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« June 2011 | Main | August 2011 »

July 30, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Special Market Update: Oh Hell No
So apparently there's not going to be a market come Tuesday unless someone comes up with a better idea than Cut, Cap and Balance. No sweat. We've got plenty.

1. Move the production of boring entitlement debt out of state so we can focus on fancy boutique debt.

2. Fix a hernia with a butter knife. What? Apparently it works for some people.

3. Stay with us here: Create an engaged, invested electorate informed by a robust, independent journalistic sector. Then take all the money devious assholes spend trying to get elected or unelected or impeached. And then just kinda see where we're at.

4. Wait . . . isn't our debt ceiling really just Canada's debt floor?

5. Six words: Harry Potter and the Pernicious Deficit.

6. Create an exciting new Debt Tablet. The rich will tax themselves!

7. Tie the debt ceiling to John Boehner's blood pressure.

8. Stop, Drop and Roll.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Swap credit defaults here.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Grassroots Collaborative: People's City Council Meeting

31132Townhall.jpg

Ald. Joe Moore joins close to 20 Chicago aldermen and more than 1,600 community members for a town hall meeting to address local issues and possible solutions.

Saturday, July 30 at 9 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 20 min

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United Rally for Fairness

31133-UnitedRally.jpg

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez joins local politicians and others in speaking out against the deportation of parents of U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrant students.

Sunday, July 31 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 6 min

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5th Annual Latin Jazz Festival

31134-jazz.jpg

Cuban pianist Chuchito Valdes headlines Humboldt Park's outdoor festival celebrating the tradition of Latin jazz.

Sunday, July 31 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
3 hrs

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Posted by Natasha Julius at 10:01 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

I was a bit taken aback yesterday when Gov. Pat Quinn, appearing on the Chicago Tribune Live sports panel show, called the USC the University of Spoiled Children. Quinn went to Georgetown for his undergraduate degree and Northwestern for law school.

And guess what?

Just 10 percent of Georgetown students qualify for federal Pell grants for low-income families and just 14 percent of Northwestern students qualify. Meanwhile, 22 percent of USC students qualify.

Don't you love facts?

Burke's Work
Speaking of spoiled children:

"Quinn declined to answer when asked if he interviewed anyone else for the position. Asked whether he spoke with Alderman Burke before making the appointment, Quinn answered, 'I talk with everybody.'"

So actually he did answer.

Branding Iron
"The Illinois Secretary of State's office will study the possibility of placing corporate logos on license plates under a measure Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Thursday," the Tribune reports.

Also under consideration:

* Corporate logos on legislation
* Corporate logos on Pat Quinn's suits
* Corporate logos on the state flag
* Corporate logos embedded into the brains of every Illinois resident via discount laser surgery

Some Things Never Change
"As he left the event, the former mayor took off his suit jacket and offered a ride to his former press secretary Jackie Heard, who was on hand to cut short reporters questions. "

Police Chase
In light of the city's $6.5 million settlement this week with the family of an 8-year-old boy killed by a speeding unmarked police car, Michael Miner posted the Reader's 1997 story by since-laid-off Tori Marlan about the incident. It's a remarkable, though depressing, piece of reporting.

A Facebook friend who posted the piece asked how the two officers involved were still employed. Good question.

One of the officers ended up on the Arlington Heights police force where he is also accused of wrongdoing.

I wasn't able to locate the other.

*

From Marlan's story:

"Mayor Daley appeared on TV later that day narrating how the gunman had aimed his weapon at people on the street."

But there was no gunman.

I wonder if Daley ever apologized to the family.

*

Maybe he tried but Jackie Heard cut him short.

Teamsters vs. Teachers
"In his move to target expensive union practices, Emanuel has so far ignored a major one highlighted in the spring by the city inspector general's office," the Tribune reports. "The city watchdog said Chicago is spending far more than it should for Teamsters members to drive other city workers to job sites and then sit in trucks while their colleagues work.

"'Simply from the standpoint of looking for low-hanging fruit, that contract has built into it $18 million in waste,' said Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who said he is still waiting to hear from the new administration on his report."

Huh. I sense a Chicago Coincidence coming.

"The only major union to endorse Emanuel's candidacy, the Teamsters have stood beside the new mayor and spoken out in favor of his economic plans - even those that could send public jobs to private contractors. The Teamsters also have pumped tens of thousands of dollars into Emanuel's massive campaign fund."

P.S.
Rahm in a letter to city employees on July 20:

"On the campaign trail and since being elected, I have talked to many city employees who said furloughs were demoralizing and disruptive. So, on June 30, I allowed them to expire - for union and non-union members alike. It was the right thing to do. "

Ferguson, releasing a report on furloughs and overtime pay the same day:

'Furloughs have been a valuable tool for the City. They have provided the City with savings when we desperately needed them."

The Rich Are Who We Thought They Were
White men.

Chicago's Hidden Neighborhoods
Brought to you by Geoffrey Baer.

The Week in WTF
Joe Walsh, Chicago State, and our political ho's.

The Week in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Trade bait.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:24 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. In This Moment at the Congress on Thursday night.


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2. Motionless in White at the Congress on Thursday night.

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3. 3OH!3 at the Metro on Monday night.

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4. Anvil at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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5. The Decemberists at the Aragon on Monday night.

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6. The Head and the Heart at the Aragon on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Joe Walsh, WTF?

In a legislative body occasionally comprised of crooks, pedophiles and nincompoops, it takes some astounding level of moral decay to be the worst of the lot. But we think this guy qualifies, not perhaps as the worst legislator because he hasn't really done anything, but the actual worst human being. He is the Worst Human Being in the U.S. House of Representatives.

You all know who this guy is. He's loud, obnoxious, arrogant, never picks up a check, eats all your food when he visits, steals your monogrammed towels, lectures you interminably about how he is smarter than you are. And he's resiliently unemployed. Yes, it's your brother-in-law.

2. Betty's house, WTF?

First prize in this lottery was a so-so house at a cut price, plus a date with former owner Betty Loren-Maltese.

Second prize was a so-so house and two dates with Betty.

3. Chicago State, again, WTF?

Hopelessly befuddled.

Know two better words?

Somehow, calling this enterprise "higher education" doesn't seem quite fair or accurate. Chi State is like the world's smallest big screen TV.

4. Dunkin' Nuts, WTF?

We don't know the answer to whatever question you want to ask about this.

But it seems a pleasant comic interlude while we wait for the nation's economy to go all Titanic on us.

Personally, WTF knows how this guy feels.

5. Political Pros, WTF?

Here's the argument.

My vote can't be bought with lobbyist money and any suggestion to that effect is a vile canard.

On the other hand, the lobbyists handing out the cash obviously think you can be bought, otherwise the money would be wasted. Lobbyists don't throw cash at politicians because of a belief in civic virtues. It's commerce.

We understand why politicians don't want to be called prostitutes. But ma'am, we've already decided what sort of lady you are; now we're deciding the price.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:36 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Hidden Neighborhoods

Including Auburn Park, Rapine Bluff, Old Edgebrook, Marktown, Alta Vista Terrace and Old Bridgeport.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:55 AM | Permalink

The Rich Are Who We Thought They Were

In today's discussion of increasing economic inequality, the rich are usually represented in the media by celebrities, athletes and entrepreneurs with extraordinary incomes and consumption habits. But scores of the super-rich live amongst us without getting their names in the newspapers or their faces on TV.

Just who are these people? Let's take a look.

*

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the poverty threshold for one person in 2009 was $10,956. That is, anyone who earned just under $11,000 would be considered living in poverty.

Despite increases in the cost of living over the last several decades, this minimum threshold for subsistence has not changed very much once adjusted for inflation.

By contrast, having a six-figure income, which was once a defining level of economic status, has become increasingly common over the years, particularly for those with a high level of education.

Such increasing disparity calls for a modification in defining the rich.

Just for the sake of discussion, let's say a rich person is someone earning 20 times the poverty level. Such a person would bring in an annual income of $219,120.

According to census bureau data, an estimated 94,210 individuals (2.4% of all civilian employees) working in Chicago's six-county metropolitan area had incomes exceeding 20 times that of the poverty threshold between 2005 and 2009.

On the surface, there are little surprises about these folks; they are disproportionately non-Hispanic white (90.2%), men (83.6%), college graduates (86.8%), and American citizens (97%), including 8.4% who are naturalized.

Figure 1.JPG(Enlarge)

In addition, as one would expect, most of the high-wage earners are concentrated in the private sector (92.5%), with 29.7% being self-employed.

Interestingly, 5.3% were categorized as employees of a private not-for-profit, tax-exempt, or charitable organizations (that percentage jumps to 7.7% among female wage earners).

*

Being a high-income earner is particularly costly for women. While a larger proportion of rich men are married (85.7% versus women's 68.4%), a significantly higher proportion of women are single (14.4% versus men's 7.1%) or divorced (13.9% versus men's 5.3%).

Figure 2.JPG(Enlarge)

Furthermore, very few female earners gave birth 12 months prior to the time of their responses (4.6%, compared to 5.8% for all women over the age of 16 in six-county area) and the majority of them (55.7%) do not have children.

Given the median age of 47 among these women, along with average weekly working hours of 50, many of them will likely remain childless even though these two obstacles are not likely to prevent male counterparts from maintaining families.

Such disparity suggests that traditional concept of family becomes extremely challenging for women who achieve financial success.

In other words, women are more likely to become competitive as wage earners if they forgo any aspiration to have families.

*

As shown in a new study that found a widening racial gap in wealth, race continues to be a significant factor in economic mobility.

Despite a rapid increase in the black middle-class for the past three decades, there remains a ceiling for members of minorities when it comes to earning potential that is clearly different from that of white males.

The intersection of race and gender magnifies the gap. Male-to-female ratio is the highest among Hispanics (6:1), making Latino women perhaps the most marginalized group when it comes to high-wage earning capability. Close second is non-Hispanic whites (5.3:1), perhaps due more to such overwhelming dominance of white men, followed by non-Hispanic Asians (4.4:1) and non-Hispanic African Americans (2.2:1).

*

In terms of credentials, not only are the rich college graduates, the majority hold graduate degrees (54.5%). Given the declining value of college degree (see The True Value of Education), it is not a surprise that those who are willing and capable of investing in additional degrees are the ones more likely to reap the financial benefit. Considering that the top three occupations tend to prefer, if not require, graduate training, these jobs are long shots for urban minority and rural impoverished students who struggle to finish high school.

Figure 3.JPG(Enlarge)

*

Geographically, 27.2% reside in the city and, again, as one would expect, 90% of such city dwellers were found on the North Side.

While suburbs in Cook County had the highest proportion of high-income earners (29.4%), affluent DuPage (16%) and Lake (14.8%) Counties also had their shares of wealthy workers.

While gender gap in income disappears among top earners in Lake and Will Counties, McHenry County has a substantially narrower gap between all workers and high income individuals.

Figure 4.JPG(Enlarge)

*

Interestingly, fewer than a half of these high-income earners were born in Illinois (48.4%). The top three non-Illinois states of birth were New York (4.9%), Michigan (3.5%) and Ohio (3.5%). The top three foreign countries were India (2%), Canada (0.9%), and Poland (0.8%).

It is somewhat surprising that there are more high-income earners born in Pennsylvania (2.5%) in this area than born in Mexico (0.4%).

*

Overall, the surprising element about the profile of these high-wage earners is the degree to which the data confirms societal beliefs that have been around for a long time; that it is a white man's world; that education is the best bet for one's financial success; and that women will find it extremely difficult to balance career and family.

While the conclusion that three out of four high-income earners are white males may not surprise anyone, it just goes to show that the societal changes we've heard about for several decades is not reflected in the economic realities of the masses.

For most of us, rectifying such inequity is seldom a priority and seems too daunting of a task. Instead, many simply strive to join the ranks of those whom we envy. Perhaps it is time to question our social beliefs and ponder why they have persisted all this time.

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Kiljoong Kim is a research consultant and doctoral student in sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He welcomes your comments. Read more in the Who We Are archives.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:40 AM | Permalink

July 28, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn today gave a highly paid position to the daughter of a powerful Chicago alderman who was a major campaign donor," the Tribune reports.

"Attorney Jennifer Burke, 41, was named to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, a post that pays $117,043, Quinn's office said."

I know what the cynics are thinking, but Jennifer is eminently qualified for the job. As a member of the Burke family, she has a lot of experience with smokescreens.

*

"She is the daughter of Justice Anne Burke and 14th Ward Ald. Ed Burke, chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee. Jennifer Burke works for the city as an assistant corporation counsel supervisor. As of last month, her annual salary was $99,948.

"Reached by phone, Justice Burke said she had not heard of her daughter's appointment and that it is 'absolutely not' connected to political donations to Quinn. The justice said she had no further comment."

It's none of our business.

*

"Disclosures showed the Friends of Edward M. Burke campaign fund loaned Quinn $200,000 during his campaign for governor and donated more than $52,000 since Justice Burke swore Quinn into office in January 2009 following the ouster of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"Quinn's office also rejected the notion that campaign donations played a role in the appointment. Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson defended Jennifer Burke's nomination, saying she most recently focused on regulatory and environmental protection issues for the city."

Besides, Rahm Emanuel's kids aren't old enough to be appointed to anything yet.

Board Shorts
"Members of the Cable Commission, who made $20,000 annually, will now get a token $1 a year for their service, the mayor's office told the Tribune on Tuesday."

Also, no more free Cinemax.

*

"The same goes for members of the Board of Local Improvements, who met once last year and walked away with pay ranging between $19,000 and $23,000."

Which would be worth it only if it was the Board of Improving Your Local.

Being Boeing
"Despite a $560,000 cutback in lobbying expenditures since last year, Boeing Co. still spent more by far than any other Chicago-area company to influence the nation's capital during the second quarter," Crain's reports.

"The aerospace giant paid $4.4 million to lobby Congress and the Obama administration between April and June, down 11.3% from the year-earlier period, when the company was vying for a multibillion-dollar Air Force tanker contract it finally won in February."

Maybe they should have just hired Jennifer Burke for $117,043.

More Running Business Like A Government
"Publicly traded companies make a big deal out of efficiency, which typically implies watching every penny and avoiding unnecessary costs. So what to make of the separation agreement that United Continental Holdings (UAL) filed on Tuesday?" footnoted.com asks.

"[I]n the separation agreement the company filed for former Chief Information Officer R. Keith Halbert (also referred to in other documents as Keith R. Halbert), who left as of April 30, the company acknowledges promising him money and benefits that it apparently didn't have to."

Oops.

War Against The Drug War
"Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who boldly declared last month that the war on drugs has failed, said she's talked with Chicago's new police Supt. Garry McCarthy about halting arrests for low-level drug possession offenses," the Sun-Times reports.

"It's pretty well known within the criminal justice system that the judges will dismiss those charges [involving] very modest amounts of illicit drugs," she said.

Especially the judges who are holding.

Truth Deficit
"White House senior adviser David Plouffe, President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, told me Tuesday the administration was not blindsided by the Republicans linking deep spending cuts to a deal to raise the debt ceiling," Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times.

"Plouffe said the Obama team had seen the linkage coming and did not object - because the president had long been interested in reducing the deficit."

I'm not sure which is worse - this being true or this being bullshit.

"It's been clear, really, for the whole year, that the debt limit was going to be something that there was going to be a lot of focus on."

Really? One of these is on the way.

Parking Pox
"Just over four years after Chicago's Department of Revenue announced its groundbreaking pay-by-phone, in-car parking meter program to great fanfare, glowing reviews and overwhelming positive user response, the plug was finally pulled on the ParkMagic Chicago pilot program just over two weeks ago," the Expired Meter reports.

"[A] funny thing happened on the way to rolling out the program citywide and making it available to all drivers - Chicago's infamous parking meter lease deal got in the way."

The parking meter lease deal: The gift that keeps on taking.

Mayor Daley Night
It's coming to the South Side.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Pretzels and Mustaches.

Uncle Fatty's Still Lame
"With Amy Winehouse's tragic death this past weekend, she joins an unfortunate group of talented musicians who died at age 27," Uncle Fatty's Rum Resort in Lakeview says in a press release sent out Thursday. "To celebrate the lives and music of these artists, Uncle Fatty's rum resort will host a one of a kind night filled with rock and roll's greatest to jump-start Lollapalooza weekend.

"On Friday, August 5th the tropical-themed venue known for great live music and over-the-top events will be transformed into a rock groupie's paradise to pay homage to the artists of the 27 club. A musical tribute of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse's greatest hits will play throughout the night, commemorating these iconic singers with their 27 and in Heaven event . . .

"Lollapalooza attendees can bring in their ticket stub for a special discount and keep the evening going by enjoying $7 Rehab bombs, a concoction made with Monster's tea and lemonade Rehab energy drink and vodka."

Uncle Fatty's, you are Today's Worst Rum Resort in Chicago.

See also: Uncle Fatty's Cancels 'Bin Laden Is Rot'n Party

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Phone home.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:22 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Pretzels and Mustaches

Three in a row! How 'bout them Cubbies?!
-Seymour, Hoffman Estates IL

Here are some other things that take four months to accomplish:

* A Syfy original movie can be written, cast, filmed, edited, debuted and rerun.

* Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger can have two consecutive whirlwind relationships*.

* In an effort to turn her life around, a single mother can complete a gun repair course from ICS.

Why won't Aramis Ramirez approve a trade?
-Adolfo, New Berlin IL

Because he hates winning, guaranteeing himself millions of dollars and wants to cock-block Josh Vitters.

Vitters knows what he did.

With James Russell, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow having settled into defined roles, do you feel the Cubs' bullpen can be a strength going into the stretch run?
-Wally, Wheeling IL

For christ sake dude, "Let It Whip" was written by Dazz Band not The Commodores.

No, that is not Lionel Ritchie.

Seriously, I'll bet you $500.

It don't care what Melanie says . . . was she in The Commodores? I didn't think so.

Huh? I thought I heard something.

Hold on, a question that just came in.

Yeah. I gotta go dude.

'Cause I'm at work.

Sorry Wally, I wasn't paying attention. You're really still watching these games?

The Mariners have a better record than the Cubs despite having just snapped a 17-game losing streak. Am I misreading the standings?
-Stevie, Wonder Lake IL

Don't blame yourself, Stevie. I realize they only publish the braille version of the MLB standings once every four weeks. For at least one summer, you can consider yourself lucky that you can't see what the rest of us can.

How can the Cubs sustain a competitive run like the Brewers have enjoyed the last few years?
-John, Doughton NC

So we've gotten to the point where we want to emulate a franchise that has one playoff win since 1982, eh?

All the Cubs have to do is develop a power-hitting Jew, sign the son of one of the great sluggers of the 90s, trade for a recent Cy Young winner and build an expressway exit that leads directly to a Wrigley Field's parking lot.

After that, it's mostly pretzels and mustaches.

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*One day, I will do a column dedicated entirely to understatements within IMDB plot synopses. The 9 1/2 Weeks summary boasts one of my favorites:

"She finally realizes that their relationship is unhealthy . . . when John starts to have sex with a prostitute in front of her in a dingy motel room."

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2011

Mayor Daley Night

"The White Sox already have Mullet Night and Dog Day. Now add 'Mayor Daley Night' to the list," the Sun-Times reports.

"The South Side club announced Tuesday that it will honor one of the team's most prominent fans at the Aug. 3rd game against the New York Yankees."

The Beachwood has learned the following events are planned:

* Free uninvestigated punches on Rush Street to first 10,000 fans.

* Mass denial of the torture the Sox' low quality of play is putting its fans through.

* Bobbleheads of all City Council members who served under Daley; heads only swivel up and down.

* Daley family friend Megan McDonald will be named the team's new Director of Special Events.

* Just hours before the game, MLB will announce that the White Sox have lost out on the opportunity to play the Yankees. Instead, Derek Jeter and the gang will be pitted against a team from Rio de Janeiro.

* Disco Demolition will be re-enacted but instead of records the files to the Koschman case will be blown up.

* Hired truck transports bullpen pitchers to mound.

* Giant Xs dug into outfield during 7th-inning stretch.

* Wrought-iron batting cages installed in kids' area.

* Adam Dunn awarded record-breaking no-bid contract.

* Toy hired trucks to first 12 fans who personally know the mayor.

* First pitch by Robert Sorich while blindfolded.

* Mick Dumke will have a bat shoved up his ass during the 7th-inning stretch.

* Tickets available on secondary market through John Daley.

* Corporate suites awarded TIF money to shore up fraying buffet carts.

* Batting orders to be determined by secret clout list.

* Flower beds in the basepaths.

* 7th-inning stretch sung by Jackie Heard.

* If the White Sox lose, no locker room interviews will be granted and game results wlll be released in a statement late Friday afternoon.

* Ron Huberman will be White Sox ceremonial manager.

* Cook County judges will replace umpires.

* Daley will present Ozzie Guillen with a ceremonial UNO jersey.

* Hawk Harrelson will officially declare Daley's mayoralty ovah.

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By Matt Farmer, Thomas Chambers, Tim Willette, Jennifer Drackley and Steve Rhodes

-

Comments welcome.

-

1. From Spencer Maus:

* All union members working for the White Sox will get an 11 percent increase in salary, in spite of the attendance drop.

* Mayor Daley will sell all bleacher seats to the Milwaukee Brewers to cover the lost revenue from declining hot dog sales at the Cell. Starting next year, bleacher seats must be sold out before any other seats go on sale.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

"Police Supt. Garry McCarthy on Tuesday begged for help from Chicagoans to end the conflicts that result in cops shooting suspects - one day after officers wounded a 13-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man," the Sun-Times reports.

Once again, the Sun-Times frames an issue to its liking (see the item More Horrible Crime Reporting from Monday's column) even after acknowledging that its reporters don't know why police-involved shootings are up this year.

And the framing is also to McCarthy's liking.

Too bad the facts don't back either of them.

"McCarthy said police have shot 41 people this year, compared to 25 in 2010. Weapons were recovered in all but one of those shootings, including both on Monday, he said."

This doesn't tell us as much as McCarthy wants us to believe, despite the Sun-Times's typical gullibility.

A) Has McCarthy made the reports in those 41 cases available to reporters? You'd think the Sun-Times would have asked for them.

B) Weapons may have been recovered in all but one of those cases, but were weapons drawn, used or even visible in each of those cases? In other words, were officers threatened in each of those cases? (I'm not saying they weren't; I'm saying we need to know. Finding a gun - or a knife; he says "weapons" but doesn't specify "guns" - in some dude's sock after the fact really shouldn't count.)

C) Is there a proven correlation between threats to police officers and police shootings of civilians? Not every police shooting is the result of an assault against an officer.

"At a news conference, the superintendent said he did not know why police-involved shootings are up."

And yet, he is supplying a reason anyway. Don't you think he should try to find out?

"But he noted aggravated assaults and batteries on cops have more than doubled over the past decade."

Two problems:

A) Aggravated assaults and batteries on cops are actually down by about 10 percent this year from last, according to CPD figures.

B) National trends do not show a doubling of such attacks on cops as the CPD says has happened here, which would make such a trend in Chicago all the more remarkable but also makes it all the more suspect.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, the number of officers assaulted per 100 are as follows, by year:

1987 (as far as the data I looked at went back): 16.8
1988: 15.9
1989: 16.4
1990: 17.4
1991: 15.5
1992: 17.6
1993: 14.7
1994: 13.5
1995: 13.5
1996: 12.5
1997: 11.0
1998: 13.0
1999: 12.1
2000: 12.7
2001: 12.2
2002: 12.0
2003: 12,0
2004: 11.9
2005: 11.9
2006: 11.8
2007: 11.4
2008: 10.3
2009 (the last year available): 10.3

The Sun-Times reported on Sunday that aggravated assaults and batteries on Chicago police officers went from 739 in 2000 to 1,480 in 2006. Those numbers don't look right, but if they are, there is certainly something different going on in Chicago than the rest of the nation. (FBI figures broken down by region don't show the trends in the Midwest to be any different than the national figures.)

Now it's true that Chicago has always had a more intractable gang problem than any other city in America. But Chicago's crime trends are rarely at odds with national trends - a big exception being the murder rate in the late 90s and early 00s.

*

In December 2002, I wrote this: "We're number one. Again. No other American city has more murders than Chicago. In 2001, with a population of 2.9 million, Chicago recorded 666 murders. New York City, with a population of eight million, recorded 643 murders. Los Angeles, with a population of 3.7 million, recorded 550 murders. Chicago has topped the nation in homicides twice in the past four years. (Chicago's murder rate-murders per capita-is lower than in some smaller U.S. cities, if that's any consolation.)

"Policing experts point out that Chicago has far fewer murders than it did ten years ago, when it recorded 943. According to the Chicago Crime Commission, the number of murders in the city is 22 percent lower than in 1991. But New York City has 73 percent fewer murders, and several large cities, including Los Angeles and Houston, have seen the number of murders decline by more than 50 percent.

"Why can't Chicago do that well?"

Curiously, one of the answers was this:

"Chicago has resisted New York City's two-pronged approach: first, application of the so-called 'broken windows' theory of cracking down on small crimes in order to prevent large ones; second, the use of CompStat, a sophisticated software system that tracks where crimes occur, resulting in a smarter deployment of forces and accountability for commanders and officers. Chicago doesn't have CompStat."

Now Chicago has a police chief who helped design that approach. I doubt CompStat has anything to do with police shootings, so maybe McCarthy is the X Factor. What else has changed in the department? I suspect when he took over for Jody Weis he told his officers to start kicking ass again - even on the little stuff.

Either that, or the number of police shootings is simply an anomaly. It happens.

In any case, McCarthy - and the reporters who cover him - ought to conduct a more sophisticated analysis before spouting excuses that don't seem backed by the data. Especially in a department that is more data-driven than ever.

*

McCarthy is often credited in media reports with a 40 percent drop in shooting incidents in Newark during his time as police chief there.

On the other hand . . .

"As Chicago prepares to welcome its new police superintendent, Newark Police Department Director Garry McCarthy, federal authorities have launched an investigation into the New Jersey department - months after the American Civil Liberties Union complained of rampant misconduct and lax internal oversight," AP reported in May.

"U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says the probe will look into allegations of excessive force, discriminatory policing and poor treatment of detainees in holding cells. They will also investigate whether officers retaliate against those who legally observe, or record, police activity.

"The assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division says the department did a preliminary investigation before deciding to launch a formal probe.

"In a 96-page filing to the Department of Justice in September, the ACLU called for federal oversight of the city's 1,300-officer department because of lax internal oversight and a high number of excessive force and misconduct complaints against the department."

*

"Many of the allegations and lawsuits cited in the ACLU petition precede McCarthy's tenure," the Newark Star-Ledger notes.

But not all of them. For example:

"The petition said that out of 261 complaints in 2008 and 2009 involving excessive force; differential treatment; or improper arrest, entry or search, only one was sustained.

"A subsequent Star-Ledger analysis of department records showed the outcome of one of every 10 internal affairs complaints filed against Newark police officers from 2000 to 2008 was not reported to the Attorney General's Office as required by state guidelines."

*

And from the Sun-Times in June:

"Police Supt. Garry McCarthy declared war on the Maniac Latin Disciples after two young girls were shot in a Northwest Side park earlier this month.

"The shooter was a member of the gang and was gunning for rival Latin Kings when the girls, ages 2 and 7, were wounded on June 8, prosecutors said. The younger girl was grazed in the head and the 7-year-old was seriously wounded in the back.

"'We're going to obliterate that gang,' McCarthy told a roomful of police supervisors shortly after the shooting. 'Every one of their locations has to get blown up until they cease to exist.'"

I'm not saying this is the wrong thing to do; frankly, I don't know. I'm just saying we deserve a better understanding of what is happening on our streets than we're getting.

*

"Cop shootings are on the rise in 2011 and Sun-Times reporter Frank Main asks why ['Shootings by Chicago cops soar - but why? Sunday]?" Officer Richard Barber writes in a letter to the editor.

"That's an easy question for a civilian who uses a computer for his job and doesn't wear a bulletproof vest and carry a semi-automatic weapon."

Apparently Officer Barber thinks just asking the question is an attack on the police. If Barber had read Main's story with a cooler head, he may have realized that it generally supports the thesis he himself is putting forward: More brazen thugs.

I'd like to respectfully suggest to Officer Barber, though, that his job would be less dangerous if coupled with facts on the ground instead of suppositions in his head.

*

Police: Chicago Violent Crime Down 30 Consecutive Months.

*

"Crime rates dropped across the U.S. for more than a decade and continue to do so - Chicago's part of the trend according to information released by the Chicago Police Department," WBEZ reported last week. "But it may not feel that way given the steady stream of news headlines on violence."

The segment was called "Is It Safe To Trust Chicago Crime Statistics?"

Maybe it should have been called "Is It Safe To Trust Chicago Crime Reporting?" and reoriented into a media critique.

No matter how much crime drops, it will never "feel" that way if crime reporting doesn't change. The steady stream of headlines will continue unabated, without context. The crime rate could be cut in half and the amount of crime news would still fill the same percentage of print, pixels and airtime. It will never "feel" like crime is down.

The Drowning
I wish I could write a poem. I wish I could write a promise.

The Castaways
Dunn, Rios and Beckham? No. Danks? Yes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Reel us in.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Castaways

There was a time when I would have encouraged my opponents in fantasy leagues to trade or drop the likes of Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham from their fantasy squads, the better for me to pick them up just in time for them to get hot in the second half.

But, like a lot of White Sox fans, I've stopped believing any of these guys will ever get going. That is not necessarily the case with everyone who had a bad first half. Some of those July cast-offs can still manage to deliver some value in August and Septembers.

Here are a handful of guys with lousy first half numbers who I would gladly scoop up from the wire or trade for if their owners have grown tired of them:

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado: His strikeout totals have been creeping upward, and his ERA sliding downward. One of Colorado's patented late-season runs could be what he needs to finish strong, unlike last year, when he appeared simply worn out after an overpowering first half.

Dan Uggla, 2B, Atlanta: He was hitting so poorly that his current (as of Tuesday) 16-game hitting streak only managed to raise his average to .195. Seven of his 18 home runs have come in the last month, and I think he's a good bet to end up with more than 30 for the fifth straight year.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington: After a long injury, much of the last month or so was like spring training for him, and he has shown signs the last week or so of finding his hitting touch.

Zack Greinke, SP, Milwaukee: An up-and-down year has him 7-4, but the Brewers have lost a few games in which he left with the lead. He has been pitching like a starter who should have double-digit wins, and should get there quick as Milwaukee makes a stretch run.

Neftali Feliz, RP, Texas: After blowing four of his first 16 save opportunities and seeing his ERA balloon, he is six-for-six in the last month and his ERA has settled back under 3.00.

Raul Ibanez, OF, Philadelphia: For much of this year, it looked like a terrible 2010 was the beginning of a career slide, but he has bounced back in the last month, hitting about .300 during that span, including six of his 14 home runs.

Expert Wire
* USA Today wonders whether B.J. Upton will be traded. Prepare for Desmond Jennings' value to rise.

* ESPN thinks John Danks is worth a pick-up (speaking of guys who had lousy first halves).

* Bleacher Report says Carlos Beltran's fantasy value will take a hit if he's traded.

Fantasy Football
With the lockout unlocked, I'm scrambling like everyone else, trying to make sense of the free agent market and judge talent that hasn't set foot in training camp yet. I'll roll out my top 20 next week, but for now I leave you with this: Arian Foster vs. Adrian Peterson vs. Chris Johnson for No. 1. Discuss.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:24 AM | Permalink

July 26, 2011

Chicagoetry: The Drowning

The Drowning

I wish I could write a poem
as profound as a first drop of rain--
tiny gong--

in a short summer shower.
No thunder, just the polite applause
for humidity breaking. One drop,
as shadows melt,

which says quietly but authoritatively
"It is raining."
It is raining.

But it will rain for years.
My drop isn't so fresh,
so subtle, so light.

My drop has scars.
And my drop, in time, will join
this heavy river
we can't reverse.

It is going to rain
a long time. I wish

I could write a promise
that if we all were to be one single scintilla
kinder to one another

we will not,
as so many of us feel
upon the verge,
drown.

I wish my drop was kinder,
more kind. Lighter. Shapelier. Shimmering!
Alas.

I wish
I could write
a poem.

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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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 PM | Permalink

The [Tuesday] Papers

"Durbin hits GOP for debt limit 'brinkmanship,' while refusing to accept short-term deal," WBEZ reports.

Doesn't that just about say it all? And vice versa.

*

"President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner went on TV Monday night where neither explained what precisely will happen to force a solution to avoid a first-ever U.S. default in a week," Lynn Sweet writes in "Obama, Boehner: Speeches Without Solutions."

Among Sweet's observations:

"Obama's team figured that with a crisis looming, he needed the prime-time address to show he is deeply involved in the debt limit negotiations, which he is. Obama's suggestion in prodding a divided Congress to make a deal he will sign - was asking people to contact their congressman to urge a compromise. That's it?"

*

Obama may be deeply involved in debt limit negotiations now, but for months he left the negotiations to Joe Biden.

*

Winner: Jesse Jr.; runner-up: Bobby Rush.

Back to Black
"The family of Amy Winehouse gathered at a north London cemetery on Tuesday to bid farewell to their 'angel,' three days after the troubled singer was found dead at her home," Reuters reports.

I wonder if those who made Winehouse a punch line still think addiction is funny; apparently they do if the last couple of days on Twitter and Facebook are any indication.

Here's the thing, though: It's not funny. Addiction is a terrible, ravaging disease. It's not something to be exploited for our entertainment. Amy Winehouse was an actual human being, with friends and family who loved her and were torn apart by her affliction.

And it's simply not true that Winehouse refused to go to rehab and that those around her didn't step in to help. She went to rehab several times, and friends and family tried to intervene even before her first record, Frank.

Finally, a message to Score radio host Dan Bernstein: When you defiantly defend your right to make fun of the dead Amy Winehouse on the air by screaming "She's a crack whore!", well, that says a lot more about you than her.

*

Winehouse also had a history of battling eating disorders and had been diagnosed as manic depressive. If someone thinks that sort of pain is funny, well, then you are the one I feel sorry for.

*

Actually, I don't. Let me amend that. You are the one I think is a joke.

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Remembering Amy Winehouse in Chicago: Taking a look at the reviews and video of her performances here.

Two-Tiered Justice
I lost the source on this, but it came to me in an e-mail or maybe my Facebook feed:

"If one of the Daleys or their friends or donors had been killed, NO stone would have gone unturned and no witnesses would have gone unquestioned!"

True enough. All you have to do is contrast the Koschman case with the Michael Scott case.

*

Funny, some people still have conspiracy theories about Scott's death. I think that's nonsense. But there is a conspiracy in the Koschman case - a conspiracy of silence.

Whales And Pigs
"Nearly three-fourths of the lawmakers who voted on doubling the number of Illinois casinos accepted political contributions in the last 18 months from the gambling industry - a practice several states ban," the Tribune reported over the weekend.

"Casinos, racetracks and video poker interests shelled out about $812,000 to lawmakers, the governor and Chicago's new mayor since the beginning of 2010, leading up to the landmark vote on a measure to allow five new casinos, permit slot machines at the horse tracks and fast-track video gambling in bars and truck stops.

"The cash flowing from casino companies, horse-track tycoons and video poker investors shows just how much attention the titans of those industries pay to the politicians who legalize and oversee their business.

"In the last 10 years, the industry has given Illinois politicians nearly $10 million, a Tribune analysis of campaign fundraising data found."

*

It's called the house edge.

Blago Tells Truth
Blago Asks For New Trial Citing Judicial Bias.

He's right. Judge James Zagel is totally prejudiced against assholes.

Mail Call
"The U.S. Postal Service is studying whether to close 13 Chicago-area post offices, a spokesman said," the Tribune reports.

I tried several punch lines here but none of them satisfied me, so come up with your own.

The Big Skirt
And it will look like this.

*

See, 'cause Frank Thomas's nickname was The Big Hurt, but some called him The Big Skirt.

I know, if you have to explain it . . .

Collective Bargaining
Maybe the NFL ought to step in and help Washington out.

*

I know that's probably not terribly original. One thing though: I think a lot of Americans probably figure a deadline deal will get done on the debt ceiling, just like a lot of football fans figured an NFL agreement would come at the 11th hour.

On the other hand, there's the NBA . . .

Uncollective Bargaining
Hyatt Fires Manager Who Heat Lamped Strikers.

Maynard vs. Toub
And Gould takes Maynard's side.

From Banks To Byrd
Honoring African-American Cubs.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sooey.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:45 AM | Permalink

From Banks To Byrd: African-Americans On The Chicago Cubs

"From the cheerful, optimistic greatness of Ernie Banks, through the quiet, ferocious intensity of Andre Dawson, to the unpredictable volatility of Milton Bradley, African-American players have helped make baseball history within the 'Friendly Confines' of historic Wrigley Field for nearly 60 years. Here is a retrospective of the men who have worn Cubbie Blues since 1953."

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See also: Baseball's Black Heritage

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Remembering Amy Winehouse In Chicago

Amy Winehouse made her Chicago debut on May 3, 2007 at the Vic; the demand for two shows originally scheduled for Schubas led to moving the gig to the larger venue. She returned that August for Lollapalooza and was scheduled to come back yet again for a show at the Aragon that September, but less than two weeks after her Lolla appearance (and following two opening slots for the Rolling Stones) she cancelled the remainder of her tour "to address her health issues."

Let's take a look at the video and the reviews of Amy Winehouse in Chicago.

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April 27, 2007: By Greg Kot and Bill Meyer, Tribune.

"The aptly named [Amy Winehouse] has become the toast of the U.K. with her alcohol-fueled off-stage antics, and Back to Black is riddled with tales of boozing, lusting and losing. She name-drops or references heroes such as Donny Hathaway, Billy Paul and the Shangri- La's in her songs, and the production is a tarted up version of '60s girl-group pop, Motown, soul and blue-beat R&B. It's all cleverly done, with production by Mark Ronson and Salaamremi Com slavishly evoking the dramatic soundscapes of those lost eras, while Winehouse's gutsy voice veers between street-smart surliness and wounded supplication. She's singing about adults struggling to stay faithful, optimistic and sober in the face of temptation and their own sordid pasts. But these retro grooves go only so far before it starts to feel like the 23-year-old singer is playing an elaborate game of dress-up."

*

May 3, 2007: By Jessica Hopper, Reader.

"She's got a hoodlum elegance to match her bad-girl lyrics: she looks and sounds like a Ronette after a bid downstate, wearing thick eyeliner and a bouffy Indian-princess weave, opera gloves replaced by poke tats. On the album's first single, 'Rehab,' she refuses to clean up with a low 'no no no,' insistent as a stickup kid, and across nine more tracks of sophisticated boom-boom, she gets high, gets drunk, gets it on with other girls' boyfriends, cries, and begins again. But she's hardly apologetic - she pushes aside the lessons learned so she can get just a little more lovin'."

*

May 3, 2007, at the Vic: Uploaded by doublegeezy.

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*

May 5, 2007: By Joshua Klein, Tribune.

"Winehouse has a strong voice and a handful of fine songs, but she just didn't seem up to task Thursday [at the Vic]. At best, her ace backing band, the Dap-Kings, which injected new life into every retro R&B rave-up from Winehouse's second album, Back to Black, outclassed her. At worst, she lacked the control to put that voice to good use, mumbling unintelligibly rather than working on her phrasing . . .

"Songs such as 'Rehab,' 'You Know I'm No Good' and 'He Can Only Hold Her,' went over well, almost well enough to justify the hype. But Winehouse appears the rare buzz act able but almost unwilling to meet expectations. During 'Rehab,' she seemed more interested in keeping her hair from spilling over than blasting her hit. Earlier in the night, midsong, she put nearly as much effort into picking something mysterious from her teeth as she did delivering her lyrics.

"No question, the machine has moved on without her, and despite her best (worst) efforts, her music has met with strong favor. But to paraphrase Winehouse's idols the Specials, it all seems a little too much, too soon."

*

May 5, 2007: By Anders Lindall Smith, Sun-Times.

"When British soul singer Amy Winehouse made her Chicago debut Thursday at the Vic Theatre, her dueling reputations preceded her. Winehouse is either a tabloid train wreck or a surefire star," Anders Lindall Smith wrote for the Sun-Times on May 5, 2007. "She's keeping classic soul alive or raiding its tomb. She's a legit sensation or a total fraud . . .

"Winehouse's Thursday returns were mixed. When she succeeded, it wasn't with flying colors or without a lot of help from her friends the Dap-Kings, a sharp funk-soul band best known for backing shouter Sharon Jones. Toting two guitars, bass, drums, keys and horns, they gave Winehouse the freedom to move from slinky soul to proto rock 'n' roll. Accustomed to blowing hot behind Jones, they played this one cool, favoring a laid-back lounge vibe that in theory would give Winehouse 's outsized personality and pipes plenty of room.

"Trouble was, neither her throat nor her persona filled that space. The recorded Winehouse sings big and smoky, and unlike too many contemporaries she also sings straight to the point, but at the Vic she exaggerated and elaborated notes at the price of concision and punch. Worse, the chesty bluster so crucial to her brasher songs was replaced by thinner nasal tones."

*

August 5, 2007: At Lollapalooza uploaded by ednla.

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*

July 23, 2011: By Greg Kot, Tribune.

"Amy Winehouse, who was found dead Saturday at her home in London, left behind a small body of celebrated work and immeasurable unfulfilled promise. She was 27.

"She formed a hip-hop duo in her teens, but soon began writing songs on an acoustic guitar influenced by her extensive listening to her parents' and grandmother's collection of jazz and soul singers. She often cited Tony Bennett as her favorite singer, and developed a vocal style of a depth and tonal color beyond her years. Her debut album, Frank, was released in 2003, steeped in jazz and soul influences and largely written by Winehouse. It made her a star in Britain, though it was not released in the United States.

"On the follow-up, she retooled her approach by hiring pop R&B producer Mark Ronson and the New York soul band the Dap-Kings. Her songs reflected the influence of harmonizing '60s girl groups such as the Shangri-La's and the rhythms of Motown. Back to Black name-dropped or referenced soul heroes such as Donny Hathaway and Billy Paul, and the production recycled and spiffed up '60s sounds. But Winehouse's lyrics were packed with autobiographical tales of boozing, lusting and losing. That perspective, combined with a voice that veered between street-smart surliness and wounded yearning, established her as a major new voice in pop music."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:48 AM | Permalink

July 25, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"In the latest twist in the high-profile homicide case involving a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned that the Chicago Police Department's original files from the case were missing for months - possibly years.

"It's the second time that law-enforcement records turned up missing regarding the violent death of 21-year-old David Koschman of Mount Prospect, who succumbed to brain injuries days after getting punched in the face by Daley nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko during a drunken confrontation in the Rush Street area in April 2004."

The other time?

"Seven years ago, the state's attorney's office - headed at the time by Richard Devine, a longtime political ally of the Daley family - reviewed the police department's findings and determined there was insufficient evidence to charge Vanecko or anyone else in Koschman's death or even to know for certain who threw the deadly punch.

"But the prosecutor's office, whose current boss, Alvarez, was Devine's chief of staff, has said it can't find any records showing that it reviewed the case - even though a top prosecutor met face-to-face with witnesses and detectives about it on May 20, 2004.

"Devine has said he can't explain why the state's attorney's office has no paperwork."

*

Maybe the person who hired Angelo Torres has it.

*

Can't someone be held responsible for missing files? Isn't that a rather huge violation of work rules if not the law?

*

"[T]he police department's own Internal Affairs Division has launched a separate investigation into how the department's original case files disappeared, a high-ranking police source said."

Cut-Rate Education
Government by Groupon.

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Could we use Groupon to buy our parking meters back?

World Business As Usual
"Today, the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (IGO) released a review of World Business Chicago's (WBC) involvement in the City's approval of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proposals. The IGO report found that WBC staff advocated for the approval of significant TIF subsidies for two major corporations - CME Group and United Air Lines - despite the fact that the companies' executives were then serving on WBC's board of directors."

Oops!

*

The Chicago Way - running business like a government.

More Horrible Crime Reporting
"Chicago Police officers have shot 40 people this year, nearly as many as in all of 2010," Pulitzer Prize winner Frank Main reports for the Sun-Times. (It was splashed all over the front page in the print edition on Sunday.)

"No one knows for sure why police-involved shootings are up.

"But Officer Danny O'Toole - who killed a suspect in 2009 and was wounded in a shootout just two weeks later - thinks he knows why."

Frankly, I don't care what any particular individual thinks. That's not reporting. That's just writing down what people say regardless of whether they have a basis to say it.

But let's go ahead and see what Mr. O'Toole thinks.

"The younger generation is brazen, they just don't care," he said. "It's 'shoot at the police and make my escape.' And we shoot back."

Oh Lord. Cops have been saying this for eons. Just look through the clips.

But that's just the beginning of why this story is such a mess.

"Police point to statistics that show aggravated assaults and batteries on police officers have risen from 739 in 2000 to 1,789 last year."

That's interesting but why compare to 2000? That's putting a thumb on the scale. The numbers supplied by the Sun-Times actually show that aggravated assaults and batteries on police officers are down this year compared to last year. If the current pace holds up, we'll see about 200 fewer such attacks on police this year (1,789 to 1,572).

So much for O'Toole's theory. According to this data, you cannot conclude that the police are shooting more people because more people are shooting at them.

*

And is it really true that aggravated assaults and batteries on police officers went from 739 in 2000 to 1,480 in 2006 (the Sun-Times doesn't give figures for 2001 through 2005)?

It might be, but I suspect maybe a change in how those incidents are reported figures in. It doesn't square with the falling crime rate, for one thing. For another, such large jumps in crime stats or, say, test scores, are usually explained (at least in part) by reasons other than a large jump in crime or student achievement. Human behavior tends to trend, not soar.

(We also don't know what the stats show for the whole of the 90s; maybe the year 2000 was an outlier.)

*

"Ilana Rosenzweig, director of the Independent Police Review Authority, said she's not sure why police-involved shootings are up but noted they are at a midyear 'high mark' compared to the past four years.

"The spike may be cyclical or there could be systemic causes - involving training or police policy - but it's too early to tell without studying each shooting, Rosenzweig said. The agency investigates every police-involved shooting, even those that don't include allegations of police misconduct, to determine whether there are any lessons to be drawn to make officers or the public safer, she said."

I'm not sure what it would mean for police-involved shootings to be "cyclical," but maybe the police brass could answer the question of whether training or policy has changed. Not a single police department official appears in the story, however.

*

Of the 40 police shootings this year, how many were responses to others shooting police? The Sun-Times doesn't tell us.

*

"CeaseFire Director Tio Hardiman, whose organization mediates conflicts to prevent shootings, said he thinks police are sometimes too quick to pull the trigger these days."

Ahhh, so it's the cops who are more brazen?

Or are they?

Hardiman may be right but I really don't care what he thinks unless he - or someone else - can back it up.

*

"Then there are the neighbors and relatives of those who are shot by the police. They're often skeptical of the circumstances surrounding such shootings, even if investigators determine they were justified.

"For example, Shandra Kidd, 22, was sentenced Thursday to 55 years in prison for pointing a gun at an officer's chest and pulling the trigger in 2007. Kidd didn't realize the gun wasn't loaded, prosecutors said. The officer shot Kidd in the buttocks after she pointed the gun and pulled the trigger a second time, officials said.

"But her mother, Renea Brown, disputed the officer's account.

"'His story does not make any sense,' Brown said. 'If she pointed the gun at his chest, how did she get shot in the butt?'"

Good question. Main, however, just lets it drop there and moves on.

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I heard a phrase last week that I'd never heard before: The plural of anecdote isn't data.

And I realize data or explanations aren't always available. Better to say so, though, instead of mindless speculation.

*

Finally, note how the story starts as a piece about police shootings being up and quickly turns into a piece about others shooting the police. Just sayin'.

Credit Rating
Who abdicated and left John Boehner president?

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"White House chief of staff William Daley said Obama was insisting that any package must expand the debt ceiling beyond the next presidential and congressional elections and into 2013 to provide economic certainty."

Why is Barack Obama holding America hostage?

*

From Meet The Press on Sunday:

DAVID GREGORY: Senator Hagel, your former colleague, Alan Simpson, who was part of the deficit commission, was asked by Time magazine whether he'd run again. You're out of this game, as is he. This is what he said. 'Would you run for office now?' was the question. His response, 'Oh, hell, no. Now it's just sharp elbows, and instead of having a caucus where you sit down and say, What are you going to do for your country, you sit figuring out how to screw the other side.' Would you, would you join this party again?

SEN. HAGEL: I think Al has very eloquently stated the case as he is wont to do. He's right. This is scripted politics. [Editor's Note: Hagel reads the Beachwood!] This is a scripted political dimension, forum, caucuses give the members talking points. And you don't stray far from the left or the right of your party. You are actually penalized when you, when you actually question your party or question your administration.

*

MSNBC puts together its re-election team.

Good for America
Beavis and Butt-head are back.

Painting Chicago and Indiana
Peace out, y'all.

The Sad Clowns of Baseball
Cubs get seltzer in their pants.

*

So do Cub fans.

Nice Guys Finish Third
And wear White Sox uniforms.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
They played at a venue or street fest near you.

Programming Note
Seeing as how it's Monday, I'll be back behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn slinging cold Old Styles and witty bon mots while you eat free pizza and jam the jukebox full of dollars. See you there.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Heh-heh.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:10 AM | Permalink

Painting Chicago and Indiana

"Painting in Chicago (Milwaukee Fullerton) and Painting in Indiana (Roman Villareal's Studio) AKA the Concrete Jungle. Peace to all the artists in the video."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Thee Oh Sees in Logan Square for the Logan Square Music Series on Sunday.

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2. Empires at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday.

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3. The Kickback at Schubas on Saturday night.

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4. Wild Flag at the Subterranean on Friday night.

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5. Gillian Welch at the Vic on Friday night.

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6. Sia at the Metro on Friday night.

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7. Riverboat Gamblers at Wicker Park Fest on Saturday.

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8. Mike Doughty at the Sheffield Garden Walk on Saturday.

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9. Tortured Soul at The Mid on Saturday night.

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10. Tesla at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:15 AM | Permalink

Beavis and Butt-head Are Back

Finally, some good news.

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A sneak preview:

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Beavis and Butt-head in Wikipedia.

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Beavis and Butt-head on IMDB.

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BeavisandButthead.net.

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Beavis and Butt-head on Facebook.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bottom Feeders

Remember earlier this season when various media voices declared that the Cubs were really in trouble this time, that fans had finally had enough and reduced attendance would force all sorts of changes in the way the team did business?

At the time, a few people tried to point out that the wet spring weather was the primary culprit but they were shouted down by those who were convinced Cubs fans had reached a breaking point.

Upon further review . . . it was the weather.

Actually, if unpleasant meteorological conditions were going to really hold down attendance numbers, they would have done so in the middle of the past week, when the heat index reached near-record highs.

But here were the "second worst record in the majors" Cubs drawing almost 38,000 for a Wednesday 1:20 start.

Okay, okay, hot summer weather is very different than chilly unpleasantness early on. Clearly there are plenty of fans who relish the chance to feel the heat pounding down while they take in a ballgame - provided the game is at Wrigley Field.

As for this weekend's showdown between the National League's leading bottom-feeders, the Cubs versus Astros drew 39,800 people on Friday, 40,486 on Saturday and 40,406 on Sunday.

One place where the weather did seem to do some damage was the bleachers, which featured wide swaths of empty benches all week (but possible record numbers of fans trying to cram in under the scoreboard in center). Then again, maybe the Cubs have finally gone overboard with the price of bleacher seats.

If you want to catch the fever when the Cubs come back to play the Reds August 5-7, it will only cost you $80 per ticket for a spot in the bleacher box section down the right field line. General admission bleacher seats are a much better deal at only $58. Or not. About 60 smackers for bleacher seats? And $7 beers on top of that? Maybe there is a price that even Cubs fans won't pay.

Or maybe the team won't be quite so terrible next year and the bleachers will be packed once again.

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As for the team, this past week featured plenty of yammering about next year, i.e., whether the Cubs might actually re-sign first baseman Carlos Pena despite his abysmal batting average (.221) or even third baseman Aramis Ramirez despite his forever casual attitude. Pena will be a free agent at the end of the season and the Cubs will have the option to buy out the final year of Ramirez' contract, a step that most fans would very much like the team to take.

But if we learned anything from this past weekend in Chicago baseball, it was that those guys, and the sluggers on the South Side for that matter, barely matter. Don Zimmer used to say "you can't lose a shutout" and while that seems simple-minded at first glance, what he was actually saying was that if the pitching is good enough, the hitting is inconsequential.

The White Sox managed one big home run on Friday and took advantage of several errors on Sunday for a total of seven runs but the pitching was so good (allowing only two runs in 18 innings) that the team rolled to a pair of comfortable wins.

No one would describe the Cub offense as a juggernaut against the Astros, especially in the first two games. But Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells and the bullpen held Houston to three runs total for two more victories. The first priority in free agency after this season, and the second, and the third, must be pitching.

Of course, first Jim Hendry should be fired for the Cubs' utter lack of pitching depth in their system, but after that, pitchers must be acquired.

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The best part of this past weekend at the ballpark, at least for this Cubs fan, was the fact that Marlon Byrd is all the way back after going 4-for-5 on Sunday. His fourth hit was the one Hunter Pence lost in the sun in the 10th and if anyone is going to catch a break like that it should be Byrd, who ended up with a leadoff triple and eventually scored the game-winning run, his third of the day.

The Cubs center fielder suffered about as horrific a beaning as one can imagine two months ago when a fastball caught him flush in the face just below his left eye. To shake off the after-effects of multiple facial fractures and step back in against major league tailing fastballs requires stone-cold courage and Byrd has done well enough to push his batting average up to .314 and his on-base to .357.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:18 AM | Permalink

Nice Guys Finish Third

A number of theories and suggestions have been made to explain the inconsistencies of the White Sox this season. However, as yet, I'm not aware that anyone has said that maybe our guys - with the possible exception of A.J. Pierzynski - are just too nice and friendly.

Just within the Central Division - the one that counts most for the Sox - is it unreasonable to question the goodwill and lovey-dovey exchanges between the Sox and the opposition?

It's no secret that Ozzie and Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, fellow countrymen, are close. In addition, the accolades and plaudits flow freely from Chicago to the Twin Cities about all the fundamentals that the Twins do better than anyone else.

Jim Thome wears a Twins uniform, but he was very popular in the White Sox clubhouse and remains pals with Paulie and others. And, of course, Gordon Beckham let the world know that he and the Royals' Chris Getz - another former teammate - remain buddies by his infamous message scrawled in the Cell's infield dirt a few weeks ago.

Oh, how times have changed.

"When we took the field, the opposing team was the enemy," says Joe Cunningham, who played first base for the Sox (1962-64) among his 12 seasons in the big leagues (.291 lifetime average). "There was no patting on the back during batting practice or anything like that."

Bill (Moose) Skowron, who played first base on the great Yankee teams of the 1950s, but also with the Sox 1964-67, concurs.

"We didn't take too much to the opposition, not like these guys today," says Moose, a native Chicagoan who's become an icon around the city. "There was not much conversation."

I talked with another former Sox first baseman, Mike Squires, last week because conversations at first base between fielder and runner seem to be part of the game today.

"Most of the time when you're talking to someone at first base, it's small talk," relates Squires, who manned the position for the Sox in the 70s and 80s and now scouts for the Cincinnati Reds. "Guys would get down there and make a comment, 'Hey, way to hit the ball,' or 'You guys are playing good,' or something like that."

In fact, there were rules against yukking it up with the opposing team.

"Back in our day, the umpires would sit in the stands about an hour before the game started, and we were not allowed to fraternize like they do today," remembers Squires. "[Today] the players will sit out there and give each other brother hugs and sit around the [batting] cage and talk. Fifteen minutes before the game they're running sprints and giving each other hugs out in center field. You couldn't do that when I played."

Cunningham spent most of his years with the Cardinals and remembers teammate Eddie Kasko who eventually was traded to the Reds.

"If he got a base hit and I was the first baseman, we certainly would not talk much about baseball," reveals Joe, who also roomed with Kasko on the road. "He would ask me how's my wife Kathy doing, but I would have to say the conversations at first base were almost none."

However, there were players, like Yogi Berra, who were notorious for talking to the opposition. But his intention was distraction, not camaraderie.

There's the story about one of the World Series' against Milwaukee (1957-58) when Henry Aaron stepped to the plate, and Yogi pointed out that Hank didn't have the trademark on the bat pointing up to minimize breakage.

"I didn't come up here to read," deadpanned Aaron. End of conversation.

Squires remembers Mickey Rivers, an all-around player from 1970-84 who once stole 70 bases in a season.

"I was a rookie in 1979, and I started out really good," says Squires. "Mickey Rivers gets down to first base, and he never quit talking. He takes his leadoff, and he's still talking to me. 'Hey, rookie, keep swinging the bat like that. You're swinging the bat real good.' The last word he said was 'bye!,' and he stole second."

Skowron tells another good one from days long ago.

"When I was with the White Sox and Mantle was with the Yankees, Eddie Stanky was our manager," Moose begins. "He did not like the Yankees. He had a meeting prior to the game and he said anybody caught talking to any Yankee player will cost you $50. Mickey got a base hit, and he says, 'How's the wife and kids doing?' I said, 'I can't talk. It's gonna cost me 50 bucks.' He says, 'All that money I made you in the World Series, and I'm not worth $50?' Eddie Stanky saw me and gave me the five fingers. I never paid that."

Pointing out that folks like Cunningham and Skowron are "old school" only accentuates the obvious. Nevertheless, their points of view are interesting in the context of today's game.

"Times have changed," states Skowron. "Look at the beards and mustaches and all the new hairdos. We couldn't do that stuff."

Nor would it have occurred to them.

"The uniform has changed," continues Cunningham. "What do you think about the pants? They have them hanging down to their heels. I always admired the Cincinnati organization because they had a dress code. I always felt that wearing my pants medium up helped the umpires get a better view of the strike zone."

Note: Joe had a career .403 on-base percentage and walked 101 times for the Sox in 1962. He of the eight home runs that season. Are you listening, Gordon Beckham?

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Meanwhile, our warm, friendly, and cordial athletes swept an abbreviated two-game series in Cleveland with a 4-2 victory yesterday, leaving them 4 1/2 games in back of Detroit, which invades The Cell tonight for a three-game showdown.

The Tribe, acting in a giving and friendly manner, committed three errors including a sixth-inning dropped fly ball off the bat of Adam Dunn by Ezquiel Carrera. Dunn hit it pretty well to the warning track, but it was not a difficult play.

However, Carrera stumbled and then lost the ball in the sun - two runs scored which turned out to be the margin of victory - while his $150 sunglasses were perched on the bill of his cap. Even after this miscue, he neglected to anchor the shades on his nose where they belonged.

Hawk and Stone Pony had a marvelous time chirping and chuckling about Carrera's seeming refusal to use the sunglasses, and the cameras panned over to other Indians whose sunglasses occupied a similar place as Carrera's.

What Hawk and Stone didn't dwell on occurred in the top of the ninth when Dunn grounded to Orlando Cabrera, who bobbled the ball which rolled behind him. Our $56 million DH failed to run hard, and Cabrera threw him out. Two singles and a wild pitch followed but produced nothing because of Dunn's lack of hustle.

Some observers have been patient and supportive of Dunn. This space a few weeks ago was devoted to the stupidity and futility of booing or demeaning the big guy. But not running out a ground ball?!? C'mon Adam, you can do better than that.

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Comments welcome.



Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

The Sad Clowns of Baseball

I had a conversation with a friend recently about this year's Cubs squad and he called them unintentionally comedic. To which I responded, there is nothing funny about this team at all.

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Then again, a lot of people find Jay Leno funny, so to each his own,

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I'll concede this: Maybe the Cubs are sad clown kind of funny.

A sad clown looks like a hobo and you are supposed to feel bad for him - you know, because he's sad and pathetic. And some Cub fans do feel bad for the Cubs you know, because they are also sad and pathetic. But like most of the population who have turned on the sad clown (and all clowns in general), most Cubs fans are tired of this same old act. They really are sad clowns. And winning three games in a row for the first time all year against the worst team in the league doesn't change anything. It's kind of like when the sad clown gets seltzer in his face and you kind of chuckle. You aren't chuckling because you think clowns are all of a sudden funny, you are chuckling because the seltzer bottle is four times larger than a normal one and who has even seen an actual seltzer bottle in real life and that whole thing is just ridiculous, so you just kind of chuckle.

But it's really not that funny.

Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Phillies and then won three in a row against the Astros. But if someone mentions the word "momentum" I might puke.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs hit the road locally this week traveling to Miller Park for three against the Brewers and Busch Stadium for three against the Cardinals. Too bad they don't go to another beer-named stadium next. Like Schlitz Field.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney got five starts this week while the untouchable Jeff Baker got just one. Just like Jim Hendry is drawing it up.

In former second basemen news, Aaron Miles is having a good year for the Dodgers. Who knew that when we all thought he stunk because he couldn't see the broad side of a barn that it was actually true. The visually corrected version of him is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z "scattered" 10 baserunners in six innings to get the win against the worst team in baseball. He couldn't be more apologetic.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Astros pitching" this week and he is getting buff!

Lost in Translation: Houstoneio Astro-san is Japanese for rotten sushi.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Matt Garza for ComEd. Because the guy is pitching lights out lately.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 88% sweet,12% sour. Mike is up 3 percent this week due to winning three in a row for the first time all year and "calling out" his young shortstop for missing a ball in the sun. And just like your thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, Mike used to blame his son Bobby's bad grades on his teachers. But it was Mike who took him on vacation during the school year and never gave the kid a curfew.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of NFO (New Front Office) traded higher this week on speculation that this is still so bad that something will have to change.

Over/Under: The number of times Mike Quade will call out Alfonso Soriano the way he did Castro the rest of the season: +/- .5 times.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that I still can't believe Rodrigo Lopez beat Roy Halladay.

Farm Report: "When you are not going well, you get blamed for everything," Jim Hendry said while golfing in West Des Moines as the I-Cubs had lost six in a row and the C-Cubs definitively showed that they aren't as bad as the Houston Astros.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . We're thinking a sad clown.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:24 AM | Permalink

July 23, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Wow, the completely fake Weekend Desk totally had us fooled.

Market Update
Looks like mortgages aren't the only things under water in the suburbs.

Strong and Wrong
Note to aspiring tyrants: The best way to show your humility is by interrupting your son and using too many words.

Strong and Rahm
Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week announced that competition from the private sector is a good way to expand public recycling services. And then he tried to recycle that line of crap.

Insane in the Membrane
It was revealed this week that Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suffers from migraines. So no wonder she be trippin.

Triumvirate Tales
It's been an exceptionally busy week for the world's most feared trio of terror. Paris Hilton maintained her desperate grasp on media control despite evidence most of the world is getting sick of it. With deadlines looming, Lindsay Lohan plead poverty. And as for Britney Spears' odor? Well, it must be the musk deer glands.

Pyramid Scheme
Finally, Russia's brazen and irresponsible nutritional decision has totally fucked the Weekend Desk food pyramid.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Inverted.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award

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Asia Calcagno and other local poets perform their work in a competition before a live audience.

Sunday, July 24 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 52 min

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Edgewater Historical Society Forum on History of LGBT Politics

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Rep. Greg Harris, chief sponsor of the Illinois Civil Union Bill, is joined by LGBT activists and political allies in a discussion of Chicago's gay rights movement.

Sunday, July 24 at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 21 min

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Timuel Black: A Brand New Deal

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Noted African-American historian and activist Timuel Black discusses conditions that led to New Deal policies and applicable lessons in today's Great Recession.

Sunday, July 24 at 5 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 28 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 8:43 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

Simply not true, as I show here and others have shown elsewhere.

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What I wrote in an e-mail to a friend yesterday:

"So this debt ceiling budget debate stuff is total b.s., kabuki theater, political power plays etc. . . . but on the other hand, just to flip it for a second . . . isn't this the debate we're supposed to be having? About the budget, the deficit, the future of the country? I think obama should have framed it that way instead of letting it be just a petty pitiful stunt. He lets himself get backed into a corner by the GOP, but he should have put some radical things on the table to begin with and said 'This is the Great Debate we need to have right now!'

"He's a terrible negotiator, and he (and others) always say we need to have an adult discussion about this issue or that, but then when the time comes it's always behind-the-door political stuff."

In a certain sense, this is how Republicans have framed the debate - now is the time to get our fiscal house in order.

The Democrats, at first, responded by arguing that the debt ceiling is merely bureaucratic housekeeping, not a real issue up for debate. That, supposedly, would come later.

Getting whacked, the Democrats then tried to accuse the GOP of "holding the country hostage" instead of joining the debate - the very debate they should have set up themselves.

Then the debate became a question of how much the Democrats would give up and whether the Tea Party caucus would accept any level of compromise.

Now Obama, in the final hours, so to speak, wants to "go big," even though his version of going big means to blame our current predicament on spending and cut programs like Medicaid. Going big to Obama means taking the safest, Washington, D.C. middle ground, as always.

We're not where we are simply because, as Obama writes, "For years now, America has been spending more money than we take in. The result is that we have too much debt on our nation's credit card."

We had an economic meltdown in 2008 that was the worst since the stock market collapse that caused the Great Depression.

We're not just on the down side of a business cycle; we're not just suffering from the deficit George W. Bush ran up when he cut taxes on the rich and then sent us into two wars with no funding mechanism.

Nowhere in Obama's measure of how we got here does he mention Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, credit default swaps, or home mortgages.

Shouldn't we get our money - and financial health - back from the people who stole it from us?

Shouldn't we pair this debate with a new vision of America - you know, change?

Eliminating the tax break for owners of corporate jets isn't going big.

Obama has also never explained how massive spending was needed when he took office to save the economy and massive cutting is needed now to . . . save the economy.

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But we shouldn't be angry about this debate. This is the debate! Democracy is never finished; it's an ongoing discussion; issues aren't "settled." The GOP seems to understand this more than the Dems. The GOP fights for the same three things - lower taxes, smaller government, stronger national defense - in good times and bad. The Democrats don't have a clear vision - perhaps because they are too afraid to fight year after year for fair taxes and a caring government and perhaps because the party doesn't really believe in those things anymore.

Progressives, meanwhile, cannot seem to sever themselves from the party that has done nothing for them in exchange for their heartfelt work. Perhaps they should look to the Tea Party for not only inspiration but common cause.

It's a shame the left spends so much time vilifying tea partiers instead of seeing how much common ground they share; anger toward Wall Street and suspicion of corporate power. It's hard to form coalitions with folks you prefer to feel superior to.

After all, the first Tea Partier was "a young teacher with a pierced nose who lives in Seattle with her fiance, an Obama supporter."

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But it's not just about having the debate, especially when so much of it is phony. It's about having an honest debate. I've become much more concerned in recent years with the quality of our public debates instead of the issues themselves, because I believe that you can't get to a productive and just outcome if the debate is perverted.

Similarly, I'm more interested in honest office-holders than their ideology - for the same reason. (Corruption-busting reformer Patrick Collins has arrived at the same place, saying he is now an "integrity voter.")

We're starting from the wrong place when we start from ideology. Prisms do not refract reality, but a grotesque version of it.

if you really believe with all your heart that your side is right, have the confidence and the guts to let the facts fall where they may. They just may fall your way.

Airbrushing History, Part 4,928,487
"Here's some genuine cold comfort on an excruciatingly hot day: It's not 1995 all over again," the Sun-Times editorial page writes.

Yes, back when we had a mayor who denied the worst natural disaster in Chicago history was under way and thus froze the response of every department in the city, from police and fire to public health.

Go for it, Sun-Times!

"At this point in 1995, the bodies already were piling up in the city morgue, though that heat wave started with more intense temperatures."

Yes. Go on.

"As of Wednesday evening, we're happy to report, the Cook County medical examiner's office had not reported any heat-related deaths."

Uh-huh. And?

"We can attribute that, in part, to a much improved city heat-response plan created after 1995. The plan, which was activated Friday, includes cooling centers, phone calls to 7,000 vulnerable senior citizens, coordination between city agencies and a blizzard (excuse the pun) of warnings about smart ways to handle the heat. Chicagoans also are urged to check in on neighbors and relatives."

Okay . . .

"You can't let their guard down. The intense heat is expected to linger until Sunday, and the risks of heat-related illnesses are greatest after prolonged exposure to heat."

Right . . .

"But so far, Chicago is surviving."

Whew! Thank God for that.

But about that plan that was created after 1995 . . . well, the city had a plan in 1995. Daley never activated it. He did, however, activate a public relations plan.

Somehow the Sun-Times left that out. The 1995 disaster just sort of happened.

Cha Cha Twist
187811_203963996301243_6518457_n.jpgBut just who is cashing in?

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We want jobs paid for by people's gambling losses too!

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We want advertising revenue gained from people's gambling losses too!

Gambling's Discontents
The problem isn't so much addicts, as the Tribune's Steve Chapman seems to presume, but the way gambling impacts the lives of low- and middle-class players who are drawn to casinos on false premises - and promises (ka-ching!) - of how likely they are to actually win. Beyond that, there's the shakiness of casinos as an economic engine (merely displacing entertainment dollars) and the morality of government exploiting its house edge to fill its coffers instead of using taxes to raise revenue or otherwise balancing budgets in a more just way.

Rahm The Reformer
Words vs. Deeds.

Management Material
"Hyatt apologized Friday morning for an incident in which heat lamps were turned on above workers on strike at the Park Hyatt Chicago hotel Thursday, saying a manager is responsible for the controversial move."

Management later blamed the incident on lazy teachers and absurd work rules.

Dead On Arrival
"The owner of the Chicago's old post office building on Thursday unveiled a grandiose plan for redeveloping the long-vacant property and the area around it, including a 2,000-foot skyscraper that would dethrone the Willis Tower as the city's and North America's tallest building.

"The owner, British developer Bill Davies, promises to transform the area into an 'urban mecca' of five residential, office and hotel towers that would draw visitors from around the Midwest."

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I like my ideas better.

Putting Parking Meter Money To Use
Richard M. Daley's government-in-exile.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Steve Earle, Ted Nugent, Blonde Redhead, Bela Fleck, Truckfighters and Eleanor Friedenberger.

The Week In WTF
Pat Quinn brings back Emil Jones and other nonsense from phonies and flakes.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Flakified.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:48 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Bela Fleck & The Flecktones at the Vic on Thursday night.


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2. Truckfighters at Reggie's on Wednesday night.

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3. Eleanor Friedberger at the Hideout on Wednesday night.

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4. Ted Nugent at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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5. Blonde Redhead at Millennium Park on Monday night.

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6. Steve Earle at the Vic on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. The Adelmans, WTF?

Sorry, son, that I claimed you stole $2.5 million from me. I meant to say 25 cents. I was just pissed at you.

2. Emil Jones, WTF?

If we're reading this right, and WTF is pretty good at book larnin', it appears the new head of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority doesn't have a clear idea what the agency does but, in the best spirit of Illinois politics, will try to figure it all out.

Yes, that Emil Jones, the one who loaned the governor's campaign $350,000. No direct pay but he gets his "expenses" paid. WTF bets he never pays for Cellular Field tickets or hotdogs again.

As for Quinn (D-Doofus), his crusade to fill in the post-Blago political slime pit appears to have struck yet another moral speed bump.

3. Geography, WTF?

The areas of our national bafflement pretty much run the full spectrum of human knowledge, or, as in this case, human ignorance. Not only are we briskly headed toward a point in history where we don't know where we came from, or where we're going, we don't even know where we are.

4. The Fielders of Weird Dreams, WTF?

In the very odd little town of Zion, minor league baseball is not going so well.

Kevin Costner put his name to the team there, but apparently not his cash. Even pro players in a Z league want to get paid.

But they have grass that glows in the dark courtesy of the town's most famous landmark, the nearby decommissioned nuke plant. The starting centerfielder grew an extra spleen last week which saves on radiation treatments.

5. Tricia Dohr, WTF?

Drunken drivers generally aren't amusing, but there are exceptions as when they crash into homes.

Okay, so the sleeping resident was injured while being catapulted into a TV set. But you have to admit, it has a little Belushi to it.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:08 AM | Permalink

July 21, 2011

Obama's Debt Ceiling, Truth Deficit And Wicked Cynicism

It was interesting that the Sun-Times saw fit to publish U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley's remarks on Tuesday on the floor of the House about the debt ceiling, in which he cited Ronald Reagan's admonishment to Congress in 1983 to raise the ceiling or face drastic consequences.

In fact, Quigley says, Reagan asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling 18 times during his presidency.

Interesting, because our current president once faced the same question as a United States Senator and his response was quite different than that of Reagan, Quigley or his present day self.

"Four year ago," ABC News has reported, among other media outlets, "then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., voted the exact way President Obama is now cautioning senators not to do."

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure," he said on March 16, 2006. "Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit."

The president's aides say now that Obama cast his vote against the debt ceiling back then knowing it would pass anyway, therefore not endangering the full faith and credit of the United States.

So you deceived your constituents, Mr. President? You didn't really mean it? It was "just politics?" All those talking heads and political junkies raging at the other side just like they're doing now . . . ginned up by Obama, then and now.

And oh, the 2006 bill only passed by four votes.

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Back then, the script was flipped.

"House Democrats voted unanimously against raising the debt ceiling in 2004, with Mr. Bush in the Oval Office and Republicans controlling the House," the New York Times reports. "In 2006, so did Mr. Obama and all other Senate Democrats."

Obama is much wiser now, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

"He realizes now that raising the debt ceiling is so important to the health of this economy and the global economy that it is not a vote that, even when you are protesting an administration's policies, you can play around with," Carney said in April.

And I thought McCain was the one who didn't understand economics.

PR Presidency
"The podium from which Carney speaks includes two hidden computer displays," the Daily Caller reports. "They allow his staff to show him prepared answers when he is asked an expected question."

Access Presidency
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel headlines three Obama re-election fund-raisers in New York on Thursday, including one that is part of a new 'speakers series' featuring present and former Obama White House officials such as Valerie Jarrett, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod," Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times.

"The series was developed by Obama's fund-raising team to market to donors and bundlers - people who tap into their personal networks to raise money for a candidate - who may not be at the elite levels and therefore cannot get to intimate $35,000 events with President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle or Vice President Joe Biden. Since the Obama 2012 re-election campaign launched in April, Obama has been the draw at 31 events; Michelle Obama, nine, and Biden, five . . .

"I asked the White House about the propriety and rules relating to featuring administration figures at fund-raisers - because access to officials is always an issue - and was told by a spokesman, Eric Schultz: 'As has been the consistent practice for prior administrations, officials in their private time can and do engage in political work on behalf of the president. Administration officials are also permitted to speak at, attend and be the featured guest at political events, including fund-raisers, but they cannot, and do not, personally solicit contributions.'"

Liberal groups think that's okay because Bush was (allegedly) worse.

See also: Obama Campaign Advised White House Staff To Give Top Donors Sense Of Access.

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Huh.

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Cynicism Presidency
"President Obama's 2012 campaign manager announced an epic fundraising effort of $86 million for the first quarter, setting up an enviably high bar and leaving his contenders wondering: where is all this money coming from? As it turns out, much of the money comes from 'bundlers,' defined by Talking Points Memo as 'super-donors who are very rich, max out their personal fundraising amounts, and then call on their wealthy friends to do the same.' Twenty-seven bundlers alone raised more than half a million dollars."

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"The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who've turned our government into a game only they can afford to play," said then-Sen Obama in his February 2007 announcement speech. "They get the access while you get to write a letter . . . The time for that kind of politics is over."

Yes. Now we won't even read your letters!

"Nearly 80 percent of those who collected more than $500,000 for Obama took 'key administration posts,' as defined by the White House" iWatchNews reports. "More than half the ambassador nominees who were bundlers raised more than half a million.

"The big bundlers had broad access to the White House for meetings with top administration officials and glitzy social events. In all, campaign bundlers and their family members account for more than 3,000 White House meetings and visits."

Waiting for Superman
It's not the debt ceiling I'm worried about, it's the bullshit ceiling. Why do we keep raising that?

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:06 PM | Permalink

The [Thursday] Papers

"Message control has emerged as a dominant theme in the first two months of Emanuel's reign," the Tribune reports. "The mayor is trying to burn an image into the public's mind that he's the new guy in charge, is hard at work and has the guts to make the difficult decisions.

"Emanuel, who holds a master's in communications from Northwestern University and arguably earned a Ph.D. in political spin working for the Clinton and Obama White Houses, is employing a slew of tactics, some well-worn, to shape the city's perception of him . . .

"But Emanuel has taken it to a level new for Chicago as his aides stage events and push certain story lines. Sometimes the details tell a different story than the one Emanuel offers."

See also: Reading Rahm: Master Media Manipulator.

Typical Liberal
Public schools are for icky people.

"It was a difficult decision, but Amy and I decided to perpetuate the two-tiered education system in our country that is particularly distinguished by distinctions in race and class.

"And when you think about it, it's pretty clear that I don't like public schools. I've attacked their teachers and promoted corporate institutions known as 'charters' which weed out the undesirables whom I pretend to represent.

"I mean, I wish the public schools were better and there's no question that one part of making them so is for the city's best and brightest to enroll their kids in CPS and offer that parental involvement we all like to talk about so much. It would benefit our kids to be around kids from a diverse set of socioeconomic backgrounds - and let's face it, that might be more valuable to building a better America than making sure my kids are set up for lucrative careers, especially because they already are - and it would benefit other people's kids. We could all work together.

"But I'm not gonna be the first one to jump. And neither are my rich pals. My kids are not a social experiment. Therefore, I'm sending them to the Lab School."

Anchors Away
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed city residency rules saying public servants like firefighters and police officers should be community 'anchors,'" the Chicago Reporter reports. "However, the fewest numbers of those anchors are found in low-income and predominantly black neighborhoods like Englewood and Riverdale."

But Mount Greenwood is very anchored.

Wicked Cynicism
Obama's Debt Ceiling And Truth Deficit.

*

Should the debt ceiling be raised?

I don't know, and chances are you don't either.

But that hasn't stopped many of you - and others across the land - from repeating the talking points of your party without having an original thought of your own.

And as I show in the link above - and many others have shown already - those talking points were reversed when George W. Bush was president. That marks the vast majority of those arguing with unbridled passion as fools.

Are Republicans "holding the country hostage?"

Only if you're a wimpy liberal. After all, the Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate. Two out of three ain't bad.

Seems to me the Republicans - whose positions in this case I mostly disagree with - are doing something our president is incapable of: Driving a hard bargain.

Kudos.

Has the debt ceiling been raised umpteen times before? Yes. But when George W. Bush was president, Democrats (including an eloquent Obama) said enough was enough and unanimously voted against it. Steny Hoyer, now the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House, said to do so was "immoral." Senate majority leader Harry Reid was also against it. Nobody was quoting Ronald Reagan then.

My instinct is towards raising the debt ceiling - it seems inevitable, doesn't it? - but it's also toward demanding a better plan than the White House has put forward for the economy. Something a bit more cohesive; something with vision.

Except that it's really too late for that.

Obama had his moment and he blew it - with a big assist from Rahm Emanuel. The stimulus bill (and secondarily, the bailouts), largely designed by the man who is now our mayor, was a chance to begin changing America. Instead, we got a crappy bill with too many tax breaks, too much pork, and not enough job creation. It may have saved us from an even worse economic scenario, but it didn't do much to help us get better.

And then Obama moved on.

The rest is just details.

Cold Front
Airbrushed history continued, today by John R. Schmidt for WBEZ on the 1995 heat wave:

"The final death count was over 700 - there was no way of getting an exact figure. A few critics blasted the Daley administration for its response to the crisis, or ComEd for the widespread power outages. But most Chicagoans were satisfied just to have cooler weather."

Yes, who cares about the dead people, at least it's cooled down!

*

A few critics? Name them.

*

From sociologist Eric Klinenberg:

"In 1995 there were no uniform standards for determining a 'heat-related death,' so officials had to develop them. Edmund Donoghue, Cook County's chief medical examiner, used state-of-the-art criteria to report 465 heat-related deaths for the heat wave week and 521 heat deaths for the month of July.

"But Mayor Richard M. Daley challenged these findings. 'It's hot,' the mayor told the media. 'But let's not blow it out of proportion . . . Every day people die of natural causes. You cannot claim that everybody who has died in the last eight or nine days dies of heat. Then everybody in the summer that dies will die of heat.'

"Many local journalists shared Daley's skepticism, and before long the city was mired in a callous debate over whether the so-called heat deaths were - to use the term that recurred at the time - 'really real.'

"Medical examiners around the country confirmed that Donoghue's heat-related death criteria were scientifically sound and endorsed his findings. But perhaps the best measure of heat deaths comes from another figure - the 'excess death' rate - which counts the difference between the reported deaths and the typical deaths for a given time period. According to this measure, 739 Chicagoans above the norm died during the week of 14 to 20 July - which means that Donoghue had been conservative in his accounts.

"Daley's skepticism had a big impact on the public debate, and it still does. Today if you ask Chicagoans about the heat wave they will likely tell you that not all the deaths were 'really real.' That's a direct legacy of the politics of the disaster."

*

"The heat disaster was a collective failure, and the search for scapegoats - whether the mayor, the media, or the medical system - is just a distraction from the real issues.

"Yet there is no question that the city government did not do everything it could to prevent the catastrophe.

"The city failed to implement its own heat emergency plan, waiting until Saturday, July 15, after hundreds of bodies had already been delivered to the county morgue, to declare an official emergency.

"The Fire Department refused its paramedics' requests to call in more staff and secure more ambulances, thereby assuring continued delays in its emergency health response.

"The Police Department did not use its senior units to attend to the elderly residents they were supposed to protect.

"And since there was no system to monitor the hospital bypass situation, at one point eighteen hospitals were simultaneously refusing new emergency patients.

"The city also aggressively used its tremendous public relations apparatus to first deny there was a disaster and then to define the disaster as natural and unpreventable."

And with that, we've arrived at where we started: Message control.

In this case, it was deadly. If the mayor says there isn't an emergency, city departments can hardly respond as if there is.

Triptych
The Geek Scores A Hat Trick.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Zen and the Art of Ice Loves Coco.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Ticklish.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:39 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2011

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Zen And The Art of Ice Loves Coco

How would you sum up this week's action in a catchy marketing phrase?
-Crane, Chicago IL

It's not the heat . . . it's the futility.

With Marmol struggling, do you think the Cubs are going to use anybody other than Sean Marshall at closer?
-Pat, Boone IA

Paul Weaver, the Cubs' international director of scouting, is currently working with Seal Team Six to conduct covert negotiations with former Marlins closer Ugueth Urbina inside of a Venezuelan prison.

Did the Dalai Lama get a chance to visit with the Cubs while he was in town?
-Frank, Chicago IL

He stopped by Wrigley on Sunday to get shampoo tips from Mike Quade and smoked a cigar with Jack McKeon.

It's Hall of Fame time again. Are you going to write the obligatory Cubs Fan case for Santo's induction? Because I'm tired of hearing it.
-Joe, Bristol CT

Good point, Mr. Morgan. Voting a baseball player into the Hall of Fame based on the hackneyed premises of hitting and defense has definitely worn thin. I feel your plight and have petitioned the good folks at Cooperstown to adopt a new set of criteria for induction. Some of the categories by which a player should be judged are:

* The ability to enter a Zen state and float.
* Expressiveness.
* Resistance to fiery toupees.

I don't wanna watch Cubs games anymore because they suck. Do you have any other recommended viewing?
-Timmy, Peoria IL

Three words:

Ice.
Loves.
Coco.

As an aside, I want to invent a time machine for the sole purpose of traveling to 1993 to see the look on my face when I give my younger self the news that one day, Ice T will star on a Law & Order spinoff, Dr. Dre will endorse Hewlett-Packard and Brandy's brother would release a sex tape that would make the big-assed daughter of O.J. Simpson's lawyer famous.

I would not mention cell phones, the internet or the 2003 NLCS.

-

Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:16 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Megan McDonald, revealed Tuesday as the high-ranking city official who resigned in May after allegedly refusing to cooperate in a criminal inquiry, finally spoke up when she returned Carol Marin's phone call and gave "her side of the story," but her side is still entirely unsatisfying.

A man is dead, Megan. Do you care?

Or is loyalty to the Daleys - sort of like loyalty to a gang that demands no snitching - more important?

Let's take a look.

*

"Former Mayor Richard M. Daley's director of special events resigned her City Hall job while facing the prospect of being fired for refusing to cooperate in the city inspector general's investigation into the Chicago Police Department's handling of a homicide case involving Daley's nephew Richard J. 'R.J.' Vanecko, according to a report Tuesday," the Sun-Times reports.

"That explosive allegation about former Special Events Director Megan McDonald is included in Inspector General Joe Ferguson's latest quarterly report."

*

"That was even though McDonald was repeatedly reminded that city employees are compelled to cooperate with investigators from the inspector general's office, according to the report.

"McDonald resigned May 12. That was two weeks after being questioned by Ferguson's investigators about the police department's handling of the case involving the death of 21-year-old David Koschman of Mount Prospect after Vanecko punched him in the face during an argument on Division Street in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004. It was also 'days ahead' of the inspector general's summary report to the newly merged department where she worked. Ferguson left little doubt that he believes McDonald jumped to avoid being pushed."

*

McDonald hung up on Fran Spielman on Tuesday, but she did return Carol Marin's phone call.

"McDonald resigned shortly after the meetings with Ferguson, but she firmly disputes that she did so to avoid termination.

"'I didn't quit because of the IG,' she said.

"She left, she says, because a new administration was coming in."

The timing was just a coincidence.

Unsatisfying answer No. 1.

*

"On the scene that night seven years ago were young friends of the Daley family, including Bridget and Kevin McCarthy, who at first lied to police about even knowing Vanecko," Marin writes. "And who claimed they were simply in the area to meet another young Daley friend, Megan McDonald.

"McDonald, who until recently was Mayor Daley's director of special events, said she had no idea her name was ever part of a police report until the Chicago Sun-Times reported it.

"'I had no clue how my name got brought into this entire situation,' she told me.

"Ferguson, who is investigating how Chicago Police handled the case seven years ago, sought to question McDonald about her memories of the incident.

"'I would disagree that I did not cooperate,' McDonald said."I went in once by myself, once with an attorney. I chose not to respond to questions about the incident because I wasn't there. Was not a witness. I have nothing to hide. I had nothing to do with it."

McDonald chose not to answer Ferguson's questions but disagrees that she did not cooperate.

Unsatisfying answer No. 2.

*

Marin asked McDonald why she didn't just tell Ferguson she wasn't there and had no idea how her name got dragged into it.

"Because, said McDonald, 'You are treated like a criminal, guilty until proven innocent . . . At a basic level, I didn't trust the IG. I was so stunned. . . . I needed to get my bearings.'"

Even with her attorney present.

Unsatisfying answer No. 3.

*

Again, city employees are required to cooperate with the inspector general or risk losing their jobs - and being put on a list making them ineligible to ever work for the city again. McDonald, a 16-year veteran of city government in charge of one of the city's most visible offices, surely knew that.

*

Marin:

"Why would Kevin McCarthy and his wife tell police they were meeting her in the vicinity of the Koschman-Vanecko altercation if it wasn't true? Has she asked them about that?

"'I have not,' she said. 'I'll just leave it at that.'"

Why? You're implying there's more to the story. A man is dead, Megan. Do you care?

Unsatisfying answer No. 4.

*

Marin:

"What conversations has this group of Daley friends had about this case?

"'It has never been spoken about, discussed. It's not a topic of conversation. It doesn't get brought up. Do I know the four people involved? I do,' she said.

"She doesn't intend, she said, to talk about anyone else."

So she wasn't there that night and didn't know she was named in the police report and does know the people involved but doesn't intend to talk to anyone about it. Still hasn't gotten her bearings.

Unsatisfying answer No. 5.

But there's more.

*

"The notion that I have gotten any job, or stayed in any job because of who I know instead of what I know, is so incredibly insulting," McDonald fumed in a response to a blog post by rock critic Jim DeRogatis, who had written about the city's efforts to privatize its summer festivals.

Really?

On March 28, 2003, the Sun-Times did a little interview with the city's 27-year-old lakefront director for the Chicago Park District, Megan McDonald, who was then managing a $1.1 million budget.

"McDonald was born and reared on the South Side, where her parents ran the family business, Midland Metal Products. After St. Ignatius High, she majored in English at Fairfield University, a Jesuit school in Connecticut 45 minutes from New York City. She was the one who helped plan the parties. 'I cannot sit still,' she says. 'I feel like I always have to be doing something.'

"After college, she worked for a miserable year near New York City, but 'was looking for anything that would get me back to Chicago.'

"She got a call from James Sheahan in the Mayor's Office of Special Events about a job at McCormick Place and 'within 24 hours, had packed up my car.'"

Anyone who knows anything about Chicago knows that James ("Skinny," as he is known) Sheahan doesn't want nobody nobody sent. McDonald could hardly have known a more connected person.

("A number of individuals with political connections also are exiting [McCormick Place]," the Tribune reported in 2010. "Perhaps the most well-known is James 'Skinny' Sheahan, chief of external relations, who is the brother of former Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan. Formerly head of Mayor Richard Daley's Office of Special Events, Jim Sheahan is a key figure at McPier and earns $165,470 a year.

("'If you ever want to get anything done at McPier, you should go see this person: Skinny Sheahan,' Jay Doherty, president of the City Club of Chicago, said by way of acknowledging Sheahan at a luncheon last week. Sheahan declined to comment for this article.")

*

"Starting out as an intern, McDonald got the chance early on to work on the Chicago Marathon, the 1996 Democratic Convention and a championship celebration for the Bulls. She also helped coordinate the second-to-second timing for the Olympic Torch relay.

"She drives her territory with notepad and a recorder to note problems. From Calumet to Evanston, from Grant Park to Cotton Tail in the South Loop to Goudy playlot on Astor, McDonald scans her 12 parks and lakefront for overfilled garbage cans, graffiti attacks or burned-out light bulbs. 'I'm a stickler,' she says.

"It's the details that create the challenge for her more than the excitement of high-profile events."

Some details, though, she apparently doesn't want to know. Like why she was named in a police report in a high-profile case involving the Daley family.

*

DeRogatis:

"[T]he Mayor's Office of Special Events has been run since March 2007 by Megan McDonald. Now in her early 30s, she landed this prestigious and lucrative gig with seemingly few professional credentials, and it wasn't the first time she'd plucked such a ripe plum: In her mid-20s, McDonald served as the director of Lakefront Operations for the Park District. But she has some other qualifications that might not be so obvious.

"McDonald is extremely close to Mayor Daley and his family. Like his daughter, Nora, she attended St. Ignatius College Prep on the South Side and Fairfield College in Connecticut. She also is close to several of the mayor's nieces and nephews - including Mark Vanecko, the mayor's relative who served as an attorney and registered lobbyist helping Lollapalooza craft its deal with the city."

Note in McDonald's response to DeRogatis that she doesn't deny being close to the Daleys, she just elides the point:

"First and foremost - there are literally thousands of people who have gone to St. Ignatius and Fairfield UNIVERSITY (not College, just so you know) who may have passed a Daley, Vanecko or Thompson in the hallway who don't go on to work for the City and then there are some that do. However, where I went to high school or college and who I may or may not have interacted with there were not requirements of any job I have ever had.

"Secondly, who I choose to surround myself in my personal life is absolutely none of your business, or anyone else's for that matter. It has no effect on how I perform my job."

Of course, it had just such an effect. She refused to cooperate with the city's inspector general because of it.

*

From her DeRogatis missive:

"I find it amusing that you reference yet another journalist who wrote a story that was also blatantly misrepresentative of the truth to make your point. The only difference is that Fran at least had the decency to call me and speak to me first so that she got 'both sides of the story.'"

Of course, when Spielman called about the inspector general's report, McDonald hung up. To be fair, McDonald may have not trusted Spielman based on a previous story referenced by DeRogatis in which she said she "only reported what made story 'juicy'" instead of what she thought was a fair appraisal, even though her explanation was represented by another city official.

Maybe that's why Marin got the call. But that doesn't explain why she stiffed Ferguson.

*

Will Rahm Emanuel call on McDonald - and Vanecko - to talk to authorities? Will Richard M. Daley extend his crusade against the no-snitch culture from gang-ridden neighborhoods to his ethically challenged cohorts?

Doubtful. That's not the way Chicago works. Surely Megan McDonald knows that.

Water Under The Bridge
"A former high-ranking city of Chicago employee . . . continues to cash in on city contracts even after testifying in federal court about his role in a scheme to rig hiring and promotions at City Hall," the Sun-Times also reports from the inspector general's report.

"In 2006, [former city water management commissioner John] Kosiba was the highest-ranking city official to testify at the corruption trial that culminated with the conviction of Robert Sorich, who was Mayor Richard M. Daley's patronage chief.

"Ferguson noted that Kosiba acknowledged under oath that he 'falsified interview ratings forms and requests to hire' as part of a long-running scheme to rig city hiring and promotions to reward the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers.

"Ferguson said he recommended that Kosiba be declared 'ineligible to do business with the city' but that didn't happen and his office 'is taking steps to seek a further review of this matter.'

"Kosiba - who couldn't be reached for comment - is now chief operating officer of Span Tech, a city contractor that manages O'Hare Airport's international terminal."

Organized Crime Unit
"The Chicago Outfit's top cop, former Chicago Police Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt, left federal prison Tuesday after a decade behind bars," John Kass writes.

"Years ago, there was a going-away party there for a Hanhardt friend, former Chicago detective Fred Pascente, convicted of insurance fraud in 1995 in connection with a series of phony traffic accidents. My sources, including law enforcement, remember that the place was jammed with what seemed to be the entire CPD detective division.

"Back then, [Joey] Lombardo's brother, Rocky, was a manager of the Crazy Horse Too club in Las Vegas. Chicago and Vegas were kind of like suburbs of each other. More recently, the Sun-Times has reported that for the past 18 years, while City Hall has ostensibly tried to shut down the bar, an amazing thing has happened: The bar has changed names, but continues to sell hard liquor and naked or near-naked girls dancing on poles."

In fact, that Sun-Times story was just two days ago.

And now you know a little bit more.

What's Up With Boystown?
In case you missed it over the weekend.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Chiefly detecting.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:42 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"It's been hot - and it's going to get even hotter in the days ahead," Tom Skilling writes at the Tribune's Chicago Weather Center. "Summer's warmest spell of weather to date is showing NO sign of breaking down or retreating, at least through the coming weekend."

Uh-oh, capital letters!

Why, Tom, why?

"The heat which grips much of the country is occurring within a gargantuan air mass which sent 90-degree or higher temperatures into all or parts of 43 states Monday. Hotter Midwest readings included 99-degrees at Des Moines and Omaha, Nebraska; 98 at Minneapolis; 97 at St. Louis and 95-degrees at La Crosse, Wisconsin. Closer to home, residents of Kenosha, Wisconsin broiled in 96-degree afternoon temperatures."

*

This seems like a good time to revisit former mayor Richard M. Daley's neglectful response to the historic 1995 heat wave, which to date is the worst natural disaster in Chicago history yet has been nicely airbrushed out of Daley's legacy. More than 700 people died.

On August 2, 2006, I recalled Eric Klinenberg's book Heat Wave, and wrote in part:

"The deep, layered reporting and social analysis of Klinenberg's Heat Wave exposed a stubborn, wrong-headed, uncompassionate mayor whose failure to grasp the situation undoubtedly added to the death toll, abetted by a gullible and shallow media.

"Perhaps that's why, to this day, Klinenberg's book gets short shrift in Chicago, when in fact it is a masterpiece belonging among the top Chicago books of all time - even if Tribune 'literary editor' Elizabeth Taylor, who edits the paper's book review, once told me she just didn't think the book was that big of a deal.

"It is.

"After all, Klinenberg documented a mayor and City Hall staff more concerned with public relations than with the bodies piling up at the morgue that summer, and a media that failed as well to grasp the tragedy as it unfolded, preferring to put its faith in the mayor and the limited imaginations of its editors and producers in turning out the same hoary cliches as stories that it does every year when it gets hot."

I suggest you go read the whole column, then get the book.

*

On August 3, 2006, I returned to the topic as the local media made a hero of Daley and his response to a heat wave that was then occurring, writing in part:

"As Eric Klinenberg points out in Heat Wave, the mayor's after-report on the tragedy was called Final Report: The Mayor's Commission On Extreme Weather Conditions; note the lack of reference to, um, the heat wave. The cover of the report contained graphics of both a sun and a snowflake.

"The report, controlled and edited by the mayor's office, was of course a whitewash. 'The executive summary offered by the Mayor's Office, for example, reports that the numbers of African-American and white victims were almost identical, even though the death ratio and age-adjusted death ratio - which are included in a less prominent section of the document - show that African-Americans experienced substantially higher death rates than whites. Similarly, the only neighborhood-level analysis presented in the summary explains that nearly all community areas in Chicago were affected, which is analagous to saying that nearly all areas in the city are affected by poverty or crime, because it conceals the enormous variation in neighborhood mortality levels,' Klinenberg wrote.

"The Tribune also says today that the city 'came under severe scrutiny' for its handling of the 1995 heat wave. Really? Not by the local media, according to Klinenberg's exhaustively researched book, published in 2002. It was Klinenberg, not the local press, who reported nauseating nuggets like this one from a 'key member' of the Department of Health:

"'When Daley denied the Chief Medical Examiner's reports, he defined everything that the city would do on this for the next six months. You have to understand, there were nine refrigerated trucks holding bodies in the parking lot of the morgue, a long line of police cars delivering more, and there is the mayor - mayor of the third-largest city in the United States - denying that people were dying, or later denying that the deaths had anything to do with the heat. Imagine what the mayor's position on the heat wave did for the morale of other city employees and city agencies, or how it limited their capacity to do their work. Once the mayor took the position that the death rates were overstated it became impossible for city employees to say anything else. We were forced to find all sorts of ways to reframe the issue or to talk around what was happening. We couldn't contest his position, and in this case that meant we couldn't be fully explicit about what we were finding.'

"Daley's position also successfully framed the media's coverage, Klinenberg shows. At the Tribune, 'the situation provoked a conflict among the editors, with some of them sympathetic to Mayor Daley's initial claims that the mortality figures were overstated, while others were convinced that the city was experiencing a genuine catastrophe.'

"Of course, it doesn't matter what editors think; what matters is going out and getting the story. But the mayor's statements - which we now know we're part of a concentrated public relations effort - put doubts in the minds of local editors, reporters, and even hard-boiled columnists such as Mike Royko, who wrote a front-page column titled 'Killer Heat Wave Or Media Event?'"

Beetle Mania
"Baby formula laced with beetles and larvae does not necessarily violate its manufacturer's promises of wholesomeness and quality, a federal judge ruled, in dismissing without prejudice a class action involving Abbot Laboratories' Similac," Courthouse News Service reports.

"Lead plaintiff Chalonda Jasper, an Indiana mother, may have been grossed out by the beetle parts, but she may have no legal recourse against Abbott, even though she relied upon Abbot's ad slogans, which included, 'When it comes to the science of nutrition, Similac stands apart.'"

Blown Off By Kiss
"Springfield, let me tell you something: we passed over Chicago to come here."

Hell On Earth Opens In Des Plaines
"Chicago's own Jim Belushi and his Sacred Hearts band had the crowd rockin' - kicking things off, natch, with 'Sweet Home Chicago.' Among those attending the jam-packed bash were the Cubs' James Russell and Randy Wells, ex-Bears Jerry Azumah and Steve McMichael; Roe Conn; Richard Roeper; Sugar Rautbord; Robin Berger; Linda Johnson Rice; Neal, Shelly and Steve Zucker; Eric Ferguson; Jamie Blyth; Karen and Marvin Herman; Katherine and Judd Malkin, and a whole slew of Bluhms."

Nerdfighter Chicago
Coming Friday.

Eco-Hero Summoned To Save Planet
Cartoon Network revives Captain Planet.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Save yourself.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Cartoon Network Summons Eco-Hero To Save The Planet

First, the press release. Then, video from the vault.

1. From Cartoon Network PR:

"Cartoon Network has signed a development agreement with action-adventure producer Don Murphy and partner Susan Montford and their company Angry Filmworks to develop a live-action motion picture based on the groundbreaking, environment-saving animated hero, Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

"'The messages of Captain Planet are even more relevant today,' said Stuart Snyder, president and COO of Turner Broadcasting System Inc.'s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media division (AYAKM). "We feel this team can bring the world's first eco-hero to life in a powerful motion picture that is not only pertinent but entertaining.'

capt.jpg

"'With the earthquakes, tornadoes, melting icebergs and all the other problems threatening the world right now, Earth really needs her greatest defender,' said Montford.

"In an effort to inform younger viewers about serious environmental issues, legendary cable entrepreneur Ted Turner partnered with DIC Enterprises in 1990 to create the world's first animated environmental series, Captain Planet and the Planeteers. The series was about a group of young people who combine their special powers (The Planeteers) to summon Captain Planet, an environmental superhero, to battle the world's worst eco-villains.

"Captain Planet and the Planeteers premiered in fall 1990, airing domestically and internationally in syndication and on cable networks TBS and TNT. Six full seasons of the series were produced in the original run of the series, featuring the voice talents of multiple guest celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg (Gaia), Meg Ryan (Dr. Blight), Martin Sheen (Sly Sludge), Edward Asner (Hoggish Greedly), James Coburn (Looten Plunder), Dean Stockwell (Duke Nukem) and Sting (Zarm)."

-

2. Opening.

-

3. Vs. Captain Pollution.

-

4. Closing.

-

Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

Nerdfighter Chicago

Let's take a look.

1. Straight outta Lincoln.

-

2. Friday, July 22, 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

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3. At the Bean.

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4. The agenda.

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5. The buttons.

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6. Extreme pogo.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:37 AM | Permalink

July 18, 2011

The [Monday] Papers

"As the temperature pushed into the mid-90s and the heat index hit 100 degrees on Sunday, ComEd restored power to the entire Chicago area," ABC7 reports.

"ComEd got the electricity going just before extreme heat hit the area. Chicago's North Avenue Beach was packed with people trying to stay cool Sunday afternoon."

Wait a second. You mean City Hall didn't shut down North Avenue Beach because of the heat?

Odd Pitchfork
"So, in the end, Odd Future, the most controversial booking in the seven-year history of the Pitchfork Music Festival, turned out to be a thoroughly unexceptional live hip-hop act, no better or worse than a hundred other mediocre ones you've seen before, albeit even more than usually foul-mouthed," Jim DeRogatis writes.

See also: Nothing Radical About Odd Future's Hate Speech.

Groupon Fail
"The Groupon juggernaut rolled into auto retailing last week, and dealers around the nation watched intently to see whether the online coupon phenomenon could drive herds of shoppers into showrooms," Crain's Detroit reports.

"So far, no.

"Only three consumers agreed to pay $200 to get a $500 discount voucher at LaFontaine Buick-GMC-Cadillac in Highland Township. Groupon and LaFontaine had set 10 as the minimum required for the vouchers to be issued."

If Only This Was Just A Bad Joke
"Why did the Town of Cicero buy 250 rubber chickens?"

If Only This Was Just A Bad Joke
City Hall Fighting For 18 Years To Close Chicago's Only Topless Bar.

The Architecture of Marilyn
"Turns out the base of the 34,000 pound sculpture itself weighs 10 tons, 'engineered for a category 5 hurricane,'" Lynn Becker notes.

"To me, what's most interesting is how the supersized human figure of Marilyn Monroe, a constant curving presence seemingly without a single right angle, plays out against the relentlessly rectilinear Miesian skyscrapers that compose her backdrop."

White Wash
"At a time when pay raises are a distant memory and unpaid leave a reality for many area government workers, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has handed out pay hikes exceeding 6% to his entire executive staff," Crain's reports.

White refused to comment, but I bet it wasn't out of shame.

Ball Four
"Billy Beane's a bright, engaging guy, but I don't see how Moneyball packs theaters unless they're letting A's traveling secretary Mickey Morabito play himself," Phil Rogers writes for the Tribune.

Yeah, no one will pay to see Brad Pitt in a baseball movie.

Life Sciences
"With the forecast calls for high temperatures in the 90s all week, experts are asking the public to use common sense," the Daily Herald reports.

If it's common sense, why do we need experts to tell us to use it?

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Experts Say: Don't Turn To Us! Just Trust Your Instincts!

Suckers Bet
"Before you cough up your hard-earned money at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which opens Monday, see what a mathematician says about your odds of winning," the Daily Herald reports.

Too bad the article doesn't deliver, beyond DePaul's William Chin saying "The odds are almost completely against you."

If they weren't, the state would have no interest in handing out casino licenses. The state not only doesn't want you to win, it works in concert with the gambling industry to make sure you don't win.

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"Actor Jim Belushi attends the VIP party at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines to gamble and sing with his band in the Cube Room on Sunday," the Daily Herald reports.

That's about right.

Obama Cracks Down On Truth
Choking whistleblowers.

I Am A Security Guard
The final installment.

U.S. Women Choke
What was Pia Sundhage thinking?

Jeff Baker Era Right On Course
Hendry: Hands off!

Pure Baseball
From Welles Park to the South Side.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
The non-Pitchfork edition.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Just whistle.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:35 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: U.S. Women Choke

The members of the U.S. women's soccer team blew an opportunity on Sunday. Some will focus on the fact that they could have struck a blow for soccer in general and others will note the marketing possibilities that were lost.

But the main thing was, the American players could have been true international champions (as opposed to, say, the winners of the "World Series") and they came up short.

Plenty of words will be written about what Sunday's Women's World Cup final "really meant." Analysts will break down the larger implications of the event. Folks on ESPN even jumped the gun during the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the tournament, promoting the idea that the U.S. team's 1999 championship had represented Title IX coming to fruition in the U.S. and that 2011 was Title IX having an impact on world women's sport.

Whatever it was on a larger scale - and nine times out of ten big "sports in society" declarations turn out to be vapid generalizations with little to no value - this was a great tournament capped off by a great game . . . a great game in which the U.S. choked oh so much at the very end.

I'm going with a 100 percent home-team perspective here - if that isn't clear already. The Japanese team's victory was delightful in a year in which its country has suffered so much. Then again, analyst Julie Foudy's yammering about how the team and its championship were going to "heal the nation" was ludicrously overwrought.

Anyway, I write about the home teams around here. Usually it is Chicago teams but every once in a while I venture out to a national team - especially when the Chicago teams suck.

And the home team didn't get the job done on Sunday, especially in the end. There were breakdowns during the game and during overtime - the missing of so many quality chances on offense and a couple blown leads on D. But the nearly unforgivable stuff happened after overtime.

First of all, coach Pia Sundhage, how could you have been so foolish as to have Shannon Boxx kick the first penalty kick again?

Boxx was the lucky recipient of an even-up call in the quarterfinal penalty kick victory over Brazil. A referee feeling guilty about having essentially given Brazil a goal earlier in the game when she ordered a penalty kick do-over after a minor infraction that goes uncalled 99 percent of the time, ruled that the Brazil goalkeeper came off her line too early on Boxx's first attempt, which was stuffed.

The goalie may have come off her line early, but goalies do that all the time and it is virtually never called. Boxx took her massive break and managed to put her second effort into the back of the net.

But the weakness she showed on her first attempt against Brazil, which resulted in a relatively easy save for the keeper, reared its ugly head again against Japan. Her almost down-the-middle effort was kicked away.

Second, Carli Lloyd played better that she had all tournament in the final but she still was a poor choice to take the second kick. Her finishing capabilities are usually one of her strongest suits but she hadn't been finishing in this World Cup. And when she busted out a snippy response to some mild criticism from Foudy earlier in the tournament, she showed mental weakness.

Sure enough, Lloyd launched the worst kick of the shootout by far, committing the cardinal sin of leaning back as she struck the ball and sending it well over the crossbar. Yikes.

It should have been clear after the first kick that the U.S. needed to bring in its biggest gun to restore order immediately. Strikers extraordinaire Abby Wambach or Alex Morgan obviously should have been up second. Sure enough, Wambach was the only American shooter not to choke, calmly slotting her shot into the net in the fourth round.

But by then it was way, way too late. Hope Solo had come up with a clutch save in the second round and just missed in the fourth but it didn't matter what she did when yet another goofy choice by Sundhage, late-game sub Tobin Heath, stepped up to take the third penalty kick, didn't hit it with any authority and watched as it was turned away. The Japanese won the shootout 3-1.

It wasn't just a blown opportunity on Sunday, it was at least a score of blown opportunities. And down went the U.S.

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Deadspin: Watch The Gut-Churning End

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

Obama Cracks Down On Truth

With alleged whistleblower Thomas Drake on trial for leaking classified info to the media, why is the Obama administration cracking down on disclosing the truth when the Commander-in-Chief has long lauded running a transparent presidency?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:04 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

Non-Pitchfork (and/or Pitchfork aftershows) edition.

1. OFF! at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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2. Model Stranger at Martyr's on Saturday night.

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3. Goo Goo Dolls at Northerly Island on Saturday night.

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4. Shabazz Palaces at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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5. The Mars Volta at UIC on Saturday night.

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6. Ryan's Hope at the Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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7. Soundgarden at UIC on Saturday night.

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8. Plain Jane Automobile at Martyr's on Saturday night.

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9. The Band Perry in Tinley Park on Saturday night.

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10. Tech N9ne at House of Blues on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

July 17, 2011

Jeff Baker Era Right On Course

Whew. Thank goodness for that. The last thing we needed was for the Cubs to use the All-Star break as a "recharge" period.

Sure, they had a couple days off, but they picked up back exactly where they left off. Which was horrible.

Any kind of glimmer of hope could really put the kibosh on trading away a few of these bums. And yes, we could get other bums in return - we probably will - but at least they'll be different bums and at this point of the season different is kind of okay. Or at least better than what we see every day.

After all, when your team worships Jeff Baker, it pretty much means you stinks.

Week in Review: The Cubs lost three of four to the Marlins in Cub-like fashion, blowing leads in some losses and getting trounced in others. It's like the All-Star break never happened!

The Week in Preview: The Cubs face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in the first two of three against the Phillies, then face the Astros in a big showdown of the worst two teams in the league. Then Bud Selig will suspend the entire organization in the best interests of baseball.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started all four games and went 1-13 with no walks. Wouldn't the untouchable Jeff Baker do better than that? After all, that's how Jim Hendry is drawing it up.

In former second basemen news, Mark DeRosa had a double in a rehab stint this week. Seeing as how there might not be room on the Ginats roster for him, maybe he will become available, and then he would not be missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z got knocked around in his comeback from the DL and is Getting Angry. He is due.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "Marlon Byrd" which makes him play like Marlon Bryd. Thanks, Conte.

Lost in Translation: Davio Bushino is Japanese for REALLY make it f'n stop and just get a few kids in there for the love of god.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Carlos Marmol for Genie garage door openers, because he sure can't close anything.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 85% sweet,15% sour. Mike stands pat again this week because he has no answers. And just like your previously thought-to-be well-adjusted uncle, we all thought he still lived at home with his mother because he loved her and she needed him and he just hadn't found the right woman of his own to be his wife, but now what seemed gentlemanly is starting to feel creepy.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of BP traded higher this week. And by "BP" we mean Bum Pitchers Dave Bush fills Doug Davis's spot in between Rodrigo Lopez and Ramon Ortiz.

Over/Under: The number of horribly bad over-the-hill reclamation project pitchers the Cubs will sign the rest of the season: +/- 2.5.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that a pitching match up of Halladay vs. Lopez does not look good on paper, on the field, or on Mars.

Farm Report: Bryan LaHair is kidding himself.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . You might say he's going Quckoo.

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:15 PM | Permalink

Pure Baseball

Former first baseman Keith Hernandez, who played 17 seasons and had a lifetime .296 batting average, wrote a book (with baseball writer Mike Bryan) 17 years ago called Pure Baseball. All Hernandez did was analyze each and every pitch of two major league games from the 1993 season - Braves vs. Phillies and Yankees vs. Tigers - one in each league taking into account the use of a DH.

The "battle of wits and balance of talent between the pitcher and the hitter is baseball," states Hernandez at the outset. "Everything else is secondary."

While this confrontation between pitcher and hitter is the heart of the game, the average fan might think that nothing happens until the ball leaves the pitcher's hand. Of course, that is inaccurate.

Hernandez also spends 200-plus pages detailing all the moves that occur prior to each pitch. The defense positions itself differently for each batter, and oftentimes for each pitch depending on the situation and what's being thrown. And there is much more in the mix.

Take yesterday's sixth inning when the game got away from the Sox in their 4-3 loss to the Tigers. One might argue that Tigers' manager Jim Leyland won the game from the dugout when - with one out and the Sox leading 3-1 - he had runners on first and second running on a full count to Superman, otherwise known as Miguel Cabrera.

Phil Humber induced Cabrera to ground to shortstop Alexi Ramirez, a sure double-play ball to end the inning had the runners not been going. As it was, they moved to second and third from where Detroit not only scored them but added another run - all after two outs - to sink our impotent athletes.

Although Cabrera is a feared power hitter, he's struck out only 52 times this season in almost 400 plate appearances. (For comparison, Paul Konerko has fanned 51 times.) So Leyland figured that Miguel would make contact or draw a walk. He does so almost 90 percent of the time. He liked those odds. Who wouldn't?

Had Cabrera lined out, a double play no doubt would have ensued. A pop-up also might have resulted in a double play. However, Leyland's gamble - if you want to call it that - paid off big time, and the Sox were unable to produce the tying run in the final three innings.

Leyland is not necessarily a genius, although he has earned a good deal of respect in his 20 years of Big League managing. (Check out Leyland telling Barry Bonds to pack up and go home during spring training in 1991.) Most managers, and certainly Ozzie Guillen, would have made the same hit-and-run call yesterday.

I coach a group of 15- to 19-year-olds each summer in what's known as the Liberty League. This is not one of those fancy and pretentious travel league teams where parents fantasize that their kids are potential pro players even when they have a remote chance to play even college ball, let alone professional baseball. This is a house league at Rogers Park, played under the auspices of the Welles Park Parent Association. Nevertheless, we take our baseball seriously. At least I do.

My club this year . . . well . . . we stink. The kids are wonderful individuals. They show up; they're smart; they go to impressive schools, both public and private; and they tell me they are interested in playing summer baseball. And we just finished a 3-12 season with the playoffs (every team qualifies) looming this week.

Nine of our 12 losses have been by four runs or less. Our team batting average is .213. Nevertheless, we've managed to stay close only to get beat in the late innings. In fact, one game so much resembled the Sox that I was spooked as I drove home. Playing against one of the elite teams in the league, we took them to ten innings before losing 6-3. We left 15 runners on base and just couldn't get the big hit. Sound familiar?

Getting back to the intricacies of the game and Hernandez's book, we drill a certain amount - not enough obviously - on relays, cutoffs, positioning, picking up signs, bunting, etc.

A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that the fellas were most often in position for relays and cutoffs, but I wondered whether they grasped the reasoning behind these alignments. So I got them together around second base, and we talked. I focused on the third baseman cutting from left field with a runner trying to score or the first baseman handling the throws from center or right.

"Why do you think we do this?" I asked. Silence.

So I called on one of my kids, a guy who has played a bit of baseball as a youngster who actually shows potential as a hitter. "I don't know what you're talking about," he replied.

I thanked him for his honesty as the light went on in my head that more understanding was required. What Konerko does as habit to keep an opponent from taking second base is foreign to a 15-year-old who is just learning the game.

We had another doozy last Wednesday. The kids were playing well and had a 4-2 lead against a decent team going into the bottom of the sixth. (These are seven-inning games.) My starting pitcher did a fine job before turning it over to a reliever who is a nice ballplayer.

We botched a double play which would have gotten us out of the inning with no damage, but we were still in the game at 4-4. My pitcher got an 0-2 count on the next guy, and a high fastball out of the zone, I'm sure, would have found the kid grabbing some bench. But my guy grooved one, and the kid got a hit.

Same thing with the next hitter. Two strikes and then the kid hit one that stopped rolling just short of Irving Park. Please understand - we were playing just north of Touhy.

It's desirable to be ahead of the hitter, but that's the time to make him hit a pitch other than one right down the middle.

No big deal. This is all part of a game that is much more complicated than it looks. My job is to teach and inculcate an appreciation for the game which I hope will last a lifetime. A little fun mixed in goes a long way as well. If that happens, we've had a successful season.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:35 PM | Permalink

I Am A Security Guard: Goodbye

About two years ago, I completed the company's job application. A human resources staffer liked what he read and asked me to stop by the store on a Saturday afternoon.

I did not keep the appointment. Instead, I called in a fake ankle injury and spent the day competing in a softball tournament. Besides, I had a temp office gig at an advertising firm and figured I could coast with that for a spell.

That was a bad assumption. A few days later, a supervisor unceremoniously canned me.

While suffering shock, I stumbled to the Harold Washington Library to search for another job. I nearly cried while thinking about my arrogance and stupidity. I logged onto a computer to peek at jobs on Craigslist, hoping for a miracle.

Someone must have prayed for me that day. A miracle did take place. Within minutes, my cell phone rang. The same staffer who liked me had called back. He asked me to stop by the store the next day. I jumped at the opportunity as though it were the last lifeboat on the Titanic.

During a brief chat in the main office, he told me the job paid minimum wage and required me to stand for eight hours on third shift. I gladly accepted. He gave me a schedule. I arrived for work two days later, meeting Pitbull, and plunged into retail security.

During my time at the store, I forged some new friendships, made some enemies, gained additional life experience, and kept a roof over my head. Despite my occasional screw-ups, I tried my best to serve the store and its customers. Somehow, I never got a bad evaluation. My thanks to the co-workers and customers who helped me survive the job.

After two years, it's time to move on. A man who got my resume one year ago called me about an office job. We had a great interview. He hired me. The job provides slightly more money and a 9 to 5 schedule. The new work day will allow me to return to school.

Funny how the job-hunting process works. One interview went south after I refused to carry a gun. Two other interviews did not generate a return phone call. One man scheduled an interview and did not bother to show up for the appointment. I had traveled almost two hours for the session.

The idea that someone would call me after holding my resume for a year sounds almost too good to be true. I'm grateful for the new opportunity.

In addition, this is my final security piece. I want to thank Steve Rhodes, the Beachwood Reporter's owner, and the readers of this column.

I had been searching for a new job, but had some mixed emotions about leaving the store. I had to bid farewell to some co-workers I had considered good friends. As the final day approached, I felt some dread about having to say goodbye. I did not want any drama or a maudlin scene like something from a sitcom finale.

Luckily, the last shift did not generate any excitement. Just after I took my post, I said goodbye to Pitbull. We shook hands. He left shortly afterward.

A few hours later, I bought pizza for the night crew. First, the Cool Cashier and Raquel ate in the breakroom. Afterward, I noshed and chatted with the Cool Assistant Manager. With about 20 minutes left in the shift, I said my final goodbyes to everyone. Raquel gave me a card that said I would be missed.

As I left the store and walked to the bus stop, I knew that I would miss them too.

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Until recently, a very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earned rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain. He still welcomes your comments.

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See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:23 PM | Permalink

July 16, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Now that the Minnesota shutdown is over, can we get back to ignoring the loonies from that state ?

Market Update
As the Arab Spring yields to the News Corp Summer, it's looking like a rough week on the Billionaire Tyrant exchange.

Tears of a Clown
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is determined to ruthlessly crush all apologetic opposition by unleashing his inner fury on the British Open.

Kane and Able
Closer to home, the Blackhawks announced this week that winger Patrick Kane would have surgery on his left wrist. The hand has reportedly been troubling the star since it unexpectedly encountered an elderly cabbie's face two years ago.

Delay Lama
China this week demanded President Obama not meet with the Dalai Lama, insisting instead that he focus on destroying the world's largest economy and kicking a puppy.

Lockout Doubt
Note to DC: When you're being less reasonable that Jerry Jones, maybe it's time to go ahead and blink.

Lasting Seal
Finally, the issue of Californian interlopers squeezing the life out of precious Oregon resources came to a disturbing head this week with the decision to allow targeted killings. It all seems a bit drastic; after all, won't most of the undesirables be stuck on the 405 anyway?

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Barmageddon.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Latino Policy Forum: End of Legislative Session Policy Update

31123-Latino-Policy-Forum.jpg

Latino community leaders discuss the effects of redistricting, the state budget, education reform, and other laws passed during this legislative session. Sylvia Puente, Latino Policy Forum executive director, joins former mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle on the panel.

Saturday, July 16 at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21
2 hr 3 min

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Military Service and the Law

CAN TV presents all-day coverage of the 2011 Military Service and the Law Conference titled "Issues of Justice and Dignity At Home and Abroad." Sessions address legal issues, rights, and services for active duty members and veterans.

Special Issues Concerning OIF/ OEF Veterans
Sunday, July 17 at 9 a.m on CAN TV21

Legal & Medical Issues Related to Justice-Involved Veterans
Sunday, July 17 at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21

Domestic Violence: from the Battle to the Homefront
Sunday, July 17 at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21

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Community Forum: El Valor

41042-El-Valor.jpg

Venetta Williams, El Valor's director of Early Childhood and Youth Partnerships, discusses how the organization's programs have served and empowered families in Chicago for over 40 years.

Saturday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
26 min

Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:19 AM | Permalink

July 15, 2011

What's Up With Boystown?

"In the heart of Lakeview, the soul of Boystown is roiled," Laura Washington wrote this week for the Sun-Times amid a flurry of commentary about the neighborhood.

"Over the July 4 weekend, a midnight street brawl among a dozen or so young people hospitalized a 25-year-old man and fed fear and outrage among community residents and business owners. It was the third violent attack in the area in recent weeks, according to news reports.

"It's been a long time coming. For years, the neighborhood has been plagued by security concerns, racial antipathies, transgender intolerance, economic divides, business consequences, political gamesmanship and dysfunctional behaviors."

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"Gay bars had been open along North Clark Street and Diversey Avenue since the 1960s. But by the summer of 1975, North Halsted Street in the area now known as Boystown, had its first gay bar, according to the Northalsted Business Alliance," Dawn Turner Trice writes for the Tribune.

"Renee Jackson said that 36 years later, when she walks down North Halsted through the crowds of black youths who gather outside the area's stores and gay bars, she understands that many of these teens hang out in Boystown because they don't feel comfortable being openly gay in their own communities."

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"'I don't come by myself when I come to Boys Town,' 21-year-old Joshua McCool said last week at a press conference outside of Inter-American Magnet School. He stood in front of a multiracial phalanx of activists who one by one complained about the treatment they'd received in the neighborhood. McCool, who's black, called the area 'white boys' town.' He and the other speakers, members of the LGBT youth group Gender JUST, said they feel racially profiled when they visit the neighborhood," Sam Worley reports for the Reader.

"Chicago Police Department statistics indicate that in the 23rd district - which includes Boys Town as well as parts of Uptown and Lincoln Park - crime has increased the last five years. But in eight categories tracked by the CPD including robbery, aggravated assault and battery, burglary, and theft, the rates are lower than they were a decade ago. Crime rates also dipped slightly between January and May of this year.

"Since May, however, some widely publicized violent crimes, including robberies and at least two stabbings, have alarmed residents. A man was beaten and stabbed in a melee on Halsted Street just before midnight on Sunday, July 3, and the incident was captured on video and posted online."

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"Some are pointing fingers at Boystown's Center on Halsted - a social service agency - and particularly its young clientele," Odette Yousef reports for WBEZ.

"Late last week, Chicago Police announced an arrest. A man from Hammond, Indiana. Others are likely to follow. But before anything was known about the attackers, rumblings began, mostly online, that gay youth from other neighborhoods were committing these crimes."

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"At the CAPS meeting on July 6, the majority in attendance were white gay men. Some of these men shouted 'get a job' to homeless youth, who were calling on the community to provide services instead of demanding increased policing. According to the Department of Labor, 13.9 million people are reportedly unemployed. The same white men berating the LGBT young people should think about how difficult it is for a young trans woman of color to acquire a job and what it is like to face hatred every day - they should applaud her for her resilience in the face of intersectional oppression," Avi Rudnick writes for the Windy City Times.

"LGBTQ young people are drawn to Boystown for services and a (false) promise of diversity. The limited services available for LGBTQ people primarily exist on the North Side, which is a historical problem in Chicago. Services are limited on the West and South sides, from the lack of a hospital with a Level One trauma center on the South Side to the abysmal public-transit system. Additionally, there are no after-hours, all-ages venues; a lack of adequate mental health services; and no shelter for young people in Boystown."

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"When Antonio Jones walks down Halsted Street in Boystown, he feels more at home here than he did in his old Garfield Park neighborhood, where he used to worry about thugs attacking him for being bisexual," Trice wrote in 2009.

"But all is not bliss for Jones in Boystown either. That's because the 21-year-old college student, who often travels down Halsted wearing baggy pants and a dark coat, knows that - in an ironic twist - some residents now view him as a thug."

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"Boystown ceased being a primarily gay residential area more than a decade ago, even before the rainbow Pylons were installed. In fact, those pylons were criticized by some as unnecessary in 1998, when they were announced, because the area had become so straight even back then," Windy City Media Group publisher Tracy Baim writes.

"What Boystown is in 2011 is a heavily LGBT destination entertainment area. It needs to be treated as such. No one 'owns' Boystown, and we will all benefit by treating each other not as 'us' vs. 'them,' or 'outsiders' vs. 'insiders.'

"The question still remains unanswered: Can we all get along?"

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:09 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"In year seven, does the Pitchfork Music Festival mean anything?" Jim DeRogatis writes. "Or is it just a very well-marketed brand catering to a different demographic than the Vans Warped Tour, the Grant Park Lollapalooza, the Dave Matthews Band Caravan, or the Red Bull Riot Fest, but fundamentally the same business proposition: Collect their not-cheap tickets, pack 'em in, sell 'em a lot of crap, and entertain 'em. Ca-ching!

"I suppose we'll find out over the next 72 hours. At least, I hope we will."

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P.S.: You're damn right, DeRo. It means everything.

Waste Management
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel today did not directly respond to a state gambling regulator's contention that he would be 'flabbergasted' if Gov. Pat Quinn signs a major gambling expansion into law," the Tribune reports.

"The mayor was asked about Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe's Wednesday comments about the gambling bill, which includes a Chicago casino. Jaffe also repeated his previous description of the expansion measure as 'garbage.'

"Emanuel chose to explain once more why he supports a Chicago casino.

"'This was an issue of debate for 20 years, approximately. On that evaluation, I helped pass a bill that allows Chicago to own a casino, run a casino and bring in that revenue to the city.'"

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No, Rahm. A Chicago casino may have been the subject of periodic debates over the last 20 years, but this bill was passed on the fly with barely a whisper. And this bill is still largely a mystery even to those who passed it.

"The legislation, which would allow for a Chicago casino, three other new land-based gambling halls and the addition of slot machines at horse racing tracks, is filled with regulatory loopholes, Jaffe said," the Tribune reported Wednesday.

"'I've said before and I will tell you again, it's 409 pages of garbage,' Jaffe said, later adding 'use your imagination, and whatever evil thoughts come into your minds, it will probably be worse than that.'"

History tells us this is so. Do we ever learn?

Juvenile Justice?
Quinn's Youth Prison Proposal Fades Away.

Drug Beat
* Jackets Soaked In Liquid Opium Seized At O'Hare.

* Man Arrested After Reporting His Pot Stolen.

Goal Kick
"It seems that the beautiful game is ascendant everywhere in America except perhaps in the minds of some American sports journalists," John Kass writes.

He did not name Rick Morrissey, so I will.

Back to Kass:

"And nowhere was the this clearer than on the ESPYs the other night. For you who aren't sports fans, the ESPYs are sort of the Oscars of American professional team sports. Highlights, speeches, trophies.

"And when the ESPY was handed out for Play of the Year, they offered up five spectacular sports plays.

"Three nominees for Play of the Year involved soccer."

And one of those three won.

Big Pharma [Hearts] Obama, Rahm
"President Barack Obama's campaign has moved a New York fundraiser featuring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel," HuffPost Chicago notes.

"Next Thursday's event originally was to be held at Pfizer's headquarters but now will be at New York's University Club. Emanuel was Obama's chief of staff before being elected Chicago mayor this year.

"The Boston Globe reported Thursday that the event was moved after the newspaper asked about the propriety of hosting it at a pharmaceutical company regulated by the government."

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"Pfizer is proud to participate in the political process and encourages its colleagues to do so as well,'' company spokesman Raul Damas told the Globe.

Brzeczek's Back
"A federal judge will allow limited testimony from a former superintendent of the Chicago Police, in a police misconduct lawsuit brought by a man who spent more than a decade in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape and murder," Courthouse News Service reports.

There's Something About Marilyn
Curbed Chicago has a round-up.

See also: Goodbye, American Gothic People, including Jeff Huebner's comment about the art in Pioneer Court.

Hitman Harris
One Chicago Bear's lockout workout.

From South Park to Halas Hall
Jay Cutler then and still.

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A Demonstration From Our City Clerk

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Sticky.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:13 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Sublime at Northerly Island on Thursday.

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2. 311 at Northerly Island on Thursday night.

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3. Dirty Pigeons at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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4. Cyberoptics at The Mid on Wednesday night.

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5. Magatha Trysty at the Abbey on Tuesday night.

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6. Moon Furies at the Fireside on Wednesday night.

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7. The Noise FM at the Fireside on Tuesday night.

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8. The Photo Atlas at the Fireside on Tuesday night.

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9. Jordan Benker at the Elbo Room on Tuesday night.

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10. Rosie Flores and Robbie Fulks at the Hideout on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:25 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. ComEd, WTF?

Chicago might have the cultural ambience of Paris, but it has the electrical system of Mogadishu.

Does it not seem as though the effects of every summer storm are regarded by ComEd as inexplicable acts of fate? Actually, no. They claim to have everything under control.

Only a month ago, ComEd issued this pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain press release containing a highly amusing interlude:

"ComEd officials today informed the Chicago City Council Committee on Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities that electric service reliability performance across the company is strong entering into the high-demand summer months. 'We take our responsibility to ComEd customers seriously and are here to reaffirm our commitment to enhancing the quality of life for residents through the delivery of reliable and affordable electricity,' Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and chief operating officer, said at the committee's annual summer readiness hearing."

As to whether a digital "smart grid" would have worked better, you'd have to trust ComEd on that issue. But as with many ComEd initiatives, it not only wants customers to pay for business improvements, ComEd wants to build in a profit on the improvements, too.

And whose to say you don't deserve built-in profits when you're the 112th best utility in the nation out of 124.

2. Jonah Edelman, WTF?

Every time you are tempted to outrage by the arrogance and self-interest of public employee unions, remember that this is who they must confront when they ask for good working conditions.

This lurid tale of cupidity would tend to prove that the pool of genetic integrity dries up quickly. Marian Wright Edelman must be so proud of her morally pipsqueaked offspring.

3. Drive-by lunacy, WTF?

Not only do cigarettes kill in the time-tested lung cancer method, they also kill when you go outside for a smoke break and get gunned down by another one of those gang punks who can't shoot straight.

4. John Hegel, WTF?

There is no gun law we know that would have denied Mr. Hegel his trusty rifle but we wonder if Mrs. Hegel has the life insurance policy tucked away close at hand. Somebody seems very close to getting whacked. When reached at his home, the Trib reported, he had no comment. They never do, but you have to ask anyway.

Squirrel hunting season in Illinois doesn't start until November 5th. There's no neighbor's-window season.

5. Judy Baar Topinka, WTF?

There were days not that long ago when Illinois could not possibly elect Judy Baar Topinka as governor because she was wacky. Everybody said so; it must have been true. Remember the days also not so long ago when Blago seemed so much more sane, thoughtful and adult?

If she is now the standard bearer for the Loose Cannon Party, we're ready to pass the ammunition.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:13 AM | Permalink

Kolchak Is Back!

"We've just learned via Deadline that Depp is lining up his next two projects," Clevver Movies reports. "Along with his film company, Depp has purchased [two] projects. The first project being The Night Stalker which will be a remake of the 1970s TV movie where Depp will pay a Chicago-based newspaper reporter. His character, named Carl Kolchak, will investigate supernatural crimes throughout the flick. Sounds pretty cool!"

Sounds pretty lame. Johnny Depp?

Not our idea of Carl Kolchak. Let's take a look.

*

IMDB: "Carl Kolchak was a reporter for Chicago's Independent News Service, and a trouble magnet for situations involving the supernatural. Kolchak turned his investigative skills to vampires, werewolves, zombies and all manner of legendary creatures, but in the end he always failed to convince his skeptical editor, Tony Vincenzo, that the stories weren't products of Kolchak's own overworked imagination. Written by Marg Baskin."

Goof via IMDB: "Many of the stories take place in the winter months, but there is never any snow, and even if there was no snow, it is highly unlikely one would be driving a convertible with the top down during the winter months in Chicago."

Wikipedia: "The show featured a wide range of guest stars and many Hollywood veterans, including: Ken Lynch, Charles Aidman, Randy Boone, Scatman Crothers, Dick Van Patten, Jan Murray, Larry Storch, Jeanne Cooper, Alice Ghostley, Victor Jory, Murray Matheson, Julie Adams, John Dehner, Phil Silvers, Bernie Kopell, Marvin Miller, Jesse White, James Gregory, Hans Conried, Mary Wickes, Henry Jones, Carolyn Jones, Jackie Mason, Stella Stevens, Abraham Sofaer, David Doyle, Jim Backus, Kathleen Freeman, John Hoyt, Dwayne Hickman, Eric Braeden, Tom Skerritt, Erik Estrada, William Daniels, Jamie Farr, Pat Harrington, Jr., Larry Linville and Richard Kiel. Jimmy Hawkins appeared on the series as a Catholic priest on November 1, 1974, in what was his last acting appearance. McGavin's wife and assistant, Kathie Browne, appeared in the final episode as Lt. Irene Lamont.

"In addition, the series provided the first professional writing credit for Bob Gale, who wrote the script for the episode called "Chopper." David Chase, creator of The Sopranos, also worked on the series as a story editor, his first regular crew position in Hollywood. Gale is credited for eight episodes but as story editor also helped rewrite the remaining 12, and McGavin and others attribute much of the show's quirky humor to his creative input.

"The series' ratings were mediocre and its star was growing dissatisfied, resulting in its cancellation after one year. McGavin had been unhappy with what he felt was the show's 'monster of the week' direction, and an exhausting filming schedule. He asked to be released from his contract with two episodes remaining to be filmed, which the network granted in light of the show's dwindling ratings.

Kolchak's character via Wikipedia: "Loosely based on real-life journalist Charles Fort, Kolchak is a talented investigative reporter with an affinity for bizarre and supernatural occurrences, obtaining information driving around Chicago in his yellow Ford Mustang convertible and always snatching exclusives armed with his camera and portable cassette recorder.

"Using only limited information, Kolchak has relentlessly cracked several cases relying on gut instinct and often prevailing through sheer dumb luck. But more often than not, Kolchak's prospects are hampered by the utter destruction of any or all evidence to prove his claims, thus advancing the sheer implausibility of his stories where his peers, particularly his editor, are concerned. On other occasions his investigations have led to demotion or relocation of varying authority figures, though reasons for these actions are never truthfully disclosed.

The Skeptic's Dictionary: "Charles Fort (1874-1932) fancied himself a true skeptic, one who opposes all forms of dogmatism, believes nothing, and does not take a position on anything."

1. Opening.

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2. Montage.

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3. Tribute.

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4. Promo.

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5. Doll.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:24 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

1. Wouldn't it be more productive to just bank the $6 million?

2. This list is missing crooked city workers.

3. Fortune tellers now welcome in Cook County forest preserves.

Previously had to work off-site.

4. 409 pages of garbage.

5. Our Weaselly New Political Map.

See also: Chicago's Ward Remap Begins With Everyone On Alert

6. "With former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge in prison for lying about the torture of criminal suspects, federal officials have turned their investigation to detectives who worked under Burge and to former Cook County prosecutors, the Tribune has learned.

"FBI agents and federal prosecutors from Chicago and the Justice Department's civil rights office in Washington are looking into the testimony and actions of several detectives who worked for Burge, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

"The authorities are also examining the role of assistant state's attorneys who once worked in the office's felony review unit, visiting the widow of one former prosecutor just two weeks ago, the sources said. Felony review prosecutors play a crucial role in approving criminal charges against suspects and in some cases help direct investigations and question suspects."

How far will they take it?

7. "Mayor Rahm Emanuel has quietly disbanded the $3.6 million-a-year Office of Compliance that former Mayor Richard M. Daley created in 2007 to get around an inspector general who had embarrassed him," the Sun-Times reports.

See also: Daley Is Unfit To Be Mayor

*

Can't Daley be charged with racketeering for the manner in which he ran the city?

8. Progressive Democrats To Demonstrate At Obama Chicago Headquarters.

Then they're going to march over to my place and apologize en masse for how much shit they gave me for telling the truth about the guy in 2008.

9. Rick Morrissey can't change the fact that soccer fans, like, sooooooo don't care what he thinks.

*

"The qualifying round of the Women's World Cup came to a dramatic and fantastic end with the United States defying the odds and surmounting one of the most unbelievable comebacks in Women's World Cup history, and they did it with only 10 players on the pitch," Ryan Miller writes for the George-Anne.

"Viewer numbers all over the U.S. skyrocketed. The number of people tuned in equaled the number of views of the U.S. women's last World Cup championship victory over China in 1999 . . . The match, which was broadcast on ESPN, acquired 3,890,000 viewers. This feat placed third on the U.S. Women's World Cup all-time views list behind the Brazil-U.S semi-final match in 1999, which had an electronic audience of 4,924,000 people, and the Women's World Cup final between U.S.-China, which attracted an audience of 17,975,000 people."

10. "A one-time Air Force airman from upstate New York will appear in a suburban Chicago courtroom on August 1 after a wedding-crash gone badly awry,"HuffPost Chicago notes.

11. This Astonishing Star Wars Videogame Is Real, But Only A Few Will Ever Play It.

"The game was devised by Arthur Nishimoto, a student at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago."

12. Naperville Unveils New Sports Complex On Old Nike Missile Site.

13. Live Like A King Outside Chicago In A Castle All Your Own.

14. Rumsfeld patted down at O'Hare.

15. GayTV Chicago.

16. Carl's Cubs Mailbag: They Built This City

17. I Am A Security Guard: Rest In Peace.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A march of folly.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:52 AM | Permalink

GayTV Chicago

Gay TV is one of the 15 Network 125 Internet TV channels. Gay TV features gay TV programming with emphasis on programming from Atlanta, Chicago and Florida.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

Our Weaselly New Political Map

"Surrounded by fields that grow corn, soybeans, melons and potatoes, this tiny rural village is 65 miles from Chicago but light years away from the big city. Still, St. Anne and a lot of the farm country around it has now been dragged into the metropolis as part of an ambitious political strategy focused on the 2012 national elections," AP reports.

"A new census-based political map drawn by the state's Democratic-controlled Legislature, and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, has taken swaths of suburban and rural Illinois and added them to the districts of veteran Chicago Democrats such as U.S. Rep. Jackson Jr., who could be St. Anne's next representative.

"The move was one of the boldest by the national political parties this year as they sought to benefit by changing political boundaries."

Let's let C.G.P. Grey explain.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:13 AM | Permalink

I Am a Security Guard: Rest In Peace

A strange man started coming into the store late at night. A burly, tall guy, he wore the dirty jacket and pants of a laborer. Despite his youthful face, he usually looked quite tired. He often wandered around the store touching merchandise. That raised a red flag, so I watched him.

He also shot the breeze with the Nice Cashier. After I had seen this a few nights, I pulled her aside and asked if he made her uncomfortable. She said no. They knew each other because both lived near the store.

He continued talking with the Nice Cashier until the store fired her. Afterward, he occasionally showed up with his girlfriend and their daughter. I never greeted him because I never shook my initial impression.

A tragic event changed my view.

On a Wednesday night, a day shift cashier named Marie called off from work. The Cool Cashier told me the reason. A fire tore through the man's apartment. Everyone escaped except for the little girl. The man rushed back in to get her. Firemen pulled them out. Both were unconscious. Paramedics rushed them to a hospital. Doctors pronounced the girl dead on arrival. The man remained in a coma. That man was Marie's brother.

When the Cool Cashier told me the story, I remembered that Marie had praised her brother for defending her against bullies and giving food money to their mother.

As he lingered in a coma, neighbors donated money, clothes and food. His co-workers organized a dance party to raise money for the family.

Despite the best wishes, he passed away without regaining consciousness.

I've thought about him a lot since the fire. I had watched him for the wrong reasons. The man had not been a creep or thief. During his final efforts on this planet, he had tried to save his little girl. In addition, he was a loyal brother, son, and partner. His friends and relatives loved and respected him. All along, I should have been acknowledging a noble human being.

I can't apologize to him in person. He will, however, stay in my thoughts and prayers.

A Sick Shoplifter
An emaciated man walked to the pharmacy to order a prescription. He wandered around the store while waiting for the pharmacist to fill the order. Raquel saw the customer slip a toy into a plastic bag. She told the Cool Assistant Manager.

The Cool Assistant Manager walked to my post and told me the situation. He asked if we should deal with him before he got to the register.

Technically, we're supposed to wait until a perp walks past the last cash register. But why bother when we know he's stolen something? Also, why risk a scene and scare customers entering the store? I agreed to approach him while he walked in the aisles.

We cornered him. He started arguing. The manager asked him to simply fork over the merch and leave the store. He refused. The manager walked to a register and called the cops. I stayed to guard the thief.

While we were alone, the thief said to me: "I'm HIV-positive."

The news froze me. I sympathized, especially because I'm gay. But I also got a little scared. If he jumps me and transmits any blood, I might be screwed.

I had to protect myself. I called out to a cashier, who brought me a pair of rubber gloves.

The thief never made a move. The cops arrived. The Cool Assistant Manager talked to them. They persuaded the thief to give up the toy and leave. The manager told me to ban him from the store. I exhaled in relief.

Stayin' Alive
A short woman with blue eyes brought groceries to the cash register. She appeared nervous and jumpy, as though she were on cocaine. The Cool Cashier rang up the goods, but the woman's public aid card did not work.

She said she would return with cash because she was hungry.

The woman came back about an hour later. A seedy looking man escorted her to the entrance. He waited outside and peeked through the glass as she entered the store.

She returned to the Cool Cashier with a gallon of milk and cereal. She handed over a crumpled $10 bill.

As I watched the scene, I figured the woman must have made some illicit promise to get the dough.I felt sorry for her. She had to do what was necessary to survive.

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A very pseudononymous Jerome Haller earns rent money as a security guard for a large, publicly-held retail chain. He welcomes your comments.

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See more tales of security guarding, pizzeria waitressing, barista-ing and office drudgering in our Life at Work collection.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:56 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: They Built This City

If the Cubs were a band, who would they be?
-Ricky, Los Angeles CA

Jefferson Starship.

There was a point just a few years before their current incarnation formed when they were really good and had some classic performances. A couple of bad days in crunch time and a third of the lineup was revamped. Now we're stuck with a handful of meaningless hits and an anthem.

It seemed like Bruce Bochy brought Starlin Castro in just to steal bases Tuesday night. Why doesn't he do more of that in real games?
-Dave, Diamond IL

Mike Quade has called for Castro to steal more than 30 times this season, but Bob Dernier insists on giving Starlin the signs in Russian. Ever the professional, the young shortstop is working hard on CSL (Cyrillic Sign Language), but it will take some time.

How's Andrew Cashner doing?
-Red, La Crosse WI

Well it's no hot tub accident, but Cashner did suffer a setback that could push his return into September and theories abound regarding the cause. Speculative scenarios include:

* He threw out his arm punching a girl in the face.

* He got on Michael Ironside's bad side.

* He became a mystery, frozen in time inside of Alexander Godunov's beer tower*.

The Pirates and Nationals are beating up on the Cubs now, huh? Is this some sort of bizarro world in which blue kryptonite can kill Superman? Are we in the end times?
-Stan, New York NY

Not to worry, Stan. If we were headed for the end times, a disaster of biblical proportions, the Cubs would be winning.

Why don't the Cubs ever have anybody in their farm system like Stephen Strasburg?
-Holly, Toledo OH

Let's see . . .

A can't-miss fireballer who is billed a year in advance as a phenom who won't break down because of excellent pitching technique and is fast-tracked to the majors only to need Tommy John surgery in his second professional season . . .

You're right, that would be a first for the Cubs' organization.

*Yes, it's that Alexander Godunov, from Die Hard. I don't want neutral, I want Labatt Ice Maximum!

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Send your comments and questions to Carl!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:32 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

1. The Procrastinator's Guide to Last-Minute City Sticker Purchases.

2. A Textbook Lesson In How Politics Really Work.

3. "Grammy Award-winning R&B artist R. Kelly is facing a $2.9-million foreclosure suit on his Olympia Fields mansion," Chicago Real Estate Daily reports.

A "Trapped in the Closet" joke would be too easy, right?

4. "Just a few months after launching a campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, strongly touting his business experience, James Wallace is facing an unclear future for his company, TWG Capital of Indianapolis," the Indianapolis Star reports.

"The company's biggest investor, Chicago venture capital fund Cardinal Growth LP, is being taken over by the federal government after failing to repay $21.4 million in loans from the Small Business Administration.

"The ties between the two firms run deep. Cardinal Growth owns about 80 percent of Wallace's company, based on East 75th Street. Both of TWG's board members are principals with Cardinal Growth."

*

Earlier:

"A Chicago venture capital fund whose projects paid more than $1.2 million to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's son has been taken over by the federal government, which says the fund owes taxpayers $21.4 million," the Sun-Times reported.

"Cardinal Growth L.P. - which was run by attorney and former federal prosecutor Robert Bobb Jr. and accountant Joseph McInerney, a close friend of Daley's son, Patrick Daley - borrowed nearly $51 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration over the past decade but has been unable to repay $21.4 million, court records show.

"U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald filed the civil lawsuit on behalf of the federal agency on June 15. The SBA is seeking to liquidate Cardinal Growth L.P. because of mounting losses that threaten the fund's ability to repay the taxpayer money it got from the agency.

"According to court papers filed with the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Cardinal has borrowed $50.9 million from the SBA over the past decade but has had trouble paying off the loan."

5. "Chicago's tax-increment financing program is designed to eradicate blight, create jobs and promote economic development in neighborhoods that need it most," AustinTalks reports.

"But TIF - which diverts property tax dollars to private developers in an effort to spur growth - appears to be doing little to help the residents of Austin.

"Of the 184 private-sector TIF projects authorized in Chicago since 2000, just four were for Austin - one of the city's more economically distressed neighborhoods and its most-populated community area."

6. "The Chicago Marriott O'Hare hotel in Chicago, Illinois, has commenced work on a $40 million renovation project," the World Interior Design Network reports.

7. "A state judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Illinois at Chicago does not have the right to block a faculty union from representing both those on the tenure track and adjuncts," Inside Higher Ed reports.

8. "A baby-faced art student who traveled from Chicago to the Big Apple to scrawl his tag and a few pointed statements on subway cars will serve 25 days of community service," the New York Post reports.

"Zebadiah Arrington, 20, pleaded guilty in March to plastering 'ZEB,' 'BOMB THE SYSTEM,' 'NOW OR NEVER' and other slogans on several A-, F- and 7-line trains in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan."

9. Little Village Dispatch: They Just Want A Park.

10. You Shoulda Been There: West Fest 2011.

11 Chicago Man's Bedroom As Nightclub.

12. The Portage Theater Comic Book Fair.

13. Second-Half Sleepers. Including one Cub and two Sox.

14. "Ryne Sandberg was passed over as Chicago Cubs manager last fall, but the Hall of Fame second baseman said he won't rule out a return to his former team if the position opens up in the future."

15. A tribute to the original pedi-cabbers of Chicago.

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16. "Jake Leinenkugel in the red canoe to the left leads the Friendly Float to raise awareness to the deplorable state of the Chicago River."

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Wide awake.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:01 AM | Permalink

You Shoulda Been There: West Fest 2011

A look back at last weekend's festival on Chicago Avenue, programmed by the Empty Bottle.

1. Syl Johnson.

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2. Local H.

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3. Those Darlins.

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4. King Khan with the Gris Gris.

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5. Hollows.

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6. Bare Mutants.

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7. Liturgy.

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8. No Joy.

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9. Derrick Carter.

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10. DJ Diz.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

They Just Want A Park

"Little Village Residents Pine For Park On Vacant Land: Community has grand plans, but city efforts to buy site drag on for 7 years."

- Tribune, December 6, 2010

And still they wait.

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Video uploaded to YouTube by dogstar7.

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Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:09 AM | Permalink

The Portage Theater Comic Book Fair

Via the Captain's YouTube channel, A Strange and Wonderful Life.

1. At the historic Portage Theater.


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2. Batman and Robin on the high seas.

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3. Trollords!

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4. Original art by Steven DeMarco on display at the show.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:44 AM | Permalink

Adult Swim Update: NTSF:SD:SUV:: To Premiere Next Week

Imagine a world with an elite team of government agents working together to protect San Diego from real or imagined terrorist threats. Except in this case, everyone is a complete jackass.

NTSF:SD:SUV:: - also known as National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle:: - is that world. A world inside a world of dozens of acronymed police procedurals that dominate the airwaves.

ntsf_18.jpg

In the same vein as Childrens Hospital spoofing medical dramas, NTSF:SD:SUV's season of 15-minute episodes is ripped from the headlines and full of suspense, action, drama, cliffhangers, yelling, passionate love-making, more yelling, death and plenty of pregnant pauses.

ntsf_12.jpg

NTSF:SD:SUV:: is created by Paul Scheer and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romjin, Rob Riggle, Kate Mulgrew, Brandon Johnson, June Diane Raphael, Martin Starr and S.A.M., the first sentient robot on television.

ntsf_14.jpg

Premiering Thursday, July 21 at 11:15 p.m. CST.

ntsf_08.jpg

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:09 AM | Permalink

Nightclub In His Bedroom

My bedroom here in Chicago set up as a Nightclub.

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With "Like a G6" remix.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:59 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: Second-Half Sleepers

The second half of the baseball season, starting Thursday, may yield some great under-the-radar waiver wire pick-ups while your fantasy baseball mates are obsessing about trade deadline moves.

There are a number of players, widely available in most leagues, who would be good for a long bet if you have the roster space to spare. In some cases, they have been on the DL so long they were forgotten. In other cases, they had disappointing first halves and are primed to bloom late.

Here are a few ideas:

Johan Santana, SP, NY Mets: As of last week, Santana was nearing the opportunity to throw to batters, and while a timetable for his return isn't clear, it is looking likely you will get at least a full month, if not more, of starts out of him before fantasy playoffs. Here's to hoping he hasn't lost his touch.

Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh: One of my preseason faves, he wallowed on the DL and had a couple of setbacks, but recently was promoted back to AAA. He started very slowly at the season's start but appeared to get hot right before his injury. Last year, he was one of the best players of the second half.

Travis Snider, OF, Toronto: Another young gun who got off to a fairly bad start, though if memory serves, he was actually leading the Blue Jays in RBIs after the first couple weeks of the season. He recently returned to put on a brief display of hitting chops (.367, 1 HR 8 RBIs in the last two weeks), and it appears he will get more playing time with Juan Rivera getting traded to the Dodgers this week.

Nate Schierholtz, OF, San Francisco: Three of his seven homers and 11 of his 31 RBIs have come in the last two weeks, a period during which he hit .431.

Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox: Yes, another disappointing first half, though not as bad as 2010. Beckham has hit .349 in the last two weeks, and I think is poised for hot second half as the Sox look for a savior.

Danny Valencia, 3B, Minnesota: Another slow starter who has gotten hot with the weather along with his team's rebound from April-May disaster. The Twins still have a lot of important players out or playing less than 100 percent, but that may leave RBI opportunities to Valencia, who has had 19 of them in the last month.

Andrew Cashner, SP/RP, Cubs: Officially he is only still an RP, having been injured in his first start in April. Don't expect him to save the Cubs, but when he gets back, I like him for strikeouts, ERA and the occasional big blue W.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox: Southsiders, or at least the media, have been clamoring for him, and Kenny and Ozzie must oblige at some point. Unless the Sox start the second half with an extended winning streak, I bet we'll see him before August 1, and will be measuring his numerous home runs soon after.

Barry Zito, SP, San Francisco: He quietly returned in the last two weeks, posting three wins and a 1.12 ERA in that span. Ryan Vogelsong stole his job in the first half, but Zito has been the better of the two recently. His value could rise quickly if the Yankees want his arm and salary.

Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati: Seventeen strikeouts in 8.2 innings since returning last month, with a 1.04 ERA (actually 0.00 in his last seven innings). The Reds have closer problems, and I like Chapman to at least move closer to being a full-time closer.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has another fantasy stat for those of us who don't have our head full of them yet. Take a look at the rankings for which SPs are best at putting away lead-off batters.

* Bleacher Report has a list of players to watch after the All-Star break, like Albert Pujols. But, somebody in your league probably has Pujols, I'm betting.

* Fantasy CPR has pick-up advice for those who have lost Alex Rodriguez to injury. Emilio Bonifacio, 3B/SS, Florida, is incredibly streaky, but streaking right now.

* ESPN's Eric Karabell wonders if 19-year-old Mike Trout will be sent down to AAA after a handful of fruitless at-bats in the bigs. The fantasy baseball world tripped all over itself in the last week recommending Trout as a hot pick-up, but there appears little reason to believe he will stick.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:38 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

"The fast-moving squall of severe thunderstorms that ripped through the Chicago area Monday is called a derecho," Tom Skilling writes this morning.

"The high speed, bow-shaped line of storms left an astounding 1,400-mile trail of damage across sections of 17 states in 30 hours.

"Long-lived, especially fast-moving, squall lines have been dubbed 'derechoes' since the term was first proposed in 188[8] in the American Meteorological Journal by Gustavas Hinrich[s], a Danish born University of Iowa scientist."

*

"Hinrichs founded the first state weather and crop service in the United States," according to Wikipedia. "He was the head of the Iowa Weather Service until 1886."

*

"While Hinrichs was a gifted teacher and internationally recognized chemist, he was also a volatile, abrasive, and sometimes a vindictive man," according to the National Weather Service.

"Despite this success, or maybe because of it, Hinrichs's arrogance made him no friends on the Iowa faculty. Some faculty even thought him egotistical, tactless, and mistrustful, but he had support for his efforts from his students and the local community."

*

Here's that American Meteorological Journal article. Ain't the Internet grand?

Karzai's Chicago
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother, who was assassinated Tuesday, used to run a restaurant in Lakeview and spoke fondly of his days in the North Side neighborhood," the Tribune reports.

"The Karzai family owned the Helmand restaurant at 3201 N. Halsted St., and Ahmed Wali Karzai ran it. Before it closed, Tribune critic Phil Vettel wrote in 1995 about its 'slightly exotic' Afghan cuisine.

"'Elaborately framed photographs and pretty tapestries hang on the walls,' Vettel wrote. 'A large, graceful chandelier hangs from the pressed-tin ceiling. Service is attentive and well-versed on the menu.'

"In a batch of confidential documents released by the WikiLeaks organization last year, Ahmed Wali Karzai talked about how he loved the Lakeview neighborhood."

*

The Battle for Helmand.

Whip Inflation Now
"The Illinois Association of Realtors said Monday that the median price it reported for home sales within the city of Chicago was inflated in May and mistakes in its reports may go back more than three years," the Tribune reports.

"Errors in the reports can wrongly inflate consumer confidence in a housing market that has been struggling to recover for the past 4 1/2 years. It also can undermine the credibility of the real estate organizations that compile and disseminate the statistics. The Tribune and other media outlets report that data as part of regular coverage of the housing industry because it provides a pulse of the market."

Isn't this sort of how we got in this mess to begin with?

Deng's Deed
"As the people of South Sudan raised the flag of the world's newest nation Saturday, the people of the war-ravaged region could finally exhale - at least for a moment - following 50 years of violence and turmoil," the Washington Post reports.

"Now, as the newly-liberated South Sudanese people celebrate their freedom and leaders create a new currency and establish their new government, children can also embrace their new lifestyle.

"Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng - a Sudanese refuĀ­gee - was back home Saturday, joining the festivities and doing his part to help his homeland by hosting the country's first basketball clinic."

*

"Deng was born in Wau, Sudan (current South Sudan) and is a member of the Dinka ethnic group," according to Wikipedia. "When he was young, his father Aldo, a member of the Sudanese parliament, moved the family to Egypt to escape the Second Sudanese Civil War."

Boeing's Win Is Our Loss
"Boeing Co.'s winning bid for the U.S. Air Force's fiercely contested tanker development deal means it likely will show no profit in the program's first phase and shift $600 million in development costs to taxpayers, new government figures showed," the Tribune reports.

"Boeing's below-cost bid for the contract was part of a carefully crafted strategy to deny the deal to Europe's EADS, parent of rival commercial jet builder Airbus SA.

"EADS was to have opened an assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama, to produce the tankers used to refuel other planes in flight."

Uncool Crime Wave
"Across the country, in states like Illinois, Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Florida, there have been reports of thieves stealing unsecured air conditioning units weighing as much as 125 pounds," the Huffington Post notes.

"This, one resident of Chatham, Illinois told CBS Chicago, has shocked effected communities. Some Chatham residents are even going as far as triple locking their A/C units in cages."

Bird Beat
"A West Side family was reunited with its pet peacock Fluffy," ABC7 reports.

United He Stands
"A businessman has reached a rare milestone after racking up more than 10 million air miles with a US airline," Terminal U reports, along with many other news outlets.

"Thomas Stuker, a car salesman from Chicago, enjoyed a fleeting moment of fame after clocking up 5,962 flights with United Airlines and reaching 10 million air miles over 29 years - most of them visiting car dealerships in the US and around the world."

Click through for photos and a video.

Rape Isn't Entertaining
Pitchfork gets a clue.

Grape Man
Steve Albini, food blogger.

Green Scene
A Chicago Man's Magic Recycling Device.

The Best of Vince Gerasole
Feature performances.

Match of the Week
Only in Chicago, baby!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Take it or leave it.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:51 AM | Permalink

The Best of Vince Gerasole

"Vince graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Political Science and Italian, and attended the University's Medill School of Journalism. He is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

1. Anchor Montage and Solo 11 a.m. Newscast


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2. Vince Gerasole's Exclusive Preview of Trump Chicago!

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3. Using new media.

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4. Vince Gerasole Feature Work. (embedding disabled)

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5. Vince Gerasole, PIttsburgh 1992

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

Match of the Week

"World Championship Promotions Game of the Week!!!! Only in Chicago baby!!! Expert US Cup Champions!!!! Frank and Steve Vs. Kelley and Mark."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:44 AM | Permalink

A Chicago Man's Magical Recycling Device

"John Magic of Chicago IL displays his revolutionary Magical Recycling Device (MDFR). This ingenious invention can accept used material in one end to dispense a randomly designed 'useful' item within minutes. We interview Mr. Magic to give us a demonstration of his exciting new creation."


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:32 AM | Permalink

July 11, 2011

SportsMonday: When Soccer Is Better Than Baseball

The women's soccer World Cup didn't just entertain over the weekend. It electrified. The U.S. team conjured up a win for the ages on Sunday in Dresden, Germany, to cap off a weekend that also saw huge underdog Japan record a thrilling overtime victory over the utterly overconfident host team the day before.

It was all great sporting fun and it was a wonderful respite from the grim slog through the totally disappointing local baseball season. Say what you will about soccer - and I've said plenty condemning the MLS's (it is ridiculous that the league's official name is "Major League Soccer") brutal inability to deliver aggressive, exciting soccer - but the weekend's women's matches delivered the goods and then some.

The most amazing thing about the U.S. team's performance yesterday was the fact that the Yanks played better with fewer players. Most observers condemned the red card given to central defender Rachel Buehler in the 66th minute - she was just about shoulder-to-shoulder with Brazil's Marta but she also had a firm grip on her jersey at waist level when Marta went down in the box and drew a penalty.

But the team, which had been playing conservative, defensive soccer before Buehler was sent off, was forced to dial it up thereafter.

And then there was the officials' just monstrously bad decision to award Brazil another crack at the resulting penalty kick after goalkeeper Hope Solo made a brilliant save on the first effort. One of Solo's teammates was a half-step into the penalty box when the first kick was struck but that is a call that is quite simply never made in marquee soccer matches.

Still, if the game had not been tied at that point the U.S. might have really retreated into a defensive shell. They couldn't do that completely with the game tied (playing for a deadlock and penalty kicks was an option but it wasn't really feasible with possibly 65 minutes of soccer remaining in the second half and overtime) and that was to the benefit of viewers.

Then in the overtime, the officials seemed to blow another call. A Brazilian attacker appeared to be offside before her cross found Marta, who conjured up a remarkable touch over her head, over a defender and back toward the far post. Solo didn't get there in time and the ball bounced off the post and in for the lead. But later replays revealed that a far side U.S. defender's positioning may have made the no-call the right call.

This U.S. team does not do a good enough job building possession with crisp, accurate passes through the midfield. It's coach, Pia Sundhage, struggles to put the right players on the field. Striker Alex Morgan is the sort of young, skilled player who would add desperately needed ball-handling and finishing ability to the U.S. attack.

Sundhage's inability to get her on the field before the second half (as a substitute) continues to frustrate, especially as she continues to play others who contribute little other than conditioning (everyone on this team is in as good of shape as can be - that much was absolutely clear after yesterday's marathon).

The leader of that crew is Shannon Boxx, the oldest player (35) in the U.S. starting lineup. She may have served up the cross that resulted in the own goal that gave the U.S. the lead in the second minute but she went on to play the same sort of ineffective game that should have put her on the bench for good early in group play. And then she capped it off by choking on the first attempt in penalty kicks after the overtime.

That was when officials finally decided to bust out a make-up call. The Brazilian goalie who had made the seemingly massive save was called for coming off her line too early. Boxx was given a desperately needed reprieve (if her miss had stood it would have obliterated the momentum Abby Wambach's 122nd-minute tying goal had so memorably generated). And the veteran midfielder didn't blow it the second time around.

The rest of the U.S. shooters blasted their efforts into the back of the net and one save by Solo, on a shot by Dainae - the same defender who had mis-hit a clearing attempt into her own goal in the first few minutes - was enough to provide the winning margin.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:27 AM | Permalink

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Flaming Lips at the Aragon on Friday night.

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2. Jon Walker at Reggie's on Sunday night.

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3. Andre Williams at West Fest on Sunday night.

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4. Britney Spears at the big arena on the West Side on Friday night.

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5. D.R.U.G.S. on the Warped Tour at the Tinley Park amphitheatre on Saturday.

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6. The Acacia Strain on the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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7. Acid Witch at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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8. Enter Shikari on the Warped Tour on Saturday.

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9. Nunslaughter at Beat Kitchen on Saturday night.

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10. Archers of Loaf at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:22 AM | Permalink

Video Killed The Radio Star

It was one of those period pieces, a plastic maroon Motorola radio about the size of a small shoe box; say, size 5.

Two knobs dominated the front: the left one controlled on-off and volume, and the right tuned in the ballgame. No FM dial and certainly nothing to adjust the tone or quality of sound.

Sox games even then were carried on AM 1000, but it was WCFL, not ESPN. "CFL" stood for Chicago Federation of Labor. If that doesn't tell you how times were different, then consider there were few McDonald's and no Starbucks.

The dulcet tones of White Sox broadcaster Bob Elson floated from the speaker centered between the controls, and you never had to replace a battery. This little guy remained plugged into an outlet in my brother's room for most of the 1950s, and it's a credit to engineering and design that it survived those 10 summers.

Radio was the medium that communicated joy and pain when it came to our team. WGN televised both the Cubs and Sox, but only home day games. That meant all Cub games at the Friendly Confines were on TV but not so many Sox games, because they weren't stupid. Night baseball meant more fans.

Jack Brickhouse did play-by-play for both teams' telecasts, so we never considered him a Sox loyalist. Elson was our man.

We listened to a lot of baseball on the radio. When things went well, that little maroon bugger was in no danger.

However, if it had legs, the Motorola marvel would have hid under the bed or escaped to Glencoe when people like Kaline, Williams, Berra, or Mantle performed unmentionable deeds from the seventh inning on to sink our beloved White Sox. My brother, you see, didn't take kindly to those heartbreaking losses. In his adolescent fog, the closest object for his displeasure (I'm being kind) was - you guessed it - the messenger, the maroon radio.

By mid-decade, its facade developed cracks and the knobs often came loose from their moorings. The band across the top for easy carrying was detached on one side. But it kept on going. The "accounts and descriptions" - a favorite Elson phrase - of each game continued to emanate from that indefatigable kernel of technology.

Our father had the unlucky station in life of living in the adjoining room. Too frequently for him - long after he had fallen asleep - he would be awakened by an outburst when something ill had befallen the South Siders. He would burst into the room and admonish brother John that he didn't know "how" to listen to a ballgame.

This was of small benefit because Dad was in no mood to explain the proper method. And we weren't aware of any instructional guides or manuals. All we knew is that we were pleased when the Sox won and less so when they lost.

And that Elson would deliver both the good and the bad news.

Elson and his contemporaries - Harry Caray in St. Louis (that's right, St. Louis), Bob Prince in Pittsburgh, Ernie Harwell in Detroit, Waite Hoyt in Cincinnati, and Earl Gillespie in Milwaukee - had much different styles than the broadcasters of today.

First of all, these men - with the exception of Hoyt who was a teammate of Babe Ruth - were not former players. The broadcasts today by Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson include frequent rehashings of their careers. A fairly meaty percentage of each game pertains to what they did as players. Sometimes this is pertinent information. Most often it is not.

Elson, of course, had a different background. He broadcast his first Sox game in 1929 and continued to do so until 1970.

He wasn't fancy or charismatic. No "You can put it on the board, yes!" or "He gone." His broadcasts were filled with what we grew to expect: a description of what was happening on the field and at the ballpark. We learned where the wind was blowing, whether rain was in the area, what each team's uniform looked like, who was throwing in the bullpen, how the defense was positioned, and what kind of pitch just got hit into the upper deck.

The Sox had a first baseman, Walt Dropo, who had a habit of adjusting his cup two or three times every at-bat. Here's Bob Elson as Big Walt steps into the box: "Dropo's one-out-of-three today, a single in the second when the Sox scored their first run. He wears a black eight ringed in red on the back of his home White Sox uniform. He's digging in and looking out toward Whitey Ford. Now he's (pause) . . . don't forget, tomorrow is a day game before the Sox hit the road."

Elson painted the picture, and we embellished it in our heads. When he told us, "He's gonna get it, and he does," we knew a routine fly ball had been caught. "Throw to first, back in time," meant that this was not the pitcher's best move. The world of the 1950s was rather predictable, and so was Bob Elson's broadcasting. It wasn't about him. It was about the game, the team, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, and Luis Aparicio.

"His greatest skill as an announcer was his interviewing," remembers retired sportswriter Ed Stone, who wrote for the old Chicago American as well as the Tribune.

Stone covered the Bears in the 60s and 70s. After being unceremoniously dumped by the Sox, Elson did a Saturday morning sports show from the lobby of a Northwest Side bank. Elson invited Ed onto the show.

"He never prepared his guests for the questions he was going to ask," says Stone. "There always was some controversy with the Bears, and I figured he'd ask me something related to that. But once we were on the air, he asked me why they don't kick more coffin corner punts. Well, after I picked my way through that answer, then we went on to some Bears questions."

Ballplayers needed offseason jobs in those days because they didn't make much money. Elson was no different. He had an early afternoon show emanating from the Pump Room in the Ambassador East Hotel where he would interview a list of celebrities, most of whom were not from the world of sports.

In the 1940s he did a show called The 20th Century Limited where he would go to the LaSalle Street Station to meet the famous train as it arrived from New York. Airline travel was in its infancy, so the Limited delivered the rich and famous. Elson simply would collar celebrities as they disembarked from the train.

"He never knew who he'd be talking to," Stone says, "but he could bluster his way through any interview. He had nothing written down. One time the famed musician Isaac Stern got off the train. Elson asked him how he would rate the top three musicians in the world, one, two, three. It was like a sports question. That was his real skill."

Elson did have something in common with the likes of Hawk, Stone Pony, D.J., and Farmio: he didn't criticize the team. If the Commander - his nickname since he served in the Navy - were doing the games today he simply would describe the failure to hit with runners in scoring position and the failure to hit period in the cases of Dunn and Rios.

The Sox are fortunate that a personality like Harry Caray isn't around to blast their ineptitude. Harry was famous for making life miserable for players like Brian Downing, whom he helped run out of town with his constant criticism. Downing went on to play 15 solid seasons after he left Chicago.

* * *

If you've stuck with me this far, you've surely noticed that little has been mentioned about the 2011 White Sox. Of course, this is by design since the just-completed 2-5 homestand against division rivals was painful to watch. Thankfully we now have the All-Star break, and the Sox won't lose a game for at least four days. What a relief!

If you want a fun respite while we await the return to action, check out a tribute that my friend singer-songwriter Warren Nelson wrote for Bert Blyleven, who will be inducted to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on July 24th, along with Robbie Alomar and Pat Gillick. Warren's a lifelong Twins fan who was born and bred in Minnesota. He lives today in Washburn, Wisconsin, and he'll be in Cooperstown on the 24th.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Sol Gittleman:

Very happy for him; now I wish they'd get on to Jim Kaat. They are both so much more deserving than some already in Cooperstown.

2. From Mike Knezovich:

It's a pleasure reading your stuff, Roger. I listened growing up in the 60s, and remember Bob Elson very well - I can still hear his voice. Totally understated, I'm sure he'd be considered boring by today's standards, but maybe not. The one guy still broadcasting who's old-school in the very best way is Bob Eucker. We listen to Brewers games via the Internet just to hear him. He does the broadcasts by himself, spelled for a few innings each game, and only occasionally chatting with someone else during a game. The pauses are what make the call. There aren't multiple broadcasters competing on a words-per-minute basis.

And like you, in my house Elson was the Sox guy, while Brickhouse was a suspect Mercenary. Finally, amen on Harry Caray. His deification (thank you WGN/Tribune) flew in the face of his being a mean-hearted bastard. It's one thing to criticize players for their play, but he would just ride them. His most despicable behavior was with Piersall - he baited him into tirades deliberately, and in my view, was not laughing with Piersall, but at him.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

3. From John H. Olsen:

Excellent piece!

4. From Lee Glazer:

Thanks for the report on my traumatic childhood . . . As the seven years younger sister of our brother, John, I lived, basically, in fear of the White Sox . . . I'm over it, finally . . . Not so over that my very first radio was the remnants of that maroon baby . . . I'm still working on that! Oddly enough I do have fond memories of Bob Elson. Thanks Rog for a fantastic stroll down memory lane!


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 2:44 AM | Permalink

If Only We Had Cashner

So this was the week when the Cubs got healthy and got their team back, right?

When the "just injuries" excuse was put to the test.

When the Cubs had all guns blazing - went all in, if you will - to show the rest of the baseball world that they weren't a complete and utter failure.

Sure, Big Z lost a start when he went on the DL with lower back tightness - joined a few days later by Marcos Mateo and his inflamed right wing - but really, Mike Quade had as many cards in his deck as could be expected. The Cubs were back in business.

The business of being really bad.

The only excuse left is the missing Andrew Cashner.

If not for the absence of his career 2-6 record and 4.53 ERA, this team would be competing. Everyone else is in place.

Let's hope Jim Hendry locks him into a long-term deal with a no-trade clause.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 2-5 for the week losing, three of four to the Nationals and two of three to the Pirates. They did have a comeback for the ages, but at this point it's hard to care.

The Week in Preview: Luckily the Cubs will not be playing baseball for a few days, allowing fans keep down their meals and get healthy. Fans are scheduled to return to a regular schedule of vomiting when the Cubs open a four-game set in Florida on Thursday.

All-Star Report: Mike Quade lobbied Bruce Bochy to name Aramis Ramirez to the National League squad as an injury replacement, only to see Ramirez refuse the honor. Ramirez already had plans, and with a salary this year of only $14.6 million, he wasn't about to pay the airlines a change fee. Quade had no plans, so he'll join Bochy's staff along with lone player representative Starlin Castro, who is making $440,000 this year and has only been able to legally drink since March.

The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney started six games this week with Jeff Baker picking up the seventh. Barney has 10 hits in his last five games and is completely tearing it up. He's making $417,000 this year. Just like Jim Hendry drew it up.

In former second basemen news, Matt Stairs, who played one inning at second in 2001, is batting .143 for the Nationals. He is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z is rehabbing his back and probably not following doctor's orders. That makes him Apologetic.

zam_apologetic.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte hasn't seemed to have injected Marlon with much lately - but he may have been working with Aramis . . .

Lost in Translation: Romonio Ortizee is Japanese for make it f'n stop for the love of god.

Endorsement No-Brainer: The Cub's miraculous comeback win this week for fashion diapers. Because they still stink and they are pointless.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 85% sweet,15% sour. Mike is down two points this week on the Sweet-O-Meter he inherited from Uncle Lou due to getting into it with Ryan Dempster. And just like your supposedly well-adjusted uncle, Mike let your cousin Kevin eat Snickers for dinner because he wanted to be a cool dad and not upset the kids. But now Kevin is so obese he's on disability from the phone company because he can't climb up the poles anymore and still eats Snickers for dinner.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Injuries traded lower as the Excuse Bubble moved closer to bursting.

Over/Under: The number of baseball fans who will say to themselves while watching the All-Star game, "I guess Castro could become pretty good but I'm not sure he's an All-Star yet but who else on the Cubs are they going to send?": +/- all of them.

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 Phillies' pitching staff is sickening.

Farm Report: The Iowa Cubs continue to do a remarkable job preparing its players for life on the Chicago Cubs.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . He's starting to answer to "Lou."

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:49 AM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Here's a question about the All-Star break," Scot Gregor writes for the Daily Herald. "Who needs it more, the White Sox or Sox fans?"

Indeed.

*

As a Twins fan, all I can say is, don't stop now boys!

*

But the handwringing about the Sox is a bit much.

Consider:

After a 10-18 April that left the team 10 games behind division leader Cleveland, the Sox have gone 34-30 and are now five games behind division leader Detroit.

I know they've looked lackluster doing it, but I have to think the outsized struggles of Adam Dunn in particular, as well as Alex Rios, Jake Peavy and, until recently, Juan Pierre - along with early bullpen closer issues - have clouded the view of this team a bit. They're kind of succeeding despite themselves.

It's just too bad - for Sox fans - that Ozzie Guillen is channeling his inner Cub and insisting on keeping Dunn smack dab in the middle of the lineup instead of letting him work out of his slump from a lower spot in the order.

See also:
* The Cub Factor: If Only We Had Cashner
* The White Sox Report: Video Killed The Radio Star
* Op-Art: We Stinks

Plus:
* When Soccer Is Better Than Baseball

Match Game
"OK Cupid's office occupies a single floor of an office building a block away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, that old redoubt of pimps," Nick Paumgarten writes for the New Yorker. "It's an open-air loft space, with the four founders at desks in the middle of a phalanx of young men (and one woman) staring at screens. The four are Sam Yagan, the C.E.O.; Chris Coyne, the president and creative director; Max Krohn, the C.T.O.; and Christian Rudder, the editorial director. As they all like to say, Sam is the business, Chris is the product, Max is the tech, and Christian is the blog.

"Yagan, who is thirty-four, is also the face. A Chicagoan with the mischievous self-assurance of a renegade salesman - he can seem solicitous and scornful at once - he does appearances on Rachael Ray and meetings with the suits at I.A.C. He makes grandiose claims with a mixture of mirth and sincerity. As he said to me one day, 'We are the most important search engine on the Web, not Google. The search for companionship is more important than the search for song lyrics.'

"All four founders maintain profiles on OK Cupid, but they are all married, and they all met their wives the analogue way. Yagan met his wife, Jessica, in high school, outside Chicago, where she and their two kids now live; she works for McDonald's, overseeing the sustainability of its supply chain. He commutes to New York every week, bunking in a hotel."

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"By 15, he was living and studying at a residential magnet school outside Chicago," the Boston Globe reported in 2007.

"His mother, a pediatrician, and his father, a computer scientist, had moved to the United States from Syria. 'When I've wondered where my entrepreneurship comes from, I look to them,' Yagan says, noting, 'Immigration is the ultimate entrepreneurship.' As the only Syrian family in Bourbonnais, Ill., his parents struggled, Yagan says, to find that 'tough balance between assimilating to American culture while maintaining roots back to the old culture. They erred on the side of Americanizing.'"

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Disco Sam.

Money Pot
"[A]lmost nine of every ten people who end up guilty of possessing marijuana in Chicago - 86 percent, to be precise - are black men," Mick Dumke reported for the Reader last week.

"The racial gap has become so glaring that Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle says something has to change, if only because taxpayers can't afford to continue arresting, detaining, and prosecuting low-level marijuana offenders. In an interview last week, Preckwinkle, for the first time, said what no other high-ranking local official has dared: 'I think we should decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, that's for sure.'"

Mayor Rahm might want to think about it too.

"Hello, cities facing a budget crisis!" Max Read writes for Gawker. "If you would like to spend less money, might we suggest not taking small-time marijuana busts to court? Philadelphia did it last year, and the city saved $2 million. Plus, think of all the money you can make if you tax Snoballs!

"If you're caught possessing fewer than 30 grams of weed (that's, like, a whole ounce!) in Philadelphia, cops now treat the bust 'as a summary offense, rather than a misdemeanor.' Though the misdemeanor charge wasn't particularly harsh - maximum penalty: 30 days in jail and $500 fine - it required the city to prosecute, costing the district attorney's office money and time."

Loan Shark
"The executive director of the agency that oversees the state's troubled prepaid college tuition program called himself a 'political victim' after a newly overhauled board moved to dump him Friday," the Tribune reported on Saturday.

"Only one day after Gov. Pat Quinn appointed five new members, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission placed Andrew Davis on paid leave. Davis, who has run the agency since 2007 and receives $198,000 a year, said he is negotiating the terms of his departure."

How 'bout simply not letting the door hit him in the ass on the way out?

Let's go to the clips:

"State officials are preparing quietly to sell the majority of the state's $3.4 billion in student loans to lending companies in a controversial deal involving longtime friends and contributors to Gov. Rod Blagojevich," the Tribune reported on March 11, 2007.

"Legislators blocked a proposal in the 2005 budget to sell the loans for a one-time windfall, a move critics feared could gut services to college students and their families and leave them at the mercy of private lenders.

"Since then, however, Blagojevich has revamped the board overseeing the loans, and his handpicked commissioners have forged ahead without legislative approval.

"This year, the board put the valuable portfolio in the hands of Andrew Davis, a Blagojevich fundraiser from Chicago whose own business venture failed recently, leaving him saddled with lawsuits and debt."

*

"'I'd never heard of ISAC before I was approached by the governor's office' to become a commissioner for the agency, Davis said in an interview.

"In 2005, he joined the list of Blagojevich donors and fundraisers who have won appointment to state boards and commissions. Davis also has raised money for politicians including U.S. Sen. Barack Obama."

*

"Davis' professional history also has raised eyebrows. Before appointment to the board, Davis was best known for running The Rock Island Co. of Chicago, a LaSalle Street securities firm that controlled dozens of Chicago Stock Exchange seats.

"He acknowledged in an interview that Rock Island crashed in 2005 in part because of risky deals in which he paid too much to buy out competitors.

"'People advised me at the time that I was making a mistake, and they were right, and I was wrong,' he said. 'It is hard to see the future.'"

*

"The press release announcing Davis' appointment as ISAC's executive director glossed over Rock Island's troubles. Instead, it touted him as chief executive officer of Pinnipedia LLC, 'an investment firm specializing in electronic markets.'

"But that firm has no business offices or staff. It is simply 'an investment vehicle for family funds,' Davis acknowledges. His wife designed its business cards at a copy shop."

*

"Between 2000 and 2002, he and his trading firms donated $51,000 to Blagojevich's gubernatorial campaign, records show. Davis said he solicited roughly $50,000 more from friends and business associates."

*

"After he was elected, Blagojevich named Davis to an advisory committee and a blue ribbon panel. Blagojevich attended Davis' 2003 wedding, though Davis says they are not close."

*

"John Wyma, a longtime Blagojevich confidant who served as his congressional chief of staff, registered as a lobbyist for Nelnet for three weeks last year; a Nelnet spokesman said Wyma continues to advise the firm.

"Wyma also has ties to Davis. In 2003 and 2004, Davis hired Wyma to lobby for his Rock Island securities firm, disclosure records show. Today, he calls Wyma a friend. They 'get together with some regularity' and sometimes talk about ISAC, Davis said.

*

"Last year, ISAC officials killed a deal to hire a law firm after the Tribune learned that the firm had hired Wyma as a lobbyist. Although Wyma was representing the law firm on unrelated business, the chairman of the loan agency's board said at the time that he didn't want to 'deal with political connections.'

"In another lobbying relationship related to the recent loan sale, the politically connected Conlon Public Strategies firm last year represented both successful bidder Sallie Mae and Morgan Stanley, which advised ISAC on which bids to accept.

"Kevin Conlon, co-founder and president of Conlon Public Strategies, arranged meetings between ISAC and Sallie Mae officials, said Davis, who added that he was stunned when he learned from the Tribune that Conlon was also a registered lobbyist for Morgan Stanley."

*

"Davis recalls meeting Barack Obama by chance on LaSalle Street about four years ago.

"Davis then was a wealthy and politically connected securities broker and vice chairman of the Chicago Stock Exchange.

"Obama was a state lawmaker launching a U.S. Senate campaign in a field of seven Democrats. Obama asked for his business card, Davis said, and later phoned to set up a breakfast meeting.

"'He told me if he could get $5 million he could be the next U.S. senator,' Davis said.

"Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said in an e-mail that 'Senator Obama does not remember the details of meeting Andy Davis.'

"Records show Davis donated $12,000 to Obama in 2003 and his wife gave $12,000. Davis estimates that, as a member of Obama's Illinois finance committee during that race, he raised $50,000 more from friends and business associates."

*

"Davis, now head of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, said he and Obama last spoke more than a year ago, when Obama phoned him from a military flight as part of a congressional delegation abroad."

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On June 1, 2008, the Sun-Times reported this:

"William Daley Jr. moved to New York two years ago for a job with Morgan Stanley, an investment giant with an appetite for the city of Chicago.

"Within a year, his employer signed a new deal with his uncle, Mayor Daley. Morgan Stanley got a 99-year lease to operate the city's four underground parking garages. City Hall got an upfront payment of $563 million - the highest offer made . . .

"In a brief phone conversation, Daley said he was too busy to talk and would call back. He didn't.

"Morgan Stanley wouldn't say what Daley does for the company. He is registered with Cook County and the State of Illinois as a lobbyist for the firm.

"The Illinois Student Assistance Commission paid Morgan Stanley more than $1 million last year to sell $3 billion in student loans. The commission 's executive director, Andrew Davis, said he didn't know if Daley 'had a specific role' in the deal."

He didn't know. Specifically.

Rahm Hendry
Isn't this a bad trade?

That's Larry!
"Cicero Town President Larry Dominick testified in federal court Thursday that he had put 'a couple' family members on the town payroll after he took office," the Sun-Times reported last week.

"Give or take 20 people or so.

"Under extensive questioning, Dominick acknowledged putting more than 20 current and former family members on the payroll of the Town of Cicero, despite a campaign pledge to end nepotism in town hiring.

"There's his mother, his sister, his brother-in-law, his wife, the mother of his son's child, that woman's parents, his daughter-in-law, the daughter-in-law's sister, Dominick's ex-wife and her brother."

*

Dominick's testimony was new, but not the story itself.

"Cicero Town President Larry Dominick's administration Thursday defended the appointments earlier this week of Dominick's mother, sister and son to paid positions on taxpayer-supported advisory boards - moves that appear at odds with statements Dominick made last winter while campaigning for office," the Tribune reported in 2005.

"'A family relation shouldn't qualify you or disqualify you for a position. The focus [in the campaign] was on family members making exorbitant salaries,' said Dominick spokesman Dan Proft.

*

"Larry's appointments and hires have been consistent with what he said he would do, which was put qualified people in positions of authority," Proft said, "and to treat people equitably."

*

"On the stump, Dominick hammered away at former Town President Ramiro Gonzalez for hiring about 20 relatives, many to highly paid positions within town government."

Huh.

Hey, I've got an idea . . .

About Those Indicted Nurses
They gave money to Rickey Hendon.

My Mouth Is Full Of Cars
Elevated trains like incessant detonations.

Saving Charlie Sheen
Death is a poor option.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Festival season, monster tours and small gems.

Programming Note
Once again I'll be behind the bar tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Say the magic word and you'll get the insider's special. 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Full of cars.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 AM | Permalink

July 10, 2011

Saving Charlie Sheen

"Charlie Sheen's Character On Two And A Half Men To Be Killed Off."

We can do better than that:

* Send him to the same jail where the Seinfeld cast remains locked up.

* Have him wake up next to Bob Newhart; it was all a bad dream.

* Send him to Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.

* Have him get called up by the Indians

* Have him wake up next to Hawkeye Pierce; Trapper John didn't go home after all.

* Kill him, but let him reappear in Weekend at Charlie's.

* Give him a spinoff: Half a Man.

* Have him wake up next to Roseanne Barr; it was all a fanciful dream.

* Have the Cubs call him up - for real.

* CSI: Charlie Sheen Investigates.

* Marry him off - to Demi Moore.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

July 9, 2011

Op-Art: We Stinks

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?: Incipient New-Media phenom Stinksy The Cat today bristled at "scurrilous canards" regarding his resemblance to Carlos Zambrano, emphatically disavowing any actual Cubness personally. In point of fact, it's crosstown colors that the cat's sporting, as we see him here peering in at the signs being flashed and then (unlike the fast-balling "Big Z") serving up his patented "grandfathered 'knuckle-curve.'"


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Previously by Astralopry:
* Blago Goat Gate
* Daley's Gunbutt Diplomacy
* Obama "Spiritual Manager" A Quirky Venezuelan Tyrant
* You're In Chicawgo Now - Speak Svengalese!
* Obama and the Arkansas Sheik
* Bill and Rahm's Vision of Johanna
* The Bill & Rahm Show: New Lost City Arkansas Traveler

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 PM | Permalink

About Those Indicted Nurses

During my 25 years of employment with the State of Illinois, I became aware of how much public corruption is connected to political fundraising. I was less than a year on the job as a Secretary of State Police Officer when my sergeant attempted to hit me up for a couple hundred of dollars for an Alan Dixon fundraiser. That same sergeant eventually went to prison for shaking down licensed auto rebuilders. It turns out one of the shops was an FBI sting operation intending to crack down on organized auto theft rings in Chicago. The sergeant was a by-product.

Annually, employees of the Secretary of State were expected to purchase fundraiser tickets from their supervisors. This became a personal concern when I was assigned to the Department of Inspector General in 1987 as the special agent-in-charge for northern Illinois. Frequently, driving schools, taxi drivers, and automobile dealers complained to the IG about being shaken down for fundraiser tickets.

The issue exploded under George Ryan when commercial driver's licenses were being issued to unqualified truck drivers in exchange for buying these tickets. A total of 80 defendants were convicted in the federal Operation Safe Roads investigation. Marion Seibel, the license examiner who issued the CDL to Ricardo Guzman who caused a fatal accident in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, admitted to federal authorities that she contributed $80,000 to Citizens for Ryan from money extorted from CDL applicants.

Both Ryan and his successor Rod Blagojevich were also caught up in fundraising through extorting money from vendors wanting to do business with the state. Ryan's contributors' list consisted of a software distributor, license sticker manufacturer and commercial property landlords. The recently convicted Blagojevich's shakedowns include a children's hospital and the vacant seat of a U.S. Senator.

On Thursday, two Chicago women were accused of stealing half a million dollars of Illinois grant money. History and experience tells me people do not get grants in this state without clout, and that clout usually correlates to political fundraising.

"Subpoenas from U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's office arrived in August 2010 at five state agencies seeking copies of contracts and other records related to nearly 50 not-for-profit agencies and more than a dozen individuals," AP reported.

"A number of the agencies said they received grants with the assistance of then-state Sen. [Rickey] Hendon. Several of the individuals also had ties to Hendon. Early this year, Hendon, a Chicago Democrat, resigned from the Legislature, though he did not explain why."

The article did not mention fundraising so I decided to look up some figures on the State Board of Elections website's Contribution Search. This a useful tool is available to all citizens and can be used to see who is in whose pockets.

Margaret Davis, one of the accused, lists her occupation on the state's website as nurse. Nurse Davis has contributed $4,563 to Hendon, her largest benefactor. (A couple of her other benefactors in the four-figure range include former interim Cook County Board President Bobbie Steele and convicted ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.)

Tonja Cook, the other accused, also is reported as a nurse. She too contributed to Hendon, but only slightly less. Her contributions to the former state senator total $3,200.

The connection of these contributions to how 50 non-for profit agencies and 12 individuals receiving with ties to Hendon received the grant money is unclear. But Illinois' historic pattern of pay-to-play raises suspicions.

If there is a quid pro quo, Fitzgerald's office will find it and Hendon will be seeking the advice of a good criminal attorney. I believe the Sam Adam father-and-son tag team might be available.

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Ed Hammer is a retired Illinois Secretary of State Police Captain and author of the book One Hundred Percent Guilty: How and Insider Links the Death of Six Children to the Politics of Convicted Governor George Ryan.

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See also:
* George Ryan's Park Bench
* George Ryan's Dogs and Ponies
* George Ryan's Other Jailhouse Interview
* Bugging The Chicago School Board
* Cop vs. Teacher
* Signs of Change
* Pols vs. Teachers
* The Terre Haute Redemption
* Rahm's War On Teachers

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:12 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

Natasha Julius is getting some well-deserved rest today after being thoroughly exhausted by Chicago's professional baseball teams. Here are the stories the Weekend Desk is watching.

New White Sox Drinking Game Announced
Take a gulp every time someone says the Minnesota Twins are "in their heads."

See also: Nick Blackburn Got Blown Up, The Twins Win Anyway Because It's The White Sox

Ed Burke Less Secure - Or Is He?
"Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy Friday announced plans to reduce or eliminate city-funded security for city officials, including for powerful Ald. Ed Burke," the Sun-Times reports.

"After completing a review, it has been determined that the officials who have security paid for by the city require less or no protection," McCarthy said in a written statement released Friday afternoon. "Most of the police officers will go back on the street at a savings of $650,000 to the taxpayers."

"The security details for Burke and City Treasurer Stephanie Neely will both be 'reduced,' according to the McCarthy's office, but the statement did not say by how much.

"'We can't discuss that - it's a security issue,' a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said."

Sometimes the punch lines write themselves.

Quinn Spin
"In Illinois, we always believed in working together as a team and not kicking somebody in the shins," Patsy Quinn said when his Wisconsin counterpart, um, kicked public employees in the shins.

Now Quinn is doing the kicking.

See also: AFSCME Sues To Enforce State Employee Raises

Arby's Now Wendy's
"Wendy's/Arby's Group on Tuesday said it completed the sale of Arby's Restaurant Group to Atlanta-based private equity firm Roark Capital Group, and dropped the roast beef sandwich chain from its name," USA Today reports.

Separately, Ripley's notes that there are still about 3,600 Arby's restaurants on the planet.

Mission Almost Accomplished
"Defense secretary Leon E. Panetta, who arrived in Kabul on Saturday, said the United States was 'within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda' and that the American focus had narrowed to capturing or killing 10 to 20 crucial leaders of the terrorist group in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen," the New York Times reports.

And by "capturing" he means "killing."

Weekend Getaway
What's really occupying Natasha's time this weekend.

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Par for the course.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

Community Forum: Occupation of La Casita

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Community Forum is on location at Whittier Elementary School in Pilsen to hear from the Whittier Parents Committee about the ongoing struggle with CPS to preserve and renovate the community field house.

Saturday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
30 min

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The Poetry Center of Chicago: Tony Fitzpatrick and Marc Smith

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The Poetry Center of Chicago's 38th Annual reading series features poet Tom Fitzpatrick alongside Marc Smith, the local founder of the slam poetry movement.

Saturday, July 9 at 10:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
51 min

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We're Still Here: Changing Definitions of Identity in Chicago

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The Chicago Cultural Alliance hosts a conversation on how the cultural identities of Chicago's ethnic communities form and change from one generation to the next.

Sunday, July 10 at 9:00 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 3 min

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Zephyr Dance: Unmasking

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Zephyr Dance Company presents Unmaking, a preview of movement experiments and dance sketches by artistic director Michelle Kranicke.

Sunday, July 10 at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21
50 min

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NIU Fine Arts Center: New Dialogue of Korean American Artists

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Visiting curator Sun H. Choi discusses the New Dialogue exhibit and how it connects the diverse histories and artistic styles of the participating artists.

Sunday, July 10 at 6 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:16 AM | Permalink

July 8, 2011

Chicagoetry: Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Oh mother, my mouth is full of cars.
The green monk parakeet you bred and cherished
escaped the soft, slow cage in the cornfield
for the cold, gold glow

of the city.
From the feed corn to the crucible:

cat fights, pitbulls, loan sharks, stool pigeons,
barkers, batterers, park bench bivouacs,
city girls, hollow men, knife-sharp tippy-toes,
shrieking ambulances for which none give way,
elevated trains like incessant detonations,
alleys of mattresses and spent Glock cartridges,
barrooms of piss-ants, punch ups and puke . . .

but there was music!

Instead of getting crushed I got forged:
twenty-five years in a steel-black kiln,
wingspan protruding, feathers darkening,
from parakeet to peregrine falcon.

And this is music!

Bereft--bereaved--of silence
and stars, I shall return to you

spitting bolts
and shitting
lightning.

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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


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:33 PM | Permalink

The [Friday] Papers

"Jenna Jameson, one of the world's most famous porn stars, is being held accountable by a court in suburban Chicago for something decidedly un-sexy: breach of contract," Huffington Post notes.

"The actress, who's called by her legal name Jenna Marie Massoli in the case, was contracted to come to two theaters in the suburbs, for a book signing of her latest title, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star and a screening of her 2008 movie, Zombie Strippers!," according to the Chicago Tribune.

"Shortly before the appearance, she allegedly sent a note to theater owner Ted E.C. Bulthaup III saying that she had some vague kind of 'medical emergency' and wouldn't be able to make the gigs on March 24th through 26th of this year.

"Trouble for Jenna: it only takes a cursory Googling to see where she was that weekend. And it isn't in the hospital . . . "

Click through to find out where.

Perry Mason
"Katy Perry's Friday concert at the Allstate Arena has been posponed due to 'an attack of food poisoning leading to severe dehydration,' promoter Jam Production said in a release Friday," the Tribune reports.

Check YouTube tomorrow to find out why she really canceled.

Komcastic!
"A former Illinois hospital worker who stole engagement and wedding rings off the fingers of a deceased patient and pawned them to pay his cable bill has been sentenced to two years in prison," KCCI-8 in Des Moines reports.

Killer Cure
"As the public sector cuts jobs it may only be making its budget situation worse," Ryan Witt writes for the Examiner. "Many of these newly unemployed people will start collecting jobless benefits, draining money from state and federal budgets. Those unemployed by the public sector will also stop spending money in the private sector, leading to less demand and eventually less jobs. In an attempt to balance budgets the public sector is essentially cutting out its own heart in order to remove a blood clot in the leg."

Takin' A Ride
"Transit users and officials responded with satisfaction Thursday after Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation requiring the CTA, Metra and Pace to come up with a single, shared fare card by 2015," Richard Wronski reports for the Red Eye's sister paper.

By which time Apple will have developed three new operating systems, a nanoPad you can fold up and put in your pocket, a music app that pumps tunes from a cloud directly into your brain, and a universal fare card for interstellar travel.

Via Chicago
"A St. Francis [Minnesota] city council member has been cited after sending a fake bomb to himself in the mail," the Pierce County Herald reports.

"Councilman Leroy Schaffer called police last Friday after receiving a suspicious package from Chicago containing a dud grenade. Schaffer, 72, later admitted to investigators that he drove to Chicago and mailed the package to himself.

"He said he did so for sympathy, claiming there are a lot of people who want to kill him."

Even more now.

Chief Z
"Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano will return to O'Brien Field to make a rehabilitation start Friday night for the Peoria Chiefs," the Peoria Journal Star reports. "Zambrano will have a 65-pitch limit against the Beloit Snappers."

The Snappers will have a six-hit limit against Zambrano before he starts breaking bats and throwing the Gatorade.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Including the Flaming Lips, U2, Children of Bodom, and Bill Callahan..

The 1994 Cubs TV Open
Aflac.

Let's Light This Thing
"Racing has two ends to its candle, online/simulcast wagering and the fun of going to the track," our man on the rail Thomas Chambers writes in TrackNotes: Angels and Devils.

The Week in WTF
Including Rahm's budget axe, Babe Ruth's baseball, Cicero, Sandoval, and guns in bars..

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The Beachwood Tip Line: A team of rivals.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

1994 Chicago Cubs TV Open

Aflac.

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Previously:
* The 1989 Cubs TV Open
* The 1988 Cubs TV Open

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:35 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. The Flaming Lips at the Aragon on Thursday night.

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2. U2 at Soldier Field on Tuesday night.

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3. Children of Bodom at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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4. Bill Callahan at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:00 AM | Permalink

TrackNotes: Angels and Devils

Being a horseplayer or even just a horse racing fan presents a real conundrum, the good angel vs. bad devil dilemma.

Toss in the "H" word, hypocrisy, when you weigh what you know about the unseen aspects of this sport versus the magnificence of these animals and pageantry of the race day.

Recent developments have us turning our heads as if at a tennis match, hoping to assuage angel and devil alike.

* * *

NBC and its support channel Versus, now both part of the Comcast juggernaut, have signed on to provide eight hours of coverage over seven weeks of the 2011 Saratoga meet from hallowed Saratoga Race Track, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

The "Summer Derby," the Travers Stakes, was not shown on national television last year, a travesty in this game akin to not showing one of the Triple Crown races. Needless to say, races like the Coaching Club American Oaks, Diana, Whitney, Vanderbilt, Sword Dancer, Alabama, and Woodward have also received short shrift on television and with the way things are going in California racing, the Saratoga schedule towers over any other this summer.

While touting its "incredible commitment" to Thoroughbred racing, the press release fails to discuss reasons or strategies. So here's a guess. With the Triple Crown locked up, an available cable station that seems to be positioning for "exotic" sports events (lacrosse, Tour de France), and the economic largesse of Comcast, you can see a niche.

With the fragmented betting platforms TVG and Horse Racing Television providing spotty coverage, it would make sense for NBC to tout its "boutique" coverage of Saratoga in cool and beautiful HD. Let the online outlets squabble. You try watching Arlington, which is offered in HD, on a small computer screen or on butchered, lo-def tape-delay on TVG.

Seems to me like the people behind this deal should be shouting from the rooftops. Keep your eyes peeled for televised house ads on Comcast and NBC.

* * *

But what about those who decry the treatment the horses receive and, although they enjoy the spectacle of the game, will never sign on because of it?

Well, they have this as evidence.

As far as I can figure, there has been no official ruling on consequences for journeyman (to be kind) jockey Tommy Molina for stomping on his horse's hind spine to straighten him out in the gate. The mere fact the Illinois Racing Board and stewards have not yet announced a decision makes me believe any penalty will be light.

But will a small fine, which might not even be publicized, be enough? Should Molina be made an example of and sat down for a couple of months or longer? For the image of racing? Yeah, he should, because you have to start somewhere to get this stuff out of the game.

For what it's worth, Victor Molina (don't know if there's any relation) received 30 days and a $1,000 fine for kicking his horse in 2007.

This unavoidably raises the issue of whipping a horse in a race. In many racing jurisdictions around the world, excessive whipping is frowned upon and penalized. No jockeys "urge" their horses as they do in America.

Many jockeys do it, but I've been negatively impressed by Calvin Borel and even Mike Smith on Zenyatta in last November's Breeders' Cup Classic.

But even if there is some humanity and enforcement, you're never going to see it unless you surf the Illinois Racing Board website. It recently posted decisions to penalize Arlington jockeys E.T. Baird and Florent Geroux for "repeatedly (striking) their horses without giving them a chance to respond."

While the usual forum posters yell "Nahhh, that won't hurt the horse," others say it can raise welts and pain and, perhaps as significant, mentally affect the runners, to the point of diminishing returns.

Whatever, these incidents need to be stopped and penalties publicized.

* * *

John Pricci at HorseRaceInsider.com reports that horseplaying (right behind divorce) is morally okay.

"Gambling is not a moral issue to 59% of older Americans, a majority you would expect because it's become an accepted form of entertainment for those most inclined to have disposable income, even in this economy," he said, taking it a step further and urging more education in handicapping. "The NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) pushed for the creation of a fan education component at racetracks back in 2005. Name one that did so. Sorry, pre-race seminars have more to do with touting winners than educating fans: Teach the man to fish."

One the one hand, it might be too late for this self-taught - with the help of the OTB old-timers - horseplayer, but I'm never one to blithely spurn continuing education.

But morally, we've got it going on.

* * *

The Life At Ten saga continues, which means it never ends.

It's been eight months since jockey John Velasquez told announcer Jerry Bailey that Life At Ten wasn't ready for the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic.

Johnny V. has already accepted a $10,000 fine from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and a demerit on his permanent record, more for talking to Bailey than anything else. The commission then went after Chief Steward John Veitch and recently held what appear to be final hearings to decide his fate.

My latest take on the issue is that while horses can and do warm up sluggishly before a race and then run well, Velasquez' behavior in shutting her down around the track is the smoking gun that something was wrong with her.

Along with some bettors changing their wagers on the race, that compromised wagering integrity, something the commission has already swept under the rug in finding no fault.

Rather than institute reforms and heads-up procedures, it's about the blame game. Typical.

And how is Life At Ten doing? Not so swell.

Running gallantly in a small Gulfstream race, the Grade III DuPont Distaff on the Preakness undercard and the recent Grade I Ogden Phipps, 'Ten showed that she doesn't have it anymore and might not even want it back. That seemed the same signal she sent on Ladies Classic evening.

Pricci makes a strong case for listening to Life At Ten and retiring her.

"What remains is the knowledge that Life At Ten has been very good to her connections, including her owner, Candy DeBartolo. It's time for them to return the favor and send the six-year-old mare home. Life At Ten owes them nothing," Pricci said.

* * *

As TrackNotes reader Bob Caito writes, "Horse racing has no leadership." He couldn't be more right.

And he notes a sense of urgency. "The two best managers in horse racing are an aging Charles Cella at Oaklawn and an aging Dick Duchossois at Arlington. Bob Evans at CDI and Frank Stronach at Magna couldn't lead a one-horse parade and yet they are managing the two biggest racetrack companies in America."

The game needs unity and marketing. Now that Saratoga is TV-bound, racing is going to have to tell people it's easy to get started and fun to learn, with the premier racing meet of the year. The casino commercials tell you that you will win and then have a great steak. Racing can't do the same? Except for the steak, which they really need to work on.

Racing has two ends to its candle, online/simulcast wagering and the fun of going to the track.

Perhaps it can light the way for all the morally upright gamblers.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:34 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Emanuel's budget axe, WTF?

Rahm Emanuel took an axe and gave his unions 40 whacks. And when he saw what he had done, he gave Mayor Daley 41.

How bad was Daley's attention to the financial health of the city? Picture the captain of the Titanic. Pretty ship; sank like a rock because of lousy rivets. How bad was Daley as a money manager? Bad enough to make Emanuel look like Disraeli.

And as much as critics (we among them) are skittish about the new mayor's cred on many issues, there is no sign he's playing games other than hardball on the fiscal foolery of the last two decades.

We prefer to express our cynicism as unfiltered bolts of lightning, but the evidence seems to indicate that Chicago is on its way to being managed in a more sensible way.

WtheF! Hopeful optimism gives us the effing willies.

2. Pogofsky's balls, WTF?

There is no ugliness like family inheritance ugliness. This story of White Sox kin gone askew proves why it's better to die dirt poor, or at least it's less complicated. You can never protect your balls after you're dead. Just a warning.

Maybe the old man died just to get away from his two sons, who are fighting with every claw, fang and $500-an-hour barrister afforded to rich nut jobs. True, a signed Babe Ruth baseball can fetch $25,000 or so, but this case seems like it goes back to when the brothers were six.

There is even "an emergency order of protection for one brother and his puggle, Jolie," according to the Tribune. As Indiana Jones said, now you're getting nasty.

A puggle is a dog that results when a pug can't run away fast enough to avoid being impregnated by a beagle. Or it's the, reverse if the pug has a stepladder.

3. Larry Dominick, WTF?

We suppose there are other local Chicago-centric towns with more old criminal baggage than Cicero.

On the other hand, the Cook County Jail doesn't count as a separate town.

4. Martin Sandoval, WTF?

And speaking of Cicero, the Sergeant Schultz of the state Senate says he's totally blameless for this fiasco because he was totally ignorant.

Never heard of "Jaws" Giorango? Yes, for a local pol to give out a state legislative scholarship to Giorango's son without knowing anything about the student or his dad does qualify as stupendous ignorance. The conduit for the scholarship was a paid Sandoval aide who lives in a house owned by Giorango.

"I don't know who he is or who he's related to because I didn't give him the scholarship," Sandoval told the Sun-Times.

Only in Cicero is ignorance of plainly evident facts considered almost as good as being innocent.

Guilty? Okay, maybe not.

But stupid? Yes.

Nothing smelly there. I know NOTH-ing.

5. Guns in bars, WTF?

This is a long stride ahead in civilization on several fronts and Illinois likely will take up its version this spring. Belly up to the bar, boys, and keep your trigger finger itchy. We're all in favor of armed bar patrons. It's more fun than the sports trivia machine, although the penalty for a wrong answer is a little stiffer.

Casual drinkers who are not prepared to arm themselves will have to stay home and drink, thereby reducing drunken driving. But if they come to the bar, they'd better be armed.

If a night of drinking in the bistro springs into a gun battle, at least there will fewer left alive to get in their cars afterward.

That's good for the rest of us.

In fact, WTF proposes officially sanctioned Chicago gang bars where patrons are required to bring heat.

Natural selection is a wonderful thing.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:10 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2011

The [Thursday] Papers

"I hate to kick an old man when he's down, or look as if I'm dancing on the grave of his recently deceased wife," Phil Luciano writes for the Peoria Journal Star.

"But literally, upon reading the latest disgusting episode from pathetic George Ryan, my eyes widened and nostrils flared with disgust. Wednesday, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave yet another legal thumbs-down to jailbird Ryan's more recent ridiculous attempt at freedom.

"Yes, that's good. But the persistence of the Ryan camp is beyond galling. Yet there's only one more scene possible in this weary drama: the U.S. Supreme Court. The tiresome plot is obviously a farce, yet Ryan and Co. continue to play it serious. They put on impossibly grim and earnest faces, as if seeking to right a travesty of justice. But, presuming the public to be nothing but dimwits, they keep yammering as moronically as the most senseless silliness of Dumb and Dumber (no offense to Lloyd Christmas).

"Thus on Wednesday, there was Ryan's best buddy Jim Thompson, again somberly and gamely trying to prod public sympathy.

"Totally serious, Thompson vowed to reporters, 'It's not over.'

"Oh, it's over. Trust me, it's over."

*

"In their 11-page opinion, the appellate judges said the evidence amply 'demonstrates why a reasonable jury could find that Ryan sold his offices to the high bidders,'" AP reports.

"Last year, the district judge who presided over Ryan's 2006 trial, Rebecca Pallmeyer, upheld Ryan's corruption conviction, leading to the appeal.

"Pallmeyer ruled in December that vagueness wasn't an issue in Ryan's case.

"'Ryan clearly understood 'what conduct was prohibited' and could not have been surprised that he was subject to prosecution," she wrote, using language from the Supreme Court ruling.

"Ryan was convicted of steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was secretary of state and then as governor, receiving vacations and gifts in return. He also was accused of stopping an investigation into secretary of state employees accepting bribes in exchange for truck driver's licenses."

*

"You would really have to torture the evidence in this case to prove bribery," Thompson said Wednesday, according to the Tribune's report.

"The district court's opinion canvasses the evidence and demonstrates why a reasonable jury could find that Ryan sold his offices to the high bidders,' the opinion reads. 'It is unnecessary for us to repeat the exercise.'

"Thompson said Ryan's attorneys are also prepared to go to the U.S. Supreme Court or seek executive clemency from the president."

*

New Illinois commemorative license plate.

Rahm and Toni
Sometimes "truth" is simply a weapon deployed for one's political advantage instead of a cherished value . . .

From the Tribune editorial page, June 29: "Rahm, Toni and the Truth: Two doses of reality for insiders and taxpayers."

From the Chicago Headline Club's July 5th e-mail newsletter:

"We are still trying to set up meetings with state, county and city officials to discuss our huge survey that found Chicago journalists face dismal cooperation when trying to obtain information. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office has expressed interest in a meeting. Not so with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle or Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's staffs."

Range Life
"Money is hard to come by in Minnesota, where a state government shutdown continues," Dennis Anderson writes for the Minneapolis StarTribune. "But Chicago's coffers must be overflowing. How else to explain the money it's willing to spend on lawyers, defending gun range requirements that seem doomed in court?"

*

"[T]he measure passed Wednesday has several restrictions of its own," AP reports. For example, only indoor ranges are allowed and only in areas of the city zoned for manufacturing. Also, the ranges cannot be within 1,000 feet of schools, residential areas, hospitals, museums, libraries, parks and liquor stores.

"In addition, range operators must pay $4,000 every other year for a license."

Shock Doctrine
"The elected treasurer of the US city of Chicago has said that it will take a generation to repair its public finances," Public Finance reports.

"Speaking at the CIPFA conference in Birmingham today, Stephanie Neely said that the city was trying to ask taxpayers how many services they were willing to give up in order to close the city's $700m deficit.

"This is expected to reach $1bn in a few years, and will lead to 'some extremely difficult choices that will drastically change Chicago for the next generation,' she said."

The 1989 Cubs TV Open
When The Simpsons became competition.

Carl's Cubs Mailbag
Suicidal tendencies.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Entre nous.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:38 AM | Permalink

1989 Chicago Cubs TV Open

"This was the opening theme of Chicago Cubs telecasts on WGN-TV 9 in 1989, the year The Mirage opened in Las Vegas. The Simpsons also made their series debut in 1989, at Christmas."

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Previously:
* The 1988 Cubs TV Open

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:01 AM | Permalink

Carl's Cubs Mailbag: Suicidal Tendencies

I don't understand how the Cubs can lose so many games with so many talented players. What's the deal?
-Randy, Addison IL

Just because you have something that's mostly made of good ingredients doesn't mean you have something good.

For instance, if you mix two tablespoons of feces into a gallon of Breyer's Vanilla, is it ice cream?

No.

It's frozen shit.

It seems like the Cubs get a lot of hits. Why don't they win more games?
-Richard, Bohners Lake WI

Did Casanova almost score?

Did Dorthy say "there's no place like second?"

Sabermetrics be damned. A car doesn't run without a clutch and neither does a baseball team. You gotta touch that plate, baby.

Is there a way to defend a suicide squeeze you know is going to happen ahead of time? I mean, it seems like a professional baseball team would have something in their bag of tricks to combat a play that was no longer a surprise. I'm just saying.
-Kerry, Chicago IL

Apparently not.

Is Aramis getting an All-Star snub?
-Fifi, Beebeetown IA

Sure, I guess. It's sort of like recommending a guy for a promotion after he gives a terrific exit interview.

What am I to make of the White Sox taking four of six against the Cubs this year?
-Thomas, Jefferson Park IL

That all 50 players (25 of them Juan Pierre) will be sitting at home in October jaws agape as they watch Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the World Series.

Okay, okay. We get it Cubs. We all complained about James Russell and Casey Coleman as 4th and 5th starters and in response you have marched a comical parade of almost absurdly old veterans onto the mound to fill out the back end of the rotation. Can we please just see Trey McNutt and his minor league superfriends now?
-Carl, Arlington Heights IL

So, you wouldn't be excited if I told you Chicago native Bret Saberhagen was starting against the Marlins after the break?

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Send your questions and comments to Carl!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:25 AM | Permalink

July 6, 2011

The [Wednesday] Papers

I have to go to the doctor this morning. I just haven't been able to get caught up this year, it's just one thing after another. Now, apparently, it's another.

Please enjoy, however, today's Music post: Beatles Hair-Dos Banned.

The [Tuesday] Papers
Here's an idea: A giant turkey leg stand. Or a food truck that hawked giant turkey legs. Or just a little storefront called Giant Turkey Legs.

*

True? (If you look real hard between the ad garbage, you'll find an answer to the question "Where do giant turkey legs come from?"

*


Like this
, but year-round.

*

Giant Turkey Leg.

*

Giant Renaissance Turkey Leg.

*

Giant Turkey.

Ginned Up
The Chicago South Side vs. the New York Southside.

Dumb Grid
Man Goes Without Power For Eight Days Because ComEd Won't Believe That His Power Is Out.

How To Stay Interested In The Cubs
"The betting public is correct when moving the money line in CHICAGO CUBS games 53.8% of the time over the last 3 seasons."

Cheesy Economy
Several Pizza Chains Hit 52-Week High.

Cidey Sense
"Following the sale earlier this year of Goose Island, Chicago's largest brewery that was started by his father, John Hall, in 1988, Greg Hall already knew what he'd turn to to follow up a successful career as the company's brewmaster: cider," Eater Chicago reports.

"While Hall has set up his office in Roscoe Village, he plans to contract brew the cider at a soon-to-be-selected Michigan winery until he builds out his own facility in southwest Michigan, where real estate is more affordable than in Chicago. The business needs between $3 million and $5 million to get off the ground, some of which Hall is self funding. He is currently in talks with investors who are interested in getting involved in the business."

Lumber Bowl
"San Antonio, Texas-based 900 Global pulled off the biggest upset in the five-year history of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour's summer series special events, winning the Manufacturers Cup to conclude the GEICO PBA Team Shootout at 10pin [Chicago] bowling lounge," AHN reports.

"The finals of the annual summer-season team competition aired Sunday on ESPN, capping a series of 15 half-hour programs.

"Sparked by anchor bowler Steve Jaros of suburban Yorkville, Ill., No. 4-seeded 900 Global defeated Brunswick, 206-194; defending champion Storm Products, 258-255, and top-seeded Ebonite International, 215-191, for a three-match sweep of the Baker Team format stepladder finals."

Chicago Hot Dog
"Joey Chestnut hoisted the Mustard Belt for the fifth straight time Monday while chants of 'Joey, Joey' ascended from the crowd and Chestnut reigned once again as Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion," ESPN reports.

"Chestnut downed 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the July 4th annual event held at the famous Coney Island in Brooklyn. Patrick Bertoletti, of Chicago, Ill., hung tight early but finished second with 53 hot dogs."

*

"Patrick 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti is an American competitive eater from Chicago," according to Wikipedia. "He is ranked second in the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Bertoletti is known as one of the 'young guns' of competitive eating."

*

In action.

Dance Off
"Citing 'bewildering circumstances,' the Joffrey Ballet's executive director and chairman of the board jointly sent a letter dated July 1 informing the company's dance corps that 'we have, with great reluctance, been forced to cancel the beginning of our 2011-2012 season,'" the Tribune reports.

"The drastic action - which constitutes a lockout not dissimilar to what the NFL is facing - is the result of an ongoing, unresolved contract negotiation between the ballet company and the dancers union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, which also represents major companies such as American Ballet Theatre in New York.

"'All dancers and other AGMA-represented employees must immediately remove their personal possessions from the Joffrey Tower,' the letter instructed. 'Please turn in your key passes.'"

Flat Mirth
"Some people believe the world literally revolves around them. It's a belief born not of selfishness but faith," Manya Brachear reports for the Tribune.

"A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church's original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei's clash with the Church four centuries ago.

"The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine."

Well, plenty of Chicagoans believe that Rahm Emanuel is a reformer - as is the president whose current chief of staff is Bill Daley. I don't know which is crazier.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there. And there. And there.

The Ghost of Dusty Baker
And other notes from the weekend in sports.

Midseason Grades
For the Cubs.

A Classic Crosstown Conversation
Direct from Aisle 237.

Brought To You By Unocal
The way televised Cubs games opened in 1988.

Top Chicago Chef Shills For Toothbrush
And floss.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rinse and spit.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:41 AM | Permalink

Beatles Hair-Dos Banned

Circa 1964.

beatles3.jpg(Enlarge)

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:55 AM | Permalink

July 5, 2011

The [Tuesday] Papers

Here's an idea: A giant turkey leg stand. Or a food truck that hawked giant turkey legs. Or just a little storefront called Giant Turkey Legs.

*

True? (If you look real hard between the ad garbage, you'll find an answer to the question "Where do giant turkey legs come from?"

*


Like this
, but year-round.

*

Giant Turkey Leg.

*

Giant Renaissance Turkey Leg.

*

Giant Turkey.

Ginned Up
The Chicago South Side vs. the New York Southside.

Dumb Grid
Man Goes Without Power For Eight Days Because ComEd Won't Believe That His Power Is Out.

How To Stay Interested In The Cubs
"The betting public is correct when moving the money line in CHICAGO CUBS games 53.8% of the time over the last 3 seasons."

Cheesy Economy
Several Pizza Chains Hit 52-Week High.

Cidey Sense
"Following the sale earlier this year of Goose Island, Chicago's largest brewery that was started by his father, John Hall, in 1988, Greg Hall already knew what he'd turn to to follow up a successful career as the company's brewmaster: cider," Eater Chicago reports.

"While Hall has set up his office in Roscoe Village, he plans to contract brew the cider at a soon-to-be-selected Michigan winery until he builds out his own facility in southwest Michigan, where real estate is more affordable than in Chicago. The business needs between $3 million and $5 million to get off the ground, some of which Hall is self funding. He is currently in talks with investors who are interested in getting involved in the business."

Lumber Bowl
"San Antonio, Texas-based 900 Global pulled off the biggest upset in the five-year history of the Lumber Liquidators PBA Tour's summer series special events, winning the Manufacturers Cup to conclude the GEICO PBA Team Shootout at 10pin [Chicago] bowling lounge," AHN reports.

"The finals of the annual summer-season team competition aired Sunday on ESPN, capping a series of 15 half-hour programs.

"Sparked by anchor bowler Steve Jaros of suburban Yorkville, Ill., No. 4-seeded 900 Global defeated Brunswick, 206-194; defending champion Storm Products, 258-255, and top-seeded Ebonite International, 215-191, for a three-match sweep of the Baker Team format stepladder finals."

Chicago Hot Dog
"Joey Chestnut hoisted the Mustard Belt for the fifth straight time Monday while chants of 'Joey, Joey' ascended from the crowd and Chestnut reigned once again as Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion," ESPN reports.

"Chestnut downed 62 hot dogs in 10 minutes at the July 4th annual event held at the famous Coney Island in Brooklyn. Patrick Bertoletti, of Chicago, Ill., hung tight early but finished second with 53 hot dogs."

*

"Patrick 'Deep Dish' Bertoletti is an American competitive eater from Chicago," according to Wikipedia. "He is ranked second in the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Bertoletti is known as one of the 'young guns' of competitive eating."

*

In action.

Dance Off
"Citing 'bewildering circumstances,' the Joffrey Ballet's executive director and chairman of the board jointly sent a letter dated July 1 informing the company's dance corps that 'we have, with great reluctance, been forced to cancel the beginning of our 2011-2012 season,'" the Tribune reports.

"The drastic action - which constitutes a lockout not dissimilar to what the NFL is facing - is the result of an ongoing, unresolved contract negotiation between the ballet company and the dancers union, the American Guild of Musical Artists, which also represents major companies such as American Ballet Theatre in New York.

"'All dancers and other AGMA-represented employees must immediately remove their personal possessions from the Joffrey Tower,' the letter instructed. 'Please turn in your key passes.'"

Flat Mirth
"Some people believe the world literally revolves around them. It's a belief born not of selfishness but faith," Manya Brachear reports for the Tribune.

"A small group of conservative Roman Catholics is pointing to a dozen biblical verses and the Church's original teaching as proof that the Earth is the center of the universe, the view that prompted Galileo Galilei's clash with the Church four centuries ago.

"The relatively obscure movement has gained a following among a few Chicago-area Catholics who find comfort in knowing there are still staunch defenders of original Church doctrine."

Well, plenty of Chicagoans believe that Rahm Emanuel is a reformer - as is the president whose current chief of staff is Bill Daley. I don't know which is crazier.

The Weekend in Chicago Rock
You shoulda been there. And there. And there.

The Ghost of Dusty Baker
And other notes from the weekend in sports.

Midseason Grades
For the Cubs.

A Classic Crosstown Conversation
Direct from Aisle 237.

Brought To You By Unocal
The way televised Cubs games opened in 1988.

Top Chicago Chef Shills For Toothbrush
And floss.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Rinse and spit.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

1988 Chicago Cubs TV Open

Brought to you by Bud Light, Better Buick Dealers, Pepsi, United Airlines, Unocal, True Value, Canon, Nissan and the Chicago Tribune ("A great city deserves a great newspaper.")

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:53 AM | Permalink

SportsTuesday: The Ghost of Dusty Baker And Other Notes On The Weekend In Sports

Here it is for the Sox after they won on a balk a half-day after the Cubs lost on a wild pitch Saturday. Win one of the next two games against Kansas City at home and then zero in on four games with the Twins. Win four of six the rest of the week, take your All-Star break and call it a successful first half of the season.

But that won't happen will it? This week has more frustrating .500 baseball written all over it (actually, a split with Minnesota would be a relief after that squad continued it's near decade-long mastery of the Sox the last time the teams faced off). In general, let's just hope for continued relevance for the South Siders. Because as much as I enjoy tracking hockey transactions, baseball is all we've got for a while.

Come on White Sox! Don't suck!

As for the specifics of Monday's game, in particular the lineup employed by the home team . . . having Adam Dunn bat higher than seventh in the order is obviously Dusty Baker-ish. (And Ozzie, how could you put him in the 3-spot last night? Against a lefty starting pitcher?) But that wasn't the most ridiculous aspect of the White Sox lineup on Independence Day.

The manager had third baseman Brent Morel bat second.

You need a guy who has some sort of commitment to getting on base in that spot don't you? A guy who hasn't compiled the ludicrous stat line of three total walks in over 200 at-bats so far this season?

Put Gordon Beckham (.305 OBA) up there for gosh sakes. Or even go with Alex Rios, who has been a miserable failure at the plate this year (.215 batting average) but at least will draw the occasional walk (20 on the year) or maybe even steal a base (6).

Of course, then the White Sox go ahead and win thanks in large part to Dunn's towering home run late in the game. Still, hard to be optimistic about a team that pinch-hits for its first and second hitters in the clutch (which the White Sox did in the bottom of the ninth). Probably not a recipe for long-term success.

Hat Trick
Is there some sort of competition to make baseball caps look as stupid as possible?

For a while there was a rising tide of geniuses busting out those delightful flat-brimmed numbers. Joe Girardi led the Yankees to the World Series title a few years ago but he did so wearing a hat with a brim so big and flat he looked as though his head had been shrunk by a witch doctor.

But that trend seems to have slowed.

On Sunday we were treated to star-spangled numbers with fancy logos on white backgrounds in front above shorter-than-usual brims. What they should have done was complete the look and attach one of those good old propeller blades to the tops. That would have stimulated merchandise sales to new heights for sure.

The Sour Science
In the last few days, the New York Times' website has featured a story about a ringside doctor.

How can there be ringside doctors anymore?

How does the guy not make the same exact statement every time a guy comes back to his corner after a round: "You are causing brain damage to your opponent and he is doing the same to you. By engaging in this activity you are shortening your life span by 15 to 20 years (a guess, sure, but a good guess, although probably on the low side)."

How could it take more than 10 minutes before the doctor says "If you continue to engage in this activity, I will have to resign?"

There was a big heavyweight fight over the weekend in Europe. Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine took on England's David Haye in Germany to unify the titles awarded by the five (five!) major sanctioning bodies currently at work in the sport. Klitschko started the fight well, throwing jabs and . . . wait a minute, you don't care, do you? You don't care in the slightest.

Grunt Stunt
As for tennis, there was Maria Sharapova battling to return to the top of her game (and the game in general) in the women's final at Wimbledon on Saturday. Sharapova (who won this title for the only time way back in 2004) is the most American of the Russian women who have overrun the game in the past decade-plus. She is a beautiful, athletic player with a pleasingly powerful game.

She is also unwatchable.

I suppose I could find a way to overlook the sonic-boom sneeze-like noises (ki-choo!) she emits just about every time she hits the ball if someone could convince me that she has to do that to hit the ball as hard as she can. But that won't happen because it couldn't be more obvious that that crap is gamesmanship, plain and simple.

She got into the habit of making the loudest noises possible as often as possible to try to throw off opponents when she was younger and she simply refuses to stop. Thankfully, the young Czech, Petra Kvitova, out-powered Sharapova in the final for her first major championship. And she did it quietly.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:39 AM | Permalink

Midseason Grades

As we are pretty much at the mid-point of the 2011 season (88 games in the books), we here at The Cub Factor think it's time to take stock.

And just like when you were in school, we thought it'd be fun to give out letter grades - cuz you remember how much fun letter grades were, right? I mean, we could just go pass/fail but what fun is that as the Cubs are surely fail.

So with that in mind, let's take a look at some grades in different categories:

Record: F. The Cubs have 35 wins right now and only the Astros and Royals have less in all of MLB. And the Cubs lost to the Royals.

Injuries: B+. It seems like the entire roster is taking turns being hurt. Kinda like in track where one guy runs and then passes the baton to another guy. I don't remember what that race is called because no one watches the Olympics.

Nicknames: A. If nothing else, Mike Quade has given us plenty of nicknames. Marms, Sote, Demps to name a few. Sure, they aren't creative, but he really likes to use them.

Baseball IQ: D-. Swinging away right after the guy before you draws a walk jumps to mind as we look at baseball IQ this season. Come to think of it, this should be an F.

Excuses: D. So far all we've really gotten as excuses is injuries. We typically like to see a lot of focus on day baseball and cold/hot weather here. This is just barely getting by.

Ticket Sales: B. The Cubs are still "selling" a decent number of tickets but . . .

Attendance: C-. People are actually not showing up. Once every two weeks someone tells me about free tickets. If it weren't for the parking and bad baseball, I'd probably go more often.

2011 Free Agents: - B/D+. Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, and Kerry Wood have all been about what you would have had to expect/but if you throw Doug Davis into the mix he really brings down your average.

Second Basemen: A. If it wasn't for all the second basemen on the team there would be no one else to back up all the other positions. I'm not saying these guys are good, I'm just saying they've gone above and beyond what we should have expected of them - which was very little. But still. And the Cubs might have actually found a guy that might be okay.

Delusionality: A+. No team can make a fan angrier than the Cubs. And their owner, GM, and manager are way too Pollyanna for anyone's palette.

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Week in Review: The Cubs went 4-5 for the week-and-a-day. The biggest blow is that they once again lost the coveted BP Cup to the dreaded White Sox. Even BP is asking why.

The Week in Preview: The Cubs stay in D.C. and play three more against the Nationals before heading to Pittsburgh for three against the Pirates before the All-Star break. Don't sleep on the Pirates, they are actually kind of a little okay.

The Second Basemen Report: We started this long stretch of games with Blake DeWitt getting two starts and Jeff Baker getting one before Darwin Barney had to screw it all up again and come off the DL. Barney played the next six straight games. The only hope for The Second Baseman Report is some help at the trading deadline like Jim Hendry historically draws it up.

In former second basemen news, Mike Fontenot has been on the shelf for the Giants since May 25th. He is due back shortly for the World Champions, he is still short, and he is missed.

The Zam Bomb: Big Z apparently has a weak back that he got more than a week back. He is getting angry.

zam_gettingAngry.jpg

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Marlon Byrd Supplemental Report: Conte has been injecting Marlon with "season savior" but even Conte can't make up something that potent.

Lost in Translation: Onlee makinio mee muchy angriee is Japanese for Aramis Ramirez's latest meaningless offensive spurt.

Endorsement No-Brainer: Starling Castro for the Cubs' entire franchise. Because it's this kid or nothing.

Sweet and Sour Quade: 87% sweet,13% sour. Mike is up two points this week due to being named to the All-Star team's coaching staff. And just like your supposedly well adjusted uncle, Mike takes a little too much pride in being the grand marshal for the 4th of July parade downtown. The town only has a population of 450 and he's the only one who owns a convertible. And he wears that sash around for weeks.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Greyhound should tick up this week as there should be an extra bus run taking Tony Campana down to Iowa.

Over/Under: The number of Cub fans who should be mad that Aramis Ramirez did not make the All-Star team despite actual numbers that show he should: +/- none of the smart ones.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that it is pretty cool that Starlin Castro is such a young guy at the All-Star game.

Farm Report: I-Cubs can't handle mutant offspring.

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

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Get Your Gangler On: Follow Marty on Twitter.

Note For Readers Used To Seeing The Mount Lou Alert System Here: When manager Mike Quade shows any signs of, well, really anything abnormal, we will be all over it with some kind of graph or pictorial depiction of whatever it is, but until this guy shows something besides just being a normal, thoughtful, intelligent guy, we got next to nothing on him. We are hoping he shows something and kinda hoping he doesn't also, know what I mean? BUT HE IS GETTING MUCH CLOSER . . . He's starting to answer to "Lou."

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Contact The Cub Factor!

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:12 AM | Permalink

July 4, 2011

The Weekend in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Centro-matic at Schubas on Sunday night.

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2. Tim Larson at Darkroom on Sunday night.

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3. Greyson Chance at Taste of Chicago on Sunday.

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4. Poison at the Tinley Park amphitheatre on Friday night.

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5. Ben Harper at the Vic on Friday night.

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6. Fucked Up at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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7. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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8. Ivan & Alyosha at Schubas on Friday night.

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9. Edward Maya at the Congress on Saturday night.

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10. Just Left at the Metro on Friday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:49 AM | Permalink

The [Fourth of July] Papers

I'll be serving up some holiday brew tonight at the venerable Beachwood Inn. Come on over and declare your independence Beachwood-style. 5p - 2a.

Bring your leftover barbecue conversation stoppers if you must.

Now, let's think about democracy.

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Jeff Spicoli: What Jefferson was saying was, "Hey! You know, we left this England place 'cause it was bogus; so if we don't get some cool rules ourselves - pronto - we'll just be bogus too!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Freedom fried.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:11 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2011

A Classic Crosstown Conversation

"I can see why they call this place the Confines," commented Sox fan Doc from his seat in Aisle 237 Sunday at Wrigley Field. "But I wouldn't call it friendly."

Doc was sitting next to Ted, a lifelong Cubs fan, and as often happens at the ballpark, the two hit it off about as well as one could expect considering their rooting interests.

"I'm friendly," countered Ted. "What are you talking about?"

"Claustrophobia, that's what," said Doc. "It took me 15 minutes just to get through the gates to get in here. And the aisles and tunnels made the trip to these seats seem like one of those climbing walls at REI. And what's that netting above me?"

Aisle 237.jpg(Enlarge)

"Oh, don't worry about that," responded Ted. "There was a bit of a concrete problem a few years ago, but the netting took care of that."

"Am I supposed to feel safe?" asked Doc. "I will say that sitting behind a post is nostalgic for me. I was right behind one in the '83 playoffs at old Comiskey against Baltimore. It saved me from seeing Tito Landrum's homer."

"Up to that point, that was a good season for Sox fans," acknowledged Ted. "Now you guys are satisfied with mediocrity. I don't get it."

"You'll need to explain," said Doc.

"Well, you win a game here yesterday, 1-0, helped by a terrible call at second base that killed a rally for the Cubs, and you're all excited about a .500 ballclub," said Ted. "Maybe people in Pittsburgh are excited about .500 because they haven't been there since Bush I. But .500 doesn't win anything. It's as average as you can get. It's Vinny Del Negro and the Bulls."

"That's the trouble with you Cub fans," groaned Doc, "you fail to see the whole picture. Remember May 6? Your team was only three games under .500, while the Sox were 11-22. My team has played .600 ball since then. And yours? I'll be kind and spare you the details."

"Yes, but we have promising young players like Castro and Barney who will be here for a long time," Ted pointed out. "Castro even made the All-Star team."

"And I suppose guys like Fukudome, Soriano, A-Ram, Byrd, and Pena are part of the rebuilding program, too," laughed Doc. "At least Paulie and A.J. are helping the Sox win. Leaving Konerko off the All-Star team is like leaving New York strip off the menu at Morton's."

"Okay, so the Sox are doing better now than earlier in the season," admitted Ted. "But .500 is as high as they'll go. Look at what Rodrigo Lopez is doing to them today. He's bounced around since the Orioles let him go five years ago. And Garza handcuffed them yesterday. Dunn's hitting a buck-70, and Ozzie has him batting third today. You tell me how they can keep winning."

"Easy," ventured Doc. "Pitching. All the starters go deep into games. Danks had won three straight when he got hurt, and he'll be back soon. Santos, Thornton, Sale, Crain, and Bruney have been as good as any bullpen the past month or so. Those guys were pretty terrible when the team was losing. And the offense has shown signs of life. If they start hitting like Ozzie says they can, look out Central Division!"

Ted was about to respond when both guys had to stand up to let yet another fan get out of the row.

"What's up with these Cub fans?" asked Doc. "At The Cell people stay put. They sit down and watch the game. Where are these people going all the time? I've seen marathon runners with lighter workouts."

"I dunno," said Ted. "I guess they're going to buy beer or get some food."

Just then a fan slipped back into the row with an order of nachos with what seemed like an entire jar of jalapenos heaped on top.

"You mean they actually walk up and down stairs, wait in line, and pay money for that nastiness?" grimaced Doc. "At least there's more room at U.S. Cellular to let people get past. Those nachos got a little too close for my comfort."

At that juncture, Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin - blinded by the sun - somehow gloved a flyball off the bat of pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt.

"They must stock Visine in the clubhouse," offered Doc. "Is it true that Andre Dawson personally paid for lights at Wrigley to escape the afternoon sun?"

"Very funny," countered Ted as the Cubs edged closer to a 3-1 victory. "Fukudome's learned how to play right field here. I give Quentin high marks for hanging in there today. It's brutal."

"So is this game," muttered Doc as his team mustered only four hits. "I thought this was the day the Sox go above .500."

"How can they?" asked Ted. "They're mediocre."

As Pierzynski struck out to end the game, the crowd broke into "Go Cubs Go."

"You'd think the Cubs just won the World Series," mocked Doc. "I wasn't even sure most of these people even knew the score."

"Cub fans live in the present," explained Ted. "Doesn't matter what's come before, or what they're going to do tomorrow. We're winners today and that's all that matters."

"While we wait until September," commented Doc. "Then we'll see how mediocre the Sox are."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 PM | Permalink

Top Chicago Chef Shills For Toothbrush

How does a food-lover and chef maintain a beautiful, white smile? We would like to offer you an interview with one of Chicago's top chefs, Homaro Cantu, about how he keeps his smile healthy and bright.

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Innovative chef Homaro Cantu has teamed up with REACH® to promote the best in oral care grooming - especially for those constantly indulging in and exploring what we all love: food. Whether prepping to showcase an innovative product and culinary development on his show, Future Food, or winding down after a busy night at his restaurant, MOTO, Homaro keeps his smile fresh and clean with a REACH® toothbrush and floss.

We would like to offer you an interview with Homaro to discuss his career, creative direction and oral care routine. We hope you consider Homaro and his involvement with REACH® for an upcoming story.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Very best,
Brittney

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image012.jpgimage011.jpgimage010.jpg

REACH® Total Care + Whitening Toothbrush
Suggested Retail Price: : $3.99 - $4.99

* Purposefully designed to whiten teeth and remove stains

* The only toothbrush delivering whitening power with MICRAWHITENING™ Calcium Carbonate bristles

* Unique touchpoint grip for advanced control

* Slim, precision grip handle

Available at drug and food retailers nationwide

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image014.jpgimage013.jpg

REACH® Total Care + Whitening Floss
Suggested Retail Price: $2.99 - $3.59

* Purposefully designed for superior plaque removal and whitening

* The only floss with MICRO-GROOVES™ technology

* Shred-resistant, flexible floss slides easily and advanced soft filament makes it easy on gums

* Flexible floss provides a comfortable grip

Available at food, drug and mass retailers nationwide

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 PM | Permalink

July 2, 2011

The Weekend Desk Report

Special Conversation Stopper Edition
It's a long summer holiday weekend, and that means the return of awkward barbecue conversations. With the turbulent economy, the Governator getting dumped and, of course, the weather, there will be no shortage of conversation starters. But how to end that rambling small talk with your least-favorite relative, friend, or random guy hoarding the chips and salsa?

For your convenience, we present the Weekend Desk's Patent-Pending Fourth of July Conversation Stopper, 2011 Edition.

1. "I'm not saying I don't believe you. I'm just saying, you'd make a fine governor of Illinois."

2. "I can't, in good conscience, continue an implicit understanding between parties that left our children on the side of the road."

3. "I think we'd better head inside before the locusts descend on us like Khadafys."

4. "Frankly, I think you're being kind of a dick."

5. "Honestly, this burger's rarer than a solvent Eurozone economy."

6. "You have to partner with me on this seven-layer dip. If you don't agree to it, then 625 people and their families will lose that job."

7. "I'm not really worried about the NBA or the NFL. It's always Mitt Romney season, am I right?"

8. "This potato salad is oilier than a Louisiana wetland. Too soon?"

9. "Alright, bitches, I'm about to shut this down like Minnesota."

10. "How about them Cubbies?"

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Oily.

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The CAN TV Weekend Report

5th Chicago Summit on African Immigrants & Refugees

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Illinois representative Bobby Rush addresses the Summit on African Immigrants and Refugees.

Sunday, July 3 at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21
37 min

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Africa: Democracy, Peace and the Challenges

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Abu Bakar Bah of Northern Illinois University joins a plenary discussion on Africa's democracy, peace and development during the 5th Chicago Summit on African Immigrants and Refugees.

Sunday, July 3 at 10 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 6 min

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Civic Engagement and Community Empowerment

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Steven Smith of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights takes part in a panel discussion on civic engagement at the 5th Chicago Summit on African Immigrants and Refugees.

Sunday, July 3 at 11:30 a.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 12 min

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Americans Who Tell The Truth

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Julian DeShazier, Sr. Minister of University Church, joins others in live performances of work by Martin Luther King, Jr., Pete Seeger and other American notables. Hosted by the Illinois Humanities Council.

Sunday, July 3 at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21
1 hr 38 min

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Bihar, India: Uses of Media for Grassroots Change

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Artist Eklavya Prasad discusses his role as a grassroots activist in rural Bihar, India and the role that the Indian diaspora plays in supporting art.

Sunday, July 3 at 5:30 p.m. on CAN TV19
1 hr 19 min


Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:10 AM | Permalink

July 1, 2011

The [Friday] Papers

Posting will be sporadic through the holiday weekend as we try to clear some things off our desk. Drinking and depression will also be sporadic as we try to clear some things off our desk. Finally, we hope to destroy the desk.

*

Preckwinkle Kills Project Shield.

"The system was . . . ill-conceived, poorly designed and badly executed," said Mike Masters, Cook County director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Or as Carol Marin and Don Moseley write:

"Born out of the 9/11 attacks, Project Shield was a federally funded urban initiative to equip 128 municipal police departments in Cook County with cameras in squad cars and at stationary locations capable of sending live video back to command centers in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

"The only disaster, it turned out, was Project Shield itself."

*

How many post-9/11 "homeland security" measures could we say the same of? When will we learn?

*

If only the White House and Congress had the courage to shut down the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I'm hardly holding my breath on that one, of course. Barack Obama loves the security state.

Consider Glenn Greenwald's response to Thursday's decision by the Obama administration to complete its whitewash of American-made torture:

"Over 100 detainees died during U.S. interrogations, dozens due directly to interrogation abuse. Gen. Barry McCaffrey said: 'We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A.'

"Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the official investigation into detainee abuse, wrote [that] "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

"Thanks to the Obama DOJ, that is no longer in question. The answer is resoundingly clear: American war criminals, responsible for some of the most shameful and inexcusable crimes in the nation's history - the systematic, deliberate legalization of a worldwide torture regime - will be fully immunized for those crimes.

"And, of course, the Obama administration has spent years just as aggressively shielding those war criminals from all other forms of accountability beyond the criminal realm: invoking secrecy and immunity doctrines to prevent their victims from imposing civil liability, exploiting their party's control of Congress to suppress formal inquiries, and pressuring and coercing other nations not to investigate their own citizens' torture at American hands.

"All of those efforts, culminating in yesterday's entirely unsurprising announcement, means that the U.S. Government has effectively shielded itself from even minimal accountability for its vast torture crimes of the last decade. Without a doubt, that will be one of the most significant, enduring and consequential legacies of the Obama presidency."

Happy Fourth of July!

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Bollocks.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:23 AM | Permalink

The Week in Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Eddie Vedder at the Chicago Theatre on Tuesday night.

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2. Sacred Reich at Reggie's on Tuesday night.

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3. Glen Hansard at Millennium Park on Monday.

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4. Ringo Deathstarr at the Darkroom on Monday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:24 AM | Permalink

The Week in WTF

1. Blago pundits, WTF?

Based on our powers of addition, the lame "it sent a message" cliche was the most used by local politicos after the Blago verdict. We counted it 17 times in print. Also the "message" was often underlined, which happens on a computer screen when your finger accidentally hits the "U" button.

That phrase was followed by "It was a sad day," "We feel sorry for the family," and "No one is above the law" - and then some variation of "Now we all can move on." As if we hadn't.

If nothing else, the case proved at least in this one instance that a jury of normal citizens is way smarter in so many meaningful ways than all the local TV troglodytes making six figure salaries. The trogs told us how profoundly inscrutable the case was. A jury understood criminal conspiracy just fine, even if local media didn't. A jury understood George Ryan, too.

Just never let a local TV anchor serve on a jury.

On the question of how long Blago will be imprisoned, the "conventional wisdom" of people who have shown no particular wisdom is 10 years. WTF thinks it will be more but he'll be paroled earlier because federal prison officials will find him too irritating to keep.

2. Pat Quinn (D-Doofus) on Blago, WTF?

WTF's cryptoanalytical codebreakers will translate.

"[It's] a serious day for our state." (WTF draws a blank on that one). [It] underlines, I think for every person in Illinois, (even babies) the importance of reforming our government on a daily basis from top to bottom (but definitely more the bottom than top).

"I got sworn in on Jan. 29, 2009, (they had to, I was the lieutenant governor) and that's exactly what I've tried to do every day I've been in office (like that redistricting thingy). "This is my mission, (I am Seal Team 6) to reform our government, so we do not have governors going to jail (because I'm next in line).

"We need to have an ethics initiative to make sure that the people are consulted with respect to honesty (LSD hallucination alert) in government (just don't tell Madigan) and ethics and integrity in government (why wasn't I consulted?).

"Asked if he owed voters an apology for vouching for Blagojevich, Quinn said he was 'deceived and misled' but prefers to look to the future instead of the past (because the future is, you know, in the future and the future is not my fault, yet.).

"I think Rod Blagojevich deceived and misled lots and lots (also lots) of people in Illinois, the voters included (all the people who didn't vote for him were fooled, too, but mostly Madigan). And I think we learned that through this trial and the actions of the jury (he means the guilty verdict) that he has committed some serious crimes (really bad crimes) and will have to pay (lots of money to his future cellmate, Bubba) for that (until the trial, I knew nothing. Nothing. I was in Iowa the entire time).

"It should be an alarm bell (somebody get that damn bell) to all of us in Illinois, in government and outside of government, (sort of, like, you know, everywhere) to work together to strengthen our democracy (drawing a total blank on that one, too)."

3. Kelly Krapf, WTF?

It might seem as though the governor is tone deaf. He's not. Helen Keller was tone deaf. He is deaf the way dead people are deaf.

You can't - that's can not - read that story without bursting into hysterical laughter.

First, only this Guv would have a spokeswoman with a fake TV name. Her real name is Krapf but apparently there is no Smuckers TV news version of "with a name like Krapf she has to be good."

She gets $71,000 to be a junior flak (it's your money, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer) and now $30,000 more to be a financial something-or-other. Another spokesmodel announced Krapf deserved this raise because, as a local TV reporter, she once had talked with someone who knew something about finances. Expertise by osmosis.

WTF knows several surgeons though we have not been invited into the operating room to assist.

Earth to Quinn: We are a broke state. We like a laugh as well as the next person, but this is too high a price to pay for fiscal comedy.

4. Stephen Colbert, WTF?

Does it say something about our political situation when a fake candidate seems like the best choice for president? The federal government says he's good to go. The bandwagon is warming up as we speak.

Okay, so isn't this just a dumb idea with an absurdist comedic twist? There are people who will vote for Michelle Bachmann because Sarah Palin isn't running. Fake doesn't seem like the applicable standard anymore.

5. Missing Conrad Black, WTF?

No reason for any sentimentality about the "good old days" of Conrad Black and David Radler when they ran the Sun-Times group as a pirate empire - A-VAST me Hearties - so we're glad he's going back in the fed calaboose.

On the other hand, strictly from an empirical economic assessment, those years may have reflected better Sun-Times management than any time since then.

In the current iteration, layoffs continue unabated' senior executive editor from one of the suburban farm teams will walk the plank this week, and more likely will follow.

As to the bad old days with Black and Radler compared with now, at least the pirates weren't personally ignorant.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:40 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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