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« July 2016 | Main | September 2016 »

August 31, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

Mark Brown has another column for the Sun-Times today on the law clerk fired for pretending to be a judge who is just months ahead of actually becoming a judge, which I wrote about Tuesday. I just want to show you one part and remind you that it's 2016:

Northwestern law professor Stephen Lubet, a judicial ethics expert who offered a fairly harsh assessment of the two women's conduct in my initial column on this subject, has since softened a bit.

Lubet now says this matter shouldn't cost them their judicial careers.

Now let me tweak that a bit:

Northwestern law professor Stephen Lubet, a judicial ethics expert who offered a fairly harsh assessment of the two women's conduct in my initial column on this subject, has since softened a bit.

Lubet now says this matter shouldn't cost them their judicial careers.

See the difference? I mean, readers might be wondering.

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Also, maybe a phone call to Lubet to ask about his change of heart.

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The Trib does this a lot too, in lieu of linking from the text of articles:

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 8.46.01 AM.png

The problem? The "Related" links are often not placed anywhere near the place that tells readers what it is referring to - the actual words in the text! It's like randomly sprinkling footnotes throughout an article.

And that system only really allows for one, maybe two, links. It's a newspaper convention - For more, see Page 3!

Finally, as I've written repeatedly for more than a decade, using links in one's work changes the narrative structure of that work, and thus the writer's mindset when writing. For the better, I might add. Way better.

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In other words, Brown and his colleagues are still writing for a newspaper instead of a website. It's collective slow-motion suicide, a profession stubbornly gorging on cyanide day after day after day while the antidote sits on the shelf.

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It's so depressing having to address these basics at this late juncture in the game. But that's where we're (still) at.

No-Show Boats
"This year's Venetian Night boat parade has been canceled because of a lack of participants but a fireworks show will still be held, according to a Navy Pier official," the Tribune reports.

Did they burn all the boats or something? I seem to remember something like that.

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Best Venetian Night boat ever.

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Meanwhile, Venetian Night was a success last weekend in Watertown, Wisconsin, but you need a subscription to read about it.

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Teen Concussion Rate Rising Significantly
Increased participation in sports or increased awareness?

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BeachBook

Obamacare Is Faltering For One Simple Reason: Profit.

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Checking The Math On The Pentagon's ISIS Body Counts.

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Illinois Sues Controversial Drug Maker Over Deceptive Marketing Practices.

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'We Are Chicago' Trailer.

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TweetWood

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: No mas, por favor.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:34 AM | Permalink

Teen Concussion Rate Rising Significantly

The number of Americans diagnosed with concussions is growing, most significantly in adolescents, according to researchers at UC San Francisco. They recommend that adolescents be prioritized for ongoing work in concussion education, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

The new findings appear online in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

"Our study evaluated a large cross-section of the U.S. population," said lead author Alan Zhang, MD, UCSF Health orthopaedic surgeon. "We were surprised to see that the increase in concussion cases over the past few years mainly were from adolescent patients aged 10 to 19."

Concussions are a form of mild traumatic brain injury resulting in transient functional and biochemical changes in the brain. They can lead to time lost from sports, work and school, as well as significant medical costs.

Though symptoms resolve in most concussion patients within weeks, some patients' symptoms last for months, including depression, headache, dizziness and fogginess. Neuroimaging and neuropathological studies also suggest there may be chronic structural abnormalities in the brain following multiple concussions.

Recent studies have shown an increase in traumatic brain injuries diagnosed in many U.S. emergency departments. Smaller cohort studies of pediatric and high school athletes also have indicated a rise in concussions for certain sports, such as football and girls' soccer. However, this is the first study to assess trends in concussion diagnoses across the general U.S. population in various age groups.

In this study, Zhang and his colleagues evaluated the health records of 8,828,248 members of Humana Inc., a large private payer insurance group. Patients under age 65 who were diagnosed with a concussion between 2007-2014 were categorized by year of diagnosis, age group, sex, concussion classification, and health care setting of diagnosis (emergency department or physician's office).

Overall, 43,884 patients were diagnosed with a concussion, with 55 percent being male. The highest incidence was in the 15-19 age group at 16.5 concussions per 1,000 patients, followed by ages 10-14 at 10.5, 20-24 at 5.2 and 5-9 at 3.5.

The study found that 56 percent of concussions were diagnosed in the emergency department, 29 percent in a physician's office, and the remainder in urgent care or inpatient settings. As such, outpatient clinicians should have the same confidence and competence to manage concussion cases as emergency physicians, Zhang said.

A 60 percent increase in concussions occurred from 2007 to 2014 (3,529 to 8,217), with the largest growth in ages 10-14 at 143 percent and 15-19 at 87 percent. Based on classification, 29 percent of concussions were associated with some loss of consciousness.

A possible explanation for the significant number of adolescent concussions is increased participation in sports, said Zhang, MD, who is also assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at UCSF. It also may be reflective of an improved awareness for the injury by patients, parents, coaches, sports medical staff and treating physicians.

For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "HEADS UP" initiative has caused numerous states such as California to alter guidelines for youth concussion treatment.

Many medical centers also are establishing specialty clinics to address this, which could be contributing to the increased awareness. At UCSF, the Sports Concussion Program evaluates and treats athletes who have suffered a sports-related concussion. The team includes experts from sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neuropsychology and neurology. Their combined expertise allows for evaluation, diagnosis and management of athletes with sports concussions, helping them safely recover and return to sports.

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Previously:

* Bob Probert's Broken Brain.

* NFL Players Killing Themselves Because They Miss Football So Much.

* The College Football Report: Dementia Pugilistica.

* Blackhawks Playing Head Games.

* Jay Cutler Should Consider Retiring.

* Dislike: Friday Night Tykes.

* Hurt And Be Hurt: The Lessons Of Youth Sports.

* Chicago Soccer Player Patrick Grange Had CTE.

* Sony Softened Concussion To Placate NFL.

* Ultra-Realistic Madden To Simulate Game's Debilitating Concussions.

* Dear Football: I'm Breaking Up With You.

* Dead College Football Player's Brain Leaves Clues Of Concussions' Toll On Brain.

* More Bad Concussion News For Young Football Players.

* NFL Tried To Fix Concussion Study.

* The Week In Concussions: Another Enforcer Down.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:26 AM | Permalink

August 30, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A law clerk running for judge who was allowed to make rulings from the bench earlier this month has been fired, according to a statement from the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County," the Sun-Times reports.

If only . . .

Goodnight, everybody!

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Back to the Sun-Times:

"Chief Judge Timothy Evans suspended Rhonda Crawford without pay Aug. 17, about a week after she was accused of making rulings in two cases from the bench in Markham. She was then fired Aug. 26, according to Tuesday's statement."

Well at least now she has a record to run on.

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"Cook County Judge Valarie E. Turner, who allegedly allowed Crawford - running for judge in the November election - to put on her robe and make the rulings, has since been reassigned to non-courtroom duties."

The "E" stands for "Extrajudicial."

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Wait, she still has a job?

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"A spokesman for Evans said the Aug. 11 incident involved Crawford presiding in 'two minor traffic tickets - one for driving with no insurance and another for driving on the median' . . . both cases in which Crawford had ruled would be heard again by another judge."

Maybe the defendants should be given the option to keep their rulings or roll the dice with a real judge.

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According to the Tribune, "Documents show one case was continued, while the other was dismissed when the officer failed to appear in court."

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"[T]he incident raised questions about the judgment of any lawyers who took part in the cases knowing that Crawford is not a judge, as well as the conduct of any clerks, courtroom deputies or other county employees who regularly work with Turner in her courtroom," the Tribune reported earlier this month.

In other words, why didn't anyone in the courtroom that day speak up?

Well, someone did . . . sort of. The Tribune reported a day after wondering:

Mario Lozano knew something was not quite right.

A 28-year veteran of the Cook County sheriff's office, Deputy Lozano had stepped out of Judge Valarie Turner's lower-level courtroom at the Markham Courthouse for a moment to answer a question from a member of the public. When he stepped back in, a sheriff's official said, a lawyer named Rhonda Crawford was wearing a judge's robe and presiding over traffic cases, though she is not a judge.

Turner "was still in the courtroom standing behind attorney Crawford," said Cara Smith, a chief policy officer for the sheriff. In all, Crawford handled two or three traffic cases from the south suburban village of Dolton in the 20 minutes she was on the bench Aug. 11.

Lozano took note of the moment and documented it in an internal memo, which was obtained by the Tribune. Smith, who said she was speaking on Lozano's behalf, provided a fuller account of what he observed.

The sheriff's office did not report what happened to Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who now faces an embarrassing scandal because of the incident and the fact that one of two key figures - Crawford - is a law clerk/staff attorney in his office. The sheriff's office, Smith said, did not report the incident because it did not know if Turner and Crawford were participating in a training program or some other approved activity.

Several outlets have reported that Crawford was "shadowing" Turner that day as a sort of training for her new, upcoming job, so folks in the courtroom may have been confused.

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Also:

A clerk from the office of Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown was in the courtroom too. But a spokeswoman for Brown, Jalyne Strong-Shaw, would not say Thursday if the unidentified clerk reported the incident to a supervisor or if the office reported it to the chief judge.

Dennis Gianopolus, the village prosecutor for Dolton, said one of his associates, Luciano Panici Jr., was in Turner's courtroom that day handling traffic cases. But Gianopolus, who maintains a private practice as well as representing municipalities, declined to comment further.

Panici, the son of a veteran Cook County judge and a 2009 law school graduate, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

As near as I can tell, it took six days for the incident to become public - which doesn't tell us who knew what when.

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From Mark Brown for the Sun-Times:

"Turner, 59, is no novice. She was elected to the Cook County bench in 2002 and has twice won retention. Her current term expires in 2020.

She has good credentials, too. Prior to becoming a judge, Turner worked two years as an assistant U.S. attorney and six years at Kirkland & Ellis. She received her law degree from the University of Chicago.

"No comment. Have a good day," Turner told me Wednesday when I contacted her by phone.

Meanwhile, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office has opened a criminal investigation into the matter. Hey, maybe Turner will be tried in Crawford's courtroom! That would be the most Chicago conclusion to this affair possible - well, short of a brown paper bag filled with cash exchanging hands somewhere.

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Back to Brown:

During the campaign, Crawford described herself as a staff attorney for the Cook County Circuit Court and assigned as a law clerk in the Markham courthouse. That makes Evans her boss.

With no opponent in the November election, Crawford is certainly expected to win the office. But she and other new judges won't be sworn in until December and have no authority until they are.

Crawford received 47 percent of the vote to beat out two other candidates in the primary despite being rated "not recommended" by all of the major bar groups after she declined to participate in their evaluation process. She defeated the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate.

That's a bit of a glitch in the narrative; I figured she was a Burke and/or Madigan tool for sure. She must have some base of support; the Trib says she "handily" beat her two opponents in the March primary. More on that next . . .

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The Tribune outlines the larger problem in an editorial:

Crawford isn't just a wannabe judge, she's a gonnabe judge.

Nice.

She's unopposed in the 1st Judicial Subcircuit race on the Nov. 8 ballot.

One-party rule isn't good for anyone - including the one party.

But voters should have had reservations about Crawford before now. She got a unanimous "thumbs down" from a dozen local bar associations before the March primary. That's because she refused to participate in the rigorous evaluations conducted by the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Chicago Bar Association and others.

There are always a handful of candidates who don't seek the bar associations' stamp of approval. Why? They're not qualified, so they won't get it. Or they've been clouted onto the ballot, so they don't need it. Or both.

If they get past voters the first time, they're generally home free. Every six years, they stand for retention. It's been 26 years since a sitting judge failed to get the 60 percent "yes" vote required to stay on the bench. So if you think Evans ought to just go ahead and fire Turner for her ethical lapse, think again. He can't.

And voters probably won't. They've given judges a pass over far more egregious behavior. In 2012, Judge Cynthia Brim was retained even though she was banned from the courthouse and awaiting trial, charged with battering a deputy sheriff outside the Daley Center. She pleaded insanity and was found not guilty. In 2014, the Illinois Courts Commission removed her from the bench.

Bar associations had recommended a "no" vote for Brim in 2000, 2006 and 2012. Voters retained her every time.

There are more than 400 judges in Cook County. But unless you have reason to appear before one of them - say, for a traffic ticket - then you likely know little about their fitness for the job. You know even less about a first-time candidate like Crawford. That's why the bar association ratings are so valuable. A candidate who ducks them doesn't deserve your vote.

Here's what we do know about Crawford: She's been a lawyer since 2003 and has clerked for the judges in the Markham courthouse since 2011. She got 47 percent of the vote in a three-way Democratic primary, ousting the judge who'd been appointed to the vacant seat two years earlier by the Illinois Supreme Court.

She's following the path of her mentor. Turner skipped the bar association screenings in 2002 and still managed to collect 57 percent of the primary vote, beating two others, including an experienced and highly respected associate judge. Republicans, as usual, didn't field a candidate. So Turner coasted through the general election unopposed.

So Turner and Crawford both refused to appear before the bar groups.

Voters, pay attention: This is not the way to fill a $188,000-a-year job. That's what Turner makes for presiding over a municipal courtroom. It's what Crawford, who currently earns less than $57,000 a year, will make once she's sworn in.

So yes, she's eager to rap that gavel. It's a little late to wonder if she's fit to do so.

There's got to be a better way.

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The Sun-Times also weighed in with an editorial, offering a possible (short-term) solution:

Turner showed such a blatant disrespect and disregard for the law by allowing a non-judge to act as a judge that it's hard to imagine how she could be allowed to return to the bench.

We hope the Judicial Inquiry Board, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office all open expedited investigations into the matter.

Turner will be presiding over weddings, deciding if litigants qualify to have filing fees waived in civil cases, and performing other administrative tasks as assigned, according to a spokesman for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

In addition, the executive committee has assigned her to an Illinois Supreme Court Peer Mentoring Program.

Well, she certainly has an aptitude for it.

If [Crawford] doesn't voluntarily drop out of the race, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission could ask the Illinois Supreme Court for a rule to show cause why her law license should not be suspended until further order. Such an order would block her from serving as judge.

The paper suggests then that the parties could select replacement candidates for a write-in campaign.

Otherwise, we have the specter of someone fired as law clerk becoming a judge a few months later. Take this job and shove it, Evans, I'm gonna have my own law clerk!

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One person oddly defends the pair, calling Turner "smart" and saying she has "served honorably." The incident should not be career-killers for either, he says in a Tribune Op-Ed piece.

That person is Steven Lubet - a Northwestern University law professor who specializes in legal and judicial ethics.

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Even worse is that Lubet's piece appeared just days after telling the Trib for a news article what an ethical quagmire the situation created.

[Lubet] pointed to several rules of professional conduct for judges and lawyers that Turner and Crawford might have violated when Crawford took the bench.

"The alleged conduct presents multiple violations of the ethics rules for both judges and lawyers that prohibit any conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice," Lubet said. "Any judge or lawyer should know that only judges can rule on cases, and it's plainly wrong for a non-judge to sit on the bench in a robe and rule on cases."

Also, isn't it plainly unethical to skip the bar groups' interviews? It's stunning professional and public disregard. We shouldn't be surprised at the results we get from people who don't care - or who find such evaluations obstacles to their ambition.

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Would you want to appear before either of these two? I would not. Credibility shattered.

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The Guaranteed Rate EPL
Employing the White Sox strategy in the English Premier League. In this week's installment of Breakfast In America.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Bruce Springsteen, Blue Oyster Cult, Wild Belle, Ryley Walker, The Flat Five, Envy On The Coast, John Fogerty, Ace Frehley, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Enuff Z'nuff, Train, Seal, and Richard Vain.

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BeachBook

Traders Discuss Data Superhighway Between Chicago And Japan.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: One website at a time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:57 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy at Subterranean on Sunday night.


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2. Bruce Springsteen at the big Chicago hockey arena on Sunday night.

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3. Blue Oyster Cult at Skokie's Backlot Bash on Friday night.

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4. Wild Belle at the Metro on Friday night.

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5. Ryley Walker at the Empty Bottle on Thursday night.

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6. The Flat Five at the Green Mill on Saturday night.

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7. Envy On The Coast at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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8. John Fogerty at Ravinia on Thursday night.

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9. Ace Frehley at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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10. Ronnie Baker Brooks at FitzGerald's in Berwyn on Saturday night.

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11. Enuff Z'nuff at House of Blues on Friday night.

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12. Train at Ravinia on Saturday night.

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13. Seal at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Richard Vain at the Empty Bottle on August 11th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:21 AM | Permalink

Breakfast In America: The Guaranteed Rate EPL

Last week the Chicago White Sox announced a name change to their pedestrian field. Apparently, the mountain of cash lessened concerns about tying the club's image to an economic sector with a pretty bad image.

The good news is that the White Sox will have more money to spend on free agents. And when I say free agents, I mean more 30-some-year-old retreads who want one more chance at glory - or one last payday.

In the English Premier League, clubs are preparing for Wednesday's closing of the transfer window, after which teams cannot sign a new player until January. Some clubs have a mountain of cash. Some clubs have cash from selling players days and weeks earlier. Still others are called Hull City and even though they have six points in three games, the current owners are trying to sell the club and they don't want to spend any money.

The good news is that there is time to monetize something, anything, to pay for a new player by Wednesday. By following the White Sox's example, here are some ideas:

Southampton: Approach Liverpool's sponsors for similar deals. Overcome the apparent conflict of interest by rightly pointing out that half the team will be sold to Liverpool anyway.

Chelsea: Have Russian owner Roman Abramovich's Russian IT department hack and blackmail Chelsea Clinton.

Everton: Start a GoFundMe page reminding England that rival city Manchester supports two elite teams and the only way to defeat Manchester's douchiness is to make Everton financially superior.

Middlesborough: Use red and white colors to sell "Make Middlesborough Great Again" hats in recognition of their 1976 Anglo-Scottish Cup victory. Remember, the effort is totally not a dog whistle to white supremacists because anybody can be proud of Anglos.

Arsenal: Bottle supporter rage directed to an obviously dysfunctional ownership and market it to the U.S. voter so they realize the rage should be directed to an obviously dysfunctional Congress.

AFC Bournemouth: Partner with Spirit Airlines to create a fee program including a £10 "ticket handling charge" to those who don't check in from home, a £20 "scarf handling charge" for scarves over 12 inches long, and a £30 "cherry handling charge" for cherries.

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Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, if you don't beat Crystal Palace, you better beat the team that aspires to finish 15th every year.

Brunch Special: All you can eat goals: The restaurant is closed for an international break.

Population of the Cherry Nation: Seven, same as two weeks ago. Me, my high school friend who lives in Montana, the new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman (whose home kit is sponsored by us ), a guy in Florida, and three guys from a Facebook AFCB fan page.

Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: Like actual Kool-Aid, you don't expect one ice cube to keep your drink cool for 90 minutes. When you do that, the Kool-Aid to sugar ratio becomes diluted and you watch your team score on inspired football over 20 minutes and play defensive, crap football for 70, only to give up the equalizer in stoppage time. Then the tepid Kool-Aid mixture gets thrown at the TV.

Percent Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This Week: 45%. Last Week: 55%.

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Previously in Breakfast In America:
* Which EPL Team Are You?

* Know Your Terminology.

* Lowest Common Denominator™.

* Recruitment Do's And Don'ts.

* Aboard The Dethloon Express.

* Race To The Bottom.

* My Aunt's Nuts.

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Breakfast In America on Facebook.

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Eric Emery is our man on the EPL and the EPT. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

August 29, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"A bus company the Chicago Public Schools fired more than two years ago, accusing it of overbilling taxpayers at least $1.5 million, has since gotten deals worth more than $500,000 from another city agency, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show," Dan Mihalopoulos reports.

"Chicago Park District officials signed two contracts with Jewel's Bus Co. totaling more than $541,000 to bus students to and from camps at dozens of parks this summer."

Maybe they thought it was a Mariano's now.

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I know, that was cheap. I spent too much time trying to craft a Jewels joke and finally had to go with something.

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But seriously, maybe the park district just didn't now about Jewel's past.

"The park district hired the company - which has found support from the Rev. Jesse Jackson - even after receiving letters from a school official warning about the problems CPS had with the company."

Oh.

"We uncovered a great deal of illegal activity by Jewel's Bus Co," Paul Osland, who recently left his post as CPS' chief facilities officer, wrote in March. "I anticipate that the issues with Jewel's will end up in the public eye and I would hate to see [the park district] embarrassed."

No worry, there - the park district is incapable of embarrassment.

"[P]arks spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner says officials decided they had 'reasonable assurance that the CPD is paying only for services completed in compliance with the contract requirements.

"'The payment terms of the CPS contract were substantially different and did not apply to the park district's payment structure,' she says."

I don't have any idea what that means, but I know it doesn't mean, "We're embarrassed."

Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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This makes Jessica a two-time winner. The first time was for this, on June 11, 2015:

In a small protest and news conference before Wednesday night's park board meeting, some residents questioned why the Park District waived a $937,500 rental fee to use Grant Park and nearby parkland for the recent NFL draft, when that money could have helped keep the Humboldt Park Beach open this summer," the Tribune reported.

"Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said the two matters were unrelated, adding the NFL draft offered free programs and activities for people who attended.

"It's apples and oranges," Maxey-Faulkner said. "It's not a waiver. It's a partnership."

Every time I call it a partnership, you call it a waiver. And every time I call it a waiver, you call it a partnership . . .

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Another Maxey-Faulkner appearance on the Beachwood, from July 1, 2013, about Live Nation's contract with the city:

"This blog reported on the questionable aspects of that deal on May 30. At that time, Park District Spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner had failed for seven weeks to provide interviews with parks officials or answer questions about the deal.

"Another month later, the public information officer still has not answered questions submitted in writing or provided the requested interviews with parks officials."

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Back to the Sun-Times:

"CPS records show Osland wrote in 2014 that he found Jewel's 'did not own or operate sufficient buses, nor did it employ a sufficient number of drivers that would be required to operate all of the alleged first routes for which it billed the board.'"

That probably seemed normal to CPS, which, after all, doesn't have enough books to supply to its students. I mean, sufficiency is not a metric with which they are strict about.

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"Jewel's, based on the Far South Side, had been one of CPS' major contractors for student bus services, paid more than $75 million by the Chicago Board of Education during the 11 years before being dumped in July 2014."

See, they did have enough buses to drive that money to the bank. That's the only bar you have to jump in Chicago.

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"The company had a rocky relationship with CPS long before the overbilling allegations. In 2010, CPS officials accused Jewel's of using vans, rather than buses, to transport children, even though its contract didn't allow that."

Were they catering vans?

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Go read the rest - there's really too much good stuff for me to elucidate here. Feature players include Jesse Jackson Sr. and Ald. Carrie Austin. Letters were written, phone calls were made, campaign donations were deposited.

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FYI: Jewel's Bus Co. has a party room.

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in pre-production.

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Meant To Muzzle
Corporate Whistleblower Settlements Could Violate SEC Rules.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Chili Sell-Off
The White Sox's new direction? Online mortgages.

Onesies & Wine Cork
Cubs jump the shark at best time of season.

Bearly There
Starters need final exhibition game.

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BeachBook

Physicist Who Made Wondrous Discovery Dies.

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Great Lakes Take Savage Toll On Swimmers.

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Inside The World's Biggest Record Collection.

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The Chomsky Puzzle: Piecing Together A Celebrity Scientist.

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Subscribe And Save On Amazon? Don't Count On It.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Only possible if news organizations agree to be managed.

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I can't hear you over the sound of David Duke praising Trump as "the next step."

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So . . . seek another lender?

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Resume ready.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:36 PM | Permalink

Meant To Muzzle: Corporate Whistleblower Settlements Could Violate SEC Rules

WASHINGTON - Wells Fargo, Advanced Micro Devices and Fifth Third Bank have in recent years agreed to settlement deals that seek to muzzle former employees in ways that some lawyers said could violate U.S. whistleblower protection laws.

Five lawyers, including three who represent whistleblowers, said that the settlements appear aimed at blocking workers from airing their concerns and contain similarities to those used by other companies that ran afoul of government rules.

The deals by Wells Fargo, AMD, and Fifth Third Bank were among a dozen such corporate settlements reached between 2012 and 2015 that were reviewed by Reuters.

The companies each struck deals with departing workers that limit the employees' ability to receive money arising from any government investigations into their former employers.

Some language in the settlements could run afoul of rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2011 that generally bar corporate attempts to muzzle whistleblowers, the lawyers said.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Advanced Micro Devices. A spokesman for Fifth Third said the agreement "speaks for itself" and that the company "takes seriously" its obligation to comply with all "relevant laws." A SEC spokeswoman declined to comment.

Since 2015, the SEC has brought four cases targeting specific types of so-called whistleblower gag orders, such as confidentiality agreements that bar employees from discussing internal wrongdoing.

That followed its adoption of rules designed to encourage people to come forward with tips about possible corporate wrongdoing. The rules protect whistleblowers from retaliation and ban companies from taking any action that could "impede an individual from communicating directly" with the SEC, including through confidentiality agreements.

The SEC says the program has awarded more than $85 million to 32 whistleblowers.

This month, the agency announced civil charges against two companies that required outgoing employees to waive their rights to recover government whistleblower awards in severance agreements.

Those companies, Health Net, now part of Centene Corp., and BlueLinx Holdings, settled without admitting or denying liability and each paid six-figure fines.

Jordan Thomas, a lawyer at Labaton Sucharow who represents whistleblowers, said the language used in the Fifth Third, Wells Fargo and Advanced Micro Devices settlements is designed to discourage whistleblowers from reporting corporate misbehavior.

As in the Health Net and BlueLinx cases, all three settlements contain language restricting the employees from collecting any money resulting from a government investigation or legal proceeding.

"I believe the SEC would be troubled by this," Thomas said.

David Marshall, an attorney with Katz, Marshall & Banks who also represents whistleblowers, agreed. "It is a device that is intended to impede," he said.

However, Jonathan Tuttle, an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton who represents companies, said some of the settlements could pass legal muster as they can be interpreted to limit employees from receiving additional personal injury damages, rather than whistleblower awards handed out by the SEC.

SETTLEMENT SAMPLE

The former employees who signed the settlements all claimed they were terminated or faced other actions after blowing the whistle about alleged securities fraud or other types of corporate misconduct. At least two of the employees had raised their concerns internally. The settlements came about after those employees filed complaints about company retaliation with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The agreements were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by Reuters and by University of Nebraska law professor and interim dean Richard Moberly.

About half of them, including the ones used by Wells Fargo, Advanced Micro Devices and Fifth Third Bank, contained restrictions on would-be whistleblowers that are similar to those cited in prior SEC enforcement actions.

Some of the other settlements did not contain such restrictions or did not involve publicly-traded companies covered by the SEC's rules.

In the Fifth Third Bank case, the company settled in December 2014 with former employee Joseph Kremer, who claimed he was fired after informing the company of concerns that investors were being misled about the management of certain funds.

Fifth Third settled with Kremer for an undisclosed sum without admitting wrongdoing and Kremer's complaint was dismissed by the Department of Labor. Kremer could not be reached for comment.

The settlement states that while Kremer is permitted to participate in government investigations, he is prohibited "to the maximum extent permitted by law" from recovering "any individual monetary relief or other individual remedies."

The Health Net settlement ran afoul of SEC rules despite using the same phrase "to the maximum extent permitted by law" in waiving the employee's right to a financial award.

The Wells Fargo settlement, reached in September 2015, involved a former bank teller named Birinder Kaur Shankar who claimed she was harassed and fired after complaining internally about what she alleged was unethical behavior toward customers.

The deal stipulated that she could speak with the SEC, but she had to waive "the right, if any, to recover any monetary or other individual relief of any sort whatsoever" arising from an investigation "except for any individual relief that cannot be waived as a matter of law."

In the deal, Wells Fargo denied that it took improper action. The Labor Department dismissed Shankar's complaint. Shankar declined to comment, citing the confidentiality provisions in the settlement.

The AMD settlement, struck in December 2012 between the semiconductor company and whistleblower Hishaam Mahmood required him to waive relief awarded by "any governmental agency."

It also required him to affirm to AMD he has not filed a charge with any other agency besides the SEC.

This line, some attorneys said, could run afoul of the SEC's rules because the regulator prohibits companies from forcing employees to notify company attorneys about their communications with the government.

The nature of Mahmood's complaint could not be determined. In the settlement, AMD denied wrongdoing, and the complaint was dismissed. Mahmood could not immediately be located for comment.

Tuttle said that employment agreements which require employees to disclose if they have filed complaints or claims with other government agencies could be problematic and probably should be tweaked to avoid any misunderstanding.

He added that most such settlements have traditionally been drafted by employment attorneys, rather than by securities attorneys who pay attention to "every syllable that is uttered by the SEC."

"I think people are learning," he said.

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Additional reporting by Brian Grow in Atlanta.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:48 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bearly There

Who decided that under no circumstances should starters play in the final NFL exhibition games? And who made that guy king?

This is another instance of dim-witted groupthink among American sports media. It has become an ironclad assumption: Football teams must not allow their starters to play in the fourth exhibition game.

If ever a team needed to think for itself, it is the 2016 Bears. Who could possibly surmise that this team's offense is so ready for the regular season that it shouldn't have its starters play at least several series' at Cleveland on Thursday night? That would be their best opportunity to practice against a foe that is trying to do damage. We don't really think that happens during intrasquad practices, do we?

And it isn't as though the Bears defense is much better. Somehow the Bears convinced themselves that because Adrian Amos hadn't been terrible last season, he would be the anchor of the safety corps and they would just fill in with scrubs around him and everything would be fine.

Except Amos played all year last year without making any damn plays - no interceptions, no fumbles forced, no big hits, nothing.

Surely no one was surprised that Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith was able to complete a pass to a tight end whenever he wanted on Saturday. The vast majority of those completions came against over-matched safeties. The Bears' secondary has suffered some injuries, especially the cornerbacks led by Kyle Fuller. But the projected starting safeties were out there in force Saturday afternoon.

The lowlight was analyst Jim Miller telling us what a difference it would have made if defensive back Bryce Callahan hadn't been sidelined. He did that despite the fact that it was only two weeks prior that we watched Callahan get torched by Denver's Demaryius Thomas for the easiest deep touchdown you will ever see. Come on!

Meanwhile, I don't think Jay Cutler even targeted a tight end during any of the first-string (we think) offense's woeful six possessions against the Chiefs. Yes, Zach Miller is out due to a concussion, but if there is any single position on a football roster where a team must have depth, it is at tight end. No players are more exposed to big hits and expected to make more wrenching, physical blocks.

And yet, the Bears gave away their best tight end for a draft pick before the season started. And another thing: Hey Jay, it sure wasn't a shocker to watch you make sure all onlookers knew that last incompletion in the vicinity of Kevin White was Kevin White's fault.

It will take exactly, what, a quarter, for Bad Jay to return if the offense struggles out of the gate when the real games start. And Cutler already has to be experiencing flashbacks to the times when Lovie Smith tried to convince him that Devin Hester could be a No. 1 receiver. While Bears brass was trying to pump up Hester's receiving skills, Cutler was watching him screw up routes and quickly determining that he couldn't be trusted. Let's hope he has a little more patience with White.

Cutler's gestures making it clear to everyone that White had run the wrong route were especially disappointing because, earlier in the game, it had been Cutler's lousy passes that had stopped more drives than receivers' miscues.

Actually, the single worst play of the day had to be the Alshon Jeffery second-quarter drop of the deep crossing pass that hit him in both hands and, given how open he was, could have resulted in a huge gain that would have put the Bears in scoring positon just when they needed to be. A few more of those and Jeffery might have to reconsider wearing those Mickey Mouse gloves that he loves so much.

After the Patriots exhibition game, I admitted to the tiniest bit of optimism and actually allowed myself to believe that the Bears might win more than four games this regular season. After the Chiefs debacle, I'm headed in the other direction along with a huge portion of Bears fandom.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman appears here (almost) every Monday. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:57 AM | Permalink

Onesies & Wine Cork

Okay, people. I hate to break it to you, but we may be really close to the best part of this season. This stretch run now should be just great to watch as fans. Just think about it.

Once the Cubs clinch this thing, the games will feel different, kind of meaningless actually. There will be super wacky lineups and kids coming up from the minors when the rosters expand in September and all of that.

Uncle Joe is going to sift through the roster to get the best combo of players for the playoffs. And they would already have the clinched the division - so it just won't matter.

And then once we all get to the playoffs, that is where the hand-wringing and pacing, drinking, cursing, etc., really begins.

And while that is certainly interesting and entertaining, you can't really call it "fun."

So it won't really be fun after they clinch and it won't really be fun in the playoffs themselves. That means this is it. Now. This is going to be the best the season gets. The games still matter and even if they lose a couple it's really OK. So it's just freewheeling fun time and it's going to end soon, people.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 for the week, taking three from the hapless Padres and losing two (heartbreakers) of three to the Dodgers. Boy, did the Cubs look like five times better than that Padres team, yuck.

The Week in Preview: The boys in blue come home for three against the Pirates and four against the Giants. Expect another 5-2 week for the Cubs. They are pitching too good right now for much to go wrong. But that can go away in a hurry, except it shouldn't in this case. What?

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. The big news is that Jason Heyward is back to playing again after he was benched and after Uncle Joe said he wasn't going to bench him, and then benched him. Heyward responded by looking decent this week - not great, but decent. As for left field, Jorge Soler got three starts, Kris Bryant got two, and Ben Zobrist got one.

Weird thing about this whole moving everyone around deal is that Bryant will win the MVP as a third baseman and not play much of third in the playoffs, as the Cubs' best lineup is probably Baez at third and Bryant in left.

Joe's probably known this since last season, and has moved the chess pieces around to make it happen in the playoffs without anyone thinking anything different about it.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Milton Bradley was a Cub in 2009. Despite having a fun name that makes people think about the fun bard games you played as a kid, he was a real turd of a person. Last we heard, he was still appealing his domestic violence convictions.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: Time to go down the line a bit and call out Miggy Montero. Miggy isn't going to make my hate list anytime soon (though you never know) but he has super underperformed this season. He's the third-highest paid dude on the roster at $14 million. And what he's capable of doing for getting paid that much is kinda getting annoying. I mean, the Cubs' fourth-highest salary this season is Edwin Jackson, who isn't even on the team anymore. But in fairness to Edwin, he at least helped the Cubs win a game this week by pitching horribly (or normally?) against them. Which is a bit more than what Miggy can say lately.

Mad(don) Scientist: The onesies are back!

Has Big Poppa Joe jumped the shark? Seems like he's losing a bit off the ol' fastball and the ridiculousness. Although, he could just be busy selling all sorts of his own t-shirts. OK, sure, it's like for charity and all (right?) but enough. And it's really not all that clever.

Kubs Kalender: It's Wine Cork Sunglasses Night at the ballpark this Tuesday as the Cubs take on the Pirates. You know, I've heard of beer goggles, but not wine glasses - um, I mean, wine cork sunglasses.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Padres are terrible.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

Chili Sell-Off

Let's skip ahead for a moment to the 2017 baseball season.

With two box seat tickets in his pocket, the Old Man tells his wife, "We're going to the G-spot tonight."

"Aw, Honey," she responds, "I'm too tired, and I have to get up early tomorrow."

"Not that G-spot," he says. "I mean the ballgame. Sox Park. Quintana's pitching and it's Luke Appling Bobblehead Night."

"Thank God," she exhales. "I thought you meant the other G-spot."

Let's hope the name change that Sox management announced last week for the stadium at 35th and Bill Veeck Drive turns out to be the season's final weirdness from this fluttering franchise, as it attempts to move forward instead of standing pat, or, heaven forbid, continuing on its downward spiral.

The new name, Guaranteed Rate Field, is confusing enough - how many Sox fans had heard of this company until five days ago? - but worse yet is the spin that people like Jerry Reinsdorf and marketing director Brooks Boyer have created to explain the erasure of what has been known as U.S. Cellular Field, or The Cell, for the last 13 years.

"We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans," Reinsdorf was quoted as saying in the team's press release, referring to the company which has been in business for all of 16 years - and was founded by a rich kid from Oak Brook.

Just how does Guaranteed Rate have a commitment - aside from cold, hard cash - to me and other folks who have supported the White Sox for far longer than the past 16 years?

When CEO Victor Ciardelli was asked if he was a Sox fan, he said, "I'm a Chicago fan."

In addition, if I'm correctly understanding the company's website, of the $18 billion in home loans the tech-savvy firm made in 2015, a good portion of them were accomplished online. For all anyone knows, they could be located in Nova Scotia; they boast they have 175 offices spread among all 50 states.

Headquarters is "nestled in a tree-lined neighborhood on Chicago's North Side." Isn't that where the other Chicago baseball team plays? It appears to be a chic start-up with "a really cool office environment" that includes a Mardi Gras party and a chili cook-off, both of which should make all Sox fans rest easier.

"When you use words that we use often like pride, passion and tradition, especially when it comes to the Chicago market . . . you love to find marketing partners that share that same enthusiasm for those three things," Boyer said in the press release.

Tradition? Sixteen years? How honest and refreshing would Boyer sound if he simply stated, "Guaranteed Rate was willing to pay much more than the $68 million that U.S. Cellular forked over since 2003. That was nice. It covered Jose Abreu's six-year deal, but this deal brings in many more dollars, which will help us sign players and improve the ballpark."

Ciardelli, wearing jeans, of course, and a Sox jersey, was interviewed during the Sox-Phillies telecast Wednesday night, disclosing that his company didn't go looking for naming rights to anything. The Sox came looking for him, according to Ciardelli.

Apparently the phone rang, initiating negotiations to etch Guaranteed Rate Field on the exterior facade behind home plate. ABC News reported that the price tag for the naming rights could run as much as $100 million.

Ciardelli's adrenalin must have been in ample supply Wednesday when he threw out the first pitch prior to the Sox bowing to the Phillies. He heaved a looping slow ball far over the head of Chris Sale. Later, as Steve Stone and Jason Benetti dutifully held a mic in front of him, Ciardelli gushed more than once how "thrilled and excited" he was to be associated with the White Sox.

Ciardelli appears to be a bright fellow. Mortgage Executive magazine named him CEO of the Year in 2013, and he received the same award the next year from the Illinois Technology Association.

Only Ciardelli and his advisors know how they gauged the financial and publicity benefits of spending millions to slap his company's name on a stadium occupied by a losing team that outdraws only four other big league clubs. While Sox fans everywhere ridiculed the announcement last week, the name, Guaranteed Rate, immediately became identifiable to those very same people, myself included. Isn't that what naming rights are all about?

Despite the instant name recognition, there appear to be risks involved. The team on the other side of town figures to be among baseball's elite for the foreseeable future and, judging from Sox general manager Rick Hahn's comments last week, it appears that Ciardelli's new partner may be planning to unload its established athletes for a bevy of prospects. A series of 90- or 100-loss seasons could be on the horizon. Maybe "scared and nervous" would be more appropriate than "thrilled and excited."

U.S. Cellular, the nation's fifth largest wireless carrier, sold off a number of its Midwestern markets, including Chicago, to Sprint in 2013, although the company's headquarters continue to be near O'Hare. While Sox Park has been the most notable of their named stadia, U.S. Cellular's name also is on five smaller venues throughout the country.

Has that been good for business? Dating back to March 2014, the company had lost subscribers for 15 consecutive quarters. Without U.S. Cellular Field, business might have been worse. Maybe Ciardelli knows.

The Sox are heralding the fact that their new partner, like their old one, is Chicago-based. Well, so is McDonald's, Allstate, Boeing, Walgreens, Northern Trust, Brunswick, Groupon, Smurfit-Stone Container and dozens of others. Wouldn't you just love to know why an online mortgage company was targeted? Must have been those chili cook-offs that sealed the deal.

Furthermore, the Sox have a laudable track record of financial support for inner city youth baseball, children's medical care, educational programs, and much more. Wouldn't it have been a statement of commitment to the city and the community in which the ballpark is located if a minority-owned company's name would have replaced U.S. Cellular?

As it is, this latest development ranks right beside Adam LaRoche's walkout and Chris Sale's scissors in attracting national derision for the South Siders in the past six months. Guaranteed Rate's logo is a red arrow pointing downward. That may work well in the mortgage biz. For a ballclub, it's rather ominous. Especially this ballclub.

Up Arrows
Meanwhile, back on the field, after taking three-of-four from the Mariners over the weekend, the Sox closed out their nine-game homestand with six wins. Despite being out of post-season contention long ago, the ballclub now has won nine of its last 15 games. However, like Hawk Harrelson is fond of saying, "Don't tell me what you hit, tell me when you hit it," which is especially apropos of this recent rally. The White Sox may not be quitters, but let's face it: these games are virtually meaningless.

The pitching trio of Sale, Jose Quintana, and Carlos Rodon highlighted the homestand, accounting for 43 1/3 innings on a yield of just 29 hits and an ERA of 1.45. James Shields managed to muck things up when he took the mound, and Miguel Gonzalez remains disabled, but any of the Big Three is capable of keeping the Sox competitive.

Jose Abreu has continued his late-season resurgence, raising his slash to .285/.342/.796. The power also has returned as the first baseman has clubbed seven homers this month to raise his total to 18.

Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson has hiked his average above .280, raising hopes that the team has a player of the future who gets on base, has some pop - he has seven home runs in 67 games - and speed to burn.

And Avisail Garcia is hitting the ball better than at any time in parts of four seasons on the South Side. After spending two weeks on the DL, Avi returned last week. He had a monster game on Saturday in a 9-3 drubbing of Seattle, hitting a long home run and collecting two other hits.

Hahn's trade of catcher Dioner Navarro back to Toronto in exchange for a promising minor league pitcher over the weekend opens up a spot for Rule 5 draftee Omar Narvaez, who figures to play regularly between now and the end of the season. Narvaez has been a consistent contact hitter who has struck out just seven times in 50 plate appearances. In Navarro's abbreviated tenure with the Sox, he hit a weak .210, continuing the team's catching woes since A.J. Pierzynski departed four years ago.

Hahn indicated last week that we will quickly know the team's plan soon after the season ends. That either means that players like Sale, Quintana and Melky Cabrera will be sent elsewhere in exchange for young prospects, or he will make strategic moves to shore up an ineffective bullpen while holding onto his Big Three. In all probability, Hahn will wave Robin Ventura goodbye and name a new manager.

The team's new partner guarantees a mortgage rate. I'd much rather have a guarantee of a ballclub playing for a spot in the playoffs instead of trying to finish .500.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:14 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"From the time that Mr. Montgomery arrived in Chicago, two months ago, with a few corn pictures, Chicago art circles have been thrilled as they never were thrilled before."

That's your weekend read, from the downstate Bloomington Pantagraph.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double
A Chicago reflection.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Hockey Dad, Buffy Saint-Marie, Glenn Hughes, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Rotten Sound, Eric Roberson, Flesh Panthers, Comm to Black, The Everscathed, Elephant Revival, Mandolin Orange, Omni, and Sweet Knives.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

TrackNotes: Touting The Travers
"Many fine horses have been beaten here," our very own Tom Chambers writes, "most notably, Man o' War, by Upset. It was so monumental, the word upset became part of the sporting lexicon."

Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 4: Throwing Deep
Guess who just missed.

Our Rio Roundup
Greed, doping, misogyny.

Beachwood Sports Radio: Guaranteed Grate
White Sox do the impossible: become even more unlikable. Plus: Cubs vs. the Calendar; Bears Lower Bar; Blackhawks Miss Target; and Reflections On Rio.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "What goes into writing a hit song? Sound Opinions takes a look at the world of professional songwriting, from The Righteous Brothers to Beyoncé. Jim and Greg talk with legendary Brill Building songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil about their decades-long career. Then they talk with Ryan Tedder about penning songs for Adele and Taylor Swift. Plus, a review of the long-awaited new album from Frank Ocean."

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Weekend BeachBook

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: Air, land and sea.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:26 AM | Permalink

August 27, 2016

TrackNotes: Touting The Travers

You know that forest and trees thing?

TrackNotes will wax, but how many are really watching these races?

Just imagine how many people hang on every word a Carmelo Anthony spews when, in the end, it doesn't amount to a hill of unsoaked and unsalted beans.

It can be lonely on the Thoroughbred beat, with reminders every Monday morning. "Did you see California Chrome?" While that name rings a faint bell, it's always no, they wide-eyed with the Cubs. Pavlovian preparation for the Bears. "Nine wins and no playoffs, again," they say. I say four wins, tops, and think to myself how programmed Chicagoans are to the Bears, and why Las Vegas makes so much money off of them.

Millions of people missed what American Pharoah did last year. But Week Nine of the Atlanta Falcons' season was analyzed into an autopsy.

I was downtown Friday when a horse carriage went by ferrying a happy couple with the biggest smiles on their faces I think I have ever seen. They were in their own world.

In my typical smart-ass manner, I shouted "It's American Pharoah!" to the chestnut horse and his driver. The man on the reins let out a hearty laugh. Even though he sure as hell should know who American Pharoah is, it was still gratifying to have an in, a wink, a fellow traveler. But I still would love for more people to see the greatness in these horses and jockeys that I see.

Three bright young ladies hopped on the bar chairs and one said, "I really love hockey." "Me too." "Me too!" There is hope. I said to them that it seems to me that young ladies who watch a little hockey really do seem to enjoy it, get into it, and become knowledgeable about it. But I would have been tossed out if I had started preaching about the 'Chromes, or the Songbirds or Frosteds or 'Pharoahs.

So if you are at all interested, today is Travers Day at The Spa, wonderful Saratoga.

The stakes is named after William Travers who was, simply and deeply, involved in racing. He was a pioneer in establishing a race track at Saratoga, where rich people and folks not so rich came to vacation or seek the healing of its clean springs.

Oh, and his horse, Kentucky, won the first Travers Stakes, when the Civil War was still raging, in 1864. Nothing, not even horse racing, is religion to me. That wasn't the first horse racing in America, but I'll agree if you want to start the book of Genesis there.

As is the democracy of any track or racebook or OTB I've ever been to, back then, the eyes were always on the prize and assembling the best trainers, horses and jockeys was the ultimate priority. In the Travers, African-American riders like Isaac Burns Murphy won with Falsetto in 1879 and Alonzo Clayton rode Azra in 1892. Horse, jockey, trip. It's all that matters, then and now.

Man o' War (1920), Jim Dandy (1930), Granville (1936), Triple Crown winner Whirlaway (1941), Native Dancer (1953), Alydar (1978), Forty Niner (1988), Easy Goer (1989). In my time, Medaglia d'Oro (2002), Flower Alley (2005), Bernardini (2006). Alpha and Golden Ticket dead-heated in 2012.

This is such a singular race, you win it and they pull out the old cliche: They can't ever take it away from you.

In fact, you "win" a boat! Hit the wire first, and they paint a canoe with your stable colors and moor it in the infield lake. Holy Song of Hiawatha!

Saratoga has been dubbed the Graveyard of Champions. Many other fine horses have been beaten here, but the notables are Man o' War, by Upset. It was so monumental, the word upset became part of the sporting lexicon1. Jim Dandy pulled off the 100-1 over Gallant Fox. Secretariat got beat by Onion here. H. Allen Jerkens earned a reputation for such upsets, although winning five straight Belmont Stakes' was pretty cool too. Rachel Alexandra lost here. In an overlooked gesture of sportsmanship, Ahmed Zayat brought American Pharoah here last year and was . . . beaten in a funky pace in the Travers.

It's not like you need a backstory, it's the Travers, the 147th, after all, but there always seems to be one.

This year, on an ultimate stage, we will find out just how good Exaggerator is. Why? Because he will be running one of the biggest races of his life on a dry track.

OTB Red would say "don't matter." But you have to contemplate as the son of Curlin has won his biggest races only on mud or in slop. Delta Jackpot, Santa Anita Derby, Preakness Stakes. Haskell last out.

But looky here. He won his first two on the dry loam, including the Saratoga Special, 53 weeks ago. Three-to-one morning line: if you get that, take it all day.

If you've been hibernating since the first Sunday in May, you'll wonder if this is a spinoff, a Good Times, of this year's Kentucky Derby.

Besides Exaggerator, you've got Destin, touted today by some, who finished sixth in Louisville. Creator, winner of the Belmont, ran into a mugging for 13th in the Derby. Gun Runner was third. Tellingly, he contended, but couldn't control the Derby, losing to Nyquist and Exaggerator.

Gun Runner won the Matt Winn over nobody at Churchill Downs in between, and then finished fifth in the Haskell last out. A lot of people really want to like him, but I don't need the disappointment.

I will declare this right now. Laoban, who crafted and exploited a totally verklempt pace and race in the Jim Dandy, will not get my backing and won't win. Risky business, I know, but I don't like him and he won't get the 10 furlongs.

Bob Baffert's American Freedom? Needs another step up after a fine second in the Haskell, to Exaggerator, but he's been training lights out. Working at Del Mar, he jumped in the Little Deuce Coupe, throwing away his blinkers somewhere along the way and rolled into a 6-1 morning line. At that price, I'll have fun fun fun.

Everybody's waiting for Governor Malibu to bust out, and after the Jim Dandy debacle, why not? 12-1 Morning line. Everybody's waiting for Destin to bust out, winning last in the Tampa Bay Derby. This is the Globe Theater of summer stock, so now's the time, big boy.

Trainer Chad Brown is hotter than the hot springs at this meet, becoming a really hot act on our racing shew. So you have to look at Gift Box, two off the layoff, an angle he's already won at, and who finished a good second in the Curlin last out.

And Connect, son of Curlin, won the Curlin in wire fashion and graduated into triple digit Beyer Speed Figure territory. Trainer? Chad Brown.

Dandruff? No, just scratching my head over Creator. Bobby Flay's only a minority owner, but he gets all the heat lamps, and Creator did win the Belmont, after all. But other than the Arkansas Derby, over others who are off the map, what have we got here? He threw in a non-competitive sixth clunker in the Jim Dandy, enough so that you wonder if there is something wrong.

Who does TrackNotes (notice the third-person thing there?) like?

I'll, oops, have to include Exaggerator. Because with the way this season is going, it's shaping up to be the Day the Earth Stood Still at the Breeders' Cup, and this would be precious. And at 3-1? Yo.

I may do a big exacta and a bit smaller trifecta with American Freedom, Exaggerator, Gift Box, Connect, Governor Malibu and Arrogate (Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, three in a row, Unbridled and Distorted Humor at the Sunday table, 10-1 or more).

NBC, 3:30. You'll also see other races, imagine that. It's a huge stakes day at The Spa. Watch today, and you'll have legit street cred on Breeders' Cup Day.

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1. This might not be true.

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

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Addendum:

Those darned three-year-olds!

But that's part of the bargain, the magilla. The way.

Arrogate, with many American lower jaws on the floor, turned in a performance to be talked about forever in winning the 147th Travers Stakes, perhaps the colonies' most prestigious race. It was scintillating. The Bob Baffert trainee just powered it.

How much scint? At 1:59.36, Arrogate topped the 2:00 flat record of 1979's General Assembly. Doesn't seem like much, but that is a lot.

With Mike Smith aboard - how good is this Hall of Famer? - Arrogate ran :23.23 and :46.84 in the first two fractions. That's very fast, but not suicidal. It was a very fast, sustained effort and that's how you break the record at one of America's oldest tracks.

Laoban and another Baffert trainee, American Freedom, led early, very early and not for long. Exaggerator "broke" dead last, a tellingly dead last. Stay there, there will be another day.

As fast as you please, Arrogate used the final turn, he in the tight two lane, to slingshot to a blink-of-the-eye five-length lead. Then, he piled on, in a nice way, because these horses don't think the way we do.

In the post-race saddle interview, Mike Smith, wearing those same silks as with Zenyatta, said, "He reminds me of his father. Just like his father (Unbridled's Song [Unbridled]). I had trouble getting him stopped."

Smith said the rep on the horse was immaturity, talented but green.

As is it's wont, the racing press portrayed this Travers as some sort of redemption for Baffert, whose American Pharoah lost this race a year ago. But Baffert did not shy away from talking about it.

"Last year, you could have poured me out of a shot glass," Baffert said. "We were dejected."

You say Baffert should know better, but he knows. He's all in. Baffert loves these horses, emotional commitments be damned.

"I think the fans (now there's a concept!) will remember watching a horse like this, because I know, when I see performances like this, they're very rare."

Read the chart. This the throwback to when race results, or details, were not instantaneous. And the chart writer had to nail it, with few words.

Arrogate paid $25.40, $12.60 and $8.40. American Freedom (keep an eye on him) placed and Gun Runner showed. The exacta paid $134.50. If you must know, I had the winner and the exacta. Baffert, Smith, a horse foaled running, great works? Yeah.

Reinvention not welcome, it is one of the oldest races in the land, history intact, the people in the game honor it. The only thing new about it is the horse and the jockey adding important layers to the tradition.

Just like Arrogate and Mike Smith did, just yesterday.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:53 AM | Permalink

August 26, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #116: Guaranteed Grate

White Sox do the impossible: become even more unlikable. Plus: Cubs vs. the Calendar; Bears Lower Bar; Blackhawks Miss Target; and our Rio 2016 Roundup.


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SHOW NOTES

* 116.

:41: White Sox Do The Impossible: Become Even More Unlikable.

* Ostrowski: Power Struggle Within The Sox Isn't Evident.

24:31: Cubs vs. the Calendar.

* Rosenbloom: Russell And Baez: A Glove Story.

* Mooney: How Soon Before Cubs Make Baez An Everyday Player?

"You're seeing a lot of progress," Maddon said. "Who knows if by playing sporadically this is becoming more part of who he is? As opposed to playing every day, maybe getting caught in the trap of not hitting well, whatever, and all of a sudden he takes it on defense. It's natural progression. He's an everyday player, there's no question, in maybe a couple years."

The Geek Department and scouting reports will ultimately influence where Baez plays, because Maddon wants him wherever the ball will most likely be hit most often. When Jon Lester pitches, that can mean Baez starting at third base and Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.

Fagerstrom: Willson Contreras Has Developed Into An Everyday Catcher.

42:39: Bears Lower Bar.

* Bobby Hoying.

52:46: Blackhawks Miss Out On Free Agent Target Jimmy Vesey.

54:42: Rio 2016: Beachwood Roundup.

* Matthew Centrowitz First U.S. Athlete To Win Olympic 1500m Since Last Cubs World Championship.

* Plus: Hope Solo Grinds Coach Coffman's Gears.

* And: Ryan Lochte Ruins It For Everyone.

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STOPPAGE: 3:12

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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 3:09 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Hockey Dad at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday night.


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2. Buffy Saint-Marie at City Winery on Wednesday night.

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3. Glenn Hughes at Reggies on Thursday night.

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4. Joanne Shaw Taylor at Reggies on Thursday night.

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5. Rotten Sound at Reggies on Monday night.

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6. Eric Roberson at City Winery on Thursday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Flesh Panthers at the Logan Monument last Saturday.

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Comm to Black at the Logan Monument last Saturday.

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The Everscathed at Reggies last Friday night.

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Elephant Revival at Millennium Park on August 18th.

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Mandolin Orange at Millennium Park on August 18th.

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Omni at the Empty Bottle on August 16th.

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Sweet Knives at the Empty Bottle on August 11th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:13 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Daily Double

Reflecting Chicago.

doublesided.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:17 AM | Permalink

Rio 2016: The Beachwood Roundup

Here's a collection of our Rio 2016 posts, all in one place.

* A Plea: Make Jousting An Olympic Sport.

* Does Practice Make An Olympian? No.

* U.S. Ping Pong Prodigy Ready For Rio.

* On Eve Of Olympics, Top Investigator Details Secret Efforts To Undermine Russian Doping Probe.

* Chicago 2016 Spokesman, Now With USOC, Assures Us That Multimillion Dollar Donation From Scandal-Tainted Businessman Had Nothing To Do With Exclusive Rio Ticketing Contract.

* The Surprising Places The 5 New Olympic Sports Announced For Tokyo 2020 Could Lead Us.

* Competitive Climbing Could Reach Olympic Level.

* Tokyo 2020 Olympics Beset By Corruption Investigations.

* The Pie Olympics.

* How Do Olympic Athletes Pay The Electric Bill?

* Match-Fixing Allegations Now Hit Wrestling.

* How Do Archers Resist Firing Arrows At Everyone In The Spectator's Gallery.

* NBC Sells $1 Billion In Ads For Rio Olympics.

* WGN-TV's Pat Tomasulo Reports On The Olympics International Athletic Competition Run By One Of The Most Corrupt Organizations In The World.

* When USA Gymnastics Turned A Blind Eye To Sexual Abuse.

* How The IOC Effectively Maintains A Gag Order On Nonsponsors Of The Olympics.

* Sexism In Olympics Coverage.

* With Skateboarding's Inclusion In Tokyo 2020, A Once-Marginalized Subculture Enters The Spotlight.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:59 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2016

The 2016 Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide Pt. 4: Throwing Deep

QBs are getting drafted later than ever. Just last season, there were arguments to take Andrew Luck in the first round, but look where that got you.

This season, the emphasis is all on top-tier WRs. When you have one or two of those, the thinking goes, grab the best RB you can find. Then, maybe in the fourth round, take a QB . . . unless you want to go WR or RB again.

Here are my top 20 QBs:

1. Cam Newton, CAR

Magnificent 2015 fantasy output - 45 total TDs, 3,837 yards passing, 636 rushing - makes this an easy choice over a couple guys I might trust a little more. If anyone can repeat, Cam can, and maybe with even more passing yards.

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Last year's 3,821 passing yards was a career low for a full season of play, though blame the porous O-line (46 sacks, second most of his career) and inconsistent WRs. His 32 TDs, eight INTs were typical output, so expect more of that with a rebound in passing yards.

3. Russell Wilson, SEA

Reached 4,000-plus yards passing for the first time in his career, 35 pass TDs, 553 yards rushing. Expected more ground game, but his passing feats happened in spite of untested and underachieving receivers, except for late blooming WR Doug Baldwin.

4. Andrew Luck, IND

Everyone put his mistake-prone, injury-marred 2015 in the books as a fluke. There's a little risk, and no one will take him in the first round - or even the first three rounds - like last year, but guessing 2016's TD tally will be closer to 2014's 40 than 2015's 15.

5. Drew Brees, NO

2015 pass yardage of 4,870 was his lowest since 2010, and 32 pass TDs lowest since 2007, but who wouldn't take that? This season, he has maturing pass targets, including top 20 WR Brandin Cooks, WR Willie Snead, TE Coby Fleener and RBs Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller.

6. Carson Palmer, ARI

Has the best WR rotation of any QB, making him a pretty safe bet even ahead of Brees or Luck. His 4,671 yards and 35 pass TDs last year both could show a little improvement, though sometimes an injury concern, and don't expect rushing points from him.

7. Philip Rivers, SD

Huge yardage pace last year ran off the rails amid receiver injuries. Career-high 4,792 yards good for second among QBs, 29 TDs, 13 INTs. Sacked 40 times, and if that comes down, he could reach 5,000 yards if everyone stays healthy, though INTs can be a problem.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

Injuries are still a problem, and limited him to 12 games. Still, just under 4,000 yards passing, 21 TDs made him a fantasy star most weeks he played. Even 16 INTs did little damage to his week-to-week fantasy points. Take him, but then draft a good backup.

9. Tom Brady, NE

He'll miss four games, but again should have a huge chip on his shoulder. Last year he played angry and collected 4,770 yards with 39 total TDs (three rushing) and just seven INTs. Just sayin'. Although he did have a few un-Brady-like games and slowed down late.

10. Blake Bortles, JAC

Talented receivers and a lot of passing while playing from behind helped him to 4,400-plus yards and 35 TDs, but also a league-leading 18 INTs. He'll be better overall this year, but JAC may have tightened up defense enough that 35 TDs could be hard to repeat.

11. Eli Manning, NYG

After much hype in the 2015 preseason, a few big games saved him from being a bust. 4,400-plus yards 35 TDs, 14 INTs look pretty good now, but 14 of those TDs came in three games, including a 6-TD shootout against Brees. A volatile fantasy starter.

12. Kirk Cousins, WAS

Real mix of hyping and dissing around the Barrington-born QB, but along with Russell Wilson, he was the only other QB to have at least one TD pass in every game last year, and he had three games of four TD passes with no INTs. Came on strong late last year.

13. Tyrod Taylor, BUF

Breakout buzz around him after a 2015 season of 24 total TDs (four rushing), just six INTs and 3,000-plus yards passing in 14 games. He did have three games of three TDs and no INTs, and the key stat that could move him up: 568 yards rushing.

14. Andy Dalton, CIN

Halted by injury in Week 13, and 3,250 yards, 25 TDs and seven INTs suggest he would have had a career-best year. But with thinner receiver ranks to start the season, a lot of his stats will depend on connecting frequently with top WR A.J. Green.

15. Jameis Winston, TAM

Trying to resist hype that suggests he's already a QB-1. 4,000-plus yards passing for a rookie was impressive, and everyone sees a fantasy freak in his 5-TD, 0-INT game against PHI last year, but the rest of the season he had 17 TDs, 15 INTs. Still learning.

16. Matt Ryan, ATL

Consistent yardage producer with five straight seasons of 4,500-plus, but still throws too many INTs (16 last year), and despite rich receiver talent, he managed only 21 TDs last season. If he find the end zone more often, he's a borderline QB-1.

17. Derek Carr, OAK

32 TDs, 13 INTs is a fantastic ratio to see this low, and finished just shy of 4,000 yards passing, but 21 of his TDs came in the first eight weeks and he faltered the rest of the way. Certainly not a bad bet if for some reason you wait until late rounds to pick a QB.

18. Matthew Stafford, DET

Incredible second half of 19 TDs, two INTs saved his season (13 TDs, 11 INTs to that point). The Cooter offense (that would be OC Jim Bob) made him super efficient, but his HoF WR retired, and Cooter's fast, safe offense could limit his fantasy points.

19. Tony Romo, DAL

Another injury-marred season in 2015, and he wasn't good in his four starts after expectations were high. Probability of injury is the main reason I have him this low, though certainly worth a gamble as a QB-2 who may still have big games left in him.

20. Marcus Mariota, TEN

In 12 games his rookie year, he had 2,818 yards, 21 total TDs (two rushing), 10 INTs for a really bad team. This year, TEN should be better, he'll have at least one better receiver than last year in Rishard Matthews, and may even run more often.

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Just missed: Jay Cutler, CHI

Unloved as usual, Cutler actually did make fantasy noise last season as a popular bye week replacement, and his 11 INTs were a career-low for a full season (yay!). Total yardage under 3,700 yards was pretty boring, but WRs Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White could give him fantasy relevance.

Sleeper: Trevor Siemian, DEN

Just like we all expected, a Northwestern QB drafted No. 250 in the 7th round of the 2015 draft could be the Broncos' replacement for Peyton Manning . . . Wait, what? DEN is reportedly down on Mark Sanchez and giving Siemian every chance to claim the starting job, which would connect him with talented receivers that make him a safe fantasy play, though maybe not a points magnet.

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Previously:
* Part 1: The Top 20: New World Order.

* Part 2: Year of the Zero RB.

* Part 3: Embrace The Targets.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

Guaranteed Rate Field Is Already A Laughingstock

Chicago hasn't seen a tweetstorm like this since Tronc.

Could this franchise get any more unlikable?

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They're with them.

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I believe we will.

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This one, though, is the best hands-down:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 AM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Police Board President Lori Lightfoot argued Wednesday for increased training and changes to both the police contract and to the way police supervisors are chosen to restore public trust in the Chicago Police Department shattered by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald," the Sun-Times reports.

Let's be clear: What Lightfoot said made eminent sense, but it wasn't anything she hasn't said before. So a better lead would say "Lightfoot reiterated . . . "

Also, the shooting of Laquan McDonald wasn't what "shattered" public trust in the CPD; it was the tipping point (some would say the straw that broke the camel's back) of a series of incidents that no longer could be ignored by City Hall.

So, really, this lead needs to be rewritten (or better edited).

Moving on:

"Lightfoot laid out an ambitious and costly reform agenda . . . "

"Costly" is in the eye of the beholding reporter - who's to say Lightfoot's reform agenda is costly? Maybe it's actually cheap. In fact, Lightfoot makes the point later in the article that the settlement money the city is paying out, as well as other costs to the city of a police department lacking credibility. So why is the Sun-Times calling it costly? Have they done an analysis? Have they calculated the cost to the total police budget? Where is the paper's threshold?

Further:

" . . . while testifying at the second and final subject matter hearing on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to abolish the Independent Police Review Authority and replace it with a new multi-layered system of police accountability."

That's just factually wrong. These hearings haven't been on Emanuel's plan because the aldermen who called them - the Progressive Caucus - haven't seen Emanuel's plan.

The mayor's plan has been taking shape behind closed doors, despite repeated pledges of transparency and a new way of doing business. This is exactly right:

Finally:

"After Wednesday's hearing, Lightfoot was asked whether she has any interest in running for mayor in 2019. Her ambitious agenda sounded like it came from a mayoral hopeful."

How does an agenda for police reform sound like an ambitious mayoral agenda? Does it include a position on property taxes, TIFs, economic development, the schools, transportation, public health?

"Unequivocally no," she said. "I am not running for mayor."

Perhaps the Sun-Times was reacting to the Tribune's assertion that Lightfoot had "coyly left the door open" on Tuesday night to a mayoral run.

If so, just say it. If not, explain the basis of the question - i.e., "Lightfoot's aggressive approach about police reform, combined with her obvious smarts and articulate public persona, have led reporters, public officials, political consultants and civic leaders to wonder whether she'd make for a strong mayoral candidate - especially at a time when Rahm Emanuel's future looks unsettled. But Lightfoot said Wednesday, 'I am not running for mayor. Unequivocally no.'"

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This is the angle the Tribune chose for its account of the hearing:

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's top appointee to the civilian agency that rules on police misconduct cases reiterated her call Wednesday for City Hall to make changes to the police union's contract, singling out a long-standing requirement that citizens sign sworn affidavits to make a complaint."

Reiterated! Thank you! I hadn't even seen this account when I suggested using that word. I'm reading along as I'm writing.

Continuing:

"Lightfoot made her comments during a City Council committee hearing on police accountability as aldermen and the mayor are crafting an ordinance to replace the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates alleged police misconduct and shootings, and to establish an inspector general within the Police Department."

Emphasis mine, because I would take issue with the notion that this is a cooperative venture. From what I understand, this is a top-down venture, as nearly everything is with this mayor. And as I've shown, the aldermen haven't even seen the draft of the mayor's ordinance - the mayor's ordinance - though he's been buttonholing various community members in private to ensure their support.

In fact, the backstory on the journey this and other police reform efforts have taken this year is a fascinating, if not depressing, tale of cynical posturing, factionalism, backbiting, and, most importantly, a true failure to seize the moment before us. Paging the city's assignment desks!

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Now, here is how the Trib handles the mayoral bit - in a weird aside:

"Lightfoot, who's been in the spotlight lately but shut the door on a possible mayoral run Wednesday, also pointed to other task force recommendations, including a call for more training to deal with crises that often involve mentally ill people, a revival of community-oriented policing and the need for racial reconciliation."

There's no link, of course, though the Trib unhelpfully includes the article it is referring to as "Related" content on its site. The paper seems philosophically opposed to including links in the actual stories themselves, which is beyond baffling.

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Also noteworthy:

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Guaranteed Rate Bait
So y'all probably know by now that the White Sox have signed a new naming rights deal for their stadium (it's not a ballpark, sadly) with Chicago-based mortgage firm Guaranteed Rate. I've gathered all the best tweets about it here.

I also dug up this Trib article, from March. To wit:

Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate was ordered to pay more than $25 million in damages for an alleged corporate espionage scheme that seems straight out of the play Glengarry Glen Ross, with an employee diverting hundreds of loan applications from a rival mortgage company.

Glengauranteed!

A California jury this week found that Guaranteed Rate and loan officer Benjamin Anderson defrauded his former employer, Mount Olympus Mortgage, by downloading and transferring more than 200 active loan files and personal financial data on 900 borrowers before switching firms nearly two years ago.

"It was quite an elaborate scheme," said Chad Hummel, a Los Angeles-based partner with Sidley Austin who represented Mount Olympus Mortgage. "He transferred all of the data without our consent or any of the customers' consent."

Guaranteed Rate, of course, denied the allegations, before and after the jury's verdict.

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"Founded in 2000 by Victor Ciardelli, Guaranteed Rate is one of the 10 largest home lenders in the U.S., funding $18 billion in loans last year, according to the company."

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From the Trib in 2014:

Ciardelli, son of a lawyer and a homemaker, was raised in Oak Brook and attended Montini Catholic High School, where he excelled at doing exactly the opposite of what was expected of him, even if, deep down, he wanted to do it.

"I was always very much like I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, and if you didn't like it, too bad," he said. "I was smart enough to know how to graduate and do nothing. I had this crazy opinion of myself. I (was) an idiot. Total idiot."

He finished high school with, as he recalls, the second-to-lowest GPA of his graduating class. Ciardelli, ambitious and with no reputation to protect, made a new start at Columbia College in mid-Missouri.

"All the other kids were partying and going nuts," he said. "I'd done that for four years. I got it together and ended up doing incredibly well in college. My drive really started from that point."

Montini inducted Ciardelli into its Hall of Fame - showing that schools only care what you do later, especially if you are donor potential. Continuing:

In 1992, at age 25, Ciardelli started Guaranteed Financial Mortgage Services Inc. He struggled.

It was like "growing a business on mud," he said. "I didn't have any foundation, any substance. I didn't have a better value proposition to give to my customers, my loan officers and my referral partners. Loan officers would leave, and I would get new ones. Real estate agents would leave, and I would get new ones. There was no culture."

What he did do right, though, was identify the most active Chicago real estate agents and make inroads with them. Among them was Sean Conlon, who at the time was a top producer for Koenig & Strey.

"He was so enthusiastic," Conlon recalled. "He'd be calling; he'd want to drop in. I could call him at midnight, and he'd answer. Did I think he was going to do something fairly exceptional? Yes, I did. He just had that X factor."

Ciardelli retooled his business model in 2000 and called the new company Guaranteed Rate, focusing on the "value proposition." Customers get low rates because of low overhead and automated systems; real estate agents get help with their marketing; and employees get the training, technology and work environment to thrive and grow the business.

If only the White Sox had a value proposition.

Eventually, Ciardelli hopes to build a completely digital mortgage product for customers who don't want or need human interaction.

Part of the plan to move the company forward is to make it a nationally known brand. Last fall, the company hired Olson as its first public relations and advertising agency of record and this year undertook its first national television advertising campaign, a $10 million effort featuring Ty Pennington.

Ciardelli wanted the commercials to be sophisticated, warm, fuzzy and focused on the brand. He appreciated the agency's work, but two days before filming, he saw the campaign and hated it, thinking the commercials emphasized humor and Pennington rather than Guaranteed Rate.

So he's really enjoying the response to his naming rights deal about now.

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Finally:

[Ciardelli has a] 47-foot boat named Guaranteed Fun, and a rum-based drink, the Guarantini, which is trademarked.

And will soon be available at Guaranteed Rate Field, presumably.

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UPDATE: Missed this from Crain's, 2012:

[H]e started his own mortgage brokerage before launching Guaranteed Rate in 1999 with $2.5 million in equity from family and friends.

Aha. That's what I call a value proposition.

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Gawker Killer Peter Thiel Is Coming To Chicago
To help us reconsider the American Dream.

How Delaware Kept America Safe For Corporate Secrecy
With an assist from a cowering Obama.

Portrait Of Poor Pembroke
One of the nation's most impovershed communities is in Kankakee County and is the subject of a new book.

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BeachBook

The Brianna and Jaelin Walking Tour.

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TweetWood

You know they're gonna get a reality TV show. They're the next Speidi.

Previously: God Has A Plan For This Insufferable House-Flipping Couple That Doesn't Include Living In Chicago.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Guarantinied.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 AM | Permalink

Portrait Of A Remarkable African-American Town In Northern Illinois

With a population of about 2,000, Pembroke Township, one of the largest rural, black communities north of the Mason-Dixon Line, sits in an isolated corner of Kankakee County, 65 miles south of Chicago.

It is also one of the poorest places in the nation.

Many black farmers from the South came to this area during the Great Migration; finding Chicago to be overcrowded and inhospitable, they were able to buy land in the township at low prices. The poor soil made it nearly impossible to establish profitable farms, however, and economic prosperity has eluded the region ever since.

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Pembroke: A Rural, Black Community on the Illinois Dunes chronicles the history of this inimitable township and shows the author's personal transformation through his experiences with Pembroke and its people. A native of nearby Kankakee, author Dave Baron first traveled to Pembroke on a church service trip at age 15 and saw real poverty firsthand, but he also discovered a community possessing grace and purpose.

Baron begins each chapter with a personal narrative from his initial trip to Pembroke. He covers the early history of the area, explaining how the unique black oak savanna ecosystem was created and describing early residents, including Potawatomi tribes and white fur traders. He introduces readers to Pap and Mary Tetter, Pembroke's first black residents, who - according to local lore - assisted fugitives on the Underground Railroad; details the town's wild years, when taverns offered liquor, drugs, and prostitution; discusses the many churches of Pembroke and the nearby high school where, in spite of sometimes strained relations, Pembroke's black students have learned alongside white students of a neighboring community since well before Brown v. Board of Education; outlines efforts by conservation groups to preserve Pembroke's rare black oak savannas; and analyzes obstacles to and failed attempts at economic development in Pembroke, as well as recent efforts, including organic farms and a sustainable living movement, which may yet bring some prosperity.

Based on research, interviews with residents, and the author's own experiences during many return trips to Pembroke, this book - part social, cultural, legal, environmental, and political history and part memoir - profiles a number of the colorful, longtime residents and considers what has enabled Pembroke to survive despite a lack of economic opportunities. Although Pembroke has a reputation for violence and vice, Baron reveals a township with a rich and varied history and a vibrant culture.

Author
Dave Baron is a constitutional litigator for the City of Chicago, with a degree in political science and economics from the University of Notre Dame and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School. He has been involved in a number of groups dedicated to improving race relations and combating poverty.

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See also:
* Chicago: The Ongoing Poverty Of Pembroke, Illinois.

* The Illinois Steward: Pembroke Township: The Lost Corner of the Kankakee Sands.

* International Business Times: Deep Poverty In The U.S.: The Case Of Pembroke, Illinois.

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AP on Pembroke, 2011:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:31 AM | Permalink

At Roosevelt University | The American Dream Reconsidered

What does the American Dream mean today?

That's the topic of a major conference Roosevelt University will be hosting Sept. 12-15 in Chicago.

At more than a dozen lectures and discussions, leading American scholars, activists and entrepreneurs will analyze the American Dream and how it affects millennials, education, health care, real estate, immigration, politics and more.

"The American Dream is about every individual who aspires to achieve more in life," said Ali Malekzadeh, president of Roosevelt University and a native of Iran. "Understanding our national ethos of democracy and equality has never more urgent. At the American Dream Reconsidered Conference, we will present many viewpoints on what it means to be an American in these challenging times."

The conference, sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, McDonald's Corporation and other organizations, also celebrates Malekzadeh's first year in office. It is being held in lieu of formal and expensive presidential installation ceremonies commonly held on university campuses. Instead, Malekzadeh has led an effort to discuss the future of the American Dream and initiate a new scholarship program for six outstanding Roosevelt students.

Among the highlights of the first annual American Dream Reconsidered Conference are:

  • A conversation with PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel on "The American Dream - Globalization, Technology and Progress." (Sept. 13, 12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.)
  • A lecture by Pedro Noguera, distinguished professor of education at UCLA, on "The Five Principles of Courageous Leadership to Guide Achievement of Every Student." (Sept. 12 , 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., Roosevelt's Goodman Center)
  • A panel discussion on "The Current State of the American Dream" featuring John W. Rogers Jr., founder and CEO of Ariel Investments; Melissa Bean, Midwest chair of JP Morgan Chase and former member of the U.S. Congress; Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director of the Center for Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier University; and Malekzadeh. (Sept. 14, 9:30 p.m. - 10:45 a.m.)
  • "A Conversation on Justice, Race and the American Dream" with Martha C. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund distinguished service professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, and Jelani Cobb, professor of journalism at Columbia University and staff writer at the New Yorker. (Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • "A Conversation on Community Leadership and Social Justice," moderated by Samuel Betances, and including Tom Burrell, founder of Burrell Communications; Gloria Castillo, president and CEO of Chicago United; Father Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina's Church; Dana Suskind, University of Chicago Medicine and founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative; and Omar Yamini, activist and author. (Sept. 12, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.)

Other panel discussions during the week focus on: immigration (Sept. 14, 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.); the Affordable Care Act, (Sept. 13, 9:30a.m. to 11 a.m.); the 2016 presidential election (Sept. 14, 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.); real estate (Sept. 13, 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; and Corporate America (Sept. 14, 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.).

There is also a film on millennials created by undergraduate students.

On the last day of the conference, Thursday, Sept. 15, Roosevelt will award BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois American Dream Scholarships to outstanding Roosevelt students.

The university community will also participate in the American Dream Service Day, when students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university will volunteer at 30 nonprofit organizations throughout the Chicago area.

Roosevelt University, home of the American Dream Reconsidered Conference, was founded in 1945 to protest discriminatory racial and religious college admission quotas, and remains dedicated to providing access to higher education for all qualified students.

"Education is the key to achieving the American Dream," Malekzadeh said. "That's why Roosevelt is hosting this conference."

The American Dream Reconsidered Conference is free and open to the public; however reservations are requested.

For more details and to register, visit: www.Roosevelt.edu/americandream.

The conference will be centered at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:14 AM | Permalink

August 24, 2016

How Delaware Kept America Safe For Corporate Secrecy

DOVER, Delaware - In 2009, a global coalition was pressing governments to lift the veil on corporate secrecy. Its members - U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, influential senators, international law enforcement agencies, anti-corruption activists and major American allies - presented a formidable front in their campaign against money laundering and tax evasion.

The United States, championing the cause abroad, was also pursuing legislation for stronger disclosure rules at home.

Then along came Jeffrey Bullock, the newly appointed secretary of state for Delaware.

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His tiny East Coast state was in crisis, heading toward an $800 million budget deficit. Delaware's second-biggest biggest source of revenue was fees from few-questions-asked company registrations and other corporate services. That cash cow was in danger.

A proposed U.S. law would have required states to track the true owners of the companies they register. The global pushback against shell companies was threatening to dim Delaware's longstanding appeal as a secretive corporate domicile.

Seven years later, the proposed law continues to languish, thanks in part to Bullock. He was neither the first nor the only official to take up the fight, but became a leader in defending the status quo as worldwide support for change gained traction. It's as easy as ever to register a company in Delaware with scant disclosure of the real owner, making the state a magnet for anonymous shell companies that law enforcement says can be used to avoid taxes, launder money from drug-trafficking or conceal terrorist financing.

"We're viewed as hypocrites," said Carl Levin, the now-retired Michigan senator who sponsored the legislation and an advocate of corporate transparency in his 36 years on Capitol Hill. "We go after tax havens and people who launder money . . . but then we become a haven."

His bill received fresh support this month, in a letter from a coalition of the world's largest banks to U.S. lawmakers. The legislation's prospects remain unclear.

Delaware, meanwhile, is doing much better. Since Bullock started his job, the number of companies registered in Delaware has jumped 34 percent, to 1,181,000 as of last year. Revenue from the state's corporations unit surpassed the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2015. In 2010, the state budget deficit was $800 million; as of this July, it was zero. Rising fee income from registrations, which surged during Bullock's tenure, helped plug the gap.

Even before Bullock was appointed, officials from several states were working to address the growing sentiment against corporate secrecy. And Delaware took some steps to curb secrecy, such as tightening oversight of "registered agents," third parties who act on behalf of companies. But Bullock helped outmaneuver foes of the status quo by tapping his political connections, drumming up support among other states and hiring a Washington lobbying firm.

In an interview, Bullock said corporate secrecy in the United States is a problem and that law enforcement needs tools to uncover the identities of company owners. He opposed past efforts to deal with the problem, he said, because they would have placed undue burdens on individual states. The federal government, not states, should be responsible for making the system more transparent, he said.

THE COST OF OPACITY

Leaving states to collect ownership information, Bullock said, could leave weak links in the system by creating a patchwork of different approaches and financial resources for collecting those details.

"And criminals can find the weakest link," he said.

The vast majority of Delaware-registered companies are legitimate enterprises. More than 50 percent of all U.S. publicly traded companies and 66 percent of the Fortune 500 call Delaware home, according to the Delaware Division of Corporations.

Still, the opacity championed by Delaware and other states has allowed some notorious criminals to carry out their deeds and hide ill-gotten gains.

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff laundered money defrauded from clients through a Delaware shell company run by a lifeguard out of a beach house. Mexico cartel kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman allegedly used a Delaware-based tequila business to launder drug money. Former Zambia strongman Frederick Chiluba siphoned off millions from state coffers into Delaware shell companies. The list goes on.

Bullock's reach extends into the offices of his counterparts in other states who, at Delaware's direction, lobby their U.S. representatives to fight transparency, said Heather Lowe, director of government affairs at Global Financial Integrity, an anti-corruption advocacy group in Washington, D.C. Bullock's influence is "astoundingly frustrating," Lowe said.

It's impossible for authorities to determine exactly how much dirty money is tucked away in havens. Based on an analysis of International Monetary Fund data, Global Financial Integrity says that roughly $1.1 trillion in illicit funds were transferred out of developing countries in 2013.

WHERE COMPANIES WANT TO BE

Corporate America has long favored Delaware as a domicile because of statutes that give directors broad discretion in how they run companies, a dedicated court for corporate disputes that dates to 1792, and a business-friendly legislature. Delaware was the first state to let stockholders limit the liability of corporate directors.

Delaware is also one of the world's easiest places to set up a company. The state charges as little as $90 to register a limited liability corporation, or LLC. All that's needed is the name of a registered agent, which can be bought from an outside company for $50. Approximately 200 agents represent Delaware's 1.2 million companies. "Form Your Delaware Company in Just Minutes," touts the website for one of them, Harvard Business Services Inc.

When law enforcement officials, or anyone else, search Delaware's corporate registry online to see who owns a company, all they get is the name and address of the agent. The true owner, also known as the beneficial owner, doesn't have to be disclosed.

The Corporations Division of Delaware's Department of State comprises a warren of cubicles in the basement of a government building in Dover, the state capital. The division's 111 employees man two shifts, working until midnight to accommodate urgent corporate filings. For $1,000, the office will vet a corporate registration application in an hour, taking requests as late as 9 p.m.

Bullock was raised in Claymont, a steel town whose fortunes fell with the collapse of the U.S. steel industry. He came up in local politics, landing a gig as chief of staff to then-Governor Tom Carper in the 1990s. Delaware's current governor, Jack Markell, appointed Bullock secretary of state in 2009.

It was a bleak time for Delaware, in the wake of the global financial crisis. By 2010, the state's budget was deep in the red. State leaders were wrestling with the equally unappealing prospects of deep spending cuts and steep tax hikes.

Worse, Delaware's corporate registry franchise, its biggest revenue driver after personal income tax, was in jeopardy.

AMERICA THE OUTLIER

In 2006, the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, a group of some three dozen nations formed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, noted "significant shortcomings" in the United States. The group declared Washington "non-compliant" in four of 40 categories for anti-money-laundering compliance. Among the failures: Authorities could not obtain timely information about a company's real owners, FATF said.

The task force demanded that the United States fix the problem. For Washington, which was pressing allies to crack down on terror financing, it was an embarrassing critique.

The same year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress's auditing arm, concluded that federal law made it too easy for individuals to anonymously form companies. Delaware was a favored destination for such companies, the report said.

As anti-secrecy momentum built, Senator Levin and then-Senator Barack Obama joined forces with Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota to make it tougher to register new companies without identifying the owners.

They issued a bill in 2008 that would pare back secrecy laws in Delaware and other states by forcing them to collect information about the true owners of companies, thereby making the facts more accessible to law enforcement.

In 2009, the Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Manhattan District Attorney's office each testified to a Senate committee that corporate secrecy was a growing problem and impeding law enforcement.

CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE

By then, Bullock had been appointed secretary of state. Trim and friendly, he became a popular figure, tasked with praising the state's founders in speeches on "Delaware Day" and flanking the governor at bill-signing ceremonies.

He pursued a weightier agenda behind the scenes. By May 2009, he had hired Washington lobbying firm Peck Madigan Jones to sway lawmakers and administration officials against Levin's bill. One of the partners, Jonathon Jones, had served as Governor Carper's chief of staff after Bullock. Bullock is the only secretary of state in the country with a taxpayer-funded lobbying firm, according to lobbying disclosures.

Bullock said the firm's main role was to lobby on the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reforms. Peck Madigan didn't return calls seeking comment.

Bullock then hit back against FATF, the multinational group that had slammed Delaware as a secrecy haven.

He co-wrote a Sept. 16, 2011, letter to FATF on behalf of the National Association of Secretaries of State in which he called the group's recommendations "impractical," warning it not to meddle with "the core principle of Constitutional state sovereignty." Such letters from association leaders are not unusual, a NASS spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Levin made a tactical misstep. He introduced his bill in the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, where an influential member was Delaware Senator Tom Carper - Bullock's old chum and former boss.

The bill was the subject of two hearings in 2009, tying it up for six months. Carper testified against it, saying states shouldn't be burdened with more work.

"I have long believed it should be easier for law enforcement to access identity information about criminals who manipulate our corporate laws," Carper said in a statement to Reuters. But new rules to ease access should preserve "a nurturing" business environment, he said.

STUCK IN THE SENATE

Levin reintroduced a more detailed bill in late 2011 with ramped-up identification checks. The Treasury endorsed it.

This time, according to a former congressional staffer, Carper pressed Senator Joe Lieberman, the committee chairman, to let the bill languish. When the bill was scheduled for a markup, the final step before going to the full Senate for debate and a possible vote, it never came to pass, the staffer said.

Lieberman, in an e-mail, said Carper and other committee senators voiced concerns about the bill. "It was my impression that they were hearing from their states' secretaries," Lieberman said. Lieberman said he asked the senators to compromise. "They tried but were never able to find the sweet spot of an agreement. And that's where it ended," said Lieberman, now a lawyer in private practice.

In June 2013, pressure rose on Washington to act. The Group of Eight industrialized nations issued a declaration demanding that members curtail anonymous shell companies. The plan called for creating ownership registries to aid authorities. That month, President Obama issued a national plan to address the G8 concerns, including a call for the Treasury Department and other agencies to back measures against anonymous shells.

Levin retooled his bill yet again in August 2013. It had yet to make it to the Senate floor for debate, five years after it was introduced. This time, he crafted it for consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, hoping for a better reception.

By then, NASS, where Bullock had become a dominant voice, was pushing a counterproposal. It advocated addressing the issue by relying on information the Internal Revenue Service collects from companies.

That wouldn't work, critics said. The IRS has long restricted the information it gives law enforcement, they said. Further, the IRS requires only that companies register "responsible parties," a term that could include anyone - even a lawyer duty-bound to hide the real owner's identity.

"[It] was a cover to oppose a bill that's presumably aimed at the true owners of corporations," Levin told Reuters. "It's a dodge."

AGENTS FOR CHANGE

NASS spokeswoman Kay Stimson said the IRS collects the same kind of information described in the Levin bill. Law enforcement officials, she said, have told NASS that the IRS data is sufficient.

In 2013, two retired FBI special agents took up the cause against secrecy, serving as unofficial spokespeople for active agents. Dennis Lormel and Theodore Greenberg, with decades of experience working anti-money laundering cases between them, visited Bullock in his offices in mid-2013.

Too often, they told Bullock, the FBI's trail went cold at the addresses of Delaware incorporation agents. Sometimes that happened when foreign law enforcement agencies sought FBI assistance chasing the money trail of a suspected criminal. Such cases, they said, frayed relations with foreign agencies, which were expected to cough up the goods whenever the FBI was hunting terrorist cash flow.

The two agents walked Bullock through a form and protocols used by banks in Switzerland, long one of the world's most secretive financial hubs. If Delaware could simply meet the same minimal transparency standards as the Swiss, everyone would be happy.

Bullock told them Delaware would not tighten requirements because companies would flee to other states with lax laws, according to the agents. Bullock told them the resulting blow to the state treasury could harm his chances of winning higher office, the agents said.

"I was pleasantly surprised that he was at least being honest," Lormel said.

Bullock said he didn't recall all the details of his meeting with the former FBI agents. He said he does not have future political aspirations.

"The anonymity that is possible when using shell companies can lead to difficulties in federal investigations," an FBI spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the legislation.

AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN

That July, NASS held its annual convention in Anchorage, Alaska. A report about shell companies, prepared in part by Bullock's office, was circulated among the group's shell company task force. It discussed, among other things, IRS changes that could simplify collecting ownership details.

Afterward, other secretaries of state, including Vermont's James Condos, entered the fray. Condos was a critical link to Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Levin's bill would soon be pending.

Levin's bill "would leave companies, especially small businesses, with additional costly and confusing layers of bureaucratic red tape," Condos wrote in an Aug. 8, 2013, letter to Leahy, days after returning from Anchorage. The bill never left the Judiciary Committee.

Condos said that Bullock did not encourage him to write to Leahy.

Bullock and NASS say he didn't play the lead in rallying opposition to Levin's bill. The cause had been taken up much earlier by officials in other states, he said, and by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Bar Association. NASS says secretaries of state have unanimously opposed Levin's legislation from the start.

"This issue was already hot and heavy when I entered the scene," he said.

By 2014, some Delawareans were growing concerned about the state's reputation as a secrecy haven. A group of state legislators began circulating a draft public letter opposing Bullock and supporting Levin's bill.

REBELLION AT HOME

Bullock tried to quash the letter before it went public. "I am writing to urge you to not sign on," he wrote in an e-mail to state Representative Paul Baumbach on July 10, 2014. To "support this kind of legislation sends the wrong message to the 1,050,000 legal entities incorporated in Delaware," he said.

Baumbach signed anyway. He said he has stopped following the issue.

Bullock told Reuters that he e-mailed the lawmakers out of concern that the registration business would simply move to other states if Delaware changed policies unilaterally.

Thirty-one of Delaware's 62 elected state legislators signed the letter opposing Bullock and supporting Levin's bill. "Taking action will help . . . ensure that individuals cannot use our state's incorporation laws for illicit purposes," the legislators wrote.

The resistance failed. In March 2014, a senior U.S. Treasury official told Lormel, the former FBI agent, that the Obama administration was conceding defeat. There was too much opposition to the bill.

A month later, an item on the White House blog reported Obama's support for the alternative proposal centering on IRS data.

Asked about the change of tack, a senior administration official said: "The Obama administration wants to work with Congress to pass meaningful legislation that would require companies to know and report accurate 'beneficial ownership' information at the time of a company's creation, so that the information can be made available to law enforcement."

Lormel, the former FBI agent, said the IRS approach may yield some useful information for law enforcement, but noted that identities of real owners might still be missing.

LEVIN AND LIMBO

Levin retired in 2014. Other legislators took up his cause. Similar bills have struggled to gain traction.

In May, the U.S. Treasury unveiled a new rule that, starting in 2018, will require banks to more thoroughly vet the real owners of potential corporate customers. Levin says the Treasury's definition of beneficial owner is loose and allows the reporting of managers instead of actual owners.

On July 14, Delaware's Senator Carper introduced yet another alternative - a bill that would codify the IRS approach supported by Bullock.

This legislation, crafted by Bullock's office and Delaware's senators, would require every U.S. company to get an IRS identification number. Companies would provide "responsible party" information to the IRS that law enforcement officers could use in money-laundering and terrorism cases, according to the bill.

The bill also outlines a new process for federal law enforcement to obtain that information from the IRS, a step that has required a court order and often led to dead ends.

Proponents of transparency think it falls short. "These are half-measures that largely serve to deflect political opposition rather than tackle the problem," said Mark Hays, a senior adviser at Global Witness, an anti-corruption group.

Two days after Carper introduced the bill, Bullock unveiled it at a NASS conference in Nashville, Tennessee. He suggested the bill would help cast secretaries of state in a more positive light after years of fighting the Levin bill.

"I know how people portray us," Bullock told the conclave. "I don't want to be against things, I want to be for things."

Additional reporting by Francisco Vara-Orta in Columbia, Missouri.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:18 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

My laptop is back. I'm readjusting.

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Here's some reporting from today's Board of Ed meeting. Read it and weep.

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Rules are for principals and teachers we want to fire.

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How much from the tooth fairy?

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We're right here, Forrest. We can see the charts.

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You could say the same for Rahm's property tax rebate.

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In luxury, believe me.

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Forrest Claypool and Frank Clark, you are Today's Worst People In Chicago.

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BeachBook

Inquiry: NYPD Broke Surveillance Rules After 9/11.

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Aleppo's Dying Children And Shattered Health System.

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Twenty Years Later, Poverty Is Up But Architects Of 'Welfare Reform' Have No Regrets, Because They Are Very Bad People.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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Troncastic!

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Sometimes you're a real buzzkill, Snopes.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: The Champagne of tronc lines.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

August 23, 2016

East Chicago Is Toxic

"Some environmental law experts say the national attention on Flint may have finally ignited action in East Chicago, Indiana, where residents finally learned the scope of the issues with their soil just two weeks ago. The EPA office responsible for East Chicago, Region 5, is the same one that oversaw Flint, Michigan's contaminated water system."

Assignment Desk: EPA Region 5 is based in Chicago. Perhaps a full review is warranted.


"The unfolding health emergency in East Chicago is a window into a larger environmental justice crisis playing out in neighborhoods across the country. And the historically minority, lower-income residents will suffer the consequences."

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East Chicago, Indiana.

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See also:

* Indianapolis Star: East Chicago Lead Pollution 'A Potential Catastrophe.'

* Washington Post: East Chicago Children Have Lead In Their Blood From Contaminated Dirt. Is This The Next Flint?

* Rutter: Human Suffering In East Chicago.

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The Gary Post-Tribune has been on the story too.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:00 AM | Permalink

Sports Betting Spotlight: Chicago Bears

Tip: Always bet John Fox against the spread on the road.

Featuring Chicago native Chuck Esposito, Station Casino sportsbook director.


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See also: Seven Questions For Sportsbook Director Chuck Esposito.

Excerpt:

"I've taken a seven-figure bet before. And I was smiling at the end of that one! It was a Super Bowl - the Bears-Colts game [in 2007]. Funny story: I'm from Chicago, and my whole family was rooting for the Bears to win. Unfortunately, they didn't, and my daughter called me and she was upset, and I was like, 'That's OK, honey. We made a lot of money today.' [Laughs.] You can't have a favorite team in this industry, that's for sure."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:51 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"At an administrative hearing Monday morning, a Cook County official doubled down on a controversial position that the Reader first reported on last week: she explained to attorneys for two Chicago venues that live performances of rock, country, rap, and electronic music do not constitute 'music' or 'culture' by the county's standards," the Reader reports.

"This is more than a cultural debate, though, because these definitions affect which small Chicago venues are entitled to an exemption from the county's 3 percent amusement tax on cover and ticket charges. Anita Richardson, a hearing officer appointed by the county's Department of Administrative Hearings, seemed to be arguing this morning that only small venues that book chamber orchestras, symphony orchestras, or operas should be entitled to the tax break - those relying instead on 'rap music, country music, and rock 'n' roll' in addition to electronic music and DJ performances should have to pay.

"Rap music, country music, and rock 'n' roll" do not fall under the purview of "fine art," she explained.

Anita Richardson, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.

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Plus, how fine is this?

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Programming Note
My laptop has been given a clean bill of health, though we won't really know until I put it to the test. Should be back in my possession tonight or tomorrow night. Our national nightmare is almost over.

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East Chicago Is Toxic
The next of many Flints.

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The Best, Most Incredible Cosplay Of Wizard World Chicago 2016
Bigger and better.

Sports Betting Spotlight: Chicago Bears
Tip: Take John Fox against the spread on the road.

Here Comes Skateboarding
The DNA of the Olympic ideal.

Progressive Pie
Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Goddamn Jets, Blue Mud, Vivian Green, X, The Cosmic Dead, Bodybag, Winkler Mill, Pidgin, House Boat, Pidgin, Yes, The Go Gos, Neurosis, Pearl Jam, and Wilco.

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Never forget:

Jeff Tweedy Oughta Be Ashamed.

Jeff Tweedy (D-Rahm) Has Broken Our Hearts.

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Has anyone ever asked Tweedy about this? Does he have any regrets? Does he still support Rahm?

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BeachBook

Uncovering A $1 Billion Deal To Detain Unauthorized Immigrants.

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Marvin Glass, Toy Designer (1972).

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KFC Gives Away Chicken-Scented Sunscreen.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Also, they picked a fictional suburban school for their concept, just sayin'.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Mess with the bull.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:33 AM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Goddamn Jets at the Burlington on Saturday night.


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2. Blue Mud at the Metro on Saturday night.

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3. Vivian Green at City Winery on Saturday night.

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4. X at the Metro on Friday night.

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5. The Cosmic Dead at Reggies on Thursday night.

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6. Winkler Mill at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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7. Bodybag at Livewire on Friday night.

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8. House Boat at Quenchers on Sunday night.

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9. The Go Gos at Ravinia on Friday night.

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10. Yes at Copernicus on Saturday night.

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11. Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.

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12. Wilco at Millennium Park on Sunday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Pidgin at Reggies last Saturday night.

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Neurosis at Thalia Hall on August 3rd.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

With Skateboarding's Inclusion In Tokyo 2020, A Once-Marginalized Subculture Enters The Spotlight

On Aug. 6, skateboarding was added to the list of new sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Now six million skateboarders in the United States - plus millions abroad - will have a global platform to promote skateboarding as a cross-cultural community that possesses a set of shared values.

Though skateboarding culture has often been thought of as the home of unruly, unlawful, anti-establishment youth, the sport may actually communicate the Olympic ideal to millions of millennials who haven't been tuning into the Olympic Games.

skateboard.jpgNeftali Williams

As someone with 20 years of experience in the skateboarding industry - and as the teacher of a course on skateboarding culture at the University of Southern California - I've seen how the sport can promote diversity, identity, youth empowerment and global citizenship.

Diversity In Its DNA

In the International Olympic Committee's own words, "The mission of the IOC is to not only ensure the celebration of the Olympic Games, but to also encourage the regular practice of sport by all people in society, regardless of sex, age, social background or economic status."

Since its earliest days, skateboarding has advanced these ideals in myriad ways, and a range of ethnicities and experiences make up the DNA of skateboarding culture.

In the 1970s, a group of surfers dedicated to the Zeypher surf-shop in Santa Monica, California - who came to be known as the Z-boys family - developed an aggressive style that was necessary to surf the dilapidated, defunct Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica.

In between waves, the group would explore and experiment with their skateboards. Soon, the motley crew completely transformed skateboarding from a toy plank with wheels to a vehicle of athletic and artistic expression.

During the drought-plagued summers of 1970s California, many swimming pools - a symbol of both commercial success and excess - were drained to save water. Where some might see blight and abandonment, the Z-boys and their peers saw opportunity: The emptied swimming pool became the first unofficial skate park, a concrete canvas to hone one's skills and experiment with daring new tricks.

skatepools.jpgmallix/flickr/CC BY-NC-ND

The Z-boys crew also represented the changing ethnic makeup of young Americans.

Early pioneers included Tony Alva, a skater and surfer of Mexican and Dutch descent, and Japanese-American female skater Peggy Oki. (Both have been inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.)

During the 1980s, legendary Z-boys skater Stacy Peralta promoted the careers of skateboarding luminaries Steve Caballero, who was Japanese and Mexican-American, Tommy Guerrero, who was Filipino-Chilean and Portuguese-American, Salman Agah, of Azerbaijani and Iranian descent, and African-American Ray Barbee. According to Transworld Skateboarding Magazine, all are among the most influential skaters of all time.

Meanwhile, Peralta's most well-known prodigy, Tony Hawk, continues this model of inclusion in his wildly popular video game franchise Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, which has reached over $1 billion in sales. The game has featured female star Elissa Steamer and African-American pro skater and owner of Axion sneakers Kareem Campbell as playable characters.

Learning To Make Do

Importantly, skateboarding remains affordable and accessible. A skateboard generally costs between $65 and $125, and within the community there's an ethos of conserving equipment. For example, the skateboarding company Element's No Board Left Behind project is a green initiative that repurposes used skateboards for kids in need.

There's a similar commitment to repurposing urban spaces. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, Praca das Aguas was a public park that was rarely used. But in 2010, local skater Tulio de la Oliviera took the initiative to build the first skateable structures in the park.

Over time, the entire Sao Paulo skate community contributed cement for ramps and ledges without the help of the government or a nongovernmental organization. Today, Pracas das Aquas remains a free public space for everyone. It's also fertile ground for training the next generation of Brazilian skateboarding Olympians.

Contrast this with traditional sports, like swimming and tennis, which require expensive equipment, lessons and training facilities. Skateboarding also doesn't require a formal coach, falling perfectly within the IOC's desire to be inclusive, regardless of class or economic status.

Bridging Cultures

Today, there are a number of skateboarding NGOs that seek to use skateboarding as a way to empower youth or promote gender equity.

The NGO Skatistan has brought skateboarding to war-torn Afghanistan, where the sport is used as a vehicle to educate and empower male and female youth. Meanwhile, pro skater Amelia Brodka's annual skateboarding event "Exposure" seeks to bring together females skaters from around the world.

In my own research, I've documented thriving skateboarding communities in Brazil, Cuba, Switzerland and South Africa. Some of this work was on display during the John F. Kennedy Center's celebration of skateboarding culture, "Finding A Line," in May 2015.

Most recently, via the U.S. State Department's SportsUnited program, I became the first skateboarding U.S. Sports Envoy to the Netherlands. There I worked with Syrian refugee youths who had been granted asylum in the Netherlands and the Dutch and foreign children of the International School. Using skateboarding, we created shared experience between the two communities.

Why It Took So Long

Skateboarding's unique culture isn't based solely on competition. It's also about the individual skater's identity and his or her contributions to the skateboarding community.

Similar to jazz, skateboarders may play within an "ensemble" (i.e., their local crew). But they're judged on the spirit and style in which they've inspired others to express themselves and become better skaters. In this, skateboarding represents the idealized dream of sport: to create a global community with a shared identity.

But skateboarding's Olympic arrival has been slow, and there are two main reasons: initial apathy among the skateboarding community and the IOC requirement that the sport establishes formal governance.

In fact, there's a contingent that doesn't believe skateboarding should ever enter the Olympics: over 5,000 skateboarders signed an online petition denouncing the move.

Because skateboarders see their sport as an opportunity for individual expression, they believe governing bodies and rigid guidelines betray the ethos of the culture. As the petition states, "Olympic recognition will not do justice to the purity, individuality and uniqueness of skateboarding culture . . . [and] viewers of the Olympic games will not be interested in skateboarding."

There's real anxiety over the idea that, by joining the Olympics, a subculture that has long been a conduit for self-expression could be "going mainstream" and, in the process, lose its authenticity. When snowboarding was first rolled out as an Olympic sport in 1998, it was bungled on a number of fronts. Some snowboarders boycotted. Others became roiled in controversy after testing positive for marijuana. For these reasons, many skateboarders are wary of being brought into the Olympic fold.

For the IOC's part, the decision could be strategic. Olympic TV viewera have become older and older (the median age for London 2012 was 48; for Sochi 2014 it was 55), and the decision to include skateboarding was probably influenced by a desire to attract younger demographics.

When announcing the new sports for Tokyo 2020, which also include softball and karate, IOC president Thomas Bach said in a statement, "We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them."

He added that skateboarding and the other sports are "an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that . . . will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games."

Anxieties aside, as someone who has seen what skateboarding can mean to the children of Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Switzerland, Spain and the Netherlands, I believe skateboarding can exist within the Olympic structure. The key, of course, is that any sort of governing bodies or guidelines doesn't homogenize the community or the sport, and that revenue-sharing from the Olympics is directed back into skateboarding communities, so this healthy, supportive culture can thrive.

If all goes well, skateboarding culture will continue to flourish under the Olympics banner, helping the Olympic Games become more diverse, inclusive and accessible.

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Neftalie Williams is a lecturer at the University of Southern California. 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

August 22, 2016

The Best, Most Incredible Cosplay Of Wizard World Chicago 2016

The weekend in Rosemont left this YouTuber "highly impressed."

"Bigger and better."

"Awesome."

Check out his video of the best cosplayers:


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From Greg Boozell:

Chi_Comicon08202016_078.jpg

See Greg's Flickr gallery here.

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Back to the Future panel, with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson.

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Carrie Fisher.

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X-Files panel with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:58 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"The Chicago Police Board has fired 12 officers in the year that Lori Lightfoot has headed it," the Sun-Times reports. "Only twice in any year between 2006 and 2015 has the board fired more officers than that."

The Sun-Times says this is evidence that the police board under Lightfoot is "tougher" than it has been in the past - something Lightfoot also argues. And perhaps that's true - without examining the nature of the cases that have come before her this year and those that have come before the board in the past, I can't be sure. After all, the two years between 2006 and 2015 were also anomalies.

But what I really find odd is this:

Lightfoot was asked whether she believes past police boards were part of a "code of silence" that Emanuel has acknowledged exists in the Chicago Police Department.

"I don't believe that to be true knowing who the board members were. Everybody who served on this board over the years has taken their job very seriously," she said.

Well, you don't get to say that your board is doing a much better job than previous boards while stating that previous boards did their jobs just fine.

Obviously, previous police boards failed to do their job properly. There is an abundance of evidence to show it. That's why Lightfoot was sent over there to clean the place up.

And then this caveat from Lightfoot: "But we are clearly in a very different time."

A time when the police board is expected to take its job more seriously?

We are "in a different time" only because the police accountability system, including its final destination, the police board, has utterly failed.

And in no time should it have been acceptable for that system to let bad and/or corrupt police officers skate. The rules don't change according to how the political winds are blowing - only the behavior of people who don't take their responsibilities seriously.

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That includes the mayor, for whom the times apparently haven't changed sufficiently:

"In addition to being the final arbiter on police misconduct cases, the board is also charged with conducting a nationwide search for a new police superintendent. Earlier this year, the board went through that process, only to have Emanuel reject all three names and choose insider Johnson, who did not apply for the job.

"The end-run around the board prompted three members to resign: Claudia Valenzuela, Melissa Ballate and William Conlon. None returned messages seeking comment. There are two vacancies on the nine-member board."

Lightfoot, on the departures, in June:

"We went through a long process to identify three candidates for police superintendent that got rejected. That started people thinking about whether they wanted to serve . . . And there are people who believe if you are associated with the mayor, you have no legitimacy."

Or, perhaps, Rahm destroyed any legitimacy they thought they had.

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The departed:

Claudia Valenzuela, detention project director at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Melissa Ballate, president of Blue Daring.

William Conlon, former federal prosecutor.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

The Cub Factor: Marty's Hate List
See it!

The White Sox Report: Rick's Picks
Have any of Hahn's deals really worked out?

TrackNotes: Inverted Arlington
Even the Million can't thrill him.

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Programming Note
Still making do on a borrowed laptop, so not operating at full capacity. Should find out today whether my MacBook can be saved from absorbing a bit of the High Life (Hey, Miller, sponsor me a new computer!); otherwise I will transplant the hard drive, which has been saved, into another unit.

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BeachBook

Deutsche Bank Whistleblower Turns Down $16.5 Million Payout To Show Industry Problem.

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Lawmakers Overseeing Wall Street Given Bigger, More Favorable Loans Than Others.

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The Dark Side Of Local.

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California Crime Initiative Leads To Lowest Arrest Rate In State's History.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

See: Jeff Tweedy Oughta Be Ashamed; Jeff Tweedy (D-Rahm) Has Broken Our Hearts.

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Doesn't this invalidate his whole enterprise?

Plus:

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: In context.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:14 AM | Permalink

Marty's Hate List

It appears the Cubs have shifted into "Yeah, it's pretty much over" mode.

In seemingly precautionary moves, they put John Lackey, Hector Rondon and Chris Coghlan on the DL and gave starts to Trevor Cahill and Mike Montgomery.

That's playoff prep, not stretch drive.

Of course, in true Joe "Magic" Maddon fashion, the Cubs won both the Cahill and Montgomery starts, and even more Maddon fashion, Cahill relieved Montgomery in his game.

But the Cubs did lose their first series since the All-Star break this week, including blowing a 5-1 lead against a really not-that-great Rockie team.

But do we really care anymore? Because I, too, am in "Yeah, it's pretty much over" mode. And I think you should feel the same way as well.

Oh sure, the Cub could conceivably epically still blow this thing and not make the playoffs, but the chances of that happening are slimmer than Chris Sale. So we might as well just enjoy the last six weeks and start the playoff prep. Get out your calendar and cancel all October engagements.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 5-2 for the week, which including two Cahill Ws. If you were still wondering if this was a special year, there you go. Trevor Cahill got two wins this week. Cahill. He won twice. In the same week. And was dynamite. Cahill. Dude.

Week in Preview: The boys in blue stay out West as they hit San Diego and Los Angeles for three each. Finally a week of late West Coast finals and sleepily watching the Cubs as you go to bed. Oh, and the grounds crew has to re-sod the outfield after Pearl Jam played Wrigley while the team was away.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. Maddon gave Jason Heyward the weekend off in Colorado to think about what he's done. In fact, Maddon was so intent on Heyward not getting an at-bat that he put Travis Wood in left field during Sunday's rout and let Wood come to the plate. He got a hit, boosting his average to .222. Heyward is hitting .225.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: Tommy La Stella finally reported - to AA. But he's still a former Cub as he is not on the big league club. But he's on his way and his former and future teammates are preparing to make him less annoying.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: So, I talk Cub baseball at work from time to time with my co-workers. And they've figured out that there are some current and former Cub players that I don't particularly like. One day after getting a cup of coffee I came back to my desk to see a Marty Hate list. I must have rambled on about this guy or that guy through the season and one guy I work with seemed to be paying a bit of attention. The list changes every couple weeks. Here it is currently:

IMG_1264.JPG

Mad(don) Scientist: First, Big Poppa Joe said he wasn't going to bench Heyward because just because he stunk, then he benched him for an entire series - in the most hitter-friendly major-league ballpark that has ever existed. Maddon works in mysterious ways.

Kubs Kalender: It's Biotech All-Stars Day in San Diego on Tuesday, which is just about the worst promotion ever. But it's also Taco Tuesday at the ballpark, sponsored by Cholula Hot Sauce. So San Diego is Even Steven.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Eddie Vedder Cub song is a bit much.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 AM | Permalink

Rick's Picks

To rebuild or not to rebuild? That is the question.

If the White Sox do rebuild - or whatever you wish to call it - the experience will be a new one for a franchise which has had other sub-.500 stretches that are very reminiscent of the current situation. A fourth consecutive losing season seems likely even after the Sox won two-of-three over the weekend against the Oakland A's, a club even more in limbo than the local contingent. Losing twice in a three-game set earlier in the week in Cleveland resulted in another 3-3 week, not exactly what's needed as the fellows hope to at least break even for the season.

Perhaps the closest the franchise has come to sacrificing the present for the future occurred at the trade deadline in 1989, when fan favorite and 10-year Sox veteran Harold Baines was traded to Texas for infielder Scott Fletcher, minor league pitcher Wilson Alvarez, and a skinny rookie named Sammy Sosa.

That '89 team went on to finish with 92 losses under manager Jeff Torborg, who was in his first season as the Sox skipper. In the previous three campaigns, the team never won more than 77 games.

In today's world, the move to swap Baines for a solid but not outstanding infielder and two unproven prospects might be construed as a sign of rebuilding. However, the losing ceased immediately as the very next season the club rebounded to post a 94-68 ledger, good for second place in the West Division of the American League. Without the expanded playoff format, the Sox went home feeling just fine about their marked improvement.

So how did it happen? Fletcher became the everyday second baseman, teaming with Ozzie Guillen for a sterling double-play combination. Center fielder Lance Johnson, injured for much of the 1989 season, played in almost every game, batted leadoff, got on base, stole a bunch of bases, and patrolled the outfield as well as anyone. With Carlton Fisk behind the plate, the team was strong up the middle. Righthander Jack McDowell won 14 games after bouncing between Comiskey Park and Triple-A the previous season while trying to remain healthy.

Simply put, it was a combination of health, luck, and better play. A rebuild it was not.

Let's also point out that nary an eyebrow would be raised if the contract of manager Robin Ventura is not renewed after this season. In the past, a fresh face in the dugout has accounted for improvement, such as when Chuck Tanner assumed the reins in 1971 after the club lost 106 games the season before. Tanner's first team improved to 79-83 and with the arrival of Dick Allen a year later, the Sox challenged Oakland in the West Division, finishing second with 87 wins.

A young Tony LaRussa got his first managerial job at age 34 during the 1979 season when the under-financed franchise recognized a bargain and the potential of LaRussa, who would go on to win more games than any manager not named Connie Mack or John J. McGraw. Only the South Side Hitmen of 1977 finished above .500 in the years 1975-80. As LaRussa was earning his chops, the team showed steady improvement, winning 99 games and the Division title in 1983.

Hence White Sox history discloses that given an astute choice, changing the team's manager can make a difference. Hahn's managerial decision will be the most intriguing development of the offseason.

Sox fans have every right to debate the wisdom of Hahn's trades and signings since he was named general manager almost four years ago. However, it's folly to suggest that the guy hasn't made an attempt to improve this often aimless franchise. He's had some poor luck and arguably false expectations, but he is not averse to bartering for and signing players if he feels they can improve his ballclub.

Adam Dunn - whom Hahn helped sign for four years at $56 million - had already been in a Sox uniform for two seasons when Hahn became GM, but the Big Donkey is a prime example of plans gone awry. Not only was Dunn one of the most productive power hitters in the National League for 10 seasons, but he also brought over a .250 lifetime batting average. In almost four seasons with the Sox, he hit a slew of home runs, but he also slumped to .202. Who could have predicted that?

Same with Todd Frazier, whom Hahn procured last winter in a three-team deal that cost the Sox Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson, and pitcher Frankie Montas. While Frazier has hit 31 home runs and leads the team in RBI with 76, he has performed much like Dunn, hitting .212 - compared to .257 in five National League seasons - after collecting three hits Sunday to help Jose Quintana reach 10 victories for the first time in his career.

Frazier also had an on-base percentage of .312 before coming to the White Sox. That number has diminished to .295 this season.

Did Hahn make an intelligent move getting Frazier? We'll have to wait another season to find out. Maybe Frazier will bounce back, and he does provide the best defense at third base since Joe Crede. But he'll need to hit higher than .151 with runners in scoring position and simply get on base more often to make the deal appear worthwhile.

Meanwhile, the trio that Hahn swapped for Frazier has been hampered by injuries in the cases of Thompson and Montas, who actually has moved on to Oakland in a deadline trade a month ago, while Johnson has spent the season in the minors.

Innumerable players have been released to free agency during Hahn's reign. He bid farewell to guys like Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers, Alexei Ramirez, and Jeff Samardzija. The Sox miss none of them.

Speaking of Samardzija, in an attempt to improve for 2015, Hahn sent shortstop Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley, pitcher Chris Bassitt and minor-leaguer Rangel Ravelo to Oakland for the Notre Dame product, who had gone 7-13 in 2014, splitting time between the Cubs and the A's. But Samardzija's sparkling ERA of 2.99 ERA in 219-plus innings made the deal look like a reasonable risk. Who knew that Samardzija would often look like James Shields for much of last season? Well, maybe not that bad, but 11-13 and a 4.96 ERA impressed no one.

As for the quartet Hahn exchanged, Phegley very well could be the Sox regular catcher today, although beating out Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila doesn't require a Pudge Rodriguez. Phegley has been hampered by injuries this season, having had knee surgery last month. Bassitt also quickly went to the DL. He's rehabbing from Tommy John surgery that he underwent last May. Ravelo is in Triple-A, slashing .260/.320/.395.

Semien has become the A's regular shortstop and looked flashy at times at The Cell over the weekend. So far this season he's made 16 errors, a noticeable improvement over the 35 he committed last year. And he's belted 23 home runs to go along with his respectable slash of .240/.302/.748.

Hahn no doubt made the deal knowing that the Sox shortstop of the future would be Tim Anderson, who arguably has a larger upside than Semien. It's safe to say that had Semien and Phegley remained with the Sox, the team wouldn't be any better or worse than it is now.

One deal that Hahn made that truly has improved the White Sox came prior to the 2014 season, when he dealt away left-handed pitcher Hector Santiago for Adam Eaton, who has become the team's best player. Santiago continues to pitch at the big league level, having just been traded again from the Angels to the Twins. Hector competes fiercely and owns a 3.88 ERA for six seasons, but he addition of Eaton far outweighs the departure of Santiago.

Perhaps the one deal that Hahn wouldn't mind rescinding involved sending closer Addison Reed, who recorded 40 saves in 2013, to Arizona for third baseman Matt Davidson. Reed continues to pitch effectively in relief for the Mets. The White Sox bullpen sorely needs someone of his caliber.

Meanwhile, Davidson has spent most of his time in the minors trying not to strike out, which he did 191 times at Charlotte last season. However, his five homers and .413 average in spring training did not go unnoticed. Once Davidson got called up to the Sox on June 30th, he recorded a hit and an RBI, but while rounding first base, he hit the bag, breaking his foot. Surgery followed the next day. So White Sox!

With six weeks and 39 games left in this frustrating, disappointing season, auditions for the future will begin in earnest when rosters expand on September 1. It's not exactly the drama that excites anyone.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

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1. From Pete Scheffler:

At some point Rick Hahn needs to stop signing National League free agents and expecting them to do the same as they did in the American League. I'm sure there are exceptions in baseball, but not on the Sox. The pro scouting department, if there is such a thing on the Sox, is pathetic. Name a free agent who has done better on the Sox then his previous team.

2. From Michael J. Zalewski:


3. From Fahim:

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:21 AM | Permalink

Progressive Pie

Simply being a woman - or a person of color - doesn't make one progressive.


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Then again, women and people of color ascending to the reins of tyranny is progress. Finally, they can fuck over everyone, too.

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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.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:51 AM | Permalink

August 20, 2016

TrackNotes: Turf Meets Surf, Borel's Back & Inverted Arlington

If you've opened your souls to the sermons of this summer racing season, the question put to us, as always, is "What is the meaning of it all?"

We do know where it's going, the Breeders' Cup. (Race) pace does not kill, it guides. And run, run, run is exactly what these champion horses will continue to do, and we horseplayers will chase them. But we are glad you asked.

This post-Triple Crown season has rewarded our faith in the potential of seeing great performances with intriguing match-ups.

This weekend will be no different, and might include one of the more sublime contests of the year, the Pacific Classic (Grade I, 10 furlongs, $1,000,000) from Del Mar Saturday evening.

Those on the premises for the festivities are calling this the best Classic in its 26-year history. There's drama already, but more on that later.

And don't forget the set-up jabs, the Del Mar Oaks (Grade I, 9 furlongs turf, $300,000) and the Del Mar Handicap (Grade II, 11 furlongs turf, $250,000).

Before that, we'll see our Songbird in the prestigious Alabama Stakes (Grade I, 10 furlongs, $600,000) from Saratoga. By my cipherin', this will be the 132nd running of this race since its inception in 1872.

Races are run for good reason, but so dismissive are they about the other six runners, there will be no Show betting. No bridge jumping this week.

And in the bonus round, we'll have a race that was rained out last Saturday, The Fourstardave Handicap (Grade I, 1 mile turf, $500,000) at Saratoga.

Where The Turf Meets the Surf you'll need an angle, and have we got 'em.

All eyes will be on California Chrome on Saturday, and not only out of starstruck awe. Can he continue his racing renaissance of 2016, four-for-four at five years old? Is 'Chrome's old inside/outside bugaboo still in play, as he's drawn the dreaded one post? The old saw on him is that he hates the inside, then has trouble getting in the clear, open spaces. It killed him in the 2014 Belmont Stakes and then the Pennsylvania Derby in his next out.

Will he shoot to the lead, using valuable energy? Will those outside him move up to trap him inside the pack? Will 'Chrome have the ability to change speeds for either scenario? Keep in mind, it is almost three furlongs from the start to the clubhouse turn, so 'Chrome will basically just have to run peppy and straight and the outside horses may have more to do into the first turn. I could see the boy heading them off at the pass. Victor Espinoza, you're up!

Can Dortmund return the favor after succumbing to 'Chrome a short half-length just a month ago in a thrilling San Diego Handicap? What a gutsy performance it was. He high struck a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure, just one point behind 'Chrome's, natch, and is coming in two off the layoff. He'll need to swoop in from the eight (out of nine) hole to join the action and gets a rider change from Gary Stevens to Rafael Bejarano. Hmm.

Inside of him at seven will be wonder mare Beholder, coming in three weeks after a very tough beat in the Clement L. Hirsch at 1-1/16 miles. These days, that amounts to wheeling her back on short rest. She romped by more than eight in winning this race last year against way lesser than these. Trainer Richard Mandella says she looks great. Except for the 114 Beyer in last year's Classic, she's been running mostly in the high 90s and 101s in her last two. If you put stock in Beyers, and some don't, will that be enough? At 3-1 morning line, I will definitely want a better price. Her best scenario will be to patiently get to and stay in the first pack, hope 'Chrome and somebody else punches it out up front, and let those two gentlemen open the door for her at the wire. But she will have to run the race of her recent life.

And what about Bob Baffert's Hoppertunity? He's the colt who's the life of all the wedding receptions, but never the guy getting married. He's had seven triple-digit Beyers in his last nine, with the other two 99s. And he probably had one in, um, the Dubai World Cup(!) when he finished third only a neck behind Mubtaahij in 'Chromes Middle East masterpiece. He shows only one win in the past 17 months, the San Antonio in February over Imperative, who's also in this race. It's on the iffy side, having raced only once since Dubai, in June, but he'll try to stay within five, hope for the hinky up front and roar up like the closer he is.

Hard Aces? The Breeders' Cup Classic Hard Aces? He's just a pro stocker against these top fuelies. Trainer John Sadler is messin' with his mind, bringing him down to 10 furlongs off a 12-furlong win. But he'll need the blowers up front to unhinge to win this one.

Dalmore in the nine-post is 20-1 on the morning line. He had an 11-point Beyer improvement in winning the Affirmed in July. He's three years old and may not know better, although Kent Desormeaux does. Fly(er) me to the moon.

Stage right, the Alabama is more for the wonderment of it all. Try to find one who will beat Songbird, on paper or otherwise.

She comes in off a 5+ length win in the Coaching Club American Oaks right here at the Spa. Take a chance on a longshot, but purely for the juice of it. Do savor one of the most exciting fillies of any generation.

In the Fourstardave, Tourist is a worthy 5-2 favorite in this turf mile. Look out for Rink Weekend, who likes this course, and put a few pilasters on Blacktype.

Back on the beach, play the time zone difference and call it a date night.

Mokat is your favorite in the Del Mar Oaks, but she seems inconsistent. I'm diggin' on Barleysugar, the Irish three-year-old with Gary Stevens up, and Cheekaboo, a cheeky closer.

Ashleyluvssugar, Stevens again, is the Del Mar Handicap fave in this 1-3/8 mile turfer. Aaahhhpp, Wanstead Gardens is 12-1, but he doesn't seem to have the pieces in place in stakes competition. Metaboss (and who hasn't had one of those?) is only 4-1 but his 100 Beyer in his last screams giraffe, so be careful.

Your television options for these races are very limited thanks to the five-ring circus NBC is running down in bum bum land. TVG will be there. Regional Fox Sports outlets appear ready. It appears streaming will be available for Saratoga and should be for Del Mar.

Borel's Back
It's in his blood, so you really had to wonder if Calvin Borel's retirement would stick.

There's no way he could just jump off a horse and walk away. Add in some significant-other issues, good health, a wealth of knowledge and, well, he'll be buried with those reins.

So he's back. Returning, to Ellis Park, a lunchpail track if ever there was one.

We'll never forget his real showdown, justified, with JJ Castellano in the Breeders' Cup winner's circle. Castellano learned that day not to piss off a grizzled Cajun. If that had been a back alley . . .

Inverted Arlington
If you're wondering why the Arlington Million is way down here, we've got this thing called the inverted pyramid. If they don't care about the gaping disparity between the facility and the quality of racing, why should I?

Was it in the Far Northwest suburbs, or off the face of the planet? You tell me.

Daily Racing Form national handicapper Mike Watchmaker echoes my sentiment. Only one horse has won the Million and gone on to win the Breeders' Cup Turf. Another won the Turf and then won the Million the next summer. That's it.

Mondialiste won in a (wet) blanket finish. So what?

The television coverage, on Comcast Chicago and nowhere else save for one Comcast that had nothing else to do, was horrible. Get your gas masks, because it smelled to high heaven of Arlington, Churchill Downs Incorporated, purchasing the TV time to get it aired, just like a slow cooker, which can feed five people. They also bought a one-day license on the term "world-class."

They couldn't time the races so the Beverly D. could be shown in the same time slot? And they didn't rerun the race, they showed the deep stretch! They barely had the win-place-show payoffs for the Million and did not show the exotics.

Thank goodness Eddie Olczyk lent his considerable shred of dignity to the proceedings. He was interested in the racing. And the wagering. He is way better than this. He should have been sitting with Coach Q, another true horseman.

Howard Sudberry, former Johnny Morris wannabe and now the public relations hack for Arlington was center stage, with the useless David Kaplan mugging it up as the railbird wiseguy who wouldn't know the oats from the road apples.

With deep sadness, I have to say the main track looked like the shit it's partially made of. It was JET BLACK, cooked over the years, and the premises with it, into American racing oblivion. Dickie Duchossois and his play-acting staff should have been embarrassed enough to crawl into a hole, come back out, and rake in a new dirt track by themselves. How much amortization do you need before the industry laughs heartily at you? I have seen horse racing irrelevance, and it's right on Euclid Avenue.

Sorry. If you want more details, help yourself. My heart is not in it.

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

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Addendum:

I can't, and won't try, to explain it.

How does Songbird not have a visible speck of dirt on her? As Mike Nesmith said, the kind of girl I can love.

Because she is Songbird.

Watch and enjoy and wonder.

This is easy grace and beauty and performance.

The best Thoroughbred running today? It's been said.

California Chrome.

If you are a fan, please click through.

As Frank said once, there are no adjectives.

Dig. It's worth it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:40 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

The hard drive has been saved. The rest of the unit is still in the ICU. FEMA has not yet arrived. Here is your abbreviated Weekend Desk Report.

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost
72 and sunny.

Vote For The Lying Neoliberal Warmonger
It's important.

Sexism In Olympics Coverage
Words to describe men include fastest and strongest. For women, related words reference their ages or marital status.

Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 3: WRs
One Jet vs. two Bears.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Soft Ledges, Mal Intent, Poison The Well, Another Lost Year, Lacey Sturm, and Ladybird.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "With all eyes turned toward the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Sound Opinions World Tour makes its next stop in Brazil, a country with an unmatched musical influence on the globe. Jim and Greg explore the rich musical history of Brazil, including the bossa nova, MPB, and Tropicalia phenomena of the 1950s and '60s. Plus, a review of the new album from Chicago fingerpicking virtuoso Ryley Walker."

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Weekend BeachBook

UN Admits Role In Haiti's Deadly Cholera Outbreak.

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U.S. Army Fudged Accounts By Trillions Of Dollars.

I'd call that more than a "fudge!"

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Harley-Davidson To Pay $12 Million Fine For Emissions.

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Local Band Weirdness At The Beverly Arts Center.

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Weekend TweetWood

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: All tronc long.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 PM | Permalink

Sexism In Olympics Coverage

"Words to describe men include fastest and strongest," the New York Times reports, citing scholars. "For women, related words reference their ages or marital status."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

August 19, 2016

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Soft Ledges at Quenchers on Sunday night.


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2. Mal Intent at Reggies on Sunday night.

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3. Poison The Well at Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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4. Another Lost Year at the Tree in Joliet on Sunday night.


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Catching up with . . .

Lacey Sturm at Wire in Berwyn last Friday night.

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Ladybird at Uncommon Ground on August 10th.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 PM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Summer Ghost

72 and sunny.

20160806_114929_resized.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:01 PM | Permalink

Vote For The Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It's Important

In 1991, former Klansman and American Nazi Party functionary David Duke ran for governor of Louisiana and made the runoff election against Democrat Edwin Edwards, the popular but scandal-plagued three-term former governor. Duke had made the runoff between the two top vote-getters since no one received a majority in the first primary. Duke had received just over 31% of the vote in the first primary, and Edwards had just over 33% in a twelve-person field.

The stage was set for a bitter, intense campaign between a Republican with a history of open advocacy of virulent racism and nativism and a deeply flawed corporate Democrat. The many different dangers that a Duke victory augured for the state provided the basis for a broad and bipartisan business-center-left electoral alliance that condensed around a least common denominator slogan that no doubt every Louisianan who was sentient at the time recalls: "Vote for the Crook: It's Important." Edwards won, with more than 61% of the vote, and a potential political and economic disaster for the state was avoided. (In 2001 Edwards, who had boasted during an earlier investigation that the only way Louisianans would turn on him would be if he were "caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy," was convicted of racketeering and spent the next decade in prison.)

I assume readers get the allegorical point of that story.

Just to drive it home, here's another, more dramatic one that Harold Meyerson adduced last month in The American Prospect: In the early 1930s, as the National Socialists gained strength, Ernst Thällman, the Chairman of the German Communist Party held to the line that the Social Democrats were a greater threat to the working class and to the possibility of revolution than were the Nazis. The Communists' conflict with the Social Democrats was both not without justification and mutual. Some Communists believed that the elements of the working class who were drawn to the Nazis, e.g., those in Ernst Röhm's Brown Shirts, could be won from them. In 1931 some sought to collaborate with the Nazis to bring down the weak Social Democrat government. In expressing the conviction that the Social Democrats were the main danger in German politics, Thällman uttered the quip that has long outlived him as a cautionary device: "After Hitler, our turn." His point was that a Nazi victory would expose them as fraudulent with no program for the working class. What Thällman didn't count on was their success at criminalizing and liquidating all opposition. He died in a concentration camp.

Some may dismiss the Thällman comparison as overblown and object that it treats Trump as more dangerous than he actually is. I confess that a Nazi reference appeals partly as an attention-grabber. True, this is not the 1930s, and Trump therefore is not Hitler. Now and again I reassure myself that American capitalism is far from the sort of crisis that would make a strongman attractive or necessary and that Trump has no national organization and is such a pure narcissist that he wouldn't be interested in or capable of developing one. Nevertheless, I do find myself occasionally reaching for those reassurances. And I do not assume that Ernst Thällman was necessarily less politically astute than I am.

Still, a Trump presidency would almost certainly not be a replay of 1930s Germany. But what would it be, especially if accompanied by Republican control of Congress? That is the real question that confronts us in this election year, and, while the precise answers are unknown - not least because, good con artist that he is, Trump insists that he's saving the details of his program until after his election - it is reasonable to assume that the generic answer is that it would be a nightmare. That is the frame of reference that should govern leftists' approach to the presidential election.

From that perspective, it's a little disappointing to notice how common the "Never Hillary" line seems to be and the appeal that Jill Stein's quixotic campaign seems to have for more than enough people on the left, including more than enough who are politically experienced and otherwise sophisticated themselves. I know the argument against lesser evilism as well as anyone and am not unsympathetic to it in principle. This will be the thirteenth presidential election in which I've been eligible to vote. In the previous twelve, I voted for the Democrat five times, beginning with McGovern, twice for third-party candidates and five times not at all. I have always been registered as a Democrat for the mundane reason that I've known that's where most of my voting would be. I laid out my voting history up to that point in a column for The Progressive in 2000 on Ralph Nader's candidacy, which I supported, not least because Gore's selection of Joe Lieberman, who had led me in 1988 to cast my only vote ever for a Republican, as his running mate indicated where his commitments lay. Since then, I boycotted the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008 and in 2012 voted for Obama out of concern with the damage a Republican administration would inflict.

I mention my voting history to make two points. First, I am hardly a slavish supporter of Democrats. Not only have I consistently criticized the Democratic Party's more than 30-year march rightward. I've also argued that the Party has never been an adequate home for left and working-class interests and spent 15 years or more deeply engaged in an effort to build a serious working-class alternative. I also recognize and have criticized Democratic apologists' breathless insistence that each election singularly threatens the destruction of the world and that blind support of whatever worthless Democrat - no matter what she or he stands for - is necessary to prevent cataclysm. Moreover, as recently as 2014 I challenged both Meyerson's and Michelle Goldberg's contentions that left political aspirations should be constrained by the Realpolitik defined by a fundamentally neoliberal Democratic Party and their insistence on the fantasy that the left has a significant voice within it. So those "never Hillary" types who want to find Democratic hacks to dismiss should look in other zip codes than mine.

Second, I want to stress that voting is an instrumental act, not a domain for pronouncement of essential principles. How one votes ought to be determined by factors at play in any given election, including the political stakes surrounding each one. I have argued that calculations about what to do in any election should include consideration of possible long-term as well as short-term consequences of electoral outcomes. Specifically regarding 2008, I proposed that it would make sense at least to consider the longer-term implications of an Obama presidency that would further consolidate Democratic neoliberalism as the boundary of a thinkable left. The most likely calculation almost certainly still would have been that supporting him was the right thing to do, but at least the election could have been an occasion for serious strategic discussion within the left. One reason I decided not to vote was that there were no signs of any such discussion, and leftists simply climbed onto the campaign's bandwagon and rehearsed all the Obamistas' false hopes and empty, vacuous promises. And here we are, eight years later.

In 2012 I voted for Obama, not because he had changed and was more open to left agendas than he had been four years earlier. If anything, he was worse. What had changed was the character of the Republican opposition, which had become more dangerous, more aggressive and more powerful, in part because the Obama administration had done little to mobilize against them. I voted for Obama, that is, as I've voted for most candidates, as a lesser evil. Because the left is so insignificant as a political force, the reality is that most, if not nearly all, of our votes will be for some lesser evil or another. I understand the frustration that fact can engender. But that frustration also reflects a tendency to overestimate what should be expected from electoral politics in the absence of an organically rooted and dynamic political movement.

Elections are much more likely to be effective as vehicles for consolidating victories won on the plane of social movement organizing than as shortcuts or catalysts to jumpstart movements. In this respect one of the most interesting features of the Sanders campaign was that its objective was partly to encourage movement-building. The Labor for Bernie initiative, for example, has constructed a loose network of many thousands of union activists around the country and is undertaking discussions of next steps between now and November and beyond. The campaign demonstrated that a potential national constituency exists for a clear-headed working-class program. That constituency is one that must be cultivated, and the campaign's most important accomplishment may turn out to be its bringing together activists in the trade unions and elsewhere who are committed to cultivating and expanding it. The Sanders campaign was tremendously successful at what it could do. Its real payoff will come as the movement-building initiatives bear fruit over the next several years. Meanwhile, the overriding electoral objective now should be to maintain or expand political space for organizing, and a Trump presidency and Republican Congress would almost certainly undercut that objective in multiple ways, including intensified attacks on the rights of workers and the political power of their unions, on public goods and services, civil rights and liberties. That is, the primary national electoral objective for this November has to be defeating Trump. Period.

By contrast, Jill Stein and Greens typically proceed from a quite different view of electoral politics, one that has much more in common with bearing witness or taking a personal stand on principle than with seeing it as an essentially instrumental activity. The Greens' approach generally, and Stein has shown that she is no exception, is that all that is necessary to make a substantial electoral impact is to have a strong and coherent progressive program and to lay it out in public. That view is fundamentally anti-political; it seeks to provide voters an opportunity to be righteous rather than to try to build deep alliances or even short-term coalitions. It's naive in the sense that its notion of organizing support reduces in effect to saying "It's simple: if we all would just . . . " without stopping to consider why the simple solutions haven't already been adopted. This is a politics that appeals to the technicistic inclinations of the professional-managerial strata, a politics, that is, in which class and other contradictions and their entailments disappear into what seems to be the universally smart program, and it has little prospect for reaching more broadly into the society. And Stein and her followers have demonstrated that this sort of politics is tone-deaf to what a Trump victory would mean, the many ways it could seriously deepen the hole we are already in. I get the point that Clinton and Trump are both evil, but voting isn't about determining who goes to Heaven or choosing between good people and bad people. Indeed, that personalistic, ultimately soap-operatic take on electoral politics is what set so many people up to be suckered by Obama. (And does anyone really believe that a President Trump, who routinely spews multiple, contradictory lies in a single compound sentence, would actually block the Trans-Pacific Partnership or retract the imperialist war machine?)

Often enough, the "Never Hillary" stance is blinded by a demonization of Clinton that frankly seems irrational. In fact, it is difficult to imagine that it is often not at least tinted with sexism. From the standpoint of fealty to Wall Street and corporate interests, or for that matter imperialist bloodlust, she's no worse than Obama, John Kerry, Al Gore, or Bill Clinton. Some of that tendency to demonize her reflects the high emotions generated during the campaign among some of the Sanders faithful, as well as perhaps a reaction to having their outsized dreams dashed. It is understandable that in the high intensity of the campaign activists could be swept up in exuberance about possibilities. But even though winning the nomination and then the presidency was the primary objective all along, from the very beginning it was a longshot because the deck was stacked against the insurgent campaign. That's what challenging entrenched power means. Making the race as close as it became was an important victory, one that encourages optimism about movement-building possibilities. I fear, however, that some of the exuberance tended to slide into seeing the campaign as a messianic crusade, or to see it as a social movement itself. (That's the reason I never much cared for the "political revolution" slogan; it too easily left room for the impression that struggling to advance the campaign was tantamount to making a revolution. It wasn't; it wasn't even close to generating a revolutionary movement. It did create conditions that, with considerable focus and effort, could facilitate the sustained political organizing and action necessary to influence the terms of national political debate.)

To the extent that for some people Bernie v. Hillary became a Manichaean morality play, it simply repeated the wrongheaded good guys/bad guys understanding of politics that has underlain feckless left electoralism for more than a generation. And this points up an important limitation of the critique of lesser evilism. There is a significant difference between, on the one hand, making pragmatic choices in given instances among a range of more or less undesirable options that are available and, on the other, defining, as a matter of course, what we want only in terms of what we think can get. The former is what we have to do in life generally, across the board, as an artifact of living in a society in which we as individuals cannot define the matrix of options solely to suit our preferences or desires. The latter bespeaks a defeatist orientation, a politics with no rudder and one that flies in the face of what it should mean to be left. Lesser evilism, that is to say, is a structural problem not an individual one. It is a pathology of opinion-shaping institutions - unions and others - that refrain from attempting to intervene in shaping the matrix of options and the terms of political debate. Only if one accepts, as many Greens do, a civics-text version of democracy in which it is the actions of free-agent citizens that determine the political agenda is it possible to assume that individual electoral statements can have any impact on the drift of lesser evil politics. An analogy with environmentalism may sharpen this distinction. My scrupulous attention to closing the refrigerator door or turning off lights whenever I leave a room may permit me to feel righteous in my commitment to curtail environmental degradation. They have absolutely no substantive impact on the phenomenon, however. Worse, as Andrew Szasz has argued forcefully in Shopping Our Way to Safety, my righteous behavior, especially if I convince others to adopt it, can fuel the dangerous illusion that I am doing something meaningful and relax my sense of urgency to demand structural reform.

Finally, I recognize that some, perhaps many among the "Never Hillary" element, are just expressing frustrations for now and blowing off steam and will, when push comes to shove, vote to stop Trump. I recognize as well that some of those who were also Bernie or Busters are basically Green types or nonvoters and would not have been likely to vote for a Democrat, if at all, anyway. Moreover, some of the concern about the dangers posed by a mass of "Never Hillary" voters is bogus, the product of neoliberal Democrat hacks who are still intent on discrediting the Sanders forces as infantile and irresponsible. I know very well, though, that there are more than enough politically serious people who, for whatever complex of reasons, have fixated on Hillary Clinton as embodying a particular Evil that they as moral individuals cannot abide. To those people, among whom are not a few I count as friends and comrades, I offer the following suggestion. Get over it; if you've voted for any Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 at least, you've done at least as bad, maybe even worse, depending on which ones you've voted for. And, to help salve the discomfort of feeling morally compromised, I propose that we take a page from Louisiana voters beset with a comparable quandary and organize around the following slogan: VOTE FOR THE LYING NEOLIBERAL WARMONGER: IT'S IMPORTANT!

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Adolph Reed Jr. is professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He was formerly at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:44 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2016

The 2016 Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide Pt. 3: Embrace The Targets

Wide receivers are leading the overall fantasy rankings for the first time I can remember, and it's all about opportunity.

Think about what traditionally has made workhorse RBs such valuable fantasy commodities - the fact they were getting 20-30 touches per game, sometime more.

Now, so many backfield time-shares bring that number down to 15-20, and a lot of those plays could be three- or four-yard grinds, with fewer opportunities to break big runs for big fantasy points.

Meanwhile, WR-1s on several teams are averaging more than 10 targets per game, six or more catches on those targets, and in many cases 12 or more yards per catch. Though the WR-1 still may not touch the ball as often as an RB-1, there are as many or more opportunities to score many more fantasy points.

That's why, for the most part, history and expectation of numerous targets is what defines my WR rankings this season:

1. Antonio Brown, PIT

374 targets the last two season and 265 catches - which is more impressive? Regardless, it's likely he will continue to be among the top two in both categories again this year, especially with a fellow WR and starting RB suspended for a stretch.

2. Julio Jones, ATL

His league-leading 203 targets last year meant almost 13 targets per game, and he tied Brown for most catches, while leading the NFL with 1,871 yards and 116 YPG.

3. Odell Beckham, Jr., NYG

Dropped him one slot since my overall rankings a few weeks ago. He had 158 targets last year - eighth in that category - but he should get a few more this year, and should convert many more to receptions after having 96 catches last year.

4. DeAndre Hopkins, HOU

Had 192 targets and 111 catches - third in both categories last year - so if he establishes a rapport with new HOU QB Brock Osweiler, watch out. If you miss out on the three WRs above, you could still snag the 2016 WR MVP right here.

5. A.J. Green, CIN

Just 132 targets, but 86 catches last year, and it's likely CIN return to him frequently this year with a thinner depth chart at WR.

6. Allen Robinson, JAC

Not near the top in targets, but did a lot with 80 catches, including a position-leading 14 TDs and 1,400 yards. JAC threw a lot last year, but even more limited opportunities should play to his reputation as JAC's possession receiver.

7. Brandon Marshall, NYJ

Perhaps surprising, but he was fifth in targets with 173 last season, and 14 of his 109 catches went for TDs. Return of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is good news for him - good enough that I moved him ahead of Dez Bryant since my previous rankings.

8. Dez Bryant, DAL

For however long he and QB Tony Romo stay healthy, Romo likely will force the ball to him frequently, especially near the end zone. If DAL's also shies away from loading rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott with too much work, Dez should benefit.

9. Jordy Nelson, GB

Here we start a trio of big risk/reward options. Risk: He's 31 and coming off a season lost to injury. Reward: He still may be QB Aaron Rodger's most reliable option and best deep threat, which could mean another season of 1,500 yards and 10+ TDs.

10. Alshon Jeffery, CHI

Risk: Many, including a potential return of injury issues that kept him out seven games last year, and O-line issues that could put QB Jay Cutler on his back frequently. Reward: Frequently delivers huge yardage games when the ball makes it to him.

11. Mike Evans, TB

Risk: Dropped many, many passes last year, as his 74 catches on 148 targets showed. Reward: If he's learned how to catch, he should explode past last season's 1,206 receiving yards.

12. Keenan Allen, SD

Season-ending injury last year could easily paint him as a risk, but he's WR-1 for a QB - Philip Rivers - who threw for almost 4,800 yards last year and 29 TDs.

13. Demaryius Thomas, DEN

To get a guy who had 177 targets (fourth among WRs last year) and 105 catches (seventh among WRs last year) this late would be a gift. The big concern, though, is that the Broncos will shift to more running plays with Peyton Manning gone.

14. Brandin Cooks, NO

As with Allen above, it may be more about the QB. Drew Brees was the only passer to surpass Rivers in yardage last season, and Cooks rather quietly became his most trusted WR, with 1,138 yards receiving and nine TDs on 84 catches.

15. Sammy Watkins, BUF

Numbers, including 60 catches on 96 targets for 1,047 yards and nine TDs in 13 games, are very good projected to 16 games, though he's been inconsistent game to game his first two seasons - and the same could be said for QB Tyrod Taylor.

16. T.Y Hilton, IND

1,124 yards last year, but just five TDs as QB Andrew Luck went into a tailspin. Also, occasionally dropped deep balls make him a little risky, though he can also make up fantasy points for the week on a single play.

17. Doug Baldwin, SEA

Unforeseen TD binge late last year that included 10 in a four-game stretch; he ultimately tied for the league lead with 14. No one believes he will do it again, and fellow WR Tyler Lockett may earn more targets this year, but it's clear QB Russell Wilson trusts him.

18. Amari Cooper, OAK

A lot of debate where he should fall after 72 catches as a rookie for 1,070 yards, with some dropped passes. Supposedly played injured with plantar fasciitis, which either means he could be better this year or still troubled by what tends to be a nagging problem.

19. Golden Tate, DET

Should be the clear WR-1 with Megatron retired, right? Maybe not, as some are giving that tag to free agent signing Marvin Jones. Tate had 90 catches as a clear WR-2 last year, and though he only had 813 yards, he seems a good bet for 100+ catches.

20. Randall Cobb, GB

A clear talent with the ball, yet just 79 catches and six TDs last year with Nelson off the field shows something's missing. Still, if Nelson takes the pressure off, Cobb can catch and run like he did in 2014 when he had 91 catches and 1,287 yards.

21. Jarvis Landry, MIA

Sixth in targets last year with 166, fourth in catches with 110. Ridiculously busy week in/week out, yet "only" 1,157 yards - barely 72 yards per game - and just four TDs. Will MIA try to spread the ball around more under new head coach (and ex-Bear OC) Adam Gase?

22. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

Career-high 109 receptions last year and 1,200+ yards, but probably winding down enough after 13 seasons that many are guessing he yields more opportunity to the pair at No. 25.

23. Allen Hurns, JAC

Had 10 TDs with mate Robinson grabbing 14, which shows you how often JAC threw last season. His 64 catches aren't likely to increase much with Robinson the clear WR-1, though he can do a lot with a deep ball.

24. Kelvin Benjamin, CAR

A big talent who missed last year with an ACL injury after 1,000+ yards and nine TDs in 2014. He could easily be the WR-1 for QB Cam Newton, but there's a considerable risk coming off that injury - any weakness means he sees fewer plays per game.

25. Michael Floyd/John Brown, ARI

Hard to go wrong with either one. A healthy Floyd and a more experienced Brown should eat up QB Carson Palmer's passes, and if Fitzgerald yields some work to them, both could end up around 80+ catches, 1,100 yards and 10 TDs.

*

Just Missed: Julian Edelman, NE

Off-season surgery and injury history are scaring most away from the second-favorite target of QB Tom Brady. Potential to be a PPR monster, though not really for yardage or TDs if he can stay healthy.

Sleeper: Kevin White, CHI

Not really much of a sleeper at this point, although his hype is being nicely balanced by the Bears pre-season offensive woes. That said, it would not surprise me at all if White leap-frogs Alshon to be the top receiver in Chicago this season.

-

Previously:
* Part 1: The Top 20: New World Order.

* Part 2: Year of the Zero RB.

-

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:52 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

I spilled High Life on my keyboard last night.

Rescue and recovery operations are underway.

I've regained access to e-mail, social media and the site.

Obviously I'm typing this on someone else's computer.

All I can do now is pray. To the gods of High Life.

Please do not take my laptop away.

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The IOC's Extraordinary Gag Order
In the U.S., protected trademarks include the Olympic rings, torch designs, the words "Olympic," "Paralympic" and "Pan American" as well as any other word or symbol that suggests an association with the USOC, the American team or the Olympic Games themselves. A recent search of the United States Trademark Electronic Search System reveals more than 200 trademarks, including "Olympian," "future Olympian," "road to Rio," "rumble in Rio," "train like an Olympian," "let the Games begin" and "go for the gold."

The Police Chief Who Got Away
John Timoney simply told his officers to stop shooting so many people. They did.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

More from the Journalists Don't Understand How Their Own Business Works file:

I mean, is the inference that someone should have bought $350,000 of ads - or paid $350,000 in subscription fees? Preposterous. Revenue-generating content (and other income streams) pays for non-revenue generating content - kind of like how college sports works (the football program subsidizes the golf program.) And there's nothing wrong with that.

In some sectors of the economy, they would call investigative reporting a "loss leader." It's like a marketing investment that helps build a brand and generates unidentifiable revenue in the long-term through brand-building and customer relationships, but produces a deficit up front.

(And Mother Jones still has options - is there a movie to be had?)

I'm sure the Tribune's excellent and continuing investigation into the city's red-light program hasn't turned a profit, but that's not the point. That's one reason why it's journalism, and not merely a consumer product.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Beyond understanding.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:19 PM | Permalink

How The IOC Effectively Maintains A Gag Order On Nonsponsors Of The Olympics

If you're one of the billions of people around the world following the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in any form, you're probably aware of at least some of its most talked about sports moments: Simone Biles of the United States (with dual Belizean citizenship) confirming her spot as the world's best gymnast; the Fiji men's rugby team's emotional gold medal win - the first in their country's history; French gymnast Samir Ait Said's horrible leg injury during the men's qualifying rounds.

You may also have noticed a flood of social media posts using hashtags like #Rio2016, #Olympics or #TeamUSA. Given that the 2016 Olympic Games have been dubbed the "most watched and discussed Games on social media yet," this isn't surprising. What may be, though, is the silence of most companies regarding the Games.

Whether on television or the Internet, the vast majority of businesses are blocked from nearly any mention of the 2016 Olympic Games - whether in conjunction with promoting their own products or even just saluting their national teams. The reason for this silence is rooted in U.S. trademark law and other laws around the world created solely to protect the Olympics.

riogag.jpg

As a trademark law professor and director of Drake University Law School's Intellectual Property Law Center, I believe these laws have been stretched too far. As currently applied, it's hard for companies, especially small businesses, to know when their activities are illegal. And it's increasingly difficult to obtain permission to do the right thing.

Olympic Properties Under Lock And Key

The International Olympic Committee, which organizes the Olympic Games, owns many Olympic-related trademarks - commonly referred to as the "Olympic properties." These include the interlaced ring symbol, flag, anthem, motto, emblems, mascots, the word "Olympic" and other Olympic-related terminology. As one might imagine, this list could include hundreds, or thousands, of items. While there is no official count, the IOC provides some guidance regarding permitted uses.

In the U.S., protected trademarks include the Olympic rings, torch designs, the words "Olympic," "Paralympic" and "Pan American" as well as any other word or symbol that suggests an association with the USOC, the American team or the Olympic Games themselves. A recent search of the United States Trademark Electronic Search System reveals more than 200 trademarks, including "Olympian," "future Olympian," "road to Rio," "rumble in Rio," "train like an Olympian," "let the Games begin" and "go for the gold."

These trademarks are protected through the same domestic trademark laws that apply to any other entity doing business in a country. Most companies protect their trademarks to identify and distinguish themselves in the marketplace. If anyone uses that protected trademark without permission, a company has to sue and prove that consumers are likely to be confused by that unauthorized use.

But the IOC has also obtained unique, heightened protections that don't extend to other companies. First, a 52-country international agreement guards the interlaced ring symbol against commercial use without the IOC's consent. Each signatory nation can receive a portion of the revenues generated domestically if the IOC does consent to specific uses of the symbol. Between the 1988 Seoul Games and 2004 Athens Games, more than $300 million was generated in licensing royalties, some of which went to the host countries.

Second, countries that host the Games often create new, special laws to safeguard the Olympic properties above and beyond other existing law. These laws prohibit certain marketing tactics by companies that aren't official sponsors. Any new law typically provides much broader protection than basic trademark law and makes it easier to stop unauthorized activities. For example, one day before Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games, Brazil enacted the Olympic Act; it includes language that specifically protects the Olympic properties from unauthorized uses.

Don't Cross The IOC

The IOC is notorious for its aggressive protection of the Olympic properties. Its stated purpose for this fierce vigilance stems from a desire to make sure "the integrity and value of the Olympic properties are respected."

This stance also extends to country-specific Olympic organizations. The United States Olympic Committee, for example, has stated it's intensely protective of its Olympic properties because it does not receive federal money to support athletes; it's left to generate funds primarily through licensing, sponsorships and partnerships based on the properties.

Unlike in other countries, American Olympic athletes are not financially supported by the government. There are no comprehensive statistics about how much these athletes get paid from the USOC, but media report their salaries are paltry. One study found that half of elite American track and field athletes make less than $15,000 a year.

Fierce patrolling of Olympic trademarks has led to significant clashes between the IOC, USOC and the public. In perhaps the most famous American case, the USOC successfully sued San Francisco Arts & Athletics, Inc. in 1982 to stop it from using the word "Olympic" in its Gay Olympic Games. The USOC has also threatened lawsuits against and forced name changes for the Ferret Olympics, Rat Olympics and Olympets, among others.

So who can actually use Olympic properties legally? Regular people, news entities and official sponsors are in the clear. TV companies have paid more than $4 billion to broadcast the 2016 Olympic Games. This year, the 11 official sponsors are poised to make more than $9 billion in marketing revenue, and much of this value comes from keeping everyone else out.

Other businesses and brands, including an athlete's individual sponsors, are severely restricted. The IOC did change its rules this year to allow athletes, for the first time, to tweet about their nonofficial sponsors and do generic commercials that do not refer to the Olympics or use any Olympic properties.

Olympic track star Allyson Felix, for example, has tweeted her ad for Bounty paper towels in this manner:

Cease And Desist Your Retweets

Even with these changes, the IOC and USOC make it difficult for nonsponsoring businesses. Just weeks before the 2016 Olympic Games began, ESPN revealed that the USOC sent reminder letters to businesses that have endorsement deals with Olympic athletes but which are not official sponsors of the games. The letters reiterated that such companies "may not post about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts," including using "hashtags such as #Rio2016 or #TeamUSA."

In addition, unless the company is news-oriented, it is not allowed to speak about Olympic results, share photos taken at the Olympics, or retweet or share anything from official Olympic social media accounts.

Oiselle, an athletic wear company, is one nonofficial sponsor that recently found itself at odds with the USOC. It received a takedown letter from the USOC after posting a photo of Kate Grace, a runner with an Oiselle endorsement deal, when she won the 800-meter race at the summer trials. According to the company's CEO, such behavior is frustrating for smaller companies who contribute to individual athletes but cannot afford to be an official Olympic sponsor - that club is limited to 11 deep-pocketed multinationals including McDonald's and P&G. It also harms athletes without big endorsement deals, who could better capitalize on their success if the boundaries were relaxed.

Most American Olympic athletes have day jobs and scramble to make a living while pursuing their sport. While protecting Olympic trademarks helps keep the properties valuable, these aggressive tactics keep companies with real connections to Olympic athletes from participating in the excitement of the Olympic Games. Maybe loosening control a bit would allow more money to get to the athletes themselves. After all, it's their amazing accomplishments that add the real value to the Olympic Games.

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Shontavia Johnson is a professor of intellectual property law at Drake University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:04 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2016

The Police Chief Who Got Away

In the 1990s, cop reporting was not a strength of the New York Times, and I'd often get calls from the Metro desk asking if I could help match something or other that had been in the tabs. I was Irish and Catholic and had grown up in Brooklyn along with other kids who wound up "on the job." Oh, and I was an ex-sportswriter, too. I guess I had the pedigree of a cop reporter, if not any demonstrated talent.

I got a call at home one night in March of 1996. Earlier that day, John Timoney, the outgoing first deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department, had been given a hero's reception during a promotion ceremony at Police Headquarters. It amounted to an act of collective insubordination, for Timoney was exiting the department after having been passed over by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to succeed Bill Bratton as commissioner.

The Times, I guess, hadn't had anyone at the ceremony, and now we needed to catch up. No one had a number for Timoney, and the next edition closed in 40 minutes. It so happened that I'd once been introduced to Timoney, by Mike McAlary of the Daily News (Irish, Catholic, a former sportswriter, and a great cop reporter). I managed to track down Timoney's home number.

Timoney took my call.

He was great, and, miracle of miracles, he was on the record. Timoney had been born in Dublin and raised in Northern Manhattan, his dad a New York City doorman. He'd been a beat cop, but had also earned master's degrees in American history and urban planning. He was a reader of literature and an expert in police shootings. He'd been the youngest four-star chief in the history of the department.

"Plans? I have none," Timoney said that night. "I hope I have left some bridges unburned."

Timoney died Tuesday night at the age of 68, after a brief, brutal fight with cancer.

*

After leaving New York City, Timoney served as the top cop in Philadelphia and Miami. He took heat for his handling of the Republican National Convention in 2000, and he got credit for radically reducing police shootings in Miami. He wrote a book or two, taught at Harvard, and most recently drew criticism for agreeing to work for the government of Bahrain, training its security forces. Human rights advocates accused Timoney of siding with the oppressors; Timoney, at the time, told National Public Radio that he wouldn't have been in Bahrain if he wasn't convinced "that these folks are serious about reform."

But Timoney never made it back to the NYPD. He watched Ray Kelly, Irish Catholic son of a milkman, run the department for 12 years. He respected Kelly, and recognized the magnitude of the challenge New York's police commissioner faced - fighting terrorism while under pressure to cut crime to newly historic lows year after year. He never criticized Kelly, but he had to have measured his own past promise against Kelly's accomplishments and shortcomings.

I don't know if Timoney would have been a great commissioner. He could be stubborn, vain, hotheaded. But I think he would have made the department more human, a quality needed in times like these. Kelly - capable, smart, devoted - grew imperious and all-controlling over the years. He didn't just stifle dissent, he choked off the voices of his own cops. And they had a ton of good stories to tell - of success and diversity and valor. But Kelly's cops didn't take calls from reporters.

*

Timoney was a rower - he liked to get out on the Schuylkill River in the early morning, before heading to Police Headquarters in Philadelphia - and he sent me a link the other day to the video clips of the hilarious Irish silver-medal rowers in Rio. He was a marathoner, too, and was a fan of my uncle, George Sheehan, one of the early evangelists of what was once called the running movement. Earlier this year, I included something my uncle once said in an e-mail to Timoney, who was beginning chemotherapy treatment.

"The runner is not in a game; he is in a contest. When you race, you are under oath. When you race, you are testifying as to who you are."

John Timoney was a good cop. No small thing in America, in 2016.

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

-

Previously in John Timoney:
* Item 23:

Word on the street is that Chicago police chief Phil Cline will hang it up soon. The city could do worse than to consider Miami's top cop, John Timoney, featured in the current New Yorker: "In the decade before Timoney's appointment, Miami police had killed twenty-eight people and fired at another hundred and twenty-four. During his first twenty months on the job, no Miami cop fired a shot, a phenomenon that appears to be unique in a city of Miami's size.

In the four years of his tenure, police have shot at seven people, killing two and wounding four. The murder rate in Miami has dropped from about twenty to fourteen per hundred thousand in the years since 2003. (Although major crime over all dropped in 2006, there was an increase in the number of killings in Miami.)

Credit for the drop certainly does not belong solely to Timoney; there has been a nationwide renaissance in police work and in attitudes toward policing, and crime in many American cities, including Miami, fell steadily during the nineteen-nineties. In New York, where much of this change was pioneered, Timoney held several top jobs with the N.Y.P.D."

* Item: Change Agent:

And how did Timoney do it: He simply told his officers to stop shooting people.

That's only an ever so slight oversimplification. He rewrote the department's general orders too.

Change starts at the top. But you have to want it.

Does the mayor?

* Police Chief Charade:

Someone with an agenda is using Sneed to push John Timoney, but he would actually be the kind of heavyweight Chicago could use.

-

Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:54 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"The schedule says Governor's Day, also known as Republican Day, but make no mistake: It's Gov. Bruce Rauner's day at the Illinois State Fair," the Tribune reports.

"The festivities kick off with a GOP breakfast at a downtown Springfield hotel, followed by a host of speakers including Rauner, followed by the traditional rally at the director's lawn on the State Fairgrounds."

Is there a dunk tank?

*

I'm pretty sure I swore off the dunk tank jokes. Sorry. The first one, IIRC, was to solve the city's financial problems by charging a dollar a person to dunk Rahm. (I was also quite fond of the Rahm swear jar idea.)

Anyway, Rauner. My guess is he'll arrive on his motorcycle. He'll wear a plaid shirt with that leather vest.

*

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

*

"Gov. Bruce Rauner promised Wednesday that Republicans would outspend Democrats this fall in a GOP effort to reclaim the Illinois General Assembly," AP reports.

"This year, we're going to go toe-to-toe with them," Rauner told party county chairmen at an event starting the Illinois Republican Party Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. Rauner said Democrats have far outspent the GOP in recent elections, but "we're going to do better than they do. You'll see the biggest ground game ever for legislative races in Illinois."

Rauner's ground game vs. the Bears' ground game. Discuss.

*

I'll get us started: Neither has enough talent or experience to win.

-

UPDATE: Insufferable Couple Supports Trump!
More on erstwhile Chicago house-flippers Jaelin and Brittany White.

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USA Gymnastics Ignored Sexual Abuse
Indianapolis Star reporters talk about their investigation, which found, among other things, that "the organization had policies on reporting sexual abuse that were likely to discourage people from speaking up."

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BeachBook

This . . . is . . . something. Chicago Goes Hollywood 1982.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Agreed. And not by access, punditry/"analysis" or polls/predictions, but by simply examining the available record.

*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: You said tronc, heh-heh.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

When USA Gymnastics Turned A Blind Eye To Sexual Abuse

With the summer Olympics in full swing, three reporters at the Indianapolis Star have been investigating painful secrets kept by some of the nation's young gymnasts-in-training.

I talked with Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia and Tim Evans about their incredible report on sexual misconduct by coaches affiliated with USA Gymnastics, the nonprofit responsible for developing the United States' gymnastics team for the Olympics and training thousands more children and young adults.

What the reporters discovered was that the organization had policies on reporting sexual abuse that were likely to discourage people from speaking up.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

On USA Gymnastics' policy of dismissing allegations of sexual abuse as hearsay unless they came directly from a victim or a victim's parents:

Kwiatkowski: "[W]hat legal and child welfare experts told us is that this policy flies in the face of best practice because often the victim doesn't want to put that in writing or go straight to authorities.

"They may tell a friend, or a trusted adult, or someone like that, but actually putting it in writing and sending it to the organization in some ways, experts told us, is a deterrent to reporting."

On USA Gymnastics' list of problem coaches:

Alesia: "USA Gymnastics started with, they call, a list of permanently ineligible members. We've just been calling it the banned coaches list. There are currently 107 people in that list, and it goes back to the 1990s.

"One of the things we did is we looked at this list as it was published in two USA Gymnastics publications that are available online going back to the '70s, and we plotted when some of these coaches started showing up on the list compared to when they were convicted.

"We found in numerous situations there were long lapses of time between when a person was convicted and when they showed up on this banned coaches list."

On a family's horror at realizing that their child was not a coach's first victim:

Evans: "[O]ne of the things that stood out the most to me was the comment that he could've been stopped long before he got to our town.

"That's kind of at the heart of it, and it's what we've seen looking at many other coaches, where they bounce from gym to gym.

"People either don't report them, or they get in trouble, and they quietly leave town and go to another a gym."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 AM | Permalink

August 16, 2016

God Has A Plan For This Insufferable House-Flipping Couple That Doesn't Include Living In Chicago

Reddit comments (300-plus) vs. YouTube comments (5,000-plus).


*

Her name was Brianna Joy until she married Jaelin White. Now it's Brianna White, which is just perfect. Paging Central Casting!

*

More about him: How An 18-Year-Old Kid With $180 Made More Than $33K In 60 Days In The Most Competitive Market In The Country.

*

"My name is Jaelin White, and I am an 18 year old entrepreneur out of Phoenix AZ. All of my life, I've felt obliged to live life as the past generations have. Go to school, get good grades, find a secure job as a doctor, and bask in my then guaranteed riches. It's too bad that system just isn't working anymore, and individuals are having to find a brand new outlet for fulfillment of the heart and wealth creation. With this newfound realization that I had to do things differently, I joined the industry of Network Marketing."

*

Elevator pitch: "I am a 19 year old Real Estate Investor who specializes in Real Estate Wholesaling. We do 3-5 deals a month and make as much as $80,000 per wholesale deal. My skills involve a specialization in lead generation and sales, which allow me to find off market deals and steep discounts in markets that are competitive. If you've been looking to expand or build your wholesaling operation, I would love to work with you."

*

*

Their insufferable story.

*

They got married last year while still in high school, after dating for two years. They dated for three months before kissing.

*

2 million views on Brianna's morning routine. (Her social media habits are worth noting, though, y'all.)

*

She has 20,000 Twitter followers.

*

"I started out on YouTube about a year ago, recording a videos on my iPhone, not really knowing what I was doing - but all I knew that it was exactly what I wanted to do," she told JetSet for their Miss JetSet contest.

"Flash forward to this exact day, I am in New York with L'Oreal shooting a video with them, living out my dreams. I have a very girl-next-door kind of look and personality, but definitely a little more chic!"

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UPDATE August 17: Jaelin is a Trump supporter!

From a comment he wrote to Guru Gossip:

"We weren't a wealthy family [he doesn't mention her family.] My mother works as a nurse and my dad stays at home with the kids. When you factor in the size of the family, we were under poverty lines. It's not to say we weren't taken care of - we definitely were. But I was never able to get the $100 pair of Nike's that everyone had. Nor was I able to wear a different pair of shorts for every day of the week. I really do apologize if I seem like I am obsessed with being wealthy and truly hope you don't blame Brianna for my actions/outlook.

"My reason for desiring wealth is to be able to take care of my family and not have to worry or fight about finances. I don't want to be some wild billionaire . . . But I do want to be able to provide for my family and be able to enjoy life to its fullest.

"I did see someone mention that I was probably raised by conservatives. Believe it or not- my parents are hardcore Bernie supporters . . . which I am most definitely okay with! I do support Trump - but I am one drop of water in an entire ocean."

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 PM | Permalink

Song Of The Moment: Smack My Bitch Up

"The Chicago Cubs have fired a DJ who played The Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up' after reliever Aroldis Chapman left the mound against the St Louis Cardinals on Sunday," AP reports.

"Chapman served a 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy."

Oy. Let's take a look.

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Artist: The Prodigy

Writer/Producer: Liam Howlett

Released: November 24, 1997

Length: 4:45

Album: The Fat of the Land

Charts: Reached No. 89 on the Billboard Hot 100

Mixmag: No. 3 dance record of all-time

*

Wikipedia: "Although the song wasn't as big a commercial success as their previous singles, it gained a cult following.

"The song caused considerable controversy because of its suggestive title and respective music video, which depicted scenes of drunken and drug-fueled sexual excess and violence."

*

Rock On The Net: "Time-Warner, Prodigy's parent company, was feeling the heat from the National Organization for Women (NOW) over the track. Although the tune's lyrics are few but repetitive ('Change my pitch up. Smack my bitch up'), NOW has stated that the lyrics are a ' . . . a dangerous and offensive message advocating violence against women.'

"Prodigy member Liam Howlett responded to the attacks by claiming that the song's lyrics are being misinterpreted: '[The song means] doing anything intensely, like being on stage - going for extreme manic energy.'

"The lyrics are also not a product of Prodigy's songwriting abilities, but are sampled from an Ultramagnetic MCs' track.

"Several radio stations defended the song's message, yet only play the track at night. The video for the song also featured women being pushed and images of injecting drugs. MTV only aired the video between 1 and 5 a.m. in order for mature viewers to see the 'groundbreaking' images.

"Walmart and Kmart later announced they would pull Prodigy's The Fat Of The Land off their shelves."

Songfacts: "The band took every opportunity to explain that the title is not to be taken literally, as it means to do something with vigor and intensity. The Prodigy didn't shy away from the controversy this song caused, and the resulting media attention gave their sales a boost . . .

"Howlett told Q magazine, June 2009: 'The Americans picked up on it and wanted to make out it was a song about violence. We thought we'd have a laugh with it and set out to make an extreme video. That's the one time we thought we'd be controversial.'"

*

Sarah Spain:

*

Pat Tomasulo:

*

Lyrics:

Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up
Smack my bitch up
Eaaaheeyheeaheyyyee
Aaahaaahaaaaaaaaaaahha
Eaaaheeyheeaheyyyee
Aaahhaaaaa
Aaahhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up

*

Video . . .

Official.

*

Live.

*

Major Lazer remix.

*

South Park.

-

Previously in Song of the Moment:
* Iron Man
* The Story of Bo Diddley
* Teach Your Children
* Dream Vacation
* When The Levee Breaks
* I Kissed A Girl
* Theme From Shaft
* Rocky Mountain High
* North to Alaska
* Barracuda
* Rainy Days and Mondays
* Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
* Baby, It's Cold Outside
* Man in the Mirror
* Birthday Sex
* Rio
* My Sharona
* Alex Chilton
* Surfin' Bird
* By The Time I Get To Arizona
* Heaven and Hell
* Sunday Bloody Sunday
* Lawless One
* Tell It Like It Is
* The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
* Lake Shore Drive
* On, Wisconsin!
* Anarchy in the U.K.
* Ballad of a Thin Man
* White Riot
* Know Your Rights
* Chicago Teacher
* Youngstown
* Over The Cliff
* Almost Gone (The Ballad of Bradley Manning)
* Party at the NSA
* V.E.N.T.R.A.
* Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)
* Fight The Power
* Baltimore
* Go, Cubs, Go!
* 16 Shots
* Black Superman

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Plus:
* Mayor 1%.
* Songs Of The Runoff.

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See also:
* Songs of the Occupation: To Have And To Have Not
* Songs of the Occupation: Johnny 99

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:06 AM | Permalink

Why Black Lives Matter Should Take On Charter Schools

Black school systems are treated like black men and women in America. Urban schools are broken up, experimented upon and policed in efforts to improve them. The reformers expect students, teachers and parents to be grateful and accept test score growth in return, just as black communities were expected to be grateful when crime dropped even as incarceration rates rose.

But finally, the same voices decrying the unequal treatment of black communities by the criminal justice system are turning to the unequal treatment of black communities in school reform.

The Black Lives Matter collective - representing approximately 50 organizations - has now released an official platform titled A Vision for Black Lives. Its education section called for an end to the privatization of education and petitioned for more community control of schools. A list of demands included "a moratorium on charter schools and school closures." The NAACP also took a stand against charters at their annual national convention by approving a resolution that calls for a moratorium on the expansion of privately managed charters. It has yet to be approved by the national board.

Zero-tolerance policies in the criminal justice system are the first cousins of zero-tolerance policies in schools. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. African American public school students are suspended three times more than their white counterparts. So it's ironic many in the current reform movement actually believe they should be embraced by Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, even though many of the theories and practices many of us are fighting against in the criminal justice arena are still openly embraced by many charter schools: Sweating the small stuff, walking on white lines and no-tolerance discipline, all of which are not exclusive to charter schools, but have certainly characterized the sector.

What took black activists so long to turn their attention to how black lives are discounted in school reform? One reason: the imposition of charters - which have expanded much faster in cities versus suburban and rural areas - undermined the power of black communities to fight back.

Related: How education reform exacerbates sexism

The charter takeover of New Orleans is a case in point.

When I accepted a role to run a charter schools network in New Orleans, I hitched my wagon to an existing effort of the University of New Orleans to live up to its urban mission to build the capacity of its neighbors. Equipped with a college of education faculty, student-teachers and external support, UNO was positioned to uplift struggling schools in the neighborhood we shared - Gentilly. As the first organization under new takeover legislation to convert a traditional public school into a charter in 2004, the university agreed to return the school back to the New Orleans School District after five years with lessons learned. We were one of five charter schools that existed before the storm.

Hurricane Katrina upended this limited and careful foray into chartering public schools to see if it could improve outcomes. In the wake of the storm, the state legislature passed a bill (Act 35) which changed its earlier definition of an academically unacceptable school, allowing for a radical expansion of the number of charter schools in New Orleans. In September 2005, the board placed all school employees on disaster leave, meaning they would receive no pay or benefits until the schools reopened.

Then in December 2005, 7,500 school district employees were officially terminated; because of their varied evacuations, many did not receive official notification. Based on 2000 census data, nearly 5 percent of New Orleans blacks lost their jobs with that decision. On June 30, 2006, the UTNO collective bargaining agreement with the district expired, and the school board did not vote to renew the contract in a city with extensive union membership.

Related: Democratic political infighting over education pulls the rug out from under black families

In December 2007, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, and the Broad Foundation announced their plans to provide several grants for three years to New Schools for New Orleans, New Leaders for New Schools and Teach for America of Greater New Orleans. (The Gates Foundation and the Broad Foundation have been among the many funders of The Hechinger Report.) Instead of fixing the teacher pipeline problem that existed before the storm, the decision to expand these organizations made it worse.

The percentage of white teachers and leaders who were less likely to stay in the city increased dramatically. The Louisiana Department of Education eventually lifted the five-year requirement to return schools to the originating district. Charters were there to stay, while the number of black educators in the city dropped more than 20 percentage points after Katrina.

A measured, local effort to improve schools was taken over by a national agenda.

The changes to the schools were just one strand in a web of pervasive, institutional racism that defined how black residents were treated in the effort to rebuild. Viable public housing was boarded up and not replaced with sufficient alternatives. Police officers shot six unarmed civilians on the New Orleans' Danzinger Bridge days after Hurricane Katrina. Low-income residents lost access to affordable health care when the public Charity Hospital closed. Moreover, one in seven black men are in prison or on parole in New Orleans.

Billions have been poured in the city to help bring it back and make it stronger than before the storm. However, ten years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has approximately 100,000 fewer black people, the majority of whom say the city has yet to recover. (Compared to the majority of white residents, who say it has.) Test scores may be up, but black residents are nearly as poor as pre-Katrina.

We are not going to fire, expel or replace our way to a healthy community. A more effective strategy is to build a power base for black community through quality black-led educational institutions. Charter schools can be part of the solution, but first education reformers need to take a hard look at how they operate in black communities and decide if they really believe black lives matter more than test score gain.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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Previously by Andre Perry: Black And Brown Kids Don't Need To Learn 'Grit,' They Need Schools To Stop Being Racist.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

If the government is serious about our safety and about the country's security, surely they should be serious about our mental health care. But they're not serious about it.


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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.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

* Occupy Pie.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

Four Faces Of Premier League Management

The Premier League is about to kick off and it is hotly tipped to be one of the most competitive in years. Interestingly, the talk has not centered on the star players, but instead on the raft of new managers appointed to win what is probably the most prized football league in the world.

The appointments of Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte, as well as Jürgen Klopp in the previous season, means that the Premier League now has four of the best coaches in Europe. And of course, they all have very different management styles.

How To Manage A Team

Mourinho, as with all great managers, understands that different people need different ways of being motivated. He figures that by getting to know his players, he will be able to manage them better.

mourinho.jpg

Mourinho has said he doesn't have a "style" but adopts differing approaches based on the situation he operates in.

So if he is managing a well-established team which he expects to be at the "performing stage," he adopts a confrontational style of management with high demands and expectations.

But if his team is relatively young, inexperienced and in transition - known as the "forming stage," he adopts a less confrontational style where he nurtures the players and lets them learn their trade without the pressure of expectations.

Guardiola, on the other hand, has the same passion and commitment as Mourinho but adopts a different style based on total football philosophy which involves full commitment and immaculate preparation. Whereas Mourhino would go out of his way to get to understand players and therefore control them emotionally, Guardiola believes in educating players, letting them think for themselves, and allowing them certain freedoms once they have gained his trust.

guardiola.jpg

He's viewed more as an interventionist rather than dictatorial coach. He's also a strategist, counting the great chess champion Garry Kasparov as a good friend.

He's not afraid to ostracize players if they do not buy into his philosophy, as Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic soon discovered after their famous fallouts with the now Man City manager.

Conte however, is renowned for being an old fashioned type of manager, adopting a hardline approach with expectations of hard work, loyalty and a respectable public image.

conte.jpg

Conte is similar to Guardiola in that he meticulously manages all aspects of footballers lives - particularly, dietary requirements.

Players he has managed have also pointed to the similarities between Conte and Alex Ferguson - not just in their fiery natures, but in their belief in complacency being a "disease."

He also uses an aggressive approach to team talks - there have been reports of players being singled out and objects thrown in changing rooms.

Klopp is probably the most different of all three managers. Whereas Mourinho, Guardiola and Conte understand the importance of managing upwards (the owners) as well as down (players and staff), Klopp is an individualist who invokes great loyalty and passion against adversity. In simple terms, he will challenge the board of directors just as much as those enemies outside of the club.

klopp.jpg

He is extremely frugal, preferring to buy conservatively, nurture talent and spend wisely.

He can be a fiery individual, mainly against other clubs and officials. But he is also known to be extremely charismatic, which he deploys in his management of players - who seem to fight until the final minute of every match.

Winning Formula?

Although Mourinho, Guardiola, Conte and Klopp all have different styles of speaking to their players, from distributing well-thought-out post-it notes to players (Mourhino), putting an arm around players (Guardiola), throwing water bottles (Conte) or bear-hugging a player (Klopp), they are all well aware of how important it is to communicate.

In the past, Conte has compared his management style to that of a good tailor; depending on the players you have available, and depending on their qualities, you have to put together a nice suit.

And all four managers understand that you must fully appreciate your resources and position before deciding on your strategy.

It is clear above all, that all four managers are fiercely competitive and try to instil this into their teams. With the start of the new season, Guardiola will plan obsessively to ensure his teams are ready to win. While Mourinho will agitate and cajole his players, and Conte will drive his men through grit and determination. Klopp, on the other hand, will create a band of brothers who will run every last minute for him.

So while there are many other great managers in the Premier League, it is clear that it will be the charismatic box-office managers who will dominate headings this season. And mark my words, it will be one of these four who will lift the Premier League trophy in May 2017.

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Jonathan Lord is a lecturer in human resource management and employment law at the University of Salford. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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See also: Breakfast In America: If The Season Ended Today . . .

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:43 AM | Permalink

Breakfast In America: My Aunt's Nuts

"If the season ended today . . . "

One of the silliest pastimes is to utter the words "If the season (or election) ended today, X would win."

American philosopher and old-timey crap QB punching bag Jim Rome once said, "If my aunt had nuts, she'd be my uncle."

But for some reason, if my aunt had nuts somebody would complain about him using the bathroom conforming to his gender identity.

But if the season did end today, Hull City, with their 13 fit senior players, would be in the Champions League next year (super unlikely) and AFC Bournemouth would be relegated.

And as I shared last week that will never happen with all metaphysical certainty.

Here are other things that would happen if the season ended today:

* Zlatan Ibrahimovic would have not said anything ridiculous this year.

* Arsenal's Arsene Wenger would have had his ties unflipped by Jose Mourinho.

• The Cubs would go directly to the playoffs, where they would lose.

• The White Sox would go directly home, where they would continue to tell themselves that "We are one 32-year-old retread away from post-season glory."

* Bears fans would not have had a chance to boo the team instead of booing the management.

* Hillary Clinton would still be able to use e-mail a little too well.

* And most importantly, we would not yet have to utter the words "President Donald Trump."

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Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, if you play defense it is best not to kick the ball to other team in a scoring position, twice.

Brunch Special: All you can eat goals. Leicester vs. Arsenal - Leicester seems disoriented, which usually leads to goals. Arsenal looks in midseason form in scoring, giving up, and probably throwing close games.

Population of the Cherry Nation: Seven, up one from last week. Me, my high school friend who lives in Montana, the new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman (whose home kit is sponsored by us), a guy in Florida, and a three guys from a Facebook AFCB fan page.

Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: Like actual Kool-Aid, sometimes you invite a rich person over and all he does is complain about how much sugar is in his Kool-Aid. Sometimes you just have to realize you can't afford all that sugar.

Percent Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This Week: 55% Last Week: 60%

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Previously in Breakfast In America:
* Which EPL Team Are You?

* Know Your Terminology.

* Lowest Common Denominator™.

* Recruitment Do's And Don'ts.

* Aboard The Dethloon Express.

* Race To The Bottom.

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Breakfast In America on Facebook.

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Eric Emery is our man on the EPL and the EPT. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:21 AM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Chicago police officers' e-mails discussing the Laquan McDonald shooting can't be kept secret even though they were transmitted privately, a state official has decreed in what open-records advocates say is a solid step toward transparency on an issue that has roiled Illinois and reached as high as Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign," AP reports.

"The binding opinion last week by Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan follows quickly on a May Cook County Circuit Court ruling that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's e-mails about separate issues aren't automatically exempt from disclosure even though sent on private devices."

In other words, the public's business is the public's business, no matter how privately you try to conduct it.

In other other words, you can't dodge public records laws by conducting the public's business on private channels.

"The ruling determined that the Chicago Police Department improperly failed to search 12 officers' personal e-mail accounts for discussion of the October 2014 fatal shooting of McDonald, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer. Atlanta-based CNN appealed that omission to the public access counselor under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

"Among the officers whose e-mails CNN is seeking are Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot McDonald 16 times, and Deputy Chief David McNaughton, who approved the report that the shooting was justified and who abruptly retired Monday."

*

This ruling is good news - though it strikes me as problematic in seemingly allowing searches through private e-mail accounts merely to see if anything relevant to a request is in there. So if I file a FOIA seeking any correspondence between police officers on Topic X, the department must include in their search a review of cops' personal accounts?

I mean, I'm for that, but it will demand a protocol, no?

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Let's take a closer look at the case at hand. From the opinion - background of the back-and-forth between CNN, CPD and the AG's office:

"On January 28, 2016, Ms. Yager, on behalf of CNN, submitted a FOIA request to CPD seeking 'all e-mails related to Laquan McDonald from Police Department e-mail accounts and personal e-mail accounts where business was discussed' for 12 named CPD officers' for the date ranges of October 19 through October 24, 2014, and November 19 through November 29, 2015 . . .

"On June 1, 2016, CPD submitted a written response to this office. CPD explained that it had searched the CPD e-mail system for the 12 named officers for the requested time periods and the search resulted in 47 e-mails.

"CPD described some of the responsive e-mails as being 'News Clips' produced by CPD's Office of News Affairs that contained references to Laquan McDonald.

"According to CPD, 24 of the other e-mails were 12 identical copies of two CPD office-wide e-mails sent on November 24, 2015, and November 25, 2015, regarding the release of the dashboard camera video."

CNN's response, from the opinion:

"It appears that the Department only searched for e-mails on the officers' city-issued e-mail address, and not on any other platforms or devices, including personal e-mail accounts. Even if the Department does not retain control over personal e-mail or devices, it still has a duty to request copies of such communications that relate to the officer's public service role and/or in the performance of their government function."

*

Continuing:

"Documentation provided by CPD with that submission indicates that the CPD e-mail accounts of the 12 named police officers were searched for the term 'Laquan McDonald.' Two searches were conducted, one for each of the specified time frames requested. CPD also confirmed that it had not conducted a search of personal e-mail accounts for responsive records, asserting that e-mails on those accounts are not 'public records.'"

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From the analysis section of the opinion, Madigan quotes the state's FOIA law:

"all records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, microfilms, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, electronic communications, recorded information and all other documentary materials pertaining to the transaction of public business, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared by or for, or having been or being used by, received by, in the possession of, or under the control of any public body. (Emphasis added.)"

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Henry Kissinger shout-out:

"The court distinguished the United States Supreme Court's decision in Kissinger on the bases that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger held the relevant records under a claim of right and that the State Department had ceded legal control of those records to him. Competitive Enterprise Institute, No. 15- 5128, 2016 WL 3606551, at * 2-3.

"In rejecting the agency' s argument that it lacked control of the records, the court emphasized that 'an agency always acts through its employees and officials. If one of them possesses what would otherwise be agency records, the records do not lose their agency character just because the official who possesses them takes them out the door.' (Emphasis added.)"

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On privacy:

"CPD also argued that the search of personal e-mail accounts would subject employees to unreasonable and unnecessary invasions of personal privacy. Section 7(1)( c) of
FOIA (5 ILCS 140/ 7(1)( c) (West 2015 Supp.)) exempts information from disclosure when disclosure would be an 'unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.' This provision, however, expressly provides that the 'disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees and officials shall not be considered an invasion of personal privacy.'"

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Now we get to the meat of my slight hesitation:

"CPD has expressed concerns about invading its employees' personal privacy by conducting a search of their personal e-mail accounts. CPD, however, has taken no action to ascertain whether the CPD employees named in the FOIA request might possess responsive records.

"Although FOIA does not specifically describe the manner in which a public body is required to perform its search, an automated search of the entirety of a personal e-mail account using a search term is not necessarily required.

"Depending on the circumstances, ordering CPD officers to produce any responsive records may satisfy the requirement that CPD conduct a reasonable search."

Aha. Now, that's putting an awful lot of trust in those officers. This is where violating FOIA needs far, far stiffer penalties (and prosecutions) than currently exist. Even then, I'm not so sure this provision is sufficient. But we shall see.

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Song Of The Moment: Smack My Bitch Up
Eaaaheeyheeaheyyyee. We take a look.

God Has A Plan For This Insufferable House-Flipping Couple That Doesn't Include Living In Chicago
Straight outta Central Casting.

Madman With A Water Pistol
Where Is The War Against Terrorble Mental Health Services?

Why BLM Should Take On Charter Schools
It's ironic many in the education reform movement believe they should be embraced by Black Lives Matter, even though many of the theories and practices many of us are fighting against in the criminal justice arena are still openly embraced by many charter schools.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Breakfast In America: My Aunt's Nuts
If the English Premier League season ended today . . .

The Four Faces Of Premier League Management
These charismatic box-office managers will dominate headings this season - and one will lift the Premier League trophy in May 2017.

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BeachBook

8-Year-Old Chicago Boy Tackles Homelessness With 'Blessing Bags.'

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: About right.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:41 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

"A scathing assessment by the City of Chicago's inspector general is recommending that at least 10 officers involved in the Laquan McDonald case be fired or severely disciplined - a report that is sitting on the desk of Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, awaiting his action," the Sun-Times reports.

"Johnson is preparing to clean house, and among the first casualties is Deputy Chief David McNaughton, who retired on Friday, sources said."

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Wait, this just in:

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Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

"McNaughton signed off on the controversial McDonald report, which initially cleared Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke of any wrongdoing in fatally shooting McDonald. McNaughton wrote: 'Officer Van Dyke fired his weapon in fear of his life when the offender while armed with a knife continued to approach and refused all verbal direction.'"

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Presumably the IG's report will be made public any day now; from the looks of the Sun-Times article, they don't have it yet.

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Chicago Doctor Escapes Aleppo, Pleads For U.S. Aid
Northwestern University surgeon appeals to Obama, our consciences.

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From Shock Theatre To Svengoolie
Chicago horror book now in paperback.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

J-Hey Worse Than Bullpen
In The Cub Factor.

Only Thing Missing Is Andy The Clown
In The White Sox Report.

How Do Archers Resist Firing Arrows At Everybody In The Spectator's Gallery?

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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Cherry Glazerr, Lala Lala, Mikal Cronin, Ignescent, '68, The Fall of Troy, The Pilfers, Shokker, Hepcat, Reggae Fest, Condemn The Hive, The Doobie Brothers, Toto, and Steven Tyler.

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BeachBook

The Daily Show: A Suspicious Police Shooting In Chicago.

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Half Of Wisconsin's Black Neighborhoods Are Jails.

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Trial By Jury Is Vanishing In America

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Andy Murray Had To Remind A TV Host That Venus And Serena Williams Exist.

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Meet Chicago's White House-Honored Intersex Activist.

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Patriots Using Shea McClellin In Fun, New Ways.

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Eyewitness News Opening, 1976.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Up until now, it hasn't been time.

*

*

#ImGonnaMissHim.

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Thigh high.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:46 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Cherry Glazerr at Subterranean on Thursday night.


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2. Lala Lala at Subterranean on Thursday night.

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3. Mikal Cronin at Thalia Hall on Friday night.

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4. Ignescent at Wire in Berwyn on Friday night.

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5. '68 at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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6. The Fall of Troy at Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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7. The Pilfers at Reggies on Friday night.

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8. Shokker at the Star Bar in Chicago Ridge on Friday night.

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9. Hepcat at Subterranean on Friday night.

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10. Akasha, Iration, Toots & The Maytals, Daby Toure, and Lee "Scratch Perry" at Reggae Fest in Addams Medill Park on Saturday.

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11. Condemn The Hive at Wire on Thursday night.

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12. The Doobie Brothers in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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13. Toto at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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14. Steven Tyler at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Chicago Doctor, One Of The Last Out Of Aleppo, Pleads For U.S. Aid Amid Civilian Syrian Slaughter

"Civilians are trapped in Aleppo, Syria's most populated city, as fighting escalates. Samer Attar, a Chicago doctor who recently volunteered in a hospital there, says conditions are deteriorating."

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Attar's Northwestern University faculty profile.

*

Addressing a United Nations session:

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Attar's plea to President Obama: Please Act To Save Civilians In Syria.

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Attar's "The Hell Of Syria's Field Hospitals" in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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CNN: The Aleppo Doctors Saving Lives Despite 'Targets On Their Heads.'

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BBC: An American Doctor's Experience In Aleppo.

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Speaking to Doctors Without Borders:

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ITV News:

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NBC: U.S. Doctor: 300,000 Face Death Or Starvation In Aleppo.

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Tribune, 2013: Orthopedic Surgeon Returns From Medical Mission To Syria.

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Previously in Syria:
* The [Tuesday] Papers: You have a better chance of winning the Illinois Lottery - and getting paid - than a terrorist has of slipping into the United States posing as a refugee.

* The [Wednesday] Papers: Why I want to hug a woman wearing a hijab today.

* Here's The Story Of One Syrian Family That Resettled In Chicago.

* Where Have 4.8 Million Syrian Refugees Gone?

* Syrian Father And Son Whose Plight Went Viral Find Refuge In Spanish Soccer.

* Syria's Stateless Children.

* U.S. Bombings In Syria Kill 77 Civilians, Including Children.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

From Shock Theatre To Svengoolie Now In Paperback!

"A fun read . . . answers a lot of the 'frequently asked questions' viewers usually ask of me!" - Rich Koz, "Svengoolie"

svenbook.jpg

"The book gives the history of both hosted and unhosted shows that ran horror films - and lists many titles that ran on the shows," Svengoolie says.

"It is especially relevant when it comes to the facts and history about the hosted programs - and undoubtedly the best source of information of these 'creatures of the video night' (or, daytime, depending on the time slot!).

"Now that we're seen around the country, and we get so many questions about our show, this is the perfect way for our new fans to catch up on the histories of both the original Sven, Jerry G. Bishop, and myself - as well as Chicago's first horror host, Marvin (some say there was an earlier host, some 'Swami,' but he did mostly thrillers, and didn't fall under the umbrella of original horror hosts spawned by Universal's release of its 'Shock' package of films to TV stations, which included so many of the Universal classic monsters.)"

"A REAL eye-opener." - Terror Dave

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"Chicago TV Horror Movie Shows: From Shock Theatre to Svengoolie is the first comprehensive look at Chicago's horror movie programs, from their inception in 1957 to the present," according to Issue Forum.

"Through career profiles of the Horror Hosts who provided comedic interludes between commercial breaks, discover which creepy presenter was one of the 12 reporters to travel around the country with the Beatles during their 1965-66 U.S. tour, and learn about the politics behind Channel 32's sudden (and outrageous) switch from Svengoolie to the Ghoul.

"Also included are broadcast histories of such 'hostless' programs as Creature Features, Thrillerama, The Big Show, The Early Show, The Science Fiction Theater, and Monster Rally, along with a guide to 100 fright films broadcast on Chicago television and a look at the 'Shock!' horror library that started a TV craze."

Interview with the authors:

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Available from Southern Illinois University Press.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 AM | Permalink

Jason Heyward Even Worse Than Bullpen

Losing winnable games in the late innings is a real kick in the nuts. But even good bullpens do that from time to time.

I'm not saying the Cub bullpen is good, because right now, they really aren't so good, but I'm saying that even the good ones blow some games here and there.

So yeah, it's going to happen. We all just have to hope that things get turned around in these last handful of weeks in the 'pen so things are a little rosier moving into the playoffs.

But what the heck is wrong with Jason Heyward?

What is going on now - you know, the whole "let him work it out thing" - is just not working. It's time for Big Poppa Joe to give Heyward the Chris Coghlan treatment. Which means, just play him when the match-ups line up well.

It's rather amazing that the Cubs have been able to score as much as they have with Heyward in the lineup, but so often it seems like in these close games Heyward is up in a key situation and just "Heywards" all over it. He gets pitches to smack, yet, he does not smack them.

It's time to start treating him like the rest of the guys in the outfield pool. Work him in as a defensive replacement and start him only when there is a tasty match-up in his favor.

Which seems like never right now, but I'm sure Big Poppa Joe can figure something out.

And sure, with a sizable lead in the division and everyone else playing pretty solid out there, you do have the luxury of playing a defense-first outfielder every day, but man, don't you have to think that sitting the guy a bit certainly couldn't hurt his output right now?

I mean, there's really no way it could be much worse, right? Is he pressing too much? Is it confidence? Is it just straight up badness? Who the hell knows? But I do know that it's so bad it is worth changing up.

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The Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-2 for the week, taking two from the Angels and splitting four with the hated Cardinals. A split with the Cardinals should feel fine given the overall standings right now, but man, to lose two games in the 8th inning was really hard to watch. I'm just going to stare at the standings for a while to make myself feel better.

The Week in Preview: The boys in blue have Monday off to gargle with some Old Style to get the taste of their last two losses out of their mouths. Then they welcome the Brew Crew in for a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday to kick off a four-game series with our neighbors to the north before hitting the road for a weekend set with the Rockies in Denver. Barring bullpen explosions, they should win a few this week.

Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn.

On Friday all three of the Cub outfielders hit a homer. Which is clearly great, but the more greater (better?) deal is that the homers were all hit by backup outfielders. Willson Contreras, Jorge Soler and Szczur (twice!) all went deep. And it makes sense that it was the backup outfielders as the starter in right typically is Jason Heyward, and he doesn't even hit the ball out of the infield, much less over the fence. So the outfield is pretty deep; maybe one of them can pitch the 8th inning.

Potential Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm going to change it up here and nominate Jonathan Papelbon as Potential Annoying Cub. There are some rumblings that the Cubs are kicking the tires on the former Nats and Red Sox closer. I'm not so sure this is going to work. But I do know that he will probably be annoying no matter what happens. Because he just seems like an annoying guy. Even the Washington Post said "Papelbon arrives in D.C. with the reputation as a pompous, crotch-grabbing clubhouse cancer and certifiable jerk." Yeah, that's about right.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: I've just about had enough of Joe Smith and Mike Montgomery. At this point I just lump them together and call them Montgomery Smith. You would have thought that going to a new team as good as the Cubs would get these guys a little jacked up and pitching better than they were pre-Cubs. But no, they've been pretty atrocious. So, Montgomery Smith, you are the Current Annoying Cub.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe did address the possibility of taking away at-bats from J-Hey. What's interesting is that how he mentions the spot starts make the other guys look good, but doesn't mention that maybe spots starts could make Heyward look good too. So, it doesn't really hold up there, Joe. Still, Joe isn't going to come right out and bench him; he'll put the Maddon spin on it somehow.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the second Cubs-Brewers game on Tuesday will receive a bobblehead commemorating Joe Maddon's 2015 Manager of the Year award. I wonder if you can get 2016's at the same time.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that there really isn't much to complain about.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:16 AM | Permalink

Clown Show

Driving east on Division one morning a few weeks ago, I crossed Dearborn and spied a familiar figure on the Northwest corner. There in full Cub regalia, including a batting helmet rather than a hat, stood Ronnie (Woo Woo) Wickers, reading a newspaper, minding his own business, and attracting not so much as a honking horn or a high five from passing pedestrians. The guy could have been invisible.

Not so long ago, Ronnie would have been engaged in goofy exchanges, and he might even have offered a "Rizzo, woo! Bryant, woo!" to entertain the gaga fans, who would immediately text their friends, "You'll never guess who I just saw."

But those days are long gone. Whether fans found guys like Ronnie totally annoying or pleasingly entertaining, there was no arguing that he was part of the scene on the North Side. He usually found friendly fans to provide him with a ticket to the bleachers where he led cheers. When his decayed front teeth resulted in a wide gap in his uppers, fans took up a collection so that he could be outfitted with dentures.

Ronnie Woo's heyday was the early to mid-80s, when he crowed about Sandberg, Buckner, Davis and Sutcliffe. Like so many aspects of the game, including the final play at home plate Sunday as the White Sox bowed 5-4 in Miami, personalities like Ronnie are unwelcome in big league parks, having been replaced by so-called mascots of each team's creation. Only the Dodgers, Angels and Yankees lack a mascot today.

Andy Rozdilsky Jr., better known as Andy the Clown, was a fixture at Comiskey Park from the early 1960s until the present ownership arrived in 1981. His "Goooo youuuu Whiiiiite Soooox" could be heard throughout the ballpark - today's mascots are mimes; they never utter a sound - and every time he shook a kid's hand, his red nose lit up. He was a delight.

Despite Andy's affectionate, friendly demeanor, he wasn't cool in the eyes of Jerry and Eddie. They did their best to phase out Andy, despite the fans' wishes, and exacerbated the situation with the introduction of the obnoxious and intrusive Ribbie and Roobarb, two huge goofballs designed by the same people who brought Philadelphians the Phillie Phanatic.

I can remember sitting behind first base and having my view blocked by one or the other of the infamous duo. Fans would scream at them to move their asses. Two or even three Andy the Clowns could have fit into the costumes. By 1988, Ribbie and Roobarb were part of White Sox history.

And so was Andy. He was restricted to the upper deck beginning in 1981, and when U.S. Cellular Field was built, Andy joined Ribbie and Roobarb as part of the team's lore.

There were other real life human beings who were unique cheerleaders for their teams. Wild Bill Hagy made a career out of using his body to spell out "Orioles" atop the home dugout in Baltimore. Like Andy, when they built a new ball park, Wild Bill's days came to an end.

Max Patkin, known as the Clown Prince of Baseball, was the best-known baseball entertainer, making fans laugh for 50 years beginning in the 1940s. Performing primarily one-night stands at minor league ball parks throughout the country, Max never missed an engagement.

He "coached" first base for two or three innings with an array of crazy antics that got the fans howling while the players begrudgingly became part of the act
.
Many of today's fans know of Patkin through his cameo appearance in the film Bull Durham.

Ted Giannoulas, better known as the San Diego Chicken, changed peripheral entertainment in ballparks beginning in 1975. Casting spells on the visiting team and harassing opposing players were his staples, and he was definitely funny.

The Chicken went national, and few teams neglected to hire him for at least one game during the season since it was no secret that attendance would spike for Chicken Day.

Giannoulas was the trailblazer for present-day mascots as ballclubs hired design firms to create easily identifiable images such as the Pirate Parrot, the Oriole Bird, and Billy the Marlin.

The Sporting News listed Giannoulas among its Top 100 Most Powerful People in Sports in the 20th Century.

While there remain a few regular guys like the drum-beater in Cleveland where the White Sox play this week, management has held a firm grip on mascots since Giannoulas first arrived on the scene. The Andys, Ronnies, and Wild Bills did their own thing, and that lack of control isn't permitted in today's climate. Mascots follow the script, and if they waver, you can always train another Fredbird in St. Louis or Rosie Red in Cincinnati.

Today's Sox mascot Southpaw was introduced to The Cell in 2003. Most kids like him, and he does his best not to impede your view of the game. You can rent him for your "birthday party, wedding, store event, community festival, family get-together and more," according to the Sox website.

What about a bachelorette party? Would Southpaw jump out of a cake and strip? I suspect "and more" doesn't include that.

Southpaw's role on the South Side has taken on greater significance the past few seasons since the product on the field continues to baffle and frustrate the folks in the seats. A little diversion in the form of a fuzzy, silent creature at least has a chance to delight the younger set.

The Sox finally won a series over the weekend in Miami after dropping the previous four, including two-of-three in Kansas City before traveling to South Florida. They were going for a sweep on Sunday with Chris Sale again seeking his elusive 15th victory.

Along with all the changes in the game, including the aforementioned mascots, catchers no longer are permitted to block the plate without the ball. However, that's apparently what Marlins' catcher Jeff Mathis did Sunday in the top of the ninth as pinch runner Carlos Sanchez was ill-advisedly waved around third base by coach Joe McEwing with the Sox down 5-4 with two outs.

Mathis clearly was in front of the plate in order to corral left fielder Christian Yelich's one-hop throw. I don't know where else he could have stationed himself, but he still was blocking the plate without the ball which arrived in plenty of time to nail Sanchez and end the game. It took only 15 seconds for the boys in New York to review the play, which was confirmed.

The ninth inning was so typical White Sox. They collected four hits off Fernando Rodney. After Justin Morneau struck out for the second out, Adam Eaton, who reached base 10 times in 15 at-bats during the weekend series, singled to advance pinch runner Sanchez to second.

Tyler Saladino, who went 5-for-14 with three RBI against the Marlins, dropped a base hit in front of Yelich, who came up throwing just as Sanchez reached third base.

McEwing later defended his decision to send Sanchez, which is difficult to understand. Yelich won a Gold Glove in 2014. When he fields a single with a runner on second, about half the time the runner holds at third. Sanchez was the second runner this season thrown out at home by Yelich.

In addition, Yelich didn't need to make a perfect throw because Mathis had the ball well in advance of Sanchez's arrival. Meanwhile, Melky Cabrera, the Sox leading hitter with a .299 average, was waiting on deck. Cabrera also is a good contact hitter who had two previous hits on Sunday. Of course, he never got a chance. Chalk it up to a White Sox staple, yet another creative and different way to lose a ballgame.

Southpaw should be so creative.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:09 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2016

The Weekend Desk Report

"[T]he Kane County Cougars are hosting a promotion they're calling Political Corruption Night Thursday, when the team plays the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at 6:30 p.m. in Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva," the Elgin Courier-News reports.

George Ryan should throw out the first pitch to a holographic Rod Blagojevich.

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Chicago Foodies

* "Oysters, for instance, aren't served with the traditional accompaniments, but with the neon relish of the Chicago hot dog."

* "A Chicago man faced felony burglary charges for breaking into cars and stealing cash so he can afford to try different types of pizzas from various restaurants throughout the city."

* "The Italian beef sandwiches can get complicated, so employees help guide customers through the process."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Proceed To Checkout
America on Elston.

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Hush Sound, The Fixx, Berlin, Charles Joseph Smith, and Tashi Dorji and Michael Zerang.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett's 2015 album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit was a critical success and Sound Opinions favorite. Her conversational songwriting manages to be simultaneously clever and poignant, and her guitar technique combining lead and rhythm parts is nothing short of impressive. All of her skills are on display as Courtney Barnett joins Jim and Greg for an interview and intimate solo performance in front of an audience. Plus, a review of the new album from country singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless."

*

Catching up with last week's Sound Opinions: "In the late 1950s, Jamaican musicians blended homegrown rhythms with R&B to create ska. The genre's influence quickly spread across the globe, paving the way for the reggae phenomenon. Jim and Greg explore the history of ska from its island origins to its British revival to its most recent punk incarnation. Plus, a review of the debut album from poet and soul singer Jamila Woods."

Previously in Jamila Woods:
* Covering "Hey Ya," (last item).

* Debuts "blk girl soldier."

* Meet Hollis Wong-Wear & Jamila Woods, The Women Of Color Behind Macklemore's 'White Privilege II.'"

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

TrackNotes: Jim Dandy And The Pizza Man
The passwords: Wow, Dammit, Splash, and Delicious.

The 2016 Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 2: Zero RB
Matt Forte vs. Jeremy Langford.

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #115: Coghlan's Army (Or, Tommy La Who?)
Winning Weird: Everything's Coming Up Cub; Grandpa!; Tommy La Stella's Search For Purpose; Jason Heyward Is A Remarkably Bad Hitter Right Now; Funky Drumming Bullpen; All Addison Russell Does Is Hit With Runners In Scoring Position.

Plus: MLB Forces White Sox To Finish Season; Tickets Will Actually Be Sold. Call Team For More Information.

And: We Miss Matt Slauson, And So Too, Apparently, Do The Bears; Denver's Wildcat; This Is It, John Fox; We're Already Tired Of You Going 6-10 Every Year.

Finally: Amazing Feats Of Human Endeavor (Rio 2016 So Far).

*

Awesome Show Notes.

How Do Archers Resist Firing Arrows At Everyone In The Spectator Gallery?
"Years of training allow Olympic archer Sarah Voegel to somehow resist shooting arrows at fans, stadium ushers, or birds flying overhead."

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Weekend BeachBook

Illinois Sets New Limits On Stingrays.

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Weekend TweetWood

To be fair, that includes the Black Lung unit.

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Hey look, he removed the sheriff's star.

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Racist, sexist, neo-Nazi, fascist, hypocritical lies from presidential candidate merely "wacky," Area Columnist says.

*

*

Why in the world would reporters need to be reminded of that? THAT'S THE JOB. The fact that some think otherwise speaks volumes.

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The Weekend Desk Tronc Line: That's the job.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:46 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #115: Coghlan's Army (Or, Tommy La Who?)

Winning Weird: Everything's Coming Up Cub; Grandpa!; Tommy La Stella's Search For Purpose; Jason Heyward Is A Remarkably Bad Hitter Right Now; Funky Drumming Bullpen; All Addison Russell Does Is Hit With Runners In Scoring Position.

Plus: MLB Forces White Sox To Finish Season; Tickets Will Actually Be Sold. Call Team For More Information.

And: We Miss Matt Slauson, And So Too, Apparently, Do The Bears; Denver's Wildcat; This Is It, John Fox; We're Already Tired Of You Going 6-10 Every Year.

Finally: Amazing Feats Of Human Endeavor (Rio 2016 So Far).

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SHOW NOTES

* 115.

:22: Winning Weird.

* Happy Coghlan.

vs.

Happy Gilmore.

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* Coghlan!

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 3.59.33 PM.png

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Coghlan also did this:

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And, last week, this:

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Everything's Coming Up Cub.

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8:01: Tommy La Stella's Search For Purpose.

* Why Did Andre Agassi Hate Tennis?

18:13: Grandpa!

* The bunt.

* The pickoff.

23:00: Funky Drumming Bullpen.

* Other teams reportedly have strong interest in Joe Nathan.

26:29: Jason Heyward Is A Remarkably Bad Hitter Right Now.

* Buried in badness.

* No Longer A Numbers Game As Heyward Focuses On End Game.

* Paging Butch Harmon!

29:30: All Addison Russell Does Is Hit With Runners In Scoring Position.

* Clutch!

34:02: MLB Forces White Sox To Finish Season; Tickets Will Actually Be Sold. Call Team For More Information.

34:20: We Miss Matt Slauson, And So Too, Apparently, Do The Bears.

* Matt Slauson Making His Mark In San Diego.

* "Matt Slauson really helps you appreciate how bad Trevor Robinson was. He's very solid and you can tell how much easier the guards' jobs are now. Orlando Franklin should have a much better season thanks to the addition of Slauson."

* "Slauson was regarded as the toughest guy in the Chicago Bears locker room and so far he's lived up to that reputation in San Diego."

("Slauson graciously does every interview asked of him.")

* "[Slauson's] brought a new attitude to the O-Line in camp and has helped improve the communication among the group."

* Apparently John Fox wants lineman who can pull and block downfield and they didn't think Slauson was athletic enough for that type of scheme. But then, you'd think he would have kept Martellus Bennett, an underappreciated downfield blocker. (And Matt Forte.)

* Windy City Gridiron: "Cutting veteran fan favorite Guard Matt Slauson and drafting a more athletic replacement in Cody Whitehair indicates a real commitment to a zone blocking run game."

* Clearly Fox believes in scheme first, rather than building around the personnel you have. Perhaps that's what's worked for him in the past, but some of us disagree with that approach - at least when your personnel set is talented enough to build around.

37:10: Denver's Wildcat.

* Kubiak: Trevor Siemian Has Best Command Of Broncos QBs.

* We have Hoyer.

44:05: This Is It, John Fox; We're Already Tired Of You Going 6-10 Every Year.

* That goes for you, too, Ryan Pace.

49:21: Amazing Feats Of Human Endeavor (Rio 2016 So Far).

* "Team USA's Mara Abbott on losing her lead and finishing fourth: 'OMG, this is going to happen - and then they passed me.'"

* See also: Mara Abbott Fighting Anorexia And Financial Chasm.

* Simone Manuel Makes History.

* Heavily Favored Australian Campbell Sisters Fail To Medal In 100M Freestyle.

* Lochte To Phelps: I'll See You In Tokyo.

* Simone Biles Calms Mother, Sends Crowd Into Frenzy.

* Biles on the beam.

* Brennan: "When you consider the National Football League had to cancel its Hall of Fame game because of a problem on the field, they couldn't put on one football game, and here Rio is seemingly them moving ahead with all of these venues, and so far, so good."

* Compare and contrast.

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STOPPAGE: 7:24

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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 3:40 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Hush Sound at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.


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2. Charles Joseph Smith at the Hideout on Wednesday night.

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3. Tashi Dorji and Michael Zerang at the Hideout on Wednesday night.

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4. The Fixx at City Winery on Thursday night.

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5. Berlin at City Winery on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

How Do Archers Resist Firing Arrows At Everyone In The Spectator Gallery?

"Years of training allow Olympic archer Sarah Voegel to somehow resist shooting arrows at fans, stadium ushers, or birds flying overhead."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo: Proceed To Checkout

America on Elston.

car.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:37 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Jim Dandy, Frosted & The Pizza Man

In our past week or so of shows, the passwords were "Wow," "Dammit," "Uh-Oh," "Splash," and "Delicious!"

It started on July 30th, Jim Dandy Day, with an audible "Oh my god" that levitated me off the couch and sent the cats running when distance/turf wonder Flintshire, having Fibber McGee's closet thrown at him by three others, rallied in the final three furlongs for a scintillating 1 3/4-length win over Grand Tito.

The SportsNet New York crew had said the plan for the others had to be the old three-man trap. They did, with only partial results, futile in a small four-horse race.

Rounding the turn and looking for a checkout lane, Flintshire just went wide and, with barely a snap of leather from JJ Castellano, ran away. The chart says it all: "before being tipped four wide three-sixteenths from home, got roused under a hand ride and given a single tap to the off side shoulder at that station, rallied inhaling the compact field to take over inside the sixteenth marker and prevailed comfortably as the rider pleased in hand to the finish."

Wow.

On to the Jim Dandy, I can honestly say I didn't like many, or maybe any of them.

Winstar/Bobby Flay hypester Creator had survived to nip up for the Belmont Stakes win and his beaten foe that day, Destin, also made it to the Dandy. Mohaymen, fourth in the Derby, showed up, as did Governor Malibu, fourth in the Belmont. It didn't even turn out to be a good betting race as the odds dipped on all of them.

And then came Laoban, a frickin' maiden. His best had been a lose-the-lead second in the Gotham in March and he couldn't get out of the gate cleanly in the Blue Grass, Preakness or Dwyer.

But this time, it was Mohaymen, just inside Laoban, who stumbled from the gate and nearly went down. Laoban shot for the lead and never looked back, but not in a heroic way. With middling fractions of :24.56 for a quarter-mile and :49.07 for the first half, Laoban was setting a pace that wasn't a pace. Fast enough to stay ahead and keep the other off him, but not so blistering for him to fall apart and let others clunk up. Mohaymen lost it in the first strides and Creator finished last. Laoban paid $56.00, $17.20 and $5.60.

Dammit.

Later that Saturday, Beholder, winner of her previous eight and 11 out of 12, met her match in Stellar Wind in a thrilling Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

It became a two-horse race, Divina Comedia finished nearly 10 lengths behind, as Beholder and 'Wind hooked up and battled all the way. Exchanging leads all the way, Beholder on the inside could not repel Stellar Wind, surrendered and finished only a half-length back.

Uh-oh.

Now six years old, the first thing you wonder about is Beholder's near future. Winner of 17 races, just two fewer than Zenyatta, she beat the boys in near-record time in last year's Pacific Classic. While we would always love to see her in a Breeders' Cup Classic, the BC Distaff now seems more logical. Mares her age have been known to simply tire of racing, and the Hirsch was an all-out effort. Let's just hope she finishes out this season in good form.

The next day, our mystery guest chalked in "Exaggerator," with the panel challenged to guess the occupation "I only run well in the mud."

As speculated last time, it came up a delicacy for the Haskell Invitational at the Jersey Shore's Monmouth Park, as if Mother Nature began her Sunday gravy on Saturday night, so as to have just the right consistency for tomorrow afternoon when everybody got to the house.

We all kept saying it seemed like yesterday when Mama put on the wedding soup and mud pies for dessert at Monmouth back in November '07 when Curlin was the guest. The weather was frightful, but he quietly spooned the soup and finished the whole bowl. Everybody agreed, he was a real go-getter.

Probably hating the slop, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Mario Gutierrez, still being criticized for his ride aboard Nyquist in the sloppy Preakness, took off at the start along with American Freedom, Awesome Slew and Gun Runner. With the first three fractions in :22 and three, :46 and three and 1:11, the quick pace developed into a duel between Nyquist and Bob Baffert's American Freedom, Rafael Bejarano aboard. Exaggerator seemed well behind, but always had the leaders hooked, and steadily began reeling them in on the far side. Waiting for the leaders to tire, he came spinning out of the turn, went wide and hit the Slip'N Slide on the stretch and prevailed by a growing length-and-a-half.

Bejarano filed an objection that Exaggerator cut in front of him in the stretch, which he did, but the stewards ruled Kent Desormeaux's horse was well past.

In a variation of the no-leg-to-stand-on argument, Desormeaux said in the winner's circle "Bejarano knew, but like he said, it's a million-dollar race. He had to (object)." Deliciously, Desormeaux pushed himself away from the table.

But race fans are still stumped: Can Exaggerator win like this on a dry track? He, and many of those we've talked about today, figure to get off the Pullman Palace Car at The Spa for Saratoga's Travers Stakes. Like any vacation in the north woods, some years it's just plain rainy up there the whole time. Why, I saw a Travers once where it got so dark, I almost thought they'd have to have a standing start before the lightning came. It will be fun to guess what's in the head of Exaggerator trainer Keith Desormeaux. And us pari-mutuel participants.

Splash.

There was one more.

Frosted. The Whitney. Grade I. $1.25 million.

Kate bar the door, we got a horse, and what he did and might do?

I dunno, I'm not a horseman, but they say a horse knows when another might have his number. They also say a horse matures at four. Does a horse get ticked off?

Beaten in the Florida chain Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth, he did an 18-point Beyer Speed Figure improvement in winning the Wood Memorial 15-plus months ago. Then he ran into, guess who, American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont in 2015.

Ungodly losses to Texas Red and Keen Ice in the Jim Dandy and Travers - which 'Pharoah lost too - Frosted, the son of Tapit (Pulpit) and Deputy Minister mare Fast Cookie must have been wondering.

So he goes to Dubai, wins the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) but loses (fifth) to California Chrome in the Dubai World Cup.

That was late March. So Frosted comes back in early June at Belmont and annihilates the Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile), recording a 123 Beyer Speed Figure. I immediately thought of Ghostzapper, 128 and 124 in 2004, and American Pharoah's 120 in 2015. And so many others. Today? 115+ is wonderful.

We were all amazed.

Daily Racing Form national handicapper Mike Watchmaker still puts California Chrome ahead of Frosted because of Chrome's performance in the Dubai World Cup, but, boy, are we looking forward to those two in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Delicious.

Exaggerator? American Freedom?

If they want to make this fight, it will be a spectacular.

Area Track Hosts Big Race
Not to forget, but it's Arlington Million Day on Saturday.

To be honest, you look at the Europeans and you don't see standouts. Some of them who've been running in America.

One Mean Man in The Secretariat looks good, winning the American Derby prep here for this race.

In The Secretariat, Al's Gal been running a lot of races. Marypop, Elusive Million?

The Million? The Pizza Man is back. He won this last year but is a disrespected 10-1 morning line. He beat Big Blue Kitten last year, but the Kitten has scratched this year. You gotta go Euros like Decorated Knight or Wake Forest, who's been running in America, and very well. He'll be the favorite.

Betting? Include a favorite and also a longshot. Sorry, I don't know any better either.

It'll be on local Comcast SportsNet, and I'm also seeing it on an East Coast feed. If you have it in your heart or ability, avoid Howard Sudberry, Dan Roan or any of those local guys.

It's a shame. Arlington is barking at a moon that only they see, and it's sad. But it's only sad if they care. And they do not.

But that doesn't help me.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

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Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 2
Year of the Zero RB Strategy.

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BeachBook

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Tronc the night away.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

The 2016 Fantasy Fix Football Draft Guide Pt. 2: Year Of The Zero RB

This season is supposed to the year the "Zero RB" strategy becomes the default strategy for drafting fantasy football teams, wherein everybody waits until the fourth or fifth round to draft their first RB.

What that means, of course, is that some of us might find ourselves with a great big opportunity to pick up a really good RB with late first-round and early second-round draft spots . . . if we dare.

Here's my RB rankings, with a couple of notes on when to draft them:

1. Todd Gurley, LAR

I have him No. 5 overall and that won't change. If one of the top four WRs - Brown, Beckham, Jr., Jones or Hopkins - is still there at No. 5, I'd take one of those guys, but then Gurley becomes a steal. If Gurley is still there at No. 7 or 8, take him, and go WR in Round 2.

2. Adrian Peterson, MIN

The most reliable RB pick in Round 1. People will question Gurley's durability going into his second year, but even as age is becoming an issue, few will question AP's ability to log 1,100+ yards rushing and 8-10 TDs.

3. David Johnson, ARI

He's flashy, can pile up stats, and a few rankers even have him No. 1 among RBs. His coach isn't super RB-friendly and has good depth at the position if he wants to spread touches. Might not take him within the top 6 overall, but could be a late first round bargain.

4. Ezekiel Elliott, DAL

Some have argued for the rookie to be the No. 1 RB, and within the top 5 overall. DAL's impressive O-line and its historical dependence on workhorse backs are factors. Too unproven for me to go that high, but clearly he'll be drafted first round universally.

5. Lamar Miller, HOU

This is where my second tier of RBs starts, but I have no problem making him an earlier second rounder for my team's RB-1, as he's now with a team that has and will throw to its RBs when not throwing to WR stud DeAndre Hopkins.

6. Le'Veon Bell, PIT

As always, it's a very fluid situation with Bell, as he might be suspended for four games and is coming back from injury, though camp reports suggest he's stronger than last season. He may move up my rankings before preseason is done, but with a potential 12-game season and injury history, I'm not ready to use a first-round pick on him.

7. Doug Martin, TAM

Moving up my ranks as we speak. His 1,402 rushing yards last year were his most since his amazing 2012 rookie campaign, and included a 235-yard game, but he tapered off late in the season, and often shares touches with pass-catching specialist Charles Sims. Still a solid RB-1, and possibly a bargain if he's still available late in the second round.

8. Jamaal Charles, KC

Only lasted five games last season, though his 5.1 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per catch were improvements on his sluggish 2014 season. Faces a lot of questions about age and durability now, but still figures huge in KC's game plan as both a runner and receiver.

9. Mark Ingram, NO

Nothing flashy last year outside of a 143-yard game - his only one of 100+ yards rushing - but some key data: 4.6 yards per carry last year slightly better than 2014, and 50 catches in 12 games last year after just 29 in 2014.

10. Eddie Lacy, GB

Lacy's moving up the ranks, and could works his way much higher before the month is done. He's fit and focused, and has a personal chip on his shoulder after a disastrous 2015 season. For now, it's all talk, but a good preseason could make him a late first-round pick.

11. Devonta Freeman, ATL

Many have him in the first round, but all indications are that his workload will be lightened. Has the potential to do nothing for a half, then explode for 10 fantasy points on a single play, so take him higher if you're comfortable with that. Not me.

12. Matt Forte, NYJ

Getting into third-round picks here, and Forte is falling fast, while backfield mate Bilal Powell rises. Jets' O-line is not great, but Forte has made a living off screen passes before and should be motivated to make the Bears look foolish.

13. Thomas Rawls, SEA

Went from Marshawn Lynch's understudy last year to a top 5 fantasy starter - until he suffered a season-ending injury. Yet, four 100+ yard games in a 10-game span, including a 209-yard effort, bode really well if you get him early third round or even late second.

14. Jeremy Hill, CIN

All he does is score TDs - I mean that's really the only thing he does. He had 11 last season, tied for the lead among RBs. His 794 rushing yards don't help his case at all, and he doesn't catch many passes, but could get more touches amid CIN's lack of receivers.

15. Latavius Murray, OAK

Despite a couple 100+ yard games last season he didn't have the breakout many envisioned. Yet he still managed 1,066 yards on more than 300 carries, and OAK has a very good O-line. The big risk is if OAK decides to lighten his workload to keep him healthy.

16. LeSean McCoy, BUF

Not sure why everyone has him higher after he collected only 895 yards rushing last year, five total TDs and saw scoring chances vultured by Karlos Williams. BUF has him No. 1 on the depth chart, but he's an RB-2 in my book.

17. Matt Jones, WAS

He had exactly one game over 100 yards last year and it was early, but the emerging dual-threat back has been handed the starting job in WAS with Alfred Morris gone. It's been hard to trust the WAS backfield for about a decade, but Jones looks like a safe bet.

18. Jonathan Stewart, CAR

Finally got a chance to be the lead runner on his team, and didn't do all that much with it. 989 yard rushing and six TDs is pedestrian enough, but he was rarely used in the passing game. Still, he doesn't share rush touches with anyone, which elevates his value.

19. C.J. Anderson, DEN

He hasn't shown much after being a chic first-rounder last year, but I'm buying into the hype that he's improved his quickness out of the backfield and will get more opportunities this year after ending up in a committee last year.

20. Arian Foster, MIA

A frequently injured player turning 30 doesn't sound very reliable, but Foster delivers when he plays. The question is how much will he split touches with much-hyped backfield mate Jay Ajayi.

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Just missed: Dion Lewis/James White/Tyler Gaffney/Someone else, NE

Betting on NE RBs is always risky business. Lewis is coming off an ACL injury, and may miss the opening of the season, but was a PPR gold mine in seven game last season. White and Gaffney are both largely untested and competing with several other backs. What's clear is that whoever catches most of passes out of the Pats' backfield is a definite fantasy starter regardless of whether the QB is Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four games or Tom Brady the rest of the way.

Sleeper: Jeremy Langford, CHI

He doesn't break the top 25 in many experts' rankings, averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last year, and John Fox is famous for using a committee approach at RB, but his 12.7 yards per catch are great for an RB, and he had seven total TDs last season, more than several of the RBs. mentioned above.

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Previously:
* Part 1: The Top 20: New World Order.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:07 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2016

The [Wednesday] Papers

"John Oliver Has Given Us The Best Defense Of Newspapers Ever," syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker writes.

Please tell me: Who is against newspapers? Why this constant need to defend them?

Nobody. Nobody is against newspapers.

People are against crappy newspapers. People are against some things newspapers do. But nobody is against newspapers on the whole; this is a straw man made of newsprint by intellectually unable people.

Newspapers haven't been foundering for decades because people are "against" them. Newspapers have been foundering for decades because of a plethora of greedy, short-sighted business decisions combined with a change-resistant newsroom culture built on fear and arrogance.

This need to constantly cry out that this article or that investigation proves the worth of newspapers - and of journalism in a broader sense - is maddening, and illustrates perfectly the ignorance of those doing the pleading.

Who doesn't believe journalism has value?

Advertisers en masse no longer believe that newspapers - or their websites - deliver the kind of value they once believed they did (and they're right, though that belief was largely built on an illusion of how many people saw their ads and how effective that was), but that is not the same as the public not believing that journalism has no value.

And neither does the unwillingness of more folks to subscribe to newspapers - print or online. Newspapers have always been sold at a cost far less than what they take to produce, because readers are the product being sold to advertisers, and gathering as many of them as possible (or as many with the "right" demographics) is thus a business objective. Also, the vast majority of what a newspaper produces isn't worth a single penny to one reader or another. Only a tiny fraction of what newspapers produce is Journalism, and in a democracy, no one should have to pay for the rest to find out their mayor is a crook.

A failure of newsrooms - filled with journalists who posit themselves as instant experts of everything - to understand these basic concepts of their own industry has gone a long way toward the industry's near-total failure to adapt to the digital age, which offers so many more opportunities than the print age. That way lives salvation.

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From a 2007 article about famed (to those of us in the know) Wall Street newspaper analyst John Morton:

He sees two key missions for the nation's dailies in the next few years. They need to invest in news gathering to make themselves more vital resources in their communities. And they need to convert more of their operations online as quickly as possible in order to reduce the burdensome costs of newsprint, printing, and delivery.

That was almost 10 years ago.

Morton also offered some context for the economic woes afflicting a business that has witnessed the breakup of some of its major publicly owned chains.

"This is still a profitable industry. Publicly reporting companies last year showed profit margins of almost 18%. There are some industries that can only dream of delivering a profit margin like that."

The industry has always been unusually profitable. Where did all that money go? Perhaps some industrious reporters should investigate!

One message he has frequently stressed was that the business was producing enviable profit margin despite Wall Street's lack of enthusiasm.

Still, Morton acknowledged that those current 18% margins are down from about 22% a few years ago and there are problems on the horizon. He is particularly skeptical about whether newspapers will use the move to the Web to broaden their coverage and appeal or as an excuse to shrink their newsroom.

Morton said the online world poses the greatest challenges and offers the best opportunities for the industry.

Emphasis mine.

Morton holds that if newspapers use the Web the right way, it could be of great benefit. "I've seen the P and Ls (profit and loss statements) of some news sites. Their margins are up over 50% in some cases," he said.

There are real savings to be had for newspapers if they can move more and more of their publication online. If an advertiser shifts a dollar of spending in the local paper to only .40 cents online, the math can still work for newspapers, Morton said, but only with reductions in printing and delivery costs.

The key for the industry, he stressed, is how the parent companies handle their online revenues - whether they use them to bump up profit margins or invest in reporting resources.

We've seen which direction most papers have gone, and it hasn't been pretty. Meanwhile, reporters and editors who like to "keep their heads down" have buried themselves in ignorance instead of leading the charge to a brighter future. Because, you know, that's for the other guys to figure out - the guys we hate because they're just in it to stuff money in their own pockets and they don't really get what we do, meaning, they don't understand the product. But just leave it up to them and make sure the water committee meeting is staffed.

Come to think of it, newsrooms don't understand the product, either.

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The answer isn't complicated: true digital-first thinking and more innovative, revenue-producing products in various niches, delivered in various ways. It's not about civic journalism, hyperlocal journalism, data journalism, ad technology or the latest doohicky - despite what the mediocrities at the nation's foundations think, having flushed millions of dollars down the toilet in an effort to seem smart and with it.

I'll repeat just two examples of my thinking:

1. If I ran a news organization in Minneapolis-St. Paul, I'd invest in a website (along with e-mail newsletters and other platforms) that covered the fuck out of the Mall of America. I'd use the profits to subsidize public affairs journalism on my main site. There are opportunities like that in every city.

2. That's the local play. There's also a national/global play available to many organizations. If I'm the Tribune Company tronc, long ago I would have taken advantage of my reporting staffs around the country to create national political and sports sites - Deadspin, only with an ethical compass, more original reporting and more innovation. Or, say, a version of Grantland. You've already got the staff and an infrastructure. Sadly, you don't have the mindset, or the skill, really, but no one one was better positioned than newspapers to do all the things that have undercut newspapers. Instead of laying off national political reporters because, hey, you just need one to serve all the company's properties, they could have created something like Politico, only better. Add a subscription newsletter and Capitol Fax-like site for local congressional delegations and you're good to go.

And then, think beyond these traditional subject areas. Some of you out there know what I mean - the stuff I've talked about for years. Ripe. Just sitting there.

Second Amendment People
Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: Thomas Friedman wins the day with this absolutely perfect column:

Friedman was once great, you know. He was an excellent Middle East correspondent for the Times, and his book From Beirut to Jerusalem is a tour de force filled with uncommon insight, Edward Said notwithstanding.

Sadly, Friedman's world has become flat since then, perhaps too comfortably cushioned by his berth as a Times columnist, his immense wealth, and a need to replicate insight that once came from hard-core reporting but now originates purely inside his own mind, and the minds of his airplane seatmates and the world's wisest taxi drivers, whom he has great luck in always hailing.

But today, on Trump, he nailed a perfect landing just when you thought it had all been said as well as it could have been on Twitter.

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If you only read two things today, make this the second thing after Friedman's column. Again, hugely insightful.

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I thought this was pretty good. Crickets.

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Rod Baloneyvich
A lot of foolishness, again, from the punditry. I'm working on it.

Meanwhile, from the Beachwood vault: Blago Ruling Indicts Media.

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Proposal: A gag order for any pundit, columnist, journalist or even citizen who suggests what Blago's sentence should be just out of "feel" and without any regard to actual U.S. sentencing guidelines, along with a full reading of the indictment against him, the judge's explanation, and the decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the convictions. If you think Blago has been wronged, please cite the law, the guidelines, and precedent.

More to come on that.

Paul O'Neal
In the queue, along with a lot of other stuff. I'm trying.

Also, I need a million dollars. I'm totally willing to start with half up front.

Being Civil
"Chicago police have shot 702 citizens - killing 215 - in the past 15 years, according to Police Department records obtained by the Tribune under the Freedom of Information Act. Not once have federal law enforcement officials brought criminal civil rights charges against an officer in those shootings," the paper reports.

My understanding is that federal civil rights charges will also not be forthcoming against officer Jason Van Dyke in the Laquan McDonald case; that decision was apparently made several weeks ago.

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"The office of U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon declined to answer questions about why the federal investigations have taken years, and why no Chicago cop involved in a police shooting has been charged."

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You'd think Fardon could have just said this, which is what the Trib reports:

"U.S. Department of Justice officials say that as much as they would like to bring more federal civil rights cases, their hands are tied by laws that require them to prove that officers acted willfully - that is, they intentionally sought to deprive someone of their constitutional rights. Incompetence, bad training or mistakes in judgment do not meet that standard.

"It is, by all accounts, a high bar to clear for a prosecutor. State and local prosecutors can charge officers with a variety of crimes for conduct that is reckless or negligent; in the case of a fatal shooting, say, they can charge first- or second-degree murder or manslaughter."

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This is a problem:

"Here in Chicago, it is difficult to get a handle on exactly the role federal authorities play or how often they are asked to investigate questionable police shootings. Cook County prosecutors do not keep statistics on how often they seek assistance from the FBI or the U.S. attorney's office. The Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that investigated more than 400 shootings by Chicago police officers since it was created in fall 2007, only began this year to track cases referred for possible federal investigation.

"For its part, the federal government also lacks complete or accurate data on police shootings. The Justice Department could not say how many times a police officer has been prosecuted on civil rights charges for wrongly shooting a citizen. In the wake of a series of shootings by police recently, FBI Director James Comey called the lack of data on officer-involved shootings 'embarrassing and ridiculous.'

"The U.S. attorney's office in Chicago could not determine if a city officer has ever been prosecuted federally for an on-duty shooting."

You can't manage what you don't measure.

And you only measure what you want to manage.

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Who Owns Our Cities?
"[W]hat marked these investments in the 1980s was utility. The buyers wanted and needed to be in New York or London. Today, the high incidence of shell companies is more about storing money and hiding it, than actually using the buildings," former University of Chicago sociologist Saskia Sassen writes in a piece we're carrying today. Go read the whole thing. But I'll excerpt the key part here:

"These days, I would argue that whether the investment is foreign or national may matter less than the fact that it is corporate. Corporate investment tends toward large-scale projects; either in large developments, or in smaller urban plots that are assembled into one larger plot. Often, existing properties are torn down to build entire new mega-projects - taller, larger, fancier than what went before.

"This kind of large-scale urban development entails significant shifts in ownership; from small or medium businesses to large corporations, or from public to private. Some of the most noxious 'site assembly' developments happen when a single owner buys one or two city blocks, and the city authorities cave in to their requirements by eliminating little streets and parks, and privatizing everything.

"We are witnessing a deep history in the making: a systematic transformation in the pattern of land ownership in some of our major cities. Whether it's national or foreign, large-scale corporate investment absorbs much of the public tissue of streets and squares, and street-level commerce. It shrinks the texture and scale of spaces that are accessible to the public, and ultimately changes the very character of the city."

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Related: Occupy Pie!

"Someone somewhere is privatizing my general surroundings."

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Illinois State Bird On Forever Stamp
Chosen by Illinois schoolchildren, immortalized by the United States Postal Service.

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BeachBook

Brooklyn's Population Now Rivals Chicago's.

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States Vie To Shield The Wealth Of The 1%.

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McDonald's Japan Posts Profit Boosted By Pokemon Go.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Although the Content Monetization Machine People, maybe we can. I don't know. That would be horrible.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:45 AM | Permalink

Who Owns Our Cities?

The term "gentrification" does not quite capture the massive changes that have been happening in a growing number of cities worldwide in the last few years. In mid-2014 to 2015 alone, more than a trillion dollars was invested in real estate, in just 100 cities across North America, Europe and Asia; this is excluding properties priced under $5 million and sites available for development.

Something else is happening. Urban land - not just buildings, but also undeveloped lots - is considered a good investment at a time when financial markets are shaky. As a result, worldwide investment in urban land is increasing rapidly.

There are diverse indications of this, which I explore in depth in my book, Expulsions. For one, the top 100 cities - as ranked by level of property investment - account for 10% of the world population, but 30% of the world's GDP (its overall economic output) and 76% of the world's property investment. So wealth is clearly being concentrated into a select group of urban areas.

Another disturbing sign is that worldwide real estate assets amount to $217 trillion, according to Savill (one of the leading expert firms on real estate). This represents 60% of the value of all global assets, including equities, bonds and gold. And let's not forget that when a piece of real estate becomes an asset, it has been financialized - which opens up all kinds of possibilities to raise the property's value.

That said, it's important to keep things in perspective. Although the world's GDP is about $270 trillion, this is dwarfed by the value of finance: measured by outstanding derivatives (the basic measure for finance), it is worth over a quadrillion dollars.

Home, Sweet Home?

There are a couple of signals that this trend has something to do with investment, rather than, say, more people moving to these cities to buy a house and start a family. Let's focus on some of the most desirable luxury buildings in Manhattan in New York - though we could have taken any of 25 or even 50 major cities in the world.

The trends I describe capture something about the desirability of investing not only in property but, perhaps especially, in urban land. This is significant in a world where much land is dying - due to desertification, floods, mining, plantation agriculture, deforestation or poisoning from mining operations.

In 2014, 54% of sales of real estate priced over $5 million in Manhattan were made to shell companies - companies used as a front for other operations. If we break it down into specific buildings, and take the most famous and highly valued Manhattan buildings, we find similar numbers.

Here are some relevant cases for the last few years. In the Warner Center in Manhattan, 122 of the 192 condos are owned by people who used shell companies, which hide their identities. In the Bloomberg Tower, 57% of condos are owned by shell companies. And in The Plaza, 69% of condos are owned by shell companies. We can observe the same trend in other cities, such as London, where 22,000 properties had been left empty for more than six months, as of February 2016.

Several major U.S. cities saw rising investments (both national and foreign) in urban properties, from offices to high-rise apartment buildings, hotels and retail. New York led, with $70 billion from mid-2014 to -15, followed by Los Angeles Metro and San Francisco Metro. These top recipient cities were followed by Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas and several others.

We see similar trends abroad, with London, Paris and Tokyo among the major recipients. In some cities, it was mostly foreign investment: for example, in London, Dublin, and Amsterdam-Randstadt. In others, it was primarily domestic investment, such as New York, Moscow and Beijing. And in many it was 50-50, as a result of the growth of foreign investment - notably in Paris, Sydney, and Vienna.

Who Owns The City?

Periods of high levels of foreign investment have recurred in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong over the decades. When I was doing my research for The Global City in the 1980s, I found multiple nationalities in the ownership of much of the City of London. In New York and Los Angeles, the acquisitions by Japanese and Middle Eastern investors had become more prominent, alongside the long-standing European investments.

But what marked these investments in the 1980s was utility. The buyers wanted and needed to be in New York or London. Today, the high incidence of shell companies is more about storing money and hiding it, than actually using the buildings.

These days, I would argue that whether the investment is foreign or national may matter less than the fact that it is corporate. Corporate investment tends toward large-scale projects; either in large developments, or in smaller urban plots that are assembled into one larger plot. Often, existing properties are torn down to build entire new mega-projects - taller, larger, fancier than what went before.

This kind of large-scale urban development entails significant shifts in ownership; from small or medium businesses to large corporations, or from public to private. Some of the most noxious "site assembly" developments happen when a single owner buys one or two city blocks, and the city authorities cave in to their requirements by eliminating little streets and parks, and privatizing everything.

We are witnessing a deep history in the making: a systematic transformation in the pattern of land ownership in some of our major cities. Whether it's national or foreign, large-scale corporate investment absorbs much of the public tissue of streets and squares, and street-level commerce. It shrinks the texture and scale of spaces that are accessible to the public, and ultimately changes the very character of the city. If we're to safeguard equity, democracy and rights in urban areas, we must first ask ourselves: Who owns the city?

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Saskia Sassen is a sociology professor at Columbia University. She was previously at the University of Chicago. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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See also:
* SaskiaSassen.com.

* Sassen's Transnational Project at the University of Chicago.

* The Global City.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:11 AM | Permalink

Illinois State Bird Immortalized On U.S. Forever Stamp

Hi,

I'm with the Postal Service and wanted to give you a heads up that Illinois' state bird has been commemorated on a Forever stamp. The Northern Cardinal appears as one of our Songbirds in Snow stamps that were just issued last week. Here's the link to the news release.

stamp.jpg

They're available in many Post Offices already, and customers also can order them online.

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Songbirds in Snow - Northern Cardinal

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Songbirds in Snow - Golden-crowned Kinglet

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Songbirds in Snow - Cedar Waxwings

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Songbirds in Snow - Red-breasted Nuthatch

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Songbirds in Snow - All four stamps

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR REPRODUCING STAMP IMAGES: The stamp design must be reproduced in its entirety, including denomination and perforations. If the stamp design is reproduced within 75-150% of stamp size, a line must be placed through the denomination to 'cancel' the reproduction and prevent its use as actual postage. The appropriate USPS trademark and copyright notices must be included. All stamp designs are considered preliminary and subject to change until such time as the First Day of Issuance.

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From State Symbols USA:

"Illinois schoolchildren selected the cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as the State Bird of Illinois, made official in 1929 by the Illinois General Assembly. One of America's fav'cheer cheer cheer,' 'whit-chew whit-chew' and 'purty purty' whistles."

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From the Illinois State Museum:

"Illinois schoolchildren chose the Cardinal as the state bird from a list: Cardinal 39.226 votes; Blue Bird 30,306; Meadowlark 16,237; Quail 15,843; Oriole 15,449. Six other states chose the Cardinal as their state bird: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:47 AM | Permalink

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Occupy Pie

Human rights don't apply on private property. (Maybe that's the point.)


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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.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics.

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2016

The [Tuesday] Papers

Ex-Governor and current felon Rod Blagojevich failed this morning in his bid for a reduced prison sentence. You can see my real-time commentary at @BeachwoodReport.

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ChiTown 95
Straight outta Humboldt Park.

Watch WGN Dude Comply With Olympic Branding Restrictions
Pat Tomasulo is Today's Best Person In Chicago.

Wind Is Weird
Walgreens receipts, Anthony's Pizza menus, failed
Lottery tickets, blind bats, blond doves,
Maple seeds, broken gods.

In Chicagoetry: Whirl.

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Breakfast In America: Race To The Bottom
"Because only a small handful of clubs have won the English Premier League championship, it's often more fun to talk about the three worst teams each year that will be relegated - demoted to, confusingly, the Championship league," our very own Eric Emery writes.

How Do Olympic Athletes Pay The Electric Bill?
To wit: "Fifty percent of track athletes who rank in the top 10 in the U.S. in their event earn less than $15,000 annually from the sport."

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TweetWood
A (non-Blago) sampling.

Like Chris Sale kept his cuts away from those uniforms.

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Shouldn't someone call the police?

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Burger King just jumped the sharkurrito.

*

*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Jump the shark.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 PM | Permalink

How Do Olympic Athletes Pay The Electric Bill?

Last week, while sitting in traffic, I noticed a weathered bumper sticker with a little acoustic guitar on it that said: "Real musicians have day jobs."

I presume most of us do have day jobs, but as the Rio Olympic Games begin, for some reason - maybe because I'm an ex-Olympic shooter - I wonder about the hundreds of young women and men who have tried (with many failing) to represent the United States in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Real musicians and Olympians seem to have a lot in common. They have ambition and enthusiasm for their craft. But like musicians, these talented young people have to pay their electric bills too. How do they support themselves and their families, all while having to diligently train, often several hours a day over the course of years? How did I pull it off?

The Haves And The Have Nots

Many might assume that since athletes are at the pinnacles of their respective sports, they're all able to live comfortably, either from endorsements or competing professionally.

But most who do make it to Rio receive very little funding, and most don't make a lot of money off their sport outside of the Olympics, either. For example, two-time Olympic javelin thrower Cyrus Hostetler recently told the Washington Post that the most he's ever earned in a year is $3,000.

(By contrast, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps's estimated net worth is about $55 million - comfortable to say the least, but paltry in the world of sports considering how elite he is; for example, the Twins' Ervin Santana and the Rangers' Matt Harrison are both on $55 million contracts.)

Sure, there are many celebrity athletes in Rio who are professionals, have corporate endorsements and have their airbrushed faces on a Wheaties box. NBA stars like Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler will take a hiatus from their NBA training camps, compete in the Olympic Games and then return to a life of material comfort. But these folks are few and far between.

The average U.S. Olympian simply does not live in the highest level of the financial stratosphere. According to the Track and Field Athletic Association, there's a "steep pyramid of income opportunities" for track and field athletes, with only a "select few" able to earn a very good living. Fifty percent of track athletes who rank in the top 10 in the U.S. in their event earn less than $15,000 annually from the sport.

Unlike in many other countries, the United States federal government doesn't fund Olympic programs, though some athletes get special funding from their national governing bodies. For example, USA Swimming reportedly provides approximately $3,000 to its top 16 ranked athletes.

But other aspiring athletes are actually unemployed and need to be supported by their families - and some families have even gone bankrupt trying to support their kid's Olympic dreams. Leading up to the 2012 Games in London, US News reported that gymnast Gabby Douglas's mother had filed for bankruptcy, in part due to "the high cost of her daughter's training, which involved living away from home for two years."

A number of aspiring Olympians - like decathlete Jeremy Taiwo and swimmer Chuck Katis - have resorted to the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to help finance their training and various travel costs.

Scraping By To Chase A Dream

In reality, countless hopefuls and current Olympians hold down real jobs working all shifts. You name it, they do it: waiter, teacher, coach, construction worker, public speaker, janitor and many other jobs. For example, swimmer Amanda Beard has worked as a model and as a public speaker to earn a living.

Many are undergraduate and graduate students who train at their universities. Some serve in the military. Several fortunate athletes live and train at regional Olympic training centers like those at Colorado Springs, Chula Vista and Lake Placid.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has created athlete employment programs that offer some support and employment opportunities. For example, the Team USA Athlete Career and Education Program exists to link aspiring athletes with organizations like Coca-Cola and Dick's Sporting Goods, among others, that provide full- and part-time employment.

In my case, I prepared over two Olympic quadrennials to get ready for the boycotted 1980 Moscow Games (a team I did not make) and the 1984 Los Angeles Games (which I did make and medal) as a shooter. It was not a financially comfortable time in my life.

I supported myself with a mix of funding from the G.I. Bill, a graduate assistantship teaching physical education classes, and work as a shooting coach. I also served part-time as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. All told, from working three jobs, I earned $500 a month (around $1,500 today), plus the cost of tuition.

In fact, I just received a Social Security statement of earned income during those eight years. It doesn't reflect the wages of a rich man during my Olympic quest - and even so I was probably one of the lucky ones. Many more fail in the dream to make an Olympic team than those who actually get to walk behind the flag in the opening ceremonies.

Chasing the Olympic dream can be exhausting. It's not a straight path. There are skilled athletes who had to drop out of their chase for a medal because of finances.

So when you watch the Olympics, consider the personal stories of the 2016 U.S. Olympians who might be making less than $12,000 a year.

I can tell you from personal experience it's not easy. But I can also tell you it can be quite rewarding.

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Edward Etzel is a professor of sport and exercise psychology at West Virginia University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:44 AM | Permalink

WGN-TV's Pat Tomasulo Reports On The Olympics International Athletic Competition Run By One Of The Most Corrupt Organizations In The World

This dude is rightly fed up with the so-called brand restrictions on Olympic coverage, including highlights, the logo, and even the theme song.

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Here's the full WGN segment:

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See also:
* Pat Tomasulo's YouTube page.

* PatTomasulo.com. (He also does stand-up.)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:54 AM | Permalink

ChiTown 95

Straight outta Humboldt Park.


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Credits:

* Produced by DJ Illanoiz

* Directed by Sense Hernandez

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From the album Free Family Portraits.

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Rodrigo Starz is half of Rebel Diaz.

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Previously in Rebel Diaz:

* Song Of The Moment: Chicago Teacher.

* Get On The Floor (item 7).

* Item: Inner Landscape Queens.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:50 AM | Permalink

Chicagoetry: Whirl

Whirl

What is a whirlwind?
They happen every day, somewhere.
The world, we know, whirls.

Rain whirls: a waterspout
Of converging rain and lake water whirled
Off Navy Pier as a front

Rolled in.

The lake
Was dancing
With the sky.

Perhaps
Not quite a whirlwind,
But perhaps a

Whirling dervish.

Wind is weird.

We see the moon, and its effects,
But of wind, only effects.

Plastic
Bags and dead leaves swirl
In small, micro-whirlwinds

Like the one in the alley
As I took the recycling out
To the green bins:

Walgreens receipts, Anthony's Pizza menus, failed
Lottery tickets, blind bats, blond doves,
Maple seeds, broken gods.

I saw them swirl.
I wondered: had I sown
The swirl?

What is a dervish?
We know they whirl.

According to Google, a dervish
Is a Sufi devotee
Who has taken vows of austerity.
But dervishes whirl

From every faith
And fervent lack thereof.
Dervishes thrive wherever
There is faith

And wherever there is fear.

They dance, they whirl, they howl.
They howl like wolves, like poems.
The long and short of it is they

Seek to bowl
Demons over with their intensity
And devotion.

But there is no devotion
Like that of the demon.
There is no howl

Like that of the dervish.
And this is, in part, because people were not made to howl.

There is no devotion like hatred
And there is no dancing--classical, modern or jazz--

Like leaves in a whirlwind.
You could never get it quite that pure
Regardless of your devotion, commitment or concentration.

Not all winds whirl.
Many howl, and they all dance
In the presence of mind.
There and only there.

I wonder:
If I sowed the swirl
Shall I reap the whirl?

There is wind without mind
But there is no dancing

Without mind,
No world without mind,
No dervishes without broken, blind

Gods.

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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 12:52 AM | Permalink

Breakfast In America: Race To The Bottom

Because only a small handful of clubs have won the English Premier League championship, it's often more fun to talk about the three worst teams each year that will be relegated - demoted to, confusingly, the Championship league.

So with a new EPL season starting Saturday, it's time to discuss the race to the bottom. Here are the reasons your team will be relegated:

Everton: Dame Judi Dench and Sir Paul McCartney are avid supporters. As you know, a club can't have that many great things.

Middlesbrough: The club that sounds the most English will earn relegation because that's what the most English club should do.

Bournemouth: All kidding aside, Bournemouth will not be relegated. Let's not joke around about that. Will they win the league? No. But we'll easily avoid relegation and I can start planning a visit to Bournemouth in 2017.

Sunderland: They play at "The Stadium of Light," which is a pretension deserving of punishment.

Manchester United: Releasing a player four years ago only to pay $100 million to get him back isn't a good business model.

West Bromwich Albion: After Chinese businessmen buys club, President Trump invades WBA and makes players produce Trump clothing line.

Arsenal: President Clinton will invade Arsenal based on faulty intelligence and logic because a name like that "has weapons of mass destruction."

Tottenham: Tottenham always finishes behind bitter rival Arsenal. See above.

Liverpool: U.S. viewership explodes and club gets distracted with 2.42 million e-mails asking, "Hey, is this where the Beatles are from?"

Stoke City: After losing first two fixtures, supporters refer to club as "Choke City." Players feel much shame.

Manchester City: After concentrating so much on beating crosstown rival Manchester United, they forfeit every other match.

Leicester City: Nobody thought they'd win the league last year. Nobody expects them to be relegated this year. They simply like to surprise people.

Hull City: We probably shouldn't make fun of the obvious.

Swansea City: EPL marketing department pushes a new rule limiting the number of "City"-named clubs in the Premier League.

Chelsea: To compete against Trump and his children, Chelsea Clinton buys Chelsea from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich. In a huge branding mistake, she renames the club "Chelsea!"

Crystal Palace: Club finally realizes that their name sounds too much like a strip club to ever be taken seriously. Fans revolt after pregame singing of "Glad All Over" is replaced with "Girls Girls Girls."

Burnley FC: Burnley struggles with self-doubt for having defend that they are actually a Football Club.

Watford: Lifelong supporter and two-time owner Elton John fights to own the club for a third time. To celebrate, John produces a third version of "Candle in the Wind" on cassette tape. The massive loss bankrupts the club.

Southampton: I don't have to have a good reason. They will finish behind Bournemouth. Okay, fine, here is one: They stink.

West Ham: Club implodes after realizing West Ham is in East London.

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Beachwood Sabermetrics: Based on all historical data available from the beginning of time, you might as well become a soccer fan. I watched the Bears at Fan Fest this weekend and they stink.

Population of the Cherry Nation: Six, up two from last week. Me; my high school friend who lives in Montana; the new Bournemouth signing American Emerson Hyndman; a guy in Florida; and a couple guys from a AFCB Facebook fan page.

Sugar in the Cherry Kool-Aid: This Week: 60%. Last Week: 100%.

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Previously in Breakfast In America:
* Which EPL Team Are You?

* Know Your Terminology.

* Lowest Common Denominator™.

* Recruitment Do's And Don'ts.

* Aboard The Dethloon Express.

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Breakfast In America on Facebook.

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Eric Emery is our man on the EPL and the EPT. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:46 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2016

The [Monday] Papers

I'll have regular column material again soon, I swear.

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Obama Drone Disclosures A Sorry Half-Measure
"Questions remain about where the Presidential Policy Guidance applies, whether the president has waived its requirements in particular instances, and how the PPG's relatively stringent standards can be reconciled with the accounts of eye witnesses, journalists, and human rights researches who have documented large numbers of bystander casualties."

Not The Van Dyke Special Prosecutor They Were Looking For
Trading one state's attorney for another wasn't the idea.

Heart Of The City TV
Welcome to Chicago - only in my nightmares.

Suicide Squad, Skid Row & Sandra Cisneros's Chicago
This is one mean-ass town - and there's nothing romantic about that.

Curious George In Chicago
Creators get the documentary treatment.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway
Zoned parking.

Did Jack The Ripper Live In Chicago?
"Setting up a shady practice on the edge of Chicago's notorious red light district, Dr. Cream was soon back in business . . . "

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From the Beachwood sports desk . . .

Beachwood Sports Radio: It's A Mad, Mad, Maddon World
He's a magic man, mama. Plus: Oh, Puig; The Bennett Brothers Vs. Everyone; Elena Delle Donne Is Gay, Engaged And In Rio; and The I Told You So Olympics.

The Cub Factor: All Guessed Out
"I've never just shook my head in disbelief this much in as long as I can remember."

The White Sox Report: Abreu Awakens
"It's not much, but it's all we have."

Adding Olympic Sports: Is U.S. Football Next?
What we can glean from the lineup for Tokyo 2020.

Chicago 2016 Spokesman, Now With USOC, Assures Us That Multimillion Dollar Donation From Scandal-Tainted Businessman Had Nothing To Do With Exclusive Rio Ticketing Contract
A lot of refusals to comment on this completely innocent arrangement.

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From the Beachwood music desk . . .

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Divino Nino, L7, Ghoul, Dolly Parton, Dear Dario, Bailiff, and Hate Dept.

Last Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Aquadolls, Nina Diaz, Aurora, Wye Oak, Robbie Fulks, Die Antwoord, Lovely Little Girls, Robbie Fulks, Bloc Party, Haim, Ellie Goulding, Plebian Bandstand, We The Fierce, Carnifex, Slaughter To Prevail, Krisiun, Jose Gonzalez, The Renegades, Demi Lovato, Grimes, Marshmello, Hardwell, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Modern Baseball, Martin Garrix, and Mac Miller.

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BeachBook

Chicago's First ($7 Million) Cat Cafe Is Behind Scheduled And Overbudget.

*

Where Do You Draw The Line?

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Dennis Rodman Explains How He Broke His Penis Three Times While Having Sex.

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Comcast's Inside Wiring Plan Excludes Most Inside Wiring.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

So they're working as intended.

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*

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: All tronc, all the time.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:36 PM | Permalink

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Divino Nino at the Emporium on Thursday night.


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2. L7 at the Metro on Saturday night.

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3. Ghoul at Reggies on Sunday night.

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4. Dolly Parton at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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5. Dear Dario at the Double Door on Friday night.

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6. Bailiff at the Hideout on Friday night.

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7. Hate Dept. at Livewire on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:01 PM | Permalink

Heart Of The City TV

"There is a lot going on in Chicago. We at Heart Of The City TV hope to tackle some of the current issues that plague our city, and shed light on these topics of equality, race, violence, and finding peace. Chapter one of 'Welcome To Chicago' will be premiering September 1, 2016."


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See also:

* Heart Of The City TV.

* Heart Of The City YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

Did Jack The Ripper Live In Chicago?

"I am Jack the . . . "

These were supposedly Dr. Thomas Neill Cream's last words, somewhat interrupted by the trapdoors opening as he was hanged.

Dr. Cream swore to do no harm, then built a career out of doing little else. He favored the poison strychnine, which he used to kill mostly women - and mostly prostitutes, at that - between 1881 and 1892. His killing method of choice, as well as his eventual residence in the Lambeth area in London earned him the nickname, "The Lambeth Poisoner."

lambeth.JPG

Cream's first major brush with the law came in London, Ontario, in August 1879. Cream's mistress Kate Gardner was found dead in an alley behind his surgery, having died of chloroform poisoning. Gardner was pregnant, and Cream, who had been providing prostitutes with secret abortions, came under suspicion. He promptly fled into the United States, thereby avoiding the murder investigation.

Setting up a shady practice on the edge of Chicago's notorious red light district, Cream was soon back in business. He was also soon suspected of another murder. In August 1880, Mary Ann Faulkner was discovered, having apparently died during an abortion. Whether it was Cream's work, and whether she died accidentally or otherwise was never established.

A Miss Stack died in December 1880. She was a known patient of Cream's. The doctor tried to pin her murder on a local pharmacist, threatening to accuse him of incompetently mixing her prescription.

In April 1881, Alice Montgomery died of strychnine poisoning. She was discovered in a rooming house a short walk from Cream's surgery. Strychnine poisoning and Cream's close proximity increased suspicions that he was responsible.

In July 1881, the ax fell. Daniel Stott died of strychnine poisoning after taking an epilepsy remedy prescribed by Cream. That Cream was also Mrs. Daniel Stott's lover caused enough suspicion for both the doctor and his mistress to be arrested. Faced with possible execution, Stott's wife threw all the blame on Cream. The doctor was given a life sentence in the notorious Joliet Prison in Illinois. The game was over, for now.

But not for long.

Gov. Joseph Fifer pardoned Cream in July 1891, after repeated pleas from Cream's brother, who supposedly bribed the authorities. Cream was free to kill again.

And kill he did, repeatedly.

After arriving in London on October 1, 1891, and settling in Lambeth, Cream started dispensing more of his favorite deadly prescription: strychnine.

On October 13, he picked up prostitute Ellen Donworth. Donworth promptly died of strychnine poisoning. Cream tried accusing wealthy, influential storekeeper W.F.D. Smith, heir to the W.H. Smith bookstore chain and son of the First Lord of the Admiralty, of the murder. An anonymous letter from Cream to the coroner demanded £300,000 in exchange for the killer's name. Another went to Smith, demanding a large payoff to not name him as the killer.

On October 20, prostitute Matilda Clover died, convulsing and in terrible pain. Initially, it was thought that alcoholism had killed her, until strychnine was uncovered during the autopsy. Cream was on a roll. He wasn't going to stop, but he did visit Canada on an extended vacation, possibly to avoid attracting the attention of Scotland Yard.

Returning from Canada, he met prostitute Louise Harvey on April 2, 1892. Maybe his charm failed him, or perhaps she was too sensible to take the unidentified pills he offered her. She pretended to take the medication, then threw it in the River Thames.

On April 11, prostitutes Emma Shrivell and Alice Marsh weren't as lucky. They accepted free drinks from a client, then promptly died of strychnine poisoning. Before dying, one of the women provided a description of the generous client who offered the free drinks. The man she described sounded a lot like a certain Dr. Cream.

Cream's attempts to extort and blackmail were ultimately his undoing. In trying to frame two innocent doctors for the murder of several women, including the slain prostitute Matilda Clover, Cream wrote a letter to the police that mentioned Clover's alcoholism, something police had not disclosed to the public. Cream had also been friendly with an American detective visiting London, taking him on a tour of his crime scenes. Scotland Yard promptly put Cream under permanent surveillance. They soon learned of Cream's interest in prostitutes. Detectives also checked with American police, and discovered Cream's previous murder conviction. On July 13, 1892, Cream was arrested.

His trial began at the Old Bailey on October 17. On October 21, Cream was convicted, as his letters and almost-victim Louise Harvey's positive identification easily convinced the jury of his guilt. He was promptly condemned to hang. It was on November 15 that he stood on the trapdoors and, according to hangman James Billington, made his shocking final statement:

"I am Jack the . . . "

He met his end before he could finish his admission.

It's unlikely that Cream really was Jack the Ripper. He was in Joliet during the Whitechapel murders. He was, however, somebody for whom murder was a genuine pleasure. Strychnine could be bought over-the-counter at the time, but Cream, being a doctor, wouldn't have picked it by accident. He knew full well that strychnine poisoning is one of the worst possible ways for a human being to die.

For a sadistic psychopath like Thomas Neill Cream, that was probably its principal attraction.

Distributed by Reuters.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:15 AM | Permalink

All Guessed Out

Through the course of a Cub Fan's career you get used to a number of things.

One of those things is the Cubs ultimately losing, of course, and with that comes the second-guessing (and first-guessing) of Cubs management.

This would concern trades, free agents, draft picks, the roster, playing time, strategy, etc. Just all of that stuff.

And typically you would have really good cases for your thoughts - like you didn't feel wrong about things too often.

Because the Cubs always seem to "cub" something up.

But those times are over.

There's nothing to second- or first-guess anymore.

The roster is solid, and all the pre-game and in-game moves work.

Okay, sure, they don't all work, because you know, the Cubs don't win every game, but I've never just shook my head in disbelief this much in as long as I can remember - disbelief in a good way.

Look at Joger Soler. The guy was doing close to nothing when he went on the DL in June. And he was doing less than that in his minor-league rehab stint. So the Cubs bring him up this weekend as the DH and he just smoked the crap out of the ball to help sweep the Oakland Moneyballs. Now what do you do with him?

He can't really play the field all that well and the Cubs don't play any other American League teams on the road all year - so there is no more need for a DH. (Well, in the regular season . . . )

I have no idea what they will do, or what they should do, but frankly I think the Cubs will figure it out and win more games no matter what they decide. Because they just do no wrong. I mean, just this week I told a friend that I thought there was a decent shot Soler would never be in the big leagues with the Cubs again. And then he gets activated and has a couple homers and just looks great in there. So, how much wrong was I? Like 500% wrong? Its fine, I guess, I'm wrong a lot, but typically not this wrong.

All this being said, it makes for a different kind of watching a game. You kind of really just sit back and watch or listen and just see what happens. Sure, you can try to be one step ahead of things, but you are probably going to be wrong, so let's not bother. Let's just soak in this magic of this season.

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Week In Review: The Cubs went 6-0 for the week, sweeping both the Marlins and the A's. The Cubs are now 11 1/2 games up in the division and 28 games over .500. And Jason "Moneybucks" Heyward still isn't hitting much at all.

Week In Preview: The Cubs have the day off Monday to flex in the mirror and feel good about themselves, and then get back to work with two against the Angels and four against the Cards, all at home. Cubs Fever should be really, really ramping up this homestand, and pretty much from here on out it should be insane. Please plan accordingly.

Musical Outfielders: And no aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. It was status quo for the Cubs again this week in left field. Willson "The El" Contreras got two starts, as did Szczur, with Kris Bryant and Chris Coghlan each getting a start as well. Now throw Jorge Soler into the left field mix and who knows what will happen out there. I'm still waiting for the real curveball - you know, when just one guy plays the whole week out there. Make it happen, Joe!

Former Annoying Cub Of The Week: I'm going to once again kind of take a little liberty here, but it seems like Tommy "3 a.m." La Stella has not reported to Iowa yet. Does anyone know where he is? Should he be on a milk carton or something? He certainly seems like a former Cub right now. I'd say he is missed, but more correctly it sounds like he is missing.

Current Annoying Cub Of The Week: None. I can't think of any of them right now. How can this level of winning be annoying to anyone? Oh, give me a week and someone will grind my gears, but right now, it's all sunshine and rainbows.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe is apparently "stressed" about all the roster juggling. But I'm not stressed at all. I know he'll do the right thing. I love this guy.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley this Saturday will get to deal with a lot of Cardinal fans, and that is never fun. But the first 5,000 kids will receive a Clark Hat, because nothing says August in Chicago like a furry hat of a bear wearing a hat.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this magic number thing is going to sneak up on us.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:26 AM | Permalink

Monkey Business: Curious George Creators Get Documentary Treatment

"Filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki digs into lives of 'Curious George' creators H.A. Rey and Margret Rey in a new documentary under the working title, Monkey Business: The Adventures of George's Curious Creators."


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From WTTW's program guide:

"For more than 75 years, generations of young children have been charmed by the literary adventures of Curious George.

Based on the best-selling Curious George books by Margret and H. A. Rey, the daily series expands George's world to include a host of colorful new characters and original locales, while maintaining the charm of the beloved books.

"Each half-hour episode includes two animated stories, followed by short live-action pieces showing real kids who are investigating the ideas that George introduces in his stories.

"The series aims to inspire kids to explore science, math and engineering in the world around them."

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Curious George in the 2008 Chicago Thanksgiving Parade.

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In 2011.

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Curious George Goes To School With Bears Chairman George McCaskey.

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Curious George Says Hi From The 2009 Chicago Fourth Of July Fireworks.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:25 AM | Permalink

Obama Drone Disclosures A Sorry Half-Measure

In response to Saturday's release of the Presidential Policy Guidance - a document setting out U.S. standards that appears to apply to some drone and other air strikes overseas - Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:

While this policy guidance appears to set an important precedent for protecting civilians and limiting killings, it is impossible to assess whether and how it's been followed. The Obama Administration has still never provided basic information needed to assess the drone program, including the names and identities of people killed in the strikes.

"The Obama administration's disclosures are welcome but they only tell part of the story, and obscure disturbing practices. We still know extremely little about the standards that would govern signature strikes and so-called rescuer strikes, which have involved potentially unlawful killings.

Last month, following the Administration's release of remarkably low civilian casualty figures, Amnesty International USA wrote the CIA to urge it to finally acknowledge responsibility for the death of Mamana Bibi, a woman who was killed in a drone strike witnessed by her grandchildren.

Amnesty International reported on this strike in its 2013 report, Will I Be Next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan. Despite extensive documentation as well as worldwide media attention, the U.S. government has neither confirmed or denied Amnesty's findings, or explained Bibi's death.

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"The presidential policy guidance, or 'playbook,' as it has been called, does not provide new insight into when, where, and under what authorities someone can be killed, or what kind of intelligence is necessary to make that decision," Cora Currier reports for The Intercept.

"The guidance is one more exhibit in the Obama administration's institutionalization of counterterrorism strikes, by drones and other means, far from conventional battlefields."

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The "playbook" was released as a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. A statement from ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer:

We welcome the release of these documents, and particularly the release of the Presidential Policy Guidance that has supplied the policy framework for the drone campaign since May 2013.

The PPG provides crucial information about policies that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatants, and about the bureaucracy that the Obama administration has constructed to oversee and implement those policies.

The PPG should have been released three years ago, but its release now will inform an ongoing debate about the lawfulness and wisdom of the government's counterterrorism policies. The release of the PPG and related documents is also a timely reminder of the breadth of the powers that will soon be in the hands of another president.

Moreover, the ACLU also said:

"[Q]uestions remain about where the PPG applies, whether the president has waived its requirements in particular instances, and how the PPG's relatively stringent standards can be reconciled with the accounts of eye witnesses, journalists, and human rights researches who have documented large numbers of bystander casualties."

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Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

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

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

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

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

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

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

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

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

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

* Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral.

* Six Months After Obama Promised To Divulge More On Drones, Here's What We Still Don't Know.

* One Month After Drones Report, Administration Still Fails To Explain Killings.

* What If A Drone Strike Hit An American Wedding?

* Jon Langford's "Drone Operator" Debuts Again.

* Confirmed: American Bombs Killing Civilians In Yemen.

* Exclusive: Obama's Afghan Drone War.

* Obama's Dishonest Drone Legacy: A Cavalcade Of Absurd Lies About Civilian Deaths.

* Obama's Favorite Weapon.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:22 AM | Permalink

Abreu Awakens

During the White Sox' recent road trip to Seattle, Hawk Harrelson lamented that Jose Abreu has swung at more pitches outside the strike zone this season than any other major league batter.

Then on Thursday right, before Abreu hit his first home run since June 23rd, a two-run shot in the second inning to help the Sox beat Detroit 6-3, Harrelson and Steve Stone had this exchange.

Hawk: "I'm sure they're [the Sox coaching staff] asking you the same thing they're asking me, 'What's wrong with Abreu?' I wish we knew."

Stone: "If anybody had that answer, especially [hitting coach] Todd Steverson, they'd be the first to say, 'Here it is, this is what's wrong exactly, and here's how you cure it.'"

Hawk: "You see a guy that's had two sensational seasons like Abreu with no protection - none, zero - all of a sudden come into his third season with plenty of protection, and he's just not getting it done. It looks to me like he's looking in more than he has the first two years. If you're looking in, you've got a problem."

Stone: "If you're looking in, you can't cover the outside part of the plate."

Hawk: "You've got a big problem. The plate, instead of 17 inches, goes to about 24 or 25 inches."

Whatever Abreu's problems have been this season, in the past week the Sox first baseman has looked like the guy who hit 66 homer uns, drove in 208 and hit .303 over the first two years of his career on the South Side.

In six games last week, Abreu had an eye-popping slash line of .391/.481/1.351. After failing to homer in his previous 32 games, Jose added two more homers at The Cell over the weekend against Baltimore. He also doubled and drove in four runs.

Sadly, Abreu's awakening didn't make much difference as he and his mates dropped two-of-three contests both to the Tigers and Orioles to slip to a season-low five games under .500.

Of course, this club has a long ledger of weaknesses, and the lack of run production from Abreu and Todd Frazier - the protection that Harrelson mentioned - in the middle of the lineup ranks close to the top.

Batting behind Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera, who have on-base percentages of .356 and .347, respectively, one would think that Frazier would have more than his team-leading 69 RBI. Abreu has 60 after hitting a solo homer Sunday in a lopsided 10-2 loss to the Orioles.

Frazier is hitting an anemic .134 (13-for-97) with runners in scoring position, while Abreu checks in with a modest .246. As a rookie, Jose was a .317 hitter with runners in scoring position, providing a partial explanation why this team ranks 25th in runs scored.

Going back to Harrelson's original observation that Abreu is swinging at more bad pitches this season, a closer look indicates that Jose hasn't changed much in that respect.

According to Fangraphs, Abreu doesn't rank last in plate discipline. Of the 157 players listed, Abreu was 151st through Saturday. Of all the pitches Jose has seen outside the strike zone, he's swung the bat at slightly more than 40 percent of them.

But established players like All-Star catcher Salvador Perez of Kansas City and Oriole center fielder Adam Jones swing more often at bad pitches than Abreu.

Furthermore, in his first season in 2014 when Jose was Rookie of the Year, he also took a swing at 40.9 percent of the pitches he saw that were wide of the plate.

The difference this season is that Jose has looked miserable swinging at pitches nowhere near the strike zone, not balls slightly outside which heretofore had been line shots to right field.

For at least half the season, he was being pitched inside to get ahead in the count followed by 57-foot breaking balls that found Abreu lunging and missing for strike three.

Home plate is that arbitrary 17 inches wide with a strike zone from arm pits to knees. It also varies from umpire to umpire. So it's not surprising that the list of league leaders always has been filled with so-called "bad ball" hitters like Yogi Berra who was fond of taking an ankle-high pitch and depositing it into the right field bleachers.

The key is to hit the ball no matter where it's pitched. The location of the pitches that tantalize Abreu is inconsequential. What he does with those pitches is tantamount to his or any ballplayer's success.

The Fangraphs statistics go back only to 2002, but the hitter who swung most often at balls out of the strike zone was Vladimir Guerrero, a potential Hall of Famer who played 16 years, hit .318 with 449 home runs and 1,496 RBI. Obviously Vlad was quite adept at hitting pitches that wouldn't have been called strikes.

In the '70s, the White Sox had an exciting bad-ball hitter in Ralph Garr, who, by the way, apparently wasn't bothered by those uniforms like those that Chris Sale destroyed recently. A member of the South Side Hit Men, the man known as the Road Runner hit an even .300 two years in a row (1976-77) and was loads of fun to watch because you never knew what pitches looked good to him.

Before being traded to the White Sox, Garr led the National League in hitting in 1974 with a .353 average, and some of the greatest pitchers of his era couldn't figure out how to get him out. Garr touched Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for a .440 mark. And Don Sutton (.426), Bert Blyleven (.346), Steve Carlton (.375), and Bob Gibson (.387) never experienced much success when facing the Road Runner.

So swinging at bad pitches isn't so terrible. Swinging and missing them is.

As far as Hawk and Stoney's exchange from last Thursday is concerned, Abreu seems to have found his stroke, even though the sample size is small. On Sunday, using the whole field, he dumped a double down the left field line, hit a sharp single to right on a pitch off the outside corner, and homered to right center.

The only problem was, aside from Abreu's three hits, his teammates accounted for just one additional hit, a single off the bat of Tim Anderson. Couple that with James Shields giving up eight runs in an inning-and-a-third, and the Sox were down 10-0 less than an hour after the first pitch.

In two losses last week, Shields reverted back to the disastrous form he exhibited in his first three starts for the White Sox after coming over from the Padres in early June. James gave up 14 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings last week, facing 14 hitters on Sunday, retiring only four while issuing a like number of home runs. That's not good.

Matt Albers relieved Shields, and he was touched for Manny Machado's third homer in as many innings. Remember when Albers had 33 consecutive appearances going back to last season without giving up an earned run? Since that string ended in early May, Albers has pitched 26-plus innings (including two as Sale's replacement starter in the Scissors Game) and given up 26 earned runs. Sunday's home run was the ninth he's yielded in that stretch. According to the statheads, we shouldn't be surprised:

Let's hear Hawk and Stoney explain that.

Meanwhile, with eight weeks to go, there's not much drama remaining. It would have been nice to see the potential of Wilmette rookie outfielder Charlie Tilson, but he lasted just five innings last Tuesday before tearing a hamstring in a season-ending spill in center field in Detroit.

At least the kid got a hit in his first big league at-bat - and it was a hit.

So we must be satisfied to see if Sale can get enough support to surpass his personal best of 17 wins and challenge for the Cy Young Award. Maybe Abreu can keep up his recent surge and end with respectable numbers. Will Carson Fulmer get to start a game or two in lieu of Shields? Can Eaton continue to lead all outfielders in assists and all batters in infield hits?

For Sox fans, it's not much. But it's all we have.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2016

The Surprising Places The 5 New Olympic Sports Announced For Tokyo 2020 Could Lead Us

Surfing, skateboarding, climbing and karate will become Olympic sports for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Games after a long-anticipated decision was confirmed by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday. Baseball/softball has also been let back into the games for the first time since 2008.

But how did these sports end up on top? Why were they the chosen ones, and not squash, roller sports or wushu, a Chinese martial art?

The first reason is simple: they are relevant to Japan. Baseball is Japan's biggest sport by a mile, karate is a traditional favorite, and skateboarding is popular among young people. What the IOC did - and is probably going to do from now on - is empower the Olympic host cities to create their own sport programs.

This is a reasonable approach. Japanese spectators and TV viewers will be much more interested in baseball than, say, the modern pentathlon - not that the pentathlon is not being dropped from the program in 2020. It's possible that there will be more local favorites as the Olympics continue to rotate among the continents in the future. The next U.S. Olympics might see American football, and if India ever become a host country then cricket will surely get a look.

Under the IOC's Agenda 2020, no sports will be removed from the program to accommodate new ones - which is what happened in the past. But the number of disciplines and athletes taking part is limited, so it's likely that some sports will be reduced in numbers.

Get Ready For Action

But there is a second rationale behind the five-sport package announced for Tokyo. Never before have so many so-called "action" sports entered the Olympics simultaneously.

surf.jpgEpicStockMedia/Shutterstock

Skateboarding, climbing and surfing follow in the footsteps of fellow extreme sports BMX and snowboarding, which have been unanimously praised as breaths of fresh air to the Summer and Winter Olympics.

This is clearly a sign of where the future lies for the games, as these sports will mostly attract a young audience - teenager viewers who will be consumers of the Olympics in years to come.

Olympic broadcasters and sponsors (mainly from North America) would welcome skateboarding, as the number of people who regularly skateboard in the U.S. alone is estimated to be about 14 million. And that's probably at least as many teenagers who play the blockbuster video games endorsed by the skater Tony Hawk.

What It Means For The New Sports

For the newly chosen sports, the Olympic exposure makes a difference in sponsorship and state funding in most countries - although most of these benefits are indirect and hard to measure. That is why sport climbing has been applying for an Olympic spot for the last decade - a journey that I have followed in my own research.

climbing.jpgSkynavin/Shutterstock

And that is why there has been a power struggle between several governing bodies claiming to "own" international skateboarding.

Nor is there any clear consensus on whether the new sports are unanimously happy about being in the Olympics. Most elite athletes of competitive sports look forward to being in the spotlight and having a chance to become part of the biggest multi-sport event on the planet.

But the Olympic movement emphasizes bureaucratization and control. This is where it clashes with the traditional cultures of surfing, climbing and skateboarding, which have all historically been about freedom of self-expression and reluctance to being regulated by governing bodies.

Here is what Sage Kotsenburg, the current Olympic champion in snowboarding, tweeted immediately after the IOC's decision:

Her hashtag perfectly summarized the idea of self-organization of extreme alternative sports, whose athletes advocate that they must be organized from the inside not from the outside.

Skepticism towards the Olympics by skateboarders has been fueled by the case of snowboarding, particularly as the IOC gave the right to manage this sport to the International Ski Federation.

Many climbers, surfers and skateboarders are scared that they might lose control to organizations and people who don't understand their sports. The IOC's idea of combining all three disciplines of climbing in one, for example, so that athletes will have to do bouldering, speed and lead, is something that many climbers I spoke to during my research are not happy about, and see as a sign of lack of respect and understanding of their sport.

In skateboarding, surfing and climbing, there have been numerous online petitions claiming that the Olympic movement only wants to exploit their sports.

The danger is that the whole Olympics could become a little disintegrated, with sports making fleeting appearances for a few Games, then being jettisoned by future Olympic committees or the sports themselves.

So enjoy the next few weeks of Rio 2016 - it's likely to be the last "traditional" Olympic games.

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Mikhail Batuev is a lecturer in sport management in the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University, Newcastle. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2016

Chicago 2016 Spokesman, Now With USOC, Assures Us That Multimillion Dollar Donation From Scandal-Tainted Businessman Had Nothing To Do With Exclusive Rio Ticketing Contract

Like thousands of Olympics fans worldwide, Matthew Rose started planning his family trip to the Rio Games many months in advance.

The Atlanta-based sports trainer knew it wouldn't be cheap, but in January he grew concerned when he looked into buying the event tickets.

CoSport, a firm that holds exclusive rights to sell Games access to the U.S. public, was pricing its tickets at an old exchange rate that was about 40 percent less favorable than the market rate and also adding 20 percent handling fees.

In addition, almost none of the tickets Rose wanted, for popular events like swimming and beach volleyball, were available at any price.

It wasn't that CoSport lacked inventory. On its website, it was still offering many seats at marquee Games events to certain customers: those ready to buy its "hospitality packages."

At prices as steep as $3,000 a day per guest, the packages combined tickets with hotel rooms, or access to lounges before events. Airfares and most meals weren't included.

"As a customer just looking for tickets, you're really hamstrung by CoSport," Rose said.

In CoSport, Rose had encountered an entrenched Olympics gatekeeper, a firm with exclusive rights from the U.S. Olympic Committee to distribute tickets for eight straight summer or winter Games, including Rio de Janeiro this month and Tokyo in 2020.

Under global Olympics rules, resellers in each country must offer tickets at affordable prices, can set aside only a "small" portion of tickets for packages and are limited to 20 percent ticket mark-up fees. On hospitality packages, though, services such as hotel accommodation have no specific cap on mark-ups.

An official price list for Rio, released by organizers in 2015, showed that the average ticket would cost around $36.

CoSport said it abides by the rules on ticket sales, only applying the allowed mark-up, and has scored consistently high marks in customer satisfaction surveys.

The company said it makes big up-front investments ahead of each Games, not only for the exclusive rights, the tickets themselves and hotel rooms, but also for training host-city staff. The price structure it used for hospitality packages was approved by Games organizers, CoSport added.

CoSport paid Rio organizers for tickets in U.S. dollars at an exchange rate set in 2014, which is passed on to customers.

U.S. Olympic committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said the committee approves CoSport's ticket pricing. He did not respond to questions about package pricing or how many Games tickets were allowed to be sold in bundled packages.

Sandusky Patrick 200x250.jpgPatrick Sandusky

He said negotiations with CoSport and contract terms were confidential. The committee works with CoSport because the firm has a long history of delivering "high-quality hospitality Olympic experiences," Sandusky added.

CoSport spokesman Michael Kontos, a Chicago-based senior vice president of Hill & Knowlton, said customers would prefer a simpler system but Olympics ticketing is inherently complex, given that it relies on dozens of national Olympic committees around the world to appoint their own sales agents.

"Nothing about organizing the Games is as simple as organizing a concert or football game," he said.

OLYMPIC TIES

Still, some fans and experts complain that CoSport's prices and packages with bundled services make it prohibitively expensive for them to attend the Games.

The U.S. Olympic committee typically does not hold a competitive bidding tender before awarding ticketing rights to a reseller, according to a former U.S. Olympic official who was involved in the process.

The committee declined to say how it selects an exclusive ticket reseller. Sandusky said it values its long-term relationship with CoSport but is always open to new business partners.

The lack of a competitive tender, and of a clear rule on how many tickets can be bundled into expensive packages, raise questions about the transparency and fairness of the Games ticketing system, said sport ticketing expert Jim Reese, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

"It looks like a good old boys' network," said Reese.

CoSport's Olympic ticketing and hospitality business reaches back decades and extends well beyond the United States. For the Rio Games, it was also the authorized reseller for fans in the UK, Australia, Canada, Russia, Bulgaria, Norway and Sweden.

CoSport's owner, Sead Dizdarevic, who declined an interview request, has long-standing ties to Olympics officialdom.

An emigre from the former Yugoslavia to the United States, Dizdarevic broke into the market by arranging hospitality for Americans at the 1984 winter Games in Sarajevo. Since then, his Olympics business has grown steadily.

Around eight years ago, he made a multi-million dollar donation to the U.S. Olympic committee, the largest it had ever received from an individual donor, a former committee official told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

U.S. Olympic committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky confirmed Dizdarevic was a donor and said this played no role in the committee's decisions to award his firms more business.

"His personal philanthropy is in no way connected to the business relationship," Sandusky said.

Neither CoSport nor the U.S. committee disclose the value or terms of the ticketing deal, but the former U.S. Olympic official said CoSport pays fees to the committee which also takes a cut of the sales revenues.

The worldwide sale of tickets for a summer Games have sometimes accounted for more than $300 million, according to IOC data. This excludes any bundled services such as hotel rooms.

Another company owned by Dizdarevic, Jet Set Sports, provides luxury hospitality to Games sponsors, VIPs and members of various Olympics committees worldwide.

At each Games, CoSport and Jet Set sell hundreds of thousands of tickets and can book thousands of hotel rooms years in advance, according to the former U.S. Olympics official.

PRICEY PACKAGES

In recent months, CoSport's website offered a five-day "flex" package for the Rio Games in mid-August at a cost of $15,832 for one person. The package gave customers a choice of attending six events out of 69 on offer, and included accommodation at a three-star hotel.

Reuters checked online with CoSport to see if the company was also offering the same tickets on a standalone basis. Only nine out of the sixty-nine tickets were available for purchase outside of a package.

CoSport did not address a specific question posed by Reuters about the package.

Cordelia Price, an avid U.S. gymnastics fan, said she paid nearly $13,600 for a five-day, two-person package from CoSport, which included eight tickets and a three-star hotel. Airfare and ground transport were not included. Price said the package was the "only option" she found to attend the gymnastics events she wanted to see.

As of late July, other travel booking websites were offering three-star hotel rooms in Rio for $300 a night during the Games.

"The IOC needs to work on a process that makes the Games affordable to the average person instead of contracting with someone who sells packages at ridiculously exorbitant prices," Price said.

Another Games fan, Texas-based Leigh Batten, said she and some friends bought many of the standalone tickets they wanted via CoSport, though only after making multiple applications for tickets over some months. She was satisfied with the experience and her group managed to book accommodation in Rio separately.

Kontos, the spokesman for CoSport and Jet Set, said the two firms had served more than 1.2 million Olympics fans over 30 years. He declined to say what percentage of ticket sales were tied to packages.

Customers can apply for specific event tickets far in advance, and a random ballot process ensures that high-demand tickets are distributed fairly, Kontos added.

LEGAL SCRUTINY

Dizdarevic's companies highlight their long-standing relationship with Olympic officials on their web sites. In at least one instance, these ties have drawn legal scrutiny.

In the mid-1990s, when Salt Lake City was lobbying for the winter Games of 2002, Dizdarevic gave bid committee officials $131,000 in payments which U.S. prosecutors later alleged were used to influence IOC members to ensure the city won the Games.

In 2000, after Salt Lake City was named as host, prosecutors brought a criminal case against two local bid committee officials accused of corruption and called Dizdarevic as a witness.

Dizdarevic, who received immunity from prosecution, testified about the payments he had made, calling them a business expense. He said he also felt a duty as a naturalized American to help the Salt Lake City bid.

The two officials were later cleared but several IOC members quit over the scandal.

Jet Set went on to become official hospitality provider at Salt Lake City, and Dizdarevic made a profit of at least $7 million there.

At a typical summer Games, more than 70 percent of tickets are held for local fans and sold by the local organizing committee. Foreign fans rely on resellers, at least until unsold local tickets are opened up to foreigners, as Rio did on June 1.

Just days before the Rio opening ceremony, 1.3 million tickets remained unsold, about a fifth of the total.

For Matthew Rose in Atlanta, the vexing search for tickets finally took an auspicious turn in May.

Rose's mother is Brazilian and he has dual nationality. With help from family, he was able to buy 49 games tickets locally for around $3,500 and got most of the events he wanted.

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See also:

* Upstart Business Journal 2008: Gold-Medal Schmoozer.

* Seattle Times 2009: Ticket Monopoly Brings One Man Big Profit.

* The Daily Beast 2012: "As early as the summer of 2000, federal prosecutors revealed that Dizdarevic - CEO of Jet Set Sports, which sells corporate ticket packages to the Olympics - and his sister-in-law had delivered $131,000 in cash 'contributions' to [Mitt] Romney's predecessors in four rushed hotel and airport meetings during the mid-1990s.

"Dizdarevic, who invoked the Fifth Amendment in his 2000 grand jury appearance until he was immunized from prosecution, would later admit that he made the payments in an attempt to snare his first exclusive Olympics hospitality contract."

* Around The Rings 2014: 30 Years For Jet Set Sports.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:19 AM | Permalink

August 5, 2016

The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #114: It's A Mad, Mad, Maddon World

He's a magic man, mama. Plus: Oh, Puig; The Bennett Brothers Vs. Everyone; Elena Delle Donne Is Gay, Engaged And In Rio; and The I Told You So Olympics.


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SHOW NOTES

* 114.

5:22: The Joe Maddon Show.

* He's a magic man, mama.

* UPDATE: Jorge Soler has been brought up for Friday night's game against the A's and is in the lineup at DH. Joe Nathan was designated for assignment to make room.

* From Marty Gangler's Cub Factor this week:

"Former Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm going to break the cycle here and talk about Chris Coghlan. Sure, I'm not a fan at all, but I might as well get over it. He apparently has some sort of extra baseball 'goodness' in him that does not show up in ways normal people can see. And while he is not a 'former' Cub as he is still on the team, he is technically a 'former annoying' Cub as I am going to call him no longer annoying. So he is former annoying in that sense. He must be like super hilarious in the clubhouse or really good at pep talks or something for him to keep coming back to this team, but I'm going to embrace him now. I simply have no choice, he will not go away."

* Also from Marty in that column: "Big Poppa Joe has all the gadgets working on his Cub army knife, like even the tweezers and the saw blade."

* Maddon: Not me!

* Maddon on Javy Baez: "There's a week to 10 days where he'll shorten up and use the entire field; other times he's pretty much John Daly."

* Sullivan: Give Maddon The Weekend Off.

* Doolittle: Contreras Builds His Case Behind The Plate.

* Rogers: "Slowly but surely, Willson Contreras is taking over behind the plate."

* Heyward and Zobrist: Millstones?

39:43: Oh, Puig.

* The White Sox should have followed the Yankees model; instead, they followed the White Sox model.

* New York Daily News: Gleyber Torres Provides Look Into Yankees Future.

* Torres is in high-A ball.

49:10: The Bennett Brothers Vs. Everyone.

* Disliked by the media because journalists prefer being lied to.

* New narrative: Dowell Loggains is mini-Jay!

* Biggs: Bears Counting On Zach Miller.

* Oops!

* So now it's down to Tony Moeaki!

* Kevin White's Route Tree.

* Kevin White: Raw.

* Alshon Soler.

58:52: Elena Delle Donne Is Gay, Engaged And In Rio.

* Outgrew Gymnastics Dream, Targets Basketball Gold.

59:46: The I Told You So Olympics.

* South Korea Handles Fiji With Ease.

* North Korea indeed participates in the Olympics - most of the time.

* Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad Finished Second To Michael Phelps In U.S. Flag-Bearer Vote.

* I'll put the Beachwood's coverage of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid up against anyone's - just as our coverage of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign stands alone. Best in the country. (And who had Rahm nailed? It wasn't the Twitter feed with the duck.)

* Haugh: In Retrospect, Losing 2016 Olympics To Rio A Big Victory For Chicago.

Some of us had the forethought to understand that, because we did our jobs as journalists instead like giddy fanboys or as adjuncts to City Hall.

* David Haugh Says No Price Is Too High To Pay For The Privilege Of Hosting The NFL Draft.

* Sanderson: Chicago's Return On Investment For Hosting The NFL Draft? Hardly Worth Measuring.

* Learn, dammit!

* Chicago Police Spied On 'No Games Chicago.'

* On Eve Of Olympics, Top Investigator Details Secret Efforts To Undermine Russian Doping Probe.

* About Beachwood Olympic content.

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STOPPAGE: 17:48

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

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:07 PM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Aquadolls at Schubas on Tuesday night.


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2. Nina Diaz at Livewire on Monday night.

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3. Aurora at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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4. Wye Oak at Thalia Hall on Wednesday night.

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5. Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.

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6. Lovely Little Girls at the Empty Bottle on Monday night.

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7. Die Antwoord at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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8. Bloc Party at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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9. Haim at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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10. Ellie Goulding at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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11. Plebian Bandstand at Livewire on Wednesday night.

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12. We The Fierce at Elbo Room on Thursday night.

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13. Carnifex at the Concord on Wednesday night.

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14. Slaughter To Prevail at the Concord on Wednesday night.

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15. Krisiun at the Concord on Wednesday night.

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16. Jose Gonzalez at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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17. The Renegades at Reggies on Thursday night.

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18. Demi Lovato in Rosemont on Tuesday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Grimes at Lollapalooza last Saturday night.

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Marshmello at Lollapalooza last Saturday.

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Hardwell at Lollapalooza last Saturday night.

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Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats last Saturday.

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Modern Baseball at Lollapalooza last Friday.

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Martin Garrix at Lollapalooza last Friday night.

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Mac Miller at Lollapalooza last Friday.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:00 PM | Permalink

Local Book Notes: Suicide Squad, Skid Row & Sandra Cisneros's Chicago

"The man responsible for the success of the Suicide Squad as both a book and a concept is John Ostrander. After spending the early '80s working primarily on his own characters (such as the futuristic mercenary Grimjack), Ostrander made the move to DC in 1987. Alongside Len Wein and John Byrne, he plotted the modern Squad's first appearance in Legends, which included the first look at the character who would go on to define the team in all its further appearances: Amanda Waller," Tim O'Neil writes in his deep, fascinating "How Suicide Squad Went From WWII Military Heroes To Today's Silver-Screen Villains" for the A.V. Club.

"It would be difficult in hindsight to overstate just how radical a concept Waller was when she first appeared. After years of government bureaucrats being portrayed as, at best, feckless, or worse, downright sinister, here was a career civil servant who not only fought on the side of the angels (sort of, most of the time), but was brutally effective in doing so. A single mom who lost part of her family to violence growing up in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, she quickly rose to prominence in Washington as a congressional aide with a reputation for efficiency and bluntness. It was these talents that put her in a position to pitch President Reagan on a revamped and streamlined Task Force X."

A highly recommended read.

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Here's how Waller is portrayed in the new Suicide Squad movie:

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Down, Out And Under Arrest
"In his first year working in Los Angeles's Skid Row, [University of Chicago sociologist] Forrest Stuart was stopped on the street by police fourteen times. Usually for doing little more than standing there," the University of Chicago Press writes.

Juliette, a woman he met during that time, has been stopped by police well over one hundred times, arrested upward of sixty times, and has given up more than a year of her life serving week-long jail sentences. Her most common crime? Simply sitting on the sidewalk - an arrestable offense in LA.

Why? What purpose did those arrests serve, for society or for Juliette? How did we reach a point where we've cut support for our poorest citizens, yet are spending ever more on policing and prisons? That's the complicated, maddening story that Stuart tells in Down, Out and Under Arrest, a close-up look at the hows and whys of policing poverty in the contemporary United States.

What emerges from Stuart's years of fieldwork - not only with Skid Row residents, but with the police charged with managing them - is a tragedy built on mistakes and misplaced priorities more than on heroes and villains.

He reveals a situation where a lot of people on both sides of this issue are genuinely trying to do the right thing, yet often come up short. Sometimes, in ways that do serious harm.

Here's a highly recommended excerpt.

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Stuart: 'Poor urban residents and the police are essentially suffering from the same policies.'

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Sandra Cisneros vs. Chicago
"By the time Sandra Cisneros published her best-selling novel The House on Mango Street in 1984, she'd already left her native Chicago," Chicago magazine notes.

"But for more than 30 years she's returned regularly to visit family, each time more dismayed by the city's growing disparity of resources. 'I've been watching Chicago change for years,' says the 61-year-old. 'But Chicago's changes do not mean better for people like my family.'"

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This is the part of the Chicago piece that has gotten a smattering of attention:

Cisneros's inspiration for [a new prose poem] came after a run-in with Mayor Emanuel, who presented her with a Fifth Star award, which honors Chicago cultural forces, in 2015. "I thought, 'Oh my god, I'm going to have the ear of the mayor, I can tell him how I became who I am thanks to [Chicago's] museums - how they're the difference between me being a factory worker and writer.' And he didn't even listen to me. Just shut me down. I felt so bad that I walked out of the luncheon and sat down at Water Tower Place and wanted to cry."

She swore off returning to Chicago after that - "It was just too painful."

As Cisneros notes, Chicago is a wonderful place to visit - for those who can afford to do so. But for regular folk actually living here, it's a mean-ass town. And despite the cosseted view of a lot of would-be writers and Billy Goat journalists, there's nothing romantic about that.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:49 AM | Permalink

Not The Jason Van Dyke Special Prosecutor They Were Looking For

Attorneys representing the coalition that petitioned for the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the prosecution of Chicago Police Officer Jason D. Van Dyke released the following statement in reaction to the selection of Kane County State's Attorney Joseph McMahon:

Given the high number of qualified attorneys in Cook County who have the experience, resources and who are fully independent from law enforcement we're surprised and disappointed that all of them have been passed over in favor of the Kane County state's attorney and his team, which includes a former Cook County assistant state's attorney.

This appointment made by Judge Gaughan stands in stark contrast to the appointment last week of former judge Patricia Brown Holmes as a special prosecutor to investigate whether there was a cover-up by other police officers at the scene of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Cook County Judge LeRoy Martin Jr., chief of the criminal court, selected Holmes, an African-American with extensive experience in Cook County and a reputation for fairness and commitment to discovering the truth.

Judge Gaughan could have chosen Judge Holmes for this assignment, or he could have selected someone with similar understanding of Chicago and its most affected communities.

The petitioners are being represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University School of Law, the People's Law Office, and the University of Chicago Law School's Civil Rights and Police Accountability Clinic of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic.

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Editor's Note: The point here, just to be clear, is that a special prosecutor was granted in the case because Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez was deemed too close to the cops she works with on a daily basis to handle the prosecution. And even if she did the job properly, her credibility is shot. Naming another state's attorney to replace her only repeats the problem - county prosecutors are essentially allies of police officers, dependent on their good will in a reciprocal relationship. McMahon may be independent of Cook County, but he's not independent of law enforcement.

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See also . . .

From the Tribune article on the matter:

"During his six years as state's attorney, McMahon has prosecuted one police officer for on-duty misconduct. Elgin police Officer Michael Sullivan was charged in 2011 with felony official misconduct and obstruction of justice after allegedly planting evidence - a cellphone - near the scene of a beating and robbery. Sullivan eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempted obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and two years of probation."

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The Trib uses the qualifier "on-duty" because McMahon has prosecuted a couple of other cases that fall outside that descriptor, as noted by the suburban Daily Herald in "Kane County's McMahon No Stranger To Prosecuting Cops," a headline unsupported by the (PR-like) article:

"In spring 2013, McMahon's office charged former Elgin Deputy Police Chief Robert Beeter with hacking into the e-mail of his mistress's husband to help her with her divorce. Beeter also was charged with using a law enforcement database for personal use. He pleaded guilty to felony identity theft in July 2015 and was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours of community service.

"In January, McMahon prosecuted the former leader of the Elgin Police Explorer post who was charged with felony theft and misconduct. James Rog, an animal control officer for Elgin police for 14 years, pleaded guilty in June to the reduced charge of misdemeanor theft, paid $6,000 in restitution to the city and was ordered to seek treatment for gambling addiction."

The DH also has a sidebar assuring everyone how great McMahon is.

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"Anne Kavanagh, a spokeswoman for Van Dyke's lawyer, Daniel Herbert, said, 'The defense has never objected to the special prosecutor in this case and they're prepared to defend the case no matter who the prosecutor is,'" the Sun-Times reports.

About Anne Kavanagh:

"Anne Kavanagh has worked as an Emmy award winning television reporter in Chicago for more than two decades," her company website says.

"Anne has done media training, crisis management and publicity for large companies, small businesses, law firms, local charities, professional athletes and politicians. Anne continues to be a contributing reporter at FOX News Chicago appearing on television and writing for the website."

Emphasis added.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:31 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Driveway

Zoned parking.

fourcars.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.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Esquire In The Night.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Nick's Meat Market.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Keep Havin A Good Day.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Knock Knock.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Man At Marie's.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bonneville.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Logan Bags.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairwell.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Blue Velvet.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Court Is In Session.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: DLER ALKY.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Railyards Rush Hour.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop Killing People.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 1.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Greystone Chicago.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: You Are Beautiful.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Auto Part Overlords.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Bearground.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: America, Summer 2016, Part 2.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Skyway Sculpture.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: The Dome Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hello, St. Joe.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Revolution Books.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2016

The [Thursday] Papers

Weekend Note: The Weekend Desk Report will appear at some point between now and Monday. Sorry for the erratic publishing schedule lately; trying to get back on track.

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I've got nothing today.

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I mean, I've got a lot of material to work with, but it's the kind of material that requires a bit of work to, um, work up. I don't have that kind of work in me right now. Not for free, anyway.

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Besides, it's all the same. Same horrible people doing horrible things. People who don't care - including people in my own profession. What's the point? It's just all so awful.

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I did come across a few heroes this morning. I'll go with that. Today is dedicated to these heroes:

Weak-Ass Bureaucrats To Heroic Philly Citizens: Stop Turning Dumpsters Into Swimming Pools.

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Olympian.

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A Neighborhood Bar So Beloved, He Moved It To His Basement.

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Logan Square Church Becomes Circus School
Classes begin for all ages September 6th in trapeze, aerial silks, pole, trampoline, hand-balancing, clowning, acrobatics, and more, including circus-based fitness classes.

Inside Bullshit Russian Doping Investigation
"The action the IOC took has forever set a bar for how the most outrageous doping and cover-up and corruption possible will be treated in the future. Those involved in running sport are former athletes, so somehow I figured that they would have honor and integrity. But the people in charge are basically raping their sports and the system for self-interest. Sport is seriously broken."

Last Weekend In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Diet Cig, GOGGS, Vic Mensa, Wolf Alice, Chance the Rapper, Moseley, Bullnettle, Ghost, Frightened Rabbit, LCD Soundsystem, Phantogram, The 1975, Mutemath, Radiohead, Lindsey Stirling, Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, Red Hot Chili Peppers, J. Cole, Lana Del Ray, Houndmouth, Flume, Halsey, Future, Disclosure, X Ambassadors, Frank Turner, SikFuk, Elbow Deep, Dysentery, Abhorrent Deformity, Extremely Rotten, Deteriorot, Lust of Decay, Malignancy, Kill Everything, Mass Murder Messiah, Brodequin, Cerebral Incubation, Lividity, Limbsplitter, Inherit Disease, Towering Abomination, Visceral Disgorge, Gorgasm, Rottenness, Within The Trenches, Open Your Eyes, Danny Seraphine's CTA, Jeff Buck and Buddy Guy, 5SOS, One OK Rock, Kip Moore, Brothers Osborne, Miranda Lambert, and Third Eye Blind.

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BeachBook
More heroes, actually.

How An AP Reporter Took Down Flossing.

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Elena Delle Donne Comes Out, Is Engaged.

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Black Family That Sued White Neighbor For Harassment Wins Money, Apology.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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I've been flagging these for months.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Cutting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:14 AM | Permalink

On Eve Of Olympics, Top Investigator Details Secret Efforts To Undermine Russian Doping Probe

In a blistering public critique on the eve of the Olympics, the former chief investigator for the World Anti-Doping Agency claims his efforts to investigate Russian doping were repeatedly delayed by WADA's president, who preferred to privately settle matters with Russian officials.

Jack Robertson, who left the agency in January, said he was forced to leak information to the media in order to pressure WADA president Sir Craig Reedie to act and, even then, he says, the agency sat on credible allegations that suggested Russian doping extended far beyond track and field.

Ultimately, Robertson says, the investigation delays have allowed the president of the International Olympic Committee - who has reportedly been supported by Vladimir Putin - to claim that the committee didn't have enough time to determine whether it should ban all Russian teams. The result is that Russia may still have one of the largest delegations in Rio.

In a wide-ranging Q&A, Robertson, speaking publicly at length for the first time, reserved his harshest criticisms for Reedie, a former elite badminton player and chair of the British Olympic Committee. Reedie also holds the potentially conflicting role of vice president of the IOC. (WADA gets a large chunk of its funding from the IOC.)

The revelations of systemic Russian doping are an enormous embarrassment for the IOC, as well as a diplomatic problem; the Guardian calls the IOC president and Putin "the unlikely Olympic power couple."

The unprecedented Olympic ban of Russia's track and field team and the allegations that doping extends throughout Russian sport have dominated the news, but Robertson reveals the deep divisions within the agencies charged with keeping competition clean. As the man who led WADA's investigation of state-sponsored doping, he offers a unique perspective on the unfolding story, and describes WADA and the IOC as repeatedly bowing to political concerns and paralyzed by a reluctance to take on a powerful nation.

Some of Robertson's assertions are directly contradicted in a statement released by WADA on Monday, following ProPublica's request for response.

The decision to speak out is a particularly tough one for Robertson. From 1991 to 2011, Robertson was a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, primarily running investigations into Mexican drug cartels. In the last few years of his DEA career, he led the agency's three largest steroid operations: TKO, Gear Grinder, and Raw Deal. Retired agents once voted him "Agent of the Year," out of 5,000.

When Robertson left the DEA, he became WADA's first chief investigator. There, he helped the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency expose Lance Armstrong. One of Armstrong's yellow jerseys adorned his office wall at WADA. Armstrong (without realizing exactly who it was for) had signed it: "Jack, Catch me if you can. Best wishes."

20160804-russian-doping-jack-jersey-630.jpgJack Robertson holds a sign verifying his identity before a chat on Reddit, with the Armstrong jersey in the background/Courtesy of Jack Robertson

Even as he investigated Russian doping, Robertson battled the lingering effects of throat cancer. His voice is badly damaged, and he has difficulty speaking for long conversations. The abridged conversation below extended for hours, and over two days.

"The action the IOC took has forever set a bar for how the most outrageous doping and cover-up and corruption possible will be treated in the future," Robertson told me. "Those involved in running sport are former athletes, so somehow I figured that they would have honor and integrity. But the people in charge are basically raping their sports and the system for self-interest. Sport is seriously broken."

IOC Votes Against Blanket Ban

Instead of issuing a blanket ban, the IOC is allowing the international federations for each sport, from gymnastics to rowing, to decide whether Russian competitors will be allowed. So far, more than 250 Russian athletes have been cleared to compete in Rio. The IOC and WADA president Reedie have said that there will be many clean Russian athletes in Rio. Robertson calls that "a farce," and says that WADA intentionally sat on evidence of Russian doping.

With Russian track and field out, do you think many of the other Russian athletes are clean?

For Craig Reedie to say he assumes that a large percentage of Russian athletes who will be in Rio are clean, he's talking out of his rear end. The whole ruse of "clean Russian athletes" is a farce. The investigation showed that to be on the national team, at least for [track and field], you were required to dope.

They actually preferred clean athletes who had never doped before, so they knew once they took this raw talent and put them on a doping regimen they would go from great to superhuman.

We didn't investigate all sports, but the evidence we had is that this was the typical method for all Russian sports.

Obviously, you and Sir Craig Reedie came away with very different perspectives. How involved was he with the details of the investigation?

I led this investigation, and at no time did Craig Reedie talk to me about this investigation. Ever. Never. Not even to get briefed on it. It is insane. It's the most important investigation in WADA's history, in Olympic history. Even after the first independent commission press conference, when [the chair of WADA's Athletes' Committee] asked him to investigate all sports, he didn't contact me for additional information or evidence.

WADA responded: "Given that the Commission, which was led by Dick Pound, was independent, it is only right that Jack didn't discuss the investigation with the WADA President."

What if someone argued, "Well, the IOC did refer it to the individual sport federations, so the federations could each bar Russia individually?"

The IOC knows there's simply not enough time for the federations to make a determination. But also, it's not their job. This was not the IOC's buck to pass. This involved government, the Ministry of Sport, the FSB [Russian state security], the lab, RUSADA [the Russian Anti-Doping Agency], coaches, athletes, heads of national federations, and to actually get the evidence to prove that . . . when I started, I didn't think there was any chance whatsoever we'd come to prove these things, but by the grace of God everything fell into place. And then it was put in the hands of people with self-interest, who are compromised. The anti-doping code is now just suggestions to follow or not.

What do you think of the IOC's stance that athletes who were outside of Russia are good to go?

[IOC President Thomas] Bach's contention is that if an athlete was outside of Russia, then they're clean because they were being tested. No, no, no, no. They would commonly go to remote training camps outside of Russia, like Lance Armstrong. And they falsified entries in the online reporting system about where they would be. So they're in a remote area, lying about where they are, taking substances that don't stay in their system long, and, worst case, even if someone is trying to test them and they miss it, it would have had to happen three times [within 12 months to be sanctioned].

They could beat most tests anyway, right?

Russia had figured out how to beat doping tests, but they hadn't figured how to beat the biological passport. [A system that can detect doping through multiple tests over time, without detecting the actual drug.] That became clear when we heard recorded conversations of the heads of the All-Russia Athletics Federation. They were saying they hadn't figured out the passport yet. But they figured out other ways to beat it, using the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, but also the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. RUSADA would literally schedule the times to test athletes around their doping cycles. The athletes and coaches would call RUSADA to schedule a time, like setting up a dentist appointment.

So once you had recorded conversations, were there some admissions?

I myself interviewed Russian athletes, as did other investigators, who we had on recordings [taken by whistleblower and fellow athlete Yulia Stepanova] admitting and talking about the fact that they doped, what they used and when, all the details. And they still denied. Why would you expect them to tell the truth? Armstrong never did. Marion Jones never did.

But I don't recall Armstrong or Jones being recorded. Did these athletes know they'd been recorded?

Oh I was reading them the transcripts of what they said, and they didn't deny those were their voices . . . just, "Nope, didn't dope."

Does that tell you anything in particular, other than that athletes don't like to confess?

It's just further evidence that it was state-organized doping, because the athletes were rehearsed to say the same [thing]. The FSB was involved, and that wasn't really much of a secret, and that would be intimidating for any athlete to come forward . . . But there are also a lot of rewards, and if they talk, they lose that. Yulia was on salary as a police officer even though she was never a police officer, but once she talked, they took that away from her.

I know that Yulia, actually, didn't even know how to inject the testosterone she was given correctly, and was doing it under her skin instead of into her muscle. It seems like, while the operation was organized, some of the athletes were not very doping savvy.

Athletes were doping sometimes without any knowledge really of what they were even taking. They knew they were doping, but about the actual substances, they didn't know. Some of their coaches were better than others, but the coaches weren't doctors, and the doctors had no regard for how it was affecting athletes. Their job was to put out people who win medals. Athlete health wasn't a low priority, it was a no priority.

WADA Waits To Investigate

The IOC's decision to allow Russia entry to the Olympics came very late in the run-up to Rio, in part because the final independent investigation report - the McLaren report - was made public only on July 18. The McLaren report confirmed allegations made in the media by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, that the Russian government was involved in manipulating athlete samples. Robertson says WADA leaders knew of the allegations much earlier, and that his requests for the necessary investigative resources were denied until the allegations hit the press.

(Editor's Note: WADA issued a press release on Monday disputing Robertson's characterization that it sat on allegations.)

Bach, in deciding not to ban Russia, said that the ruling was about "doing justice to clean athletes all over the world." In order to do that, he said, each athlete would have to be evaluated individually. The IOC didn't have time for that, and with just days to the Olympics, passed it to the individual sport federations which also don't have time. How did it come down to the wire like this?

WADA handed the IOC that excuse by sitting on the allegations for close to a year. We knew since last August, and WADA waited until May to name an independent commission to investigate all Russian sport and the lab. In November, after the first investigation press conference, [Olympic cross-country ski champion and chair of the WADA Athletes' Committee] Beckie Scott demanded that WADA investigate other sports, not just [track and field]. Reedie said he'd take it under advisement, and he blew her off.

WADA waited until the 11th hour, only once it was exposed to the public by 60 Minutes and the New York Times, and so the IOC could say there wasn't enough time.

(Editor's Note: Beckie Scott confirmed Robertson's account of her actions to ProPublica, and said it was clear after the first investigation press conference that the scope of doping "went well beyond" track and field.)

I asked WADA to respond to your statement that it had waited. Reedie replied in an e-mail: "It was only when CBS 60 Minutes and the New York Times, on 8 and 12 May 2016 respectively, published the allegations from the former director of the Moscow and Sochi laboratories, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, that WADA had concrete evidence suggesting Russian state involvement that could be investigated by initiating the McLaren Investigation, which we did immediately." Seems reasonable.

How investigations work is that you receive allegations and then you investigate and search for evidence. You don't wait for evidence to magically show up on its own, or in the media. But the truth of the matter is, we did have evidence, because Rodchenkov confessed - to sample switching in the Moscow laboratory to cover up positive tests of their athletes - to the WADA science director. He promptly made that known to me, and I had him put these admissions into a written statement, for the purpose of the first independent commission. So the independent commission was aware of this during the course of the investigation.

(Editor's Note: Commission chair Dick Pound said that "the commission did not uncover concrete evidence to the effect that the Russian state was manipulating the doping control process.")

Can you elaborate on that, when you say WADA was "sitting" on the allegations? You were the investigator, so who are you referring to?

Craig Reedie, he had to be literally pressured into every investigation. Even the first one, he was reluctant despite the allegations, then the [German broadcaster] ARD documentary forced him into it.

And then Reedie sent a message to the Russian ministry basically apologizing that they were being picked on. He sent an e-mail to the Russian sports minister saying WADA had no intention of harming their friendship.

And then later he wrote a note to Sergey Bubka [a Russian former gold medalist and vice president of IAAF, which governs track and field] to warn him about another doping documentary coming out, and it said, "Hope no more damage will be done."

To me, these showed his mindset, more committed to preserving his friends' reputations than discovering the truth.

Did you try internally to get the initial investigation moving before it hit the media?

I had been looking at this for three years, and had gone to WADA leadership a number of times and said, "This cannot just be Jack versus Russia. I need manpower." With DEA, I had subpoena power behind me; at WADA I couldn't compel people to talk. But they always had excuses, "Oh we're getting 0% increase in our budget right now so we don't have the money."

And then when money did become available WADA beefed up every other department, but never investigations.

I was working 11 hours day, sometimes 18 hours. Once it was exposed in the media, then I got some manpower to do the investigation.

You also said that there's something you want to say about why the investigations were independent commissions, chaired by someone from outside WADA. What do you want to add to that?

Nobody knows this, why an independent commission was created when WADA could've done the investigation in-house. And I led the investigation anyway, so why even have an independent commission? I was told by [former WADA director general] David Howman there was a concern Craig Reedie would somehow jeopardize the investigation. Maybe there are other reasons, but that's what I was told. We basically could not trust him not to expose our investigation to Russia.

Leaking To The Media

Robertson says that WADA president Reedie hoped that stories in the media would blow over. In 2014, Robertson asked one of his superiors for permission to share information with German investigative reporter Hajo Seppelt in the hope that the resulting story would pressure WADA into an official investigation. When it appeared that might not work, Robertson was encouraged to share information with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency about Reedie's resistance to starting an investigation.

So you're saying you wouldn't have gone to the media if there was another way. Was that above-board?

I got David Howman's permission, but I did downplay it. I said, "Hajo has shown a remarkable ability to work in Russia, I need his help to advance the investigation." In my mind, I knew it would take him to a story so sensational WADA would have no choice but to commit the resources.

I provided Hajo with additional information, and he provided me with credible information. He helped make my case stronger, I helped make his documentary stronger.

So when the ARD documentary came out, that's when it kicked into high gear?

Oh, no. After the documentary, I expected Craig Reedie to be furious about what was revealed. What I was told was that he wanted to avoid an investigation and try to resolve this quietly with the Russians to save them further embarrassment.

Reedie wanted to monitor media traffic to see if Hajo's allegations were gaining momentum or dying down, so maybe we wouldn't have to investigate.

And David Howman became concerned that there wouldn't be an investigation at all, and suggested I discreetly provide information directly to Travis Tygart about what was going on, so that he could take steps to influence Craig Reedie into doing the right thing.

I talked to Travis and asked him to write a letter, and to persuade other key people within the anti-doping community to send letters.

(Editor's Note: After the documentary came out, Tygart wrote WADA a letter that read: "For WADA to sit on the sidelines in the face of such allegations flies in the face of WADA's mandate from sport, governments and clean athletes." ProPublica corroborated Robertson's account with other sources. In response to Robertson, WADA said that it always monitors media reaction, and that it launched a $1.4 million investigation within seven business days of the documentary.)

Stunned That Russia Is Given An Out

In November 2015, findings of systematic doping in Russian track and field were presented by investigation chair Pound at a press conference. Robertson, who led the investigative effort, blasts Pound, who he sees as having offered Russia an out.

When the investigation findings were first revealed, I think it showed a more elaborate scheme than we were all expecting. Did it seem to you then that this would play out differently than it did?

We busted our asses and were able to give Dick Pound the evidence to show there was state-sponsored doping. There was real excitement for us before the press conference in Europe, because the evidence was about to be revealed. So at the press conference, he's saying the right things, that it's a doping culture, and then he says he believes Russia needs to take the necessary steps to be compliant so they can be in Rio.

I was watching on a screen in a WADA conference room in Montreal with my co-workers, and that took me by surprise, and I later learned it took another commission member by surprise. We had no idea Dick was going to basically offer them a chance to not face punishment.

So we're allowing them to avoid consequences of the biggest doping scandal in WADA history? When I heard him say that, my jaw hit the table. I felt sick to my stomach. I got up and walked out. I felt we had let the whistleblowers and clean athletes down, so I felt ashamed.

(Editor's Note: Reached in Rio, Pound, who is now a member of the IOC representing Canada, told ProPublica that the decision to give Russian track and field a shot at being in Rio stemmed from a meeting with Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko. Pound said that Mutko rolled his eyes, but agreed to make any needed changes. Pound said that he hoped Russia would be incentivized to clean up its operation as quickly as possible.)

Punishing The Whistleblower

When the IOC chose to allow Russia into the Olympics, it added a caveat: no Russian athlete who had previously served a doping ban could compete. That decision appears to directly contradict a previous ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Two people familiar with the decision-making process told ProPublica that they believe the decision was crafted in order to let Russia compete while keeping out Russian whistleblower Yulia Stepanova, who previously served a two-year ban for a biological passport positive.

Another aspect of this that was sometimes overshadowed has to do with the whistleblowers. WADA code has been revised specifically to encourage whistleblowers, and WADA has said it's disappointed that IOC decided not to allow Yulia to compete. What do you think?

WADA only came out in support of the whistleblowers because of [prominent Irish journalist] David Walsh's article based on his interview with Yulia and Vitaly. That's how it works - it has to be in the media.

In December, before that article, I went to [WADA director general Olivier] Niggli, and said that Craig Reedie is getting beaten up by the press, and he could help his image if he comes out and supports Yulia competing as a neutral athlete under the Olympic banner. Niggli said I needed to come back to reality, that's not going to happen.

And then David Walsh criticized WADA for not better supporting them, and it was only then that WADA decided to come out and claim we'd been supporting them all along. That was a bunch of crap.

(Editor's Note: In response, WADA disputed Robertson's claim, and said that Reedie wrote to the head of the IAAF, which governs track and field, in support of Stepanova in January 2016, before Walsh's article. However, the article Robertson is referring to - the one in the link above - came out in November 2015. Walsh wrote another article, "How WADA Betrayed The Whistleblowers It Relied On," in June of this year.)

I've talked to people both at IOC and WADA, and a number have felt that this decision was made specifically to keep Yulia out. No matter what the impetus for the decision, what if some athletes say, well, great, she shouldn't be in Rio even though she exposed this and served her full ban?

The IOC questioned her motives for speaking out. For all of my career I ran informants and whistleblowers, and every time I had to determine what their motivation was for cooperating. Some for revenge, some for money, some for lighter punishments, some to atone for sins. In my 30-plus years in investigations, I have never ever met two people that had more pure motives than Yulia and Vitaly.

Yulia was not even seeking a reduction of her sentence. She was entitled to that, but she took the full ban, and never once requested from me that it should be lessened.

They had to leave everything, not just careers but their home, to hide in the U.S.

Their sole motive is to allow future Russian athletes be able to compete without doping if they don't want to. In Russia, they've been labeled "traitors."

The one thing she ever asked for in return was to be able to compete as a clean athlete in the Olympics. If she said nothing, she'd have a home and a salary and be in Rio right now.

A New Low For Sport

In addition to background of the investigations, Robertson wanted to discuss why he takes the recent chain of events so personally, and why, to him, it represents a nadir for international sports.

So are you arguing that we should just disband the IOC and WADA?

The world needs WADA and IOC and IAAF, but we need people to run them who value integrity. That's all. The people I worked with at WADA were absolutely amazing, the best in the field. But it's my feeling they've been betrayed by their leadership.

You know, I lost much of my voice to throat cancer, so I know a thing or two about cancer. And this is like cancer - if you don't get all of it, it can come back worse.

We've seen it in FIFA, you have to take out the boss, but you have to take out their henchmen too, those who would follow them for their own careers.

Everyone who supported them in their decisions has to go.

Why are you speaking out now, since we talked before and you wanted to handle things internally, and as long as I've known you . . . I mean, early on when we first met I was frustrated because you wouldn't tell me anything!

Before now I've avoided the spotlight, as you know. I don't want people to believe I'm looking for my 15 minutes of fame. And the leaders failed me, but I've experienced that before in law enforcement. But more importantly they failed clean athletes and our own whistleblowers. Change has to happen, and even as damaged as my voice is, it needs to be heard.

When WADA abruptly said you retired earlier this year, I was caught by surprise. I thought right away it must have something to do with the throat cancer.

I did not retire.

WADA said you retired.

Right. Let me just say something, I won't go into details about my dismissal; I think it was unfair, but what I'm saying here has nothing to do with that. But let me say: I did not retire.

You didn't tell me this, but, you know, I learned from other people that doctors were telling you that you shouldn't travel to Russia because you weren't healthy enough.

Oh, yeah, I violated what the doctors were telling me. If I had to do it again, I would still do it. The whistleblowers trusted me, and I felt responsible to them and to clean athletes.

How could I not feel that way? I made sacrifices, but they had to leave their home. Not just their home, their country, and go into hiding. They left everything. And, in the end, WADA did fail them.

The Russian Reception, And Two Strange Deaths

People in Russia, from Putin down to the Russian public, have been defiant over the investigation reports, suggesting they're false and politically motivated. The Moscow Times recently reported that only 14 percent of Russian citizens believe Russian athletes were doping in Sochi. Putin called the ban on Russian track and field athletes politically motivated "open discrimination."

I was actually in Russia recently for something unrelated to this, and much of the sentiment is that this is the U.S. or other countries trying to undermine Russian sport. How would you respond to that?

The Russian government says that politics drove all this. I am the one that led this investigation, and I can say that through the investigation there were absolutely no politics. The one time I saw politics was when Craig Reedie tried to intervene by writing e-mails to the Russian ministry to console them. But there were no politics in the investigation. I ran the investigation. I am the one person who can make that statement.

So, is that just the official response or do you think that's how the average sports enthusiast in Russia is reacting to their track team being barred?

Through the investigation, I developed an appreciation and respect for the Russian people, and the city of Moscow, even though I knew that the people I was talking to, heads of the Moscow lab and RUSADA, were lying to me. And they knew I knew that. But I still considered them nice people. They had no alternative but to be part of a system. It wasn't only their jobs in jeopardy, but their safety and security.

I have no proof at all, but coming from DEA, I don't believe in coincidences, that the two former heads of RUSADA both die within about 10 days of one another. I met one of them, and the man was able to handle stress, and was very fit, and then died of a heart attack. It's just very suspect.

(Editor's Note: That man, Nikita Kamaev, died in February at age 52. The Russian sports minister called the death "very unexpected. The man seemed healthy, and everything was fine." A RUSADA press release said, "Presumably, the cause of death was a massive heart attack." About two weeks earlier, the RUSADA founding chairman, Vyacheslav Sinev, died. RUSADA confirmed his death, but did not give a cause.)

Solidarity For The Whistleblowers

Robertson is particularly angry, he says, that WADA and the IOC have not done enough to support the whistleblowers.

I didn't realize quite how strong your feelings were about the whistleblowers having been let down, both because they made a huge sacrifice and ultimately Russia was not banned and Yulia was not allowed into the Olympics. Steve Magness, who as you know spoke out publicly to the BBC's Mark Daly and I last year about allegations of medical misconduct in track, recently wrote an essay titled "No One Really Wants A Whistleblower." So, what now for whistleblowers in sports?

This is my opinion, and it may sound silly: I think there should be a sign of solidarity from clean athletes for the sacrifice of Vitaly and Yulia. Like in the Hunger Games movie, with the salute that's a sign of solidarity.

Not on the podium, and not against any country, but just for clean athletes . . . Vitaly and Yulia had to flee their home, and Yulia served her full ban, and now the IOC has repaid her by banning her.

And then the IOC tried to buy her off by giving her an IOC guest pass to be their guest in Rio with travel and accommodations paid for.

That's nothing more than a bribe, but she would not be bought off, so they declined that.

What does this say for future whistleblowers?

Q: So where do we go from here?

We can't just keep going from scandal to scandal. And if this scandal isn't enough to bring about change, then nothing ever will be.

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

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Previously in doping:
* Secret To Success: A Derby Win And Racing's Doping Addiction.

* Why It's So Hard To Catch Track-And-Field Cheaters.

* Everyone's Juicing.

* How Russia Hid Its Doping In Plain Sight.

* IOC: Sochi Doping Allegations Could Show 'Unprecedented Criminality.'

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:08 AM | Permalink

Circus School Moves Into 109-Year-Old Logan Square Church

For the last eight years, Aloft Circus Arts has been training amateur and professional circus artists in aerial and earth-bound acrobatics from a rented loft in a West Side industrial warehouse.

And in those eight years, Aloft has grown into one of the largest and most renowned circus schools in the United States, drawing 250 students per week.

Now, with the purchase of a 109-year-old church in Logan Square, Aloft is poised to put down roots that will allow it to launch a new phase of growth.

Classes for adults and - for the first time in Aloft's history - children begin Tuesday, September 6th.

"When our landlords told us they wouldn't be renewing our lease, I was really scared for the future of circus arts in Chicago," says Aloft's founder Shayna Swanson, an internationally acclaimed performer with more than 20 years of circus experience.

Swanson founded Aloft in 2005 in a small Humboldt Park garage. Since moving from the garage to a Fulton Street loft, the studio has expanded to include circus arts classes for adults at all levels of fitness and skill, as well as a rigorous and selective professional training program and a performing company. Aloft teachers are veterans of Cirque du Soleil and myriad other world-class troupes.

Aloft's monthly El Circo Cheapo showcase performances routinely sell out, and in 2014 Aloft helped host the first-ever Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival.

But last summer all they'd accomplished seemed in jeopardy - until Swanson found the former First Evangelical Church at the corner of Kimball and Wrightwood.

"As soon as I walked in, I knew we had to move there," she says. "I'm really proud of the fact that a small arts organization was able to purchase this beautiful building and keep it active in the community."

Now, after a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised $60,000 to go towards a state-of-the-art rigging system, the church is set to become Chicago's permanent home for contemporary circus.

Interest in contemporary circus is booming in the U.S., and across the globe. Aloft's classes are small and taught in a progressive manner, allowing students with no previous experience in circus or acrobatics to master challenging physical skills and experience the excitement of this joyful art form, which has been proven to boost self-esteem and fitness in both children and adults.

Classes begin for all ages September 6th in trapeze, aerial silks, pole, trampoline, hand-balancing, clowning, acrobatics, and more, including circus-based fitness classes.

Aloft will offer 90-minute taster classes ($10) from August 29th to September 4th, giving people an opportunity to try out different classes before they enroll in an eight-week session. Taster classes are for students 18 years and older. Children will be permitted to take a free test class during our regularly scheduled class sessions.

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The crowdfunding video:

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About Aloft Circus Arts
Aloft is a Chicago-based physical performance company dedicated to telling original stories through world-class circus arts. Aloft combines visual art, urban space, physical movement, modern dance and aerial performance to build a cohesive emotional tale.

Animal-free and accessible for all audiences, Aloft Circus Arts is at the forefront of what modern circus is growing into, pushing the limits and leaving old ideas of "circus" in the dust.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:04 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2016

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Vic Mensa at Lollapalooza.

Complex: Wows With Politically Charged Set.

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2. Wolf Alice at Lincoln Hall for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Friday night.

Fanelli: One of the festival's breakout bands.

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3. Chance the Rapper at the Metro on Sunday night.

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4. Moseley at the Red Line Tap on Friday night.

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5. Bullnettle at Quenchers on Friday night.

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6. Ghost at Thalia Hall for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Saturday night.

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7. Frightened Rabbit at Thalia Hall for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Thursday night.

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8. LCD Soundsystem at the Metro on Saturday night.

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9. Phantogram at House of Blues for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Sunday night.

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10. The 1975 at the House of Blues for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Friday night.

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11. Mutemath at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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12. Radiohead at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

Photos by Loerzel.

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13. Lindsey Stirling at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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14. Foals at Lollapalooza on Friday.

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15. Two Door Cinema at the Vic for a Lollapalooza aftershow on Friday night.

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16. Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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17. J. Cole at Lollapalooza on Thursday night.

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18. Lana Del Rey at Lollapalooza on Thursday night.

Kot: Anti-charisma.

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19. Houndmouth at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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20. Flume at Lollapalooza on Sunday night.

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21. Halsey at Lollapalooza on Sunday.

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22. Future at Lollapalooza on Friday night.

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23. Disclosure at Lollapalooza on Saturday night.

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24. X Ambassadors at Lollapalooza on Saturday.

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25. Frank Turner at the Double Door on Thursday night.

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26. SikFuk at Wire in Berwyn for Chicago Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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27. Elbow Deep at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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28. Dysentery at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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29. Abhorrent Deformity at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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30. Extremely Rotten at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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31. Deteriorot at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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32. Lust of Decay at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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33. Malignancy at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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34. Kill Everything at Domination Fest on Saturday night.

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35. Mass Murder Messiah at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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36. Brodequin at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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37. Cerebral Incubation at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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38. Lividity at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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39. Limbsplitter at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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40. Inherit Disease at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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41. Towering Abomination at Domination Fest on Friday night.

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42. Visceral Disgorge at Domination Fest on Friday.

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43. Gorgasm at Domination Fest on Friday.

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44. Rottenness at Domination Fest on Friday.

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45. Within The Trenches at Star Bar in Chicago Ridge on Saturday night.

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46. Open Your Eyes at Another Hole in the Wall in Steger on Friday night.

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47. Danny Seraphine's CTA at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles on Saturday night.

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48. Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy at Ravinia on Sunday night.

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49. 5SOS in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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50. One OK Rock in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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51. Kip Moore in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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52. Brothers Osborne in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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53. Miranda Lambert in Tinley Park on Friday night.

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54. Third Eye Blind at Park West on Friday night.

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Catching up with . . .

Diet Cig at Bric a Brac on July 23rd.

Instagram moment of a future star.

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GØGGS at the Empty Bottle on July 20th.

Loerzel was there.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:06 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Tuesday got fucked up and I didn't get a column out and I'm still catching up. Trying to get completely back on track today.

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McDonald's, The Corporate Welfare Moocher
"An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at [Chicago's very own] McDonald's."

Cook County Bird Of The Month
The ruby-throated hummingbird!

U.S. Ping Pong Prodigy Ready For Rio
Meet the first American born in the 2000s to qualify for the Olympics.

A Farewell To The VCR
"While recording television on magnetic tape might seem primitive by today's digital standards, we should acknowledge that the humble video cassette recorder had a tremendous impact on both the media industry and how we consume media."

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is still in production, sorry. It was a huge weekend, what with Lollapalooza and such; I swear it'll be done before it's time for The Week In Chicago Rock.

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BeachBook

Chicken McNuggets Are Here! (1983)

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TweetWood
A sampling.

Kass: HRC lies, but Trump just says stupid things.

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Kass holding out hope!

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Hunny Bunny?

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CPS tries to change the narrative of being untrustworthy by lying.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: What's troncin'?

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:20 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2016

McDonald's, The Corporate Welfare Moocher

A recent New York Times editorial - accompanied by the catchy headline, "At McDonald's, Fat Profits But Lean Wages" - noted precisely what its title implies: That a company posting large profits is still failing to pay its workers a livable wage.

This, of course, is nothing new: In fact, Fight for $15 began, as the movement's website notes, "with just a few hundred fast food workers in New York City, striking for $15 an hour and union rights."

The movement has since become a nationwide force, pressuring state governments, along with the federal government, to contend with wage inequality that, as the Economic Policy Institute reported earlier this year, has been steadily rising for over 35 years.

The Times begins its editorial by noting that [Chicago-based] McDonald's "has reported a 35 percent increase in profits for the first quarter of 2016, an unexpectedly large gain driven in part by its recent decision to sell Egg McMuffins all day long."

This is great news for "executives and shareholders," the piece observes, but "when, if ever, will it be good news for McDonald's employees and for taxpayers?"

mcdonald_0.jpgWe see it over and over again: 'Taxpayers step in to provide the benefits and survival necessities that are not provided by employers, which then allows companies like McDonald's to post higher profits and pay their executives lavish salaries.' (Photo: Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

McDonald's, of course, is not the only culprit here. Throughout the United States, productivity has grown while wages have leveled off - a scenario that leads inevitably to greater profits for the few while everyone else works longer hours with little to show for it.

"From 1973 to 2014, net productivity rose 72.2 percent," the Economic Policy Institute has found, "while the hourly pay of typical workers essentially stagnated - increasing only 9.2 percent over 41 years (after adjusting for inflation)."

CEO pay, in contrast, has continued to soar: As Lawrence Mishel and Alyssa Davis have observed, "From 1978 to 2014, inflation-adjusted CEO compensation increased 997 percent, a rise almost double stock market growth and substantially greater than the painfully slow 10.9 percent growth in a typical worker's annual compensation over the same period."

But the Times noted another interesting and crucial point, one that is seldom discussed: Namely, the issue of what is often called corporate welfare.

While the conservative right is content to shame poor mothers for receiving federal assistance, rarely do they dare call, say, General Electric or Walmart "welfare queens," despite the fact that they receive enormous direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies year after year.

This is true for McDonald's, as well: The Times observes, "Through it all, taxpayers continue to pick up the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive. An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at McDonald's."

What is highlighted here is a kind of indirect subsidy McDonald's enjoys because of its refusal to pay workers a livable wage. Why raise the wages of these workers or provide them with benefits, the argument goes, if the taxpayer is there to provide "the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive?"

And why reward workers of little stature when you can reward influential executives and fat-cats instead?

A study by the National Employment Law Project, released last year, uncovered the disparity between executive compensation and average worker pay that has been the result of such an approach.

"The fast-food industry is marked by two extremes," the study begins. "On the one hand, the leading companies in the industry earn billions in profits each year, award chief executives generous compensation packages, and regularly distribute substantial amounts of money in the form of dividends and share buybacks."

Then there's the other extreme: "At the same time, the overwhelming share of jobs in the fast-food industry pay low wages that force millions of workers to rely on public assistance in order to afford health care, food, and other basic necessities."

As many others have noted, this amounts to a kind of corporate welfare: Taxpayers step in to provide the benefits and survival necessities that are not provided by employers, which then allows companies like McDonald's to post higher profits and pay their executives lavish salaries.

Steve Easterbrook, following his promotion from chief brand officer to CEO of McDonald's, saw his pay increase by 368% - while, as Laura Bult observes in the New York Daily News, "McDonald's workers have joined other low-wage workers nationwide in their demands to raise the minimum wage."

It's obscene, but it's characteristic of a system dedicated to maximizing profit for the few, no matter the societal or economic costs.

"The largest, wealthiest, most powerful organizations in the world are on the public dole," writes David Brunori in Forbes.

"Where is the outrage? Back when I was young, people went into a frenzy at the thought of some unemployed person using food stamps to buy liquor or cigarettes. Ronald Reagan famously campaigned against welfare queens. The right has always been obsessed with moochers. But [Chicago-based] Boeing receives $13 billion in government handouts and everyone yawns, when conservatives should be grabbing their pitchforks."

Well, the outrage is brewing at the grassroots level thanks to movements like Fight for $15 and Democracy Spring, a coalition of progressive groups fighting to get money out of politics. And the campaign of Bernie Sanders energized many young people and motivated millions to get involved with these causes, which transcend any single presidential campaign.

These groups recognize that a nation with such profound levels of income and wealth inequality, combined with a slow-growth economy that favors those already at the top, can never be genuinely democratic.

"I say to the Walton family, get off of welfare. Pay your workers a living wage," Bernie Sanders demanded on the campaign trail.

And the same can be said for McDonald's. As Berkeley labor researcher Ken Jacobs wrote for the Washington Post reported last year, "Americans are spending $153 billion a year to subsidize McDonald's and Wal-Mart's low-wage workers . . . Let that sink in - American taxpayers are subsidizing people who work - most of them full-time (in some case more than full-time) because businesses do not pay a living wage."

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:08 PM | Permalink

Farewell To The VCR

I grew up with video cassette recorders - VCRs. I still remember rushing off to the the video store to rent the latest movie, hoping that there was at least one copy still on the shelf that didn't have the "Sorry I'm Out" tag placed in the cover.

In 2001, despite the emergence of DVDs, the portfolio for my undergraduate degree application was sent on VHS. That's all they accepted.

I still have a cupboard full of VHS tapes - films I purchased as well as my own video work. But now, viewing these tapes will become far more difficult.

The last manufacturer of VCRs, the Funai Corporation of Japan, stopped manufacturing at July's close.

image-20160729-24661-iigueh.jpgRob Pearce/Flickr, CC BY

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You could be forgiven for thinking that the manufacturing of VCRs had already ceased.

Funai cites the decline in VCR sales and the difficulty of finding the required parts to manufacture them. That said, 750,000 units were sold worldwide in 2015, hough that pales compared to Funai's sales of 15 million per year when the VCR's popularity peaked.

The end of VCRs comes only a year after news that Sony would stop the manufacturing of Betamax, a tape format that had a long battle with VHS.

While recording television on magnetic tape might seem primitive by today's digital standards, we should acknowledge that the humble video cassette recorder had a tremendous impact on both the media industry and how we consume media.

Moreover, there are some striking parallels between the impact of VCRs a few decades ago and the impact of digital technologies, like on-demand video and TV catch-up services, today.

Rewind

The first tape recorder is reported to have been developed by Ampex Electric and Manufacturing Company in 1956: the Ampex VRX-1000. Later this same year, CBS in the broadcast the first delayed program using the Ampex Mark IV.

Prior to tape recording technology, most television programs were broadcast live with no recording or archiving. Film was used for some events and broadcasts, but it was expensive. This fundamentally changed the approach of television stations, enabling them to record shows, and also to archive and re-broadcast them as repeats.

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Fred Pfost of Ampex tells the story of demonstrating the first professional video tape recorder.

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However, VCRs also shook up the entertainment industry in other ways. Actors and writers went on strike in 1985 over the percentage paid to them for work released on video.

VCRs were also blamed for reducing movie theater attendance and putting a damper on box-office takings over the 1985 summer season.

Between the popularity of television and the rise of the VCR, movie theaters even experimented with primitive 3D to lure audiences into the cinema. Sound familiar?

Piracy also became an issue in the 1980s, with the VCR enabling individuals to record television shows and movies, or copy them for wider distribution or sale.

Ghosting

Today if you place a VCR in front of the younger generation, you will more than likely get results like these:

But it's worth remembering that VCRs helped to fundamentally change the way we create and consume media. They gave us a hint of what it's like to be unshackled from broadcast timetables, allowed us to fast-forward through advertisements, enabled some to pirate and distribute movies, and started to chip into the dominance of the movie theater.

In fact, many of the issues that are pertinent today to video-on-demand and TV catch-up are echoed by the issues presented by VCRs.

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Marc C-Scott is a lecturer in screen media at Victoria University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

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Comments welcome.

The Conversation

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:20 AM | Permalink

Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird!

Throughout 2016, the Forest Preserves of Cook County invites visitors to see some of the most interesting native and migrating birds in the Preserves.

Each month during the Forest Preserves' 2016 Bird the Preserves initiative, a new bird will be highlighted. Visitors will have the opportunity to spot the bird of the month at an event or program, and learn what makes that bird so special. The August Bird of the Month is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

hummingbird.jpg

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are masters of flight. They can beat their wings dozens of times per second, creating a humming noise. Other fascinating features:

  • Fine-tuned flying: These birds can instantly accelerate to full speed, then quickly stop and hover in place while adjusting their position in any direction.
  • Food fights: Males fiercely defend food sources and battle intruders in mid-air, often resulting in epic hovering fights with other hummingbirds - or less epic clashes with bumblebees.
  • Incredible journey: Most ruby-throated hummingbirds spend winter in Central America. During migration, some will cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight (the shortest route across is 500 miles).

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Migration Map:

august-hummingbird-migration-map.gif

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Watch A Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Feed:

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To see the August Bird of the Month, check out this events:

Hummingbird Sit
Saturday, Aug. 6 - 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummer Watch
Thursday, Aug. 11 - 5 p.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummingbird Sit
Saturday, Aug. 13 - 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummingbird Sit
Sunday, Aug. 14 - 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummingbird Fest
Saturday, Aug. 20 - 9 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummingbird Sit
Sunday, Aug. 21 - 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Bird of the Month: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Sunday, Aug. 21 - 1 p.m.
Trailside Museum of Natural History, 738 Thatcher Ave, River Forest

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Hummingbird Theater
Saturday, Aug. 27 - 1 p.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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Hummingbird Sit
Sunday, Aug. 28 - 10 a.m.
Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, 12545 W 111th St, Lemont

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In addition to learning about the featured Bird of the Month and enjoying birding programs and events, birders of all skill levels can explore the preserves with teams competing in the Forest Preserves' Big Year birding competition.

During the Big Year competition, the preserves compete instead of the people. Participants will visit their team's preserve and log all bird sightings in eBird, an online birding checklist program. All are welcome to join these searches and binoculars will be available for loan.

The competition runs from March 1 to December 31, and is a great way to challenge yourself and explore a local preserve, make new friends and experience what birding is all about.

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Previously:
* Experience Birding In The Cook County Forest Preserves!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Timberdoodle.

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Wood Duck!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Baltimore Oriole!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Great Egret!

* Cook County Bird Of The Month: The Osprey!

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BOM-March-page-002.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:39 AM | Permalink

U.S. Ping Pong Prodigy Ready For Rio

"Ping pong prodigy Kanak Jha is the first American born in the 2000s to qualify for the Olympics. At an event to promote the squad in San Francisco, Jha and his table tennis teammates said they hope to become the first Americans to ever medal in the sport in Rio."


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Highlights from the World Championships:

Luxembourg v USA featuring Mladenovic Luka v Jha Kanak.

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With his sister:

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See also: Roger Ebert: The Ping Of Pong: Mystery Solved.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:35 AM | Permalink

August 1, 2016

Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Pie Olympics

The social legacies of the London Games: Reagan and Thatcher are back.


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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.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Valentine's Day 2016.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! On The 'Environment" Beat.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Political Theater As News.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Charter Wankers International.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! The Panama Papers: They're All In It Together.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Answer The Fucking Question.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Snapchatting The Environment.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Election Fever!

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Day-Glo Fuck-Nugget Trump.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Dickens Meets The Jetsons.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Tony Blair: Comedy Genius Or Psychopath?

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! What Real Business News Should Look Like.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Facts Are No Longer Newsworthy.

* Pie's Brexit.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Real Life Is Not Game Of Thrones.

* Jonathan Pie, TV Reporter! Labor: The Clue's In The Title!

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Plus:

If Only All TV Reporters Did The News Like This.

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And:

Australia Is Horrific.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:31 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"General-election polls show that voters trust Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton on the economy, and her campaign has been told by donors and advisers that she must strip down her message," the Washington Post reports.

That may be true, but what do donors know about it? Taking their advice strikes me as the bigger problem - but emblematic of the Clinton style that has helped to sow so much distrust in the first place.

Freedom (From Police) Square
"Activists re-imagine a world without police misconduct at a sit-in across the street from Homan Square, the Chicago Police facility infamous for allegations of illegal interrogations," the Chicago Reporter reports.

No. Those activists seek a world without police (and prisons). Period. Let's not soft-pedal the demand because of its absurdity, no matter how sympathetic we may be to the general thrust of their humanitarian goals.

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I'm all for re-imagining how the police do their job, but I wouldn't want to live in a world without them. Sorry.

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FYI: The Blue Lives Matter ordinance appears to be off the table for the summer.

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Here's another look at Freedom Square:

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See also this Tribune report by Dawn Rhodes (no relation).

Preckwinkle And The President
First, I agree with Rich Miller of the Capitol Fax Blog that the media's speculation about Toni Preckwinkle's political future because she sat next to Bill Clinton at one point during the Democratic National Convention was "downright bizarre," albeit typically so.

Second, I don't believe Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington's characterization - in a column about the seating arrangement - of the Chicago media as "cynical, always spinning" is apt, except insofar as "cynicism is what passes as insight among the mediocre." It's more about Chicago political reporters and pundits being more interested in gossipy parlor games than speculation-free reporting.

Third, I did not know Toni Preckwinkle had, as Washington writes, a "trademark giggle." I'd say that means it's less than "trademark." (Sources close to Google found no previous instances of Preckwinkle giggling; to the contrary, she's usually described as lacking giggly qualities.)

Fourth, I found it odd - but noteworthy - that Washington described commentary about Preckwinkle's seating as coming from news organizations, instead of the actual individuals doing the "cynical spinning." Was she afraid to name names - or perhaps extending a professional courtesy to public figures who hardly deserve "protection" from public statements they are paid to make?

To wit:

Back home, the forever cynical, always spinning news media was in overdrive. The Daily Herald proclaimed: "Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle set tongues wagging Monday when she appeared next to former President Bill Clinton during a key, prime-time moment of the Democratic National Convention's opening night festivities."

"Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel upstaged by Toni Preckwinkle at DNC?" queried WGNtv.com. "And sitting to the left of former President Bill Clinton last night? Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle, looking rather cozy."

"Did Bill Clinton just tell Toni Preckwinkle that Chicago is hers?" the Chicago Tribune trumpeted.

That first comment didn't come from the Daily Herald as an institution but from political editor Mike Riopell. (I'll link to the work in question since she didn't!)

The second comment didn't come from WGN-TV's website, but from midday anchor Courtney Gousman.

And the third comment didn't come from Mighty Mother Tribune, but from a fairly well-known columnist there named John Kass.

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Note: When I started this site 11 years ago, I decided I would use the names of the reporters whose articles I referred to, because that's what we do in journalism, and our peers and colleagues ought not get special consideration. In some cases, I do refer to a news organization, such as "the Tribune reports," because I know that sometimes editors are to blame (or praise) for what appears under a reporter's name - and that the material a news organization produces is truly a team effort (and published as a product of the newsroom). I make that decision on a case-by-case basis; e.g., the unrestrained Fran Spielman has an unmistakable style of journalistic malpractice that can be safely attributed to her, even if her editors are guilty of allowing it.

That principle certainly doesn't apply here. Washington should have named names (and provided links). And her editor, presuming she has one, should have seen to that.

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SportsMonday: We All Blacked Out, Jon
Maddon the Magician is the Greatest Show On Earth.

The Cub Factor: Joe's Army Knife
Maddon has all the gadgets working on his Cub army knife - even the tweezers and saw blade.

The White Sox Report: It's Tilson Time!
With the season lost, why not?

Pie's Olympics
Back to the future past.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Is in production.

Beachwood Sports Radio
Aroldis Chapman putting the K back in the Kubs already.

Epic PR fail reminiscent of bad old days. Plus: Tommy Boy LaStella To Sell His Brake Pads In Des Moines; The Adam Warren Commission; Chris The Tank Engine; The Bears Are Already Grinding Coach Coffman's Gears; and Olympic Gamesmanship.

Beachwood Photo Booth
You say you want Revolution Books.

Fantasy Fix Draft Guide Pt. 1
Ex-Bears abound.

Set It And Forget It
How default settings rule the world.

Does Practice Make An Olympian? No
Malcolm Gladwell was wrong, as usual.

At The Top Of A Supremely Tasty Pipe
In TrackNotes.

Leak: DNC Aimed To Quash Reporters' Questions Over Sleazy HRC Fundraising Scheme
Obama's hand-picked nominee tried to hide a money-laundering scheme, pure and simple.

Corporate Democrats Have Always Hated The Left - Now They're Shocked To Learn The Left Hates Them Back
All is not well.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Alvvays, Ought, Drake, Jane's Addiction, M83, NeObliviscaris, Black Crown Initiate, Potions, ADT, Mekaal Hasan Band, The Bourne Identity, The Last Shadow Puppets, Daughter, Hog MaGundy, Kris Kristofferson, Collective Soul, Goo Goo Dolls, John Primer, Diana Ross, Bastille, Major Lazer, alonXoTheRebel, Ted Nugent, Red Plastic Buddha, Acceptance, Sykes, Whitechapel, Veils of Maya, Oceans Ate Alaska, Tonight Alive, Chelsea Grin, Sleeping With Sirens, The Interrupters, Reel Big Fish, Ice Nine Kills, From Ashes To New, State Champs, Less Than Jake, New Found Glory, The Color Morale, Sum 41, Yellowcard, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Good Charlotte, Marilyn Manson, Disturbed, Deafheaven, and Bullet For My Valentine.

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BeachBook

The Top 10 PR Tactics Reporters Hate The Most.

*

Meet Billy Lawless.

*

Yeah, the Internet is better.

*

States' Flag-Burning Laws Unconstitutional, But Persist.

*

Execs Rolling In Dough While Athletes On Food Stamps.

*

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday! Illinois Locations Suddenly Close.

*

Yeah, there's a bunch more over there. This is what happens when you don't write a column for a few days.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

*

*

Media loves a good fairy tale.

*

*

Yeah, there's a bunch more you should look at.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: Loyal opposition.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:28 PM | Permalink

Joe's Army Knife

As the weeks go by and the calendar turns to August ,I keep finding myself thinking: Sure these guys are good, like really good as far as the Cubs go, but I'm still not sure the roster is where it should be. Are you supposed to have five left fielders in one game?

Yes, they had five left fielders on Sunday night. And one was a pitcher.

I just can't figure out if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I guess it's a good thing in extra-inning games, because anyone can pretty much play anywhere.

Oh, and it's also good for the guys that make mitts. Because every guy has to have like three different baseball gloves.

And it's also good for the outfits that stitch players' names on the gloves. Are they different companies? Or does the glove company have a machine or whatever that stitches in the names? I just don't know.

The answer is not keeping me up at night, but I do find it interesting that there are so many glove-changing situations on this team.

But back to the first idea: Is it better to be the Swiss army knife of teams, or the large collection of tools team?

In real life, Swiss army knives are sort of worthless. You use the knife for stuff, but if you needed a screwdriver you would get a real screwdriver and not bother with the tiny screwdriver that is on the Swiss army knife.

Maybe in a pinch it's a good thing, of course, but that's the whole deal. In real life, a Swiss army knife is typically only useful in a pinch, not in everyday use.

Still, it's hard to rain on this winning parade, especially when Big Poppa Joe has all the gadgets working on his Cub army knife, like even the tweezers and the saw blade.

There is no doubt that Joe gets the most out of his guys. I'm a believer. But maybe he shouldn't have to write a book on baseball strategy every game.

Some might say you have to do all of this because you don't really have the set roster that you would like.

It's working and it's evolving, but all it takes is a tweak to Dexter Fowler's hammy and it could be back to chaos again. Or as much chaos as a team 22 games over .500 can muster, which I guess isn't that much - and nothing a good knife can't handle.

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Week In Review: The Cubs lost the first two games of the week to the White Sox, and things didn't look so good. But then they won two from the Sox and took two of three from the Mariners for a 4-3. Another seven games off the schedule and up 7 1/2 games over the Cardinals in the division. Not too shabby.

Week In Preview: The boys in blue stay home for three against a solid Marlins team that is currently sitting in the second wild card slot. There's a decent chance this is a Cubs playoff match-up here, so take some notes! After the Marlins leave town, the Cubs zip off to the West Coast for a 3-game set with the A's. The A's after the trading deadline should be nothing to worry about.

Musical Outfielders: And no we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. I've already covered having five different guys playing left in the game on Sunday. I think that's a pretty solid microcosm of the season. Yet, this is the kind of thing that only works in the regular season and not really so much in the playoffs. Kyle Schwarber is still battling the notion that he is horrible in the outfield after last year's bumbling of a couple balls in left against the Mets in the playoffs last year. Poor Kyle then got hurt and hasn't been able to make us feel any better about his defense. Let's just remember that the cuteness of having Travis Wood make plays out there in the regular season will quickly go away if he boots one in the post-season.

Former Annoying Cub of the Week: I'm going to break the cycle here and talk about Chris Coghlan. Sure, I'm not a fan at all, but I might as well get over it. He apparently has some sort of extra baseball "goodness" in him that does not show up in ways normal people can see. And while he is not a "former" Cub as he is still on the team, he is technically a "former annoying" Cub as I am going to call him no longer annoying. So he is former annoying in that sense. He must be like super hilarious in the clubhouse or really good at pep talks or something for him to keep coming back to this team, but I'm going to embrace him now. I simply have no choice, he will not go away. And he cannot be missed when he is always around.

Current Annoying Cub of the Week: I really wanted to pile on the Jason Heyward "C'mon already" train and lay into him a bit for being so so bad. But then he was an integral part of one of the most insanely awesome comebacks that I can remember on Sunday night. Will this be the Jason Heyward game? Will this be the game that gets him rolling at the plate? The answer to both questions is: I guess we'll see.

Mad(don) Scientist: Big Poppa Joe certainly swung and missed with the Brian Matusz start. He was horrible. The idea of giving the rotation an extra day off is great, but when you tax your bullpen anyway because the kid is getting shelled, well, maybe you should look at your first decision. But when you call on a starting pitcher with a lifetime batting average of .051 to pinch hit in the bottom of the 12th he gets a bunt down with two strikes to bring in the winning run from third, you come out looking like a genius.

Kubs Kalender: Fans attending the Cubs-A's game on Friday will receive an Italian heritage A's hat. Fans will be asked to prove their Italian heritage by declaring how many cousins they have named Tony. Any answer over three will get you the hat. Bada-bing!

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Sunday's win seemed special.

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Marty Gangler is The Cub Factor. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:28 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: We All Blacked Out, Jon

Hey Jon Lester, you just laid down a perfect, two-strike squeeze bunt to drive in the winning run in the 12th inning! Let's celebrate! Here's a faceful and mouthful of, what was that, talcum powder?


Here's the dusting up close:

Whoever greeted Lester with that blast of powder after the Cubs finished off a wild, wild 12th-inning 7-6 victory over the Mariners late last night, well, that guy has some serious retribution coming.

Lester put down a great bunt. But part of one's natural reaction to the play had to be "Of course he bunted, he can't hit, how did the Mariners let that happen?"

The ball was perfectly placed, making it especially difficult for a fielder to get to it and get it home before Jason Heyward came racing, diving through for the game-winner. Mariners pitcher Cody Martin actually made a slick play, using his glove to flick the ball to catcher Mike Zunino, who then spun to attempt a tag with his bare hand. But Heyward was in with space to spare.

All that said, the base-running play of the game had to be Willson Contreras improbably beating out what looked like a sure double-play to drive in the second run in the bottom of the ninth and advance the tying run to third.

As Aaron Boone pointed out on the ESPN broadcast, "The Seattle Mariners did not mess up." But Contreras flashed some extraordinary speed for a catcher to avoid being the game-ending out.

All of this redeemed a game that had started so poorly. The Cubs started Brian Matusz, who they had signed after his release from the Orioles earlier this season. Matusz, who reportedly has an opt-out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent had he not been promoted to the big leagues by August 1st, had been decent in a couple starts in Triple A. Given his performance last night, he may not start again - for anyone.

In general in this sort of situation, fans applaud the manager for finding a way to get his pitchers more rest. But before it became clear that the start had to happen for the team to hang onto a left-handed pitching asset, this decision seemed more than a bit strange.

More rest is often great but the Cubs' starting pitchers had been on a roll, with Lester having pitched masterfully in the series opener on Friday and Jake Arrieta turning in seven shutout innings on Saturday. Prior to that, Jason Hammel and John Lackey came up big in wins over the White Sox and Kyle Hendricks has only been the Cubs' best pitcher all year long.

So why wouldn't you simply keep them going on a standard, five-man rotation schedule?

And then of course Matusz gave up two-run homers in the first, second and third innings to dig a deep hole.

Then the magical manager went to work. Joe Maddon orchestrated nine innings of shutout pitching from his bullpen. He put Travis Wood in left for an inning to preserve him for a second stint on the mound and all the ultra-athletic Wood did was make a gutsy catch a second before crashing into the brick wall in left. As usual, the ivy provided no padding whatsoever but Wood shrugged it off.

Finally, Maddon pinch-hit Lester in the 12th and called for the bunt with two strikes (Lester: "I blacked out for a minute.") Not a bad night for the manager and an amazing night for baseball theater on the North Side. Something tells me we will be seeing plenty more of this for the next few months.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:30 AM | Permalink

It's Tilson Time!

The Crosstown Classic, Cup, Showdown or whatever you want to call it garnered plenty of attention last week as the Cubs and Sox split the four games, each team winning a pair in their home park. Despite the fact that the games count in the standings thanks to interleague play, the stakes were arguably higher when the teams met many years ago.

From 1903 until 1942, the Cubs and Sox participated in what was known as the City Series, usually a best-of-seven confrontation played parallel to the World Series. If either Chicago team won its league pennant to advance to the World Series, the local showdown wasn't played, like in 1917 and 1919 when the Sox won pennants. And in 1906 when both clubs were league champions, they met in the World Series with the Sox emerging victorious four games to two.

After 1906, the Cubs appeared in eight more World Series' before 1942, negating a City Series at the end of those seasons. But in all there were 26 post-season gatherings - a few times weather or lack of agreement between the teams cancelled the affair - featuring the two Chicago teams that were otherwise boondoggles at the gate; the City Series far outdrew what the clubs experienced in the regular season.

Those extra gate receipts often heavily contributed to the bottom line for both teams. For instance, in 1911, the Sox averaged less than 8,000 fans per game during the regular season, but the City Series drew an average of 24,837 as the Sox won four straight. The 1930 Series, won by the Cubs four games to two, averaged 27,153 after the White Sox drew just slightly more than 5,000 during the American League season.

The players were more than happy to play the extra games not only for bragging rights, but to share in proceeds. In his book Turning the Black Sox White: The Misunderstood Legacy of Charles A. Comiskey, Tim Hornbaker, noted that in the 1913 City Series, "The players each received $807 for the series and Ring Lardner wrote an amusing article in the Tribune recommending to Comiskey that he offer a financial incentive to the team every season in an effort to get them to perform better."

Now, more than 100 years later, we know that Lardner's supposition doesn't necessarily guarantee better results. It's costing Chairman Reinsdorf $110 million this season for a club that followed the split with the Cubs by losing two of three to last-place Minnesota in a meaningless weekend series, the type of which will be the rule from now until early October.

After beating the Cubs in two exciting, well-played games Monday and Tuesday on the South Side to once again create a glimmer of hope for this band of athletes, the Sox managed just single runs in each of the next two games at Clark and Addison.

In losing 8-1 on Wednesday, substitute pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, called into action because of Carlos Rodon's sore wrist and Chris Sale's successful effort making certain that he and his mates would not wear the 1976 throwback uniforms, hit an opposite field home run, the only hit he's ever had in 10 big league at-bats. In six minor league seasons, he's never so much as made a plate appearance. Let's hope that Ranaudo stopped after the game to buy a lottery ticket.

In addition, Ranaudo, a 27-year-old righthander originally drafted and signed by the Red Sox in 2010 and later traded to Texas, had a no-hitter cooking on Wednesday with one out in the sixth when Kris Bryant homered to tie the game at 1. In the seventh, after two outs and a walk to Jason Heyward, Javy Baez took a 3-2 offering from Ranaudo that almost reached Waveland Avenue for a 3-1 Cub lead. So ended the night for the 6-foot-7 fill-in, who was sent back to Charlotte after the game.

Aside from making an impressive appearance for the Sox last week, Ranaudo has played an unintended pivotal role in the team's season. He had failed miserably in the two games he started for Texas earlier in the year, lasting a total of 3 2/3 innings, including an inning-and-a-third against the White Sox on May 10th. The Sox entered that game with a record of 23-10, and thanks to Ranaudo's lack of command - he walked five and they all scored - the Sox led 11-6 going into the eighth inning before a bullpen meltdown resulted in a 13-11 Rangers' comeback win.

That implosion was the beginning of the infamous 10-26 ledger which basically has doomed the Sox' season.

But getting back to Ranaudo. He walked eight hitters in those two games with Texas, but he gave up only two hits.

Apparently the Sox saw something they liked about Ranaudo - maybe his six-year minor league record of 48-28 and an ERA of 3.60 after toiling in Charlotte this season - because two days later on May 12th, Rick Hahn swapped an unknown minor leaguer to get Ranaudo.

Something - like maybe his confidence - got fixed in Charlotte, because in 78-plus innings at Triple A, Ranaudo walked only eight while striking out 53. He issued four bases on balls last Wednesday against the Cubs, but the two home runs were the only hits the Cubs could manage.

Granted that Ranaudo always has been a starting pitcher, but why send him back to Charlotte when the Sox bullpen has been so ineffective recently?

The combination of relievers Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Carson Fulmer, Jacob Turner, and Tommy Kahnle combined for 7 1/3 innings last week, allowing 11 hits, eight bases on balls, and three home runs, while posting a combined whopping 12.28 ERA.

Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Twins in 12 innings was yet another low point for the Sox. Jennings began the bottom of the 12th by hitting Eddie Rosario, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jennings then walked Byron Buxton, a .199 hitter.

Robin Ventura summoned Kahnle, who the night before against the Cubs had walked the only batter he faced. It took Kahnle just nine pitches to walk the next two hitters, giving the Twins the victory. Ya think they sent the wrong guy back to Charlotte?

Now that Zach Duke has been traded to the Cardinals for outfielder Charlie Tilson, a product of New Trier High School, which also happens to be Hahn's alma mater, the Sox's already beleaguered bullpen is in even worse shape.

Meanwhile, the time might be right for Tilson, a 23-year-old speedster and a .293 lifetime minor league hitter, to make his major league debut in centerfield for the Sox. J.B. Shuck, who initially filled in admirably for the injured Austin Jackson, was benched Sunday after going 3-for-39 in his last 11 games.

With a 51-54 record and no chance of a post-season berth, why not give a kid like Tilson a shot?

Of course, with the trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. this afternoon, there's always a possibility that Hahn will make additional moves, although the astronomical asking price for Sale or Jose Quintana appears to ensure that the talented duo will remain right where they are.

After going 8-for-14 over the weekend in Minnesota, Melky Cabrera is hitting .312, making him a tantalizing target for a contending team. Moving Cabrera will weaken a lineup devoid of any consistency with the exception of Adam Eaton, but so what? The season is lost anyway.

Too bad there's no City Series in October where Sox would have a chance to salvage lost respectability. On second thought, the sooner this campaign ends, the better.

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Former Bill Veeck bar buddy Roger Wallenstein is our White Sox correspondent. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 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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