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« September 2013 | Main | November 2013 »

October 31, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"A onetime business partner of former Mayor Richard M. Daley's son was sentenced Wednesday to 17 months in federal prison for his role in a scheme that used a minority-owned company as a front to fraudulently secure millions of dollars in Chicago city contracts," the Tribune reports.

"Anthony Duffy, who pleaded guilty last year to making a false statement to FBI agents, was president of a firm that performed sewer work for the city under contracts that were awarded to a minority-owned business. Duffy is white.

"Duffy lied to federal investigators about why he didn't reveal on economic disclosure statements that two of the former mayor's relatives, son Patrick Daley and nephew Robert Vanecko, were investors in the sewer company. Neither Daley nor Vanecko was charged with any wrongdoing."

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"A 36-year-old Belgian businessman has pleaded not guilty to trying to ship products that could be used in nuclear-related programs from a Chicago-area company to Malaysia, via Belgium," AP reports.

"Nicholas Kaiga entered the plea Thursday, standing in a Chicago federal court in orange jail garb and with his legs shackled.

"He's accused of seeking to export aluminum tubes that prosecutors say are 'controlled for nuclear proliferation purposes' and can be used 'in the aerospace industry, among other applications.'

"Prosecutors added that a Malaysian company involved is a 'front company.'"

Neither Daley nor Vanecko was charged with any wrongdoing.

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"A suburban man who worked for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County is facing federal bribery charges for allegedly taking kickbacks from contracts to perform work at two facilities, including the Sand Ridge Nature Center in Calumet City," the Times of Northwest Indiana reports.

"Joseph Mollica, 52, of Elmwood Park, was indicted Wednesday on two counts of federal bribery, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Thursday. He was an assistant engineer for the Forest Preserve District for more than 20 years until last week, according to a news release. He and others had authority to influence and award contracts for work under $25,000.

"Mollica faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty of each count.

"On Dec. 16, 2011, Mollica is accused of accepting a $4,000 kickback from a $16,500 contract to power wash and stain the building and boardwalk and do caulking at the Sand Ridge Nature Center, the release states. He is also accused of taking a $6,000 kickback on Oct. 14, 2001, from a $24,900 contract to refinish and refurbish the Forest Preserve District's headquarters, where he worked, at 536 N. Harlem Ave. in River Forest."

Neither Daley nor Vanecko was charged with any wrongdoing.

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Zombie Politics
CPS students march as the undead, the Grassroots Collaborative tries to unbury democracy, and ghouls make kids go hungry.

Rappers vs. Rahm
Kanye, Common, Chance and Noonie to the rescue.

Jinx Ship Headed To Drydock
A Chicago legend.

Make-A-Wish Made It So
Plainfield eighth-grader now a published author.

The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
Monster M*A*S*H.

Local TV Notes: Hardcore Spawn
Plus: TMI from Good Day Chicago's new anchor.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Neither a trick nor a treat.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:52 PM | Permalink

Make-A-Wish Made It So: Plainfield Eighth-Grader Is Now A Published Author

Ravina Thakkar, an eighth-grader at Heritage Grove Middle School in Plainfield, loves to dance, listen to music and write stories. She excels in school and has dreamt of being a published author someday. And now that someday is here, thanks to the help and dedication of her social worker, her wish granters at Make-A-Wish Illinois, and Naperville-based book publisher Sourcebooks.

Ravina has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition affecting both her lungs and digestive system. Ravina's disease has not defined her, and more importantly, has not stopped her from pursuing her dreams. She was 11 when she won first place in the 2011 Plainfield Great Read writing contest for her short story, "A Magical Thing." Referred to Make-A-Wish Illinois by her hospital social worker, she was then connected with Sourcebooks, and in the two years since, Ravina and her family have seen her dream become a reality.

Through Sourcebooks, Ravina has experienced everything a published author does, such as working with editors and designers to revise the manuscript and the design of the jacket art.

On Dec. 3, Ravina's completed book, a middle-grade novel titled The Adventure of a Lifetime, a story she wrote when she was only 8-years-old, will be released in trade paperback - right on time for her 14th birthday on December 4.

Ravina's experience will be rounded out with a complete marketing and publicity campaign and a book signing at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville on December 8 at 2 p.m.

The Adventure of a Lifetime tells the story of Betty, a 9-year-old girl who thinks her life is pretty boring until she finds herself fighting battles alongside a fearless character from her favorite fiction series. As they race from one danger to the next, Betty learns that being a sidekick is no piece of cake and that being an action hero comes at a cost. Will Betty ever be able to return to her old life?

Written for 9- to 12-year-olds, The Adventure of a Lifetime will be available for purchase wherever books are sold.

And like the characters in her story, Ravina's life will never be the same.

About Sourcebooks

Sourcebooks is creating the next evolution of a book publishing company. We are committed to innovative publishing, to exploring every platform, and to creating breakthrough models. We truly believe that books have the power to touch people and change lives. Sourcebooks is home to 120 enthusiastic book-loving employees who are dedicated to finding new ways to connect with authors, readers, and ideas. We publish over 300 new titles each year, and are honored to have 42 New York Times bestsellers. Sourcebooks is proud to be one of the largest woman-owned book publishers in the country. Visit sourcebooks.com for more information, and check out the Sourcebooks blog.

About Make-A-Wish Illinois

Since 1985, Make-A-Wish Illinois has granted more than 11,000 wishes to children across the state with the support of 1,400 volunteers and numerous donors and other supporters. Make-A-Wish Illinois grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich their lives with hope, strength, and joy.

About Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s, and beyond.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:01 AM | Permalink

Zombie Politics

Rising from the undead.

1. CPS Students "Go Zombie" At CPS Headquarters And City Hall To Protest Death Of Chicago Education.

From The Chicago Students Union:

Chicago Public School students will be "going zombie" this Friday to represent the death of Chicago's public education system. They will march at 4 p.m. from CPS headquarters, at 125 South Clark Street to City Hall where they will request a meeting with Mayor Emanuel. They are demanding that CPS funding given to charter schools be re-allocated to public schools; a democratically elected board of education, and; that the TIF surplus be used for public education.

"Chicago Public Schools has not been supporting the students of Chicago lately. Instead of gaining an education these students are risking their lives on dangerous walks to new, more distant schools. The children who attend these CPS schools have been left to choose between their education and their own safety," says Nidalis Burgos, Sophomore at Lincoln Park High School and member of the Chicago Student Union.

It's clear what Rahm Emanuel's "ideal Chicago" looks like - a city without real public education, says the Chicago Students Union. Chicago is becoming the hub for privatization in the Midwest, and students will not stay quiet while funds dedicated to their education are being spent in the private sector. These ridiculous investments are killing the students! We have become zombies within the classroom! It's time for the student voice to be heard.

Students from more than 10 Chicago Public Schools are organizing under the banner of the Chicago Students Union, a student-led organization dedicated to amplifying student voice and engaging students in educational activism.

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2. Grassroots Collaborative Tries To Unbury Democracy.

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3. Stock Up On Candy Because Food Cuts Are Coming.

From Voices For Illinois Children:

More than 2 million low-income people in Illinois who will have their food assistance cut when a boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires this Friday.

SNAP benefits will average only about $1.40 per person per meal after the cut.

The cut will affect all of the nearly 47 million Americans - including 22 million children - who receive SNAP. For a family of three, this cut will amount to $29 a month. That's a serious loss given SNAP's already low benefit levels and the very low incomes of SNAP participants - more than 80 percent of SNAP households live in poverty.

"I cannot imagine what the proponents of this cut are thinking since we know that SNAP has provided an important stepping stone for struggling Illinois families and the 886,000 children who will be affected by this cut," says Diane Doherty, Executive Director of the Illinois Hunger Coalition.

In Illinois, the benefit cut through September 2014 will total $220 million, which will further undermine the economy in communities across our state as families reduce their spending at local stores.

These cuts will most certainly result in more households seeking help from the Illinois emergency food network, which is already strained. A caller to the Illinois Hunger Coalition's state-wide Hunger Hotline, Ms. Bunny Patterson, a senior citizen living in Lake County says, "even though I get the minimum SNAP benefit of $16, this cut will make it more difficult for me to get by. I do not understand why they would cut this benefit even more."

Ms. Patterson is one of the 349,000 elderly or disabled individuals in Illinois who will be affected by the cuts on Nov. 1.

On top of the across-the-board cut that will take effect on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation cutting $40 billion from SNAP, potentially eliminating assistance for nearly 4 million people nationwide, including at least 182,000 people in Illinois - representing families with children, seniors, people who have lost a job and are unable to find work, and veterans.

"SNAP has been a powerful tool in helping to keep families out of poverty," stated Gaylord Gieseke, president of Voices for Illinois Children. "The House-passed SNAP cuts on top of the cuts beginning this Friday would deal another significant blow to millions of Americans who continue to struggle to make ends meet as the economy continues to slowly recover. Our representatives in Congress must not ignore the hundreds of thousands of Illinois children whose nutrition and healthy development depends on SNAP. When Congress cuts SNAP, it undermines the well-being of some of the most vulnerable children and families in America."

The legislation would provide strong financial incentives for states to reduce their caseloads, making it significantly harder for struggling families to put food on the table, and would eliminate assistance for some of the poorest Americans. The House-passed SNAP plan coupled with the November 1 cuts would deal a significant blow to millions of Americans who continue to struggle to make ends meet.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Hardcore Spawn

1. Onion or Sioux City Journal?

"Josh McClure, a private with Sioux City Fire Rescue, makes Chicago Fire appointment television each week with his wife, Meghan McClure."

Sidebar: Watched Rescue Me.

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2. Hardcore Spawn.

"The producers of Hardcore Pawn: Chicago are hoping to turn pro wrestler and restaurant owner Lisa Marie Varon's unusual career path into a reality TV show," the Tribune reports.

"The series would revolve around Varon and her Lincoln Park restaurant, The Squared Circle. Cameras began rolling Sunday when The Squared Circle hosted patrons for WWE's Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and are expected to return a few more times to film."

From Wikipedia:

"She owned a restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky called Fat Tony's Pizzeria, but sold it in May 2007. In May 2008, she and her husband opened a custom car shop, Black Widow Customs, in Louisville. The shop was destroyed on December 16, 2010, in a fire, which the authorities deemed suspicious. This occurred the day after a local TV show's 'Consumer Watch' segment. Antwane Glenn, a football player at the University of Kentucky, wanted a refund after claiming his car was left undrivable following Black Widow Customs' work on it. He contacted WHAS11 and the story was profiled on the show. In March 2013, the Varons opened a restaurant named The Squared Circle in Chicago, Illinois."

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3. Reminders Of How Much They Make.

* Rob Johnson Lists Home For $1.19 Million.

* Robin Robinson Sells Home for $1.17 Million.

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4. Meet New Good Day Chicago Anchor Natalie Bomke.

Small top, medium bottom.

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More TMI:

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5. TV Tweets.


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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:57 AM | Permalink

Chicago's Greatest Jinx Ship Heading To Drydock

"It's appearing more and more likely that the end is at hand for the Great Lakes' oldest freighter, a ship with a unique tie to Chicago," CBS2 Chicago notes.

"The Door County Advocate newspaper is reporting that Port Cities has awarded Bay a contract to transform the 107-year-old ship, now known as the St. Marys Challenger, into an un-engined barge. The Advocate said its future is as an articulated tug barge that would be pushed by a tug in the future."

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"At 107 years old, the St. Marys Challenger is the oldest vessel actively transiting the Great Lakes and is a riveted hull," the Advocate notes.

Here she is:


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Back to CBS2:

"At 552 feet, the Challenger is the largest ship ever to traverse the Chicago River, which it did on a regular basis between 1968 and 1979 en route from the Medusa (now St. Marys) Cement plant in Charlevoix, Mich., to Goose Island. Since 1979, its southern port of call has been Lake Calumet.

"When using the Chicago River, it left many bridge leafs frozen in the raised position, although it was always guided by tugboats on the river and never struck a bridge. The problems with bridges were so pervasive that in 1973, the Chicago Tribune once published an article that told readers that no bridges became stuck."

Says the Trib:

"The Tribune reported at least 20 instances of bridges malfunctioning while the vessel was nearby from 1968 through 1979, often stranding drivers and earning the freighter a nickname as Chicago's 'jinx ship.'

"The bad luck became a running joke. 'It's the Medusa Challenger again, and she's in the Chicago River again, and a bridge is stuck again, reads a Tribune caption from New Year's Day 1977. In the photo, the freighter is seen spewing steam as stabilizing locks on the Franklin Street Bridge were thawing."

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Indeed. Let's take a look at some Trib headlines about the freighter from its golden age.

1968: Bridge Jams, Traffic, Too; Drivers Irate.

1969: Balky Bridge Bars Boat's Berthing Bid.

1969: Ship a Jinx? Bridge Jams for 3d Time.

1969: Ship Casts Its Spell On City Bridges Again.

1970: Bridge Left Up In Air In Ship's Wake.

1971: Medusa Challenges Bridges, Traffic Jam Results.

1972: 30-Minute Traffic Tieup: Jinx Ship Strikes Again.

1972: Medusa-Challenger Strikes Again.

1972: A Swift Kick To Bridge Snaps Medusa's Spell.

1973: Medusa, Friday The 13th: Here's Double Trouble.

1973: Hex Holds: Bridge Gets Whammy But Medusa Gets By.

1974: Jinx Ship Does It Again To Our River.

1975: Cold Spell, Medusa Jinx: Ship Ties Up Street Traffic - Again.

1976: Ship's Jinx Holds Even At A Benefit.

1977: Riding The Chicago River 'Jinx Ship.'

1978: Medusa Visit Scares A Bridge.

1978: Bridgetender Just Won't Blame Medusa.

1978: Medusa Strikes Again; Bridge Stuck For 2 Hours.

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"The ship was in Chicago as recently as Tuesday," CBS2 notes. "As of Wednesday night, it was back in Michigan, but could have two trips left in its current configuration. It is due in drydock on or about Nov. 7."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:06 AM | Permalink

Rappers vs. Rahm

"Chicago rappers Kanye West and Common are grabbing headlines for their comments about the violence that plagues their hometown of Chicago," AllHipHopNews reported earlier this month.

"You see what's going on with the young people right now, there's a lot of death and violence going on in Chicago, but we're gonna make change," Common promised.

Chicago activist Harold "OG Noonie G." Ward is a former high-ranking member of The Gangster Disciples, the nation's largest gang.

Ward, who has worked with closely with Kanye and Common on various anti-violence events in Chicago, is featured in an in-depth article in Bloomberg Market, which is scheduled to hit shelves this month.

The article details the Gangster Disciples' historical role in the heroin pipeline into Chicago, and the bloody grip Joaquin Guzman's Mexican drug cartel holds over the city.

"It's the Mexican cartels and the powers that be in Chicago," Noonie G. told AllHipHop.com. "The drugs are coming from Mexico to Chicago. It's a $3.5 billion industry. It's the hardest on the South and West sides, where you see most of the violence coming from. People are fighting over that cartel drug money. The violence wasn't as bad until this started happening, and now you see it going to another level."

Noonie G., who was featured on an episode of American Gangster about Chicago's gangs, turned his life around after a prison stint in 1994 and has been active in Chicago politics ever since.

Noonie has been at it for a long time. In 2006, he was the subject of Gangster With A Heart Of Gold: The Noonie G. Story - narrated by Common and Kanye.

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"Our Police Chief is Hollywood. He ain't no real Police Chief," Noonie G. told AllHipHop.com of McCarthy, who starred in the Sundance reality series Brick City, which centered around gangs and crime in Newark, New Jersey."

To wit:

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"They are getting paid off these kids. Crime pays," Noonie G. continued. "Each one of these kids are like pawns. Chicago is known to be the most ruthless city for everything. From the police to everything else. They could stop this level of killings if they wanted to. They get all this money from Washington DC, but they don't use the money for education programs, or gang prevention."

Noonie G. says he works tirelessly to help stem the violence in Chicago, but a major presence is noticeably absent - that of the rappers.

According to Noonie G., it's just not enough for the Chicago rappers to pay attention to the violent epidemic sweeping through the Windy City.

Noonie G. is seeking the support of the entire Hip-Hop industry, as he attempts to help calm the violence in the streets of Chicago, which also stems from the lack educational opportunities for teens in the city, after Mayor Emanuel ordered 47 elementary schools permanently closed.

"I need the rappers to come together, and not with the powers that be," Noonie G. told AllHipHop.com. "We need to sit down without any music industry politics, with the street guys and really try to figure out what we can do with these kids. Right now, rappers are coming to Chicago, doing their concerts and getting their money, but they keep on going. Don't none of them go to the hood. They're scared. But the thing is your black. You're not scared of the Ku Klux Klan, but you're scared of your own people? I am not asking anyone for any money. Their influence would be enough."

To contact activist Harold "OG Noonie G" Ward about helping in Chicago, feel free to email NoonieHK (at) aol.com.

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Here is Noonie in 2007 running for alderman of the 9th Ward, which was then and still is represented by Anthony Beale.

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In 2011, Rhymefest ran for alderman of the 20th Ward, losing to incumbent Willie Cochran.

Neither Beale nor Cochran are considered to be the brightest lights on the council, but they are useful to the mayor's office.

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Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper tells MTV that the city's violence has made Chicago a "scummy" city.

Lupe Fiasco, though, seems to be giving up on politics - at least in his music.

It's too bad - a hip hop caucus is just what the city needs right about now.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:47 AM | Permalink

Monster M*A*S*H

Call Hawkeye and Trapper, we've officially reached the point where laughing is the only way to cope.

Incidentally, the Bears could use a couple of warm bodies out there on defense.

Let's call Alan Alda and Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould and Wayne Rogers, Jamie Farr and his cross dressing alter ego. I'm sure some of them are either still alive or at minimum, dead sexy.

With so few professional-caliber football players left on the Chicago squad to, um, play football, the Bears brass is going to have to show some real creativity to win games until reinforcements can arrive. The BAOKAR (pronounced "BAHW-KAAAAAARRR!") has volunteered several viable options throughout the season to as to how Chicago should compensate for its lack of healthy bodies.

We've suggested gusto from bench; a "next man up" approach . . . and then half of the bench mob got sent to the shelf.

We've asserted that the team could unearth relics of the past . . . for Chrissake, Arsenio is back on late night. I think it's actually the '90s. If Favre isn't available, see if Warren Moon is.

We've made the bold suggestion to remove the glass ceiling . . . ladies, 78% of $650,000 isn't that insulting. Get on the field!

And after a statistically improbable fourth week in a row with significant injuries to the starting lineup, we've just about run dry on ways to expand upon the snakebit narrative.

Seriously, I deleted a 500-word narrative subtitled JerBram Stoker's: Sackula in which the scourge known as Vampyr sends his minion Renfield to purchase Soldier Field so it can be re-sodded with Transylvanian earth allowing Nosferatu and his army of undead she-devils to regain their strength in the soil of their homeland during Chicago's several daylight hours.

Player feedback on the resurfaced field is universally positive and Mina Harker becomes the starting running back after Matt Forte is injured just before halftime of Week 10's home game against Detroit.

Also, Keanu Reeves simultaneously reprises his role as Jonathan Harker and Shane Falco by speaking in a "British?" accent while wearing a Washington Sentinels jersey.

I can't tell whether printing the actual manuscript makes me seem more or less crazy than describing it.

We might need a second opinion.

Mental Health Day
A tip of the madcap to Brandon Marshall for providing relief from the dog days of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A couple of thoughts here.

One, breast cancer is an issue that impacts a maximum of 51% of the population, possibly 54% if you count those financially dependent on Sugar Mamas. By using shoes soaked in the urine of the Toxic Avenger, the Bears All-World receiver drew attention to a condition that impacts all of us. Footwear . . . I mean, wild self absorption . . . I mean, drinking our feelings . . . I mean shut up, how the hell are you reading my thoughts!!!

Ahem.

Two, I don't think anyone interested in sweater puppies can be more aware of them. Trust me, we see 'em.

In all seriousness, though, Marshall's cause is a good one. Anything that helps me spend less energy fashioning tinfoil hats and more time staring at healthy chesticles is OK in my book.

Rivalry Weak
Games against the Packers typically carry a certain amount of meathead gravitas and going into the season this year's games had the makings of a couple really compelling match-ups.

Big time quarterbacks with excellent play at the skill positions forced to turn up the heat by a couple of underachieving defenses. Fun, right?

But the afore-aforementioned injuries have made this match-up the football equivalent of the classic scene from I'm Gonna Git You Sucka in which a floozy decides to kick up her foot and let her hair off upon learning that Keenen Ivory Wayans isn't actually packing a five-dollar footlong.

Picture Aaron Rodgers confessing he doesn't have more than two receivers (I think Earl Boykins was signed off the Milwaukee Bucks practice squad to play wideout opposite Jordy Nelson) and Peanut Tillman reveals that this voluptuous defense of his isn't what it appears.

Clank.

Kool-Aid (2 Out Of 5 Plastic Cups Of Nacho Cheese)
There isn't a fan of the Windy City that expects the road team to win Monday night and I've . . . (fake yawn) . . . got an early day on Tuesday, or something, but I'll gut this one out.

I'm giving it a cup of cheese just because I want to see if Josh McCown is any better than the Caleb Hanies and the Jason Campbells of the world.

To that you may be saying, "Hey arrogant dumbass who dumps his free associative thoughts onto the Internet with impunity, wouldn't be exciting if they did win? Aren't you being a frontrunner who shuts down when the going gets tough?"

Sure, and I'd be right there cheering along with you if the Bears do end up posting 54 points, which is what will take to beat the Packers, right after I made a wise crack about Lupus.

I think the Bears offense continues to operate at a high-functioning level, but Eddie Lacy will gash the middle of this horrific defense and Aaron Rodgers will eventually get his chance to go deep once he realizes that Tillman can only cover one guy at a time.

Packers 44
Bears 28

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Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

October 30, 2013

Chicago Casting Call For Food Network Star Has Plenty Of Candidates

1. Paging Charlie Trotter, Who Seems To Have Some Spare Time These Days.

"My name is Gillian Murtaugh and I am a Casting Associate Producer for Food Network Star, Food Network's hugely successful culinary reality series.

We are currently casting for season 10 and would like to inform you and your network that we are holding an open casting call in Chicago on November 16th!

"For your convenience, I have attached a copy of our flyer that further details what we are looking for and information on our casting event. Please feel free to post our information on to your website, send it out to any list serve you may have or forward it on to anyone you think might be right for the show. Any help in spreading the word about our search is greatly appreciated!

"Essentially, we are looking for those with a captivating personality who believe they're at the top of the culinary game and want to inspire a Food Network audience through their passion for food and cooking!

"Please help us reach out to any chef or culinary professional who might be interested in becoming the host of his or her own cooking show!

Please find the details of our event below:

Chicago Open Casting Call

Date: November 16th, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Westin Michigan Avenue
909 N. Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

Please visit us at www.FoodNetworkStarCasting.com to apply online and for more information on our casting events!

7298147_orig.png

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2. Paging Rick Bayless, Who Seems To Have Some Spare Time These Days.

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3. Paging Grant Achatz, Who Must Now Be Comfortable Behind A Camera.

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4. Paging Doug Sohn, Who Still Has A Book To Flog.

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5. Paging Rich Melman, Who Just Had His Own Day In Chicago.

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6. Paging Stephanie Izard, Who Just Got Married.

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7. Paging Ulysses Salamanca, The Flash Taco And Underdog(g) Dude.

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8. Paging The Tamale Guy, Because Who Doesn't Love The Tamale Guy.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:13 PM | Permalink

The [Wednesday] Papers

Blockbuster NSA leaks are coming so fast now it's hard to stay on top of them and process them all. Today alone:

* "The National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials," the Washington Post reports.

"By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans."

* "An Italian magazine said on Wednesday that a United States spy agency had eavesdropped on Vatican phone calls, possibly including when former Pope Benedict's successor was under discussion," Reuters reports.

"Panorama magazine said that among 46 million phone calls followed by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in Italy from December 10, 2012, to January 8, 2013, were conversations in and out of the Vatican.

"In a press release before full publication on Thursday, Panorama said the 'NSA had tapped the pope.'"

* "The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for its mass surveillance activities, according to a master list of NSA talking points," Al-Jazeera reports.

"The document - obtained by Al Jazeera through a Freedom of Information Act request - contains talking points and suggested statements for NSA officials responding to the fallout from media revelations that originated with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"Invoking the events of 9/11 to justify the controversial NSA programs, which have caused major diplomatic fallout around the world, was the top item on the talking points agency officials were encouraged to use.

"Under the sub-heading, 'Sound Bites that Resonate,' the document suggests the statement: 'I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.'"

* Glenn Greenwald writes in response to misleading NSA talking points:

"NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander asserted yesterday that two 'Boundless Informant' slides we published - one in Le Monde and the other in El Mundo - were misunderstood and misinterpreted.

"The NSA then dispatched various officials to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post to make the same claim, and were (needless to say) given anonymity by those papers to spout off without accountability.

"Several U.S. journalists (also needless to say) instantly treated the NSA's claims as gospel even though they (a) are accompanied by no evidence, (b) come in the middle of a major scandal for the agency at home and abroad and (c) are from officials with a history of lying to Congress and the media.

"That is the deeply authoritarian and government-subservient strain of American political and media culture personified: if a U.S. national security official says something, then it shall mindlessly be deemed tantamount to truth, with no evidence required and without regard to how much those officials have misled in the past.

"EFF's Trevor Timm last night summarized this bizarre mentality as follows: 'Oh, NSA says a story about them is wrong? Well, that settles that! Thankfully, they never lie, obfuscate, mislead, misdirect, or misinform!'

"Over the last five months, Laura Poitras and I have published dozens and dozens of articles reporting on NSA documents around the world: with newspapers and a team of editors and other reporters in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Brazil, India, France and Spain. Not a single one of those articles bears even a trivial correction, let alone a substantive one, because we have been meticulous in the reporting, worked on every article with teams of highly experienced editors and reporters, and, most importantly, have published the evidence in the form of NSA documents that prove the reporting true."

Click through to read the rest.

(Indeed, the global nature of the reporting - in response to the global nature of the subject matter - is remarkable, if not revolutionary.)

I was struck thinking about the work of Greenwald and his colleagues, as well as the motivations and actions of Edward Snowden, while reading this portion of Chicago filmmaker Joe Angio's director's statement about his new work, Revenge of the Mekons:

I'm drawn to artists who work on the fringes, whose work is not tailored to or compromised by prevailing trends or the dictates of "the market."

Melvin Van Peebles, the revolutionary filmmaker and Renaissance man who was the subject of my previous film, How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It), certainly fits this bill.

So, too, do the Mekons, a band that continues to confound over the course of its unlikely and unpredictable 37-year career.

Yet it was only during the early stages of pre-production on Revenge of the Mekons that the affinity of these two films became apparent.

As I often do when I'm devouring the music of a particular artist, I consulted the indispensable Trouser Press Record Review Guide to read about the records I was listening to.

I'd read the entry on the Mekons, written by Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot, countless times, but this time a passage jumped out at me:

"The Mekons have continued to put out records of bewildering variety, erratic musical quality and enormous heart. These function almost without exception as a critique of power and the abuse of power - whether in government, the record industry or, less frequently, the bedroom."

That's when it hit me: This statement could just as easily have been describing Melvin Van Peebles!

These function almost without exception as a critique of power and the abuse of power.

That's journalism's primary function. It's not about being close to power, it's about critiquing it.

Nelson Algren agreed. In an excerpt from City on the Make that I'm quite fond of quoting, Algren wrote:

"The hard necessity of bringing the judge on the bench down into the dock has been the peculiar responsibility of the writer in all ages of man. In Chicago, in our own curious span, we have seesawed between blind assault and blind counter-assault, hanging men in one decade for beliefs which, in another, we honor others.

"And that there has hardly been an American writer of stature who has not come up through The Chicago Palatinate, was an observation which, when somebody first made it, was still true. God help the poor joker who comes up through Old Seesaw Chicago today.

"For we are now in a gavel-and-fingernail era. Punitive cats have the upper hand. The struggle is not to bring the judge into the dock, but to see who can get closest to him on the bench. For upon the bench is where the power is, and elbows are flying. Between TV poseurs, key-club operators and retarded Kilgallens in charge of columns, any writer whose thought is simply to report the sights and sounds of the city must be some kind of nut."

(Also, as I've also noted before, Chicago is as much a media critique as anything else; they both reached for the gun.)

I was similarly struck when posting interviews with Laura Gottesdiener, who is in town today, talking about her book A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home. This, too, is about the nature of power - and a failure of journalists to grasp the reality buried in the rhetoric.

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December 19, 2012: Vitale: There Are No Plans To Turn Ames Into A Military Academy.

October 29, 2013: Marine Military Academy Relocating to Logan Square's Ames Middle School.

Rahm Emanuel just keeps giving us the ol' razzle dazzle.

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"During the uproar over school closings, CPS officials repeatedly promised that students would end up at better schools and poured millions into 'welcoming schools' to improve them," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"Now, with the revelation that only 60 percent of displaced students enrolled in their designated welcoming school, the academic performance at the schools where they landed becomes an important X-factor, made even more critical by the fact that the Consortium on Chicago School Research has found that closings are only beneficial if students end up in the top-performing schools.

"Most of the shuttered schools - 80 percent - were rated Level 3, the lowest rating CPS now hands out. A Catalyst Chicago analysis of CPS data found that, in one sense, there's good news: Overall, just over half of students who went to their welcoming school ended up at schools that were rated Level 1 or 2.

"But the analysis also revealed troubling news: Only one-fifth of all students made it to the highest-performing schools, and a significant number landed at bottom-tier schools."

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For Halloween, Barbara Byrd-Bennett is staying in and stealing candy from every kid who comes to her door.

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"The next United States ambassador to New Zealand has been named as Mark D. Gilbert - a former professional baseball player, banking executive and Democratic Party fundraiser," the New Zealand Herald reports.

"According to the State Department, Mr. Gilbert played major leagues baseball with the Chicago White Sox in 1985.

"He is currently a director at Barclays Wealth, formerly Lehman Brothers, in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was senior vice president of Goldman Sachs in Miami from 1989 to 1996 and before that worked for Drexel Burnham Lambert, as an investment banker.

"Mr. Gilbert was on the Obama for America National Finance Committee, Mr. Obama's first presidential campaign and his re-election campaign."

See also: Obama's Ambassadors.

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"President Barack Obama is briefed each day on a wide range of domestic and international issues, yet when it comes to major controversies, his administration's response is often the same: the president didn't know," Jennifer Epstein reports for Politico.

Rahm Emanuel says it isn't so, and thankfully, he's never lied, obfuscated, misled, misdirected, or misinformed. CNN's elbows are flying.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Shot in the dark.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 PM | Permalink

A Dream Foreclosed

"African American families in Chicago and nationwide have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, particularly with mortgage lenders exploiting a long history of discrimination in lending and housing," Curtis Black writes for Newstips.

"But what happens when they challenge the banks that have evicted millions of families and destroyed their life savings and economic security?

"That's the subject of a new book, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, which looks at the issue through the experiences of four families.

"(Essence has published an excerpt featuring the story of Chicagoan Martha Biggs, now an activist with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign.)

"Author Laura Gottesdiener will discuss the book, joined by Martha Biggs and Ebonee Stevenson of CAEC and Jim Harbin from the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, 5733 S. University, Wednesday, October 30 at 6 p.m."

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See also: Englewood Left Out Of City's Foreclosure Rehab.

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From Democracy Now! in August:

"As President Obama heads to Phoenix today to tout the 'housing recovery,' journalist Laura Gottesdiener examines the devastating legacy of the foreclosure crisis and how much of the so-called recovery is a result of large private equity firms buying up hundreds of thousands of foreclosed homes.

"More than 10 million people across the country have been evicted from their homes in the last six years. Her new book, A Dream Foreclosed: Black America and the Fight for a Place to Call Home, focuses on four families who have pushed back against foreclosures.

"The banks exploited a larger historical trajectory of discrimination in lending and in housing that has existed since the beginning of this country.

"The banks intentionally went into communities that had been redlined, which meant that the federal housing administration had made it a policy to not lend and not to guarantee any loans in minority neighborhoods all throughout most of the 20th century that didn't supposedly end until well into the 1960s," Gottesdiener says.

"And they exploited that historical reality and pushed the worst of the worst loans in these communities that everyone knew were unpayable debts - that Wall Street knew."

Here's her interview with Amy Goodman:

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On BookTV in September (embedding disabled).

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On The Laura Flanders Show earlier this month:

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See also: LauraGottesdiener.com.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Revenge Of The Mekons

The eagerly anticipated Revenge of the Mekons will be making it's world premiere at this year's DOC NYC, New York's premiere documentary film festival.

Emerging from the first blast of 1977 U.K. punk rock, the Mekons were notorious, as critic Greil Marcus notes, for being "the band that took punk ideology most seriously."

Charting the group's progression from socialist art students with no musical skills through its reinvention as rabble-rousing progeny of Hank Williams, the film reveals how, four decades into a still-evolving career, the Mekons continue to make original, genre-defying music while staying true to the punk ethos.

Teaser:


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A Q&A moderated by Greil Marcus will follow with director Joe Angio and Mekons band members Jon Langford, Sally Timms, Steve Goulding, and Rico Bell.

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SYNOPSIS

Political provocateurs. Social agitators. Punk's reigning contrarians. The Mekons have been called all this and more. Revenge of the Mekons chronicles the unlikely career of the critically adored, cultishly revered band/art collective from Leeds, England.

Emerging from the first blast of 1977 U.K. punk rock, the Mekons were notorious, as critic Greil Marcus notes, for being "the band that took punk ideology most seriously."

Charting the group's progression from socialist art students with no musical skills through its reinvention as rabble-rousing progeny of Hank Williams, the film reveals how, four decades into a still-evolving career, the Mekons continue to make original, genre-defying music while staying true to the punk ethos.

SUMMARY & TREATMENT

Keeping a collective together for 37 years is difficult under any circumstances, more so when the endeavor won't even pay the bills and its eight members are scattered across six cities [including Chicago] on three continents.

Toss in a history of miserable fortune with record labels - fueled in part by the band's own mistrust and rejection of the music industry - and almost comical bad luck, it's a wonder that the Mekons have persevered.

How they've managed to do so - and why they bother to carry on - are the questions that drive the film.

Near the film's outset, on the first stop of a recent U.K. tour, the band learns - on stage - from an audience member that the following night's gig has been canceled.

They respond with the kind of improvisatory, self-deprecating wit that Mekons fans have come to regard as much as the music itself.

"Perhaps it's sold out," yells a voice from the crowd.

"Sold out is a term that never comes into our lives," replies singer Sally Timms, the double entendre cutting sharp as a blade.

The band's response to setbacks such as this reveals the collaborative process that underscores the film's primary themes of community and collectivism, notions borne from the Mekons' punk-rock inception as politically engaged socialists.

Rewinding to Leeds, 1977, the film establishes its twin structural tracks: interspersing original verite footage shot on three continents between 2008 and 2012 with interviews and archival footage that explore the band's history within the socio-political milieu of Thatcher-era England.

We learn how neo-Nazi mobs clashed with left-wing groups from the University of Leeds, home to future members of the Mekons and their friends and art-department classmates from Gang of Four.

Inspired by the DIY attitude of the Sex Pistols - and undaunted by their own conspicuous lack of musical ability - the Mekons made an instant splash. Signed to a record contract after their second gig, their first single, "Never Been in a Riot," was a sly riposte to the Clash's "White Riot," and immediately marked the Mekons as a band that had no use for punk orthodoxy.

When that record was named Single of the Week by NME, it prompted one admiring journalist - better known today as the filmmaker Mary Harron - to write an article extolling the band's "spontaneous amateurism."

In a tone of amused bewilderment -she can't believe she's still talking about the Mekons more than three decades later - Harron poses the now compelling question that seemed ludicrous at the crux of their semi-fabled history: "How do you have an amateur band as a career?"

Co-founder and singer/guitarist Jon Langford provides a clue when he tells a radio interviewer, recalling a time when the band was routinely ignored after the initial furor over punk rock had subsided, "We were universally hated and derided, so we thought we'd have our revenge on the world."

But the answer is more complex than that. By retracing the band's wildly improbable history - its early embrace of traditional English folk music; its reinvention as a country-influenced band to support striking miners; its forays into the art world, including collaborations with Vito Acconci and Kathy Acker; its recurring bad fortune with major record labels; and the band's restless exploration of diverse musical genres - we understand how and why this band grew to be so admired by fans and critics. Along the way, we come to know what it truly means to be an artist in a culture debased by materialism, selfishness and greed.

Original footage of the Mekons living together while they compose songs for their new album reveals the group's unique collaborative process. Unlike most bands, in which one or two songwriters provide the material, the Mekons are proudly leaderless. Scenes ranging from the quotidian (the octet taking a break to prepare and eat dinner together) to the ineffable (when we witness each member's organic contributions to the creation of new music) speak to a social responsibility that begins at home. It's a captivating window into the working methods of a band unlike any other.

The Mekons long ago stopped playing punk-rock music but, as the film shows, they've stayed true to the punk ethos: to create something of value and that has meaning, without compromising your ideals. The band members' lives outside the Mekons underscore this point.

Violinist Susie Honeyman makes a case for the value of older artists - in a culture that's obsessed with the "new and emerging" - by drawing parallels between the Mekons and the artists she exhibits at her Grey Gallery in London.

We accompany multi-instrumentalist Lu Edmonds to Tajikistan, where he spearheads the construction of a low-budget recording studio for third-world musicians in Dushanbe.

And we witness the boundless creative energy of Jon Langford: painting in his studio, greeting visitors at his art opening, hosting his Chicago radio show, performing at benefit concerts with his numerous side bands. The Mekons may be avowedly leaderless, but Langford proves to be the engine that keeps the train running.

As befits a group that remains fiercely committed not only to its art but also to each other, the film reaches a stirring conclusion: the eight Mekons affirming their vows to one another during a pagan wedding ceremony at a stone circle in the English Lake District. Part alt-history lesson, part reflection on the role of artists in society, Revenge of the Mekons is an intimate, revealing and entertaining portrait of a one-of-a-kind group - with killer music, to boot!

CREATIVE TEAM

Joe Angio, producer-director: Angio is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and magazine editor. His previous film, How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (2005), screened at numerous international film festivals, including Tribeca, Los Angeles, Chicago, Melbourne and the Biografilm (Bologna) Festival, where it received both the Jury and Audience awards for best film. The film made its theatrical debut at Film Forum, NYC, and its television premiere on IFC. The DVD is distributed by Image Entertainment.

Angio co-produced and -directed (with Joel Cohen) the short docs More than a Game (1991; SnagFilms) and A Feast of Fools (1987). More than a Game has been broadcast in more than 25 countries; A Feast of Fools was awarded Best Video at the Festival of Illinois Film and Videomakers.

Angio is the former editor-in-chief of Time Out New York magazine. While at Time Out, Angio was nominated for three National Magazine Awards by the American Society of Magazine Editors and was awarded a gold medal for cover design by the Society of Publication Designers. Prior to Time Out, Angio was the articles editor at NBA Inside Stuff (1996-98), the managing editor of Vibe (1995-96), and an associate editor at Men's Journal (1993-95).

Angio was born in Chicago and graduated from Marquette University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Jessica Wolfson, co-producer: Wolfson is a producer of many acclaimed documentary films and series. Radio Unnameable (Kino Lorber), which she co-directed with her husband, Paul Lovelace, won a special jury award at the 2012 Sarasota Film Festival and is currently screening throughout the U.S. Wolfson also produced A Girl and a Gun (DOC NYC, 2012), Trust Us, This Is All Made Up (SXSW, 2009) and co-produced Crazy Sexy Cancer (TLC, 2007). In 2008, she produced and directed the award-winning Web series Girltalk.

At IFC Original Programming, Wolfson developed and produced the documentaries This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Wanderlust and The Bridge, as well as the series Greg the Bunny and Dinner for Five, which was nominated for an Emmy in 2005.

Jane Rizzo, editor: An editor of both fiction and documentary features, Rizzo cut the recent, critically acclaimed Sundance hits Compliance (Magnolia Pictures) and Ain't Them Bodies Saints (IFC Films). Rizzo's credits include the award-winning films Great World of Sound (Magnolia), How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) (IFC), Road (Showtime) and See Girl Run (Visit Films), along with Frontrunners (Oscilloscope), Henry May Long and Silver Jew (Drag City), all of which screened at film festivals around the world.

Rizzo shared an Emmy award for her work on Judy Garland: By Myself ("American Masters;" PBS). Among her TV credits are the "American Masters" production, Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind; Tanner on Tanner (Sundance Channel) and numerous PBS documentaries.

A native of Italy, Rizzo graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Jean-Louis Schuller, cinematographer: Schuller moves easily between fiction and documentary film and art projects. He is the director of the documentaries The Road Uphill and High/Low (both from 2011) and Chungking Dream (2008). As a cinematographer, Schuller has shot 25 films, including the aforementioned titles and the festival hit Personal Best (2012).

Schuller is a native of Luxembourg and received degrees from the Institut des Arts de Diffusion in Brussels, and the National Film and Television School in London, where he resides.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Mekons:

Jon Langford: cofounder, singer, guitarist. In addition to work with the Mekons, Jon plays in numerous bands, including the Waco Brothers, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and Wee Hairy Beasties. A respected artist who exhibits internationally, Jon also hosts the popular radio program, The Eclectic Company. Lives in Chicago.

Tom Greenhalgh: cofounder, singer, guitarist. The father of four young children, Greenhalgh is a visual artist who works in the Department of Work and Pensions in Exeter. He lives in the Devon countryside near Tiverton.

Susie Honeyman: Violinist. Joined Mekons in 1983. Runs the Grey Gallery with her artist husband Jock McFadyen. Lives in London.

Sally Timms: The Mekons' unofficial road manager. Full-time Mekon since 1985. Lives in Chicago.

Rico Bell (Eric Bellis): Singer, accordionist. Joined the Mekons in 1985. In addition to a solo career, Eric is a well-regarded visual artist. Lives in Los Angeles.

Lu Edmonds: Multi-instrumentalist, singer. Joined the Mekons in 1985. A founding member of the Damned, Lu travels frequently to Central Asia, where he records and archives indigenous folk music in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Lives in London and Kyzyl, Siberia.

Steve Goulding: Drummer. Joined the Mekons in 1985. A former member of Graham Parker and the Rumour, Steve was the house drummer for Stiff Records, where he played drums on Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives." Lives in New York City.

Sarah Corina: Bassist. Joined the Mekons in 1992. Also plays bass with Striplight. Lives in London.

Associate Mekons:

Kevin Lycett: Mekons co-founder still contributes lyrics and "inspiration" to the band, as well as contributing to the band's art projects. He lives in Leeds.

Mark "Chalkie" White: Mekons co-founder and original lead singer who prides himself for possessing "no musical ability whatsoever." Teaches art in Cranbrook, Kent, where he lives.

Andy Corrigan: Mekons co-founder and other original lead singer, Corrigan runs a company which provides technical and logistical support for touring bands. Lives in Stowmarket, Suffolk.

Ros Allen: Mekons' original bassist. Left the Mekons to become bass player for Delta 5. A former Disney animator, she currently teaches art at Sunderland University, near her home in Tynemouth.

Dick Taylor: Guitarist who played in the Mekons from 1985-1992. Founding member of the Pretty Things and original member of the Rolling Stones. Lives on the Isle of Wight.

Robert Worby: Mekons recording engineer and keyboard player, primarily in the 1980s. An electronic composer and sound artist who has collaborated with John Cage, Peter Greenaway and Michael Nyman, Worby hosts the BBC Radio 3 program Hear and Now. Lives in London.

Plus (in order of appearance):

Greg Kot: Rock critic for the Chicago Tribune.

Terry Nelson: Chicago radio DJ who introduced the Mekons to country music.

Luc Sante: Author/historian/journalist. His article, "Getting By and Making Do," for the Village Voice is an oft-quoted analysis of the Mekons and their music. Lives in Kingston, NY.

Jonathan Franzen: Novelist. The Corrections, which won the National Book Award, was inspired by music of the Mekons and characters in his latest book, Freedom, are based on the Mekons. Lives in NYC.

Mary Harron: Filmmaker. The director of I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page, Harron was a rock critic for Melody Maker, where she wrote a seminal article on the Mekons in 1979. Lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Hugo Burnham: Drummer, Gang of Four. Lives in Gloucester, MA.

Andy Gill: Singer, cofounder of Gang of Four. Leeds University art-school classmate of the Mekons. Played drums in first-ever Mekons gig. Lives in London.

Bob Fast: Founder of Fast Records, legendary punk label/art project. Issued Mekons' first single, which was also the label's first release. Lives in Scotland.

Rob Miller & Nan Warshaw: Co-founders of Chicago's Bloodshot Records, a country- and roots-inflected label for which Jon Langford releases albums for many of his side projects, including the Waco Brothers. Live in Chicago.

Marty Lennartz: Chicago radio DJ; producer of WXRT's The Eclectic Company.

Mary Delaney: Wife of the Sundowners' late bassist, Kurt Delaney.

Mark Kemp: Journalist. Former editor of Option magazine, where he ran monthly "Mekons Watch" column. Lives in Charlotte, NC.

Greil Marcus: Journalist, pop-culture critic. Original music editor of Rolling Stone and the author of Lipstick Traces and Mystery Train, among others. Lives in Berkeley, CA.

Patrick Brill: Artist who uses the nom de plume Bob & Roberta Smith.

Ed Roche: Touch and Go Records, Chicago.

Thomas Masters: Chicago gallery-owner who exhibits Jon Langford's and Rico Bell's work.

Tony Fitzpatrick: Highly respected Chicago-based artist.

Fred Armisen: Comedian. Former Saturday Night Live cast member and co-star of Portlandia. Former husband of Mekon Sally Timms. Lives in NYC.

Craig Finn: Singer/guitarist of the Hold Steady. Finn cites the Mekons' music and long- standing career as inspirations for his band. Lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Will Oldham: Musician/recording artist. Oldham, who records as Bonnie "Prince" Billy, has performed on stage with the Mekons as well as composing the song, "For the Mekons, et al." Lives in Louisville, KY.

Louis Kahlert & Dennis Anderson: Better known collectively as "Dennis & Lois," these Mekons super-fans are a fixture on the NYC concert scene.

Vito Acconci: Video-/performance artist; architect. A highly regarded conceptual-art pioneer, Acconci wrote and performed in Theater Piece for Rock Band with the Mekons. Lives in NYC.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

I'm drawn to artists who work on the fringes, whose work is not tailored to or compromised by prevailing trends or the dictates of "the market."

Melvin Van Peebles, the revolutionary filmmaker and Renaissance man who was the subject of my previous film, How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It), certainly fits this bill.

So, too, do the Mekons, a band that continues to confound over the course of its unlikely and unpredictable 37-year career.

Yet it was only during the early stages of pre-production on Revenge of the Mekons that the affinity of these two films became apparent.

As I often do when I'm devouring the music of a particular artist, I consulted the indispensable Trouser Press Record Review Guide to read about the records I was listening to.

I'd read the entry on the Mekons, written by Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot, countless times, but this time a passage jumped out at me:

"The Mekons have continued to put out records of bewildering variety, erratic musical quality and enormous heart. These function almost without exception as a critique of power and the abuse of power - whether in government, the record industry or, less frequently, the bedroom."

That's when it hit me: This statement could just as easily have been describing Melvin Van Peebles!

The more I thought about this description of the Mekons, the more I realized that this film would engage many of the thematic concerns that interest me: artists who create work on their terms, who remain committed to their values, and who persevere almost in spite of themselves.

We see lots of films documenting the lives of the so-called winners. I'm more interested in those who elect to forgo the limelight and personal fortune. By focusing on artists who create singular, socially responsible work that stands the test of time I aim not only to introduce them to a wider audience, but also to inspire viewers by their lives and work.

- Joe Angio, September 2013

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:32 AM | Permalink

A Very Political Chicago Halloween

Boo.

* Pat Quinn going as governor.

* Bill Daley was going to go as a candidate for U.S. senate or governor, but decided to stay home instead.

* Joe Berrios going as himself - can't think of anything scarier.

* Sheila Simon going as herself - a ghost.

* Bruce Rauner going as Rahm Emanuel - and vice versa.

* Ventra going as Obamacare.

* Winter Divvy going as Ventra.

* Richard M. Daley staying home because he doesn't remember it's Halloween or what Halloween even is. Plus, teaching at Harvard the next day and wants to be fresh.

* Kirk Dillard going as the Tea Party this year but next year he'll go back to his traditional costume as a Moderate.

* Stephanie Neely going as Lieutenant Governor.

* Toni Preckwinkle going as a mayoral candidate just to fuck with everyone.

* Bob Fioretti going as mayor just to see how it feels.

* Michael Madigan would not comment.

* Steve Brown going as Michael Madigan.

* Lisa Madigan going to dad's house as governor just to scare him, then going home.

* Ed Burke going as his state supreme court justice wife. Robe has to be back by midnight.

* Rod Blagojevich going as Elvis to Cell Block D party, will likely get beat up.

* Barack Obama will stay in and get reports from the NSA about what everybody is wearing.

* Mark Kirk planning his 2016 costume as Kirk Dillard.

* Dick Durbin spending the night at home on Facebook.

* Barbara Byrd-Bennett will stay home and steal candy from every kid who comes to her door.

* Forrest Claypool will trick-or-treat as Forrest Claypool.

* Bloomingdale Trail will go as The 606.

* Jon Burge, Bernie Madoff and Jesse Jackson Jr. will be attending the same party.

* ADM, Boeing, Sears, DePaul to go as vampires.

* Garry McCarthy was going to go as the police chief, but Rahm wouldn't let him.

* Ben Joravsky to go as a TIF district. He's the only one who truly knows what they really look like.

* Tribune editorial board to go as your parents.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The True Top 10

Nine weeks into the season, the list of top 10 overall fantasy players looks quite a bit different than the top 10 that I - and almost everyone else - predicted at the beginning of the season. If you were drafting a fantasy team today in a 10-team league, this is probably what your first round would look like:

1. Peyton Manning, QB,DEN: Without question, the top fantasy player through the first half of the season. True, he has not been scoring at will the last two weeks, but 29 passing TDs through the first eight weeks is hard to beat.

2. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC: Leads RBs in receiving yards with 383, and along with 635 yards and eight total TDs, he's clearly tops at the position most fantasy owners focus on in Round 1. If he keeps it up, he could win the overall No. 1 ranking next year.

3. Drew Brees, QB, NO: Having his typical TD-laden season, with 19 so far. The biggest difference with him is only five INTs. Not as insane as Manning, but just as consistent.

4. Matthew Stafford, QB, DET: More than 2,600 yards passing and 18 total TDs. He is returning to the form of his 5,000 yard, 41-TD season of a few years ago. With Tom Brady having a bad year and Aaron Rodgers merely so-so from a fantasy perspective, he's the new No. 3 QB.

5. Knowshon Moreno, RB, DEN: A shocking development, as he was nowhere near the top 10 to start the season, and in fact faced a timeshare in the backfield. But, in the prolific DEN offense, he has scored nine TDs overall as defenses have scrambled to cover Manning's receivers.

6. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI: An uneven season in some ways for a sputtering offense, but the game plan is centered around him, which is why he leads all rushers with 733 yards.

7. Matt Forte, RB, BEARS: Another surprise, and while it's true that three of his six TDs came in one game, the Marc Trestman offense is keeping him busy, both running and catching.

8. Jimmy Graham, TE, NO: A few weeks ago, he was doing so well I would have had him No. 2 overall. He's been slowed by injury, but his 630 receiving yards are the most of any TE, and his eight TDs are tied for second among all receivers.

9. Dez Bryant, WR, DAL: Started slow, but gets here by virtue of his eight TDs. He's the top end-zone target for a high-scoring offense, and has been the most consistent fantasy producer among WRs.

10. Calvin Johnson, WR, DET: Almost left him off this list because more than a third of his receiving yards came last week, but he now leads WRs in receiving yards and fantasy points, and is third in TDs.

Expert Wire
* ESPN has free agent finds, including, if you dig deep enough, Josh McCown.

* The Big Lead targets Bengals' receiver Marvin Jones.

* Bleacher Report looks at what we learned from Week 8.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:10 AM | Permalink

October 29, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

No time for a proper column today but instead of blank space, I'll at least share the best, most interesting and important tweets from my timeline so far this morning.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Take one, leave one.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:48 AM | Permalink

October 28, 2013

The Weekend In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Wild Belle at the Metro on Saturday night.


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2. Melt-Banana at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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3. Lucius at Lincoln Hall on Friday night.

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4. Dada Life at the Aragon on Saturday night.

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5. Griz at the Aragon on Friday night.

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6. TOKiMONSTA at the Aragon on Friday night.

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7. Attila at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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8. Upon A Burning Body at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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9. The Pretty Reckless at the House of Blues on Sunday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:33 PM | Permalink

The [Monday] Papers

"Hitch Elementary School Principal Debby Reese points out students learning in every nook and cranny as she tours the top-rated school on the Far Northwest Side," Heather Cherone writes for DNAinfo Chicago.

"A class studies in what was once a men's bathroom.

"The defunct projector's booth in the school's auditorium has been converted into a room for the school's speech therapist to work with students.

"And the school's hallways are dotted with cubicles that serve as classrooms - despite the hubbub caused by students passing from one subject to the next."

It's been hard for some people to get their heads around given the closure of 50 (allegedly) underutilized schools in Chicago, but CPS has an overcrowding problem too.

"Hitch is among the most overcrowded public schools in Chicago, but pleas to build an annex or simply set up extra classrooms in mobile buildings have fallen on deaf ears at Chicago Public Schools headquarters, parents, school officials and Ald. John Arena (45th) said.

"The school, at 5625 N. McVicker Ave., has 585 students in a building that has an ideal capacity of 450 students, Reese said.

"That would give the school an utilization rate of 130 percent, which is among the highest on the Far Northwest Side, an area where most schools are bursting with students because of an influx of families looking for affordable homes in a relatively safe area of the city."

In a city as big as Chicago, uneven distributions of students are inevitable. But it certainly seems like CPS has utterly failed to monitor, project and adjust to demographic trends that tend to be long in the making.

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There's also a lesson here against closing supposedly underutilized schools: Things change.

"Although Reese said she she used to worry about CPS officials closing Hitch because it was once underenrolled, she now has the opposite problem, with 45 more students attending Hitch this year than last."

If Chicago's leaders are serious about "fixing" Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, then, what will happen if and when they become more populous and school-age cohorts begin to rise? Will we have to build new schools because we've closed and destroyed or sold off the old ones?

Schools are central to communities. In most cases, they should remain even as those communities change. Particularly in Chicago, neighborhoods are fluid. Anchors need not be.

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"[Hitch] first requested a four-classroom mobile annex five years ago to cope with the population boom, Arena said.

"There has been no response," said the alderman, who testified at a recent public hearing held by CPS to discuss the needs of schools on the Far Northwest Side. "We can only hope that our voices are being heard."

"Arena was one of several community members who volunteered recently to demolish the marble fixtures of an unused men's room so it could be turned into a classroom.

"The marble was salvaged and may be used in a future public art project in the 45th Ward, Arena said.

"Arena said he was especially frustrated that Hitch was not included in a spate of announcements made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month that detailed more than $90 million to be spent on new science labs and playgrounds, a new school on the Southeast Side and annexes to lessen overcrowding.

"Among the schools that will get new annexes are Wildwood Elementary School in Edgebrook and Water Payton College Prep.

"CPS capital spending has been politicized," Arena said, adding that the annexes planned for Wildwood and Payton benefit parts of the city the mayor hopes to win in his 2015 re-election campaign.

"Coupled with a call for more charter schools on the Far Northwest Side, the CPS approach to capital funding is "fundamentally flawed," he said.

"Overcrowding is especially acute in the lower grades, especially in kindergarten and first grade, where each class has more than 30 students, Reese said."

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Rahm's mass school closings is so drastic that there is no way to reverse it if he should lose or leave office. At least under Richard M. Daley the school-closing regime happened a few schools at a time every year.

The dislocation and spinoff effects will have consequences for years to come. The drama is just beginning. Meanwhile, schools that have been unattended to will also suffer consequences.

For example:

"CPS officials have encouraged Reese to stop offering prekindergarten because of the space crunch, she said."

That's the reality, not press releases about "unprecedented" investments in early childhood education (nor press releases disguised as news reports).

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"CPS officials also have suggested the school turn its lunchroom and library into classrooms in response to complaints about overcrowding."

Students could check out books to read while eating at their desks.

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"CPS officials expected 559 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to attend Hitch this year. Because fewer students enrolled at the school this fall, Hitch stood to lose an additional $54,400 under the new student-based budgeting system."

So overcrowding was projected to be even worse.

"Reese said she was relieved CPS officials decided to delay implementing the system for schools that would have lost funding, since she already had to severely cut the school's budget in the spring in the first round of budget cuts.

"However, Hitch lost nearly $30,000 in money designated for low-income students and as part of the federal No Child Left Behind act."

Those are the kids we'll just teach in the bathroom. But because we're getting rid of our library and cafeteria, they'll have to bring books and lunch from home.

And if they act out, shame on their parents!

When Lou Reed Played Chicago
At the Park West, in Tinley Park, at Lollapalooza, on Letterman and from the WXRT studio.

Chicagoetry: Creature Feature
Ghost of a horror movie franchise.

SportsMonday: Bulls Beginning To An End
Last go before the band breaks up.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Underutilized.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:23 AM | Permalink

SportsMonday: Bulls Beginning To An End

Here we go, Bulls fans. The season that starts Tuesday night feels like the culmination of one era and if not the start of a new one then the opening of a big new chapter.

It is a culmination because it is almost certainly the end of the current core group of players playing together in Chicago.

Luol Deng is heading into his tenth season with the team and he is unlikely to play an eleventh. The forward will be a free agent at the end of the season. And not only can the up-against-the-salary-cap Bulls almost certainly not afford to pay him without incurring a luxury tax, there is also a significant difference between what Deng believes he's worth and what management thinks.

Carlos Boozer, whose struggles at the defensive end often cause the Bulls to seriously shrink his minutes in the biggest games, should be headed out of town as well at the end of this campaign. But it is hard to believe it will happen.

The veteran power forward will be amnestied (the team still pays his salary but it doesn't count against the cap) if chairman Jerry Reinsdorf can bring himself to pay him more than $16 million for not playing for the Bulls. Like I said, "hard to believe." But if the Bulls finally bring in ultra-Euro prospect Nikola Mirotic (drafted in 2011) next year, the team needs to dump Boozer (at the start of what would then be the last year on his contract), move Taj Gibson into the starting lineup and make Mirotic the back-up power forward to ease him into the NBA.

All Mirotic, who hails from Podgorica, Montenegro, did last season was lead Real Madrid to a 30-4 record and earn Liga Association de Clubs de Baloncesta MVP honors. Of course, a fan can never be sure how a guy's game will translate from Europe to the NBA, but the 6-10 Mirotic can bang inside and has serious shooting range.

But enough about next year for gosh sakes.

This coming season, which begins Tuesday evening in Miami and then back home at the UC on Halloween Thursday versus the New York Knicks, is the start of something because it will be the first time that the backcourt of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler have played together for anything more than a handful of minutes.

Quite simply, Rose is ready to rock. I'm not buying the widely reported revelation that his vertical leap is five inches higher at this point than it was before the knee injury that caused him to sit out for more than a year. But there is no denying Rose has looked great in the preseason.

Due to a nagging knee bruise, Butler didn't spend a ton of time on the floor with Rose this past month. But these two have "great guard pairing" written all over them. Butler established last year that he is one of the league's elite defensive shooting guards and his jump shot has done nothing but improve during his time with the Bulls.

There is no doubt these guys will be great fun to watch and there is every reason to believe that this season they will settle into a long run as one of the NBA's top backcourts.

Deng seems all better after last season's medical fiasco. The forward hasn't filed a malpractice lawsuit or anything but one has to wonder if we've heard the last of the controversy surrounding a botched spinal tap (to check for viral meningitis) by the Bulls' chosen medical personnel that caused Deng to leak fluid and be sidelined in the playoffs after only five games.

Joakim Noah was nagged by a groin pull during the preseason but if there is one player in the NBA fans can count on to do what it takes to play despite whatever might be ailing him, it is Noah. The seven-foot center's run through the playoffs last year despite plantar fasciitis in his foot was the stuff of legend.

Whether individual Bulls are coming or going, where they find themselves now is in title contention.

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See also:
* Sam Smith's 2013-14 NBA Power Rankings.

* SBNation's 2013-14 NBA Preview.

* LeBron To Welcome Rose Back.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:39 AM | Permalink

When Lou Reed Played Chicago

"Lou Reed never had quite the notoriety or sales of '60s peers such as the Beatles or Bob Dylan - his only major commercial hit was 'Walk on the Wild Side,'" Greg Kot writes for the Tribune.

"But his influence was just as vast, if not more so. Punk, post-punk and most strains of underground music of the last 40 years would not exist without the one-of-a-kind merger of music and words pioneered by Reed and his groundbreaking band, the Velvet Underground.

"Reed died Sunday at 71 in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to a liver transplant he underwent in May, his literary agent said.

"He leaves behind one of the most profound musical legacies of any 20th Century artist. His lyrics suggested a new kind of street poetry, at once raw and literary."

We've culled some video from Reed's appearances in Chicago over the years.

1. Rock 'N' Roll at the Park West in 1978.


Full bootleg here.

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2. Busload of Faith on Letterman in Chicago in 1989.

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3. Sword of Damocles in Tinley Park in 1992.

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4. Dirty Blvd. (acoustic) live from the WXRT studio in 1996.

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5. Senselessly Cruel at Lollapalooza in 2009.

Much more from this show.

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Bonus:

Morrissey covering Satellite of Love at the Congress in 2011.

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See also:
* DeRogatis: No artist did more to establish rock 'n' roll as capital-a 'Art'.

* Guarino: Chicago artists admire Lou Reed's 'personal aesthetic'.

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And:

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:02 AM | Permalink

October 26, 2013

Chicagoetry: Creature Feature

CREATURE FEATURE

"Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness--for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee--and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still."

--Edgar Allan Poe, "Spirits of the Dead."


Festoon the black clouds
And low jets above

With the sway--

The wanton sway!--
Of premier spotlights!

Like an Old Time Thriller
At a Midnight Movie
In the crisp, dead air

Of a leering
Harvest Moon.

Like Lon Cheney, Sr.
In "London After Midnight" (1927).

Behold the monumental visage
Of Hyde, the Abominable Dr. Jekyll

Unmasked, or perhaps
The Gargantua
Of Rabelais

"Born calling for ale
With a yard-long erection!"

Like on "Creature Features,"
The late night Horror Movie franchise
On WGN-TV, Channel 9, Chicago,

With late headlines
From Marty McNeely.
"Experiment in Terror!"

I am a ghost of the union stockyards,
A city-cowboy in strictly formal attire
Replete with long gun, sharp spurs

And lariat.
White skin, black eyes,
Grin of stale fangs.

Black gloves,
Gold tie-clasp.
A denizen of the Old West,

Haunted with guilt,
gluttony
And gales

Of ruined breath.

Short, black top-hat,
Tux via the Undertaker
Au Rue Morgue.

Made a killing in futures.
Straight outta Canaryville,
Founded Worldwide Lariat,

Perhaps
You've heard of it.

The briefest cologne,
A light bouquet
Of agony, dolor and candle-ash.

Tarantula
Atop my left
Shoulder.

My soul is awry.

Like "The Picture
Of Dorian Gray" (1945, portrait
Of Dorian by Warrenville's

Ivan Albright),
I'm just past

Halfway to ghoul.
To the watchful,
A silent clue:

My shadow,
The silhouette
Of a marionette.

The tarantula
Was the beloved pet
Of a now-deceased friend.

He's usually
Pretty cool.

I've arrived at the masked ball
To join the dancing dead!

Mardi Gras in reverse:
Halloween in Chicago,
A rebellion of Sinners

On the eve
Of All Saints!

A perfect ritual party!

Like a movie:
Opera of light,
Symphony of faces.

To energize
This light opera of grief?

My magic lariat!

Like a cursed rapier
Hand-hewn from pressed hemp
And black oil.

Lifeline, lasso, line of text,
Forked tongue, whip . . .

Noose. The Dread
Noose

In silhouette above
The entire wretched proceedings.

Tip of the whip:
Sometimes the bleak jaw
Of a tarantula,

Sometimes a stash
Of jets
Hidden amidst

Some minarets.

I come to conjure CHAOS!
Charm the dull, afflict the weak
And make off

With the Belle of the Ball
Hog-tied in oil-black lariat.

I summon my demons
With a spotlight signal
Shone from my golden tie-clasp:

Upon the black clouds,
The silhouette of a marionette,
Lines cut

From lariat.
Demons abet.

I seed the dark clouds
Of your conscience

For the black rain
Of your nightmares.

Are you weak?

Are you dull?
Then perhaps tonight
Your fortune

Remains full.
Stay tuned. Perhaps

I'll see you again
Atop your next Night Mare.
We'll dance

With the dead.
So let us dance!
Be boisterous

In this solitude,
Which is not loneliness.

The spirits of the dead
Shall overshadow thee:

Be boisterous, jets
Amidst the minarets.

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J.J. Tindall is the Beachwood's poet-in-residence. He welcomes your comments. Chicagoetry is an exclusive Beachwood collection-in-progress.

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More Tindall:

* Chicagoetry: The Book

* Ready To Rock: The Music

* Kindled Tindall: The Novel

* The Viral Video: The Match Game Dance

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:11 PM | Permalink

The Weekend Desk Report

"Kraft is voluntarily recalling some of its Kraft and Polly-O string cheese because it may spoil and change color before the expiration date on the packages," AP reports.

"The Northfield, Ill., company said Friday that about 735,000 cases of the affected products were shipped to customers in the U.S."

Also, Kraft announced its outsourcing experiment was a total failure.

Gilligan's Tarmac
"United Airlines will pay more than $1 million in fines for stranding passengers on 13 planes for more than three hours on the tarmac during a stormy day last year at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport," AP reports.

Affected passengers will also receive a lifetime supply of string cheese and crayons.

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BeachTweets

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The Onion Week In Review

White House Thrilled With Record Number of People Who Thought They Signed Up For Health Care

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The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Stringed for your pleasure.

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The College Football Report: Boot & Rally.

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What The Bears Are Doing On Their Bye Week: Signing up for Obamacare; catching up with Laguna Beach.

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The 18 Best Brunches In Chicago: Our favorite made the list.

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The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Neko Case returns to her old Chicago stomping grounds for a special live Sound Opinions recording at The Hideout. Then Jim and Greg review the latest from Sir Paul McCartney."

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The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

Perspectivas Latinas: Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center

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Luis Bermudez of the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center discusses Puerto Rican art and culture in Chicago.

Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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I'm From Division Street

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Author Kenneth N. Green shares his story of rising from a life of poverty in Humboldt Park, where he was kicked out of Roosevelt High School, to a successful career as an attorney and boxer.

Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Latino Students Challenges & Opportunities

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Rebecca Vanderlack-Navarro of the Latino Policy Forum joins a discussion of the difficulties Latino students face in the classroom and what teachers can do to help them.

Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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Take Back Chicago

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Residents, activists and government officials join a town hall meeting calling for a new economic plan in Chicago, including an increase in the minimum wage, an end to school closures, and a fairer tax system.

Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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Sounds of the Underground: Blackened

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The band which bills itself as the "Ultimate Metallica Tribute Band" performs.

Sunday at 9 p.m. on CAN TV19.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2013

The [Friday] Papers

"The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington's ability to act hypocritically and get away with it," Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore write in Foreign Affairs.

"Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government's public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington's covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.

"Few U.S. officials think of their ability to act hypocritically as a key strategic resource. Indeed, one of the reasons American hypocrisy is so effective is that it stems from sincerity: most U.S. politicians do not recognize just how two-faced their country is. Yet as the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices - and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches."

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The globe has long had surveillance states but what the U.S. has done is create a surveillance world.

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NSA Monitored Calls Of 35 World Leaders.

Remember when they were just tracking the metadata of suspected terrorists?

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Sloppy Seconds

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Former Spy Chief Overheard Giving Off-The-Record Interview From Acela Train.

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Outing Dissent
"Inside the National Security Council, most officials aren't allowed to use or even look at Twitter, the popular social-networking service," the Washington Post reports.

"But that didn't stop some of President Obama's top advisers from trying to identify the person responsible for @natsecwonk, an anonymous Twitter account that published a steady stream of personal and sometimes offensive attacks on White House and State Department officials.

"Three weeks ago, the group hatched a plan to trick the suspected NSC staffer into revealing himself. They would intentionally plant inaccurate, but harmless, information with him to see if it would pop up as a 140-character tweet, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the effort."

This administration is out of control.

Obamadare
"Federal officials did not fully test the online health insurance marketplace until two weeks before it opened to the public on Oct. 1, contractors told Congress on Thursday," the New York Times reports.

If only Obama would run government like he ran his campaigns.

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"While individual components of the system were tested earlier, they said, the government did not conduct 'end-to-end-testing' of the system until late September."

That's just astonishing.

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"An eerie familiarity attends the stories of warnings to Obama administration officials that the enormously cumbersome Affordable Care Act was having significant implementation problems and that the website about to be launched was in danger of crashing," Charlie Cook writes for the National Journal.

"The disclosures are a metaphor for the history of this legislation, one that could be subtitled, 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.'"

Agreed.

Oh Noooooo!
The Tribune has created a photo gallery of Cubs managerial candidates. I'll save you the time: They all look like this.

House Call
Today Show Tours Michael Jordan's Highland Park Home.

Again, we'll save you the time.

Home Alone
"Congressman-turned-convicted-felon Jesse Jackson Jr. will sell his town house in the nation's capital to help pay a $750,000 forfeiture he owes, according to a court filing today," the Tribune reports.

Sandi Jackson will finally forward her old aldermanic number back to a Chicago phone.

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Today in WTF CPS

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The Week In Chicago Rock
Check these out, people: Escondido, Kodaline, Kung Fu, Good Riddance, Janelle Monae, Mike Doughty, This City Falls, Imperial Savagery, Disclosure, Filter.

Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden
Chop suey to take home.

The College Football Report: Boot & Rally
Oh, the pageantry!

Local TV Notes: Jenny McCarthy's Splashdown
Plus: Kevin Trudeau's Captive Audience, WGN's Mystery Theme and a Denis Leary sighting.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Do or dare.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:47 AM | Permalink

Local TV Notes: Jenny McCarthy's Splashdown

1. Name That Tune.

The (outstanding) Museum of Classic Chicago Television wants to know:

"Still trying to ID this tune that was used as the theme to the WGN Morning Movie from at least 1975 through 1981. Someone must know. Or perhaps YouTube Content ID will let me know. :-)."


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2. Denis Leary Sighting.

Denis Leary, executive producer of Sirens, which has been wreaking havoc on Chicago for months, stopped into Filter this week and decided to do a scene inside the Wicker Park coffeehouse. Sources close to the Filter tell us everything went smoothly.

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3. Splashdown.

Jenny McCarthy More Unpopular Than Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

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4. Wheels Down.

The new version of Ironside has already been canceled, but you can still enjoy the original show's debut season through our awesome episode guide.

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Also: Our look at the debut season of Maude.

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5. Ain't That America.

Chicago Ex-Pat Is First Black News Anchor In Utah.

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6. Tax Bikes Not TV, Says U.S. Politician.

From Chicago.

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For the record, we don't like either idea.

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7. Just Sayin'.

One day it's here, the next it's there.

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8. Captive Audience.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

The Week In Chicago Rock

You shoulda been there.

1. Escondido at the Hideout on Thursday night.


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2. Kodaline at Subterranean on Tuesday night.

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3. Kung Fu at Schubas on Wednesday night.

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4. Good Riddance at Reggies on Sunday night.

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5. Janelle Monae at the Vic on Monday night.

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6. Mike Doughty at the Park West on Thursday night.

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7. This City Falls at Mojoes in Joliet on Wednesday night.

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8. Imperial Savagery at the Cobra Lounge on Sunday night.

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9. Disclosure at the House of Blues on Thursday night.

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10. Filter at the House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:16 AM | Permalink

The College Football Report: Boot And Rally

The NCAA released its graduation success rates rates this week, and the Top 10 schools in the FBS included #8 Stanford (#5 in graduation rate) and two programs previously ranked in the Top 25 this season, Northwestern (#1) and Notre Dame (#3). We don't know what to do with #7 Miami (#10 in graduation at 86%); should a team with a 10-year history of rules violations be included? Let's give "The U" an asterisk.

Match-Ups of the Week

Pigeons vs. Ducks
An enormous pigeon surveyed the field during a recent Oregon Ducks practice session. Perhaps he (reportedly, the bird's name is Timothy) was keeping an eye out for the next special Ducks uniform. Ducks look good in pink. We hear Timothy prefers earth tones.

Our pick: Timothy.

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Penn State (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) vs. #4 Ohio State (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes don't share much history. The two teams have only met 25 times and lack the storied backstory of many Big Ten match-ups. But Saturday could prove a turning point in the latent rivalry. Some commentators are eagerly anticipating Penn State's pro-style QB Christian Hackenberg taking on the mediocre OSU secondary, but Nittany Lions are probably a year (or two) away from competing in games at this level.

Our pick: Ohio State 39, Penn State 30.

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Oranges vs. Beaches
The Miami (nee Florida) Marlins play on the former site of the Orange Bowl in the Little Havana neighborhood in, well, Miami. The Marlins left Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins, in 2011 to take up residence in Marlins Park, which was built on the grounds of the old Orange Bowl in South Beach.

The original Orange Bowl stadium opened in 1937, was demolished in 2008, and only a commemorative art installation outside Marlins Park remains, a weird reminder of the site's storied history.

The enormous spaceship that is Marlins Park will now host the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl in 2014, which will, get this, "feature a team from the American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) and Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference or Sun Belt Conference, with preference likely given to FIU if the Panthers are bowl-eligible and available."

Organizers signed an agreement with Marlins Park through 2019, but details regarding TV tie-ins, hotel deals, "and other bowl-related events" have yet to be announced. If the organizers can't close a deal with a name brand sponsor, we suggest the Dr. Neil Zemmel Miami Beach Blepharoplasty Bowl.

Our pick: The Miami Beach Bowl, by a tummy tuck.

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Bill Murray vs. Lee Corso
Can we get a rematch?

While Corso looked like an idiot, especially within the context of the ongoing controversy over derogatory team nicknames, football blowhards failed to take Florida State's longtime relationship with the Seminole Tribe into account.

Still, let's reiterate: Lee Corso is an idiot. An entertaining idiot at times, but still an idiot.

Our pick: Murray.

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Boise State (5-2, 3-1 Mountain West) vs. BYU (5-2, Independent)
This Friday night duel may get overlooked, as most Friday games do, but there is a certain level of intrigue at play; the Broncos maintain the top spot in the Mountain division of the MWC, and hope to gain the Mountain West's automatic bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. If Boise has aspiration for any more illustrious berth (as if any bowl could surpass the LVB, as it's known on the street), wins against prominent non-conference foes like BYU will be key.

Our pick: Boise State 45, BYU 41.

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Oregon QB Marcus Mariota vs. All Other Heisman Contenders
If the survey results from USA Today this week are any indication, Mariota will run (and pass) away with the Heisman this season.

Mariota leads other vote-getters by a large margin, both in overall points (cumulative votes for first, second, and third place) and in first place votes, should the season end today. Our favorite dark horse candidate: Oregon State QB Sean Mannion, who boasts huge numbers. Let's compare. Mannion's passing yards: 2,992 (Mariota: 2,051); passing TDs: 29 (19); INTs: 3 (0); completion percentage: 68.6% on 334 attempts (62.4% on 197). The two will face off in the final game of the season for both schools on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. We suggest tuning in.

Our pick: Mariota/Mannion over tryptophan.

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#21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 SEC) vs. #7 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
SEC fans began to worry following last week's spate of upsets. Following a series of losses by Top 25 conference teams, only Alabama (#1) and Missouri represented the SEC in the first week of BCS rankings, at #1 and #5 respectively. Rather than the outright dominance of past years, southerners may need to settle for just "better than any other major conference" rather than "overwhelmingly better than any other conference."

Our pick: Missouri 30, South Carolina 27.

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Rivalry Game of the Week

Miami, Ohio (0-7, 0-3 MAC) vs. Ohio (5-2, 2-1 MAC)
We didn't know the "Battle of the Bricks" was a thing. The name for the Miami, Ohio-Ohio rivalry apparently stems from the "beautiful brick campuses" of both schools, a theme embodied in Ohio's new uniforms debuting on Saturday against the visitors from Oxford.

Battle of the Bricks sounds suspiciously like a made-up marketing ploy by a joint committee of aspiring MBAs from both programs; what's next, the War of Escalating Tuitions between Kenyon College and Denison University?

We would like to see a more realistic rivalry between Miami and OU: The Battle of the Beer Bongs, or maybe the two could vie for control of the Old Pony Keg.

The universities compete off the field for the arguably greater prize: A top spot in the Princeton Review's annual rankings of party schools. The Bobcats fell to seventh this year, continuing a two-year slide from first in 2011, but still out-partying the Redhawks, who slipped to 16th from ninth in 2012.

Our pick: Ohio, after a second-half boot and rally, 36, Miami 10.

Bonus: For a true brick battle, check this out. Be warned, the pace is very slow until the five-minute mark, and then unsettlingly violent considering the actors are Legos.

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The College Football Report Sacred Chicken Seven-Year Plan
Our favorite fowl spent the week worrying about Timothy. Is the Pigeon the new Chicken? We don't yet know . . . we may need to start running the Pigeon's Picks in the following weeks. Calls to the bird's agent went unreturned as of press time.

#19 Oklahoma State (-12.5) vs. Iowa State
#25 Nebraska (-10) vs. Minnesota
#9 Clemson (-16.5) vs. Maryland
Temple vs. Southern Methodist (-14)

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Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:28 AM | Permalink

Beachwood Photo Booth: Orange Garden

Chop suey.

orangegardenhalloweencrnrsetc.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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To take home.

orangegardenalt.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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Helene on Twitter!

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Meet Helene!

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Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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Previously:
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.
* Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

October 24, 2013

The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel formally presented his proposed 2014 city budget to the City Council on Wednesday, starting a weeks-long process that's likely to consist of hearings, questions, sweet talks, twisted arms, capitulations, and moments of intended eloquence," Mick Dumke writes for the Reader. "Then aldermen will vote to approve it largely intact.

"On the upside, this proposal appears to include some good news. Emanuel said the gap between revenues and expenditures is shrinking, from $655 million in 2011 to a projected $339 million next year. At the same time, he plans to invest more in services like recycling and resources for kids and teenagers.

"But even as Emanuel called for 'telling the truth' about city finances, his speech avoided doing so, glossing over details about how hundreds of millions of public dollars are spent. Here are the facts behind some of the mayor's claims."

You have to click through to get the goods.

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"Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2014 budget more than doubles the amount initially set aside for police overtime this year, reflecting the increasingly high financial cost of trying to tamp down gun violence on city streets," the Tribune reports.

I find that framing a bit odd. Is it becoming increasingly more expensive to fight gun violence in the city? My guess is that the costs are just about the same as always!

What is really being reflected here is A) evidence that Rahm lowballed overtime pay in this year's budget to help keep it "balanced," and B) a political and policy decision to dole out overtime dollars instead of pursuing an alternate policing or personnel strategy.

Worse, though, is this "objective" statement by the Trib:

"Emanuel has embarked on a strategy of moving police out of desk jobs and onto the streets."

That sounds good, and that's what Rahm wants you to believe, but if you're familiar with what's really gone on at the police department, you know that's just not true.

"Most of the 1,000 officers the mayor claimed to redeploy were already out on the street in specialized units assigned to high-crime areas," Dumke reports.

"In fact, many veteran officers believe that dismantling these units was disastrous as murders and shootings spiked last year. Since then, the city has spent an estimated $1 million a week paying cops to work overtime shifts in troubled parts of the city.

"At the same time, new police hires are barely keeping pace with retirements and attrition. Currently about 10,700 police officers are on the force - about 200 fewer than when Emanuel took office, according to payroll records posted online. That's also 1,100 fewer than in 2007."

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I'm sure the Sun-Times' reporting is equally egregious, but the site once again froze my totally up-to-date Firefox browser and took about 30 minutes off my life. I knew I shouldn't have tried to go back there after experiencing this problem for weeks now - and occasionally over the years before then. Get it together, Sun-Times. You're supposed to be digital gurus now, not the same old amateur hour.

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#ChiBudget

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He's For Quinn (?)
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel intends to back fellow Democrat Pat Quinn for a new term as governor - even if mayoral pal and vacation companion Bruce Rauner wins the GOP nomination," Greg Hinz reports for Crain's.

Because this is Chicago, we must consider the following:

A) Given his unpopularity, Rahm's endorsement of Quinn might actually help his friend Rauner - or whoever wins the GOP nomination. Additionally, Rahm just increased the chances that Rauner wins the nomination by separating himself from that friendship, which has been hurting Rauner's cause.

B) Rahm may say he'll back Quinn, but will he lift a finger to help him? Let's see how enthusiastically Rahm raises money and sends out the troops on behalf of Quinn; merely "backing" him doesn't amount to much.

C) Rahm is supporting "the Democrat," not Quinn, out of party loyalty.

Even given the alleged policy differences cited by Rahm, it's awfully hard to believe that he wouldn't prefer Rauner to Quinn. Rauner and Rahm speak the same language, share the same values and seem more simpatico on the issues than Rahm and the Quinnster. Unfortunately for him, Rahm obviously thinks he can't hide under his desk on this one.

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What The Bears Are Doing On Their Bye Week
Signing up for Obamacare; watching Laguna Beach.

Ha Ha Cubs And Double Door Ha Has
In our Local Music Notebook.

The Palmer House Hilton's Magnificent Mural
From France in 1926 to the ceiling of the hotel's lobby.

PSA To NSA: Stop Watching Us
Featuring a celebrity cast.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Thaw out.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:57 AM | Permalink

The Palmer House Hilton's Magnificent Mural

"The Palmer House hotel in downtown Chicago is old school. Walk up the marble staircase and enter a two-story time machine back a century or so. You are surrounded by all manner of elaborate decorations - the centerpiece of which is the gorgeous mural painted on the ceiling. Measuring more than 50 feet, it is composed of 21 separate pieces that were painted in Paris by artist Louis Pierre Rigal in 1926."


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"In the muralist Louis Pierre Rigal's early 1930s paintings for the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria, muscular men haul nets full of fish, and gowned women dance and lounge in gardens," the New York Times notes.

"Rigal apparently wanted to add scenes of women playing with horned gazelles and proffering bouquets and fruit, but never had the chance."

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Video by ChiTownView and MindsiMedia.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:36 AM | Permalink

Celebrity PSA To NSA: Stop Watching Us

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr., Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and actor Maggie Gyllenhaal join a chorus of prominent voices calling for an end to mass suspicionless surveillance by the National Security Agency in a new short video released by the StopWatching.us coalition.

The PSA-style video draws parallels between the privacy invasions perpetrated by the Nixon administration and the dragnet telecommunications data collection confirmed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.


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The video is a call to action released in support of the Stop Watching Us: Rally Against Mass Surveillance being held in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Oct. 26, the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act.

Formed in June 2013, the StopWatching.us coalition is comprised of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum demanding that Congress investigate the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

A diverse cast of media, academic, political and legal figures and truth-speakers unite in the video to sound the alarm over unconstitutional government surveillance. The full list, in order of appearance, includes:

* Daniel Ellsberg

* Phil Donahue

* John Conyers Jr.

* Maggie Gyllenhaal

* Oliver Stone

* John Cusack

* Wil Wheaton

* Molly Crabapple

* Jesselyn Radack

* J. Kirk Wiebe

* Mark Klein

* Thomas Drake

* Cindy Cohn

* Dan Choi

* Lawrence Lessig

The coalition is calling for a full Congressional investigation of America's surveillance programs, reform to federal surveillance law, and accountability from officials responsible for hiding this surveillance from lawmakers and the public.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:18 AM | Permalink

What The Bears Are Doing On Their Bye Week

According to sources.

* Marc Trestman using back channels to see if Minnesota job will be open soon.

* Phil Emery using back channels to see if Minnesota job will be open soon.

* Jay Cutler taking over Kristin Cavallari's Twitter feed.

* Kristin Cavallari using back channels to see if Josh McCown is single.

* Brandon Marshall painting target on his uniform.

* Julius Peppers beginning B-12 regimen.

* Marc Trestman using back channels to see if Alouettes job will be open soon.

* Phil Emery trying to sign Bears up for Obamacare.

* Phil Emery dodging phone calls from Ozzie Guillen looking for a job.

* Josh McCown beginning steroid regimen.

* Charles Tillman punching balls out of high school players' hands to pass the time.

* Jay Cutler finally watching Laguna Beach.

* Devin Hester running receiver routes with high school players just to pass the time.

* Roberto Garza hiking balls to high school quarterbacks just to pass the time. Plus, misses having hands up under his ass.

* Robbie Gould helping Chicago Fire get into the playoffs.

* Stephen Paea choreographing new haka to make it snow.

* D.J. Williams spinning wax at Cobra Lounge.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:56 AM | Permalink

Local Music Notebook: Ha Ha Cubs And Double Door Ha Has

1. Ha Ha Cubs.

It should come as no surprise that the guys in Ha Ha Tonka are St. Louis Cardinals fans; the band, which is on Bloodshot Records, is from Missouri and named after a state park there.

So you can imagine their reaction to a song from their new record being used during the Cardinals' National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

From their YouTube channel:

"Most of you probably know that all of us (except Brett) are diehard St. Louis Cardinals fans. Well, you can imagine how excited we were when TBS used our song 'Rewrite Our Lives' last week as intro music to the Cards NLCS game, while highlights played superimposed onto the Arch. It was pretty epic. Oh, and the Redbirds beat the Dodgers 1-0."

Here it is:


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You can download the song for 89 cents here, as well as the full new album from whence it comes, for $5.99.

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Here's the teaser for the record.

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A Tonka song also played in the background of this sniper scene on CBS's Criminal Minds.

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Here's a full video.

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Tonka is on tour now; they play in Chicago on November 30 at Lincoln Hall.

2. The Beach Boys And Beck.

"Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck have added a special benefit show to their current U.S. co-headlining tour," Classic Hits And Oldies notes.

"The two influential musicians will hit the stage at Chicago's House of Blues on October 29 for the seventh annual School Rocks concert to raise money for San Miguel School Chicago. All proceeds from the event will help fund the facility's scholarship programs and go toward providing community support for the urban students who attend the school.

"As with the other concerts on Wilson and Beck's tour, the School Rocks show also will feature appearances by Brian's fellow Beach Boys bandmates Al Jardine and David Marks. Wilson and Beck will play separate sets with their respective backing groups and also will team up for several songs. Their co-headlining outing winds down the following night, October 30, with a show in Milwaukee."

3. Highly Recommended.

How A Chicago Indie Rocker Helped Make A West African Guitar Band A Sensation In Niger.

4. The Chicago Intervention Of Elliott Smith.

From Pitchfork's Oral History Smith's Downfall:

"We had tried once to have an intervention in Chicago, [circa the Either/Or tour]. Oh my god. He hated us. He never let me forget what I did to him. We'd be having a great conversation, and it would just come up again out of nowhere. It totally reminds me of the child in him, or my own kids, how they hold onto one memory of mom and dad fighting at dinner. He never let me forget how betrayed he felt. He did agree to go. I think he felt the love and the concern, but you just don't do that to him. That's what he was like: 'I'm a different person. You could have dealt with it differently.'"

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From the MTV News archive:

"Already a heavy drinker while living in New York, he began coupling alcohol with antidepressants. An intervention in Chicago during the Either/Or tour proved ineffective."

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Audio of Smith at the Riv in 2002:

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5. The Double Door Is Going For Laughs.

6. Chief Spleef.

The good news for Chief Keef is that he's out of jail. The bad news is that good behavior doesn't help his cred.

7. Eminent Hipster.

"Fagen writes that, while backstage at the Ravinia Festival, deeply agitated, he took a toke from a joint before the show, smoothing the wheels for a dull, 'tight and polite' performance."

Ravinia: Where Rock Goes To Die.

8. Culture Shock Chicago.

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9. Heavy Metal Journey.

"The 18-year-old Bobby Landgraf who moved to Austin from Chicago in 1983 to attend the University of Texas could shred with the best of them. 'I was always a metal kid,' he says, 'but I ended up in bands that played everything but metal.' He played showband funk with Dino Lee, jazz fusion in Blow, rock 'n' roll with Band From Hell and rap with Def MFs. But even in those bands, his queasy Sabbathian tones broke through."

10. The Chicago Teddy Bears Have Been Voted 2013's Best Band By Members Who Enjoy Swinging At Rochdale's Local Jazz Club.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:38 AM | Permalink

October 23, 2013

The [Wednesday] Papers

"What are we to make of Edward Snowden?" Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post.

"I know what I once made of him. He was no real whistleblower, I wrote, but 'ridiculously cinematic' and 'narcissistic' as well.

"As time has proved, my judgements were just plain wrong. Whatever Snowden is, he is curiously modest and has bent over backward to ensure that the information he has divulged has done as little damage as possible. As a "traitor," he lacks the requisite intent and menace.

"But traitor is what Snowden has been roundly called. Harry Reid: 'I think Snowden is a traitor.' John Boehner: 'He's a traitor.' Rep. Peter King: 'This guy is a traitor; he's a defector.' And Dick Cheney not only denounced Snowden as a 'traitor' but also suggested that he might have shared information with the Chinese. This innuendo, as with Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, is more proof of Cheney's unerring determination to be cosmically wrong."

You know who else called him a traitor?

Roger Simon, in the Sun-Times, twice in June.

"It appears that what Snowden really wants to be is a superhero in his own comic book," Simon wrote first back then.

Simon returned a few weeks later to write "International man of mystery, leaker of secrets and self-proclaimed spy Edward Snowden is now deep into his own martyrdom."

Care to reassess, Roger?

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Also up for reassessment:

Clarence Page wrote for the Tribune in June about Snowden's NSA leaks: "Scandal? Not so much."

Really?

And Eric Zorn wrote: "I'm not alarmed by what we've learned in the past week about the extent of the government's electronic data mining in which algorithms search for telltale patterns of communication. Not yet. Not by a long shot."

Now?

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See also: Claim On "Attacks Thwarted" By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence.

Obama's Drone War Is Illegal & Immoral
Hey, don't take it from me - take it from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Maya Angelou Turns On Obama
Welcome to the party!

JFK Overdrive
"With roughly 40,000 books about John F. Kennedy, and many more to come as the 50th anniversary of his assassination nears, why do we still know so little about him?" the New York Times asks in a blurb for a book review by executive editor Jill Abramson.

Really? Don't we know everything ad nauseum about JFK?

The real problem is the myth still getting in the way of the reality.

For example, when I came across this year-old story about Mimi Alford in the New York Post recently and she referred to the White House swimming pool, I thought, "Oh yeah, the swimming pool Seymour Hersh wrote about."

John F. Kennedy was a disgusting man. And he was a lousy president - and not just because of his affairs. Read Hersh.

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I'm not sure, though, if I ever realized this curious detail about JFK's assassination: Lee Harvey Oswald Bought JFK Assassination Rifle From Chicago Sporting Goods Store.

A local TV report on WBKB, the forerunner to WLS, was uploaded to YouTube this week and it's fairly fascinating. Plus, the reporter is Hugh Hill, whom we just lost last week.

I've added some other bonus material, so take a look.

Exclusive! Rahm Budget Preview
Another Beachwood Special Report.

Lady Gaga's Affront To R. Kelly's Victim
A blindingly obvious question goes unasked by almost everyone.

The Political Odds
Slightly updated.

Fantasy Fix
Bring in the replacement players.

Chicago Pneumatic Hammer Review
Ideal for front-end work.

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BeachTweets

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Mixed grill.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:46 AM | Permalink

Chicago Pneumatic Hammer Review

"The CP717 is a Super Duty Air Hammer and is the most powerful air hammer available for automotive, truck and off-road equipment.

"Extra large .498 shank for heavy duty applications.

"Heavy Duty customers will love this powerful tool.

"Positive action trigger for precise control.

"Ideal for front end work, kingpin bushing removal and installation of bulldozer walking beams, removal of truck springs and heavy duty spring bushings."


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"Positive action trigger for precise control because of spool valve.

"1,800 blows per minute.

".498-Inch diameter chisel shank to handle the extra power.

"Longer stroke heavy duty piston.

"Applications: front end work, king pin removal, removal and installation of bulldozer walking beams, removal of truck springs and heavy-duty spring bushings.

"Stroke: 2.69"; average air consumption: 3.13 cfm; air inlet thread: 1/4" NPTF; minimum hose size: 3/8"; sound dBA: 95; length: 9.75"; weight: 4.75 lb."

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"Perfect for deep cutting, bolt riveting and super-duty applications. There is no other tool that will perform these functions at this price point."

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See also: jean9's YouTube channel.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:33 AM | Permalink

Maya Angelou, Judy Blume & Jules Feiffer To Obama: Stop Undermining Literature!

More than 120 leading authors and illustrators of books for children, including several national award winners, are calling on President Obama to "change the way we assess learning so that schools nurture creativity, exploration, and a love of literature."

In a letter delivered to the White House [Tuesday], the coalition stated, "Our public schools spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations."

"All children must have the freedom to grow, to evolve, to develop," explained acclaimed poet Maya Angelou, who spoke at Obama's inauguration.

"We parents, authors, illustrators are standing up for our children. We desperately need you and your administration to stand with us."

The authors' and illustrators' letter continued, "We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your administration's own initiatives, on children's love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration."

Signers of a "Public Letter on Standardized Testing from Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Youth" include such other notables as Alma Flor Ada, Judy Blume, Jules Feiffer and Donald Crews, as well as National Book Award winners Kathryn Erskine and Phillip Hoose.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) coordinated signature-gathering for the letter.

The assessment reform organization's executive director, Dr. Monty Neill, explained, "The authors and illustrators recognize the damage done to young children by testing overkill. The new Common Core assessments will not reverse the damage. In fact, they will mandate more standardized exams in more grades. It is time for an indefinite moratorium on high-stakes exams."

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The letter:

October 22, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We the undersigned children's book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration's own initiatives, on children's love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.

We call on you to support authentic performance assessments, not simply computerized versions of multiple-choice exams. We also urge you to reverse the narrowing of curriculum that has resulted from a fixation on high-stakes testing.

Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations. As Michael Morpurgo, author of the Tony Award Winner War Horse, put it, "It's not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children."

Teachers, parents and students agree with British author Philip Pullman who said, "We are creating a generation that hates reading and feels nothing but hostility for literature." Students spend time on test practice instead of perusing books. Too many schools devote their library budgets to test-prep materials, depriving students of access to real literature. Without this access, children also lack exposure to our country's rich cultural range.

This year has seen a growing national wave of protest against testing overuse and abuse. As the authors and illustrators of books for children, we feel a special responsibility to advocate for change. We offer our full support for a national campaign to change the way we assess learning so that schools nurture creativity, exploration, and a love of literature from the first day of school through high school graduation.

Alma Flor Ada
Alma Alexander
Jane Ancona
Maya Angelou
Jonathan Auxier
Kim Baker
Molly Bang
Tracy Barrett
Chris Barton
Ari Berk
Judy Blume
Alfred B. (Fred) Bortz
Lynea Bowdish
Sandra Boynton
Shellie Braeuner
Ethriam Brammer
Louann Mattes Brown
Anne Broyles
Michael Buckley
Janet Buell
Dori Hillestad Butler
Charito Calvachi-Mateyko
Valerie Scho Carey
Rene Colato Lainez
Henry Cole
Ann Cook
Karen Coombs
Robert Cortez
Cynthia Cotten
Bruce Coville
Ann Crews
Donald Crews
Nina Crews
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Laura Dower
Kathryn Erskine
Jules Feiffer
Jody Feldman
Mary Ann Fraser
Sharlee Glenn
Barbara Renaud Gonzalez
Laurie Gray
Trine M. Grillo
Claudia Harrington
Sue Heavenrich
Linda Oatman High
Anna Grossnickle Hines
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Phillip Hoose
Diane M. Hower
Michelle Houts
Mike Jung
Kathy Walden Kaplan
Amal Karzai
Jane Kelley
Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff
Amy Goldman Koss
JoAnn Vergona Krapp
Nina Laden
Sarah Darer Littman
José Antonio López
Mariellen López
Jenny MacKay
Marianne Malone
Ann S. Manheimer
Sally Mavor
Diane Mayr
Marissa Moss
Yesenia Navarrete Hunter
Sally Nemeth
Kim Norman
Geraldo Olivo
Alexis O'Neill
Anne Marie Pace
Amado Peña
Irene Peña
Lynn Plourde
Ellen Prager, PhD
David Rice
Armando Rendon
Joan Rocklin
Judith Robbins Rose
Sergio Ruzzier
Barb Rosenstock
Liz Garton Scanlon
Lisa Schroeder
Sara Shacter
Wendi Silvano
Janni Lee Simner
Sheri Sinykin
Jordan Sonnenblick
Ruth Spiro
Heidi E.Y. Stemple
Whitney Stewart
Shawn K. Stout
Steve Swinburne
Carmen Tafolla
Kim Tomsic
Duncan Tonatiuh
Patricia Thomas
Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Deborah Underwood
Corina Vacco
Audrey Vernick
Debbie Vilardi
Judy Viorst
K. M. Walton
Wendy Wax
April Halprin Wayland
Carol Weis
Rosemary Wells
Lois Wickstrom
Suzanne Morgan Williams
Kay Winters
Ashley Wolff
Lisa Yee
Karen Romano Young
Jane Yolen
Roxyanne Young
Paul O. Zelinsky
Jennifer Ziegler

CC: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:18 AM | Permalink

Lady Gaga's Affront To R. Kelly's Victims

"Lady Gaga teamed up with R&B singer R. Kelly on her latest single, 'Do What U Want,' and it was a Chicago-based DJ and producer who played matchmaker," Luis Gomez reports for the Tribune.

"DJ White Shadow (real name: Paul Blair) said he put the two artists in touch on a whim while producing Gaga's upcoming album, Artpop. The synth-heavy 'Do What U Want' - which features Kelly singing 'You're the Marilyn, I'm the president' - was officially released Monday and can be heard in Best Buy's Beats Studio headphones commercial featuring the Washington Wizards' John Wall."

That's interesting, but it doesn't answer the blindingly obvious question staring us in the face. Not surprisingly, Jim DeRogatis takes it up.

"Stefani Germanotta is as well-known for championing female self-empowerment and an enlightened vision of sexuality (including gay rights) as she is for charting the cutting edge of modern dance-pop name under her better-known stage name, Lady Gaga," DeRogatis writes on his WBEZ Pop N Stuff blog.

"So how does she square those causes with 'Do What You Want,' her musically awkward collaboration with Chicago R&B star R. Kelly on her fourth album ARTPOP, due Nov. 8th?"

The amnesia of the music world, and the culture at-large, of R. Kelly's horrendous misdeeds is fairly astounding. True, he was acquitted of child pornography charges by a Cook County jury. Also true, though, is that the reporting of DeRogatis (and former Sun-Times colleague Abdon Pallasch), based partly on a slew of civil suits brought against Kelly, shows that the R&B superstar engaged in a pattern of harmful relationships with underage girls.

"Perhaps, despite all the time she spends in Chicago to be near her boyfriend Taylor Kinney while he's filming Chicago Fire, Gaga never has been exposed to WBEZ's extensive coverage of Kelly's troubling history," DeRogatis writes.

"Or maybe, like the promoters of this summer's Pitchfork Music Festival, she just doesn't care about the harm the R&B singer has done to so many of her beloved 'little monsters.'"

Indeed, Kelly is now simply the butt jokes everywhere that ignore the fact that he left real victims in his wake.

But if you're afraid you've lost your mojo and want to goose record sales, well, that's just business.

"Never reluctant to talk to the press, Gaga has yet to say how this pairing came about. But she hasn't been hesitant to play into the Kelly mindset: The cover art features her posterior clad only in the tiniest of (thoia?) thongs, while the tune's lyrics find her in an unusually submissive frame of mind: 'You can't have my heart and you won't use my mind but/Do what u want with my body, do what you want with my body ... Don't stop, let's party.'"

Really? Will the Muppets be there?

Entertainment Weekly says Gaga may regret her collaboration with Kelly because "the track doesn't quite come together."

Isn't there a better reason?

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See also: Sasha Go Harder says she'd like to work with R. Kelly.

Shaking our heads.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Joann Delgado:

I am saddened that I am not seeing more commentary like this on the song. Thank you for being thought-provoking. I made sure to share on FB. It was a well thought-out and intelligent piece.

2. UPDATE 11/20/13 from Steve Rhodes:

Lady Gaga appeared on Saturday Night Live with R. Kelly and ridiculously dry humped to guffaws everywhere.

Meanwhile, Rockie Fresh and Katie Got Bandz collaborated with Kelly on a remix of his "My Story," which includes the lyrics "And you know who you is girl - we been fuckin' since the 12th grade" and "They asked them in a interview, Why do he love these girls? They only thing he had to say was, Motherfuck the world!"

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:34 AM | Permalink

Claim On "Attacks Thwarted" By NSA Spreads Despite Lack Of Evidence

Two weeks after Edward Snowden's first revelations about sweeping government surveillance, President Obama shot back.

"We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany," Obama said during a visit to Berlin in June. "So lives have been saved."

In the months since, intelligence officials, media outlets, and members of Congress from both parties all repeated versions of the claim that NSA surveillance has stopped more than 50 terrorist attacks. The figure has become a key talking point in the debate around the spying programs.

"Fifty-four times this and the other program stopped and thwarted terrorist attacks both here and in Europe - saving real lives," Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on the House floor in July, referring to programs authorized by a pair of post-9/11 laws. "This isn't a game. This is real."

But there's no evidence that the oft-cited figure is accurate.

The NSA itself has been inconsistent on how many plots it has helped prevent and what role the surveillance programs played. The agency has often made hedged statements that avoid any sweeping assertions about attacks thwarted.

A chart declassified by the agency in July, for example, says that intelligence from the programs on 54 occasions "has contributed to the [U.S. government's] understanding of terrorism activities and, in many cases, has enabled the disruption of potential terrorist events at home and abroad" - a much different claim than asserting that the programs have been responsible for thwarting 54 attacks.

NSA officials have mostly repeated versions of this wording.

When NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander spoke at a Las Vegas security conference in July, for instance, he referred to "54 different terrorist-related activities," 42 of which were plots and 12 of which were cases in which individuals provided "material support" to terrorism.

But the NSA has not always been so careful.

During Alexander's speech in Las Vegas, a slide in an accompanying slideshow read simply "54 ATTACKS THWARTED."

And in a recent letter to NSA employees, Alexander and John Inglis, the NSA's deputy director, wrote that the agency has "contributed to keeping the U.S. and its allies safe from 54 terrorist plots." (The letter was obtained by reporter Kevin Gosztola from a source with ties to the intelligence community. The NSA did not respond when asked to authenticate it.)

Asked for clarification of the surveillance programs' record, the NSA declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pressed Alexander on the issue at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"Would you agree that the 54 cases that keep getting cited by the administration were not all plots, and of the 54, only 13 had some nexus to the U.S.?" Leahy said at the hearing. "Would you agree with that, yes or no?"

"Yes," Alexander replied, without elaborating.

It's impossible to assess the role NSA surveillance played in the 54 cases because, while the agency has provided a full list to Congress, it remains classified.

Officials have openly discussed only a few of the cases (see below), and the agency has identified only one - involving a San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support the militant group Al Shabab - in which NSA surveillance played a dominant role.

The surveillance programs at issue fall into two categories: The collection of metadata on all American phone calls under the Patriot Act, and the snooping of electronic communications targeted at foreigners under a 2007 surveillance law.

Alexander has said that surveillance authorized by the latter law provided "the initial tip" in roughly half of the 54 cases. The NSA has not released examples of such cases.

After reading the full classified list, Leahy concluded the NSA's surveillance has some value but still questioned the agency's figures.

"We've heard over and over again the assertion that 54 terrorist plots were thwarted" by the two programs, Leahy told Alexander at the Judiciary Committee hearing this month. "That's plainly wrong, but we still get it in letters to members of Congress, we get it in statements. These weren't all plots and they weren't all thwarted. The American people are getting left with the inaccurate impression of the effectiveness of NSA programs."

The origins of the "54" figure go back to a House Intelligence Committee hearing on June 18, less than two weeks after the Guardian's publication of the first story based on documents leaked by Snowden.

At that hearing, Alexander said, "The information gathered from these programs provided the U.S. government with critical leads to help prevent over 50 potential terrorist events in more than 20 countries around the world."

He didn't specify what "events" meant.

Pressed by Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Alexander said the NSA would send a more detailed breakdown to the committee.

Speaking in Baltimore the next week, Alexander gave an exact figure: 54 cases "in which these programs contributed to our understanding, and in many cases, helped enable the disruption of terrorist plots in the U.S. and in over 20 countries throughout the world."

But members of Congress have repeatedly ignored the distinctions and hedges.

The websites of the Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee include pages titled, "54 Attacks in 20 Countries Thwarted By NSA Collection."

And individual congressmen have frequently cited the figure in debates around NSA surveillance.

  • Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., who is also on the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement in July referring to "54 terrorist plots that have been foiled by the NSA programs."

    Asked about the figure, Westmoreland spokeswoman Leslie Shedd told ProPublica that "he was citing declassified information directly from the National Security Agency."

  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, issued a statement in July saying "the programs in question have thwarted 54 specific plots, many targeting Americans on American soil."
  • Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., issued his own statement the next day: "The Amash amendment would have eliminated Section 215 of the Patriot Act which we know has thwarted 54 terrorist plots against the US (and counting)." (The amendment, which aimed to bar collection of Americans' phone records, was narrowly defeated in the House.)
  • Mike Rogers, the Intelligence Committee chairman who credited the surveillance programs with thwarting 54 attacks on the House floor, repeated the claim to Bob Schieffer on CBS's Face the Nation in July.

    "You just heard what he said, senator," Schieffer said, turning to Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., an NSA critic. "Fifty-six terror plots here and abroad have been thwarted by the NSA program. So what's wrong with it, then, if it's managed to stop 56 terrorist attacks? That sounds like a pretty good record."

    Asked about Rogers' remarks, House Intelligence Committee spokeswoman Susan Phalen said in a statement: "In 54 specific cases provided by the NSA, the programs stopped actual plots or put terrorists in jail before they could effectuate further terrorist plotting. These programs save lives by disrupting attacks. Sometimes the information is found early in the planning, and sometimes very late in the planning. But in all those cases these people intended to kill innocent men and women through the use of terror."

  • Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., went even further in a town hall meeting in August.

    Responding to a question about the NSA vacuuming up Americans' phone records, he said the program had "been used 54 times to be able to interrupt 54 different terrorist plots here in the United States that had originated from overseas in the past eight years. That's documented."

  • The same day Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who sits on the Intelligence Committee, defended the NSA at a town hall meeting with constituents in Cranston, R.I.

    "I know that these programs have been directly effective in thwarting and derailing 54 terrorist attacks," he said.

    Asked about Langevin's comments, spokeswoman Meg Fraser said in an e-mail, "The committee was given information from NSA on August 1 that clearly indicated they considered the programs in question to have been used to help disrupt 54 terrorist events. That is the information the Congressman relied on when characterizing the programs at his town hall."

Wenstrup, Heck and Lankford did not respond to requests for comment.

The claims have also appeared in the media. ABC News, CNN and the New York Times have all repeated versions of the claim that more than 50 plots have been thwarted by the programs.

The NSA has publicly identified four of the 54 cases. They are:

  • The case of Basaaly Moalin, the San Diego man convicted of sending $8,500 to Somalia to support Al Shabab, the terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the attack on a Kenyan mall last month.

    The NSA has said its collection of American phone records allowed it to determine that a U.S. phone was in contact with a Shabab figure, which in turn led them to Moalin.

    NSA critic Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has argued that the NSA could have gotten a court order to get the phone records in question and that the case does not justify the bulk collection of Americans' phone records.

  • The case of Najibullah Zazi, who in 2009 plotted to bomb the New York subway system. The NSA has said that an e-mail it intercepted to an account of a known al-Qaeda figure in Pakistan allowed authorities to identify and ultimately capture Zazi.

    But an Associated Press examination of the case concluded that, again, the NSA's account of the case did not show the need for the new warrantless powers at issue in the current debate.

    "Even before the surveillance laws of 2007 and 2008, the FBI had the authority to - and did, regularly - monitor e-mail accounts linked to terrorists," the AP reported.

  • A case involving David Coleman Headley, the Chicago man who helped plan the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.

    Intelligence officials have said that NSA surveillance helped thwart a subsequent plot involving Headley to attack a Danish newspaper.

    A ProPublica examination of that episode concluded that it was a tip from British intelligence, rather than NSA surveillance, that led authorities to Headley.

  • A case involving a purported plot to attack the New York Stock Exchange.

    This convoluted episode involves three Americans, including Khalid Ouazzani of Kansas City, Mo., who pleaded guilty in 2010 to bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda. (Ouazzani was sentenced to 14 years last month.)

    An FBI official said in June that NSA surveillance helped in the case "to detect a nascent plotting to bomb the New York Stock Exchange."

    But no one has been charged with crimes related to that or any other planned attack.

    The Kansas City Star reported that one of the men in the case had "pulled together a short report with the kind of public information easily available from Google Earth, tourist maps and brochures" and that his contact in Yemen "tore up the report, 'threw it in the street' and never showed it to anyone."

    Court records also suggest that the men in Yemen that Ouazzani sent more than $20,000 to may have been scamming him and spent some of the money on personal expenses.

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Previously:
* Obama Vs. The World.

* How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

* UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

* Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

* Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

* A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

* Item: NSA Briefing.

* The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

* The NSA Is Out Of Control.

* Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

* Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

* Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

* Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

* NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

* Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

* It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

* What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

* America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

* The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

* America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

* Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

* Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

* Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

* NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

* Does The NSA Tap That?

* Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

* FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

* NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

* Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

* The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

* Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

* Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

* ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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See also:
* Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

* James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

* Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

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Comments welcome.


Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:56 AM | Permalink

Exclusive! Rahm Budget Preview

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to balance next year's budget by asking smokers and cable TV customers to pay more, cutting spending and hoping that a rosier economy will fill city coffers with more tax dollars," the Tribune reports.

"The picture of what the mayor will say Wednesday when he delivers his annual budget address to the Chicago City Council emerged as top aides briefed aldermen behind closed doors Tuesday."

The Beachwood has learned Rahm will propose the following measures:

* Doubling the amusement tax to make it twice as expensive to be amused in Chicago.

* Increasing the tax on cable TV by 50 percent for all users, with an additional 10 percent surcharge on all viewers of the Real Housewives franchise.

* A new $1 fee every time you start your car.

* A new $1 tax on every new tax.

* A new $100 school-closing fee to be imposed on every resident living within the boundaries of a closed school.

* A new $100 welcoming-school fee to be imposed on every resident living within the boundaries of a welcoming school.

* Black light cameras using infrared technology will start scanning the inside of vehicles at stop signs and send out $100 tickets to those whose interiors are a mess.

* A new real estate transfer fee to be charged to whichever party in a sale has the fewest degrees of separation to the mayor.

* A 75-cent-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, accompanied by a new 10-cent tax on every match struck and a 20-cent tax on every lighter lit aflame.

* Meet new chief financial officer Kevin Trudeau.

* Cubs will now be charged $100 for every error.

* A $100,000 tax assessed to every "No" vote in the city council.

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:43 AM | Permalink

Lee Harvey Oswald Bought JFK Assassination Rifle From Chicago Store

Here's the report, uploaded anew to YouTube this week, from WBKB, which became WLS, with Frank Reynolds anchoring and Hugh Hill - who just died - reporting.


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The ad, via Wikipedia.

KleinsAd1963.jpg(ENLARGE)

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From the Warren Report.

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Entirely too jaunty interview with the deputy who found the rifle.

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In December 1963, the Tribune reported in "Here Is The Story Of Rifle Used By Kennedy Assassin" that "When John F. Kennedy was a senator he proposed that the United States forbid the shipment of firearms from abroad." The rifle was originally from Italy.

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In November 2003, the Sun-Times reported "Gun Dealer Haunted By Sale Of Rifle Used To Kill JFK; Oswald Used Alias, Paid Klein $21.45 For Mail-Order Weapon."

"[Milt Klein]'s only public comment was a flatly written statement to reporters detailing [Lee Harvey Oswald]'s mail order purchase of an Italian- made Mannlicher-Carcano rifle - a $21.45 buy Oswald made under an assumed name," the paper said.

"In his written statement, Klein said he had cooperated fully with authorities and noted that rifles like the one sent to Oswald could be bought 'in thousands of stores and from hundreds of mail order companies all over the United States.'

"The family's connection to guns began with Milt's grandfather Jacob, a Chicago pawn shop operator who sold weapons. Milt continued that business and moved it toward sporting goods: Milt was an avid fisherman and accomplished amateur golfer. But Milt kept selling guns because he felt it was a connection to Jacob's legacy, and it was profitable."

*

"Guilt? No one knows for sure. For years, Klein, who died in 1997 at the age of 87, did not talk openly about Oswald's mail order purchase from Klein's Sporting Goods with anyone, family or friends.

"Milt's two sons, Tom, a 62-year-old Ohio college professor, and John, a 58-year-old Southern California screenwriter and director, believe his silence was a way to shelter them."

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:37 AM | Permalink

Fantasy Fix: The Replacements

I had planned to discuss my "true" top 10 fantasy players this week, after critiquing my own pre-season top 10 rankings last week, but something more pressing has come up: Numerous players were injured last week, several of them with season-ending afflictions.

The lead-up to Week 8 is looking like it will be one of these busiest in fantasy sports waiver wire history (though I'm hoping no one actually keeps track of this and can prove me wrong).

With fantasy team owners ready to dig deep, here are my ideas for replacing the wounded:

Doug Martin, RB, TAM: Probably out for the season with a torn labrum, though no one's admitting it yet. You could try the TAM rookie RB Mike James, who got several carries and 45 yards rushing after Martin bowed out in Week 7, but another idea is Zac Stacy, RB, STL, who scored a TD in Week 7 and might be in line for more work after his own QB went down last week.

Sam Bradford, QB, STL: Out for the season with torn ACL. Bradford was quietly having a pretty good fantasy run this season, with 13 TDs and only three INTs, though he was probably still a back-up. Given his status as fantasy filler, a suitable replacement could be Geno Smith, QB, NYJ, who has eight total TDs against 10 INTs, but has been running more and passing better in recent games.

Jay Cutler, QB, CHI: Out four to six weeks, groin injury. Cutler also likely has been a fantasy back-up. You could gamble on whoever is starting for Minnesota in a given week. The QB is a three-headed dragon consisting of Josh Freeman, Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder, but for some reason, the Vikings seem more interested in passing than handing the ball to Adrian Peterson.

Jermichael Finley, TE, GB: Probably out for the season with a neck injury. Finley's status is unclear, but the injury was scary enough to keep him in the ICU overnight, so everyone's expecting he'll be out a while. Charles Clay, TE, MIA, is almost an even trade for Finley. He had only one catch in Week 7, but it was a seven-yard TD, and he's been averaging about 50 yards receiving per game this season.

Reggie Wayne, WR, IND: Out for the season, torn ACL. Terrance Williams, WR, DAL, is more of a WR2 than a WR1 like Wayne, but in the last four weeks, he has 320 yards receiving and three TDs.

Expert Wire
* Bleacher Report has its own injury replacement ideas.

* Yahoo!'s NFL Skinny features its Week 8 rankings by position.

* SB Nation talks defense.

* USA Today reminds us fantasy football is not life. We should remember this on our own.

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

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:51 AM | Permalink

Confirmed: Obama's Drone War Is Illegal And Immoral

"On a sultry evening in August 2012, five men gathered under a cluster of date palms near the local mosque in Khashamir, a village of stone and mud houses in southeastern Yemen," Letta Tayler writes for Foreign Policy. "Two of the men were locals and well known in their community. The other three were strangers.

"Moments later, U.S. drones tore across the sky and launched four Hellfire missiles at the men. The first three missiles killed four of the men instantly, blasting their body parts across the grounds of the mosque. The final strike took out the fifth man as he tried to crawl to safety.

"Yemen's Defense Ministry described the three strangers as members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a group that the United States calls al-Qaeda's most active branch. The men were killed, ministry officials said, while 'meeting their fellows.'

"But these two 'fellows' had no known links to AQAP. Rather, they were precisely the kind of Yemenis that the United States has sought as allies in its fight against al-Qaeda. One, Salim Jaber, was a 42-year-old cleric and father of seven who preached against violence committed in the name of Islam. The other was the cleric's 26-year-old cousin Walid Jaber, one of the village's few police officers.

"Just three days before his death, Salim Jaber had delivered a particularly adamant sermon against AQAP at the Khashamir mosque. The three strangers then showed up in the village in search of the cleric, relatives of the Jabers said. Fearful that the men might be seeking revenge for his sermon, Salim met with them only after his cousin offered to accompany him for protection.

"Salim Jaber is yet another innocent casualty in America's covert war on terror. His case is one of six that I document in a new report for Human Rights Watch about the toll of America's largely unacknowledged air strikes in Yemen. All six strikes were so-called targeted killings, the deliberate slaying of a specific person by a government under color of law. All six raise questions about the legality of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. All six help explain why many Yemenis fear the United States more than they fear AQAP."

*

"The USA appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the region to evade accountability for its drone program, including killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes," Amnesty International says in a new report of its own.

"Amnesty International research includes cases of so-called 'rescuer attacks' in which residents came to the scene of an initial drone strike only to be struck in follow-up strikes."

*

*

*

*

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See also:

-

Previously:
* Drones Not Just For Threats Against America Anymore.

* Why Obama Says He Won't Release Drone Documents.

* Obama's Drone Death Figures Don't Add Up.

* Dissecting Obama's Standards On Drone Strike Deaths.

* The Best Watchdog Journalism On Obama's National Security Policies.

* Everything You Wanted To Know About Drones But Were Afraid To Ask.

* Obama Claims Right To Kill Anyone Anytime.

* The Drone War Doctrine We Still Know Nothing About.

* How Does The U.S. Mark Unidentified Men In Pakistan And Yemen As Drone Targets?

* Hearts, Minds And Dollars: Condolence Payments In The Drone Strike Age.

* Boy's Death In Drone Strike Tests Obama's Transparency Pledge.

* Does The U.S. Pay Families When Drones Kill Innocent Yemenis?

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Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:18 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2013

The [Tuesday] Papers

"A Tribune review of dozens of complicated public financing transactions shows [the city's chief financial officer Lois] Scott has repeatedly selected firms with ties to her either to serve as financial advisers to the city or underwriters for billions of dollars in taxpayer-supported bonds," the paper reports.

Scott, of course, is under scrutiny because she recommended that her boss, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, hire Amer Ahmad as comptroller. Ahmad, whom Scott had previously done business with, is now under indictment.

The Trib's key findings:

  • The investment arm of KeyCorp, an Ohio-based banking company where Ahmad was working before Emanuel hired him, received $91,000 for work on a bond deal, after receiving fees in just one previous bond issue at City Hall, according to records.
  • Two bond firms represented by former state officials who signed off on Scott Balice [her former consulting firm] deals with the state of Illinois years ago have received more than half a million dollars in City Hall business at Scott's recommendation.
  • A former senior vice president at Scott's firm, DePaul University professor Marty Luby, was selected by his former boss for $100,000 worth of city consulting contracts.
  • Acacia Financial Group, which picked up top Scott lieutenants when she left her firm, was paid $100,000 to analyze green energy plans for the Chicago Infrastructure Trust set up by Emanuel and Scott to identify city projects that could be funded with private investment.
  • PFM Group, a giant firm that bought Scott's business in 2011, was given the influential but unpaid role of financial adviser to the infrastructure trust. Two key members of Scott's old firm now work at PFM.
  • And, true to form:

    "Scott has declined repeated Tribune requests for an interview since the Ahmad controversy surfaced."

    Gump Claypool
    "CTA Chief Calls Proposal To Put Transit Agencies Under One Umbrella 'Crazy'."

    "Power flows from the ballot box," Claypool told the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board Monday. Voters' ability to hold Mayor Rahm Emanuel accountable at the ballot box if they don't like CTA decisions is the 'model'' governance structure, Claypool said.

    Riiight.

    Robbin' Robbins
    Developer conspires with village to kick poor people out of 100 homes so they can build a quarry.

    Today's Worst Person In Chicago
    "The attorney charging $600 an hour to decide how much lawyers and other professionals should get paid for shepherding Detroit through its record bankruptcy gets his first batch of bills to review today," Bloomberg reports.

    "Robert Fishman, 59, of Shaw Fishman Glantz & Towbin LLC in Chicago, is the rare fee examiner to be appointed in a municipal bankruptcy. His job is to inspect and approve, or reject, bills that so far total about $19 million and may reach $60 million under contracts approved by the city."

    Really, Robert?

    *

    "This city is learning that it is expensive to go broke," Monica Davey wrote for the New York Times earlier this month.

    Even as it wrestles with the $18 billion of debt that has overwhelmed it, Detroit has already been billed more than $19.1 million by firms hired to sort through that debt, search for ways to restructure it, and now guide the city through court. That does not include more costs that the city is expected to bear for the support staff for its state-appointed emergency manager, and for another set of lawyers and consultants to represent city retirees.

    "It's just ridiculous," Edward L. McNeil, an official with the local council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said of the mounting costs. "The only thing that's getting done is that these people are getting paid big-time while the citizens of Detroit are getting ripped off."

    To be fair, Fishman is actually giving Detroit a discount - he usually bills $675 an hour.

    His bill for August seeks $28,407.85 for his work so far, in addition to more than $14,000 for his law firm and $5,000 more for a consulting financial firm."

    There are limits, though: A judge ruled last month that expenses for booze, first-class flights and motel room movies would generally not be subjected to city repayment. Generally.

    Celebrity Embeds
    The Tribune has considered Kristin Cavallari's tweets "Breaking News" two days in a row now.

    The Obamacare Poster Boy Who Wasn't
    New Yorker writer caught in White House tweet charades.

    Inside Michael Jordan's House
    Another celebrity auction means another special Beachwood report.

    Here Comes ArchTV
    Chicago Internet station readies for launch.

    Meet The Pilgrim Jubilees
    Chicago group revolutionized gospel.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Heaven-sent.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    How The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza Became A Mistaken Poster Boy For Obamacare

    Last week, Ryan Lizza, a Washington correspondent with the New Yorker, did what I and many other journalists have done in the past three weeks: He attempted to sign up for an account on healthcare.gov, the federal government's health insurance marketplace site.

    And like me, at least, he initially thought he had succeeded. What follows is an instructive lesson in the speed of the news cycle and how incorrect information takes on a life of its own.

    Here's what happened:

    *

    He even tweeted screengrabs showing the steps of his "success."



    *

    But within 40 minutes, he realized what the rest of us already had: His apparent success was illusive.

    *

    But at this point, it was too late. His initial tweet caught fire, being retweeted within the White House and even by press secretary Jay Carney.

    Lizza kept tweeting his problems, but those tweets didn't get noticed by federal officials.

    *

    When I flagged him online that he had become a "success story," he said he shouldn't be considered one.

    Yesterday, I e-mailed Lizza and asked if he'd been back to the site. He said he hadn't yet. But he had strong thoughts about the way in which his initial tweet was used. His e-mail to me:

    It seems that the web site launch was such a disaster that the White House was incredibly desperate to retweet any shards of good news.

    I considered deleting that tweet because after two senior White House officials retweeted it, it took off and left the false impression that my conclusion was that the site worked, which isn't the case.

    It was the Twitter equivalent of blurbing a book using the one positive line from a review that actually trashed the book.

    For what it's worth, Lizza's experience was similar to mine (but his was magnified). Here's mine in a few tweets:

    *

    The moral of the story: Be careful with your first tweet. Even if you later amend it, it could take on a life of its own.

    -

    See also:
    * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like.

    -

    Comments welcome.



    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Here Comes ArchTV

    "ArchLive Chicago is an Internet television channel featuring long form premium series and films developed for the people of the Chicago. Starting October 23rd, ArchLive Chicago launches with five original series ranging from comedy to reality-based dramas."

    Let's take a look at the trailers so far.

    Chicago's Most Eligible

    "A comedy series about Leigh, a 30-something magazine editor assigned to work on a popular yearly feature on the 20 Most Eligible Bachelors in Chicago. Recently single, Leigh takes advantage of the opportunity to meet these 'studs' in person while fending off the pursuit of her infantile, yet charming ex-boyfriend."


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    Beth From Chicago

    "This quirky, mockumentary-style series follows five hilariously exaggerated Chicago female personalities, all played by one comedienne, Beth Melewski of Chicago's famed comedy theater The Second City.

    "From Beth, the overenthusiastic Cubs parking lady to Beth, the former Cash Cab host who now runs a 'Kash Pedi-Kab' business - think of it as Tracey Ullman meets Portlandia with an observational, comedic view of colorful characters you're bound to come across in Chicago."

    -

    Dogged Deliverance

    "A group of women vigilante dog rescuers scour Chicago's roughest neighborhoods in an effort to save canines from organized dog fighting rings and other abusive environments."

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    Meet The Pilgrim Jubilees

    "Since the early '50s, the Pilgrim Jubilee Singers have used their hard, rockin' gospel music as a powerful means of testifying their faith, love, and charitable hope that humanity will find a way to bring itself closer to the kingdom of heaven," Sandra Brennan writes on Allmusic.

    Over its long history, the group has undergone numerous personnel changes. The first incarnation originated in the 1940s on the Mississippi Delta by Elgie and Theopholis Graham, but the most famous version of the Pilgrim Jubilees began in Chicago, 1952, when younger Graham brothers Clay and Cleve resurrected the group. Since then, these two have remained the group's spiritual and musical core.

    While growing up in Mississippi, all four Graham brothers were trained to sing. It was Theopholis who left the first group to live in Chicago; the rest of his brothers followed in 1951, and all four briefly sang in the group. the Pilgrim Jubilees toured quite a bit (when not working their day jobs, which for the Graham brothers meant working in their separate barber shops), and this proved too much for the older brothers, who gradually dropped out.

    Shortly thereafter, Clay and Cleve invited baritone Major Roberson and lead singer Percy Clark (both from Mississippi) to join. They also took on guitarist Richard Crume and bassist Roosevelt English, and began recording; through the 1950s, they released sides and albums for assorted labels, including Peacock, Chance, and Nashboro.

    Soon after signing to Peacock in 1960, the band gained national exposure with their label debut, "Stretch Out." Its success allowed the Pilgrim Jubilees to finally go professional. Crume eventually left the group to join the Soul Stirrers, but the other three have remained together and carried on into the '90s.

    The Jubilees come to our attention this week because pannellctp has just uploaded a batch of their awesome songs recorded live in Chicago in 1979 to YouTube. Let's take a listen.

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    He Went That Way

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    Hand In Hand

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    My God Is A Good God

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    The Old Ship Of Zion

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    I've Got Jesus

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    Stretch Out

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    About pannellctp:

    "Traditional Gospel Music channel dedicated to my loving Mother who passed away 2 August 2013, to my baby sister, Alice Marie Bruce, who went home to be with her Lord on 02/20/2011 and my elder sister, Ruth Ann Taltoan, who went home on 11/11/1990. I wish to thank my brother, Rev/Dr. Richard W. Pannell for his spiritual and financial support in maintaining this channel."

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    Alan Young, The Pilgrim Jubilees:

    "In 1960, four young men went into a Chicago recording studio and revolutionized the sound of African American gospel music.

    "When they made that groundbreaking recording, the Pilgrim Jubilees had been singing together for more than 10 years. Today they are still singing, and they are still at the forefront of gospel music.

    "The Pilgrim Jubilees is their story, told in their words. From their beginnings in rural Houston, Mississippi, through the good times and the hard times of more than half a century traveling the 'gospel highway' they have played a pivotal role in shaping an entire musical genre. Today, based in Chicago, they stand as senior statesmen of gospel music.

    "The Pilgrim Jubilees know the pitfalls and hardships of their calling. They tell of arriving in a distant town so short of money they can't afford to refuel the car, then discovering their concert has been canceled. They recall singing their hearts out, then finding that the promoter has absconded with the money. They remember the days when racism meant that even a gospel singer could land in jail simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And they recount the joys of the gospel life - the elation of having a record at the top of the charts, the companionship within the group and with the people to whom they sing, and above all, the drive to keep spreading the Christian message that has sustained them through the hundreds of thousands of miles they have traveled."

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    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:27 AM | Permalink

    Inside Michael Jordan's House

    "After 20 months of trying to sell his 7.39-acre, 56,000-square-foot home [Michael] Jordan is trying a different tactic," Forbes reports.

    "On Nov. 22, Jordan's 'Legend Point' property in Highland Park will be open for bids. The sale is being handled by Concierge Auctions, with a $250,000 deposit is required for any interested party to enter the fray."

    Here's what comes with the house:

    * One room filled with boxes of "slightly imperfect" Hanes underwear.

    * Three rooms full of spite.

    * Dennis Rodman's wedding dress.

    * Jerry Krause punching bag.

    * Mobster he has to play one-on-one every day in lieu of paying gambling debt.

    * Pet parrot who only knows the words "The greatest ever."

    * Life-size blowup of his Birmingham Barons baseball card.

    * Desk where he composes hate letters to Kobe and LeBron.

    * One dead hooker.

    * Three hampers of game-worn gym socks he requires all visitors to smell.

    * Ashley Dupre's phone number.

    * Harvey Gantt dartboard.

    * Fax machine loaded with message "I'm back" just in case.

    * LeRoy Nieman painting of him pushing off against Byron Russell.

    * Bigsby and Kruthers locked up in basement dungeon.

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    See also: Inside Oprah's Auction.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    October 21, 2013

    The [Monday] Papers

    At least with Derrick Rose it was a knee we were all thinking about. #imageinourminds

    *

    *

    "Let's just set aside for now Jay Cutler's groin and Josh McCown's remarkable performance and the signing of Jordan Palmer and the 41 points the team scored in Washington on Sunday while still managing to lose as Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman watched from the sidelines helpless and hobbled as RG3 led his team on its last-minute winning drive," our very own Jim "Coach" Coffman writes in SportsMonday.

    "We'll get to all that soon enough. For now, let's step back to consider what happened with 6:15 left in the first half and Washington punting from their own 28."

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    Obama Vs. The World
    Remember when Barack Obama was going to restore our relations with the rest of the world? It hasn't quite worked out that way.

    Inside Oprah's Auction
    Jewel-encrusted scale; Stedman Graham's spine.

    The Most Famous Book Set In Illinois
    In Local Book Notes.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Including: Dope, SOiL, The Sounds, The 1975, Random Rab, The Misfits, The Eagles, Bonobo, Animal Collective, Michal Menert, Blockhead, Gemini Club, Deltron 3030, Minus the Bear.

    FCC Ignores Local TV News Consolidation
    Companies including Tribune are using shady tactics to buy up TV stations and build new national media empires.

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    BeachTweets

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    Red Roof Rutherford
    GOP gubernatorial candidate vs. Hyatt.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Free with your room.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    Obama Vs. The World

    Remember when Barack Obama was going to restore our relations with the rest of the world? It hasn't quite worked out that way.

    *

    "The U.S. National Security Agency swept up 70.3 million French telephone records in a 30-day period, according to a newspaper report that offered new details of the massive scope of a surveillance operation that has angered some of the country's closest allies," AP reports.

    France is pissed.

    *

    "The National Security Agency hacked the email of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, according to a report from Der Spiegel," the Huffington Post notes.

    "The report, which stems from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, alleges that a division of the NSA 'successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon's public e-mail account.'

    "Der Speigel also reports that the spying, which began in May 2010, also targeted other top officials in the Mexican government."

    Mexico is pissed.

    *

    "Security experts say that Canadian intelligence has developed a powerful spying tool to scope out and target specific phones and computers so as to better set up hacking and bugging operations," the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.

    "The outlines of the technology are contained in the slides of a PowerPoint presentation made to allied security agencies in June, 2012. Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) called the tool 'Olympia,' showing how its analysts sifted through an immense amount of communications data and zeroed in on the phones and computer servers they determined merited attention - in the demonstration case, inside the Brazilian Ministry of Energy and Mines.

    "Within weeks, CSEC figured out who was talking to whom by plugging phone numbers and Internet protocol addresses into an array of intelligence databases. In this way it 'developed a detailed map of the institution's communications,
    Paulo Pagliusi, a Brazilian security expert who examined the slides, told The Globe.

    "The slides are part of a large trove of documents that have been leaked by Edward Snowden, the former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whose disclosures have set off a debate over whether the agency has improperly intruded on the privacy of Americans. Other disclosures have raised questions about its spying on foreign governments, sometimes with the assistance of allied intelligence agencies."

    Canada is pissed - and Brazil is pissed at Canada.

    *

    "The American National Security Agency tapped 1.8 million Dutch telephones in one month alone as part of its Boundless Informant surveillance programme, Dutch media reported on Monday."

    The Dutch are pissed.

    *

    "UK spy agency GCHQ carried out hack attacks on telecoms firm Belgacom, data divulged by Edward Snowden has revealed," the Macedonia International News Agency reports.

    "Fingers initially pointed to the NSA when Belgian authorities reported a 'foreign state' had invaded the networks of the state company.

    "Citing documents leaked by former CIA worker Edward Snowden, Der Spiegel reported that the British Government Communications Headquarters were behind hack attacks on Belgian state-owned telecoms firm Belgacom."

    Belgium is pissed. And we've since learned that GCHQ has worked closely with the NSA, if not on this, on a variety of other adventures. Europe is pissed.

    *

    "Germany is a special place for the NSA, in many respects. Few other countries are the source of as much data for US intelligence agencies, much of which comes from the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency. At the same time Germany itself, despite all friendly assurances to the contrary, is also a target of the surveillance. According to a 'secret' summary among the documents obtained by Snowden, which SPIEGEL was able to view, Germany is one of the targets of U.S. espionage activity."

    Germany is pissed.

    *

    "In the last decade, people residing or in transit in Brazil, as well as companies operating in the country, have become targets of espionage National Security Agency of the United States (National Security Agency - NSA, its acronym in English)," Glenn Greenwald reports.

    "There are no precise figures, but last January Brazil was just behind the United States, which had 2.3 billion phone calls and messages spied."

    Brazil is pissed.

    *

    "The German magazine Der Spiegel says the U.S. National Security Agency secretly monitored the U.N.'s internal video conferencing system by decrypting it last year," CBS notes.

    "Quoting leaked NSA documents, the article said the decryption 'dramatically increased the data from video phone conferences and the ability to decode the data traffic.'

    "In three weeks, Der Spiegel said, the NSA increased the number of decrypted communications at the U.N. from 12 to 458. According to the report, agency has 'eavesdropping posts' in 80 U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. The NSA was able to obtain a wide range of data, including evidence that suggests the Chinese was spied on the U.N. in 2011.

    "Der Spiegel also reported that the NSA installed bugs in the European Union's office building in downtown Washington and infiltrated the EU's computer network."

    Mission accomplished.

    *

    Post-script: Don't Trust The NSA? China-Based Huawei Says 'Trust Us'.

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    See also: In Big Win For Defense Industry, Obama Rolls Back Limits On Arms Exports.

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    Previously:
    * How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

    * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

    * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

    * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

    * Item: NSA Briefing.

    * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

    * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

    * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

    * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

    * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

    * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

    * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

    * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

    * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

    * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

    * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

    * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

    * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

    * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

    * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

    * Does The NSA Tap That?

    * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

    * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

    * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

    * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

    * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

    * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

    * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

    * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

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    See also:
    * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

    * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

    * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 PM | Permalink

    Inside Oprah's Auction

    "Want to own a few of Oprah's favorite things? Next month, Winfrey will auction off furniture, antiques, and fine art from her 23,000-square-foot Montecito mansion - which is currently undergoing a major interior redesign - and her homes in Chicago, Maui and Indiana," Entertainment Weekly reports.

    Among the items, the Beachwood has learned:

    * Jewel-encrusted scale.

    * Signed Obama "Hope" poster.

    * Unused CTA "Chicago Card."

    * Stedman Graham's spine.

    * 50 cases of Haagen- Dazs.

    * Gayle King's soul.

    * Coupons for surgeries by John of God.

    * Kitchen chairs with gifts under them.

    * Teleprompter used for dinner parties.

    * Mirrors in every size imaginable.

    * Framed copy of first check for a bazillion dollars.

    * Signed copy of personalized Monopoly game in which every street is named Oprah Avenue.

    * Servant quarters, lock, stock and barrel.

    * Three tons of fear from her staff stored in the basement.

    * Original draft of her infamous confidentiality statements.

    * One Faberge egg containing a live chicken.

    * Jumbotron with only one channel on it.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    Local Book Notes: The Most Famous Book Set In Illinois

    Getting Gwendolyn
    "The University of Illinois Rare Book and Manuscript Library has acquired the archives of the poet Gwendolyn Brooks," the New York Times reports.

    "Brooks was born in Kansas, but her family moved to Chicago when she was an infant, and she became closely associated with that city. She was the poet laureate of Illinois for 32 years, until her death in 2000. Among many other honors, she won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for her collection Annie Allen.

    "Valerie Hotchkiss, the director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, said the institution also holds the archives of Carl Sandburg, another writer famously from Chicago, and the state's poet laureate before Brooks."

    Sweet Home Chicago Review Press
    Catching up: Turning 40.

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    From the Chicago Review Press's Own History:

    "Chicago Review Press is an independent book publisher founded in 1973 by Curt and Linda Matthews.

    "As a graduate student at the University of Chicago and poetry editor for Chicago Review magazine, Curt had come across some wonderful works that were too long for the journal to publish, so he decided to publish them himself out of his own basement.

    "Curt and his wife Linda, both English instructors at Northwestern University at the time, asked and received permission from the University of Chicago to call their fledgling publishing company Chicago Review Press.

    "The name was both recognizable - it had cachet - and it located the press in Chicago, which seemed useful as many of the company's early publications were Chicago-centric, including the guidebooks Sweet Home Chicago and Antique Collecting in the Midwest, and a very early and very beautiful graphic novel by Bill Bergeron called Prairie State Blues."

    Click through for the rest of the story.

    The Most Famous Book Set In Illinois
    No surprise.

    CPL Patronage
    "The Chicago Public Library and its 80 branch locations have received a $300,000 grant from the Illinois State Library to create a Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) pilot program. Ingram will the distributor for the program, and according to a press release, patron requests will translate directly into orders for the library," Claire Kelley of Melville House notes.

    Click through to learn more.

    Meet The Middlesteins
    "Buffalo Grove High School alum Jami Attenberg's most recent novel can be picked up at local libraries and Chicago's Spertus Institute is promoting her work for its One Book One Community initiative," the Buffalo Grove Countryside reports.

    "The Buffalo Grove native, now a professional writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y., crafted The Middlesteins, a novel about a dysfunctional family in suburban Chicago.

    "The tale of an overeating wife and mother, and how her family responds to her, will be the focus of several programs hosted by the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in the coming weeks."

    Click through to learn more.

    Eat, Pray, Hate
    Aimee Levitt's essay for the Reader about Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, who will be in Chicago on October 30 to discuss her new book, led us to Gilbert's 1997 GQ article about working at the Coyote Ugly Saloon on the Lower East Side. Yup, that Coyote Ugly. Who knew? The vast majority of the literary world, surely, but not us.

    Does Poetry Matter?
    The Guild Literary Complex wants to know:

    "Can a poem save you? From what? If you're falling off a cliff, do you want a rope or a poem? If you had to make a choice between a poem and bread, which would you choose? And who gets to be called a poet anyway?

    "These are some of the questions behind the latest work to emerge out of the Poetry Performance Incubator - a project of the Guild literary Complex that asks writers to work together, under the guidance of a theater director, to create an original work for the stage.

    "An experiment in collaborative writing and theater production, Like Bread asks its cast of nine poets to make poetry matter.

    "Please join the Guild Literary Complex, in partnership with Free Street Theater, for a work-in-progress showing of Like Bread. Performances take place on November 1 at 7 p.m. and November 2 at 2 p.m. at Free Street Theater located at 1419 W Blackhawk St., 3rd floor. Admission is pay what you will can: $1, $5, $10, or $20."

    Nazi Nation
    "Chicago author Arnie Bernstein will discuss his new book, Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German American Bund, in a Society of Midland Authors event on Tuesday, November 12, at the Cliff Dwellers Club," the Society has announced.

    "Bernstein will speak at 7 p.m. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and no reservations are required. The public is invited.

    "Published this fall by St. Martin's Press, Swastika Nation details the rise and fall of a pro-Nazi movement that swept the United States in the 1930s. The New York Times calls it an 'engrossing retelling.' Publishers Weekly calls it 'fast-paced . . . a fresh account of a well-documented era.' And the Tribune's Rick Kogan says it's 'impeccably researched and forcefully written.'

    "Bernstein, who went to high school in Skokie during the time of the controversial plans for a Nazi march, is also the author of Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing (University of Michigan Press) and Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies (recently published by Chicago Review Press in a new edition with co-author Michael Corcoran)."


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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    FCC Looks The Other Way As A New Wave Of Consolidation Devours Local TV Stations

    On Monday, Free Press released Cease to Resist: How the FCC's Failure to Enforce Its Policies Created a New Wave of Media Consolidation. The report investigates how companies are using shady tactics to buy up TV stations and build new national media empires.

    "TV consolidation is out of control, and communities are paying the price," said Free Press Research director and report author S. Derek Turner. "Companies are swallowing up stations at an alarming rate, often through deals that violate the law. If the FCC doesn't start enforcing its rules, the damage to local competition and viewpoint diversity will be overwhelming and irreversible."

    The report comes as Sinclair Broadcast Group spearheads one of the largest waves of TV consolidation in history. The report also looks at tactics used by Gannett, Media General, Nexstar and Tribune.

    Among the report's key findings:

    • In the first eight months of 2013, 211 full-power TV stations changed hands, the highest level in more than a decade and the fourth-highest year on record in terms of deal value. The latest surge of consolidation is unique from prior waves in that it's taking place in small- and medium-sized markets and involves companies that are not household names.
    • Sinclair Broadcast Group is leading the current wave of consolidation. In the past two years alone, Sinclair has closed or announced deals that will increase its holdings from 58 to 160 stations nationwide. These deals will more than double the number of markets Sinclair serves from 35 to 78, covering nearly 39 percent of the U.S. population.

    The report also details how media companies are using shell companies to evade the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules; making inefficient use of the scarce public airwaves, and; depriving communities of diverse viewpoints and in-depth news coverage. Sinclair controls or will control 46 stations nominally owned by a third party, with 40 of these stations' licenses held by shell companies Sinclair created for the express purpose of evading the FCC's ownership rules.

    While Sinclair started this wave of consolidation, several other companies have come along for the ride. Firms like Gannett, Media General, Nexstar and Tribune have collectively gobbled up billions in TV assets over the past year and are taking a cue from Sinclair's playbook, using covert-consolidation arrangements like Shared Services Agreements to skirt the ownership rules.

    "We've seen the effects of this so-called covert consolidation on local news already," Turner said. "Stations in the same market air the same content, often with the same on-air personalities and production teams. You can literally change the channel and find the same exact news."

    In researching the shell companies held by Sinclair and the other companies that use these covert-consolidation tactics, Free Press found that in almost every instance, the only asset the shell company owns is the license, while the parent company controls the physical assets. For example, Sinclair is often the sole financier of its shell companies' debt, and it reaps nearly all of the profits the shell companies' stations bring in.

    Perhaps the most damning evidence indicating the true nature of these covert arrangements is the fact that under Securities and Exchange Commission rules, these shell companies and their parent corporations are considered one and the same. When Sinclair communicates with investors, it makes no effort to hide the fact that it's the true owner of these shell companies and their stations, repeatedly referring to them as "our sidecar companies" and "our stations." In its SEC filings, Nexstar specifically lists among its assets all of the licenses held by its shell company, Mission Broadcasting.

    "What's good enough for Wall Street should be good enough for Main Street," Turner said. "The FCC should recognize that these shell companies and the outsourcing agreements that govern them are merely a legal fiction created by companies like Sinclair, Gannett, Tribune and Nexstar to evade the ownership rules."

    The report also details recommendations to the FCC and incoming chairman Tom Wheeler. Turner calls on Wheeler to deny the latest transaction deals, which Free Press and other groups have challenged, and to close the numerous loopholes in its ownership rules. The report also describes how the FCC can modernize its ownership rules to better reflect the capabilities of digital broadcasting. These changes would maximize efficient use of the public airwaves and promote greater competition and diversity in the local TV market.

    "If Tom Wheeler wants to be an honest regulator, he should end the dishonest practice of covert consolidation," Turner said. "By closing these loopholes, Mr. Wheeler and the FCC can give truly independent owners a chance to compete fairly to better serve their communities."

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    Free Press is a nonpartisan organization building a nationwide movement for media that serve the public interest. Free Press does not support or oppose any candidate for public office.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Devin Hester's Risks & Rewards

    Let's just set aside for now Jay Cutler's groin and Josh McCown's remarkable performance and the signing of Jordan Palmer and the 41 points the team scored in Washington on Sunday while still managing to lose as Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman watched from the sidelines helpless and hobbled as RG3 led his team on its last-minute winning drive.

    We'll get to all that soon enough.

    For now, let's step back to consider what happened with 6:15 left in the first half and Washington punting from their own 28. Australian-born Sav Rocca actually got off a boomer, a 53-yard kick that pinned Devin Hester to the left sideline at the Bears' 19. That's when The Ridiculous One made history.

    Eighty-one yards later he was in the records books, tied with Deion "Prime Time" Sanders with 19 career touchdown returns. Hester will surely have the record to himself soon enough.

    But Hester wasn't done. There was that pass . . . the one he threw. The one that was the kind of Hesterian play we'll also remember when he's gone.

    Washington had just gone ahead 45-41 with 49 seconds left in the game. Kai Forbath kicked off to Bears wide receiver Joe Anderson - avoiding Hester - who fielded the ball at his own 17. Anderson ran backwards for two yards and then lateralled two yards behind him to Hester.

    Hester then tossed a perfectly accurate ultra-lateral all the way back across the field to Anderson, who then returned the ball 25 yards to the Bears' 38, with 45 seconds left on the clock.

    It was a remarkable heave. It was also a brutally bad idea.

    Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis must have told Hester: "Take a look at this but if it isn't there, just hang onto the ball and do what you can with your return."

    After all, there was still time enough left on the clock to get in an offensive series. And the Bears had a timeout. McCown had been on fire, finishing with 14-of-20 for 204 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 119.6. He hadn't been sacked.

    The Bears had to be looking to generate a decent return and then complete a few passes so they could take a few shots at the end zone.

    It was not the time to fool around.

    Now, maybe if there had only been, say 15 seconds left, then maybe Hester's under-pressure lateral to Anderson would have been a reasonable risk. Three times that much time actually remained.

    But Hester doesn't hear conditionals. If a coach is thinking about giving a goofy play a try, Hester is going to run it no matter what.

    And so a moment before he was going to be tackled, he turned and fired what could only be described as a bomb to Anderson. Miraculously, the perfect spiral found its intended receiver (and Hester isn't even the emergency quarterback; Earl Bennett is).

    The only way the risk presented by this sort of play generates a potentially good enough reward is if Anderson is wide, wide open. Which he wasn't. Oh, he was open enough to make the catch and get a nice return, but not open enough to break the play into Washington's side of the field, much less take it to the house.

    Then again, Devin Hester has never been about rational risk/reward scenarios. The Bears had to stop playing him on offense because he couldn't be counted on to run solid, simple routes for solid, simple gains. He could only do the big plays. And so now he only does returns, where the calculation is ultra-simple - try to catch the kick and then get the ball to the end zone.

    When I say we'll remember both kinds of plays Hester made on Sunday when he's gone, I mean that in a sooner-than-you-think kind of way. The Bears probably won't keep Hester next year. There is a good chance they will need his roster spot for a younger player with potential to play both defense or offense and special teams. So fans need to enjoy him while they can, even if he still finds occasional ways to do unbelievably goofy things on the football field.

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    See also:
    * Jay's Groin: Bears Bracing For Worst.

    * McCown No McNown: Shines In Relief Role.

    * Backup Backup: Bears Reportedly Sign Jordan Palmer.

    * Adam Hoge: Trestman Still Gives Bears A Chance If Cutler Is Lost.

    * Adam Jahns: Robbie Gould Agonizes Over Third-Quarter Miss.

    * Dan Wiederer: Bears Defense Crumbles Without Briggs.

    * SI: RGIII Pregame Speech Inspired Washington.

    * Biggs: Packers Up Next.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Dope at the Double Door on Friday night.


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    2. SOil at the Double Door on Friday night.

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    3. The Sounds at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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    4. The 1975 at Lincoln Hall on Saturday night.

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    5. Random Rab at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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    6. The Misfits at the Concord on Sunday night.

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    7. The Eagles in Rosemont on Friday night.

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    8. Animal Collective at the Vic on Thursday night.

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    9. Bonobo at the Riv on Friday night.

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    10. Michal Menert at Park West on Thursday night.

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    11. Blockhead at the Bottom Lounge on Saturday night.

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    12. Gemini Club at the Double Door on Sunday night.

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    13. Deltron 3030 at the House of Blues on Saturday night.

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    14.Minus The Bear at the Metro on Thursday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:41 AM | Permalink

    October 19, 2013

    The Weekend Desk Report

    Nice to know we won't face fare hikes or service changes next year. It would be even nicer if the CTA acknowledged the substantial fare hikes they instituted this year.

    Market Update
    The RTA just wasted another $383,000. We could've told them that for free.

    Shame Game
    For the record, it appears Governor Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon committee finds our regional transit agencies just as shameful as we do. So which do you think will pass first, transit reform or marriage equality?

    Rough Trade
    So Penny Pritzker is "open for business" . . . but is she open to competition? After all, competition makes everyone better, right?

    Forever Young
    Of course, competition is great, as long as you always know exactly who's going to win.

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    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: You can't win if you don't play.

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    The College Football Report: Dregs Against The Spread.

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    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Gigantic Meh.

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    The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot get grisly with their favorite Murder Songs for Halloween."

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    The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

    Tecora Rogers in Concert

    10-14-TecoraRogers.jpg

    Community producer Tecora Rogers performs at Chicago State University's "Jazz in the Grazz."

    Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    21st Century Community Emergency Preparedness Conference

    Hosted by Chicago State University, this conference brought community leaders, government agencies, businesses and others together to discuss the state of disaster preparedness in their communities and ways to help vulnerable populations develop survival strategies.

    Keynote: Lt. General Russel L Honore

    10-14-21stCentKeynote.jpg

    Former commander of Joint Task Force Katrina Lt. General Russel L. Honore shares his experience leading recovery efforts after the 2005 hurricane and the leadership and preparedness skills essential to managing difficult situations.

    Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Community Survival & Disaster Preparedness

    10-14-21stCentDisaster.jpg

    Col. Damon T. Arnold of Chicago State University joins community members and public officials to discuss bridging the gap between government services and people affected by disasters.

    Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Columbia College Liberal Arts Dean's Lecture: What Are The Digital Humanities?

    10-14-DigitalHumanities.jpg

    Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick discusses how humanities scholars can take advantage of new technologies for both research and connecting with the broader public.

    Sunday at 12 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Latina Leaders

    10-14-LatinaLeadership.jpg

    Clarisol Duque, chief of staff for Sen. Dick Durbin, joins other Latina leaders to share their stories of breaking glass ceilings and making a difference in their communities. They spoke as part of the Mujeres Latinas en Accion's Maria Mangual Latina Leadership Conference.

    Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    October 18, 2013

    The [Friday] Papers

    1. CTA Plans No Fare Hikes, Service Cuts Next Year.

    Will make up for it with slower trains, more derailments.

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    2. Ventra Plans To Work Next Year.

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    3. Please hold while we take credit for (barely) doing our job.

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    4. A Modest Transit Proposal: Put The Public In Public Transit.

    "This is a story about the failure of the city to treat its transit assets as a public service," our very own Natasha Julius writes.

    "This failure, which continues to color transportation policy to this day, leaves the entire system vulnerable to the whims of politics and profit."

    Fourth in a series.

    *

    Related:

    From the Active Transportation Alliance:

    In another sign that Metra is run by politics and not dedication to better transit, the agency voted yesterday at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to support the Illiana Expressway and to spend at least another $80 million more in public money on the project. Pace voted similarly. The vote in support of the Illiana passed 11 to 8 and would have failed if Metra and Pace voted No.

    "Our region's transit system is undermined by transit agency board members whose main allegiance is to the people who appoint them and not to creating better transit," said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "Yesterday's vote is another example of that fact. The Illiana Expressway is a train wreck for transit, and Metra and Pace voted for it anyway."

    The Illiana would be funded by state transportation dollars and tolls, and is planned as a highway bypass around the region in southern Will County, miles from all but a few transit routes. It would tap into a very limited pool of regional transportation funds, leaving less money for transit repairs, the CTA Red Line extension, Union Station modernization and other crucial transit projects.

    "CTA and Metra can't afford to properly maintain their trains and buses, and most people in the Chicago region don't use transit because it doesn't get them where they need to go," said Burke. "There is no excuse for Metra and Pace giving money away to the Illiana, which will serve fewer people than the CTA's Ashland bus route. The public's trust in Metra and Pace is further shaken, and it's more clear than ever that reforms are needed."

    Worth noting, from the Trib:

    "The vote was clearly a disappointment for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the organization created by the legislature to oversee land use and transportation planning for Northeastern Illinois."

    You know, the agency charged with analyzing data and policy independent of politics and making decisions based on the entire region's interests.

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    5. This Just In: White Sox Do Something Interesting.

    Longtime readers - and even new readers, I suppose - know that I'm allergic to hype. But sometimes it's justified. Here's my half of an e-mail exchange I had this morning about the White Sox signing Jose Abreu.

    It's huge! It's what the Cubs should have done. Puts White Sox back on the map!
    * * *
    In one move the misery of last season is now replaced by hope!
    * * *
    I'm shocked!

    First, Rick Hahn seemed to be saying he was going to follow what Theo is doing, so I didn't think they'd lay out such a big contract. Second, it's a big contract! Those are out these days, but this guy apparently is Puig-plus. It's always a risk. He could break a leg tomorrow or simply not pan out in the bigs, but that's life! I think it's an amazingly excellent move for the Sox, and I can't believe they got him. I wonder what the market was like ... the last three teams he was reportedly considering were ... not good ... Houston and someone else bad I can't think of right now.

    He immediately becomes a core player. Learn something, Theo!

    With Avisail Garcia, they are suddenly regenerating themselves. Still a lot of holes to fill, but with one move they've turned the ship around, in my opinion!

    And I hate the White Sox.

    *

    By the way, the link for this item is to a column by Rick Morrissey of the Sun-Times. The Sun-Times website has been driving me crazy for weeks now, as it frequently does, by freezing my browser as it loads . . . and loads . . . and loads. I don't know if they're running some hellacious script over there, but I'm not going back for awhile. So if they have an exclusive about, say, the indictment of Rahm Emanuel, you won't hear it from me until the news appears elsewhere.

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    6. The PR Wizards of Oz.

    Without going to the Sun-Times site I have become aware that Rick Telander has joined David Kaplan's little bandwagon on behalf of bringing Ozzie Guillen to the Cubs.

    Here's just one reason why that's a nonstarter:

    -

    7. Vanecko worse than we've imagined.

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    8. The College Football Report: Dregs Against The Spread.

    "This week we search for opportunity and entertainment amidst the dregs of the college football world: The winless, the hapless, and the generally dispirited teams languishing in the basements of their respective conferences, hanging out with lowlifes like our perennial least favorites, the Kentucky Wildcats, who hurt us as children and continue to hurt us as adults. (Where have you gone, Joker Phillips? A lonely College Football Report turns its eyes to you.)

    "It turns out some bottom-dwellers have also posted remarkably poor records "against the spread" (ATS). This, to us, is interesting."

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    9. The Week In Chicago Rock.

    Including: Fozzy, ¡Mayday!, Watain, Fiona Apple with Blake Mills, Bell X1, BOY, Bill Callahan, Circuit Des Yeux, Dustin Walker, Islands, Headhunterz, Dave Mason, The Weeknd, Ginger Baker, Tree, Ritualz and Hanson.

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    10. Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Illin'.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    The Week In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Fozzy at Mojoes in Joliet on Wednesday night.


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    2. ¡Mayday! at Mojoes on Tuesday night.

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    3. Watain at the Bottom Lounge on Tuesday night.

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    4. Fiona Apple and Blake Mills at the former Majestic Theater on Tuesday night.

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    5. Bell X1 at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

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    6. BOY at Schubas on Sunday night.

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    7. Bill Callahan at Alhambra Palace on Monday night.

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    8. Circuit Des Yeux at Alhambra Palace on Monday night.

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    9. Dustin Walker and Through These Eyes at Mojoes on Wednesday night.

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    10. Islands at the Empty Bottle on Sunday night.

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    11. Headhunterz at Cobolt on Sunday night.

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    12. Dave Mason at City Winery on Sunday night.

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    13. The Weeknd at the Chicago Theatre on Sunday night.

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    14. Ginger Baker's Jazz Confusion at City Winery on Monday night.

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    15. Tree at Reggies on Wednesday night.

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    16. Jason Adasiewicz, Hamid Drake and Jason Roebke at the Hideout on Wednesday night.

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    17. Ritualz at Cobra Lounge on Wednesday night.

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    18. Hanson at the House of Blues on Monday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report: Dregs Against The Spread

    This week we search for opportunity and entertainment amidst the dregs of the college football world: The winless, the hapless, and the generally dispirited teams languishing in the basements of their respective conferences, hanging out with lowlifes like our perennial least favorites, the Kentucky Wildcats, who hurt us as children and continue to hurt us as adults. (Where have you gone, Joker Phillips? A lonely College Football Report turns its eyes to you.)

    It turns out some bottom-dwellers have also posted remarkably poor records "against the spread" (ATS). This, to us, is interesting.

    UTEP (1-5, 0-3 Conference USA, 1-5 ATS), idle this week
    The Miners have been underdogs for four weeks straight and have failed to cover a single game. Why can't someone design an algorithm to predict such opportunities? We find this upsetting. Someone should design a gambling app that would alert users to trends in point spreads and Over/Under totals. How hard could it be?

    Jimmy the Greek, the original human gambling algorithm, knew a formula for gambling success: "knowledge times energy times intuition." In his day, Jimmy the Greek picked up out-of-town newspapers at train stations and gathered as much data as possible to find an edge.

    He rose to fame in gambling circles by betting against an undefeated Notre Dame in 1945 at the age of 23. The Greek put $21,500 on Great Lakes Naval Training Station, getting 17 points against the Irish. He knew a key piece of data about Great Lakes: the Bluejackets were led by Ohio high school coaching legend Paul Brown.

    As a native of Steubenville, Ohio, the Greek knew of Brown's successes at Massillon Washington High School, located across the state near Canton. Under Brown's leadership, the Tigers won six state championships in nine years and reached an 80-8-2 overall record.

    During his tenure, Brown introduced two major coaching innovations: signaling plays into the quarterback from the sidelines and distributing a detailed set of formations to his players, known today as . . . the playbook.

    The 39-7 upset over Notre Dame proved to be Brown's final game in the college coaching ranks. The following year, he accepted a new position as head coach of a professional football team that eventually bore his name: The Cleveland Browns.

    *

    Southern Miss (0-5, 0-1 Conference USA, 1-4 ATS) vs. East Carolina (4-2, 2-1 Conference USA)
    Football prophet Phil Steele boldly predicted that Southern Miss would go from 0-12 last year to a bowl game this year.

    The Golden Eagles were even the favorite in their opener against Texas State. They got knocked flat in that game, losing 22-15, and have remained prone ever since. Two weeks ago, they welcomed Ron Turner's Florida International University Golden Panthers to Hattiesburg as a 17-point favorite and managed to lose when FIU blocked their last-second field-goal attempt. It was the 17th consecutive loss for Southern Miss.

    This week, the Golden Eagles visit East Carolina (4-2) and will be "getting" a healthy 22.5 points.

    Maybe Steele should have consulted this guy first.

    Our pick: East Carolina 38, Southern Miss 17

    *

    Miami, Ohio (0-6, 0-2 MAC, 1-5 ATS), idle this week
    Here is a team that has played to expectations: Preseason rankings put the RedHawks (that's capital R, capital H, RedHawks) as low as #119.

    Maybe Miami should revert to its old Redskins name, so its mascot can be as offensive as the product on the field. But keep the cheerleader uniforms. Also, buy a leaf-blower.

    *

    Ball State (6-1, 3-0 MAC) vs. Western Michigan (0-7, 0-3 MAC, 2-5 ATS)
    We forget that Buffalo, the college football team, actually refers to SUNY-Buffalo. The Bulls, along with the SUNY-Albany Great Danes and SUNY-Stony Brook Seawolves, play in the FCS and periodically act as Directional Creampuffs against FBS teams.

    (The SUNY website also lists Nassau Community College and Alfred State College as fellow FCS members in Division I. Can this be true? Can community colleges field NCAA teams? This requires more research.)

    We bring up Buffalo because Western Michigan lost to Buffalo 33-0 last week as a 10-point underdog. We think the Broncos should petition the NCAA to play against Albany or Stony Brook next year. This week's match-up against the Ball State Cardinals (-19.5) should give SUNY a measuring stick. Could the Great Danes compete against the MAC? What about the Seawolves?

    Based on the transitive property, if Western Michigan beats Ball State, who beat Virginia, who beat BYU, who beat Texas, who beat #12 Oklahoma last week, Buffalo may be among the top teams in the nation. But then the transitive property is, to use a technical term, a bunch of hooey.

    Our pick: Ball State 41, Western Michigan 16

    *

    Hawaii (0-6, 0-4 Mountain West, 4-2 ATS), idle this week
    Teams like Hawaii drive recreational gamblers crazy. Looking at lines like +24 (at USC), +27 (vs. Oregon State), +17 (vs. Fresno State), most see an easy pick. The Warriors are terrible, right? Yes, they are bad, but they always manage to find a way to hang around; they scored 20 points in the fourth quarter against Fresno, eight in the fourth against USC, and went into halftime against Oregon State tied at 14. Maybe best to take the halftime line or, better yet, stay away from Hawaii altogether.

    *

    Air Force (1-6, 0-5 Mountain West, 2-5 ATS), idle this week
    The Falcons' season has been a no-fly zone thus far. (Hey, at least they're not under the radar.)

    *

    Oregon State (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) vs. California (1-5, 0-3 Pac-12, 0-5 ATS)
    The Beavers sit tied with Oregon atop the Pac-12 North at 3-0, and QB Sean Mannion is, in the words of Ronnie Lott, hot.

    Oregon State doesn't believe in a balanced offense: The Beavers rank #122 in rushing yards per game but #1 in passing at 433.

    Cal follows the same approach, throwing for 371 yards per game (#5) but only rushing for 117 (#108). The problem for the Bears is that their gaudy numbers only translate to 25 points per game while the Beavers average 43, good for 12th in the nation.

    Most outside the West Coast time zone won't catch the game (kickoff is 9:30 p.m. CST), which is too bad. With an Over/Under at 69, Vegas expects plenty of scoring.

    Our pick: Oregon State 38, California 31

    *

    Kentucky (1-5, 0-3 SEC, 2-4 ATS), idle this week
    At $100 per game, our Always Give The Points Against The Kentucky Wildcats strategy would have netted $180 thus far. We're not saying, we're just saying.

    *

    Georgia State (0-6, 0-1 Sun Belt, 4-1 ATS) at Texas State (3-3, 0-2 Sun Belt)
    Texas State makes a second appearance in this week's report! We doubt that will ever happen again. Oddly, should Georgia State pull off an upset (+17), the Panthers would be in the mix for the Sun Belt title. Well, that might be generous. Let's say Georgia State would be "in the middle of the pack," although the point is moot - as a team in "transition" to the FBS, the Panthers won't qualify for postseason play until 2014.

    While we're on the subject, we'd like to share our favorite post-graduate mascot: Victor E. Panther, who graduated from his post as mascot for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers, only to be replaced by . . . Pounce. Pounce Panther.

    Our pick: Texas State 42, Georgia State 13

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    The College Football Report Sacred Chicken Seven-Year Plan
    You know who hasn't graduated yet? The Chicken. Despite the booming market for ag degrees, the College Football Report's resident feathered forecaster can't be bothered. The poultry picks this week:

    Northern Illinois (-16) vs. Central Michigan
    Auburn (+14) vs. Texas A&M
    Indiana vs. Michigan (-9.5)

    -

    Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    A Modest Transit Proposal: Put The Public In Public Transit

    Governor Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon commission on transit reform is due to issue its first report by Friday. This week we'll give you four recommendations of our own that just might fix this mess.

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    Suggestion #1: Kill Metra.
    Suggestion #2: Look At A Fucking Map.
    Suggestion #3: Invest In What's Already Here.

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    Suggestion #4: Put the Public in Public Transit.
    The demise of the Jackson Park Green Line has been in the news recently due to Mayor Emanuel's proposal to rename Stony Island Avenue in honor of Bishop Arthur Brazier. Most of these stories have focused on the 1997 demolition of the elevated structure east of Cottage Grove. However, the struggle over the last leg of track began much earlier.

    In a sense, the Jackson Park line was always disposable. Built to serve the World's Fair in 1893, the tracks originally extended into the park itself. The line was awkwardly and unceremoniously hacked off at Stony Island shortly after the Fair ended, and Stony remained the terminal for nearly 90 years.


    View Former Jackson Park Line in a larger map

    In March 1982, the line was closed south of 59th Street after a routine inspection discovered that the bridge over the Illinois Central (now the Metra Electric District) tracks at Dorchester and 63rd was no longer safe. It was around this time that calls for the demolition of the line beyond Cottage Grove began to grow louder. Ultimately, Mayor Jane Byrne decided the line was worth saving. It reopened as far east as University in December of that year, with plans to extend the line to Dorchester and build an intermodal transfer hub.

    It is important to note that the rehabilitation of the Jackson Park line continued until 1994. In fact, part of the demolition order passed in 1996 involved forgoing some $9 million in federal grants and asking the feds to forgive $9 million that had already been spent. There is a lot to be said about the influence of clout in the CTA's decision, but at its heart this is a story about the failure of the city to treat its transit assets as a public service.

    This failure, which continues to color transportation policy to this day, leaves the entire system vulnerable to the whims of politics and profit. Chicago under Jane Byrne saw value in the Jackson Park line; Chicago under Richard M. Daley did not. And so, no matter the commitments the earlier administration made, the prospect of demolition remained an easy and available option, a political chip to be played when the new administration saw fit. The Jackson Park line offered potential connectivity between the CTA and Metra, and between the lakefront and the neighborhoods on the interior. We could be talking today about the dedication of the Bishop Arthur Brazier intermodal transit hub, and about the very real unification of dozens of south shore communities. We are not, and in all likelihood we never will be.

    This pattern repeats itself in ways large and small throughout the Chicagoland transit world. Think of the bus lines that were removed or truncated earlier this year; the buses are gone, but plenty of decorative bus shelters remain at key intersections so JCDecaux can rake in more advertising dollars. In this atmosphere, it's difficult to view initiatives like the Ashland Avenue BRT corridor as serious attempts to address transit issues. Who's to say the city won't abandon that idea after a year or so, under the guise of disappointing ridership - leaving in place, of course, a new series of mini-billboards on the median of a major arterial street.

    It would be so much snappier to call this piece "Put the Public BACK in Public Transit," but that would assume that those responsible for planning our mass transportation systems at one time had the public's best interest at heart. If the powers that be - including Governor Quinn's blue-ribbon committee - are so inclined, they can begin to earn the trust of a cynical ridership by abiding by a few simple rules:

    1. Stop putting train lines in inaccessible areas. "Truly strong public transit systems support the communities through which they pass and offer maximum flexibility." It's worth reading this statement again, because at its best mass transit does more than shuffle people from point A to point B. It allows for the idea that point A, and point C and all the other points in between might be worthwhile places to explore and enjoy. Have you ever been to a Red Line station in the middle of the Dan Ryan? They are non-descript boxes sitting over miserable spits of concrete in the middle of a 10-lane highway. There is nothing about the experience that inspires the imagination; nothing that might tempt the individual to stay. And because the station entrances are mired in the midst of busy entrance and exits ramps, there is a heavy incentive not to engage with the local neighborhood.

    The Red Line's Dan Ryan branch and the Blue Line's Forest Park branch are lingering symbols of just how disengaged Chicago had become from the idea of a functional public transit system. They were built with the idea that private cars should take pride of place, and that the convenience of individual drivers is more important than the needs of the larger community.

    Many of the routes under discussion for future system expansions - and many of the routes discussed in this series - are former industrial lines that could end up divorcing themselves from their surroundings in similar ways. But if these rights-of-way are treated as true public spaces, they can be developed in a way that returns space to the people of this region.

    2. Stop building stations where stations already exist. There is a long stretch on the Green Line without a station. It runs from Roosevelt on the north all the way down to Bronzeville. There is a natural inclination to add a station somewhere along that route.

    When, however, that station is placed one block away from an existing Red Line station, and when it just happens to be right down the street from one of the mayor's pet projects, you start to wonder if the placement truly reflects the needs of the traveling public.


    View New Green Line station in a larger map

    Wouldn't a station further north, in an unserved neighborhood, make more sense? How about 18th Street, allowing easy access to Ping Tom Park and the southern entrance to Soldier Field? Or how about 16th Street where, just for the record, an abandoned rail right-of-way snakes directly into McCormick Place itself? The construction of new stations should always serve the public first, not the whims of private entities and especially not the egos of public officials.

    3. Start putting stations where stations don't already exist. If you've ever been to the United Center, visited the statue of Michael Jordan, and stared out across the parking lot toward Chicago's majestic skyline, you've looked right at the Pink Line. And if the timing was right and you happened to spot a train approaching, you probably noticed it not stopping. Because there is no station there.


    View Pink Line tracks in relation to United Center in a larger map

    Every other major sporting venue in the city has train station within easy walking distance. In the case of Soldier Field, it's a Metra line but once we kill Metra that won't be a problem anymore. In the case of US Cellular Field, there's three train stations within easy walking distance. Wrigley Field, of course, has the Addison station. Why would the CTA not put a station at the doorstep of a major cultural institution in a rapidly developing neighborhood (and, incidentally, within walking distance of one of the city's premier selective enrollment high schools)? Once again, it's difficult to explain in terms of public benefit.

    4. Don't stop looking at your map until public transit is relevant to every person living in the Chicagoland area. The continued failure of transit decision-makers to place the needs of this region's commuters first has very real consequences. It has allowed agencies like the CTA to adopt a strategy of periodic retrenchment, gradually thinning services in some areas until they are no longer viable for many of the people who need them. And so those people find other ways to travel, and their abandonment of inadequate services is used as an excuse for further reductions.

    Starting today, Chicago's transit officials should adopt a new approach. Pull out a map, consider the neighborhoods that are underrepresented and the institutions that aren't served, and start a program of strategic engagement. Focus on the smallest changes that will have the biggest impact on real people, the simple shifts that could make mass transit viable to entirely new populations. And don't stop until everyone is served.

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    Comments welcome.

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    1. From Matt Bernhardt:

    Loved your 4-part series. They are simple, obvious, effective and realistic suggestions for improved transit.

    As someone who commutes to Hyde Park daily, the top thing for me is your suggestion for Metra to get on a single-fare and have an affordable transfer. Right now when I get downtown (from Wicker Park) I'm forced with a choice of a cheap transfer to an express bus or a full fare on the electric district line. I choose the latter, especially on the way home due to automobile traffic.

    If Metra simply had more integration with the CTA and provided more trips (they only have four runs between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 am, for instance) they'd get a huge boost from people who otherwise take crowded busses, which is clearly a worse mode of transportation and goes to the same place. The #2 and #6 bus routes could be eliminated off of an obviously-busy Lake Shore Drive.

    Natasha replies: I feel your pain, Matt. I also commute to Hyde Park from the North Side and have run into the same issues. I'm hopeful that the Red Line rehab will make that a viable option once again.

    I'd also note that there was a proposal floated around 2007 to convert the Metra Electric to a CTA-style line called the "Gold Line." The plan featured increased service along the South Chicago branch in particular. It was designed to tie in with the city's Olympics bid, which many people hoped would bring a lot of federal grant money to the region. I haven't found much coverage of the Gold Line since then, but I think it's another obvious and very simple solution to the problem of transportation access in an underserved area. If anyone has updates on the Gold Line project, please pass them along.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:48 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Wires

    Source code.

    octsunsetburrainyday.jpg 002.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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    More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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    Helene on Twitter!

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    Meet Helene!

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    Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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    Previously:
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 3:33 AM | Permalink

    October 17, 2013

    The [Thursday] Papers

    This just in:

    Today, the Northwestern School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic has released Combating Gun Violence in Illinois: Evidence-Based Solutions on behalf of more than 30 scholars and clinical professors from colleges and universities throughout Illinois. In its research paper, the authors start with the premise that every life lost to gun violence is tragic and a call for action.

    The paper refutes claims that increased mandatory minimum sentences (HB 2265) would deter crime and argues Illinois' responses must be smart, strategic and grounded in evidence-based solutions.

    Here are some summary points:

    Illinois already has mandatory minimum prison terms for all gun crimes.
    • On January 1, 2011, a one-year mandatory minimum for several gun possession offenses was enacted but there have been no studies analyzing the effectiveness of this significant change.

    Decades of empirical evidence and evaluations of specific state experiences demonstrate that mandatory sentences will not reduce gun violence.

    • Some claim New York City's decline in crime was due to mandatory minimum sentencing. New York City's murder rate dropped 80% from 1990 to 2012, but mandatory minimums did not take effect until 2007 - after 90% of that reduction had already taken place.
    • Because most gun possession defendants are under the age of 25 (and nearly half are under the age of 21), and because research shows that young people are especially unlikely to be deterred by major changes to criminal penalties, mandatory minimums are even more unlikely to deter illegal gun possession.
    • Years of experience and research into mandatory sentences has resulted in a national trend away from mandatory sentencing laws as a crime reduction tool.

    Additional mandatory sentences mean additional state, local, public safety, community, and justice costs.

    • Besides failing to deter crime, additional mandatory sentences will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars (at least $392 million) in increased prison costs over just three years. Likewise, county costs will rise due to the longer case processing times and higher court-ordered bail amounts.
    • Advocates claim communities are safer during the time a prisoner serves longer mandatory minimum sentences. But that claim ignores the fact that incarceration increases the likelihood of recidivism and contributes to making some prisoners even more dangerous and unemployable upon release.

    Targeted interventions and evidence-based programming are more promising, proven solutions to gun violence.

    • Research demonstrates that problem-oriented policing, such as initiatives which focus police resources on high-risk places at high-risk times, are far more effective than mandatory minimums. Furthermore, intervention initiatives that target high-risk youth are another proven, low-cost strategy.

    A few comments:

    * The evidence is simply overwhelming that mandatory minimum legislation of the sort that has been proposed would not only fail to decrease gun violence, but would cause far more harm than good.

    * The "some" claiming that the experience of New York City exemplifies why this legislation should be passed are led by Rahm Emanuel and, secondarily, Garry McCarthy.

    * Emanuel and McCarthy have been allowed to get away with making utterly false claims about the New York City experience by a lazy press, the consequences of which could be utterly disastrous.

    * Northwestern's research only bolsters what everyone else who has actually studied the matter has found.

    "What does the evidence say about mandatory minimums?" John Maki wrote for the Tribune in September.

    "Nearly every credible nonpartisan policy group that has examined this issue, from the National Academy of Sciences to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, has agreed: Mandatory prison minimums don't work.

    "In an article for the University of Chicago's journal Crime and Justice, University of Minnesota law professor Michael Tonry surveyed 200 years of findings on mandatory minimum sentences and summarized the consensus: 'If policymakers took account of research evidence (and informed practioners' views) existing laws would be repealed and no new ones would be enacted.'"

    Unlike the mayor, the police chief, the pols and the editorial boards, Maki's claim has not been refuted. That's because his claim is based on facts, not ignorance, campaign rhetoric and/or demagoguery.

    * It's sad that Northwestern felt it had to state that "In its research paper, the authors start with the premise that every life lost to gun violence is tragic and a call for action."

    It's like having to affirm one's patriotism by wearing a flag lapel or prefacing a policy position by saying you "support the troops."

    Who doesn't believe that every life lost to gun violence is tragic? I think even the gangbangers believe that.

    Sad, then, that Northwestern clearly deemed such a statement as necessary because of a climate created by rhetoric like this.

    * I told you so.

    Meanwhile . . .

    "The most hotly debated item during [Wednesday's city council] meeting was a resolution with no force of law that urged the General Assembly to increase the penalties for certain gun crimes," the Tribune reports.

    "Although the resolution itself did not mention mandatory minimum prison sentences, three African American aldermen decried the effects of such an approach on young men and their families from their communities.

    "Nevertheless, the resolution passed with nary a dissent, after some African-American aldermen realized it did not specifically endorse the mandatory minimum sentences Emanuel has been lobbying for."

    That was a game. Rahm wasn't even at Wednesday's meeting and the resolution, introduced last month on 9/11, was sponsored by Ald. James Balcer. I don't know if this was a trojan horse from Rahm or simply a meaningless Balcer resolution that mandatory minimum opponents in the council seized upon to vent their frustration with Rahm's plan. But it's clear what Rahm's plan is.

    Just a day earlier:

    "Mayor Rahm Emanuel vowed Tuesday to use his political capital to get state lawmakers to pass tougher illegal firearm possession laws," the Tribune reported.

    "The mayor, joined at an event by the parents of gun-crime victims, said he has made personal pleas to lawmakers to support a measure requiring a minimum three-year sentence for illegal gun possession, with 85 percent of the time served behind bars."

    Now we'll see if lawmakers find personal pleas more persuasive than overwhelming evidence.

    *

    Even without mandatory minimum language per se in the ordinance the council passed Wednesday, it got reported that way in some quarters.

    For example:

    City Council Urges State To Impose Mandatory Sentencing On Gun Crimes.

    "Chicago aldermen are urging the Illinois General Assembly to approve Mayor Emanuel's proposal to impose a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for most gun crimes, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore."

    That's simply not true, even if Balcer muddied the waters by backing Rahm's proposal during the council debate.

    Ultimately, the Balcer resolution is meaningless - unless Rahm takes it to Springfield to bolster his case. That's why some council opponents wanted it on the record that even if they were voting in favor of the resolution, they didn't support what was missing in it but clearly intended. There is no consensus on the council when it comes to mandatory minimums.

    *

    And it probably pleases the mayor more than actually passing legislation to see a stream of headlines like "Emanuel Pushes For Tougher Gun Penalties."

    Well, what could be wrong with that?

    Tell you what, I'm proposing a 5-year mandatory minimum. I'll await the headline "Rhodes Tougher On Crime Than Rahm."

    That's how he manipulates you. How about "Emanuel Pushes For Gun Penalties Shown To Have No Effect On Crime." Biased? Not in the least. Unlike Rahm's headline, mine has the benefit of being true.

    *

    Gee, this looks familiar.

    *

    Just sayin'.

    -

    A Modest Transit Proposal
    Part 4 of our series will appear later today Friday.

    Busting The Rancics
    Giuliana caught fibbing about her Chicago restaurant. In our Random Food Report.

    Dominick's Ads Eggceptional
    Some would say appeeling.

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
    The Family Guy of Bears columns.

    A Chicago Wedding Band
    Meet the Key Tov Orchestra.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Oy to the vey.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    Dominick's Ads Eggceptional

    "Whether they're shopping for Swiss cheese on sale or organic kale, not enough Chicago-area consumers are doing it at Dominick's," the Tribune reported last week.

    "Safeway Inc. said Thursday it is giving up on its struggling Dominick's supermarket chain and plans to exit the market as soon as the end of the year.

    "What happens next for the 72 Dominick's locations is still unclear. Safeway said it's trying to sell as many of the stores as quickly as it can, adding that it's likely to fetch multiple buyers as opposed to a single grocer that would take over every location.

    "Dominick's, which Safeway bought for $1.2 billion in 1998, has roots in Chicago that go back to the 1920s, and many local adults were raised on trips to Dominick's or its bigger archrival, Jewel."

    *

    Dominick's commercials over the years.

    1. Chicagoland's Most Complete Food Stores (1973).


    -

    2. Sliced Corn King Bologna (1980).

    -

    3. Green Register Tapes (1983).

    -

    4. Appeeling Savings On Bananas, Eggceptional Savings On Eggs (1988).

    -

    5. Theme Song (1991).

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    Random Food Report: Busting The Rancics

    1. Drunk Driver Led Cops On Chase To Buy Time To Finish His Big Mac.

    Drunk driving isn't something to joke about, but come on!

    You go, Randall Miller.

    2. KFC Preps New Quality-Assurance Ad Campaign In China.

    Why?

    "[KFC parent] Yum [Brands], which gets about three-quarters of its revenue from outside the U.S., is facing more competition from expanding restaurant chains, such as Dicos and Hua Lai Shi in China. It's also facing a backlash from consumers there after an outbreak of avian flu scared diners away from poultry and a former chicken supplier was investigated for selling food with too much antibiotics."

    *

    By the way:

    Dicos.

    Hua Lai Shi.

    3. We'd Rather Eat At Dicos.

    "Brooks Brothers, the 'Makers and Merchants' of fine American suits and ties since 1818, is turning its talents on another Yankee Doodle favorite - steak.

    "The legendary apparel emporium plans to launch a huge steakhouse, branded "Makers and Merchants," at 11 E. 44th St., around the corner from its flagship store at 346 Madison Ave., sources told The Post."

    *

    By the way, Ralph Lauren began his career as a salesman at the Brooks Brothers Madison Avenue store and already has his own restaurant.

    *

    Saks Fifth Avenue is also opening a restaurant.

    4. Eating Filipino.

    "The 'Chicago Food Trip' caravan of the Philippine Consulate General rolled into a place serving famous Filipino breakfast and to another restaurant that offers the bounty from the land and the sea," ABN-CBN News reports.

    "The consulate's food tasting team dropped by Uncle Mike's Place to check out the menu especially for homesick Filipinos.

    "Owned by Chef Mike Grajewski and his Filipina wife Lucia, the place boasts of all-time favorite Pinoy almusal such as the longganisa, tocino, and bangus - all served with two eggs (any style), garlic fried rice, and a bowl of fresh lugao."

    Say what?

    "The 'Chicago Food Trip' involves visits to several restaurants which include Filipino and Filipino-inspired dishes on their menu.

    "The aim of the event is to create more awareness about Philippine culture, as well as support the efforts of second-generation Filipino chefs in Chicago."

    *

    Here's more from the consulate's Facebook page.

    5. Rancid Rancics.

    "Bill and Giuliana Rancic, stars of Giuliana and Bill on the Style Network, are opening a location of their restaurant RPM Italian in D.C.," the Washington City Paper reports.

    "Giuliana Rancic, a Bethesda native, announced the news on The Tommy Show this morning. She says it's slated to open in 2015.

    "The restaurant also has a location in Chicago, 'which is like the hottest restaurant right now in Chicago, two-month waiting list,' Rancic told radio hosts Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis."

    Um, really?

    "UPDATE: In case you are wondering if RPM Italian really is that hot in Chicago right now, [we] called over to the restaurant about its 'two-month waiting list.' Turns out there are several openings tonight."

    Busted.

    6. Is Fish Sauce The New Kale?

    7. Prairie Dawgs.

    "Chicago Dawg House - a Cubs-themed hot dog joint with Chicago-style grub - is open in Midtown Crossing," the Omaha World-Herald reports.

    "The restaurant serves hot dogs, buns and sandwiches using ingredients brought to Omaha from Chicago and has Chicago condiments, too, including pickles, relish and peppers.

    "The new Midtown location is larger than the former location, with triple the amount of seating, including a dugout-style area and stadium seats that are from Wrigley Field in Chicago and Rosenblatt Stadium. The decor will feature a Chicago Cubs theme.

    "'When the Cubs win, the 'W' flag goes up,' [co-owner] Kelly Keegan said in a press release."

    8. No Guns Allowed.

    Restaurants in Illinois that don't want concealed weapons on their premises can now use this official sign.

    9. Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria | Tucson.

    -

    10. Chicago Pizza | Osaka.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:50 AM | Permalink

    Gigantic Meh

    Nice to see Brandon Jacobs rack up a heady stat line for my 2008 fantasy football starting lineup.

    So it was a bit of a ho-hum victory, but in some parts of town a Ho Hum can go for as much $300. Thank your lucky stars that you got to watch one for the price of local programming.

    Even without the ability to wrestle middle-aged running backs to the turf, the Bears managed to tack on a win against a team whose quarterback is on pace to throw approximately 40 interceptions. Yet you have national sports outlets talking about how this team is only three games out of first.

    This is what a ring buys you.

    Speaking of taking horribly flawed, but competitive teams to the Super Bowl, think about the last several Super Bowl teams. If the trend continues, the formula for championship football is essentially "be around .500 in week 15, get hot, and stay that way for a month."

    I can definitely see Jay Cutler getting on a hot streak, but more than that, I like to imagine him with a ring. Press conference apathy could be ratcheted up to previously unheard of, mega-Belichick-ian levels.

    Brad Biggs: Jay, you threw four picks out there today. Are you and your receivers on the same page?

    In a very deliberate manner, Cutler his raises middle finger above podium level so that everyone can see the 2013 championship ring he is wearing on it, while ashing his cigarette on the carpet.

    Jeff Dickerson: Um, Jay. I don't think you answered Brad's question . . .

    Cutler takes a monster drag off a smoke and noisily blows it out, cutting off Dickerson. Alright, thanks for coming guys. See you next week. Leaves building.

    -

    Catch Phrase
    With the middle of the defense injury depleted, it's become clear that the Bears are going to have to come up with some clever strategies to compensate. We've covered some of this ground before (sadly my prediction that the Bears would be allowed to play Brian Urlacher and Emery Moorehead did not come to pass), but just as starters return from injury, it seems as though others are fated to go down.

    Now linebacker D.J. Williams is out for the year and the Bears are officially running low on defensive tackles*. What's Phil Emery to do?

    • Sometimes the right man for the job is . . . a woman. I'm thinking Mel Tucker can get the "Listen To Terry" lady contributing to the defensive tackle rotation by week 8 and I bet she'll be a better run stopper than Shea McClellin. Now I don't have an exact count, but I would go so far as to say that there are "several" other female defensive tackles unsigned by other NFL squads. Somebody get the agents of The Black Widow, Miesha Tate and Lara Croft on the horn.
    • The best defense is a good offense. Let's get the offense thinking outside the box. I mean like so far outside that they'll need to put on a sweater so they don't catch cold. I'm talking no punts, several onside kicks a game and countless delay of game penalties leading to 35-yard bombs to Brandon Marshall. You can't torch a defense that doesn't see the field.
    • We are cancelling the apocalypse. Would forcing Blake Costanzo and Craig Steltz to perform a "neural handshake" in order to pilot a mini Pacific Rim robot count as a "Performance Enhancing Drug?"

    "RG III: Eat Fresh" or "Subway: Fight The Power"
    It's unclear whether second year signal-caller Robert Griffin III poses a threat to perform wonders as an NFL quarterback or if I've simply been lead to believe that he is a successful athlete because of all the media exposure.

    If TV has taught me anything, it's that drinking Gatorade allows me to flip tractor tires end over end on empty high school football fields and that smokehouse barbecue is the new clay.

    Maybe Adidas banner ads lead to more first downs, I do not know.

    What I do know is that the man represented the franchise so well that in 2012 the public had almost completely forgotten about the semi-racist nickname of the NFL franchise from our nation's capital.

    Recently, it's become en vogue to call on the club to update their name to something less offensive to our Native American friends. Names like the Washington Slanteyes or the Washington Tacobenders are under consideration, but you know how it goes on Capital Hill; nothing will get done anytime soon.

    Based on his inability to effectively mask institutional racism, I assume that RG III's performance as a football player has experienced a bit of a drop off.

    Kool-Aid (3 Out Of 5 Bottles Of Yuengling Beer)
    Coming up next, another struggling football team. This is a perfect week to test out that "never punt, never surrender" strategy you've been dying to see implemented at the NFL level since you read about it 25 sentences ago.

    I think the Bears would go 8-11 on fourth down against this bad defense.

    Washington can't stop the run, can't stop the pass, and can't stop the music; but they can cut a seemingly insurmountable deficit into a modest loss.

    It is this last skill that worries me most about the Washington .

    I like the Bears chances to build up a lead, but I worry that they'll blow it badly in the fourth when a defense that wasn't apt to stop anybody in the first place takes it in the teeth by going into a prevent shell.

    I'm giving the home team the edge.

    Washington 28
    Bears 24

    -

    * I know that pallet of Costco-brand Defensive Tackles seems like a lot at $780,000, but you're getting them at $32,400 apiece. You can't beat that price! Should have made a run last week.

    -

    Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Meet The Key Tov Orchestra

    Creating the perfect soundtrack for your simcha!

    I Gotta Feeling.


    *

    What I Like About You.

    *

    Don't Stop Believin'.

    *

    Sweet Caroline.

    *

    Hora Dance.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:34 AM | Permalink

    October 16, 2013

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    "Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago's Crime Lab, is a superb scholar of violence and a talented economist, but his just released analysis of gun penalties tells me he desperately needs a course in criminal justice, Illinois style," Franklin Zimring writes to the Sun-Times.

    "Ludwig's memo, widely cited by politicians who favor a mandatory three-year prison sentence for people convicted of the illegal use of a weapon, makes three assumptions about Illinois law and practice that are provably not true."

    Zimring, a law professor at Berkeley and the former director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice at the University of Chicago, goes on to provably untrue them.

    Rahm Emanuel and his pet police chief, Garry McCarthy, have spent the better part of a year making claims about mandatory minimum laws that simply aren't true. It might be good politics, but it's horrendous policy-making - especially for an administration that likes to portray itself as a technocratic bastion of data-based decision-making (despite mounds of evidence to the contrary).

    "The evidence against Emanuel's proposal could not be clearer: It will not prevent crime," John Maki, executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, wrote for the Tribune in September.

    "What does the evidence say about mandatory minimums? Nearly every credible nonpartisan policy group that has examined this issue, from the National Academy of Sciences to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, has agreed: Mandatory prison minimums don't work.

    "In an article for the University of Chicago's journal Crime and Justice, University of Minnesota law professor Michael Tonry surveyed 200 years of findings on mandatory minimum sentences and summarized the consensus: 'If policymakers took account of research evidence (and informed practioners' views) existing laws would be repealed and no new ones would be enacted.'"

    In other words, mandatory minimum proponents are like global warming deniers.

    *

    In particular, Emanuel and McCarthy repeatedly cite the experience of New York City to bolster their zealous pursuit of new mandatory minimum legislation. Unsurprisingly, the media lets them get away with it - over and over and over - without checking their claims.

    The experience of New York City, though, is the best evidence against enacting the legislation that Emanuel and McCarthy have so forcefully sold as a panacea to the city's problem with violence.

    "The last time New York State's gun laws were tightened, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rolled out a graphic reminder of what would happen to anyone caught carrying a loaded, illegal weapon," the New York Times reported in January.

    "'Guns = Prison,' public service posters proclaimed categorically. In 2006, the mandatory prison sentence was increased to 3.5 years from 1 year.

    "Five years later, though, that equation seemed decidedly more equivocal.

    "In 2011, the latest year for which sentencing statistics are available, fewer than half the defendants who had been arrested for illegal possession of a loaded gun in New York City received a state prison sentence, according to an analysis of criminal justice statistics by the mayor's office."

    It turns out that mandatory minimums aren't as mandatory as proponents portray.

    "Mandatory minimums are intended to remove the uncertainty that stems from the exercise of discretion, but they never work that way and instead simply take that discretion away from judges and give it to prosecutors, who become effectively responsible for charging and sentencing," Maki writes for The Huffington Post.

    In fact, that's just what happened in New York City, despite what Emanuel and McCarthy tell you.

    What's more, New York City's comparative success in decreasing gun violence is borne of the exact opposite approach that is being proposed here.

    "Now that the United States has the world's highest reported rate of incarceration, many criminologists are contemplating another strategy," the Times's John Tierney wrote in January as part of his Time and Punishment series.

    "What if America reverted to the penal policies of the 1980s? What if the prison population shrank drastically? What if money now spent guarding cellblocks was instead used for policing the streets?

    "In short, what would happen if the rest of the country followed New York City's example?"

    You mean like Emanuel and McCarthy say they are doing? Um, not quite.

    Former NYC police chief William Bratton told Tierney that mandatory minimums were not the answer.

    "We showed in New York that the future of policing is not in handcuffs," Bratton said. "The United States has locked up so many people that it has the highest incarceration rate in the world, but we can't arrest and incarcerate our way out of crime. We need to focus on preventing crime instead of responding to it."

    *

    Even conservatives who have historically supported mandatory minimums as a tough-on-crime measure are backtracking.

    "George L. Kelling of the Manhattan Institute and John J. DiIulio Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, have joined with prominent scholars and politicians, including Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich, in a group called Right on Crime," Tierney reports.

    "It advocates more selective incarceration and warns that current policies 'have the unintended consequence of hardening nonviolent, low-risk offenders' so that they become 'a greater risk to the public than when they entered.'"

    In other words, the strategy Emanuel and McCarthy are pursuing is likely to make Chicago more violent, not less. More families will be left impovershed. And we'll pay through the nose to accomplish the opposite of what we're trying achive.

    "[M]y guess is that the costs outweigh the benefits at the margins," says Freakonomics professor Steven Levitt, of the University of Chicago. "I think we should be shrinking the prison population by at least one-third."

    Toni Preckwinkle gets it.

    "I've been quite clear that I don't believe in mandatory minimums," said Preckwinkle, who also made it clear she was referring to both drug and gun crimes," the Tribune reports.

    "I think that they're one of the reasons that our jails and our prisons are overcrowded, and they basically tie the judges' hands and eliminate judicial discretion, and the reason we have judges on the bench is to exercise discretion," Preckwinkle says.

    "Preckwinkle also has noted the costs to society of get-tough-on-crime mandatory minimum sentences that 'often put nonviolent offenders - or people capable of rehabilitation - behind bars for long periods, making it less likely they can later launch a productive life.

    "'All of these people, you know, unless we send them to jail for life, they eventually return to our communities,' Preckwinkle said, speaking to reporters after a County Board meeting. 'And the longer they stay in prison, the less employable and the more problematic their future outcome.'"

    Preckwinkle has read the research - or didn't have to.

    *

    Not so the Tribune editorial board, including Kristen McQueary.

    *

    I'm sure voting Yes on this legislation will make many pols feel good about themselves, just as the sort of moralizing the Trib does must buck up their own feelings of superiority.

    To wit:

    *

    That's just an incredibly dishonest argument to make, and a member of the Tribune editorial board ought to be above it. In fact, it's not an argument at all but just sheer demagoguery.

    *

    *

    Exactly. (VanderKolk is the director of constituent services for Ald. John Arena.).

    *

    Unfortunately, politicians - and editorial boards - can be expected to pat themselves on the back for supporting measures that, on their face, seem like common sense. That's why it's up to reporters to take a deeper, more sophisticated look at policy proposals and their implications - especially when the research agrees so strongly with the view from the street. Instead, we have the Rahm and Gerry Show, unfactchecked for your consumption.

    -

    Photo Insight: Chicago Heartbreak

    -

    A Modest Transit Proposal
    Part 2 in our series: Invest In What We Already Have.

    "Right now, Chicago is an elaborate tomb for the once-dominant railroad industry. Unused tracks and abandoned embankments litter neighborhoods throughout the region. It's time to resurrect these features in service of the people who live here."

    Keefin' Up With The Joneses
    The Charms of Chella H, A Tribute To Trife, Behind The Empty Bottle, A Must-See Oozing Wound and more. In our Local Music Notebook.

    Fantasy Fix: Top 10 Revisited
    A reality check on all those running backs.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Safe harbor provisions apply.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    Local Music Notebook: Chella H, The Empty Bottle & Oozing Wound

    1. Chella H.

    See also: ChellaChicago.com.

    -

    2. Another One Lost: Trife.

    -

    3. Keefin' Up With The Jonesin'.

    "Keith Cozart, known as the rap artist Chief Keef, was sentenced to 20 days in Cook County Jail [Tuesday] after testing positive for marijuana, officials said," the Tribune reports.

    Here's Keef on Instagram turning himself in - with a message.

    *

    Also: Twitter Can Barely Understand Chief Keef On His New Mixtape.

    -

    4. Willie Blackfinger.

    "Blackfinger, the band featuring former Trouble vocalist Eric Wagner, has announced the addition of Chicago bassist Willie Max to the group's ranks," Blabbermouth reports.

    "Willie, a member of long-running Chicago metal outfit Shadoz Edge, as well as Spillage (featuring Earthen Grave's Tony Spillman), replaces Ben Smith, who has moved on to pursue other musical interests."

    -

    5. Nicht Nachtmystium.

    "If you're following metal news at all right now, you've no doubt heard about Blake Judd of Nachtmystium's recent legal problems," Brooklyn Vegan reports.

    "Judd was arrested on October 5 on theft charges; though he's only being charged with misdemeanor theft of less than $500 worth of property, his bail has been set for $25,000. Not exactly chump change for the black metal milieu.

    "This development was no doubt troubling for Metal Insider, whose CMJ showcase at Europa on 10/16 featured Nachtmystium as the headlining band. Earlier today, Metal Insider announced that Judd's court date has been moved to November 1, thereby ensuring that he will not be out of jail in time to play the showcase."

    -

    6. Kickass Promo.

    From Thrill Jockey's Oozing Wound, out with Retrash this week.

    -

    7. Sweet Home St. Louis.

    "Die-hard music lovers, casual fans and globe-trotting tourists readily embrace Chicago as the home of the blues, spurred in large part by the Great Migration northward of Southern blacks in the early and mid-20th century," AP reports.

    "Robert Johnson, the genre's godfather, famously sang of 'Sweet Home Chicago,' and the Chicago Blues Festival draws more than 100,000 people each summer.

    "But come next year, the National Blues Museum won't find a home in Chicago, but in a rival Midwest city 300 miles to the south."

    -

    8. As Foretold In Revelations.

    -

    9. Behind The Scenes At The Empty Bottle.

    -

    10. Bloodshot Bottle Rockets.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:49 AM | Permalink

    A Modest Transit Proposal: Invest In What's Already Here

    Governor Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon commission on transit reform is due to issue its first report by Friday. This week we're presenting four recommendations of our own that just might fix this mess.

    -

    Suggestion #1: Kill Metra.
    Suggestion #2: Look At A Fucking Map.

    -

    Suggestion #3: Invest In What's Already Here.
    There is a set of train tracks running in front of the Cook County Court building along 26th. Remnants of an elevated embankment cut across the city's midsection south of Pershing. In Chicago and the near suburbs, abandoned rail lines form an elaborate web of disintegrating infrastructure all around us. The potential of these resources to galvanize our transportation system is enormous; wherever possible, they should be given over for public use.

    The reclamation of rail rights-of-way is not a new idea. The CTA's Orange Line and Metra's North Central were built using existing freight tracks. Planned extensions of the Orange, Red and Yellow lines would use similar strategies. Existing corridors within the city could alleviate the paucity of decentralized connections. They could add tremendous capacity to our mass transit systems without diminishing capacity on surface roads.

    Determining which existing lines are eligible for redevelopment is a daunting task. Often abandoned tracks are mixed in with others that are still in use. Trying to sort out which tracks are owned by whom quickly leads you into a black hole of railroad consolidation history. The suggestions given below involve only rights-of-way that have been acknowledged as abandoned in the public record, or those that show visible signs of advanced deterioration. There may be many more; all should be pursued.

    The Mid-City Transitway
    Running north-south along Kenton Avenue for much of the length of the city, this abandoned branch of the Chicago Belt Railway was for many years associated with one of the more infamous transportation plans in recent memory: the Crosstown Expressway. In the 1960s, the Crosstown was proposed as a bypass route, an alternative to the Dan Ryan that avoided downtown traffic. The only trouble was the eight-lane expressway would've required the destruction of some 30,000 homes in countless neighborhoods. (Click here for a map of the proposed Crosstown route.) With the wounds of the Dan Ryan construction still bleeding, the people of Chicago rose up and handed Richard the First a rare defeat.

    Since the Crosstown was cancelled in 1979, the available embankment has not been redeveloped. It popped up in the City's plans as recently as 2007, when Richard the Second commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of several alternatives including a new L line and a truck bypass. To date, nothing has been done to move this corridor closer to public use.

    The Mid-City is unique among available rights of way for its sheer length. Few other rail lines extend as far north, and none are as poker-straight. The location of the line, just east of Cicero Avenue, makes connecting with existing CTA and Metra lines much easier - many of these lines have Cicero stations that could be linked. The Mid-City would also offer access to both Midway and O'Hare.

    While the proposed layout of the Mid-City extends as far north as the Blue Line at Montrose, an adjacent abandoned right-of-way could carry the Mid-City all the way up to the Yellow Line, giving north suburban residents a new mass transit route to Chicago's airports.


    View Mid-city Transitway Northern Extension in a larger map

    The limiting factor of the Mid-City is the width of the available embankment, thought to be somewhere between 50 and 70 feet. Even if it is as narrow as 50 feet, it would allow ample room for a true Bus Rapid Transit line. If the embankment permits, this could be combined with a recreational path that could serve as a bookend with the Lakefront Path. This type of redevelopment could make the Mid-City a welcome addition to the surrounding communities.

    Please note, the original Crosstown Expressway plan called for the road to make a sharp left turn at 75th Street and connect with the Dan Ryan. The existing rail corridor along 75th is still in use (including, in portions, by Metra). As such, it may not be possible to extend a BRT line along that portion.

    The Campbell Corridor
    The tracks that run along 26th Street in Little Village are leftover from a complex distribution system that once operated along the Chicago River. Many of these shorter spurs fed into a north-south rail artery located half a block west of Western Avenue. At its northern end, the line merges with freight and Metra tracks close to Fulton. To the south, it joins a massive freight route that runs all the way to Blue Island. Part of this right-of-way is used by the Orange Line, from Pershing to roughly 49th Street.


    View Abandoned right of way along Campbell in a larger map

    A new CTA line using this corridor would link Metra's Milwaukee District Line with the CTA's Green (Lake Street Branch) Blue, Pink and Orange Lines. Moving the current California Green Line Station a couple of blocks east could spur the creation of a new mini-hub. The line would serve the aforementioned Cook County Court building, as well as Douglas Park and the new wall-to-wall IB high school in Back of the Yards. It would link communities that are currently divided by the river and the Eisenhower and Stevenson expressways.

    At around 55th it becomes unclear whether any of the existing tracks have been abandoned. If, however, an available right-of-way extends as far south as 63rd it would make the dream of a Circle Line feasible. The freight lines along Western pass tantalizingly close to the current terminus of the Green Line at 63rd and Ashland.

    The Stockyards and Kenwood Lines
    As previously noted, Chicago's bike path system has grown considerably in recent years. Some parts of the city, however, remain stubbornly unfriendly to cyclists. One such fallow patch stretches from 33rd Street to 47th and from Halsted to King Drive. It encompasses parts of Bronzeville and Bridgeport, as well as US Cellular Field. In the middle of this expanse runs an embankment that used to hold the Kenwood and Stock Yards branches of the South Side Elevated.


    View Kenwood and Stock Yards Embankment in a larger map

    Both of these branches were abandoned in the 1950s. The surviving infrastructure is riddled with problems. Most of the bridges east of the Dan Ryan were removed, so the lines are not contiguous. West of Stewart, the right-of-way broadens and it's unclear which tracks (if any) are in use. The area is heavily industrial, so it's entirely possible this track system is still in use from freight.

    All of this said, the two abandoned spurs offer the potential for a recreational path and park system that could put the 606 to shame. The Kenwood embankment is now lushly forested, creating a unique natural environment. It offers easy access to the Lakefront Path via Oakwood and crosses a major north-south bike lane route at King Drive. A trail-to-rail hub at Indiana would give easy access to IIT and the Loop. The line traverses Stateway Park, where a spur turns north toward Bronzeville. The suggested western terminus at Halsted is close to the historic Union Stock Yard gate at Exchange and Peoria. There is a line of track that runs right by the gate, although it's again unclear whether this is in use.

    This project would be massive. It would also be unprecedented in its capacity to link disparate communities. This is an area that was torn apart by the construction of the Dan Ryan; a recreational path like this would be a refreshing and innovative way to reconnect former neighbors.

    Right now, Chicago is an elaborate tomb for the once-dominant railroad industry. Unused tracks and abandoned embankments litter neighborhoods throughout the region. It's time to resurrect these features in service of the people who live here.

    -

    Next: Put The Public In Public Transit.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Carl Giometti:

    Great series of articles. However, I was surprised to see Jefferson Park left off the list. This always seemed the most natural location to me for building a large transit hub and up-zoning the surrounding land.

    jeffpk.jpg(ENLARGE)

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    Natasha replies: Jefferson Park pops up as a possible terminus for the Mid-City in some of the more recent reporting. It has tremendous potential to open up transit to the far northwest corner of the city. Great suggestion and I welcome any others!

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: Top 10 Revisited

    My pre-season fantasy football top 20 this year was notable for being only running backs from No. 1 through No. 10.

    After years of ignoring the prevailing fantasy wisdom that only RBs should be taken in the top 10, I decided it was the right year to join the crowd.

    As we approach the halfway point of the season, it's time to take a look back and see how I did.

    Here's my original top 10, complete with my original comments, but if you don't like re-runs, just skip to the part that says "Reality Check."

    1. Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN: The easiest part of this top 20 after 2,097 rushing yards last year. He should be just as good running, with the possibility of more receptions and perhaps a couple more TDs over last year's total of 13.

    Reality Check: His current actual overall rank is 10th in Yahoo! leagues. While fourth in rushing yards with 483 and second in overall TDs among RBs with six, he's having an average season fantasy-wide (and a horrible season on a personal level).

    2. Arian Foster, RB, HOU: I've always been cautious about him because of frequent (though minor) injury issues, but he led all non-QBs in TDs for the second straight year in 2012 with 17.

    Reality Check: This ranking almost looks right, as he is second in rushing yards with 583, though he only has two TDs so far, as HOU has struggled mightily this season.

    3. Doug Martin, RB, TAM: Yes, 251 of his 1,454 rushing yards and four of his 11 TDs came in a single impressive week last year, and he had five weeks when he didn't break 50 yards rushing, but his 319 carries define him as a true workhorse.

    Reality Check: This ranking has not panned out at all. Strange, because his workload of touches actually is up from last year, but yards-per-carry is down from 4.6 to 3.5. He also has had far fewer receptions, though a QB change is supposed to rectify that.

    4. Jamaal Charles, RB, KC: Fourth in rushing yards last year makes him seem right as a top five RB, but he also has great potential in Andy Reid's system to at least double or triple last year's 236 receiving yards.

    Reality Check: Charles has turned out to be the top fantasy RB, largely based on his development as a receiver - 300 yards receiving already and two TDs. His 475 rushing yards and five rushing TDs have helped. He's making a solid argument to be the No. 1 fantasy RB next season.

    5. C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF: Probably the most hyped fantasy player of the pre-season, Spiller is set to be the No. 1 back in a run-oriented system. More than six yard per carry last year suggests huge upside, with the only downside being the possibility he might not get many goal-line carries.

    Reality Check: Similar to Martin, he has come nowhere near meeting the massive hype that followed him into this season. Injuries and an over-achieving backfield partner in Fred Jackson haven't helped.

    6. Alfred Morris, RB, WAS: Many draft boards have him outside the top 10, mostly because of Mike Shanahan's unpredictable usage of his RBs. Doesn't catch many passes, but Morris was second in both total rushing yards and rushing TDs last year. What more do you need to know?

    Reality Check: He has fewer carries than at this time last year, though his yards-per-carry are up slightly from 4.8 to 5.2. He is not where I thought he would be, but building a case for a better second half.

    7. LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI: Another back who should benefit from a new run-oriented system. His 840 rushing yards last year made him one of the biggest disappointments after many pre-season draft cards had him No. 3 overall, but he should bounce back despite possibly sharing more carries with Bryce Brown.

    Reality Check: The effect of Chip Kelly's offense on his game has been bigger than I expected. His is the third-ranked RB overall in Yahoo!, and first in rushing yards. Brown has not been a factor.

    8. Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA: Among the top RBs of last season's second half. He could be in the top five, though historically the first halves of his seasons are underwhelming. For example, he's averaged seven TDs in Games 1-8 over the last three years, but 16 TDs in Games 9-16.

    Reality Check: He has stayed true to his record of relatively slow first halves, recording his first 100-yard rushing game just two weeks ago. Yet, because some of his RB colleagues have been so bad, his rank is more like fifth among RBs.

    9. Trent Richardson, RB, CLE: Another guy I could easily see at No. 3. A couple of injury issues slowed him down, and he may already have a minor injury in camp, but 950 yards rushing and 12 total TDs last year in 15 games was a nice start. Plus, he's another RB who won't split carries.

    Reality Check: The trade to Indianapolis has obscured the fact that he wasn't having a great season to begin with. The story in Cleveland was an overall poor offense, but with IND, he's clock-control for a pass-first offense. He is no longer looking like a potential top three RB.

    10. Ray Rice, RB, BAL: I probably have him listed lower than most. He's still among the top pass-catching RBs, but could have some chances taken away by rookie Bernard Pierce - though the Pierce effect, much buzzed about in recent weeks, could end up being over-hyped.

    Reality Check: Possibly the biggest disappointment of all in this top 10, in that he doesn't even rank in the top 25 in rushing yards. BAL's offense has been sputtering, and with QB Joe Flacco playing badly, Rice hasn't been able to catch defenses off guard.

    Next week I'll size up the true top 10 players of the first half.

    Expert Wire:
    * SB Nation looks at the fantasy effect of another injured top WR, the Packers' Randall Cobb, who is out for at least six weeks.

    * ESPN has the injured Percy Harvin showing up on the Week 7 waiver wire. Why? Check it out.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:07 AM | Permalink

    October 15, 2013

    Local Book Notes: The Pigman And The Embarrassment Of Youth

    1. Book Club With Steven Wolk.

    Steven Wolk has taught third through eighth grade. After teaching third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade at The Foundations School, a Chicago public school. He is now Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.


    *

    "As a kid growing up in suburban Chicago, Steven Wolk loved the Cubs and hated to read. When he graduated from high school, he could count all of the novels he had read on one finger. Really, one finger. Having 'fake read' his way through school, the one book he really did read was Paul Zindel's young adult classic The Pigman, because it was the only book assigned that was actually about a boy like him. Steve became a passionate reader long after college, when he could bond with books on his own terms rather than according to someone else's program."

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    The Pigman was made into a movie.

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    2. Head Off & Split.

    "On Wednesday, October 30, poet Nikky Finney, whose powerful poems touch on topics from Hurricane Katrina to Rosa Parks to the career path of Condoleezza Rice, will give a reading of her work at the Poetry Foundation," the foundation has announced.

    "A co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, she holds the John H. Bennett Jr. Chair of Southern Letters and Creative Writing at the University of South Carolina.

    "She is editor of the anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South and the author of a short story collection, Heartwood.

    "Finney's fourth collection of poetry, Head Off & Split, won the National Book Award in 2011."

    The reading starts at 7 p.m.

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    Finney's 2011 National Book Award Acceptance Speech.

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    Girlfriend's Train.

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    Left.

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    Poetry and the Soul of a Community.

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    3. The Embarrassment Of Youth.

    "HEAVEmedia is excited to bring Permanent Records back to Uncharted Books this month on the 28th. Our last event was a hit, full of readings about high school break-ups, thoughts and musings from the 4th-grade, and backyard wrestling anecdotes.

    "Running since December 2012, Permanent Records is a monthly reading night dedicated to the beautiful embarrassment of youth. The format of this series is open; anyone brave enough to dig into the archives of their LiveJournal account can join in.

    "Speakers are encouraged to bring blog posts, journals, notes, creative rememberings, old songs, poems and any other sundry items to share with the audience. From funny to touching to cringingly awkward, Permanent Records is all about looking back on those teenage moments that we would rather forget.

    "HEAVEmedia features editor Dominick Suzanne-Mayer hosts this event at Uncharted Books. Any interested speakers can bring their materials to read that night. No sign-up needed! Speakers and audience members are encourage to arrive at 7, and readings will start at 7:30 pm. The event is free BYOB. Uncharted Books is at 2620 N. Milwaukee Ave.

    "More information about the event can be found on the official Facebook event page."

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Chicago MasterChef Josh Marks Falls To Mental Illness & A Gun

    "MasterChef runner-up Joshua Marks was in 'the battle of his life fighting mental illness' when he killed himself Friday, his family said Sunday," CNN reports.

    "His family blames the lack of mental health treatment facilities and the easy access to guns as factors in his tragic death."

    Marks had become a public advocate for mental health treatment earlier this year.

    (See the Beachwood's "A Master Chef's Mental Illness.")

    Back to CNN:

    "It is overwhelming to think that with proper, intensive treatment, Joshua may still be with us," his lawyer, Lisa Butler, said Sunday. "He was a jewel with so much talent to offer this world. But, in his state of mind, he turned to the streets for a gun and easily got it."

    Marks, 26, died from a gunshot wound to his head. His death has been ruled a suicide, a spokesman for the Cook County, Illinois, medical examiner said Sunday.

    He was charged with aggravated battery in July after scuffling with police officers who were called to the scene after he suffered serious facial wounds from a self-inflicted gunshot, according to his lawyer.

    His mother believed that incident was a call for help, not a suicide attempt, Butler said. But getting Marks help was not easy because of the lack of full-time mental health facilities in Illinois that would accept his insurance, she said.

    Marks' mother, Paulette Mitchell, found him dead in an alley on Chicago's south side Friday evening after a neighbor called to say he was walking around with a gun, Butler said.

    His family is now hoping to help others suffering from mental illness by talking about what happened to Marks in the three months since his arrest, she said.

    "I think people think mental illness is a crime," Marks' stepfather, Gabriel Mitchell, said, the Tribune reports.

    Family members, speaking from their home near 31st Street and Indiana Avenue, said they wanted to go public about Marks' suicide to bring awareness to the lack of treatment options for the mentally ill. The family also hopes to start a foundation in Marks' name to educate others about mental illness.

    After picking up Marks from a Mercy Hospital and Medical Center treatment program Thursday, Mitchell noticed her son was upset and stayed with him at her father's home that night. She spent most of Friday with him until leaving to pick up her daughter from school. A few hours later, she got a call from her brother, who had received reports Marks was walking in an alley with a gun.

    *

    The family posted this statement on Facebook:

    Dear Family, Friends, Fans & Supporters of Josh Marks (The 7 Foot Chef),

    Words cannot begin to express the loss we are feeling at Joshua's sudden passing. Gentle, God-fearing, loving, smart, kind, generous, ambitious and talented only scratch the surface describing the spirit and life of this wonderful young man. Joshua was always smiling. He was full of joy and his joy for life was contagious. He loved sharing that joy with his family, friends and even complete strangers through his passion...cooking. But, behind that huge smile, Josh was in the battle of his life fighting mental illness. It was extremely tough, but Josh was always positive, focused on his faith in God and determined to win; pushing forward through his illness to follow his passion for cooking and dream of being a renowned chef. Last night, Joshua's battle with mental illness came to an end. Our hearts are broken, but we know that our Gentle Giant is now at peace, taking his rest in Heaven; his earthly struggle with mental illness behind him.

    At this extremely difficult time, we want you to know how very thankful we are for all of your supportive, kind words, thoughts and prayers. Knowing that Josh touched people with his magnetic personality and smile helps us push through this, but we ask that we be allowed private, quiet time and space to grieve our loss. We have received requests from many of Josh's friends and supporters for information on how to donate and help as we prepare to lay our precious Joshua to rest; any donations can be made by clicking on the PayPal link below.

    Thank you again for caring about the life and spirit of our Josh. It is truly a blessing and a comfort to see how he touched so many of you.

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    Funeral services are set for Monday at Apostolic Church of God.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:55 AM | Permalink

    It Was Bartman's Fault

    The ongoing effort to absolve Steve Bartman of his historic Cubbie sin protests too much, in the way that the person who keeps getting louder during an argument is usually the person who is losing - or subconsciously trying to convince themselves in the first place.

    We all saw what happened that fateful night in Wrigley Field, and we all reacted just like Moises Alou did. We knew what it meant. Bartman took away an out from a Cubs team that was actually closing in on a World Series appearance. And he did so in a manner that seemed to epitomize the ineptness of the franchise. The team didn't have to fall apart in the aftermath, but under the weight of Cubs history, they did just that.

    Here's what I wrote (item 8) in 2007:

    Richard Roeper (link dead) and Rick Morrissey (link dead) want you to believe that Steve Bartman was not to blame for the Cubs collapse in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. They are among that ilk who like to blame everything that happened after the Bartman incident - Mark Prior's meltdown (a walk, a wild pitch, a single), Alex Gonzalez's error on a double-play ball (not Alex Rodriguez as Roeper writes today, but there for the grace of God . . . ), and even Kerry Wood's choke in Game 7.

    I'm sorry, and I don't want to be mean, and I can't imagine what it is like to be Steve Bartman, but everything changed after he got in Moises Alou's way trying to catch that ball. To blame everything that happened after that is to blame the effects but not the cause. In the bar where I was watching the game - the Beachwood, natch - an instant foreboding filled what had been a celebratory air. Even before the next pitch we were screaming "The Curse! The Curse!"

    It wasn't much different at the ballpark. A gloom descended; the Heavens shifted. I'm not sure if dark clouds suddenly appeared overhead, but they may as well have. The fans felt it and, more importantly, the players felt it. Hence Prior's sudden wildness - and Gonzalez's need to rush a double-play attempt instead of just having to get one.

    It was Bartman.

    We don't like to face that fact because it seems so lacking in compassion. But that doesn't make it less true.

    The coverage this week of the 10th anniversary of that game seems designed mostly for members of the media to distance themselves from . . . the media. "It wasn't his fault! It wasn't his fault!" they scream, even while inviting you to watch the video again and again. They aren't running and re-running video of Gonzalez's error or Prior's sudden ineffectiveness.

    Take David Kaplan, on Sports Talk Live: "He's not the reason they didn't win. It's revolting!" Then he plugged his 5 Outs documentary for the umpeenth time. See, the Cubs were five outs away from the World Series when the Bartman play happened. And then it all fell apart. But it's not his fault!

    Le'ts face it, if Bartman's foul-ball fiasco wasn't the beginning of the end, they would have called their little movie 4 Outs or 3 Outs.

    Kaplan also says Bartman "was done in by the machine, by the media," adding that "The more we talk about him, the more forgiving he has to do."

    Let me tell you something: Nobody has talked more about Bartman this week than David Kaplan.

    And journalists lauding Bartman for never granting an interview? That is surely Bartman's right, but there isn't anything inherently noble about it.

    Again, from 2007:

    "Over the years, [Bartman] has turned down all interview requests," Morrissey writes. "Good for him."

    So if Bartman called up Morrissey today and said he wanted to talk, Morrissey would decline?

    In fact, by keeping quiet Bartman has only intensified the mystique surrounding the whole situation, instead of owning his fluky role in history.

    I understand Bartman may simply want his privacy. I understand he may still fear for his safety. Again, it is his right to remain silent. It's also clear by now that a city feels deeply for him. Collectively, we all just want to give him a hug. But that just doesn't change the fact that he made a big boo-boo.

    *

    Steve Stone said on Sports Talk Live on Monday that Alou "overreacted for many reasons, I won't go into many of them . . . "

    Why not? What could those reasons be? Was he experiencing 'roid rage? Please tell.

    *

    From the Beachwood vault:

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Peter Coffey:

    I am Bartacus.

    Anybody in that seat at that moment does the same thing.

    Rhodes replies: Ha!

    People say that, just as they argue that others around Bartman also went for the ball. But they didn't. One guy looked like he was going to - and pulled away. This play happens at ballparks all the time and quite often fans get out of the way. The more knowledgable fans - like Bartman - know to not intefere with your own team! It would have been different, obviously, if it was a Marlin player there. Then, go for it.

    Now, in the heat of the moment, do people make the same mistake as Bartman? Sometimes they do. And sometimes they don't. But to just say everyone would have done the same is simply not true, and disproven over and over and over at the ballpark, many, many, many times a season.

    Coffey replies: OK, it's just me then. I've been to hundreds of ballgames, from major league playoff games to Little League, in dozens of ballparks throughout the country. I've never come close to grabbing a foul ball (or please Lord someday a home run ball). When I get my chance, and I will, as surely as the Cubs will win a WS in my lifetime, you better hope you're not in my way. I'll knock down little kids and push grandma down the aisle, whatever it takes. When I get bleacher tickets for Wrigley, I bring a ringer ball just in case I need to throw one back. I don't care if it's a Cardinal's homer or not, I want a damn ball. I think I've earned it after 47 unfulfilling years as a Cubs fan.

    I think Bartman's legacy is part of the reason you can write that "knowledgeable fans . . . .know not to interfere." I think Bartman's experience is a cautionary tale. Nobody wants to be that guy again. You can blame the weather as much as Bartman. If the wind was just a little stronger . . . somebody else would have gone for that ball, maybe Alou even catches it, we'll never know.

    The kid that reached over the wall and gave the Yankees a win is a celebrity in NY. Bartman is a recluse, a punchline, a scapegoat for a bad team that overachieved.

    I am Bartacus.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    Kanye Kicked Ass On Kimmel

    In six parts.


    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    A Modest Transit Proposal: Look At A Fucking Map

    Governor Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon commission on transit reform is due to issue its first report by Friday. This week we're presenting four recommendations of our own that just might fix this mess.

    -

    Suggestion #1: Kill Metra.

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    Suggestion #2: Look At A Fucking Map
    Maps may be humanity's defining achievement. Other species use tools, communicate with complex language and mourn their dead. But who else draws abstract pictures that represent their relationship to their surroundings?

    Maps show more than just where things are. They show where things were and where things might be; how the disparate parts of a whole are linked; and how new parts will be added. If you look very closely, sometimes you can also see the missed connections, the regions that the shapers of that reality neglected. The unfulfilled potential of a place.

    Looking at a map of Chicago's mass transit system is both exhilarating and infuriating. Few other places boast the wealth of infrastructure we have here. And yet, outside the Loop, none of these resources connect with each other in any meaningful way. Great varicose tangles of rail twist their way past one another, never interacting, never offering their passengers the benefit of the other's riches.

    Truly strong public transit systems support the communities through which they pass and offer maximum flexibility. They don't just dump everyone in the middle of town and forget about them. The Loop is a natural hub in Chicago due to its central location. But if you look at a map, if you spend a few minutes applying your imagination, a second tier of local mini-hubs begins to emerge. With fairly modest changes, these areas could offer innovative new ways to travel throughout the Chicagoland area. Every single decision-maker at CTA and Metra should be forced to stare unblinking at a map of Chicago every day until these Magic Eye patterns pop out at them.

    Below are three suggestions for mini-hubs in three different parts of the city. This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are plenty of other potential sites in the city and near suburbs. Please note, these recommendations assume that CTA and Metra have worked out their respective fare collection and double billing issues. Without technical integration, physical integration would be pointless.

    63rd Street: The Obvious Hub
    Have you ever heard of the Englewood Flyover? The long-planned bridge will elevate Metra's Rock Island tracks, eliminating a grade-level diamond crossing with tracks that carry freight and Amtrak trains. It will immediately improve the on-time performance of the Rock Island, long plagued by delays at this interchange. Doubtless it will benefit the planned expansion of the Northfolk Southern freight yard, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's pet project currently scheduled to flatten a different part of Englewood.

    The Flyover is a $93 million project that brings jobs to a neighborhood that badly needs them. Those jobs will end when the bridge opens, currently scheduled for June 23, 2014. Half a block to the west is the Dan Ryan expressway and, in its median, the 63rd Street Red Line stop. If you look west from the Red Line platform, you'll see the elevated tracks of the Green Line. This branch passes over the highway near 59th, running alongside for four blocks before heading west toward Kennedy-King College and the site of the mythical Englewood Whole Foods. The Rock Island, Red and Green lines have existed in this manner, sharing space but never interacting, since the Ryan was built in the 1960s.


    View 63rd Street Hub in a larger map

    Englewood Flyover. The name itself conjures a depressing image. Come and work on this short-term project; help us build the means for greater economic opportunity to more efficiently pass you by. Instead of temporary projects and a trio of trains that don't interact, why not create a transit hub? Add stations on the Rock Island and the Green Line and connect them to the existing Red Line station. The distance is probably too great between the Red Line and Metra's tracks to create a single building, but why not a pedway? Whatever the logistic difficulties, they have to be less frustrating than the current arrangement.

    A transit hub at 63rd would immediately link half a dozen urban communities in an entirely new way. It could potentially breathe life into a branch of the Green Line that has struggled. It offers the possibility of permanent jobs and long-term economic growth. It gives people a reason to stop in Englewood and engage with the community.

    It's too much to claim that a project like this would fix all of Englewood's problems. But if the map were redrawn, if there were an official depiction of Englewood as a worthwhile place, it could spark the imaginations of people who've never considered the area before. With most of the infrastructure already in place, surely it's worth a shot.

    Humboldt Park: The Innovative Hub
    The 606 (nee the Bloomingdale Trail) is a new urban park project centered on an abandoned elevated freight line. When it opens next fall, it will provide the public a 2.7 mile recreational path. Cyclists, rollerbladers, joggers and walkers will have a new venue to enjoy. The path runs west from Ashland to Ridgeway, just north of North Avenue.

    Per the 606 website, the trail end at Ridgeway offers "easy access to Metra." That's not exactly true. What the trail end offers is easy access to Metra tracks, specifically the Milwaukee North, Milwaukee West and North Central lines. The nearest Metra station is about 3/4 miles away. This neighborhood, just west of Humboldt Park, lies in a transit blind spot. The nearest CTA train, the Blue Line, is up in Logan Square. Adding a station to the Metra lines would give residents direct, reliable access to downtown and O'Hare.


    View 606 Trail Head in a larger map

    A station at North and Ridgeway would do more than offer service to a neglected area. It would foster a new kind of connectivity. Chicago's bike trail system has expanded dramatically in recent years; imagine if it were linked to the mass transit system in a meaningful way. Humboldt Park could serve as the template for a uniquely Chicago brand of park and ride - the trail-to-rail model.

    This could also provide the city's newest semi-public transit service, Divvy, with a perfect excuse to expand westward. If a Divvy station were added near the Ridgeway trail end, the 606 - with its interconnected system of parks, visitor-friendly adjoining neighborhoods and beautiful views of the Chicago skyline - could draw day-trippers from the west and northwest suburbs. This could boost Metra's ridership at non-peak times and help an ambitious public project live up to its full potential.

    Ravenswood Avenue: The Logical Hub
    Metra's Union Pacific North tracks march along Ravenswood from Diversey almost to Touhy. For a mile-and-a-half stretch of this run, they are practically spitting distance from the CTA's Brown Line. This section of the Brown Line includes stations at Addison, Irving Park and Montrose. This section of the Union Pacific includes no stations. Perversely, almost spitefully, the UP-North's Ravenswood station is at Lawrence, just past the point where the CTA tracks turn west.


    View Ravenswood Corridor in a larger map

    This exercise in miscommunication is more than just obnoxious; it's inconvenient to anyone trying to reach destinations downtown north of the river. The UP-N terminates at Union Station, notoriously cut off from the Loop tracks and State and Dearborn subways. A North Side transfer point would allow for easier access to River North and Michigan Avenue; even arguably to places like the Museum Campus and Millennium Park. Chicago residents outside the Ravenswood neighborhood would likewise gain easy access to North Shore attractions like the Northwestern campus, the Baha'i temple and Ravinia.

    This problem could be addressed two ways. The existing Ravenswood station could move south to Montrose. This would create a hub in bustling Lincoln Square, close to attractions like the Old Town School of Folk Music. Alternatively, a station could be added to the Metra line between the existing Ravenswood and Clybourn stations. The obvious candidate is Addison, which would give North Shore Cubs fans a new route to Wrigley Field. At either the Addison or Montrose locations, the two train lines could be connected by something as simple as a pedestrian bridge. Remember, we're living in the time of the single-fare system so transferring between CTA and Metra won't require significant infrastructure.

    This radical idea of fixing one's eyes on a map has been used before. Several years ago someone looked at a fucking map and realized the Roosevelt elevated station could be linked with the Red Line tunnel. The result is a vibrant hub that feeds travelers to the Museum Campus. There's no reason not to look for similar opportunities throughout Chicago's transit network.

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    Tomorrow: Invest In What's Already There.

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    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Mike Fragassi:

    Just wanted to point out something about the idea of an Ravenswood transfer point: it actually used to exist!

    Ravenswood (4600N/1800W)
    Wilson Avenue and Ravenswood Avenue, Ravenswood

    "The station was most likely located here because the Ravenswood station on the Chicago & North Western Railroad was originally located south of Wilson Avenue, across from the 'L' station's location; the Northwestern Elevated probably saw the steam railroad's station as a potential traffic generator. (The Ravenswood station, with commuter service now operated by the Union Pacific on behalf of Metra, was later relocated two blocks north to between Leland and Lawrence.)"

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    In Big Win For Defense Industry, Obama Rolls Back Limits On Arms Exports

    The United States is loosening controls over military exports, in a shift that former U.S. officials and human rights advocates say could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world's conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions.

    Starting today, thousands of parts of military aircraft, such as propeller blades, brake pads and tires, will be able to be sent to almost any country in the world, with minimal oversight - even to some countries subject to U.N. arms embargoes.

    U.S. companies will also face fewer checks than in the past when selling some military aircraft to dozens of countries.

    Critics, including some who've worked on enforcing arms export laws, say the changes could undermine efforts to prevent arms smuggling to Iran and others.

    Brake pads may sound innocuous, but "the Iranians are constantly looking for spare parts for old U.S. jets," said Steven Pelak, who recently left the Department of Justice after six years overseeing investigations and prosecutions of export violations.

    "It's going to be easier for these military items to flow, harder to get a heads-up on their movements, and, in theory, easier for a smuggling ring to move weapons," said William Hartung, author of a recent report on the topic for the Center for International Policy.

    In the current system, every manufacturer and exporter of military equipment has to register with the State Department and get a license for each planned export. U.S. officials scrutinize each proposed deal to make sure the receiving country isn't violating human rights and to determine the risk of the shipment winding up with terrorists or another questionable group.

    Under the new system, whole categories of equipment encompassing tens of thousands of items will move to the Commerce Department, where they will be under more "flexible" controls.

    Final rules have been issued for six of 19 categories of equipment and more will roll out in the coming months. (Some military equipment, such as fighter jets, drones, and other systems and parts, will stay under the State Department's tighter oversight.)

    Commerce will do interagency human rights reviews before allowing exports, but only as a matter of policy, whereas in the State Department it is required by law.

    The switch from State to Commerce represents a big win for defense manufacturers, who have long lobbied in favor of relaxing U.S. export rules, which they say put a damper on international trade.

    Among the companies that recently lobbied on the issue: Lockheed, which manufactures C-130 transport planes; Textron, which makes Kiowa Warrior helicopters, and; Honeywell, which outfits military choppers.

    Overall, industry trade groups and big defense companies have spent roughly $170 million over the last three years lobbying on a variety of issues, including export control reform, a ProPublica analysis of disclosure forms shows.

    The administration says in a fact sheet that "spending time and resources protecting a specialty bolt diverts resources from protecting truly sensitive items," and that the effort will allow them to build "higher fences around fewer items."

    Commerce says it will beef up its enforcement wing to prevent illegal re-exports or shipments to banned entities.

    The military has also supported the relaxed controls, arguing that the changes will make it easier to arm foreign allies.

    An interview with Commerce Department officials was canceled due to the government shutdown, and the State Department did not respond to questions.

    The shift is part of a larger administration initiative to update the arms export process, which many acknowledge needed to be streamlined.

    But critics of the move to Commerce say that decision has been overly driven by the interests of defense manufacturers.

    "They've cut through the fat, into the meat, and to the bone," said Brittany Benowitz, who was defense adviser to former Senator Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and recently co-authored a paper on the pending changes.

    "I think it's fair to say that the views of the enforcement agencies and actors charged with carrying out the controls haven't won the day," said Pelak, the former Justice Department official.

    Current controls haven't prevented the U.S. from dominating arms exports up to now: In 2011, the U.S. concluded $66 billion in arms sales agreements, nearly 80 percent of the global market. The State Department denied just one percent of arms export licenses between 2008 and 2010.

    At a recent hearing, a State Department official touted the economic benefits, saying the "defense industry is going to become even more competitive than they are already."

    Under the new policy, military helicopters, transport planes and other types of military equipment that typically need approval may be eligible for license-free export to 36 allied governments, including much of Europe, Argentina, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

    According to Colby Goodman, an arms-control expert with the Open Society Policy Center, once an item is approved for that exemption, it's not clear that there will be any ongoing, country-specific human rights review. (The State Department hasn't yet responded to our request for comment on that point.)

    Goodman is particularly concerned about Turkey, where in the last year authorities violently suppressed protests and "security forces committed unlawful killings," according to the most recent State Department Human Rights report.

    Under the new system, some military parts can now be sent license-free to any country besides China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria. Other parts that are deemed not "specially designed" for military use, while also initially banned from those countries, have even fewer restrictions on re-exports.

    Spare parts are in high demand from sanctioned countries and groups, which need them to keep old equipment up and running, according to arms control researchers. Indonesia scrambled to keep its C-130s in the air after the U.S. blocked exports for human rights violations in the 1990s. In a report on trade in arms parts, Oxfam noted that by the time of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, Moammar Khadafy's air combat fleet was in dire shape, referred to by one analyst as "the world's largest military parking lot." Goodman said Congolese militia members may be using aging arms that the U.S. sold decades ago to the former Zaire.

    Pelak says the changes will make enforcement harder by getting rid of part of the paper trail as parts and munitions exit the U.S.: "When you take away that licensing record, you put the investigation overseas." His office handled dozens of cases each year in which military items had been diverted to prohibited countries.

    The Government Accountability Office raised concerns last year about Commerce's enforcement abilities as it takes control of exports that once went through the State Department.

    The president is authorized - in fact, required - to revise the list of items under State Department control. But the massive shift to Commerce means that laws and regulations that were designed with the longstanding State Department system in place may now be up to presidential prerogative.

    Vetting for human rights compliance is one such requirement. The Commerce Department said it will also continue to publicly report the sales of so-called "major defense equipment."

    Other laws may not get carried over, however. For example, if firearms are moved to Commerce, manufacturers may no longer have to notify Congress of foreign sales.

    Several organizations, including the Center for International Policy, the Open Society Policy Center and the American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights, have called on the administration to hold off moving some military items from the State Department, and have asked Congress to apply State's reporting requirements and restrictions to more of the military items and parts soon to be under Commerce control.

    In one area, the administration does appear to have temporarily backed off - firearms and ammunition. Any decision to loosen exports for firearms could have conflicted with the president's call for enhanced domestic gun control.

    According to a memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal last spring, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security both opposed draft versions of revisions to the firearms category. (The Justice Department press office is out of operation due to the government shutdown, and the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.)

    Shifting firearms was also likely to be a lightning rod for arms control groups. As the New York Times's C.J. Chivers has documented, small arms trafficking has been the scourge of conflicts around the world.

    Draft rules for firearms and ammunitions were ready in mid-2012, according to Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for gun manufacturers. The Commerce Department even sent representatives to an industry export conference to preview manufacturers on the new system they might fall under.

    But since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, no proposed rule has been published.

    Keane thinks the connection is irrelevant. "This has nothing to do with domestic gun control legislation. We're talking about exports," he said. "Our products have not moved forward, and we're disappointed by that."

    The defense industry has long pushed for a loosening of the U.S. export controls. Initial wish-lists were aimed at restructuring and speeding up the State Department system, where the wait for a license had sometimes stretched to months. The current focus on moving items to Commerce began under the Obama administration.

    The aerospace industry has been particularly active, as new rules for aircraft are the first to take effect. Commercial satellites had been moved briefly to Commerce in the 1990s, but when U.S. space companies were caught giving technical data to China in 1998, Congress returned them to State control. Last year, satellite makers successfully lobbied Congress to lift satellite-specific rules that had kept them from being eligible for the reforms.

    Newer industries want to cash in, too. Virgin Galactic wrote in a comment on a proposed rule that the "nascent but growing" space tourism industry was hindered by current rules. And at a conference in 2011, the chief executive of Northrup Grumman warned of "the U.S. drone aircraft industry losing its dominance" if exports weren't boosted. (Drones are regulated under missile technology controls, and are mostly unaffected by the current changes.)

    Lauren Airey, of the National Association of Manufacturers, named two main objections to the current system. First off, fees: Any company that makes a product on the State Department list has to be registered whether they actually export, with yearly costs starting at $2,500. There's no fee for the Commerce list.

    Secondly, any equipment that contains a listed part gets "lifetime controls," Airey said. If a buyer wants to resell something, even for scrap, they need U.S. approval. (For example, the U.S. is currently debating whether to let Turkey re-sell American attack helicopters to Pakistan.)

    Under Commerce, "there are still limitations, but they are more flexible," Airey said.

    Airey's association (and other trade groups) makes the case that foreign competitors are "taking advantage of perceived and real issues in U.S. export controls to promote foreign parts and components - advertising themselves as State-Department-free."

    Airey demurred when asked for an estimate on the amount of business lost: "It's hard to put a number directly on how much export controls cause U.S. companies to be avoided."

    An Aerospace Industries Association executive noted at a panel this spring that "We really did not move the needle at all by complaining about the fact that we weren't making as much money as we wanted to."

    But at a recent hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, members of Congress highlighted economic impact.

    "In my district in Rhode Island," said David Cicilline, D-R.I., "as many of our defense companies are looking to expand their business, really, to respond to declines in defense domestic spending, international sales are becoming even more important and really critical . . . to the job growth in my state."

    William Keating, D-Mass., said that "with declining defense budgets, arms sales are even more critical to the defense industry in my state to maintain production lines and keep jobs.

    "That would not have been the response a decade ago," said one staffer who works on the issue. "National security hawks would have been worried about defense items moving to the Commerce list. The environment on the Hill has dramatically changed."

    One concern came from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which believes that easing controls on military technology and software could actually lead to more outsourcing of production.

    William Lowell, who spent a decade of his 30 years at the State Department directing defense trade controls, told ProPublica that the move represents a major shift in the U.S. attitude towards international arms trade. U.S. policy has long been aimed at "denying the entry of U.S. military articles of any type into the international gray arms market - for which small arms and military parts are the lifeblood," Lowell wrote in comments opposing the new rules.

    "Commercial arms exports have never been considered normal commercial trade."

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    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:52 AM | Permalink

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    Working on it.

    So far:

    * It Was Bartman's Fault. Why is the media trying so hard to rewrite history?

    * A Modest Transit Proposal Part 2: Look At A Fucking Map. It's not hard. In fact, we're looking at one now. And the solutions are blindingly obvious.

    * Kanye Actually Kicked Ass On Kimmel. So what's the problem, y'all?

    * Obama Rolls Back Limits On Arms Exports. Big win for defense industry.

    * Chicago MasterChef Josh Marks Falls To Mental Illness. And a gun.

    * Local Book Notes: The Pigman And The Embarrassment Of Youth.

    * Behind The Opposition To The Illiana Expressway. Another Beachwood Special Report.

    * Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like. Administration won't say how many have enrolled in Obamacare.

    * The Cook County Forest Preserve Has Trout Fishing! No more than two lines per person with no more than two hooks per line may be used.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: No limits.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    Health Care Sign-Ups: This Is What Transparency Looks Like

    Since the federal health insurance exchange has launched, top federal officials have told interviewers that they do not know how many people have been able to enroll using the healthcare.gov website.

    In an interview with the Associated Press on Oct. 4, President Obama said: "Well, I don't have the numbers yet."

    Then, appearing on the Daily Show on Oct. 7, the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she didn't have the information either. "I can't tell you because I don't know."

    Some states, including California, New York and Colorado, are running their own health insurance marketplaces for their residents. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is handling enrollment for 30-plus states, including Texas, Georgia and Florida [and Illinois], which decided not to set up their own exchanges.

    Federal officials have proudly proclaimed the number of visitors to the healthcare.gov site, as in this tweet:

    But they have declined numerous opportunities to provide enrollment figures.

    The latest example: A New York Times article on Sunday about the site's problems included this sentence:

    "Neither [CMS administrator Marilyn] Tavenner nor other agency officials would answer questions about the exchange or its performance last week."

    Reporters and consumers across the country have said they are simply unable to enroll on the site. (You can read about my experience.)

    Federal officials have said that they will release enrollment figures once a month, beginning in November.

    Those interested in what transparency looks like can check the states. Some examples of those that have put out numbers.

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    Connecticut
    charliehealthcareCT.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Source: http://learn.accesshealthct.com/in-the-news/

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    Kentucky
    charliehealthcareKY.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Source: http://migration.kentucky.gov/Newsroom/governor/20131010kynectupdate.htm

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    Maryland
    charliehealthcareM.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Source: http://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/assets/MHC_Update_Oct112013.pdf

    *

    charliehealthcareM2.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Source: http://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/assets/MHC_Update_Oct112013.pdf

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    Washington
    charliehealthcareW.jpg(ENLARGE)

    Source: http://www.wahbexchange.org/news-resources/press-room/press-releases/washington-healthplanfinder-receives-10000-applications

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    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    The Cook County Forest Preserve Has Trout Fishing!

    The Forest Preserves of Cook County is pleased to announce that the fall trout fishing season starts at dawn on Saturday, October 19.

    Catchable-sized rainbow trout (1/2 -1 lbs) will be stocked into Axehead Lake, Belleau Lake, Horsetail Lake, and, new this year, Busse Reservoir North Pool.

    As part of the stocking process, from October 1 until dawn on October 19, fishing for and possession of any trout is illegal. In addition, the trout lakes will be closed to all fishing from Monday, October 14, until dawn on October 19. The lake closings allow the trout to disperse throughout the lakes prior to opening.

    Once the season opens, there is a five-trout-per-day creel limit with no size restrictions.

    No more than two lines per person with no more than two hooks per line may be used.

    A valid Illinois sport fishing license with an Inland Trout Stamp is required for anglers 16 years of age and older. An Illinois sport fishing license is not required for Illinois residents who are disabled and have a State of Illinois disabled I.D. card showing a Class 2 or 2A disability or a Veterans Disability Card, and Illinois residents who are on active military duty and are home on leave.

    The Forest Preserves will be purchasing and stocking roughly 1,000 pounds of rainbow trout for Horsetail Lake, while the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will be purchasing and stocking roughly 1,255 pounds of rainbow trout for Axehead Lake, 969 pounds of rainbow trout for Belleau Lake, and 1,600 pounds of rainbow trout for Busse Reservoir's North Pool.

    The Forest Preserve Fishing Guide lists all of the lakes and waters open to public fishing within the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The guide includes maps that show the location and depths of each lake, and list principal fish species.

    The public can contact the Forest Preserves of Cook County's Department of Resource Management, Fisheries Section at 708-403-6951 with any questions or for further information.

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    Trout Stocking, from 2011:

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    October 14, 2013

    The [Monday] Papers

    "Far fewer students from Chicago's closed elementary schools are enrolled where the district thought they would be this fall," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

    "Just 60 percent of 10,542 students from Chicago's shuttered elementary schools ended up at so-called 'welcoming schools,' despite efforts by the district to woo them with promises of improved education, safe passage to school, and sweeteners like iPads, air conditioning and new science labs."

    That, my friends, is what we call an utter failure.

    "The district insisted throughout the summer that 80 percent of students from closing schools were enrolled at their designated welcoming schools.

    "Even the first day of school, CPS said 78 percent of impacted students were attending their welcoming schools. The district made $155.7 million in capital and technology investments at the schools, which it will pay off for the next 30 years.

    "But enrollment figures obtained by WBEZ through an open records request show CPS overstated enrollment at the receiving schools by more than 2,000 students."

    *

    CPS has been caught fudging, obfuscating, spinning and outright lying so many times in the last year that I'm at a loss to say anything clever, witty or angry that I - and many others - haven't already said a zillion times.

    Oh, here's one: Can they be prosecuted for fraud? Racketeering?

    Perhaps what's most maddening is that there doesn't seem to be any way to hold them accountable. It just doesn't matter; they could announce tomorrow that they now have a 100 percent graduation rate or that the CTU is being run by aliens from the planet Zor or even claim they haven't closed any schools but opened a new one on every block and it just wouldn't make a difference because no one there ever has to face any consequences for their actions. It's the opposite of a learning environment! Or maybe they've learned too well.

    *

    Oh, geez, Zor is a real thing, I had no idea.

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    USX Factor
    "The South Lake Shore Drive extension, Chicago's newest roadway, is less than two weeks away from opening along a part of the city that for more than 100 years most people have seen only from a distance," Jon Hilkevitch reports for the Tribune.

    "It has been 21 years since the blast furnaces at U.S. Steel Corp's massive South Works plant went silent. But the cyclone fences that have cordoned off the roughly 600-acre site - about twice as big as Grant Park - are about to come down.

    "Removal of the barriers on the old USX property will clear the way for thousands of drivers and many cyclists each day to use the roughly 2-mile extension of South Lake Shore Drive from just south of Rainbow Beach, at 79th Street and South Shore Drive, to 92nd Street at Ewing Avenue, near the Calumet River. It is also marked as the relocated U.S. Highway 41.

    "The road's opening will also provide the key piece of infrastructure that for years has been missing from far-reaching plans to develop an area that has been approved to include up to about 18,000 residents, beaches and marinas and 25 million square feet of retail, commercial and research facilities."

    *

    The USX site could be the most important piece of undeveloped real estate in the city. It's on the lake, it has an awesome view of downtown, and it's huge. It's also on the South Side. The city needs to take care and make sure something really special is done there.

    -

    Ice, Ice, Baby
    "Since the Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup in 2010 - and again this year - many Chicago-area rinks say they've seen the result of the team's success and popularity: a rising demand for ice time," Jennifer Delgado reports for the Tribune.

    "And with the 2014 Winter Olympics approaching in February, rinks expect another wave of new skaters. After professional figure skaters compete on the international stage, owners and operators of local rinks say they always see an influx of skating novices gliding through the doors.

    "The demand for ice time is so high that some Chicago parents said they recently waited up to eight hours in line to sign up their children for skating classes at the McFetridge Sports Center on the city's Northwest Side. Adult hockey teams pay to play past midnight at rinks from Crestwood to Gurnee, often the only time available."

    Hey, maybe we can throw a few rinks on the USX site while we wait for the rest of it to be developed . . . and maybe the final development could include a hockey complex.

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    First, Kill Metra
    Today we begin a weeklong series of posts by our very own Natasha Julius suggesting - ahead of Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon commission - how to fix our mess of a public transit system.

    In part one, Natasha argues that we have to kill Metra in order to save it.

    Later in the week, fun with maps, infrastructure, money and people.

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    SportsMonday: Rose Doesn't Do Rio
    Our very own Jim Coffman today writes that Derrick Rose still isn't approaching his rehab realistically.

    -

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Including: Dead on TV, Dave Hamilton, Franz Ferdinand, Tame Impala, For The Fallen Dreams, Tommy Trash, Guttermouth, Surfer Blood, Raheem Devaughn, NTVG, Ed Holstein, and Ben Rector.

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    Reminder: Today Is A Federal Holiday

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Come sail away.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Dead on TV at Township on Saturday night.


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    2. Dave Hamilton at Martyrs on Thursday night.

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    3. Franz Ferdinand at the Vic on Thursday night.

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    4. Tame Impala at the Riv on Thursday night.

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    5. ATB at the Aragon on Friday night.

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    6. For The Fallen Dreams at Mojoes in Joliet on Saturday night.

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    7. Tommy Trash at the Concord on Friday night.

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    8. Guttermouth at Reggies on Friday night.

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    9. Surfer Blood at Bottom Lounge on Friday night.

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    10. Raheem Devaughn at the Double Door on Friday night.

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    11. NTVG at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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    12. Ed Holstein at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday night.

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    13. Ben Rector at the House of Blues on Friday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:41 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Rose Doesn't Do Rio

    Derrick Rose came to Rio, he saw Rio, but he didn't conquer Rio.

    In fact, he surprised fans by sitting out the Bulls' Saturday exhibition game in the Brazilian city (a game in which the Bulls beat the Wizards 83-81).

    In at least 90 percent of scenarios, this isn't a big deal. The process of a point guard returning to action 17 months after a knee injury that usually takes 10 to 11 months to heal enough to enable athletes to compete again is going to be rocky sometimes. There are going to be small setbacks no matter what.

    The trouble is, as it has been for a year now, that Rose still isn't realistic about his rehabilitation from the torn knee ligament that sidelined him early in the 2012 playoffs.

    When he says things like "you wouldn't expect [soreness] to happen," he makes it clear that he still has the expectation that his knee will not only be as good as new, it will be better.

    But of course that isn't the case. One of the reasons that Rose's injury was so sad was that it ensured he would never again quite be what he once was as a basketball player. Earlier exhibition action has shown that Rose still can go up and down the court at about a thousand miles per hour, but the soreness that forced him to sit out is something he hasn't experienced before but will now experience at times for the rest of his life.

    The fear is that it isn't completely unreasonable to see Rose sitting out of Saturday's game as the start of a whole new drama series patterned after the one that played out at the end of last (regular) season and in the playoffs.

    So far this preseason, it has appeared as though the Bulls brass perfectly handled Rose's daily "Will I or won't I?" approach to returning to the lineup last spring. The team remained steadfast in its assertion that only Rose would decide when he was ready to play again and that he absolutely wouldn't be pressured to return to action by anyone in the front office - though Rose said it was the front office that decided he would sit in Rio.

    And it has seemed as though Rose has been happy as can be with his team as he has returned to official preseason action in the last month.

    This week - with home exhibitions scheduled at the United Center on Wednesday against the Pistons and Friday versus the Pacers) - will start to tell the tale, but nothing will really be known until the season opener at Miami a week-and-a-half later and on Halloween, when the Bulls will make their home debut.

    Of course, we were reminded again last week that it could be much worse - the Bulls could have drafted Michael Beasley instead of Rose.

    Bulls fans may recall that while the consensus was definitely for drafting Rose ahead of Beasley in the 2008 draft, there were some who favored taking the forward from Kansas State. Instead, the Bulls left Beasley on the board for the Heat, who had the second pick that year. He was a bust, washing out of Miami, Minnesota and Phoenix.

    Remarkably, the Heat has brought him back for a last shot and he actually has a chance at sticking mostly because the salary-capped Heat are desperate to fill out their bench with minimum-wage guys with at least a tiny bit of talent.

    Now, the question of whether the Bulls made the right pick is laughably moot at this point, but Beasley continues to provide a comforting comparison even to a Rose who is babying his knee.

    Late last week, for example, the Heat felt the need to note that the swelling in Beasley's face at the end of an exhibition game was not caused by Beasley punching himself.

    Not that Beasley didn't punch himself. Nobody denies that he knocked around his own noggin several times during the game. It's just that Heat wanted everyone to know that Beasley's face swelled up from taking blow to the forehead from the Pistons' Jonas Jerebko.

    Rose may still need to get real about his knee, but at least he's not punching it when it doesn't do what he wants.

    -

    See also:
    * Dan Bernstein: Rose Has Work To Do.

    * K.C. Johnson: Soreness Part Of Process For Rose.

    * NBC Chicago: Rose Says Vertical Increased By Five Inches.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:50 AM | Permalink

    A Modest Transit Proposal: Kill Metra

    Governor Pat Quinn's blue-ribbon commission on transit reform is due to issue its first report by Friday. This week we'll give you four recommendations of our own that just might fix this mess.

    Suggestion #1: Kill Metra
    There are two Metras: the commuter rail system that serves millions of people in the Chicagoland area, and the obtuse, intensely political, hopelessly anachronistic corporate behemoth that serves the interests of a few well-connected individuals. In order for the former to thrive, the latter must be destroyed.

    The scandal that consumed much of the Metra board this summer was nothing new. It was the latest sleight of hand in nearly 40 years of Regional Transportation Authority hustles. Long before Metra leapt fully formed from the RTA's head, that agency had figured out how to misdirect its mark. Distract them with partisan wrangling, mollify them with cosmetic upgrades, confuse them with layers of unnecessary complexity, and threaten them with dire consequences if they don't fork over more cash. If you browse coverage of the RTA in the early years, you'll find depressingly familiar headlines: doomsday scenarios; threats of Draconian service cuts; revelations of mismanagement; even suggestions of a looming pension crisis. Meanwhile, the actual service provided to commuters changed surprisingly little.

    When the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad collapsed in 1980, the RTA faced the real prospect of substantive action. Instead, it spun off two new operational agencies, thereby divesting itself from the very services it was conceived to coordinate. Pace, the suburban bus service, has fostered a cooperative relationship with the CTA and, by extension, the city of Chicago. Metra hasn't. Instead, Metra views Chicagoland politics as a zero-sum game, in which anything benefiting the Democratic city necessarily screws over the Republican suburbs. Metra is a white knight, the last line of defense between collar-county dollars and the rapacious maw of an insatiable city.

    This view contrasts with a reality in which Metra's corporate board has mushroomed from seven to 11 members, each representing a smaller and more stridently delineated set of special interests. Its directors are chosen by the county boards, possibly the most crony-riddled entities in a crony-riddled region. In constructing its crusading mythos, Metra has transformed itself from a functional service provider into a potent and perennial symbol of public corruption. And still the iconic double-decker trains wait at the same grade crossings that delayed their steam-powered ancestors. Still jauntily-clad conductors attack paper tickets with novelty hole-punches.

    This matters because, as much as Metra would like you to ignore this fact, it is a vital part of Chicago's transit mix. Large swaths of the city, particularly on the Far South Side, were ceded in the 19th century to the long haul railroads that eventually became Metra. Why? Because the small-time robber barons who built Chicago's elevated rail system hadn't speculated on land in those areas. That the public rail service provided to certain communities in 2013 - not to mention the price paid for that service - is still determined largely by the decisions a handful of opportunists made shortly after the Civil War illustrates perfectly how little tangible good Metra and the RTA have managed to achieve.

    There is one key difference between the rail lines operated by Metra and those run by the CTA. The CTA owns and controls its infrastructure; Metra, by and large, does not. This single fact justifies the existence of a separate agency; everything else is a lie. To refocus Metra's leadership on the long-term goal of supporting a vibrant, truly intermodal public transit system, the following changes must be made:

    1. Modernize the fare collection system. Whatever you can say about the disastrous rollout of Ventra, at least it doesn't involve scrapbooking tools. Metra's Depression-era ticketing system isn't just asinine; it impedes the ability to assess performance. Metra can't offer anything close to the detail and accuracy of ridership information CTA and Pace can. Without a detailed understanding of who is boarding where and what happens when they leave, Metra is ill-suited to respond to changes in ridership patterns.

    2. Determine a reasonable transfer fee. Once Metra has been dragged into the 21st century, we might be able to stop charging people two full fares to travel by Metra and CTA/Pace. Metra currently offers its monthly riders the ability to purchase a magnetic stripe card for $55 that is usable for " . . . unlimited connecting travel on CTA and Pace buses. CTA usage is restricted to weekday peak travel hours." So, in other words, limited unlimited transfers.

    Based on the assumption that a monthly traveler transfers twice a day, five days a week, that means Metra thinks a fair transfer fee is around $1.40. Pace allows transfers to local, non-premium routes for $0.25. CTA allows two transfers in two hours for the same. If Metra is smart, it'll follow suit.

    3. Overhaul Metra's in-city fare structure. Metra's zoned fare system supposedly is based on the distance traveled. CTA riders pay a flat fee. This means that potential Metra riders in outlying parts of the city pay a premium to travel to downtown. The amount of that premium depends on where you live and which branch you ride. If you take the Metra Electric South Chicago branch from 87th Street (Zone B) to Millennium Station, it'll set you back $3. If you take the Metra Electric main branch from 87th Street (Zone C) to Millennium Station, it'll cost you $4.25. Now consider the CTA's Red Line has a station at 87th (under re-construction at the time of this writing, but scheduled to re-open later this month) offers an almost identical service for $2.25.

    In the above comparison, the additional fees can be overcome with moderate inconvenience by a short bus ride. That's not the case for people living south of 95th. Those commuters face a significant inconvenience to transfer to a less costly CTA line, and the surcharge to use Metra only increases as you move further from the city center. Even as you read this, the CTA is planning a costly extension of the Red Line to 130th, running agonizingly close to the Metra Electric line. Before investing a lot of money in a new service, it's worth asking if the needs of those commuters can be met through a more rational and fair fee structure on the existing line.


    View Proposed Red Line Extension in a larger map

    Incidentally, the revision of Metra's in-city fare structure could benefit CTA riders as well. In the above comparison, the fares given were for single one-way tickets. If you buy a monthly pass on Metra's Zone B, you actually make out slightly better than the CTA's monthly pass (assuming no transfers). Maybe this would give CTA leaders a reason to scale back the punitive multi-day pass price increases instituted at the start of this year.

    4. Decide on an operational strategy. As noted above, Metra controls relatively little of the traction over which it operates. The three lines that Metra owns (the Rock Island, the Metra Electric, and the Milwaukee District North and West) were acquired out of necessity rather than as part of a coordinated strategy. The remaining lines are leased from larger rail conglomerates in complicated purchase-of-service agreements. Per Metra, not even the Milwaukee District lines are completely free and clear. The dispatching duties for those lines are still handled by Canadian Pacific. This lack of control limits the kind of service Metra can provide. Service adjustments like additional runs and longer trains are much more cumbersome when they have to be negotiated with other parties.

    It's not likely Metra will be able to acquire all of its lines. Routes like the Union Pacific North are profitable endeavors for their parent corporations. However, wherever possible Metra should work to create more freedom to address service needs quickly. At the very least, Metra should work with traction owners to reduce the number of grade crossings that pit commuter trains against freight. Metra's timeliness is a constant issue simply because trains have to queue on a semi-regular basis.

    5. Consider a limited number of new stations. It's impractical to think that Metra will ever function as a local service. This would impose an undue burden on suburban passengers. However, Chicago represents the largest customer block in Metra's operating region. Some of the areas currently traversed by Metra lines are completely cut off from CTA rail operations. The strategic addition of a few stations could bring reliable rapid transit access to neglected communities, creating new populations of Metra riders in the process. With careful planning, these stations also could boost intermodal transfers, strengthening the alternative transportation system overall.

    The operational work of Metra has tremendous potential to serve the Chicagoland area. Sadly, Metra is administrated by a carefully curated collection of political animals trained to avoid the agency's most basic needs. Any solution that fails to destroy the status quo will never truly benefit the public. It will be another artful con, another misdirection, and we'll be reading the same pathetic headlines in another 10 years.

    -

    Tomorrow: Look At A Fucking Map.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:07 AM | Permalink

    October 12, 2013

    The Weekend Desk Report

    "Gov. Pat Quinn Friday turned to a former football player named Urlacher to fill a vacancy on a state personnel panel - only it wasn't Chicago Bears great Brian Urlacher," the Sun-Times reports.

    "It was his brother, the newly elected mayor of north suburban Mettawa, Casey Urlacher, whom Quinn tabbed for a $25,000-a-year slot on the state Civil Service Commission.

    "That panel handles, among other personnel-related functions, disciplinary cases involving state employees and appeals whenever a state worker believes he or she has been wrongfully terminated or laid off.

    "Urlacher, 33, was elected to the Lake County village's mayorship last April. He participated in training camp for the Bears in 2003 and went on to play semi-professional football for the Peoria Pirates, Chicago Rush and Nashville Kats."

    So he's eminently qualified.

    *

    By the way, Casey won the Mettawa mayoralty just six months ago by a whopping 156-99 vote. So he's earned fewer votes in his short-lived public service career than most homecoming kings.

    *

    By the way, his new civil service commission job pays $25,000 more than his job as mayor.

    *

    Ironically, the Civil Service Commission describes itself as "an integral part of the State of Illinois system of personnel administration based on merit principles."

    Why is that ironic? Because Urlacher won the Mettawa mayoralty job on a resume of three months in the Arena League while his opponent was a three-term village trustee with 10 years on the village plan commission and a stint on the building code board of review.

    No Wonder The Gold Coast Is So Evil
    They didn't move the cemeteries, they only moved the headstones!

    The Quarrymen
    "A developer wants to turn more than 320 acres of a southern Chicago suburb into an industrial complex with a quarry, underground mine and asphalt and concrete factories," the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier (really) notes.

    The developer sure isn't very popular, though.

    Old Style Politics
    "The federal government shutdown is giving some folks one more reason to cry in their beers: An obscure but powerful arm of the Treasury Department has stopped approving new brews," USA Today reports.

    And with budtenders not quite here yet, no wonder folks are turning to krokodil.

    *

    Has anyone noticed that the nation's joke-telling has suffered since new beers stopped being approved?

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    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: For your approval.

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    The College Football Report: We're With Sark (aka We Told You So).

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    The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Folk-soul balladeer Willis Earl Beal performs live in the studio. Later hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot review the latest from southern stars Kings of Leon."

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    The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

    Community Forum: Early Childhood Education

    10-3-EarlyEd.jpg

    Dr. Teri N. Talan of National Louis University discusses the importance of early childhood education and how parents and communities can make a positive impact.

    Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Community Forum: Gads Hill Center

    10-3-GadHill.jpg

    Marciela Garcia shares Gads Hill Center's 100-year history of supporting learning in the Pilsen, North Lawndale, Little Village and Back of the Yards neighborhoods.

    Saturday at 8 p.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Wrongful Conviction of Women

    10-7-WrongfulConvictions.jpg

    Scholars explore how wrongful convictions occur in the criminal justice system, including the personal experience of Nicole Harris, who served seven years for killing her son before being found innocent of the crime.

    Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Town Hall: Stigma and Mental Illness

    10-3-MentalIllnessTownhall.jpg

    Parents and allies of children with disabilities share how the stigmas and preconceptions about disabilities can create barriers as they try to attend school, access housing and find employment.

    Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Speaking Out for Climate Justice

    10-3-ClimateActivist.jpg

    Activist Tim DeChristopher and writer Terry Tempest Williams discuss using nonviolent activism and powerful prose to galvanize the environmentalist movement and protect natural resources.

    Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    Behind The Opposition To The Illiana Expressway

    * Too hard to pronounce.

    * No one wants a faster way to Indiana.

    * Late momentum for Hawk Harrelson Expressway instead.

    * Required stop at John Mellencamp's house not deemed efficient.

    * They refuse to move the cemeteries, only the headstones.

    * It's just too ill.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    October 11, 2013

    Citing NSA Concerns, EFF Resigns From Global Network Initiative

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today withdrew from the Global Network Initiative (GNI), citing a fundamental breakdown in confidence that the group's corporate members are able to speak freely about their own internal privacy and security systems in the wake of the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance revelations.

    EFF has been a civil society member of the multi-stakeholder human rights group since GNI was founded in 2008 to advance freedom of expression and privacy in the global information and communication technologies sector. While much has been accomplished in these five years, EFF can no longer sign its name on joint statements knowing now that GNI's corporate members have been blocked from sharing crucial information about how the U.S. government has meddled with these companies' security practices through programs such as PRISM and BULLRUN.

    "We know that many within the industry do not like or approve of such government interference, and GNI has, in statements, made it clear that member companies want permission from the U.S. government to engage in greater transparency," EFF's International Director Danny O'Brien and Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian C. York write in a letter to GNI leadership.

    "However, until serious reforms of the U.S. surveillance programs are in place, we no longer feel comfortable participating in the GNI process when we are not privy to the serious compromises GNI corporate members may be forced to make. Nor do we currently believe that audits of corporate practice, no matter how independent, will uncover the insecurities produced by the U.S. government's - and potentially other governments' - behavior when operating clandestinely in the name of national security."

    EFF's involvement with GNI included helping to define its founding principles over two years of negotiations; coordinating opposition to the United Kingdom's Communications Data Bill in 2011; releasing a paper addressing free-speech issues surrounding account deactivation and content removal; and collaborating with fellow members in internal international technical and policy analysis. However, EFF can no longer stand behind the credibility of what had been one of GNI's most significant achievements - third-party privacy and freedom of expression assessments of service providers, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

    Moving forward, EFF plans to continue to provide guidance to the GNI and engage companies directly, but as an external organization. EFF supports the other organizations and individuals that continue to work within the GNI for the free speech and privacy rights of users worldwide.

    "Although EFF is taking a step back, GNI can still serve an important role as a collaborative project between human rights groups, companies, investors and academics," York said. "If the United States government truly supports international 'Internet freedom,' it would recognize the damage its policies are doing to weaken such efforts and the world's confidence in American companies."

    -

    Previously:
    * How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me.

    * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

    * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

    * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

    * Item: NSA Briefing.

    * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

    * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

    * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

    * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

    * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

    * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

    * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

    * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

    * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

    * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

    * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

    * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

    * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

    * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

    * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

    * Does The NSA Tap That?

    * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

    * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

    * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

    * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

    * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

    * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

    * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

    * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

    -

    See also:
    * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

    * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

    * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report: We're With Sark

    In the past seven years, Lane Kiffin has held three head coaching positions: the Oakland Raiders (2007-08, with a 5-15 record), the University of Tennessee (2009, 7-6), and USC (2010-2013, 28-15). That last one should be followed by an asterisk: USC dismissed Kiffin at the airport two weeks ago.

    Kiffin's Pac-12 rival Steve Sarkisian started at the University of Washington in 2009, and has led the #16 Huskies to an overall 30-26 record, including a hot start (4-1) this season. Kiffin and Sarkisian followed parallel trajectories, working alongside each other and at times vying for the same jobs. The two coached together as assistants under offensive coordinator Norm Chow during Pete Carroll's tenure as USC head coach. In 2004, Sarkisian took a job with the Raiders as QB coach but returned to USC the following year as quarterbacks coach under Kiffin, who had been promoted to offensive coordinator after Chow took a coaching job with the Tennessee Titans. When the Oakland head coach spot opened up in 2007, Sarkisian opted to stay at USC while Kiffin jumped ship, tanked the team, and then leaped to another lily pad in Knoxville.

    Four years ago, we put money on Sarkisian's success at UW over Kiffin during his brief stint (2009) at UT. A year later, we coined the nickname "Kid Smirk" for Kiffin after his return to USC as head coach in 2010. And again, we backed Sarkisian.

    On Saturday morning, ESPN will interview Kid Smirk. We can only hope The Worldwide Leader asks him if he has learned anything about loyalty, commitment . . . and Steve Sarkisian.

    (And yes, that was a very long way of saying "we told you so.")

    Tifway-Bermuda Sod, Priced To Sell
    The grass market is booming in College Station. Texas A&M will spruce up Kyle Field beginning this offseason, and the school is selling off the 2013 field at $400 per 450 square-foot slice.

    A certificate of authenticity, signed by groundskeeper Leo Goertz, along with a how-to-care-for-your-wedge-of-really-high-priced-soon-to-be-dead-grass, will accompany each sale. Buyers can't request specific sections, but we don't doubt Johnny Manziel will be involved in a secondary market of autographed sod. Keep an eye out on eBay for plots of grass bearing a "Johnny Football Stood Here" seal.

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    Matchups of the Week

    #1 Alabama (5-0, 2-0 SEC) vs. Kentucky (1-4, 0-2 SEC)
    From the pregame interviews this week, we can't tell if Alabama has given much thought to the Wildcats. 'Bama coach Nick Saban sounded hard-pressed to find a cogent point about the game, settling on: "They are really good on special teams."

    Yet we feel strangely compelled to buck our Always Give The Points Against The Kentucky Wildcats strategy. The 'Cats have faced three consecutive ranked teams (#7 Louisville, #20 Florida and #13 South Carolina) and are getting 27 points on Saturday. Would leading your team to a 3-3 record against the spread to start the season count as a positive sign for new coach Mark Stoops?

    Our pick: Alabama 34, Kentucky 10

    *

    Pat Dye vs. Condoleezza Rice, 21st Century
    Auburn coaching legend Pat Dye takes issue with Condoleezza Rice sitting on the newly formed selection committee for the College Football Playoff. The committee will play a key role in the new postseason beginning next season, and Dye believes only those who have played with "a hand in the dirt" should be allowed a seat.

    So that rules out most members of the media, school and conference administrators, and analysts, much less all former wide receivers.

    *

    #2 Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) vs. #16 Washington (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12)
    As much as we like Sarkisian, we have a hard time picking against Oregon QB Marcus Mariota. The kid, Mariota is a true sophomore, has a 14-0 TD-INT ratio and an Adjusted Quarterback Rating of 96.7, good for second overall in the country.

    QBR - reported as both "raw" and "adjusted" - has supplanted "Passer Efficiency" as the new stat du jour among data wonks. Raw, or Unadjusted, Quarterback Rating doesn't account for the quality of an opponent's defense while Adjusted . . . well, you get it

    But then, there's a good argument to made that ESPN invented QBR to give the talking heads more material for the three hours of College GameDay on Saturday mornings.

    Need some evidence? Here's Exhibit A: Jalen Whitlow of Kentucky (see above) nearly cracks the Top 10 in Adjusted QBR. Exhibit B: QBR accounts for esoteric factors such as "total clutch-weighted expected points added," which is calculated from, among other things, "clutch-weighted expected points added on penalties," and measures "action plays." We assume "inaction plays" and "choke-weighted unexpected deducted numerals" are omitted.

    Maybe we should focus on a few simpler statistics: the Huskies defeated #19 Boise State 38-6 in Week One and lost a close game (31-28) last week to #5 Stanford, in a game filled with dubious injuries. Oregon boasts a perfect 5-0 record, but the Ducks' opponents have a combined total of 11 wins on the season. Those numbers seem pretty straightforward to us.

    Our pick: Washington 31, Oregon 30

    *

    #25 Missouri (5-0, 1-0 SEC) vs. #7 Georgia (4-1, 3-0 SEC)
    #17 Florida (4-1, 3-0 SEC) vs. #10 LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC)

    No wonder college football fans have had enough of the SEC. That six of the ranked SEC teams playing this weekend have a legit shot at a BCS bowl, if not the national title game, can't endear the conference to Middle America. Yet ESPN valued the new SEC Network, largely based on football's draw, at $150mil per year. Maybe the rest of the country, west of I-35 in Texas and north of the Ohio River, doesn't matter.

    Our picks: Georgia 30, Missouri 27 and LSU 27, Florida 21

    *

    Rivalry of the Week
    Mack Brown of Texas and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma will face off for the 15th time in the Red River Rivalry this weekend. The Longhorns, entering the game unranked at 3-2 (2-0 in Big 12), face an uncertain future. Even with a win, Saturday likely marks the final game Brown will coach at the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners have vied for supremacy with Texas throughout the tenure of both coaches, but momentum now favors Texas. Stoops showed some sympathy to his embattled rival this week, stating: "People get tired of you, even when you win a lot."

    Although we would never take issue with repeat BCS appearances, we can allow for some frustration from a fan base who haven't seen a 10-win season in three years. Then again, the last 10+ win season came in 2009 when the 'Horns finished the year 13-1 with a loss in the national championship game. But a rabid fan base like Texas's will have a short memory, and Mack may be forced to gracefully retire at the conclusion of the season. Besides, Lane Kiffin is available.

    Our pick: Oklahoma 41, Texas 23

    -

    The Free Range Sacred Chicken Challenge
    The Chicken Challenge this week: Pair each of the teams below with their respective mascots. Pick from the following: The Wolfpack, The Strigoformes, The Roadrunners, The Boll Weevils, The Rhinoviruses, The Lobos, The Grapefruit, or The Wranglers.

    Bonus: Which team features a unique u-shaped formation?

    Syracuse (+7) vs. North Carolina State
    Rice vs. Texas San Antonio (-1.5)
    New Mexico vs. Wyoming (-14)

    -

    Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 6:56 AM | Permalink

    The Week In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Grouplove at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.


    -

    2. Robert Randolph and The Family Band at City Winery on Monday night.

    -

    3. Phantogram at the Vic on Wednesday night.

    -

    4. White LIes at the Metro on Monday night.

    -

    5. Gideon at Reggies on Tuesday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:39 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos

    Yard 32.

    silosHalsted.JPG(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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    More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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    Helene on Twitter!

    -

    Meet Helene!

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    Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

    -

    Previously:
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    October 10, 2013

    The [Friday] Papers

    "The Chicago Sun-Times and NBC5 asked a judge Thursday to unseal a special prosecutor's report on his investigation into the 2004 death of David Koschman in a case involving a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley," the paper reports.

    Good. I always thought it was strange that the prosecutor, Dan Webb, courtier to power, asked for the report to be sealed out of concern that the defendant get a fair trial. Isn't that the defense attorney's job?

    In fact:

    "Thomas Breen, one of the lawyers representing Vanecko, said of Thursday's court filing, 'We do not take a position on that.'"

    Then it's settled!

    *

    The Sun-Times notes in an editorial that the report's "focus is solely the questionable conduct of police and county prosecutors nine years ago, matters entirely irrelevant to Vanecko's trial."

    I can only wonder if Webb has found that Vanecko himself behaved badly during the investigatory phase of the case. Either that or he found the behavior of the cops and prosecutors so egregious that Vanecko would become even more of a surrogate target for the entirety of the injustice.

    *

    Speaking of which, I have to take issue with Carol Marin's recent column headlined "Daley Nephew Never The Villain."

    While I wrote myself just a few days before that column that Vanecko obviously didn't intend to kill Koschman, and Koschman's death was to some degree a fluke, I also explained why Vanecko still committed a crime. I doubt Marin disagrees with that. But make no mistake: Vanecko is still a villain, and not just because some sense of entitlement probably fueled his reckless behavior that night (behavior that has some sort of precedence).

    Vanecko is a villain because he refused to cooperate with the police, who initially couldn't - or wouldn't - determine who threw the fatal punch, and who decided anyway that Koschman was the aggressor. Vanecko knew all along that he threw the punch; so did his friends who lied to police. Meanwhile, David's mother Nancy suffered through what would become a decade of not knowing the truth about how her child died. What a stupefying lack of compassion.

    And yes, I know it was Vanecko's right to not answer questions from the cops - and that is a right we must fight to preserve. But invoking that right isn't always the right thing to do.

    Judge Rips CPS's Hired Guns
    "A federal judge Wednesday blasted lawyers from Shefsky & Froelich Ltd. for displaying a 'disrespectful, unprofessional and petulant attitude' while representing Chicago Public Schools in a class-action lawsuit over the education provided to disabled students," the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reports.

    'In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman said attorneys who litigated the long-running case on behalf of CPS - before Shefksy & Froelich got involved - asserted the district's positions 'forcefully but professionally.'

    "'After the attorneys from Shefsky & Froelich entered the case, however, the court has observed the type of respect and bravado by some of these lawyers that disserved their client and needlessly raised the level of contention when the case was entering its final phase,' he wrote."

    Maybe that's why CPS hired them.

    "Gettleman wrote that the lawyers gratuitously attacked the competence and integrity of the court-appointed monitor in the case - attacks he rejected as 'misplaced, unprofessional and totally without merit' - and repeatedly tried to relitigate long-resolved issues."

    *

    From Gettleman's opinion:

    [T]he court finds that certain positions taken by CPS deserve comment. First, CPS's response ends with a nonsensical request that, "Because [CPS] is in substantial compliance with its Consent Decree obligations, this case should be dismissed with prejudice."

    As CPS's counsel well know, the court has rejected CPS's many requests to find that it has "substantially complied" with the Consent Decree. (See e.g., Docs. 885, 929).

    In any event, despite language in several agreed orders referring to dismissal, there is nothing left in this case to "dismiss" - with or without prejudice. As this court has reminded CPS previously, the Monitor's post-Decree report and the responses thereto were, as agreed by the parties, "for informational purposes" only. Like CPS's misguided motions to vacate the Consent Decree based on alleged and unproven "substantial compliance" and to decertify the class (which this court and the court of appeals have rejected), any attempt by CPS to "dismiss" the case is moot.

    As the court of appeals recently noted in its order affirming this court's denial of CPS's motion to vacate, why CPS continues to expend scarce public resources attempting to relitigate moot issues is "mystifying."

    And:

    Rather than engaging in personal attacks and stiff-necked resistance to each other, the parties who are concerned with the issues addressed by [this case] should seek dialogue rather than discord. The scarce resources available to public schools should be spent on educating all children, those with disabilities and those without, rather than on lawyers and litigation.

    *

    It's hardly the first time Gettleman has gone off on CPS lawyers in this case. From 2012 (with case background as well):

    After more than 20 years of litigation and 14 years after a court-approved Settlement Agreement between plaintiffs and defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago ("Chicago Public Schools" or "CPS"), and within months before the termination of the Settlement Agreement, CPS has decided to waste scarce public resources by filing a near-frivolous motion under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) to decertify the class and vacate the judgment to which it had agreed in 1998 and again in 2010. (Doc. 852.) This effort is both mystifying and disturbing, driven perhaps by considerations that have no place in the administration of CPS's obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., ("IDEA") to educate children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment ("LRE").

    See also:

    * Who Is Corey H.?

    * Schools Failed This Child.

    And:

    * Shefsky & Froelich: Lawyers With Real Imagination.

    * They'll also help you get your video gaming license.

    * "In 1987 [Gery] Chico left City Hall for a job with the corporate law firm Sidley & Austin," Ben Joravsky wrote for the Reader in 2011.

    "He mainly dealt with zoning matters, working under the guidance of Jack Guthman, then and now one of Chicago's most prominent zoning lawyers.

    "I knew Gery from his work at finance,"says Guthman. "He was just this hardworking, very knowledgeable guy. One day Ed Burke told me, 'Gery Chico is ready to leave the public sector.'" Guthman called Chico, and soon Chico was working for him, representing developers who were seeking city approval for their projects.

    Guthman is Shefsky & Froelich's partner emeritus.

    The Ricketts Are Ridiculous
    It's pretty clear by now that the Rickettses are a bunch of bumblers.

    Just consider: They have now presided over the worst three-year record in Cubs history.

    The worst.

    In Cubs history.

    Cubs.

    Worst.

    The fact that they're rebuilding is hardly a defense; the Cubs have been rebuilding for most of the last 100 years and it's somehow never been that bad.

    Great prospects on the way? That, too, is an old story.

    But at least the Cubs used to be lovable losers, and the beauty of Wrigley Field was that it sold the idyllic experience of a baseball game, and that included the hope that maybe next year would be the year.

    The Rickettses have killed that. Wrigley has become a clown show of advertising gluttony that's only going to get much, much worse. The quirky seventh-inning stretch singers have been cut. They're even getting rid of the Old Style. And guess what? Attendance, unwisely taken for granted while tampering with the formula made such a lousy product such a spectacular success, continues to plummet. Even the bros don't like it, bro!

    Just ask city officials about the Ricketts clan and they'll roll their eyes. To wit:

    "Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) on Wednesday ridiculed the Cubs as 'a needy group' and turned up the heat on the team to start construction on its $500 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field and develop the land around it," the Sun-Times reports.

    "We rolled the red carpet out for them. Where's the permits?" said Tunney, whose ward includes 99-year-old Wrigley.. "It's time for them to build, like they said [they would] postseason. I'd expect permits to be there . . . I would have hoped, at this point, that they would be doing the permits."

    So, um, the Cubs haven't even pulled the permits yet? Oy.

    Tunney didn't give an inch when reminded that the Cubs want rooftop club owners to drop their threat of a lawsuit.

    "They're a needy group," the alderman said. "That wasn't part of the agreement. They've got a private arrangement with the rooftops. I don't have any control over that. They should start construction."

    The Rickettses seem unable to manage all the moving parts that go along with owning a major league baseball franchise in a city like Chicago. In other words, they don't seem up to the job. It's almost as if they have no business training at all.

    Tunney was equally unsympathetic to the Cubs' demand for a legislative fix to the ordinance authorizing the team to play up to 46 night games per season at Wrigley.

    That's even though Mayor Rahm Emanuel is planning to soften wording a top mayoral aide has called an 'overreach.'

    The ordinance gives the city unprecedented control over when rained-out games are rescheduled, according to the Cubs.

    It also would force the team - if chosen to play additional games on national television during a winning season - to 'choose between violating MLB rules or the city ordinance,' a Cubs spokesman has said.

    Now, because this is a Fran Spielman story, we aren't informed if the ordinance gives the city unprecedented control over the rescheduling rainouts, or if the Cubs will be forced to choose between violating MLB rules or the ordinance; just that the Cubs say that. Which doesn't make it true. A real reporter would find out if that's true!

    "I was comfortable with the night game ordinance as we passed it. It was very controversial for the community. We were very generous in that . . . There are provisions in there for MLB contracts," Tunney said Tuesday.

    So either the Cubs are wrong or Tunney is wrong. We don't know because Spielman didn't bother to read the ordinance they are fighting over. But we do know the Rickettses are bumblers, so we're leaning in Tunney's direction on this one until proven otherwise.

    Cubs spokesman Julian Green said the team is prepared to proceed with electrical and structural work during the offseason.

    But it won't happen unless rooftop club owners who share 17 percent of their revenues with the team drop their threat of a lawsuit aimed at preventing the team from bankrolling the project with two massive outfield signs that could block rooftop views.

    "After the planned development passed back in July, the family put out a statement. To move forward with the project, we need to resolve the issue with the rooftops first," Green said.

    1. Maybe resolve the issue with the rooftops before you pass your damn development through the city council! Sheesh.

    2. Good luck getting the rooftops to agree to never sue. Anyone giving up that right is a worse business owner than the Ricketts family.

    Tunney isn't the only one turning up the heat on the Cubs to start construction.

    Rooftop club owners did the same last week in a statement that said, "There is nothing stopping owners of one of the most valuable teams in baseball from fixing the dugouts, the bathrooms or the multitude of improvements that are long overdue . . . Those aspects of renovation have nothing to do with the issue between the Cubs and rooftops. For a team that set deadlines, their silence has been deafening."

    Exactly. I'm tired of reading stories about how the Wrigley doesn't have batting cages, for example. That's ridiculous, but the Rickettses could have gotten started on those kinds of fixes at any point in their ownership. Are they waiting for Jumbotron money? 'Cause that's gonna be a long, and uncertain, wait. Meanwhile, they are among the top five major league baseball teams in revenue, and last year led the league in profitability. Yes, they have some debt issues because Sam Zell played them like a rube piano when he sold them the team, but they are also among the nation's 500 most wealthy families. Start acting like it in a good way, instead of a dickish way.

    Sports Hacks Live
    On Sports Talk Live on Thursday, veteran Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander said "If you believe in sabermetrics and Moneyball, the Cubs should have won the World Series a couple times. I don't believe in statistics."

    I hope it's obvious to Beachwood readers why this is maddening, but to the uninitiated, I'll explain: The Cubs were literally, factually the last team in major league baseball to embrace sabermetrics or any form of Moneyball, unless you count the Reds putting up with Dusty Baker for six years after leaving Chicago.

    And if Telander was simply referring to two seasons under Theo Epstein, well, sabermetrics and Moneyball - not necessarily the same thing - don't work that way. They aren't magic beans that produce championship teams when you simply add water - especially now that every team in the league is using them.

    Finally, to say you don't believe in statistics is like saying you don't believe in facts. Not all statistics are relevant or terribly meaningful, but even those still exist. You might as well not believe in air - or those kids on your lawn.

    Sears Fears
    Sears Selling Off Profitable Stores To Raise Cash.

    Company president Theo Epstein says it will be worth it once prospect stores reach maturation.

    *

    No, seriously, this is a death spiral.

    Chicago Housewares Authority
    "CHA CEO Charles Woodyard, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn were on hand Tuesday to commemorate an important snapshot in Chicago's history - the opening of the new Target store at 1200 N. Larabee," the CHA said in an e-mail blast on Thursday.

    That address, of course, is where Cabrini-Green once stood.

    I find it a bit odd that CHA would announce this - even if they're trying to brag that jobs will be provided to what must be the last 75 public housing residents in the area (unless they're going to bus some in) out of the 15,000 who used to live there.

    Spooky At A Distance
    EFF Leaves GNI Over NSA.

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Silos
    Yard 32.

    Sark vs. Kiffin
    The College Football Report told you so.

    The Week In Chicago Rock
    Including: Grouplove, Phantogram, White Lies, Gideon, and Robert Randolph and The Family Band.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: To insure prompt service.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    The [Thursday] Papers

    I've got some secret work to do for the government this morning so we'll just start with these fine offerings from our sports staff and see where rest of the day takes us.

    * Another Beachwood Special Report: Why Joe Girardi Rejected The Cubs.

    * The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Garbage Time.

    * Fantasy Fix: CPR For PPR.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: A line for tips.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Garbage Time

    Nineteen out of 20 readers are aware that The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report is not big on statistics. Ninety-eight percent of Americans don't know that, but three-sevenths should.

    If you got the impression that Drew Brees completed 26 out of 24 passes to Jimmy Graham and Pierre Thomas last week, you'd be right; a couple of those pump fakes went for a combined 18 yards.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other quarterback in NFL history who completed a higher percentage of his passes in a single game was Jesus while playing for, who else, the Raiders in 1966.

    We have seen two Bears games in a row that would have required Hail Marys to pull out a victory, which isn't a sin but it is a shame.

    And if the ratings for Boardwalk Empire are any indication, isn't it safe to say that 78% of American's find the latter more offensive?

    Career Day
    Another nice day for the second-year receiver out of Football School USA (let TJ and Boomer look it up, I don't care) but unfortunately the game expired when Jay Cutler told Alshon Jeffery to go long . . . real long, and he just ran into the middle of the field for a time-wasting completion.

    We're going to have to give the Bears' offensive staff a quick reference guide to the concept of "taking what the defense gives you."

    • Taking What The Defense Gives You: Down by three in the second quarter, you opt for a five-yard completion because the defense is playing nickel on 2nd-and-9.
    • Being Taken Advantage Of By The Defense: As part of your divorce, your ex lets you keep the 1992 Ford Festiva in exchange for that original Monet hanging in the entry hall. Ha ha ha, stupid bitch! I get a car and all you get are these worthless dots! Also you complete a checkdown to your lawyer, down by eight with three seconds left.

    So the second best statistical receiving game in Bears history had roughly the same value as an automobile whose name doesn't even translate directly into Mexican; a language that has no problem with party songs about cockroaches, worms in liquor and joint-shaped bean sandwiches whose namesake is a cute lil' donkey.

    The Blueprint
    Tonight, the most successful Manning drags his sorry-ass Blue Yorks down to the lakefront for a game in which two teams hope to gain some semblance of momentum.

    The good news is, falling down the stairs technically counts as moving forward, and beating the 2013 Giants takes about as much expertise.

    Here's the game plan, Bears:

    First, make sure that neither David Tyree or the world's stickiest helmet are working in football. We don't need any freakish last second occurrences from a team that was held to 10 points for the vast majority of that game.

    Check.

    Next, we need 46 guys to put on a football jersey and attend. Aww goddamit Weems! How do you get a red card in football, in the locker room?

    Ok ok ok, we can get by with as few as 40 players. I'm pretty sure Devin Aromashodu and Al Afalava* are available if need be.

    We just need to put together a decent pass rush against a crummy line, huh? Nate Collins is out indefinitely with "retirement?"

    That's a thing?

    Alright fine, I give the F up. Make absolutely no adjustments.

    Huck the ball all over the field to Brandon Marshall and run effectively when it's inopportune. Stop nothing on defense but force six turnovers. Build up a big lead and then piss most of it away by forgetting how to play offense for 11 minutes only to pull away in the final portion of the contest.

    Got it? Hands in.Win on three.

    ONE TWO THREE, win?

    Kool Aid (3 Out Of 5 Goblets Sam Adams OctoberFest)
    It's kind of a "blah" game, I'll just go with a workhorse for my Thursday buzz. Hey, it'll be Friday in India during the game.

    But I reserve the right to switch to small mugs of Jagermeister if things go sideways.

    Eli Manning has developed nicely into a turnover machine and I expect the Bears to crank that machine into high gear . . . get your mind out of the gutter.

    Nobody knows how to yield 30+ points like the New York Giants defense, though certainly some of that has to do with the horrific field position they've been handed by the aforementioned Captain Interception.

    You know what to do D.

    Over/Under on INTs: 3.5.

    I'm taking the Over, but that might be due to the fact that I'm warming up for Thursday with some Orange Shandy.

    You're damn right I bought a couple of sampler packs.

    With Peanut Tillman out or hobbled, expect a big game from Tim Jennings, but also a big game from Victor Cruz.

    I know I sound like a hop-filled broken record here, but I expect a heap o' points tonight. However, I expect several of them to be late-game garbage by New York.

    Bears 37
    Giants 27

    -

    *Editor's Note: At game time, Al Afalava, owner/operator of Afalava's Falafel-rama (Hawaii's premier Middle Eastern culinary experience), was not available.

    -

    Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:51 AM | Permalink

    Fantasy Fix: CPR For PPR

    Before this year, I was never in a fantasy football league that counted points-per-reception (PPR), and when I drafted my team, I didn't pay much attention to that category, thinking that if I drafted solid WRs, PPR would take care of itself.

    That can be the case, but isn't always the case. For example, the Ravens' Torrey Smith is second in receiving yards with 556, but on only 27 receptions, which doesn't even place him in the top 10 in PPR.

    If you have a receiver with that many yards, you may feel you don't need the extra points from PPR, but a weekly contest lost by two or three points might change your mind.

    WR isn't the only position to think about in a PPR league either. RBs who get involved in the passing game are obviously much more valuable in PPR leagues.

    Of course, Week 6 is sort of late to think about all this. With that in mind, here are a few players still available in many leagues who might help you boost your PPR proficiency:

    Julian Edelman, WR, NE: He didn't have a great Week 5, when he only caught two passes, but had no fewer than seven catches in the four previous weeks, and has great rapport with QB Tom Brady, w key intangible worth researching in PPR leagues.

    Kendall Wright, WR, TEN: Fellow WR Nate Washington gets more attention, but Wright leads his team in receptions and has had at least five in every game since Week 2.

    Pierre Thomas, RB, NO: He's been viewed more as a rusher, with fellow RB Darren Sproles getting more attention as a pass-catching back, but Thomas now has 28 receptions, two more than Sproles. Yet, Thomas is still available in more than 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

    Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, ATL: He's not the guy who will ram through a pile into the end zone from two yards out, but his elusiveness and speed make him a factor in the passing game. Currently on a bye week, but with starting RB Steven Jackson still hurt and fellow back-up Jason Snelling now dealing with a concussion, he could have value in Week 7.

    Expert Wire
    * Bleacher Report eyes replacements for Julio Jones, who led the league in receptions until a season-ending injury last week.

    * CBSSports.com says sell high on the Jaguars' Justin Blackmon.

    * Fansided has some Week 6 waiver wire ideas.

    -

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:40 AM | Permalink

    Exclusive! Why Joe Girardi Rejected The Cubs

    * Couldn't activate Ventra card.

    * Phobic about Jumbotrons.

    * Found out Old Style was being replaced.

    * Shaken by Ryan Sweeney signing.

    * The schools his kids would have gone to were closed.

    * Starting third baseman Luis Valbuena.

    * Even though he's really smart, he still can't spell Samardzija.

    * Something about a pet goat.

    * Ronnie Woo-Woo still has some voice left.

    * Job required donation to Rahm's campaign fund.

    * Heard Cubs were bringing Koyie Hill back.

    * Cubs wouldn't spring for a separate airplane seat for his binder on road trips.

    * Joe Ricketts insisted on pegging his salary to the gold standard.

    * ESPN commercials with him in Yankee uniform already in the can.

    * Got back on his meds and realized he almost made a terrible mistake.

    - Marty Gangler, Steve Rhodes

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    October 9, 2013

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    "Patrick Arbor, the former chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade involved in an ugly divorce case, acknowledged in court documents that he dodged paying income taxes for 30 years on assets he has outside the United States and only made amends with the government last year after he was prompted by his wife's attorneys," Shia Kapos reports for Crain's.

    Arbor has been a civic titan around these parts for decades, and as such, the subject of, well, not quite lionizing press but kitty cat press, from his mountain climbing exploits to his business punditry to his political climbing (he was/is pals with both Richard M. Daley and trader/U.S. Senate candidate Blair Hull, just to throw out two names).

    That's how civic titans get covered.

    But I'll go out on a limb here and say most civic titans are dirty. That's how they become civic titans. And that's how we should approach them until proven otherwise.

    It's not that everyone with money and/or power is corrupt, but the starting point for any journalist - especially in Chicago - ought to be one of skepticism, not admiration. After all, the central mission of journalism is to provide a check on power. I mean, whatever happened to "If Pat Arbor says he's an upstanding citizen, check it out"?

    It's not that it's a journalistic failure any time someone who has been gushed over is discovered at a late date in their newsworthiness to be a cheat and a hustler; obviously journalists aren't going to "catch" everyone participating in wrongdoing - or even the vast majority of people behaving badly. It's just to say that those with the most power, wealth and influence should be viewed critically, not heroically as if their ascent to the top could only have been accomplished by a unique and self-determined set of smarts and work ethic the rest of us are too dumb or lazy to tap. Usually the truth is far more complex and disheartening.

    There's a whole set of questions you could ask of someone like Arbor about the role of their work in society and how their wealth was accumulated - and gets spent - without falling back on stale narratives. Like these:

    "Patrick H. Arbor is almost everything the Chicago Board of Trade used to be: A self-made mogul living in a bachelor's high-rise condo off Michigan Avenue that's still decorated in dark 1970s wallpaper," Janet Kidd Stewart wrote in the Sun-Times in 1993.

    But there are differences - both in personal style and in attitudes about CBOT business. The steak-and-martini images of old don't fit the CBOT's new chairman, who abhors smoking, exercises with a vengeance, and plays Italian folk tunes on an acoustic guitar.

    And Arbor, 56, knows it's time to redecorate. He'll take down the wallpaper this year at home - and try to give to the 145-year-old financial futures exchange a face-lift.

    "The Board of Trade can no longer rest on its laurels," Arbor said. "We have to have passion and fire in our bellies if we're going to be successful."

    There was only one other person - an ally - quoted in the story, which ended like this:

    But Arbor is no stranger to overcoming obstacles.

    "I can see my whole life looking out this window," he said from his Gold Coast home. It is a view that takes in not only the riches of his adult life but his struggles growing up as a West Side youth. His mother committed suicide and Arbor spent a tough childhood partly in a Chicago orphanage.

    On a very clear day, he might even see Harwood Heights, the suburb where he became Illinois' youngest mayor at age 27 in 1964.

    Such personal climbs are the stuff of legend at Chicago's futures exchanges. But such successes aren't being repeated as profits get squeezed and trading becomes complicated by new products and sophisticated computer technology.

    Arbor said several years ago that Chicago's financial community drew the "best and brightest" young minds.

    "I think that's changed a little," he said last week. "The success stories of yesteryear are not being heard today. The best and brightest are gravitating toward Wall Street and to the off-exchange products, and that concerns me."

    So does the competition from upstart exchanges such as the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange. LIFFE's volume grew 86 percent in 1992, compared to the CBOT's 7.6 percent increase.

    "We need another surge of prosperity," Arbor said. "Yes, I have a couple of tough years ahead of me. But I think I have the energy and the vision - plus a good executive committee and a membership rich with ideas - to lead us through it. We've been through tough periods before."

    Ugh. What's the point?

    Now, maybe Arbor was a swell guy until, well, until he started hiding his money overseas. But I doubt it. People usually aren't built that way. They have a worldview. Arbor's was built on the worldview of a trader, who is by definition a hustler.

    And he's long been allergic to taxes. To wit:

    "President Clinton's proposal to impose a transaction tax on futures trades will die in Congress for the fourth year in a row, the Chicago Board of Trade's top official said Monday," the Tribune reported in 1993.

    "'They've seen the light of day three times before, and they'll continue to see the light,' Chairman Patrick Arbor told reporters in Washington, describing members of Congress. The estimated revenue for the U.S. government from a futures transaction fee is about $235 million over four years, but industry leaders say the tax would drive business overseas."

    Right next to Arbor's money.

    *

    Some folks locally too have been calling on a transaction tax for years to help the Chicago Public Schools, among other possible uses. Instead, we've given Arbor and his buddies tax breaks.

    "The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) took a stunning 54 percent of its $8 billion in revenue as clear profit," Paul Buchheit wrote in a letter to the Tribune in 2011.

    "That's a higher percentage than any of the top 100 companies in the country! Yet, CME is threatening to leave Illinois if its tax bill isn't reduced.

    "A tax break to the nation's most profitable corporation would put Illinois residents at even greater risk of economic collapse. The governor should look in the opposite direction, toward a financial transaction tax (FTT).

    "Right now, a Chicago mother pays more than 10 percent in sales taxes for a pair of shoes for her child. A millionaire Chicago investor pays zero percent in sales taxes for a financial instrument.

    "How much money could be generated by an FTT in Illinois? CBOE handles over a billion contracts a year with a dollar volume of close to a trillion dollars. A one-quarter of one percent tax on contracts would return $1.5 billion dollars, enough to pay off Chicago's budget deficit.

    "The CME Group, which includes the Chicago Board of Trade, handles about three billion annual contracts worth well over one quadrillion dollars. One-thousandth of one percent of that (about a dollar for every $100,000) would pay off the total budget deficit of Illinois."

    Just this past January, two congressional Democrats tried to revive a financial transactions tax again in an effort Reuters (or the Tribune) immediately labeled as a "long-shot," because why take it seriously?

    "The congressmen have introduced the idea before, but it did not move forward as President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has said the United States opposes the levy."

    Let's try again and call it the Arbor Tax.

    *

    "In testifying last year, Arbor said he didn't think at first that he had to pay taxes on the offshore accounts but that he then realized it was a violation of state and federal law," the Tribune reports.

    The former Chief of the Board of Trade didn't realize he had to pay taxes on those accounts. Which he created in order to dodge paying taxes.

    "Since filing for the amnesty program to pay off the taxes, Arbor said it's provided a relief for a burden 'that has been on my shoulders for many, many years.'"

    Why would it have been a burden for many, many years if he didn't think he had to pay taxes on those accounts?

    *

    "As part of a federal amnesty program, he will pay back taxes for the past eight years, he says," Kapos reports.

    So he'll make good sometime into Hillary Clinton's second term.

    -

    See also:
    * Mark Brown: Ex-CBOT Chief Accused Of Fleeing County To Keep Millions From Ex-Wife.

    * Mark Brown: Ex-CBOT Chair's Divorce Messy, Rich With Intrigue.

    * Mark Brown: Ex-CBOT Chief Invites Friends To 'Discuss' His Messy Divorce.

    * Chicago magazine: By Far The Best.

    -

    The Political Odds
    Freshly renewed.

    On The Skiffle Trail
    A Rock & Roll Journey From New Orleans To Chicago To Britain And Back.

    Sirens Behaving Badly
    Updated.

    The Traveling Kings Of Chicago
    Updated.

    Remembering Andy Pafko
    Historic Cub, Local Hero.

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Transaction facts.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Remembering Andy Pafko

    "Andy Pafko couldn't have asked for a bigger break when the Cubs traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers in June of 1951," Mark Potash writes for the Sun-Times.

    "Without having to leave Wrigley Field - the Dodgers were in town for a four-game series -- he moved from seventh-place in the National League to first.

    "But the timely trade also put Mr. Pafko on a collision course with baseball history. As the Dodgers left fielder in the final game of a best-of-three playoff with the New York Giants, Mr. Pafko could only look up and watch as Bobby Thomson's three-run homer -- the ''shot heard 'round the world' - sailed over his head in the ninth inning to win the pennant in stunning fashion for the Giants, 5-4."

    Pafko died Tuesday in a Stevensville, Michigan, nursing home at the age of 92. He was a a four-time All-Star who played on the Cubs' last pennant-winning team in 1945 - and his death leaves only one living person, shortstop Lennie Merullo, who has played in a World Series for the Cubs.

    Here's a 2010 tribute to Pafko:


    -

    See also:
    * Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Wisconsin Native Andy Pafko Was A Local Hit.

    * Bleed Cubbie Blue: And Then There Was One.

    * Lennie Merullo's Wikipedia page.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    On The Skiffle Trail: A Rock & Roll Journey From New Orleans To Chicago To Britain And Back

    Billy Bragg argued last month in a Guardian piece that the British invented the Americana music genre.

    The piece was accompanied by a photo of Muddy Waters from the early '50s recording in Chicago, "where it all began."

    Actually, the Chicago blues were just a linchpin between skiffle and Americana in Bragg's argument, and it is with skiffle where we too will begin.

    Writes Bragg:

    "Ken Colyer was a British jazz trumpeter born in 1928 who, like his contemporaries, had learned how to play by listening to old 78 recordings. His hero was Bunk Johnson, a trumpet player who helped define the New Orleans style in the early 1900s. Colyer realized that some of the men who played with Johnson were still alive in New Orleans and, if he could get there, he could learn about the music he loved from the masters themselves.

    "In 1952, after joining the Merchant Navy and jumping ship in Mobile, Alabama, Colyer made it to the Crescent City and was invited to sit in with his heroes. But he wanted to know more than just how to play. He was at heart a purist, driven not only to bring these songs to people back home, but to teach them about where the music came from. The old guys in New Orleans sent him out on the bayou to hear roots music played on acoustic guitars, simple three-chord songs in blues and folk styles.

    "When he got back to Britain in 1953, Colyer introduced this roots music into his set, calling it 'skiffle.' He was somewhat dismayed when it became more popular with his young audience than the jazz he'd learned in New Orleans. Colyer left his band in disgust but his banjo player, Lonnie Donegan, persevered and inadvertently started the Skiffle Boom."

    Here's what Bragg told Kim Ruehl in an interview for No Depression in a piece posted last week:

    "The key thing for me is skiffle. Skiffle is a really weird period that doesn't really have a corollary in the United States of America. It's almost like a cult in the 50s. For kids, candy was rationed until the mid-50s. Clothes were rationed. The music on the radio was sort of like [makes a face], and anything American was brilliant. Anything that came from America was exciting - the cowboy programs were fascinating. Davy Crockett was massive in the 50s. Skiffle kind of somehow snuck into that, almost like the craze of hula hoops. It's more like that than a cultural movement. I know, it's weird. But with 15 year old boys, there weren't blues fans. Literally Paul McCartney is 15 when he meets John, who's 17, and they start a skiffle band. These kids use skiffle music to escape austerity, which is all they've ever known. The Beatles were born in the war; the Stones were born in the war. All those bands didn't really know anything else other than austerity.

    "Playing music allows you to transcend your surroundings momentarily. What I mean is, my son, who sits in his bedroom and plays his guitar, he's not really in an upstairs flat in England, he's at CBGBs in 1977. Skiffle was a way for kids to pull themselves out of a world they thought was boring and drab and fixated on the past.

    "England was trying to work out what was left of the empire and clinging to the Queen. Skiffle became a way of escaping from that.

    "Every salient boy in the UK knew the three chords necessary to play Chuck Berry's entire repertoire. When that happened, they were kind of ready, like a bunch of crazy paratroopers who were just waiting for the red light. When the red light came, they started to buy electric guitars, go to Hamburg . . . Obviously American kids were doing the same thing. Bob Dylan was . . . but something else was going on [in America]. There was a frantic energy to escape, in the Brits, that very easily matches up [to skiffle].

    "It's almost as if they were trying to plug into rock and roll, they had an American plug trying to plug into a British [wall]. They've got the American type plug and they punched it into rock and roll.

    "I mentioned in the article the way the Kingston trio played 'Tom Dooley' as a funeral song, whereas Donegan plays it [claps his hands in rapid succession, singing] 'Lay down your head Tom Dooley.' He's already . . . it's got velocity. It's not far from that to Hamburg. It's not a long way to go. I think for American kids, culture in the 60s, you'd not turn up to your local church fair and play Muddy Waters or Little Richard. It wasn't conceivable. It just wasn't done. Whereas, in the church fairs where Lennon and McCartney went, they were playing Leadbelly, they were playing Little Richard, and it's totally acceptable. That ability to consume American culture without [the baggage] . . . it's a strength of the British to take where it came from, even someone yodeling, and make it acceptable."

    Back to Bragg in the Guardian:

    "Donegan had recorded Rock Island Line for a jazz record called New Orleans Joys in July 1954. Released as a single 18 months later, it went straight to the top of the charts and inspired a whole generation of British boys - among them Lennon and McCartney - to learn three chords on a guitar.

    "The skiffle craze soon fizzled out, but it left behind it a cohort of teenagers hungry to hear blues and folk records made by American artists before the war. Such albums were hard to find and, if you had one, word would get out and every hip kid in the area would be knocking on your door for a listen. It was his impressive collection of records by Chicago bluesmen that first attracted Keith Richards to Mick Jagger in 1962."

    *

    Chicago 1924 - 1929 Jazz Skiffle & Jug Style

    *

    Streamline Train

    "So many skiffle songs were about trains or mention them in some way," the Skiffle Skunks write. "Both The Vipers and The Ken Colyer Skiffle Group recorded great versions of this blues/boogie woogie song back in the 1950s. I think that Ken Colyer learned it from 'Cripple' Clarence Lofton (yes, that really was his nickname), the Chicago singer and boogie woogie piano player, and I reckon The Vipers learned it from Ken."

    Lyric: "Now the women in Chicago, they sure do make you tired, they got a hand full of gimme, and a mouthful of obliged."

    *

    Midnight Special by Lonnie Donegan

    *

    A 14-Year-Old Jimmy Page Plays Skiffle

    *

    Mr. Sandman by The Jive Aces Skiffle Combo

    *

    As Tears Go By by The Skiffle Kings

    *

    Carmelita Skiffle by Mike Bloomfield

    *

    Elton John with Lonnie Donegan

    "Lonnie Donegan - The King of Skiffle - recorded an album with all-star friends in 1977," RonnieFriend writes. "Elton John played piano on a couple of tracks - this one 'Diggin' My Potatoes,' and also the title track 'Puttin' on the Style.' Both were skiffle classics from the fifties. Ray Cooper played percussion. Brian May (of Queen) played electric guitar! Some of the other tracks featured Ringo Starr, Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins, Leo Sayer . . . "

    *

    Sloop John B by Van Morrison and Lonnie Donegan

    From The Skiffle Sessions.

    *

    London Philharmonic Skiffle Orchestra 2012

    -

    Lady Gaga Skiffle Cover

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:18 AM | Permalink

    October 8, 2013

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday steered clear of the controversy posed by Ald. Edward M. Burke's public role as chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee and the $3.6 million that Burke's private law practice has cost the city by winning property tax appeals for business clients," the Sun-Times reports.

    "Every public official has to speak for themselves about what's both legal and appropriate, as I have in my own career," the mayor said after cutting the ribbon at a new Mariano's grocery store in the South Loop.

    But doesn't it bother you, Rahm, that Burke has gotten rich in part on the backs of Chicago taxpayers, whom you present yourself as the protector of? (My question, not theirs.)

    "I can speak for the law department of the city of Chicago. We're going to pursue every case to make sure that the taxpayers' interests are protected . . . I know what my responsibility as mayor is and what the law department's responsibility is," Emanuel said.

    So you think the taxpayers' interests have been protected to the utmost in cases involving Burke?

    Again, my question, not theirs.

    Theirs, and the Rahm's reply:

    Pressed on whether he would do what Burke is doing, the mayor said, "I just answered that question."

    But you didn't, Mr. Mayor. You did lie, however.

    "The mayor's claim to pursue all property tax appeals is contradicted by the facts. The law department rarely challenges the lawsuits that Burke files, with just one court challenge in the past three years, records show.

    "And City Hall is legally barred from contesting the majority of Burke's appeals to the state - those seeking less than a $1 million cut in property assessment - under a 2002 measure Burke helped to pass in the City Council."

    We know the answer that Rahm dodged anyway, though: Yes. After all, that's essentially how Rahm got rich - and elected - himself.

    A better question for the mayor might be this one: Mr. Mayor, you campaigned on themes of change and reform. The kind of double-dealing and influence-peddling we see Alderman Burke - and others - engaging in is just the kind of Chicago Way politics that taxpayers have long been tired of. Knowing that change and reform has to start at the top, why don't you declare that from this day forward we're really going to do things differently in Chicago? And that means I'm 1) asking Alderman Burke to knock it off, and 2) introducing legislation tomorrow that will finally tighten up our conflict-of-interest rules for real in order to regain the trust of our citizens and prevent this sort of abuse in the future?

    A follow-up might be: Why are you afraid to call out Ed Burke?

    *

    The Sun-Times's story on Burke on Monday was accompanied by a story about City Hall lobbyist Bill Filan, which I discussed in yesterday's column.

    I only discovered after posting the column that I missed two similar stories. Let's take a look.

    "Like Ald. Edward M. Burke, two powerful Democratic legislators from Chicago also run law firms that do big business winning property-tax refunds for their clients," Tim Novak reported.

    "Madigan & Getzendanner, headed by Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), has gotten more than $43.9 million in property-tax refunds since 2003 for Chicago landowners and $13.6 million for suburban Cook County property owners, according to the Cook County treasurer's office, which issues the refunds.

    "Madigan's firm won most of those victories in court in Cook County, where judges awarded his clients more than $53 million in refunds in that period.

    "Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is a partner in a law firm that has won more than $27.7 million in property-tax refunds in Chicago and suburban Cook County since 2003 - Thompson Coburn, a St. Louis firm that merged with Cullerton's old firm, Fagel & Haber."

    So they're all in on the racket.

    "Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon says the Senate president 'doesn't handle' any tax appeals himself, that the firm has five other lawyers who handle those cases, including his brother, Patrick Cullerton."

    And I'm sure the firm's clients have no idea who John Cullerton is.

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    The best part of the story, though, came from Novak's Facebook page, where he wrote:

    "The call to the law firm of Madigan and Getzendanner was never returned. Didn't think I should involve Steve Brown, the speaker's taxpayer-funded spokesman, to explain the speaker's law firm."

    Damn straight.

    And finally, this too from Novak:

    "Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has taken more than $140,000 in campaign contributions in the past five years from lawyers and firms who go up against her office seeking property-tax refunds for their clients, records show.

    "As the lawyers for the Cook County treasurer's office, Alvarez and her staff have fought hundreds of cases filed by attorneys seeking property-tax refunds. Those attorneys frequently end up working out settlements with Alvarez's office to resolve their cases."

    It's all legal-like, of course, but what's legal is not the same as what's ethical - especially considering that those who appeal to the law are the same people who write it.

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    Tweeting Ventra
    The wait is over! Please continue to hold.

    Tweeting Cubtober
    Follow the bouncing sources.

    The Blind & The Bogus
    In our Local Music Notebook.

    Voices Of Protest & Being A Cop
    In our Local Book Notes.

    Chicago Beer Brand Revived
    Reviewing Baderbräu's Oktoberfest.

    Sirens Behaving Badly
    Dear Hollywood: Enough.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Your wake-up call.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:49 PM | Permalink

    Tweeting Cubtober

    According to sources, Joe Girardi isn't going anywhere.

    Or is he?

    Sources say he wants to come "home." Sources also say home is Westchester County.

    Sources, sources, sources.

    Ausmus is in. Ausmus is out. Maddux is in. Maddux is out. Alomar is in. Alomar is out. Hinch is in, not yet out. Acta is here - please, God, no.

    Follow the bouncing ball.

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    Aren't Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo infielders?

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    One Take Beer Review: Baderbräu Oktoberfest

    An Oktoberfest beer from the revived Chicago brand Baderbräu.


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    See also:
    * Mark McDermott's YouTube Channel
    * Baderbräu: Chicago's Original Craft Beer

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    "Glorious, Glorious Beer"

    I wont not sing of sherbet and water
    For sherbet with beer will not rhyme
    The working man cares about champagne
    It's a bit more than 5 cents a try
    So I'll sing you a song of a gargle,
    A gargle that I love so dear;
    I look to that great institution
    That wonderful tonic called beer, beer, beer, beer.

    Beer, beer, glorious beer,
    Fill yourselves right up to here;
    Drink a great deal of it,
    Make a good meal of it,
    Stick to your old fashioned beer.
    Now don't be afraid of it
    Drink 'til you're made of it,
    Now all together a cheer
    Up with the sale of it,
    Down with a pail of it,
    Glorious, glorious beer.

    It's the daddy of all lubricators,
    The best thing there is for your neck,
    Can be used as a gargle or lotion,
    For persons of every sect
    Now we know who the Goddess wine was
    But if is there a Goddess of beer?
    If there is let us drink to her name, boys,
    And wish that we had her here, here, here, here.

    Beer, beer, glorious beer,
    Fill yourselves right up to here;
    Drink a great deal of it,
    Make a good meal of it,
    Stick to your old fashioned beer.
    Now don't be afraid of it
    Drink 'til you're made of it,
    Now all together a cheer
    Up with the sale of it,
    Down with a pail of it,
    Glorious, glorious beer.

    Beer, beer, glorious beer,
    Fill yourselves right up to here;
    Drink a great deal of it,
    Make a good meal of it,
    Stick to your old fashioned beer.
    Now don't be afraid of it
    Drink 'til you're made of it,
    Now all together a cheer (hurrah!)
    Up with the sale of it,
    Down with a pail of it,
    Glorious, glorious beer.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Local Book Notes: Voices Of Protest, Being A Cop & A Dollarocracy Trifecta

    1. Voices of Protest.

    "The Guild Literary Complex has received a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund in support of Voices of Protest, a year-long literary project that will present live, multidisciplinary events with contemporary Middle Eastern poets and emerging Chicago authors to engage issues of language as protest and words as agents of change," the GLC announced this morning.

    "The project will commence in the Spring of 2014 with the Guild hosting Iraqi poetess Manal al Sheikh and Palestinian poet Mazen Maarouf, both writers currently living in exile in Scandinavian countries due to the bold and unrelenting character of their work.

    "Select Chicago authors will be invited to join the project and work with the guest poets, eventually traveling to Norway to attend the Kappitel Stavanger International Festival of Literature and Freedom of Speech.

    "Upon their return to Chicago they will present their work and observations to area audiences. An anthology including all participating artists will be published at the conclusion of the project in early 2015.

    "When Manal al Sheikh and Mazen Maarouf arrive in Chicago, they will be featured at the cinema house Facets Multimedia, a partner in the project. Both poets are subjects in a series of short documentary films by British filmmaker Roxana Vilk. Multiple screenings and readings will be presented, and a full schedule will be made available early 2014."

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    2. On Being A Cop.

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    3. Red Hen Poetry

    "Dan Vera, the inaugural winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, and Orlando Ricardo Menes, judge of the prize, will read at the Poetry Foundation on Thursday, October 24. A books igning and reception follow the reading," the foundation has announced.

    "Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame, has partnered with Red Hen Press in Pasadena, California, to offer the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize in support the publication of a second or third full-length collection of poems by a Latino or Latina poet.

    "Dan Vera, the winner of the inaugural Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, is a writer, editor and literary historian living in Washington, DC.

    "In addition to his winning volume, Speaking Wiri Wiri, he is the author of The Space Between Our Danger and Delight (Beothuk Books, 2008). Vera receives a $1000 award, a contract from Red Hen Press, and a two-week residency from The Ragdale Foundation.

    "Orlando Ricardo Menes directs the creative writing program at the University of Notre Dame. His third full-length collection, Fetish, won the 2012 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was published in 2013 by the University of Nebraska Press."

    The (free) program begins at 7 p.m. at the Poetry Foundation at 61 West Superior Street.

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    4. Women and Children First Bookstore In Andersonville For Sale.

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    5. Dollarocracy Trifecta.

    You are invited to join authors John Nichols and Robert McChesney for conversation about their new book: Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

    Three Events in Chicago October 17 Free and open to the public!

    Noon - DePaul University - Richard M. and Maggie C. Daley Building - Lower Level Theatre 14 E Jackson Blvd.

    3:30 p.m. - Columbia College - South Michigan Campus - Collins Hall Rm. 602 - 624 S. Michigan Ave.

    6 p.m. - University of Chicago - International House Assembly Hall - 1414 E. 59th St.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:32 AM | Permalink

    Sirens Behaving Badly

    "Residents of a quiet block in Wicker Park are furious after they were awakened in the wee hours of the morning Monday by a police siren and bullhorn to move their cars for a television filming crew," Alicia Hauser reports for DNAinfo Chicago

    A 46-year-old mother of three who lives in the 1500 block of North Elk Grove Avenue said she "thought it was an air raid," but the cause for the commotion was actually a new half-hour comedy series, Sirens.

    After reparking her car, the woman, who asked not be named, fired off an angry email at 2:23 a.m. to a staffer in Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) office and the Chicago Film Office.

    "We just got back inside my home from having to move our cars because a police squad came down the street at approximately 1:40 a.m. blasting their siren and announcing that all cars on Elk Grove must be moved or will be ticketed and towed. When we came out, the officer told us it was for filming," the resident wrote.

    Fox 32's Dane Placko also jumped on the story.

    Ah, the magic of Hollywood. Who wouldn't welcome some TV glamour to their humble neighborhood block?

    Just don't ask Regina and Joshua Burnett.

    "After last night, that was the final straw. I just want to see them go. Get out of the neighborhood. I'm done with it," Joshua says.

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    Sirens is co-produced by Denis Leary and "about Chicago EMTs who have their act together at work but are a mess in their personal lives."

    Here's an idea: A show about a TV crew who are simply a mess.

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    Comments welcome.

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    1. From Steve Rhodes:

    I live next to the house they filmed at on Wicker Park Avenue and the TV people showed up before 5 a.m. louder than the frat boys at bar time who troll the neighborhood. They were louder than the freakin' dogs in the dog park, and I don't mean setting up the equipment but just standing around holding court. I could sleep through a Metallica concert in my kitchen, and the Blue Line runs through my backyard; I'm the last person to be bothered by this sort of thing, but booming voices in the still of the early morning in a dense residential area is beyond inconsiderate. I've enjoyed movies and TV shows being shot in the building I live in and around the neighborhood, but I have to agree with Joshua Burnett: Enough.

    2. Sirens Apology Letter.

    3. From Rebecca Gleason:

    Just wondering what kind of gift certificate you received for a Wicker Park business and for how much. I will tell you that to us rubes out here in the suburbs this deal sounds great. You might just get a free taco out of the whole thing.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Tweeting Ventra

    Vent away.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:34 AM | Permalink

    Local Music Notebook: The Blind And The Bogus

    1. Chicago Rapper Gonna Play Hova.


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    2. A West Side Dedication.

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    3. Remembering Mississippi Blind Boy Jesse Brown.

    Born in Leland, Miss., to sharecropper parents, he was about 5 when his sight was damaged by debris that landed in his eye after a fall. He was blind by the time he was 13, relatives said.

    He studied music at the legendary Piney Woods School, founded in 1909 to educate African-American children in one of the poorest parts of Mississippi - in an era when teaching them could draw violence, and worse. Piney Woods was a leader in teaching the blind. Helen Keller visited the school.

    It produced a number of musical groups, including the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, an interracial jazz band that toured the nation in the 1940s.

    The young Jesse Brown joined another musical group at the school, the Cotton Blossom Singers, according to Foster and Mr. Brown's daughter, Sally Miles. When the Cotton Blossom Singers moved to Jackson, Miss., they changed their name to the Jackson Harmoneers. They received their permanent moniker during a concert in Newark, N.J. A promoter dubbed them the "Five Blind Boys of Mississippi." They didn't like that at first - no grown African-American man wanted to be referred to as a boy, [lead singer Sandy] Foster said.

    "There was a big debate about it, and the place was packed," Foster said. "The people accepted them, so, well, they kept that name."

    In the mid-1940s, Mr. Brown moved to Chicago with his wife, Mary Louise Davidson. They raised five children and lived mostly at 21st and Avers. He worked for the Chicago Lighthouse for the blind, and he sang and played guitar for different groups. He occasionally accompanied Muddy Waters and B.B. King, Miles said.

    See also: Five Blind Boys of Mississippi Wikipedia page.

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    4. Young Chop: Gangbanging Is Old.

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    5. LEP Bogus Boys Honor Slain Rapper L'A Capone.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    October 7, 2013

    The [Monday] Papers

    "[William Filan] not only lobbies city officials on behalf of clients who have interests at City Hall but also has a contract to lobby for City Hall in Springfield," Dan Mihalopoulos reports for the Sun-Times.

    Wait, did I read that right? Bill Filan is a City Hall lobbyist who also lobbies City Hall?

    That would be as outrageous as, say, passing property tax laws and then representing clients who appeal their property taxes.

    "Filan, once an aide to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), has been both a lobbyist for City Hall and a lobbyist for those trying to get something out of City Hall for years, since Richard M. Daley was mayor. The city has paid Filan nearly $1.15 million since 2002 and continues to employ him at a rate of $7,000 a month, under a deal Emanuel signed last year."

    It gets better - like it always does.

    "That became especially worthy of note recently because, even as Filan was providing "legislative consulting services" for Emanuel's administration, he also was being paid by a private consortium bidding for what would have been the biggest deal any Chicago mayor has ever awarded.

    "Filan signed a contract earlier this year to lobby for two companies that joined forces to win the right to operate Midway Airport - and reap any profits from that for decades.

    "According to a Wall Street Journal report, Filan's clients submitted a bid of roughly $2 billion and were close to winning what would have been the biggest privatization deal in the history of the city.

    "Within hours of the initial report, Emanuel aides said the sole rival to Filan's clients had pulled out of the Midway bidding and that it was better to nix the airport privatization plans altogether."

    Emanuel cast the move as heroic - safeguarding the public treasury from non-competitive bidding. At the time, I wrote that Filans' client "had an embarrassing conflict of interest that probably wouldn't have deterred Rahm if not for the Amer Ahmad affair. Rahm probably wanted that bidder all along - and maybe other finalist saw the writing on the wall - but the timing suddenly isn't politically right."

    The (typical) lack of transparency about what scuttled the competing bid and why Rahm threw in the whole towel only bolsters the view that we don't know the whole story.

    Meanwhile, Mihalopoulos reports that another Filan client is Redflex, our favorite red-light camera company.

    Filan refused to speak to Mihalopoulos - either as a City Hall lobbyist or a lobbyist for City Hall. Perhaps he thought he would have to do two interviews.

    Likewise, the mayor's office took a pass.

    "Asked about that situation, Emanuel's spokeswoman replied with a statement that didn't mention Filan, saying the mayor has an 'established record of enhancing transparency, accountability and ethics standards in city government . . . There are no exceptions.'"

    I'll just assume the missing part represented by ellipses was when she said "I sleep quite well at night so don't even think about asking."

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    Back to the other half of the Sun-Times's two-fer today:

    "As an attorney in private practice, Ald. Edward M. Burke has cost Chicago taxpayers millions of dollars," Tim Novak reports.

    "Since 2003, Burke and his small Loop law firm, Klafter & Burke, have won more than $18.1 million in property-tax refunds for Chicago property owners, records reviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times show. Burke's victories have cost City Hall more than $3.6 million in lost revenue."

    To be sure, everyone has the right to appeal their property taxes. Also to be sure, not everyone gets to be represented doing so by the man who not only helps pass the local tax laws and knows where all the loopholes are but who has a special relationship with those who decide whether to grant the appeals.

    "The 14th Ward alderman and chairman of the City Council Finance Committee has found his greatest success in the courts, where he's won $10.6 million since 2003 in refunds on 378 parcels within the city limits. That's the same court system where, for years, Burke has used his political muscle to exert authority over who's chosen to serve in the judiciary."

    But sometimes it's just easier to settle.

    "Burke often wins his tax fights by negotiating settlements with the state's attorney's office, which Alvarez has headed for five years.

    "Burke is a political supporter of Alvarez. He has hosted a campaign fund-raiser for her at his Southwest Side home. And political funds controlled by Burke or his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, have given Alvarez more than $30,000 in campaign contributions."

    And it's not as if Burke is helping the little guy:

    "Fifty-nine of his clients - which include major corporations such as AT&T, Commonwealth Edison and Walgreens - do business with City Hall or other Chicago governmental agencies, including the Chicago Board of Education, according to Burke's most recent ethics statement."

    In fact, the little guy basically has to make up the difference when Burke's clients win.

    For example:

    "Altogether since 2005, Burke has gotten [Blue Cross/Blue Shield] six refunds totaling $360,027. About half of that came out of the city public schools' coffers and about another 20 percent from City Hall."

    Burke is more conflicted than Freud's patient roster.

    "Burke also does property-tax work for six of the 14 banks where City Hall keeps hundreds of millions of dollars on deposit . . . Burke's firm has won more than $424,000 in refunds for Commonwealth Edison over the past eight years through appeals to the state and by suing to challenge the property assessments for 80 ComEd properties across the city. ComEd also has hired Burke to file tax appeals for some of its suburban properties . . . Burke, representing Michael Reese [Hospital], ended up getting its owners a tax refund of $637,069, convincing the assessor's office it had overvalued the hospital, which has since been torn down."

    The only thing missing is a connection between Burke and Filan. Maybe next week.

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    I think I just coined a term in my head: Double dipwits.

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    How The Federal Shutdown Is Affecting Chicago
    In a Beachwood Special Report.

    Bears' Meatball Soup
    Just don't blame Jay. In SportsMonday.

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock
    Including: The Suicide Machines, Seet, Chaka Khan, Steve Aoki, Gov't Mule, Girl in a Coma, London Grammar, Tree No Leaves, The Pamphleteers, Destroid, Red Elvises, Buffy Clyro, and KT Tunstall.

    Newspaper Comics Reviewed
    You wonder how much they pay these guys . . .

    McDonald's vs. The Body Of Christ
    In our Random Food Report.

    Inspired By Oprah, CAN TV
    Sometimes TV is the solution.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Double down.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    Random Food Report: McDonald's Second Only To Body Of Christ

    1. That's Why They Are "Mc" Nuggets.

    "Scientists took a close look at the chicken nugget and discovered what some may have suspected: it's not full of what we might think of as meat," CBS reports.

    "A study published online in September in the American Journal of Medicine - cleverly titled 'The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads Chicken Little' - revealed that two nuggets from fast food chains in Jackson, Miss. contained only about half of what we would consider chicken meat."

    Frankly, we don't care. Chicken McNuggets could be made from fiberglass and styrofoam and we'd still eat 'em - as long as they still tasted so spectacular with fake barbecue dipping sauce. When you eat at McDonald's, you know what you're getting into. The "Mc" is additional notice that what you're eating isn't real, like an alternate version of "ish." Even the hamburgers at McDonald's, we suspect, are merely hamburger-ish. So what. Eating "real" hamburger and chicken already puts you over a line from which there is no return - you are eating the wings, buttocks, breasts and thighs of what were once actual living creatures, for godsakes. Why should it freak anyone out that your nuggets include blood vessels and nerve cells? How could they not?

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    2. Oh, Burger King.

    "Burger King has introduced new french fries that it says have 40 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories than fries that are sold by fast-food rival McDonalds," Consumers Digest reports.

    "However, if you get a small order of Burger King's Satisfries, you actually will consume more calories, carbohydrates and sodium than you would if you ate a small order of McDonald's fries."

    Plus, whatever Burger King does, it will never make fries that taste as good as McDonald's - at least until they figure out which gross part of a chicken they are using.

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    Fun Fact: It took Burger King longer to develop its new fries than it took the United States to develop the world's first atomic bomb.

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    3. Even Bennigan's Can't Afford Chicago Anymore.

    You know, we kinda hate to say it, but that Bennigan's across from the Art institute was a classic. It just was.

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    4. Hardee's Stlll Exists, Expanding In Chicago Suburbs.

    How they do it:

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    5. Wait For It.

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    Re-opens on Wednesday.

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    Also: Other times when there's been no line at Hot Doug's.

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    6. About The Kuma's Controversy.

    Where'd they get the wafers?

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    The fact is, anyone can buy the body of Christ.

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    7. Chicago Has A Wrestling-Themed Restaurant.

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    8. Kronos Introduces Italian Beef For Restaurateurs Nationwide.

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    9. Make A Trade At The Chicago Food Swap.

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    10. Old Chicago Plans A Parking Lot Party.

    In Topeka

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    Inspired By Oprah, CAN TV

    Awesome facilities offered for free.

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    CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

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    Disclosure: CAN TV executive director Barbara Popovic is a friend and landlord of Beachwood publisher and editor Steve Rhodes.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Reviewed: Newspaper Comic Strips

    Back in the day, that was a kid's only form of entertainment . . . now it's a dying medium . . . You always wonder, how did these guys get noticed? 'Cause they suck . . . These strips are pretty weird. Like Garfield? Why did the owner feed him lasagna? . . . And Beetle Bailey? How did he get in the Army? He's retarded as hell . . . and Hagar the Horrible? He's a Viking, he's kind of a criminal, and yet we have to love this guy? And Dick Tracy, he chases weird villains with a little radio watch. You wonder how much they pay these guys to make these . . .


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    See also: lrst94's YouTube page.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    The Weekend In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. The Suicide Machines at Reggies on Friday night.


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    2. Seet at Reggies on Thursday night.

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    3. Girl in a Coma at the Double Door on Friday night.

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    4. London Grammar at Lincoln Hall on Thursday night.

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    5. Tree No Leaves at Township on Friday night.

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    6. The Pamphleteers at the Hideout on Thursday night.

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    7. Destroid at the Concord on Saturday night.

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    8. Gov't Mule at the Vic on Saturday night.

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    9. Chaka Khan in Rosemont on Saturday night.

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    10. Red Elvises at FitzGerald's on Friday night.

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    11. Buffy Clyro at the Bottom Lounge on Sunday night.

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    12. Steve Aoki at the UIC Pavilion on Friday night.

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    13. KT Tunstall at the Park West on Thursday night.

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    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    SportsMonday: Bears Outblitzed

    Just one successful blitz would have been nice. One play where a Bear linebacker, safety or even cornerback came in clean on the quarterback and delivered a blow.

    True, meatball sports fans always want more blitzes. If the pass rush isn't good enough, they reason, a team should just send more people. And it made more sense for the Bears to be judicious with blitzes on Sunday against one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

    But what is frustrating about the Bear D, and it carries over from the Lovie Smith era (not a coincidence given that new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker reportedly strove to change as few things as possible when he took over earlier this year) is that the Bears can't seem to come up with anything to at least occasionally turn up the heat with an extra rusher.

    By contrast, the Saints ran several tactically terrifying blitzes in the first half to great effect, until the Bears finally adjusted. The Saints identified a few holes in the Bears' protection scheme and exploited them.

    The Bear defense doesn't seem capable of exploiting any schematic shortcomings of good teams at this point. Throughout the game, there was never a play where a fan could celebrate the Bear brain trust putting one over on their foes and making Drew Brees feel the consequences.

    Part of the problem is simply personnel. I don't think any Bear fan feels confident that their safeties can make something special happen on a blitz. Of course it would be difficult for them to do worse than they so frequently do in coverage.

    The 38-yard pass down the left sideline to Jimmy Graham that set up the Saints' first touchdown was classic safety malpractice. When Brees released the pass, Major Wright seemed to be in great position to make a play in coverage in front of the tight end.

    Except he absolutely failed to gather himself and go up for the ball with any sort of aggressiveness and late in the play he looked like he gave up and simply turned and waited for Graham to catch the ball so he could tackle him. As for Chris Conte, for the 77th time this season he arrived just a step or two too late to impact the play. That is his specialty.

    On the plus side, linebacker Lance Briggs made his way into the backfield for one Brees sack and three tackles of Saints running backs for losses amidst his 14 total tackles on the day. But then he wrapped things up by committing one of the stupidest penalties in Bear history in the fourth quarter, jumping offside when everyone in the stadium knew the Saints weren't going to run a play, they were just going to use the hard count to . . . get someone to do exactly what Briggs did.

    "It was a boneheaded play," Briggs told reporters after the game.

    The Bears offense also lacked the sort of innovation the Saints displayed at critical times. The screen pass touchdown that made it 20-7 before the half was highly instructive. It was a play the Saints ran at the perfect time, when they knew Bear linemen would be desperate to get to the quarterback after several plays in which they had failed to slow another New Orleans march down the field.

    And there was a twist. The Saints went against tendency by throwing the screen to Pierre Thomas. One has to think that if ultra-quick back Darren Sproles had been in there, the Bears would have been more attuned to the possibility of a screen. But it was Thomas and all of the Bears took the bait, rushing aggressively to completely clear the way for a convoy of Saints blockers to escort Thomas to the end zone.

    Finally, the quarterback: Jay Cutler had a strong game against the Saints on Sunday.

    But a quick listen to post-game sports talk revealed a host of fans and even some hosts who don't share that opinion. One noted that Cutler was blindsided right before he lost a fumble that gave the Saints the ball at the Bears' six in the first quarter, leading to a field goal that put New Orleans up 6-0. Cutler was criticized for holding the ball incorrectly and therefore it was his fault.

    Let's try to be clear about something: A quarterback is not responsible for what happens when he is driven down by someone he doesn't see.

    These same folks seemed to revel in the fact that Cutler was charged with the fumble on the Bears' first play from scrimmage despite delivering a perfect pitch to Matt Forte that Forte simply missed. Because Forte never fully possessed the ball, he couldn't officlally be charged with the fumble, but that one was all on Forte.

    Other callers pointed to Cutler throwing multiple passes resulting in near-miss interceptions. First of all, that simply wasn't accurate. Second, he was 24 of 33 for 358 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and a whopping 128.1 rating on the day. And that was despite facing serious pressure virtually throughout the first half and receivers who picked several delightful times for brutal drops.

    On this day, everyone needed to try a little harder to find a goat than zeroing in on the signal-caller again.

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

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    How The Federal Shutdown Is Affecting Chicago

    * Due to furloughed conductors, CTA trains now driving themselves.

    * Due to suspension of call center contracts, 311 operators will no longer stand by.

    * Chicago Police now not responding to 911 calls from home.

    * Federally funded portion of Rahm Emanuel's f-bombs temporarily suspended.

    * State and city will no longer be able to keep up with its pension contributions.

    * With the city now unable to offer cash for gun buy-back programs, it will instead simply exchange lower-caliber weapons for higher-caliber weapons.

    * Although construction projects along 90/94 and other major thoroughfares have not been halted, orange pylons have been replaced by chairs workers are bringing from home.

    * The United States Postal Service is not taxpayer funded but has started delivering mail on time and to the correct addresses just out of spite.

    * Lincoln Park Zoo's gorillas have been furloughed; several have registered as City Hall lobbyists.

    * The surveillance chip on your Ventra card has been turned off pending re-authorization of funding. Or has it?

    * Furloughed hired truck drivers ordered to stop pretending to drive trucks.

    * Furloughed building inspectors ordered to stop pretending to inspect buildings.

    * Loopholes in school closings moratorium now blamed on feds.

    * Due to air travel reductions, Barbara Byrd-Bennett will fly home to Cleveland each weekend on a private plane instead of United.

    * To make up for lost federal revenue, city inks blue light camera deal with pay-per-view provider.

    * Air traffic controllers' training shortened to just watching this film.

    * Federal trials now held at the Des Plaines oasis.

    * Area Asian carp furloughed until further notice.

    * Unable to pay roaming charges, feds turn wiretaps off.

    * TSA strip searches at O'Hare and Midway will now just be from the waist down.

    * Cubs furlough manager.

    * Suspension of federal grant forces removal of handlebars from all Divvy bikes.

    * Bloomingdale Trail now the Macy's Trail.

    * Bears furlough Brandon Marshall.

    * Rahm Emanuel attempts to privatize federal shutdown but has lost phone numbers to members of his infrastructure trust.

    * Triple dippers now only double dipping.

    * Federal air marshals returned to jobs in Streets and San.

    * EPA suspends funny smells unit until further notice.

    * ComEd tacking on federal shutdown surcharge fee.

    * City now in compliance with leaving every child behind.

    -

    - Nick Shreders, Tim Willette, Natasha Julius, Steve Rhodes

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    October 5, 2013

    The Weekend Desk Report

    We're not ready either.

    Market Update
    The smart money is on the Millennials, but the Olds have so much more dumb money.

    Would You Rather: Special Shutdown Edition
    Of course, not much money is happening at the moment. Everyone's too busy measuring each other's deficits. In light of the current gridlock, would you rather:

    a. Marry the Affordable Care Act;
    b. Screw federal workers;
    c. Or kill the economy?

    a. Marry a bulldog;
    b. Screw a Bullock
    c. Or deal with this bullshit?

    a. Win a lawsuit
    b. Or lose your lunch?

    a. Marry Rand Paul;
    b. Get screwed by Ted Cruz;
    c. Or kill your 2016 prospects?

    a. Wed yourself to a clunker
    b. Or divorce yourself from reality?

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    The Weekend Desk Tip Line: Would you?

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    The College Football Report: All Eyes On Evanston, An Aussie, The Army & Adidas.

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    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report: Revisionization.

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    The Sound Opinions Weekend Listening Report: "Hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot get critical with five new record releases from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Elvis Costello, Franz Ferdinand, The Weeknd and HAIM."

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    The CAN TV Weekend Viewing Report: CAN TV brings you local, relevant issues from Chicago's neighborhoods and communities. See what's happening around the city in education, the arts, government, cultural events, social services and community activities.

    Heritage Matters: Healthcare Access & Cultural Identity

    9-30-HealthcareAccess.jpg

    Members of ethnic communities from across Chicago discuss how their heritage affects their everyday lives, from work and school to health and recreation.

    Sunday at 9 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Another Chicago Is Possible: An Evening With Chicago Activists

    9-30-ChicagoActivists.jpg

    Local activists explore the ethnic and public policy aspects of the issues facing Chicago, including public education, domestic violence and social justice.

    Sunday at 11 a.m. on CAN TV21.

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    Celebrating Our Heritage: The Grand Reopening of Second Federal

    9-30-GrandReopening.jpg

    Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan join this celebration of the reopening of Second Federal bank, which was nearly closed after decades of working with immigrant communities before being rescued.

    Sunday at 1 p.m. on CAN TV21.

    Posted by Natasha Julius at 7:45 AM | Permalink

    October 4, 2013

    The [Friday] Papers

    "The CTA sent a bulletin Thursday night to all rail yard employees ordering a number of precautionary steps to ensure that train cars undergoing maintenance stay in place," the Sun-Times reports.

    For example, if you see something, say something.

    And if you don't see something, say something anyway because ghosts.

    *

    Related:

    -

    The Flighty Quinn
    Quinn: No ADM Tax Breaks Until Pension Mess Fixed.

    That may seem harsh, but aides had to talk Quinn out of ordering ADM to withhold pay from their employees until the pension mess is fixed. Political contributions remain welcome, though.

    *

    -

    Foghorn Leghorn
    United Confirms It's Adding 4 Seats To Regional Jets.

    Here's how the new configuration will look.

    Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
    At this point, suspicious packages have to be the least suspicious kind out there.

    VentraCare
    Maybe we should set up an exchange.

    Stalin's Limousine Is Here . . .
    . . . and the Bulgarian Communist Party wants it back.

    How A Telecom Helped The Government Spy On Me
    "Over the past several months, the Obama Administration has defended the government's far-reaching data collection efforts, arguing that only criminals and terrorists need worry," reporter Raymond Bonner writes.

    "And the nation's leading internet and telecommunications companies have said they are committed to the sanctity of their customers' privacy.

    "I have some very personal reasons to doubt those assurances."

    Click through for his chilling story.

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    Neighborhood Schools: Rahminated

    -

    Bye Bye Bennies

    -

    All Eyes On Evanston
    In The College Football Report.

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors
    Cut-rate.

    The Week In Chicago Rock
    Including Cult of Luna, Sigur Ros, the Deftones, Flesh Panthers, PAPA, Cody Chesnutt, Avenged Sevenfold, Fight or Flight, Kings of Leon, Atlas Genius, Suzanne Vega, Brian Lopez, Langhorne Slim, Atoms for Peace, and Nick Lowe.

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    Cubs Stubs

    *

    *

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: By a thread.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    The Week In Chicago Rock

    You shoulda been there.

    1. Cult of Luna at the Bottom Lounge on Wednesday night.


    -

    2. Sigur Ros at the Auditorium on Monday night.

    -

    3. The Deftones in Rosemont on Thursday night.

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    4. Flesh Panthers at the Hideout on Thursday night.

    -

    5. PAPA at Schubas on Tuesday night.

    -

    6. Cody Chesnutt at Lincoln Hall on Sunday night.

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    7. Avenged Sevenfold in Rosemont on Thursday night.

    -

    8. Fight or Flight in Rosemont on Thursday night.

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    9. Kings of Leon at the House of Blues on Wednesday night.

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    10. Atlas Genius at House of Blues on Tuesday night.

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    11. Suzanne Vega at City Winery on Sunday night.

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    12. Brian Lopez at Park West on Thursday night.

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    13. Langhorne Slim at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night.

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    14. Atoms For Peace at the UIC Pavilion on Wednesday night.

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    15. NIck Lowe at SPACE in Evanston on Wednesday night.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    How A Telecom Helped the Government Spy On Me

    Over the past several months, the Obama Administration has defended the government's far-reaching data collection efforts, arguing that only criminals and terrorists need worry.

    And the nation's leading internet and telecommunications companies have said they are committed to the sanctity of their customers' privacy.

    I have some very personal reasons to doubt those assurances.

    In 2004, my telephone records as well as those of another New York Times reporter and two reporters from the Washington Post, were obtained by federal agents assigned to investigate a leak of classified information.

    What happened next says a lot about what happens when the government's privacy protections collide with the day-to-day realities of global surveillance.

    The story begins in 2003 when I wrote an article about the killing of two American teachers in West Papua, a remote region of Indonesia where Freeport-McMoRan operates one of the world's largest copper and gold mines.

    The Indonesian government and Freeport blamed the killings on a separatist group, the Free Papua Movement, which had been fighting a low-level guerrilla war for several decades.

    I opened my article with this sentence: "Bush Administration officials have determined that Indonesian soldiers carried out a deadly ambush that killed two American teachers."

    I also reported that two FBI agents had traveled to Indonesia to assist in the inquiry and quoted a "senior administration official" as saying there "was no question there was a military involvement.''

    The story prompted a leak investigation. The FBI sought to obtain my phone records and those of Jane Perlez, the Times bureau chief in Indonesia and my wife.

    They also went after the records of the Washington Post reporters in Indonesia who had published the first reports about the Indonesian government's involvement in the killings.

    As part of its investigation, the FBI asked for help from what is described in a subsequent government report as an "on-site communications service" provider.

    The report, by the Department of Justice's Inspector General, offers only the vaguest description of this key player, calling it "Company A.''

    "We do not identify the specific companies because the identities of the specific providers who were under contract with the FBI for specific services are classified,'' the report explained.

    Whoever they were, Company A had some impressive powers. Through some means - the report is silent on how - Company A obtained records of calls made on Indonesian cell phones and landlines by the Times and Post reporters. The records showed whom we called, when and for how long - what has now become famous as "metadata."

    Under DOJ rules, the FBI investigators were required to ask the Attorney General to approve a grand jury subpoena before requesting records of reporters' calls. But that's not what happened. Instead, the bureau sent Company A what is known as an "exigent letter'' asking for the metadata.

    A heavily redacted version of the DOJ report, released in 2010, noted that exigent letters are supposed to be used in extreme circumstances where there is no time to ask a judge to issue a subpoena. The report found nothing "exigent'' in an investigation of several three-year-old newspaper stories.

    The need for an exigent letter suggests two things about Company A. First, that it was an American firm subject to American laws. Second, that it had come to possess my records through lawful means and needed legal justification to turn them over to the government.

    The report disclosed that the agents' use of the exigent letter was choreographed by the company and the bureau. It said the FBI agent drafting the letter received "guidance" from "a Company A analyst.'' According to the report, lawyers for Company A and the bureau worked together to develop the approach.

    Not surprisingly, "Company A" quickly responded to the letter it helped write. In fact, it was particularly generous, supplying the FBI with records covering a 22-month period, even though the bureau's investigation was limited to a seven-month period.Altogether, "Company A" gave the FBI metadata on 1,627 calls by me and the other reporters. Only three calls were within the seven-month window of phone conversations investigators had decided to review.

    It doesn't end there. The DOJ report asserts that "the FBI made no investigative use of the reporters' telephone records." But I don't believe that is accurate.

    In 2007, I heard rumblings that the leak investigation was focusing on a diplomat named Steve Mull, who was the deputy chief of mission in Indonesia at the time of the killings. I had known Mull when he was a political officer in Poland and I was posted there in the early 1990s. He is a person of great integrity and a dedicated public servant.

    The DOJ asked to interview me. Of course, I would not agree to help law enforcement officials identify my anonymous sources. But I was troubled because I felt an honorable public servant had been forced to spend money on lawyers to fend off a charge that was untrue. After considerable internal debate, I decided to talk to the DOJ for the limited purpose of clearing Mull.

    It was not a decision I could make unilaterally. The Times also had a stake in this. If I allowed myself to be interviewed, how could the Times say no the next time the government wanted to question a Times reporter about a leak?

    The Times lawyer handling this was George Freeman, a journalist's lawyer, a man Times reporters liked having in their corner. George and the DOJ lawyers began to negotiate over my interview. Eventually, we agreed that I would speak on two conditions: one, that they could not ask me for the name of my source; and two, if they asked me if it was 'X,' and I said no, they could not then start going through other names.

    Freeman and I sat across a table from two DOJ lawyers. I'm a lawyer, and prided myself on being able to answer their questions with ease, never having to turn to Freeman for advice.

    Until that is, one of the lawyers took a sheaf of papers that were just off to his right, and began asking me about phone calls I made to Mull. One call was for 19 minutes, the DOJ lawyer said, giving me the date and time. I asked for a break to consult with Freeman.

    We came back and answered questions about the phone calls. I said that I couldn't remember what these calls were about - it had been more than four years earlier - but that Mull had not given me any information about the killings. Per our agreement, the DOJ lawyers did not ask further questions about my sources, and the interview ended.

    I didn't know how the DOJ had gotten my phone records, but assumed the Indonesian government had provided them. Then, about a year later, I received a letter from the FBI's general counsel, Valerie Caproni who wrote that my phone records had been taken from "certain databases" under the authority of an "exigent letter,'' (a term I had never heard).

    Caproni sent similar letters to Perlez, to the Washington Post reporters, and to the executive editors of the Post and the Times, Leonard Downie and Bill Keller, respectively. In addition, FBI Director Robert Mueller called Downie and Keller, according to the report.

    Caproni wrote that the records had not been seen by anyone other than the agent requesting them and that they had been expunged from all databases.

    I'm uneasy because the DOJ report makes clear that the FBI is still concealing some aspect of this incident. After describing Caproni's letters, the report says: "However, the FBI did not disclose to the reporters or their editors that [BLACKED OUT)." The thick black lines obliterate what appear to be several sentences.

    If you were to ask senior intelligence officials whether I should wonder about those deletions, they'd probably say no. I'm not so sure.

    The government learned extensive details about my personal and professional life. Most of those calls were about other stories I was writing. Some were undoubtedly to arrange my golf game with the Australian ambassador. Is he now under suspicion?

    The report says the data has been destroyed and that only two analysts ever looked at it. But who is this 'Company A" that willing cooperated with the government? Why was it working hand-in-glove with the FBI? And what did the FBI director not tell the editors of the Times and the Washington Post when he called them acknowledging the government had improperly obtained reporters' records?

    Raymond Bonner, a lawyer and former New York Times reporter, is the author of Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong.

    -

    See also: Ex-FBI Lawyer Linked To Surveillance Abuses Poised For Federal Judge Post.

    -

    Previously:
    * UN Member States Asked To End Unchecked Surveillance.

    * Government Standards Agency: Don't Follow Our Encryption Guidelines Because NSA.

    * Five More Organizations Join Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * A Scandal Of Historic Proportions.

    * Item: NSA Briefing.

    * The Case Of The Missing NSA Blog Post.

    * The NSA Is Out Of Control.

    * Patriot Act Author Joins Lawsuit Against NSA.

    * Obama's Promises Disappear From Web.

    * Why NSA Snooping Is A Bigger Deal In Germany.

    * Item: Today's NSA Briefing.

    * NSA Briefing: It Just Got Worse (Again).

    * Song of the Moment: Party at the NSA.

    * It Not Only Can Happen Here, It Is Happening Here.

    * What NSA Transparency Looks Like.

    * America's Lying About Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Obama Continues To Lie His Ass Off About The NSA.

    * The Surveillance Reforms Obama Supported Before He Was President.

    * America's Spying: Worse Than You Think.

    * Has The U.S. Government Lied About Its Snooping? Let's Go To The Videotape.

    * Who Are We At War With? That's Classified.

    * Six Ways Congress May Reform NSA Snooping.

    * NSA Says It Can't Search Its Own E-Mails.

    * Does The NSA Tap That?

    * Obama Explains The Difference Between His Spying And Bush's Spying.

    * FAQ: What You Need To Know About The NSA's Surveillance Programs.

    * NSA: Responding To This FOIA Would Help "Our Adversaries".

    * Fact-Check: The NSA And 9/11.

    * The NSA's Black Hole: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About The Agency's Snooping.

    * Defenders Of NSA Surveillance Citing Chicago Case Omit Most Of Mumbai Plotter's Story.

    * Obama's War On Truth And Transparency.

    * ProPublica's Guide To The Best Stories On The Growing Surveillance State.

    -

    See also:
    * Jimmy Carter: America's Shameful Human Rights Record.

    * James Goodale: Only Nixon Harmed A Free Press More.

    * Daniel Ellsberg: Obama Has Committed Impeachable Offenses.

    -

    Comments welcome.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:06 AM | Permalink

    The College Football Report: All Eyes On Evanston, An Aussie, The Army & Adidas

    The entire Midwest is awash in commentary on OSU-Northwestern, so we can't hope to add much to the conversation. But we will point out this quote, from Buckeye special teams coach Kerry Combs, on the unique demands of punting for Ohio State: "[T]here's a lot more that goes into being the punter, particularly here, than just talent, just being able to catch a ball and kick it."

    If you watch on Saturday, and we hope you watch from home because ticket prices are ridiculous are ridiculous, keep an eye on the OSU punter, Aussie Cameron Johnston, and try to divine if he has whatever more goes into being a punter than catching and kicking. Our guess: the ability to not only catch the ball and kick the ball, but to run half-heartedly afterward. That is the mark of a true punter, one worthy of the scarlet and gray.

    Our pick: Ohio State 37, Northwestern 24

    College Football vs. Congress
    Congress found a way for the Army Black Knights and Air Force Falcons to play football this weekend despite the government shutdown. So take heart, football fans, the U.S. Government hasn't forgotten you. Also active on Saturday: the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

    Yes, the Coast Guard has a football team. The Division III Bears - because bears are known to like big boats - will face off against the Western New England Golden Bears on Cadet Memorial Field on Saturday. We hope the Bears protect the end zone as well as they guard our borders.

    Mississippi vs. Human Decency
    Ole Miss players reportedly called out hateful comments from the audience during a recent school performance of The Laramie Project, a play about the 1998 murder of a gay teenager in Wyoming. For a program that waited until 2010 to retire former mascot "Colonel Reb", this latest incident reminds us that the Rebels (still the name; only the mascot has changed) still hate America.

    Commodores Coach vs. Media Speculation
    Vanderbilt finished the 2012 season at 9-4 and ranked in the Top 25. Prior to last year, no living fan had seen such a W-L record (Vandy last won nine games in 1915) and the team hadn't ended a season in the AP rankings since the Truman administration. Head coach James Franklin, now in his third year, deserves most of the credit. Always a subject of speculation, questions about Franklin's future have intensified following USC's dismissal of Lane Kiffin. Besieged by reporters asking about his interest in USC, Franklin unsuccessfully tried to steer his weekly press conference toward this weekend, at one point responding: "I'm really excited about playing Missouri. They have great colors."

    Should the Commodores win, the hysteria will reach a new level leading up to Georgia on October 19. In a pinch, we suggest he start complimenting mascots: "I'm pumped to play Georgia. I've always liked bulldogs."

    Lane Kiffin vs. The Field
    Our four-coach trifecta box on Lane's replacement would look like this: Jack Del Rio (the favorite at 3/1), with Greg Roman (6/1), Steve Sarkisian (8/1), and the longshot, interim head coach Ed Orgeron (20/1).

    Uniforms vs. Good Taste
    * The new Arizona State helmets are en fuego - or did someone just leave them in the microwave with the nachos for too long?

    * Adidas announced a new alternate home uniform for Tennessee, who will don the new TECHFIT "Smokey Gray" against Georgia this weekend. Adidas attempted to appease traditionalists by leaving the helmet untouched, but we still think the result looks more like a sad cross between a Lego fail and a Transformer.

    Shell Game: New Mexico vs. New Mexico State
    The New Mexico State-New Mexico rivalry predates New Mexico itself: the two teams first met in 1894, a full 18 years prior to New Mexico achieving statehood. Thus the game earned the "Rio Grande Rivalry" moniker, and not, say, the "Battle of the New Mexico Territory" or more poetic options, such as playing for "The Land of Enchantment Dreamcatcher." The first fails on two counts: people may have shown up expecting Apaches and Comanches, not Aggies and Lobos, and second, it doesn't have the same zip. Nor would The Land of Enchantment Dreamcatcher trophy make much sense, as The Land of Enchantment didn't yet exist. (Well, not as a state slogan. Undoubtedly the land was just as enchanted in the 1890s as today, despite the lack of Indian casinos.)

    Oddly, the winner doesn't take home a trophy like in most such college match-ups. The two teams vied for control of The Maloof Trophy from 1993-2001, at which point the Maloof was retired. When NMSU hosted UNM in 2002, hoping to regain the Maloof after being crushed 53-0 in 2001, the Aggies were informed New Mexico had "retired" the trophy. The current whereabouts of the Maloof are unknown, though some suspect a high-stakes poker game was involved in its disappearance.

    Lightning Special: Michigan State vs. Iowa
    This game will boil down to fundamentals: advancing the runner, sacrifice flies, turning the double play, and lag bunts. Wait, that's baseball. You can excuse our confusion: the final score will look like the run tally from the MLB playoffs. Featuring some of the worst passing offenses in the country - MSU ranks 109th and Iowa 88th - and a forecast that calls for thunderstorms and high winds, and this one may end in single digits.

    Our pick: Under 38

    Bonus pick: "Lightning" the Under.

    Lightning bets stake an extra 10% on the outcome, with bettors garnering or losing 10% of the principal for every point that covers (or fails to cover) the spread. Thus, a $100 "lightning" wager on the MSU-Iowa under nets an extra 50% if the final score amounts to 32, covering the under by 5 points. But no legal sportsbook in the U.S. offers the option, so if you find yourself on the wrong end of a disastrous lightning bet, don't e-mail us.

    Jug Thugs: Minnesota vs. Michigan
    The most contested trophy in sports is a drab piece of earthenware pottery. Minnesota and Michigan have battled over the Little Brown Jug since it was first claimed by the Gophers as a memento in 1903 after Minnesota ended Michigan's 28-game winning streak in a 6-6 tie. (A characteristic score for thrilling football games prior to the forward pass.)

    In 1909, Minnesota athletic director Louis "Doc" Cooke supposedly wrote Michigan coach Fielding Yost, proposing the teams play for the rights to hold the Jug. Thus the Jug, which had been hanging undisturbed in Cooke's office for six years, went from knickknack to college football legend.

    Today, the Little Brown Jugs sports a fancy new paint job displaying the team logos and colors along with the final scores. Michigan has dominated the series, with an overall record of 72-24-3 including a 16-game winning streak from 1987-2004, followed by another stretch from 2006 to present. Despite the lopsided record, the history of the game matters, and not just to traditionalists. Michigan coach Brady Hoke, on the historical trophies in the Big Ten: "You don't want them to come over to your sideline and take it back. I think that's very important."

    Beginning next year, the Big Ten will split into East and West divisions (so much better than the current Legends and Leaders) as the conference incorporates Rutgers and Maryland. It's unclear at this point how often the two teams will face each other, as the conference only protected the Indiana-Purdue (!) rivalry game, which, as a cross-divisional game, would otherwise not take place each season. If the Gophers are to begin tilting the W-L total in the other direction, they had better get started soon . . . but we don't see it happening this weekend.

    Our pick: Michigan 28, Minnesota 13

    The Sacred Chicken Squawks
    The College Football Report Free Range Sacred Chicken opened the season at 1-1 after the Stanford "No One Knows We Are A Top 5 Team" Cardinal romped Washington State and Clint Trickett led West Virginia to a home upset of Oklahoma State. Just goes to show, never bet against a Clint. The Mounties celebrated the win in true West Virginia style, setting 10 fires and flipping over a car in the school parking lot. No couches were harmed.

    • #7 Louisville (-32) vs. Temple
      Temple couldn't handle Idaho last week. The Cardinals may cover the spread and the Over (+/- 52) without any help from the Owls.
    • #15 Washington vs. #5 Stanford (-7.5)
      We ask again, does anyone know Stanford is ranked? Like, pretty high? If the Cardinal wins this weekend, we may not know how good the team truly is until November, when the Oregon Ducks visit Stanford Stadium. (File under, jinx, "Exhibit A".)

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    Mike Luce is our man on campus. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:21 AM | Permalink

    Beachwood Photo Booth: Rothschild Liquors

    Cut-rate.

    rothschildliquors112.jpg(ENLARGE FOR PROPER VIEWING)

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    Available for purchase!

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    TITLE: "Cut-Rate Liquors"

    MEDIUM: photography, digital print

    SIZE: 11x14 inches, borderless

    PAPER: acid-free, Fuji archival paper

    FINISH: glossy

    All prints will be signed by the artist, Helene Smith.
    (Copyright, 2013)

    Unmatted, unframed.

    This print is available in a variety of sizes (including photo card) by request.

    Your print will be shipped in a protective, sturdy mailer.

    All items are shipped via First Class USPS, within the United States, though I ship internationally, as well. Please see the Shipping Section on my Policy Page for more details.

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    More Chicago photography from Helene Smith.

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    Helene on Twitter!

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    Meet Helene!

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    Stationery, iPhone cases, hoodies.

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    Previously:
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Man Grilling
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Yum Yum Donuts
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Father's Day
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Vintage Airmaster
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Time
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Window Shade
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Illinois Slayer
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Fire Escape
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Golden Nugget
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Hollywood, Chicago
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Flag Man.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Van In Flames.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Fluid Power Automation.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Corn Dog.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Stop The Killing Car.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Backyard.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: A to Z Things.
    * Beachwood Photo Booth: Swedish Diner.

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    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    October 3, 2013

    The [Thursday] Papers

    Sometimes it's just hard to have something useful to say. Is ADM wrong to extort taxpayers for money even as they pay no income taxes themselves? Of course. We have to get government out of the business of subsidizing business - and back into the business of, oh, say, feeding starving children.

    Is CPS blatantly showing once again that they can't be trusted to even tell the time of day honestly? Yes. But how to make it stop?

    Is Rahm once again guilty of press release governance that plays the media for patsies? Yes. Some of us have been pointing out that method of operation since his campaign.

    And when I see a headline like this, I just think to myself, "He's incapable of any other kind of motive!"

    But Rahm Emanuel could have an approval rating below 0 and still get re-elected if he has no challenger. Look at Pat Quinn, an eminently weak-ass governor. He already has his party's nomination - not because he's the best Democrat in the state for the job, and certainly not because Democrats like him. They don't. His own party loathes him. But the system reflexively protects the status quo. All the arrangements have been made and dislodging Quinn would only upset those arrangements and necessitate a reordering of power's organizational chart.

    Rahm, too, has never been much liked within his own party. But the money he's been capable of raising - mostly by acting like a Republican - has been very much liked. And so it goes.

    The other side of the ledger isn't any more inspiring. For all the change the citizenry seems to want - and politicians pretend to offer - we have the same-ol' same-ol'. Kirk Dillard is from the Thompson-Edgar tree. Dan Rutherford is a longtime legislator (his time as state treasurer is negligible) whose chief accomplishment over 18 years in the General Assembly seems to be sponsoring a bill that changed the way reimbursement fees are determined for elderly nursing home residents. Bill Brady believes the Bible should be taught in public schools. Which testament, Bill? And Bruce Rauner is Bruce Rauner.

    Illinois is like the Cubs. You can change managers all you want, but you still end up with a bunch of losers.

    Coming Attraction
    Has this show arrived in Chicago yet?

    Making Room For Bill?
    JP Morgan To Cut 145 Mortgage Employees.

    Manned Trains Next
    CTA Plans To Bring 4G Service To Subways.

    Derrick Rose Is A Heel
    "I never forget where I came from," Bulls star and Englewood native says upon release of $140 Chicago Southsides, "and the path I took to get here."

    The Blue & Orange Kool-Aid Report
    More tarkling, less tentacles.

    Operation Bookdrop & Pinsky's PoemJazz
    In Local Book Notes.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: Path to a port.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 9:04 AM | Permalink

    Local Book Notes: Operation Bookdrop, Pinsky's PoemJazz & Taking The Prairie School To Europe

    1. Operation: Book Drop.

    "The Chicago Teachers Union on Thursday, Oct. 3 will deliver more than 5,000 books to Chicago public schools as part of the American Federation of Teachers' First Book National Book Bank," the union says in a press release.

    "Operation: Book Drop is a reading recovery and restoration initiative by the Union to keep the appreciation of literature at the forefront of education in schools that have suffered from severe budget cuts by the mayor's office and Chicago Public Schools.

    "CPS considers a school without a library if that school doesn't have a teacher designated as a librarian. This year's layoffs and budget cuts decimated librarian staff in a district that already lacked libraries in 160 schools. Nearly 190 elementary schools in CPS - more than 40 percent - do not currently have a teacher designated in a librarian position, according to CTU analysis of the district's Sept. 5 position file.

    "This total has been increasing since 2011, when 135 elementary schools - just below 30 percent - lacked librarians. Fifty high schools do not have a teacher designated in a librarian position, which is 56 percent of all district-run high schools. This is double the total from 2011.

    "At Nancy B. Jefferson Elementary School on the West Side, the school has been unable to buy books or fulfill department orders for two years and will experience even more drastic supply and position cuts this school year.

    "Teachers chose books for their students and placed the orders themselves to try and mitigate the effects these budget cuts had on their classrooms," said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. "Even the so-called 'welcoming schools,' which were supposed to have better resources, don't."

    "CTU staff and members will deliver books Thursday to the the South Shore Fine Arts Elementary School; Hyde Park Academy; South Shore International College Prep, and; Whittier Elementary.

    "Whittier Elementary in Pilsen was promised a library by the district in 2010, but has been under-resourced and undervalued in the years since, culminating in the demolition of the La Casita field house in August by the mayor's office. Books that were once used by Whittier students are now stored in a canister on the demolition site."

    See also: Mayor Rahm's Grand Experiment: Libraries Without Librarians.

    2. The Architecture of Barry Byrne: Taking the Prairie School to Europe.

    "One of the first significant apprentices of Frank Lloyd Wright, Barry Byrne (1883-1967) was a radical architect who sought basic principles as fervently as his mentor Wright and his inspiration Louis Sullivan.

    "From these roots he developed a design philosophy that began with the function of the building. He followed Wright's principles but forged an individual style more reminiscent of Sullivan and Irving Gill, with taut planar skins enveloping modern space plans.

    "In 1922 he designed the first modern Catholic church building, St. Thomas the Apostle in Chicago, and in 1924 he traveled to Europe where he met Mies, Mendelsohn, Oud, and other modernist architects. He was the only Prairie School architect to build in Europe, designing the concrete Church of Christ the King, built in 1928-31 in Cork, Ireland.

    "In this book, architectural historian Vincent L. Michael charts the entire length of Byrne's work, highlighting its distinctive features while discussing the cultural conditions that kept Byrne in the shadows of his more famous contemporaries. Byrne lacked the architectural ego of his mentor Wright and believed true architecture was intrinsically humble, concentrating for much of his career on Catholic churches and schools throughout North America, many of them now considered landmarks.

    "A dedicated modernist who rejected historical mannerisms and celebrated contemporary materials and processes, he was also a devoted Catholic, progressively participating in the liturgical reform movement from the 1920s until his death. In his practice his modernism and Catholicism came together, revolutionizing the ground plans of Catholic churches in anticipation of the reforms of Vatican II forty years later.

    "Creative, vibrant, and relentlessly intellectual, Barry Byrne was, like all great artists, a collection of contradictions. Illustrated by more than one hundred photographs and drawings, this biography explores the interplay of influences and impulses - individualism and communalism, modernism and tradition, pragmatism and faith - enduring throughout Byrne's life and work."

    See also Blair Kamin's review: Frank Lloyd Wright Apprentice Cast His Influence Over Chicago Suburbs.

    Note: Vince Michael is a brother of Tom Michael, a friend of the Beachwood's and the impresario behind Marfa Public Radio.

    3. PoemJazz With Robert Pinsky And Laurence Hobgood.

    "The 59th annual Poetry Day is a presentation of PoemJazz, Robert Pinsky's innovative dialogue between poetry and music. PoemJazz intertwines language and instrument, emphasizing the physical and melodic qualities of voice, as well as the way jazz improvisation can sometimes seem to speak. The result is an organic new whole of sound and sense. A book and CD signing follows.

    "Robert Pinsky served an unprecedented three terms as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000. During his tenure he established the Favorite Poem Project, a program that movingly explored poetry's place in American lives. Among his books are eight award-winning collections of verse, translations of Dante and Milosz, critical works and anthologies. In 2010, Poetry published his libretto to Tod Machover's groundbreaking opera, Death and the Powers.

    "Pianist and composer Laurence Hobgood lived in Chicago from 1988 to 2006 working with numerous musicians, most notably vocalist Kurt Elling, with whom he collaborated on six Grammy-nominated recordings for the Blue Note label. The two still perform together at the Green Mill in Chicago."

    Performance scheduled for Thursday, October 10, 6 p.m. at the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center. Free admission.

    *

    Here's Pinsky performing PoemJazz in his hometown of Monmouth, New Jersey, last March. Musicians: Bassist Ben Allison and guitarist Steve Cardenas.

    -

    4. Sneed And McOmber.

    "Chicago novelists Christine Sneed and Adam McOmber will discuss their fiction in a Society of Midland Authors program Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S. Michigan Ave., 22nd floor. Sneed and McOmber will speak at 7 p.m. A social hour, with complimentary snacks and a cash bar, begins at 6 p.m. Admission is free, and no reservations are required. The public is invited.

    "Chicago magazine recently named Sneed's novel Little Known Facts (Bloomsbury USA) the Best New Book by a Local Author. Sneed is also the author of the short story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry (Bloomsbury USA).

    "McComber's novel The White Forest (Touchstone), published last year, came out in paperback this summer. He is also the author of the short story collection This New and Poisonous Air (BOA Editions). He teaches at Columbia College and is an editor for the literary journal Hotel Amerika."

    5. Don't Kiss Me.

    "Lindsay Hunter, author of the acclaimed new short story collection Don't Kiss Me, will read from her work as part of this fall's Roosevelt University Reading Series at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7 in Roosevelt's Gage Gallery, 18 S. Michigan Ave.

    "Hunter, a long-time Chicago resident originally from Florida, writes fast-paced, voice-driven stories, usually from the perspective of characters on the margins of society.

    "In a review of Don't Kiss Me, the Boston Globe says 'although she trades in the unsavory, Hunter's style is both ingenious and mature' and concludes that 'Hunter is such a talented writer that she makes the unimaginably unpleasant seem natural, and terrifyingly so.'

    "Prior to her most recent book, Hunter published a collection of stories called Daddy's with local press Featherproof Books. She is the co-founder and co-host of the renowned flash-fiction reading series Quickies!.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 8:06 AM | Permalink

    Revisionization

    Sure it's a loss, but if you take away the fumble return, and Matthew Stafford loses the ball on the goal line, Jay Cutler remembers that he is to distribute the ball to members of his own team, a modicum of clock management is practiced in the last eight minutes, Henry Melton miraculously recovers from a torn ACL in four days and Reggie Bush rushes for only 80 yards in the first half . . .

    . . . the Bears still lose 33-30.

    If you watched the previous three games, you know that the core of the Bears defensive strategy is ball punching. Not so much with the wrestling their opponents to the ground.

    I thought I heard Mel Tucker call it "tarkling" on one of those "Miked Up!" vignettes.

    Yeah I know it's actually spelled "Miced" but it looks like a past participle related to "mice" and yeah it's difficult to tell if I typed "Miked Up" or "Milked Up" with the font I'm using and yeah that reminds me that I've got to see what's going on at DrTuber because it's "Tentacle Tuesday"* and yeah I gotta stop free associating with a loaded hose.

    Anyway, you know, the "Miked Up" cutaways that are actually Bose commercials that usually feature guys providing insightful comments on the game of football like "LET'S GO BABY!!!", "GRRRRAAAAAHHHH!!!" and "OWWWWWCH, MY ACL!!!"

    I bet some of you are saying that if ONLY one Brian Urlacher were still playing we could expect an outcome in which the Bears only gave up 28 points and for some reason Jim Schwartz** opted to run only toss plays, thus allowing the legendary linebacker to use his vaunted "sideline to sideline" lateral speed to stop the Detroit run game cold.

    And if they'd allowed Urlacher to play at the same time as 11 other defenders in some kind of 4-4 Nickel package, you'd be right.

    I mean, if the crowd is the 12th man, that makes the sideline the 13th defender, and of course you're never really alone when you have Jesus, so why not let the Bears push it up to 15 guys on the field with a zombie linebacker?

    Adjusting Yourself In Public
    So now what?

    The Bears had some weaknesses exposed last week (i.e. "tarkling") and now we have to wonder what they plan to do about it.

    I don't think an overcorrection is necessary. You can make a compelling argument that the Bears are clearly the third best team in the NFC right now (note to self: stop writing these things before Week 9), though the same argument leads you to the conclusion that the NFC is playing so poorly overall that it is collectively being evaluated for concussion-like symptoms.

    That in mind, I assert that only a subtle adjustment on special teams is what the doctor ordered. Follow me down the rabbit hole on this one.

    Marc Trestman is the only human I've seen whose hat hair seems to pull his entire face seven inches toward his anus.

    See? With hat, normal looking dude.

    But sans hat . . . dun dun DUN!

    I say the Bears should leverage this metamorphosis during kick returns. Clearly the blocking scheme has lost a step since Dave Toub moved on to Kansas City***.

    Now it's time to use the element of surprise.

    Blam!

    Eyebrow attack!

    Hester sprung loose for 57-yard gain.

    If that doesn't work, just run that Alshon Jeffery end-around four more times a game.

    Kool-Aid (4 Out Of 5 Hurricanes)
    Like last week, this game figures to be a battle of two excellent offenses, but unlike last week this contest will also include a battle of slightly overrated defenses.

    Rob Ryan brings his seven inches of hair and love of ham to the lakefront, while the Bears counter with a patented love of allowing too many points in the second and third quarters.

    Chances are Cutler bounces back and executes throws to his teammates, and I think Peanut shuts down Jimmy Graham, but it's safe to say that Darren Sproles racks up some impressive receiving yards.

    I don't care if Vegas calls it a pick-em; Bears take it by three points because they're at home.

    Bears 34
    Saints 31

    -

    * Even I'm not doing a link for that one. Seriously internet porn, tentacles? And I thought "Czech" was oddly specific.

    ** Jim Schwartz already had a serious case of the "jerk faces" going on before he was cast in the NBC remake of the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Star Trek. That's only half a joke. NBC remade Knight Rider. I bet a mini-series based solely on "The Trouble With Tribbles" airs more episodes than the Ironside reboot.

    *** Who knew that a pallet of KC Masterpiece could be an effective signing bonus.

    -

    Carl Mohrbacher is our man on the Kool-Aid. He welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:15 AM | Permalink

    October 2, 2013

    The [Wednesday] Papers

    "Suburban Chicago businessman Ty Warner, who became a billionaire after creating Beanie Babies collectibles, entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning for tax evasion, apologizing in a choked-up voice and telling a U.S. judge that he knew his tax forms weren't accurate," the Tribune reports.

    "His lawyer said he'll pay more than $50 million in civil penalties for not disclosing a foreign bank account. And Warner faces up to five years in prison. His sentencing is set for January.

    "Prosecutors say he failed to report $24.4 million in income from 1999 to 2007 and failed to pay taxes of about $5 million.

    "Warner acknowledged that he told no one of his Swiss bank accounts, not even his accountants."

    *

    "My first Beanie Baby was Snort the Bull," Danielle Paquette writes for the Tampa Bay Times.

    "He perched on my Chicago grandparents' television in 1997, a wee homage to Michael Jordan's then-untouchable basketball team.

    "He was, to 8-year-old me, a symbol of hometown and family and comfort. He was there when we gathered to watch NBA championships and Space Jam. He was there to greet me when, years later, I visited from Indianapolis. He was a memory I could cuddle.

    "Was he also a collector's item I could cash in?"

    Um, no.

    Oh Carothers
    "Less than two years after getting out of federal prison where he served time for a public corruption conviction, former West Side alderman Isaac 'Ike' Carothers is attempting a political comeback," the Tribune reports.

    "While state law bars Carothers from trying to win back a seat on the Chicago City Council, he's free to run for the Cook County Board.

    "In recent weeks, he has asked at least three current elected officials to back him for the County Board seat now held by Earlean Collins, who represents the Far West Side and nearby suburbs, including Oak Park. Carothers also announced his candidacy at a recent 37th Ward Democratic organization meeting."

    Irony: "He also works for a foundation that helps ex-offenders find jobs."

    Looney Tune
    "The call of the common loon is one of the most beautifully haunting sounds in North America," Bruce Barcott writes for Audubon.

    "The bird's iconic wail is used by mated pairs to keep track of one another in their breeding grounds along the shores of pristine northern lakes.

    "This week the loon's call brought forth an unexpected answer from the deep pockets of a controversial American billionaire.

    "On Wednesday, the Ricketts Conservation Foundation awarded a $6.5 million grant to the Maine-based Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) for research projects aimed at saving the loon."

    That's $750,000 more than Ricketts pays Starlin Castro, though just half of what he pays Edwin Jackson.

    Chicago Export
    "City council members want more questions answered about a contract with a Chicago-based consultant to review the progress of the city's delayed 'smart meter' project before committing up to $99,000 for the contract," the Peninsula Daily Times of Washington state reports.

    "City council members Tuesday night voted 4-2, with council members Sissi Bruch and Dan Di Guilio the two opposed, to send the staff request for the contract with Chicago-based West Monroe Partners to the city's Utility Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the City Council, for additional discussion."

    Out-of-town city councils scrutinize Chicago contracts more than ours does.

    Grahamwich
    "Remember back in September 2012, when Graham Elliot's two-Michelin-starred, eponymous Chicago restaurant experienced a walkout, leaving just Graham and corporate executive chef Merlin Verrier to run the kitchen till he hired replacements? Merlin's hour has come at last," the Braiser reports.

    "In a somewhat odd move for the Chicago-based Graham, known for being a rock-nerd, and judging MasterChef, he's opening his next venture in Rich WASP-ville, CT, also known as Greenwich, and placing Merlin at the helm as executive chef."

    *

    Elliot: "I'm working on opening a restaurant on the East Coast and exploring opportunities in Vegas. I also just finished a pilot called Covert Kitchens that will air this fall on Spike TV."

    *

    FYI: MasterChef casting call in Chicago.

    -

    Medill's Internship Program Is A Royal Scam
    I've been saying it for, oh, almost 30 years - though for a reason ProPublica ignores.

    Dale Deserved It
    In The Cub Factor.

    Local Music Notebook
    Including Molly Hatchet, Spotify, The Double Door, Lydia Loveless, Mahalia Jackson, Ha Ha Tonka, Chief Keef, Robbie Fulks & more!

    -

    The Beachwood Tip Line: Streaming guitars.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    Dale Deserved It

    In May 2012, just Dale Sveum's second month as Cubs manager, I started preparing a post called "Dale Sveum Is Making Me Dizzy." I never got it finished and posted, but the gist was that Sveum had already developed a curious habit of saying one thing one day and then reversing himself the next. My examples up to then included whether Steve Clevenger would platoon with Geovany Soto; where Starlin Castro would bat in the lineup; where Alfonso Soriano would bat in the lineup; who would bat leadoff; whether Chris Volstad had earned a place in the starting rotation; if Casey Coleman would be in the bullpen; if Kerry Wood had an issue with his back (he did); and more.

    One of my citations was going to be this one, from the Sun-Times's Gordon Wittenmyer:

    Cubs manager Dale Sveum apparently set his starting rotation for the season Saturday during a series of media interviews, though he said he won't actually do that until Wednesday.

    Huh?

    Exactly.

    In a sequence of confusing, at times conflicting, media interviews Saturday morning, Sveum reiterated that two rotation spots remained open. Then he told SiriusXM radio's Jim Bowden that Chris Volstad has pitched well enough to fill one spot. Then he told beat writers he didn't say that, after which Bowden provided the audio that refuted the denial.

    Players - and management - notice that sort of thing, even if reporters never developed the theme further. And it was a theme that should have been developed because it kept happening. It was a pattern that continued through the 2013 season.

    For example, Mark Gonzales reported this for the Tribune on September 2:

    The Cubs' September evaluations likely won't include Scott Baker as a starting pitcher.

    Manager Dale Sveum said Monday that Baker, who has been relegated to a lengthy minor league rehabilitation assignment, would be employed as a reliever if he's among the four or five players added to the 25-man roster.

    "If we do activate him up here, it would be to be the long guy," Sveum said of Baker, who pitched 52/3 innings of two-run ball Monday for Class A Kane County in a 5-4 win over Peoria. "There are no plans of doing any starting . . . "

    Five days later, Sveum announced Baker would get a start, saying "He has done everything we have asked and he has worked his butt off. He has not had any setbacks and he deserves a chance to start."

    Granted, organizations change their mind. But Sveum never really seemed in charge of this team - or on the same page as his bosses.

    Reported Toni Ginnetti:

    It seemed inevitable that Scott Baker would get at least one start with the Cubs before September ended, even when manager Dale Sveum was saying there were no plans for it.

    For the veteran to spend all season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery without a chance to show what he might have - and what the Cubs got for their one-year investment - wouldn't have benefited the organization or Baker.

    There were also times this season when I thought, Hey, Dale is trying to win this game! He must not have gotten the memo!

    Because the plan wasn't to win games at the expense of developing players. For example, in one game late in the season Dale pinch-hit for Junior Lake late in a game. Why? Your job was to get Lake as many at-bats as possible this season, in every kind of situation against every kind of pitcher. It wasn't to play the percentages.

    But then, even going into his inaugural season he didn't seem to get it:

    Sveum said his message to the team was that the 'rebuilding' notion being spread by the media all winter is nonsense. He said he mentioned every starting position player, most of the starting pitchers and a few of the veteran relievers, and listed some of their accomplishments.

    "I just let 'em know that's a team that can compete and do really well," he said. "We're not here to rebuild. We're here to try and win the World Series this year."

    Maybe just start with hitting the cutoff man. (Or demanding that pitchers follow the game plan: "When we've stuck to game plans, we've done well," Sveum said. "When we've shied away from them, we've given up big innings and big hits in games. But it's gotten better. Some guys have bought in . . . We've got to get other guys to buy into the same system too." I didn't know pitchers following game plans was optional.)

    Upon his firing, I assumed that Dale's failures included not being the disciplinarian with the young players that he was expected to be. According to David Kaplan, for example, Dale was told that he had permission to bench Starlin Castro - or even pull him from a game - if he felt Castro deserved it. And many of us wondered why Dale wasn't being tougher on some of his players, including Castro.

    But in explaining Dale's dismissal, Theo Epstein said "There has to be tough love, but there has to be love before there's tough love."

    So it turns out Dale wasn't nurturing enough.

    Epstein also talked about the kind of spark the team needed, and that reminded me that the Cubs locker room was not a happy place under Dale.

    In a post I did make last May, I noted that the much-traveled Edwin Jackson said the Cubs locker room was the tightest he had ever experienced. It should have been among the loosest.

    Dale was supposed to be a fresh young grinder of a manager with a personality that the team would assume. It didn't turn out that way; maybe the job got to him. Being in charge your first time is rarely like anyone expects it to be. Maybe it wore on him.

    On SportsTalk Live, Kaplan said last week that people he knows close to Dale said he just wasn't the same person they had knew; he changed. The job can do that to you.

    Obviously, Theo didn't make it any easier on him. Potential leaders and mentors on the roster were shipped off each season - and those were usually the guys with personality, too. You need to have guys like Ryan Dempster and his dopey impressions and Reed Johnson and his high-socked hustle to help the kids along. Neither Castro nor Rizzo is ready to be a leader yet - and given their personalities, they may never be. Jeff Samardzija has tried to fill the vacuum but he's the wrong guy to do so, both because he's so intense and because he's still not a great player himself yet. Alfonso Soriano took Castro under his wing, which many commended but never struck me as a good thing. David DeJesus mentored Rizzo, and DeJesus is a classy guy, but he never seemed big enough to lead the whole team. Sveum may have been young enough to fill the role himself, but obviously didn't.

    So who's next? Joe Girardi was the right guy back when Jim Hendry pulled a Jim Hendry and hired Lou Piniella instead, but right now I doubt very much that he's going to leave New York. When the Cubs last wanted a manager to develop a young roster, they turned to Jim Riggleman, who had done just that in San Diego. That's why I wonder if the Cubs will seek Padres' manager Bud Black - even though Black says he's not going anywhere. (GM Jed Hoyer also used to work for the Padres so he has ties to the organization.) Brad Ausmus was the name tossed around most frequently until A.J. Hinch came along. What about Brad Mills? He's the third-base coach for the Indians, but before that he was the Dale Sveum of the Houston Astros, charged with suffering through a tear-down and training up a young roster. Theo said that Sveum would be better his second time around, just like when he hired Terry Francona in Boston after Tito failed in Philadelphia. Maybe Mills is his next Francona.

    The Cubs, by the way, missed out on Francona the first time around because, apparently, Theo felt he had already imported too many former Red Sox management types and was sensitive to being perceived as turning this into Boston West. And Ryne Sandberg was passed by apparently because Theo didn't want such a strong connection to the Cubs' past. Pity that he didn't have the balls to just hire the right guy, which could have been either of those two.

    Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, of course, was Theo's first choice among those interviewed, but Maddux didn't want to leave his family behind in Texas. Sveum, meanwhile, was the first choice of Theo's replacement in Boston, Ben Cherington, who was instead forced by management to go with Bobby Valentine, who was a bust. So Valentine is now available for the Cubs! Just kidding.

    While it truly wasn't about wins and losses for Dale, no one thought the Cubs under him would be as bad as they were. We saw absolutely no improvement in fundamentals, hustle, attitude or plate discipline from these Cubs. In other words, thus far the Theo Effect has been nil. True, it's next to impossible to enforce consistency when your boss holds a garage sale of your roster every summer. It's hard enough to manage, much less do it amidst chaos. But that was Dale's job. I'd like to say Theo is on the hot seat too - he deserves to be - but knowing Tom Ricketts, that's just not so. And that also is not a culture of accountability; it's just the same old Cubs.

    The Week in Review: The Cubs two of three to the Pirates and then got swept by the Cardinals to finish the season 66-96, good for last place in the NL Central and the fourth pick in the 2014 draft. The White Sox will draft third, which is so Cub.

    Week in Preview: The Cubs get to enjoy seeing former colleagues in the playoffs, including David DeJesus, Sam Fuld, Ryan Dempster, Chris Archer, Josh Donaldson, Carlos Marmol, Jerry Hairston Jr., Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto, Marlon Byrd, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and near-misses Anibal Sanchez and Yoenis Cespedes.

    The Second Basemen Report: "I think a lot of us stand behind Dale and think he's the right fit for this team," Barney said.

    Oops.

    "Offensively, I can't blame anyone but myself," Barney said. "People provide insight from when they played or the type of player they were. Unfortunately for me, I listen to a lot of people."

    This was a problem for Starlin Castro too - and probably what Theo meant when he intimated that one of Dale Sveum's problems was failing to provide a streamlined message for the youngsters. Hitting coach James Rowson also isn't likely to be back.

    The Third Basemen Report: Christian Villanueva's OBP sure has taken a tumble. Mike Olt is 25. There is no third baseman in Des Moines. Nate Samson is 26. Next man up: Kris Bryant.

    *

    See also: Kris Bryant Leads Top Northwest League Prospects.

    Wishing Upon A Starlin: We'll stick with what we wrote last week: "Now it's about showcasing Starlin "as himself" for other teams because he certainly doesn't fit in here. Pencil Javy Baez in for 2015."

    The Legend of Dioner Navarro: Because it's the Cubs, the backup catcher has somehow put himself in a position of possibly being "too expensive" to return.

    *

    Also, this is weird. The Cubs have raved about Welington Castillo's season, but maybe he's not the right guy to call a game - even if he is the best player in Chicago in terms of WAR.

    Endorsement No-Brainer: Theo Epstein for Mulligan's stew.

    Laughable Headline of the Week: Cubs Plan In Place But Patience Necessary.

    Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana finished his season with the Arizona Diamondbacks with a .370 OBP. Randall Delgado, whom the Cubs would have acquired from the Braves had Ryan Dempster not screwed us, finished is season with the Diamondbacks, who got him instead, with 20 starts and a 4.26 ERA. He's 23. Bob Brenly is getting his own street. Mark Grace got out of jail and is now a hitting instructor in the D-Backs organization. Eric Hinske is expected to retire. Alan Trammell is a bench coach for Arizona.

    Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: We've slapped a Don't Buy in Joe Girardi - unless you're a Yankees fan. We are accumulating small shares, though, in A.J. Hinch, Bud Black, Brad Mills and just a taste of Brad Ausmus. Also, a penny stock on Jim Riggleman.

    Sveum's Shadow: Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow is at noon because after he got fired he got really drunk and then went home and shaved. Now he's going to really let it grow out.

    Shark Tank: Jeff Samardzija's three-year trend in ERA: 2.97; 3.81; 4.34.

    Jumbotron Preview: Five-thousand-seven-hundred square-feet of declining attendance.

    Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2015 2016 2017.

    Over/Under: Years that the next manager will last: +/- 3.5.

    Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that the Cubs are just like 911: A joke.

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

    The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

    -

    The Cub Factor welcomes your comments.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    Local Music Notebook: Molly Hatchet, Spotify, The Double Door, Lydia Loveless, Mahalia Jackson, Ha Ha Tonka, Chief Keef, Robbie Fulks & More!

    1. Chigger Country.

    "The lead guitarist for the southern rock band Molly Hatchet is thrilled that a tip from another musician and quick work by the McLean County Sheriff's Department resulted in the recovery of his custom guitar stolen during a Sept. 8 concert in rural McLean County," the Decatur Herald-Review reports.

    "I thought Miss Molly was gone forever," performer Bobby Ingram said Monday from his home in Florida.

    "The Les Paul Black Beauty custom Gibson guitar valued at more than $12,000 was taken from the stage after a performance at Chiggerfest, an annual music festival west of McLean."

    -

    See also: Chiggers.

    2. Van By The River.

    "The band FayRoy, which calls its music 'surfy rock,' was left high and dry after their 1997 conversion van was stolen along with $10,000 worth of guitars and other gear after an appearance on the Northwest Side," the Tribune reports.

    "The San Francisco band said it had to scratch dates in Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and California after last week's theft of the van, which also served as their home."

    Some of their gear turned up when some dude tried to sell it to Guitar Center, but a lot is still missing. (See Help FayRoy Find Their Missing Van.)

    3. Spotty Spotify.

    "The local independent label Drag City is keeping its catalog off Spotify and all other streaming services, even as most labels big and small play ball," Mark Caro reports for the Tribune. "The Chicago-based Bloodshot Records has its music on Spotify, though label co-owner Nan Warshaw remains wary."

    4. Overrated: The Double Door And Chief Keef.

    5. Breaking Berwyn.

    "The transformation of one of Berwyn's empty brick buildings into a promising new music venue is just what Bill FitzGerald likes to see, even if it creates competition for his business," the Tribune reports.

    "Two blocks from FitzGerald's Nightclub a 33-year-old spot that draws local and national acts, four Chicago-area music professionals are partnering to open Wire, a venue, school and recording space described as an incubator for musical ideas.

    "The endeavor is the latest in a procession of dining and entertainment destinations opening on Roosevelt Road, sparking some big hopes for the area."

    6. Lydia Loveless's Aim Is True.

    "I just listened to [Elvis Costello's 'Alison'] a lot when I was a kid," she told UWeekly. "Or my mom did and I got so incredibly sick of it that I hated it for like a really long time. Then one night I was drinking wine and playing guitar and sort of screwing around learning that. Then we played Chicago, which is where Bloodshot is. I played that by myself and everyone in the room just kind of shut up and listened, so my label was just blown away like that. We went to breakfast the next day and one of the owners was like, 'You have to record that.' And I was like, 'I guess I will.' I wasn't doing anything else . . . I guess that's how it happened. (Laughs)"

    7. Snubbing Chicago.

    "If Abba and the Bee Gees can be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, surely there is room for Chicago," Greg Kocher writes for the Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader.

    "The 46-year-old group known for its signature horns has been eligible for induction since 1994, but it has never been invited to the party."

    Click through to read his argument.

    8. Hail Mahalia.

    "A new Mahalia Jackson biopic is in the early stages of development and is not to be confused with the film directed by Euzhan Palcy, starring Fantasia Barrino, according to Shadow and Act," the Atlanta Black Star notes.

    "This Mahalia Jackson project will be directed by Vaun Monroe, a screenwriter/director and college professor at Columbia College in Chicago, and Chicago filmmaker Ruth L. Ratny, for Joyful Noise, LLC."

    9. State Treasure.

    Bloodshot Records' Ha Ha Tonka took their name from a park in Missouri.

    10. Fulks This Town.

    "One of the best things about writing the Tattle column is that not only do we get to mock people who deserve it, we also get to promote people who deserve it," Howard Gensler writes for the Philadelphia Daily News (second item).

    "We came upon Robbie Fulks a few years ago during an iTunes search for the rock band Fountains of Wayne.

    Fulks' song "Fountains of Wayne Hotline" came up, and it so brilliantly satirized and paid homage to FoW's musical and lyrical tendencies, we thought this was a guy we needed to know more about.

    "Turns out Fulks performs mostly original country music, and he's been at it for the better part of 30 years. He was born in York, Pa., although he now lives in Chicago.

    "In a phone interview last week from his tour van, Fulks cited Doc Watson, John Hartford, Hank Williams, Roger Miller and Sun Ra as musical influences, with a little Ray Stevens, Mad magazine and Jewish comedy thrown in."

    As always, click through for the rest.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 7:28 AM | Permalink

    Medill's Internship Program Is A Royal Scam

    Northwestern University's journalism school boasts of its prowess in preparing students for prestigious careers - but it also serves as a pipeline for unpaid internships.

    At Medill, students pay $15,040 in tuition for the privilege of working full-time jobs as unpaid interns. During their mandatory quarter in Journalism Residency, as it is known, students work full-time at news organizations such as CNN Documentaries, Self and WGN Chicago.

    But instead of paying interns, employers pay Medill $1,250 for every student placed. In turn, students receive academic credit and a small stipend from the university for relocation expenses, ranging from $600 to $1,200. The most generous stipend amounts to just $2.72 an hour - far below the federal minimum wage.

    It's an arrangement that even Medill is second-guessing. According to a July 30 e-mail obtained by ProPublica, Medill has begun asking news organizations whether they would consider paying students minimum wage.

    "As always, Medill and the University are careful to make sure that the program is an academic experience that meets U.S. Department of Labor regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act," program coordinator Desiree Hanford wrote in an e-mail to editors and internship coordinators at partner media companies.

    "Some sites . . . have told Medill that their legal counsel require them to pay a student either in addition to the $1,250 or in lieu of the $1,250 to reflect the company's own hiring policies that address this law," Hanford wrote. (See full document.)

    "With this backdrop, Medill would like to know whether you would be willing to pay a student who is doing a residency at your site and, if so, how much you would be willing to pay?" Hanford asked. "Would you be willing to pay your state's minimum wage?"

    Jack Doppelt, Medill's interim associate dean for journalism, said the program complies with Labor Department guidelines, but that the school is still considering whether to require employers to pay its students.

    "For the purposes of the law, we're comfortable," Doppelt said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that we're comfortable with students not getting paid money."

    Alice Truong, a 2010 Medill graduate, wasn't comfortable going unpaid, either. Truong said she didn't have the finances to move to another city for three months on Medill's internship stipend (which is usually $900). As a result, while some of her classmates had a list of 20 journalism residency options around the country, Truong's financial constraints narrowed her choices to "two or three okay options" in the Chicago area.

    "That alone was very frustrating, and I remember being very upset about this," Truong said. "For most students at Northwestern, everything was within reach to them. I only had a handful of options."

    When Truong was in school, Medill also prohibited students from working other jobs during Journalism Residency, forcing Truong to give up her work-study job that quarter. Medill has repealed that policy as of this academic year.

    Truong ended up interning at her first choice site, the RedEye, a Chicago-based daily tabloid. There, she wrote short pop culture articles and a few cover stories. She says her internship was a valuable experience that ultimately got her a paid internship and then a job at the Wall Street Journal. But she was still frustrated by the way the program was structured.

    "I was close to graduating, and there are so many money stressors around that period of time," Truong said. "So having to go to a very expensive school to start with, and having to do an internship where I essentially provided free labor for credit, while the school was paid - that was hard to stomach."

    Medill's program has existed in some form since at least 1973, when it was known as "Teaching Newspaper." Roger Boye, an associate professor who has taught at Medill since 1971, said Medill initially gave students a choice between reporting on campus and reporting from a professional newsroom. The internship placements were so successful that Medill made the program a requirement in 1989.

    "In the early days - and this is still true - we considered the [newsroom] editors basically part-time faculty members," Boye said. "These were people that had an educational mission to their own work and wanted to be part of an educational process."

    Medill says its intern sites - more than 100 in all - are chosen carefully to ensure that supervisors will provide "substantive editorial experience" and "good mentoring."

    Hanford, the program coordinator, said students must send weekly logs to their adviser and receive midterm and final evaluations from their employers. Medill advisers also visit their students midway through the quarter.

    "When I have students go on [Journalism Residency], not one of them leaves without being given my cell phone number because I want to know if something is happening, if there's an emergency," Hanford said. "I don't care what that emergency is."

    Is Academic Credit Enough?

    Medill is reevaluating its program at a time when employers and students nationwide are questioning the legality of unpaid internships. In recent years, unpaid interns have brought several high-profile lawsuits seeking back pay, though most have resulted in settlements or findings that favor employers. Only one ruling addressed the issue of internships for academic credit.

    According to Labor Department guidelines, an unpaid internship is more likely to be legal if a college grants academic credit and provides oversight. But oversight alone isn't a guarantee - unpaid internships still must meet six key criteria. For example, the internship must be educational, benefit the intern more than the employer, and not displace paid employees.

    In the last three years, federal investigators have cited at least four employers for violating federal guidelines, even though their unpaid interns received academic credit. One of those cases faulted Rome Snowboards Corp. in Waterbury, Vt.

    Matthew Wolfe interned for free at Rome Snowboards during his senior year at Saint Michael's College, doing data entry for 10 hours a week. Wolfe received four hours of academic credit for his time. He was surprised when, the summer after graduation, he received a letter from the government and a check for about $1,000.

    "Of course I'd love to be compensated for the work, but as a college student - from all of our perspectives - that wasn't a norm," Wolfe said. "There weren't many students who expected to be paid and get credit."

    The Labor Department concurred, finding that "unpaid internships at for-profit establishments appear to be prevalent in the area" and that Rome Snowboards seemed unaware that interns at "for-profit firms almost always have to be paid."

    Rome Snowboards co-founder Josh Reid, who declined to comment for this story, told the investigator that he was frustrated "with the interns' colleges, whom he believed were complicit in the firm's noncompliance involving the interns."

    Colleges clearly play a key role. Phil Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute, surveyed college officials last year and found that 75 percent thought academic credit was "an appropriate substitute" for wages in some or all cases.

    Joanne LaBrake-Muehlberger, internship director at Saint Michael's College, said she works with employers to ensure students receive educational training.

    "Just because the student is earning the credit doesn't mean that lets the site off the hook with their responsibility," LaBrake-Muehlberger said. "We make that clear. I send out a letter, and I include the information from the Department of Labor, so they are made very much aware of the guidelines."

    But the federal investigator in the Rome Snowboards case reported that area schools were "either unaware of or turning a blind-eye to the requirements of the [Fair Labor Standards Act]."

    Regardless, the department placed ultimate responsibility with the employer and ordered Rome Snowboards to pay $37,673 in back wages to 38 interns, ruling that because they provided an "immediate advantage" to the company, they should have been paid.

    The courts have also begun to weigh in on academic-based internships. In his June ruling against Fox Searchlight Pictures, federal Judge William H. Pauley III wrote, "A university's decision to grant academic credit is not a determination that an unpaid internship complies with [New York labor law].

    "Universities may add additional requirements or coursework for students receiving internship credit, but the focus of the [New York labor law] is on the requirements and training provided by the alleged employer," Pauley ruled.

    The ruling could put a damper on unpaid internships for academic credit, according to David Yamada, a labor rights advocate and law professor at Suffolk University.

    "If the judge's observations in the Fox Searchlight case are affirmed and become law, then obviously those private sector internship placements at least are open for liability against that internship employer," Yamada said. "And then the school might have to incur the wrath of that employer, who's saying, 'Oh gosh, you sent us this student, and they turned around and sued us.'"

    Shrinking Newsrooms, Shrinking Wages

    While unpaid internship postings are rampant on public job boards at journalism schools at New York University and the University of California, Berkeley, some media interns are starting to push back. Gawker Media, Conde Nast, NBCUniversal, Inc. and News Corp. are all facing lawsuits from former interns who say they should have been paid minimum wage.

    The Nation Institute, a nonprofit, agreed to begin paying its interns minimum wage after an embarrassing public campaign by a group of former interns who had been paid only $150 a week.

    But as newsrooms revisit internships, it's clear that for some, even minimum wage can strain the budget. Newspaper staffs have shrunk by 30 percent since 2000, with newspapers employing fewer full-time staffers than they did in 1978, according to Pew's 2013 State of the Media report. The Charlotte Observer ended its paid summer internship program and stopped accepting Medill interns about four or five years ago to save money.

    "This is strictly just a budget thing with us," said Jim Walser, the Observer's projects editor and intern coordinator. "We had to cut out everything that was extraneous to try to save as many permanent staffers as we could. We loved the kids coming in from Northwestern. We never had a bad one."

    Chicago Public Media stopped participating in Medill's journalism residency in 2008.

    "Medill charges news organizations a fee, and being that we're a nonprofit, that's not something we necessarily could absorb," internship director George Lara said. He said the station continues to offer some unpaid and some grant-based internships.

    Journalism graduates are feeling newsroom cutbacks, too. Only 60 percent of journalism majors reported holding a job related to their field of study six to eight months after graduation, according to a 2012 study at the University of Georgia. On average, journalism grads in 2012 made barely more than those who graduated in 1987, the study found.

    Faced with such a tight job market, journalism students are hungry for the type of internships that will give them an edge, said Gina Neff, associate professor of communication at the University of Washington. But while Neff found that virtually all journalism schools offer internship programs, she estimates only about 10 percent of them provide students deep academic engagement.

    "We've held up a class of jobs that are 'the internship,' that are typically unpaid or underpaid," Neff said. "I would call on more professors to stand up and take notice that we're in effect complicit in a system that is underpaying student labor."

    Medill's dean says the school hopes to ensure students are compensated for their work, without limiting their options in a struggling industry.

    "It's a very delicate balance," Doppelt said. "We're trying to have that happen, and it's a set of moving negotiations, and we have to be sensitive to what the field - that is hurting right now, financially - might be able to do."

    As Medill reevaluates its prestigious internship program, 15 news organizations have started to pay their Medill interns and at least 18 more said they would consider doing so, according to Hanford, the internship coordinator.

    WGEM, a television station in Western Illinois, started paying them state minimum wage last year when the station's owner, Quincy Broadcast Print Interactive, launched a paid internship program for the whole company.

    Jena Schulz, director of human resources for Quincy, said each Medill student works as "a typical member of the news department team," shooting video and going on air. From a legal standpoint, only paid interns can do that kind of work, Schulz said.

    "We believe it is necessary for us to treat the interns as actual employees - and pay them - in order for them to receive the full benefit of the experience," Schulz said. "Our company has operated by the letter of the law and said, if the interns are anything other than in your way, they probably don't qualify as unpaid."

    The Kitsap Sun, a mid-sized newspaper in Bremerton, Wash., also started paying its Medill interns the state minimum wage of $9.19 per hour a few years ago.

    "They should get paid for their time," said editor David Nelson. "They're here. They need to pay rent. They're learning, but it's not free to live."

    *

    Medill Students And Alums Respond on Storify.

    -

    Comments welcome.

    -

    1. From Steve Rhodes:

    ProPublica misses part of the story here - the fact that Medill students are buying that internship with their tuition. This is something we used to complain about at the University of Minnesota way back in the '80s when we were all sending out hundreds of resumes and clip file packages hoping to land an internship somewhere - anywhere - in the country. We had to compete for internships instead of getting one automatically with the purchase price of a degree. And because we were working at The Minnesota Daily, many of us had kick-ass clips and a certain level of real-world paid experience already. (Yes, our college newspaper paid its staff - and quite well. Way better than the minimum wage.) Yet, Medill students had already bought their internships. None of us, though, would have considered working unpaid - or even for minimum wage. The internships we did land paid us like regular staffers, as they should have. Those internships (and those wages) were earned. All the Medill program does is extend the entitlement culture of elites who already play by a different set of rules. Giving Medill kids a small refund back on that purchase hardly seems to address the real problem here. Providing free (or even minimum-wage) labor and crowding out students who have to work for a living just puts more elites into the profession and stretches the inequality gap in yet another way. At the same time, Medill actually gets paid from the employers! Talk about a royal scam.


    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    October 1, 2013

    The [Tuesday] Papers

    "No One At Controls When Blue Line Trains Crash."

    Also, no one at the controls when U.S. government crashes.

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    "Half-Mile Journey Of CTA 'Ghost Train' Baffles Investigators."

    I suspect a ghost payroller.

    *

    "CTA Crash May Have Saved Some Government Jobs."

    In that case, today it's the Red Line's turn.

    *

    "U.S. Attorney: Shutdown 'Quite Disruptive'."

    Snitches put on furlough; wiretaps turned off.

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    "Illinois Readies For Potential Federal Shutdown."

    Mail fraud frenzy expected as snitches put on furlough, wiretaps turned off.

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    The Beachwood Tip Line: A Boozy Allen joint.

    Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    MUSIC - Christgau Loves Chicago Neonatologist.
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    BOOKS - Writers Under Surveillance.

    PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Original Warrior.


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