.

29. Ben Revere, WAS.

Could have put Billy Hamilton, who had 57 SBs to Revere's 31 last year, here, but I much prefer Revere's .306 BA to Hamilton's .226. Not much more to recommend, but if he clicks with the rest of WAS's lineup this year, 35 SBs, 90 runs would hold nice fantasy value.

30. Brett Gardner, NYY.

Far removed from the days when he stole 40+ bases a year, but the last two season have been very consistent and borderline 20/20, as he's averaged 16.5 HRs, 62 RBI, 20.5 SBs. That consistency makes him a No. 3 outfielder on many fantasy teams.

Sleeper: Jorge Soler, CUBS.

A lot of guys could have gone here, but why not a local? Soler should have broken out last year, but nagging injury and general slumpiness held him to 10 HRs, 47 RBI. That all changed when he started running hot in the postseason, so I'll buy him for a comeback bid.

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Previously in the Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide:
* The (Tied At The) Top 40.

* First And Third.

* Middle Infield.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

February 24, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

Tribune Publishing's new CEO is basically not allowed to speak truthfully about the company unless under oath. From the non-disparagement clause of Justin Dearborn's contract, via Footnoted:

"Executive agrees that Executive will not at any time during Executive's employment with the Company (whether or not such employment continues beyond the Employment Term) or thereafter take (directly or indirectly, individually or in concert with others) any actions or make any communications calculated or likely to have the effect of materially undermining, disparaging or otherwise reflecting negatively upon the reputation, goodwill, or standing in the community of the Company, or any of its respective subsidiaries, business units, other affiliates, officers, directors, employees and/or agents, provided that nothing herein shall prohibit Executive from giving truthful testimony or evidence to a governmental entity, or if properly subpoenaed or otherwise required to do so under applicable law."

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Related:

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Trump

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Local Music Notebook: Kill Chicago
The band and the band.

24 Hours With BET Soul
Now with more soul.

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BeachBook

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I've always said Chicago is as much media critique as anything else. They both reached for the gun.

"The press pounced on the stories and fascinated the public for months, chiefly because the perpetrators of such heinous...

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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TweetWood

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Media can't get anything right.

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RIP Beachwood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Concept this.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With BET Soul

1 a.m.: Speak Your Soul.

2 a.m.: The Soul Story.

3 a.m.: The Soul Player.

4 a.m.: The Soul Player.

5 a.m.: The Soul Player.

6 a.m.: The Soul Player.

7 a.m.: Island Soul.

8 a.m.: Soul Squared.

9 a.m.: Sub Soul.

10 a.m.: Soul School.

11 a.m.: The Soul Player.

Noon: The Soul Player.

1 p.m.: The Soul Player.

2 p.m.: The Soul Player.

3 p.m.: Island Soul.

4 p.m.: Soul Squared.

5 p.m.: Sub Soul.

6 p.m.: Soul School.

7 p.m.: The Soul Player.

8 p.m.: The Soul Player.

9 p.m.: The Soul Player.

10 p.m.: The Soul Player.

11 p.m.: Island Soul.

Midnight: Soul Squared.

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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.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.
* 24 Hours With Pop TV.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:27 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Kill Chicago

"According to Billboard, AC/DC's three Midwestern U.S. arena shows in Fargo, North Dakota; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Chicago, Illinois were seen by 47,939 fans, generating $5.7 million in box office revenue and placing the trek at No. 1 on the weekly 'Hot Tours' list of top-grossing tours," Blabbermouth notes.

"The February 11 concert in Fargo was the best-attended show of the three, with 19,308 tickets sold, while the February 17 performance at Chicago's United Center was seen by only 13,773 fans. It should be noted, however, that the veteran rockers also played Chicago last fall when a sellout crowd of 29,732 packed the city's Wrigley Field."

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From the February show:

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Baby, Not A Big Surprise
Peter Cetera needs to take a chill pill.

No Men Allowed
Former Chicagoan in this kosher punk band that frankly sounds like a wank.

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Date The Band
Yeah, not so sure about this . . .

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Here they are at Subterranean earlier this month:

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Kill Chicago Is A Band

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Here's a taste:

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On The Road . . .

"Meat Wave doesn't just play three-chord songs about girls and politics," Ben Buchnat writes for the Daily Nebraskan.

While some of the band's songs fit this description, many of them describe strange life events or bizarre news stories and exhibit experimentation within the musical composition. The group's name even comes from an Onion article parodying a particularly brutal Chicago summer.

Meat Wave plays the Reverb Lounge in Omaha on Saturday, Feb. 20. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $10 in advance or $12 on the day of.

The band doesn't want to give into tropes, according to guitarist and vocalist Chris Sutter in a phone interview with the Daily Nebraskan.

Flying into Omaha's Reverb Lounge on Feb. 20, attendees should expect anything but a boring show. Sutter describes the band's sets as really loud and more intense than the record. The band's discography has some slower and more subdued moments, but Sutter says the band "strives to turn it all up to 10 or 11" for a live audience.

Coming from the Chicago underground scene, the city has been the primary place of influence since Meat Wave's inception in 2011.

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Here they are in Arizona last week:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

February 23, 2016

Kobe Bryant's Fatuous Farewell Tour

Regardless of the hype, Sunday wasn't a great day at the Sadhouse on Madison.

Most of the time the Bulls toil in a quiet cavern until the last six minutes or so, when fans, who pay an average of $82 per ticket, get revved up at the prospect of the team scoring 100 points. Depending on the sponsor, this will get them a free taco, burger, or donut.

However, Sunday was different. Right from the opening tip, every time Kobe Bryant touched the ball, the more than 23,000 in attendance became energized, alert, and lively.

A couple of minutes into the first quarter, Bryant hit a three-pointer, and the UC went crazy. Here are the Bulls on the cusp of missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, smarting from home losses to the likes of Minnesota, Phoenix and Brooklyn (three bottom-feeders with a combined record of 46-122), and "the greatest fans in the world" are cheering for a diminished star from the opposition who has played a mere 15 games in Chicago in the past 20 years.

We are led to believe that basketball is the ultimate team game. Sure, the Warriors have Stephen Curry, but their passing, team defense and unselfish etiquette are what drives the victories. San Antonio never has had a player of Curry's or Bryant's talents, but the entire roster buys in to Gregg Popovich's team philosophy, accounting for five NBA championships. The Bulls wouldn't have won squat without Michael Jordan, but he enabled his teammates to play far beyond their abilities. Just ask Scottie Pippen.

Meanwhile, the Lakers came to town not as a team but as an inconsequential supporting cast - the Washington Generals could have played the same role - for Kobe Bryant, their oft-injured, egocentric 37-year-old has-been who's being treated with kid gloves by fans, coaches, players and writers.

The Lakers now have lost 46 of 57 games. They have a young team which night after night gets it brains beat out as Bryant plays almost 30 minutes while hitting slightly more than a third of his shots and about one-in-four from beyond the arc. He makes no difference in the success (or lack thereof) of the Lakers. It's all about him. Sitting on the bench Sunday as the Bulls beat the Lakers 126-115, Bryant was all smiles and laughter, waving to the crowd and basking in the glory of the contrived, ill-conceived Farewell Tour.

With three minutes remaining in Sunday's game and the Bulls up by seven, the crowd was chanting "Kobe, Kobe, Kobe." Coach Byron Scott, whose hands surely must be tied by the front office, dutifully inserted Bryant back into the contest rather than enabling his young crew to get the experience of playing together in a relatively close game. Bryant took one more shot, missing it, although he did make two of three free throws.

Adam Silver and the NBA are lapping it up. How else can you explain two teams - one mediocre and the other downright horrible - playing a nationally televised game on a Sunday evening? The whores of sports programming, ESPN, are only too happy to be part of the grand plan.

What has happened to dignity? It was absent when a depleted Willie Mays tried to hang on at age 42. Or Muhammad Ali, just shy of his 40th birthday, squaring off against someone named Trevor Berbick.

Okay, these are extreme examples. But the point is that Bryant is spending the winter touring the country as though he were Pope Francis. He admits that his body is used up, tired and hurting. Why didn't he simply call it quits after last season? Well, hello. The unquenchable neediness to soak up the adoration from those willing to provide it continues to drive him. That is sad not only for the athlete but for those who want to be a part of it.

So the Lakers are content to tank an entire season. At least the Cubs were honest about it. Everyone from Jack Nicholson to Laker fans who can't afford a seat at the Staples Center understands that the second-worst record in the NBA will earn a high draft choice. This is no secret. The Farewell Tour has nothing to do with wins and losses or developing talent for the future.

And lest we not forget that this is the guy who at the very least had consensual sex in a Colorado mountain resort 13 years ago while awaiting surgery for an injury as his wife remained in Los Angeles. The young woman involved had a different story about the consensual part. Charges later were dropped, although the alleged victim did receive a settlement from Bryant.

In addition, controversy infected the Lakers for most of eight seasons when Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal played together. Whose team was it? Who cared? Laker fans, I suppose.

Once Phil Jackson arrived as coach, the team was loaded with talent, enough to compensate for the contentiousness between Kobe and Shaq as the Lakers won three consecutive championships, 2000-02. However, Bryant and O'Neal continued their childish feud until Shaq was traded to Miami.

In a year or two, a couple of other NBA stars, the Spurs' Tim Duncan and the Mavs' Kirk Nowitzki, will retire, having played about as long as Bryant, who ranks third all-time in scoring behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. Neither has the stature of Bryant, but Duncan has been a fixture on those five championship teams, and Nowitzki has been an All-Star in 13 of his 18 seasons and is one of the finest big-man shooters ever.

You think either one of those guys will stage a Farewell Tour? Maybe, but it will be much more in the context of, say, Derek Jeter in 2014. First of all, playing in San Antonio and Dallas is different than the exposure Bryant has received in Los Angeles on a team that for years was among the league's elite. In addition, Bryant was a flashy, exciting player in his prime. Duncan and Nowitzki are athletes who show up, say little, play hurt, contribute, and have egos requiring less space than the Grand Canyon.

Are Duncan and Nowitzki respected? Of course. But not adored like Kobe. Saying farewell to the Farewell Tour can't come soon enough.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Rory Clark:

Glad to se you are not one-dimensional! You can write on basketball, too!

As usual, you are right on point. To be sure, Kobe Bryant is a talented basketball player. As a person, I detest him. Selfish is an understatement. In basketball statistics, "A" usually stands for Assists - for Kobe it stands for "Afterthought." If there is nothing else he can do, he will pass. There are 33 million reasons why he is still hobbling around a basketball court. I hadn't thought of the "tank a season for the draft pick" reason. Wow. I've never liked him. I never will. He's not likable. And because of that, contrived is a great way to describe his farewell tour. I say good riddance, too.

Well said and well written.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:24 AM | Permalink

February 22, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Jack Griffin has been ousted as chief executive of Times owner Tribune Publishing Co. and replaced by a longtime associate of the company's new top shareholder," the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Griffin's unexpected departure appears to have been engineered by Chicago entrepreneur and investor Michael Ferro, who less than three weeks ago became the largest shareholder and chairman of Tribune Publishing."

There's no "appears" about it; this is Ferro's move.

"Taking Griffin's place is Justin Dearborn, former chief executive of Merge Healthcare, a Ferro-backed, Chicago-based information technology firm acquired by IBM in October for $1 billion. Dearborn has worked for Ferro since at least 1997."

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This is a turn of events both delicious (Beachwood, Feb.5: "Hey, Tribune people: Remember, Jack Griffin did this to you") and depressing. Michael Ferro is non-executive chairmaning all over the place. He's the king of Chicago media. And that's a very, very, very, very, very bad thing. Very.

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"Griffin's ouster was first reported late Monday by media industry analyst Ken Doctor, who said Griffin did not see the firing coming."

(Link mine.)

"Jack Griffin played an extremely bad hand at corporate poker," Doctor said. "Mike Ferro is described as a guy with big ideas who is used to being the leader in whatever he does. Why would Griffin have expected this go to any different?"

Doctor said Ferro over the past few weeks held meetings with top Tribune Publishing executives and convinced the company's board to jettison its chief executive.

"They gave him quick approval to fire Griffin," Doctor said.

Griffin never saw Ferro coming. And then the boardroom betrayed him.

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"In a conference call with Tribune Publishing employees, held the day the investment was announced, Ferro, who is also part owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, promised to take an active role with the company, saying he was putting his reputation on the line."

Spit take.

And yet, from the LA Times reporter covering corporate media:

Hey Meg, I have a bridge to the digital future I'd like to sell you.

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"He bought shares in a private placement negotiated with Griffin and Tribune Publishing management, not on the open market. What's more, as part of that deal, documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Ferro agreed that he would vote in line with recommendations made by board committees as to board nominations and corporate governance matters."

Like hell he would. Ferro didn't buy the majority stake of Tribune to rubber stamp its board.

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"It looked like Griffin had found a way to further his strategy - that he had found a business partner," Doctor said. "It was not anticipated that there would be a transition and that Griffin would step down."

Griffin and Ferro had done business before, with Tribune buying several suburban Chicago newspapers from Ferro's Sun-Times in October 2014. But Doctor said it was clear Griffin did not know who he was dealing with.

"Jack Griffin played an extremely bad hand at corporate poker," Doctor said. "Mike Ferro is described as a guy with big ideas who is used to being the leader in whatever he does. Why would Griffin have expected this go to any different?"

"Doctor said Ferro over the past few weeks held meetings with top Tribune Publishing executives and convinced the company's board to jettison its chief executive.

"'They gave him quick approval to fire Griffin,' Doctor said."

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Now to this nugget in Doctor's article:

"Commanding the Tribune completes a long quest for Ferro, who has built his standing in Chicago as a tech investor year by year. He had brought numerous high-profile investors into the ownership group that bought the Chicago Sun-Times four years ago, through Wrapports LLC.

"Yet, from the beginning, it was the bigger, more powerful Chicago Tribune Ferro and some of his associates sought."

Doctor writes that Ferro used the Sun-Times as a stepping stone to acquiring the Tribune. Indeed, Ferro's footprints are all over his former paper - of which he still is the majority owner - and his handprints are already all over his new paper.

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From Kevin Roderick, of LA Observed: "What a fucked-up company. Year in and year out. The LA Times has always deserved better than the bozos in Chicago."

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Ferro, pundit:

Of course, Mayer has been a disaster and is on her way out at Yahoo. But Ferro is obsessed with AI.

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Let's go to Twitter for reactions of former Sun-Times employees, which I believe reflects the feelings of current employees at both papers Ferro owns:

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Kobe Bryant's Fatuous Farewell Tour
Whatever happened to dignity, our very own Roger Wallenstein wonders.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ferrocious.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:31 PM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Blackhawks Chill

We know one thing after Sunday's brutal 6-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Gopher Stadium in the Twin Cities (if that isn't what it's called it should be): The Hawks have had enough of outdoor games. And no wonder, they've played more of these goofy contests than anyone else in the NHL.

There are plenty of other hockey teams that haven't had the chance to experience the spectacle, the pageantry, the potentially brutal weather conditions (folks were fortunate yesterday - it could have easily been so much colder - and if that had been the case, would this really have been fun for anyone?). It is time to give the Hawks a break from the Stadium Series for a while.

Another thought about the weather: I get it that the biggest potential problem faced by the people who organize these things is rain. Snow is a problem as well but any sort of rain ruins the ice in a hurry. In anything short of a blizzard, officials can figure out how to get a game played. Rain means no game.

But scheduling an outdoor event in Minnesota in February is just nuts. I know you essentially eliminate the rain factor but still, if you are going to do games like this, do them in December or March. Skip January and February for goodness sakes.

Back to the Hawks: Fortunately they do get a break in the schedule early this week. In fact neither the Hawks nor the Bulls play either Monday or Tuesday night and it will be Thursday before the Blackhawks are back in action on home ice against the Preds.

This is where Dallas finally makes up the games they've had in hand. The standings have been tilted for a while because the Stars have played two, three or even four fewer games than the Hawks at any given time during the past month.

The Hawks, with their 81 points, are one ahead of Dallas, which has played two fewer games. And don't look now but here come the Blues, who are only two points back with one game in hand. As usual, the Central Division is much better than the Pacific in the Western Conference.

So even though the Hawks, Stars and Blues have the best point totals in the conference, the team that finishes third in the division won't even have home-ice advantage in the playoffs in the first round because the second- and third-place finishers in a given division are paired against each other no matter what.

Hopefully it all adds up to incentive to keep pushing for every point until the end of the season. Already the poisonous "maybe they should take it easy a little bit" stories have started cropping up. The theory is that if the Hawks are sitting pretty at least in terms of making the playoffs, maybe they should rest guys and not try their hardest so they'll be healthier in the playoffs.

No, no and no. Let's review: Teams that ease up on the gas late in seasons often find that they can't find the accelerator once they decide they want to try their hardest again. Case in point: Peyton Manning would have a better case for being the GOAT (greatest of all time) if his Colts teams hadn't so frequently tanked late-season games after clinching playoff position and then found that when they got to the playoffs, they couldn't just crank it back up at will. A franchise that at the very least should have won multiple Super Bowls during the Manning years ended up with the single, lonely championship over Rex Grossman and the Bears in 2006.

Far, far better to battle until the end to finish as high as possible in the standings. Now, if, say, a 37-year-old Marian Hossa suffers an injury (which he did recently, sidelining him for at least a couple weeks), I'm not saying I don't keep him out an extra game or two or to make absolutely sure he is as healthy as can be when he comes back.

But no way should any healthy player ever sit out a game. Period. End of story. Enjoy your time off, Hawks, and rest assured that you won't have to worry about the wind chill at anymore of your games this season.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:53 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Graduation rates at almost every Chicago high school over the past four years have been revised following an investigation last year by WBEZ and the Better Government Association," WBEZ and the BGA report.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted improving graduation rates as he campaigned for re-election last year. But an investigation by WBEZ and the BGA found that graduation rates were inflated, because many principals were regularly labeling students as transfers out of the district when they should have been classified as dropouts."

Well, a mistake like that could easily have been made quite innocuously at almost every high school in the district for four years. Maybe no one told those principals how to properly account for dropouts, such as checking the dropout box. Or maybe principals thought dropouts were transferring to each other's schools (wink, wink) or simply transferring to a life of despair. These things happen.

Besides, it was probably just a few students.

"New school-level data provided by CPS show that 4,500 more students dropped out over the past four years than previously reported by the district."

Oh.

Well, maybe that was a practice of the past that Rahm was cleaning up.

"The new data also show some schools saw significant changes in their graduation rate, especially in the past two years, when the mislabeling of students appears to be more widespread."

Oh.

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"Graduation rates are used in the district's school rating system and many principals have pointed to increases as a way to market themselves and attract more families."

So the incentive system is working.

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"Some of the confusion over graduation rates is also fueled by the fact that the district issues schools two different graduation rates - one that tracks students over four years and one that tracks them for five years. The four-year rate matters for a school's rating, but the five-year rate is the one that gets talked about publicly."

Because the first rule of the four-year rate is that you do not talk about the four-year rate.

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The South Side Solution
That guy on MTV was The Situation, and we use to call a Beachwood regular The Scenario; well, now the White Sox hope they have The Solution. In The White Sox Report.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Heavy Dreams, TEEN, Slayer, Testament, Carcass, Gretchen Erickson, Future, Futuristic, Maiden Radio, Bullet For My Valentine, Lyfe Jennings, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Dropkick Murphy's, and Fetty Wap.

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BeachBook

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Indiana case; decision by Posner.

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A favorite of mine; someone on my Twitter feed spotted it in stores over the weekend.

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TweetWood

He's adorable with children?

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The one time Donald Trump gets something right and a professional political reporter doesn't know what on earth he's talking about.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Community. Ish.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:22 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Heavy Dreams at the Burlington on Saturday night.


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2. TEEN at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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3. Slayer at the Riv on Friday night.

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4. Testament at the Riv on Friday night.

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5. Carcass at the Riv on Friday night.

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6. Gretchen Erickson at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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7. Future at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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8. Futuristic at House of Blues on Friday night.

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9. Maiden Radio at the Vic on Thursday night.

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10. Bullet For My Valentine at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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11. Lyfe Jennings at City Winery on Saturday night.

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12. Bonnie "Prince" Billy at the Vic on Thursday night.

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13. Dropkick Murphy's at the Aragon on Friday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Fetty Wap at the House of Blues last Wednesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:53 AM | Permalink

February 20, 2016

The (Shortstop) Solution

The White Sox opened spring training with a number of question marks, not the least of which are back of the rotation, right field, and outfield defense. But none is quite so glaring as the shortstop position.

Gone is Alexei Ramirez, a seven-year fixture in the middle infield on the South Side. (Ramirez played eight seasons for the Sox but only 16 games at shortstop his rookie year of 2008.) Ramirez's $10 million salary was predictably declined by the front office which, like the rest of us, saw that the 34-year-old's better days were behind him.

The Padres will pay Ramirez $3 million this season, and we wish him well.

The importance of having a shortstop who can pick up the ball and throw it accurately can't be overstated. The last three seasons Ramirez, who played almost every day, handled approximately 14 percent of balls put in play by opposing hitters. In 2013 he committed 22 errors for a defense that ranked 14th in the American League. That, my friends, is a reasonable starting point in explaining why the Sox lost 99 games.

Also in 2013, the Sox used their first draft choice (17th overall) to select shortstop prospect Tim Anderson out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. While only watching a few video clips of the kid and reading scouting reports, I conclude this is an athlete with unique natural talents. Labels such as "quick hands, great range, quick feet, [and] arm strength" are sprinkled into his FanGraphs profile.

But at 22, he apparently needs more minor league experience and seasoning. Not that he isn't ready offensively, especially when one considers that Tyler Saladino, an adequate defender who hit .225 in 68 games for the Sox last season, has the inside track to be the Opening Day shortstop.

Meanwhile, in three minor league campaigns, Anderson has a slash line of .301/.343/.772. Toss in 83 stolen bases in 105 attempts, and you understand why he's so highly-rated. Back in the day, shortstops like the Yankees' Phil Rizzuto and the Cardinals' Marty Marion weren't expected to supply much offense. But they had to be able to turn the double play, go into the hole, and basically anchor the infield defense. Marion, a .263 lifetime hitter who never posted double digits in home runs, made the All-Star team seven times and was MVP in 1944.

Rizzuto, arguably the least-talented player to be elected to the Hall of Fame, was a .273 hitter. In 1950 he hit seven homers and drove in 66 runs, both career highs. Yet he was the American League's MVP. Playing in New York might have had something to do with his notoriety - along with the fact that "The Scooter" was a deft defender who helped lead the Yankees to pennants five straight seasons, 1949-53.

The White Sox shortstop of the 1950s, Luis Aparicio, also a Hall of Famer, was another in the long line of superb fielders. The image of him going deep into the hole, backhanding a hard-hit ground ball, rising into the air and throwing a perfect strike to first base is ingrained in the gray matter of all of us who saw him play. He was simply sensational, exciting, confident, and talented.

Offensively Aparicio's forte was stealing bases. He led the league nine straight seasons (1956-64). Ten All-Star Game appearances and nine Gold Gloves vastly overshadowed his .262 lifetime batting average.

What's noteworthy - especially as it relates to the development of Tim Anderson - is that Aparicio made 35 errors his first season of 1956 when he was Rookie of the Year. In 1963 when he played for Baltimore he made only 12 miscues in almost as many chances. Anderson reported to the Sox camp last week and will get a prolonged look in the next few weeks. He is destined to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte. Daryl Van Schouwen pointed out in the Sun-Times on Friday that there are "doubts about his glove," referring to the 25 errors Anderson made at Birmingham last season in 110 games.

What he didn't say is that the year before, playing at three levels in the Sox's system, the kid was charged with 34 miscues in just 82 games. Some of this might be attributed to the fact that the higher an athlete rises in the minor league chain, the smoother the infields become, accounting for truer hops on ground balls. But you also have to think that Anderson is learning how to become a competent shortstop.

Only the passage of time will reveal what kind of shortstop Anderson will become. But looking at some of the best ever can be instructive.

Take Omar Vizquel who, along with Ozzie Smith, is right at the top of the list of all-time great shortstops. He played 24 years until the age of 45, and we had the privilege of watching him with the White Sox in 2010-11 when he was used primarily as a third baseman. The guy was amazing, making only 183 errors in his 24 seasons, posting a fielding percentage of .985. That's second all-time behind - believe it or not - Troy Tulowitzki, the current Toronto shortstop, who conceivably could boot his way to second place before his career ends.

Vizquel, a Venezuelan, signed as a free agent with Seattle at age 17 and spent five seasons in the minors before making the Mariner roster at age 22. His path to the big leagues sounds hauntingly like Anderson's, as Vizquel was charged with 25 errors in each of the 1987 and '88 seasons in a similar number of games as Anderson.

Present-day shortstop magic-man Andrelton Simmons, whom the Braves dealt to the Angels this offseason, is another case in point. Four years into his career at age 26, Simmons committed a paltry eight errors in 147 contests in 2015 for a .988 fielding mark. He's made just 39 errors in his entire big league career.

Yet, back in 2011, playing with Lynchburg in the Carolina League when he was 21, Simmons accounted for 28 errors in 129 games.

Could it be that there were "doubts about the gloves" of guys like Aparicio, Vizquel and Simmons when they were committing all those errors in the minor leagues? That would be hard to fathom after observing the exhilarating skills of players like these.

When it comes to Anderson, the physical and mental attributes tend to indicate that this is a young man who is absolutely capable of conquering any doubts about his ability to play shortstop at the major league level.

Our South Side pals have a checkered past when it comes to first-round draft choices. Names like Lance Broadway, Aaron Poreda, Jared Mitchell, Keenyn Walker and Keon Barnum are unfamiliar to the vast major of Sox fans while Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Jack McDowell and Chris Sale have become fixtures in White Sox lore.

Where will Tim Anderson eventually fit into this mix? I'm betting much closer to the latter group than the former.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:55 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"After years of grand plans and empty promises, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is moving to seize control over a giant civic embarrassment: the vacant Main Post Office that hovers over the Eisenhower Expressway," the Sun-Times reports.

"British developer Bill Davies, who purchased the dilapidated hulk of a building eight years ago, was notified Friday of the city's intention to use its sweeping condemnation powers to acquire the building and solicit bids to redevelop it."

Good. I'm with Rahm on this one - at least at first blush. Davies has had his shot.

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"The 'request for proposals' for the entire building - not pieces of it - is expected to be issued this spring with a winner chosen this summer. The designated developer will be required to bankroll the city's acquisition of the property and develop the project without tax-increment-financing (TIF) or any other city subsidy, said Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman."

Again, good.

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You know what would be cool there? A giant newsroom.

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Here are a few other ideas, from the archives.

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Then the Old Post Office became a sphinx.

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"Davies, who lives in the tax haven of Monaco, could not be reached for comment on the city's actions.

"He bought the building for $17 million in 2009 after defaulting on his winning auction bid of $40 million."

Oh, Chicago.

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It's like the Block 37 of post offices.

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"Last fall, Zoning Committee Chairman Danny Solis (25th) made it clear his patience was wearing thin.

"He threatened to strip Davies of the coveted zoning approval he won in July, 2013 after learning that Davies had twice turned down offers of $150 million from other developers."

I guess a $133 million return wasn't enough.

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We'd be better of with any one of these Bill Davies owning the building.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #90: Up The Toffees!
The Blues, The School of Science, The People's Club. Plus: The Bread Man & Barack; Secord Still Sucks; Bulloney, Pitchers, Catchers, Cynics Report; and Jim's Last Chicago Fire Comment Ever.

Fresh and relevant to our Bulls discussion:

* Doug McDermott's 30-point Night Brings Attention To Where He Stands In The 2014 Draft Class . . . And It's Not Bad.

* "Fred Hoiberg said after Thursday's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that Derrick Rose asked to come out of the game in the 3rd quarter because he was winded," ESPN Chicago reports.

"Before Friday's game against the Toronto Raptors, Hoiberg was asked why Rose's wind wasn't where he needed it to be more than halfway through the season. 'A lot of it [is he's] in and out of the lineup, coming back from All-Star break.'"

* E-mail exchange:

TOM CHAMBERS: Not to counter, but Coach Coffman, we do know about this Bulls team. They stink! And at those prices!? Oy Vey!

RHODES: I think the team isn't a good fit for the coach. They changed the coach to change the style of play, but did not change the players. His knees are shot, regardless of what happened to his shoulder. And Derrick Rose is holding this team hostage with his (un)availability.

Then again, you can't change the players in a single year, that's why I keep arguing that this is a transition year and anyone who expected more was fooling themselves. Still, I figured they had a shot at the conference final. But keeping Gasol (and Noah) seems absolutely nuts to me.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Music played an essential role in uplifting, motivating and uniting people during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and '60s. In honor of Black History Month, hosts Jim and Greg explore the powerful music of the Civil Rights Movement, from Mahalia Jackson to Curtis Mayfield and beyond."

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Weekend BeachBook

Severs ties with Lincoln Square writer Jeff Arnold.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, February 20, 2016

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Leasing information.

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Recruitment video for Any American University.

Any American University

A straightforward, honest college commercial...

Posted by The iO Comedy Network on Friday, December 4, 2015

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"This can't possibly be true because it's in the Guardian." - Chicago media

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, February 19, 2016

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Meanwhile, AB's advertising for Budweiser makes fun of craft brews, which AB has been scarfing up.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Friday, February 19, 2016

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Lesson here for journalists who came at subjects/topics with pre-conceived and well-worn narratives.

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Melting steel daily.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:54 PM | Permalink

February 19, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #90: Up The Toffees!

The Blues, The School of Science, The People's Club. Plus: The Bread Man & Barack; Secord Still Sucks; Bulloney, Pitchers, Catchers, Cynics Report; and Jim's Last Chicago Fire Comment Ever.


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SHOW NOTES

* Alonzo Spellman.

* The last we heard of Spellman, sadly, was of his arrest on outstanding warrants in 2015.

* Find out more about his various sagas and bouts with bipolar disorder on his Wikipedia page.

1:34: Blackhawks, The Bread Man & Barack.

* The Bread Man.

* Chicago Blackhawks Give President Obama A United Center Parking Pass.

8:45: Secord Still Sucks.

* Frosty Feelings Revived For North Stars-Blackhawks Alumni.

16:13: Bulloney.

* Forman 'Disappointed' With How Bulls Season Is Unfolding.

Punditry:

* Hoge: Similarities Between Wandering Bulls, White Sox Are Startling.

* Bernstein: Bulls Make No Sense.

* Rosenbloom: Sounds Like Gar Forman Is Playing You For Stupid, Bulls Fans.

* O'Donnell: The Chicago Bulls Are A Complete Organizational Failure From The Top.

32:31: Pitchers, Catchers, Cynics Report.

* White Sox Prospect Tim Anderson Ready, Amped For Second Spring Camp.

* Cubs Prospects Place High On Keith Law's Positional Rankings.

* USA Today Sees Cubs, White Sox In Playoffs.

* Correction: It was the New York Times (not ESPN) that did "Ah, Spring! What Could Go Wrong?

* Flat-brimmed hat.

50:43: Jim's Last Chicago Fire Comment Ever.

* Chicago Fire Send Lake Forest's Harry Shipp To Montreal Impact.

* Peter Wilt Looking To Revitalize Soccer In Chicago With NASL Project.

* NASL.

* Fire Stadium Burning Taxpayers.

58:10: The Beachwood Media Company Is Officially Backing Everton. Up The Toffees!

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STOPPAGE: 6:51

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:02 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Citadel is trimming its investment division following the firm's losses in the early part of 2016," CNBC reports.

Citadel, of course, is the Chicago hedge fund run by Bruce Rauner and Rahm Emanuel patron Ken Griffin, the dude who's complained that the "ultrawealthy" have "insufficient influence" over the political system.

"CNBC has confirmed that Citadel has cut more than a dozen employees from Surveyor Capital, one of the firm's divisions, as The Wall Street Journal first reported.

"A person familiar with the situation confirmed to CNBC that Citadel's flagship Kensington Wellington fund has fallen 6.5 percent year-to-date as of Feb. 12."

The Kensington Wellington fund. I think at the club they just call it the Ken Welly.

Anyway, here's the haw-haw:

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I already stepped on my retweet in the set-up, but just for the record:

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A Super-Sized McRaise
"McDonald's Corp. said Chief Executive Stephen Easterbrook's base pay will increase 18% starting in March, while his annual target incentive for the year also promises a bigger reward if the fast-food's giant's operating earnings improve for 2016," MarketWatch reports.

"According to a regulatory filing, McDonald's compensation committee approved increasing Mr. Easterbrook's salary to $1.3 million starting in March. His annual target incentive was set at 175% of his salary, or nearly $3 million, but only if the company's operating earnings grow."

And what do workers get if operating earnings grow? The satisfaction of knowing that Stephen Easterbrook met his target incentive.

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Chris Rock as recounted by the Telegraph on Thursday:

"I used to work at McDonald's making minimum wage. You know what that means when someone pays you minimum wage? You know what your boss was trying to say? Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it's against the law."

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Nutty Preacher To Investigate CPS
"The Illinois State Board of Education launched an investigation of Chicago Public Schools' finances Thursday, two weeks after Gov. Bruce Rauner ordered a review of the district's books as part of his call for a state takeover," the Tribune reports.

"The state has asked CPS to turn over a large amount of financial information by the first week of March, including details on the district's cash flow and major contracts. The request was made in a letter sent Thursday to CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and Chicago school board President Frank Clark by ISBE Superintendent Tony Smith and Chairman James Meeks."

Ha, good luck. As reporters around here know, getting information out of CPS is harder than getting a turnaround agenda through the General Assembly.

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By the way, I still can't believe how unremarked upon it is that the the chairman of the state board of education is a homophobic, anti-Semitic religious nut.

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Better Than Never
"Other cities release video recordings of police shootings much more quickly than Chicago will under a new policy announced by Emanuel," Thomas Corfman writes for Crain's in its morning politics e-mail newsletter.

"Seattle, for example, released dashboard-camera video last month of a shooting the day after it happened, while Cincinnati released a cellphone recording yesterday within 17 hours of an incident, the Associated Press reports.

"One of the lawyers who helped write Chicago's new procedure defends it. Sergio Acosta, a former federal prosecutor, says the new policy tells the public the days of withholding the evidence indefinitely are over. If the Emanuel administration's goal is only to do better than never, then he's right."

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When I started Beachwood 10 years ago, nobody was doing daily bite-sized commentaries on the news. Now everyone is. Just sayin'.

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Secord Still Sucks
"Could this be where it all started?" Kent Youngblood writes for the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Before Dino Ciccarelli played for the Minnesota North Stars and Al Secord played for the Chicago Blackhawks? Before fans at Met Center came to love to hate Secord, and before Hawks fans at old Chicago Stadium put nooses around the necks of blowup Dino dinosaur dolls?

Ciccarelli and Secord were in junior hockey in Ontario. This story comes from former North Stars player, coach and executive Lou Nanne:

One night Ciccarelli, playing for London, scored a game-winning goal against Hamilton. The next morning the newspaper ran a picture of Ciccarelli scoring, with Secord right behind him. Ciccarelli went to the paper and got a copy of the picture.

"He gets an 8x10 glossy," Nanne said. "He writes, 'Isn't that the guy you're supposed to be guarding?' and sends it to Secord."

Saturday, outside at TCF Bank Stadium, there will be an alumni game between Minnesota and the Blackhawks. And while there will be a few former members of Wild on the ice, it will basically be a North Stars-Blackhawks deal. And for anyone who watched those teams go at it through the years - particularly from the early 1980s through the 1991 playoffs, it will be an opportunity to reminisce about probably the best rivalry in Minnesota pro sports history.

I grew up in Minnesota on that rivalry, and Dino Ciccarelli was one of my all-time favorite players. I worked for the North Stars in the PR department - maintaining the archival scrapbook, assisting in the press box, assisting out-of-town television crews - in the '80s while I was in high school and into my early years in college. A few of us once flew to Chicago for a North Stars-Blackhawks game at the Stadium, and Lou Nanne let us ride the team bus back to the hotel.

Good times, people! I'm sure Blackhawks fans will enjoy the article too, so click through.

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Shane Stokowski Was Killed Trying To Protect Others
"Others watched as the highly intoxicated man left a bar in Chicago's West Town neighborhood, got into his girlfriend's SUV and smashed into parked cars as he attempted to drive off one Saturday afternoon in March 2014," Steve Schmadeke reports for the Tribune.

But Shane Stokowski was different, family, friends and prosecutors say. Worried that the man would kill someone, the outgoing 33-year-old, just seven months away from his wedding, went to persuade the driver to find another way home.

"C'mon man, don't do it," an eyewitness reported that Stokowski pleaded with the driver, Timothy McShane, whose license was suspended after a history of drunken-driving arrests. Stokowski's tone was so genial that the witness thought he was joking.

For a few seconds, Stokowski managed to run alongside the car, according to the witness, who said his hands were atop the driver's side door panel. But he fell when McShane hit the gas and sped off, suffering massive head injuries consistent with a tire running over his head, according to prosecutors and testimony as McShane's trial on reckless homicide and aggravated DUI charges got underway this week.

This is a heartbreaking story, but this part in particular really multiplied my anger:

McShane's friend Sean Dailey, a former Chicago police officer, had helped McShane drink that afternoon, lifting a glass of Captain Morgan and Coke to his mouth after McShane apparently was too intoxicated to hold it himself, according to trial testimony as well as video from the Aberdeen Tap played in court.

A Cook County judge had banned Dailey from drinking as part of his probation sentence for making a fake 911 call to get out of an off-duty DUI arrest while he was still a cop.

That makes him an accessory in my book.

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"Bartender Michael McDonough testified that Dailey left the bar in a hurry after Stokowski's body was found lying near a pothole on Aberdeen Street, 150 feet north of where McShane had parked his car."

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Dailey has a quite a history. From August 2014:

"A former Chicago police officer convicted of making a fake 911 report while off-duty to get out of a DUI stop could face prison time after prosecutors allege he violated his probation by drinking at a West Town bar."

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Here's the original report on the fake 911 call:

"An off-duty Chicago police officer was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly calling 911 and reporting a phony bar brawl to get out of a DUI traffic stop in Niles.

"Officer Sean Dailey, 34, was freed on $10,000 bond Wednesday and faces up to 3 years in prison if convicted."

From the end of that article:

"Court records show Dailey was ticketed last September in a separate drunken driving case that also occurred in Niles. He pleaded guilty and received court supervision and a $1,400 fine."

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Daily's conviction in the fake 911 call case was upheld on appeal last March.

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Interesting part from that decision (emphases mine):

"At trial, Niles police officer Brian Zagorski testified that he was parked in a parking lot in Niles at 2 a.m. on November 5, 2010. A black Chevy Tahoe sped past Zagorski, driving 66 miles per hour in a posted 35 mile per hour zone. Zagorski pulled out of the lot and began to pursue the vehicle, activating his police lights.

"The Tahoe pulled into a parking lot and stopped. Stopping behind the vehicle, Zagorski exited his car and approached the other vehicle. He asked the driver of the vehicle, defendant, for his license and registration.

"Defendant informed Zagorski that he was a Chicago police officer. His speech was slurred and Zagorski smelled a strong odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle. He ran defendant's license and verified that he was a police officer. He then offered defendant a 'professional courtesy,' allowing him to park the vehicle and find an alternate ride home without receiving any citation."

Worse:

"Defendant refused Zagorski's offer to drive him home and the officer's offer to call for a cab."

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I haven't found any evidence that Zagorski was disciplined for extending a favor to Dailey because he was a cop.

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From the Tribune in 2013:

"We're on the same team," Dailey was alleged to have told Niles Police Officer Brian Zagorski after he was pulled over.

Zagorski smelled alcohol on Dailey's breath but agreed to let him go without a ticket after learning he was a Chicago cop.

And then:

"The Niles officer, however, wouldn't allow Dailey to drive himself home, telling him he could call a friend or a cab or that Zagorski himself would drive him home. Dailey responded by saying that Zagorski was treating him like 'a racial slur for African-Americans.'"

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Dailey, a tactical officer, was taken off duty without pay once he was charged; he resigned from the department in November 2013, after 13 years on the force.

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More from Dailey's past. From August 2012:

When Chicago police broke into his Austin home with guns drawn and a search warrant, Markee Cooper Sr., a cop himself, and his family could only look on as drawers and closets were searched for crack cocaine based on an alleged informant's tip.

On Friday, a federal jury awarded Cooper and his family $565,000 in damages after finding one officer at fault for a falsified warrant and two others responsible for the illegal 2007 search.

The officer and his wife testified at the trial that their two young sons, Markee Jr., 13, and Zion, 8, were traumatized at seeing their father confront a roomful of cops with guns before kneeling to the living room floor and handing over his badge and weapon.

"It's a horrible experience for a child to see or even think about," Cooper's wife, Sherita, said after the verdict was announced. "I'm just glad that justice was served."

The city of Chicago will have to pay $450,000 in compensatory damages awarded by the seven-woman, three-man jury, said Cooper's attorney, Brendan Shiller. The jury also assessed punitive damages against three of five officers - money they will be responsible for paying, Shiller said.

Officer Sean Dailey, who testified that he secured the warrant based on information from an informant named "Lamar" who told him crack was being sold out of the second-floor apartment in the Cooper's building, was assessed by far the most - $100,000.

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Dailey, the son of a late Chicago police commander, opened his own one-man security company while on the force. (The link shows 2010, but this record shows a detective license for Dailey Protection expiring in 2008.)

From RedEye 2009:

"Sean Dailey, 30, recalled working security at Wrigley Field with a fellow Chicago police officer and spotting a fan who was drunk and yelling at a vendor. They told the fan he had to leave, but the fan gave them attitude - until Dailey's buddy showed him his badge. 'People have more respect for Chicago police than just regular security guards . . . They know Chicago police officers are well trained and know the law,' said Dailey, who owns a security company."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk
In Park Ridge.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: AC/DC, Chris Bolint, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Eric Burdon.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Everton.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. AC/DC on the West Side on Wednesday night.


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2. Chris Bolint at the Elbo Room on Tuesday night.

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3. Fleshgod Apocalypse at Reggies on Monday night.

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4. Eric Burdon at City Winery on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:49 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonk

In Park Ridge.

bonkinsuranceexpbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:27 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday framed the state's precarious financial situation as a choice for lawmakers this year: work with him on a long-term mix of budget cuts, tax hikes and his pro-business, union-weakening agenda - or steep cuts will have to be made," the Tribune reports.

"'You choose,' Rauner said in his second budget speech at the Capitol. 'But please, choose now.'

"Should lawmakers continue to resist striking a thus-far-elusive compromise, the first-term governor said he would wield the budget ax himself if the General Assembly gives him special powers to do so."

I'm confused by Rauner's logic: If the General Assembly doesn't do what he wants, he'll just do what he wants without them, if the very people refusing to do what he wants give him "special powers" to do what he wants?

Rauner may have been a really good at private equity, but I think we can now finally conclude that he's utterly incompetent as a governor.

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"And while Rauner asserted that 'this year cannot become a rerun of last year,' that's the path Republicans and Democrats appear headed down this spring: a continuation of the stalemate that has left state government amassing billions of dollars in unpaid bills, social service agencies shuttering programs for the poor and some state universities pondering mass layoffs."

I have an idea - one that I'm sure tons of others (including state legislators) have had: instead of Rauner promising to pass a budget upon lawmakers passing his Turnaround Agenda, how 'bout lawmakers promise to take up his Turnaround Agenda upon him passing a budget. They can take up the agenda as one package, or piece by piece. Certainly, as governor, Rauner has the "right" to set the agenda and send bills to the legislature. He does not have the right to simply impose his will.

Of course, the reason why Rauner didn't take that course in the first place is the by-now well-reported fact that he hoped to leverage the state's fiscal crisis, including its human pain, to get his way on a bevy of non-budget, anti-labor measures. That might have worked if those measures weren't as radical as they are. Rauner, however, refuses to change course. Remember, he boasts of persistence as his best quality and brags about winning at everything he's done. And now he's steered the ship of state right into the shoals of Lake Madigan, just like so many others before him. Unfortunately, we're all on the boat this time. And in this one case, Madigan is right.

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"With all of the House and much of the Senate up for election, those in control of the Capitol are digging in, confident that voters will vindicate their approach this fall."

So Springfield has seen its shadow; nine more months of misery.

And guess what? Chances are the election won't change the dynamic one bit. Then what, Governor?

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"Until then, the state faces a $6.6 billion budget deficit. Under the proposed budget, Rauner assumes he'll be able to find $2.7 billion in savings by reducing health benefits of state workers, reining in state payments for pensions and making agencies operate more efficiently. But Rauner would need help from lawmakers and a new contract with state workers to realize much of those savings."

Given that he's extended such a welcome hand, I'm sure state workers will be eager to help!

"The governor also is hoping to avoid having to pay back $454 million that his administration borrowed from special funds last year to help get through the budget impasse."

Sounds like an old banking trick!

"That leaves a roughly $3.5 billion hole. Rauner didn't spell out how he would bridge it. Instead, the administration presented two scenarios - one in which the state would have $32.8 billion to spend and another that would allow for a more generous $36.3 billion."

Let's be a bit more clear on that by turning to Crain's, via their e-mail newsletter:

"Rauner proposes $36.34 billion in spending but predicts only $32.81 billion in revenue. The difference - $3.53 billion - is a novel line item called 'working together or executive management,' according to his operating budget."

Hey, Bruce, who needs working together when you can just executive manage your way to $3.53 billion in savings!

Of course, that's where the "special powers" comes in. I think you can get them here.

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The Tribune editorial board shops there too - and they've got a group discount on the way!

From Rich Miller: "Tribune: You're A 'Poindexter' If You Look At Rauner's Actual Budget."

The editor responsible for that piece now runs the whole paper.

So will the "facts" asserted by the editorial board under Dold now replace the facts reported up to now by the newsroom?

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Chicago Police Shooting Data Reveals 'Stop And Frisk, Chase And Shoot' Problem
In nearly a quarter of the 259 shooting incidents examined, it was the police who stirred the pot.

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Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: Middle Infield
Addison Russell vs. Starlin Castro.

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BeachBook

Jon Stewart sums it up best for the entire state: "Let's say you're present governor of Illinois and you're in a room with a former governor of Illinois on your right and a former governor of Illinois on your left. Chances are the room you're in is jail."

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: America.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

Chicago Police Shooting Data Reveals 'Stop And Frisk, Chase And Shoot' Problem

The Department of Justice is currently investigating the Chicago Police Department.

The high-profile police shooting of teen Laquan McDonald - combined with the city's efforts to prevent the public from learning about it - prompted the investigation.

Given that the Justice Department is playing hardball with Ferguson, Missouri - suing the city following its refusal to voluntarily enter into an agreement to reform its police department and courts - advocates in Chicago may also expect something important to change as a result of DOJ involvement.

In a recent paper, I analyzed 259 Chicago police shootings that occurred between 2006 and 2014. These are all of the incidents for which Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority had made a completed report of investigation publicly available as of last month.

My analysis of these incidents suggests that police reform in Chicago, like that in Ferguson, must include a critical examination of the enforcement tactics that police departments use in poor, minority communities.

Better discipline and training are part of the solution, but they are unlikely to make dramatic difference by themselves. To create meaningful change, we must look beyond officer shooters in high-profile cases like that of McDonald and Michael Brown.

We shouldn't just ask how officers might best manage suspects during an encounter, but why certain police-civilian encounters occur at all.

Police Shootings In Chicago

There is no such thing as a "typical" police shooting, but many share common features. For example, in nearly 50 percent of the 259 incidents I reviewed, police officers shot during or immediately following a foot chase.

In my view, not all of these chases were necessary. We expect officers to chase and subdue a murder suspect who fires shots at officers as was described in one of the reports I read. But we ought to feel differently when officers chase and shoot a young black man whose only offense was "looking in the officers' direction" or "grabbing his . . . waistband and turning away."

Egregious high-profile shootings like McDonald's too quickly lead us to the conclusion that the problem is "bad apples" - cops who use their badges as cover for racist aggression.

The implication is that there are relatively few "bad apples" as compared to "good cops." And that those "good cops," with the right training, will only shoot when necessary.

Discipline And Training Are Not Enough

In reality, it is hard to know how many bad apples there are in any given department because neither police departments nor unions are keen on divulging that information.

This is just one of many obstacles to punishing police officers for misconduct. The public was rightly frustrated, for example, when it emerged that Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald, had a long history of civilian complaints for excessive force and racist slurs. Had Van Dyke been appropriately disciplined for any of his earlier brutality and racism, perhaps McDonald would be alive today.

But in a city like Chicago where there are tens of police shootings every year, it is hard to argue that every cop involved with a shooting is a "bad apple."

My review of the available cases reveals that it's not just racist cops who shoot. In the shootings I examined, the demographic profile of officer-shooters looks much like the demographic profile of the department as a whole. Police shootings cannot be reduced to a simple story about white-on-black racism because many of the police officers doing the shooting are black.

Most police shootings in Chicago are unlike the Laquan McDonald case in that officers typically claim a firearm threat prompted them to shoot. In nearly 80 percent of the 259 reviewed cases, the individual who was shot had access to a gun. This does not mean that these shootings were unavoidable, but it does suggest that many were probably not as clearly unnecessary as McDonald's.

So, what if anything can be done about "good apples" who shoot?

Better training, many say. There can be little argument that better training is desirable. Some police shootings in Chicago have occurred because officers were physically dragged along after having reached into running vehicles. Some involved officers firing from moving vehicles, or at moving vehicles. Such practices are unnecessarily dangerous and could be readily avoided if officers were better trained to avoid them.

And of course, there is "de-escalation," a buzz word in public discussion of police reform. De-escalation techniques are supposed to help officers defuse or withdraw from potentially violent incidents without jeopardizing anyone's safety. There is nothing wrong with providing officers with more of this training. But, the emphasis on individual officer training is shortsighted.

Both discipline and training focus on how individual officers manage critical incidents. That overlooks an important question. How is it that an officer finds himself squared off with a potentially armed individual? To answer that requires thinking critically about departmental choices in particular neighborhoods, not just individual officers' choices in particular cases.

It's Where You Live

The likelihood of getting shot by the police is much higher in some Chicago neighborhoods than in others. Of the 259 police shootings that the IPRA has released information about, nearly 90 percent occurred in minority neighborhoods. That goes a long way in explaining why 80 percent of police shooting victims were black in a city that is only one-third black.

The police department and others might point out that the likelihood of getting shot by anyone is much higher in poor neighborhoods than middle-class ones. Incidences of violent crime tend to be much higher in poor neighborhoods - which are disproportionately minority. That would seem to explain why police shootings are higher in those neighborhoods.

Not so fast. The connection between neighborhood violence and police shootings would make sense if shooting victims consisted exclusively of persons who were suspected of violent crime.

But in nearly a quarter of the 259 IPRA incidents, it was the police who stirred the pot. These police-civilian encounters began as traffic stops for minor violations, because someone made a "furtive movement," or just looked suspicious. Many of these stops were likely of the "stop and frisk" variety that have been controversial in New York City, in Chicago, and in other cities. The shootings that occur in the course of these kinds of encounters follow a general pattern. One of the stopped civilians flees and the police give chase. During or immediately after the chase, officers shoot in response to a perceived gun threat.

Even if one believes the officers' version of an encounter's final moments when a suspect's threatening behavior prompted the police to shoot, we should ask whether the initial stop should have occurred at all. And even if the answer to that question is "yes," we should ask whether a foot chase was justified, given the harmlessness of the misconduct that precipitated the initial stop.

My review also revealed that plainclothes officers were responsible for nearly 40 percent of on-duty shootings. There is evidence from other departments that such officers are, per capita, responsible for more shootings than uniformed officers. This may be because more aggressive officers are drawn to such assignments. It also seems possible that people have a hard time distinguishing these officers from civilians who mean harm - particularly when plainclothes officers break into an ongoing fight or melee.

Police departments and policymakers must critically examine the relationships between police shootings and stop-and-frisk, plainclothes policing and other enforcement tactics. Doing so will afford more insights into how to improve police-community relations in poor, minority neighborhoods. If this is truly reformers' goal, more aggressive discipline and better training should be components of the agenda, not the whole of it.

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Nirej Sekhon is an assistant law professor at Georgia State University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Bob Angone:

A breathtaking article on police shootings. However, the confrontational incidents as opposed to the shootings percentage is so out of whack it's a little scary. Of course the cops stir the pot, that's what the job demands. Every criminal in America would run away if cops were not going to give chase. What else can you do? Maybe yell HALT.

All of this after-the-fact data collection is just not ever going to replace training and supervision. The sensational incidents will always be at the forefront and in the media. I still say the overwhelming number of times the cops get it right would bore these guys to death. The body cameras in my opinion will prove that if the likes of him care to start doing a count.

Of course cops are not perfect - some are really scary - but remember we get that pool from the society we live in. We are the cops.

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Editor's response: I think what the author is saying isn't that cops shouldn't give chase, but that cops are chasing people who were stopped without even being suspected of crimes, or people who have committed minor infractions - and then they end up dead. It's an example of "overpolicing" - and it's only done in poor neighborhoods. Of course, that's where crime is the highest. But maybe a different approach, because that's where the breach of trust occurs. - Steve Rhodes

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:44 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: Middle Infield

Beyond the top two or three choices, middle infielders mostly tend to produce middling fantasy results, which makes them positions worth gambling on. Why not take a budding prospect over a consistent day to day contributor? You might just strike gold.

2B

1. Jose Altuve, HOU.

Day to day one of the most consistent fantasy players - 200-hit seasons, of which he now has two straight, mean he's scoring points just about every day. HRs increased from seven to 15 last year and SBs declined from 56 to 38, so maybe still settling into a norm.

2. Dee Gordon, MIA.

Led all 2Bs with 205 hits, .333 BA and 58 SBs last year, and got a nice big new contract for his trouble. His hitting prowess was something of a surprise, but we're betting he's figured out the big leagues and can do it all over again while still dominating the basepaths.

3. Robinson Cano. SEA.

His 21 HRs last year were third highest among 2Bs, 79 RBI were good for second and 182 hits were fourth most, and what for anyone else would be a fantastic year was the second straight disappointing campaign for Cano, though an improvement on 2014.

4. Matt Carpenter, STL.

28 HRs last year were a huge shock (and two more than his career total before 2015), but we won't bet as much on that as his consistency as an RBI and run-scoring threat. 84 RBI and 101 runs last year, and both led all 2Bs in those categories.

5. Jason Kipnis, CLE.

Career-high .303 BA , .823 OPS, 86 runs, 43 doubles were the most intriguing things about his 2015 season. Failed to reach double-digit HRs for the second straight year (9) and SBs have declined four straight years from 31 to 12, but 15 of each wouldn't be a bad 2016.

6. Brian Dozier, MIN.

Makes a nice case to rank higher than Kipnis, with 28 HRs, 77 RBI and 101 runs to tie Carpenter for the 2B lead, but his .236 BA and surprisingly unimpressive (given the HRs) .751 OPS make him more a feast or famine choice than and everyday contributor.

7. Roughned Odor, TEX.

Got more at-bats in his sophomore season (426 total) and delivered 16 HRs, 61 RBI, six SBs and nine triples. Think about what we could get with 600 ABs - maybe 20-25 HRs, close to 85 RBI, a bushel of extra-base hits, if that's a thing.

8. Anthony Rendon, WAS.

Injury-marred 2015 season told us almost nothing, but 2014 season of 21 HRs, 83 RBI, 17 SBs and 111 runs was hard to forget, and we're betting on something close, if not quite as impressive, assuming he is much healthier this year.

9. Ian Kinsler, DET.

His .296 BA last year was somehow his highest since 2008. Diminishing returns in most other stat areas, but if he matches his 11 HRs, 73 RBI, 10 SBs, 94 runs from a year ago, that's nice fantasy value at this position.

10. Matt Duffy, SF.

Great rookie year of 12 HRs, 77 RBI, 77 runs and 12 SBs was the kind of symmetry we love in fantasy from the 2B spot. If his BA weren't .295 we'd question if he could do it again, but he seems to be adjusting to the big leagues pretty well.

11. Kolten Wong, STL.

Similar to Odor, he showed improvement in his second season and the arrow is still pointing upward, but a couple of major slumps gave us less consistent day to day fantasy value last year than you would expect out of 12 HRs, 61 RBI and 15 SBs.

12. Ben Zobrist, CUBS.

As we saw in KC and as the Cubs hope, he has a load of on-field value that doesn't translate to fantasy. A few years removed from being a 20-HR, 15-SB threat, but again, his 2015 numbers of 13 HRs, 56 RBI and .800+ OPS are decent numbers given his position.

13. Daniel Murphy, WAS.

Which side of his 2015 stats - 14 HRs, 73 RBI, .281 BA - will he end up on this year? No one is believing his postseason boom translates to fantasy rebirth, but I bet plenty of owners draft him anyway just in case.

14. Dustin Pedroia, BOS.

381 at-bats was his lowest since 2010, yet his 12 HRs and .291 BA were both higher than the previous two seasons, and .797 OPS was highest in four seasons. Assuming he's rested and ready for 2016, could we see a big comeback year?

15. Addison Russell, CUBS.

Started this list wanting to rate him higher, and while 12 HRs, 42 RBI, 29 doubles in 475 ABs is promising, he's still figuring things out, and it won't help his fantasy case much if he continues hitting in the nine spot after the Lester-Ross black hole every five days.

16. DJ LeMahieu. COL.

Career-best .301 BA, 61 RBI and 23 SBs last year was nice, but that's literally all there is to like, as he doesn't have extra-base power even playing half his games in thin air. Still, a decent back-up option who manages to avoid too many 0-fer days.

17. Neil Walker, NYM.

Came off his 2014 career highs of 23 HRs, 76 RBI to go for 16 HRs, 71 RBI last year. Still one of the top 10 run producers at the position, but had the kind of year that reminds you why he always seems more like a fantasy back-up option than a starter.

18. Brandon Phillips, CIN.

Had himself a nice comeback year with the pressure off the flagging Reds - 12 HRs, 70 RBI, 23 SBs and .294 BA - the latter two numbers the highest in several years for both those stats. Don't think he keeps it up unless he's traded, which is certainly possible.

19. Logan Forsythe, MIA.

Lurking here at the back despite hitting 17 HRs, tied for fourth most among 2Bs. 68 RBI help, too, though at age 29 you have to wonder if he has hit or is very near to hitting his stat ceiling.

20. Jonathan Schoop, BAL.

On the surface, you could find better in all categories last year than his .279 BA, 15 HRs and 39 RBI, but he did it in 305 at-bats. His value this year obviously depends on more chances, but he's looking like he's growing comfortably into long-held hype.

Sleeper: Devon Travis, TOR.

A really nice start last year with the most productive lineup in MLB was marred by injury, but we're hoping his eight HRs, 35 RBI. .304 BA and .859 OPS in just 217 ABs was for real - also hoping everyone else at the draft forgot what I just pointed out.

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SS

1. Carlos Correa, HOU.

Though No. 2 and No. 3 on my list are getting more No. 1 attention elsewhere, and Correa has less than 100 games under his belt, I saw enough in last year's stats - 22 HRs, 68 RBI, 14 SBs, .857 OPS - that I'm willing to gamble at a shallow fantasy position.

2. Manny Machado, BAL.

Also has eligibility at 3B, but gets the higher ranking at SS. Last year's 35 HRs, 86 RBI, 20 SBs show us a player who could lead SS in all three categories if he swipes a few more bases. Close to being my No. 1 - just love Correa's potential to be ever so slightly better.

3. Troy Tulowitzki, TOR.

Between COL and TOR he played 128 games last year was the most since 2011, and about what we can expect given his injury-prone nature. Totals of 17 HRs, 70 RBI, .280 BA included just five HRs, 17 RBI. .239 BA in TOR, but betting he's more comfortable this year.

4. Xander Bogaerts, BOS.

Rising star didn't have as much power as we expected and started off slow, but finished in a flurry. Seven HRs, 81 RBI, 10 SBs, 84 runs, .320 BA showed us plenty to like. Also, led all SS with 35 doubles, and had six games in which he collected four hits. Wow.

5. Corey Seager, LAD.

Had he played a few more games at the MLB level last year, we might view him on par with Correa. As it was we got a very small sample of just 98 ABs, but his four HRs, 17 RBI, two SBs, and more meaningful, .337 BA and lofty .986 OPS in the span are worth a gamble.

6. Francisco Lindor, CLE.

Another young stud at this position who probably gets a full season of ABs this year. In 2015, his 390 ABs featured 12 HRs, 51 RBI, 12 SBs, .313 BA, .835 OPS. He can really run, so we're conservatively expecting at least 20 SBs this year.

7. Brandon Crawford, SF.

Breakout year in 2015 featured 21 HRs (third most among SS), 84 RBI (second most) and career-high .256 BA and .782 OPS. Great power from a position where you won't find much, though unless he boosts his OPS, he is really more of a feast or famine type.

8. Ian Desmond, FA.

Run of three straight 20 HR/20 SB seasons ended last year with 19 HR, 13 SBs and a pitiful .233 BA after what seemed like a season-long slump. Still hasn't signed anywhere, though has been linked with COL, which would boost prospects for a comeback year.

9. Addison Russell, CUBS.

Shallow depth at SS makes him a fantasy starter here, and his prospects to be around a 20 HR/20 SB/40 doubles player take on more value and seem more worth the risk of a sophomore slump.

10. Jhonny Peralta, STL.

Reliable, if one-dimensional moderate power threat. He had 17 HRs, 71 RBI last year, but has surpassed 20 HRs five times in his career and in a good year can finish around 80 RBI. 159 hits last year was his most since 2008.

11. Elvis Andrus, TEX.

Career-high seven HRs in 2015 isn't why we consider him. 25 SBs tied for lead among all SS. BA has slid four straight seasons to .263 last year, so SBs and decent RBI figure of 62 considering the position are the main reasons to buy in.

12. Jung-ho Kang, PIT.

Also has eligibility at 3B. Looking to build on 15 HR, 58 RBI, .287 BA, .816 OPS rookie year cut short by injury. If he increases SBs from last season's six, he could quickly move up the rankings.

13. Jean Segura, ARI.

Change of venue from MIL could help a guy who has yet to match his 2013 highlights of 12 HRs 44 SBs, and 10 triples. A family tragedy may have affected his performance in 2014 and 2015. Maybe 2016 is the year he's able to refresh a once-promising career.

14. Eugenio Suarez, CIN.

Probably will gain 3B eligibility early in the season, which will lead to more playing time and probable improvement on what we saw during 372 ABs in 97 games during 2015: 13 HRs, 48 RBI, .280 BA, 19 doubles, 42 runs scored.

15. Jose Reyes, COL.

Season is pretty much up in the air, since he likely will be suspended for some amount of time for violating MLB's domestic abuse policy. If the punishment is lenient, he still has fantasy value in his ability to steal 25-30 bases, though doesn't do much else.

16. Starlin Castro, NYY.

His late-season redemption story could continue in his new home, though his 11 HRs, 69 RBI last year is about the ceiling you can expect. Usually among the top 10 in hits at SS, could provide some minimal daily value in that sense.

17. Marcus Semien, OAK.

Left Chicago, became a full-time starter and results were promising: 15 HRs, 45 RBI, 11 SBs, 65 runs, seven triples (which led all SS) and 45 total extra-base hits. If he boosts RBI and runs and gets a few more SBs, we're looking at a fantasy riser.

18. Jedd Gyorko, STL.

An interesting speculative buy for your bench. His 16 HRs, 57 RBI last year were well short of his promising 2013 debut numbers of 23/63, but he moved from SD to STL, a home park, division and lineup that should help him boost his numbers a bit.

19. Brad Miller, TB.

His 11 HRs, 46 RBI, 13 SBs, 138 hits in 438 ABs were all career highs, though he still hasn't achieved what seemed like 20/20 promise a couple years ago. Could a few more ABs and a move from SEA to TB help?

20. Cesar Hernandez, PHI.

Definitely players will better 2015 stats available at this point, but his 19 SBs in 405 ABs is intriguing, and a stat I would look for at this position even if it comes with no power at all (one HR last year). If he plays more, he could prove a nice source of SBs.

Sleeper: Zack Cozart, CIN.

His 2015 campaign was derailed last June by a bad knee injury and surgery, but up to that point he was looking like a breakout candidate, with nine HRs, 28 RBI and a .769 OPS - like 2B Travis above, sleeper status is based on hope the fantasy world forgot him.

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Previously in the Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide:
* The (Tied At The) Top 40.

* First And Third.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

February 17, 2016

The Education Inequity Echo Chamber

Recently Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass suggested suburban taxpayers would be the ones to foot the bill for a CPS bailout. His idea rests on the notion that if the State of Illinois bails out CPS, it will be on the backs of more affluent suburban homeowners. Kass wrote his soliloquy to suburban taxpayers: "You don't need me to tell you how much they've sacrificed. You know what you've given up, or delayed - from that car you didn't buy to the vacation you never took - to put that down payment together. You know how hard you looked to find the right schools, the research you did on test scores."

I have friends and family living in the suburbs, and certainly they don't want to bail out another school district, but the fact is, the suburbs have been getting bailed out for decades.

There is massive inequity across our nation and it doesn't happen by accident. The inequity exists due to policies, structures and systems at the federal, state and local levels that enable those with wealth to gain more wealth, while punishing and harming the citizens in municipalities that started life with less.

How does this happen?

Let's begin at the federal level. Jonathan Kozol, in his 1991 book Savage Inequalities, explained how school districts across the nation, and especially in Illinois, depend on local property taxes:

The property tax depends, of course, upon the taxable value of one's home and that of local industries. A typical wealthy suburb in which homes are often worth more than $400,000 draws upon a larger tax base in proportion to its student population than a city occupied by thousands of poor people . . . Because the property tax is counted as a tax deduction by the federal government home-owners in a wealthy suburb get back a substantial portion of the money that they spend to fund their children's schools - effectively, a federal subsidy for an unequal education. Home-owners in poor districts get this subsidy as well, but because their total tax is less, the subsidy is less . . . In 1984, for instance, property-tax deductions granted by the federal government were $9 billion. An additional $23 billion in mortgage-interest deductions were provided to home-owners: a total of some $32 billion. Federal grants to local schools, in contrast, totals only $7 billion, and only part of this was earmarked for low-income districts. Federal policy, in this respect, increases the existing gulf between the richest and the poorest schools.

The federal policies increase the existing gulf between rich and poor, and in this instance, the suburban taxpayers win.

Now, let's look at state and local policies that help the suburban and wealthy taxpayers.

State governments decide to fund education with property taxes. Local districts are funded by local property taxes, so the wealthier the property, the wealthier the district. States could choose to offset the disparity caused by the federal government by selecting other tax revenue sources to fund education, but they do not. Instead, poor districts have fewer funds due to reliance on property taxes, which is then aggravated by federal policy. In Illinois, the disparity and inequity is enhanced when the City of Chicago contributes 20% of the state's funds for education, has 20% of the state's students, but only receives 15% of the state's funds for education.

How do local policies further the divide? Kass seems to think that if poor families simply do their research and postpone a vacation, they could choose to live in the suburbs. Putting off a vacation - is that enough to move to a community where housing prices average $400,000? How often do wealthy suburbs demand developers add affordable housing? Rarely, if ever.

The inequity is compounded because, for most of the 20th century, minorities were not allowed to live in many communities due to redlining and other racist practices. Minorities were relegated to communities where poverty was concentrated, property values were minimized, and generational wealth was nearly impossible to develop.

It's not like poor families are so dumb they choose not to live in wealthy suburbs. They don't live there because they can't afford to move to such fairy tale towns. If they're black or brown, they only recently gained the right to move to many of these places. Even today, many landlords, real estate agents, bankers and other gatekeepers of the American Dream prevent the poor and minorities from living in towns flush with funding for local schools. They are relegated to neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, where teachers struggle to address the constant tidal wave of hardship.

Our segregated nation is an echo chamber: disparity is entrenched and enhanced at the federal, state and local levels.

And then we wonder why the poor can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

John Kass, stop blaming the poor. Advocate for policies that enable equity, rather than enable economic and racial segregation. If we want to live in a true meritocracy, the race shouldn't start at birth, when some children are born on third base and too many are born and raised in the dugout. Instead, we should ensure that equity exists until every person reaches adulthood. Then, and only then, will you be able to fairly and honestly praise suburban taxpayers.

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* Bill McDonald is a pseudonym for an area educator with sufficient grounds to remain unidentified.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Rauner to deliver second budget speech in Springfield before passing his first," the Tribune reports.

Won't that screw up the space-time continuum?

Next he'll be fending off passes from his mother and skateboarding to the clock tower, or something.

When Brucey said he was gonna shake up Springfield, no one knew he meant the calendar.

Okay, it's not really funny.

"Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner will find himself Wednesday in the awkward position of delivering his second budget proposal before winning approval of his first, the result of unprecedented partisan gridlock that has closed social service programs, driven up the state's debt and threatens the operation of state universities.

"It's a situation even Rauner has deemed 'a mess.'"

A mess of his own making.

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But aren't Democrats to blame too?

Democrats are surely to blame for their part in creating this state's horrid budget outlook. But consider this: If the governor were anyone but Rauner - including the other Republican candidates who ran in the last primary - would we be in this position? No, clearly.

That's because of this:

"It's hard to give a budget speech for a state that doesn't have a budget," Rauner said Tuesday while addressing the state's pork producers. "But you know what? It's not really about the budget. It's about the future direction of Illinois."

It's not really about the budget.

It's about Rauner's maniacal obsession first and foremost with unions - coming from the guy who said during his campaign that "Pushing any specific labor regulation is not my priority at all."

Remove Rauner from the picture and we're still not in great shape, but we're moving forward. Remove anyone else from the picture - including Michael Madigan - and we're still stuck. There you go.

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"Indeed, the lack of a state spending plan hinges on strongly held ideological differences between Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly about where Illinois should draw the line on business regulations and worker protections.

"The governor wants changes in how workers are compensated for on-the-job injuries, tighter rules on big-dollar civil lawsuits and limits on what unions can negotiate in collective bargaining."

So Rauner is right - it's not about the budget, it's about the future of Illinois. But Rauner will never truly get the debate he wants if he doesn't pass a budget first. He's governing backwards because his priorities are upside-down.

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"Democrats contend those proposals would harm middle-class families and should be negotiated separately from the budget. Absent the changes, Rauner has suggested Democrats go ahead and pass a tax hike without him to balance the state's woefully out-of-whack finances."

Except that Rauner wouldn't sign that bill and the Democrats are short two to three votes of sustaining a veto.

Also, Rauner has yet to submit a balanced budget proposal.

So here we are, Year Two of Zero Budget. It's a sequel that's already worse than the original.

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The Education Inequity Echo Chamber
An area educator talks back to Tribune columnist John Kass about his soliloquy to suburban taxpayers.

How The Cook County State's Attorney's Race Would Be Reshaped By A Small Donor Program
Foxx would lead Alvarez by $210,000.

FIFA's Radio Deals: Rigged?
"It's all closed doors. You never see contracts. Even if you want to go for the rights, you are basically told the deals have already been done," said one radio network executive familiar with bidding for soccer broadcast rights.

Cars For Days!
And Doug E. Fresh. At the Chicago Auto Show.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

Twitter's embed codes aren't working at the moment, but that doesn't mean you can't go directly to @BeachwoodReport.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Spacetimed.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 AM | Permalink

Cars For Days!

"Coming about one month after one of the largest auto shows of the year, the Chicago Auto Show tends to play second fiddle to Detroit," CNET reports.

"But that doesn't mean that automakers are content to leave the show filled with older product. There are still several debuts that take place in the Second City each year, and we've got the important ones rounded up here for you."

More highlights:

1. Here we go.

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2. Ford Mustang GT350-R Walkaround

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3. Super Car Gallery.

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4. Alfa Romeos.

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5. Doug E. Fresh.

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See also: The Chicago Motorcycle Show.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:44 AM | Permalink

FIFA's Radio Deals: Rigged?

As world soccer body FIFA faces pressure to reform in the wake of a global corruption scandal, several current and former media executives are raising questions about the transparency of the bidding process for U.S. radio broadcasting rights to the World Cup.

In particular, these executives point to the apparent two-decade lock on U.S. Spanish-language radio rights held by Miami-based broadcaster Futbol de Primera. The company was co-founded by Andres Cantor, who famously introduced American soccer fans to the Latin American style of yelling "Gooooooal!"

One former chief executive of a rival broadcaster, Joaquin Blaya, said that in 2000 then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter told him he had a deal for the next two World Cups in South Korea/Japan (2002) and Germany (2006), but the contracts instead went to Cantor's Futbol de Primera for a lower price.

Since then, other Spanish-language radio broadcasters, including GLR Networks and ESPN Deportes, have been interested in the rights but see no way they can pry them away from Futbol de Primera, according to people familiar with the companies' thinking.

A spokesman for Walt Disney's ESPN cable business, which held English-language U.S. television broadcast rights to several World Cups, said that when the network acquired U.S. rights in 2005 to FIFA events through 2014, "We knew going into the bidding process that the Spanish-language radio rights in the U.S. were not part of the package."

A spokeswoman for Madrid-based Prisa, which controls GLR, said it has never negotiated with FIFA for World Cup rights but did not respond to a question about whether it has been interested in obtaining them.

Cantor declined to comment. His business partner, Alejandro Gutman, said in an interview that Futbol de Primera won the radio deals fairly through a competitive bidding process vetted by FIFA's lawyers, but he declined to give details about the other bids. FIFA declined to comment on its deals with Futbol de Primera and on the process used to award Spanish language radio rights in the U.S market.

FIFA was thrown into turmoil last year when U.S. prosecutors announced a sweeping probe of corruption in the sport, including how the organization and its affiliates marketed and sold TV and radio broadcast rights to soccer tournaments.

Prosecutors have charged 41 people and entities, mostly soccer bosses from throughout the Americas, and identified $200 million in bribes and kickback schemes tied to marketing of major tournaments and matches.

FIFA often awards multi-year contracts. Futbol de Primera has held the exclusive U.S. Spanish-language radio broadcasting rights to every World Cup tournament since 2002 and holds them through the 2022 competition to be held in Qatar, according to FIFA documents and the company website.

Futbol de Primera syndicates the World Cup and a separate soccer commentary show hosted by Cantor to 115 radio stations across the U.S. in exchange for advertising space, according to the company. It is privately held and does not disclose its annual revenues.

Cantor, who is also an announcer for NBCUniversal's Spanish-language television station Telemundo, burst on the soccer scene when he was a commentator for the 1994 U.S. World Cup, earning him spots on commercials and even a cameo on the animated sitcom The Simpsons.

Some FIFA critics are pushing for more transparency.

"It's all closed doors. You never see contracts. Even if you want to go for the rights, you are basically told the deals have already been done," said one radio network executive familiar with bidding for soccer broadcast rights.

Michael Hershman, a former member of FIFA's Independent Governance Committee, said because radio deals are usually smaller than television contracts they have received less scrutiny over the years.

Blaya, who headed Miami-based broadcasting company Radio Unica until it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2003, told Reuters he questions how Cantor's Futbol de Primera won the original deal that launched its 20-year streak of exclusive U.S. radio contracts.

In an interview, Blaya said Radio Unica held the U.S. Spanish-language rights to the 1998 World Cup in France and was hoping to extend them. He said he flew to Zurich in 2000 to meet Blatter, who was suspended last year as FIFA's president in the wake of the corruption scandal.

Blaya says he offered $15 million to win the rights to both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and was told by Blatter he had a deal. But he later found out the rights went to Cantor's company for less money. Blaya said this suggested "there were clear, clear irregularities" in the process.

A lawyer for Blatter declined to comment.

Gutman, Cantor's partner in Futbol de Primera, acknowledged that their company offered less money for the deal but declined to say how much. He said Blaya's offer came too late after a rigorous licitation process that lasted about 18 months, and that Futbol de Primera won the deal because the company had other advantages, including a wide distribution network and a specialization in soccer.

"When Unica decided to go and offer this money, we had already made a deposit and signed the contract," Gutman said. "President Blatter had already told us 'Welcome to the FIFA family.'" Gutman declined to give more details about the contract, citing confidentiality clauses in its deals with FIFA.

MEETING IN ZURICH

Members of FIFA's Congress are scheduled to meet in Zurich on February 26 to vote on a package of reform proposals including some aimed at increasing transparency. They include a plan to create a separate General Secretariat to handle business dealings that would have an independent audit and compliance committee to oversee those decisions.

The regional body CONCACAF, which governs soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, called in outside experts to oversee bids for its upcoming tournaments after several of its officials were indicted by U.S. prosecutors last year.

"Regular companies, when they are selling products or buying companies, usually get opinions from banks about whether there is a fair price," said Samir Gandhi, a CONCACAF attorney.

A third party evaluation, Gandhi said, can "make sure there is sunshine on the process."

Additional reporting by David Ingram in New York and Simon Evans in Miami.

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Previously:
* The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly: New Mob Museum Display Explores Corruption Of FIFA.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:59 AM | Permalink

How The Cook County State's Attorney's Race Would Be Reshaped By A Small Donor Program

Candidates in the 2016 Cook County State's Attorney Democratic primary race would see a dramatic shift in fundraising focus under a proposed small donor matching program, according to a study released Tuesday by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund.

Using year-end fundraising data, the report examines the impact of a program that matches small contributions from constituents with limited public funds for candidates who agree not to accept large donations.

"From governor to state representative to alderman, constituents making small contributions are playing an increasingly small role in financing political campaigns in Illinois" said Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG Education Fund Director.

"This study shows that we can do something about it. Small donor programs would turn big money politics on its head, putting everyday Americans at the center of campaigns instead of deep pocketed donors."

Illinois PIRG Education Fund's study examines the impact of a small donor matching system similar to those proposed in Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's Fair Elections Now Act and the Chicago Fair Elections Ordinance, introduced in January, which proposes a program that would match small contributions with public funds at a rate of six-to-one and establish lower maximum contribution limits for participating candidates.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Without a small donor matching system, candidates received only 4% of the campaign funds from donors giving under $150. If all candidates participated, 84% of campaign funds would come from donors giving $150 or less, along with corresponding matching funds.
  • Currently, 46% of all candidate funds have come from individuals who do not live in Cook County, corporations and other campaign committees. Under a small donor program that still allowed for contributions from those sources, but capped the amount participating candidates could accept, only 16% of all candidate funds would come from those sources.
  • At the end of the last full reporting period, incumbent Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez had a fundraising lead of $142,000 over chief challenger Kim Foxx. If both participated in a small donor matching program, Foxx would lead Alvarez by $210,000. This is because, while Foxx has raised less money under the current system, she has done so from a wider pool of donors. If Foxx participated but Alvarez did not, Foxx would still have an advantage of $40,000.
  • In order to fare as well as they would by not opting to participate in a small donor matching program, Alvarez would need to increase her small donor fundraising by 45%. Challenger Donna More would need to increase her small donor fundraising by 255%.

Seventy-two percent of Americans - a broad, bipartisan majority - support small donor solutions to overhaul the current campaign finance system, according to a poll released in December.

Small donor matching programs have a track record of success. New York City's program allowed participating candidates in the 2013 city council race to raise 61 percent of their contributions from small donations and matching funds. That year, 92 percent of candidates running in the primary participated in the program.

And in November, voters in Maine and Seattle passed ballot initiatives to create and strengthen their own small donor empowerment programs.

In 2016, voters and lawmakers have an opportunity to enact similar reforms in states and cities across the country, including in Chicago, where on January 13th Alds. Joe Moore, Michelle Harris and John Arena introduced the Fair Elections Ordinance, which would create a small donor program for Chicago Elections.

"Our campaign finance system is broken. Voters know it, candidates know it, and it is time we do something about it." said Scarr. "This study demonstrates the promise of a small donor empowerment program that would put regular voters in control of our elections."

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Previously:
* The Secret Money Machine.

* lllinois' Top Campaign Corrupters.

* Illinois: The King Of Dark Money.

* Rahm Biggest Campaign Fund Cheater; Used Loopholes To Keep Donations Secret.

* Former Illinois Congressional Candidate Sues IRS In Quest To Bar Political Ads Funded By Dark Money Groups.

* Your Government Now Brought To You By 1% Of The 1%.

* A Few Rich People Vs. The Rest Of Us In Illinois' Governor's Race.

* 17 Mega-Donors Vs. Everyone Else.

* Rapid Rise In Super PACs Dominated By Single Donors.

* Chicago Mayoral Election Dominated By Big, Out Of Town Money.

* Big Money Dominated Chicago Mayoral Elections.

* New Study Shows Potential Impact Of A Small Donor Matching Program On 2016 Presidential Race.

* TV Ads To Illinois U.S. Senate Candidates: Knock It Off.

* Which 2016 Presidential Candidates Would Win And Lose Under A Small Donor Matching Program?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Protesters blocked traffic on Congress Parkway at LaSalle Street for more than an hour Tuesday morning to protest immigration policies, resulting in about 12 arrests," the Tribune reports.

For background, read the exclusive Reuters report we're carrying today: Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel.

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Also, WBEZ reports:

"The Obama administration's aggressive new deportation effort recently snatched up one family from a tight-knit church in Schaumburg, prompting an awakening - nobody imagined what would unfold."

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But all of Obama's pretty words when he was in Springfield!

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Re-Engineering CPS Finances
"Most people in Chicago's City Hall probably recall a moment of clarity, a little voice whispering, this can't last," Elizabeth Campbell writes for Bloomberg.

"Maybe it came in 1979, when the city's schools nearly went broke. Maybe it came in the late 1990s, when no one funded the teachers' pensions. Or maybe, finally, it came this month, when the nation's third-largest public school district, with almost 400,000 students, once again slid toward the brink.

"Today the Chicago public schools are in such dire straits that officials from the Illinois governor down wonder aloud about its solvency. Yes, a few other big-city systems, like Detroit's, are in worse shape. But nowhere else in American public education have local mismanagement and Wall Street engineering collided so spectacularly."

Emphasis mine because that's exactly right - and not everyone gets the second part of the equation.

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"Chicago embraced financial derivatives that were supposed to protect its school system against an abrupt rise in interest rates.

The district sold $1 billion of auction-rate securities that were mostly tied to interest-rate swaps from 2003 to 2007, pushed by officials including David Vitale, chief administrative officer of the schools under Daley and later board president under Emanuel. As outlined in a three-part series by the Chicago Tribune, units of Bank of America and the Royal Bank of Canada enjoyed hefty interest payments from the schools' bonds even as the market unraveled.

"When rates plummeted during the financial crisis, Chicago's wrong-way bet drove the system even deeper into trouble. In the last year alone, exiting the swaps has cost the district hundreds of millions of dollars. Similar deals helped drive Jefferson Country, Alabama, into bankruptcy and exacerbated the problems in Detroit."

That's why it would be nice - if not moral and responsible - if Wall Street could be part of the short-term solution, while our local mismanagers work on a long-term solution which inevitably will have to include a reliable and adequate funding stream. Hey, here's an idea that sort of combines both, though not perfectly (the local exchanges aren't totally the same thing as Wall Street, but close enough for government work): A financial transactions fee with revenues dedicated to CPS.

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Also, a David Vitale dunk tank.

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I know I've used that line before, and also one using Rahm, but I feel like it's still underappreciated - and effective.

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Charter Divide
"Charter schools present the most controversial and divisive issue I've encountered in 36 years of education reporting," Linda Lenz writes for Catalyst, in introducing a special examination of the Noble charter network.

I haven't made my way through it all, but from what I've glanced at and gleaned so far, it's well worth checking out.

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Chinese Stock Exchange
"Groupon shares jumped on news that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Holding Group has bought a 5.6 percent stake in the Chicago-based deals site," the Tribune reports.

Perhaps we could interest Alibaba in a school system . . .

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I was originally gonna say "The Chinese will save us all."

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China bought the Chicago Stock Exchange, you know. So it's all coming together.

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Yes, I know, not China per se, but a Chinese business. Still, they must be used to governmental transaction taxes, no?

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Yes, I know the transaction tax would be charged to the individuals and firms making the transactions, not the exchange itself. (At least I think I understand that.) Stop making this so difficult.

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Motorcycles For Days!
Crazy bikes, wacky stunts and an 11-year-old racer-bro in the making. In our selected highlights from the Chicago Motorcycle Show.

The Incoherence Of Antonin Scalia
The utter sophistry of textualism. Two must-reads, including one by federal appeals court judge Richard Posner, that explain Scalia - and why he was so, so wrong.

What We Can Learn From Liverpool Fans
How to take your team back from greedy owners. You have the power!

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Note: Jim "Coach" Coffman is in Comcast hell, like so many others, so his SportsMonday column may or may not appear some day this week.

Bad Girls Club vs. PBS Kids
"I think parents should let kids watch TV, because how [else] would they get rewarded for doing their homework?" says the adorable Harmony Pitts in this Free Spirit Media news report.

Dear Music Education: Diversify!
"Music curriculum can be an ideal place to start culturally responsive teaching," DePaul music professor Jacqueline Kelly-McHale writes. "Music crosses cultures and is an experience that can be considered universal."

Bonus points for her inclusion of the Flat Duo Jets in this piece.

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BeachBook

Valentine's Day special.

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See also: Federal Appeals Court Confirms: Kevin Trudeau Is A Big Fat Contumacious Liar, which is built around a decision written by judge Diana Sykes, whom Donald Trump just named as someone he would consider appointing to the U.S. Supreme Court, should he get the chance. It's all coming together!

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Crazy hazy daze.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:18 AM | Permalink

The Incoherence Of Antonin Scalia

On the occasion of the late judge's book about how to interpret law, "America's most prominent conservative judge offer[ed] a blistering assessment of the Supreme Court's most outspoken conservative justice."

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Then again, Posner's methods are a bit suspect too.

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Also, from the New York Review of Books:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:38 AM | Permalink

Motorcycles For Days!

The Chicago Motorcycle Show was held in Rosemont over the weekend and we've got some highlights.

1. The No Limit Stunt Show Featuring Jason Britton & Ian Gaines.


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2. The Show In 360!

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3. Motorcycles For Days!

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4. 11-Year-Old Racer From East Dundee.

July interview:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:03 AM | Permalink

Bad Girls Club vs. PBS Kids

"I think parents should let kids watch TV, because how [else] would they get rewarded for doing their homework?" says the adorable Harmony Pitts.


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Previously in Free Spirit Media:
* Free Spirit Media On The Road.

* Chicago Public Schools: Closed.

* Chicago Producers On The Rise.

* Kay Kay & Von Von.

* Free Spirit Local TV News.

* Senioritis.

* Teen Lives Matter.

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See also:
* Free Spirit Media's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:26 AM | Permalink

Immigrants Arrested In U.S. Raids Say They Were Misled On Right To Counsel

U.S. immigration authorities violated their own rules by telling some of the 121 Central American women and children they arrested in raids last month that they had no legal recourse to dispute their deportations, according to several of the women and their lawyers.

The accusation centers on the Jan. 2 - 4 raids that were the U.S. administration's first large-scale operation since mid-2014 to deport hundreds of families who crossed the southern border illegally.

Four of the women - three of them in statements to Reuters through their lawyers and one in an interview with Reuters - said that ICE agents had misled them on their right to legal counsel while they were detained at a detention facility in Dilley, Texas.

ICE, which oversees deportation operations, denied that its officers told the women they had no legal recourse in their case.

"Upon arrival at the center in Dilley, Texas, ICE officers provide incoming residents with a notice of right to legal counsel," said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok. "The residents in question all had an opportunity to meet with legal counsel."

Under U.S. law, immigrants are guaranteed access to a lawyer, even after they have been given a deportation order. In practice, many cannot afford a lawyer or are caught in a backlog of cases seeking a pro bono lawyer.

Although President Barack Obama has taken steps to ease the deportation threat for undocumented immigrants with substantial ties to the United States, he has faced criticism from immigration rights advocates and Latino leaders over the January raids.

U.S. officials say the raids were intended to send a message of deterrence to Central American families to prevent a reprise of a 2014 border crisis in which tens of thousands of migrants from the region streamed across the Mexican border.

Some women detained in the January raids may have had a strong legal case for asylum because they were fleeing violence in Central America, said Ian Philabaum, an advocacy coordinator for the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, a group of lawyers made up of four immigrant advocacy groups.

The lawyers representing the women are all from CARA. The women were among 35 people who received an emergency hold on their deportations from the Justice Department and who are now seeking asylum. Dozens of women and children detained in the raids were deported from Jan. 4 - 7.

The four women said they never received the legal rights presentation that ICE said it provides.

Two of them, Ana Orellana and Gloria Diaz, said in statements through their lawyers that they were called into a room with an unspecified number of other El Salvadorian women shortly after arriving at Texas facility. There, they said, they were told they had no access to lawyers and no more legal recourse to avoid deportation.

One woman, Dominga Rivas, said ICE officers invited her to the legal rights presentation only after her lawyers brought her case to an immigration judge who issued a stay of deportation. She said she did not attend because she was afraid it was a trick.

Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, told Reuters the civil rights legal advocacy group is considering bringing a lawsuit against the government over the families' legal treatment.

Several Democratic senators introduced a bill on Thursday to guarantee a lawyer at the government's expense to unaccompanied child migrants and those who have been victims of torture and violence. The bill's sponsors said that without a lawyer, an asylum seeker's chance of success is "virtually nil."

ASYLUM TREND LAGGING

One woman, Susana Arevalo, told Reuters that immigration officers told her she had no legal recourse for her case when they came to her house on Jan. 2 in Atlanta, arrested her and took her to the Dilley detention center. Arevalo also said she did not receive a legal rights presentation in Dilley.

Asked about Arevalo's case, ICE referred Reuters to its statement that all the residents in question were informed of their legal rights.

She avoided deportation when she was taken off a plane days later by U.S. authorities along with her two children moments before it left for El Salvador.

Arevalo's mother had contacted a lawyer who convinced an immigration judge to put an emergency hold on her deportation, she said. Arevalo suffers from a form of epilepsy that is induced by stress, said Allen Keller, a doctor who examined her at Dilley.

Keller told Reuters someone with her level of epilepsy should not have been targeted for deportation. An ICE spokesman said they can't provide information on medical issues and declined to comment.

"It was arguably not safe to be putting her on a flight, let alone a flight to a violent environment that could trigger her seizures," Keller said.

While the number of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has surged by 212 percent between 2010 and 2014, the number of people granted asylum has lagged, rising only by 64 percent, according to Justice Department data.

The Obama administration announced last month that it would open centers in the region where Central Americans can apply for refugee status rather than making the dangerous trip to the United States where they may not be granted asylum.

Increasingly, lawyers say, asylum seekers from Central America and the Middle East face a breakdown in due process as backlogs increase while judges and lawyers are in short supply.

"The underlying system does not give asylum seekers a real chance to tell their stories," said Kevin Appleby, director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies.

Additional reporting by Alistair Bell in Washington and Fiona Ortiz in Chicago.

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Previously:

* Immigration Raids Send Chill Through Little Village.

* This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like.

* Illinois Immigrant, Labor, Legal Leaders Condemn ICE Raids.

* Chicago Activists Tell Undocumented Immigrants Not To Open Their Doors.

* A Shameful Round-Up Of Refugees.

* U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants To Their Deaths.

* Tell President Obama To Stop Deporting Refugees.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

Dear Music Education: Diversify!

As presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to insist upon banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and espousing a need for a wall along the Mexican border, heating up anti-immigration and racist rhetoric, it's essential we consider this: One in four students under the age of eight in the U.S. has an immigrant parent.

Classrooms are getting more diverse as the percentage of minority students increases. According to a report from the Pew Research Center, 50.3 percent of students in 2014 were minority, whereas 49.7 percent of all students were white. By 2022, 45.3 percent are projected to be white, and 54.7 percent are projected to be minority.

How can classrooms become more culturally responsive in their teaching practices in classrooms and foster respectful behavior?

As a music educator and music teacher educator focused on culturally responsive teaching, I believe a music classroom is an ideal place to begin. Music is an experience found across all cultures, and music classrooms are a logical place where difference and respect can be recognized, practiced and celebrated.

Music Programs Lack Diversity

Music education programs in the high school setting typically bring to mind the images and sounds of bands, orchestras and choirs. In the elementary context, general music classes are viewed as places where children sing, dance, and play the recorder and other classroom instruments.

Each of these experiences is rooted in either a Western view of music that is focused on placement of Western classical music as the highest form of musical experience, or on methods of teaching that grew out of European music education practices.

In my research, I found that the reliance on a method of general music instruction within a classroom where the majority of the students were the children of Mexican immigrants resulted in a the creation of an inherent bias against the students' culture and a sense of isolation for the students. This bias was the result of the teacher's views, which created an environment that did not support the integration of cultural, linguistic and popular music experiences.

This finding was supported by music education professor Regina Carlow, who found that when the cultural identity of students in a high school choir setting was not respected or even acknowledged, students developed a sense of isolation.

This isolation can result in an unfair learning environment.

Teachers Lack Diversity

So why don't classrooms engage students in musical practices that are rooted in their cultural and musical backgrounds? The answer can be found in the traditions of American music education.

In 2011, music education researchers Carlos Abril and Kenneth Elpus found that 65.7 percent of music ensemble students were white and middle class; only 15.2 percent were black and 10.2 percent were Hispanic. These data demonstrate that white students are overrepresented in high school music ensembles. Students for whom English was not their native language accounted for only 9.6 percent of ensemble members.

image-20160211-29198-1y2p2kj.jpg

The majority of teachers are white and middle-class./Andy Bullock, CC

Additionally, Elpus found that the majority of music teachers - 86.02 percent - entering the profession were white and middle-class.

Adding to this reality is the fact that the process of becoming a music teacher is rooted in the Western classical tradition. Though the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) does not stipulate a classical performance audition, it is required in a majority of cases.

Based on my experience as a music education professor, aspiring music teachers must pass a Western classical performance audition with an orchestral instrument, classical voice or classical guitar in order to even begin down the path of becoming a music educator, even though no school explicitly states that.

Given this, music education programs not only primarily reflect Western European classical music, but they also create a self-perpetuating cycle.

Start With Understanding Music

In fact, music curriculum can be an ideal place to start culturally responsive teaching. Music crosses cultures and is an experience that can be considered universal.

Education researcher Geneva Gay describes culturally responsive teaching as a practice that supports learning through and about other cultures.

This includes cultural values, traditions, communication, learning styles, contributions and how people relate. It is not just taking a week or month to study the folk music of Mexico. It is about building a curriculum that enables students to experience, discuss, and perform music that is culturally and socially relevant.

This happens when teachers draw on musical styles and genres that are varied. For example, learning to sing the folk song "Frog Went a Courtin'" based on its American variant, then comparing and contrasting it to the Flat Duo Jets' version of the song.

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In this regard, music education researcher Chee-Hoo Lum recommends that music teachers start with the students' cultural and musical background in order to get them to better understand and interact with different musical experiences.

The cultural values and contributions of diverse musicians and genres provide the perfect avenue to explore and learn about the "other" in a classroom environment. Additionally, the chance to sing, play and listen to the music of other cultures creates an understanding that transcends personal experience, and creates a more global perspective.

Reimagine And Reconfigure

This is not to say that we should forgo the current practices. Band, orchestra and choir programs provide wonderful educational experiences for students throughout the country.

And these programs should continue.

However, there are other music programs that focus on guitar as a popular and folk instrument. Such as this one:

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And there are programs that run rock bands within the school day.

Then there are programs where students learn to write songs, sample and compose.

In addition, there are music education blogs that celebrate the many "other" ways that students learn about music, outside of band, orchestra and choir.

These programs can help us reimagine and reconfigure.

Building walls and excluding groups do not engender respect and democratic growth in our classrooms or in our political arenas. Rather, they foster fear and prevent equality and opportunity. Music classrooms can and should become the places where diversity is embraced and integrated.

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Jacqueline Kelly-McHale is an associate professor of music education at DePaul University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

February 15, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

I'm busy today ranking the presidents in order of war criminality, but here's a bunch of stuff elsewhere on the site you should check out.

The Beachwood Radio Hour #73: The Real Obama Is Bernie Sanders
The throughline from Dean - and the under-discussed one-on-one dynamic of the race.

Plus: I Don't Care About Beyoncé; Rahm's Big Bad Bond Deal; Seven Innocent People, Picked To Share A Jail . . . ; and Meet The Chicago Police: Rigged Lineups, 'Lost' Files, Upside-Down Batteries.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #89: Bears Befuddle
Team wrong to send Matt Forte on his way.

Plus: Krausening Peyton Manning; Maybe The Bulls Suck After All; Chicago Is Now (Laughably) NHL Draft Town, Too; Marian Hossa vs. Dennis Rodman; Surprising White Sox Savvy; and Livin' La Vida Liverpool.

Speaking of which . . .

What We Can Learn From Liverpool Fans
How to talk back to owners.

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Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016
Apocalypse now - again.

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Chicagoetry: Vestiges Of Lilacs In Time
Like Woodstock, or maybe Lockport.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Xylouris White, Negative Scanner, Rex Rayburn, Box Whine, Metric, The Maxies, STS9, BJ Thomas, Steady Flow, Skate Maloley, Neck Deep, Suburban Legends, Reel Big Fish, HIDE, Disappears, Johnny Moon and the Astronauts, Fool's Brew, and The Fullerton Transfer.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Three more years.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago on Saturday.

Gendron: "If slow and steady wins the race, then Godspeed You! Black Emperor took first place in the equivalent of a long-distance marathon Saturday at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago. Optimizing tonal contrast and cinematic sweep, the instrumental collective spoke volumes without expressing a single word during its 105-minute set. The Montreal-based octet, in town for a two-night stand, had the foresight to utilize the cathedral's premium acoustics as a secret weapon."

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2. Xylouris White at Thalia Hall on Sunday night.

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3. Negative Scanner at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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4. Rex Rayburn at the Elbo Room on Saturday night.

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5. Box Whine at Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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6. Metric at House of Blues on Friday night.

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7. The Maxies at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Friday night.

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8. STS9 at House of Blues on Sunday night.

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9. BJ Thomas at City Winery on Sunday night.

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10. Steady Flow at the Double Door on Friday night.

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11. Skate Maloley at Reggies on Saturday night.

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12. Neck Deep at the Concord on Sunday night.

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13. Suburban Legends at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Friday night.

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14. Reel Big Fish at Durty Nellie's in Palatine on Friday night.

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15. Disappears at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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16. HIDE at the Empty Bottle on Friday night.

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17. Johnny Moon and the Astronauts at Wire in Berwyn on Sunday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Fool's Brew at Reggies last Wednesday night.

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The Fullerton Transfer at the Double Door last Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:08 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Vestiges Of Lilacs In Time

Vestiges of Lilacs in Time

Vestiges of lilacs
Festoon her face

Rose of Sharon and
Tulips, too, in time

Gestures betray
A dancer's grace

Her smile:
The bane of fools

Her smile, gone awhile
Now

Except in dreams

As winter wanes
Tulips loom

Sturdy stock, downtown bloom
A Chicago thing

Rose of Sharon, sturdy stock
Neighborhood boon

A Chicago thing
Fugitive lilacs, late to spring

Clusters garland
Her fading face now
Hostage to time

My lost rose gone
To the repertory company
Of the dream theater

Along the main drag
Of the dozing mind,
A small town with

One intersection

One horse, maybe two
In this nightly Brigadoon,
Rural yet nearby, like

Woodstock, or
Maybe Lockport
Before Boza's closed

Recurring cameos
Clipped dialogue
Matinees mostly

Scenes best directed
While wide awake

Night dreams being
The domain of the dead
Mortis Personae:

Lost family, late friends
Those ghosted, and who ghosted

Celebrity crushes
Taking direction only
From the subconscious

Improvising, extemporizing
Beyond control

My lost smile
Relegated to fugitive
Memory

Vestiges
Of surrendered
Prestige

Lilacs linger
In the larger lots

Rose of Sharon
Endure the neighborhood plots

Tulips bejewel
The boulevard pots

My lost face
Ghosted to imaginary
Cameos

My last grace
Surrendered to the bane
Of time

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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 9:09 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016

Apocalypse now.


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors.

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Plus:

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

What We Can Learn From Liverpool Fans

To quote Liverpool Football Club's American owners, it was a tumultuous week - but the turbulence has been very much of their making. On seeing 10,000 disgruntled supporters walk out of Anfield in the 77th minute of the Premier League match against Sunderland, Fenway Sports Group was recently taught a valuable lesson in public relations. And other clubs should take note.

If the Liverpool hierarchy didn't understand the importance of symbiotic relationships with supporters in the business of football, it does now.

Why The Backlash?

A tsunami of support for the much-publicized and unprecedented fan exodus has sent shockwaves far beyond the banks of the River Mersey. The discontent was in response to the club's 2016-17 ticket price structure that would introduce a highest priced £77 ticket, albeit for just 200 seats on the newly developed £120m Main Stand. This represented a 25% increase on the current highest-priced ticket, an accelerator for FSG to recoup its advance to fund the development.

Well, somebody's got to pay for it. But at what expense?

In an era of multi-million pound player salaries, annual kit changes and escalating TV subscription costs, this latest income-sapping initiative was seen as a step too far.

Add to this that Premier League clubs will each receive a £40m windfall when the new £8bn broadcasting rights deal kicks in next season, and the disgust of supporters the length and breadth of country was palpable.

Former England player turned BBC football pundit Gary Lineker captured the public mood tweeting:

This was the tip of the iceberg as the backlash even reached the UK parliament, where Merseyside MP John Pugh tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons urging other MPs to work with local supporter groups across the country to prevent football becoming "entirely determined by money and economic interest."

Naturally, when the club rolled out the new pricing structure the headline figures pointed to its more favorable offerings including saying 45% of ticket prices would fall. But there, buried halfway down the release, was the now infamous line: "Matchday tickets have also stretched, making the cheapest matchday ticket just £9 and the most expensive £77 depending on seat location."

image-20160215-22587-1gaahhp.jpg

Just don't piss us off./James Offer, CC BY-NC-SA

Further digging compounded the problem for the Boston-based owners when a line on the sales and representation section of Fenway Sports Management's website was unearthed next to the Liverpool club crest boldly claiming "transforming fans into customers."

As the viral impact of social media fueled supporter disdain further, that mantra was swiftly edited to read "transforming consumers into fans." The damage had been done - you only had to listen to the chants that spilled from the concourses onto the streets around Anfield as nearly a quarter of the famous old stadium emptied with a game in full flow.

As the matter was subsequently debated by all forms of media, the initial protest was followed by the unfurling of banners further condemning the club's approach at Liverpool's FA Cup tie at West Ham.

Less than 24-hours later, an open letter to supporters was published on the club's website in which principal owner John W. Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Mike Gordon admitted: "We got it wrong."

The apology "for the distress caused by our ticket pricing policy" came as a pleasant surprise attracted praise from protest organizers and pundits alike.

The Suarez Affair

After purchasing the club in 2010 from controversial and fellow U.S. incumbents Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Henry and the others will not have forgotten the damage caused to the club's global reputation a year later as they dithered over the Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra racism row.

Torn between protecting the club's most saleable asset and the good name of Liverpool FC, reputations were shredded at every turn. It was only when main commercial sponsor Standard Chartered, just 12 months into an £80m four-year deal, voiced its concern at being associated with such a high-profile and sorry saga, did the owners step in. Apologies were eventually issued but, for many, it was too little, too late.

Threatened again with financial ramifications, this time prompted by the club's often most undervalued asset, the fans, FSG was much swifter to seek redemption.

While all of this can be held up as a victory for fan power, a reminder that collective action can still work if the cause is justified, the bottom line has been reached where it so often does in the modern day sports business, with the balance sheet firmly in mind. Nonetheless, the U-turn will go some way to limiting the damage caused by the Anfield walkout and also to appeasing those who planned further direct action.

Importantly for FSG it protects the club's brand and image from additional harm that, of course, will keep its commercial partners sweet.

The Moral Of The Story

It was no coincidence that in the midst of the fallout Manchester United rolled out plans to freeze all ticket prices for next season - with other clubs expected to follow suit.

But there's still some way to go before club owners and supporters are singing from the same hymn sheet. Premier League clubs reportedly voted down a suggested £30 cap on tickets to away matches.

Football Supporters Federation chief executive Kevin Miles warned: "Supporters will not let them off the hook. Top-flight clubs have known since last year that they will be receiving a huge increase in their TV revenues. In the light of that windfall, Premier League clubs cannot justify maintaining high ticket prices, particularly for away fans."

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David Randles is a senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Salford. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:46 AM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Hour #73: The Real Obama Is Bernie Sanders

The throughline from Dean. Plus: I Don't Care About Beyoncé; Rahm's Big Bad Bond Deal; Seven Innocent People, Picked To Share A Jail . . . ; and Meet The Chicago Police: Rigged Lineups, 'Lost' Files, Upside-Down Batteries.


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SHOW NOTES

* Strawberry Rock Show.

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1:10: The Soft Moon at Thalia Hall last Tuesday night.

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2:42: Bernie Bucks.

* The throughline from Dean.

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* Against Clintonism.

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* Howard Dean, Now Employed By Health Care Lobby Firm, Opposes Bernie Sanders On Single-Payer.

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* The underrated 1-on-1 dynamic.

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25:28: Ritual Howls at Thalia Hall last Tuesday night.

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26:28: Mainstream Media's Mendacious Mindset.

* Or should I say Muscular?

* Top Papers Agree To Exclude Critics In Exchange For 'Scoop.'

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38:53: Catey Shaw at the Beat Kitchen last Tuesday night.

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40:00: I Don't Care About Beyoncé.

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40:57: Item: Rahm's Big Bad Bond Deal.

* Joravsky.

* Culpepper

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47:42: Seven Innocent People Went Undercover As Prisoners In An Indiana Jail For New TV Show.

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49:01: Winger at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles last Thursday night.

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49:51: Meet The Chicago Police: Rigged Lineups, 'Lost' Files, Upside-Down Batteries.

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55:24: Lullwater at the Tree in Joliet earlier this month.

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* End theme.

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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 6:05 AM | Permalink

February 13, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"The McDonald's across from Wrigley Field will close on March 1 to make way for a hotel," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

From the link: "The Ricketts family also owns the land across from the ballpark where a McDonald's now operates. Renderings showed it housing a glass, L-shaped hotel with a courtyard facing Wrigley. A McDonald's, however, would remain on the property, though it may be rebuilt to better fit with the hotel, according to the plans."

Every last charm is being removed from Wrigley Field as our Cubs overlords create a new neighborhood called Rickettsville. One of the coolest things about the ballpark was that it was just sitting on a corner like any other business - T-shirt store, 7-Eleven, McDonald's, baseball stadium. That's what made it part of the neighborhood.

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Sigma Alpha Ick
"The fraternity connected to a racist chant caught on video at the University of Oklahoma last spring said Friday that members at five other chapters acknowledged hearing the chant over the last five years," the Tribune reports.

"The Evanston-based Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity would not release the names of the other chapters identified after an investigation launched last year, but each of those chapters was educated on diversity and inclusion, said SAE spokesman Brandon Weghorst.

"The organization had to create some level of amnesty to ensure honest and open dialogue and to maintain the integrity of the investigation," Weghorst said.

Translation: We had to insure that no one would be held accountable if we were to get some semblance of the truth out of our members.

Here's the funny thing about that: Look at SAE's motto.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #89: Bears Befuddle
Matt Forte sent on his way. Plus: Krausening Peyton Manning; Maybe The Bulls Suck After All; Chicago Is Now NHL Draft Town, Too; Marian Hossa vs. Dennis Rodman; Surprising White Sox Savvy; and Livin' La Vida Liverpool.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Los Lobos has enjoyed a remarkable career for more than 40 years, even retaining the same core lineup from its start as an East Los Angeles wedding band in 1973. Los Lobos joins hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot for a special interview and performance in front of a live audience."

Video of the performance:

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And the interview:

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Non-denominational.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:19 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #89: Bears Befuddle

Matt Forte sent on his way. Plus: Krausening Peyton Manning; Maybe The Bulls Suck After All; Chicago Is Now NHL Draft Town, Too; Marian Hossa vs. Dennis Rodman; Surprising White Sox Savvy; and Livin' La Vida Liverpool.


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SHOW NOTES

* No. 89.

* "Creative tension."

4:44: Matt Forte Sent On His Way.

* Alshon Jeffery's fault?

18:58: Super Bowling.

* Broncos Buck Panthers.

* Denver Disses Carolina.

* Panthers Pathetic.

* Carolina Crumbles.

* Peyton's Place.

* Krausening.

* Coffman: Going Out Intact.

36:04: Maybe The Bulls Suck After All.

* Free Tony Snell!

48:04: Chicago Is Now NHL Draft Town, Too.

51:03: Marian Hossa vs. Dennis Rodman.

* With apologies to Mark Lazerus: Marian Hossa Doesn't Cheat.

55:03: Surprising White Sox Savvy.

* White Sox Buy Low On Mat Latos And His Baggage.

* According to Wikipedia, it was Ozzie Guillen who said of A.J. Pierzynski: "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less." But Rhodes still swears Ron Gardenhire said it first.

1:01:53: Livin' La Vida Liverpool.

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STOPPAGE: 4:34

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:16 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"A Chicago man won a $1 million verdict this week in a lawsuit that accused police of rigging a photo lineup to ensure he would be wrongly identified as an armed robbery suspect," AP reports.

"Jermaine Durdin was 18 when he was charged in the 2010 robbery of several hundred dollars from an ice cream truck in the Lawndale neighborhood on the city's West Side. He spent nearly two years awaiting trial in the Cook County Jail before he was found not guilty - an experience he said in court this week deeply affected him and left a 'stain' on his brain."

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So not only did police rig a lineup in order to charge an innocent teenager, but then the kid had to sit in the stinkin' Cook County Jail for two years before he was finally exonerated.

Imagine if that was you. Or your kid. Or someone you knew.

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"A Cook County jury on Wednesday found the city and police officer Catherine Rolewicz responsible. She is the detective who put Durdin in the lineup, according to Foutris. Rolewicz has no listed phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Foutris initially sought an $880,000 settlement, but said the city "didn't offer a penny."

"As for why Durdin was targeted, Foutris said, he believes detectives searching a mugshot database landed on his client, who has a prior robbery conviction, and thought Durdin matched the description enough to make the case go away.

"Features that did not match the description - hair color and a large, plainly visible neck tattoo - were concealed in the photo with a hat and a bandage.

"The city's Law Department said it would seek a new trial."

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"A photo of the police lineup shows Durdin, a light-skinned African-American, sitting on a bench with four other black males, all of whom have dark complexions," the Tribune reports.

"Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, said the city is disappointed with the jury's decision.

"'We believe it was the result of erroneous jury instructions, as well as other legal errors, and we intend to file a motion seeking a new trial,' he said in a statement."

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Speaking of rigged lineups . . .

"Lt. Denis Walsh has resigned from the Chicago Police Department one week after interim Supt. John Escalante moved to fire him over his role in the 2011 reinvestigation of David Koschman's killing - a case that was closed without charges against a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley," the Sun-Times reports.

"Escalante had accused Walsh of violating eight departmental rules - including 'making a false report,' 'inattention to duty' and 'incompetency or inefficiency' - regarding the Koschman case.

"He was tied to case files that disappeared, then reappeared. Walsh also exchanged 'unprofessional e-mails' joking with his boss about the case, according to Escalante."

I'm sure it was hilarious. But not quite as funny as this:

"After the Chicago Sun-Times asked to see Koschman case files in 2011, Walsh told his bosses he couldn't find the original files, leading to the reinvestigation. Webb reported that Walsh was involved in four different sets of missing files, including some that ended up at Walsh's house.

"Walsh - a 29-year department veteran who comes from a family of Chicago cops - was suspended for 30 days in 2004 after being arrested in Michigan on a criminal sexual conduct charge. While fighting that felony charge, he was promoted to lieutenant. He ended up pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery."

See also: 'Lost' Files In Koschman Case Were Actually 'Removed,' Then 'Replaced.'

Speaking of filing false reports . . .

"The Chicago police squad car that captured the October 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald had no audio on its dashboard camera because the vehicle had 'no MICs (microphones) because they were in the glove compartment with the batteries inserted upside down - disabling them,'" NBC5 Chicago reports.

Lineups, files and batteries - either our police aren't trained very well or, far more likely, they're trained too well.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt
The old economy as seen from the Pere Marquette.

Bill Clinton's Phony Executive Pay Cap
Aided and abetted by Hollywood.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #89: Bears Befuddle
Matt Forte sent on his way. Plus: Krausening Peyton Manning; Maybe The Bulls Suck After All; Chicago Is Now NHL Draft Town, Too; Marian Hossa vs. Dennis Rodman; Surprising White Sox Savvy; and Livin' La Vida Liverpool.

Garbage Juice, The Bankruptcy Bible & The Boss
Plus: Pop-Up Poetry & The Chicago Black Women's Library. In Local Book Notes.

Here Comes Feely-Vision!
"Imagine a party on a warm summer's evening. You can see the beautiful greenery and the dipping sun, you can smell the freshly cut grass and taste the cool drinks on offer. You hear someone walk up behind you and feel them tap you on the shoulder. Now imagine you're not really at the party, but sitting at home and the scene and all these sensations are coming from your TV."

Adler Astronomer On LIGO Team!
The Universe is talking, and people in Chicago are listening.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Soft Moon, Ritual Howls, Catey Shaw, Winger, Woosung Alice, Coeur de Pirate, Galantis, CID, Brittany Lee Moffitt, Lullwater, Stampy, and Lords of the Drunken Pirate Crew.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ask us anything.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:42 PM | Permalink

Bill Clinton's Phony Executive Pay Cap

This story was co-published with the Washington Post.

Wealth, jobs and pay inequality are big political issues this presidential primary season, and they're bound to become bigger once the parties pick their nominees. In the plethora of plans candidates tout for tackling these problems, one favored tool stands out: the federal tax code.

But trying to legislate corporate behavior and economic fairness - however you define fairness - through the tax system is a lot trickier than it sounds.

Consider the supposed solution to an equality and social-justice issue debated six elections ago - a law designed to limit how much companies could deduct from their taxable income for lush pay packages to high-paid executives.

In 1992, as now, key electoral issues included inequality and the spectacle of American jobs moving overseas - underscored by a gaping disparity between executives making multiple millions and ordinary workers with stagnant wages.

The idea was to give companies a tax incentive to rein in executive pay or just shame them into it.

But a new study done for ProPublica and the Washington Post by S&P Global Market Intelligence shows that the law has had little effect.

In fact, the titans of American industry and commerce shrugged off the statute and moved to pay top executives way more than the deductibility limit.

Bill Clinton, the not-yet-a-household-name Arkansas governor, proposed limiting deductions for what he called "excessive executive pay" during his first presidential campaign in the early 1990s. The concept had kicked around Washington for several years and was one of the planks that helped him win the Democratic nomination and deny George H.W. Bush a second term. In 1992, Bush had vetoed a budget bill containing a provision to limit how much companies could deduct for high-paid people.

Clinton's victory and a Democratic Congress resulted in a tax law change that limited companies' deductions for executives' compensation to $1 million per executive per year. That's the amount that Clinton proposed for chief executives in Putting People First, a campaign book he co-authored with running mate Al Gore.

The compensation deduction limit, known to tax techies as Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code, was adopted in a 1993 bill that also increased taxes on higher-income Social Security recipients and reduced deductions for business meals.

The legislation, however, was stuffed with loopholes. It covered only companies with publicly traded stock; it applied to only five (and since 2007, four) "named executive officers" who aren't necessarily the highest-paid; and it exempted "performance-based" compensation, including stock options, and huge bonuses based on easily attained goals, allowing unlimited deductions for them.

Section 162(m) fulfilled a campaign promise. But in hindsight, it's clear that it has had little or no influence on corporate behavior. Says Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), a leading congressional tax maven: "Regardless of how you feel about limiting compensation through the tax code, the current law is like a gnat on an elephant in accomplishing its goal. It's easy to swat away, and that's exactly what many companies do."

We decided to see whether that was accurate. Our study looked at the history of executive compensation for the 40 members of today's "Nifty Fifty" - the 50 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index with the highest stock market value - that also reported executive compensation information for 1992, the year before the pay-deductibility limits took effect.

To compare apples to apples, we eliminated the 10 members of the Nifty Fifty, including Facebook and Alphabet (Google's parent company), that weren't publicly traded back then or didn't exist.

In 1992, only 35 percent of the people in our study - executives whose income was reported in companies' proxy statements - had more than $1 million of income in the categories subject to deductibility limits. (Those are salaries, bonuses and restricted stock that vests over time.) But in 2014, the last year for which corporate salary income is available, the number had risen to 95 percent.

(Read our complete methodology.)

Given inflation, it's no surprise that more top execs would breach the $1 million cap. But the numbers also showed something completely unintuitive. From 1992 to 2014, compensation per executive in the limited-deductibility categories rose more rapidly - by about 650 percent, to $8.2 million from $1.1 million - than compensation in categories such as stock options and incentive pay that aren't subject to deductibility limits. The latter rose by about 350 percent, to $4.4 million from $970,000.

"That's powerful," said Steven Balsam, a leading academic expert on executive compensation practices, when told what our study showed.

Balsam is a professor at Temple University's Fox School of Business who published a 2012 study on the deduction cap for the Economic Policy Institute.

"At best, 162(m) has had a marginal effect," he said. "It hasn't had a major impact."

Some of the companies with the most notable increases in compensation subject to the limit include Allergan (to $77.4 million from $378,000), Cisco (to $75.2 million from $1.1 million), Oracle (to $119.4 million from $4.9 million) and Walmart (to $55.4 million from $2.9 million). What happened?

It turns out that losing deductibility isn't all that big a deal to companies - we estimated the effect of lost deductibility on corporate profits at only about 0.2 percent in 2010 for the companies in Balsam's study. And there's no reason to think those numbers have changed much.

(The 0.2 percent figure is based on Balsam's estimate that the 7,248 companies in his study paid an extra $2.5 billion of federal tax because of lost deductibility in 2010, and on S&P Global Market Intelligence's calculation that the 7,722 firms in its slightly larger database had $1.153 trillion in after-tax profits that year.)

"Decisions on the pay mix are not guided by the deductibility factor," said Steven Seelig, executive compensation counsel for Willis Towers Watson, a big consulting firm.

"Compensation committees are certainly mindful of the tax rules and meet the deductibility rules when they can. But the decision on the pay mix that's appropriate is guided by their companies' unique circumstances."

One of the reasons that the deductibility limit has been so ineffectual is that it was watered down from what was originally proposed.

According to coverage by Tax Notes, which tracked the progress of 162(m) in great detail, the intellectual godfather of the legislation was then-Rep. Martin Sabo, a Minnesota Democrat.

Sabo, who represented Minneapolis and some of its suburbs, said in an interview that his goal had been to reduce economic inequality.

"My proposal was trying to send a message. This was a sort of symbolic thing because I felt that those at the top should care about the bottom."

He had pushed for deductibility limits in the 1992 tax bill that Bush vetoed. But what became Section 162(m) a year later wasn't Sabo's original concept.

"What I proposed was that you couldn't take a tax deduction if the compensation exceeded 25 times the compensation of the lowest-paid employees," he said.

That idea began life as the Income Disparities Act of 1991. Because it applied to all employees, not just top officers, the legislation would have had a sweeping impact across corporate America. How did it morph into something that affected only a few executives at publicly traded companies?

"I don't know," Sabo said.

A hint of what happened comes from former congressman Tom Downey. The New York Democrat was a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and was involved with Sabo's 1991 legislation, but he left Congress before 162(m) became law.

"There are all sorts of things I did to try to get rich people to pay more in taxes, and none of it worked," Downey said.

All sorts of people were upset by Sabo's proposal, Downey said, and major attacks "came from my friends in Hollywood."

It's doubtful that anything resembling Sabo's proposal would have been adopted. What Clinton proposed in Putting People First - a $1 million cap - was a simpler and easier sell.

"This is an example of a law that's so watered down it's meaningless. It's still on the books, but it has no value," said Graef "Bud" Crystal, a compensation consultant and critic of excessive executive pay. "It should be put out of its misery."

Crystal had a 1991 phone conversation with Clinton about limiting deductions for executive compensation that was widely publicized at the time. Crystal said he told Clinton that the proposal not only wouldn't hold down executive pay, but would hurt shareholders by increasing the after-tax cost of CEO pay packages.

Crystal said that when people told Clinton that the legislation was so diminished it would have no effect, "he said, 'Bud Crystal made me do it.'"

Actually, Crystal said, "I told him just the opposite."

What does Clinton think of how ineffectual his legislation has been? That's a mystery. The former president was campaigning in New Hampshire for his wife, and his spokesman declined to respond to a list of detailed questions.

On the campaign trail these days, Republicans say that eliminating the corporate income tax (Sen. Ted Cruz) or cutting it sharply (Donald Trump) will set off a hiring boom. Democrats say that jacking up tax rates (Sen. Bernie Sanders) or changing capital gains rules (Hillary Clinton) will reduce the advantages that rich people enjoy over the rest of the populace.

It's impossible to know whether any of these ideas will become law. But based on history, it's a safe bet that if they do, they are not likely to produce the results their proponents predict.

Researcher Derek Kravitz contributed to this report.

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Allan Sloan is an editor-at-large reporting about business and finance for ProPublica. Read his recent story on pension bonds, "When Wall Street Offers Free Money, Watch Out."

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

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Soft Moon at Thalia Hall on Tuesday night.


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2. Ritual Howls at Thalia Hall on Tuesday night.

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3. Catey Shaw at Beat Kitchen on Tuesday night.

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4. Winger at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Thursday night.

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5. Woosung Alice at Township on Wednesday night.

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6. Cœur de Pirate at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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7. Galantis at the Concord on Wednesday night.

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8. CID at the Concord on Wednesday night.

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9. Brittany Lee Moffitt at the Hideout on Sunday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Lullwater at the Tree in Joliet last Friday night.

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Stampy at the Double Door last Saturday night.

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Lords of the Drunken Pirate Crew at the Metro last Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:10 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Garbage Juice, The Bankruptcy Bible & The Boss

"The National Book Foundation on Wednesday announced that Lisa Lucas would become the third executive director in the history of the literary organization, which presents the annual National Book Awards and has made recent efforts to expand its reach and visibility," the New York Times reports.

"Ms. Lucas, 36, was previously the publisher of Guernica, an arts magazine with an international and often political focus. Before that, she had worked at other nonprofit cultural institutions, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago."

Lucas is a University of Chicago grad.

Now for a Lucas tweetscene/life lesson:

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Bible Bankruptcy
"A woman who filed for bankruptcy doesn't have to sell a first-edition Book of Mormon to help pay her debts, a federal appeals court held [last week]," the Daily Law Bulletin reports.

"The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument that an Illinois law exempting bibles from the reach of creditors does not cover valuable volumes when the debtor has other copies of the same bible."

She has 14 other copies of the book, it turns out. The first edition in question is worth an estimated $10,000.

"The panel affirmed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Staci M. Yandle of the Southern District of Illinois that Illinois law exempts [debtor Anna] Robinson's Book of Mormon.

"Robinson was allowed to keep the 1830 volume in exchange for cleaning out the library storage room where she found it.

"Robinson was given the book in 2003 while she was employed at the Stinson Memorial Library in Anna in Union County. The library is part of the Stinson Memorial Public Library District."

Here's the Wall Street Journal on the original ruling in 2014.

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Pop-Up Poetry
Featuring Kenyatta Rogers at noon Wednesday at the Art Institute's Modern Wing.

"Join us for a series of 30-minute lunchtime poetry readings marking the reopening of the new Contemporary Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago. Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem fellow and was the 2012-2013 Visiting Poet in English at Columbia College Chicago, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing-Poetry. A 2014 Pushcart nominee, his work has been published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Court Green, and Cave Canem Anthology XIII, among others."

Sample:

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(Chicago) Free Black Women's Library

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Born To Pun

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Conveyance Belt

The old economy as seen from the Pere Marquette.

conveyerschicagoexpbw.jpg(Enlarge for proper viewing; then click to enlarge again!)

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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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:38 AM | Permalink

Here Comes Feely-Vision!

Imagine a party on a warm summer's evening. You can see the beautiful greenery and the dipping sun, you can smell the freshly cut grass and taste the cool drinks on offer. You hear someone walk up behind you and feel them tap you on the shoulder. Now imagine you're not really at the party, but sitting at home and the scene and all these sensations are coming from your TV.

Working out how television programs could one day stimulate all our senses is an interesting question for researchers like myself, who are exploring the future of TV. But the bigger, more exciting challenge is how we can not only imitate what is happening on the screen, but also use smell, taste and touch in a way that's not a novelty and enhances the emotional experience of a show, just as a soundtrack does.

There's good reason to think about how the TV industry can innovate in this way. Despite the rise of online video, millions if not billions of people still watch traditional broadcast media through television sets. TV remains a powerful format for program-making and watching that follows specific restrictions and guidelines.

But more people are watching TV programs online after their original broadcast, on other devices such as tablets and phones, and are even using multiple screens to engage with more than one piece of content at a time. Broadcasters need to create new ways of experiencing TV that capture the audience's full attention and immerse them in a multi-sensory world.

Experimenting With The Senses

Creating truly compelling TV that stimulates all our senses is not an easy task. Program-makers and technology manufacturers know how to design their products so you can see depth and distance on the screen. But sound and vision aren't always enough. Being able to smell the odors that a character on screen would smell, or feel the objects or atmosphere they would feel, can create anticipation and build suspense in the same way as sound currently does.

Cinema is already experimenting with these extra senses. Films with touch and smell sensations can be experienced in newly equipped 4DX cinemas, such as the one in Milton Keynes. The sense of taste seems a final frontier for technology development, but the interest in taste experiences has started to take off. For example, audience members at Edible Cinema each receive a package of food and drinks to match what characters on screen experience.

The question for the TV industry is what multi-sensory experiences it should design for - and how. My Sussex Computer Human Interaction lab is trying to better understand how we use our senses so that designers and developers can help us interact with their technology in the most compelling way possible.

Our latest work focuses on cutting edge technology such as the mid-air touch feedback or "haptic" device developed by Ultrahaptics, a start-up in Bristol. We're looking at how this technology could evoke emotions in the audience by allowing them to feel physical sensations without touching actual objects.

For example, projecting a pattern of ultrasound beams onto your hand can create differnet tactile sensations, such as a feeling of raindrops on your palm (without the water), or a flow of air as if you were holding your hand out of the window of a moving car. When carefully designed, this haptic feedback can produce even more specific patterns that allow you to feel different shapes that change in size or that quickly move around.

Emotional Feedback

By experimenting with different shapes, we've studied how this kind of haptic feedback can produce different emotions. We've found that short, sharp bursts of air to the area around the thumb, index finger and middle part of the palm generate excitement. Slow and moderate stimulation of the outer palm and the area around the little finger create sad feelings.

This gives us a starting point to find out how mid-air touch sensations could be meaningfully integrated into other experiences, such as watching a movie. One challenge will be to make haptic feedback enhance the viewing experience without seeming intrusive or creepy, as suggested by "the feelies" cinema experience portrayed in the dystopian novel Brave New World.

We've recently begun a five-year project to expand the research into taste and smell, as well as touch. The SenseX project will aim to provide guidelines and tools on how to design and integrate sensory stimuli for inventors and innovators to create richer interactive experiences. Relatively soon, we may be able to realize truly compelling and multifaceted media experiences, such as 9-dimensional TV (adding tastes on top of 4DX), that evoke emotions through all our senses.

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Marianna Obrist is a Reader in interaction design at the University of Sussex. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:57 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2016

Adler Astronomer On LIGO Team!

The Universe is speaking and now we are listening!

Adler astronomer Shane Larson is a member of an international scientific team that was the first to definitively detect a gravitational wave: a ripple in the fabric of spacetime first predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916.

This "signal" from space was detected on September 14, 2015, by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States.

The LIGO collaboration calls this event "GW150914." It is the first direct observation of gravitational waves, a phenomenon predicted by Einstein 100 years ago, but unobserved until this momentous discovery.

This is a way of seeing the Universe with gravity rather than light, which is a completely new way of understanding what is going on in the Universe around us.

In addition to gravitational waves, the detection of black holes is also significant. A black hole's gravity is so strong that not even light can escape it. But black holes do radiate gravitational waves, which are produced by accelerating masses. These gravitational waves were detected when two black holes in orbit around each other, moving at half the speed of light, eventually collided and merged to form a new, bigger black hole. This new spinning black hole is 62 times more massive than the Sun.

"This is a new kind of astronomy - observing the Universe using gravity itself," said Larson.

"We can't see black holes with telescopes. This is the first time black holes have been directly detected by measuring them, through their gravity, as opposed to measuring the effect they have on something else in the Universe."

Larson has been involved with LIGO for five years and with the gravitational wave community for more than a decade.

Another prominent member of this team is Vicky Kalogera, who has been a member of the LIGO collaboration for more than 15 years.

Kalogera is director of Northwestern University's Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA).

Regarding the discovery, Kalogera said, "Gravitational waves carry completely new information, about black holes and other celestial objects, and will unlock a new part of the Universe. These waves are very weak and challenging to detect here on Earth, but now we have detected our first burst of gravitational waves."

The Adler is excited to bring this new discovery to life in a temporary exhibition opening Thursday entitled LIGO Discovers Gravitational Waves.

In the Adler's Clark Family Welcome Gallery, visitors will be able to watch a video explaining this direct observation in more detail while also enhancing their knowledge on LIGO. This will be open to the public until February 29th.

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Here's a bunch of cool stuff - videos, animation, etc.

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Northwestern has some goodies too.

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From the New York Times:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"A witness to a 2013 police shooting that resulted in a six-figure settlement with the City of Chicago says she was detained by officers and prevented from talking to reporters at the scene about what she saw," the Chicago Reporter reports.

"Asiah Clark, who watched as a police officer shot 16 times into a car full of unarmed teenagers, has sued the city for violating her First Amendment right to free speech. The shooting was captured in a dashboard camera video that went viral last year.

"Her account of how she was treated is reminiscent of those of witnesses to the shooting of Laquan McDonald, who told lawyers for his family that they were threatened by officers, and it raises questions about whether Chicago police engage in a pattern of silencing witnesses to police shootings. Clark appears to be the first to sue the city over this issue."

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Here's the video. There is no audio, of course.

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Here's the Reporter's original investigation into the incident.

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Big Bad Bond Deal
The Reader's Ben Joravsky explains why the mayor's latest borrowing for CPS is such a bad deal for taxpayers, including this:

"[I]n addition to interest, we have to pay about $9 million in fees to the bond merchants who underwrite the deal - the usual collection of characters that include J.P. Morgan, Barclays, Loop Capital Markets, and so forth."

Here is an interesting reporting project I'd like to see someone embark on - or one that I would embark on myself if someone was willing to pay me to do so: Track down the actual individuals receiving that collective $9 million - because it's real people, not the abstractions known as J.P. Morgan and Barclays - and ask if they feel the least bit guilty knowing that their new vacation villas have been funded on the backs of poor Chicago schoolchildren (and regular ol' Chicago taxpayers, of course) now and decades into the future. Isn't there any such thing as pro bono bond merchantry?

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But what about the huge risk those lenders are taking? Shouldn't they be rewarded for that when it comes time for payback? Besides that questionable notion, it turns out that the lenders have tried very hard to eliminate any risk, which you might think should reduce that interest rate.

If Rauner succeeds in driving CPS to bankruptcy, the lenders have some protection, despite all their talk of risk.

According to that agreement, the "pledged taxes" that CPS is dedicating to repay the loan constitute "special revenues" as "defined in section 902(2) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code."

My personal favorite section of the bankruptcy code.

As a consequence, that money "could not lawfully be used by the board other than in compliance with" the bond agreement.

In short, if CPS does go bankrupt, these lenders get to cut to the front of the line of creditors.

Now, that's not the whole story, so I'm glad Ben included this:

"Would this 'special revenues' claim hold up in bankruptcy court? I don't know. A similar claim didn't hold up when Detroit's schools went bankrupt. But I suppose it depends on the judge, should things come to that."

The fact that such a provision didn't hold up in Detroit is what has widely read and respected bond geek Kristi Culpepper calling bullshit on the bond deal, saying it's nothing short of a breach of integrity on the part of lenders, who she says have strayed far from their civic mandate:

"One of the more scandalous developments in the marketing of the bond issue was the decision to include language suggesting that the bonds would be protected as 'special revenue bonds' in bankruptcy after initial attempts to sell the bonds failed a week earlier," Culpepper writes at Medium.

"In my opinion, the attorneys who drafted and signed off on this language should not be allowed to practice law going forward. Yes, that is an extreme reaction. But I think it matches the offense.

To me, this goes far beyond an aggressive legal opinion in three respects. First, legislation authorizing bankruptcy does not have to stop at "these entities are authorized to file for bankruptcy." Such legislation can and often does create a framework for how an insolvent government will be authorized to file; language that affects bondholders and other stakeholders (believe it or not, bondholders are not the only interested party in a municipal bankruptcy) should be treated; and how resources made available from the state could change. It is appalling that attorneys believe they can offer an opinion about how bonds are intended to be treated in bankruptcy even before relevant legislation has been enacted. That isn't their prerogative and it isn't CPS's either.

Second, there is already a market precedent for this kind of language backfiring  - which these firms (and some of the firms that purchased the bonds!) are already aware of. The City of Detroit included similar language in the official statements for its pre-bankruptcy offerings. Here is the official statement for Detroit's 2010 offering of unlimited tax general obligation bonds  - you can find the language regarding how the bonds should be treated as special revenue bonds beginning on page 34 of the PDF. Not only were the bonds not protected in Detroit's bankruptcy, those bondholders ended up receiving deep haircuts. That attorneys endorsed the inclusion of this language knowing that doing so proved injurious in the past is a shocking betrayal of their disclosure responsibilities.

Third, the inclusion of this language preys off of investors' persistently wrong impression that special revenues bonds are invincible in bankruptcy. To me, simply stating that there are not any legal precedents is a dangerous and incomplete representation.

Now, I don't believe CPS will declare bankruptcy because I don't believe the Democratic majority in the General Assembly will ever pass the law that would be necessary to make that possible. (State senate president John Cullerton has said it will never happen as long as he is in Springfield, and I believe him.)

But the bond saga exposes the mindsets and motives of all involved (including the governor, who is widely thought to have shit-talked the deal to help drive up the interest rate in order to create the leverage he has talked about for years that he would need to blow up the whole system).

The mayor doesn't look good here either; he had four years in his first term to make sure this day never came, and his only real plan appeared to have been a Hail Mary from Springfield, which isn't really a plan at all. Then during his re-election campaign, he and his media pundit friends argued that only he could save the day - his opponent, Chuy Garcia, was so out of his depth when it came to financial dealmaking that he would sink the city.

Now those same folks blame the Chicago Teachers Union because they didn't agree to the city's first serious but squishy contract offer, throwing more doubt on the system's sustainability, which made me recall when we were warned that Garcia was too close to the CTU to cut anything but a sweetheart deal that would bankrupt CPS. An alternate view is that perhaps CTU would have already cut a deal with Garcia because they would have trusted him to keep his word, having also opened the books to them instead of constantly hiding the ball, for one thing, and, for another thing, having aggressively pursued other revenue options including the transfer of surplus TIF funds to CPS, which the current administration just rejected.

In any case, the CTU's contract maneuvers have nothing to do with the staggeringly awful bond deal (nor do the latest round of cuts), which would have had to occur in any case at this juncture. We just never should have gotten to this juncture.

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I highly recommend reading the whole Culpepper piece. Then check out what's happening at the school were Rahm sends his kids. (h/t Curbed Chicago)

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Seven Innocent People Went Undercover As Prisoners In An Indiana Jail For New TV Show
Watch the trailer; it looks pretty intense for such a shit-ass county.

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Feeling Sleepy? You Might Be At Risk Of Falsely Confessing To A Crime You Did Not Commit
Really.

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Related: "The city of Aurora will pay $2.65 million to Jonathan Grayson, a man wrongly imprisoned for an Aurora murder for more than 10 years," the Aurora Beacon-News reports.

These stories have become so routine that it's easy to pass over them; besides, they happen to "other" people, not people "like us" or people we know.

But can you imagine?

And how many others are there who will spend the bulk of their lives - if not their entire lives - imprisoned for crimes they did not commit? Can you imagine?

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Why The Best Sports Stories Are Beyond The Field
"The executive editor of Sports Illustrated says the biggest headlines are won by investigative stories, from accusations of cheating in professional sports to high school hazing."

I'm not sure I would put it that way, but there you go.

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BeachBook

We're still at war, you know.

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TweetWood

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Ald. Will Burns in his last act as an alderman, setting up his lobbying career for Airbnb nicely.

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Rahm's floor leader, as he was Daley's, which in combination with mayoral ally Burns can only lead one to conclude that this done with Rahm's consent. (The plausible alternative is that aldermen finally act independently - and do the wholly wrong thing.)

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Let's bond.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:19 AM | Permalink

Seven Innocent People Went Undercover As Prisoners In An Indiana Jail For New TV Show

Seven innocent people spent 60 days inside an Indiana jail for a TV show aimed at exposing corruption and showing what really happens behind bars.

Documentary series 60 Days In will begin airing on the A&E channel in March, the network said on Wednesday.

The seven men and women volunteers, ranging from a social worker trying to end gang violence to a military wife who feels prisoners have it easy behind bars, lived among inmates at the Clark County Jail in Jeffersonville, Indiana last year.

None of the jail inmates nor staff were aware they were posing as criminals or taking part in a television show.

The program was devised by Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel. The volunteers were followed by hundreds of cameras planted throughout the jail, which houses about 500 inmates charged with crimes ranging from drug dealing to murder.

"The only way to truly understand what was going on in the jail was to implement innocent participants into the system to provide first-hand unbiased intelligence," Noel said in a statement.

"These brave volunteers helped us identify critical issues within our system that undercover officers would not have been able to find. We couldn't be more thrilled with the success of this inaugural program," Noel added.

The seven participants had never been charged with a crime nor spent time behind bars. They took part for a variety of motives ranging from wanting to get a better understanding of the system to preparing for a career in law enforcement, the documentary producers said.

The 12-episode series will start rolling out on A&E on March 10.

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The trailer:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:07 AM | Permalink

Feeling Sleepy? You Might Be At Risk Of Falsely Confessing To A Crime You Did Not Commit

If you are one of the millions of people who have listened to the podcast Serial or watched Netflix's series Making a Murderer, you may believe there are innocent people in prison.

But long before the cases of Adnan Syed, Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey were brought to the public's attention, we and other researchers have been hard at work studying how it is that innocent people sometimes go to prison for crimes they did not commit.

In fact, a recent report documented that in 2015, there were a record number of exonerations in the United States.

While it's difficult, if not impossible, to determine how many people have been wrongfully convicted in the United States, real-life cases reveal some of the common causes of wrongful conviction. Along with mistaken eyewitness testimony and flawed forensic science evidence, one leading cause of wrongful conviction is false confessions.

Yes, you read that correctly: Innocent people can and do confess to horrific crimes they never committed. False confessions are a factor in approximately 25 percent of DNA exonerations in the United States.

While you may think that you personally would never confess to a rape or murder you didn't commit, research has shown that innocent people are especially vulnerable in an interrogation room.

Why is this the case?

image-20160206-18264-1psvkrl.jpg

The police interviews of Brendan Dassey, whose case is featured in Making a Murderer, included many of the hallmarks of a false confession.

Why Would An Innocent Person Falsely Confess?

three pathways to a false confession. First, police officers mistakenly conclude that an innocent suspect is guilty. In the initial stages of the interview or interrogation, interrogators attempt to detect a suspect's guilt or innocence through their demeanor, tone of voice and body language. The danger here is that the training police officers commonly receive on detecting deception is fraught with error.

Next, coercive tactics are introduced. The interrogation may be filled with accusations that the suspect is guilty, lies that there is convincing evidence against that person (police are legally permitted to lie to you) and promises of leniency and sympathy. The interrogation may last a few hours, or in some cases, even a few days.

Once the innocent suspect admits his or her guilt, the police then (perhaps inadvertently) contaminate the suspect's memory. It's not enough for the suspect to say, "I did it"; he or she must also provide a detailed narrative of the crime that fits the evidence. Whether this is done by asking leading questions (as was the case in Brendan Dassey's interrogation), presenting the suspect with crime scene photos or playing on the suspect's memory, the goal is to get the suspect to provide a detailed confession.

Researchers have also discovered that certain people might be particularly vulnerable to giving a false confession. For instance, youth are at heightened risk. Compared to adults, children are less able to think of long-term consequences, are more suggestible and are more focused on immediate rewards (for instance, "If I confess now, I can go home tonight"). Individuals with cognitive impairments and/or mental illness are also at increased risk of confessing to a crime they did not commit. Certain personality types may be especially susceptible, too. People who are more suggestible and/or compliant are vulnerable in an interrogation room.

Consider Another Risk Factor: Sleep Deprivation

In our new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, we uncovered yet another factor that may put people at risk of falsely confessing - sleep deprivation. Although we know that law enforcement officers sometimes interrogate suspects during normal sleeping hours (12 - 8 a.m.), there had been no empirical studies investigating the effect of sleep deprivation on the likelihood that someone will falsely confess.

To examine this issue, we recruited 88 college students to take part in an experiment.

Participants arrived at the sleep lab and completed several computer-based tasks. In a procedure adapted from leading false confession expert Saul Kassin and his colleague Katherine Kiechel, we sternly and repeatedly warned participants never to press the "escape" key on their computer keyboards - we led them to believe that doing so would cause the loss of valuable study data.

About a week later, participants returned to the lab and either slept there overnight, or remained awake all night long. The following morning, we showed all participants a statement that documented their prior activities in the lab. Critically, the statement falsely alleged that the participant had pressed the "escape" key during the first visit to the lab. Then we urged participants to verify that the information in the statement was correct by signing their name.

Compared to rested participants, sleep-deprived participants were far more likely to sign the statement and falsely admit to the wrongdoing. After just one request, 18 percent of rested participants signed the statement, compared to 50 percent of sleep-deprived participants. When those who refused to sign were again urged to do so, now 39 percent of rested participants and 68 percent of sleep-deprived participants signed the statement.

Two simple, easily administered measures also predicted rates of false confession in our sample. Participants who were sleep-deprived were especially likely to falsely confess if they exhibited an impulsive decision-making style, as measured by the Cognitive Reflection Test. Moreover, participants who indicated they were especially sleepy on the Stanford Sleepiness Scale were also at increased risk of falsely confessing, regardless of whether they had slept or were sleep-deprived.

Our new findings add to the growing body of research on the causes and consequences of false confessions. Further research into the factors that contribute to false confession is crucial given that the implications of false confessions, and wrongful convictions more generally, are far too great - not only do the innocent suffer (potentially for years in prison), but the guilty remain free to commit more crimes.

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Shari Berkowitz is an assistant professor of criminal justice administration at California State University, Dominguez Hills; Elizabeth Loftus is a distinguished professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine; Kimberly Fenn is an associate professor of psychology at Michigan State University; and Steven Frenda is a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at The New School for Social Research, The New School. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

Why The Best Sports Stories Are Beyond The Field

Super Bowl fans may still be playing Monday morning quarterback, but the stories that most shake up the sports world aren't recaps of what happens on the field. L. Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated, says the biggest headlines are won by investigative stories, from accusations of cheating in professional sports to high school hazing.

For this week's ProPublica podcast, Wertheim talks with senior editor Joe Sexton about some of his favorite examples, how Sports Illustrated has adjusted to investigative journalism in the digital age, and what his new book - This Is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, the Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon - reveals about the psychology of sports.

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Highlights from their conversation:

Media outlets may have fewer resources for investigative sports reporting than they once did, but the public is still hungry for those stories.

Wertheim: I'm bullish about the public's appetite. Look at this [Al Jazeera America] Peyton Manning human growth hormone story and the attention that got . . . Say whatever you want to say about the report and the methodology, and whether or not you or I would have published that story or not published it - that was the sports story of the week at a time when the NFL was finishing the regular season and college football bowl games were in full force. I think the public appetite for a well-executed sports investigative story is as high as it's ever been.

Gambling is at the heart of many difficulties for sports - but provides opportunities for investigative reporting.

Wertheim: We did a story on daily fantasy - on DraftKings and FanDuel and the revenues, and these valuations that were going up and up and up to unicorn status . . . If someone had said, by the end of the season there's going to be an Attorney General's cease and desist, there's going to be this unending constellation of court cases, and these companies with billion-dollar valuations, we don't know if they're going to exist anymore - it's a remarkable story. It's very fluid and fast moving. A ruling here or there will really sway things. I think one of the reasons the NBA seemed to reverse their stand is because there was this recognition that gambling ain't going away. People's interest in uncertain outcomes isn't going to go away. That's a founding virtue of this country. If you can't beat them, join them.

In his most recent books, Wertheim takes a "Freakonomics approach" to the psychology of sports.

Wertheim: One of the things we looked at [in Scorecasting, co-written by Tobias Moskowitz] were: Why is there a home field advantage in sports? I thought we made a pretty strong case, and it's not about fans waving their arms or booing the visitors and cheering the home teams. It's a lot about this officiating bias. Whether it's balls and strikes, or whether it's foul calls, the home team does very, very well, and the officials are really making the difference . . . This new book [This Is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, the Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon, co-written by Sam Sommers] does the same kind of thing: We know that rivalries are good, but why is that? We think that lousy players make for better managers and star players make for lousy managers - why is that?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

February 10, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. BERNIE BUCKS.

"Sen. Bernie Sanders took a few moments in his victory speech Tuesday night to make a small request of his supporters: 'Please help us raise the funds we need, whether it's 10 bucks, 20 bucks, or 50 bucks,' he said," the Washington Post reports.

"The response was so overwhelming that his website buckled under the traffic. Between the close of the polls and 12:30 a.m., his campaign brought in $2.6 million."

2. MAINSTREAM MEDIA'S MENDACIOUS MINDSET.

"Hillary Clinton's supporters often argue that mainstream political reporters are incapable of covering her positively - or even fairly. While it may be true that the political press doesn't always write exactly what Clinton would like, e-mails recently obtained by Gawker offer a case study in how her prodigious and sophisticated press operation manipulates reporters into amplifying her desired message - in this case, down to the very word that The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder used to describe an important policy speech," Gawker reports.

Go read this, vomit, clean yourself up, and come back.

*

Here's the e-mail exchange I had with our very own Tim Willette about this:

STEVE: "Yup. Happens in Chicago all the time, too. And what does it get you? Bullshit! Is it worth getting a speech preview if you have to describe it as muscular? Why? What does that get you? 'I got the speech before everyone else.' That means you're a wanker! But the Chicago press corps will tell you that's 'what you have to do.'"

TIM: "It's silly. 'Attention, here's a copy of this great speech she's about to deliver!' Does anyone benefit from that? Why? Because the reader gets to know the news a few hours before it happened and is also spun? Also, this does not qualify as a scoop to me. A scoop is a story that, but for the work of the journalist, would not otherwise become known."

Yup.

*

It's not hard to be a decent journalist. Just don't suck. Just don't. You can consciously make that decision. "Nope, not today."

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"But editors demand I act corruptly!"

Too bad. You don't accept that excuse from the people you cover, so you don't get to accept it from yourself. Expose those editors, band together with your reporting brethren, take it to the top, and go public. And if you must, quit. You are no longer doing journalism anyway.

3. BUNCHA PUSSIES.

"[Monday] night, in front of thousands of people, Donald Trump stood on stage and called Ted Cruz a pussy. And while you are not supposed to say the word 'pussy,' members of the media are especially not supposed to say the word 'pussy.' So instead, they got creative," Gawker notes.

"Here are some of our favorite feats of linguistic gymnastics done in the name of moral decency, ranked."

*

Just say it. Kids aren't reading you anyway, and even they are, so what. They already know what it means.

4. MIDDLING MAT LATOS.

"The White Sox possess an unparalleled ability to keep players healthy, and so perhaps they think they can fix Latos' injury struggles, or at least help limit them. But Latos dropped nearly 2 mph off his average fastball velocity after the knee surgery, down to 90, and he's now down 4 mph from where he was when he entered the league in 2009. Clearly, the mechanics have affected the knee, and the knee has affected the pitcher, and so you could argue that Latos hasn't been himself in two years," August Fagerstorm writes for Fangraphs about the new White Sox pitcher.

"The counterpoint to that is, once Latos came off the second knee-related DL stint last year, he said the knee felt fine. And, over his final five weeks in Miami, Latos looked like vintage Latos, running a 2.96 ERA and 3.33 FIP over seven starts. It's a small sample, sure, and I don't blame you if you don't want to trust the results. But you can't fake fastball velocity, and in that same stretch, Latos had his old fastball back, averaging more than 92 mph and pumping it up to 95 at times. Latos hasn't been himself for a full season since 2013, but flashes of the real Latos could be seen as recently as last June."

5. SEARS SLIPPING AWAY.

"Sears seems to be going the way of Woolworth and Montgomery Ward," the New York Post reports.

Or maybe the way of the shopping mall?

*

"The venerable retailer has seen its revenue sliced in half over the past decade that hedge fund mogul Eddie Lampert has owned it. Sales have plummeted from $49 billion in 2006 to an estimated $25 billion in sales last year, and its fourth-quarter guidance Tuesday confirmed the trend is continuing."

6. LOOSIE LUNACY.

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel jump-started his proposal to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes in Chicago to 21 and raise a series of tobacco taxes after he agreed to increase fines for people caught selling illegal smokes," the Tribune reports.

"Under the amended proposal, first-time fines for selling illegal cigarettes will be increased to $5,000 from $2,500. Subsequent offenses will see fines of up to $10,000 rather than the current $5,000. People caught selling the illegal cigarettes could also face up to six months in jail."

That strikes me as lunacy. What I'd like to know is how tightly this is enforced; how many people are in jail for selling loosies? I understand why it's illegal, but I also understand something about proportionality - and racial and class equity in enforcement.

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Riding The Dog, Part 4: Faceplant Position
Making movies, on location.

*

Highly recommended. Super funny.

Now Even Statues Of Dirty Illinois Governors Want Your Money
Kankakee clownin' around.

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Our very own Ed Hammer remains on the story.

The Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: 1Bs & 3Bs
"If you're a Chicago baseball fan, there's a lot to like in this year's pre-season fantasy rankings for first base and third base, including my sizable but calculated gamble to rank one of the local boys as the top fantasy find at his position," writes our very own Dan O'Shea, our man in fantasyland.

*

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Even if you don't play fantasy sports, but still follow the games or local teams, Dan is a great and informative read.

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors
And how the media presents "objective" "news."

*

I love Jonathan Pie.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Combat rock.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:25 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Truth About Teachers & Doctors

The truth about the way the news is told.


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Previously in Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter!:

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Explains The Economy.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! It's Shit Crap News, Tim.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Is Going To Paris.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Grow Some Balls; Tell The Truth.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! MP Is A Wanker Santa.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Merry Fucking Christmas.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! New Year's Rant.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Sexy Skype.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! TTIP Is Boring Shit.

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Plus:

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

Now Even Statues Of Dirty Illinois Governors Want Your Money

The Beachwood Reporter has received from a reader a letter from the GFWC Woman's Club of Kankakee requesting donations for a project to erect three statues in a Kankakee park dedicated to three Illinois governors from that area. You might remember that I wrote about this Kankakee-based fundraising effort a couple weeks ago suggesting that the Woman's Club might find a more worthy cause to raise money for. After all, two of those governors are a disgrace and embarrassment to Illinois.

To refresh your memory, first there is Len Small, who served as governor from 1921 to 1929, and is known among some as "perhaps the dirtiest Illinois governor of them all." Better known to current Kankakee constituents is George Ryan. Ryan was convicted of 20 federal felonies and served five years in a federal prison. Neither is what most would call statue-worthy.

The fundraising letter we received was written by Dondi Maricle, the club's president. She sent it out about a week-and-a-half ago. She states in the letter that the club "has initiated a project to honor our former governors . . . Len Small, Samuel H. Shapiro, and George H. Ryan." The letter assigned levels of donations as follows:

Diamond: Over $10,000
Gold: $5,000 - $10,000
Silver: $2,500 - $5,000
Bronze: $250 - $2,500)
Patron: (under $250)

Yikes! My experience with Illinois politicians and their backers is that anyone who contributes $10,000 or more is going to expect something in return, and there is a good chance it will involve something illegal, unethical or immoral.

I certainly don't believe the Woman's Club of Kankakee has anything to offer along those lines, that is unless erecting a statue honoring a convicted criminal is immoral. There are some who might take it that far. Even I, Ryan's No. 1 adversary, believe that is a stretch.

There is a historical significance that three of Illinois' governors are from Kankakee, and I have been told that is one of the motives behind the project. I can't help but wonder if there are other blemished historical figures who have statues honoring them. For instance, Benedict Arnold, the infamous American Revolution traitor, comes to mind. There is the Boot Monument in a national park honoring Arnold's leg. You see, before he was a traitor Arnold was a hero. He was wounded in his leg at the Battle of Saratoga. The monument does not, however, mention Benedict Arnold by name. After all, subsequent to his heroic past Arnold committed treason by plotting to betray the American cause by handing over the American fort at West Point in exchange for cash and a commission with the British Army.

Sound familiar? George Ryan betrayed the taxpayers of Illinois in exchange for cash by turning over safe highways to unqualified drivers of big trucks carrying hazardous materials and weighing 80,000 pounds. That's not a stretch now, is it?

It has been difficult to wrap my head around this statue thing so I decided to call the lady from the Woman's Club who composed the letter.

Dondi Maricle Is very friendly and polite. She definitely is one of those people who looks at life with the glass being always half-full. I may not agree with her, but I have to admire the positivity.

She told me that the Woman's Club has not received any cash yet as a result of her letter, but some businesses and individuals have donated or promised items for the silent auction the club is holding during their upcoming St Patrick's Day dinner. She said all proceeds from that event are going toward the statues fund. She sent out about 150 letters a week-and-a-half ago and they are still waiting on donations. The Woman's Club expects to raise $117,000. The letter states they want to reach their goal by August 2016. She explained in our phone conversation that her club may have been overly ambitious and has changed their goal to spring of next year.

Dondi cheerfully explained that Kankakee is the only city in Illinois that has had three governors. She wants people to remember the good, not the bad. She pointed out that no matter what you do in life, you are never 100% right. People make mistakes.

I asked her if the project would come to a halt if enough people were to rally against erecting the statues. She responded: "I hope not. You have to look at the positive. [Ryan] served his time."

She then commented, "When Ryan ran for governor, I did not support him." She said she supported Glenn Poshard.

Poshard was a high school teacher and coach who was first elected to the Illinois Senate and then to the U.S. House of Representatives. He lost to Ryan in the 1998 gubernatorial election, and was later appointed president of Southern Illinois University. During that time he was accused of plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation as a graduate student, but was ultimately cleared.

After Poshard left Congress, he and his wife founded the Poshard Foundation for Abused Children. One of its projects was the construction of a woman's shelter in downstate Cairo that opened in 2003.

Many would call that a worthy cause. I wonder: Are there are any abused children or women in need of shelter in Kankakee County?

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This Just In: Governors Statues Get Early Approval.

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Ed Hammer is a retired police captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty. He can be reached through his website.

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Previously by Ed Hammer:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers
* About Those Indicted Nurses
* Body Language Bingo: A Guide To Watching The Presidential Debates
* George Ryan's Day Of Independence
* The Ironic George Ryan.
* George Ryan Is Unrepentant.
* Must Like Puppies.
* ILGov2014: The George Ryan Connection.
* Exclusive: Trump Puts Lion Killer On VP Short List.
* The Statues Of Kankakee.

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See also: Honoring A True Illinois Hero.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

The Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: First And Third

If you're a Chicago baseball fan, there's a lot to like in this year's pre-season fantasy rankings for first base and third base, including my sizable but calculated gamble to rank one of the local boys as the top fantasy find at his position.

1B

1. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI.

The top choice by a surprisingly wide margin. Interestingly, given all his mega-stats - .321 BA, 33 HRs, 110 RBI, 21 SBs, 103 runs, 182 hits, 1.105 OPS - he led 1Bs only in SBs, runs and OPS last year. Yet, that shows how much across-the-board value he has.

2. Miguel Cabrera, DET.

His .338 BA led all at the position, but his 119 games last year was the fewest he's played since his 2003 rookie year. Given longer off-season rest with DET out of the playoff mix last year, I think he can hit 25 HRs, 100 RBI, while still making a .340 BA look easy.

3. Anthony Rizzo, CUBS.

Looking like a regular 30 HR, 100 RBI guy, and maybe more if he continues to hit lefties well. I think he gets more rest this year, so we'll see if that boosts his numbers as he stays fresh, or if his overall stats slide a little bit given fewer opportunities.

4. Jose Abreu, WHITE SOX.

Another local who looks like a regular 30/100 candidate. Abreu might also hit for better average than Rizzo, though probably will score fewer runs. There is still even a possibility he could explode for something like .320, 40/120, though I'd be surprised.

5. Joey Votto, CIN.

Was a great draft find last year when many of us assumed age, a losing team and occasionally poor attitude would result in unimpressive stats. His walks will lead to one of the best OPS figures at 1B (1.000 OPS last year), and still a 25 HR, 80 RBI, .300 BA threat.

6. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR.

When you hit 39 HRs and 111 RBIs, but you're only the third- or fourth-best hitter in your lineup, that means you're a Blue Jay. Reliable slugger should do more of the same this year, but stat value doesn't stretch beyond HRs, RBI and runs.

7. Buster Posey, SF.

If you get over the fact he's just never going to hit more than 20-25 HRs, he's a great fantasy value in every other way. .318 BA and 177 hits were top five for both stats among 1Bs, and he remains a pretty good threat for 90-100 RBI.

8. Chris Davis, BAL.

Huge comeback season of 47 HRs, 117 RBI, 100 runs, respectable .262 BA after he infamously hit just .196 with 26 HRs in 2014. Will he do it again as he turns 30 before this season? Those power numbers assure someone will accept the risk he goes the other way again.

9. Prince Fielder, TEX.

Another massive comeback year that might make him a bargain at this spot. His 187 hits led all 1Bs, and while his 23 HRs were his fewest for a full season in his career, his 98 RBI, .305 BA suggest he's accepted that he doesn't need to hit 40 HRs to be productive.

10. Adrian Gonzalez, LAD.

He quietly had more HRs last year (28) than in any season since 2010, but last season also featured his fewest RBI (90) for a 150+-game season since 2008. Still productive and close enough to 100 RBI year-in and year-out that he still has starter fantasy value.

11. Eric Hosmer, KC.

Great 2015 featured 178 hits, third-most among 1Bs, 18 HRs, 93 RBI, .297 BA and .822 OPS. Feels like he's still getting better, but probably will never be the 30+ HR guy. Still, someone who will give you some kind of fantasy points every single day.

12. Freddie Freeman, ATL.

I championed him as the next big thing at 1B two years straight, but he hasn't delivered. Last year's .276 BA, 18 HRs, 66 RBI could be called incomplete, as he was limited to 118 games, but it's becoming clear he doesn't have 30 HR power or .330 contact.

13. Albert Pujols, LAA.

Stunning return to the 40-HR club last year was mitigated by a career-low .244 BA. He was only five RBI away from a 40/100 season, which would have put him in company only with Davis, but he's on the wrong side of 36 to do it again.

14. David Ortiz, BOS.

Will he save his best year for his last? After hitting 37 HRs and 108 RBI at age 39 last year, both highest numbers since his 2007 MVP campaign, it seems possible he could come close at age 40, but not probable.

15. Kendrys Morales, KC.

Quietly finding his way back to starter fantasy value, with 22 HRs, 106 RBI (most since 2009) and .290 BA last year. Wouldn't be surprised if he has another 100 RBI season in him and can clear the fence a few more times, but not exactly betting on it.

16. Brandon Belt, SF.

Played 137 games last year, but managed 18 HRs and 68 RBI, both career highs. Always seems about to break out and approach the magical threshold of 30 HR, 100 RBI, but we haven't seen it happen yet. Could this be his year?

17. Mark Teixeira, NYY.

Incredibly productive 111-game season featured 31 HRs, his most since 2011. Dingers represented almost a third of his 100 hits, but as always, the injury threat is near-constant and his BA ceiling of .250 or so leaves us wanting more.

18. Brian McCann, NYY.

Another Yankee power hitter who won't offer much else, McCann at least clubbed a career-high 26 HRs and 94 RBI last year. You would probably draft him to fill the catcher spot, where he has much more value.

19. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.

After Posey and McCann, the third (but not last) 1B with eligibility at catcher. His 2015 was shortened to 103 games by injury, but his 2014 breakout that featured 53 doubles, .301 BA, .837 OPS still intrigues. Plus, he likely will get traded to a contender.

20. Stephen Vogt, OAK.

After a brief, productive 2014 stint, his 2015 overall results weren't all that impressive: 18 HRs, 71 RBI, .784 OPS, but look at his first half: 14 HRs, 56 RBI, .872 OPS. Catcher eligibility helps, and if he gets more consistent and stays healthy, he could yield greater value.

Sleeper: Adam Lind, SEA.

2015 campaign with MIL - 20 HRs, 87 RBI, .820 OPS - was a throwback to his early career success in TOR. SEA isn't quite the same hitters' park, unfortunately, but his 66 walks last year were a career high, so thinking his selectivity could yield similar results this year.

*

3B

1. Kris Bryant, CUBS.

If you don't like a little risk, then take the next guy over our boy KB, but 26 HR, 99 RBI, 13 SBs, 87 runs, .275 BA last year as a massively hyped rookie who was under tremendous pressure on a contending team tells me we've barely scratched the surface.

2. Josh Donaldson, TOR.

The 2015 MVP - the only player with both 120+ RBI and runs last year - is the safest bet you can make at 3B, given Bryant could still slump at times while figuring things out. He's the linchpin in a hyper-productive (at least in the regular season) lineup.

3. Nolan Arenado, COL.

MLB RBI leader last year with 130, and honestly underrated in Bryant's shadow, as he could still do more damage this year at age 25, and given his other 2015 stats: 42 HRs, 43 doubles, 97 runs, .287 BA, .898 OPS.

4. Manny Machado, BAL.

Do his 35 HRs, 20 SBs last year suggest a 30/30 man this year, maybe even 40/30? Those 20 swipes at age 23 led all players at this position. His 102 runs in 2015 were second only to Donaldson. Also, he's eligible at SS.

5. Todd Frazier, WHITE SOX.

We should probably write off the supposed power boost provided by playing at The Cell after seeing Adams LaRoche and Dunn fizzle, but easy to see 2015's HR Derby King hitting more than the 35 he hit last year. Occasional SB threat, too, with 13 last year.

6. Miguel Sano, MIN.

18 HRs and a .915 OPS in the first 279 at-bats of his career last year has us expecting a proportionate power increase, along with hopes he doesn't slump like he seemed to near the end of the season.

7. Matt Carpenter, STL.

Hit .272 for the second straight year, but regained relevance by hitting 28 HRs, 20 more than in 2014. Still a scary-good situational hitter. Not sure if he will reproduce last year's power numbers, but always a productive hitter and run-scorer (101 last year.)

8. Anthony Rendon, WAS.

Got top pre-season fantasy consideration last year on the back of a multi-stat breakout in 2014, but injury blew up his 2015 season. Didn't do enough in his late-season return to earn a higher spot, but still a pretty clear 20 HR/20 SB threat.

9. Adrian Beltre, TEX.

His career is winding down, with his 18 HRs, .287 BA and .788 OPS in 2015, all his lowest in several years, but 83 RBI, 83 runs and overall consistency through the years suggest he's a safe bet once again in 2015, especially if you draft other positions earlier than 3B.

10. Kyle Seager, SEA.

His final numbers for 2015 look pretty good, especially career-high 26 HRs, 37 doubles, 166 hits and 85 runs, but he was frustratingly streaky and almost worthless in the first half of the season. Dropped from 96 RBI in 2014 to 74 last year, so we'll look for more this year.

11. Maikel Franco, PHI.

While Bryant, Sano and Duffy (below) earned a lot more press, Franco quietly added his name to the list of young stars at this position, with 14 HRs, 50 RBI and a .280 BA in 305 at-bats. Sounds like a 30/100 prospect at some point, but not sure about this year.

12. Matt Duffy, SF.

If you're the last team in a 12-team league to draft a 3B, you could do much worse than the guy who was fourth in hits at 3B as a rookie with 169. 12 HRs, 77 RBI, 12 SBs, 28 doubles, six triples and .295 BA show us a multi-stat threat. He also is eligible at 2B.

13. Jung Ho Kang, PIT.

A 28-year-old doesn't always sound promising, and Kang started slow, but really built his fantasy case after his first 100 games. Alas, he only played 126 games in an injury-shortened season, but 12 HRs, 58 RBI, .287 BA and .816 OPS suggest a bigger breakout this year.

14. Mike Moustakas, KC.

Hot postseason of 2014 was his breakthrough moment, and he carried it through last season with 22 HRs, 82 RBI, .284 BA, .817 OPS, all career highs that suggest he's finally fulfilling his long-held promise and possibly still due for even slightly better stats.

15. Evan Longoria, TB.

Still some fantasy value, but has staked his claim as a guy who will get you 20-25 HRs, 70+ RBI and enough hits in between to stay under consideration to be in your starting lineup - although maybe more often as a UTIL or off-day replacement.

16. David Wright, NYM.

Small sample size last year of 150 at-bats from the often-injured former stud, but he seemed revived by the Mets' run to the postseason, and I thought his .289 BA and .814 OPS were pretty good signs of ongoing value if he can stay healthy.

17. Daniel Murphy, WAS.

The ridiculous run of post-season power may have been a mirage (although his 14 HRs in the regular season were, barely, a career-high.) Yet, a .280s hitter with prospects for 70+ RBI and 35-40 doubles is nice to have on your bench.

18. Justin Turner, LAD.

The one overachiever in an underachieving lineup, he had 16 HRs, 60 RBI, 55 runs in just 385 at-bats. All those figures were career-highs for a 31-year-old, nice for his scrapbook, but hard to imagine his numbers will really explode even given 150 more at-bats.

19. Joey Gallo, TEX.

In a couple brief stretches, he looked every bit the feast-or-famine long-ball hitter we expected. If he gets a full season in the majors, or close to it, he could hit 30-40 HRs and not do much else. He's not your Opening Day fantasy starter, but worth a late bench spot.

20. Brett Lawrie, WHITE SOX.

16 HRs, 60 RBI, 29 doubles, 146 hits last year all career highs, and he's 26, so there's some potential he gets better, and if you're really optimistic, benefits from The Cell effect and takes hitting cues from new teammates Frazier and Abreu.

Sleeper: Trevor Plouffe, MIN.

His 86 RBI were fifth-best at 3B last year, and along with 22 HRs and 35 RBI, added up to a pretty good season. His. 244 BA kept him from being more than an occasional waiver wire pickup, but still seems like a guy who could someday explode for 30 HRs.

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Previously:
* The (Tied At The) Top 40.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:43 AM | Permalink

Riding The Dog, Part 4: Faceplant Position

Last in a series.

Part 1: Midnight Bus To Markham.

Part 2: Celebrating Incessant Monotony Since 1961.

Part 3: Meet Me At The Esquire Lounge.

The St. Louis Gateway Transit Center sits directly across the way from the Scottrade Center, home to the NHL's St. Louis Blues. There's a game tonight, which explains why every road in the vicinity looks like every road the day before Woodstock. The sheer amount of backlog suggests either the Blues are doing well this season or a wacky local radio station just dumped a shitload of free tickets out of a helicopter as part of morning zoo promotion.

The Gateway Transit Center is shared by Greyhound and Amtrak, but the definition of "shared" is more like what you'd get if you put two snotty 4-year-olds in charge of divvying up the last cookie in the jar. The Amtrak section is spacious, loaded with TVs, contains a ticket/check-in desk worthy of a small airport, and bustles with activity. Greyhound's portion isn't so much as a station as just one long, fluorescently overlit hallway with benches against the wall, and bustling with all the cheer of a refugee camp. Not only that, but every TV set bolted to the ceiling has been pointed to face the walkway rather than the benches, where they'd be far more useful.

TVs.jpg

This is great for pedestrians who like to walk around all distracted by whatever channel has been randomly left to drone on until the set dies, but not so much for people stuck on a bench for an hour or two until the next slow bus to China shows up.

But there are phone-charging stations among the benches, and the terminal has Wi-Fi that actually works, so at least there's that. I'm well past the point of being even mildly interested, so I move on.

* * * * *

It's after 5 p.m. A slow rain is falling outside, and it's a humid-feeling 60 degrees - which, if you smoke, is perfect weather to be exiled outdoors to foul the planet. And in some way, the dead-still, warmly-damp air feels perfectly fitting for the kind of bluesy/jazzy rainy-night atmosphere that old movies like to paint of places like St. Louis and New Orleans. I step outside the main entrance, and the second I light up, I'm directed to the smoker's Siberia half a building away by a rather imposing-looking terminal employee built to let the world know he means business without having to say it. There's a few other social outcasts there, and small talk abounds.

I'm standing next to a gangly, underfed-looking fellow in his twenties on his way to Chicago to visit his kids he hasn't seen in a few years. Judging by his demeanor, my best guess is the reason for that involved county jail somehow, but common sense advises against asking strangers in a strange town too many personal questions.

"See that guy over there?" Underfed Stranger asks, pointing off toward the darkness.

I don't see anyone, but in this sort of still-cordial situation, it's often best to just play along.

"What about him?" I ask back.

"He'll want to sell you pot. Don't buy any."

"I wasn't planning on it."

"He'll fuck you on the price, and his stuff is shit. I can get you better stuff cheaper."

"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind if I run into any secret shoppers."

* * * * *

Back inside the terminal, my big-ass duffel still in tow, I briefly consider waiting out the next 30 minutes on the Amtrak side and watch some TV while soaking in the ever-changing human landscape darting about. However, Amtrak passengers are of different stock than Greyhound passengers. They dress considerably better, their luggage doesn't look like it came from a South Chicago rummage sale, they don't sit around looking like they'd rather be anywhere else as long as anywhere else wasn't here. They look . . . rested.

I decide against using this as my waiting room after I notice a few official-looking fellows in suits stationed about here and there, doing little except keeping an eye on things. I size them up as Amtrak security agents who have undergone extensive, top-secret training to instantly recognize Greyhound passengers looking to scab some free TV on the clean and pleasant Amtrak side of things, and quickly hustle them off to the Greyhound side with the rest of the riffraff.

When you're a stranger in a strange town still a few hundred miles from your destination, the last thing you want to do is make waves, so I shuffle off to the bus-passenger gutter, where my kind certainly belongs.

* * * * *

I board the 6 p.m. bus to Springfield, Missouri, that will whisk me along the final, four-and-a-half-hour leg of this holiday adventure. Well, whisk isn't exactly accurate, since that's a description for plane travel and teleportation. On top of that, the pleasant steady, bluesy drizzle has turned into a steady rain.

And once again, our driver is Greyhound Annie, who informs me that since my big-ass duffel doesn't have a bag-check ticket attached to it, it has now become a big-ass carry-on. I use my hat to mark the last open seat, which is next to a young woman with a dead cell phone traveling to the Rolla stop 'n' drop and could she please use mine to arrange for someone to pick her up? She appears to be a year or three out of high school at best, and has the haggard appearance of someone with far too many children to constantly attend to. Her wardrobe seems to be dictated by whatever's good in an apartment building dumpster, and she smells vaguely of barn.

Greyhound Annie, doing her final aisle-walk with all the pleasantness of a Stateville prison guard doing a bed check, informs me I can't stash my bag under the seat, so it'll have to go into the overhead bin.

Y'know that one annoying dickhead on every plane blocking up the aisle for everyone else because he's trying to shoehorn a 10-pounds-of-potatoes carry-on into a compartment engineered for only three pounds of potatoes? Well, that guy has now become me. When you're in a spot like that, you're not only trying to accomplish things as quickly as possible, but at the same time, you're trying quite desperately out of common decency to keep your crotch out of the face of whoever has the misfortune of being in the seat directly beneath that overhead at the moment. Your heart races, your forehead starts to sweat, and you begin to relate to what claustrophobics go through on an ordinary day.

On the way back to my seat, I instantly recognize this bus as a throwback to those of my Greyhound cattle-car 1980s past: The aisle seems barely wide enough, the seats are short enough to see the back of everyone's head, and as it happens, I'm in the seat row directly behind the wheelchair-access seat row, which I don't think was even a thought in 1985. This meant the seat-row forward of mine has been moved about a foot back, giving me and Rolla Girl barely enough room between kneecaps and the seatback to fit a fist. And believe me, I have small fists.

* * * * *

It's possible to sleep on a bus, albeit not very comfortably or well. The bus version of a Tempur-Pedic bed experience covers four basic positions: 1) Upright, 2) Leaning sideways against the window, 3) Sprawled across two seats if nobody's next to you, or 4) Sprawled across one seat with your feet in the aisle if you're not in the window seat.

Or, as Rolla Girl preferred, 5) Faceplanted into the back of the seat in front of her. Given the total lack of distance between her forehead and seatback, this wasn't as much of a stretch as it might be on any other bus. It was no surprise that she kept waking up every minute or two, which brings us to Position 6: Using the person next to you as a pillow.

We've all seen this sort of thing on sitcoms, but when it happens to you in real life, there's no laugh track, and the only thing running through your mind is, "Great. Now what?" That's a valid concern, especially if you're not an insufferable dick - or, at the very least, someone with a tiny bit of sympathy for people who measure their sleep deprivation in years, not hours. Do I just let her keep snoozing as she is, or do I start tossing and turning in a very un-obvious way hoping she'll wake up, feel a little embarrassed about the whole thing, and go back to Faceplant Position? Or maybe just stay awake and let her sleep-deprivation stopwatch keep ticking away?

Rolla Girl answers all my questions by going Faceplant-My Shoulder-Faceplant-My Shoulder-Faceplant-My Shoulder-Faceplant-My Shoulder, which could possibly be some sort of bus travel record. All in all though, the whole thing isn't all that horrible or creepy, so I decide to just let it slide and be thankful she's laying there with her head on my shoulder instead of in my lap.

Because then, we'd have a whole 'nother social-manners situation I'd prefer not to contemplate even now, writing about it a few weeks afterward.

* * * * *

For those of you who may be wondering whatever happened to the comedian known as Sinbad, his career was "Appearing Live!" at the Underwood, according to the billboard along Missouri's Interstate 44. The billboard doesn't seem to know what sort of business the Underwood is, or where in Missouri it may be. Neither does Google.

Still, Missouri's I-44 billboards - and believe me, there are plenty of them, which is either a testament to the power of advertising on a large, beacon-worthy scale or just because Missouri happens to be really enchanted with billboards - are informative and, in their own ways sometimes, amusing.

On this leg of the trip, I'm reminded that there's no better fudge than the fudge in Uranus (yes, Beavis, I get it), and that there exists a vacuum museum somewhere along our direction dedicated to vacuum cleaners.

How the equally-nearby Meramec Caverns manages to stay in business with competition like that is a mystery to me.

* * * * *

My holiday adventure comes to an end at the Springfield depot just past midnight - a good hour-and-a-half behind schedule - in the midst of one of the laziest storm systems in recent history to dump enough rain on the lower Midwest over the next three days to make Noah rethink his decision to abandon a perfectly good boat somewhere on Mount Ararat.

Greyhound Annie announces that, given the weather, everyone will likely get no further tonight than Tulsa for the foreseeable future. Which probably means everyone on that bus is still sitting around right now in Tulsa, looking all bewildered. And oh, by the way, everybody - given the current delay, the hour-and-a-half layover in Springfield is being reduced to a 15-minute "coffee stop."

I wedge my big-ass duffel out of the overhead and catch my ride home - not just glad to be home, but especially glad I'm not going to be one of those poor souls who discover there's no food, let alone any coffee, to speak of in the Springfield station, particularly at midnight.

Somehow, that struck me as being the perfect nail in the coffin of a perfect family holiday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

February 9, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Tina Hunt had gone to the Cook County criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue to attend her son's court appearance in November 2013 when she found herself in a dispute with sheriff's deputies," Steve Schmadeke reports for the Tribune.

"After she was taken into custody, a sheriff's deputy charged that she kicked him in the shin during a struggle in a lockup at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.

"On Wednesday, the 49-year-old grandmother is scheduled to return to the same courthouse to be sentenced for her felony conviction for aggravated battery of a peace officer.

"With convictions for two violent crimes decades ago, Hunt faces a mandatory minimum of six years in prison, even though the deputy testified at trial that the kick didn't hurt and left no marks on his shin. The harsh penalty is the result of Illinois' version of the 'three-strikes' law."

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Unsurprisingly, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez supports the prosecution. Surprisingly, so does Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Go read the rest.

*

Let's go to the archives:

"With crime topping the charts as an issue of concern to voters, politicians from President Clinton on down are singing a get-tough tune," the Sun-Times reported in 1994.

"But Illinois' last major 'get tough' campaign in 1978 suggests such drives can be long on costs and short on results. And while the latest lock-them-up medley may indeed end up soothing election-year fears, few experts expect it to do anything to lower crime rates."

Three-strikes laws were a big deal in 1994 - along with other so-called get-tough-on-crime measures.

"Clinton also included $2.7 billion in his budget for crime-prevention initiatives. Those include $1.7 billion for more police officers, $450 million to increase the capacity of correctional facilities and $85 million to cover the added expenses of detaining more people in jails and prisons.

Voters also were calling for get-tough measures in 1977, when Gov. Thompson and legislators overhauled the state's criminal sentencing laws. The legislation produced the state's Class X label for serious crimes and set mandatory prison terms based on the offense.

The overhaul, other laws adopted since then and the aggressive prosecution of drug offenders in the 1980s have contributed to an increase in felony convictions, longer average sentences, and an expensive tripling of the state's adult inmate population. But the crime rate kept inching up.

The number of serious crimes per 100,000 people went to 5,829 in 1992, the last year for which complete figures are available, from 4,865 in 1978, the year the overhaul took effect.

Common sense says the crime rate might have been higher had those criminals not been behind bars, but it's difficult to determine the relationship. One thing is clear, however: When Illinois asks more criminals to pay their debt to society, taxpayers get the bill.

They've had to fork over more than $400 million to build 14 new prisons since 1978, and even that's not enough to house all the new criminals - the system is now at 153 percent of capacity.

The prison system had 10,700 adult offenders in custody in 1978, but now has nearly 35,000. That increase comes at a time when the state's population has basically been static.

New prisoners have caused the department's operating budget to skyrocket to $658 million this year from $115 million in 1978, with the average prisoner now costing the state nearly $16,000 a year.

Many crime experts argue the money is not well-spent if the goal is to reduce crime. Even if the incarceration rate is a factor in crime reduction, the number of males in their teens and 20s - the high-crime years - is a far more significant factor, as are poverty, education, unemployment and unstable families.

"If only we could spend that on the front end of the criminal justice system," said Shelley Bannister, associate professor of criminal justice at Northeastern Illinois University. "I'd like to see more politicians get tough on poverty, get tough on lack of education, get tough on child abuse."

Do we ever learn?

*

P.S.: "Adds Daniel Polsby, a criminal law professor at Northwestern University's School of Law: 'Crime rates reflect the input of a billion different variables. Anybody who says We got tough on crime and then crime went down isn't talking in the language of science.'"

*

Hunt is being sentenced under Illinois' three-strikes law, but here's more about what was happening on the federal level in 1994 - setting the tone for everybody else. (I think Illinois' law was extended in 1994, too; I didn't have time to fully research it.)

The "three strikes and you're out" proposal embraced by President Clinton has a good chance of passing Congress but little chance of deterring violent crime, experts said.

"It's a political gimmick and an example of bipartisan political hypocrisy," said Norval Morris, professor emeritus in law and criminology at the University of Chicago. "Some politicians in both parties know it is of no use, and all of them know it is no remedy."

Other criminologists agreed that there is no evidence to show that mandatory life sentences for three-time violent offenders would deter violent crime.

That turned out to be absolutely true.

*

P.S.: "One dissenting academician, Joseph Bisset, on the faculty of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., said he knew of no studies showing that a 'three strikes' law would deter crime but insisted that deterrence was not the chief argument for it.

"'The main issue is just punishment,' said Bisset, who was an adviser to Richard M. Daley when the mayor was state's attorney."

*

Also:

Members of Congress, some grudgingly and others gladly, endorsed the "get tough" crime remedy Clinton proposed in his State of the Union speech, even as criminologists scoffed.

"It's part of the message that we are being tough on crime," said Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), asserting she has seen evidence the tougher sentencing law for habitual criminals adopted in Illinois has "had an effect."

Moseley-Braun, who voted for a bill pending in the Senate that includes the "three-strikes" provision, predicted that it has a "good chance" of passage. She opposed a similar provision while in the Illinois General Assembly.

Obviously not pleased, Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) advised Clinton not "to take a John Wayne approach." But pressed on the issue, Rush said, "I'm not opposed to them exercising the toughest penalty against a person who commits a violent crime three times."

In the adjoining congressional district, Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.) applauded Clinton: "I agree with the president, but I might have been a little tougher: two times and you are out."

Democrats, ladies and gentlemen. It was just part of the message.

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Why Obama Owns Gun Stocks
Hint: Blame the Illinois General Assembly.

Riding The Dog, Pt. 3: Meet Me At The Esquire Lounge
Alone-Men and Hai Karate.

The Best Super Bowl Commercial You Didn't See
St. Louis personal injury lawyer wins the day.

Court Confirms: Kevin Trudeau A Big Fat Liar
Geez, you've gotta read this decision.

The Revolutionary Sounds Of Chicago Cratedigger Kanye West
Is the best album ever coming out this week? Possibly.

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BeachBook

*

*

Remember when Mayor Daley insisted the CHA's "Plan for Transformation" wasn't just a real estate grab? Some of us knew better.

*

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Displace.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:37 PM | Permalink

The Revolutionary Sounds Of Chicago Cratedigger Kanye West

Kanye West's new album Waves is due out this week, and there's a palpable excitement building in the media. Kanye recently tweeted it would not be "the album of the year, but the album of the life," only to later clarify that it would in fact only be "ONE of the greatest, not the greatest." Meanwhile, Rolling Stone is speculating it could be a dud at the same time as producer Swizz Beatz declares it one of the best West albums he's heard.

If anybody can casually ignite this kind of mini-media firestorm, Kanye can. Like the late David Bowie through the '70s and '80s, Kanye functions as a mirror for the most visible and occasionally garish social and cultural values of his time.

Unlike the intensely private Bowie, though, Kanye's performance extends beyond the stage, into his personal life, and every tic of his outsized personality is reflected back to us via his own twitter feed and an insatiable celebrity-obsessed media.

This ubiquity makes Kanye a tough act to swallow for some. Coupled with a history of more or less zany attention bidding, he is all too often written off as no more than a cocky, albeit talented, egomaniac.

I suspect detractors are doing a disservice both to Kanye and themselves - separating musician from music has long been a necessary part of enjoying the art form (think of the murderous Gesualdo, the actively anti-Semitic Wagner).

At the heart of any story like this is the creative impulse writ large. Really large. So large in Kanye's case that it threatens to engulf the man it inhabits at every turn. The combination of explosive creativity with megalomaniacal personality quirks leads to a kind of publicly delivered life-as-performance-art.

kanye1.jpgDylan Martinez/Reuters

If Kanye West's entire life is available for consumption as a single artistic package - where music is only the foundation of a lyrical, fashion-oriented, reality-TV inspired, visual and conceptual performance structure - it might seem futile to talk about his music separately.

Unfortunately, the noise pollution around Kanye somewhat obscures what is one of the 21st century's most vibrant musical phenomena.

Many have long forgotten the simple fact that Kanye West is one of the greatest producers of hip-hop in its 40-plus year history. His success is undeniable. A decade-long six-album streak of critically acclaimed albums rivals the greatest icons of pop. Over and over again, Kanye has proven an ability to push popular music's boundaries, via hip-hop, while remaining commercially viable.

It's curious that the sonic aspect of hip-hop is so often under-contemplated. The lyrics of rap and hip-hop receive the lion's share of critical attention, for obvious reasons. The music videos are also the subject of reams of commentary.

But the foundation of any musical object, to state the obvious, is its sound. Underneath all the posturing and showmanship, Kanye is an utterly professional artist and the material he most loves to work with is sound.

kanye2.jpgKevork Djansezian/ Reuters

His gift for sampling, in particular, is at the core of his artistic integrity. A thoroughly postmodern aesthetic practice, sampling is the heart of the art of hip-hop. The skill with which a DJ (or producer) selects, edits, processes, and combines any number of musical chunks from existing recordings is the measure of the DJ.

Transcending pastiche or collage, the finished product is usually intended to be a new creation, with its own sound and feel.

Chicago-based soul and funk from the '60s and '70s form the basis of Kanye's sampling DNA. Chicago was also the birthplace of house, and exposure to that genre gave Kanye an openness and willingness to be experimental. With deep roots in a living, breathing and thriving musical tradition, it's little wonder that Kanye's musical foundation is strong.

By going back in time, and looking at some of the basic attributes of Kanye West's music, we're reminded that a deeply authentic artistic and creative impulse lies at the heart of all things Kanye. What emerges is a picture of a young person driven almost to distraction by a desire to be creative, to be expressive, and to communicate ever more impactful art, ever more grandly.

Origins

Kanye enjoyed an intellectually stimulating and middle-class upbringing as the only child of an English Literature professor mother, and an award-winning photojournalist/erstwhile Black Panther member father.

In a VH1 special, West's parents talk about Kanye's youthful obsession with visual art giving way to music. The gift of an electronic keyboard at age 12 eventually robbed his father of summer visits and his friends of social time as Kanye spent every waking minute creating beats.


Kanye West: VH1 Driven (Full Episode).

The next 10 years were spent honing his craft as a years of gathering, dissecting and constructing beats, an almost sacred rite of passage for hip-hop producers.

West soon developed a reputation as a producer, scoring a breakthrough when he joined Roc-A-Fella Records in 2000. West's success on Jay Z's career-rejuvenating The Blueprint (2001) would probably have guaranteed West a career as a producer. But Kanye's ambition has always been of the vaulting variety; he wanted to rap.

Kanye's bid for rapper stardom was thwarted for several years, the main obstacle being his clean-cut personality. He was too soft for the thug-mire that was commodified gangsta rap in the late '90s and early 2000s.

As it turns out, when West's turn came, the innate contrast between West and the general environment of commercial rap came as a relief. Setting himself just beyond his contemporaries became the pattern that has defined his career.

Trial By Wire

It was 3 a.m., October 23, 2002, and West was driving home from a late-night studio session when a car accident almost took his life. With his jaw smashed deep into his face, re-constituted through a mesh of wire, West saw and seized an opportunity.

In a stunning display of creativity's relationship to opportunism, not to mention West's determination to achieve success at any cost, he was in the recording studio only two weeks later. Finally he had a form of cred. Something he could rap about, something painful that could be transformed into expressive force.

The result was "Through the Wire" (below), a song that has ascended to a kind of creation story in the Kanye mythology. More than anything else, it's a beautiful piece of music.


Kanye West - "Through the Wire."

In an enormous creative risk, given the finished product's contrast to commercial rap in that era, "Through the Wire" tells the story of the accident and recovery. It was recorded while his jaw was still essentially wired shut. The painful metal scaffolding audibly impairs his ability to speak, giving a tragi-comic flavor to lyrics that talk about resurrection and the defeat of death.

His tightly clenched delivery includes slurred jokes about metal detectors going off at airports. Not so much humorous as poignant, there's a peculiar touching quality. The trauma is too real, too recent, and too audible.

Underpinning all this is the sounding heart of the song. West sampled a long chunk of iconic Chicago singer Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" (punned on with "Through the Wire"). The first sampled section comes from the soaring final iteration of the chorus, starting here at 3:15.


Chaka Khan - "Through the Fire."

Khan's "Through the Fire" undeniably flirts with '80s-style musical syrup. But part of West's sampling process involved speeding up the entire section of music, which in turn has the effect of raising the pitch of both vocal and instrumental tracks.

This process is something of a Kanye signature, and is known as the chipmunk effect for obvious reasons. At the faster tempo, the original song's sentimentality is semi-banished. At the same time a transformation occurs whereby the emotional content of the song seems to acquire a modern sensibility.

West further hip-hop-ifies the sound by substantially juicing up the bass, and sampling entirely new drums to provide the groove. He uses an extended remix of Outkast's 1993 "Players Ball." He slightly slows this sample down, possibly for a more relaxed feel, but more likely to match the fastest reasonable speed for the Khan sample.


Outkast - "Players Ball."

The effect here is one of relaxed hipness, irresistible when combined with the funk beat and Snoop-tinged spoken-word delivery.

The last thing to say about "Through the Wire" is one of the most important. It works so well thanks to a feature of music that is not often highlighted in hip hop: harmony.

Kanye cuts in right at the moment when a series of descending syncopated chords (starting at about 21 seconds) suggests a certain key is about emerge as the "home" key. It does this by setting up an expectation of this particular key, which should arrive in the form of a particular chord after a few bars - it happens that this chord would likely be a brightish, "happy" major chord.

Instead, at the 27th second, a harmonic bait-and-switch occurs and we get instead a more emotionally poignant "minor" chord. Kanye sensitively lets this moment play out without speaking, allowing Khan's chorus to take off unimpeded.

What follows is chord progression that gives the whole song a kind of smiling quality; it happens to be a sequence of chords that's been used by musicians for a couple of hundred years: the circle of fifths.

As the name implies, it's a progression that can be conceived as moving around a harmonic circle, with all the patterning and reassuring inevitability that implies. It conveys movement through the large intervals between chords, yet stasis through the cyclic nature of the progression.

It's this progression, perhaps more than anything, that gives "Through the Wire" its long-range looped groove, somehow connecting with a sense of emotional reassurance.

"Through the Wire" is the beginning of Kanye West as creator of visionary song artifacts. Nothing in commercial rap until that point had managed to combine such vulnerable text, non-violently visceral real-life experience, and unabashedly expressive sampling. West here has seamlessly introduced new elements to both rapping and hip-hop sound production.

Expansion

From his roots in the music of Chicago, and soul and funk broadly, Kanye has always been eager to globalize his musical palette.

After the success of his first album, The College Dropout (2004), of which "Through the Wire" was the lead single, Kanye stretched his legs with Late Registration (2005), which included the cinematically conceived and human rights-oriented "Diamonds of Sierra Leone."


Kanye West - "Diamonds of Sierra Leone."

Casting his net widely, he drew on the lush string sounds of English group Portishead as one of the ways to re-imagine what hip-hop could sound like.

Even more groundbreaking, Graduation (2007), the third album in Kanye's first-period trilogy, explored electronic dance music in a hip-hop context long before it seemed like a good idea to other artists.

Omnivorously appropriating ever more geographically distant influences into his hip-hop aesthetic, West seems especially interested in European styles such as the electronica of Daft Punk (or "Good Morning's" beautiful sample of Elton John).


Kanye West - "Good Morning."

In the case of "Stronger," West not so much samples as explodes Daft Punk's "Harder Better Faster" in service of a then-innovative techno-rap-futurist vision.


Daft Punk - "Harder Better Faster."

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Kanye West - "Stronger."

There's a certain expansive majesty to West's treatment of "Harder Better Faster." If we hadn't already sensed it, a solid seam of grandiose expressive ambition runs through Kanye's musical vision. That grandiosity reflects his desire for cultural size, to out-express both his contemporaries and the confining normative dimensions of hip-hop itself.

A descending bass line is one of the radically simple techniques West uses to achieve this magisterial, epic quality. A technique that also has strong harmonic implications, descending bass lines have been used to convey any number of serious or important themes and emotions throughout musical history.

Henry Purcell, for example, used a descending bass line to reflect the gradual descent into death of Dido (Queen of Carthage variety) well over 300 years ago, heard here at the 57-second mark:


Purcell - Dido & Aeneas, "When I Am Laid In Earth (Dido's Lament)," Elin Manahan Thomas.

Apart from "Stronger," another striking descending bass line underpins the much-discussed "Runaway." The ominous and broad synthetic bass provides the perfect counterpoint to the icy un-nuanced stabbing of the high piano pitches (at the 55-second mark):


Kanye West - "Runaway (Video Version) ft. Pusha T."

Sticking with Graduation for one more song, it's hard to go past "Flashing Lights." Like "Stronger" and "Champion" from the same album, "Flashing Lights" is kitted out with '80s-style synthesizer hooks. Filtered through Kanye's own production techniques, they still represent a sound that no one else was into at the time.


Kanye West - "Flashing Lights ft. Dwele."

"Flashing Lights" is a special song. Somehow classical in proportion, modern in its sleekness, it conveys an air of unrelenting but soft-edged melancholy. It gets this effect partly from the contrast of the opening string sounds alternating with the rhythmically propulsive synth.

Both string and synth parts are notable for their highest pitches; they are always dissonant with the chords beneath them. Even in their drooping, arching moments of resolution, these pitches remain outsiders - slightly alien to the fundamental chords below them. This permanently unresolved condition could be what keeps me coming back to this song over and over.

Transition

2007 saw the death of Donda West, Kanye's mother and spiritual and intellectual mentor. Out of that personal heartbreak and loss was born another radical departure from the stylistic norms of hip-hop.

An eerily introspective album, 808s and Heartbreak (2008) alienated some of Kanye's fans but has achieved a positive critical re-evaluation in the years since.

Moving even further away from the conventions of hip-hop, West embraced the generally execrable auto-tune device, employed it as serious artistic tool rather than a cosmetic facade, and spent most of the album singing instead of rapping.

"Heartless" typifies the album's feel with the gloomily-deployed auto-tune and bass drops characteristic of the Roland TR-808 Bass machine used throughout. Also notable is the odd pipe-organ sample from English progressive rock band The Alan Parsons Project's 1984 song Ammonia Avenue."


The Alan Parsons Project - "Ammonia Avenue."

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Kanye West - "Heartless."

Recent Years

Astonishingly, Kanye's next three major albums continued to innovate in sound. In what he describes as a "back-handed apology" for alienating fans with 808s and Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) is something of a return to earlier form. Considered by some to be Kanye's most exhilarating album, at a densely packed 70 minutes, MBDTF is full of layers, textures, compelling collaborations and dazzling inventiveness.

"POWER" is probably the most acclaimed track (apart from "Runaway," mentioned earlier) in a very competitive field, representing a blazing return to hip-hop fundamentals. Described by West as "superhero theme music," "POWER" is exultant, super-charged, and urgent.

Kanye's messianic self-prophesies begin to manifest, girded by samples from more European sources: "21st Century Schizoid Man" by English progressive rock band King Crimson, and "Afromerica" by French disco act Continent Number 6.


King Crimson - "21st Century Schizoid Man."

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Continent Number 6 - "Afroamerica."

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Kanye West - "POWER."

West followed MBDTF with a Jay Z collaboration, Watch the Throne (2011), and Yeezus (2013).

"Niggas in Paris" was one of the most acclaimed tracks from Watch the Throne, with a literal and geographic European locus in addition to the sparse musical influence.


Jay-Z & Kanye West - "Ni**as In Paris" (Explicit).

Watch the Throne, taken together with the electro-punk, minimalist and somehow angry-sounding Yeezus, possibly completes the scene for Waves' arrival next week.

Both albums are full of new ideas and sounds, just as inventive as West's earlier work. If anything, these albums suffer from being too good, and too close to each other (especially when grouped with 2010's MBDTF). It's getting hard to distinguish the newness among all the newness. This raises questions.


Kanye West - "No More Parties In L.A. ft. Kendrick Lamar" (Explicit).

Is this a function of an overcrowded market? Or have the years of Kanye's non-musical distractions taken too heavy a toll?

Whatever the reason, it's hard to imagine what unexplored direction there is left for Kanye to take.

If he does manage to innovate yet again, it will probably be a team effort. One of hip-hop's most powerful tools is the creative sparks that fly when rappers compete and collaborate, whether sharpening their skills against each other through rap battles, or coming together to share a single.

Given that the already-released "No More Parties in LA" has Kanye teaming up with the hottest young talent currently on the scene, Kendrick Lamar, there's every chance Waves will be something special.

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Liam Viney is a Piano Performance Fellow at The University of Queensland. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Slam Stan: The Best Super Bowl Commercial Most Of America Didn't See

"I put out a call during last night's Super Bowl local ad break for the best and worst of your local markets, and got replies ranging from axe-murderer Joe Jacoby to HVAC-shilling Mike Tyson to an ad in Omaha for a male enhancement doctor who will make your dong so powerful it will leave your partner disabled," Timothy Burke writes for Deadspin.

"But St. Louis residents got something a bit more straightforward: a personal injury lawyer spending 30 seconds ripping Stan Kroenke for taking the Rams to California."

Here it is:


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Stipulated: This will be good for Crouppen's business. Still.

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Previously:

* St. Louis Fans Rammed - Again.

* Jilted NFL Cities Stuck With Stadium Debt.

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Some other Crouppen ads:

"Winningest."

*

"I fix problems."

*

"Boys, let's make 'em pay."

*

"Real Accident."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:58 AM | Permalink

Federal Appeals Court Confirms: Kevin Trudeau Is One Big Fat Contumacious Liar

"An appeals court in Chicago has upheld a 10-year prison term for a best-selling author whose name is synonymous with late-night TV pitches," Tribune news services report.

"Its Friday opinion says Kevin Trudeau 'spent his career hawking miracle cures . . . of dubious efficacy' and that his 'bag of tricks contains something to relieve almost any ailment.'

"The unanimous decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' three-judge panel says his sentence for criminal contempt wasn't excessive given 'the size of Trudeau's fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature' of it."

Indeed. Let's take a look at the highlights of the court's pretty awesome decision, written by judge Diane Sykes.

*

"Kevin Trudeau spent his career hawking miracle cures and self-improvement systems of dubious efficacy. When the Federal Trade Commission sued him for violating consumer-protection laws, Trudeau agreed to a consent decree in which he promised not to misrepresent the content of his books in TV infomercials. A few years later, Trudeau published The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About and promoted it in three infomercials.

"The ads said the weight-loss protocol was 'simple' and 'inexpensive,' could be completed at home, and did not require any food restrictions or exercise. The book, on the other hand, described an arduous regimen mandating prescription hormone injections and severe dietary and lifestyle constraints."

*

"On appeal Trudeau leaves no stone unturned. His primary argument concerns an alleged violation of the Speedy Trial Act."

In fact, this argument, which the court rejected, comprises the bulk of the decision. We'll skip it; it's technical, confusing and ultimately not important to us civilians.

*

"Trudeau raises an array of other issues as well: He challenges the jury instruction on 'willfulness,' the sufficiency of the evidence, two evidentiary rulings, and the reasonableness of his sentence. These arguments, too, are meritless. We affirm the contempt conviction and sentence."

*

"Trudeau's bag of tricks contains something to relieve almost any ailment or burden. His infomercials have peddled products like 'Biotape' (to cure severe pain); 'Coral Calcium Supreme' (to cure cancer); 'Howard Berg's Mega Read' (to increase reading speed tenfold); and 'Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory System' (to unlock photographic memory).

"Because Trudeau's pitches are factually indefensible, the FTC has repeatedly pursued him for violating consumer-protection laws. To settle one of these suits, Trudeau agreed to the entry of a consent decree in which he promised not to market products without the FTC's approval. He soon decided he wanted more leeway to write books, however, and in September 2004 negotiated a modified consent order that permitted him to star in infomercials for his books provided that 'the infomercial for any such book . . . must not misrepresent the content of the book.

"Soon after, Trudeau released a book about 'natural cures' and produced a promotional infomercial for it. Although the consent order did not require him to do so, Trudeau sent the transcript to the FTC, which indicated its approval. This ad aired without objection.

"In 2007 Trudeau published another book, The Weight Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want You to Know About, which described a complex regimen designed to reduce hunger by 'resetting' the hypothalamus . . .

"The regimen consists of four phases (two of which are 'strongly recommended' but not obligatory), each with a strict list of dietary and lifestyle dos and don'ts. For example, most or all of the phases - including phase 4, which lasts a lifetime - involve abstaining from artificial sweeteners, chain restaurants, prescription and over-the-counter medication, food cooked in microwaves, air conditioning, and fluorescent lighting.

"Program participants are also instructed to walk an hour a day; eat only organic food; do liver, parasite, heavy-metal, and colon cleanses; and receive colonics, which are enema-like procedures performed by specialists.

"Phase 2, which is mandatory and lasts between 21 and 45 days, is particularly arduous and requires a 500-calorie-per-day diet and daily injections of human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone only available by prescription and not indicated for weight loss.

"Trudeau promoted The Weight Loss Cure in three different 30-minute infomercials staged as scripted conversations between an interviewer and himself.

"But the protocol Trudeau talked about in the infomercials bore little resemblance to the one described in his book.

"In the ads he said that the weight-loss protocol was 'very inexpensive,' could be done at home, and was 'the easiest [weight-loss] method known on planet Earth.'

"He also represented that once the protocol was complete, dieters could eat 'everything they want, any time they want.'

"The weight-loss program described in the infomercials sounded too good to be true, and it was. Trudeau never mentioned the dietary or lifestyle restrictions, injections, cleanses, or colonics mandated in the book."

*

"The FTC took Trudeau back to court for violating the 2004 consent order. The district court found that the infomercials misrepresented the content of The Weight Loss Cure, despite Trudeau's jesuitical attempts to harmonize them.

"Judge [Robert] Gettleman held Trudeau in civil contempt and entered a $37.6 million judgment against him, an amount equal to the gross revenue from books sold through the infomercials."

*

"The contempt charge was tried to a jury over six days be-ginning on November 5, 2013 . . . The jury convicted Trudeau of contempt, and Judge [Ronald] Guzman imposed a ten-year prison sentence, well below the guidelines range of 235 to 293 months."

*

Sykes, on behalf of her colleagues, goes on to eviscerate every argument Trudeau throws at the wall, in a manner expressing a different kind of contempt, such as in this one:

"Trudeau next challenges the sufficiency of the government's evidence. This is always a heavy lift, and it's especially so here . . .

"Trudeau's main contention is that the government presented no 'state-of-mind evidence' from which the jury could conclude that he willfully violated the consent order. He argues that without direct evidence of his mental state, the jury was left to choose between several equally plausible benign explanations for his misrepresentations.

"He suggests, for example, that the misrepresentations might have been attributable to the possibility that he left his glasses at homeand misread the teleprompter (while filming each of three infomercials?). Or the teleprompter might have been negligently loaded with an unedited version of the script (and he was unaware that the words he spoke bore little resemblance to the book he wrote?).

"Setting aside the obvious implausibility of these fanciful explanations, the material point for our purposes is that the government had no obligation to present direct state-of-mind evidence . . .

"Needless to say, the jury's verdict is not called into doubt because a defendant can hypothesize on appeal a few alternative interpretations of the evidence.

"Trudeau was free to suggest his lost-eyeglasses or dysfunctional-teleprompter theories to the jury. The only question now is whether the evidence was adequate to prove each element of contempt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"We've previously explained that Trudeau's The Weight Loss Cure infomercials included 'blatant misrepresentations' that were 'patently false' and 'outright lie[s].' It's no surprise that the jury reached the same conclusion. The evidence was easily sufficient to convict."

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"Based on the size of Trudeau's fraud and the flagrant and repetitive nature of his contumacious conduct, the ten-year sentence - about half the bottom of the guidelines range - was not unreasonable."

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Contumacious: Stubbornly disobedient.

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Previously in Kevin Trudeau:

* Infomercial Review: More Natural Cures Revealed.

* What I Watched Last Night: Infomercial Armageddon.

* TruTweet:

* Kevin Trudeau Could've Been President.

* He Was Good. Real Good.

* The Refund Kevin Trudeau Doesn't Want You To Know About.

* Kevin Trudeau's Jailhouse Jig: More Oprah Than Mandela.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:59 AM | Permalink

Special Report: Why Obama, Durbin And Other Gun Control Advocates Own Gun Stocks

Barack Obama might seem an unlikely investor in the firearms industry. But the U.S. president, a fierce advocate for gun regulation, has money in a pension fund that holds stock in gun and ammunition companies.

Although Obama's stake is minuscule, worth no more than $30, it reflects a much larger surge of investment.

The president is among millions of Americans buying into gun companies - often unwittingly - as mutual funds have increased such holdings to record levels, according to a Reuters analysis of institutional investment in firearms companies.

Since Obama was elected in 2009, mutual funds have raised their stakes to about $510 million from $30 million in the nation's two largest gun manufacturers with publicly traded shares, Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. That means such stocks are now common in retirement and college savings plans.

The influx has helped to boost both companies' shares by more than 750 percent during the Obama presidency; each now has a market value of about $1 billion.

Beyond mutual funds, such investments also are held in the portfolios of hedge funds and public pension plans, which are harder to track.

The White House declined to comment on Obama's holdings in the Illinois General Assembly's pension plan, which he earned while serving in that state's senate. The president has disclosed between $50,000 and $100,000 in the plan.

Other indirect investors in firearms companies include advocates for gun regulation in the U.S. Congress and several parents of children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut - site of the 2012 massacre of 20 students and six staff members.

Fund managers are drawn to the stocks by surging sales. Buyers are arming themselves, analysts said, in response to mass shootings and calls for tougher gun laws.

By the end of 2015, more than 150 mutual funds owned Smith & Wesson shares, up from 53 at the end of 2008, and nearly 130 held stock in Ruger, up from 52, according to data from Morningstar.

It would have taken investors "minimal due diligence" to see massive profit potential in Ruger stock when Obama was first elected, said Ruger chief executive Mike Fifer. Shares hit a low of $4.50 the Friday after that Tuesday election; the stock was changing hands today at $61.61.

"Orders at every level of the distribution channel exploded" the week of Obama's election, Fifer recalled. "And continued to do so for months afterward."

AMMO RUSH

America's leading ammunition maker, Vista Outdoor, has drawn investments from 319 funds in its first year of public trading and now has a market value of $2.9 billion. Its bonds are owned by a who's who of U.S. investment and insurance companies.

(See the graphic: Top Mutual Fund Investors In The Leading Gun And Ammo Stocks.)

Such investments can be hard to identify within large funds, even with concerted effort. Eric Milgram, a corporate research analyst whose two children were at Sandy Hook Elementary during the rampage, tried to purge his portfolio of firearms holdings. But he gave up after a frustrating search through mutual fund stock lists, holding companies and subsidiaries.

"I'm disgusted with this industry; I don't want to be invested in it," said Milgram. But, he added, "There are only so many hours in the day."

Vanguard Group, the nation's largest fund company, said it was unrealistic to balance political sensibilities with obligations to meet performance benchmarks.

"It would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to fulfill these obligations while managing portfolios that reflect the social concerns of all our clients," said Vanguard spokeswoman Arianna Stefanoni Sherlock.

Vanguard does, however, offer a Social Index fund - with about $2 billion in assets out of Vanguard's total of about $3.4 trillion - that excludes firearms companies along with other stocks involved in an array of ethically sensitive industries.

Smith & Wesson declined to comment for this story. Vista Outdoor did not respond to requests for comment.

SMALL STAKES, BIG IMPACT

Obama and his tiny stake are typical of most Americans with holdings in firearms investments: They are invested in funds that buy shares of the relatively small part of the firearms industry that is publicly traded. But collectively, their investments are a boon to the gun industry and amount to a sizable stake in major gun and ammo makers.

For some gun safety advocates, the amounts are less important than the principle. Po Murray, who put four children through Sandy Hook Elementary, has also struggled to determine whether her investments include firearms companies.

"It's a real surprise: You find out you could be invested indirectly in Smith & Wesson," said Murray, who chairs the Newtown Action Alliance, a gun safety group. "I don't want to be invested in gun companies."

The $16 billion Illinois pension fund that includes Obama's investment holds at least $4.8 million in shares of gun industry stocks, including Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Vista and ammunition maker Olin.

Until 2014, the pension fund owned about $1.5 million of the debt of Remington Outdoors, another gun manufacturer. Remington did not respond to requests for comment.

The Illinois pension plan also invests in at least one mutual fund with gun industry exposure. The $1.1 billion Templeton Global Smaller Companies Fund owned $9.5 million of Smith & Wesson stock at the end of December, fund disclosures show.

Obama and other plan participants have no say in how the money is invested. That's controlled by the Illinois State Board of Investment, which said it has no policy on investing in firearm and ammo companies.

(See the graphic: Gun Stocks Held By Obama's Illinois Pension Plan.)

In its analysis, Reuters used mutual fund holdings data from Morningstar and Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company, to examine firearms investments during the Obama presidency.

The list of funds holding such stocks includes some of the biggest and most prominent, such as Vanguard and the second-largest fund group, Fidelity Investments. It extends to BlackRock, and Dimensional Fund Advisors. The analysis is based on disclosures made by individual funds.

Some of the gun stockholders are passively managed index funds. But many are actively managed, such as Fidelity's $40 billion Low-Priced Stock Fund, which has become Smith & Wesson's second-largest mutual fund investor under storied stock-picker Joel Tillinghast. The fund held about 1.1 million shares worth $20 million as of Oct. 31, according to fund disclosures.

Fidelity and Dimensional declined to comment. BlackRock - the world's largest asset manager with $4.6 trillion under management - manages $200 billion of that total in investment options that screen out certain stocks, including companies involved in firearms, tobacco and alcohol businesses, spokesman Peter McKillop said.

GUN INVESTMENTS IN CONGRESS

Obama isn't the only gun-regulation advocate with gun-industry holdings.

Former congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy - elected after her husband was killed in the 1993 Long Island Rail Road shooting - pushed relentlessly for gun safety legislation. While in office, she held shares worth between $3,003 and $45,000 in at least three exchange-traded funds with stakes in gun and ammo companies, according to her last financial disclosure before retiring last year. She also invested between $2,002 and $30,000 for two grandchildren in so-called 529 college-savings plans that include a Vanguard fund holding firearms stocks, disclosures show.

The New York Democrat could not be reached for comment.

As a federal retirement benefit, members of the U.S. Congress can participate in a Thrift Savings Plan, which offers an investment option - the S Fund - that holds stock in firearms companies.

Financial disclosures show that S Fund investors include Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat and a leading advocate for stricter background checks for gun buyers. Durbin disclosed an S Fund investment of about $115,000.

Durbin's office declined to comment.

Some members of Congress welcome the investment option.

"I'm just grateful the fund managers are investing in something that's making money," said Representative Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican who opposes gun restrictions and has a small investment in the S fund.

'GOOD FOR BUSINESS'

For all the debate, Obama has made no progress in passing tougher gun laws. Measures such as universal background checks have withered in Congress, where the number of anti-gun control Republicans has grown.

Calls for tighter controls have been met with bursts of gun sales, according to U.S. background-check data on gun purchasers. Gun store owners attribute the extra sales to consumers who fear the president will make it harder to buy arms.

"Let's just say he's been good for business," Jack Lesher, manager of Chuck's Firearms in Atlanta, said of Obama.

Gun sales jumped again recently after the president blasted congressional inaction on gun control and vowed to use executive powers to expand background checks for buyers and bolster licensing requirements for dealers. His announcement followed yet another mass shooting, on Dec. 2 in San Bernardino, California, where a couple pledging allegiance to Islamic State killed 14 people.

For the week that ended Dec. 20, firearms background checks - a proxy for guns sales - totaled 839,109, the second-highest week since 1998. Only the week after the Sandy Hook shootings was higher, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Vista's main factories have churned out bullets 24 hours, seven days a week for at least two years, Vista Chief Financial Officer Stephen Nolan told investors in November.

Now the industry is ready for an election-year surge.

"The politics of gun control could stay in the headlines, which we believe could lead to a record year," wrote Chris Krueger, senior research analyst at Lake Street Capital Markets, in a note to investors in January.

Ruger is boosting inventories to prepare, after learning a costly lesson going into the last presidential election. Demand peaked that year, based on the number of FBI background checks sought for new gun purchases. The surge followed Obama's re-election and the Sandy Hook shooting.

"When we went into late 2011, we got cleaned out of inventory . . . even though we increased production dramatically," company CEO Fifer told investors during a November conference call.

The company, he said, "probably left money on the table."

Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; links by Beachwood.

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See also: Trading Algorithm Shows How Mass Shootings, Politics Boost Gun Shares.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:57 AM | Permalink

Riding The Dog, Part 3: Meet Me At The Esquire Lounge

Part 1: Midnight Bus To Markham.

Part 2: Celebrating Incessant Monotony Since 1961.

A half-block from the station, just before the corner of Chester and Walnut, I encounter The Esquire Lounge. The name conjures up images in my head of a dimly-lit establishment cruised by divorced, badly aging lounge-lizard men from the early 1970s - heavy on the wide lapels and Hai Karate - but a peek through the window reveals a diner/family restaurant kind of joint. And hot damn, one with bar service at the lunch counter - which stands to reason, because the word "Esquire" itself is pretty classy, and you practically expect a classy-sounding place to have booze. They even stock Drambuie. Now that's class, ladies and gentlemen.

It's 10:40 a.m., and I'm the only customer in the place. I'm informed it's indeed open for business, and why yes, I can stow my monstrosity of a bag beneath their front counter. I take a seat there and, not wanting to besmirch the classiness of the place's name by ordering something an unwashed foreigner straight out of steerage might, I go top(ish)-shelf with a Jack Daniel's and Coke instead of the cheap, low-class swill I'm accustomed to. Because if you have to spend two hours drinking Jack-and-Cokes and eating cheeseburgers until something interesting starts happening, then by golly, this seems like an ideal place to do it.

After ordering from the food menu, I notice The Esquire is a study in contrasts. There are pool tables in the adjoining room, but you don't feel like you need to worry about getting coldcocked by some rube or food-poisoned by a bad shrimp. It's a place where you have all the tools and fuels to get shitfaced for lunch, but the customers would have too many manners to get that out of hand, but if they did, the management would be decent enough to call a cab rather than just drag your sorry, dead-weight carcass out to the curb and leave you there. The joint is slightly pretentious enough to supply A-1 Steak Sauce at every station, but middle-class enough to make you trudge over to the condiments-and-toppings cart on the other side of the room to put your own damn stuff on your own damn food.

Just before noon, The Esquire Lounge begins to fill up. Around the U-shaped formica-topped counter are a few Alone-Men: those worn-looking, unshaven fellows who always sit by themselves and order soup or chili or sandwiches served in paper-lined plastic baskets, and have the color of men who either don't cook for themselves, are sick of cooking for themselves, or have given up on the prospect of ever finding a woman who'd cook for them.

The booths now contain families who - this being Christmas and the height of family-visitin' season - look exactly like you'd expect people to look when they've run out of places to take out-of-town company who've been in their house for four days already.

They look like they're sick and tired of pancakes, too, and seem to be eyeing up the bottles of booze with a peculiar sense of longing. It may have been desperation, but I couldn't tell for sure.

* * * * *

There's still almost an hour left on the clock, so I stop at Jon's Pipe Shop and Cigar Lounge a few doors away. This being the day after Christmas, I was thinking of gifting myself with a reasonably priced, proprietor's choice Dominican maduro because nobody knew I was making the trip, so any giftage destined for me was left parked under other peoples' yule trees. Which was okay, because what else did I expect?

The place is quite aromatic, with a few tables populated by guys old enough to be intimately familiar with the Vietnam War. They're cloaked in a hovering cloud of smoke, which, if you're going to say anything charitable about this brand of tobacco smoke, at least it's not coming from cigarettes. Some men spend their Saturday afternoons swilling beer to college basketball games; others spend theirs discussing important matters of the day while leisurely puffing away on a pipe or the delights of leaves not rolled on the buttery, pliable inner thighs of virgins in Cuba, but close enough.

Today's important matter involves paranoid American actor Randy Quaid and his apparently equally-paranoid wife. If pipes and cigars had never been invented, I think they'd probably still gather around those same tables playing canasta just for the simple sociability of it all.

The guy behind the counter chooses a nice-looking $8 or so Dunhill 1907 for me. He seems to more than halfway know what he's doing, so I trust that it turns out worth the eight bucks.

* * * * *

I've run out of constructive things to occupy my time, so I'm back at Illinois Terminal, where there's nothing left to do but mark time like someone in lockup waiting on bail money. Christmas music is playing over the building's speakers, and it feels not Christmas-y at all and past its sell-by date even though it's still technically Christmas. A questionable-looking guy is trying to sell a Chicago Bears sweatshirt and winter cap from a thin plastic shopping bag to anyone who will give him the time of day, and that alone strikes me as being more hopeless than dangerous. Directly behind me, a gaggle of urban youths are steeped in a discussion of important matters of the day involving the activities of the Vice Lords street gang in Chicago.

There I sit on the bench, thinking I'd much rather be sitting at a table at Jon's Pipe Shop and Cigar Lounge, enjoying a pleasant Dunhill among guys not vastly older than me talking about Randy Quaid.

Next: Meet me in St. Louis.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2016

SportsMonday: Going Out Intact

For a while my belief was that no athlete should retire unless they were right on the verge of being dragged out of the game. And even then there should be plenty of kicking and screaming as the light dimmed and then went out on their time in the arena.

At least 95 percent of professional athletes will never again engage in a vocation that they execute better than they executed their sport. When they peak on the playing field, they are peaking in their professional lives. And the romantic notion of "going out on top" simply doesn't stand up to "play as long as possible and do your best to get the game completely out of your system." An athlete will miss it after he or she retires but they will find some comfort in the notion that they squeezed every last drop of performance out of themselves.

Lately, given the physical punishment dished out in some sports - and I'm always surprised to hear people condemn football and not at least mention hockey - my view has changed. There is obviously something to be said for getting out of these games when the getting is good - with good money having been made (guys may make dumb decisions about how they spend, but it is just about impossible at this point not to make good money while playing any major pro sport for at least a couple years) and one's health reasonably intact.

If Calvin "Megatron" Johnson ends up retiring from the Lions this offseason, and the veteran receiver is said to be leaning that way, it will sure look like a classic example of a guy who probably could have put in a few more years, and would have been compensated in spectacular fashion while doing so, but who bowed out instead.

And let me just add that as a Bears fan, it couldn't be more obvious to me that Megatron should go this route. Why subject yourself to more punishment, my man? You have done everything you can to lift up the Lions franchise (and hold down the Bears) for long enough and now it obviously makes the most sense for you to go to your rest.

And so we come to Peyton Manning. Obviously the veteran quarterback now has the chance to go out on top and then some. Given his statement to Patriots coach Bill Belichick that "This might be my last rodeo" after the AFC Championship game a few weeks ago, he is obviously thinking about it.

But he didn't just go ahead and complete the storyline everyone was hoping for after the Super Bowl on Sunday. He left himself some options. That's a good call first and foremost because the overwhelming emotions that follow a championship make it impossible to make a reasonable decision. An athlete in this sort of situation needs some time and space before he can be completely confident he is doing the right thing.

And it must be said that if Manning still feels like he has some football in that right arm of his, he should keep playing. Even though the veteran quarterback is obviously a funny and intelligent guy, he still is almost certainly in the 95 percent that will never again scale the heights they did as a player.

His arm might be willing but his fingertips probably aren't. We have every reason to believe the report from earlier in the season that Manning doesn't really feel the football in his hand anymore after injuries - particularly to his neck - did at least some damage to his nervous system.

So he's obviously probably gone. But I wouldn't completely rule out another season behind center just yet.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:41 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

I'm off to the Genius Bar for urgent MacBook repairs, so I'll just have to leave you with these fine offerings.

The Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet Results Are In!
We all lost.

What I Watched Last Night: The Commercial Bowl
We're basically reduced to an audience of eleventy billion people waiting to see if Snickers' ad agency can top last year's spot.

Riding The Dog, Part 2: Celebrating Incessant Monotony Since 1961
A pancake-flat stretch of the North American continent so uninteresting that even the universe lost interest in the place when it was creating the planet and figuring out where to stick neat stuff like hills and mountains.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Walrus Attack!, Wet, Reign, Royal Bliss, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Intocable, The Crombies, Me Like Bees, Jule Vera, Waterparks, Rachel Drew and the Bitter Roots, Peach Farmer, Mikey Classic & His Lonesome Spur, and Davey Dynamite.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We have the antidope.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:42 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Walrus Attack! at Beat Kitchen on Sunday night.


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2. Wet at Schuba's on Friday night.

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3. Reign at Reggies on Thursday night.

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4. Royal Bliss at the Tree in Joliet on Friday night.

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5. Big Head Todd and the Monsters at House of Blues on Saturday night.

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6. Intocable at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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7. The Crombies at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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8. Me Like Bees at House of Blues on Friday night.

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9. Jule Vera at House of Blues on Friday night.

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10. Waterparks at House of Blues on Friday night.

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11. Rachel Drew and the Bitter Roots at Constellation on Friday night.

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12. Peach Farmer at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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13. Mikey Classic & His Lonesome Spur at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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14. Davey Dynamite at Beat Kitchen on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

What I Watched Last Night: The Commercial Bowl

On Sunday evening (or all damn day, depending on your rabid dedication to the sport), America paid homage to Super Bowl 50, a football game which has rocketed to such a ridiculous level of pomp and circumstance simply because we need an excuse for something, anything. That's because when it comes to large public events that promote mass consumption of food and alcohol, the calendar's a desolate place between January and March 17 if you're not in New Orleans for Fat Tuesday.

It's an event that, even if you do have $20,000 to shell out for a seat mid-field, you'd still stay home and watch the thing on TV instead because the beer is cheaper, the bathroom's only 50 paces away and usually unoccupied, and your car's already parked a lot closer. In that sense, it's become The Super Commercial Bowl for the million-dollar ads alone, mostly because your team (or a team you despise and would love to see their teeth get bashed in) isn't in it, and the halftime show always features someone overexposed or irrelevant, or bands whose music you never could stand anyway. So now we're basically reduced to an audience of eleventy billion people waiting to see if Snickers' ad agency can top last year's commercial.

I always wonder if the halftime performers receive presenter swag bags like everyone in that equally-overproduced 4-hour slice of extravaganza known as the Oscars - and if they do, what might be in it. This Super Bowl, I imagine a vial of Cam Newton's sweat and a sachet bag of the shattered hopes of Colin Kaepernick would be tucked in there somewhere.

But still, you watch it anyway, or at least the parts you catch when you're not paying attention to something else more interesting, like an escalating drunk argument, or the host trying to track down which ill-mannered sonofabitch ate half the shrimp platter in the fridge that was reserved for halftime.

So here are a few key moments from Super Bowl 50, in case you missed them:

* The usual Roman numeral (this year's game would have been brought to you by the single, lonesome letter L) was replaced with an ordinary two-digit number everyone recognizes. That's because L rhymes with hell and that French women's fashion magazine Elle, and all that would've just confused the fuck out of everybody.

However, the NFL assures us that next year, it will revert to using the previously-confusing letter jumble. This after a long debate over just saying to hell with it all and begin using hieroglyphics.

* Before the start of the game, there was a ceremony honoring the MVPs of every past Super Bowl, which you have to admit, was a creative way to kill a good half-hour. As you might expect, pretty much anyone pre-2000 looked like shit (although Fred Biletnikoff, Oakland, 1977, seemed pretty chipper and well-preserved), most of them could barely walk, and there was someone crouching low at the bottom left of the screen pointing which way they should hobble. This direction was pretty much "turn left, walk toward the other guys," apparently for the benefit of those players with a long history of bone-crunching concussions.

* There was a military choir singing their rendition of "America, The Beautiful," which I imagine confused a whole lot of people who took a beat and thought, "Wait, when the hell did this become the national anthem?" This was followed by the actual national anthem, sung by Lady Gaga. Bigoted opinions of her in the Deep South were reversed in a nanosecond given the fact that she does indeed clean up well into a pretty hot babe when she wants to (or has to) not scare the living jeebus out of anyone over 40. A duet with Tony Bennett would've been pretty classy, but you can't have guys flying Navy jet fighters circling the airspace endlessly waiting for those two to finish. Time = jet fuel, people.

* Clete Blakeman possesses one of the best NFL head-referee names ever. It would be an equally awesome name if he was a porn actor, a rodeo star, or a character in a cop buddy movie, too.

* The halftime show featured Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Fortunately, CBS's stadium sound feed prevented home viewers from actually hearing anything any of them sang, making the production a rousing success, and quite literally a musical production. It was also quite obvious that Coldplay singer Chris Martin has no ability whatsoever to remain standing locked in a full and upright position.

* And finally, if you're anything like me, your game-long viewing experience was turned into a never-ending wish that, if one person could be dragged out of the coliseum and shot, it would be that one woman who - operating just barely under dog-whistle frequency - insisted on screaming "wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" during every single play for nearly four hours straight. You probably didn't even notice it unless someone else brought it up, but once they did, Christ Almighty, that's all you heard the whole game. It made me believe that moments like this is why neither the management of the Chicago Cubs nor home-game viewers never really embraced Ronnie "Woo-Woo" Wickers.

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Submissions to What I Watched Last Night and comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:35 AM | Permalink

Riding The Dog, Part 2: Celebrating Incessant Monotony Since 1961

Part 1: Midnight Bus To Markham.

With Christmas Day now history, it was time to head back to southwest Missouri, where the winters are more hospitable for people who prefer polar vortexes to be some other poor sap's misery. This time, departure from Greyhound's stop 'n' drop (it's not even a station; it's a tiny storefront in a sorry-looking strip mall) in south suburban Markham was a more-reasonable 8:20 a.m., which meant daylight and the ability to see the countryside.
As it happens though, there are just some places you really don't need to see in broad daylight, like south suburban neighborhoods where even a sorry-looking strip mall is probably doing the adjacent property values a favor.

Or, for that matter, the landscape of pretty much the entire length of Interstate 57.

EndlessFlat.jpg

If there was such a thing as truth in advertising, I-57's marketing slogan would have to be "Celebrating Incessant Monotony Since 1961." It's a pancake-flat stretch of the North American continent so uninteresting that even the universe lost interest in the place when it was creating the planet and figuring out where to stick neat stuff like hills and mountains. Corn and soybean fields may be seductive and sexy if you're an agricultural extension agent or a 4H Club kid, but between October and May, there's not even that; it's just an endless, naked landscape of stubble and dirt clods.

Maybe that's part of what motivated some folks to create landmarks of towering proportion and plop them right next to the highway, for our benefit. One is the giant effigy of Abe Lincoln, provided on a block pedestal by a company near Bradley that does business in industrial-sized cherrypickers. The bus passes too quickly for me to see what the ginormous sign in Abe's upraised hand says, but it wouldn't have surprised me if it was something along the lines of "Don't blame me for Bruce Rauner."

The other is what must be the state's largest cross: 200 un-missable bright-white feet of rompin' stompin' Christianity built right next to the highway in Effingham. I don't know if it's illuminated at night by giant Kleig lights (I'd expect if you take the trouble to build a monument like that, you'd want to light the son-of-a-gun up), but if it is, I suspect everyone's glad they live on the other side of town.

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Adding to the dreariness is a complete lack of conversation among the passengers, since the entire population has been swallowed whole by their insular world of tablets, notebooks and smartphones. Greyhound promotes this sort of behavior by providing each individual seat with an electrical outlet, which is a very helpful feature if at some point you'd rather end your trip a lot sooner by just jamming a fork into it.

Traveling by commercial carrier isn't much different than a ride on the CTA, where the goal is to avoid human contact at all cost. With the CTA, that's more of an act of self-preservation, but a few hundred miles of dead air on a Greyhound just makes the ordeal seem longer than it actually is when you're not one of the folks with earbuds stuffed into your ears. It's times like this when you genuinely wish you were stuck sitting next to some granny packing a walletful of family photos to show you and stories about the Calvin Coolidge presidency to tell you.

I don't know what's occupying everyone's attention on this Markham-to-Champaign leg of the trip, but it couldn't have been anything that involves a Wi-Fi connection. One of the selling points advertised on Greyhound's website is "Free Wi-Fi on every bus!" Having traveled Greyhound several times during the 1980s, when the Web and mp3s didn't even exist and books on tape loaded into a Walkman - or actual books - were the only means to occupy yourself, I figured this would be an extra bonus in the day of the smartphone and things like downloadable podcasts and Pandora to while away the time. My iPhone shows an active bus Wi-Fi connection, but no matter which app I try to fire up, I'm greeted by the same "your iPhone is not connected to the Internet" message.

It was at this point where I concluded every driver and/or Greyhound as a whole must be such complete morons to not realize that simply having a functioning, powered-up router on the bus isn't enough because you also need to connect it to the actual Internet. Because duh, that's where the Internet keeps everything.

This is all very unentertaining, to say the least, which is why I'm glad to see a steady rain kick in just past Kankakee. Raindrops begin racing horizontally across the window and the flat, monotonous landscape, making it look like a huge mad-dash sperm race. I start making side bets with myself on which spermdrops will win by reaching the far edge of the window first. It occurs to me that this may be how people develop gambling problems or, at the very least, a deep and sincere sympathy for front desk security guards on the midnight shift.

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Note to the Champaign, Illinois, Chamber of Commerce: You might be surprised at how much more tourism your commercial areas might get if, as a public service, you installed lockers somewhere in the town bus station.

I'm serious about that. When our bus pulls into the station in Champaign (which enjoys the rather unimaginative formal moniker of "Illinois Terminal"), I have a lengthy layover to look forward to. That's half the reason it takes longer to get from points A and B on Greyhound than had you driven there yourself even with a stop to see the world's biggest house of mud. It's not that Greyhound drivers lope along; it's because any round trip often involves being abandoned for long stretches at any one of the company's terminals, sometimes even more than once in a day. Finding constructive use of nearly three hours of your time in a building where there's no drinking establishment, movie theater or nap-rate motel is extraordinarily difficult, and probably meets the guidelines of cruel and unusual.

Since it's almost lunchtime, my priority is to find food, preferably any that isn't dispensed by a vending machine or involves roller dogs. There's a Subway, but when I travel, I like explore the locals. The only problem is, I have this big boat-anchor of a rolling duffel that needs to be stashed somewhere. Coin-op lockers used to be a staple of metropolitan bus terminals back in the day, but I don't find any here, and this makes me at least glad I'm not looking for a discreet public place to stash a murder weapon instead. The helpful woman at the Burlington Trailways bus counter (yes, Trailways is still in business, except they don't go anywhere I'd feel motivated to go) informs me there aren't any.

Almost immediately, I'm approached by a fellow in his early twenties. "Can I ask you something?" he says. Uh-oh, here it comes, I think. It's a bus station. Either I'm going to get rolled or be recruited for an exciting career as a bald, middle-aged man-whore forced to ply my trade in places far seedier than this.

"Uhhhh, okay," I say, eyeing him up with every bit of suspicion the moment deserves.

"Where'd you get that hat?" he asks.

This question surprises me, since my hat is nothing approaching remarkable, elaborate, or even mildly expensive-looking. In fact, according to the tag inside it, it's made entirely out of pressed paper. But I like to wear it when I go out socially or travel, because there was a time when practically all American men wore hats and looked sort of distinguished. Mine, however, is no fedora. It's closer to something you'd see on most any grandpa in Cuba. Fortunately, it doesn't take much to look sort of distinguished in a Lansing dive bar.

"Target. Ten bucks, cheap," I answer.

"Thanks," he says. "I'll have to get one."

I wouldn't be astounded if the kid really did preside over a ring of bald, middle-aged man-whores and was just waiting for a good hat suggestion to make all the pieces come together.

So off I trudge, with my bag in tow. Even though I have hours to kill, I don't intend to spend one second of it exploring the nearby commercial district. I love old-timey towns with their lost architecture stylings, and spending time exploring their shops, but sorry, Champaign tourism industry. There will be none of that today. Not because it's raining and blustery, but because I'd have to drag this big-ass piece of luggage behind me everywhere I'd go because there's no place to store the son-of-a-bitch for even a little while.

And honestly, the last thing I need is some passing cop mistaking me for a rain-drenched vagabond who could use some good old-fashioned cop hasslin'.

Next: The Alone-Men Of The Esquire Lounge.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

February 6, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

Welcome to Super Bowl weekend: Jilted taxpayers, broken players, warlords and Coldplay. Pass the chips!

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Weekend Super Bowl Beachwood

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #88: Dez Clark Super Bowl Edition.

Quarterbacks? It's all about the tight ends.

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* Jilted NFL Cities Stuck With Stadium Debt.

* Warlord Patron Company To Continue As 'Official Tire Of The NFL.'

* The NFL, Packed With Christian Players, Falls Short In Welcoming Faith.

* The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #88 will appear on Saturday.

* From the Beachwood vault: The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved.

* From the Beachwood vault: Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* From the Beachwood vault: The Trews About Those Super Bowl Ads.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Despite the gooey romantic marketing, more break-ups happen around Valentine's Day than any other part of the year. For those who get the feeling every February that 'Love Stinks,' Jim and Greg share their favorite Anti-Love Songs. Later, they review the new album from Americana songwriter Lucinda Williams."

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Weekend BeachBook

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The band performs their tunes against the backdrop of the gorgeous scenery of the Caribou Ranch. Al Green guest stars.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, February 6, 2016

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Trust yourself.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:47 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #88: Dez Clark Super Bowl Edition

Quarterbacks? It's all about the tight ends.


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SHOW NOTES

* Dez Clark.

* #89.

* Bears Trade TE Greg Olsen To Panthers.

* Lewd Song Haunts Bears Draft Pick.

* NFL Draft Recap: Greg Olsen.

* Pro Football Reference: Ron Rivera.

* East Chicago's Kawann Short.

* Naperville's Owen Daniels.

* The University of Wisconsin's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

* John Scott: A Guy Like Me.

* The NHL's Karmic Comeuppance.

* Gary Smith.

* Playing tight end.

* Super Bowl Weather Forecast Looks Super.

* "I can still move the chains."

* John Elway.

* Cam Newton.

* Let's Remember All The People Who Said Cam Newton Was Too Stupid And Dishonest To Succeed In The NFL.

* Panthers Offensive Architect Mike Shula Amazingly Under The Radar.

* Elway: Lackluster Finishes Led To Fox Ouster.

* Panthers Fire John Fox.

43:00: The Concussed State Of The NFL.

* Kenny Stabler And CTE: The NFL's Other Snake.

* CTE Is Found In Ex-Giant [not Lion] Tyler Sash, Who Died At 27.

* AP Survey: NFL Players Question Teams' Attitudes On Health.

* Former NFL Receiver Antwaan Randle El Regrets Ever Playing Football.

He was drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round.

59:10: Non-Super Bowl Chicago Sports Roundup.

* Blackhawks still the Blackhawks.

* Bulls still the Bulls.

* Cubs: Matt Murton Is Back!

Oh, and Jake Arrieta signed a 1-year deal.

STOPPAGE: 3:24

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:34 PM | Permalink

February 5, 2016

The [Friday] Papers

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend, but what happens when your friend becomes the biggest investor in your enemy?" Peter Frost writes for Crain's.

That depends - who is the enemy and who is the friend in this scenario? I had to bear down on this lead for a few minutes to realize that Michael Ferro is the friend - but a friend to whom? - and Tribune Publishing is the enemy.

But isn't Ferro the enemy - except to Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin, who was quite happy to make a new friend for $44 million?

I'd say those are the only two friends here, and the rest of us are their enemies.

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"Michael Ferro, who made his money in tech but took a controlling stake in the Chicago Sun-Times four years ago, went across town, plunked down $44.4 million and now is the chairman and biggest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, parent of rival Chicago Tribune.

"The two papers will continue to operate independently, say those at the Sun-Times and those familiar with Ferro's plans. Ferro stepped down from day-to-day operations of Wrapports, the company that owns the Sun-Times, Chicago Reader and some other digital properties, but he retains his financial stake."

This raises several questions:

* How is this not an antitrust violation? "The new venture Ferro set up to make the investment in Tribune, Merrick Media, counts among its investors largely the same group of investors who own the Sun-Times." I would think they would all have to liquidate their investment in Sun-Times owner Wrapports.

* Ferro, as bossman, obviously didn't have any kind of noncompete restriction, but isn't it kind of hinky that he'll bring all sorts of inside market information about the Sun-Times across the street? The better to vanquish it with? He wasn't killing it fast enough just by running it into the ground?

* Why wouldn't Ferro and his investors just put that money into the paper they already owned? I mean, obviously you'd rather own Tribune, but still. And how did they happen to have $44 million burning a hole in their pockets while decimating the Sun-Times staff?

* Reportedly, Tribune Publishing was seeking cash to fund acquisitions such as the Orange County Register. Was Ferro really the only person in the country who would supply it? Or was he the biggest chump, ponying up $44 million, which frankly isn't that much to control Tribune Publishing, but possibly much more than anyone else was willing to pay. Because Jack Griffin couldn't possibly have been impressed with Ferro's stewardship of the Sun-Times. And the market information Ferro brings with him couldn't possibly be worth that much. So the real question is, Why Ferro? Why oh why oh why.

* Will Ferro be a better or worse owner of Tribune than Sam Zell? The answer: Yes.

* If Ferro is such a savvy technology entrepreneur, why is the Sun-Times' technology so godawful? The answer: Because Ferro obviously isn't much of a technologist; he probably couldn't program his own MySpace page. And he knew nothing about the media industry coming in, and knows less now. (Has Ferro ever been asked about the Sun-Times website? Seriously. Think about how many ads aren't getting served because of browser freeze. Think about how many readers give up mid-load. Think about the readers who never go back - and the ads they never see. Think about the links the paper doesn't get because who wants to link to that garbage? Think about the impact of all this on SEO. Maybe his investors are clueless about issues like this, because slightly smarter investors would have ousted Ferro by now for what he's costing them.)

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"The other investors in Wrapports 'have never been in this to flip the (Sun-Times) and make fabulous wealth from their investments,' says Wrapports spokesman Dennis Culloton. 'They are strictly in this to keep the Sun-Times alive. They want the city to have a viable second voice.'"

LOL. Wrapports is not a charity. If they were in this strictly to keep the Sun-Times alive, they wouldn't have spent the last four years killing it.

Also, I repeat: "The new venture Ferro set up to make the investment in Tribune, Merrick Media, counts among its investors largely the same group of investors who own the Sun-Times."

If the goal of those investors was to maintain a viable second voice in the city, they wouldn't have just invested $44 million in its biggest competitor.

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Also, can we please start to identify Dennis Culloton as a contracted public relations man hired to speak for the various companies he speaks for? He's not an employee of Wrapports, nor the Cubs, nor any of his clients.

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"The Tribune gives Ferro a bigger base from which to build the digital platform that would allow content creators to make more money for their efforts, something he's long talked about, and tried, without success, to create at the Sun-Times."

I don't really know what that means. Since when did Ferro want to build a digital platform to allow content creators to make more money? That sounds like something he was building for all of us.

The second part of that formulation, though, is true: He's been an unmitigated digital disaster. Again, take it in: Tribune Publishing just gave itself to the person whose digital platform is the laughingstock of American journalism. Tribune has its problems, but it's always been relatively innovative on the digital/technological front - relative to how horrid the newspaper industry is generally in this regard. Ferro can learn a ton more from Tribune than Tribune from him, though Sun-Times insiders say Ferro showed no ability and/or interest in actually learning about the digital media space.

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"But nearly everyone else wonders whether Ferro's 16.5 percent stake in Tribune lays the groundwork for a final chapter in the consolidation of the daily newspaper market that has occurred elsewhere but left Chicago among a handful of two-paper towns."

Remember, the Sun-Times owns the Reader and Tribune owns Chicago magazine (as well as the suburban titles it recently bought from the Sun-Times). Each also owns a smattering of smaller niche publications and websites. So a consolidation would essentially give Ferro the loudest voice by far in the city, controlling the city's major non-broadcast media outlets.

Yes, that shudder that just went up your spine was a disturbance in the Force.

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Think it doesn't matter? Who do you think hires the editors of those publications now? Would Ferro and his lieutenant, Jim Kirk, for example, really put a real shitkicker in charge of the Reader?

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"The news of the Ferro group's investment spooked shareholders, who sent the newspaper company's stock down as much as 27 percent yesterday before closing at $7.98, down 11 percent."

Tribune shareholders no like Ferro in charge!

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"To be sure, Tribune and the Sun-Times have fostered something of a cozy relationship in the last decade, forging a series of partnerships that made the Sun-Times the Tribune's largest production customer in the Chicago area. Tribune prints and distributes its competitor - both via long-term deals - and in 2014 acquired all 38 of Wrapports' suburban newspapers for $23.5 million."

So a slow-motion merger?

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"In a webcast yesterday with Tribune employees, Ferro struck an optimistic tone, saying it's a project he's fully invested in and something he hopes to be remembered for 100 years from now."

Like the way the Titanic is remembered.

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"But given Ferro's reputation for meddling at the Sun-Times, top editors sought after the webcast to reassure reporters and other staffers worried 'he'll start imposing his will and doing the same things he was doing (there),' one Tribune staffer said. Newsroom leaders 'were trying to assure us this is not Sam Zell, Part 2.'"

How do newsroom leaders know that?

More to the point, do the Tribune's newsroom leaders have the guts to stand up to Ferro, unlike their counterparts at the Sun-Times?

(As veteran media critic Ken Auletta said to me when I profiled then-new Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski when I was at Chicago: "The question is, does she have the guts to say, 'No,' not just to her reporters but to her bosses? That is a question of character, the testing of which is yet to be determined.")

It'd be interesting to see what Jack Griffin has to say about Ferro's meddling at the Sun-Times.

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"Tribune employees are keenly aware of the changes the tech entrepreneur made at their crosstown rival. Under Ferro, the Sun-Times cut its entire 29-employee photography staff in 2013. It spent millions of dollars developing and launching products and online ventures that ultimately failed. Many departing employees from the newsroom have not been replaced and readership has dwindled."

Odd that the Dave McKinney affair has been airbrushed out of some accounts; it's far more significant than the ham-handedness of the photography staff layoff.

Beyond that, though, I have yet to see an account that lists even a single accomplishment of Ferro's at the Sun-Times. Just one. Can someone give me something? Jack?

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I have also yet to see a single Sun-Times employee say something good about Ferro.

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Hey, Tribune people: Remember, Jack Griffin did this to you.

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"'As I told the staff today, our investors are committed,' says Jim Kirk, Sun-Times publisher and editor-in-chief."

Again: "The new venture Ferro set up to make the investment in Tribune, Merrick Media, counts among its investors largely the same group of investors who own the Sun-Times."

But then, Kirk has failed Auletta's character test many times over.

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"Tribune Publishing, owner of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, plunged the most ever after suspending its dividend and saying entrepreneur Michael Ferro became its non-executive chairman and largest shareholder with a $44.4 million investment," Bloomberg reports.

Michael Ferro, well on his way to being remembered 100 years from now.

"Tribune Publishing shares sank as much as 30 percent to $6.28, the biggest intraday drop since it was spun off from Tribune Co. in July 2014. The stock was down about 12.6 percent this afternoon."

Maybe his real plan is to sink Tribune.

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More likely, he'll go down in history as the person who destroyed both of the city's papers.

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See also: A bad day in Chicago media; it looks like Michael Ferro will be around a long, long time. In The [Thursday] Papers.

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P.S.: I'm pretty sure all of this is good reason to vote for Bernie Sanders.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale
Addison & Elston.

That Old Book Smell
Amnesty time at the Chicago Public Library, joy boy.

America's Next Top Polluter
In Illinois, one of Tyson's facilities released 2,065,975 pounds of pollution into local waterways in 2014 alone.

24 Hours With Pop TV
Breast side up.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Queensryche, Meytal, Kid Cudi, Decapitated, Rhymefest, and Werewheels.

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Super Bowl Weekend Specials
* Jilted NFL Cities Stuck With Stadium Debt.

* Warlord Patron Company To Continue As 'Official Tire Of The NFL.'

* The NFL, Packed With Christian Players, Falls Short In Welcoming Faith.

* The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition.

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #88 will appear on Saturday.

* From the Beachwood vault: The Super Bowl Is Decadent And Depraved.

* From the Beachwood vault: Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* From the Beachwood vault: The Trews About Those Super Bowl Ads.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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She'd still be waiting on the feds to complete their investigation so all charges could be announced together at the same time.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: We have the antidote.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:12 AM | Permalink

24 Hours With Pop TV

"A channel filled with optimism, passion, funny and excitement."

5:30 a.m.: Perfect Cooker.

6 a.m.: Try Total Gym for $14.95.

6:30 a.m.: FREE UPGRADE to the NutriBullet Pro Whole Food Nutrition Extractor!

7 a.m.: Retire in Style!

7:30 a.m.: Derm Exclusive!

8 a.m.: PIYO WORKOUT!

8:30 a.m.: Pop Programming.

9 a.m.: The Club Election.

9:30: Pop Programming

10 a.m.: ET at the Big Game.

11 a.m.: Beverly Hills, 90210 - "Breast Side Up."

Noon: Beverly Hills, 90210 - "Courting."

1 p.m.: Dawson's Creek - "Four Scary Stories."

2 p.m.: Dawson's Creek - "Appetite for Destruction."

3 p.m.: That '70s Show - "Hey Hey What Can I Do."

3:30 p.m.: That '70s Show - "Bring It on Home."

4 p.m.: That '70s Show - "No Quarter."

4:30 p.m.: That '70s Show - "Trampled Under Foot."

5 p.m.: Celebrity Name Game.

5:30 p.m.: The Bold and the Beautiful.

6 p.m.: The Young and the Restless.

7 p.m.: Days of Our Lives.

8 p.m.: Easiest Game Show Ever - "Meatheads."

8:30 p.m.: Easiest Game Show Ever - "Fantasy Football Buddies."

9 p.m.: ET at the Big Game.

10 p.m.: Outbreak.

1 a.m.: Tai Chi Master!

1:30 a.m.: Identity Theft.

2 a.m.: Thicker Hair - Guaranteed!

2:30 a.m.: Paid Programming.

3 a.m.: Why Use a Pressure Cooker?

4 a.m.: Thicker Hair - Guaranteed!

4:30 a.m.: Paid Programming.

5 a.m.: Derm Exclusive!

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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.
* 24 Hours With Fuse.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:37 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Queensryche at the Concord on Sunday night.


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2. Meytal at the Concord on Sunday night.

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3. Kid Cudi at the Riv on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Decapitated at Reggies last Saturday night.

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Rhymefest at the Promontory last Friday night.

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Werewheels at the Hideout for Psych Fest last Saturday night.

See also: Psych Fest photos by Robert Loerzel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:27 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: The Tanks Of Avondale

Addison & Elston.

tankslifestorageetcbw.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bands Wanted!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Belmont Tavern.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Superheroic San Luis Freeze.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Evanston Oasis.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lyndale Food & Jewelry.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Lincoln Tap.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Book Window.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Alco Dude.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ballin Drugs.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Don't Worry, Be Cookie.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Four Trey.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Office.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America From Inside The Golden Nugget In Ravenswood.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Cellphone Repair.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Boots 'N' Grill.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Sunrise Strip.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: At The Corner Of Glad And Happy.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Uptown Autumn Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Mid-Century Modern Halloween.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Autumn Station Wagon.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Betty's & Nick's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ohio House Impact.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: End School Zone.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Portage Park Peek-A-Boo.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: South Side Sundown.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Susie's Drive-Thru.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Holiday Ham.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Food & Liquor, Milhouse.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: O'Hare Blue Line Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Schwing!
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Ad Deluxe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Jesus At The Drive-In.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:57 AM | Permalink

That Old Book Smell

Return your overdue books to Chicago Public Library before February 18 - or risk a visit from a library cop who doesn't like your kind.


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To all of our patrons and materials that we've lost because of overdue fines, Welcome Home. Fine amnesty begins today,...

Posted by Chicago Public Library on Thursday, February 4, 2016

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First librarial blue moon since 2012.

How often do we offer a fine amnesty? Once in a blue moon...and since there is a blue moon this month, you are in luck!...

Posted by Chicago Public Library on Monday, August 6, 2012

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Best Library Cop Ever.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:30 AM | Permalink

Jilted NFL Cities Stuck With Stadium Debt

The Rams left behind more than bitterness when the team ditched St. Louis for Los Angeles last month - it left a stadium saddled with about $144 million in debt and maintenance costs.

Taxpayers will now shoulder the remaining payments for the Edward Jones Dome with only the help of revenue from tractor pulls, volleyball tournaments, concerts and the like.

St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed has asked the NFL to help pay off the stadium, but so far has gotten no response.

"The fans are being left holding the bag," Reed said. "I think they should factor that into the total cost of the move."

The leftover debt and maintenance costs are another example of the NFL's negotiating prowess with many cities, sports economists said, and also reflects larger problems with the deal St. Louis struck with the Rams.

Even before the team decided to leave, the city's stadium revenues didn't cover its payments, leaving the city with annual shortfalls.

The league and the Rams did not respond to requests to comment.

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2016-02-03T092024Z_2_LYNXNPEC12074_RTROPTP_4_SPORTS-NFL-STADIUMS.JPG

Across the country, cities have gotten stuck with substantial costs after sports teams leave or even move across town. Often, local governments must pay bonds, maintenance costs, or demolition fees after a team is gone.

Houston's iconic Astrodome, once dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, sits empty a decade after the facility housed 25,000 evacuees of Hurricane Katrina and nearly 20 years after the Oilers left. The Detroit Lions' former Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, was used sporadically after the team moved downtown in 2002, but shuttered for good when the inflatable roof was deflated.

Today, after years of exposure to the elements, the Silverdome is slated for demolition. Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the Washington Redskins' former home, may meet the same fate, said Greg O'Dell, president and CEO of Events DC, the convention and sports authority that owns the stadium.

NFL stadiums are primarily designed for one thing - eight home games a year - and don't necessarily adapt well to alternate uses. Cities also have little chance of attracting a new professional team to an old stadium; building a glitzy new one is often what it takes to win league approval.

"These things become economically obsolete before they become physically obsolete," said Victor Matheson, College of the Holy Cross economics professor.

It's not uncommon for local governments to pay debts and maintenance on abandoned stadiums for years - even after it is demolished. Seattle's Kingdome bonds were retired only last year, 15 years after the facility was imploded in 2000. Philadelphia has $160,000 left to pay on Veterans Stadium, more than a decade after the facility was torn down. Debt from Indianapolis' Hoosier Dome - demolished in 2008 - still hadn't been paid off in 2013, according to state filings.

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Jonesstl.JPG

In St. Louis, the $280 million agreement to build the Edward Jones Dome for the Rams raised eyebrows since its opening in 1995. Unlike other stadium deals, the St. Louis contract included a clause requiring the 67,000-seat dome be maintained to a first-tier standard, meaning the facility must be considered among the top quarter of all NFL football facilities.

As the stadium aged - and new, state-of-the-art NFL stadiums were erected in New Jersey, Texas, and California - the bar became more onerous.

"This was a contract designed to be broken" by the team, said Matheson, who studies stadium finances. "They had a terrible, terrible contract with the Rams."

A few years ago, to maintain the stadium's top tier status, the Rams sought an estimated $700 million of improvements. St. Louis balked, and the Rams started looking elsewhere.

To cover costs, the city paid about $6 million for annual debt service and maintenance for the stadium but collected only about $4.2 million in direct revenues from Rams games, according to the mayor's office. The state, which paid $12 million annually, made $12.4 million in revenues from NFL activities, Missouri Department of Economic Development estimated. The county paid $6 million annually; it's unclear how much of that was offset by Rams-related revenues.

All three entities will continue paying their share until the debt is paid off in 2021.

Without the Rams' revenues, St. Louis is looking at an even deeper financial hole. And it's coming at a time when the city is facing a spiking murder rate, high poverty and high debt. Last August, Moody's Investors Service downgraded the city's credit rating to Aa1 from Aa3, which could lead to increased borrowing costs.

"We're going to have to tighten the belt in a few places," said Reed, the alderman.

In 2002, St. Louis city voters displayed their frustration with public stadium financing by passing a ballot measure that required a public vote to approve any future sports subsidies.

But last summer, a judge invalidated the law as too vague. The next day, voters rejected a $180 million proposal to purchase more fire trucks and improve police equipment.

The juxtaposition of residents voting on such basic needs while being denied a say on stadium subsidies did not sit well with Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri, a social justice organization, and co-founder of the Coalition Against Public Funding for Stadiums that campaigned for the ordinance.

"When you live in an urban area, there is money needed for public safety, public health, even just repairing potholes," Oxford said. "I just became so cynical."

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See also: St. Louis Wants To Expand Convention Center After Losing NFL, Because That Worked So Well The Last Time.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:56 AM | Permalink

Warlord Patron Company To Continue As 'The Official Tire Of The NFL'

Bridgestone Americas, Inc. and the National Football League (NFL) announced Thursday that they have entered into a new five-year sponsorship agreement, reaffirming the world's leading tire and rubber company as the Official Tire of the NFL.

Notably, the deal extends an eight-year relationship and advances the popular "Bridgestone Performance Moments" campaign platform, which includes the award for top performance play of the year at NFL Honors during Super Bowl week.

"We love the game, but connecting fans and drivers who recognize performance, innovation and endurance is vital to why Bridgestone chooses to sponsor the National Football League," said Philip Dobbs, chief marketing officer, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. "The NFL relationship provides an ideal platform for millions of women and men of all ages to engage with and learn about world-class products and services from Bridgestone."

Bridgestone's year-long campaign, which begins at NFL Combine and culminates with the Super Bowl, illustrates the extraordinary performance of the world's best football players on the field and embodies the performance attributes of the broad range of Bridgestone tires. It also includes national advertising, consumer marketing programs and promotions, and broadcast and digital elements.

"We are pleased to work with Bridgestone to reach fans year-round in authentic and innovative ways," said Renie Anderson, the NFL's senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management. "Bridgestone provides unique experiences that have resonated with football fans across the country. We are very proud of the relationship to date and excited about the future."

The new sponsorship agreement also includes trademark rights, activation and player funds, and broadcast and online media elements. Bridgestone also will maintain sponsorship rights at all major NFL events, including NFL Kickoff, NFL Draft, NFL Experience and NFL Media Fan Gallery at the Super Bowl. In addition to its sponsorship of the NFL, Bridgestone also has local and regional sponsorships with a number of NFL clubs, including the Nashville-based Tennessee Titans.

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See also (and note, Firestone is a Bridgestone brand):

* Firestone and the Warlord: The Untold Story and the Tragedy of Liberia.

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For more, see FRONTLINE's YouTube channel.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:19 AM | Permalink

The NFL, Packed With Christian Players, Falls Short In Welcoming Faith

Days before the Super Bowl, a new Faith Equality Index score of the National Football League - 24 out of 100 - reveals the league has work to do in welcoming, embracing, and celebrating Faith Driven Consumers

Faith Driven Consumer™ (FDC) - representing 41 million Americans who spend $2 trillion annually, has earned wide recognition for its groundbreaking FaithEqualityIndex.com (FEI), which scores more than 400 major brands for compatibility with the FDC community. n Wednesday, the group released its first annual ranking of Super Bowl advertisers, which also includes a specific score for the National Football League.

"The National Football League is significantly comprised of Christian players, coaches, and executives, and as such, many in our community assume the organization is welcoming of Faith Driven Consumers," said Chris Stone, Certified Brand Strategist and founder of Faith Driven Consumer.

"But its score of 24 out of 100 says otherwise. As with most brands, this may not be intentional, rather it stems from a lack of awareness and understanding of this color in the diversity rainbow.

"We look forward to working with the NFL, and all professional sports organizations - educating them on and encouraging them to specifically include Faith Driven Consumers.

"The NFL can move the chains - improve their FEI score and standing with the faith community."

The Faith Equality Index rates, on a 100-point scale, how well brands acknowledge Faith Driven Consumers by welcoming, embracing, and celebrating them, and is the benchmark FDCs use to make consumer choices - through the lens of their biblical worldview.

Ratings:

National Football League: 24

2016 Super Bowl Advertiser Ratings:

Acura: 46

Honda: 46

Pepsi: 38

Mountain Dew: 38

Marmot: 38

Heinz: 37

Mini USA: 36

Avocados from Mexico: 35

Butterfinger: 32

Amazon: 32

Hyundai: 30

Kia: 30

Audi: 29

Buick: 29

Taco Bell: 29

Doritos: 27

SunTrust: 25

Toyota: 25

Skittles: 24

Snickers: 24

Coca-Cola: 23

Colgate: 22

T-Mobile: 19

Axe: 11

View the Super Bowl rankings here with more detail.

According to American Insights, 77% of Faith Driven Consumers will leave their current brand when they identify a more faith-compatible option. 70% are actively seeking such brands. 86% are more likely to do business with brands that welcome them and acknowledge their values.

93% of FDCs see value in the FEI - the resource that allows them to easily identify the faith compatibility of brands they engage.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 AM | Permalink

February 4, 2016

America's Next Top Polluter

As shareholders of Tyson Foods, Inc. consider a resolution on Friday that would require the food giant to institute a "water stewardship" policy, new data shows the company regularly dumps a higher volume of pollution into waterways than companies like ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical.

An Environment Illinois analysis shows Tyson and its subsidiaries released 104 million pounds of pollution to surface waters from 2010 to 2014, nearly seven times the volume of surface water discharges by Exxon during those years.

"Tyson is dumping a huge volume of pollution into our waterways," said Brittany King, campaign organizer with Environment Illinois. "That's why Tyson's shareholders should vote to ensure that the company cleans up its act."

Filed by the American Baptist Home Mission Societies, with four investor co-filers from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the resolution being considered Friday at Tyson's annual meeting in Springdale, Arkansas, would require the company to "reduce risks of water contamination" from its thousands of facilities, suppliers, and contractors across the U.S.

"Water is more than a community issue; access to clean, refreshing, life-giving water is a human right," said Michaele Birdsall, treasurer and deputy executive director, American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

"Because we continue to be as committed to the environmental and social performance of the companies in our investment portfolio as we are to their financial performance, we offer a resolution for a vote by all Tyson shareholders that addresses the availability of clean and safe water for all people. Corporate policies that protect water in communities where they operate are fundamental to corporations' social responsibility to society."

The data issued by Environment Illinois comes from the Toxics Release Inventory, the federal government's database of self-reported releases of pollutants into the nation's waterways. In Illinois, one of Tyson's facilities released 2,065,975 pounds of pollution into local waterways in 2014 alone.

Much of the pollution from Tyson's facilities is in the form of nitrate compounds, which can contribute to algal blooms and dead zones, and also pose threats to human health, including "blue baby syndrome" for infants.

The Toxics Release Inventory does not include other sources of pollution from Tyson's supply chain, such as manure from factory farms that raise chickens and other livestock for the company. According to the company's website, Tyson's supply chain includes agribusiness in Illinois.

Environment Illinois said Tyson Foods and other agribusinesses should reduce their water pollution by taking responsibility for manure from factory farms, requiring comprehensive efforts to minimize fertilizer runoff wherever grain is grown for their livestock, and cutting direct discharges of nitrates and other compounds at processing plants.

If Tyson fails to adopt Friday's shareholder resolution, Illinois will need its own policies to curb pollution from it and other corporate agribusinesses. Environment Illinois is supporting an effort to close loopholes allowing factory farms to expand without new permits.

"If we want clean water in our rivers, our lakes, and our drinking water sources," said King, "companies like Tyson will have to dramatically cut pollution from their operations."

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See also:

* Six Bids On Ballot For Shareholders At Tyson Foods | Transparency Among Issues; Execs Urge 'No' Across Board.

* Institutional Investors To Big Food: Come Clean On Water Risks.

* Sourcewatch: Tyson Foods.

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Previously in Tyson: Tyson Foods' Secret Recipe For Carving Up Workers' Comp.

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Bonus Video: Tyson Tortures Chickens.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:27 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Michael Ferro, majority owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, has become the largest shareholder in Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other major daily newspapers," the Tribune reports.

Layoffs begin immediately.

No, seriously, this is not good.

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"Tribune Publishing sold more than 5.2 million shares of newly issued common stock to Merrick Media, a Chicago-based investment firm controlled by Ferro, in a $44.4 million deal announced Thursday.

"The purchase gives Ferro, a successful technology entrepreneur and nascent media baron, a nearly 17 percent stake in Tribune Publishing and a significant say in the direction of the legacy newspaper company as it navigates its digital future."

The Tribune's website is already loading 17 percent slower.

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Ferro is less a "successful technology entrepreneur" than someone who made a good investment once in a company that had something to do with technology. If he himself is a technologist, he's got to be the worst technologist in the city. Seriously, Michael, turn the Sun-Times website over to a hack night - or a college class - before it crashes the whole Internet.

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As far as navigating the digital future of Tribune Publishing, I wouldn't trust Ferro to navigate the digital future of a garage door opener, a device, by the way, that is smarter than Jenny McCarthy, who should be showing up for work at Tribune Tower any day now.

Meanwhile, the paper's political reporters should be polishing their resumes. The governor must be ecstatic.

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To put it another way, Michael Ferro got it backwards: he hired Jenny McCarthy and screwed Dave McKinney.

*

Sun-Times publisher and editor Jim Kirk, by the way, has never answered for his role in McKinney's departure. If McKinney didn't have confidence in Kirk's ability to keep Ferro out of the paper's political coverage, why should any other reporter? More importantly, why should any reader?

In the rearranging of roles, Kirk now ascends to a seat on the board of Wrapports, the Sun-Times' parent company, so he continues to be amply rewarded for not standing with reporters and readers in safeguarding his paper's integrity. I'm sure Kirk will have no comment because he never does - he stiffs the press more than Rahm Emanuel when asked about his kids' school while on his way out of town to an overseas vacation.

*

"Wrapports bought the Sun-Times and its portfolio of suburban newspapers for about $20 million. His big plans mostly fizzled, and the newspaper and its staff have been substantially downsized amid steady losses."

But thanks for what Tribune Publishing CEO Jack Griffin calls "a vote of confidence in our strategy!" More like, thanks for the money and I'll just hold my nose here while you hand me the check. It's like Coldplay - without the record sales - giving AC/DC a vote of confidence. (Not that Tribune Publishing is AC/DC, outside of being a dying legacy; Nickelback?)

Among the failed initiatives was Grid, a glossy Sunday business magazine launched in early 2013 that disappeared within months, along with much of the newspaper's local business coverage, which has since been farmed out to USA Today.

In 2013, the Sun-Times directed reporters to snap photos with iPhones and fired the paper's photographers, a move that drew national attention and became symbolic of the head winds facing the newspaper industry.

Its digital initiatives also have fallen short, notably the low-budget Sun-Times Network, an aggregated national news site resembling BuzzFeed and Gawker.

The Sun-Times Network bears absolutely no resemblance to BuzzFeed and Gawker. It's does, however, bear a resemblance to a ripoff content farm representing the worst practices of digital "journalism."

Lingering question: Is there anything good that Ferro has brought to the editorial operation? (Or even the business operation?)

*

"In an October interview on Bloomberg Markets, Ferro was decidedly upbeat in his assessment of journalism. 'By the way, journalism has never been bigger in the world,' Ferro said. 'There's more journalists than there's ever been.'"

Not at the Sun-Times!

"There's more content than there's ever been."

Not at the Sun-Times!

"So we think this is a great time to be a journalist, it's a great time to be in media, and there's a huge growth trajectory."

Not at the Sun-Times!

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For that matter, has the Reader gotten better or worse under Ferro/Kirk?

*

Here's that Bloomberg Markets interview (note that Bloomberg Markets has learned through reports that Ferro owns the Sun-Times):

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His automated clipping service is a terrible idea, by the way.

*

"Griffin said he welcomes Ferro's investment and involvement in Tribune Publishing. 'He brings vision and energy and commitment and capital.'"

Here's the right way to read that: "He brings vision and energy and commitment and capital."

Though the Sun-Times newsroom might wonder why they didn't see that $44 million for themselves. (Wait, is $44 million all it takes to gain a controlling interest in Tribune Publishing? My God. When I was at Chicago magazine, Tribune bought us for $35 million.)

*

"This transaction supports key elements of our ongoing strategic plan and provides our company with additional capital to accelerate our growth strategies," said Griffin in a statement. "We continue to evaluate growth opportunities where we can achieve measurable, value-enhancing synergies that drive financial contribution and maximize shareholder value."

Translation: We needed the money. Bad.

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"I see tremendous upside to create value and put Tribune Publishing at the forefront of technology and content to benefit journalists and shareholders," Ferro said in a statement.

Translation: I am delusional.

*

"Ferro - who led the acquisition of the Sun-Times in 2011 after the death of late Sun-Times owner James Tyree - moved out of the Sun-Times building on Wednesday. He is expected to move in to Tribune Tower, which is up for sale," the Sun-Times reports.

Was he escorted out - and in - by security?

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Previously in Michael Ferro:
* Item: Media Mogul's Message.

* Item: Digital Dungeon.

* Still waiting for Capital Fax impresario Rich Miller to tell us what Ferro and/or the Sun-TImes did to him.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #28: The Sun-Times Is A Hot Mess.

* The Beachwood Radio Hour #30: ILGOV2014.

From the Show Notes:

Feder: "In recent weeks, sources said, Ferro has been exerting pressure on editors regarding coverage of Rauner."

* Item: Accountability.

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Fantasy Fix: The (Tied At The ) Top 40
Three Cubs, two Sox.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Now with vaccination.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

The Fantasy Fix Baseball Draft Guide: The (Tied At The) Top 40

It's time to vote, America. There's a tie at the top, but in the end, someone has to win.

I'm speaking, of course, about the 2016 Fantasy Baseball Top 40. In some polls (and caucuses, whatever those are), we have nothing but lousy choices, where the best choice is only the least of many evils. That isn't the problem in fantasy baseball, thankfully. We've got nothing but top talent to choose from, and several candidates who can make great arguments why they should be The One.

Here are my choices:

1. Bryce Harper, OF, WAS.

First off, any of the top four make an excellent No. 1 pick in my mind. I give Harper the edge mainly on the likelihood that his 2015 MVP season still leaves room for improvement. 45 HRs, 110 RBI, 1.100 OPS, 120 runs, 50 doubles, 15 SBs isn't out of the question.

2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI.

I've consistently ranked him lower than most the last three years, and have final wised up. Lot of folks will take him No. 1, and nothing wrong with that. Could repeat 2015's career-high .321 BA and 1.105 OPS, maybe 125 RBI in ARI's potent offense.

3. Mike Trout, OF, LAA.

Also getting plenty of No. 1 nods, and at 25 his career best may still await. SBs and BA have ticked down last three seasons, but still a multi-stat maven barely outgunned by Harper and Goldschmidt.

4. Carlos Correa, SS, HOU.

Getting creative early here ranking him higher than most, but could make an argument for No. 1 overall based on his position combined with his stats in the first 99 games of his career at the tender age of 20: 22 HRs, 68 RBI, 14 SBs, 108 hits, .857 OPS.

5. Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT.

Cutch is always a fantasy bridesmaid despite consistent multi-stat production. His three-year run of .300+ BAs ended in 2015, and he posted a career-low 11 SBs, but matched his career-high 96 RBIs. He remains a 20 HR/90 RBI/15 SB/.300 threat.

6. Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, CUBS.

Another break from consensus, but I think worth the risk. His rookie numbers - 26 HR, 99 RBI, 13 SBs, 87 runs, .275 BA - suggest 30/110/20/100/.290 are easily possible in Year Two. Anything more, and he'll prove to be a bargain at No. 6 overall.

7. Josh Donaldson, 3B, TOR.

I consistently under-rank him, and I may have done it again here after his 2015 MVP campaign. Could again go for at least 40 HRs, 120 RBI, 120 runs, .920 or so OPS. I just prefer Bryant's position flexibility and youth (24, to Donaldson's 30), but a close call.

8. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, MIA.

Startling numbers through the first 74 games last year - 27 HRs, 67 RBI, .952 OPS - explain why many have him ranked higher. The problem is that's where his season ended. Power and youth (26) mark him for 50 HRs at some point if he can stay healthy.

9. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL.

Nearly tied in my mind with Bryant and Donaldson for top 3B. Breakout 2015 was beyond expectations: 42 HRs, 130 RBI, 43 doubles, .898 OPS. Playing in Denver half the season means the 25-year-old could do it again. Only weakness is lack of SBs.

10. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET.

Still arguably the best overall hitter in the game, proven by .338 BA, .974 OPS in 119 games last year. Power is declining and injuries becoming a greater threat, but don't be surprised to see him bounce back a little to 20+ HRs, 100 RBI.

11. AJ Pollock, OF, ARI.

Maybe the biggest fantasy surprise of 2015: 20 HRs, 76 RBI, 111 runs, .315 BA, 39 SBs - yes, the last stat is the best, and the biggest reason for this ranking. Hitting ahead of Goldschmidt sure helps, and Pollock should have another greater multi-stat campaign.

12. Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD.

The best fantasy SP without argument - sorry, Jake, Max, Zack. Career-high 301 strikeouts, 2.13 ERA, made up for so-so (not really) 16 wins. Just for fun, here's his WHIP/BAA last three years: 2013: 0.92/.195; 2014: 0.86/.196; 2015: 0.88/.194. Wow.

13. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CUBS.

Played 160 games, which may have fatigued him late in the season, but could easily have another year of 30+ HRs, 100+ RBI, .280 or so BA - maybe even more RBI if the Cubs really are all that. Probably won't have 177 SBs again, but whatever you get is nice.

14. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU.

His second consecutive 200-hit season also featured career highs in HRs (15) and RBI (66), but we buy him more for BA, which was down from .338 in 2014 to .313 and SBs, down from 56 to 38. A return to 40+ SBs would make him a top 10 candidate.

15. Max Scherzer, SP, WAS.

Really close call with the next guy, but I have to take Scherzer's proven consistency. Little known fact on the Year of Jake was that Max had a career-high 276 strikeouts and career-low 2.79 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Blame his 14-12 record on his underachieving team.

16. Jake Arrieta, SP, CUBS.

Really wish he could match or beat what he did last year, but that's asking an awful lot. I think a regress from 22-6, 236 strikeouts, with a 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP can still be pretty sweet. I'm think more like 18 wins, 220 strikeouts, 2.25 ERA, 0.99 WHIP.

17. Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF.

Barely a notch below the previous two, and if you want proven consistency, Mad-Bum, with 18 wins each of the last two years, might be your preference, but probably won't deliver the strikeouts game to game that the other two will.

18. Manny Machado, 3B/SS, BAL.

Surprised those who thought injuries or character issues would limit his value by playing a full 162-game slate last year. His 35 HRs, 86 RBI, 20 SBs came off as revelatory. Probably a notch below Bryant/Donaldson/Arenado at 3B, but SS status adds value.

19. Mookie Betts, OF, BOS.

Loses 2B eligibility this year, but 18 HRs, 77 RBI, 21 SBs, 92 runs point to a solid multi-stat threat who could improve all those categories this year. Eight triples helped him achieve 68 total extra-base hits, most of any player with fewer than 20 HRs.

20. Jose Bautista, OF, TOR.

I have Joey Bats ranked much lower than most, even though he's a lot of fun to watch. His 40 HRs last year were his most since 2011; 114 RBI and 108 runs were his most since 2010. That's where the value stops, and at 35, going 40/114/108 again seems unlikely.

21. Zack Greinke, SP, LAD.

Stunning numbers, including career-best 19 wins, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, had the misfortune of happening in the Year of Jake, and curious move to ARI paints him as a slight risk, but productive offense could help him reach 20 wins for the first time.

22. Chris Sale, SP, WHITE SOX.

Ranked higher elsewhere on strength of 274 strikeouts, and I really want to join the club, but the Sox have failed him year after year. Will get his share of double-digit strikeouts games, but a ballooning ERA and late-season trouble suggest fatigue is an issue.

23. David Price, SP, BOS.

18-5 record last year between DET and TOR made for his best since his 2011 Cy Young season, and BOS has reloaded for a big run. Curiously has never had a WHIP below 1.01 in his career, but another year of 18 wins, 225 strikeouts, 2.45 ERA would be fine.

24. Jose Fernandez, SP, MIA.

Can a pitcher with 19 starts in the last two seasons be worth this ranking? It's all about his 2013 rookie campaign of 12 wins, 187 strikeouts, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and the hope he stays healthy and is still improving his game.

25. Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA.

18 wins were his most since 2009, but strikeouts fell below 200 for the first time since 2008 and ERA shot higher than 3.50 for the first time since 2007. Counting on a little bounce back in those numbers as SEA improves and he gets crafty in his age 30 season.

26. Jose Abreu, 1B, WHITE SOX.

Pretty low ranking for a guy with 66 HRs, 208 RBI his last two years. Chalk it up to his BA dropping from .317 to .290, a lack of SBs, and the likelihood he won't score 100 runs playing for the Sox - yet, the power should be there again this year.

27. Dee Gordon, 2B, MIA.

It's all about the SBs, all 58 of them last year. However, his .333 BA was a breakthrough, an example of what makes him look a little more like Jose Altuve than Billy Hamilton. If MIA improves, a season of 50 SBs, .315 BA and 100 runs would earn him this rank.

28. Matt Harvey, SP, NYM.

With no innings restrictions this year, some see him as a Cy Young candidate, so he may go earlier in some leagues. 13 wins, 188 strikeouts, 2.71 ERA, 1.01 WHIP last year suggest 15+ wins, 200+ strikeouts If the Mets are good again.

29. Jacob deGrom, SP, NYM.

I wouldn't bat an eye if he goes well ahead of Harvey, since he had better numbers: 14 wins, 205 strikeouts, 2.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP. Harvey is thought to have the higher ceiling, but deGrom could have won 20 last year if the Mets had been better early on.

30. Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL.

If you love Pollock at No. 11 but can't get him, target Blackmon, a slightly down-market version of the same player. 2015 stats: 17 HRs, 58 RBI, 43 SBs, 93 runs, .287 BA. 15 more SBs last year than in 2015, so maybe he settles around 35 this year.

31. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN.

Should be higher based on strength of amazing comeback season: 29 HRs, 80 RBI, .314 BA, 11 SBs, 95 runs, 1.000 OPS and an MLB-leading 143 walks. But hard to see a repeat at 32 with a team intent on rebuilding.

32. Chris Archer, SP, TB.

Breakout 2015 campaign was softened a little by a late-season fade, by 252 strikeouts in 212 IP put him in the top tier discussion. Can he do better than 12 wins with the Rays? 3.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP were improvements on 2014, so could be even better.

33. George Springer, OF, HOU.

Injury shortened a season that appeared to be building on his brief 2014 run of 78 games, which featured 20 HRs. He hit 16 HRs in 102 games in 2015, but a BA jump from .231 to .276, along with 16 SBs, showed promising multi-stat value.

34. Nelson Cruz, OF, SEA.

All he did last year was hit a career-high 44 HRs after everyone said he would never hit 40 again, and raised his BA from .271 to .302. If you're worried about HRs, go get him, though no speed to speak of.

35. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR.

If you like his teammate Joey Bats, but miss out, grab Big Eddy. Career-high 111 RBIs and 94 runs to go with 39 HRs (most since 2012) for a team that beat up baseballs all year long. Like Bautista, his value is limited by lack of SBs and middling BA (.270s).

36. Yoenis Cespedes, OF, NYM.

Similar stats to No. 35 - 35 HRs, 105 RBI, 101 runs, .291 BA, and his great run with the Mets last year may have helped win fantasy leagues. Few SBs and a streaky tendency can hurt when it isn't helping, but another reliable power bet if that's what you need.

37. Dallas Keuchel, SP, HOU.

AL Cy Young and 20-game winner seems like he should be higher on this list. His 216 strikeouts are top tier, too, though it took him 232 IPs, so he doesn't have the K per 9 IP figures of most ahead of him. Safe bet if you want to take him a few spots higher.

38. Gerrit Cole, SP, PIT.

Another Year of Jake victim, with his 19 wins going somewhat unnoticed. 202 strikeouts and 2.60 ERA leave him at the edge of top tier starters, but he could still have a season of 20+ wins, 225 strikeouts if Pirates score enough runs for him.

39. Starling Marte, OF, PIT.

Streaky and speedy, he posted 19 HRs, 81 RBI, 30 SBs (for the second straight year) and a .287 BA, so nearly a 20 HR/30 SB guy, and he should do it this year. Not quite the extra-bases power of Pollock or SB opportunism of Blackmon, but getting there.

40. Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS.

Still gets top tier rankings, but now has too many injury-shortened seasons for me to buy him higher. Still, 155 strikeouts last year in 127 IP is pretty alluring, and if he manages to pitch even a conservative 170 IP, could be a candidate for 15 wins.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:21 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. "Peabody Energy, one of the state's largest coal mine operators, soon could be in bankruptcy, but regulators are allowing it to meet future cleanup obligations with a promise rather than a bond," Crain's reports.

What could possibly go wrong?

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Previously in Peabody:

* Bankruptcy Lawyers Strip Cash From Indiana Coal Miners' Health Insurance.

* Impact: Plan To Divert $18 Million From The Health Insurance Of Retired Indiana Coal Miners To Pay Bankruptcy Lawyers Is Dead.

* Big Company Spins Off New Company. Loads It Up With 8,400 Retirees. New Company Goes Bankrupt. Retirees Lose Benefits.

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2. Governor Statues Put On Hold.

Impact! Our very own Ed Hammer broke the story here.

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3. University Of Chicago Professor Resigns During Sexual Harassment Investigation.

"[He] probably shouldn't have been hired in the first place: before [he] moved to Chicago, members of the faculty received anonymous e-mails warning that he had been accused of sexual harassment or misconduct while he was at Princeton and the University of North Carolina."

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4. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel was accused Tuesday of playing hide the ball with Northwest Side residents bombarded by O'Hare Airport jet noise," the Sun-Times reports.

He sure didn't hide the gall.

Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) demanded to know why Emanuel made no mention of the $1.3 billion deal he had cut with major airlines to build the final runway at O'Hare when he met just two days before that deal was announced with the anti-noise Fair Allocation in Runways Coalition.

During the long-awaited City Hall meeting, Emanuel ruled out saving two diagonal runways slated for demolition that FAIR wants the city to keep and use at night and during off-peak hours to soften the blow of dramatic O'Hare flight-path changes that hit in October 2013.

Using the diagonals at those times would help avoid repeatedly bombarding the same neighborhoods with jet noise. As many as 63,000 Chicago area residents a month have complained about the new barrage of noise since the flight path changes, FAIR contends.

Instead of being up-front about the runway deal he was about to announce, Emanuel slammed the door on saving the diagonal runways without explaining why.

"He just said, 'No,'" Napolitano said. "I would have said, 'You know what? This is already in place. There's money already allocated. And I would have said, 'We've got a deal, but let's see what we can work out. Let's see what we can figure out.'"

Here's the gall part:

On Friday night, Napolitano got a call from the mayor's office inviting him to attend Sunday's announcement on the runway deal.

Napolitano ignored the invite, according to the Sun-Times. I wonder if he should have gone, though, and made a scene. Or at least asked the mayor right there in front of the TV cameras why he essentially lied to his constituents.

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The mayor's office issued a statement to the Sun-Times about how much the mayor cares about the people of Chicago and, of course, the Sun-Times inserted it into the story. That reminded me of this recent Facebook post - check out the first comment:

Phil Rock was a politician who answered his phone and then gave a reporter an actual answer. He was a straightforward gentleman. May the road rise up to meet him.

Posted by Carol Marin on Friday, January 29, 2016

Well, Scott, you're the paper's political editor, why do you keep publishing them?

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5. The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition.

"This is a bad pick, and not just because Coldplay sucks. It's a bad pick because Coldplay couldn't possibly be less relevant to this year's Super Bowl. They're neither influential enough nor classic enough to matter to anyone. They're the 40-ish divorced suburban dad of contemporary music, and honestly, that guy sucks. He's all weird scientific non-sequiturs and pee-stained sloppiness. Who wants to sit and listen to 'Fix You' in the middle of a football game? And make no mistake, they are going to play 'Fix You' because that is exactly what 40-ish divorced suburban dads do."

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6. Sex Museums, Dick Puppets & Winning Elections.

"While I was in graduate school in Chicago, I wanted to think about the relationship between objects, spaces, and people coming into their sexual identities and sexual repertoires. And so I started to think about sex museums . . . "

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7. Blue Ridge, Chicago.

Sounds like us to me.

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8. Monster Roster: Existentialist Art In Postwar Chicago.

Group of postwar artists established the first unique Chicago style.

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BeachBook

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One of the world's most inventive banjo players performs tonight in Chicago.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Structured settlement.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:33 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Blue Ridge, Chicago

"The richly detailed ensemble acting in Dominic Cooke's revival does glowing justice to the masterly mix of hurt and humur in this 1984 play by August Wilson," Paul Taylor writes for the Independent.

"We're in a Chicago recording studio in 1927 where the real-life Ma Rainey, the 'Mother of the Blues,' and her band of musicians have gathered to lay down some tracks. The play homes in on the contradictory status of black artists in a white-controlled recording industry. Sharon D Clarke's wittily redoubtable Rainey, with her implacable diva demands, knows that's she a big shot on sufferance in a restricted arena. When she walks out of the studio, she can't even hail a cab on the streets of Chicago. Once she stops making money for the whites, she'll go back to being 'just a dog in the alley' to them."


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Ian Stewart: All About That Bass
"When I left the band, I went back to Chicago and found refuge, for whatever reason, in the Latin music scene."

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Blue Ridge, Chicago
"Well, we all come from our own individual backgrounds, but we definitely meet in the middle in some places. Colin grew up playing folk and bluegrass music and John is pretty much a jazz musician and jazz drummer, John has always been a folk singer and played a lot of folk music, Travis's grown up playing bluegrass music. I've always really liked the singer-songwriter stuff, some indie rock, Americana, all that stuff.

"Well, we first began in Peoria, Illinois. Just practicing in my garage a bunch- then we started putting on shows at a local dive-bar, and we could draw pretty well off the bat in Peoria. Eventually, we recorded our first EP near Champaign, Illinois and got some pretty good radio attention in our hometown from the songs we have on that EP. It was received pretty well by our hometown and we've continued playing there a lot, and eventually we were going to Chicago so much, we figured it was a good move to make it out to the city."

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On the road . . .

"Sparked by the incisive rapping of Vic Mensa and an album produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Kids These Days appeared to be going places when it played at Ink's Middle of the Map Fest in 2013. The Chicago band fell apart a month later. Four members of Kids These Days are starting from scratch as the astute indie-rock ensemble Marrow. In Kansas City on Thursday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:08 AM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Sex Museums, Dick Puppets & Winning Elections

"All museums are sex museums," the University of Chicago Press says.

"In Sex Museums, Jennifer Tyburczy takes a hard look at the formation of Western sexuality - particularly how categories of sexual normalcy and perversity are formed - and asks what role museums have played in using display as a technique for disciplining sexuality."

Unsurprisingly . . .

"Most museum exhibits, she argues, assume that white, patriarchal heterosexuality and traditional structures of intimacy, gender, and race represent national sexual culture for their visitors."

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Tyburczy in Artforum on researching Sex Museums, via Kristi McGuire:

"While I was in graduate school in Chicago, I wanted to think about the relationship between objects, spaces, and people coming into their sexual identities and sexual repertoires. And so I started to think about sex museums, which gave me a way to be in the archives and deal with boxes of treasures and dust, and also granted me the opportunity to connect with museum staff and archivists.

"Someone said to me as I began this project, 'Do you know we have a sex museum in Rogers Park?' They were talking about the Leather Archives and Museum (LA&M), which is dedicated to sadomasochism, fetish, and leather culture.

"So I went one day with my very vanilla-looking self, and showed up at the door of Rick and Jeffrey Storer - the museum's executive director and director of operations. Over the course of six years I worked with them, first as a volunteer and then as director of programming, immersing myself in all of the fabulous and initially incomprehensible artifacts. I didn't understand at first all the codes and symbols that gay leather culture is so rich with. As I became really involved with the LA&M and saw all the things that go into making a sex museum, that, more than anything, opened up the space for the book."

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Puppet Dick
Chicago Puppet Theater Brings Moby Dick To The Stage At Virginia Tech.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

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This production comes home to Chicago in March. From the MCA:

"Puppeteer Blair Thomas, songwriter Michael Smith, and percussionist Michael Zerang bring to life the seemingly impossible-to-stage symbolism of the novel by creating a play within a play that explores the implications of storytelling, tracing Ishmael's hope that recounting his adventure will deliver his soul.

"In Thomas's hands, Melville's unexpectedly modern advice - about the search for purification and spiritual righteousness being the path to self-destruction and tragedy is allowed imaginative care.

"Smith's piquant folk-rock songs and seven versatile actor-puppeteers intone his restless engagement with the book's tension between the seen and unseen, language and silence, as small figures in the universe, watchers of nature, observers of the folly of humanity and religion."

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Winning Elections
"Dick Simpson and Betty O'Shaughnessy will discuss their book Winning Elections in the 21st Century with political consultant Don Rose in a Society of Midland Authors program on Tuesday at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor," the society has announced.

"The discussion will begin at 7 p.m. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required.

"Winning Elections in the 21st Century is a handbook for anyone who wants to know how campaigns are run and won today. Using examples from across the U.S., the authors discuss the nuts and bolts of state and local races, as well as best practices in national elections. The book will be published in April, but attendees on Feb. 9 can pre-order copies.

"Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, is a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-editor with Dennis Judd of The City, Revisited: Urban Theory from Chicago, Los Angeles, New York.

"O'Shaughnessy is a visiting lecturer in political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author of The Struggle for Power and Influence in Cities and States. She's a former trustee for West Deerfield Township in Lake County and teaches political science at Loyola Academy in Wilmette.

"Rose is an independent political consultant heading Don Rose Communications and The Urban Political Group."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:31 AM | Permalink

At The Smart Museum | Monster Roster: Existentialist Art In Postwar Chicago

"This is the first major exhibition to examine the history and impact of the Monster Roster, which has been overlooked despite being one of the most important Midwestern contributions to the development of American art," the Smart Museum says.

"Spearheaded by Leon Golub and united by a shared interest in the figure during a period that is often seen as dominated by abstraction, the group created deeply psychological works that drew on classical mythology and ancient art.

"It examines not only the complex aesthetics and personal styles of Golub and his compatriots - including Cosmo Campoli, June Leaf, Dominick Di Meo, Seymour Rosofsky, and Nancy Spero, among others - but also uncovers the Monster Roster's relationships with preceding generations of Chicago artists and differences from the well-known Chicago Imagists who followed."

Rosofsky-Dentist.jpg

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From Wikipedia:

"The Monster Roster was a group of Chicago artists, several of whom served in World War II and were able to go to art school thanks to the G.I. Bill.

"They were given their name in 1959 by critic Franz Schulze, based on their existential, sometimes gruesome, semi-mystical figurative work.

"Many of them were mentored by Vera Berdich, an influential surrealist printmaker who taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago."

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"Although the Monster Roster is considered Chicago's first distinctive art movement, it was not a self-identified association but more of a loose group of artists who were creating psychologically charged, inward-looking work inspired by such non-orthodox sources as Greco-Roman art," Kyle MacMillan writes for the Sun-Times.

"While Monster Roster artists were showcased in a few contemporaneous exhibitions, including The Chicago School: 1948-1954 at the Hyde Park Art Center in 1964, this show is the first in-depth survey with an accompanying scholarly catalog."

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P.S. From the Smart:

"On view in galleries adjacent to Monster Roster, three related exhibitions and installations explore Monster Roster printmaking, the group's antecedents and influences, and the next generation of Chicago Imagists."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:55 AM | Permalink

The 8th Annual (More Or Less) Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Show Prop Bet: Coldplay Edition

Fuck it. I quit.

In the entire course of human history, not enough alcohol has been distilled to make me drunk enough to recap a Coldplay concert. You'll have to wait until someone else uploads the setlist to Wikipedia to learn who won this year's bet.

This is a bad pick, and not just because Coldplay sucks. It's a bad pick because Coldplay couldn't possibly be less relevant to this year's Super Bowl. They're neither influential enough nor classic enough to matter to anyone. They're the 40-ish divorced suburban dad of contemporary music, and honestly, that guy sucks. He's all weird scientific non-sequiturs and pee-stained sloppiness. Who wants to sit and listen to "Fix You" in the middle of a football game? And make no mistake, they are going to play "Fix You" because that is exactly what 40-ish divorced suburban dads do.

If it were 2006, I would understand this pick because back then Coldplay was the acceptably mainstream alternative band of the emerging consumer class. But what sexy demographic will be drawn by Coldplay in 2016? Millennials won't tune in for Coldplay because they don't listen to Coldplay. They maybe remember that one cool babysitter they had who mainlined "Don't Panic" after a bad breakup, but they've had bad breakups of their own now and the memory makes them uncomfortable. And nostalgic Gen-Xers won't tune in for Coldplay because Radiohead exists.

To gauge exactly how ill-suited this particular band is to this particular sporting event, ask yourself: Would Cam Newton dab to Coldplay? He would not, because he would look like he was having a stroke. This is a terrible choice made even worse by the NFL's apparent determination to turn this into some kind of 50th anniversary THING. That means Coldplay will reportedly share the stage with Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, authors of two of the more memorable halftime shows of the decade, which will only serve to make Coldplay look even more pathetic. I'd be embarrassed for them if I didn't strongly suspect they'll find a way to work Gwyneth Fucking Paltrow into the festivities just to highlight how absolutely out-of-touch they really are. At which point I will barf out my eyeballs.

Alright, let's get this over with. I haven't seen any Pepsi promos because Pepsi hates this band. I imagine if there were a promo it'd be that one song, you know, the annoying one that starts out all bum-bum-bum-ba-bum-bum-bum and then Chris Martin starts whining about how he used to rule the world. That one. The stage manager has stressed in interviews that Coldplay loves to be "really inclusive," which probably means a sing-along but could also mean anything or nothing. So based on this scant information, here are the questions you must answer if you want to play along at home:

1. What songs will Coldplay perform?

2. How many special guests will appear and who will they be?

3. What does "inclusive" mean in this context?

4. What color dirty-looking t-shirt will Chris Martin wear?

5. David Bowie tribute, yes or no?

6. What alternative programming will run at my house?

Here are my predictions -

1. Setlist:

* The annoying one from the non-existent promo.

* "Yellow," featuring Gwyneth Paltrow.

* That one with Beyoncé.

* I don't know . . . "Clocks?"

* Bruno Mars interlude.

* "Fix You."

2. As many guests from the past 50 years as they can cram in to drown out the main act, including Up with People, a reanimated Michael Jackson and Peyton Manning singing the Nationwide jingle.

3. It means a sing-along, probably to "Fix You," with little lights to guide everyone home.

4. Black that has faded to a washed-out green.

5. See Bruno Mars interlude above.

6. Possibly the dulcet tones of an emergency root canal.

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Previously In Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Coverage:
* The 2009 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bracket: Bruce Springsteen Edition.

* The Who's 2010 Super Bowl Suckage.

* Let's Not Get It Started And Say We Did: The 2011 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet.

* The 2012 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Madonna Edition.

* The 2013 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Bet: Beyoncé Knowles Edition.

* Tweeting The 2014 Super Bowl Suckage: Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers Edition.

* The 2015 Beachwood Super Bowl Halftime Prop Bet: Katy Perry Edition.

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Comments welcome.

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The results are in!

I think we can agree that we all lost.

Bruno Mars lost because he had to sing Mark Ronson's song while wearing a garbage bag. Mark Ronson lost because they sidelined him at a DJ table. Beyoncé lost because she ripped off Katy Perry's entrance but forgot the best part - the giant Circle of Life-style lion to ride in on. Coldplay almost won by clearly being in on the joke, but then they lost because they are still Coldplay. Missy Elliott snuck in at the commercial break and won because three bars of Pep Rally is better than anything Coldplay has ever recorded.

This turned out to be a very by-the-numbers playlist, which means we had a lot of correct guesses. The official answers, with help from the Wikipedians, were:

1.

Yellow (Coldplay)
"Viva la Vida" (Coldplay)
"A Sky Full of Stars (Coldplay)
"Adventure of a Lifetime" (Coldplay)
"Paradise (Coldplay)
"Uptown Funk" (Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars)
"Formation" (Beyoncé)
"Clocks/Fix You (Coldplay)
"Up&Up (Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars)

2. Bruno, Beyoncé and possibly Mark Ronson off in the corner. Backup dancers don't count as neither Bruno nor Beyoncé goes anywhere without them.

3. Screaming fans surrounding the stage. Also, an attempt at some sort of upper-deck placard art that didn't really come off because everyone had gone to the shitter.

4. White with brightly colored flower appliques and a grey jacket.

5. No Bowie tribute, unless you count the fact that the whole thing looked like a bad acid trip.

6. My daughter, who provided a spectacular array of alternative lyrics more heart-felt and rump-shaking than anything yelped on the stage. Topics covered included how disgusting Chris Martin is (unprompted, I swear); how Beyoncé makes her want to dance; a long riff during the clip show on how she misses all the other bands, even the ones she's never heard (again, totally unprompted); and one set to the tune of "Viva la Vida" the sole lyrics of which were "Pepsi, Pepsi, fart, fart."

In the end, the NFL got exactly the Super Bowl it deserved and the halftime show was the perfect reflection of that: a big, loud, largely unwatchable mess featuring an aggressively sweaty, shrieking, middle-aged white guy being upstaged by everything including the turf. A shambolic disaster in which everyone simultaneously appeared half-assed and try-hard. A winking, choreographed in-joke where everyone pretended to know the rules even though the rules were and will always be unknowable. A Pepsi Pepsi fart fart.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Three men who were allegedly caught with more than a ton of pot saw the charges against them dropped after a Cook County judge ruled that police did not have enough probable cause to search their truck," the Tribune-Daily Southown-Post-Tribune reports.

Prosecutors dropped charges of possession of cannabis with intent to deliver against the men - two from Chicago and one from South Bend - who were arrested in August after authorities said 2,300 pounds of marijuana worth about $6 million was seized from a truck the men were loading at a Des Plaines-area warehouse.

The move to halt the case came Thursday after Judge Bridget Hughes had earlier quashed the men's arrests, ruling that police violated search and seizure standards.

Officers from the Illinois State Police narcotics unit had been watching the men before conducting a search without a warrant and, defense attorneys argued, without having seen or detected any contraband.

"The police didn't have a warrant or a definable reason to stop them," said Ralph Meczyk, a defense attorney in the case. "The officers had a hunch and they said it was a consensual search, but the judge didn't believe them."

In court, Meczyk argued that the officers' reports of the arrest were inconsistent and changed during testimony in pretrial hearings.

Emphasis mine.

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Former Chicago police chief Richard Brzeczek commenting on my piece about Rahm Emanuel's Laquan McDonald Op-Ed:

"Subsequent to my law enforcement career, I practiced criminal defense law for 32 years and I virtually never saw a video or heard a communications tape that corroborated the written police reports prepared for the case."

SFPD Blue
"The U.S. Justice Department promised an 'exhaustive and transparent' review Monday of the San Francisco Police Department in the wake of the Mario Woods killing, focusing on possible use-of-force issues and racial disparities in how officers treat suspects," the Chronicle reports.

"[Mayor Ed] Lee, who had asked for the Justice Department to get involved, said the goal was to ensure that 'our Police Commission, our Office of Citizen Complaints, our stakeholders in our community and our Board of Supervisors are all working together to make sure we do everything we can do rebuild trust between our Police Department and the communities they serve.'

"The shooting prompted calls for reform, with the city's Police Commission setting a Wednesday deadline for officials to produce an update on a draft proposal for a new use-of-force policy. That policy may include giving officers stun guns."

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The Beachwood Radio Hour #72: Massive Chicago Police Accountability Fail
Aided and abetted by the mayor and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Plus: Rahm Sits On Koschman Report; Chicago Police Tricking Their Way Into Your Cell Phone Without A Warrant; Rahm Keeps Red Lights Placed Through Bribery And Causing Traffic Accidents In Order To Collect The Money; Rahm Keeps Schools That Incentivize Fraud; and Beachwood Town Crier™.

Riding The Dog, Part 1: Midnight Bus To Markham
There's something about mass transportation at an obscene hour.

Who's Behind The Tennis Racket?
Leaked files show that 16 tennis players (who at some point have been ranked in the top 50) have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit for suspicions they had thrown matches or arranged for their opponent to lose.

The NHL's Karmic Comeuppance
John Scott, folk hero.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #87: Blackhawks Gellin' Like A Felon
Exceeding expectations, even if Captain Serious stands accused of not being serious. Plus: Bulls Losing Meaningless Games Against Crappy Teams In Dead Of Winter Just Like We Wanted Them To; White Sox Convention Opens At Southwest Suburban Motel 6; and John Fox's Former Teams Meeting In The Super Bowl.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Melomaniac, Epica, Starkill, Generacion Suicida, Antrax, Lamb of God, Deafheaven, 88 Fingers Louie, La Armada, Ginuwine, The Toasters, Beat The Smart Kids, SafetySuit, Rumores, Jefferson Starship, Autonomy, Alejandro Escovedo, and Guster.

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BeachBook

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McDonald's meat supplier.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Monday, February 1, 2016

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Yes, more of this, please. Every newspaper should act like they have nothing to lose.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, January 30, 2016

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Blame game.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 AM | Permalink

Who's Behind The "Tennis Racket?"

World tennis was stunned last month by allegations of widespread match-fixing, as well as the utter failure of the game's authorities to deal with the underhanded practice. In a blockbuster investigation called The Tennis Racket, by BuzzFeed data reporter John Templon and BuzzFeed UK investigations editor Heidi Blake, the journalists drew on evidence from leaked files showing that 16 tennis players (who at some point have been ranked in the top 50) have been repeatedly flagged to the Tennis Integrity Unit for suspicions they had thrown matches or arranged for their opponent to lose.

Those suspicions supported a BuzzFeed data analysis, in partnership with the BBC, of betting data and the outcomes of 26,000 ATP Tour and Grand Slam matches. While the BuzzFeed/BBC investigation stopped short of naming names, other outlets, including Medium, have pounced on the report's methodology and data analysis to de-anonymize the top suspects, fueling further controversy.

On this week's podcast, ProPublica managing editor Robin Fields and assistant managing editor Scott Klein talk with BuzzFeed's Templon about the investigation's methodology, why they chose to keep their findings anonymous, and the reaction from world tennis just weeks after publication.


Highlights from their conversation:

4:32: The BuzzFeed/BBC analysis found suspicious trends, with the odds for particular tournaments changing in response to bets made on them.

Templon: "The bookmakers are going to say, 'We're getting a lot of money on one player; we need to make it more favorable for people to bet on the other player.' So they're going to shift those odds. We looked for all matches where the odds shifted against a player. Then we looked at how often they lose those matches. What we found is that some players lose those matches much more often than you would expect when you're looking at the opening odds of the match.

6:11: . . . But these patterns don't necessarily prove match-fixing.

Templon: "One of the reasons [we decided not to name names] is that just because there are suspicious betting patterns doesn't necessarily mean that someone is fixing. We don't have the ability to get the phone records and the computer records, bank records that the authorities have the ability to compel. The other part is that our story is really focused on the fact that the authorities aren't doing enough to police this in tennis. We thought that the large scope of the numbers - the 70 players who have been flagged, the 16 top-ranked players who have been flagged repeatedly - were more impactful than tarring maybe one or two players with this match-fixer brush.

14:31: The reaction from world tennis has been swift.

Templon: "They immediately sought to deny that they'd ever covered up anything about their investigations, and said that they thought the suggestion was incorrect. It's really opened up a conversation around it, and players have spoken about how they've been approached in the past. It's good that that's getting out in the open. We feel like more transparency about the process and what's going on there is important. We hope that the investigators are taking it seriously and they're doing more work as well."

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Previously:
* Game, Set, Match-Fixing.

* Match-Fixing Allegations Now Hit Wrestling.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:02 AM | Permalink

February 1, 2016

SportsMonday: The NHL's Karmic Comeuppance

The overarching question has to be, will incompetent sports owners and commissioners ever pay a significant price? Will fans ever say, you know, we don't have to give them so much of our money, we could figure out something else to do with our time and resources, at least for the short period of time that would be enough to get their attention?

And if the fans and players ever said screw it, we're all going to go do something different, then you might really get somewhere.

On the heels of the ridiculous scene in Nashville on Sunday, the scenes in the NFL during the past five years and the ridiculousness that so frequently runs rampant in all major pro sports these days, it is way past time for a reality check for management.

I used to try hard to avoid anything having to do with All-Star games except for baseball. And then baseball introduced the ludicrous policy of tying home field advantage in the WORLD SERIES to who won the PATHETIC ALL-STAR GAME. So the last few years I've avoided the baseball mid-season ceremony as well.

But attention must be paid to the story that played out at the NHL's All-Star "game." (It was actually an entertaining three-on-three tournament, or so I've heard - that's another ridiculous part of this deal; the NHL finally came up with a decent format for its All-Star weekend and then ensured it received no attention at all.)

That was where the league's brass at least suffered karmic comeuppance for what truly qualified as its persecution of the big lug, John Scott, who was selected to play in the All-Star game as an inspired, goofy joke. A group of fans thought it would be funny to vote for the league's leading enforcer, a guy who has scored five goals in his entire career but who has also emerged as the game's best fighter. It caught on and Scott ended up leading the voting.

Scott, a former Blackhawk, told his own story in impressive fashion in the week leading up to the game. The lowlight of that piece was that apparently someone from the league office who Scott chose not to name contacted him and said he would be embarrassing his children if he didn't drop out of the All-Star game.

You cannot make this stuff up.

And that was not all - not even close. When Scott, who made it clear he was considering dropping out of the All-Star game for a time, apparently did not do so quickly enough, his team traded him to a team (the Canadiens) that immediately sent him to the minors. That's right: as punishment for not dropping out of the All-Star game promptly, the Coyotes traded him to Newfoundland.

In the end, the hockey gods evened things up and Scott had his revenge. He actually flashed considerable skill in the tournament and scored a couple goals.

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When the NHL still wouldn't back off, when it tried to force fans to vote for players other than Scott for tournament MVP on Twitter (by announcing three other players as finalists), the fans voted for Scott en masse. He won the MVP and the minivan that goes with it.

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So what can be done going forward? Here's a possible start: the Hawks could tell the NHL that if Jonathan Toews remains suspended for Tuesday night's game in Colorado, they will sit out as well. Just go ahead and call it a forfeit.

Why can't people figure out that the NHL Is trashing Toews' character by suspending him and it is not okay that they are doing so "because there is a rule?" With the suspension they are saying the Hawks' captain, the guy who might be the most respected player in the league, wasn't actually sick over the weekend. They are saying he was faking his illness so that he could skip the All-Star weekend.

As for the fans, well, I know a boycott won't happen, but how about a concessions strike? How about saying that at the next home game, fans will take a break from buying ludicrously overpriced beer to say, You know what, we're not just going to sit here and take it when the league impugns the integrity of our team's captain.

I know, I know, not gonna happen - folks might express displeasure for a little while but they'll still spend massive amounts on games and gear and ensure that the NHL remains ridiculously profitable.

Then again, maybe John Scott's amazing victory is a sign. Maybe it is a sign that if the lovers of sport stay steadfast and finally draw a line against the overlords who would ruin it, good things can happen.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:20 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Melomaniac at the Cobra Lounge on Friday night.


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2. Epica at the Concord on Friday night.

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3. Starkill at the Concord on Friday night.

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4. Generacion Suicida at the Chop Shop on Saturday night.

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5. Anthrax at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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6. Lamb of God at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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7. Deafheaven at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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8. 88 Fingers Louie at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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9. La Armada at the Double Door on Saturday night.

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10. Ginuwine at the Shrine on Saturday night.

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11. The Toasters at Reggies on Friday night.

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12. Beat The Smart Kids at Reggies on Friday night.

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13. SafetySuit at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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14. Rumores at the Chop Shop on Saturday night.

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15. Jefferson Starship at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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16. Autonomy at the Chop Shop on Saturday night.

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17. Alejandro Escovedo at City Winery on Friday night.

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18. Guster at the Vic on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:31 AM | Permalink

Riding The Dog, Part 1: Midnight Bus To Markham

I'm no stranger to traveling by Greyhound bus. I call it Riding The Dog. That's not out of obvious reference to the company's galloping canine logo, but rather because it's an apt description of the sort of travel experience that awaits you, like the one you might expect from Amtrak if its logo was a hobo.

It's not that I'm partial to Riding The Dog, or enjoy it much, because there are faster ways to get somewhere. It's just that my visit back home to Chicago always seem to happen during the winter, when travel through Illinois is best left to a bobsled. If the odds favor sliding off into an icy, snow-filled interstate ditch, I'd rather have the tangled wreckage be Greyhound's headache, not mine.

But in the spirit of our early European immigrants, it's one of the few affordable ways for poor and huddled masses to travel vast distances in the kind of reasonably-assured safety you just don't get with cheaper means, like hitchhiking or stowing away in the wheel well of a commercial jet. When I say "in the spirit of the immigrants," I'm not being over-symbolic. I'm just as broke, and I'm pretty sure a bus during the winter is what an immigrant boat or the tuberculosis ward at Ellis Island sounded like. Considering the ridiculous amount of time it takes for Greyhound to get you between two points involving any sort of notable distance, the immigrants probably got here faster, too.

At first, there's something - I don't know what; I wouldn't exactly call it romance, but it's something on that order - about seeing this country one bus-stop town at a time. There's something pleasant about passing homes just before sunrise and seeing the lights flick on as folks arise all sleepy-eyed to brew the coffee and scramble the eggs. Every little bus-depot town has its own vibe, and having a feeling about a town can be helpful if, like in that Kenny Chesney song, you end up having to live there because that's where the car broke down.

But romance only lasts so long. For me, it expired after a single round trip between Pensacola, Florida, and Hammond, Indiana. After that, it's just an ordeal of inconvenience and ass-numbing tedium that you'd be avoiding had you not frittered away all your Aladdin's-genie wishes on stupider things. It's the kind of ordeal you wish upon other people.

But there I was a few weeks ago, Riding The Dog once again, to spend Christmas with family in the far south suburbs.

The journey begins at the Greyhound station in Springfield, Missouri, shortly before the scheduled 12:01 a.m. departure. Naturally, Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia" becomes my brainworm; not so much because it's a good song about mass transportation at an obscene hour, but because "Midnight Bus to Markham" would have been more depressing.

The station is small and airy, relatively new, decorated with glass block, well-lit and, sort of to my surprise, clean. Basically everything a bus station stereotypically isn't supposed to be. The one thing missing is a bar, because if there's an appropriate salve for bus travel, it would be a few stiff belts.

I check in to pick up my will-call ticket. The two young guys working the desk remind me a lot of Jay and Silent Bob, which also seems fitting for a bus station. Jay weighs my wheeled duffel, which is mostly packed with loaves of home-baked banana bread and boxes of cookies. When you're poor, that's what Christmas gift-giving is reduced to: food.

The bag clocks in at 30 pounds. It's remarkable what baked goods can manage to weigh if you let them. Jay ties a paper bag-check ticket to the handle. I think about those colorful destination stickers you might see on steamer trunks if you were on the Titanic. Say what you will about old-timey boat travel, but they knew a thing or two about gussying up a suitcase.

Jay makes an announcement over the station intercom, which sounds like one of those wanky, muffled speakers you might find at a Jack In The Box drive-thru. "Uh, is there a, uh, James Knowlton . . . or something . . . here?"

I was wrong. We don't have Jay and Silent Bob. We have Beavis and Butt-Head.

I grab a seat and survey the rest of my surroundings. It's fairly crowded with all manner of wardrobe disasters, piles of flea market-grade luggage and Christmas-wrapped parcels at everybody's feet, making the place look like the jumping-off point for the entire Joad clan.

Almost every single one of them - the ones whose noses aren't glued to their cellphones, anyway - have that thousand-yard stare you see on soldiers who have seen too much combat. I don't know whether those are looks of boredom or just plain surrender, but I do know every single one of them was probably wishing this place had a damn bar.

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The bus arrives at the Springfield, Missouri, station on time, but it ends up leaving 36 minutes behind schedule. So in the meantime, we sit. And sit. And sit some more. The bus is filled to capacity with people who have been sitting there, their butt cheeks slowly growing into their seats the same way a wheel of cheese slowly becomes a wheel of mold, for Lord-only-knows how long and how far.

Judging by the lack of reek in the air, I'm inclined to think it hadn't been a terribly long time. I once had a seatmate on the Hammond-to-Pensacola route who'd already been traveling for four days from the wilds of Saskatchewan province, so the degree of human reek - or absence of it - is a pretty reliable measure.

Our driver is Annie, who immediately impresses me at the loading bay as what you might come home to when Wanda Sykes is having a Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Pissed-Off Day. I remind myself that if my future consisted of the graveyard run through the vast, lonesome darkness that lies between St. Louis and the far reaches of Oklahoma, I'd be terminally moody, too. For all I don't know, cleaning the bus bathroom and draining the toilet cesspool might part of Greyhound Annie's job, too.

Still, given the quality of humanity that characterizes bus passengers more than occasionally, having the charm of a dive-bar bouncer is most likely an advantage.

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Greyhound buses are pretty roomy affairs these days, perhaps even more comfortable - and with a lot more legroom - than what you'd find in airline coach class. The seats are upholstered in something approximating the look and feel of soft leather, nicely padded, a cupholder in the seatbacks, and fold-down armrests. There's even one between the seats so you and whoever's next to you can wage a subtle, undeclared war of forearms over that territory, just like at the movie theater.

The seats recline, but nobody bothers to mention this, so I don't discover this luxury until after an hour of bolt-upright uncomfort. But I do discover that each seat features a three-point seat belt, and that I seem to be the only one actually using the thing. I take comfort in knowing that should the bus dip and flip, I'll be suspended securely upside-down and live to tell the harrowing tale about how I was the only one on the entire bus who didn't go soaring about the cabin all willy-nilly, crushing everybody else to death.

There's the standard-issue bus bathroom at the rear, of course, but I take a pass on checking it out. Surprises often linger in places like that, and some surprises can mess you up for life. Yet, for cut-rate travel that doesn't require any close and personal contact whatsoever with the TSA, things could certainly be worse: If this was Indonesia, there'd probably be livestock free-ranging the aisle.

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As we hit the road, Greyhound Annie keys up the microphone for some in-flight announcements, none of which involve directing our attention to the location of the emergency exits. As if by magic, she has transmogrified into a breathy, midnight FM-radio DJ whose voice drips sweet sticky syrup. Barry White had wet dreams about this sort of thing, I'll bet. "Everybody's lookin' reeeeeeal good," she purrs. "I'm responsible for everything livin' and breathin' on this bus . . . please be respectful of your words and deeds with others . . . "

She also makes a point of informing us that the interior of the bus is teeming with microphones and surveillance cameras - equipped with advanced night vision capability, no doubt - covering every inch and angle, which agents at Greyhound's Division of Scary and Creepy are able to livestream at will.

You know damn well they're all sitting around their surveillance monitors, just dying for some passenger couple thinking they can pull off a stealth handjob in the dark to be the highlight of their shift.

Next: Illinois is reallyreally fuckin' boring, and onboard wi-fi my ass.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Mike Emerson:

Great article. Looking forward to the rest of the story.

2. From Mike Swider:

I can't wait to read Part 2!!!!!

So well written, I felt like I was on the bus with him! I've been on Greyhounds before and remember the 'old days' of how those stations were, and the people who populated them.

Well done, Mr. Buckner!!

3. From Helene Smith:

Tell Scott Buckner that I'm waiting on tenterhooks for the following/continuing edition of Riding The Dog . . .

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
TV - Amazon & The Way Of The World.
POLITICS - Yes On Vouchers For After-School Programs.
SPORTS - The Ex-Cub Factor.

BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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